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Girl pleaded “don’t get him in trouble” after alleged touch


A six-year-old girl pleaded with her mother not to get her swim teacher “in trouble” after showing her where he allegedly touched her on the vagina, a jury has heard.

The girl’s mother told the NSW District Court on Friday afternoon that her daughter said “it wasn’t his fault” because he “can’t see properly”.

“He has glasses on so he doesn’t know where he’s putting his hands,” the mother recalled her daughter saying. “He didn’t mean to do it.”

“She was at this point was quite stressed. Anxious and stressed about getting him in trouble.”

She is among nine young girls who say Kyle Daniels touched them as he taught at Mosman Swim Centre between February 2018 and March 2019.

Mr Daniels, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges and strenuously denies the allegations.

The girl was five at the time of the alleged touch in June 2018 and nervous about meeting her new swimming teacher, the court heard.

To help ease her worries, her father said, he sat on the edge of the pool half a metre away for the first five minutes of the lesson and watched her start her first lap.

This is the moment the girl says Mr Daniels touched her, according to a pre-recorded police interview played to the jury on Friday.

“I was just about to go into the pool and he pushed me off when I was doing the first lap, and he accidentally pushed me in a place that didn’t feel right,” she told Detective Emma Stewart on March 15 last year.

Her father said he did not see anything untoward.

When he asked his daughter “How was the lesson?” she replied “The teacher touched my bottom”, he said.

“I thought it was a bit of a strange response at the time,” he told the court. “I said, ‘I’m sure it was just an accident’.”

But he said he was later wracked with guilt after Mr Daniels was charged on March 12 and he recognised him in news stories.

The girl’s mother said she sat down with her daughter the day after the arrest and asked her if she remembered telling them her teacher had touched her on the bottom.

“I said ‘Can you show me where he touched you?’,” she recalled.

“She stood up from the sofa and put her hand onto the front of her vagina. I said ‘That’s not your bottom’.”

The mother was questioned by Mr Daniels’ barrister Leslie Nicholls about why she hadn’t given this statement until February 2020, when her husband had given a statement in March 2019.

“I never refused to go in for a statement,” she said.

She denied Det. Stewart had asked her to change “bottom” to “vagina”.

She also pushed back on Mr Nicholls’ suggestion that she was “reciting” memorised lines from her statement about the conversation.

“I’m trying to remember it to the best of my ability,” she said.

The mother agreed she had shown her daughter a photo of Mr Daniels from the media the night before her police interview.

The girl initially told Det. Stewart she did not have a name for the part of her body Mr Daniels touched, but eventually identified it as her “tinkle”.

She understood this to be her vagina, but would call her vagina her bottom as well, her father said.

The father agreed his statement did not mention that by “bottom” his daughter had in fact meant her “tinkle”.

He did not recall his wife telling him about the conversation she had with their daughter.

As the father agreed he did not see anything during the lesson, he added: “Although with the water being disrupted it’s very difficult to see under the water line.”

Asked why he had “sought to explain” his answer, the father said: “I guess I didn’t like the concept that I’m a father who stood by and did nothing.”

“I think there’s always a guilt attached to a father who doesn’t do the right thing,” he said.

“On your own evidence you are doing the right thing, aren’t you?” Mr Nicholls said.

“You’ve got a daughter who’s nervous. You’re half a metre away, You’re intensely watching her. The simple fact is that you didn’t see anything.”

“That’s right,” the father replied.

The girl was the first to have her evidence played out of six who came forward with touching allegations following Mr Daniels’ arrest on March 12, 2019.

Three other girls — two sisters whose allegations led to Mr Daniels being charged and another girl who first complained in mid-2018 — have already had their evidence played in court.

The trial continues.



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Biting’s outside the NRL’s unwritten laws about acceptable ways to harm an opponent — and it means Kevin Proctor’s in trouble


In the courts of footy justice, as in life, both punishment and perception are now all about the consequences.

