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AAP Internet Bulletin 1100 Tuesday, Dec 15, 1998

AAP General News (Australia)
AAP Internet Bulletin 1100 Tuesday, Dec 15, 1998


Sydney not in Olympic corruption probe: Samaranch

SYDNEY - A probe into claims International Olympic Committee (IOC) members accepted
inducements from Salt Lake City to secure the 2002 Winter Games would not be widened to include
Sydneys 2000 Games bid, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said today.

The inquiry centres on the Salt Lake City affair, where a $US500,000 ($A810,000)
scholarship fund allegedly helped pay for university studies of relatives of six IOC members.

The investigation will also try and find links between four intermediaries and IOC members
who allegedly sold their votes en bloc to bidding cities.

"We have only facts regarding Salt Lake City," Samaranch told ABC radio.

"Were investigating only Salt Lake City."

At the weekend Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler alleged there was a major trade in votes for
cities competing to host the Games.

Senior members of the failed bid to bring the Olympics to Melbourne provided cash payments
of between $5,000 and $10,000 to IOC members, but denied that they were bribes for votes,
according to a report today.

The Australian newspaper said a staff member of the Melbourne bid team confirmed the story.
The official said about six IOC members refused the committees Qantas tickets as transport to
Australia, opting instead to use their national airline.

"Then theyd say: I want US dollars to pay for the return trip," the official was quoted
as saying.

The Australian said about three of the 70 IOC members who visited Melbourne also dropped
strong hints they would like to be given a car.

The bid committee members said they had never been explicitly asked for money to buy IOC
votes, the paper reported.

The IOC is working quickly to put the scandal behind it.

Samaranch said he hoped the findings of the Salt Lake City probe would be available for the
next major IOC meeting in February.

"We will act forcefully should it be proved some of our members have overstepped the mark,"
he said.


ACCC says Telstra may have to accept competition

CANBERRA - Australian telecommunications giant Telstra may have no option but to accept the
opening up of its local customer network to competition, Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC) chairman Professor Allan Fels said today.

Yesterday the ACCC announced a draft decision which would
see Telstras competitors get access to the copper wires which
link Telstra customers to local telephone exchanges.

The decision has been welcomed by major competitor Cable
and Wireless Optus Ltd and the Australian Consumers
Association (ACA) because it offers greater competition and
the chance of cheaper calls.

But Telstra last night said they had serious concerns about
the decision.

Professor Fels told ABC radio today that his organisation
had been informed by Telstra that they were unhappy about the
draft decision, on which public comment will be allowed until
February, but he indicated Telstra may have little choice but
to accept it.

"I dont think they will be very keen on this decision, in
fact they have told us they are not," Professor Fels said.

"But the fact is that the ACCC has the job under the act of
declaring and there are only rather limited rights of appeal
on this matter."

Professor Fels said local telephone users had to have a
choice and because it would be so expensive to duplicate the
network, giving competitors access to the copper wires into
peoples homes was the obvious solution.

"In a year or two this decision will be looked back to as
quite a landmark in having opened up the telecommunications
market," Professor Fels said.


Kennett endorses Packers move on Crown

MELBOURNE - Victorian
Premier Jeff Kennett today threw his support behind the takeover of Melbournes Crown Casino
Ltd by Australias richest man, Kerry Packer.

Mr Kennett described the proposal as a "good deal" and said
he believed shareholders would take up the offer.

"Its a good deal to have the Casino become part of the PBL
stables," Mr Kennett told ABC radio.

"It would put them immediately in touch with a dividend
flow and I think it will remove from Crown the difficulties
associated with the ratios etc that are obviously the
responsibility of the (Victorian Casino and) Gaming

Under a deal announced yesterday, to be put to Crown
shareholders, Crown Casino would become a subsidiary of Mr
Packers Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd media empire as part
of a $785 million takeover bid.

PBL watchers were stunned when the company announced last night that PBL would take over the
Crown operations, chaired by Mr Packers long-time friend Lloyd Williams.

While Mr Packers track record of buying under-performing assets cheaply makes him the king
of deal makers, this transaction has, initially at least, perplexed the market.

One fund manager, who declined to be named, questioned the combination of the two groups
saying there was little evidence of synergies between the two.

One analyst, again who requested anonymity, said: "Its extraordinary. It doesnt make any
sense to me."

Others were still trying to assess the nature of the deal, which was announced late
yesterday with few financial details.

For example, it was not known how the transaction affects PBLs balance sheet.

