Three charged in US over $33m art scam

Written by admin on 07/30/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿网

Three men have been charged in New York in connection with a $US33 million ($A35.

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49 million) scam over two decades making and selling paintings purportedly by famous artists but which were in fact fakes.

Among the bogus works were pieces supposedly by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock and sold to unsuspecting collectors for tens of millions of dollars.

Among the trio was Chinese painter Pei Shen Qian, 75, who allegedly made the forgeries and is believed to have fled to China. Among other allegations, he is charged with lying to FBI agents investigating the fraud.

Brothers Jesus Angel Bergantinos Diaz, 65, and Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz, 58, were arrested last week in Spain, said US prosecutors.

Manhattan US lawyer Preet Bharara said: “Today’s charges paint a picture of perpetual lies and greed. As alleged, the defendants tricked victims into paying more than $US33 million for worthless paintings which they fabricated in the names of world-famous artists.

“The Bergantinos Diaz brothers then laundered and hid their illegal proceeds overseas. With today’s indictment, the defendants must now answer for their alleged roles as modern masters of forgery and deceit.”

The three men, along with Glafira Rosales, who has already pleaded guilty, carried out the scheme from the early 1990s through at least June 2009.

Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz first met Qian on a street corner in Manhattan, where Qian was selling paintings, prosecutors say, before bringing him into their ring to create the bogus master works.

Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz would buy up canvases of old paintings at flea markets, and stain newer canvases with tea bags, which he gave to Qian to create what has been dubbed “the Fake Works.”

Among the bogus works were those purportedly by Rothko, Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Motherwell.

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Mexico bids farewell to Garcia Marquez

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Mexico has farewelled its beloved adopted son, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in a national tribute filled with the late Nobel laureate’s favourite flowers and music.

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A coffee-coloured urn containing his ashes was placed on a podium, surrounded by yellow roses, in Mexico City’s domed Fine Arts Palace as a string quartet played classical music.

Dozens of guests applauded when his widow, Mercedes Barcha, arrived dressed in black with their sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo, at the cultural centre, where Mexico pays tribute to its late artistic icons.

Hundreds of fans filed past the urn to pay their last respects to the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, taking pictures and short videos with their smartphones.

Some of the guests even danced as a three-piece vallenato band played folk songs from his native Colombia with an accordion, drum and guacharaca, a percussion instrument.

Known affectionately as “Gabo,” Garcia Marquez died on April 17 in the Mexico City house where he lived for decades with his wife and two sons. He was 87.

Garcia Marquez first moved to Mexico in 1961 and it was there the veteran journalist wrote his seminal novel, a family and historical saga that was published in 1967.

He was a leading exponent of “magical realism,” a style of story-telling that blends fantasy and realistic elements.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed but he died a week after a bout of pneumonia.

The palace was decorated with the late writer’s favourite flower, the yellow rose that he so often wore on his lapel for good luck.

Many mourners wore the rose as violins played Beethoven. A large portrait of Garcia Marquez hung on a wall.

The vallenato trio offered a performance to the crowd outside the palace. Then, people took turns reading pages from One Hundred Years of Solitude.

“He loved this country. He was very grateful and felt as Mexican as any other person,” Jaime Abello, director of the Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation founded by Garcia Marquez, told MVS Radio.

His native Colombia will hold its own ceremony at Bogota’s cathedral on Tuesday for the man President Juan Manuel Santos hailed as “the greatest Colombian of all time.”

On Wednesday, to mark World Book Day, Colombians will have readings of Garcia Marquez’s novel No One Writes to the Colonel in more than 1000 libraries, parks and universities.

The family has not said where the author’s final resting place will be but Colombia hopes his ashes will be divided between his homeland and Mexico.

His wife Barcha “says that it is a very difficult decision that will be taken in due time,” said Rafael Tovar, president of Mexico’s National Culture and Arts Council.

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Tackles fly on planned India super league

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Its backers include some of the biggest names in Indian sport, business and Bollywood who hope it will help the country shed its image as the sleeping giant of world football.

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But the Indian Super League, which promises to lure a galaxy of former stars out of retirement, is already facing scepticism and even downright hostility from within the game some five months ahead of kick-off.

“It’s going to kill the sleeping giant without allowing it a chance to wake up and get out of bed,” said Valanka Alemao, the chief executive of Churchill Brothers, ex-champions of India’s current domestic league.

