By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Golf has clung slavishly to its centuries-old traditions and long ignored growing calls for reform but the ancient sport will be nudged gently towards modernity at the inaugural World Super 6 tournament in Australia this week. The European Tour co-sanctioned event at Perth's Lake Karrinyup Country Club will ditch convention by deciding Sunday's winner in a final day matchplay shootout after three rounds of regular strokeplay. The innovation will promise a more "punchy" finish for spectators and television audiences, organizers hope, as a full field whittled down to 24 players compete in pairs in six-hole playoffs until only one remains. While more evolution than revolution, it's a tweak unprecedented on any of the world's major professional tours. It also counted as a necessary experiment for a game that was struggling to lure a new generation of participants and fans in golf's mature markets, according to the Australian PGA Tour. "The challenge for a lot of sport, and particularly for golf, is the demographic of the average golfer and golf fan is a bit older," PGA Australia's chief commercial officer Steve Ayles told Reuters on Wednesday. "We're basically the number one sport for over-45s. "This form of event certainly appeals to a younger demographic and certainly appeals to people who are time-poor. "And we believe that this will be a great spectacle." The Scottish city of Perth is renowned for its rich golf heritage, with King James IV having made the first recorded purchase of golf clubs from a local bowmaker there in 1502, but its Australian namesake is an unlikely launch-pad for reform. With most of the world's top golfers competing at the $7 million Genesis Open on the PGA Tour, a modest field headlined by Swedish world number 11 Alex Noren and former British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen will battle in the A$1.75 million ($1.34 million) event at Lake Karrinyup. DECLINING PARTICIPATION "I think it's great that we try new things and I think it's going to be exciting for the crowds and nice for the TV viewers too," Noren said. "I think anything where the crowd experiences a new way for us to play the game is good. I think we should work out more ways to do this kind of thing." The top 10 rankings are laden with 20-somethings, including Australian world number one Jason Day and Northern Ireland's second-ranked Rory McIlroy, but in the sport's traditional markets, fans and participants are ageing and thinning. Australia, where huge crowds once flocked to local courses when favorite son Greg Norman was in his pomp, has battled to attract sponsors and fans to its marquee events in recent years, while struggling to arrest declining rates of participation. Golf tourism fueled by international visitors has taken up some of the slack for the embattled industry but scores of lower-profile private clubs have slashed fees to lure new members. Australia has never wanted for a pioneering spirit, however, and local sports have gladly ditched tradition in a bid to innovate and open new markets. The nation's domestic Twenty20 cricket competition, the 'Big Bash', has proved an outrageous success since its inaugural tournament in 2011-12, its glitzy mix of sport and entertainment drawing huge attendances and television audiences. The national athletics federation has also attempted to foment revolution with the recent staging of the inaugural Nitro Series in Melbourne, where Usain Bolt and his 'All-Star' internationals competed against five nations in a team-based event held over three meetings. Organizers promise a similarly relaxed and informal atmosphere at Lake Karrinyup, where there will be live music, DJs and a specially built 90-metre 'shootout hole' to act as a tie-breaker for pairs who halve their six-hole matchplay duels. But with the tournament still dominated by conventional strokeplay over the opening three days, it will not be so revolutionary as to upset the silver-haired set. "This tournament is not to say that strokeplay events aren't still popular," Ayles added. "They are immensely popular around the world. This really just provides an alternative. "If all goes well, we would certainly consider expanding this across Australia and then potentially, Europe and Asia." (Editing by John O'Brien)
Colton Underwood rose to fame on the long-running reality TV show, which sees a man select a wife.
- The Independent
The company’s revenue has tripled since the change was implemented
- Raleigh News and Observer
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, a team gathering diplomatic leads and intelligence together in one place, is pursuing Tice’s case.
