Hawks expect NBL grand final double boost

Illawarra Hawks are looking at a potential double boost for game two of their NBL grand final series against Perth in Wollongong on Wednesday.


They expect to have import Marvelle Harris back from overseas and centre AJ Ogilvy capable of playing more minutes.

Harris missed Sunday’s game-one 89-77 loss to the Wildcats in Perth, as he returned home to be with his seriously ill father.

Three-time All-NBL First Team player Ogilvy logged just fewer than 20 minutes in Perth, after suffering an ankle injury in the decisive semi-final win over Adelaide thee days earlier.

“He (Ogilvy) didn’t do any further damage (in Perth),” Hawks general manage Kim Welch told AAP on Monday.

“He was a little underdone but he’ll come back for treatment tonight and we expect him to play full minutes on Wednesday night.

“We’re anticipating Marvelle to arrive on Tuesday and be available for the game as well.

“After Adelaide we sat down and mapped out that he could get back (home) and be back (in Australia by) Tuesday and that’s on track.

“But obviously if anything changes, we support him and what he’s going through now, so no rush.

“But he’s indicated to us he’s ready to come back and join the team, which is great.”.

Welch was also optimistic the Hawks would get more productivity from another import, the league’s Best Sixth Man, Rotnei Clake.

The sharpshooting guard was kept to just 11 points in Perth, around six below his season average.

Clarke averages around 13 field goal attempts a game, but took just eight shots in Perth.

“It’s no secret that we need Rotnei scoring closer to 20 points, which usually correlates to a win for us,” Welch said.

“(Perth guard) Damian Martin is a five-time NBL defensive player of the year so Rotnei is really going to have to earn his points this series.

“But he had a couple of quiet games against Adelaide and got us over the line in game three, so we have got plenty of faith that he will turn that around as well.”

Welch anticipated a sellout crowd for Wednesday’s game and hoped the Hawks fans would make the atmosphere as hostile for the Wildcats as Perth’s was towards his team.

“‘A five-point deficit can feel like 20 points there, so we’ve just got to turn the tables and make them feel that on Wednesday night here,” Welch said.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted but we feel we can turn it around pretty quickly and level the series up, so it’s definitely far from panic stations after last night.”

Terror suspect shot dead after West Java bomb explosion

A man shot by police following a bomb explosion in West Java has died, with police saying he was an ex-prisoner who had links to Islamic State.


The man, who is yet to be named, allegedly let off a pressure-cooker bomb in a park in the city of Bandung at around 8.30am Monday local time (1230 AEDT) before running into a nearby government building.

Indonesian National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said the man was demanding that his friends, who were caught by the country’s counter-terrorism force – Detachment 88 or Densus 88 – be released.

Negotiations broke down and the man was shot after police say he allegedly lit a fire in the upper floor of the government block and “fought back” against officers.

He died on the way to hospital, General Karnavian said.

He thanked the public, saying they immediately responded by chasing the suspects who were on a motorbike.

“There was panic, one of them jumped off and went inside (the government office) while the other sped away on the motorbike.”

It is still unclear who the second person is but Gen Karnavian said the man was a former prisoner who was arrested in connection with a militant training camp in Aceh.

Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir – known in Australia as the spiritual leader of the group behind the deadly 2002 Bali bombings – is currently serving time over his support of the same camp.

Gen Karnavian said the man had links to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, which was named as a terrorist organisation by the US earlier this year, after members pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The group is also said to have been behind last year’s Jakarta attack in which eight people, including the perpetrators, were killed.


It’s not the first time a suspected terrorist has been killed by Indonesian police during an alleged confrontation.

In December five people were killed during two separate alleged gun fights with police.

Densus 88, which Australia helps train, has previously come under fire by Indonesia’s human rights commission who say since 2006 around 120 people have died during operations.

Confusion, shocks, controversy at Oscars

The 89th Academy Awards was thrown into turmoil at the moment of its grand finale, with the cast, crew and producers of La La Land celebrating on stage but seconds later discovering there was a mix-up with the best picture announcement.


Moonlight, following the life struggles of a boy raised by a crack addict mother, won the top Oscar of the night.

The problem was Moonlight’s director Barry Jenkins and his cast and producers were still sitting in their seats in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre watching their jubilant La La Land rivals.