Crown has a mountain of debt, with total liabilities standing at $1.25 billion at the end
of financial year 1997/98.

PBL is issuing new shares for Crown, one of its own shares for every 11 of Crown, which
values Crown shares at about 55.8 cents each, or a total value of $555.3 million, compared
with its last trading price of 49 cents.

PBL previously had no investment in the troubled Crown group but its owner does. Kerry
Packer, through Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd, holds about eight per cent of Crown.


Palestinians revoke anti-Israel charter elements

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - In the presence of President Bill Clinton, hundreds of top
Palestinian officials, including former guerrilla fighters, today stood and raised hands to
revoke Palestinian charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

"I hope this will close this chapter forever," Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said.

A senior adviser to Netanyahu said the show of hands was acceptable.

"The issue, as far as we are concerned, is now off the table," David Bar-Illan said.

At Arafat's call, members of the Palestine National Council voted by standing with their
hands raised. The vote, which Netanyahu had insisted on, was not counted, but officials called
it nearly unanimous.

Addressing the delegates, which also included members of other Palestinian organisations,
Arafat recited a litany of differences with Israel, and renewed his call for a cessation of
Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the release of Palestinians from Israeli jails.

"We would like our sons and our boys to come back home," Arafat said. "They are the ones
who struggled for the peace process since its inception."

Israel has released 250 prisoners, but Netanyahu has said he will not release killers or
members of militant Islamic organisations. Palestinians say all prisoners should be eligible
for release.

Arafat also declared that Palestinians "will not go back to the ways before peace", and
would not "allow or tolerate any violence" that threatens the security of either Israelis or

The meeting of the 727-member council was one of the requirements of the Wye River peace
accord Clinton helped negotiate. The accord says the delegates are to "reaffirm" a letter that
Arafat sent Clinton listing the clauses of the charter that are considered null and void.


Warne breaks his silence over bookie affair

MELBOURNE - Australian leg spinner Shane Warne has broken his silence on the bookmaker
controversy, saying what has most disappointed him about the events of the past week has been
the suggestion that he had been involved in match-fixing.

Warne and Mark Waugh have been under fire since it was revealed last Wednesday that they
received $5000 and $6000, respectively, from an Indian illegal bookmaker four years ago to
provide weather and pitch information during the 1994 tour of Sri Lanka.

The incident, which was kept secret by the Australian Cricket Board, happened just before
the tour of Pakistan during which Warne, Waugh and off spinner Tim May revealed that Pakistani
batsman Salim Malik offered them $US200,000 each to throw a match.

Both Warne and Waugh refused to answer questions after reading short statements explaining
their actions at a news conference last week but Warne revealed his inner thoughts on the
controversy after his Victorian team drew with Queensland here yesterday.

"I think the thing that has most disappointed me is the link between what we did and
match-fixing which is two completely separate issues," Warne said.

"That seems to have got lost a little over the past week."

Warne's comments came on the day the ACB received a formal request for he and Waugh to
testify in Pakistan at this Fridays hearing in the match-fixing and bribery inquiry which
could result in Malik and other leading Pakistan players receiving a life ban.

It was also the day on which cricket's international governing body announced it may probe
charges of match-fixing and betting.

ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya signalled the change of policy after months of allowing
respective nations to handle their own affairs. He said he will recommend an investigation when
the executive board of the ICC meets at
Christchurch next month.

Warne said he would decide in the next 48 hours, in conjunction with the ACB, whether he
would go to Pakistan and testify.

Waugh appeared before the Lahore inquiry, headed by Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, in
October but did not inform the court of his involvement with the Indian bookmaker.

Warne said his version of events would not differ from what he said four years ago and he
rejected any suggestion the fact that he and Waugh had received money from a bookmaker would
taint their credibility as witnesses.


Coal miners consider appeal of back-to-work order

SYDNEY - Australias coal mining union may lodge an appeal against an Australian Industrial
Relations Commission (AIRC) order which late last night cut short by a day its planned 48-hour
strike over low coal prices.

In a late night ruling, the AIRC ordered 20,000 members of the Construction, Forestry
Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) to return to work, having found their action illegal under the
Workplace Relations Act.

The strike was called following union claims miners MIM, Shell and the North Goonyella Mine
accepted an 18 per cent drop in the price of coking coal, used for making steel.

However, outside the AIRC, CFMEU mining division general president Tony Maher said the
union had found some justification for their stoppage in Commissioner Greg Harrisons ruling.

