Congolese warlord sentenced to 14 years for using child soldiers

BBC NEWS (UK), JEUNE AFRIQUE (France)

Worldcrunch

THE HAGUE – Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Tuesday by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for recruting and using child soldiers, some younger than 15, from 2002 to 2003.

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The sentence is the first to be handed out by the ICC since it started working a decade ago.

Fifty-one year-old Lubanga was convicted of war crimes in March for his role in the civil war in Ituri, a northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where ethnic conflict has killed an estimated 60,000 people since 1999. The BBC reports that Lubanga showed no emotion as he was sentenced.

Prosecution had requested a harsher sentence of 30 years in prison. ICC Judge Adrian Fulford praised the former militia leader for his cooperation and conduct during the trial, turning instead to criticize former prosecutor Luis Moreno Occampo, Jeune Afrique reports. Fulford said Occampo did not give evidence to support erroneous claims and allowed his staff to mislead the press, according to the BBC.

Lubanga was the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, an ethnic Hema milita, and of its military wing. The sentence was seen by human rights activists as a victory for international justice.

Lubanga’s #ICC sentence will send signal to those around the world who are tempted to use child soldiers, says @HRW. trib.al/RAN7Y8

— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) July 9, 2012

But Lubanga was arrested in Kinshasa in March 2005, and the years of prison he has served up until now will be deducted from his sentence, prompting some Twitter users to criticize the decision.

14 years for Lubanga. shame, shame, shame. and with the time he already spent in custody…shame shame shame shame…

— ilaria allegrozzi (@ilariaallegrozz) July 10, 2012

That’s IT? 14 yrs!?”@africanewsfeed: #DR Congo’s #Lubanga jailed 14 years bit.ly/Ng8Mnn”

— Gando Stenge (@GandoStenge) July 10, 2012

Others referenced the criticism that the ICC focuses too much on crimes in Africa and not in the rest of the world.

That the ICC has an Africa problem doesn’t mean Lubanga doesn’t deserve what he’ll get tomorrow. The children he abused deserve justice.

— Laura Seay (@texasinafrica) July 9, 2012

Lubanga, who had pleaded not guilty, has 30 days to appeal the decision. Unrest continues in the DRC as rebel forces led by General Bosco Ntaganda – an ally of Lubanga who is also wanted for war crimes by the ICC – advance towards the country’s main eastern city of Goma.

Thousands of immigrants detained in Libyan desert

By Luc Mathieu

LE TEMPS/Worldcrunch

SABHA – They are prisoners of the desert, trapped by the Libyan Sahara.

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More than 1,300 illegal immigrants are detained here, some 100 kilometers outside the city of Sabha, along the road between the sand dunes to the south and the border with Niger. They have no shelter, not even makeshift tents, forced to sleep on the sandy, pebble-studded ground. Only the lucky few among them have a blanket to protect them from the gusts of scorching wind. The others curl up so they can shield their faces in their keffiyehs or T-shirts. It is early evening, and the temperature in this southern Libyan desert known for its scorpions and vipers is 35°C.

“It’s a nightmare,” says Sebastian, a 36-year-old plumber from Benin. “I have no idea what’s going to happen to me – if I’m going to die here or if they are going to let me go. I have no money, no passport, no phone. It’s as if I no longer existed.”

Sebastian was one of the first to be interned at this camp created a month ago by the Libyan army. Gradually he was joined by hundreds of others from Chad, Niger, Ethiopia, Mali, Pakistan, Syria and the Bengal region of India and Bangladesh. All were arrested as they crossed over clandestinely from Niger, Chad or Sudan.

They’ve been surviving since in this prison without bars, guarded by about a dozen soldiers. Meals consist of one or two plates of rice a day. “The thirst is the worst,” says Suleiman, a 19-year-old Chadian. “There’s barely a liter of water a day. And it’s not good – it’s full of dust and sand.” Some 40 of the detainees are sick with diarrhea or wounds that haven’t been tended to. A Sudanese adolescent has a dislocated shoulder, the result of falling off the pick-up truck that brought him across the border. Behind him is a Beninese with an eye so red and swollen he can no longer open it. “It hurts more and more. The sand and dust have become encrusted in the eyelid,” he says.

