Kremlin critic Navalny gets 15 days in jail after protest

The United States and the European Union voiced deep concern after Navalny and more than 1,000 others were detained in the Moscow protest on Sunday, with the State Department calling the arrests an “affront to democracy”.

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A Moscow district court handed down the sentence after finding Navalny guilty of disobeying police orders. His fine was 20,000 rubles ($350) for organising an unsanctioned protest.

The lawyer turned activist, 40, who has announced plans to run for president next year, called Sunday’s protests after publishing a report accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of controlling a property empire through a shadowy network of nonprofit organisations.

“The authorities are being accused of multi-million theft, but they remain silent,” a haggard-looking Navalny said in court, insisting the protests were legal.

“More than 1,000 people were arrested yesterday but it is impossible to arrest millions,” he said.

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Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova told reporters that his defence team would appeal the rulings.

About 7,000 to 8,000 people demonstrated in Moscow on Sunday, according to police figures, making it one of the biggest unauthorised rallies in Vladimir Putin’s 17 years in power as president or prime minister.

The Kremlin called the protest “a provocation and a lie”, and claimed that minors had been promised “financial rewards” to participate.

Demonstrations were held not just in the capital Moscow and second-largest city Saint Petersburg, but also in a number of provincial cities where protests are rarely seen.

They attracted a significant number of minors born since Putin came to power.  

“I am very happy that a generation that wants to be citizens, that isn’t afraid, was born in the country,” Navalny said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russians’ “civic stance” would be respected if expressed legally but, without mentioning Navalny by name, suggested “some people will continue using (politically) active people… to their own ends, calling them to illegal and unauthorised actions”.

EU urges protesters’ release

Navalny was arrested as he was walking to the Moscow protest and another 1,030 people were detained, according to OVD-Info, a website that monitors detentions of activists.

Most were fined and released overnight, while about 120 remained in custody on Monday morning, OVD-Info said.

Navalny’s campaign director Leonid Volkov was jailed for six days. according to the Interfax news agency.

One policeman was hospitalised after suffering a head injury, the interior ministry said.

The EU urged Russia to release the demonstrators “without delay” and expressed concern that police action had “prevented the exercise of basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly”.

“We call on the Russian authorities to abide fully by the international commitments it has made, including in the Council of Europe… to uphold these rights and to release without delay the peaceful demonstrators that have been detained.”

Britain, in a statement by its foreign office, also called on Russia to release those arrested, as the “widespread arrests in Russia contravene its international commitments to uphold citizens’ rights”.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the detention of “peaceful protesters, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to core democratic values”.

‘Hope for a normal future’

The protests drew comparisons with the mass anti-government rallies that swept Russia in 2011 over alleged vote-rigging after a parliamentary election, which snowballed into the biggest challenge against Putin since he took power in 2000.

Navalny said Sunday that he was “proud” of the demonstrators.

“You are the country’s best people and Russia’s hope for a normal future,” he wrote on Twitter.

Despite the scale of the protests, Russian state television news did not cover them, broadcasting soap operas and nature films instead.

The Russian constitution allows public gatherings when authorised by city authorities, but that privilege is rarely accorded to Kremlin critics.

Navalny won a surprise 27 percent of the vote in the Moscow mayoral election in 2013, and afterwards announced plans to seek the presidency.

But he has been the subject of several legal prosecutions, and in February was found guilty of embezzlement in a case he called politically motivated. He was given a five-year suspended sentence which could make him ineligible to run in next year’s polls.

Navalny and his team, ignored by official media, have taken their anti-corruption campaign online, using social media to expose the hidden fortunes of high-ranking officials.

Community language schools help families connect

A group of teenagers taking part in a drama class – it looks and sounds like fun and games.

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But these kids are hard at work, learning Greek for three hours a week at a Community Languages School in Melbourne.

“Go over the homework that we had during the week, then we’ll either do grammar or exercises, we’ll do history, we do Ancient Greek and every second week we’ll do drama as well,” student Fortis Kollios said.

Learning Greek was a priority for his mother, Maria Kollios, who enrolled her son in Grade One.