- The Independent
Nearly 80 per cent of borrowers’ loans would be forgiven if executive action is taken to cancel $50,000 of debt per individual
- The Telegraph
What’s the story? Ministers, Whitehall mandarins and a former prime minister have become embroiled in a major lobbying scandal after it emerged that David Cameron had been quietly pushing for a beleaguered finance company to receive Covid bailouts from the Treasury. After leaving office in 2016, Mr Cameron took on a job with Greensill Capital, a “supply chain finance” company that offers short term credit to firms to help them pay invoices more quickly. The company is run by Lex Greensill, who worked in Government during Mr Cameron’s time in office and was awarded a CBE for his work on a similar finance scheme for government departments. It has emerged that Mr Cameron privately lobbied ministers, senior Government officials and the Bank of England to attempt to secure a coronavirus support payment for Greensill last year. The former prime minister told an official it was “nuts” that supply chain finance firms were excluded from the Government’s support schemes and asked Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to look again at whether Greensill could be given a bailout from the Treasury. Mr Cameron’s attempts were resisted – and investors withdrew their money from the company earlier this year after raising concerns about its viability. The firm has since filed for insolvency protection and threatens to bring Liberty Steel, a major UK manufacturer, with it. But the saga has raised questions about how lobbying in Westminster works, and whether former public servants like Mr Cameron should be allowed to use their contacts for private enterprise – and profit. The consultant lobbying regulator, which monitors freelance lobbyists in the UK, concluded that since Mr Cameron was an employee of Greensill, it was not equipped to regulate his activities. Boris Johnson now faces calls to increase the scope of lobbying rules to create greater transparency, while critics of Mr Cameron point out that it was under his government that an attempt to establish more rigorous rules was voted down by Tory peers. Mr Johnson has now set up an independent inquiry chaired by Nigel Boardman, a senior corporate lawyer, to investigate Mr Cameron’s lobbying and Mr Greensill’s involvement in Government under the Cameron government. Labour says the inquiry is likely to be a “Conservative cover-up” and is calling for another inquiry into cronyism led by MPs. Looking back The messages from Mr Cameron to decision-makers in Whitehall make for extraordinary reading. They have all been uncovered by reporters – largely from the Financial Times and Sunday Times – because there is no requirement for communications of that nature to be released by Government departments. Mr Cameron contacted Mr Sunak and two of his junior Treasury ministers (John Glen and Jesse Norman) about Greensill’s eligibility for Covid payments, and arranged a “private drink” with Matt Hancock to discuss a payment scheme that was eventually rolled out in the NHS. Mr Cameron says he believed Greensill’s supply chain model could have been integrated into the Government’s bailout scheme – known officially as the Covid Corporate Financing Facility – and points out that a similar idea was used following the financial crash in 2008. “What we need is for Rishi (Sunak) to have a good look at this and ask officials to find a way of making it work,” Mr Cameron wrote last year. Mr Cameron has released a statement that says while he can “understand the concern” about lobbying from former PMs, he thought it was “right” that he represented the company to the Treasury because it was involved in financing a large number of UK firms. He denies that he was given share options in the company worth $60 million, and says the true figure was far lower. Given the company’s insolvency, they are now worthless anyway. Anything else? One of the few organisations that monitors lobbying and the business activities of former ministers is the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) and is run by Eric Pickles, a former Tory MP. Yesterday Mr Pickles revealed that a senior civil servant was granted permission to join Greensill Capital while still working at the highest levels of government in 2015 – when Mr Cameron was still prime minister. Bill Crothers was head of Whitehall procurement, in control of a £15 billion annual purchasing budget, when he took on an external role as part-time adviser to the finance company's board. Labour said the news was “extraordinary and shocking” and is pushing for a wide-ranging inquiry led by MPs. The party will use an opposition day motion today that will establish the parliamentary inquiry if Tory MPs do not vote it down. A Labour source this week noted that in The Thick of It, a political sitcom generally held to be an exaggerated representation of Westminster, there is a judge-led inquiry into one leaked email – let alone a major lobbying scandal involving a former PM. The Government has already announced there will be an independent inquiry – and has expanded its scope to include Mr Crothers’ second job – but the story now threatens to become a broader outcry about lobbying in Westminster. It is thought that many civil servants have second jobs as advisors on company boards, and ministers often hold meetings with lobbyists without declaring them to the Cabinet Office. And while Labour has been highly critical of the Government’s “cronyism” during the Covid crisis, many Labour MPs are themselves former lobbyists. The Refresher take The unedifying text messages sent by David Cameron to government officials are only the beginning of a political scandal that will almost certainly claim more scalps. Whether or not Labour succeed in establishing a parliamentary inquiry into lobbying, there is now much greater scrutiny on the well-oiled revolving door between big business and the Government. While much of the murky behaviour is actually within the existing lobbying rules, ministers now rightly face growing calls to expand the regulations to tackle the various “private drinks” between old friends that seemingly inform official decision-making. This was first published in The Telegraph's Refresher newsletter. For more facts and explanation behind the week’s biggest political stories, sign up to the Refresher here – straight to your inbox every Wednesday afternoon for free.
