Suu Kyi to Australia: smart money’s on us

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Aung San Suu Kyi has issued a clarion call to Australia’s political leaders: take a punt on us.

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The Myanmar presidential hopeful and National League for Democracy leader has used an address in Sydney to call on foreign governments to take a long-term view of her country as it works to shed the vestiges of a brutal military regime.

She says she understands the impulse for governments to try to bolster relations with entrenched power, but the smart money is on her pro-democracy party.

“I think many governments, not just the Australian government, generally like to get on with whoever happens to be in power at the moment,” she told an audience, including business giant Frank Lowy and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, at the Lowy Institute on Thursday.

“But as I said it’s better to look to the long run and after all, aren’t Australians supposed to be rather inclined to take risks?”

There were laughs as Australia came in for a gentle ribbing from the Nobel laureate: “Aren’t you supposed to be a rather daring, reckless, young nation?

“You must be very daring and very reckless but at the same time it would be very, very sensible of you to put your bets on us.”

Ms Suu Kyi urged foreign investors to consider the good of her country, which has only recently allowed elections.

“I know that when business invest they invest because they expect to make a profit,” she said.

“(But) you cannot divorce economics from politics, and I would like Australians investing in Burma to promote the right kind of political policies, that our country as well as their business might prosper.”

Ms Suu Kyi is now on her way to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott and others.

This is her first visit to Australia but not her first taste of local culture – the Oxford alumna said she was brought up on Waltzing Matilda.

Belgium close to agreeing euthanasia for children

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A proposed draft bill to extend the practice to minors is expected to be put to the vote in the two houses of parliament in the coming months after its approval by the Senate’s justice and social affairs committee.

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The draft bill was approved by a majority of political parties both in office and in the opposition, with the exception of the centrist Christian Democrats.

A vote in favour would see Belgium follow in the footsteps of neighbour The Netherlands, the first country to legalise mercy killings for people suffering from incurable illnesses, but which allows euthanasia for children over 12.

Factbox: Euthanasia around the world

If adopted, the legislation is expected to concern no more than 10 to 15 cases a year based on statements from doctors and nurses that the practice already exists outside the law for terminally-ill youngsters in physical distress.

“The existence of a law is the best means of guarding against possible malpractice,” said the daily Le Soir newspaper, adding that it was “urgent and indispensable” to extend Belgium’s 2002 euthanasia bill.

Earlier this month, 16 paediatricians also urged lawmakers to approve the legislation.

“Why deprive minors of this last possibility,” they said in an open letter carried in the press, arguing that under-18s were able to make an informed and mature decision when facing death.

“Experience shows us that in cases of serious illness and imminent death, minors develop very quickly a great maturity, to the point where they are often better able to reflect and express themselves on life than healthy people.”

The proposed legislation would allow the euthanasia of terminally-ill minors so long as they are judged capable of deciding for themselves and are in pain that is “unbearable and cannot be alleviated”.

They would be advised by a medical team and their parents’ approval would be required.

A recent poll shows three quarters of Belgians approving the move.

But a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders have opposed the legal change. “We express our deep concern at the risk that such a grave subject will be increasingly trivialised,” said the group.

“The euthanasia of fragile people, be they children or incapable, is totally inconsistent with their condition as human beings.”

Christian-Democrat Senator Francis Delperee agreed. Asking a minor to take such a decision when facing death “is a considerable psychological, human and family burden at a time when the person should be allowed to be calm,” he said.

After The Netherlands and Belgium, Luxembourg in 2009 also approved euthanasia, but for adults only. In Switzerland, doctors can assist a patient seeking to die but euthanasia itself is illegal.

Belgium logged a record 1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012, up 25 percent.

Earlier this year, Vermont became the third US state after Oregon and Washington to legalize physician-assisted suicide for people facing terminal illness.

It was the first US state however to adopt physician-assisted suicide by legislative process rather than through a voter-initiated referendum.

A Pew Research Center poll found that 84 percent of Americans support allowing a terminally ill adult patient to decide if they want to be kept alive.

New Advisory Council triggers community debate

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(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Some critics claim more effort should have been put into bringing more Indigenous voices onto the panel.

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The 12 person body has eight Indigenous members including its chairman, the former National Labor President, Warren Mundine.

As Michael Kenny reports, about 300 people applied to be on the council.