“I wanted him to be able to communicate with his grandparents and also be able to go to Greece and speak to people there, we have family and cousins [there],” she said.

Stefan Romaniw, Executive Director of Community Languages Australia, said these after-hours courses are more specialised and complement language classes in mainstream schools.

“The fact that some schools are finding it difficult to deliver in terms of languages, finding teachers, there’s always the argument of the crowded curriculum and so on,” he said.

“We would argue that languages need a space in schools, but I think it doesn’t detract from the fact that communities want their children to be connected with their communities.”

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About a decade ago there were around 80,000 students studying at community languages schools across the country. Today, that number is over 100,000.

In Victoria, more than 60 languages are on offer.

Spanish is on the wane, as are Eastern European languages – Ukranian, Latvian and Lithuanian. But interest in Chinese and Greek remains steady.

Dr Nick Dalas, board member of the Greek Community of Melbourne, said migrants can help set a high standard in language learning in Australia.

“The crisis in Greece continues, we are still seeing migrants arriving and the benefit here is that it’s also attracting local students who have got a high standard as well,” he said.

Mr Romaniw said changing migration patterns can be attributed to growth in emerging languages.

“Very, very small languages, especially a lot of the African languages, they’re never going to be provided through mainstream schools,” he said.

Increased migration from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria have contributed to a spike in Arabic enrolments.

Fortis’s mother said she can already see the flow-on effects from her son’s Greek lessons.

“I know that’s helped him with his reading and his writing,” she said. “He can write better than I can.”

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Bilingual schools offer language fluency for Australian children:

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Merkel dominant in bellwether test ahead of German national elections

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party easily won a regional election Sunday, dealing an early blow to centre-left hopes of ending her more than decade-long reign.

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In the Saarland state vote held six months before a general election, Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) won 40 percent against 30 percent for the Social Democrats (SPD), according to early results by public broadcasters.

The result spelt a five-point boost for the CDU over the SPD, which has served as the unhappy junior partner to the conservatives in so-called grand coalitions at both the state and national levels.

The vote in the tiny state on the French border, which has a population of only one million, was seen as a bellwether ahead of the September 24 general election in which Merkel, the veteran leader often dubbed “the Queen of Europe”, will seek a fourth term. 

The SPD have made strong gains in national opinion surveys since Martin Schulz, the folksy and plain-spoken former president of the European Parliament, took over in January.

Meet the opposition:

The “Schulz effect” has seen especially younger voters flock to the more than 150-year-old workers’ party, which is now polling neck-and-neck at the national level with Merkel’s conservative bloc.

But the new euphoria did not translate into the strong results the SPD had hoped for in Saarland, a former coal mining region, which held the first of three German state polls scheduled in the run-up to the national election.

Schulz conceded it was “not a nice evening” and that “the CDU clearly won” but insisted that “our goal is a change of federal government” this year, calling the campaign until then “a marathon, not a sprint”.

Designated SPD chairman and German Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz arrives for the federal congress of Social Democratic Party 19/3/2017. AP Photo/Michael Sohn

‘Path of success’

The CDU’s popular state premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was cheered by jubilant supporters, admitted she was “floored” by the strong result, about five points up from the last election amid strong turnout of around 70 percent.

Merkel’s right-hand man Peter Altmaier, the chancellery chief-of-staff who hails from Saarland, said “it’s an outcome that gives us courage”.

The result suggested many voters in Saarland were frightened by talk of a “red-red” coalition between the SPD and the far-left Linke party, which scored about 13 percent.

Merkel, 62, had warned local voters last week that “red-red… experiments should be avoided” and urged them to stick with the CDU’s “path of success”.

She had also cautioned at a campaign event that a leftist coalition would harm the economy and “wall it in with taxes, bureaucracy and red tape”.

A starker warning came from the pro-business Free Democrats who cautioned against turning Saarland into a modern version of the former communist East Germany or “a GDR lite”.

Related:’Uncertain times’

The SPD’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas admitted the outcome was “disappointing” and conceded that “we had clearly hoped for a better result”.

He said the debate over a possible red-red coalition had “obviously penalised the SPD” by frightening part of the electorate.

