India working on DRS bungles

India have continued to make a hash of the DRS in the second Test against Australia, despite coach Anil Kumble’s pre-match assertion that it was not a problem his side needed to work on.

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Virat Kohli’s hopes of lifting the Border-Gavaskar trophy will end if Australia manage to win in Bangalore and take a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

Kohli will lament fielding errors and batting collapses if such a result unfolds, but the skipper’s ineffectual use of DRS should also be on his mind.

Australia will resume at 6-237 on day three, holding a 48-run lead after once again putting their referrals to much better use than India.

By the time the second new ball was two overs old, India had already wasted their allotted two reviews.

Ravichandran Ashwin convinced Kohli to refer two not-out decisions, but the world’s top-ranked Test bowler was left thoroughly embarrassed on both occasions.

A vociferous lbw shout was shot down when footage confirmed Shaun Marsh edged the ball onto his pads. Ashwin was convinced Matthew Wade gloved a ball before it ballooned off his chest, but replays showed a clear gap between ball and glove.

Marsh, who scored 66, would have been dismissed for 14 had Kohli opted to review an earlier caught-behind shout.

Kohli has have lodged over 40 reviews since the start of the England series, when India’s stern resistance to adopt DRS ended. Some 34 have been struck down.

“We have been working on it, at times there were close calls and we didn’t get it right,” India’s Cheteshwar Pujara said.

“There was one instance where Shaun Marsh was out and we didn’t take the review, we were not sure and we got it wrong.

“We are working on it and can get better at DRS.”

Injured opener Murali Vijay shared similar words last week, but Kumble was fiercely defensive when asked about India’s DRS problems in Pune.

“I don’t think we messed it up,” Kumble quipped, prior to the start of the second Test.

“You can always have hindsight … but those calls were really close, so I don’t see a reason why we need to worry too much about that.”

Marsh was given out on 44 but successfully reviewed his lbw dismissal, while Steve Smith used a referral to help Nathan Lyon bag the sixth of his eight wickets on day one in Bangalore.

Israel partially decriminalises marijuana

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a plan to partially decriminalise marijuana use in public in favour of fines and treatment, officials said.

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First-time users who confess will be fined 1,000 shekels ($356 AU). The fine will be doubled on the second offence, with the third time forcing a probation period on the user.

Police will refer a user to criminal procedures only on the fourth time they catch someone in possession of or using cannabis in public.

The plan, based on recommendations from a committee set up to study the issue, applies only to instances of personal use. Producing, selling and buying cannabis remain illegal in Israel.

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Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the approval “an important step on the way to implementing a new policy that will emphasise education and treatment instead of criminal enforcement.”

Erdan had formed the committee in July when tasking his director general with examining Israel’s enforcement policy on the personal use of cannabis.

Sunday’s decision was met with mixed feelings by two of the lawmakers most active in reforming Israeli law on cannabis.

Sharren Haskel, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, said the decision was “an important step but not decriminalisation,” since users could ultimately face criminal charges. 

Haskel said the decision will allow police to “continue hounding cannabis users”, and she vowed to push for full decriminalisation.

Tamar Zandberg of the opposition Meretz party welcomed the decision, which she said was “a message that a million Israelis who use cannabis aren’t criminals,” noting she would ensure the recommendations were implemented. 

The government will form an inter-ministerial committee to implement the new policy that will submit its recommendations by May 7, the decision read.

The shift in policy comes on the heels of Israeli ministers endorsing a draft bill to legalise export of cannabis for approved medical use last month.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Sunday that “Israel can’t ignore the changes around the world on the use of cannabis and its effects”.

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IAG, Suncorp battered by Sydney hail storm

A recent hailstorm in Sydney could cost two of Australia’s major insurance companies, IAG and Suncorp, up to $370 million.

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IAG – which offers insurance under several brands including NRMA, Swann, CGU and AMI in New Zealand – says it has received more than 20,000 claims in relation to the February 18 hailstorm as of March 5, and expects the cost will be around $160 million.

The insurer expects a maximum possible exposure of up to $200 million, after reinsurance.

IAG on Monday said its net claim cost up to the end of February is $650 million, which means it can absorb about $130 million of net natural peril claim costs in the final four months of the 2016/17 financial year.

Suncorp – whose insurance brands include AAMI, GIO, Apia, Shannons and Bingle – says it has received around 11,000 claims, which will cost between $150 million and $170 million.

That is expected to drive up Suncorp’s total natural hazard claims costs to between $610 and $630 million for the eight months to February 2017.

Suncorp chief executive Michael Cameron said the insurer’s hail assessment centres in Wollongong, Bella Vista, and Willoughby are assessing as many as 650 cars a day.

“We are focused on ensuring the safety of our customers and their families, as well as processing all claims as soon as possible,” Mr Cameron said in a statement on Monday.

Suncorp said it was well protected against further natural hazard events, with additional cover in place.

QBE couldn’t immediately provide any claim or financial details about the impact of the hail storm, a company spokesman said on Monday.

Erdogan likens Germany’s blocking rallies to Nazis

The attack came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to try to defuse the row, which has put a major new strain on already bruised ties between the NATO allies.

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Local authorities in Germany, citing security concerns, have banned several rallies by Turkish ministers ahead of an April 16 referendum on whether to approve changes to the constitution.

“Germany, you are not even close to democracy,” Erdogan told a women’s rally in Istanbul. “Your practices are not different from the Nazi practices of the past.”