“We’re overwhelmed, I don’t know what to do anymore,” admits Massa Senoussi Taher, who is responsible for the camp. “The government isn’t helping us; they haven’t even sent anybody out here. Only the Red Cross has come out. It’s up to us to go to the surrounding villages to get food and water. At most, we can still hold out for another week or two.”

A police chief’s dilemma

In Sabha, the capital of the Fezzan region, police chief Sanoussi Saleh says that he too is at a loss as to what to do. “I’ve contacted the government, the UN, and some NGOs but nobody has gotten back to me. We’re in deadlock –we can’t manage so many illegal immigrants.” Two other camps were opened in recent weeks between Sabha and the border with Niger. Altogether, according to local authorities, more than 2,400 immigrants have been interned in southern Libya.

“I have never seen so many illegal immigrants –and I’ve been a soldier in this region for 15 years. Every week, we arrest more and more of them. And we don’t kid ourselves: thousands more are getting through without being stopped by us. It’s almost as if they are being pushed by somebody,” says Massa Senoussi Taher.

Without being able to furnish proof, several local leaders state that this influx of immigrants is down to ex-officials of the Gaddafi regime who escaped to Niger and Chad. “They’re trying to destabilize the new Libyan state,” Sanoussi Saleh says.

But at the camp along the Sabha road, the Libyan revolution isn’t something the prisoners cite. “Gaddafi’s death played no role in my decision to come to Libya,” Sebastian explains. “A relative of mine who’s lived in Sabha for 20 years advised me to come. He said I’d find work here, no problem, and I headed here without hesitation.”

In the southern part of Libya, the revolution mainly impacted the way borders are guarded. Since Gaddafi’s death, the Toubou people –Libyans of African origin–have assumed responsibility. “It’s normal –we’re the ones who liberated the region, with our vehicles and our arms. We’ve always lived around here; we know the terrain better than a GPS. And we know the trails used by the people bringing immigrants across,” says Barka Wardougou, who heads the military council in Murzuk, a Toubou stronghold.

But the Toubous already feel marginalized by Arab tribes and the new powers-that-be. “The government doesn’t put enough means at our disposal. Our men are exhausted. There are only 300 of them, and they have to spend five days in a row in the desert. We need 1,200 more men, more vehicles, and better means of communication. We’re talking about a budget of $50 million,” says Jomodé Elie Getty, who is responsible for external relations for the Toubous.

Toubou leaders also criticize the nomination of Abdul Wahab Hassain Qaid as commander of border security in the southern part of the country. Brother of Abou Yahya al-Libi, the No. 2 of al Qaeda who was killed in Pakistan in early June by an American drone, he is said to have received 170 million dinars ($120 million) and a fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles from Qatar. “Why nominate an Islamist?” asks Barka Wardougou. “Wasn’t there anybody else?”

Colonel Saleh, the police chief, admits that he’s “worn-down psychologically.” Night has fallen. He looks out at the prisoners sleeping in the sand around camp fires. “It’s not right to inflict this on them. If nobody does anything, they’ll die here. I’m at the point where I ask myself if it wouldn’t be better if I just let them go.”

Read more from Le Temps in French

Photo – EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

What’s wrong with Chinese education?

Pack mentality in China’s classrooms? (Helga’s Lobster Stew)

By Zhang Ming*

CAIXIN/Worldcrunch

BEIJING – I once gave a lecture to some high school teachers.

