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Morning Express: Thursday, March 6


Morning Express is a live news blog produced each weekday from 6am-9am, covering the latest headlines, weather and transport.

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Thanks for joining me today. Lots happening.

Ecuador has won the friendly against the Socceroos in London, beating the green-and-gold team 4-3. Such a tight game. To see how it unfolded, read the posts here.

And Pulse Live has begun. Click here to stay on top of all the newsworthy events in Canberra.

Let’s take another quick look at the weather: A mostly cloudy day with possible showers in the morning. A top of 25 degrees in the city. It’s 22 degrees right now.

Let’s take a quick trip around the world - here are the top headlines:

In South Africa, Oscar Pistorius’s defence is seeking to prove that a married couple who heard screams on the night of Reeva Steenkamp’s death colluded in their testimony.

In Britain, former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks has denied covering up the wide extent of phone hacking at the newspaper, but acknowledged paying a PR guru $1.87 million ‘‘in part’’ to stop allegations against the tabloid’s editors from coming out in court.

Iran is pinning its hopes on the success of talks with the West about its nuclear program, but insists it will not scrap a controversial reactor, its foreign minister says.

In Vatican City, Pope Francis says he may whip crowds up into a frenzy and have ardent followers across the globe, but  insists he is no ‘‘superman’’.

On trial for murder: Oscar Pistorius.

On trial for murder: Oscar Pistorius. Photo: Reuters

Recipe time. Why not try making Karen Martini’s celeriac, apple and kale slaw with sour cream, dehydrated anchovy and roast garlic dressing. Here's the recipe.

‘‘This healthy little salad is quite tasty on its own, but really delicious with pork. Try a crumbed organic cotoletta or some slow-cooked pulled shoulder,’’ she says.

Back to the soccer friendly in London - and Ecuador’s Valencia has scored his team’s third goal, taking the score to 3-all.

The Aussies were winning 3-nil before half-time. Talk about a comeback.

Rolling blog covering the Australia versus Ecuador international friendly here. And a video of the goal has already been posted on Youtube.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has rejected suggestions he inherited an economy in better shape than expected from Labor.

‘‘No, they didn’t hand us an economy than was better than we thought,’’ he said on brekkie radio.

He was responding to the latest growth data showing the economy grew 2.8 per cent in 2013.

‘‘When I came in I wasn’t surprised by what they left ... it was a mess,’’ he said, pointing to rising unemployment, deteriorating terms of trade and dismal consumer and business confidence. ‘‘We’re turning the corner, but there’s much work to be done.’’

Treasurer Joe Hockey on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Treasurer Joe Hockey on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Cartoon by Cathy Wilcox.

Cartoon by Cathy Wilcox.

A ‘‘humanised avatar’’ that can detect whether people are in pain and alert the emergency services is being created by British researchers, with the aim to help the elderly remain independent and in their own homes.

But it seems an intelligent ‘‘avatar’’ is the last thing our older citizens want. Herald reader Lorraine Nelson drew links with  ‘‘Brave New World’’ and ‘‘Big Brother’’, calling the idea ‘‘is truly chilling’’.

‘‘Like it or not, humans are social animals and to change that would turn our world upside down and not for the best,’’ the Frenchs Forest resident wrote in a letter to the Herald. ‘‘And, let’s face it, it would be the elderly, the disabled and children at risk who would bear the brunt of this horrible new world.’’

Back to the Socceroos' friendly with Ecuador in London. We were winning 3-0 at half-time, but it seems the break did the Ecuadorians some good.

The score is now 3-2, our way. The two goals by the Ecuadorian team came in the 57th and 61st minutes of the game.

Live blog covering every minute here.

The Abbott government is preparing to introduce legislation to open Qantas up to more foreign investment today. But the move is likely to fail as it lacks support from Labor and the Greens.

An email trail has also revealed that the Treasurer and his department have kept a close eye on the fortunes of the troubled national carrier, Matt O'Sullivan and James Massola report.

