Colorado DJ’s lawsuit against Taylor Swift dismissed

Pop star Taylor Swift has won an important ruling in the trial stemming from her allegation that she was groped by a Colorado disc jockey, with the judge dismissing the DJ’s rival claim accusing the singer of wrongfully getting him fired.

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The ruling by US District Judge William Martinez left intact Swift’s assault and battery countersuit against David Mueller, who asserts he was falsely accused by the recording star and ousted from his $150,000 ($190,000) a-year job at radio station KYGO-FM under pressure from her.

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The Grammy-winning artist known for such hits as Fearless and I Knew Your Were Trouble reacted to the decision with tears of joy, embracing members of her legal team and family members with bear hugs in the courtroom.

Mueller sat alone at the plaintiff’s table, appearing sombre as he sipped a glass of water.

Friday’s decision capped the fifth day of a trial highlighted by vivid testimony from Swift charging that Mueller clutched her bare buttocks during a pre-concert fan reception in 2013 against Mueller’s assertion under oath that he did no such thing.

Ryan Kliesch, a Denver radio host, emerges from the federal courthouse after testifying in the civil trial for pop singer Taylor Swift.AAP

The judge had tossed out Mueller’s defamation-of-character claim against Swift before the trial, ruling that the former Denver DJ had waited too long to file suit under the statute of limitations.

Earlier on Friday, Swift’s former bodyguard corroborated her account of being groped by Mueller, testifying that he saw the radio personality slip his hand under the singer’s skirt as they posed together for a photo with Mueller’s then-girlfriend.

Lawyers for both sides rested their respective cases after the ex-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, took the stand as the final witness to deny seeing Mueller inappropriately touch Swift during the picture-taking session. But she added, “I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.”

After jurors were excused for the day, Swift’s lawyer, J Douglas Baldridge, asked the judge to throw out Mueller’s two remaining legal claims in the trial – disruption of his $150,000-a-year employment contract and interference with his future earnings.

Swift has said her representatives lodged a complaint with KYGO management about the alleged groping but insisted she never demanded Mueller be fired.

Douglas Baldridge, front center, attorney for pop singer Taylor Swift, leads his legal team out of the federal courthouse.AAP

Although Martinez agreed to dismiss both claims as they related to Swift, he kept the contract claim intact for Swift’s two co-defendants – her mother, Andrea, and her radio station liaison Frank Bell.

The eight-member jury also will be left to decide whether Mueller is liable for assault and battery, for which Swift is seeking a symbolic $1 in damages.

Swift, known for baring her soul and her grudges in her music, by all accounts was the undisputed star witness of her own trial, giving an unflinching account of the incident in question on Thursday.

In unvarnished language that occasionally drew titters in the courtroom, even from some jurors, Swift testified that she was the victim of a “devious and sneaky act.”

“Your client grabbed my ass,” she told Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland. “He stayed latched onto my bare ass cheek. I felt him grab onto my ass cheek under my skirt.”

North Korea still mastering nuke delivery

While US intelligence officials are pretty sure North Korea can put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental missile that could reach the United States, experts aren’t convinced it would survive the flight.

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They cite lingering questions about Kim Jong Un’s nuclear know-how.

Could North Korea deploy nuclear weapons successfully time after time and hit their intended targets?

Would its weapon system break apart from the heat and stress it would sustain as it re-enters the atmosphere roughly 10 times faster than a speeding bullet?

“I don’t think North Korea has a good measure of how accurate the missile is at this point,” said Michael Elleman, an expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“They don’t know if the re-entry technologies will really hold up, whether the bomb will survive the trip.”

North Korea has short-range missiles that can hit its neighbours.

It has tested an intermediate one that could strike Guam, a US territory, as well as a longer-range missile that could reach Hawaii and perhaps the West Coast of the United States.

The intermediate and long-range missiles are still being developed and it’s still questionable if they can reliably strike targets.

Kim must do more tests to master what is known as “re-entry” in missile parlance, experts believe.

The process involves shielding a nuclear warhead from the high temperatures and force it faces upon re-entry at 7 kilometers a second.

“In principle, Kim Jong Un could hit the United States with a nuclear weapon,” said Elleman, a former scientist at Lockheed Martin’s Research and Development Laboratory who also worked as missile expert for UN weapons inspection missions.

“In practice, I think they are probably a half-year to a full year away from having something that will work more often than it would fail.”