Another leftist party — the ecologist Greens, possible candidates for a future “red-red-green” national coalition — meanwhile scored less than five percent, meaning they missed the hurdle for parliamentary representation and were kicked out of the state assembly.

CDU secretary general Peter Tauber said the outcome was “a clear rejection of red-red-green”, including at the national level.

“In uncertain times, the people trust in leaders and political forces that govern in a dependable way,” he said.

The anti-immigration and right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party just scraped in with six percent, meaning it is now represented in 11 of Germany’s 16 state assemblies.

It was, however, the AfD’s worst result after five state elections in which it topped 10 percent, in a sign that the abating refugee crisis and bitter infighting have damaged popular support for the protest party.

European Elections:

Phelps racing ‘shark’ leaves viewers fuming

The 100m race was set up for Discovery Channel’s 29th edition of Shark Week – an annual programming block featuring shark-based shows.

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A program schedule released by the channel claimed “the world’s most decorated athlete” would take on “one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet”.

The title for the show ‘Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White’ left many eager to watch the race.

However, instead of racing against a real shark like many anticipated, Phelps was matched against a computer-generated shark with a simulated speed. 

Phelps and the shark also swam at separate times – with Discovery researchers first recording the time of the shark before letting Phelps swim by himself in the waters off the coast of South Africa.

Sharks are able to reach around 40km/h with ease, while humans typically reach a top speed of 8km/h in the water.

Phelps was given a wet suit to maximise his speed, however the shark still won by two seconds.

He hinted at a rematch, but many took to social media to voice their anger.

Rematch? Next time..warmer water. #SW30 @Discovery @SharkWeek

— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) July 24, 2017Should I feel silly that I thought Michael Phelps would actually be racing a shark??…in the water with an actual shark

— Alex Holley (@AlexHolleyFOX29) July 24, 2017smh Michael Phelps isn’t actually racing a shark. He’s just racing a simulation of a shark. Biggest scam of 2017

— Marcus ¬ (@M_Frosti) July 24, 2017Turns out “Michael Phelps races a shark” was really just “Michael Phelps swims alone and then compares his time to a shark’s time.”

— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) July 24, 2017find me a better metaphor for the state of western civilization than michael phelps losing to a digital simulacrum

— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) July 24, 2017

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Qld minister counselled over foul rant

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she’ll make Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne apologise to the disability sector after he launched an expletive-laden tirade directed at her office.

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Mr Byrne reportedly called Ms Palaszczuk’s staff “f—tards” in response to their request he travel 60km to attend a media opportunity with the premier in far north Queensland earlier this month.

Mr Byrne has since apologised for the language used, saying his speech can be “more suited to the battlefield than the boardroom”.

“I can’t recall the precise words I used, but it may come as no surprise to those who know me that from time to time, colourful language does pass my lips,” he said in a statement.

Mr Byrne also denied he had intended to disparage developmentally disabled people by using the suffix “-tard”

“I categorically refute the allegation that I have at any time used language intended to insult or denigrate the disabled,” he said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the language used by Mr Byrne was unacceptable, and she had counselled him.

“I have made it very clear that I do not want to see that happen again and I don’t think he should be speaking like that to anybody,” she said

The premier said Mr Byrne had apologised to her personally, and was “quite sure” he would be happy to apologise to the disability sector as well.

It’s understood the outburst prompted the resignation of Mr Byrne’s chief-of-staff, his fourth since becoming a minister in 2015.

It’s not the first time Mr Byrne’s rambunctious style has raised eyebrows.

There were calls for him to stand down last year after it emerged he shot at rats at his Rockhampton home in the 1990s.

However, the premier stood by the then police minister, saying any offence would be outdated.

Mr Byrne was also pulled into line by the premier in 2015 after it was revealed he had enlisted dumped Labor MP Billy Gordon to appear in his place at official events.

The issue comes on the same day the state’s chief scientist was stood aside after being charged with fraud, and after Energy Minister Mark Bailey was last week sidelined over corruption allegations.

Ms Palaszczuk admitted it wasn’t an ideal time for the minority government.