When a player is placed on report, match review committees spend as much time studying the victim’s medical report as they do the video of the wallop that sent him to la-la land.

A stray elbow that leaves a player concussed might mean a two-week ban. A similar action that inflicts no trauma might attract only a fine.

The anomaly is obvious. Surely the penalty should be dependent on the act itself, not the resilience of the victim. But this is a time of Old Testament punishment — an eye for an eye.

The line is drawn, however, at a tooth for a tooth. For in the case of biting, it is still the act, rather than the consequence, that provokes our ire.

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At the NRL judiciary this evening Gold Coast Titans’ captain Kevin Proctor will not merely be fighting to keep his season alive.

He will be desperately trying to retain an impeccable reputation that could be shredded by one allegedly mad munch.

Proctor was sent off during the Gold Coasts’ defeat by Cronulla on Saturday after appearing to bite his New Zealand teammate and Sharks half-back Shaun Johnson.

The video viewed by The Bunker officials shows Proctor’s mouth closing over the forearm of Johnson, which is wrapped around his neck. Soon after, Johnson leaps to his feet yelling: “You bit me! You bit me!”

Prime facie, short of a camera angle showing Proctor dipping Johnson’s arm in a red wine marinade, there seemed little more the officials needed to see before Proctor was given his marching orders.

At the judiciary, a bite mark would validate a guilty decision. But there will be no evidence needed that Johnson has been incapacitated or even superficially wounded for Proctor to receive a penalty of anything between four and 12 weeks.

A brawl erupts during the first half of State of Origin One
There’s rarely outrage when players punch on in State of Origin matches.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Punching, elbowing and shoulder charging are all against the rules, yet they remain within the lingering spirit of a game that retains trace elements of its gladiatorial past. These offences carry penalties but they usually don’t cause public affront.

Conversely, biting — with spitting and far more potentially damaging eye gouging and spear tackling — breaches the unwritten agreement that there are specific and “manly” ways in which to inflict harm on an opponent, even if they are no longer authorised in these more squeamish times.

Thus the condemnation of Proctor upon his dismissal was both predictable and universal: “low act”, “animal”, “grub”, “disgrace”. It was irrelevant that Johnson had jumped to his feet having suffered less harm from his mouthguard molestation than he might have from a vigorous tackle.

The charge of biting, as much as the impending penalty, prompted Proctor to mount an impassioned self-defence in which he pleaded: “I will fight to the death to clear my name.”

A Cronulla Sharks NRL player shows his right arm to a referee following an alleged biting incident.
Biting is seen as outside the unwritten boundaries of “acceptable” ways of harming opponents.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Proctor knows that he is not just trying to save his season. He is battling to protection his reputation from an accusation that would overshadow an exemplary 12-year, 250-game career during which he has never been banned.

Proctor keen to avoid Biting Hall of Shame

If guilty, Proctor will be inducted in the NRL Biting Hall of Shame alongside Englishman James Graham, the Canterbury-Bankstown enforcer who was suspended for 12 weeks for biting Billy Slater during the 2012 grand final.

Naturally, Graham’s chomp on Slater’s ear created enormous controversy and saw the Englishman labelled with the same shaming epithets now aimed at Proctor.

Yet when I quizzed Slater about the incident while ghostwriting his autobiography some years later, the great full-back was unexpectedly sanguine — frustratingly so for a publisher hoping to sell copies with controversy.

Slater was adamant Graham bit him and had apologised for doing so despite his not-guilty plea.

Bulldogs player James Graham appears to bite Storm player Billy Slater.
A bite by the Bulldogs’ James Graham on Melbourne’s Billy Slater in 2012 went down in grand final infamy.(Channel 9)

Yet his authorised version was: “He went over the top on that occasion, but I don’t hold a grudge.” Otherwise, there is surprisingly little rancour from the victim of an incident that is part of grand-final infamy.

As well as biting existing outside the “manly” realms of punching and charging, in the AIDS and now the coronavirus era you might argue the act carries the potential to spill blood and exchange fluids.

