DEATH row Bali Nine drug trafficker Myuran Sukumaran has lodged his plea for clemency, with lawyers writing a long letter to appeal personally to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
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One of Sukumaran’s lawyers, Julian McMahon, confirmed last night that Sukumaran had handed the letter to Kerobokan prison governor Gusti Ngurah Wiratna last Friday.

Sukumaran and fellow inmate Andrew Chan, who were found to be the ringleaders of the 2005 heroin smuggling plot, are the only two of the Bali Nine still on death row.

Both lost appeals to Indonesia’s Supreme Court a year ago, leaving the President’s discretionary grant of clemency as their only hope.

Since then, Mr Yudhoyono has granted clemency to cannabis trafficker Schapelle Corby, reducing her 20-year prison term by five years.

But since then there has been a political backlash in Indonesia against the decision, with Mr Yudhoyono being accused of favouring a foreigner and going soft on drugs.

This could make it politically difficult for the President to offer clemency to Chan and Sukumaran.

Mr McMahon would not spell out the details of the plea yesterday except to say it was in the same form as Chan’s, which was lodged in May.

At the time he told The Age that the plea was based on the ”very progressive” stance Indonesia had taken in adopting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights into both its constitution and domestic law.

Yesterday, Mr McMahon said that, “as is usual with clemency applications in any country, the letter contains some information which is both personal and legal”.

“It’s now a matter of allowing the Indonesian process to take its course, which will include advice from the Supreme Court to the President.

”When the document reaches the President, several months from now, it will then be a matter purely and totally within the President’s prerogative,” he said.

Unlike Australian law, the country’s political leader has wide-ranging powers to grant relief from sentences.

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Activist Miranda Gibson is today sitting out a record-claiming 209th day high in an old-growth eucalypt in Tasmania’s Styx Valley as she campaigns to protect the surrounding forest.
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Ms Gibson set up her platform 60 metres above the ground in the Observer Tree last December. She has endured heat, smoke haze, high winds, frost and snow since then.

Campaigning though the internet, she has spoken to press conferences, at community meetings and festivals around the world from her perch. She turned 31 in the tree last Sunday.

The tree-sit is claimed to be the longest-running in Australian history, exceeding the 208 days set by Manfred Stephens near Cairns in 1995.

“I haven’t touched the ground once,” Ms Gibson told Fairfax Media. “I am committed to staying at the top of this tree for as long as it takes to see Tasmania’s forests get the protection they deserve.”

Her protest is supported from the ground by members of the group Still Wild, Still Threatened.

Marathon forest peace talks between industry and green groups are yet to reach a resolution, after they were given an extension until next month by the state and federal governments.

“I am definitely concerned they have been taking a long time and, during that time, forests continue to be felled,” she said

Ms Gibson said logging near her perch had been halted soon after she began the tree-sit, but since then an old-growth coupe about one kilometre away had been felled.

“These are forests that have been recommended for world heritage protection in the past,” she said.

Life in a tree top had its attractions, she said. Birds and insects were a source of wonder, but she saw no possums.

“I’m probably a bit too high for them.”

What she missed most was contact with family and friends.

“And I guess, going for a long walk. My longest walk is a couple of steps.”Follow Environment on Twitter

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Profitable pair … Ted, voiced by Seth Macfarlane, and Mark Wahlberg. Hanging on near the top … The Amazing Spider-Man.
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In a weekend dominated by critters in Australian cinemas, the foul-mouthed teddy bear surprisingly came out on top.

Seth MacFarlane’sTed, with Mark Wahlberg as a man trying to break the bond with his favourite childhood toy, was surprisingly much more popular with audiences than The Amazing Spider-Man.

The MA-rated Ted took $8.7 million, which gives it a stunning $13.1 million from just one week of release plus previews.

The new Spider-Man, with Andrew Garfield taking over the superhero costume, took a solid $5.4 million. But it was on more than 200 extra screens than Ted, which suggests Australian movie-goers are far more sceptical about the ”reboot” than US audiences.

The other big school holiday attraction, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, also did well, taking almost $4.9 million.

Australian box office weekend ending 8th July, 2012

1. TED $8,747,2112. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN $5,453,6003. ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT $4,945,2404. BRAVE $2,066,1065. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN $1,919,4276. KATY PERRY: PART OF ME $700,0007. THE THREE STOOGES $634,7788. PROMETHEUS $296,4149. A ROYAL AFFAIR $162,74710. BOL BACHCHAN $162,431


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I’m on the record as saying I’m not convinced that our mining companies will be great investments  but I’m very aware that many investors take a different view.
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It’s disagreement that makes a market, after all.

The energy sector has slightly different dynamics (read: it’s not as reliant on China or a run-up in prices), so I think it’s a safer sector for investors. Safer doesn’t mean entirely safe – the laws of supply and demand still apply, and no supplier has any significant pricing power – so here are four ways to help lower your investing risk:

Don’t forget the macro

When it comes to our energy companies, there are an awful lot of things to keep track of: How many wells is your oil company drilling? What does the debt picture look like? Where are its assets, who are its joint-venture partners, and on and on.

But this industry, perhaps more so than any other, is tremendously affected by forces outside of an individual company’s control. I’m not just talking about how oil stocks tank at the slightest hint of bad economic news, either. The continued growth of multi-national oil companies and shifting world energy policy will affect energy investments in the coming years. Savvy investors tune in and adjust accordingly.

