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Torch relay future in doubt

Torch relay future in doubt

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ASHLEY HALL: The Beijing Olympic torch relay now resembles a globally roaming protest march but
demonstrators may soon have their target taken away from them.

Stung by violent anti-China protests in London and Paris, senior IOC officials visiting Beijing are
about to debate the future of the relay.

It's unclear what they'll decide especially as the Olympic movement braces for the next leg of the
relay through one of the world's protest capitals, San Francisco.

The controversy raises doubts about this month's Canberra leg of the relay and while pro-Tibet
demonstrators say they don't want the entire relay cancelled, they won't back away from the fight
for human rights.

Karen Barlow reports.

PROTESTERS: Free Tibet now.

KAREN BARLOW: The Olympic Torch relay for the Beijing games has not begun in San Francisco but
Olympic officials have already been given a taste of the city's welcome.

PROTESTERS: Stop the killing in Tibet.

KAREN BARLOW: Around 1,000 pro-Tibet demonstrators marched on City Hall and while loud, it was
peaceful.

Tomorrow's torch relay may be a very different matter considering San Francisco's history of
protests and the violent demonstrations this week in London and Paris.

Olympian and Canberra torch bearer Rob de Castella has told ABC local radio that the relay has
degenerated into a roving protest march.

ROB DE CASTELLA: I am just saddened that something so, so special has been, you know sort of, like
irreparably damaged by the recent activities and I don't think that the torch relay is ever going
to be the same.

KAREN BARLOW: Olympic chiefs are now meeting in the 2008 host city and are expected to discuss
abandoning further international legs of the torch relay.

The IOC president has told reporters that a full review of the relay is now needed.

While the public wish of the Australian IOC official Kevan Gosper is that from the next Games, the
torch should travel directly to the host city.

Australian based pro-Tibet activists say they only want the Tibet leg of the torch relay cancelled.
They warn it will result in a Chinese military crackdown and another Tibetan uprising.

The executive officer of the Australian Tibet Council, Paul Bourke says China only has itself to
blame for the public relations mess.

PAUL BOURKE: When China decided to use the torch relay to boost its image and to incite nationalism
at home, it politicised this. We're using the focus on this, on the torch relay, to bring attention
to the other side of China.

China tries to paint itself as an open, transparent country. On the other hand it is cracking down
on dissent in China and Tibet, denying free media access. This isn't what the torch relay is about.

KAREN BARLOW: The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has indicated he will raise human rights concerns
with China while he is visiting there this week.

The executive director of the political advocacy group, GetUp! Brett Solomon wants more.

BRETT SOLOMON: So encouraging to hear the Prime Minister speak out strongly on human rights abuses
in Tibet and we are encouraging him to do so even more strongly in his private discussions with the
Chinese leadership over the coming days.

KAREN BARLOW: Torchbearer Rob De Castella has sympathy for Tibet's struggle but he says the
Olympics should be about sport.

ROB DE CASTELLA: Obviously what is happening in China, in Tibet, is terrible and I don't think
anybody in their right mind would in any way condone the human rights policies and the behaviours
of the Chinese Government and what they are doing in Tibet. But somewhere along the line, you've
got to draw the line.

GetUp's Brett Solomon does want the torch to come to Canberra.

BRETT SOLOMON: The Olympic torch relay is an important part of the Olympic process and the Olympic
spirit, but so is the capacity of people to be able to demonstrate, to express their views and to
rightly oppose the continued oppression of Tibetans and the abusing of their human rights.

So what we've got here is a complimentary system, it is not one or the other. We think that if
there weren't human rights abuses happening in Tibet then there would be no need for citizens to
express their concern about them.

KAREN BARLOW: But neither he nor Paul Bourke from the Australian Tibet Council can guarantee it
will be an entirely peaceful even.

PAUL BOURKE: There are so many groups that have problems with the Chinese regime that it is
impossible to give a blanket guarantee.

I can guarantee that the Australia Tibet Council is organising peaceful, non-violent protests aimed
at getting our message about the abuses in Tibet and the inappropriateness of the torch relay going
through Tibet.

ASHLEY HALL: Paul Bourke from the Australian Tibet Council ending that report from Karen Barlow.

And Chinese officials have lodged protests about recent comments made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
In a joint media conference with US President George Bush at the White House a week and a half ago,
Mr Rudd said it was "absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet".

It's understood Chinese officials believed the Prime Minister's comments were biased and ignored
Tibetan attacks on the Chinese.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman has confirmed that Australian and Chinese officials in
Canberra and in Beijing have discussed the comments and their differences over Tibet.

He says the Federal Government stands by the comments, which reflect "strong and firmly held
views".

IMF blames subprime losses crisis on collective failure

IMF blames subprime losses crisis on collective failure

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Peter Ryan

ASHLEY HALL: The International Monetary Fund says losses linked to the US subprime mortgage
meltdown could top a trillion US dollars.

A new report by the IMF blames the still-rising losses on a collective failure to fully deal with
the crisis.