- The Independent
Leaked recording from RNC fundraiser reveals ‘uproarious’ laughter from sponsors for ridicule of former first lady
- Lexington Herald-Leader
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said a Biden administration plan to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September is a “grave mistake” that would abandon the allied global fight against terrorism.
- The Telegraph
Ministers have formally threatened mandatory vaccination for care home workers after new figures showed that just half of facilities pass the safety threshold. On Wednesday, the Government announced provisional plans to force care homes to include a requirement to be vaccinated in contracts with staff. The move, subject to a five-week consultation, would apply to all workers in homes for the elderly other than those who can prove an exemption. It comes as the Department for Health and Social Care said just 53 per cent of older adult homes in England currently have a staff vaccination rate of 80 per cent and a resident vaccination rate of 90 per cent. The thresholds are the minimum levels of protection advised by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to suppress Covid outbreaks. It means 150,000 vulnerable people are currently living in homes with unsafe levels of vaccination. Meanwhile, the staff vaccination rate is below 80 per cent in 89 local authority areas – more than half – including all 32 of London's boroughs. Within these are 27 local authority areas with a staff vaccination rate below 70 per cent. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: "Older people living in care homes are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19, and we have seen the grave effects the virus has had on this group.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden said Wednesday he will withdraw remaining U.S. troops from the "forever war” in Afghanistan, declaring that the Sept. 11 terror attacks of 20 years ago cannot justify American forces still dying in the nation's longest war. The U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results, Biden said.
- The Independent
Kim Potter: Former police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright arrested on manslaughter charges
Killing of 20-year-old Black man has sparked protests and unrest in Minnesota city
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Rusten Sheskey will not face any discipline for the shooting of Black man that sparked 2020 Kenosha riots
- Associated Press
The United Nations, Turkey and Qatar announced Tuesday that a high-level conference between Afghanistan’s warring sides will take place in Istanbul later this month. The meeting is aimed at accelerating peace negotiations and achieving a political settlement to decades of conflict. The three co-conveners said they are “committed to supporting a sovereign, independent and unified Afghanistan.”
- Associated Press
Johnny Gaudreau scored 36 seconds into overtime and the Calgary Flames beat the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Tuesday night. Juuso Valimaki and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Flames. Gaudreau and Lindholm each added an assist, and Jacob Markstrom stopped 24 shots.
- The Telegraph
Plan for temporary Chamber during Parliament restoration will be axed in favour of Zoom debates, Rees-Mogg suggests
A £1.5bn pound plan to relocate MPs to a “temporary Chamber” in Westminster while Parliament undergoes a major restoration will be axed in favour of Zoom debates, Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested. Mr Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, told Tory backbenchers on Wednesday night that Parliament should use video calls to beam members into the historic Chamber while other parts of the Palace of Westminster are restored, and that a full decamp to an expensive temporary facility should be avoided. Plans by the Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body and Delivery Authority previously suggested that MPs move to Richmond House and the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, with debates taking place in a temporary Chamber costing around £1.5bn. Mr Rees-Mogg told the 1922 Committee there would instead be a minimalist restoration, focussing on fire risks and essential works and cutting the total bill.