“This is such a weak-structured tournament that it’s bound to fail.”

Despite being the second most populous nation, India has long struggled in world football and is currently ranked 145th out of 207 in the governing body FIFA’s rankings.

The sleeping giant tag was first coined by FIFA president Sepp Blatter on a visit to India in 2007 but with even war-torn Syria and Afghanistan now ranked higher, some wags have said the snooze has become a coma.

Cricket dominates the back pages but matches in the existing I-League domestic championship attract significant crowds in some parts of the country, and the English Premiership is a major driver behind the growth of satellite TV here.

So it was no surprise when Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV was revealed as one of the backers of the new ISL along with other big names such as sports management giant IMG.

And in an echo of the format for cricket’s glitzy Indian Premier League (IPL), it was announced last week that eight city-based franchises with famous frontmen would take part in the two month-long competition from September.

Co-owners include cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood A-listers Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor as well as Atletico Madrid, leaders of Spain’s La Liga.

Nita Ambani, chairwoman of the joint venture IMG-Reliance marketing group which conceived the idea of the league, forecast that it would pave the way for “the nation’s sporting renaissance”.

“Football, with its largely untapped potential in the country, has the opportunity to grow to an unrivaled commercial success quite unlike any other sport,” Ambani, wife of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, said in a statement.

A more measured assessment came from former national cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, co-owner of the Kolkata franchise. He said the league could be a force for good even if it does not supplant cricket as India’s number one game.

“Don’t compare it with the IPL or cricket,” Ganguly told AFP.

“It’s the start of something good. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, things will improve.”

Each of the eight teams will be allowed to draft 10 foreign players, with a proviso that at least 50 of them in the 80-man pool should have played for their national teams.

But with ISL dates clashing with the start of major leagues around the world and the organisers facing stiff opposition from local clubs, finalising both the foreign and Indian talent will not be easy.

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Bird not charged over NRL ‘squirrel grip’

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Gold Coast back-rower Greg Bird has escaped censure from the NRL for an alleged squirrel grip on Penrith forward Sika Manu, in match review committee charges released on Tuesday.

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Bird was accused of grabbing the testicles of Manu late in the Panthers’ 14-12 win over the Titans on Monday night.

The Kangaroos’ back-rower denied the allegations and the match review committee found he had no charge to answer.

Four players have been charged with dangerous throws from Easter Monday as the NRL backs up its crackdown on lifting tackles, while Newcastle’s Willie Mason has taken the early guilty plea on a grade-two shoulder charge and will miss the Knights’ next two matches.

Gold Coast forward Matt White faces a three-week stint on the sidelines, two with the early guilty plea for his lifting tackle on Penrith’s Adam Docker, while Docker himself will earn a one-match ban if he pleads early on a hit on the Titans’ Dave Taylor.

White was charged with a grade-two dangerous throw, while Docker was hit with a grade one and carryover points are set to cost him.

Panthers hooker Kevin Kingston was also charged with a grade-one dangerous throw on Taylor.

He will escape without a week’s suspension if he takes the early guilty plea.

Wests Tigers forward Martin Taupau was also charged with a grade-one dangerous throw on Parramatta’s Fui Fui Moi Moi in the joint venture’s 21-18 win over the Eels at ANZ Stadium before more than 50,000 fans.

Taupau can also escape suspension if he takes the early guilty plea.

Manu lashed out at Bird after a 75th-minute tackle and Panthers skipper Peter Wallace also protested to referee Gavin Morris.

“He grabbed him on the nuts,” Wallace could be heard saying over the referees’ radio.

Bird brushed off the drama after the game.

“He wasn’t that lucky,” the NSW and Kangaroos’ representative joked.

“I don’t know mate. I just tackled him and he blew up about it.”

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A-League rest is no relief for Roar

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Brisbane players are uncertain whether their break from action will be all that beneficial going into Sunday’s A-League semi-final.

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The Roar are the only one of the four clubs left in the A-League who aren’t also taking part in the Asian Champions League.

Their opponents on Sunday, Melbourne Victory, play Jeonbuk in Korea on Tuesday night after overcoming Sydney FC in a thrilling elimination final last weekend.

The other semi-finalists – Western Sydney and Central Coast – also have mid-week fixtures before their clash on Saturday at Parramatta Stadium.