Warren Beatty, who announced the award with Faye Dunaway, said they were tripped up by what was in the envelope.

“I want to tell you what happened and it said, ‘Emma Stone La La Land’,” Beatty told the stunned audience.

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz broke the news on stage when he showed the card with “Moonlight” written on it.

The La La Land group retreated and the Moonlight team took their place on stage.

“The last 20 minutes of my life was insane,” Moonlight director Barry Jenkins told reporters backstage.

La La Land’s Stone, who won best actress earlier in the night, threw more fire on the controversy when she challenged Beatty’s explanation.

Stone won the best actress Oscar for La La Land earlier and said she still had the envelope that contained her name.

“I had that card so I’m not sure what happened,” Stone told reporters.

Jenkins said Beatty took him aside after the mix-up and showed him what was in the envelope

“The card said ‘best picture Moonlight’, but there were two cards,” Jenkins, adding more confusion to the incident, said.

When asked what was on the second card Jenkins declined to say and told reporters, “We’re moving on”.

The ceremony, which included two wins for Mel Gibson’s Australian-made Hacksaw Ridge, already had its controversies, with US President Donald Trump regularly the brunt of jokes.

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, winning the the foreign language film Oscar ahead of Australia’s Tanna, stayed in Iran to protest Trump’s failed attempt to block citizens from Iran and six other mostly Muslim nations from entering the US.

A statement written by Farhadi and read at the ceremony said the seven nations had been “disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US”.

There was also drama when Australian sound mixers Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace and their American colleague, Kevin O’Connell, won the Oscar for Hacksaw Ridge.

O’Connell held the unfortunate record of having the most Oscar nominations of any person without winning, with his 20 nods stretching back to Terms of Endearment in 1984 and including blockbusters Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Twister, Crimson Tide and Spider-Man.

It was the complex war scenes in Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, filmed in Sydney and country NSW, that finally broke the drought with his 21st nomination.

“I wasn’t expecting it to happen, but I feel eternally grateful that it happened specifically because of the project that it was,” O’Connell told reporters backstage.

Wright, Mackenzie and Grace stood back and let O’Connell give his long-awaited speech on stage.

“It’s an incredible experience to represent the Australian crew and all of the effort that was done by everybody, but it is extra special to be standing here with Kevin,” Wright said.

Hacksaw Ridge’s Kiwi director John Gilbert won the editing award.

Australia had 14 nominations, but it was just the three sound mixers who were victorious.

Fences’ Viola Davis, as expected, won the supporting actress Oscar ahead of Lion’s Nicole Kidman.

Gibson was up for directing, but La La Land’s Damien Chazelle was the winner and Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) won the best actor Oscar ahead of Fences’ Denzel Washington.

Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali took the supporting actor trophy.

La La Land won the most awards with six, ahead of Moonlight’s three, and Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester by the Sea with two each.

Lion, shot in India and Tasmania, had six nominations but failed to pick up a win.

‘National calamity’: Shopping centre abuse reveals great Australian paradox

The hurt and confusion are audible in her voice.


“What should I do then? What should I do then,” she pleads with the man.

“Why don’t you dress like other Australians,” he retorts.

The woman, dressed in a niqab, doesn’t know what that means, but the man continues.

“They dress with a f—— face, where’s your f—— face? What are you hiding from? F—— Allah?”

By this stage a number of bystanders at the Perth shopping centre have stopped to observe the exchange – none have intervened.


“This is how I feel comfortable,” she tells him, before being told to “f–k off”.

The man paces off, another woman deigns to call him a d–head before he disappears into the crowd.

It’s exchanges such as these, caught on hidden camera for SBS program ‘Is Australia Racist?’, that highlight a distinctly Australian paradox.

Findings from one of the largest surveys conducted on racism and prejudice in the country have revealed that while 80.4 per cent of respondents believe it is a good thing for society to be made up of different cultures, 63 per cent of the sample also felt some discomfort with, or intolerance of, Muslim Australians.

Lead researcher Professor Kevin Dunn of Western Sydney University said the findings from the Challenging Racism Project were cause for alarm.

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“The level of negative feeling towards some groups in Australia is now too high,” he said.

“On the basis of this data and other data … we are facing almost a national calamity in terms of what is called Islamophobia.”