“I would prefer these issues not to be occurring, I expect high standards from my ministers and I expect people to treat one another with respect.”

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the issues showed Labor had lost control of its internal processes.

“While this government lurches from crisis to crisis … they’re not governing for Queensland,” he said.

Tap and gone: Aussies waving cash goodbye

Australia’s age of paper payments is in definite decline with tap and go technology helping cards become the most frequent way to pay and ensuring Aussie wallets continue to get thinner.

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According to new data from the Reserve Bank’s triennial consumer payments survey, while the use of cards has doubled in little under a decade, the big change in the way Australians pay has been the rise and rise of contactless, ‘tap and go,’ transactions.

Over 60 per cent of all point-of-sale card payments were contactless last year, the RBA said.

By monitoring participants’ payments details over a week, the survey provides a snapshot of the fundamental changes Australians are making in their use of cash and their digitisation as card-carrying consumers.

The bank has found tap and go cards are now largely ubiquitous, with 85 per cent of consumers waving them on a daily basis compared with two-thirds of respondents in 2013.

With around 33 per cent of all point-of-sale payments contactless in 2016 – compared to 11 per cent in 2013 – the way people pay is shifting and cash has become the first casualty of convenience.

Cash purchases have evaporated from 69 per cent in 2007 to just 37 per cent in 2016 – and the Aussie wallet is on average $15 lighter.

According to the RBA, last year an Australian wallet contained $40, down from $55 in 2013.

Consequently, Australians also aren’t hitting the ATM as frequently.

In all four of the previous surveys, Australian’s ‘topped-up’ their cash one-and-a-half times a week, now they don’t even do it once a week.

The central bank said the increasing use of cards for cheaper, daily transactions – 40 per cent of in-person payments under $20 in 2016, compared with just 10 per cent in 2007 – reflects the normalisation of contactless technology throughout the economy.

“Cards are now the most commonly used payment method for all but the lowest-value transactions and as a result, the median value of card payments at the point of sale continued to decline from $40 in 2007 to $28 in 2016,” the bank said.

Pay cut threat to home visits: doctors

Doctors are warning after-hours home visits will come to a screeching halt if their pay is cut in line with recommendations by an independent taskforce.

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The federal government’s review of Medicare items has investigated a boom in urgent after-hours home visits following concerns by professional medical bodies, and official data showing a huge growth in costs.

In an interim report the review has recommended restricting the rebate paid for urgent services – but doctors say this will mean a “savage” pay cut of 60 per cent to just $45 an hour.

The review found growth was being driven by a boom in medical deputising businesses which provide after hours care.

It said some are claiming taxpayer-funded benefits for “urgent” services worth $153 for matters that could be dealt with in the daytime by a regular GP at a quarter of the cost.

The taskforce wants rebates for urgent after-hours services to be restricted only to GPs who normally work during the day, but are recalled after-hours for a patient in need of urgent assessment.

Medical deputising services would still be able to access the non-urgent after-hours rebate, worth $75.

Umberto Russo has been making after-hours home visits for 26 years, but says he will give it away if the “insulting” 60 per cent pay cut becomes reality.

“These patients definitely will end up in hospital emergency departments because I won’t be seeing them and many other doctors will not be working for $45 an hour to be seeing these sorts of patients,” the spokesman for the National Association for Medical Deputising told AAP.

“It’s a savage cut – there is no way our doctors will work for such a rate.”

The association has warned the taskforce home visits would immediately disappear in cities like Hobart and Darwin, and regional centres such as Townsville, before impacting major cities including Sydney and Melbourne.

The taskforce report says the use of urgent after-hours services swelled 150 per cent in the five years to 2015/16. Meanwhile, the benefits paid increased 170 per cent – from $91 million to $246 million.

Claims that the growth of urgent after-hours home visits had a significant impact on hospital emergency departments were not convincing, it said.

But the association insists usage has now plateaued, after it temporarily boomed while the sector rapidly expanded in recent years.

It says one in three calls received are not billed – with patients instead told to see their GP the following day – meaning a higher proportion of the patients treated are urgent cases.