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After the lecture, there was time set aside for questions – there were none.I asked these teachers: “Don’t you normally give your own students any chance to ask questions?” After a long moment of silence, one teacher asked me: “Could you please give us an analysis as to why we cannot raise any questions?”In fact, it’s not the first time I’ve encountered such an embarrassing silence in my classes. Even with a lot of encouragement, attempts to inspire them, and offers to invite them to dinner, my students are sometimes still unable to come up with a single question.Our education system has long been based around an approach of standard answers. Whatever the subject is, the teacher would always break down each lesson’s content into standard answers, one by one. Even problem-solving follows a standard procedure and the composition of an essay respects a certain routine.The teachers give lectures following standardized answers in their teaching and the students learn in accordance with the standard answer. If the students strictly stick to this rule, they’ll achieve high scores in their exams. On the contrary, if they don’t follow this rule, they won’t be able to have good results which will prevent them from reaching the ultimate goal of getting into a top university. In such an education model, for both the teacher and the pupil, nothing is to be challenged or questioned. The teacher only has to teach in accordance with the reference book, to instill into the students the standard answer — and that’s all. Naturally, students have no need to ask unless it’s actually because they didn’t understand what the teacher meant. As long as the teaching is in line with the curriculum, the teacher makes no mistake. The teacher is able to clearly explain the points, and everything is fine.Day after day, a child who was originally full of innocence and curiosity becomes void of questions. Everything that is taught to him becomes taken for granted and justified. No other teacher in the world can ever be more confident than the ones in the Chinese education model, because they believe they have in hand the truth. What they teach the students is the truth and this truth comes from the text book.And why do they readily believe in this? Because the Chinese education system forces teachers to believe in the standardized teaching material unconditionally, or risk losing their job. Only by sticking to this rule are the students able to get high scores, and the parents hence become the accomplices of this teaching mode. Whoever dares to change the way they teach will be mercilessly denounced by parents. Education should stimulate the imagination and creativity. Yet the Chinese way of teaching suffocates the questioning ability of both teacher and student. If you can’t question anything, how can you create? Instead, if you study well and are excellent in exams and capable of reciting a lot of knowledge, the Chinese education system will cultivate you, alas, into a walking bookcase. You can’t expect great things from such a person when he or she steps out into society.*Zhang Ming is a blogger at Caixin media and professor of political science of the Chinese People’s University

Read the original article in Chinese. Photo – Helga’s Lobster Stew

Clinton launches White House bid

“Everyday Americans need a champion.

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I want to be that champion,” Clinton said in a video released on the internet that announced her run.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she said.

Clinton, who lost a bruising Democratic nominating battle to Barack Obama in 2008, was expected to travel soon to Iowa, the state that holds the kickoff nominating contest in early 2016.

“It’s official: Hillary’s running for president,” John Podesta, a top aide to Clinton, said in an email sent to supporters of her failed 2008 bid.

“She is hitting the road to Iowa to start talking directly with voters. There will be a formal kickoff event next month.”

Clinton’s campaign will emphasize her plans to address economic inequality and will tout the historic nature of her effort to become the first woman U.S. president, aides said.

One of her biggest challenges will be to show a more down-to-earth side while connecting with ordinary voters. Critics, including liberals in her own party, say she has grown out of touch after decades as the wife of former President Bill Clinton, a U.S. senator and secretary of state.

In a memo made public on Saturday, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told staff that while the goal was for Clinton to win the presidency, the campaign was not about her but about “everyday Americans.”

“We are humble: we take nothing for granted, we are never afraid to lose, we always out-compete and fight for every vote we can win,” he said in the campaign memo, titled “We Are Hillary for America.”

Pre-emptive attack

Even before the much-anticipated announcement on Sunday, potential Republican opponents took swings at Clinton. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush criticized her guidance of U.S. foreign policy as secretary of state.

“We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies,” Bush said in a video released by the political action committee Right to Rise.

Bush, brother to former President George W. Bush, is currently exploring a presidential bid.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who formally began his campaign for the Republican nomination last week, made the rounds of Sunday talk shows to slam Clinton’s handling of a 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

In her memoir “Hard Choices,” Clinton dismissed the Republican criticism of her handling of the attacks as exploiting a tragedy for political gain.

(Additional reporting by Emily Flitter, Lisa Lambert and Amanda Becker; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Ross Colvin and Frances Kerry)

IS militants claim attacks on Libya embassies

A bomb exploded at the gate of the Moroccan embassy in the Libyan capital early on Monday, causing some damage but hurting nobody, a security official said, only hours after gunmen attacked South Korea’s mission in Tripoli.

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Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said on twitter they were responsible for both attacks, the latest strikes against foreigners, embassies or oilfields in Libya. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the claims.