Joseph Bermudez, an internationally recognised expert on North Korean defense and intelligence affairs and ballistic missile development, agrees.

“Putting these things all together and making them work is extremely challenging and they haven’t yet demonstrated a capability to produce a reliable re-entry vehicle, which is what houses the actual nuclear device,” he said.

“Remember, they’ve only tested these systems very few times.”

Still, Bermudez, said, North Korea is “on track” to figure it out.

US officials also think it’s just a matter of time before Kim’s program fully matures.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told Congress in May Kim has been photographed beside a nuclear warhead design and missile airframes to show that North Korea has warheads small enough to fit on a missile.

North Korea conducted its first test of an intercontinental missile on July 4. On July 28, it conducted a second test of its long-range Hwasong-14 ICBM.

The second test flight was captured by a rooftop camera operated by Japan’s NHK television on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Elleman, who analysed the video, concluded it most likely “disintegrated” before splashdown, suggesting North Korea is still struggling with re-entry.

Equality advocates welcome Warringah poll

Equality advocates are hoping a High Court legal challenge will kill off the federal government’s postal survey on same-sex marriage but, at the same time, they’re buoyed by an opinion poll in former prime minister Tony Abbott’s electorate of Warringah.

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A push to stop the controversial plebiscite will be heard in the High Court in early September just days before the vote is scheduled to begin.

Chief Justice Susan Kiefel on Friday said the full bench would hear the case on September 5 and 6.

The court received two separate applications. One came from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre on behalf of Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, advocate Felicity Marlowe and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Another was lodged by the Human Rights Law Centre on behalf of Australian Marriage Equality and Greens Senator Janet Rice.

Gay rights campaigners question the legal validity of the postal plebiscite and its $122 million cost.

They’re also concerned campaigning in the lead-up to the vote could tip over into hate speech and discrimination.

Still, they’ve been encouraged by an Australia Institute poll which suggests Mr Abbott’s own electorate overwhelmingly supports gay marriage.

The former prime minister, who opposes same-sex marriage, this week linked the plebiscite to religious freedom, freedom of speech and political correctness when urging people to “vote No”.

But in his Sydney electorate, 70 per cent off 700 resident surveyed said same-sex couples should be able to get married.

Liberal voters polled 60.3 per cent in favour, Labor voters 88 per cent and every Green polled expressed support.

“There is a massive mood for change on marriage equality around Australia and this poll is further evidence of that,” Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said in a statement on Saturday.

“Warringah voters look set to overwhelmingly back marriage equality and they do not appear to be buying into the line that the survey has anything to do with free speech or political correctness.”

Dragons back in the NRL finals mix

St George Illawarra have revived their NRL finals hopes with a desperately needed 42-16 victory over embattled Gold Coast.

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With their season on the line, the Dragons hauled themselves back into the top eight on Saturday with a seven-tries-to-three triumph ver the Titans at UOW Jubilee Oval.

Try-scoring doubles from winger Jason Nightingale, playmaker Kurt Mann and impressive hooker Cameron McInnes and a further four-pointer to Joel Thompson earned the one-time competition leaders just their third win in nine starts.

Gold Coast’s fourth-straight defeat has piled yet more pressure on beleaguered coach Neil Henry, while another lacklustre Jarryd Hayne display is certain to add to speculation around the superstar code-hopper’s future at the Titans.

Despite the Dragons living to fight another day, coach Paul McGregor wasn’t impressed with his side leaking three soft second-half tries after taking a commanding 22-0 lead into the break.

“I thought our first half was probably our best of the year, to be honest, defensively and attack-wise,” McGregor said.

“We were quite comfortable going in with a nice lead and I thought we started the second half aggressively.

“We didn’t have much possession the first six to eight sets and we tried to attack our way out of it instead of getting a nice comfortable grind through our defence.”

McGregor said his side couldn’t afford any such lapses on Friday night in a daunting clash with the second-placed Broncos in Brisbane.

“Our D’s going to have to be good because we’ve seen the last two weeks Brisbane put on – what, 80 points? – on two sides,” he said.

In ending a two-match losing run, St George Illawarra temporarily climbed above Penrith into eighth spot on points differential, ahead of the Panthers’ hosting of North Queensland.

The Dragons face Penrith in a potentially decisive round-25 showdown before finishing the home-and-away season with another must-win contest against Canterbury.