The study, commissioned by SBS and conducted by Western Sydney University, marks the beginning of the broadcaster’s Face Up To Racism week, a week-long exploration of racism and prejudice in Australia today.

And while 76 per cent of respondents to the survey expressed a commitment to personal action when it came to challenging racism, as this incident made clear, it would appear that as far as religious tolerance is concerned, Australia still has a long way to go.

– With Kirsty Johansen

‘Is Australia Racist?’ airs at 8.30pm Sunday, February 26 on SBS.

Related reading

AFLW mulls options for grand final venues

AFL Women’s organisers are hoping to avoid a grand final headache if Brisbane’s stellar form continues.


The second-placed Lions are keen to play the grand final at the Gabba should they earn the right to host the inaugural premiership decider.

In a bid to boost grand final attendance and the television audience, the AFL has set aside an afternoon timeslot on Saturday, March 25, when no men’s matches are scheduled.

The tricky part for the AFL in that scenario is the men’s game between Gold Coast and Brisbane kicking off at Metricon Stadium at 6.25pm Queensland time.

But the AFL are hopeful an early grand final start time wouldn’t force Lions fans to choose between the men’s and women’s games.

“There will be Brisbane fans heading down to the Gold Coast, but with a one-o’clock grand final start we’d be hopeful they could do both,” AFL game development boss Simon Lethlean told AAP.

“The Gabba is the Lions’ preference and we’ll work on that basis to try and get a good result for everyone.”

Back-to-back Adele concerts at the ground in the first week of March are another potential stumbling block, but Lethlean is confident there will be enough time between the events for the turf to recover.

Lethlean said consideration had been given to playing a Brisbane grand final as a curtain-raiser at Metricon, but the Gabba presented fewer logistical issues than the Suns’ home ground.

Brisbane are unbeaten after four rounds of the AFLW, second behind fellow undefeated team Adelaide, with the ladder leaders at the end of the seven-round season earning the right to host the grand final.

“Adelaide play Brisbane this weekend so that will be a reasonably instructional result as to where things might head,” Lethlean said.

“Certainly our preference is to play at Adelaide Oval if the Crows finish on top.

“It would be a pretty big event for the town and the state, so we’d be confident we can arrange something that works for all parties.”

Adelaide’s men’s team kick off their home-and-away season against Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval the day after the women’s grand final.

Melbourne, who have put together a three-match winning streak to sit a game back in third, and Carlton, another game back in fourth, are the only other realistic hopes of hosting the grand final.

Lethlean confirmed the preferred grand final venue in Melbourne is Princes Park, the scene of the historic season-opening clash between Collingwood and Carlton.

Hundreds of fans were turned away from that match after the gates were closed when the venue’s 24,500 capacity was reached.

While admission for the grand final will remain free, Lethlean said the league is working through the possibility of ticketing the game to avoid a similar scenario.

Turnbull blames Abbott for ‘calculated’ damage to Coalition poll numbers

Malcolm Turnbull has accused former prime minister Tony Abbott of deliberately damaging the Coalition’s performance in the latest Newspoll.


The poll, published in The Australian on Monday, shows the government trailing Labor 45 to 55 on a two-party-preferred basis.

The poll was conducted on the day of, and in the days following, a highly publicised speech by Tony Abbott last week in which he criticised the Turnbull government.

Mr Turnbull said he did not think that timing was coincidence. 

“We saw an outburst on Thursday and it had its desired impact on the Newspoll,” the prime minister said on Monday morning.

“It was exactly as predicted and as calculated.

“He knew exactly what he was doing and he did it. I’m not going to be distracted by that. It’s a fact of life. That’s what’s happened.”


Malcolm Turnbull has retained his edge on Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister, leading 40 percent to 33.

But the federal opposition has seized on the poll figures, suggesting they could spell trouble for Mr Turnbull’s leadership.

“The house is on fire,” Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said. 

“There is nobody in this building who still believes that Malcolm Turnbull is going to survive with these types of numbers.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the poll was a reminder the government needed to “sell the message”. 

“Some people say polls go up and polls go down. I’m not a fool, I’ve read them, and what they are is a motivation to me that people have concerns,” Mr Joyce said. 

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party appears to have been the beneficiary of the Coalition’s falling vote. 