It insists independent modelling by Deloitte shows states and territories will be coughing up $724 million over four years if home visits dwindle and patients instead present at hospital emergency departments.

The taskforce will make final recommendations to the government later this year.

Trump teaches 40,000 teenagers about ‘fake news’ at Scout jamboree

Donald Trump has railed against the “fake news” and the Washington “sewer” in front of 40,000 chanting and cheering Boy Scouts in West Virginia.

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“Who the hell wants to speak about politics?” Trump boomed, telling the boys he wanted to talk about how to achieve their dreams.

But politics proved too hard for Trump to resist on a day he spent pleading for Republican senators to vote to advance his long-promised health care overhaul and watching his son-in-law Jared Kushner being grilled on Capitol Hill about contacts with Russia.

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It didn’t take long for Trump to veer from inspiration to denigration. The teenaged boys loved it, cheering wildly at each sick burn, hooting and hollering like they were at a wrestling match.

“Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, DC you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that,” he told the teenaged boys.

“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians and I see the swamp and it’s not a good place,” said Trump.

“In fact, today I said we ought to change it from the word ‘swamp’ to the word ‘cesspool’ or perhaps to the word ‘sewer.’ It’s not good. I see what’s going on and believe me, I’d much rather be with you, that I can tell you,” Trump said.

He told the boys that the media were dishonest and would not show the size of their jamboree on television.

“Fake media, fake media,” Trump said, eliciting a chorus of boos and cheers.

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Trump recounted his election night victories, state by state, the boys from Wisconsin cheering when they heard their state mentioned, the boys from Michigan doing the same.

I’m an Eagle Scout. Trump using the 30,000 BoyScouts as his props tonight was a scene out of Triumph of the Will. Shocking abuse of children

— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) July 25, 2017

Trump said he has 10 former Boy Scouts serving in his cabinet and White House, and brought a few on stage as examples of Boy Scout leadership in action, including Tom Price, his health secretary.

“Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare,” Trump said, as the boys booed.

“He better get them, otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired!'” he said, borrowing the catch phrase from his reality television show, The Apprentice.

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Record fine for WA ‘free range’ egg farmer

One of WA’s biggest egg producers has been slugged more than $1 million after it deceived shoppers by falsely labelling some of its products free range, and consumer class action may follow.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brought the action against Snowdale Holdings over its farms in Carabooda and the Swan Valley in Perth’s north, where the company produced brands including Eggs by Ellah.

The farms have since been closed but Snowdale still produces eggs at a large Gingin operation, where it claims hens are stocked at no more than 1500 per hectare.

At the former Perth operations, the barns were overstocked and had only one exit, which was too small, so half of the hens probably never got outside.

Chickens had to compete with up to 17,000 others before they could exit the steel sheds.

According to Humane Society International, which alerted the ACCC to a neighbour’s claims about the company, some of the sheds held up to 14 chickens per square metre.

Snowdale was fined $750,000 in the Federal Court in Perth on Tuesday and must also pay $300,000 in court costs.

Humane Society International said the highest penalty previously handed down for such a case was $300,000.

Snowdale, a major supplier to Coles and Woolworths, has also been ordered to undergo a consumer law compliance program and publish a corrective notice.

Justice Antony Siopis said the conduct was deliberate and “particularly serious”.

“This is because the contravening conduct comprised the making of misleading statements about a staple food product purchased by a very large number of consumers,” he said.

“The fact that during the relevant period, Snowdale sold more than 60 million eggs as ‘free range’ eggs is testimony to the extent to which Snowdale’s contravening conduct affected consumers.

“Consumers in Western Australia, during the relevant period, paid a premium of between $5 million to $8.5 million for a product which they did not receive.”

Not all of that went to Snowdale, however, with Justice Siopis estimating the company itself gained between $1.7 million and $1.9 million in extra revenue “and probably even more”.

Outside court, Humane Society International’s Dinny Laurence said the penalty was a major win.

“We think that this is a great result,” Ms Laurence told reporters.

“More than the pecuniary penalty, I think that the sanctions that have been imposed on Snowdale are incredibly important..