At least three dead in fresh Kenya poll protests

“We have one person killed and four others admitted in hospital with gunshot injuries,” said Dr Ojwang Lusi, the regional health chief in western Kisumu county.

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In the southwestern town of Siaya, a police officer speaking on condition of anonymity said a man had been shot dead in protests, but “we have not managed to collect the body… because of resistance from protesters.”

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Angry protests flared in opposition strongholds in Nairobi as well as in Kisumu after the election commission declared Kenyatta the victor in a hotly disputed vote over rival Raila Odinga.

After late night looting and riots, anger remained high Saturday morning, with running battles in the capital’s Mathare and Kibera slums.

Residents of the Mathare area of Nairobi, Kenya, take to the streets to protest in support of Kenyan opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga.AAP

However there were also joyous celebrations, some of which also turned deadly. A senior traffic police officer said “there were four people killed when they were hit by vehicles while celebrating.”

Kenya on edge

Kenya was on edge on Saturday after the disputed re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta sparked violent protests from opposition supporters who claim the vote was stolen from them.

While protests were limited to opposition strongholds, they came as a gloomy reminder of a disputed 2007 election which led to two months of ethno-political violence that left 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.

All eyes will now turn to opposition candidate Raila Odinga, and his reaction to his loss which he claimed was a result of massive rigging of Tuesday’s election, which his party denounced as a “charade” and a “disaster”.

0:00 At least five killed in Kenya protests Share At least five killed in Kenya protests

Odinga, 72, is a veteran opposition politician seen as having taken his last shot at the presidency after four unsuccessful runs. He believes elections in 2007, 2013 and now 2017 were snatched away from him.

Amid the anxiety over how the situation would unfold, there was also much joy in Kenyatta’s strongholds after he was declared the victor with 54.27 percent to Odinga’s 44.74.

“Let Uhuru rule. He is the best leader we have had,” said Simon Kipkoech in the town of Eldoret.

However in Odinga strongholds in Nairobi’s slums and poor areas, almost immediate protests and outbursts of anger were seen after the electoral commission (IEBC) announced the result, with gunshots ringing out and fires lit in the streets.

Burned tyres, debris and looted shops in the Kawangware slum in Nairobi bore testament to a night of running battles with police who tried to clear away rocks from the road, an AFP photographer said.

In the western city of Kisumu three young men were admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds, one to the jaw, another to a chest and a third, who gave his name as Michael Oluoch, 21, with a bullet to the thigh who said he had been shot by police.

Two men sustained gunshot wounds in the Mathare slum, according to an AFP photographer.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged police to show restraint in the face of protests.

“With growing reports of demonstrations and heavy gunfire in some areas, it is important for security forces to work to deescalate – not escalate – the violence,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at HRW.

“The police should not use teargas or live ammunition simply because they consider a gathering unlawful.”

‘Court is not an option’  

Foreign observers praised a peaceful, credible voting process — which saw turnout of 78 percent — but the mood quickly turned sour when Odinga rejected the results after only a few hours of counting.

The main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA), has claimed both that the results were manipulated by a massive hacking attack, and that it is in possession of results being concealed on IEBC servers that show Odinga to be the rightful winner.

On Thursday it demanded Odinga be declared president on these grounds.

NASA on Friday demanded access to the IEBC’s servers, saying they would accept any result contained therein, as they remain convinced the commission has released manipulated results.

However despite opposition requests for more time to resolve their concerns, the IEBC went ahead and announced election results amid a NASA boycott.

In 2013 Odinga took his grievances to court and lost.

“We have been there before. Court is not an alternative,” said top NASA official James Orengo.

‘Let us be peaceful’ 

After being declared the victor, Kenyatta reached out to Odinga and his supporters, to “work together… so that we can build this nation together”.

“Let us be peaceful… We have seen the results of political violence. And I am certain that there is no single Kenyan who would wish for us to go back to this.”

Odinga had called for calm from his supporters before the announcement, but added: “I don’t control anybody. People want to see justice.”

Six people have died in election-related violence, including two protesters in Nairobi shot dead by police on Wednesday.

In his first term, Kenyatta, 55, was credited with a massive infrastructure drive, however his new government will face the rising debt as a result, and a predicted slowdown in growth from an average of more than five percent in recent years.

A major issue on the campaign trail was a spike in food prices and shortage of the staple maize meal due to a prolonged drought, which has hit the country’s poorest hard. 

