Protesters and police clash in Greece

Clashes have erupted between protesters and police across Greece, local media reports, as thousands demonstrated against fascism after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi.

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Police fired tear gas at groups of protesters in Athens, the northern city of Thessaloniki and in the western city of Patras, where the city centre remained sealed off.

The nationwide unrest was sparked by the death of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, who was stabbed to death early on Wednesday morning outside a cafe in Keratsini, western Athens.

Some 5000 demonstrators took to the streets of Keratsini in protest, according to a police source.

Police officers there fired volleys of tear gas at a group of protesters who pelted them with wooden sticks and stones, the state-run Athens News Agency said.

Police also used tear gas in Thessaloniki, where some 6000 people marched against fascism, after some protesters shattered shop windows.

In Patras, around 1000 protesters threw rocks and molotov cocktails at police forces, who responded with tear gas. A retired police officer was injured in the scuffles, according to a police source.

A 45-year-old alleged member of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group was arrested at the scene of Wednesday’s murder. Police say the suspect has confessed to stabbing Fyssas, who wrote music under the nickname Kilah P.

The suspect’s wife was later also arrested for giving false evidence to police during the investigation.

Golden Dawn has denied any connection to the murder, which came a few days after a group of Communists were beaten by suspected neo-Nazis.

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou blamed the killing on Golden Dawn, condemning the group’s “raw violence” and calling on other parties to “raise a barrier to the vicious circle of tension and violence”.

Earlier on Wednesday, some 20,000 people marched in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities in a separate protest against a government overhaul of the public sector.

Mexico toll rises to 80 as storms continue

The death toll from landslides and floods battering Mexico rose to 80 Wednesday as the country braced for new storms and desperate tourists sought airlifts out of an inundated Acapulco.

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The fatalities spread across 12 of the country’s 32 states after a pair of tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, lashed large swaths of the country this week, said national civil protection director Ricardo de la Cruz told a news conference.

The toll could rise after the mayor of a mountain municipality in the southwestern state of Guerrero said at least 18 bodies were pulled from a landslip that hit more than 20 homes housing 70 people.

Ediberto Tabarez, the mayor of Atoyac de Alvarez, said the situation was “very critical” in the remote village of Pintada after nonstop rain caused part of a hill to slip.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said authorities have been unable to confirm the fatalities so far but that pictures from the area were “not encouraging.”

Forecasters, meanwhile, warned that a new cyclone may form on the east coast, while Tropical Storm Manuel regenerated south of Baja California and threatened to become a hurricane, three days after slamming the Pacific coast.

The new threat comes after Ingrid, which hit the northeast on Monday, and Manuel became the first tropical storms to make landfall almost simultaneously in half a century.

The storms have affected some 220,000 people across the country, damaging scores of bridges and homes, and left Acapulco isolated after its two highways and airport were hit by landslides and floods.

Authorities said they hoped to open part of the road linking the Pacific resort to Mexico City by Friday.

The rising waters marooned tens of thousands of tourists in Acapulco, a former favourite haunt of Hollywood stars that has now been plagued by gang violence.

The disaster sparked panic buying at supermarkets while thousands of residents looted flooded stores, wading through water with televisions, food and even fridges.

“Unfortunately, there is desperation, but more army and navy troops have arrived,” Mayor Luis Walton told MVS radio. “We ask people to remain calm.”

The skies finally cleared in Acapulco after almost one week of nonstop rain, but the heat brought misery to thousands of holidaymakers standing in massive lines to board military aircraft.

People shouted and shoved each other as some cut the line at an air force base while soldiers handed out water to parched tourists.

Their anger rose as a separate, shorter and quicker line formed for wealthier visitors who booked flights on private jets.

I’ll do what I can for Holden: Macfarlane

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says the federal government will do all it can to support car manufacturer Holden, but has added he doesn’t have a “pocket full of money”.

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South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott pleading for him to commit to a $275 million co-investment package for the car maker.

If Holden doesn’t have an answer by Christmas, it will cease manufacturing cars in Australia, he has warned.

The $275 million package was negotiated with the former Gillard government to ensure Holden continues local manufacturing until 2022.