"The decision clearly says the unions justified in its campaign and the only thing it (the
AIRC) disagrees with is the industrial action," Mr Maher said.

"We have actually got a lot to be pleased about ... we have convinced an independent person
we have got a lot of merit in the issues we have campaigned about."

In his ruling, Commissioner Harrison ordered the striking miners to return to work by 11pm
(AEDT) last night, but agreed with union submissions the strike was born out of frustration.

"I recognise that the unions campaign is born out of frustration and I accept the evidence
that it has sought alternate avenues over a long period of time," he said.

"Despite approximately 4,000 redundancies and increased productivity, the prospect of a
further round of job losses arises from recently reported reductions in coal prices," he said.

However, the current industrial protest was further harming the industry and was in breach
of the Act, he said.


SLSA: drownings likely to wind up in court

SYDNEY - Drownings at unpatrolled beaches with warning signs could bring court action if
local councils failed to introduce appropriate safety measures, a peak lifesaving group said

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) spokesman Steve Leahy said federal government financial
support for surf lifesaving was "not a great deal".

Asked if warnings on unpatrolled beaches meant they should be patrolled, and whether those
responsible for patrolling would become liable if someone drowned, Mr Leahy said: "Its not
going to be too far away before someone decides to test that theory.

"I dont think we should be locking off beaches but it certainly requires governments at
all levels to make sure appropriate safety services are in place if people are going to have
access to that coastal environment."

Six people have drowned on the nations beaches in the past four days, including two
teenagers and a man who died on an unpatrolled beach on the New South Wales mid-north coast

Mr Leahy said SLSA received $1.1 million from the federal government each year, $300,000 of
which it gave directly to state organisations.

"Its not a great deal," he told Channel Nines Today program.

He said the average number of people, including rock fishermen, who drowned in the
Australian surf over summer was 25, but 17 people had already drowned since September 1 this

"It is a national problem, theres no doubt about that," he said.

"Weve been out, particularly after last summer, saying the only places to swim are between
the red and yellow flags and people are clearly ignoring those type of messages.


Mattel buys software giant The Learning Company

NEW YORK Mattel Inc. took its biggest step yet toward expanding beyond Barbie dolls and
Hot Wheels cars into the fast-growing world of high-tech toys, announcing its purchase of The
Learning Company Inc., maker of software games Riven, Myst and Carmen Sandiego.

Mattel's $3.8 billion stock purchase of The Learning Company comes as it looks to greatly
develop its interactive business, realising that children today yearn for more technologically
savvy products during playtime.

The Learning Company is the second-largest independent consumer
software company after Microsoft.

"The writing is on the wall that you can't rely on just toys
anymore," said Darren Barker, a toy analyst at Wedbush Morgan
Securities in Los Angeles. "Kids today are changing the types of
toys they want. They demand sophistication. They demand

Monday's announcements follow a tough year for Mattel. Sales of
Barbie dolls long the anchor of its business are expected to be
down this year for the first time since 1976.

In October, Mattel announced it would recall up to 10 million
battery-run Power Wheels ride-on toys because of fire risks. The
recall, ordered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, could
cost $30 million or more.

Also, many top retail stores are buying less.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based company reported Monday these
factors will reduce year end earnings to $1.20 a share, well below
Wall Street analysts' estimates of about $1.78 a share.


Thai crash black box to be analysed abroad

SURAT THANI, Thailand - While soldiers dragged the wreckage of a Thai Airways jet from a
muddy rubber plantation today, investigators said they will ask another country to analyse the
plane's black box to stop the mudslinging over who caused the crash that killed 101 people.

"We're seeking help from third countries. We want one to analyse the data," director-general
of the Department of Aviation Sawat Sitiwon said.

France has been ruled out because Airbus, the French manufacturer of the A310-200 that
crashed, is participating in the Thai investigation.

Both aviation authorities and the plane's pilot have been blamed for the crash of FlTG261,
which plunged to the ground during a heavy rainstorm on Friday in Surat Thani, 530km south west
of Bangkok.

Three Australians were among the 45 survivors.

Searchers recovered remains of the last victim yesterday, and military helicopters and
troops continued hauling out sections and shards of the plane from the flooded rubber
plantation where it crashed, about 700 metres from the airport runway.

Several of the survivors said the pilot, who died of his injuries after the crash, should
never have attempted a third landing after failing the first two times.

The Nation newspaper today derided a "macho mentality" it said existed among some of Thai
Airways' pilots and urged people not to fly the carrier.

