Melbourne has been named the world’s third most liveable city, with Sydney 11th and Brisbane 25th.

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The Victorian and NSW metropolises both fell slightly in Monocle magazine’s 2014 rankings, while Brisbane was a debutant.

Copenhagen was named the world’s most liveable city for the second year in a row followed by Tokyo, which finished fourth in 2013.

Falling from second last year, Melbourne won praise for recent public transport upgrades and its low crime rate – though Monocle’s data gave it the highest murder rate on its index of 25 cities.

“Melbourne has proved that coffee and cricket aren’t the only things it does well,” it said.

Eleventh-placed Sydney – ninth in 2013 – was criticised for its public transport system and bar lock-out laws, introduced in parts of the city in early 2014 after the `one punch’ death of teenager Thomas Kelly.

“Sydney remains Australia’s face to the world – and a pretty one at that,” Monocle said.

“Architectural breakthroughs such as the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club and One Central Park are welcome additions.”

Brisbane’s role hosting November’s G20 summit of world leaders propelled it into the spotlight.

“Arriving delegates will discover a sun-drenched destination with a flourishing start-up scene,” Monocle said.

Monocle’s rankings are the latest to try to corral disparate global cities into some sort of cohesive ranking system, with Sydney and Melbourne regularly featuring in the various top-10s.

But some of the data it used was questionable.

For example, the London-headquartered firm claims Sydney enjoys 2592 “sunshine hours”, without offering a timeframe. Bureau of Meteorology data shows Sydney Airport recorded an average of 7.8 hours of sun per day in 2013 – or 2847 hours over the year.

Monocle also claims Sydney only has 42 book shops but directories show at least 22 in and around Glebe alone with many more across the city.

One of its judging criteria was also how many daily newspapers exist in each city (four in Sydney, three in Melbourne), disregarding the fact millions get their news online.

There was no room for London or New York in Monocle’s rankings, with the magazine claiming London’s police “can’t always be trusted”, without elaborating.

Retaining top spot on Monocle’s index, Copenhagen was praised for its easy lifestyle and cosmopolitan feel.

Tokyo’s food, arts and shopping ensured it secured second.


Alan Toovey aside, Collingwood’s defence right now is an AFL nursery.

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There will be times in Sunday’s game against the Western Bulldogs when Toovey will have more AFL experience than his five fellow backmen combined.

And at just 27 years of age and 124 games, Toovey is hardly a veteran.

But the more impressive statistic is that only Fremantle and Sydney – teams renowned for their defensive grunt – have conceded less points this season than the Magpies.

Toovey’s fellow defenders include Lachie Keeffe and Paul Seedsman (30 games apiece), Marley Williams (27), Jack Frost (13) and Tom Langdon (11) – a total of 111 games.

Heritier Lumumba (189) and Clinton Young (128) will also spend time in the back half, but Toovey will be easily the most experienced of the permanent defenders against the Dogs.

The numbers are skewed this weekend because Nick Maxwell is out with a calf injury, Alex Fasolo has been dropped and Ben Reid is yet to play in the AFL this season.

Even so, it’s a young defence doing an impressive job.

“It is a really young group, but the way they go about it this year, it’s been great,” Toovey said.

“Young blokes doing their homework, getting their research done on their opponents and playing their role for the team – it’s gone a long way to get us where we are at the moment.”

Collingwood are fourth and will start strong favourites against a team that is struggling to kick goals.

Toovey said it is important his young teammates make sure they keep it that way.

“There will be blokes in their forward line who none of us have played on before,” he said.

“It’s going to be a bit of a challenge.

“For the young guys in our team, it’s getting an advantage over opponents they might be playing against for years.

“So get in early and be the ones on the front foot.”

After missing most of last season with a knee reconstruction, Toovey has only missed two games this season.

“There’s a few little things I’ve had to work on and improve as the season has gone on – just adjustments from missing a year,” he said.


“We’re extremely pleased with the level of interest U.