“There is a monitoring program, which is a wonderful thing. To have a penalty for the past is one thing but to restrain future transgressions of this kind are another.”

Ms Laurence said a class action was “a very real possibility”.

Poor sugar labelling failing kids teeth

Calls for greater transparency on added sugar in packaged foods has received the backing of Australian dentists.

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Excess sugar in the diet is not only linked to the obesity epidemic, but has been blamed for the increasing rates of dental decay seen in children as young as one.

With new analysis revealing seven out of 10 packaged goods sold on supermarket shelves contain added sugar, President of the Australian Dental Association Dr Hugo Sachs says reform is needed to ensure the oral health of young Australians.

“Nationally, over 24,000 children aged 14 years or under were admitted to hospital due to dental conditions – these hospitalisations were assessed as being potentially preventable. Over half of six-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth and up to half of 12-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth,” Dr Sachs said.

Researchers at the George Institute for Public Health analysed more than 34,000 packaged foods – about 18,000 discretionary foods and nearly 16,000 core foods like milk, bread and cheese.

A significantly higher proportion of discretionary foods contained added sugar compared to core foods – 87 per cent versus 52 per cent.

Soft drinks, cakes, pies, ice cream, pastries and processed meats are the worst offenders.

The findings, published in the journal Nutrients, have led to calls for manufacturers to declare the amount of added sugar on their packaging and calculated in the Health Star Ratings

“Good sugars are an integral part of a healthy diet, and we need to be able to separate sugars naturally present in dairy, fruits and vegetables from sugars added during manufacturing,” said the Institute’s Professor Bruce Neal.

The George Institute research will be submitted to the federal government’s current review of the Health Star system.

Professor Neal says only labelling total sugar content as opposed to added sugar can be misguiding.

This is particularly so, he says, for discretionary products such as muesli bars, sauces and spreads, which contain a lot of added sugar but get a relatively high star ratings in the current system.

Earlier this year, a Choice report found that if consumers could identify added sugars on food packs they could avoid 26 teaspoons of sugar each day.

With 50 per cent of Australian adults consuming more added sugar than they should, there is a clear need for improved labelling, Prof Neal said.

“We’d encourage food manufacturers to start labelling added sugars and government to provide the framework,” he said.

“Australians would be much better off if they could quickly and easily see how much sugar has been added.”

The oral health of Australians would also greatly improve, says Dr Sachs.

“The George Institute’s review shows that the Health Star Ratings are effectively hiding the presence of these added sugars in a number of products; meaning that consumers are inadvertently exposing themselves to increased risk of tooth decay,” Dr Sachs said.

Lululemon fined for misleading refund rule

Athleisure brand Lululemon Athletica Australia has forked out more than $32,000 after it was caught falsely telling customers they were not entitled to a refund or replacement products, the consumer watchdog says.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued Lululemon three infringement notices, totalling $32,400, saying the retailer, which sells yoga-inspired athletic apparel, made false or misleading representations about consumer guarantee rights.

The ACCC alleges Lululemon’s website, in ads for sale products, falsely stated that consumers were not entitled to a return, remedy, refund or exchange of a product under any circumstance.

The activewear giant claimed all sale items were “yours for keeps, so no returns and no exchanges”.

The popular Canadian yoga and running brand, which opened its doors in Australia in 2004, also refused to give a customer a refund for products she considered faulty.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said Lululemon made these representations to customers when Australian consumer law did provide for a remedy for faulty products.

“If a product or service fails to meet a consumer guarantee, people are automatically entitled to a remedy,” Ms Rickard said.

“If products develop a fault which constitutes a major failure, customers are entitled to a refund, even if the product was purchased on sale.”

Under Australian consumer law, purchased products and services come with automatic guarantees that they will work and do what consumers expect.

A retailer can’t refuse to help a customer seeking a remedy and can’t direct a customer to the manufacturer or importer, the ACCC said.

Lululemon on Tuesday said it had resolved the issue and made sure its commitment to consumer rights is clear and in accordance with the law.

“Our language in-store and online has been updated to ensure consistency and clarity for our guests across all of our channels,” the company said.