And the IMF says the worst may not be behind us, with financial markets still suffering
considerable strain from the subprime meltdown.

Here's our business editor Peter Ryan.

PETER RYAN: This time last year, the IMF appeared alert but not alarmed about the first signs of
widening defaults in the US subprime mortgage market - predicting any ripple effect would be
limited.

But with that ripple now a tidal wave in the form of a full blown credit crisis, the IMF's
turnaround is sobering.

JAIME CARUANA: There has been a collective failure to appreciate the extent of leverage in
financial markets and the associated risks of this orderly unwinding.

PETER RYAN: The IMF's head of monetary and capital markets Jaime Caruana delivered the climb down
as he released the fund's semi annual Global Financial Stability report in Washington.

In essence, the financial system is far less stable than the IMF would prefer and a failure to deal
with what was an emerging crisis a year ago stands to prolong the fallout.

JAIME CARUANA: Despite timely actions by policy makers and significant adjustments by financial
institutions that have already occurred, markets remain under considerable strain from a
combination of weakened balance sheets, the leveraging, falling asset prices and a more challenging
macroeconomic environment.

PETER RYAN: So far, banks and securities firms have posted $US232 billion in subprime related
write-downs and losses.

But now the IMF has signalled this isn't even the halfway point, with falling US house prices and
rising delinquencies well on the way to a bill of $600 billion.

Add to that losses from securities tied to commercial real estate, and the toll gets closer to a
staggering trillion dollars.

And according to the IMF's Jaime Caruana it's not just the risky subprime mortgages that are now
engulfed in the credit crisis.

JAIME CARUANA: The credit shock emanating from the US subprime crisis is set to broaden amid a
significant economic slowdown. The deterioration in credit has moved up and across the credit
spectrum to prime residential and commercial mortgage markets and to corporate credit markets.

As the credit cycle turns, the full rates are likely to rise across the board.

PETER RYAN: With the United States on the brink of recession or already in it, Jaime Caruana also
warned of what he called "serious macro-economic feedback effects" - code for a global slowdown.

JAIME CARUANA: With a weakening economy, write-downs and prospects for further losses are placing
additional pressures on banks' balance sheets which may limit their capacity to lend.

This dynamic has the potential to be more severe than in previous credit cycles, given the
increased level of securitisation and leverage in the financial system.

PETER RYAN: Despite the gloomy news from the IMF, some in the market maintain the worst is over.

TONY PLUMMER: I think we've probably already seen the bottom. I'm not actually predicting a massive
rise in markets, at least not just yet anyway.

PETER RYAN: Tony Plummer is the author of "Forecasting Financial Markets" - a book he's recently
decided to revise.

He believes the global outlook is not all gloom and doom, and that the US sharemarket is slowing
returning to some form of health.

TONY PLUMMER: We've probably gone through the first stage which is that everybody gets really
worried about it and the governments have responded by pumping in liquidity which is always a
positive for markets.

Now as it happens, in March the equity market got itself very oversold and it is due a rally and I
think that is pretty conventional.

Part of my cycle patterning is that the global economy is actually going to pick up a bit over the
next six months and that will support equities.

PETER RYAN: Meanwhile, the IMF Jaime Caruana hit out at US monetary policy from earlier this decade
that created the foundations for the subprime meltdown.

JAIME CARUANA: I would say that certainly one of the elements that have contributed to some assets
being overvalued has been a long period of time of low interest rates and future optimistic
expectations about prices of some of the assets.

PETER RYAN: The target of the criticism, the former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has
already admitted he didn't see the subprime crisis coming.

But today he had an update saying the credit crises was the most wrenching of the past century.

ASHLEY HALL: Business editor Peter Ryan.

Consumer confidence hits 15-year low: survey

Consumer confidence hits 15-year low: survey

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:22:00

Reporter: Stephen Long

ASHLEY HALL: The bad news and the rate hikes are affecting public sentiment.

According to a respected survey, consumer confidence has hit a 15-year low. Economics correspondent
Stephen Long joins me now with some details.

Stephen, how sharp has the fall in confidence been?

STEPHEN LONG: The fall in the month of April wasn't overly dramatic. It was just 1.3 per cent but
Westpac and the Melbourne Institute which compiled the index were expecting confidence to rise
because rates were left on hold.

Instead, it fell yet again and that came on top of the sharpest three month fall in the history of
this respected index which has been going since January 1975. So in the three months prior to that,
it had fallen by 21.2 per cent. So we've had a pretty dramatic fall in consumer sentiment this year
and Westpac is certainly saying that there are significant economic ramifications from this,
Ashley.

I spoke to them and Matthew Hassan and here's what he had to say.

MATTHEW HASSAN: Look, I think this is a pretty bleak result. We've seen a sharp decline since the
start of the year that has continued into April and if you look through the detail, some of the
critical barometers within the survey that tie in most closely with actual consumer spending, are
really starting to flash warning signals.

In particular, the time to buy a major household item which has been found statistically to have
the strongest correlation with our consumer spending has just collapsed over the last six months.