(Click on audio tab above to hear full item)

Prime Minister Abbott says he wants the new Indigenous Advisory Council to be an important part of his government’s engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Mr Abbott says the council has brought together well-respected individuals with a broad range of skills and experience, including in business and the public sector.

The council includes the Chairman of the Cape York Land Council and Director of the Cape York Institute, Richard Ah Mat and Indigenous businessman Daniel Tucker from the WA company, Carey Mining.

Mr Ah Mat says he wants to use his position on the council to promote Indigenous welfare reforms long advocated by the founder of the Cape York Institute, Noel Pearson.

Under Mr Pearson’s Empowered Communities proposals, Indigenous communities who choose to sign up to welfare plans, would have to meet certain obligations to qualify for government funding, including boosting levels of school attendance and the number of adults in training or work.

Mr Ah Mat believes the proposals are a sensible approach to combating Indigenous disadvantage which could work in communities across the nation.

“Education is one of the keys, employment is another key, economic development is another key. Just to have input on this committee is fantastic for Cape York. To give first hand advice to the Prime Minister about our problems and possibly create policy solutions – it’s a fantastic initiative and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Mr Ah Mat says he believes Prime Minister Abbott has a genuine and sincere commitment to tackling Indigenous disadvantage and doing so in partnership with big business.

He says the appointment of Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly and Rio Tinto head David Pulver as two of the four non-Indigenous members of the Advisory Council makes sense because the mining and finance sectors are offering a lot of employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

Mr Ah Mat says he hopes the new council also focuses on tackling disadvantage at the primary school level, saying he believes that’s the best way to invest in future generations of Indigenous Australians.

“The Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion has said he really wants education to play a key role and that’s what we’ve been trying to do in Cape York. Whether it’s in the first three months or the first term, every child should go to school because education is the key for all Australians – not only Indigenous Australians, but for all Australians. Policies have to be put in place to ensure that parents seriously have to think about sending their children to school.”

Another member of the Advisory Council is the Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia Leah Armstrong.

The Torres Strait Islander has worked in Indigenous businesses for over 20 years with a particular focus on the training sector.

She believes the new Advisory Council will benefit from the input of Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesspeople as it works towards closing the gap in areas like healthcare, education and employment.

“I think it’s important that there is a good representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But I believe it’s also important that we do have the engagement of business on the council as well because I think their contribution now and for the future is also vital.”

Ms Armstrong believes the Advisory Council will also benefit from the input of Professor Peter Shergold, the former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

She says Professor Shergold has a long interest in Indigenous policy under Labor and Coalition governments.

However a veteran academic and former bureaucrat believes Prime Minister Tony Abbott should only have appointed Indigenous Australians to the Advisory Council.

The Dean of Indigenous Scholarship, Engagement and Research at the University of South Australia, Professor Peter Buckskin says he respects the non-Indigenous panellists given their distinguished careers in business and academia.

However the Narungga man from the Yorke Peninsula believes it is critical that the Advisory Council acts as a mouthpiece for the Indigenous community around the government table.

“Well, they’re pretty eminent people, clearly, within the Australian business community and academic world. My strong advice is, to all of those people, is for them to know their place in our space. That they’ve got to remember they will never be Indigenous. They can never represent us. They can clearly provide advice from their world view, but a lot of their world view has been shaped by privilege, power and their own non-Indigenous background.”

That’s a view shared by veteran Darwin Indigenous activist and former Northern Territory Government policy advisor Eileen Cummings.

A member of the stolen generations, Ms Cummings unsuccessfully contested the Northern Territory seat of Solomon earlier this year for the First Nations Political Party.

She believes Prime Minister Abbott should have drawn upon advice from Indigenous businesspeople on the council instead of turning to the heads of companies like Westpac and Rio Tinto.

“There are a lot of our people working in the mining industry, there are a lot of our people working in businesses all around Australia – they are business managers for goodness sake! Who else is better to do this than one of us, ourselves and they’re not giving us that!”

Goal frenzy as Real, United and PSG all advance

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Real, Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester City all scored four as 36 goals went in and the last 16 began to take shape with half the qualifiers known with one round of matches to play.

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Real, United and PSG joined already qualified Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in the knockout stages.

Juventus, Benfica and Shakhtar all boosted their chances of joining them with the final round of matches to be played on December10 and 11.