It also said the air traffic controllers and Surat Thani airport officials were culpable
for not advising the pilot to divert to another airport because of the weather.

Sawat insisted today the airport's lack of state-of-the-art instrument landing equipment did
not cause the crash.

"The systems we have in place are capable of guiding the plane in a similar manner," he


Expert: Microsoft's Windows design unjustified

WASHINGTON - A computer scientist testified today that there is no justification for the way
Microsoft bundled its Internet software within its dominant Windows operating system.

Edward Felten, a professor at Princeton, told the judge at the software giant's antitrust
trial that the company deliberately blended different computer functions into some of the same
Windows files, essentially making it impossible to completely delete all traces of its
Internet software without affecting the operating system.

But Felten, who studied the closely-guarded technical blueprints for Windows in a
court-ordered examination, showed a 30-minute video describing how he was able to modify some
files to prevent Microsoft's Internet software from launching.

"I know of no reason Microsoft was technologically compelled to design things that way,"
Felten said.

"These files are packages of stuff, and some of the stuff relates to web browsing and some
of it doesn't."

Felten's testimony is important because the government is trying to prove Microsoft
illegally tied its Internet software to Windows, in part to protect its monopoly among
computer operating systems and also to crush rival Netscape Communications Corp, which makes a
popular competing Internet browser.

Felten called the way Microsoft implanted its browser "a question of packaging" rather than
a design decision. He said there was no distinction between removing the browser's functions
under Windows and actually deleting all the browser's components.

In a related case last summer, a federal appeals court ruled that Microsoft's decision to
bundle its browser into an earlier version of Windows was allowed.

The government has said that decision was a narrow ruling about a previous agreement
Microsoft made with the Justice Department over forcing computer makers to install Microsoft's
Internet software with Windows.

Justice lawyer David Boies said today that the current trial focuses on a different section
of antitrust law, which prohibits companies with monopoly power from engaging in
anticompetitive business practices. The government contends that the way Microsoft put its
browser into the Windows system was such a practice.


Government to examine life of performing arts

SYDNEY - A major inquiry into the performing arts, that will look into the flagships of the
Australian arts world, is set to be announced by the federal government today.

The inquiry, seen as the arts equivalent of the Wallis inquiry into financial services,
would report to federal, state and territory governments in time for next Junes Cultural
Ministers Council, the Australian Financial Review reported today.

The scope of the inquiry extends to Australias major performing arts companies, including
Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet, Musica Viva, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, The Bell
Shakespeare Company, Circus Oz and the flagship state symphonies, dance, theatre and opera
companies, the paper said.

The inquiry would canvas a range of options aimed at shoring up the financial and artistic
fortunes of the sector, which has been hit by static funding and increasing competition for
the entertainment dollar.

The inquiry would be headed by Westpac strategy director director Dr Helen Nugent after she
leaves to pursue a career as a non-executive director next February.

It would also include David Gonski, a Sydney-based corporate adviser who conducted last
years federal government review of film funding; Wesfarmers chief Michael Chaney and
Catherine Walter, a Melbourne-based National Australia Bank board member.


Renewed Kosovo violence leaves dozens dead

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia - A tenuous standoff between Serbian forces and separatist rebels in
Kosovo exploded in violence today in the worst clash since an October truce - a five-hour
gunbattle in which border guards killed dozens of guerrillas.

The pre-dawn clash along Kosovo's south-western border with Albania resulted in Yugoslav
army troops killing at least 30 ethnic Albanians and wounding 12 who were trying to enter the
country illegally, the Serb-run Media Centre reported.

Hours later, according to ethnic Albanian sources, heavy detonations and shootings were
heard from the area of three nearby villages about 72.5 kilometres south-west of Pristina that
had been sealed off by Serb police.

Details of the fighting could not be independently confirmed. International monitors
confirmed the clash but were uncertain about the number of casualties.

Ethnic Albanian rebels who have been fighting for Kosovo's independence have frequently
armed themselves in neighbouring Albania.

The worst reported violence in Kosovo in more than two months casts further gloom on the
diplomatic efforts to bring a lasting peace to the Serbian province, where many believe a
resumption of full-scale fighting by spring is inevitable.

Dozens of people on both sides have been killed since an October 12 peace agreement
brokered by US Envoy Richard Holbrooke halted months of fighting in the separatist province in
southern Serbia.

Holbrooke is expected in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade for talks with government
officials tomorrow. But after two months of failed shuttle diplomacy, chances of mediating an
end to the continuing violence in Kosovo seem unlikely.