This index usually rounds at around 130 but it is tracking around 85 at the moment and we've just
haven't seen anything like that for this particular survey.

ASHLEY HALL: Matthew Hassan, an economist with Westpac. So Stephen, apart from the state of the
international economy, what's driving this?

STEPHEN LONG: Well, rates are a factor. You've got sentiment amongst home owners down yet again by
about one per cent and clearly they are cutting back on spending, Ashley. When you look at the fact
that we've seen about a 46 per cent fall in that component relating to major household items.

But the biggest and most dramatic falls are amongst renters - paralleling the big increases in
rents and the tight rental markets that we've seen. There is a lot of concern there and often when
we look at housing affordability, the focus is on people buying homes and the amount of their
disposable income, they are having to put across.

It is much worse for renters and a much higher proportion of people who are renting are actually in
what be described as housing stress.

People who are generally on lower incomes in the rental market or a higher share, are paying out
30, 40 per cent of their gross household income, so often more than 50 per cent of after tax income
to basically live in a house. That is the big concern there.

ASHLEY HALL: What's this going to mean for the outlook for interest rates?

STEPHEN LONG: I don't think it will have immediate ramifications. It certainly won't necessarily
mean that the Reserve Bank is looking to ease in the short term because this is exactly what they
want to see happen.

The Reserve Bank wants demand in the economy to halve, to rein inflation in. And so the fact that
consumers are getting pretty gloomy and they appear to be putting the brakes on spending, this is
one of several indicators that suggests that's happening, is just what the Reserve Bank wants to
see.

I guess the question is though, how bad will it get for a lot of people and how much pain will
there be out there as these interest rate levers are applied to dampen demand and cut people's
spending.

How many people are going to lose the overtime that is helping them pay the mortgage or the rent
for example.

ASHLEY HALL: Interesting times ahead. Stephen Long our economics correspondent, thank you very
much.

Nixon hits back at unpopularity claims

Nixon hits back at unpopularity claims

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:26:00

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ASHLEY HALL: Victoria's chief commissioner of Police has hit back at suggestions her leadership is
hugely unpopular within the force.

A poll of more than 3,000 police has shown that only one-third approves of the way she's running
the organisation and two-thirds considered resigning in the last year.

The survey plays into a campaign against the police chief that's being led by the embattled union
secretary Paul Mullett.

Mr Mullett slid into virtual obscurity after explosive corruption hearings late last year but, as
Jane Cowan reports, he emerged yesterday to lead a protest march on Parliament House.

JANE COWAN: Christine Nixon says policing is not a popularity contest.

CHRISTINE NIXON: I try to be fair and I've tried to be reasonable with our membership. That's what
a leader is supposed to do. I've had to have people charged. I've had to investigate, have major
offences (phonetic) investigated that people didn't want investigated and so it goes.

You are going to make decisions that are not going to make everybody happy and that's the way it
is. I didn't take this job on to become popular.

JANE COWAN: Which is just as well.

After seven years in the job, a poll conducted by the Herald Sun newspaper suggests only a third of
police support her leadership.

It is worth noting that less than one-third of Victoria's 11,000 police officers chose to take part
in the survey, but more than two-thirds of those respondents did describe the chief commissioner's
leadership as a bad or below average.

About the same proportion recently thought about resigning.

The criticisms that emerged in the survey included police under-resourcing and a change in the way
crime statistics are recorded - something some respondents claim masks the real number of offences
such as burglaries.

A lengthy interview on Fairfax Radio was the first of many conducted by Christine Nixon today.

On the question of police numbers she had this to say -

CHRISTINE NIXON: We've got a certain number of police officers but the idea that there are so many
people sitting doing projects. I know it is in the minds of, in this case one member. Whether it
reflects the broader view, in fact it doesn't reflect the reality.

JANE COWAN: Christine Nixon denied any problem with attrition.

CHRISTINE NIXON: 2.9 per cent of Victoria Police people leave every year. If it's so terrible then
and so overwhelmingly terrible, you'd think that members might want to have left, but they're not.

JANE COWAN: And she flatly rejects any suggestion crime statistics are manipulated to misrepresent
the real level of crime.

CHRISTINE NIXON: They're not made up. We didn't fudge them. Why would I do that? I mean people said
that to make me look better. No its not. It's about. We're not into fudging. I'm not into not
telling the truth. I never have been.

JANE COWAN: How Christine Nixon's message seems to be received depends on what radio station you
listen to.

On Fairfax Radio caller after caller this morning backed the survey findings.

TALKBACK CALLER: Boss has lost the support of all the troops. She doesn't communicate with them.

TALKBACK CALLER 2: What has she ever done to get her hands dirty? Where does she earn the respect
of the police?

TALKBACK CALLER 3: The numbers are in crisis mode. I'm a sergeant. I would hold on a night, in the
area I work, without a doubt we don't respond to 10 to 15 jobs. They are just cancelled because I
don't have the resources to get to them.