Holders Bayern, assured of their last-16 place before Wednesday’s Group D matches, set a Champions League record of 10 successive wins with a 3-1 victory at CSKA Moscow which beat the record of nine established by Barcelona in 2002-03.

Bayern won in the wintry Russian capital with goals from Arjen Robben, Mario Goetze and a Thomas Mueller penalty.

“Playing on this pitch today was a bit adventurous,” coach Pep Guardiola said when asked about the snow.

“It was difficult because the players had no grip, But over 90 minutes we were better than our opponents. Getting 10 wins in a row is very hard and I am proud of my players, the club and everyone involved.”

BALE SCORES

In warmer conditions in Madrid, Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive player, opened the scoring with a stunning free kick in a 4-1 triumph over Galatasaray that ensured record nine-times European champions Real took top spot in Group B.

Real were without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo but were too strong for the Turkish side even though defender Sergio Ramos was dismissed before halftime, the 17th red card of his Real career.

Coincidentally, Real also reached the knockout stage for the 17th successive season.

Juventus moved from bottom spot to second in the same group with a 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen in Turin, Arturo Vidal scoring a hat-trick that included two penalties.

“It’s the first time I have scored three goals in a match in my career so I’m happy especially because we won,” the Chilean said.

The win moved Juve onto six points and they will advance if they avoid defeat at Galatasaray, who have four points, in their final match.

AWAY WIN

Manchester United scored their biggest away win in the Champions League by crushing Leverkusen 5-0 in Group A with goals from Antonio Valencia, an own goal from Emir Spahic, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Nani.

Although he did not score, Wayne Rooney was outstanding while Ryan Giggs, two days before his 40th birthday, was also hugely impressive.

Giggs told Sky Sports: “It was a bonus to score five away from home. The front four were really quick and I am still really enjoying it.”

Leverkusen slipped from second to third due to Shakhtar’s 4-0 victory over bottom club Real Sociedad.

Shakhtar, who have eight points, go to United in their last game on December 10 while Leverkusen, who have seven points, visit Sociedad, bottom and out of Europe altogether with one.

Leverkusen can still qualify if they beat Sociedad and Shakhtar fail to defeat United at Old Trafford.

IBRA STRIKES

Paris St Germain also made it through by beating Olympiakos Piraeus 2-1 in France after Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave them the lead with an early goal on his 100th Champions League appearance.

The match appeared to be going away from PSG when Marco Verratti was sent off early in the second half and Kostas Manolas equalised for the visitors with nine minutes left.

But Edinson Cavani sealed the win with an emphatic drive in the 90th minute to lift PSG on to 13 points.

While PSG were securing top spot in Group C, Benfica improved their chances in the same section with a late winner in a 3-2 victory at Anderlecht that took them up to seven, the same as Olympiakos.

The game swung both ways with Chancel Mbemba giving Anderlecht an early lead before he put through his own net seven minutes into the second half to put Benfica 2-1 up.

Anderlecht made it 2-2 with time running out which left Benfica facing the exit door until Rodrigo, who came on as an 87th minute substitute, hit the winner two minutes later.

Benfica can now qualify if their result in their last match at home to PSG is better than Olympiakos’s against Anderlecht.

Manchester City, who like Bayern had qualified before Wednesday’s games, beat Viktoria Plzen 4-2 thanks to two late goals from Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko.

Plzen had twice levelled on a night that ended with City scoring four to complete a remarkable scoring sequence at home with three, four, five, six and seven goals in their last five matches at the Etihad Stadium – albeit not in order.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez/Mark Meadows)

Prince William rocks out with Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift

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Britain’s Prince William teamed up with US pop royalty Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift on Tuesday night to perform an impromptu version of “Livin’ On A Prayer” at his home, Kensington Palace.

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(Click on the video tab above to see the full story)

The trio belted out the Bon Jovi classic at the end of a gala event at the London palace in support of the homeless charity Centrepoint, of which 31-year-old William is patron.

Bon Jovi began the performance alone with his guitar, but the second-in-line to the British throne and Grammy-winning pop diva Swift came on stage to join him, to huge cheers from the crowd.

Wearing full black-tie, the prince made a decent attempt at the choruses but spent the more obscure verses nodding along with his hands awkwardly clasped in front of his dinner jacket.