But with the coalition pledging to cut $500 million annually from car industry funding to 2015, the car maker is concerned about the future of federal subsidies.

Mr Macfarlane says “we’re going to do all we can” for Holden and plans to visit its plant in Adelaide at the beginning of October.

But when asked about the coalition’s policy of removing $500 million in car industry funding, he said there were “massive more issues than the $500 million”.

“I know money is important but … we’ve put a lot of money into that industry,” he told ABC Radio.

“If everyone wants to be flexible, I’ll be flexible (but) I haven’t got a pocket full of money.

“I’m not able to say what will happen until I actually get down there and have a look.”

Mr Weatherill said Holden needed a commitment “as soon as possible”.

Under the $275 million funding package, Canberra will contribute $215 million, South Australia $50 million and Victoria $10 million.

“They’re (Holden) making decisions about a billion dollars worth of investment in two new models which will secure the future of the plant for another ten years,” Mr Weatherill told ABC Radio.

“They need to know that they have a commonwealth partner and a indeed a state partner.”

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said Holden had not raised the possibility of ceasing manufacturing in Australia by Christmas with his government.

“Holden have had no discussions with us,” he told reporters.

“Our discussions with Holden in more recent times have been positive, productive and involving partnerships for growth and development of jobs.

“We’ll be working with the car industry as we have in the two-and-a-half years we’ve been in office.

“We’ll continue to work with the federal government of the day to make sure that we have an ongoing manufacturing industry and the car industry and the car component industry is important to Victoria.”

Dr Napthine says the government has ongoing commitments with a number of car manufacturers and the government is working with car and components manufacturers to get value for money for taxpayers to secure the future of the industry.

Cavendish wins Tour of Britain stage four

Britain’s Mark Cavendish won the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain on Wednesday as compatriot Bradley Wiggins remained top of the general classification.

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Sprint specialist Cavendish emerged at the front of a bunch finish at the end of the stage that started in Stoke in the English Potteries before ending in Llanberis in northwest Wales.

Isle of Man racer Cavendish emerged at the front of proceedings after the peloton hauled in an a 11-strong breakaway group with just a kilometre left in the Snowdonia National Park.

Cavendish, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team, then saw off the challenge of opening stage winner Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Steele von Hoff (Garmin Sharp).

Afterwards, Cavendish praised team-mates Iljo Keisse and Alessandro Petacchi, a former rival, for laying the foundations of his stage success.

“I am really, really happy about my victory and the super job of the guys,” Cavendish said. “Fortunately we had the entire day with Iljo in the break, so we didn’t have to ride behind.

“The guys stayed with me the entire day. On the last climb…I have to say I was at the limit – but the guys stayed with me and brought me back.

“They showed a big commitment. That is why I did my best in the sprint. Even Petacchi, who was still suffering from the crash of a couple days ago, wanted to be there. He really led me out in the final. He put me in the best position for the sprint.

“We have been rivals for a lot of my career but he’s a really good guy. Obviously the Tour of Britain is my home race but he is a big factor in me coming here because I wanted to ride with him.”

Omega Pharma-Quickstep sports director Brian Holm added: “Iljo did a great job for us today (Wednesday), we really didn’t have to work because he was in the breakaway.

“We just followed and won the sprint with the British champion. We knew Cav had a fair chance for the sprint. Petacchi just delivered him perfectly.

“Cav was 10th in the TT (time trial) yesterday (Tuesday) so we knew he was in pretty good shape and riding well.”

Olympic champion Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner, who went to the head of the standings with a dominant display in the stage three time trial, finished in the peloton to remain in front with four stages left.

Time, money needed to destroy arms: Assad

Defiant strongman Bashar al-Assad has promised to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons but warns it will take at least a year to do so and cost one billion US dollars ($A1.

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06bn).

The Syrian leader’s latest appearance came as UN envoys debated a draft resolution that would enshrine a joint US-Russian plan to secure and neutralise his banned weapons in international law.

In a confident interview with US network Fox News, Assad insisted that Syria was not gripped by civil war but was the victim of infiltration by foreign-backed al-Qaeda fighters.