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S. cities have shown in hosting the Games,” USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

“Boston, LA, San Francisco and Washington have each given us reason to believe they can deliver a compelling and successful bid, and we look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities as we consider 2024.”

The United States has not hosted a summer edition of the Games since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics while the three other candidate cities would be first-time hosts.

The USOC said a decision on whether or not to proceed with a bid will likely be made in early 2015, at which time it would also identify which city would seek hosting duties.

Dallas and San Diego, who had expressed early interest, will not be moving forward in the bid process, according to the USOC.

USOC leaders spent the last six months focussing on talks with a smaller group of interested cities that met the initial requirements of hosting the world’s largest sporting event.

“Simplifying the domestic bid process has been a major priority for us,” said Blackmun. “We were able to have exploratory conversations with a greater number of cities while avoiding unnecessary costs.

“We’re hopeful that through this new process, we can be successful in hosting the Games on U.S. soil.”

The United States can expect stiff competition if it does go ahead with a 2024 bid with Rome, Paris and Doha among those that could enter the race.

The next Summer Olympics will be held in Rio in 2016 while the 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo.

The decision on the 2024 host will be made in 2017.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)


Beckenbauer, who was on the FIFA executive committee which controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Qatar in 2010, had received “repeated requests” to provide information, FIFA said in a statement.

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The ban was imposed at the request of U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia, head of the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee, who is leading an investigation into the 2022 decision.

“I really do not know why,” Beckenbauer told Sky Television in Germany, when asked why he had been banned. “First thing I did was look at the date as I thought it was an April Fool’s joke.”

Beckenbauer is regarded as one of the greatest players ever to have graced the game and is revered in Germany, where he is honorary president of Bayern Munich, and abroad.

“I am the Bayern Munich honorary president. Even if I cannot do this for 90 days it is something the honorary president can survive.”

As a player, Beckenbauer redefined the role of libero and captained the West Germany side which won the 1974 World Cup.

He led West Germany to World Cup victory as a coach in 1990 and was head of the local organising committee when Germany hosted the showpiece in 2006.

On Wednesday, Garcia told FIFA’s annual Congress in Sao Paulo that he and his team already had access to the “vast majority” of millions of documents the Sunday Times newspaper referred to in a recent report alleging bribery in the run-up to Qatar’s successful bid.

Garcia is expected to issue his final report in July.

PROVISIONAL BAN

“Franz Beckenbauer was today provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity, at any level, for 90 days,” said the FIFA statement. “The ban is effective immediately.

“The decision was taken…on the grounds that a breach of the Code of Ethics appears to have been committed and a decision on the main issue may not be taken early enough.

“The apparent breach relates to Mr Beckenbauer’s failure to cooperate with an Ethics Committee investigation despite repeated requests for his assistance, including requests that he provide information during an in-person interview or in response to written questions provided in both English and German.

“The case is now the subject of formal investigation proceedings being conducted by investigatory chamber member Vanessa Allard as chief of the investigation.” Garcia has said that his team would consider any material provided to them, but would not delay the publication of the final report indefinitely.

The Sunday Times said some of the “millions of documents” it had seen linked payments by former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam to officials as part of a campaign to win support for Qatar’s bid.

Bin Hammam has not commented on his involvement since he was banned for life from soccer in 2012, while Qataris working on the project say he was not a part of its official bid.

The allegations have caused severe embarrassment to FIFA and its long-serving president Sepp Blatter, who is expected to stand for a fifth term next year.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Justin Palmer and Mike Collett-White)


“In 2012 I started the season ranked number one,” Blake told Reuters on Friday.

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“I want to get that ranking in 2014. That’s what I’m really working on, to get back on top.”

Blake will take his next step on what he hopes is a fast track back on Saturday at the IAAF Diamond League New York grand prix on Randall’s Island across the East River from Manhattan.

The sixth stop of the 14-event athletics series will also feature world 800 meters record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha of Kenya, women’s Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko, world champion in the high jump.

Blake rose to the top ranking after a breakout 2011 season in which he won the world championship 100 meters in Daegu, becoming at age 21 the youngest 100m champion in a field diminished by the disqualification of compatriot Usain Bolt for a false start.