He added: “I thought it’s been a long time since Germany left (Nazi practices). We are mistaken.”

The cancellations have infuriated the Turkish government, which accused Berlin of working against the “Yes” campaign in the referendum and summoned the German ambassador to the foreign ministry in protest.

FILE: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to meet German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel following Erdogan’s ourburst. AP

After Erdogan’s outburst, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke by phone with German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel late Sunday, a call that came at the request of the German side, a Turkish official said on condition of anonymity.

The pair are set to meet on Wednesday, it was announced last week. In a bid to defuse the row, Merkel also called the Turkish premier on Saturday.

Germany is home to the largest population of Turks outside Turkey with around three million in the country of Turkish origin, the legacy of a massive “guest worker” programme in the 1960s-70s.

‘Undesirable’? 

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) says the changes would bring political stability.

But the vote is widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan himself because the proposed plan could see him stay in power until 2029.

Opponents however say the changes that would grant sweeping new powers to the head of state would make parliament dysfunctional and promote a one-man rule model.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said Sunday that Turkish politicians should be banned from political campaigning across the European Union. 

“A collective EU response to prevent such campaign events would make sense so that individual countries like Germany where appearances are forbidden don’t end up being pressured by Turkey,” Kern told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

FILE IMAGE: Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has said Turkish politicians should be banned from political campaigning across the European Union. AAP

Turkish rallies have also come under scrutiny in the Netherlands where Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said a planned pro-Erdogan rally in Rotterdam on March 11 would be “undesirable”.

Erdogan on Sunday said other EU member states with significant Turkish communities were likely to follow suit. 

“The Netherlands acted similarly and maybe others will follow,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. If you talk about democracy, you must live up to it.”

But he reserved his strongest rhetoric for Germany.

“You will lecture us about democracy and then you will not let this country’s ministers speak there,” he said.

“We no longer want to see the Nazi world. We don’t want to see the practices of those fascist regimes.”

Months of tension

Tensions with Germany, a European Union heavyweight, have simmered for months, especially since the failed bid in July to unseat Erdogan. 

Ankara has launched a vast crackdown in the aftermath of the failed putsch, which has seen more than 100,000 people arrested, dismissed or sacked for alleged links to the plotters or to Kurdish militants.

Berlin has criticised the arrest of Deniz Yucel, 43-year-old Turkish-German dual national correspondent for Germany’s Die Welt newspaper charged by an Istanbul court with spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting hatred.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan throw flowers to female supporters during the ‘Woman and Democracy’ meeting in Istanbul.AAP

“That man is a terrorist, not a journalist,” Erdogan told another Istanbul rally, as he accused Berlin of “putting my ministers on the same scale” with him.

Erdogan also said that, if he wanted to, he would go to Germany himself, but warned: “If you don’t let me in, or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.”

On Friday, the president said the journalist had been sheltered at the German consulate for a month before his detention, claiming that he was a “German agent.”

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Barnett says despite poll Libs can still win WA election

A poll predicting a Labor win in the WA election is disappointing for the Liberals but two-term Premier Colin Barnett says the party is still in the game because of undecided voters.

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A Galaxy poll commissioned by Seven West Media shows Labor has a 54 to 46 per cent lead over the Liberal-National alliance on a two-party preferred basis.

“I’m a little bit disappointed but I think it confirms what most polls have indicated, and while there’s been a great deal of variability within the polls, it’s clear that the Labor party has been in front,” Mr Barnett told reporters.

“A large number of voters, maybe 15-20 per cent, have yet to decide how they’re going to vote so we’re still in this game.”

Mr Barnett has previously labelled Opposition Leader Mark McGowan boring and took a similar swipe on Sunday.

“Mark’s OK, he works hard but I tell you what, Western Australia is headed for mediocrity,” he said.

The premier again accused Labor of being at the behest of the unions, which had helped attack the Liberals in advertisements and would “want a direct say in all government decisions”.

“Probably two-thirds of a McGowan cabinet will be recent union officials,” he said.

It was fitting, then, that Labor embraced its roots with former trade union chief and prime minister Bob Hawke being interviewed by Mr McGowan at a town hall forum in the CBD.

Mr Hawke, who led the country after serving just two years in parliament, gave Mr McGowan advice for if he were to seize power on his second attempt this Saturday.

“Politicians are always thinking about talking. But listening is a very important part of leadership,” he told the 49-year-old.

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten is expected to return to Perth for the campaign’s final week but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won’t.

His recent visit flopped because he was seen to have backtracked on a promise to fix the GST system that short-changes WA.

Mr Barnett said he was unfazed.

“No that’s fine. He came over and paid a visit, John Howard made a visit, a few federal ministers have come over, it’s good, but this is a state campaign so we’re running on our record as a state government.”

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson flew in on Sunday night for a full week of campaigning in WA, mainly in the regions.

The poll shows One Nation on nine per cent.

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“I do believe we will win seats in the upper house, especially as the Libs are preferencing us before the Nats and Labor,” Senator Hanson told ABC TV.

She also called a third candidate to quit over the Liberal deal, Ray Gould, a Labor stooge for his public outburst.

“He has come across to One Nation as a disgruntled person.”

Mr Barnett said he didn’t regret the deal.

“It doesn’t mean in any way that I support One Nation candidates or One Nation policies because in most areas, I do not,” he said.

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