Through it all, the Roar have sat back and prepared.

While there’s no doubt they’ll go into the grand final qualifier fresh, the lack of match action could also catch out the Roar against a match-hardened Victory outfit.

“They’re playing Champions League; they’re playing A-League,” Roar skipper Matt Smith said.

“They’re gaining some great performances and I think that’ll add to them coming into the game.”

Sunday’s clash also looms as the first chance for star striker Besart Berisha to face the Victory this season.

Berisha’s campaign has been disrupted by injury and suspension meaning the Albanian has missed all three matches between the Roar and his future club.

Smith says he has no issue with Berisha’s temperament despite his disciplinary record and he has no doubts the striker’s mind will be on the job despite his looming move to the Victory next season.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing him play,” he said.

“I know that he’s really excited about the game.”

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Lorde apologises for cancellation

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Lorde has taken to Twitter to apologise to her fans for postponing her upcoming Australian tour.

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The New Zealand singer addressed her fans through five tweets shortly after the announcement was made by Frontier Touring company on Tuesday.

“in case you missed the announcement earlier, i have had to postpone my australian shows because of a nasty chest infection and … general ill health,” she tweeted.

“i am so gutted to have to do this but my parents and my team stepped in telling me i needed a break after being… non-stop since the grammys in january.”

Lorde reassured her fans that she would be performing for her fans once she’s feeling better.

“we will 100% be back for this tour (most likely in november)so don’t worry about that. i just need … time to get back to full gollum girl fitness before i got out and play shows again,” she tweeted.

“i’m truly sorry if i let you down or if you feel inconvenienced by this and i hope you can understand.”

Frontier Touring Company said the singer’s performances, scheduled to start in Melbourne on Thursday, had to be postponed.

“Under doctor’s advice, Ella Yelich-O’Connor will return to New Zealand for immediate rest and recuperation in order to regain complete health and continue touring for the rest of the year,” the company said.

The singer said it broke her heart to have to postpone.

“I absolutely love playing to Australian crowds, and it was not a decision we made lightly. I know I need to focus on getting better in order to perform at my best. We’ll be with you as soon as we can, Aussies,” she said in a statement.

The company said the rescheduled dates will be announced as soon as possible.

Fans are encouraged to hold on to their tickets, but the refunds are available through the official ticketing agency they were purchased from.

On Monday, Lorde sent out a tweet which gave no indication of the upcoming cancellation: “FORTY THOUSAND at our set last night!!? just brilliant. happy easter dickheads I LOVE YOU.”

The singer has just finished performing at the Coachella festival in California and recently played with the remaining members of Nirvana at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions in the US.

The tour dates to be postponed are:

April 24 & 26 – Melbourne, Festival Hall

April 27 – Adelaide, AEC Theatre

April 29 – Perth, Challenge Stadium

May 2 & 3 – Sydney, Hordern Pavilion

May 4 – Newcastle, Entertainment Centre

May 6 – Brisbane, Riverstage

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Criticism as NY’s MoMA begins expansion

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New York City’s famous Museum of Modern Art is under intense criticism as work starts to expand it by demolishing a neighbouring building, the former home of the American Folk Art Museum.

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Director Glenn Lowry, who has run the Museum (MoMA) since 1995, has drawn criticism not only for demolishing a building seen as a vital part of New York architecture but for his overall vision for transforming the museum into a place for social interaction, which is seen as a departure from the establishment’s previous, critical approach.

Founded in 1929 as an education institution to foster modern art, MoMA has become one of the most influential galleries in the world, boasting a collection that includes pieces from virtually every famous modern artist including Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

A year ago it announced the demolition of the adjoining former folk art museum, as part of a grand redesign and expansion project to become “the most welcoming museum in New York and to (bring) art and people together more effectively than ever before.”

Architects and preservationists slammed the plan saying the building should be saved.

After promising to reconsider the decision, MoMA announced in January that it would go ahead with the demolition because the plans for the expansion could not be completed without significantly altering the existing building, which was bought by MoMA in 2011.

“The degree to which the (original American Folk Art Museum) building would lose its identity, and the level of compromise to the MoMA programme, made saving it infeasible,” MoMA said in a statement.

When the demolition is complete, MoMA’s floor space will be expanded by 30 per cent to include more gallery space, a large entrance hall and a new, glass-walled gallery for contemporary and performance art opening directly onto the street.