Kenyatta’s administration has been dogged by several graft scandals, with the country dropping six points in Transparency International’s corruption index in 2016.

 

Cats’ AFL fans sway free kicks: Hardwick

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is sure the Simonds Stadium crowd influenced a skewed free-kick count in their upset AFL loss to Geelong.

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The Cats held on in Saturday’s last quarter for a crucial 11.14 (80) to 9.12 (66) win that meant they took third spot from the Tigers with two rounds left.

There was plenty of pre-match speculation about whether the game should be moved to the MCG, given the importance of the game and the drawing power of the two teams.

Cats coach Chris Scott said post-match that local fans took “umbrage” to the suggestion the game should be moved.

Just as Scott heaped praise on the Geelong faithful, Hardwick was equally adamant the Cats had a big home-ground advantage and his comments about the umpiring could attract AFL scrutiny.

“The home crowd gets behind them – have a look at the free-kick count,” Hardwick said.

“It is what it is. What I will say is you have a significant home ground advantage.

“I understand what Chris is saying, I’d be playing as many home games here as I can.

“They’re an outstanding side, plus, when it comes to playing here.”

The free-kick count was 20-7 Geelong’s way at halftime and 28-17 for the match.

“Our Tiger fans are the same when we get back home (the MCG) – it’s the lie of the land,” Hardwick said.

But Richmond’s free-kick difference for the season moves to minus 74.

At the end of his post-game media conference, Scott volunteered praise for the crowd support and the atmosphere at the game.

Their VFL team beat Richmond and the Geelong women’s team also won at a neighbouring ground in Kardinia Park.

“The feedback from the players and certainly the feedback from the coaches’ box was that is the best we’ve ever heard our crowd,” Scott said.

“They took umbrage to the fact that there was any suggestion their home game should be taken away from them.

“They responded in a manner that the whole of Geelong should be proud of.”

It was Geelong’s 13th-straight win over Richmond and they did it without captain Joel Selwood, key forward Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan.

With Hawkins suspended, swingman Harry Taylor was outstanding on Richmond’s Alex Rance, surely this year’s All-Australian full-back.

Taylor kicked four goals and was best afield.

Patrick Dangerfield returned from suspension and racked up a game-high 30 disposals.

Steven Motlop also came back after being rested for two games and was much improved.

Geelong key forward Rhys Stanley suffered a calf muscle injury and Richmond’s Josh Caddy was forced out of the match in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.

Midfielder Dion Prestia had 29 disposals and was best for the Tigers.

Geelong face Collingwood at the MCG and GWS at home as they try to secure a top-four berth.

Richmond drop from third to fourth, but should still claim a double chance with Fremantle (Perth) and St Kilda (MCG) to come.

Sacked coach Eade regrets taking Suns job

Sacked Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade says he would never have taken the job if he’d known the extent of the AFL club’s issues.

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The Suns announced on Tuesday that Eade’s contract had been terminated with three rounds remaining.

Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane said the decision came down to an unacceptable win-loss ratio under Eade’s leadership.

The Suns had managed just 16 wins and a draw from the 63 games coached by Eade since the beginning of 2015.

Eade on Saturday said a combination of a poor club culture, issues within the football department and a high rate of injuries had denied him the opportunity to build success.

Asked whether, in retrospect, he would still have taken the job, Eade’s response was emphatic.

“No, no, no. Not at all,” Eade told ABC Grandstand on Saturday.

“There was a lot of things that surprised me and then kept happening, I suppose. You hit another rock, and then it’s June or July and you think you’re on top of it, and then something else happens.

“I suppose the injury rate was horrible. It was a lot better this year but obviously the last five or six weeks it’s really gone south again.

“With all of those factors involved, no I wouldn’t have done it.”

The Suns had spoken of former Sydney and Western Bulldogs coach Eade being the man to take them deep into the finals when he replaced Guy McKenna at the end of 2014.

But the club was beset by disciplinary issues, struggled to retain key players and, according to Eade, was run by people who lacked insight into the myriad of problems.

“I don’t think they did know the extent of the cultural things,” Eade said.

“Probably a lot of people didn’t, but should they have known?

“I think all good clubs would know.”

China’s Xi urges restraint in phone call with Trump

Meanwhile, US military forces “stand ready” to safeguard Guam after the North threatened to fire ballistic missiles toward the American Pacific island territory, the White House said.

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It said Trump “reassured” Guam Governor Eddie Calvo in a phone call that the US military would “ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam, along with the rest of America.”