JANE COWAN: But at the ABC, presenter Jon Faine found the union secretary Paul Mullett was the one
raising the ire of listeners.

JON FAINE: Paul Mullett if you were sitting in my chair right now looking at the text message
screen, you would see an entire screen of 30 texts about you, describing you in terms that if I
read them out, are probably defamatory. There is not one message in support for you.

JANE COWAN: For his part, the embattled union secretary has emerged from the virtual obscurity
forced upon him by his suspension from the police force in the wake of last year's corruption
hearings.

And as usual the rhetoric is strong.

PAUL MULLETT: Her position is almost untenable but she has to take stock as to where she is taking,
or what direction she is taking policing in this state at the moment.

Yesterday's meeting placed us in a very much strategic position over the next couple of years.

JANE COWAN: But the exact nature of that strategy is debatable.

Police Command has suggested yesterday's march through the streets of Melbourne and the fresh calls
for the commissioner to resign are timed to bolster Paul Mullett's role in the union as he waits to
hear whether he'll face criminal charges as a result of his alleged involvement in leaking details
of a secret murder investigation.

There are reportedly moves afoot among union rank and file to oust the already sidelined senior
sergeant Mullett.

Dr Darren Palmer specialises in Criminology and Policing at Deakin University.

DARREN PALMER: The techniques used by the Victorian Police Association such as calling on the chief
commissioner to resign are certainly being used in Victoria against each of the preceding chief
commissioners in recent history.

JANE COWAN: Is there any real evidence, do you think, that Christine Nixon is any more or less
popular than any other police chief in any other state?

DARREN PALMER: If anything up until now, you would have to say that the evidence would seem to tilt
more in Nixon's favour in terms of popularity.

JANE COWAN: As for calls for the chief commissioner to resign, Christine Nixon isn't giving an
inch.

CHRISTINE NIXON: I don't intend to go anywhere.

ASHLEY HALL: The Victorian chief commissioner of police, Christine Nixon, ending Jane Cowan's
report.

Tas Greens uncover Labor 'payback' scandal

Tas Greens uncover Labor 'payback' scandal

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

ASHLEY HALL: A new political scandal in Tasmania has forced the Deputy Premier to resign.

Steve Kons resigned this morning after a dramatic turn in Parliament yesterday when the Greens
tabled a shredded document proving Mr Kons had been misleading the House.

The document shows Mr Kons had chosen a new magistrate but then changed his mind.

The opposition parties say the reversal was about political payback because the initial candidate
had upset the State Government over the controversial Gunns Pulp Mill

Felicity Ogilvie is at State Parliament and she joins me now.

Felicity, dramatic events in Hobart this morning - how did the morning unfold?

FELICITY OGILVIE: Well, the Deputy Premier, now the former Deputy Premier, Steve Kons didn't even
come into Question Time this morning.

Instead he headed up to Government House to hand in his resignation. The Premier just made a short
statement before Question Time saying that Steve Kons was a good man but he would be resigning as
deputy premier. He never meant to mislead the House but he did but he'll give up his deputy
premiership but he'll move onto the backbench.

ASHLEY HALL: So what was his resignation linked to? Was it the fact that he changed his mind, or
that he'd allegedly misled Parliament?

FELICITY OGILVIE: It was more about misleading Parliament than changing his mind. Mr Kons told
Parliament he'd never chosen this man called Simon Cooper to be Tasmania's next magistrate but he
did and this document that the Greens produced proves that.

They found this document in the rubbish outside his office and literally put it together with bits
of sticky tape and it shows that Steve Kons signed off for this man to be the next magistrate in
Tasmania.

Now the question being asked is why did he change his mind and it has emerged in Parliament that
the secretary of the Premiers Department called Mr Kons to discuss this appointment and now the
opposition parties are saying, "was Mr Cooper dropped because he was outspoken about Gunns' Pulp
Mill and the process?"

ASHLEY HALL: How embarrassing is this for the State Government? It doesn't look like an easy field
to plough.

FELECITY OGILVIE: Well this is basically one crisis after the other for the Lennon Labor Government
in Tasmania.

In the past 18 months since it was re-elected, there has been two deputy premiers that have had to
resign because of scandals.

Both of them, funnily enough, are from the state seat of Braddon and they are both on the backbench
now, but it is a case of wait and see who the next deputy premier is and if they'll be able to make
it to the next state election in 2010.

But one thing is for sure is that this pulp mill is continuing to have a negative effect on
politics in Tasmania.

ASHLEY HALL: Felicity Ogilvie, thanks for joining us from State Parliament in Tasmania.

US commander stands firm on troop withdrawals

US commander stands firm on troop withdrawals

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

ASHLEY HALL: The top US commander in Iraq is refusing to commit to any more troop withdrawals
before President George W. Bush leaves office.

It means there could be roughly 140,000 American troops still there when a new commander in chief
walks into the White House.

Washington correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: In Washington today, there've been plenty of reminders of the long Iraq war.

