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Films opening this week

Films opening in Australian cinemas this week:

WOLF CREEK 2

Horror/thriller; rated MA15+; opening February 20

John Jarratt’s psychopathic pig-shooter Mick Taylor is back in this sequel by director Greg Mclean, where the sadistic serial killer once again sets his sights on some unwitting tourists in the outback, with gory results.

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Also starring Ryan Corr.

NEBRASKA

Drama; rated M; opening February 20

Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern stars in his Oscar-nominated role as Woody, an ageing, booze-addled father who believes he’s won a million dollar prize and goes on a road trip with his son (Will Forte) to collect his winnings. Directed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways).

LE WEEK-END

Drama; rated M; opening February 20

Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star as Nick and Meg, a British couple who return to Paris for the first time since their honeymoon to try and rekindle their marriage. Directed by Roger Michell of Notting Hill fame and also starring Jeff Goldblum.

LONE SURVIVOR

Action/drama/thriller; rated MA15+; opening February 20

Based on real events, the latest film from director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) follows the failed US Navy Seal mission Operation Red Wings, where a four-man team set out to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, but were ambushed by enemy forces. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Aussie Eric Bana.

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES

Action/adventure; rating to be classified; opening February 20

Kellan Lutz from Twilight fame stars as Hercules in this origin story of the mythical Greek hero and son of Zeus. Betrayed and exiled by his stepfather, the tyrannical king, because of a forbidden love, the half-god is sold into slavery and must use his powers to restore peace in the kingdom. Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2).

Morrison confirms arrests over Manus Island ‘incident’

As many as 26 asylum seekers may have sustained injuries after a clash with Papua New Guinea police at the Australian-run asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island, local sources say.

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Riot police were called amid escalating tensions between guards and detainees on Sunday at the facility, where 1300 asylum seekers are housed.

Local journalist Nick Solomon says a group of more than 30 asylum seekers broke down the beach-side, back fence to the centre and ran.

After breaching the fence, the group were confronted by riot police.

“They have injuries from fighting with the guards,” Mr Solomon said, adding he had been told by detention centre staff 26 asylum seekers suffered injuries and were being treated on the base.

“They were having, I think, a peaceful protest and one of them lit a fire, then the guards had to find out how they got the matches”

“They broke down the back fence on the beach side, ran around and had a fight with security.”

Mr Solomon said nine asylum seekers were arrested although local MP Ron Knight said earlier on Monday that seven had been arrested.

Australian staff were still inside the centre and the perimeter was being patrolled by police and defence personnel, Mr Solomon added.

Tensions at the centre had been simmering after three asylum seekers were arrested last week following a fight with a guard.

“Those three are now in police cells,” Mr Solomon said.

The CEO of Lorengau hospital, Dr Otto Numan, said his staff were on alert last night after hearing about the fight between asylum seekers and guards.

“We were on stand-by, just in case,” he said.

“But from last night to this morning, there have been no reports out about injuries.”

He confirmed he would only be notified if the injuries couldn’t be treated on the base.

Mr Knight dismissed reports of a breakout at the centre, saying PNG immigration told him this was false.

“That’s BS,” he told AAP.

“There was a fight late yesterday afternoon amongst themselves.”

“They have been arrested and will face court this week.”

Mr Knight said he was waiting for more information from his staff in Manus.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Monday “a number” of asylum seekers were arrested after a “disturbance” and the centre was now “calm” and staff were safe.

News of the incident emerged after refugee advocacy groups reported a riot squad was mobilised when asylum seekers breached the centre’s perimeter fence on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Morrison said a number of asylum seekers had received medical treatment and there was minor property damage.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the only way to avoid disturbances at detention centres was to ensure asylum seekers don’t try to come to Australia by boat.

“If you come to Australia illegally by boat this is, I’m afraid, what happens to you. As far as this government is concerned the way is shut,” he told ABC radio.

Boat arrivals are being transferred to Manus or another detention centre on Nauru and have no prospect of being settled in Australia under current government rules.

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Boys devastated by sudden bald patches

The sudden development of bald patches can be devastating for boys, says a leading dermatologist.

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They are far more likely to become desperately unhappy than girls.

It can lead to a reluctance to go to school and social isolation, says Professor Rodney Sinclair, who has studied the psychological impact of alopecia areata, an auto-immune disease that causes baldness.