Bolt, the double Olympic champion and world record holder in both the 100 and 200 meters, has overshadowed all sprinters since his meteoric rise in 2008, but Blake harbours no resentment of his good friend and training partner.

“We have spent a lot of time together … and talk about a lot of stuff, like cartoons,” Blake said. “We have a wonderful chemistry.”

Blake, who finished second to Bolt in both the 100 and 200m at the 2012 London Olympics, said he does not feel frustrated about being overshadowed and believes his time will come.

ESCAPING SHADOW

Blake made believers of those who doubted his prowess on the track by clocking a time of 9.69 seconds in 2012, tied for second fastest man behind Bolt’s record of 9.58.

“I believe in time. When it’s your time, it’s your time,” he said. “People say I was in the shadow of Usain, now I’m out. I’m the second fastest in the world. It’s not much about being in the shadows but being in the spotlight of my own right now.”

Blake, who was noncommital about whether he was planning to compete in this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland, said he looked forward to his next showdown against Bolt.

“I don’t mind racing against anyone. I love competition. I love fast races,” he said, before adding that the complexities of scheduling were out of his hands.

Blake’s camp, however, on Friday hinted that a showdown between the two Jamaican sprinters could come next year.

“It’s always good to run against the best in the sport,” said Blake, who races the towering Bolt in practise and said they are usually tight contests. “It’s always fun, though it’s tough when you’re taking two strides when he’s taking one.”

Blake, who last month anchored a Jamaican team to victories in the 4×100 and a world record time in the 4×200 at the IAAF World Relays, said he was fit and had something to prove after being unable to defend his world title last year because of injury.

“Last year was a disappointment for me, but now I’m back and I can’t wait to go out there and show the world.”

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by ……)


The lean and heavily tanned 35-year-old stood in the baking heat outside the Amazonia arena in Manaus on Thursday after cycling almost 8,000 km (5,000 miles) for charity since starting in the southern city of Porto Alegre in January.

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“I came here to find some inspiration … and when I go back I need to find something different,” he told Reuters, saying he wanted to perhaps work for “a social enterprise, a business that’s trying to make the world a better place somehow.”

He added: “At least it’s not just shuffling money around from shareholders to suppliers to whatever which is what I’ve been doing for years and doesn’t inspire me.”

The die hard fan of the England national soccer team quit his job last September to prepare for the trip.

Smith, sporting a large black beard, said he wanted to explore Brazil as “as a bit more enlightened foreigner rather than (someone) just thinking of the stereotypes of half naked people dancing samba on the beach”.

He added: “This country is so much more, it’s so diverse, and I’m just delighted to have seen it.”

One highlight was touring the famed Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Another was visiting a couple of schools at the start of the trip.

“I didn’t realise just how friendly and hospitable Brazilian people could be … the kids were so interested and all wanted to take photographs and now I have about 40 new Facebook friends,” he said.

Every day he studied a map on his tablet and then typed in the coordinates of his destination into the small GPS device bolted to the handlebars of his black touring bike.

Then cycled six or seven hours a day on the crowded two-lane highway system, doing his best to avoid trucks, large holes and the occasional dead horse.

His worst memory is trying to revive a man who had been hit by a car. Luckily, Smith had done a first aid course and was able to keep the victim alive until an ambulance arrived.

The memories both good and bad will help keep his spirits up when he returns to London.

“I need a job, I’m running out of money and I need to get on with my normal life, unfortunately,” he said.

But before then he can enjoy the World Cup. Smith has tickets for England’s three group games and predicts the team will reach the last eight.

“I hope we’ll play Brazil in the quarter-finals and then we’ll inevitably lose on penalties, like we do every tournament,” he said, referring to a series of painful defeats in international competitions.

“But that’s good, that would be a success for us.”

(Reporting by David Ljunggren. Editing by Patrick Johnston)


Australia should aim to be an affordable energy superpower, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

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Mr Abbott visited Houston – which is home to more than 100 Australian companies and 3700 energy firms – on Friday to announce a consulate-general would be established in the Texas city.