The party has doubled its primary vote since November and is now sitting on 10 per cent.

Liberal ‘deplorables’ are good people, says Cormann

Senior government figures are playing down reports a group of conservative Liberal MPs, calling themselves “the deplorables”, sought to undermine Malcolm Turnbull after last year’s close election.

The Australian reported on Monday that the group of MPs held regular phone hook-ups which were instigated by former prime minister Tony Abbott and one his strongest supporters Senator Eric Abetz.

The Australian named other MPs involved as Kevin Andrews, Michael Sukker, Rick Wilson, Andrew Hastie, Zed Seselja, Ian Goodenough, Cory Bernardi, Nicolle Flint, Jonathon Duniam, Craig Kelly, Scott Buchholz and Tony Pasin.

According to the report, junior MPs were directed to use the media to pressure the Turnbull government on issues such as Safe Schools and amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

They also sought to position conservative MPs for a fight over same-sex marriage if Mr Turnbull moved to a free vote once the plebiscite was defeated in parliament, arguing any change of policy would be a leadership issue.

The group also pushed for Mr Abbott’s return to cabinet.

SBS News has spoken to one named MP who did not deny the existence of the group but insisted it was always a discussion about coordinating efforts on conservative policy positions, not the leadership.

“Never been a conversation to stitch up PM [Mr Turnbull]” the MP told SBS News. 

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann insists he knows nothing about the group or its activities.

“The people mentioned in that article are all good people, they’re valued friends and colleagues,” he told ABC radio.

“There’s nothing wrong with discussing policy matters internally.”

A veteran Liberal MP hopes Mr Abbott reflects on his time as prime minister as federal parliament resumes in Canberra.

“I would suggest that Mr Abbott reflect on his own period as prime minister before he starts throwing mud at other colleagues. He was actually given a lifeline and he gave himself six months probation and he failed,” backbencher Warren Entsch told reporters as he arrived at Canberra airport.

Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham said continuing internal criticism of the government was taking away from the good things it was doing.

“We want every single member pulling in the same direction, supporting the case for the reforms the government is trying to implement right now,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce warned his colleagues about the consequences of internal dissent.

“I think the Labor party don’t look fondly on the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period,” he told reporters at Parliament House.

“I think the lesson in politics is don’t repeat it.”

Labor MP Mick Keogh said “the deplorables” were no longer a clandestine group inside the government.

“The real deplorable thing here is how this government is focused on itself, focused on division, focused on matters of leadership within the Liberal Party instead of the things that really matter to the Australian people,” he told reporters.

Liberal MP Andrew Laming said he would love to meet “the deplorables” and was envious at missing out.

But he also said Mr Abbott had gone too far with his critique of the government.

“Once you go on a speaking tour, once you start seeking out friendly right wing TV, once you start flogging your view basically against the minister of the day, that’s where it crosses the line,” he told reporters.

His advice to the former prime minister is: “Keep writing and do less news media calls flogging your ideas.”

WATCH: Australia-Indonesia relationship back on track

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– with AAP

No plan for Perth Freight Link tunnel

The Barnett government has not submitted a business case including a cost benefit analysis for the most expensive part of its biggest project, the $1.


9 billion Perth Freight link.

The revelations come less than a fortnight before the state election, with the government trailing in the polls.

Department of Infrastructure executive Ronald Pittar told a Senate estimates committee hearing that a business case for the 5km Roe 9 stage, including a 3km tunnel, had not been received by the federal government.

The commonwealth has committed $1.2 billion to the project, designed to connect port to industry and take heavy trucks off roads.

It has become a contentious election issue over its environment impacts on wetlands and local residents, with Labor vowing to scrap it if elected.

WA Greens senator Scott Ludlam, who opposes the project, questioned how the federal government could commit to “building the thing” when it was not properly designed yet.

“How come so much information is shrouded in secrecy?” he said, referring to the fact that the tunnel will finish still 3km short of the port and there are no plans or funding for a third section to address that.

WA’s Liberal National government has focused selling the project on the fact that is has been deemed a high national priority by Infrastructure Australia.

However, Infrastructure Australia’s Jeremy Parkinson said the advisory body was waiting for a response with cost benefit figures from the WA government.