In severe cases it has led to suicide, with four Australian boys taking their own life in 2011.

“Adults just don’t get how devastating it can be.”

Disfiguring circular patches can develop almost overnight, says Prof Sinclair, director of dermatology at Epworth Hospital in Melbourne.

He had assumed girls would struggle more than boys.

“But, girls with 40 to 50 per cent hair loss can conceal it completely.

“Even with total hair loss, a wig on a girl is less obvious than for a boy.”

A small patch is noticeable on most boys, however.

“They have to front up to school the next day.

“Even if there is no teasing and nobody says anything, the child is likely to feel embarrassed and worry about what people might be thinking.”

Doctors and parents should be aware that young men and boys with rapid-onset alopecia areata are at particular risk, says Prof Sinclair, who has published a letter about his concerns in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Common issues include poor self image, grief and loss and sleeping disorders.

Two of the four boys who committed suicide were aged 14, one was 16 and one was 17.

They were among 196 Australians who registered with the condition from 2010 to 2012.

One of the great frustrations is that it is unpredictable, says Prof Sinclair.

The hair can fall out and grow back and fall out again.

It usually peaks around six-to-eight years old and again around the age of 16.

In rare cases all the hair on a person’s body falls out permanently.

“Children and parents need advice on treatment and on how to camouflage their bald patches. They might also need psychological support.”

We believe early intervention with cortisone could cause regrowth and prevent future loss.

“A parent should see a doctor immediately if their child develops an unexplained bald patch,” he says.

“Being different is difficult for boys. It is the reason for the high rate of mental health issues among gay boys,” says beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell.

“What’s important is that parents talk about it and that people have access to the support they need.”

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25)

PREVIEW-Soccer-South American coaches add spice to Champions League

Three of the eight teams in action this week are coached by South Americans, AC Milan’s Clarence Seedorf was born and ended his playing career on the continent and Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola said he was inspired by what he learned during a visit to Argentina.

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Two of them meet in the week’s top clash as Manchester City, coached by urbane Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, host Gerardo Martino’s Barcelona on Tuesday.

“I have always been interested in Pellegrini’s career both in Europe and before, when he was coaching in South America,” said Argentine Martino, a surprise appointment by Barcelona before the start of the season

“He is one of the best coaches in the world. I feel very satisfied to be facing him in this tie.”

Atletico Madrid, revitalised by former Argentina captain Diego Simeone, travel to AC Milan on Wednesday where they seem certain to give Seedorf a baptism of fire as he makes his coaching debut in a competition in which he was immensely successful as a player.

Guardiola’s Bayern Munich visit Arsenal the same evening as the two sides meet at the same stage for the second season in a row.

Overall, the round of 16 has a familiar ring to it after a predictable group stage where the only major surprise was the elimination of Serie A champions Juventus.

Ten of the 16 teams reached the same stage last year and Manchester City are the only knockout phase debutants.

Predictably, the English Premier League and Bundesliga dominate with four teams apiece, while Spain’s La Liga has three.

Bayer Leverkusen, second in the Bundesliga, host big-spending Paris St Germain in the other of this week’s ties on Tuesday.

The remaining four first legs will all be played the following week with Olympiakos-Manchester United and Zenit St Petersburg-Borussia Dortmund on February 25 and Galatasaray-Chelsea and Schalke 04-Real Madrid on February 26.

TOUGH TRANSITION

South American players have long been hugely influential in European football but, until recently, coaches have struggled to adapt in the modern era even when they their records suggested they had all the right credentials.

Carlos Alberto Parreira lasted only a few months at Spanish club Valencia after leading Brazil to World Cup victory in 1994 while the hugely successful Boca Juniors and Velez Sarsfield coach Carlos Bianchi fared just as badly, with short spells at AS Roma and later Atletico Madrid.

Argentina’s Ramon Diaz and Colombia’s Francisco Maturana were others who failed to make it on the other side of the Atlantic.

The new generation has proved far more adaptable, although there is little connection between Pellegrini, Martino and Simeone who took very different routes to Europe.

Pellegrini, a qualified engineer and former Chile defender, coached five clubs in his homeland then worked in Ecuador and Argentina before carving out his reputation in a five-year spell at Spain’s Villarreal, leading them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006.