Islamic State militants have exploited chaos in the North African country where two governments allied to a host of armed groups fight for control four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

The bomb damaged the gate and a residential building next to the Moroccan embassy located in the up market Ben Ashour district, a security official and Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Nobody was hurt by the blast early on Monday, the official said.

On Sunday, gunmen fired shots at the South Korean embassy in Tripoli killing two local security guards and wounding a third person, South Korean and Libyan officials said.

A South Korean foreign ministry official in Seoul said there were no Korean casualties, adding that the embassy was staffed by two foreign service officials and one administrative staff member. He said the government was considering relocating, but did not elaborate.

Libyan militants professing loyalty to Islamic State have claimed several high-profile attacks on foreigners in Libya this year, including an assault on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

They have also claimed several assaults on embassies such as those of Egypt and Algeria in Tripoli, attacking mostly empty buildings as most countries have pulled out diplomatic staff because of the security situation.

Libya’s internationally recognized government has been based in the east since a rival faction called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in August, setting up a rival administration.

(Reporting by Feras Bosalum, Hani Amara, Ulf Laessing and Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Ulf Laessing. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Alleged Queensland pedophile faces 145 charges

The 47-year-old man from the town of Warwick, southwest of Brisbane, is facing 145 charges, including five counts of rape, and making and distributing child pornography.

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His alleged crimes occurred between 2002 to 2015 and involved victims from Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Police will claim the man used social media sites to target children under the age of 16, using the aliases Jazz, Jazzman and David Bourne.

In some cases, he allegedly lured children to hotel rooms where they were sexually assaulted.

Other victims were offered money to send indecent photos of themselves and in some cases the man resorted to extortion to obtain those images, police will allege.

Officers have also said other victims as far away as Western Australia may surface.

The man was not present when his case was mentioned in the Warwick Magistrates Court on Monday. He was remanded in custody with the case to return to court on July 20.

He was charged after a joint investigation by child protection officers in Warwick and Queensland’s Taskforce Argos, which targets online sex predators.

Speaking outside the court, the man’s lawyer, Sarah Gordon, said the July court date would give police the time they needed to prepare a brief of evidence.

“We’ve just received the charges, so there’s really not much I can say,” Ms Gordon told reporters.

“We haven’t had a chance to formally talk to the client about that yet.”

Ms Gordon was reluctant to say how the man was coping after being charged.

“I’m really not able to say much more,” she said.

The charges include:

five counts of rapefour counts of indecent treatment of children under 16eight counts of grooming child under 16 with intent to procure engagement in a sexual act20 counts of involving children in making child exploitation material11 counts of making child exploitation materialtwo counts of making a child abuse filmone count of distributing child exploitation material

 

Hodges looks good for Broncos return

Life’s so good at Brisbane right now, you almost expect coach Wayne Bennett to crack one of his oh-so-rare smiles.

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The table-topping Broncos, having secured their fifth straight NRL win last weekend against the Sydney Roosters, returned to training on Monday with captain Justin Hodges back on deck.

The Queensland and Australia veteran completed the full session and looks increasingly likely to make his return to action this Friday against St George Illawarra after two weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring strain.

Another one of the injured Broncos, forward Adam Blair, also completed light duties on Monday and could be a chance to make his comeback from a corked thigh.

Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough said despite their form in Hodges’ absence he’s sure Bennett will find a spot for the 32-year-old.

“I think so, it’d be hard to leave the captain out,” McCullough said.

“Wayne will bring him in how he sees fit and how he wants to shape the team out.”

Hodges has been replaced for the past two weeks by Dale Copley.

The youngster has been impressive as a fill-in and, with Hodges spending most of Monday’s session running at the fullback position, it may be current fullback Lachlan Maranta or even winger Daniel Vidot who make way should Hodges be declared fit.

Monday’s session also included some strong rehab work by State of Origin flyer Darius Boyd.

The Queensland back is apparently six weeks away from a return after injuring his Achilles in pre-season but could come back earlier than that based on his sharp work.

Another Queensland representative, Sam Thaiday, came in for special praise from McCullough after his barnstorming display against the Roosters.