“Obviously I’m deeply empathetic to the feelings that (the demolition) has elicited from a community we really care about,” museum director Lowry told The New York Times. “On the other hand, sometimes you have to make really tough decisions if you think they’re right.”

The move is derided in some quarters as a gimmick to attract larger crowds, while the museum is losing its critical approach and marked separation from popular culture.

Under Lowry’s tenure, MoMA has undergone major changes, including doubling the number of visitors to 3 million annually, increasing in size from 8,000 square meters to almost 12,000 square meters before the current expansion plans, and quadrupling the endowment fund to $1 billion, according to The New York Times.

The price of admission has tripled from 8 dollars to 25 dollars during Lowry’s 19 years as director.

While several members of the museum’s board applaud Lowry’s vision, some see his approach, especially the latest plan to transform the museum into a space for social interaction, as damaging.

“There are a number of us on the board who don’t want to see the museum become a mere entertainment centre,” board member Agnes Gund told The New York Times.

The renovated MoMA building is set to open in 2018 or 2019.

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US judge questions Guantanamo detention

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There’s a glimmer of hope for terror suspects held for years at Guantanamo Bay.

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At an appeal haring a US Supreme Court justice raised questions about the scope of the government’s authority to detain the suspects indefinitely.

The high court refused to hear the appeal of a Yemeni man held for 12 years at the US military prison in Cuba, letting stand a lower court ruling that he could be detained simply because he was found to be “part of al-Qaeda or the Taliban at the time of his apprehension”.

But progressive Justice Stephen Breyer, while concurring with that decision, issued a statement outlining several areas which the court has yet to address regarding the government’s detention authority.

Breyer said the court had not looked on whether the US military could hold someone who was not “engaged in an armed conflict against the United States’ in Afghanistan prior to his capture” — even if that person was a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

He also said that even if such detention was permissible, the court also had not weighed in on whether the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed in September 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, or the Constitution “limits the duration of detention.”

Breyer explained that the AUMF allows the US president to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against those deemed to have helped carry out the attacks “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”

In 2004, the Supreme Court confirmed that the AUMF was constitutional and allowed the president to detain “enemy combatants” provided the individual “was part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners in Afghanistan and who engaged in an armed conflict against the United States there.”

But Breyer’s statement indicated that he could be ready to hear an appeal on the basis of the gray areas he outlined that have not yet been addressed by the court.

Abdul al-Qader Hussain, 30, was captured in March 2002 in Pakistan on suspicion of links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network and the Taliban – claims he has repeatedly denied.

In their brief, Hussain’s lawyers had asked the high court only to assess the “level of proof” the government needed to show to justify his detention – not the legal issues Breyer mentioned in his statement.

Hussain had contested the fact that the lower courts confirmed his “indefinite detention” based on his travels in Afghanistan as a teenager, time spent in certain mosques and his possession of a rifle.

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Potential human superbugs in cow manure

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Scientists in the US say cow manure used to fertilise vegetable crops may contribute to resistance to antibiotics.

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A study found the manure contains a high number of genes from the cows’ gut bacteria, and while none have yet been found in superbugs that are infecting humans, the potential for harm is real.

The research was done by scientists at Yale University, who sampled manure from dairy cows at a farm in Connecticut.

In those samples, they found 80 unique antibiotic resistance genes.

About three quarters were unfamiliar. Genetic sequencing showed they were only distantly related to those already known to science.

When applied to a lab strain of E. coli, the genes made the bacteria resistant to certain well-known antibiotics, including penicillin and tetracycline.

Researchers said they were surprised by the number of antibiotic resistance (AR) genes they found, based on just five stool samples from four cows.

However, they also noted that the levels were lower than what is seen in chickens, which are often fed four times as many antibiotics as cows – typically to promote growth.

“The diversity of genes we found is remarkable in itself considering the small set of five manure samples,” said Jo Handelsman, senior study author and microbiologist at Yale.

“But also, these are evolutionarily distant from the genes we already have in the genetic databases, which largely represent AR genes we see in the clinic.”

Further study is needed to probe whether cow manure may harbour a major reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes that could move into humans.

“This is just the first in a sequence of studies — starting in the barn, moving to the soil and food on the table and then ending up in the clinic — to find out whether these genes have the potential to move in that direction,” Handelsman said.