And, yes, I know COVID-19 is an airborne virus. But with players who roll around on top of each other on the field now performing the pandemic pantomime of spacing in the sheds for the benefit of the cameras, perceptions are currently everything.

In the same vein — no pun intended — the perception of biting as a heinous and cowardly act means Proctor would have been viewed more leniently had he risen to his feet and belted Johnson for putting him in a choke hold rather than giving him what appears to be a bit of a nibble.

None of this is to excuse the act of biting. Nor is it to suggest that, if found guilty, Proctor deserves anything less than the substantial ban the offence carries.

But there will be players that leave opponents scarred for life who receive lesser bans and far less attention than the Titans’ skipper should he be suspended.

At a time when pandemic protocols have made us acutely aware of the consequences of our actions, Proctor’s impulsive moment could leave him stigmatised for life due to our perception of an offence rather than the harm it caused.



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Business

Gold’s rally tells us the world economy is in trouble


In the US, where the virus is still raging and the economic recovery is stalling, this debate is growing louder. Investor expectations for annual inflation over the next decade, as measured by a bond-market metric known as breakevens, have moved higher the past four months after plunging in March. On Friday, they hit 1.5 per cent. And while that remains below pre-pandemic levels and below the Federal Reserve’s own 2 per cent target, it is almost a full percentage point higher than the 0.59 per cent yield that benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds pay.

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The main driver behind gold’s latest rally “has been real rates that continue to plummet and don’t show signs of easing anytime soon,” Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda, said by phone. Gold is also drawing investors “concerned that stagflation will win out and will likely warrant even further accommodation from the Fed.”

US bond markets have been a driving force behind the rush to gold, which is serving as an attractive hedge as yields on Treasuries that strip out the effects of inflation fall below zero. Investors are looking for safe havens that won’t lose value.

The mania for gold right now has trickled down to Main Street. Retail investors have helped put ETF holdings backed by gold on track for an 18th straight weekly gain, the longest streak since 2006. Meanwhile, gold posted its seventh weekly gain on Friday, and analysts don’t expect the increases to end anytime soon.

“When interest rates are zero or near zero, then gold is an attractive medium to have because you don’t have to worry about not getting interest on your gold,” Mark Mobius, co-founder at Mobius Capital Partners, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “I would be buying now and continue to buy.”

Analysts have been predicting huge upside for gold for several months. In April, Bank of America Corp. raised its 18-month gold-price target to $US3,000 an ounce.

Stimulus from central banks around the world are driving the price of gold higher.

Stimulus from central banks around the world are driving the price of gold higher. Credit:AP

“The global pandemic is providing a sustained boost to gold,” Francisco Blanch, BofA’s head of commodities and derivatives research, said Friday, citing impacts including falling real rates, growing inequality and declining productivity. “Moreover, as China’s GDP quickly converges to US levels helped by the widening gap in COVID-19 cases, a tectonic geopolitical shift could unfold, further supporting the case for our $US3,000 target over the next 18 months.”

Bank of America’s bold prediction was made after gold prices initially dropped in March as investors sought cash to cover losses on riskier assets. Prices quickly recovered after a surprise cut to the Fed’s benchmark rate and signs that the economic toll of the coronavirus would lead to massive stimulus efforts from global governments and central banks.

This isn’t the first time gold has gotten help from central bank stimulus programs. From December 2008 to June 2011, the Fed bought $US2.3 trillion ($3.2 trillion) of debt and held borrowing costs near zero per cent in a bid to shore up growth, helping send bullion to a record $US1,921.17 in September 2011.

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The crisis a decade ago was all about banks, said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at Swiss refiner and dealer MKS PAMP Group, who now sees gold “pointing towards $US2,000.”

“This time, to be honest, I do not see the end of the tunnel,” he said, at least until US elections in November.

Bloomberg

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Local News - Victoria

Activists ‘plan trouble’ for Melbourne Black Lives Matter protest


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More than 18,000 people have already expressed interest in attending the event in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday.