It reveals high-level internal discussions in the lead-up to Mr Hockey's apparently off-the-cuff comments in late November about the need for a public debate about the future of Qantas, and also shows how his office has closely monitored Qantas' situation for months.


Qantas Photo: Peter Braig

Here’s a wrap of the top financial headlines from around the world:

In New York, big bitcoin backers the Winklevoss brothers say they have used the virtual currency to buy tickets into space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic aircraft.

The European Union has decided to freeze assets held in the 28-nation bloc by 18 Ukrainians accused of embezzlement.

The Bank of England has suspended a worker after a review of its processes, triggered by a probe into the suspected rigging of foreign exchange trading.

In France, Carrefour, the world’s second-largest supermarket group, says net profit rose 2.4 per cent last year, helped by strong growth in South America and a recovery in its home market of France.

Cameron (L) and Tyler (R) Winklevoss have emerged as Bitcoin millionaires.

Cameron (L) and Tyler (R) Winklevoss have emerged as Bitcoin millionaires. Photo: AFP

Two men armed with handguns threatened a woman during a home invasion in the Hunter region.

They threatened the woman at her Tarro home late on Tuesday and searched through rooms before fleeing in a purple or maroon Holden Commodore sedan.

Police describe the first man as being of Caucasian appearance with a tanned complexion, 183cm tall, of solid build with brown hair, brown eyes and wearing a white and blue check button-up shirt and denim shorts. The second man is described as being Caucasian with a tanned complexion, 183cm tall, of thin build with brown hair and wearing a black t-shirt and blue denim shorts.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

A three-car pile up has halted a northbound lane of traffic on Lane Cove Road at Buffalo Street in Ryde.

A car has broken down on one of three eastbound lanes on the Great Western Highway at Pendle Way in Pendle Hill.

A gas leak is impacting on northbound traffic on the S66 Wyndham Street, north of McEvoy Street, in Alexandria.

Socceroo Tim Cahill has become Australia’s leading scorer of all time with his 30th international goal.

The striker headed home the first goal in the team’s friendly against Ecuador in London, to pass Damian Mori’s 29 goals.

He added a second, after skipper Mile Jedinak netted one, to leave the Socceroos 3-0 up before half-time.

Go Socceroos!

Veteran Australian alpine skier Cameron Rahles-Rahbula crashed and injured his knee during an intense training session ahead of the Sochi Winter Paralympics, ruling him out of his fourth and final games.

The Vancouver dual bronze medallist fractured a bone in his knee and sustained bone bruising on his ankle while skiing the downhill course. He was announced as the Australian team’s flagbearer at Friday's opening ceremony.

‘‘[The accident occurred] not long out of the start. The skis flipped out and he skid on his face. The skis took a while to release. He’s really disappointed, especially because he was proud to be our flagbearer,’’ a teammate said on morning radio. ‘‘He’s came back out of retirement not long ago in the last six months. For that to happen after the jubilation, it’s a big disappointment.’’

Cameron Rahles-Rahbula in action during the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler, British Columbia.

Cameron Rahles-Rahbula in action during the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Whistler, British Columbia. Photo: Getty Images

Did you come down with the flu in summer? Or did you notice more people with runny, red noses and sore throats?

The number of people with the flu during the last two months of summer was double the usual figures, the director of communicable diseases said on radio this morning. But more people visited their local GPs than hospitals.

Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine Photo: Supplied

Hugh Jackman is Wolverine right? For 10 years he’s appeared as Wolverine in five X-men movies, and the sixth - Days of Future Past - will hit theatres in May.

But the Aussie actor says fans shouldn’t expect him to always play the character in follow-up movies, reports Celebuzz.

"I'm sure they had the discussion. They didn't mention it to me, obviously! [Laughs] Look, that's inevitable, man. Anyone who thinks they're indispensable in this business is fooling themselves,’’ he said to IGN. ‘‘I'm sure by the way, that it won't always be my decision to always be here. At some point, someone will close the door on me.’’