Ethnic Albanian politicians insist on a plan that would enable them to break free of
Serbian rule, while the rebels say they would not accept anything short of independence.
Serbia, meanwhile, refuses to consider anything more than partial autonomy for the
Albanian-majority province.

US Envoy Christopher Hill, who met with ethnic Albanian negotiators in Pristina today and
who also plans to be in Belgrade tomorrow, has seen his proposals for a political settlement
rejected by both sides.


Injections could have saved bat virus victim

MACKAY, Qld - The husband of a woman who became the second Australian to die of bat
lyssavirus at the weekend has to live with the agony that a $600 course of injections would
have saved her life.

Clint Todhunters wife, Monique, a 37 year-old mother of two, died in Mackay Base Hospital
on Sunday, two years after being bitten by a bat at a childs birthday party in 1996.

Yesterday, Mr Todhunter said his wife of 15 years leapt to a young girls aid after the bat
swooped down and landed on the childs back.

The bat sank its teeth into his wifes finger and he used his own hands to prise open its
jaw to free hers.

He said his wife was given a tetanus injection by her local GP and was advised the next day
about vaccinations for "a new virus" which would have required them to travel 300km north to

But with little known about lyssavirus at the time, the couple decided it was not

"We were told it would cost about $600 and that we would have to go to Townsville for the
inoculation ... that it wasn't really necessary because it didn't appear to be a risk," Mr
Todhunter said.

For the next two years, everything appeared fine until Mrs Todhunter started complaining
about joint pain and a cold a few weeks ago.

She was diagnosed with lyssavirus last week, too late for doctors to save her.

Monique's parents, Andre and Anne-Marie Treboux, flew to Mackay from Switzerland this week
to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren.


Australia set to win Ashes series against England

ADELAIDE - Australia is set to clinch its sixth consecutive Ashes series victory against
England at Adelaide Oval here today.

Mark Taylor's side enters today's final day of the third Test needing six wickets to take
an unbeatable two-nil lead in the five match series.

Australia hold the Ashes and even English wins in the last two Tests would not be enough to
pry the symbolic urn from Australian ownership.

The tourists resume today with hopes of avoiding defeat resting squarely with Mark
Ramprakash (43 not out) and Alec Stewart, who is yet to score.

England coach David Lloyd said his side would approach today's play positively.

"You approach every day in a relaxed state of mind and confident that you can do your job,"
Lloyd said.

"There is one team in the ascendancy and the other team who are working damn hard to come
out of it with some sort of result, and from our point of view that would be a draw.

"I'm not dejected, not disillusioned but very disappointed.

"We have come here with ambitions to win Test matches and at the minute we are second

England's fight will be staged on a pitch taking alarming amounts of spin and keeping
occasionally low, Australian tweakers Colin Miller (3-36) and Stuart MacGill (0-14 from 12
overs) the keys today.


Churches take on free market economy

HARARE - The World Council of Churches wound up its second assembly this decade with a
rejection today of an unfettered global economy, vowing to help create institutions that hold
the free market accountable to social values.

The assembly, which takes place every seven years, also approved a study of the "diversity"
of human sexuality - which in effect includes homosexuality - despite objections by a Russian
Orthodox delegation which has criticised what it sees as the council's more liberal trend.

In its flurry of final pronouncements ending the 12-day assembly, the council also
denounced the use of child soldiers and reaffirmed its position that the United Nations should
maintain stewardship over Jerusalem.

This year's assembly in the Zimbabwe capital of Harare brought together 960 delegates from
112 countries representing churches with 350 to 450 million non-Catholic Christians.

The council said it will make the "globalisation" of the economy a "central emphasis" of
the ecumenical agenda.

Member churches will work toward creating global economic institutions to counter "the
unaccountable power of transnational corporations and organisations that often operate around
the world with impunity," the council said.

The council said in a paper on economics that it lamented the rise of "a subtle but
powerful ideology which assumes that the most promising way to improve the quality of life for
all people is to give free rein to market forces."

World power is increasingly concentrated in 30 or so rich nations and 60 multinational
corporations, and the global media has become part of a successful strategy by the United
States and other nations to "secure military and political hegemony on a global scale," the
council said.

Economic globalisation is eroding the importance of nation states, undermining social
cohesion and intensifying a "merciless attack" on the environment, the council said.

The council also called on member churches to seek cancellation of international debt for
the world's most impoverished nations and reduction of debt for middle-income nations by the
end of next year.


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