He high-fived 23-year-old Swift, who rocked out onstage in a sequinned cream dress.

“Nights like this happen once in a lifetime,” Bon Jovi told the crowd.

“But the chance to effect change can last a lifetime. Each one of you tonight have that chance to effect change.”

William took a night off from looking after his baby son Prince George, who was born to his wife Kate in July, to attend the event and present Bon Jovi with an award for his own work combatting poverty and homelessness.

Bon Jovi founded his Soul Foundation in the United States in 2006. The charity aims to help Americans out of poverty by giving them access to food, training and affordable housing.

William has been patron since 2005 of Centrepoint, which works with young homeless people in London and northeast England.

Emotional SBW named world’s best

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Sonny Bill Williams was moved to tears at receiving an impromptu haka performance from his New Zealand teammates after being crowned the world’s best rugby league player.

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And the dual international hopes to repay them by helping the Kiwis defend their World Cup title in Saturday’s final against Australia at Old Trafford.

Williams capped his spectacular return to the code by taking out the Rugby League International Federation player of the year in Manchester on Wednesday night, beating out fellow nominees Kangaroos star Greg Inglis and Scotland playmaker Danny Brough.

Sydney Roosters star Williams felt shocked and emotional when his teammates rose and performed the haka while he was on stage to receive the award.

And he considered it a further sign he’s earning back the respect he lost after controversially walking out on the game at Canterbury in 2008.

“That was definitely by far the best part of the night for me,” Williams said of his teammates’ gesture.

“I can’t remember the last time I cried but I was a little bit teary up there just seeing the brothers get up and show that respect.

“… All I want is respect. I felt like after the way I left the game I lost a lot of respect.

“But this year the way I tried to carry myself, just tried to get across the real me, I felt like I earned a lot of respect.

“The biggest thing for me is earning the respect of my fellow players and coaches. I think that’s why I was a little bit emotional.”

“But I said to them straight way `one more week’ and hopefully I can put in another strong performance and hopefully we can do it for the Kiwis.”

Williams helped the Roosters to the NRL premiership after returning to the code following five years spent in rugby union and boxing, during which he played 19 Tests for the All Blacks.

He has been in devastating form at the World Cup and is crucial to New Zealand’s hopes of upsetting the Kangaroos again.

In taking out the gong, Williams broke an Australian stranglehold on the honour with Billy Slater (2008, 2011), Jarryd Hayne (2009), Todd Carney (2010) and Cameron Smith (2012) previous winners since it was established six years ago.

Williams was one three Kiwis named in the team of the year at a ceremony at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, along with winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and hooker Issac Luke.

Inglis was named at fullback in the side, while Manly’s Clive Churchill medallist Daly Cherry-Evans was named halfback of the year.

Sea Eagles centre Jamie Lyon and Brisbane veteran Corey Parker were the other Australians in the side.

South Sydney and England front rower George Burgess beat out Sydney Roosters backrower Boyd Cordner to be named rookie of the year while older brother Sam was best prop.

Super League player of the year Brough was the five-eighth of the year.

Trent Robinson was awarded coach of the year after guiding the Roosters to the NRL title in his first season in charge.

Namatjira’s descendants meet the Queen

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Almost 60 years after Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira met the Queen in Canberra two of his grandchildren have had a rare audience with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace.

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Kevin and Lenie Namatjira, both established watercolour artists in their own right, used the occasion to call for a better deal for indigenous Australia.

They said that while they were treated like royalty in London it was a different story back in the Northern Territory.

The cousins met the Queen and Prince Philip for 15 minutes on Wednesday.

They both presented the monarch with one of their own paintings and also a postcard made by schoolchildren from their community in Hermannsburg west of Alice Springs.

One of Albert Namatjira’s paintings was gifted to the Queen back in 1947 on her 21st birthday.

Seven years later the first indigenous artist to receive international acclaim met Her Majesty in Canberra during her 1954 coronation tour and presented her with another work. Albert died in 1959.

Kevin and Lenie Namatjira are in the UK for the international premier of the play Namatjira which tells their grandfather’s story.

During the London performance the cousins paint a large desert landscape on stage.

Albert’s grandchildren on Wednesday said they were proud to visit the palace but they also wanted people to know they were currently homeless.