Thaiday was involved in several run-ins throughout the game with Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and McCullough said the former captain’s performance had been inspirational.

“The way he led our forward pack was outstanding and that’s what your want to see from your senior players,” McCullough said.

Spieth ready to take golf throne after Masters win

With a winning game and winning personality, the humble 21-year-old American won over fans around the world with a fearless and clinical display of golf, rewriting the Masters record book on his way to the first of what is predicted to be many major victories.

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“This was arguably the greatest day of my life,” Spieth told reporters. “To join the club that is the green jackets and to join Masters history and put my name on that trophy and to have this jacket forever, it something that I can’t fathom right now.

“It all happened quickly. Sometimes it feels like a long time ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday.”

Since taking PGA Tour rookie of the year honours in 2013, Spieth has been on a meteoric rise up the golf rankings.

His Augusta win will see him move up to number two on Monday, one step closer to his goal of being the best.

“The ultimate goal that I have mentioned each week is try to become the number one player in the world,” said Spieth, who recently signed a 10-year endorsement deal with sportswear giant Under Armour.

“I’m still chasing that goal. It’s going to be very difficult but to be a large step closer is huge.”

Spieth becomes only the fifth man and first since Raymond Floyd in 1976 to post a wire-to-wire Masters victory. In the process he set 36 and 54 hole records for the tournament while his 28 birdies over four rounds smashed Phil Mickelson’s 2001 mark of 25.

With a birdie at the 15th he became the first ever to reach 19-under before a bogey at the last left him on 18-under 270. The total matched the lowest ever Masters winning score and made him the second youngest behind Tiger Woods to wear the green jacket.

In his Masters debut last year the young Texan played in the final pairing and finished tied for second behind winner Bubba Watson.

He has played a total of eight competitive rounds at Augusta and at the end of each, he was in the top five, the most important coming on Sunday when he signed for a two-under 70 for a four-shot victory over major winners Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.

Even more impressive was the manner of Spieth’s win.

He began the final round with four shot cushion and ended it the same way, withstanding an all-out assault from some golf’s biggest names.

Rose, playing in the final pairing with Spieth, came out determined to put pressure on his young opponent with birdies on the opening two holes.

But each time Spieth answered with a birdie of his own.

Rose clawed his way to within three strokes twice on the front nine but the 2013 U.S. Open champion could not hold his ground.

Instead it was Spieth, with a birdie at the eighth and another at the 10th to kickoff the back nine that opened up a six shot cushion.

“When you’re in the lead by a few shots with two major champions…there’s a lot of time to think through scenarios and listen to the roars,” said Spieth.

“Once we get to 16 there, that’s when it started to kick in that we were getting close to the finish line and other thoughts started to come in.

“But unlike in the past, in the distant past, say a year ago, this time, I was ready to make those putts.”

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

Bombers bank self-belief boost from win

Cale Hooker admits his eighth career goal was a bit of a mongrel, but it could well prove to be a pivotal moment in Essendon’s AFL season.

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The defender’s goal inside the last minute of a frantic final term at the MCG proved to be the match-winner against Hawthorn, but he acknowledged it involved a fair element of good fortune.

“When I kicked it I knew it was going through, but it was probably a little bit lucky – it was a bit of an inside-out torp,” Hooker said.

“It was a nice feeling to kick a goal – I haven’t kicked too many.”

James Hird revealed that it was no fluke that Hooker found himself inside attacking 50 with the game on the line, with the Bombers often practising such a scenario.

But while his match-winner grabbed the headlines, Hooker paid tribute to the resilience and determination of his teammates in Essendon’s first win of the season.

“That last two or three minutes there were about 20 efforts by guys through the team,” he said.

“It wasn’t just my goal that got us over the line – it was the guys doing smothers and tackles at the end that got us the game as well.”

Hooker is confident the two-point win will do wonders for the Bombers’ self-belief after a tough pre-season where a large group of players sat out the NAB Challenge awaiting the outcome of the AFL’s anti-doping tribunal.

“It was definitely a challenge because we didn’t know when we could play footy,” he said.

“Now to be able to get into the season and put two good performances together … it’s a really good feeling and I think the boys are really enjoying their footy again.