The Australian market looks set to open lower following falls on international markets after China lowers its growth expectations and US data show only modest jobs growth. The SPI went down 13 points at 5440.

The S&P/ASX200 index added 46 points to 5,446.2 points. The All Ords gained 45.6 points to 5457.3 points.

Today, the ABS will release January retail trade figures and international trade in goods and services data for the same month.


- Photo: Getty Images

The NRL season kicks off tonight with title-holders the Sydney Roosters playing arch-rivals the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium.

The shadows of the ASADA investigation into the use of banned peptides might continue into the season, admits our chief sports writer Andrew Webster on the front page of today’s paper.

‘‘[But] when the Roosters' bionic man Sonny Bill Williams winds up off a long run in the early minutes of the opener, and Souths prop Sam Burgess assesses him like Terminator about to make a kill, nobody will be thinking of drug scandals,’’ he writes.

The Australian dollar continues to strengthen after official figures show the country’s economic growth is stronger than expected.

It’s fetching 89.89 US cents, up from 89.59 cents yesterday.

It’s also buying 0.65 euro, 91.92 Japanese yen, and 0.54 British pounds.

Australian journo Peter Greste could soon be set free by Egyptian authorities, Latvia’s foreign ministry says.

The al-Jazeera correspondent - a dual Australian-Latvian citizen - has been charged by Cairo with spreading false information and aiding terrorists. Latvia expects his immediate release because he has committed no crime.

Greste said Prime Minister Tony Abbott hadn’t done enough to secure his release. He said he had received support from the White House, down, but hadn’t heard from Abbott. ‘‘We need him to speak out,’’ he says.

Australia-born journalist Peter Greste.

Australia-born journalist Peter Greste.

Australian cricketers have condemned South Africa to their first series loss in five years, with an incredible 245-run victory in the Test series decider.

The Proteas were never interested in chasing the historically impossible target of 511 runs set by Michael Clarke yesterday in Cape Town, and were eventually bowled out for 265 at 5.48pm local time.

Late-bloomer Ryan Harris entrenched his reputation as one of the finest bowlers seen in Australia since at least the turn of the century by delivering the two wickets Australia needed to win the deciding Test at Newlands and claim the series 2:1, writes Jesse Hogan in his analysis.

Score: Australia 7dec-494 & 5dec-303, South Africa 287 & 265

Match winner: Ryan Harris.

Match winner: Ryan Harris. Photo: Getty Images

A thief threatened a man with a machete during a hold-up of a petrol station in Sydenham.

The armed robber entered the servo on Unwins Bridge Road and threatened the attendant with the machete at 1.30am, police say.

The culprit then fled the premises with a large amount of cash and was last seen on Unwins Bridge Road.

Police are searching for man of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean appearance, in his late teens or early 20s, with a chubby build and black hair.

Ferry commuters should know that Parramatta and Rydalmere wharves are still closed because of maintenance works. Buses replacing ferries between Parramatta, Rydalmere and Sydney Olympic Park wharves.

A car has broken down on the M1 Pacific Motorway (F3) Off Ramp to Pacific Highway in Wahroonga. Southbound traffic affected.

A truck has stalled on Cumberland Highway at The Horsley Drive in Smithfield, blocking one of two lanes. It will be cleared soon.

Traffic is crawling on the eastbound side of the M5 South Western Motorway in Padstow and Prestons. It’s also on the  citybound lanes of the M4 Western Motorway in Mays Hill.

In Penrith, watch out for an oil spill on Castlereagh Road at Coreen Avenue. Affecting traffic both ways.

Another update on the Harbour Bridge smash. All lanes are now open after emergency services cleared the vehicles off the main deck.

The collision between a car travelling north and a utility travelling south occurred at 5.10am. Both drivers are being treated at Royal North Shore Hospital. One has leg injuries.

It’s sparked delays though on Gore Hill Freeway, Warringah Freeway and Military Road.