Martino, whose only major title as a coach was Argentina’s Final championship with Newell’s Old Boys last season, took an even more unlikely route, coaching modest clubs in Argentine and then Paraguay’s Cerro Porteno and Libertad before making a positive impression during five years as coach of the Paraguay national team.

Martino is widely regarded as a disciple of former Argentina, Chile and Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa , who also inspired Guardiola when he visited Argentina before his hugely successful spell in charge of Barcelona.

Simeone, often describing as playing with a knife between his teeth, is a former Atletico Madrid player strongly identified with the club which he has revitalised since coming back as coach at the end of 2011.

Seedorf, his opposite number on Wednesday, was born in the former Dutch colony of Suriname and ended his career in Brazil with Botafogo, where he commanded enormous respect.

“The Brazilian league is very different and it gave me a lot to be able to face this new adventure,” Seedorf, who won the Champions League four times as a player, told Milan’s website (上海性息.acmilan上海桑拿,).

“My experience with Botafogo helped me to prepare for this new job,” added Seedorf, who took over in January with the club in disarray..

“The match against Atletico will be a great chance to take a big step forward. We’ll play our game since Milan always have something extra in the Champions League.”

(Editing by Rex Gowar)

Fuel load checks possible under WA laws

Semi-rural landowners, councils and state government entities could be forced to reduce vegetation on their land under possible changes to Western Australia’s bushfire laws.

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Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson is leading a review of WA’s emergency services legislation and says people who own fuel load must be held accountable.

Under existing laws, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) cannot make local councils or state government landholders, such as Main Roads and the Water Corporation, reduce vegetation and ignitable material.

Councils can request landowners to reduce fuel loads, although many claim it is difficult to enforce.

But in an overhaul of the legislation, landowners could face spot checks of their fuel load and government entities could also be forced to reduce their levels, The West Australian newspaper reports.

The Atwell-Banjup fire earlier this month was intensified by fuel loads thought to be 20 years old in reserves managed by the City of Cockburn, which does not conduct prescribed burns, the newspaper said.

Mr Gregson said efforts had been made in recent years to improve how firefighters respond to bushfires, and reducing fuel loads was the next step to make sure WA was bushfire ready.

“We try to educate people that if you own the fuel, you own the risk, and the consequences of any fire of course are magnified and are a direct correlation to the fuel,” he told Fairfax radio on Monday.

Mr Gregson said he was “mortified” by the risks in some areas.

The state government will determine if DFES or councils will be responsible for reducing vegetation.

Mr Gregson said DFES would release its emergency services legislation review concept paper for public comment next month.

Qld launches crackdown on synthetic drugs

Queensland’s police commissioner has vowed to crack down on convenience stores that unwittingly sell harmful synthetic drugs.

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The state last year became the first and only jurisdiction in Australia to ban any product that mimicked the pharmaceutical effects of an illicit drug, not just certain active ingredients.

But Commissioner Ian Stewart says convenience stores and adult shops are still selling the illegal highs that have been known to cause hallucinations and even death.

“There are still some people in Queensland who might run a service station, for instance, who aren’t quite up with the law,” he told reporters at the launch of a synthetic drugs awareness campaign in Brisbane.

“I can tell you now that they will be prosecuted whether they’re bringing them in or selling them almost from a naivety of not understanding the law because they’ve seen them on sale in another state.

“I’m still concerned at the education of small business owners is not as complete as perhaps what we’d like it.”

Dr Christian Rowan, an addiction medicine specialist who is also the Queensland president of the Australian Medical Association, said synthetic drugs can cause stroke, heart and kidney failure along with mental health and cognitive problems.

“We’d say they’re all dangerous,” he said.

“You can’t simply identify one as more dangerous than another.”

Synthetic drugs are sold interstate as bath salts and kronic, an artificial marijuana.

Last year, Sydney teenager Henry Kwan jumped to his death from a balcony after taking synthetic LSD bought online.

In May, Liam O’Shea-Leamy, 17, drowned in a Townsville pool after having a psychotic reaction to a synthetic drug.

Wallaby Robinson in great shape

Wallabies prop Benn Robinson enters the new Super Rugby season in his best shape for some time as he strives to re-establish himself as a Wallaby starter after one of the toughest years of his career.

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In 2013, NSW Waratahs and Wallabies scrum anchor Robinson found himself left out of both starting sides at different stages of the season.