Labor transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti questioned how Treasurer Mike Nahan could have claimed a few days ago that he was on the verge of signing a Roe 9 contract with one of the nation’s biggest builders.

“Even the prime minister claimed the project had been carefully assessed, which is now shown to be completely false,” she said.

Mr Barnett said the government was “nowhere near” signing contracts for Roe 9, contradicting his treasurer.

He defended the lack of a business plan, because the decision to build a tunnel rather than a surface road was a recent one.

Mr Pittar admitted the federal government committed taxpayer funds to the project before an independent assessment of its merits by Infrastructure Australia.

No payments have been made yet.

Phone pranking WA Liberal says sorry

A West Australian Liberal candidate has apologised after he was caught out pretending to be a talkback caller while criticising opposition leader Mark McGowan, which the premier labelled a silly political stunt.


Wade De Campo, a Liberal party South West region candidate and shire president of Manjimup, phoned ABC South West on Monday while Mr McGowan took caller questions, saying he was concerned about Labor’s renewable energy targets and their plans for state debt.

But ABC producers recognised the voice of “John from Collie” as that of Mr De Campo.

“There won’t be a future for coal and power generation in Collie if you have a 50 per cent renewable target,” he said.

“How are you going to reduce state debt without selling Western Power?

“I’m just a person on the street and it seems to me your assumptions on your debt reduction program don’t seem to add up because they’re just assumptions.

“I’m really concerned.”

Mr McGowan answered the questions and laughed it off when interviewer Clare Negus stated who the caller actually was, saying “good on you Wade – nice one”.

But he later spoke dimly about the stunt to reporters and asked if it was authorised by Premier Colin Barnett and the Liberals.

“It’s pretty poor form when you have dishonesty and desperation by candidates less than two weeks out from the election,” he told journalists.

Both Mr De Campo and Mr Barnett said the call was not party-approved.

“I acknowledge that earlier today I made a serious error of judgement,” Mr De Campo said in an emailed statement.

“My actions were not authorised by the Liberal Party and I apologise for any embarrassment and offence that was caused.”

Mr Barnett said the candidate’s actions were regrettable and silly, but Mr De Campo had apologised and that was the end of the matter.

The premier admitted he was surprised, saying Mr De Campo was a good man who had achieved a lot in the Manjimup district.

“It was the wrong thing to do,” Mr Barnett said.

“I don’t expect people to use a false name.

“We all make mistakes.”

Mr Barnett didn’t deny it was a political stunt.

“Sometime silly things happen in campaigns.”

The premier denounced political stunts on Sunday when he unwittingly posed for a photograph at the Rottnest Channel Swim with four women who had #putlibslast and “drowning in debt” written down their arms.

La La Land incorrectly announced as Best Picture, Moonlight takes out top gong at Oscars

“Moonlight,” a poignant coming-of-age story set in the tough projects of southern Florida, won the best picture Oscar – but not before the prize was first given in error to musical “La La Land.


The mistake – only corrected after the producers of “La La Land” had come on stage to accept the award – was a stunning end to the film industry’s biggest night.

Two black film stars took the early acting honors at the 89th Oscars on Sunday, which began with a salvo of jokes by host Jimmy Kimmel targeting US President Donald Trump.


Mahershala Ali won the best supporting actor prize for his turn as a drug dealer with a heart in coming of age drama “Moonlight” while Viola Davis took the supporting actress statuette for her work in family drama “Fences.”

Casey Affleck won the Oscar for best actor for his searing role as a man marked by tragedy in the family drama “Manchester by the Sea”.

Emma Stone picked up the Oscar for best actress for the whimsical musical “La La Land,” the most honored film of the night.

Jordan Horowitz, left, of “La La Land,” mistakenly accepts the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre.Invision

Justin Timberlake opened the gala night — expected to be dominated by musical “La La Land” — with some upbeat music, and Kimmel then wasted no time putting the A-list audience in a political state of mind.

“This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us,” joked the 49-year-old Kimmel.

The late-night comedian quipped that Trump, who pulled off a political upset win with his campaign that targeted immigration, had taken the heat off Hollywood and its annual gala.


“I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him,” Kimmel said.

This year’s nominees have reflected a push by the Academy to reward diversity after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of the past two years that prompted calls for a boycott of the annual bash.