At the White House, a visibly emotional President George W. Bush has given America's highest
military award, the medal of honour, to Michael Monsoor - a navy seal who died when he threw
himself on a grenade in Iraq to save his comrades.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We will not let his life go in vain. This nation will always honour the sacrifice
he made. May god comfort you. May God bless America.

KIM LANDERS: On Capitol Hill, the top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, wouldn't answer
questions about how long American troops will stay in Iraq but he has told Congress that Iraq is
far from stable.

DAVID PETRAEUS: That's why I have repeatedly noted that we haven't turned any corners, we haven't
seen any lights at the end of the tunnel. The champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the
refrigerator and the progress, while real, is fragile and is reversible.

KIM LANDERS: As General Petraeus testified, hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans rallied in a
nearby park to show their support for the military commander.

Standing to one side, smoking a cigarette was 22-year-old Joseph Cook.

He told me that he was in Iraq for almost a year. That he'd lost his left leg in an explosion, had
only finished rehab last week and was on his first trip to Washington.

JOSEPH COOK: I got hit by an IED (improvised explosive device), a roadside bomb. It fractured my
leg in nine different places and they had to amputate in theatre. I was in a striker, one of the
new vehicles. Great vehicles, hold up really sturdy.

KIM LANDERS: You were just unlucky do you think?

JOSEPH COOK: No, we got a lot of IEDs, so it was just my time.

KIM LANDERS: What do you say to a lot of your fellow Americans who are really frustrated with this
war and just want it to be over?

JOSEPH COOK: I'll remind them that it is a war and wars take time and we've got to let the
situation develop. So the longer that we're there the more good we are going to do, so just ask
them to have patience, you know.

KIM LANDERS: How long do you think the US might be in Iraq for?

JOSEPH COOK: There is no time but I think we need to be there as long as we are making a difference
and I think we are. So, it could be ten years, it could be 50 years, who knows? Until we're done.

KIM LANDERS: General David Petraeus today held his ground against impatient Democrats who wanted
him to commit to more troop withdrawals before President George W. Bush leaves office.

Peter Rodman is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former assistant secretary of
Defence.

PETER RODMAN: I believe this president owes his successor to leave Iraq in as stable a condition as
he can manage. And that means not taking chances this year, not trying to just start a withdrawal
just for its own sake, but to leave Iraq in as stable a condition as we can manage and the Iraqis
can manage and that means being very cautious about withdrawal.

The next president has all these options anyway, but if this president were to do something against
his better judgement just to respond to political pressures and unravel things then the next
president would actually inherit some far worse options and I think that is how this president is
thinking.

KIM LANDERS: Michelle Flournoy is president of the Centre for a New American Security.

MICHELLE FLOURNOY: A short pause to see how the dust settles to see how security's holding at a
lower level of Coalition forces is fine, but I think it is very important because of the strains on
the US army, because of the need to increase our commitments elsewhere, like Afghanistan, and the
need simply to re-establish some kind of strategic reserve to be ready for other possible
contingencies that might arise.

We need to look towards drawing down US forces as is prudently possible. So I wouldn't necessarily
want to freeze things from July for the remainder of the year.

KIM LANDERS: President George W. Bush will make a speech about the war, giving his decision about
troop levels, later this week.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for The World Today.

Israeli exercise rankles neighbours

Israeli exercise rankles neighbours

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:38:00

Reporter: Ben Knight

ASHLEY HALL: When it comes to security, Israel prides itself on being prepared.

And in that vein, it's holding its largest ever civil defence exercises - but its neighbours aren't
impressed.

Air raid sirens sounded across the country on Tuesday, as security forces simulated a series of
missile attacks on major cities.

Middle East correspondent Ben Knight reports the simulations were also testing the response to
chemical weapon attacks.

BEN KNIGHT: I'm standing outside Jerusalem's main bus station. This is one of the busiest places in
the city. And as you can hear, the sirens are going off on what is the most public of the three
days of drills that have been held across this country.

And inside this building there is a bomb shelter. But no-one's running towards it - they're not
even walking. In fact, people aren't even getting out of their cars. They are still walking along
the footpath - as though nothing was happening.

Nor were the security forces rushing people inside.

You're not heading to the bomb shelter sir?

ISRAELI CITIZEN: No.

BEN KNIGHT: We've just heard the sirens go off here but no-one seemed to be running for the
shelters. Why is that?

ISRAELI CITIZEN: It's normal.

BEN KNIGHT: But in Israel's schools, it was a different story - hundreds of thousands of
schoolchildren practised moving into bomb shelters as the siren sounded.

(Sounds of children screaming)

There have been special television commercials made - explaining what to do in an missile attack.

The Government says this is a routine exercise - aimed at improving Israel's defences.

But in the days before it began, tension between Israel and its northern neighbours began to creep
up.

On Friday, the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told the army to raise its alert level.

Hezbollah leaders were reported as saying they would also be on high alert - and watching the
exercises closely.

Iran called it provocative then Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister said if the exercises were aimed at
his country, then Damascus was also preparing plans to face the Israeli manoeuvres.

Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is trying to reassure his neighbours that this exercise is
not a prelude to an attack.

But damage has already been done - when one of his own Cabinet ministers warned Iran that a strike
on Israel would bring a devastating response. So what message is Israel sending?

Hirsh Goodman is a senior research associate at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies.

HIRSH GOODMAN: Clearly the next war is going to be in Israel's cities. Not on some distant
battlefield and I think that we needed to do this exercise. Now you do this exercise and it can
send the wrong message to the other side.

BEN KNIGHT: There is no coded message here?

HIRSH GOODMAN: No I think the message that Israel is trying to send is to rehabilitate our
deterrents. To send a message to the other side - Okay don't misinterpret the last war in Lebanon,
we have understood, we are rebuilding ourselves and to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, very, very clearly, he
has to understand that there will be extremely consequences for a nuclear Iran.

BEN KNIGHT: This is Ben Knight in Jerusalem reporting for The World Today.

China rumoured to make a move on BHP

China rumoured to make a move on BHP

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:42:00

Reporter: Tanya Nolan

ASHLEY HALL: As the Prime Minister arrives in Beijing, some new items of business may be added to
his agenda, with reports China is preparing to buy a stake in the Australian mining company BHP
Billiton.

The Australian newspaper's sources in Beijing say one of China's state-run companies is preparing
to buy a more than 9 per cent stake in the world's biggest miner.

Rumours of a bid have been driven by China's obvious fear of a merger between BHP Billiton and Rio
Tinto, which could substantially drive up iron ore prices.

Tanya Nolan reports.

TANYA NOLAN: The rumours of China's interest in BHP Billiton have been loud and strong, ever since
its aluminium giant Chinalco, bought a $15 billion stake in Rio Tinto in February.

And the drawn out fight on iron ore contracts for 2008 has only been exacerbated by BHP Billiton's
advances towards Rio Tinto, which has been resisting the hostile takeover bid.

At least one analyst sees China's move to take a slice of BHP Billiton as a smart move.

Carlo Ciaini director of a boutique strategy and investment practice, says China would need at
least a 10 per cent stake to gives it a seat at the negotiating table

CARLO CIAINI: There definitely going to have to pay around about 70 per cent increase now,
effective to the 1st April 08. But the Chinese are worried that if BHP and Rio Tinto do merge, if
their iron ore business units merge, then we are going to be looking at between 20 and 50 per cent
increase for the foreseeable future, and this will make the position of many Chinese steel makers
nearly untenable. They have no alternative.

TANYA NOLAN: China has a lot to fear from a merger between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

The price of iron ore has hit a record high for the sixth year straight and the combined force of
the two Australian giants would see the company control about a third of world's iron ore supplies.
Such production power means it could help sustain high prices, even if supply starts to exceed
demand.

Aware of the tension, the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took the opportunity while addressing the
London School of Economics, to warn China that Canberra would not intervene in market-driven
pricing.

KEVIN RUDD: China obviously is out there with a long term demand for energy and resources. We
understand that but we are also operating in a free market and so there are some stages when China
will have access to energy and resources at market prices which it will regard as being too high
and it will be accessing energy and resources when sometimes Australian producers of the same will
regard those prices as too low.

TANYA NOLAN: Mr Rudd may however have to answer some questions about his government's position on
foreign investment and regulatory controls if China does make a bid for a slice of BHP Billiton.

Resources analyst Carlo Ciaini says being a stakeholder in BHP Billiton would not guarantee China
any influence over commodity prices but it's still the best option. And in an ironic twist, Mr
Ciaini says China could even help broker a merger between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton

CARLO CIAINI: As you know, Rio Tinto has been agreeing to meet with BHP but China might actually
strategically orchestrate to try and position the two parties to talk and therefore securing their
own hand further in making sure that they secure supply.

TANYA NOLAN: Speculation surrounding China's bid has been enough to help drive the currency higher
with the Australian dollar hitting a three week high, climbing to 93.23 US cents this morning.

BHP Billiton's share price bounced more than four per cent in early trading jumping to $42.31 on
opening.

It follows a similar surge in the company's London-listed shares and its stock on the New York
exchange closed 5.2 per cent higher.

ASHLEY HALL: Tanya Nolan reporting.

Museum defends artistic credentials amid exhibition controversy

Museum defends artistic credentials amid exhibition controversy

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Rafael Epstein

ASHLEY HALL: A church museum in Austria has come under fire for its homo-erotic paintings of Jesus
and the Apostles.

The museum's director has removed the most offensive painting but defended the artistic credentials
of the exhibition.

Europe correspondent Rafael Epstein reports.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The museum attached to Vienna's Roman Catholic cathedral must have known that they
would stir up a fuss. A retrospective of work by 80-year-old artist Alfred Hrdlicka contains some
strong stuff.

One picture showed a crucifixion scene with a soldier simultaneously beating Jesus while holding
his genitals.

The main controversy though was generated by a depiction of the Last Supper. It showed cavorting
Apostles sprawling over the dining table and masturbating each other, even the painter says it is a
homosexual orgy.