He didn’t start the Waratahs first Super Rugby game and was the high-profile omission from new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie’s initial squad for the Rugby Championship.

Robinson was recalled for the latter part of that tournament and went on the Spring tour, but his past seven caps were all won off the bench behind James Slipper.

He missed the Scotland Test last November after he was one of six players stood down for a late-night drinking session in Dublin.

“It was very tough,” Robinson said reflecting on his year in 2013.

“To go through the events that happened last year, it was probably one of my tougher years, on the field and off the field as well.

“I think off the field, there’s always the challenges there and there was all those highlighted events that we had.”

“Missing out (on the Wallabies’ squad) was always tough. The toughest thing you can do is to get dropped from a side that you love dearly.

“Then you get brought back in the side and have some success. It was a very pleasing thing for me.”

Robinson said he felt he continued to improve as a player and had a pretty good season with NSW, culminating in him winning their best forward award.

He spoke to McKenzie on the Spring tour about what he needed to do to regain a starting spot, which he virtually had a mortgage on from 2008 to last year.

“It’s about not just offering up, scrummaging or tackling, just making sure that I’m across the board and continually improving as a player in all aspects,” Robinson said.

The 29-year-old prop heads into the Waratahs’ Super Rugby season opener against Western Force in Sydney on Sunday delighted with his state of fitness.

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long, long time,” Robinson said.

Another Wallabies and Waratahs stalwart in good shape is powerful but injury-prone No.8 Wycliff Palu who, for one of the few times in his NSW career, has played all three trials.

“It’s been good. I’ve really enjoyed it, playing back-to-back footy – you kind of miss it,” Palu said.

Barcelona offer Man City toughest test to date

Both teams will start what promises to be a memorable duel at the Etihad Stadium boosted by superb wins on Saturday, with City returning to their best form in beating Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup and Barcelona crushing Rayo Vallecano 6-0 in La Liga.

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Both were also boosted by the return of important players after injury.

Samir Nasri came on as a second-half substitute for City after missing seven games and scored City’s second against Chelsea within minutes of his arrival while Neymar also returned as a substitute in the second half for the Spanish champions to score a stunning goal after four matches out to complete Barca’s scoring.

Neymar is likely to be on the bench at the start on Tuesday, which may offer some relief for the home team, who will probably have to raise their already impressive game to even greater heights if they are to knock out the four-times European champions.

City coach Manuel Pellegrini is well aware of what Barca are capable of from his time with Villarreal, Malaga and Real Madrid in Spain, while City’s free-ranging midfielder Yaya Toure spent three years at the Nou Camp and won every major honour with them, including the Champions League in 2009.

In an interview with Champions Magazine, Toure said he expected City to win the first leg to show how far the club have come since the injection of Sheikh Mansour’s cash totally transformed them from domestic also-rans to potential European champions.

“Our fans deserve a victory against a big club to show how the club is progressing,” he said. “Barcelona are a perfect example, a great club with an exceptional history with players who might currently be the best in the world, like Lionel Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Pique, Busquets.

“It will be a great match and we really have the desire to show City are on the right track.”

City are in uncharted waters as far as the Champions League is concerned, having been knocked out at the group stage in their two previous appearances.

But they are the highest scoring team in this season’s competition with 28 goals.

“Our experience from our defeats last year has made us more mature,” Youre added.

“We have the players, the manager, but you also need to play against great teams to test your level.”

City gave a hint of their growing strength with a 3-2 win away to champions Bayern Munich in the group stage, and they have scored 117 goals in all competitions this season.

PERFECT WARM-UP

The Spanish champions had the perfect warm-up on Saturday when Messi, who looks to be back to his best after returning in early January from a two-month injury layoff, scored twice to overtake Alfredo di Stefano in La Liga scoring history.

Messi’s 228 goals in 263 games took him to joint third on the all-time list with Raul, behind Telmo Zarra (251) and Hugo Sanchez (234).

Messi has now scored 337 goals for Barcelona, a record for one club, but has only ever managed one for Barcelona in England – in the 2011 Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley.

As well as Messi having an outstanding game on Saturday, midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta turned in scintillating displays and in-form forwards Pedro and Alexis also scored as Barca totally overwhelmed second-from-bottom Rayo at the Nou Camp.

