Experiments flop for MKR gatecrashers

Gatecrashers Josh and Danielle have taken last place on the My Kitchen Rules leaderboard on Wednesday night after failing to impress judges with their science-inspired menu.

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The “experimental foodies” who “enjoy the molecular gastronomy side of things” dished out impressive snack foods such as edible soil lined down the middle of the table, edible menus and even an edible painting. However, the judges knocked them back when it came to mealtime.

The Victorian couple scored a total of 51, placing them at the bottom of the reality show’s scoreboard after West Australian friends Chloe and Kelly, and first-placed Carly and Tresne from NSW.

At their home restaurant, dubbed Alchemy, the Victorians prepared oxtail and mushroom gyozas with hazelnut oil and grape vinaigrette and apple sphere for their entree, and a technical main course of sous vide salmon with radish and pea salad, a cinnamon biscuit and vanilla mayonnaise.

Dessert was a balancing act of sweet banana parfait with salty maple syrup bacon.

Judges Manu Feildel and Pete Evans were wary of the couple’s menu from the start.

The other contestants described it as “impressive” but “risky”.

Busy in the kitchen folding gyozas, Josh and Danielle kept guests waiting for more than an hour before their entree was served.

Both judges took a few bites and questioned the flavours, with Evans later calling the entree his least-favourite dish.

It was another bump for the gatecrashers when the judges said the combination of ingredients in their main dish also bombed.

Feildel, however, did say they “cooked the salmon to perfection”.

The comments left Danielle in tears, but the 27-year-old bravely declared, “We’ve got to keep going”, before starting on dessert.

The banana parfait with maple syrup bacon generated better comments from the judges.

“I actually enjoyed it,” Evans said.

Feildel suggested the bacon could have been crispier and the parfait fluffier, though.

In the end, there was no doubt there were a couple of sad faces.

“It was extremely deflating,” Josh said.

Next in line to show off their kitchen skills are Harry and Christo.

The next episode of My Kitchen Rules airs on the Seven Network on Monday at 7.30pm.

Rebekah Brooks prepares to testify in UK

Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper unit, has arrived in court as she prepares to take the stand in her phone-hacking trial.

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After nearly four months of hearings, lawyers for Brooks, a former editor of the defunct News of the World tabloid, were due to begin presenting the case for the defence.

Brooks denies conspiring to hack phones while she edited the paper between 2000 and 2003, specifically conspiring to illegally access the voicemails of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.

The allegation that Dowler’s phone had been hacked proved the final straw in a slow drip of revelations about phone hacking at the News of the World, prompting Murdoch to shut down the 168-year-old Sunday tabloid in July 2011.

Brooks, who by then had risen to chief executive of News International, Murdoch’s British newspaper division, resigned and shortly afterwards was arrested on hacking charges.

The 45-year-old is in the dock with Andy Coulson, her deputy at the News of the World, who replaced her as editor when she moved to edit The Sun, another Murdoch title, in 2003.

Coulson, who went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief, denies being part of a conspiracy to hack phones between 2000 and 2006, when he stepped down as editor.

Another News of the World executive, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, is also on trial.

In related charges, Brooks is accused of hiding evidence from the police, allegedly aided by her husband Charlie, former PA Cheryl Carter and head of security Mark Hanna.

She faces a further charge of conspiring to pay a defence ministry official for stories.

Roosters largely intact for WCC

Only two players from the Sydney Roosters NRL premiership winning line-up of last season will be missing when they clash with Wigan in the World Club Challenge on Saturday.

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Roosters coach Trent Robinson named a 20-man squad on Wednesday for the Allianz Stadium showdown with the Super League champions. Only the retired Luke O’Donnell and injured Kiwi star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are missing from the 17 who defeated Manly in last year’s grand final.

Tuivasa-Sheck, who suffered a leg injury in the World Cup final, is due back for the Roosters’ NRL opener against South Sydney on March 6.

Grand final hero Shaun Kenny-Dowall moves across to the wing to cover the loss of Tuivasa-Sheck with Mitchell Aubusson slotting into the centres.

Robinson has named an extended bench to accommodate for the absence of O’Donnell, including France international Remi Casty who is set to make his Roosters debut.

In a disrupted preparation for the NRL premiers Mitchell Pearce, Jake Friend, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Aidan Guerra, Kane Evans, Daniel Tupou and Dylan Napa all took part in last weekend’s Auckland Nines.

The rest of the squad played in the club’s big trial win over an under-strength Newcastle in Wyong.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane also named his 19-man squad on Wednesday for the first international club showpiece in Australia in 20 years.

England international lock Sean O’Loughlin returns from a hamstring injury for Wigan. His World Cup teammate Josh Charnley is back after a hernia operation.

Sam Powell is the only injury absentee for the tourists with an ankle injury.

Wigan have had a mixed preparation for match, losing their opening Super League match against Huddersfield in a big upset before defeating a weakened New Zealand Warriors outfit in a trial last week.

Roosters officials are anticipating a crowd of around 30,000 for the game.

Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (c), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Sonny Bill Williams, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Aidan Guerra, Dylan Napa, Remi Casty, Kane Evans, Taane Milne, Kurt Kara.

Wigan (squad): John Bateman, Matt Bowen, Joe Burgess, Josh Charnley, Tony Clubb, Dom Crosby, Gil Dudson, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Anthony Gelling, Darrell Goulding, Blake Green, Jack Hughes, Michael McIlorum, Sean O’Loughlin, Eddy Pettybourne, Dan Sarginson, Matty Smith, Scott Taylor.

War crimes trial in Australia remembered

Few could forget the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg in 1945-46 but not many Australians know of the war crimes trials of 10 Japanese officers held at the same time in Darwin.