But the museum's director Dr Berhardt Bohler has defended his exhibition.

BERHARDT BOHLER: In the view of strong believers, they might be blasphemous or obscene but look at,
for instance, Michelangelo created for the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel. They were regarded as
scandalous. Some parts of those firsts had to be over-painted, so this is not the first time in
history that religious art is regarded as provocative.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: There's been fierce criticism on religious blogs in Austria, Germany and the US,
saying the paintings are a blasphemy and a desecration.

One conservative Catholic website said the Museum should apologise to Catholics worldwide.

A Catholic newspaper in the United States has said the exhibition is an abomination.

So, the museum director told the BBC he can defend the artist while admitting he has had to
withdraw the painting of the Last Supper.

BERHARDT BOHLER: We did not expect such hot reactions, we have to admit that. We take these
protests serious. We are saying that we don't identify with all works of art on display.

We are not okay with the way especially the Last Supper was portrayed. We understand that they are
very provocative, problematic.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The painter is an avowed communist and atheist, but Alfred Hrdlicka has said the
bible is the most thrilling book he has ever read.

The Cardinal says the removal of the main painting at the entrance to the exhibition is an act of
respect towards those believers who feel the portrayal offended and provoked them.

This is Rafael Epstein for The World Today.

Council rejects calls for water contamination

Council rejects calls for water contamination

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Matt Wordsworth

ASHLEY HALL: Noosa Council is rejecting calls for a warning sign to be placed on one of Australia's
most famous beaches despite tests revealing extremely high levels of a gastro intestinal bug there.

On five occasions in 12 months, Noosa's Main Beach has registered high levels of enterococci which
can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea.

The council blames a stormwater drain at one end of the beach but won't warn swimmers to stay away.

Matt Wordsworth has this report.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Each week during the swimming season, council staff wade into the surf and take a
reading for enterococci, an organism used as an indicator of water quality.

Australian guidelines dictate there shouldn't be more than 60 to 100 of these organisms per hundred
millilitres of water.

But results obtained under Freedom of Information show five readings in that range or above over a
12 month period. On one occasion it topped 300 - during the school holidays last January it hit
2,100.

At that level, according to the guidelines, people aren't supposed to sail a boat on the water let
alone swim in it.

Each time it's been caused by rainfall. Water rushes down Noosa Hill, over animal faeces and
funnels it and the enterococci onto the beach via a stormwater drain, just 120 metres from the
flags.

Microbiologist Dr Helen Stratton says the council needs to do something about the drain site.

HELEN STRATTON: It's way above the ANZECC guidelines to allow people to be swimming in those
waters. I think the public should be warned about that and there should be signs after heavy rain,
please do not swim for at least 24 hours.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The council has already put up a warning sign at the stormwater outlet at nearby
Little Cove, responsible for another high reading in the test results.

And the council has taken out ads in a local newspaper warning people not to swim in the Noosa
River because heavy rain had caused similar problems there.

But Environmental Health manager Wayne Schafer says a sign on Main Beach isn't necessary.

WAYNE SCHAFER: The occasional instances where the levels are high don't seem to present any
long-term threat to swimmers so I wouldn't be too concerned about that.

MATT WORDSWORTH: But you've got one around the corner at Little Cove haven't you?

WAYNE SCHAFER: There is a drain there and the drain is an area where people have been congregating
and we have had consistently high levels in that area so that's why we put the sign there.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So there's a reading at Little Cove and you've got a sign there and there's four
readings at Noosa Beach but there's not going to be a sign there?

WAYNE SCHAFER: Not at this stage no. We don't believe a sign is warranted.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Is there any hesitation to put a sign on Noosa main beach given it is such a
tourist drawcard?

WAYNE SCHAFER: No Matt and we would and Noosa has always been up front with our community. If there
is a cause for concern but in this case there is no need for any concern.

ASHLEY HALL: Council spokesman Wayne Schafer ending that report from Matt Wordsworth.

Lessons to be learned from Kylie's cancer revelations

Lessons to be learned from Kylie's cancer revelations

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:54:00

Reporter: Barbara Miller

ASHLEY HALL: Doctors say there's a lesson to be learned from Kylie Minogue's latest revelation
about her experience of breast cancer.

The singer has told a US talk show that she was initially misdiagnosed and given the all clear for
breast cancer.

She says she doesn't want to cause alarm, but that women shouldn't trust someone's opinion just
because they are wearing a white coat and have lots of impressive equipment.

Barbara Miller reports:

BARBARA MILLER: It was an apparently an unplanned revelation.

The US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was asking Kylie Minogue about her feelings on being
diagnosed with breast cancer while touring in May 2005.

KYLIE MINOGUE: Listen. This is an opportunity for me to say something that I've not said before. I
was misdiagnosed initially.

ELLEN DEGENERES: Wow.

KYLIE MINOGUE: So my message to all of you and everyone at home is, because someone is in a white
coat and using big, you know, medical instruments, doesn't necessarily mean they're right and the
amount of stories that I've heard of women going for a diagnosis, being told, don't you worry about
a thing - it's fine.