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, the main group organising the rally, said on Thursday that they had no knowledge of rally participants making threats to police.

The state government is hoping a cold and rainy forecast for Saturday, as well as warnings from the Premier, Health Minister and Chief Health Officer about the COVID-19 danger of mass gatherings, will keep numbers low.

Part of a wave of global protests sparked by the killing of African-American man George Floyd by a police officer in the US, the Melbourne event hopes to focus attention on Australia’s own record of Indigenous deaths in custody; there have been 432 since 1991.

The state government was accused of inconsistency by the opposition on Thursday, with Liberals accusing Mr Andrews of encouraging people to go to Saturday’s rally after the hard line he had taken on social distancing throughout the pandemic.

Thousands marched through the streets of Melbourne to protest Australia Day. Organisers of this Saturday's rally expect a similar number.

Thousands marched through the streets of Melbourne to protest Australia Day. Organisers of this Saturday’s rally expect a similar number.Credit:Chris Hopkins

But Mr Andrews said on Thursday that people should stay away from the protest to protect their health and prevent any COVID-19 spread.

“Let’s not do anything that potentially spreads the virus,” he said.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also made pleas on Thursday for people to avoid the protests and the risk of community outbreaks of COVID-19.

Professor Sutton said while he understood that many people wanted to join the protest, he felt the danger was too great.

“Unfortunately, now is not the time for thousands of people to gather together, putting your and others’ health at risk,” he said late on Thursday afternoon.

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“We are still in the middle of a pandemic and this protest carries real risks for all Victorians, particularly those in vulnerable groups. The restrictions are there to save lives – I urge everyone to consider other ways to show support.”

Responding to questions about whether the event should be suppressed or the protesters fined for an illegal gathering, Mr Andrews said police had decided the safest option was to let it go ahead.

“Do you lock people up, do you inflame what is, I think, a pretty volatile situation given the depth of feeling on these issues?” the Premier asked.

“Or do you take a look and say it’s by no means ideal, but it’s certainly better than seeing that gathering on Saturday deteriorate into something like we’ve seen overseas.”

Tarneen Onus-Williams, from Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, said any threats being made against police had not come from them.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” she said.

“We have not condoned spitting, we don’t want to put the public at risk or those participating. We want to keep everyone safe.”

Former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe with Members of the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (L-R) Apryl Day, Tarneen Onus-Williams, Crystal McKinnon and Rosie Kalina.

Former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe with Members of the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (L-R) Apryl Day, Tarneen Onus-Williams, Crystal McKinnon and Rosie Kalina.Credit:Luis Ascui

WAR has told those attending the rally that they should wear masks, practise social distancing and self-quarantine for up to two weeks afterwards.

UNSW Professor Marylouise McLaws, an infection-control expert and adviser to the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 preparedness group, said that standing close to people who were screaming and shouting was risky.

Being outside didn’t lower the risk, she said. A small breeze of up to 15km/h was enough to carry particles six metres in five seconds.

“While they’re shouting slogans of ‘Black Lives Matter’, those particles could have COVID-19 virus in them,” she said.

Professor McLaws also recommended that people wear perspex face shields if they can, instead of cloth masks, which can lose their effectiveness when they get wet while covering people’s mouths.

Attendees are also being told to be careful while travelling to and from the rally, with public transport viewed as a potential source of spread.

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Helicopter flying to Maroubra Beach, three people ‘in trouble’


A rescue helicopter has been dispatched to Maroubra Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“Sydney’s Lifesaver 21 is responding to a report of three people in trouble at Maroubra,” Westpac Life Save Rescue Helicopters said on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

As at 1.30pm, NSW Ambulance had not received any calls for assistance.

According to a Saturday morning lifeguard report, there were “minimal” rips at the beach and cloudy conditions were forecast with a moderate swell, one-metre waves and slight winds.

In summary it was considered a “beautiful day”.

More to come



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