Kevin Namatjira, who bought a new suit to visit Her Majesty, said he was being treated like royalty “but at home I’m not royalty”.

“After I come home from seeing the Queen I’ve got no house, no car,” the 54-year-old said in a statement.

“We need a car to get out to see the kids in Hermannsburg and teach them to paint. We need to drive around to do good painting.”

Lenie Namatjira said she was surprised how “wonderful” the palace was.

“We are feeling right to show the story of our grandfather,” the 62-year-old told reporters.

“We came from Australia to bring this story to everybody so all the nations can see what’s happened.

“We are battling to get a new arts centre back in Australia so our children can come and we all work together. We would like government funding to help us.”

Namatjira producer Sophia Marinos said backing arts centres in Alice Springs would help the painters support their wider families.

“They are living in very difficult circumstances and yet they’ve been invited to meet the Queen and to tell this story on an international stage,” Ms Marinos told reporters.

“There’s a real discrepancy between how they are honoured and their actual living circumstances.”

When the cousins met the Queen and Prince Philip an Albert Namatjira painting owned by the royals was on display.

So too were two artworks by his son Oscar Namatjira (Lenie’s father) and one by Rex Battarbee who taught Albert to paint.

The Queen spent time looking at the paintings and talking about their history.

Works by Kevin and Lenie Namatjira are being shown in London this week as part of the Living Watercolours exhibition which is running alongside Big hART’s production of Namatjira.

Villas-Boas under scrutiny as Spurs host Man Utd

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Back-to-back games against Manchester’s finest always looked like a yardstick for Tottenham’s progress in the wake of the world record sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and a raft of expensive new signings in the close season with the proceeds.

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But few would have predicted the Portuguese would find himself as the bookmakers’ favourite to get the sack.

“It all looked good for AVB at the end of October but in a month Tottenham have turned from title contenders into a team clinging on to the top 10,” said a spokesman for betting firm Paddy Power, which slashed odds on his exit to 10-11 on.

“Common sense should prevail and the young manager should be given time but this is the bonkers world of Premier League.”

Last Sunday’s 6-0 drubbing at City was Tottenham’s worst defeat since 1996 and while they are only two points off the top four there is growing frustration at the time it is taking Villas-Boas to get his new-look side to click.

“I have the confidence of the board and players and I have to move on to do a proper job,” the Portuguese told a news conference.

“I am immune (to criticism) right now. I used to read a lot into situations like this, into pressure points when I was at Chelsea, but not any more. I am very indifferent.”

After being axed by Chelsea, Villas-Boas resurfaced at White Hart Lane last term and earned plaudits as Tottenham came fifth with 72 points – the club’s highest Premier League total – but just failed to earn a Champions League spot.

This season, despite the additions of Brazil midfielder Paulinho, Spain striker Roberto Soldado, record signing Erik Lamela of Argentina and Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen, Spurs have managed only nine goals in 12 league matches.

A mean defence has kept them in and around the top four but things unravelled in spectacular fashion at City.

WOEFUL RECORD

United may not have been setting the world alight either under new manager David Moyes but they are unbeaten in six league games and have not lost at Tottenham since 2001.

Wednesday’s qualification for the Champions League last 16 after a 5-0 away thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen has also boosted confidence.

Spurs did win at Old Trafford last term for the first time since 1989 – a result that proved the springboard for Villas-Boas’s encouraging first season at the club – but their record against United in recent years is woeful.

Tottenham’s cause is hardly helped by Thursday’s trip to the Arctic Circle to face Tromso in the Europa League, while United have an extra day to prepare.

Spurs have lost two of their last three home league games and only beat Hull City with a questionable penalty.

Former Tottenham midfielder Graham Roberts believes Villas-Boas must decide quickly on his strongest side.

“I wish he wouldn’t swap the team around so much,” Roberts told radio station Talk Sport. “We haven’t had the same team two games running.

“If you are going to get players knowing how they play with each other, to get that connectivity, you need to play your best team but he doesn’t seem to know what it is.”

Tottenham’s Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen said facing United could work in their favour.

“We can solve the problem. We will talk and bounce back on Sunday against Manchester United,” he said this week.

“It is a good thing we play United next at home. I know we have the support of our crowd and we can win that game.”

SOARING ARSENAL

While Spurs toil, neighbours Arsenal go from strength to strength with Jack Wilshere scoring twice in a midweek win over Olympique Marseille that put the Gunners on the brink of reaching the last 16 in the Champions League.