BARBARA MILLER: That's exactly what happened to Margaret, a caller to ABC local radio.

MARGARET, TALKBACK CALLER: He said "go home, have a nice Christmas. If you're worried about it in
February, come back".

I said, "Well what is it?"

He said, "I don't know but it doesn't matter, it's not breast cancer".

I said, "Look, can you give me a referral for someone who can check it out?"

He said "come back in the New Year if you still want a referral".

I said "just give it to me now if you don't mind, I've got a daughter. I can't keep running back to
the doctor".

He gave it to me. I've gone in to see a breast surgeon thankfully and it was breast cancer.

BARBARA MILLER: Dr Karen Luxford is the general manager at the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Centre.

She cautions that such stories are not that common, but says women should insist on having what's
known as the triple test if they are worried about breast cancer:

KAREN LUXFORD: We don't have exact statistics but the numbers misdiagnosed are quite low. Women
should be reassured that if they have the right tests and that would be what we call the triple
test - a combination of clinical examination, imaging and biopsy -then over 99 per cent of cancers
will be found.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think though, that if a woman is given the all clear after consulting a GP
as was the case with Kylie Minogue, that she should seek a second opinion.

KAREN LUXFORD: If their concern persists, it is important that women do follow it up and seek a
second opinion.

BARBARA MILLER: Professor John Boyages is the Director of the New South Wales Breast Cancer
Institute at Westmead Hospital says breast cancer can be difficult to diagnose.

JOHN BOYAGES: It can be difficult, particularly in younger women because we can't see as well
through the breasts and sometimes in younger women, they may have a lump during pregnancy for
example or during breast feeding.

They may get a mastitis which usually is a mastitis but sometimes can be a rare type of breast
cancer called inflammatory breast cancer.

So not even the best specialist can tell with their fingers.

BARBARA MILLER: The experts caution though that it's not just complacency on the part of doctors
that can lead to breast cancer going undetected.

JOHN BOYAGES: The biggest delay that can occur is a woman who doesn't pick up the phone and call 13
20 50 to get a free mammogram.

BARBARA MILLER: A message echoed by Karen Luxford:

KAREN LUXFORD: We know that in Australia, we have about a 56 per cent participation rate in
BreastScreen for the main target age group, so we need to encourage women to be doing more to find
cancers earlier.

ASHLEY HALL: Dr Karen Luxford from the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre ending Barbara
Miller's report.

Numbers don't add up

Numbers don't add up

The World Today - Wednesday, 9 April , 2008 12:57:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ASHLEY HALL: It's a familiar refrain to many parents and teachers - Maths is boring.

Now researchers believe they've discovered why.

A report by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and the University of New England
has found maths classes are overloaded with content, and teaching methods are uninspiring.

And despite the current skills shortage in maths-dependent fields, like engineering, the study also
found students don't know much about the career benefits of maths.

Annie Guest spoke to the Will Morony from the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers.

WILL MORONY: A major factor that affects kids' willingness to take on higher level mathematics in
senior secondary schools is the quality of engagement and encouragement that they get from their
junior secondary years.

There are other findings around career advice that young people need to be well informed about the
pervasiveness of mathematics through so many of the careers available to them.

ANNIE GUEST: Do these findings about an uninspiring curriculum, basically confirm the common
students refrain, that maths is boring.

WILL MORONY: I'm afraid that a lot of students do respond like that and that is a challenge for
teachers of mathematics that we need to take on through providing high quality professional
development for teachers that does enable them to inspire young people. Good professional teaching
resources are also a critical need.

ANNIE GUEST: None of these findings are particularly new, are they? I mean we've known for some
time that there is a disengagement with maths at schools.

WILL MORONY: That's true but what this report is pulling together is that unless we attack this
issue on a range of levels, the economic consequences of the skills shortages will be substantial
for the country, and so it may well be a line in the sand.

ANNIE GUEST: Will some of the Australian Association of Mathematics teachers' concerns about the
curriculum be addressed by the new national curriculum?

WILL MORONY: We certainly hope so. We will be arguing very strongly in that development.

ANNIE GUEST: And in terms of better resources to inspire students that comes down to funding. Have
you had any pledges on that from state or federal governments?

WILL MORONY: No we haven't. The report itself has a wide range of recommendations and what we are
working on at the moment is representations to governments over the coming weeks and months.

ANNIE GUEST: The heads of University Mathematics Departments have recently complained that they are
not getting the funding designated to help boost teaching of maths in universities.

How closely do you work with the tertiary sector to ensure that student teachers are well educated
and informed to inspire their students at school level?

WILL MORONY: This is another of the implications of diminishing numbers of mathematics lecturers in
universities. Many of them do a wonderful job in professional development with providing
professional development for teachers and if they are not in their jobs in universities then that
important resource is not available to help improve the quality of teaching in our schools.

ASHLEY HALL: Will Morony from the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers speaking with
Annie Guest.