- The Independent
‘Congress itself is the target’: Capitol police overlooked intel and were ordered to hold back during riot, report finds
Days before attack, law enforcement officials were warned Stop the Steal campaign could attract ‘white supremacists, militia members’ and other violent groups
- Associated Press
The United Arab Emirates’ space center announced Wednesday a more ambitious timeline for sending its first rover to the moon. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center said it is partnering with Japan’s ispace company to send a rover to the moon on an unmanned spacecraft by 2022, rather than 2024. The “Rashid” rover, named after Dubai’s ruling family, will deploy to the moon using ispace's lunar lander.
- Lexington Herald-Leader
J.D. Vance was one of the first investors in the mega-greenhouse company based in Morehead, Ky.
- The Daily Beast
Drew Angerer/GettyAs another American city is gripped by protests following the shooting death of an unarmed Black person by a police officer, the Biden administration is renewing focus on one of the “four historic crises” he pledged to address in his first hundred days: a long-overdue reckoning over racial justice in policing.“With Daunte Wright in Minnesota, that god-awful shooting resulting in his death, and in the midst of an ongoing trial over the killing of George Floyd… we’re in the business, all of us meeting today, to deliver some real change,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday before a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. “We also have an awful lot of things we have to deal with when it comes to police, when it comes to advancing equality.”But as the death of 20-year-old Wright puts renewed urgency behind Biden’s push to pass a landmark police reform bill through Congress, stakeholders in law enforcement and reform advocacy alike are increasingly at odds over the bill’s primary components. As the longtime divide between police and watchdogs widens, Biden’s call for reform that satisfies both groups appears increasingly unlikely.“You can’t reconcile abolition with reform—they’re irreconcilable,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor in New York City and professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Biden is going to have to confront reality… which is that policing has collapsed completely, and it’s probably irreparably damaged.”Democrats have long walked a thin tightrope in their relationship with law enforcement, particularly in recent years as the Black Lives Matter movement has helped push police reform to the top of the party’s political agenda. This is particularly true of Biden, who worked closely with police unions during his time as a senator—when he was at the forefront of anti-crime legislation that has since become a primary target of reform advocates—and has since made concerted efforts to bring law enforcement organizations into the fold as stakeholders in developing policy.The decision on Monday to kill the national police oversight commission that Biden had promised to create during his first months in office, for example, came at the urging of both law enforcement groups and reform advocates who argued that it was redundant. Instead, the administration announced that its primary focus would be on passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would, among other things, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases, require the use of de-escalation techniques before use of deadly force, and eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement.Asked about how much effort the White House would put into getting that bill passed, Psaki pledged Biden would “use the power of his presidency to move it forward.”“The strong consensus from all of these [civil rights] groups is that the work should be focused on trying to pass the George Floyd Act, and the commission would not be the most constructive way to deliver on our top priority,” she said Tuesday. “So we are working together collectively to do exactly that. There are steps that we certainly will work in conjunction to take as they are possible. And some of them we've signed through executive orders, and we’ll continue to communicate with these groups about what is most effective.”But police union stakeholders have already marked the issue of rolling back qualified immunity a red line.