Don’t forget the micro

Of course, let’s not downplay the significance that management has on our stocks. The macro view is important, but CEOs still make or break these companies. In fact, superior management is now more critical than ever. Environmental opposition and increasing regulations are turning out to be more than just a thorn in the side of fossil fuel producers.

We are entering the age of accountability when it comes to our energy production.

And those factors I mentioned earlier – the drilling results, resources reserves and cash (and debt) positions will impact each company’s ability to take advantage of those macro factors, so balancing both the big picture and the here-and-now is vital.

Think global

The energy market is an international one, with largely interchangeable commodities.

Give yourself the advantage of different vantage points. As well as this website, check out The Financial Times, Al Jazeera or BBC News, and think about how your investment fits into the world energy scene.

Outside of newspapers, there are many sources available online that can enhance your understanding of the industry, and your company’s role in the energy picture.

One readily available and often quite detailed resource is industry reports from the companies themselves. BP (NYSE: BP) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) both publish world energy outlooks.

Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI) tracks global rig counts, and Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) issues a human resources benchmark survey.

These reports are accessible, thorough, and greatly improve the context of our investments.

For industry news in 140 characters or fewer, you can also jump on Twitter and start following people in energy. Writers and industry professionals tweet relevant and interesting articles, charts, thoughts, and ideas that we are all now privy to (for better or worse) thanks to the Internet.

Stay informed

Energy companies are not like Coca-Cola. Perhaps there was a time when you could hold BHP for 20 years and not think about it, but those days are over. Revisit your investing thesis often, factor in the micro and the macro, and make your buy, sell, or hold decision again and again.

Bear in mind, I’m not talking about responding to erratic movements in the share price – far from it.

Investors should always keep tabs on the companies they invest in, and the industries in which those companies operate.

The energy space can change quickly – particularly with changes in oil prices, but also new supply and alternatives (such as the recent innovations in coal seam gas), which can change the supply and demand dynamics for an energy company’s product.

Foolish takeaway

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there about energy, but if you start with the basics and build from there, it can actually be a lot of fun – and potentially quite rewarding.

Equally, there’s no harm in (and a lot to recommend) putting companies in the “too hard” basket if you don’t have the knowledge, time or interest in keeping up with latest developments. That’s where the real mistakes – regardless of industry – are made.

Are you looking for attractive dividend stock ideas? BusinessDay readers can click here to request a new free report entitled Secure Your Future with 3 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks.

Scott Phillips is a Motley Fool investment analyst. You can follow him on Twitter. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).

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Independent television camera operators have been banned from the floor of Queensland Parliament until late August.Queenslanders should have the right to see what is happening in their Parliament, an independent MP said while questioning a temporary ban on television cameras in the chamber.
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Nicklin MP Peter Wellington gave notice this morning that he would move a motion of dissent in Speaker Fiona Simpson’s ruling, which sees independent television cameras banned from the floor of Parliament for nine sitting days because footage of a civil union protest was broadcast.

“It certainly appears to me to be censorship, but I need to walk that fine line, otherwise the Speaker might … say you’ve criticised the Speaker and throw me out of Parliament,” Mr Wellington told reporters.

But Ms Simpson defended the ruling at the opening of today’s sitting, while flagging a broader review of safety in the public gallery.

Ms Simpson announced yesterday the temporary camera ban, citing a breach of media access policy, which states that events in the galleries are not part of the official proceedings.

The policy states that cameras should only focus on whichever MP has “the call” to speak. When there are disturbances in the gallery, the incident is not meant to be shown.

Last month, protesters disrupted proceedings in Queensland Parliament for about five minutes as MPs pushed through changes to water down same-sex civil union laws.

Dozens of protesters were escorted from the public gallery after they took offence at comments made during the parliamentary debate and disrupted proceedings.

Ms Simpson told MPs this morning the broadcast of footage of the protesters “demonstrated disregard for standing orders and the current policies” and could lead to public safety issues in Parliament in the future.

She said people in a democracy had a right to express their views, but this must be balanced “with the right of elected members to have the opportunity to have their view heard”.

Ms Simpson said it was unacceptable for protesters in Parliament’s public gallery to express their views such that MPs were impeded from debating the issue.

She added she was concerned about safety in the public gallery and chamber in the future and had ordered a thorough independent review of safety and security arrangements.

It is unclear at this stage whether this means safety screens could be installed as a barrier between the upper-level public gallery and the Legislative Assembly below.

Earlier, Mr Wellington gave notice he intended to move a motion of dissent in Ms Simpson’s ruling on television cameras.

Ms Simpson said she would take advice and consider the motion.

Speaking to reporters before today’s parliamentary proceedings began, Mr Wellington said he had seen a copy of the Speaker’s letter about the television camera ban.

“I believe Queenslanders have a right to see what is happening in their Parliament,” he told media.

Mr Wellington noted that Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie was among several MPs who commented about the protest in the gallery.

“When this debate was happening about the civil unions we saw the chief law officer of the state … standing up and speaking [about events in the gallery],” Mr Wellington said.

“So what we see is two rules and it’s ridiculous to me that in 2012, the year of the electronic age, for some reason we cannot have media footage of what’s happening in the public gallery.”

Ms Simpson said the official parliamentary broadcast feed would continue to be available during the temporary suspension of TV camera access.

But it is understood television networks have previously decided not to use the in-house vision, amid concerns that it is not of broadcast quality. A TV journalist said the feed was also not physically cabled to the TV offices.

In a brief statement yesterday, Premier Campbell Newman said the issue “was entirely a matter for the Speaker and that he was not informed of the action until after the media gallery were told”.

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