He also insisted his forces had not been behind an August 21 gas attack on the Damascus suburbs that left hundreds of civilians dead, but vowed nevertheless to hand over his deadly arsenal.

It was Assad’s second interview this month with US television, and one of a series of meetings with Western journalists to counter mounting political pressure from Western capitals.

After last month’s barrage of sarin-loaded rockets, which Western capitals say was clearly launched by the regime, US President Barack Obama called for US-led punitive military strikes.

But – with US politicians and the Western public not sold on the virtues of another Middle East military adventure – Assad’s ally Russia seized the opportunity to propose a diplomatic solution.

Pushed by President Vladimir Putin, the White House agreed to hold fire while Russia and the international community – with Assad’s agreement – draws up a disarmament plan.

Assad reiterated his pledge to cooperate, but insisted he had not been forced to do so by US threats of US action.

“I think it’s a very complicated operation, technically. And it needs a lot of money, about a billion,” he told Fox.

“So it depends, you have to ask the experts what they mean by quickly. It has a certain schedule. It needs a year, or maybe a little bit more.”

Asked why he had used force to repress a popular uprising and triggered a two-and-a-half year war that has claimed 110,000 lives, Assad insisted Syria was a victim of terrorism.

“What we have is not civil war. What we have is war. It’s a new kind of war,” he said, alleging that Islamist guerillas from more than 80 countries had joined the fight.

“We know that we have tens of thousands of jihadists… we are on the ground, we live in this country,” he said, disputing an expert report that suggested 30,000 out of around 100,000 rebels were hardliners.

“What I can tell you is that … 80 to 90 per cent of the underground terrorists are al-Qaeda and their offshoots.”

Assad admitted that at the start of the uprising there were non-jihadist rebels, but alleged that since the end of 2012, Islamic extremists had become a majority.

He added that “tens of thousands of Syrians” and 15,000 government troops had been killed “mainly because of the terrorist attacks, assassinations and suicide bombers.”

While Assad pursued his media counterattack, the five UN Security Council powers held new talks on a resolution backing the Russia-US plan to destroy the chemical weapons.

Western nations, who said they are not looking for an immediate threat of force against Assad, could seek a Security Council vote this weekend if Russia agrees.

UN envoys from the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China held two hours of talks at the US mission.

Britain, France and the United States have prepared a draft resolution that would invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter but would not explicitly threaten force or sanctions.

ARU investigate O’Connor airport intoxication reports

Australia beat Argentina 14-13 in Perth on Saturday and the squad, including 23-year-old O’Connor, were given a week off before this weekend’s departure to South Africa for a match in Cape Town on September 28.

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A statement from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) released to the media late on Wednesday read: “The AFP can confirm it spoke to a 23-year-old man at Perth International Airport in the early hours of the 15th of September (Sunday).”

“It is alleged the man was intoxicated. The airline said the man was booked to travel with made a decision not to allow him to board the aircraft. The AFP subsequently escorted the man from the terminal.”

O’Connor, who played flyhalf for Australia in the British and Irish Lions series earlier this year before moving back to the wing for the Rugby Championship, has won 44 caps for his country since his debut in 2008.

“Earlier this week, Australian Rugby Union was made aware of an alleged incident involving James O’Connor at Perth International Airport in the early hours of Sunday 15 September,” said an Australian Rugby Union (ARU) statement released on Thursday.

“While ARU had not received any formal notification, complaints or reports from police, airline or security officials, ARU began an investigation into the alleged incident.

“The investigation is ongoing.”

While prodigiously talented, O’Connor does not have a flawless disciplinary record off the pitch and has been involved in a string of incidents while representing his country.

Most notably, he missed the official launch of Australia’s 2011 World Cup campaign at Sydney airport after sleeping in. He was also photographed at a fast food restaurant at 4 a.m. with fellow Wallabies back Kurtley Beale during the Lions series.

O’Connor, who is without a Super Rugby team after being dumped by the Melbourne Rebels, conceded after the Lions series that he had some work to do to regain the trust of some of his team mates.

“I don’t play rugby to be talked about off the field,” he said at the time.