“The biggest sticking point is qualified immunity,” said Andrea Edmiston, director of governmental affairs at the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), a lobbying group that represents more than 1,000 police units and associations—which in turn represent roughly a quarter million working and retired police officers. “We’ve heard from a lot of our members who are really worried that qualified immunity will go away.”Qualified immunity, in short, shields government officials, including police officers, from being sued in civil court for violating a suspect’s constitutional rights in the course of the performance of their duties as long as those duties were carried out in “subjective good faith”—that is, if an officer believes their actions are reasonable in the moment. Critics of the protection say that it encourages police abuse without accountability, while law enforcement advocates say that it protects officers from frivolous lawsuits and potential financial ruin.Police Union Bosses to Biden: You’re Pissing Us OffEven as public polling suggests a growing national consensus on the need for police reform in the context of racial justice, the two sides are increasingly at odds over the bill that the Biden administration has now made the gold standard for police reform. According to law enforcement groups that have been at the table, putting the George Floyd Act at the center of the administration’s focus for police reform could be the final straw for the police unions that Biden has courted for decades.“If they break a law or knowingly violate someone’s constitutional rights, yes, that has to be addressed,” Edmiston said. “But if this officer is acting in good faith, and you take away qualified immunity, then that opens that officer up to being sued—and officers don’t make a lot of money, right? Suddenly, they’ll lose their life savings, they’ll lose everything.”Edmiston noted that NAPO, as well as other law enforcement advocacy organizations, has been welcomed to the table by members of Congress seeking the input of police groups in the legislation. But while some aspects of the bill have gotten qualified support from law enforcement stakeholders—including mandated data collection for use-of-force statistics, and a national decertification database that would prevent officers fired for misconduct from being hired by police forces in other states—the sticking point of qualified immunity is seen as both a nonstarter in law enforcement circles.“You’re going to get police officers to do absolutely nothing other than being an observer,” said said Tom Scotto, president emeritus of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, one of the three major police unions in New York City, who also served as president of the NAPO. Scotto, who called measures eliminating qualified immunity “absurd,” worked closely with Biden during the drafting of the 1994 crime bill from which the future president would later distance himself. “Every piece of action you take is now subject to some civilian getting an ambulance chasing attorney.”Meanwhile, the removal of qualified immunity, which has already been passed in some states, is a baseline requirement among reform advocates.“It is clear that the only way to end the scourge of police violence is to immediately divest from policing institutions that, from their inception, have been used to oppress Black people,” said Paige Fernandez, a policing policy advocate in the American Civil Liberties Union’s justice division. “You don’t reform police—you remove their responsibilities and reallocate taxpayer money into harm-reducing solutions. It is now far past time for tangible action to avoid killings like that of Daunte Wright.”The impossibility of reconciling those two positions has put Biden, a politician who has defined his career on his ability to bring together warring factions in support of common goals, on a collision course with two longtime constituencies.“If the president fails to deliver meaningful criminal justice reform, it’s essentially waving the white flag on one of the major crises he pledged to address,” said one former longtime staffer who worked in Biden’s office during the passage of the 1994 crime bill. “But if he turns his back on police—or even if they perceive him as turning his back on them—he loses a constituency he has courted for decades, and sets himself up for Crime Bill 2.0 if Republicans retake Congress.”O’Donnell, pointing to statistics showing a decline in qualified candidates for jobs in law enforcement and shortened career spans for those who do qualify, said that the only way to reconcile the two positions may be to accept that street cops may not exist forever.“It’s like coal mining—it’s just a job that we’re not going to lament the passing of,” O’Donnell said. “Assuming that you’re going to have humans doing this job… then how do you protect the country? If Biden wants to lead on that, that’s the question. How do you do that?”Black lawmakers on Tuesday told reporters that the president intends to do so by pushing for the George Floyd Act.“We know we’re going to have other meetings to develop our next steps, but we are moving forward,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), after an Oval Office meeting between Biden and Congressional Black Caucus leadership. “And we were able to discuss those very openly with the president today.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernández has tested positive for the coronavirus. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo announced the news before Tuesday night's game against the New York Yankees. Hernández went on the injured list last Friday after he was exposed to someone with a positive coronavirus case outside of the team.
- The Independent
US political developments, as they happen