‘‘Motorist are advised to exercise caution and allow additional travel time,’’ says the Transport Management Centre.

Hilarious memes of Oscars host Ellen Degeneres’ celebrity-studded selfie are circulating on the internet. No surprise. Here’s a selection of the best.

The one with the pic of a down-cast Leo DiCaprio is pretty mean - since the award always seems just out of his reach. Funny nonetheless.

Front page of the Australian Financial Review, Thursday.

Front page of the Australian Financial Review, Thursday.

Let’s take a glance at the front pages of Sydney’s other major papers:

The Australian Financial Review splashes with the news Apple shifted an estimated $8.9 billion in untaxed profits from its Australian operations to a tax haven structure in Ireland in the past decade.

The Tele says Premier Barry O’Farrell has finally booked a seat on the Badgerys Creek express in a breakthrough for the campaign for Sydney’s second airport.

And The Australian reports Qantas has given ground in its clash with the Abbott government over a debt guarantee and the carbon price.

All lanes have re-opened on the Sydney Harbour Bridge after vehicles involved in a multi-car smash were swiftly cleared by emergency services.

‘‘Motorists travelling southbound continue to face delays, however, now the incident has been cleared, traffic delays are expected to ease,’’ says the Transport Management Centre. ‘‘Motorist are advised to exercise caution and allow additional travel time.’’

A man escaped a kidnapping attempt last night in the carpark of a Bondi unit block.

The 30-year-old man drove into the underground carpark of a unit block on Spring Street just after 7pm. As he reversed into the parking space a white Ford Falcon sedan with blue and red flashing lights on the dashboard stopped in front of his car.

Three or four kidnappers with covered faces alighted from the car and approached the victim. One threatened him with a handgun, another held a metal pole. They tried to restrain him with cable ties, but he resisted.

One of the abductors struck him on the head with the the pistol during the scuffle. He broke free and ran to the lift crying for help.

Police are searching for the male abductors who were last seen in the Ford Falcon - believed to be carrying NSW registration CRN51S - on Newland Street in Bondi Junction.

Front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday.

Front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday.

The first budget will be far less tough than expected, Treasurer Joe Hockey has assured voters, while arguing he can set out a credible longer-term path to surplus.

The May budget will promote a stronger growth projection and add potentially thousands of jobs, reports Peter Martin on the Herald’s front page today.

"You need trend growth of 3 to 3.25 per cent to start to get unemployment down," he says. "That is a core focus of what we're trying to achieve."

A multi-car accident is blocking four lanes just north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge this morning. 

It looks like two southbound lanes and two northbound lanes are closed - and it’s only 6am. Expect major peak hour delays.

One person is reportedly injured.

Transport authorities are urging citybound motorists to consider using the Cahill Expressway or the Harbour Tunnel. I’ll be bringing you updates throughout the morning.

A search is underway for a 57-year-old woman who went for a walk and swim with her dog but failed to return to her campsite on the NSW-Victorian border.

She was camping with her husband at Forges Beach No.1, west of Corowa, when she took her dog for a walk yesterday afternoon, police say. She went for a swim in the Murray River, and hasn’t been seen since.

Her husband called police when their dog returned to the campsite by itself. Police, State Emergency Service volunteers and divers are searching for the woman.

Police describe her as Caucasian, 170cm tall, 50-55 kilograms with curly brown hair. She was wearing a white t-shirt with "I love Paris" on the front and shorts.

Good morning, Sydney. Ready to start a new day? Thursday will be mostly cloudy, with isolated showers mainly in the morning.

A slightly cooler today, with forecasters predicting 25 degrees in the city, 25 in Parramatta and 26 in Penrith.

Have any tips? You may have stumbled upon a police operation, or seen a smash on the roads that could trigger big delays. Let us know via @smh or @EstherHjHan.

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  • that Bridge traffic jam is a joke its no wonder why people hate Sydney!

    Date and time
    March 06, 2014, 7:52AM

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