He said the permanent presence in the biggest exporting state in the US would allow Australia to “maximise the two-way trade and investment opportunities of the US energy revolution”.

“Australia should be an affordable energy superpower, using nature’s gifts to the benefit of our own people and benefit of the wider world,” Mr Abbott told the Asia Society dinner.

More than 50 Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Texas, second only to New York.

Australia is set to become the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas and is already the largest exporter of black coal.

Mr Abbott said he believed coal would continue to be an “affordable, dependable energy source” for many decades.

Australia did not believe in “ostracising any particular fuel” or harming economic growth through a carbon tax, he said.

But he said it was “prudent” to reduce emissions, which was why he would deliver a $2.55 billion direct action policy and encourage renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

Chevron North America president Jeff Shellebarger, Australia’s largest foreign investor, told the gathered chief executives that Australia was “setting the standard for resources policy”.

Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project is Australia’s single largest oil and gas investment.

Ryan Lance, the chief executive of ConocoPhillips, said Australian resources were “important to the future of the world”.

“Your energy resources will power the region,” he said.

ConocoPhillips and Bechtel are building four of Australia’s seven new LNG projects.

Mr Abbott was later presented with a large Stetson cowboy hat.

The prime minister, a Western movie fan, attracted laughter and applause when he cried out: “Yee ha!”


An impassioned Mark Thompson has thrown his full support behind Essendon’s legal action against ASADA in the wake of the show-cause notices issued to 34 players.

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Bombers chairman Paul Little on Friday announced the club would launch legal action in the Federal Court challenging the legality of the 16-month-long joint AFL-ASADA investigation, which coach Thompson said was a strong move in defence of his players.

“Everyone’s entitled to the law of the land,” Thompson said.

“If this was your brother or sister or yourself and you were part of a process that was found not to be legal and you were punished for it then that’s not fair.

“They’ve had to live out the last 16 months where there has been enormous pain, scrutiny and heartache.

“It’s been hard to get through and I think now they can see the finish line.”

Essendon was disqualified from last year’s finals series, fined $2 million and coach James Hird was suspended for 12 months after the club initially cooperated with the investigation.

Hird has also launched his own legal action against ASADA and while Thompson had spoken to the banned coach, he said that the recent legal developments weren’t discussed.

“I spoke to (Hird) last night for the first time since the season started,” Thompson said.

“We didn’t talk much, he’s in France but he just asked how the players were basically.

“We didn’t really talk about that (legal action). He basically asked about the players, how they were feeling and he asked more about the team and how they were going.”

The show-cause notices and subsequent legal action mark a significant escalation in hostilities between the parties, but Thompson said the club was up for the fight.

“The last 36 hours have been well-organised, well-planned and well-communicated by the club,” he said.

“The players were a little bit vague and nervous and you could see that something was wrong (initially), but they’ve been given a lot of confidence by the club.

“Paul and the committee and the management of the football club have been in close contact and we’ve tried to look after them as well as we can. They’re fine – they’re ready for a game.”


Adam Scott knows all to well how hard it is to sit on a large lead, ensuring the world number one has hope he can reel in German Martin Kaymer at the US Open Championship.

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Scott made a significant second round move up the leaderboard at Pinehurst No.2 after producing his best round in a US Open, a three-under 67.

It was just the second time in 38 attempts he’s been in the 60s and the third time under par.

It moved the Queenslander to even-par for the tournament, and a tie for 14th, but a whopping 10 shots adrift of the man dubbed the Germanator.

Kaymer posted his second consecutive round of 65 to move to 10-under 130, the lowest total in US Open history through 36 holes.

He leads by six shots over American Brendon Todd (67) and is seven clear of Kevin Na (69) and Brandt Snedeker (68) who share third at three-under.

Kaymer, who won the lucrative Players Championship recently, was bogey-free and has played unconsciously good golf but Scott, with four birdies and just the lone bogey, at least gave himself a chance to do some damage over the weekend.