Lululemon said if a product did not perform for a customer “we’ll take it back”.

“We always endeavour to deliver the best possible experience for our guests in-store and online and if we ever fall short, we make it right,” the company said.

Cale Hooker riding AFL’s bumps with grin

Essendon’s Cale Hooker says he’ll continue to ride the emotional rollercoaster despite accusations of bullying a young AFL opponent.

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Hooker kicked four last-quarter goals against North Melbourne on Saturday as the Bombers ran away from their close rivals.

The 28-year-old’s reaction caught the eye as much as his goals.

Playing on third-gamer Dan Neilson, Hooker let the 21-year-old know all about his output – slapping him on the head and bumping the young Kangaroo in a brutal introduction to senior football.

Hooker suggested all was fair in the tough-as-nails AFL.

“At three quarter-time I said to myself I wanted to bring my energy and passion to the game,” he said.

“It was a close game. It helped us get across the line.

“I didn’t intend for it to be disrespectful. I hope it didn’t come across like that.

“But if people are going to criticise me for being emotional and energetic and passionate, they can do that. It’s not going to worry me too much.”

Hooker will celebrate his 150th AFL match on Sunday against the Western Bulldogs.

His five-goal haul against the Kangaroos was his equal best in 149 senior games, matching his round 12 output against Port Adelaide.

He’s swung between the forward line and defence through his career but is enjoying a spell alongside Joe Daniher in the Bombers attack.

“He’s certainly coming along well. We’re forming a good partnership,” Hooker said.

That doesn’t mean his stint up front is forever.

“I’m loving playing with Joey,” he said.

“But I’ve learned in footy you can’t look too far ahead.

“For this season I’m certainly a forward … I’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.

Hooker is keen to rectify his record of not playing in a single final in 2017.

The West Australian said that was a driving force pulling him back to the game after his enforced season out last year due to the club’s doping scandal.

“When was I kicking the flat footies around St Bernards Oval in the mud I had a bit of time for reflection,” he said.

“I certainly appreciate being back out there this year. It’s our goal to build as a group and play finals.”

Vic fire services need overhaul: Lapsley

A restructure of Victoria’s fire services is imperative, says an emergency management chief, who insists current arrangements are the worst in the country.

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Craig Lapsley was strident in his belief the state’s fire services need reform in his submission to a parliamentary inquiry looking at controversial changes.

The commissioner of Emergency Management Victoria on Tuesday said it was time for a change as the Andrews government pushes to make the Country Fire Authority volunteer-only and merge paid firefighters with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade to create Fire Rescue Victoria.

“It’s time for change and my heart comes out of the CFA because I came up in the CFA,” Mr Lapsley said.

“Victorian fire services as they are currently structured are the worst Australia.”

Mr Lapsley also says he believes Victoria needs just one fire service, but acknowledged that would not be politically possible.

MFB acting chief officer Paul Stacchino said he too thought one fire service would be best, but the model put forward could work.

However he also warned against transferring current CFA workplace agreements to the new FRV because that would continue existing industrial issues.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington told the inquiry there was merit in making the service volunteer-only to give it autonomy.

“The CFA is essentially a volunteer organisation. That’s the strength we bring to the table,” he said.

He wants sector-wide reform to streamline recruiting and uniformity in equipment.

But Jack Rush QC, who helped in the Black Saturday bushfires royal commission, slammed dismantling of the “world class” CFA to “achieve some sort of industrial outcome.”

“It cannot possibly be and should not be dressed up as in the interests of emergency services,” he told the inquiry.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not agree with Mr Rush’s conclusions.

“Anyone who thinks that a fire service that was devised back in 1958 is fit for purpose in 2017, I would respectfully say that’s wrong,” he told reporters.

The royal commission into the 2009 deadly bushfires heard from three world experts on organisational change.

Mr Rush said they each indicated incremental change often provided better results than radical change, which was what the government wanted to do.

The government insists reform is needed to improve safety and break the CFA pay dispute impasse that has seen a minister resign, fire board sacked and the federal government intervene.

Tuesday was the last day of scheduled public hearings and a report will be prepared for when parliament returns on August 8.