Arsenal can go seven points clear of the Premier League pack with victory at Cardiff City on Saturday, a fixture that will see in-from Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey return to the club where he began his career.

“We’ve created a fantastic opportunity for ourselves in the early part of this season and hopefully we can continue that,” Ramsey, who has scored 11 goals this term, told Walesonline.

Arsenal will be wary of the Welsh side, however, after they beat Manchester City and drew 2-2 with United last week.

Second-placed Liverpool visit Hull on Sunday when stuttering Chelsea, who are third, host fifth-placed Southampton.

Swansea City will travel to Manchester City with a fair degree of trepidation on Sunday.

Manuel Pellegrini’s City side have scored 13 goals without reply in their last two home games and have a 100 percent record there in the league this season, scoring 26 goals in six games.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Brazil stadium death may force delay

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The fatal accident at a Brazilian World Cup stadium could mean it misses a December 31 deadline for completion, authorities say.

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Two workers died after a crane toppled at Sao Paulo’s Itaquerao Stadium on Wednesday, the venue for the opening match of the 2014 World Cup finals.

Football’s world governing body FIFA has said all along all 12 arenas hosting games for the first World Cup to be held in Brazil since 1950 must be ready by the end of the year.

And although lead contractor Odebrecht insisted on Wednesday the accident had not “compromised” the stadium’s structural integrity, others insisted safety now had to come before deadlines.

Andres Sanchez, former chairman of Corinthians club, which owns the stadium, said the work could now face a delay.

“I don’t want to know about (FIFA), or anything else,” Sanchez said.

“We are worried about the families” of the victims, said Sanchez in response to reporters’ questions on whether the works completion calendar would be affected.

An AFP photographer at the scene saw the extent of the damage after a crane hoisting a 500-tonne metallic piece to the top of the roof collapsed on part of the stand and a huge LED panel.

Civil defence officials said work on 30 per cent of the site would be stopped, throwing the completion date into doubt at a site which Odebrecht said earlier this month was 94 per cent complete.

The Sao Paulo state prosecutor opened an investigation which it prefaced by saying work would be halted “if technical elements indicate it is necessary to suspend them”.

FIFA has said maintained the December 31 World Cup deadline is non-negotiable.

The Sintrapav construction workers union called for an immediate halt to work pending the outcome of the investigation.

“This is the third accident in the past few months things have gone too far. It cannot be tolerated,” union chairman Antonio Bekeredjian told AFP.

In June 2012 a 21-year-old stadium worker fell to his death at the new arena in the capital Brasilia and last March another death occurred at the Amazonas Arena in Manaus in the north.

Murray to lead America’s Cup challenge

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The man in charge of this year’s America’s Cup, Iain Murray, has been chosen to head up Australia’s challenge in the 35th edition of sailing’s most celebrated contest.

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Murray was on Thursday named chief executive of Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s Team Australia, who are also representing all challengers in dealings with the defender Oracle Team USA of Golden Gate Yacht Club, San Francisco for the next race.

Murray most recently held the dual role of CEO and regatta director of the last America’s Cup sailed on San Francisco Bay which ended in September.

The 55-year-old New South Welshman has accumulated vast experience on and off the water in a career which included competing in three America’s Cup, in 1983, 1987 and 1992.

The 55-year-old will be responsible for helping determine the rules, venue and boats used in the next race.

Winemaker Bob Oatley, backer of Australia’s fledgling tilt, said Murray was the only man for the job.

“Iain knows what it takes to win an America’s Cup,” Oatley said in a statement.

“We’ve had the great pleasure of being able to work closely with him over the last three decades, and have found him to be a consummate professional and also now a dear friend.

“I have a huge amount of respect for him and we’re overjoyed to be able to officially announce his appointment as leader of our great challenge.”

Murray said he had long been an avid supporter of Oatley and said there was “only ever going to be one answer” when asked to lead the first Australian challenge since 2000.

He said he has already had preliminary talks with Oracle Team USA boss Sir Russell Coutts and they were working towards firming up protocol and equipment for the next America’s Cup.

“I’m looking forward to working closely with the defender and on behalf of the Challengers to mould the 35th Cup into another magnificent sporting spectacle,” he added.