Ali was a first-time nominee along with “Moonlight” co-star Naomie Harris, while Davis and her co-star Denzel Washington are both old hands, with 11 nominations between them and — including Davis’s triumph — three wins.

‘Triple crown’ 

Viola Davis won her first Oscar for her role in “Fences”, making her and Whoopi Goldberg the only black entertainers to gain the ‘triple crown’ of acting, with an Emmy, a Tony, and now, an Academy Award up her sleeve.

Just one Grammy away from the prestigious ‘EGOT’, Davis is the 23rd person to win all three awards.

In 2015, Davis won an Emmy for her role in drama series “How to Get Away with Murder”, and she previously received two Tonys – one in 2010 for her Broadway performance of “Fences” and one in 2011 for “King Hedley II”.

Adding her Oscar to the pile, Davis has raked the awards in this season with a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

And her speech was almost as tear-jerking as the film itself. After she had finished speaking Kimmel joked that she “just got nominated for an Emmy for that speech”.

Viola Davis poses in the press room at the Oscars.Invision

“You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered… and that’s the graveyard,” she began.

“People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams come into fruition, people who fell in love and lost.”

“I became an artist and I thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”

After being nominated for best supporting actress in January, Davis became the first black actress to receive three Oscar nominations.

Davis joins film legends such as Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren and Al Pacino in the ‘triple crown’ group, a feat which some of the world’s best actors haven’t yet been able to achieve.


Damien Chazelle on Sunday became the youngest ever filmmaker to win the Oscar for best director for “La La Land,” a glossy tribute to the Golden Age of Tinseltown musicals.

The 32-year-old triumphed against nominees who included Mel Gibson for “Hacksaw Ridge” and the directors of “Arrival,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.”

The film, which stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as an aspiring actress and a struggling jazz musician who fall in love in Los Angeles, has charmed critics the world over and returned more than 10 times its $30 million budget.

Composer Justin Hurwitz also won two Oscars after his bid to revive yet modernize musicals triumphed decisively at the box office. 

32yo Damien Chazelle becomes the youngest man to win best director at the #Oscars “La La Land” now has five awards @SBSNews

— Manny Tsigas (@mantsig) February 27, 2017

Taking the stage at the Hollywood gala, Hurwitz saluted the musicians and actors in “La La Land” and said he wrote the score with them in mind.

Despite the film’s contemporary setting, Hurwitz gave a retro Hollywood sound to “La La Land,” which led the night’s nominations.

“La La Land” took the Oscar for best original score in a field that included music from “Moonlight,” a film that featured a unique blend of hip-hop but which was nowhere near as driven by the music.

Hurwitz also won for best original song with “City of Stars,” a duet between “La La Land” stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, whose swings between major and minor keys mirror the plot tension.

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Win for White Helmets

A film about Syria’s White Helmets — rescuers who risk their lives to help save civilians caught in the country’s devastating war — took home the Oscar for best documentary short on Sunday. 

The Netflix-produced film, called simply “The White Helmets,” was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, and bested another short about the Syrian conflict, “Watani: My Homeland.”

But members of the group including the cinematographer who shot much of the footage, Khaled Khatib, were not allowed to enter the United States for the Oscars. 

Group members said on Twitter that they had waited for three days at the airport but were not permitted to board a flight.

The US Customs and Border Protection service said only that they did not have valid documents. 

The ordeal comes as US President Donald Trump sharply curtails visas for Syrians as well as citizens of a number of other Muslim-majority countries.

Raed Saleh, leader of the rescue group, also was not able to attend but said in a statement that the White Helmets had saved the lives of more than 82,000 civilians.

While we follow the Oscars, the Syrian regime has launched chlorine gas attacks in Harasta, injuring civilians. #Oscar pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/ahNQFnbmzf

— Khaled Khatib (@995Khaled) February 26, 2017

“I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life, to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world,” he said in a statement read by the director.

“It’s very easy for these guys to feel forgotten. This war has been going on for six years. If everyone could just stand up and remind them that we all care, (then) this war ends as quickly as possible.”

Khatib tweeted: “While we follow the Oscars, the Syrian regime has launched chlorine gas attacks in Harasta, injuring civilians.”

The White Helmets emerged in 2013, working to rescue civilians in rebel-held areas during the nearly six-year war. 