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The three Darwin trials were just a fraction of the 300 trials of Japanese soldiers for war crimes held by Australia all across the Asia-Pacific after WWII.

Two academics who spent five years working on a project to analyse the legal and historical dimensions of the trials say most people will be surprised to hear that the trials ever took place on Australian soil.

Darwin was chosen mainly for its convenience – it was easier than transporting all the military personnel and equipment needed to East Timor, where the bulk of the crimes took place.

It was also a sensitive choice, given Darwin had been bombed by the Japanese 64 times from 1942-43, destroying swathes of the city.

Nine officers were tried at the first trial but only three captains were convicted on charges of torture and ill treatment of Australian and British soldiers.

The rules of evidence allowed the admission of unsworn statements and hearsay, and the prisoner-of-war witnesses were not required to attend the trial and be cross-examined.

Curtin University law lecturer Narrelle Morris presented her research on the trials at a Red Cross function in Darwin on Wednesday night.

She said proceedings were complicated by the fact that the official interpreter had only elementary Japanese as did some of the officers who were Korean and Taiwanese.

The first trial related to the activities of a secretive SAS-type unit, known as the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD), which dropped behind Japanese lines in East Timor to spy on and sabotage the Japanese.

The Japanese found the buried wireless and code book of one operative, and tortured him into revealing the code, which they used for two years to listen in on operation transmissions, send fake messages, intercept supplies, and to ambush, capture and kill subsequent units who broadcast their plans to that receiver.

At the end of the war in August 1945, the SRD received final signals from that wireless from the Japanese army, thanking them for all the information supplied and wishing them good health, Dr Morris said.

“It’s not surprising that the SRD did not want the fact that they were successfully conned for two years to come straight out of the mouths of their own members on the stand, given that they had been taken prisoners-of-war and tortured as a result of the SRD’s inability to detect that they had been compromised,” she said.

When one three-month and two one-month sentences were handed down by the court to three Japanese captains involved in the scam and torture there was a public outcry, said Georgina Fitzpatrick, honorary research fellow at the University of Melbourne.

“Even the Japanese were stunned by the verdicts,” she said.

One eyewitness described how “(one captain) looked incredulously at the court and then bowed in a dazed manner”.

The public fury at what they regarded as lax sentences resulted in letters to editors and questions in Parliament, because other trials being held in the region resulted in officers being executed by firing squads for more serious crimes.

None of those captains at the first Darwin trial was accused of murder, and they were acting under orders.

The second and third trials convicted the same man, Lieutenant Yutani Yujiro, first of the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, for which he received a sentence of ten years’ hard labour, and then of the murder of the same prisoners, for which he received a death sentence.

He was transferred to Rabaul in Papua New Guinea and executed by firing squad.

Shooting was seen as a more honourable death for a military man than hanging, and therefore indicated their war crime was of a lesser gravity, Dr Morris said, which also did not impress the Australian public.

The outcry over the perceived leniency of the sentences was such that those were the last war crimes trials to be held in Australia, Ms Fitzpatrick said.

PSG dreams given substance after big win at Leverkusen

The French champions displayed their European ambitions with an impressive 4-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday that all but secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

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It also suggested they could be serious contenders for the title this season.

“We had to send a clear message, and I think we have done that,” defender Maxwell told reporters in Leverkusen.

“All the credit goes to us because we controlled the game. Tonight, we showed in the Champions League how strong our team is in the Champions League.”

PSG, who easily reached the knockout stages and are well placed in Ligue 1 – five points ahead of second-placed Monaco – were eager to be tested by tough opposition in Germany.

But they proved too strong for Bayer in all areas, even without their injured Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice – including another special strike from distance – to bring his European tally to 10 this term, and Yohan Cabaye celebrated his first PSG goal since arriving from Newcastle United in January.

They were, though, aided by a Leverkusen team that had Emir Spahic sent off, and had previously shown a soft centre in a 5-0 loss to Manchester United in the group stage.

“We had played very well in our league until now, but the Champions League is something else, it’s very difficult,” said Brazilian Maxwell, who won Europe’s elite club competition with Barcelona in 2011.

‘PARIS IS BACK’

There had been doubts recently about PSG’s capacity to raise their level, after they were eliminated at home by Montpellier in the French Cup last-32 round and laboured to beat some low-key sides.

But the questions were gone on Wednesday morning. “The great Paris is back,” declared the sports newspaper L’Equipe.

“Paris showed inspiration and character,” it added.

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi, who scored the third-minute opener and set up Ibrahimovic for the Swede’s second goal, said he had had the same feeling on the pitch.

“We felt that we were strong,” the France international said. “We have a high-level midfield. With what we’ve achieved in the Champions League for two seasons, we are not going to hide ourselves. We are a great team.”

Ibrahimovic has never won the Champions League with any of his former prestigious clubs, including AC Milan, Juventus and Barcelona, and despite his typically confident performance, he was circumspect after the game.

“I’ve played for fantastic teams, but you can say a team is great when you win trophies,” said the 32-year-old, who put PSG 3-0 up just before half-time with a fierce 20-metre left-foot shot that arrowed into the far corner of the net.

Ibrahimovic’s double on Tuesday took him ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo as the competition’s leading scorer this season.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc, who praised his players’ state of mind, believes his squad has the quality to live up to the expectations created by Tuesday night’s result.

“Nothing will stop you from thinking we are one of the favourites,” he said. “I don’t dream of anything at the moment. But we know what we have done so far and we know what we need to do to go further in this competition.

“PSG is ambitious. We expect a very exciting end of the season.”

The second leg of the last-16 tie is in Paris on March 12.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Stephen Wood)