“The victory will help us build confidence for our next few matches, which are going to be very tough,” Pedro told reporters.

“We have had some good performances this season but today was one of the best,” the Spain international added.

“Tuesday’s game against City will be very closely fought, we are both good teams.”

Barcelona will also be seeking to end a run of five games in England other than the Wembley final without a win, but even a draw at City could well tip the tie in their favour ahead of the second leg in Barcelona on March 12.

(Editing by Steve Tongue)

Wobbling Leverkusen bullish ahead of PSG test

It will be the first time the sides have met in Europe and the Germans have an excellent home record against French opposition in European competition, winning four out of six matches.

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Domestically, however, Leverkusen have struggled recently and have lost five of their last seven, including a shock home defeat by second-division side Kaiserslautern in the German Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Sami Hyypia’s side played better despite losing 2-1 at the Bayer Arena to Schalke 04 on Saturday, although striker Stefan Kiessling is struggling to reclaim his touch in front of goal.

Kiessling, 30, scored two goals in six games in the Champions League group stage this season as Bayer finished second in Group A behind Manchester United.

“I’m very happy with the way my team played. It was very different from Wednesday’s game,” Hyypia told the club’s website after Saturday’s loss.

“The lads showed a lot of character. We can get a result on Tuesday if we play like that.”

Bayer continue to sweat on the fitness of centre back Emir Spahic who was substituted in the 60th minute with a thigh injury and midfielder Emre Can will miss the match through suspension.

Spahic’s absence could be a big blow to a side which conceded nine goals in two group matches against United and face the tough task of controlling Ibrahimovic.

IBRAHIMOVIC’S THREAT

With Edinson Cavani recovering from a thigh problem and expected to return before the end the month, the talismanic Swede will lead the attack.

Ibrahimovic, who scored a personal best eight goals in the group stage and has 19 league goals this campaign, said he was determined to help PSG win the Champions League – a feat he has not achieve despite playing for Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Ajax.

“If we can get further than the quarter-finals this year it would be a big step for us. This project has been ongoing for two years and I’ve been here for one and a half – it is developing,” he told UEFA上海桑拿,.

“We have a team with a lot of potential and high quality and I think the collective part has grown a lot this year.”

PSG are five points clear of second-placed Monaco in Ligue 1 and are cruising toward their first back-to-back titles, although coach Laurent Blanc said he wanted his side to covert more opportunities on goal.

“We create a big amount of chances but we have not converted enough in the past month and a half,” Blanc told reporters after his side beat Valenciennes 3-0 in the league on Friday.

With Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore all suffering from inconsistency this season, PSG will attempt to better last year’s quarter-final appearance after Barcelona went through on away goals following two drawn matches.

The club’s latest acquisition Yohan Cabaye has been added to PSG’s Champions League squad and could feature in what would be his fifth appearance for the club since arriving from Newcastle in January.

The return leg will take place at the Parc des Princes on March 12.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Mark Pangallo)

Vic coal-mine fire could burn for weeks

A Victorian coal-mine fire that is creating health problems for firefighters will likely burn for weeks.

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Nineteen firefighters have been treated for higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide from the 3km-long fire in the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine in the Latrobe Valley.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says there are high levels of carbon monoxide in the pit itself and authorities are also monitoring levels from smoke over Morwell.

“It’s a fire that’s not going to be easy to put out,” Mr Lapsley said on Monday.

“I think the Hazelwood mine will burn for a number of weeks and the biggest concern with that is the amount of smoke that it’s putting up over Morwell.”

The fire is burning more than 100 metres up the 150 metre wall of an old part of the mine.

Two hundred firefighters and 100 mine staff have been working on the fire, with 80 tankers and other support staff.

The grass fire that started on Sunday February 9 also spread into the Yallourn open-cut mine and burned into wood stocks at the Australian Paper Mill north of Morwell.

Mr Lapsley said the fire in the Yallourn mine is very small and is being managed, while the fire near the paper mill has been controlled.

Fires that started in mid-January are still burning further east in Victoria in East Gippsland, with some people only now regaining access to their homes and communities.

The fires in far East Gippsland have burnt more than 130,000 hectares between the Snowy River and NSW border.

Bushfires have destroyed 78 homes across Victoria so far this summer, including 45 lost in the past week.