Before fighting broke out, the volunteers had everyday jobs — bakers, painters and even students. Since 2013, the group says it has attracted more than 3,000 volunteers.

It is named for the distinctive white hard hats worn by its volunteers and has gained international renown for its daring rescues, often filmed and circulated on social media.

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Red carpet glamour

Ahead of the ceremony, Tinseltown’s A-list paraded down the red carpet at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, with white, cream and champagne gowns emerging as a fashion favorite.

Best actress nominee Isabelle Huppert, already a Golden Globe winner for edgy rape-revenge thriller “Elle,” oozed glamour in a glittering long-sleeved, floor-length Armani gown with a demure neckline.

Many of the nominees had family members as their dates, with Dev Patel, Lucas Hedges and Lin-Manuel Miranda bringing their moms and Stone stepping out with her brother Spencer, who often accompanies her to awards shows.

The most intriguing race is for best actor, which for weeks looked like a lock for “Manchester by the Sea” star Casey Affleck until a late surge by Washington (“Fences”), who now has the momentum.

“It’s pretty exciting. I’ve only been once before. I was a lot younger and I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of it,” said Affleck, 41, who was a losing best supporting actor nominee in 2008.

Stone is expected to bag her first statuette in the best actress category despite a late push from Huppert, but Gosling is not expected to do the same.

Political activism

The Oscars is the highlight of the Tinseltown calendar, and wraps up two months of glittering prize galas.

This awards season, the popping of champagne corks has been muted by the tense political situation in the United States.

Trump’s controversial (and now halted) travel ban led Iranian director Asghar Farhadi to opt out of attending — but a statement from Farhadi was read when his “The Salesman” was named best foreign language film.

“Dividing the world into the US and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear — a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” he said in the statement read by the Iranian-born US engineer and astronaut Anousheh Ansari.

On Sunday, several stars including nominees Miranda and best actress nominee Ruth Negga wore blue ribbons in support of the American Civil Liberties Union, a high-profile civil rights organization.

The awards season has a long tradition of political activism, from Marlon Brando’s Oscars snub in 1973 to Meryl Streep’s rousing anti-Trump speech at this year’s Golden Globes.

On Sunday, Kimmel made mention of Trump’s retort that Streep was “highly overrated” — by recalling her record 20 nominations, and urging everyone to offer her a standing ovation. The audience willingly complied.

Officials lash ‘loose’ border force audit

Border force officials have criticised a report which found its officers carried out illegal body searches at Australian airports and conducted inappropriate search warrants.


The Australian National Audit Office has released a harsh appraisal of the department, whom it accuses of failing to adequately address the risk of its officers using coercive powers unlawfully or inappropriately.

Immigration chief Michael Pezzullo has since conceded some “administrative deficiencies” in his ranks but came out swinging against the “loose” terms and “unworldly” analysis in the report.

Some of its “bland” recommendations were easy to swallow but its analysis was simply “not rooted in reality”.

“They need to write more precisely, frankly,” Mr Pezzullo told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday.

The ANAO examined 69 body searches conducted at Australian airports during 2015-16.

Five of these searches were unlawful as the border force officer was unauthorised, while 20 involved at least one uncertified officer, meaning these were inappropriate.

The audit office also examined 50 search warrants, finding almost half were used for more than one search, with one warrant used for seven separate searches, in breach of prosecution guidelines.

The department was found to have provided inadequate instructions and guidance to its officers.

“Some personal searches of passengers at international airports examined by the ANAO were unlawful or inappropriate, indicating weaknesses in the control framework,” the auditor-general’s office said.

“A number of searches of premises under the Migration Act exceeded the authority of the warrant which authorised them, and officers routinely questioned people without documenting their legal authority to do so.”

Officers frequently failed to follow compliance, certification and record-keeping requirements, the report found.

It urged the department to improve guidance, training and supervision records about officers exercising these powers.

Immigration officials agreed with some – but not all – recommendations handed down.

It was highly likely the potentially unlawful searches and failure to comply with instructions were inadvertent and administrative breaches, not deliberate or intentional, the department said.

The term ‘coercive powers’ has been misused throughout the report, it added.

Mr Pezzullo was quizzed about the report less than an hour after its release, lambasting both its language and analysis.