The study appears in mBio, an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.

Funding for the research came from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the US National Institutes of Health.

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Pyrenees winemakers share their stories

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Wines from the Pyrenees region in central Victoria will be on offer at the Grampians Grape Escape festival in Halls Gap in May.

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Melissa Jenkins met with some of the winemakers to discuss the process and the passion behind their craft.

WILLIAM TALBOT – Winemaker at Mt Avoca Winery

It’s harvest time and winemaker William Talbot is making lots of decisions each day about what to pick, when to pick and how to treat each ferment.

Talbot likes wines that evolve as you enjoy them over a leisurely meal rather than those that assault your taste buds and lose their flavour after a single glass.

“We look for an elegant style, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want a wine that’s a one glass only wine,” he says on a break from overseeing cabernet picking.

“Some of the New Zealand sauvignon blancs, for example, can be like screaming drag queens – they are so big, intense, vivid and colourful that you can only really have a glass.”

A former lawyer, Talbot was in the restaurant game for a while before falling in love with winemaking during a sabbatical in Central Otago in New Zealand and eventually ending up at Mount Avoca Winery in February 2012.

Talbot says the Pyrenees region has the perfect weather for grapes to ripen slowly and be made into cool climate reds.

“It’s too hot here for pinot noir but for shiraz and cabernet, it’s just a magic environment to grow those in,” he says.

Mount Avoca Winery produces about 15,000 cases of wine annually from grapes that are organically grown, with vines ranging from around two to more than 40 years old.

The grapes are picked and punched down using hand-held tools, with as few additives used as possible.

“I like doing the work, I like putting my hands in there and smelling the wine and tasting it three times a day,” Talbot says.

Talbot says the experience at a Pyrenees cellar door is more low key and personal than what you might find in a more heavily touristed wine region, like Victoria’s Yarra Valley, for example.

“We are not as well known so you can unearth some real treasures up here,” he says.

SEAN HOWE – Manager of Blue Pyrenees Estate

Blue Pyrenees Estate was initially known as Chateau Remy and grew grapes to be made into brandy when Remy Martin established the vineyard in 1963.

Now a range of wines from white sparklings to reds are produced on the 150 hectare vineyard.

Manager Shane Howe says sparklings like Midnight Cuvee are a nod to the vineyard’s French roots.

Grapes used in Midnight cuvee are picked in the cool of the night to prevent oxidisation, which can compromise the delicate flavour of a sparkling white wine.

Howe says Blue Pyrenees reds have structure but are not too big.

“We are not after that Arnold Schwarzenegger, condom full of walnuts style of wine,” he says.

“We are looking for just a bit more elegance and bit more refinement.”

Howe has managed Blue Pyrenees Estate for around eight years after setting up wineries for Southcorp and spending three years in Sicily.

MARK SUMMERFIELD – Winemaker at Summerfield Wines

Mark Summerfield’s daughter Saieh, five, buzzes around her Dad during harvest with purple grape smudges on her cheeks and a big smile.

She likes to help her father, who is chief winemaker at Summerfield Wines after his Dad Ian handed the reins to him.

Summerfield Wines is highly regarded for its reds and has a red five-star rating from wine guru James Halliday recognising a long track record of excellence.

The wines also have a fine reputation in China where a bottle of shiraz can retail for more than $600.

For Mark Summerfield, winemaking is all about passion, particularly the special releases dedicated to his children that he makes only for cellar club members.

“I’m passionate about food, I’m passionate about life, I’m passionate about wine,” he says.

“Even my Dad, he’s passionate – I just think it runs in the family.”

Summerfield has never studied winemaking or read a book on the science behind the discipline.

“All my wine making is one big memory bank, I’ve never taken a note,” he says.

“There are some things that you don’t forget and the things that you are really, really passionate about you seem to have a good memory for.”

Summerfield says the key to making great wines is to taste the fruit on the vine and then taste again and again, slowly building up a catalogue of flavours.

Part of the trick to achieving deep, complex flavours is not to pick the fruit too early, with the picking window for grapes that make great wine sometimes less than a week.

At Summerfield Winery, grapes are picked, hand plunged in open fermentation vats, basket pressed and stored in stainless steel overnight before being transferred to oak barrels to continue fermenting.

“For me to get the right marriage in my wines it has to finish fermentation in oak; that’s the only way that the wood and wine come together,” Summerfield says.