“There are so many talented guys and he’s certainly one of them and he’s confident enough after winning a big event already this year,” Scott said.

“So for him to come out today and back it up is super. If he does it for two more days, then we’re all playing for second spot.

“But we all know that US Opens get very difficult and if I can just somehow put together two really good rounds, maybe slowly but surely I’ll creep my way up towards Martin.”

Scott led the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year by seven shots at the halfway mark before being run down on the final day and also led the 2012 British Open by four with four to play before being bested.

So the 33-year-old knows better than most the tournament isn’t over until the last putt drops.

“I think if I drew up my perfect plan right now, over the next 27 holes you would like to narrow the gap to less than half of what it is,” Scott said of his strategy going forward.

“Anything could happen over the last nine holes at a U.S. Open, so if I played great and he continues to play great, I think I can narrow that gap and hopefully feel like I’m in contention come the back nine Sunday.

“I’d hope if I can play my way into the rear view mirror with nine to go it will be fun to put some pressure on.”

Jason Day, like Scott, turned around his tough opening round with a better performance, shooting 68 to move to one-over and a tie for 20th. Aaron Baddeley joined him after he slipped slightly with a 71.

For the other eight Australians it was a US Open to forget as they all missed the cut.

Matt Jones (72) missed by one shot at six-over as did Rod Pampling after a 73, John Senden struggled to a 76 to be seven-over, equal with 2006 champion Geoff Ogilvy after the Victorian carded a 74.

Brady Watt (74) finished at 11-over on debut in a major while fellow first-timer Aron Price (74) and veteran Robert Allenby (73) finished well back at 12-over.

Amateur Oliver Goss, who is expected to turn professional soon, had a nightmare day, shooting an 83 to plummet to 14-over.


A group representing Tasmanian loggers has joined conservationists to oppose a federal government move to wind back the state’s World Heritage wilderness.

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The influential Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) has reportedly written to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee objecting to a cut of 74,000 hectares.

The group has confirmed its submission but is not commenting publicly, the ABC reported.

FIAT boss Terry Edwards, a key negotiator of Tasmania’s peace deal between loggers and environmentalists, did not respond to AAP’s call.

But Wilderness Society campaigner Vica Bayley, who negotiated with Mr Edwards for three years, told reporters earlier on Friday it was his belief FIAT were backing the World Heritage listing.

“(The move to delist) is not done with logging in mind and not done with the majority of industry wanting to log these areas,” Mr Bayley said.

“This is done because of personal politics, personal ideology and an inability to actually move with the times, to embrace the collaborative paradigm that has been developed in Tasmania.”

The pressure on the government comes with the World Heritage Committee due to begin meeting in Doha from Sunday.

A decision on the Tasmania application is expected on Friday or Saturday next week.

The area slated for delisting is part of 172,000 hectares added last year as a result of the historic peace deal.

The deal swapped forest reserves for green groups’ support for the ailing logging industry.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to wind the World Heritage Area back during last year’s election campaign and Environment Minister Greg Hunt applied to UNESCO in February.

FIAT’s move means both sides in the peace process are sticking by their agreement, despite changes of government at federal and state level.

Mr Bayley, part of a delegation of four conservationists heading to Doha, said it was not too late for the government to withdraw its submission.

“The Abbott government can avoid further embarrassment and avoid wasting more of the World Heritage Committee’s time by withdrawing this application,” Mr Bayley told reporters in Hobart.

Green groups say 90 per cent of the area is intact and its listing ensured the integrity of the 1.6 million hectare World Heritage Area’s border.

Two advisory bodies to the committee have already recommended the government’s application be knocked back.

Federal government forestry spokesman and Tasmanian senator Richard Colbeck accuses the green movement of spreading lies.

Senator Colbeck says much of the area has been logged and some “old growth” is only 60 years old.

“It is clear that there has been harvesting activity in some areas back into the 1940s and in others back to the 1800s,” Senator Colbeck said.

“There is irrefutable evidence that much of this was industrial scale.”

Opponents of the government’s plan will rally in Hobart on Saturday.