“I’m playing rugby because I love it and that’s what I want to be doing, playing for my country. At the moment I’m doing the hard yards and I’m trying to get involved and earn myself into the team.”

“It’s not hard to do, it’s just putting the team first.”

“There’s definitely things that I already have changed and am in the process of doing, personal things.”

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Paul Tait)

LinkedIn launches PRISM legal action

LinkedIn has become the latest technology firm to launch legal action to try to expose how widely the US government is spying on its users.

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The business-orientated social network has joined Yahoo, Facebook, Google and Microsoft by filing a motion to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking permission to reveal how many data requests it has received from the National Security Agency (NSA).

Tech firms are not allowed to say exactly how many user data requests they’ve received from the NSA under the now-infamous PRISM program, exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and now LinkedIn have all expressed frustration in not being able to reveal the extent to which they’ve been forced to hand over users’ data and communications, citing the mistrust it breeds with customers.

LinkedIn is estimated to have about three million monthly users in Australia.

Announcing its legal action, LinkedIn general counsel Erika Rottenberg said the company wants to be open about data requests.

“Despite our best efforts, we are still prohibited from sharing information about national security-related requests in a way that’s meaningful to our members and community,” she said in a blog post.

“So we’re left with no choice but to file legal challenges to the US government’s position.”

LinkedIn did reveal how many non national security-related data requests it has received from governments, mostly relating to criminal cases.

It received just one request about one account from Australian government agents in the first six months of 2013 – which it refused.

Globally, LinkedIn received 83 requests for data relating to 97 accounts – 47 per cent of which were granted.

The vast majority of the requests were made by the US.

Macklin backs Albanese in leaders ballot

Senior Labor MP Jenny Macklin has announced her support for leadership aspirant Anthony Albanese, saying the former deputy prime minister’s record in government makes him best placed to defeat Tony Abbott.

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In a brief statement, Ms Macklin said Mr Albanese had proven himself a “terrific parliamentary performer, a skilled communicator and a passionate advocate for working people”.

“I strongly believe that under Anthony’s leadership, Labor can defeat Tony Abbott at the next election,” the former families minister said on Thursday.

“His record in government – as a cabinet minister and as the Leader of the House – make him the best candidate to hold Tony Abbott to account over the next three years.”

Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten are contesting the Labor leadership, which will be settled in October by a ballot giving caucus and ordinary ALP members given an equal say in the outcome.

Acting opposition leader Chris Bowen, a member of the right faction which is backing Mr Shorten, dismissed suggestions people would be voting along factional lines.

Mr Albanese is a powerful figure in Labor’s left.

“I’m aware of rank and file members and caucus members who’ll be voting for the candidate that they think is the best for the job,” Mr Bowen told ABC Radio.

“It might not necessarily be a member of the same faction they would support.”

Mr Albanese took his leadership campaign to Brisbane on Wednesday night, telling supporters his loyalty made him the best man for the job.

Mr Albanese landed a solid blow against his right faction powerbroker opponent, who was instrumental in ending the prime ministerships of both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

“We should not be shy about defending the interests of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and I am in a position to do both because I was loyal to both,” Mr Albanese told a supportive crowd at The Melbourne Hotel in Brisbane’s West End.

“I woke up each and every day and did my best for the cause of Labor. I didn’t engage in internal shenanigans.”

Comment: Sorry, you’re probably not an introvert

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert.

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Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.

Carl Jung

23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. 12 Tips to Better Care for an Introvert. 10 Myths About Introverts. The listification of the internet seems to have coincided with a mass self-diagnosis of a hitherto unidentified personality trait.

Tips such as “never embarrass an introvert in public” and “give them their privacy” may give a clue to why so many of us are now identifying with introversion.

Chances are you have read one of these “how to train your introvert” articles and nodded along. “Yes,” you’ve thought, “I do screen my calls! And I do have a constantly running inner monologue! Listen, I can hear it right now!”

These are just two of the 23 signs of introversion, according to a Huffington Post article.