* The Grampians Grape Escape will be held on May 3 and 4 at Halls Gap Village Oval, Grampians Rd, Halls Gap. Details: grampiansgrapeescape广西桑拿,广西桑拿网,.

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Big Bang a big question for most Americans

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While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, a poll as found.

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Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear.

When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more scepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago.

Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the Associated Press-GfK survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine.

On some, there’s broad acceptance.

Just four per cent doubt that smoking causes cancer, six per cent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and eight per cent are sceptical there’s a genetic code inside our cells.

More – 15 per cent – have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines.

About four in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts.

But a narrow majority – 51 per cent – questions the Big Bang theory.

Those results depress and upset some of America’s top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, who vouched for the science in the statements tested, calling them settled scientific facts.

“Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts,” said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley.

The poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

And scientists know they’ve got the shakiest leg in the triangle.

To the public “most often values and beliefs trump science” when they conflict, said Alan Leshner, chief executive of the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Political and religious values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change.

Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll.

Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the US population.

It involved online interviews with 1012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

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Australia’s German-speaking finance minister turns a holiday into a lifetime

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He made headlines in March after announcing the government’s plans to sell Medibank Private, but the question remains – who is this German-sounding West Australian senator?

 

Twenty years ago, a 23-year-old Belgian and recent law graduate flew into Perth for a holiday.

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About an hour later, Mathias Cormann had virtually decided he was leaving the green fields, wheat beer, and fine chocolate of his country of birth behind to live on the other side of the world.

 

“We were picked up at the airport and drove past here Riverside Drive down past the Swan River, off to the Blue Duck in Cottesloe, coffee in the afternoon and I did sort of look out over the ocean and thought: ‘wow, this is pretty bloody good’,” he says.

 

“Look, those first four or five weeks was an amazing experience and Australia is such a great country.”

 

Mathias Cormann decided to turn a holiday into a lifetime and make Western Australia his home.

 

He returned to Belgium, completed his law articles, and was back on the plane to Perth as soon as possible.

 

Now a West Australian senator and Australia’s Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann says his migrant story has been a positive one.

 

The Liberal party has been a significant part of his life: not only did it provide him with employment (Belgium’s legal system not exactly transferrable to Western Australia’s), but it’s also been a great source of friendship.

The state’s Education Minister Peter Collier is a firm friend and says they clicked after meeting on the campaign trail for WA senator Chris Ellison in 1996.

 

“His capacity to dissect issues is phenomenal,” Peter Collier says.

 

“That’s why I enjoy Mathias’ company so much.

 

“He can sit down and he can literally dissect issues and look at them in a very, very reasoned manner and come up with a value judgement, which is extraordinary.”

 

Mathias Cormann worked his way through Western Australian politics in the late nineties and became senior adviser for Liberal premier Richard Court in 2000.

 

The married father of a little girl also served as Liberal party senior vice president for many years.

 

“I had a lot of opportunity to travel the state,” he says.

 

“Go to places like Kununurra to Esperance, from Geraldton to Bunbury to meet people across a broad range of areas and also across a broad range of locations across Western Australia.

 

“Look the sheer size, the size of the opportunity, the investments, and the production levels in the Pilbara, all of that was quite mind blowing for somebody who came here out of Belgium, which was obviously much more settled and in those days with a challenged economy.”

 

The 43 year old says West Australians were overwhelming friendly, although not exactly sure where he was from.

 

“The reception was great,” he says.

 

“I think people were quite confused about where I was from because my accent, apparently, is somewhat different.

 

“It’s not quite German, even though German is the language I grew up speaking, it’s quite mixed because I’m from Belgium.

 

“I went to school in French and university in Dutch.

 

“It’s a bit of a mish mash accent wise, I think.

 

“Some people seem to think that I’m a South African because there’s lots of South Africans in Perth and others totally disagree.”

 

Mathias Cormann, who’s also a pilot, left state politics when he entered the senate in 2007.

 

He became finance minister when the coalition took power last year.

 

“People don’t worry where you come from,” he says.

 

“If you are prepared to work hard, have a go, there’s really no limit what you can achieve in your chosen field of endeavor, whatever that might be.

 

“And I really think, dare I say it, it’s up to us, as people who migrated to Australia, to give it our best and to contribute.”

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