“I think to show that heart at the end – it really does help our belief. We know we’re a good side and we can match it with the best.”

Pirlo dilemma for Juve coach Allegri

Pirlo has not played since he suffered a calf strain against Borussia Dortmund seven weeks ago and, at 35, it could be a risky move to throw him straight into Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg in Turin.

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Although he retains the ability to change a game with a single slide-rule pass or majestic free kick, the odd sign of vulnerability has crept into his game especially when trying to play his way out of a tight spot near his own penalty area.

On the other hand, Saturday’s shock Serie A defeat against bottom-of-the-table Parma, when Juventus rested a number of regular players, has suggested their strength in depth may not be quite as impressive as pundits previously thought.

Juventus are also missing their other key mid fielder Paul Pogba and, facing Monaco’s miserly defence, Allegri is likely to need all the creativity he can muster to supply attacking duo Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata.

Juventus, Italy’s most successful team domestically, are attempting to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2002/03.

In the meantime, they have spent one season in Serie B after being demoted in the wake of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal and then several seasons struggling to re-establish themselves among the Serie A elite.

Now, they are once more the dominant force in Italian football and are well on course for a fourth successive Serie A title with a 12-point lead at the top despite Saturday’s setback.

The form book points to a win for Juventus, who have not lost any of their last 11 European games at home and have only been beaten once in 16 European matches since the new Juventus Stadium was opened in 2011.

However, it is likely to be a cagey affair. Monaco, runners-up in 2004, have scored only seven goals in eight games in reaching the quarter-finals, three of them in a single match away to Arsenal, and have conceded a mere four.

Juventus are equally stingy at the back, having conceded only five goals in the Champions League and 15 goals in 30 Serie A outings.

Monaco, still in the running for the French title, got off to a stuttering start this season after key players James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao departed to Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively.

But, under Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim, they have surpassed expectations, qualifying from the group stage at the expense of Benfica, and have been more than happy to accept the role as underdogs.

“Clearly, Juventus are the favourites,” Monaco mid fielder Joao Moutinho told the club’s official website (南宁夜网.asmonaco广西桑拿,).

“But after we knocked out Arsenal, the clubs look at us differently.

“When James and Falcao left and the club did not sign players with international experience, everyone thought that we would just finish in the top 10 in Ligue 1 and we would not pass the group stage in the Champions League, but we proved them opposite.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Mark Meadows)

Murphy’s law: Blues must improve

Carlton captain Marc Murphy has served up a brutal ultimatum to his band of AFL underperformers, telling them to shape up or ship out.

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The Blues have slipped to 0-2 after two rounds despite holding handy quarter-time leads against both Richmond and West Coast.

From the first change, Carlton’s slips have been severe, losing the last three quarters to Richmond by 43 points.

Against West Coast it was an 81-point reversal.

Murphy said he’d had a “tough weekend just thinking about the game”, reaching the conclusion that the mental lapses must be stopped.

It’s been enough to make the baby-faced Blues leader lay down the law to the playing group.

“As individuals, everyone’s got to have a hard look at themselves and work out whether they really want to be here and they want to be successful,” he said.

“As captain I’ve really got to lead that and make sure that the boys are following and doing everything they can.”

Murphy was a late starter to Carlton’s Monday morning training, after holding a long conversation with under-fire coach Mick Malthouse.

While the veteran coach may swing the axe for their clash with Essendon, Murphy said he didn’t expect changes to be stark.

Ruckman Robert Warnock and Andrew Walker are set to return from injury in round three, but Matthew Kreuzer is still at least a week away.

Instead, the improvement needs to come from inside each player, with the captain adamant his side’s problem was mental, not physical.

“To say we’re not fit enough after quarter-time, it’s got nothing to do with it,” he said.

“It’s definitely above the shoulders.”

Malthouse’s future has been the subject of white-hot speculation, given the club’s current trajectory and the master coach’s contract expiring at the end of the year.

But Murphy made support for the three-time flag winning coach as clear as he could.

“Mick can’t kick a footy for us,” he said.

“From a player’s point of view, and as captain, we just need to focus on playing footy.