Carl Jung coined ‘introversion’ and ‘extroversion’ in 1918, and they have been appropriated and redefined ever since. Jung initially used the terms to describe a flow of ‘libidinal energy’ either inwards or outwards. Meyers-Briggs later adopted ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ as descriptors in their personality test, and turned them into explicit labels. Now instead of understanding introversion as a fluid state, it is used as shorthand for identity.

You are unlikely to be an introvert, by Jung’s or even Meyers-Briggs’ standards. A lot of us are merely responding to the new ultra-connected social and spatial structure of modern life by staging a retreat, of sorts. When you are available to others at every minute of the day, contactable via multiple platforms and constantly notified of every update, a few hours alone does start to sound desirable. Basic economic theory – as the availability of solitude decreases, demand increases.

Introversion is not shyness. Introversion is not ‘screening your calls’ (that’s just sensible). It is not necessarily characterised by being quiet and reserved. Not feeling comfortable speaking up at a meeting, or wanting to approach people at a party does not make you an introvert.

Introversion is the upper level at which you find yourself depleted by social interaction, and it works on a continuum with extroversion.

New forms of interaction are leading to people adopt the affectations of introversion in order to portray themselves as interesting or alluring. The impersonal intimacy of social media provides the opportunity to form an online identity that serves as a proxy for our actual selves. The imperative for exposure leads us to cultivate an image using what some have called a social media “fan dance”, exposing just enough flesh (metaphorical or otherwise) to gain attention.

The label “introvert” suggests a higher degree of restraint – that the introvert is at a remove from the digital mass exhibitionism that the rest of us are involved in. So when you share that “87 Adorable Introvert Traits as Enacted by Puppies” listicle on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accompanied by “this is SO me”, consider how introspective that drive to exhibit your introversion really is.

Anne Treasure is a recent survivor of the book industry.

New Zealand poised to win America’s Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand moved to the brink of capturing the America’s Cup with an eighth race victory on Wednesday before the potential clinching race was postponed by high winds.

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The Kiwis need to beat defending champion Oracle Team USA just once more to claim yachting’s coveted trophy, with the next two races scheduled for Thursday.

New Zealand darted past Oracle to snatch a lead over the starting line in Wednesday’s second race before getting word from officials that the match was cancelled due to strong winds.

“It was not a certain thing that it would have turned into a win. We were happy to be in first position,” New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said, downplaying how close his team is to victory. “If we can get a win, that would be great.”

New Zealand’s victory by 15 seconds in race 11 continued the humbling of billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison and the team he is counting on to keep possession of the Cup.

New Zealand beat the Americans across the start and established a slight lead that lasted into the pivotal upwind third leg, where the rivals engaged in an intense tacking duel during which the Kiwis managed to fend off the hosts.

Oracle split the race at the third gate and opted for the opposite side of the course, closing the gap but eventually being cut off by the Kiwis on their way to victory.

It was New Zealand’s eighth triumph in the best-of-17 series, putting them one win shy of the trophy while Oracle, penalised two points before the start for pre-regatta violations, must win eight times in a row to deny the Kiwis the Cup.

“We’ve got one hell of a battle on our hands here, but stranger things have happened in sport,” said Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill. “It’s never over until it’s over. We won’t give up.”

He contended that no matter how the event ends for Oracle, duelling on the San Francisco Bay with first-generation AC72 catamarans has proven to be a winning formula by adding excitement to the Cup.

“It is the ultimate test; the ultimate challenge,” Spithill said. “This event is great for the competitor, great for spectators, and more importantly we have introduced it to a broader audience.”

Safety measures lowering the wind threshold in which races would be conducted were put in place for the regatta following the death of Andrew Simpson from the crew of failed challenger Artemis during a training run in May.

The AC72 catamaran of Swedish team Artemis, one of three challenger hopefuls, capsized in May and Simpson, a British double Olympic medallist, drowned after being trapped under the overturned structure.

New Zealand will go into Thursday with the lead and the momentum, with Oracle having scrambled to make changes to its boat after being repeatedly out-sailed by the Kiwis.

The adjustments payed off with ramped-up speeds but the USA has been consistently out-manoeuvred on the bay.

“That is a good description; chess on rocket ships,” said Oracle strategist Ben Ainslee, a Britain who won four Olympic gold medals in sailing last year.