During their separate call, Trump and Xi also hailed the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution targeting the North as an “important and necessary step toward achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” a White House statement read.

“The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” it added, stressing the two leaders had an “extremely close relationship” that “will hopefully lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korea problem.”

0:00 Australia embroiled in North Korea and US tensions Share Australia embroiled in North Korea and US tensions

“President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior,” the statement read.

It said Trump looks forward to a “very historic” meeting with Xi in China later this year.

0:00 North Korea, the US and Guam explained Share North Korea, the US and Guam explained

‘Avoid rhetoric’

President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese state media said.

China Central Television on Saturday cited Xi as saying that Beijing and Washington are both interested in the denuclearisation of the peninsula.

The report quotes Xi as saying: “At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

Japanese Defense Ministry deploys PAC-3 interceptor system in Konan, Kochi Prefecture on Aug. 12, 2017, to counter against provocative missile launch. AAP

Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

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‘Avoid bomb flash’: Guam’s nuke advice

Guam has posted emergency guidelines to help residents prepare for any potential nuclear attack as North Korea threatens to fire missiles at the US Pacific territory.

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Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency said on Thursday its army would complete plans in mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near Guam amid increasingly heated rhetoric over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

0:00 North Korea, the US and Guam explained Share North Korea, the US and Guam explained

North Korea did not threaten Guam with a nuclear attack, but the crisis between Pyongyang and the United States has stirred fears that of nuclear conflict in the region.

Guam’s governor said there was no heightened threat but the government has issued a preparedness fact sheet, which covers what to do before, during and after a nuclear attack.

“Do not look at the flash or fireball – It can blind you,” it said. “Take cover behind anything that might offer protection.”

If caught outside, it says to “remove your clothing to keep radioactive material from spreading.”

US Navy releases photo showing submarine tender USS Emory S. Land and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Topeka pierside in their home port at Polaris Point, Guam.AAP

It suggests having an emergency plan and supply kit and a list of potential concrete structures near home, work and school to serve as fallout shelters.

The fact sheet advises people to not scrub or scratch the skin, use soap, shampoo and water but avoid hair conditioner because it binds radioactive material.

It also advises parents to stay where they are and wait for instructions, even if they are separated from their children.

Guam is home to about 163,000 people and a US military base.

US President Donald Trump warned on Friday that the US military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely”.

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo said while he agreed with sending a clear message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he didn’t “want the temperature to get any higher”.

Taylor experiment pays off for Cats in AFL

Geelong’s Harry Taylor experiment has paid an AFL dividend they would not have hoped for in their wildest dreams.

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On Saturday, Taylor won his crucial duel with star Richmond defender Alex Rance and was best afield with 4.2 as the Cats scored an upset 14-point win at Simonds Stadium.

It is the biggest success by far for Taylor since the Cats’ pre-season decision to experiment with him as a key forward.

Most key forwards, let alone a swingman, never have the better of Rance.

The Tigers’ star will surely earn All-Australian selection for the fourth season in a row.

Taylor has had his struggles in attack. It was only the second time this season he had played the entire game as a key forward.

It was forced on the Cats because of No.1 key forward Tom Hawkins’ two-game suspension.

The Cats’ forwards isolated Taylor and Rance whenever possible and the tactic worked superbly.

“Harry was probably the difference today – Rancey had a disappointing day; he’s been up for a long time,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.

“Sometimes, these things happen.

“Harry had a good day and sometimes champions have a bad day … (Rance) will bounce back.”

Rance even went into attack during the frantic last quarter as the Tigers tried to buy a goal or two.

Showing his defender’s instincts, Taylor was unsure whether he should follow Rance up the other end of the ground.

Taylor said his focus was trying to limit Rance’s peerless ability to take intercept marks.

It also helped that Taylor took two early marks against Rance.

“I have been on that a number of times when opponents kick goals on you early, but he is a fantastic player, he backs himself and just does so many amazing things to help his team,” Taylor said.

“So to be able to contribute on the scoreboard and help our team was pretty pleasing.”

Cats coach Chris Scott did not want to talk about the tactical nuances of Taylor’s win over Rance, mindful the teams could well clash again in the finals.

“He might be close to the best defender of a generation,” Scott said of Rance.

“When the opposition try something different against you, those champions find a way to get past that.

“I suspect, with some trepidation, that will happen in this case as well.”