“There’s no point listening to the speculation or getting involved with it.

“We’re right behind Mick and Mick’s right behind us.”

Malthouse does have some new support on the training track, with former Collingwood and North Melbourne spearhead Saverio Rocca joining the club as a part-time coach to help Carlton’s forwards, led by Levi Casboult, improve their output.

“Big Sav started last week, its good to have him down here,” Murphy said.

“It’ll be good to see him work with Levi and rest of the forwards hopefully kicking the ball straight through the middle.”

Unemployment rate to hold steady in March

This week’s jobs figures are unlikely to give jobseekers a reason to smile, because employment growth is only just managing to keep up with population growth.

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The number of Australians with jobs is expected to have risen by 15,000 in March, according to an AAP survey of 14 economists, after a similar gain of 15,600 in February.

That will keep the unemployment rate steady at 6.3 per cent for the second month in a row when the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases figures on Thursday.

Commonwealth Bank economist John Peters said a sluggish economy is the reason why the unemployment rate has stayed at or near 12-year highs in recent months.

“Overall, the labour market over 2014 and early 2015 has been soft on the back of below-trend economic growth,” he said.

“The economy continues to grow at a below-trend pace with falling business investment the major issue of concern.”

Mr Peters said a sluggish set of jobs numbers will make a Reserve Bank of Australia rate cut in May more likely, after the central bank kept the rate unchanged for a second month in a row in April.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan warned that the unemployment rate was more likely to rise rather than fall in 2015.

“This likely reflects that job losses in areas such as mining and manufacturing are causing a greater inflow of labour than other sectors of the economy are capable of absorbing,” he said.

“In all, gross domestic product growth is still soft, with a recovery in the non-mining sectors lacklustre.”

The ANZ job advertisements survey, a key indicator of the jobs market, showed there was a 1.4 per cent fall in the number of jobs advertised on the internet and in newspapers in March, the first fall since May 2014.

However, Mr Hogan said, the number of jobs being advertised was still at an elevated level, which should stop the unemployment rate from rising too far.

“We believe the lower interest rate environment will assist the recovery in non-mining business investment and household consumption,” he said.

Citi economists Josh Williamson and Paul Brennan said sluggish employment growth would result in a third interest rate cut this year, after one in May, taking the RBA’s cash rate down to 1.75 per cent in the second half of 2015.

“The economy is not creating enough jobs to stop the unemployment rate from rising,” he said.

“The likelihood of an even further rise in the unemployment rate before the end of the year would eventually force the RBA to cut rates again.”

Australian couple ‘misled Indian officials over abandoned surrogacy baby’

The ABC reports the NSW couple returned from India with a baby girl, while leaving her healthy twin brother behind in India.

南宁桑拿

The Australian government and the Australian High Commission in India were reportedly aware of the arrangement, even though international surrogacy arrangements are illegal in NSW, where the couple lives.

According to Freedom of Information documents obtained by the ABC, the father told officials he would leave the twin boy with family friends in India who were “unable to conceive a child.” This turned out to be false, as a cable from Australian High Commission staff to Canberra in early 2013 revealed.

“The proposed adoptive parents are in fact not close family friends of the biological parents, but are known to the biological parents through a mutual friend.”

The documents also said the couple travelled to India in late 2012 to gain citizenship for the baby girl, but told consular staff they would leave the boy in India because they could not afford him. It was also revealed the couple already had a son in Australia and wanted a girl to “complete their family”.

The couple were “repeatedly told” that abandoning the twin boy would leave him stateless, since India doesn’t recognise children born from surrogacy arrangements.

“If the parents do not apply for Australian citizenship for the child, the child will be stateless in India …our ability to provide assistance to a non Australian citizen is limited,” a DFAT email on December 19, 2012 said.

DFAT said the boy was formally adopted in India, although no documentation supporting that has been made public, the ABC reported. Documents also reveal the boy is entitled to Australian citizenship, but that needs to be applied for as it’s not automatically granted.

The issue of surrogacy was spotlighted last year after a West Australian couple were accused of leaving a twin boy, known as Baby Gammy, with his surrogate mother after they discovered he had Down Syndrome.