Daily Archives: April 21, 2015

Preview: Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates his goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona v Valencia CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on April 18, 2015

Paris Saint-Germain head to the Camp Nou for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Tuesday night knowing that they face a major battle to remain in the competition.

A convincing 3-1 victory for Barcelona in the reverse meeting last week has put the hosts firmly in the driving seat, although the Parisians have already shown this season that they should not be written off at any stage.


Even before they took apart PSG at Parc des Princes in the first leg, Barcelona were backed by many to go all the way in Europe’s elite competition for the first time since the glory days of Pep Guardiola in 2011. That win made it 12 games without defeat for Barca, a run which includes 10 victories, and, going even further back, the Catalan giants have failed to pick up victory on just four occasions in their past 36 games.

It is a mightily impressive stretch of form which has taken Luis Enrique‘s men to the La Liga summit and within touching distance of a place in the final four of the Champions League. The job is not quite over yet, though, despite a Luis Suarez-inspired triumph in the French capital last week, with Gregory van der Wiel‘s deflected shot giving PSG just a glimmer of hope.

Barca have showed no signs of fatigue as we approach the closing weeks of the campaign, scoring in the first and last minute of their meeting with Valencia on Saturday afternoon to continue their recent imperious streak with another two-goal margin of victory.

Suarez opened the scoring in that league fixture with his sixth goal in seven matches, taking his overall tally in his impressive debut campaign at the Camp Nou to 19 goals in 34 outings. There was also, rather inevitably, a place on the scoresheet for Lionel Messi, who racked up his 400th goal in the famous Blaugrana strip.

With a Copa Del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao also on the horizon, things are certainly looking up for Enrique’s charges, but they will have to focus on getting the job done against their fellow European heavyweights in order to remain on track for a memorable treble.

Recent form in Champions League: WWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWDWW

Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring a goal during the French League Cup final football match Bastia (SCB) vs Paris Saint-Germain, on April 11, 2015

PSG have got to know their quarter-final opponents well over the past few seasons, with this their sixth meeting since April 2013. Blanc will be quick to remind his players that they have beat Barcelona once already this season, inflicting a first defeat in European competition on the Spanish side this term in the process.

That has been an anomaly in terms of those previous encounters, however, with PSG often falling just short when they come up against the best. This inability to match the top sides on the continent looked likely to be the case in the last round when PSG found themselves heading for the European exit at Stamford Bridge, but a superb second-leg performance saw them prevail on away goals in the end.

PSG really could have done with a victory in the first leg of this intriguing tie, though, in the knowledge that Barca have lost just one of their last 31 games on home soil in this competition. Blanc’s charges boasted a similar record of their own prior to last week’s match, going 34 games without tasting defeat at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League.

There have been some suggestions from afar that Blanc’s job is hanging by a thread at this moment in time, with even a Ligue 1 triumph not being enough to save his skin. Even domestic success is delicately poised at this moment in time, with PSG finding themselves at the top of the table but just one point clear of closest challengers Lyon.

A place in the semi-final of the Champions League for just the second time would certainly mark a progressive improvement from their recent disappointing exits but, having failed to get a grip on proceedings in the opening 90 minutes, the task may now simply be too much to overcome.

Recent form in Champions League: WWLDDL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWLW

Team News

Paris Saint-Germain's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match against FC Barcelona on December 10, 2014

Barcelona made five changes to their starting lineup for the weekend win over Valencia, although Enrique was never going to leave the South American attacking trio of Neymar, Messi and Suarez on the bench for that game.

Dani Alves also started at the Camp Nou on Saturday, and he will almost certainly be involved against PSG having sat out the first leg due to a one-match suspension. Messi, fresh on the back of his 46th goal in 45 games for the club this season, also came through unscathed and is fit to start.

In terms of the visitors, Marco Veratti and former Barca star Zlatan Ibrahimovic have also served their European suspensions and are in line to return to the starting lineup, with the latter needing just five more goals to become the French outfit’s all-time goalscorer.

Thiago Silva limped off in the first leg, meanwhile, meaning another fitness doubt in David Luiz should fill in at the back. However, Thiago Motta, who has missed the last four games, is unlikely to feature.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain starting lineup:
Sirigu; Van der Wiel, Marquinhos, Luiz, Maxwell; Rabiot, Cabaye, Matuidi; Cavani, Pastore, Ibrahimovic

Head To Head

This will be the two sides’ fourth meeting this season, with PSG winning just one of those games. It is also the third time that Barcelona and PSG have met at this stage of the competition, with the La Liga giants coming out on top on away goals following two draws when they last clashed in the final eight two years ago.

The 1994-95 quarter-final went the Parisians’ way, though, with a 1-1 draw in Spain being followed up by a 2-1 home success to see them make it into their first semi-final.

Barcelona have got the better in terms of recent meetings, but they have only actually won two of the last seven games against their European opponents in normal time.

Sports Mole Logo 40px height

We say: Barcelona 2-0 Paris Saint-Germain

Blanc will certainly ensure that his players are fired up right from the off, but Barcelona have been in superb form this year and their recent unbeaten run will continue for a little while longer yet with a 2-0 win on the night.


Luis Enrique: ‘Champions League tie not over’

Luis Enrique Martinez faces the media during his official presentation as the new coach of FC Barcelona at Camp Nou on May 21, 2014

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has warned his side against complacency ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca beat PSG 3-1 in the first leg last week, leaving the Spanish side as the strong favourites to book their spot in the semi-finals.

However, Enrique expects the French champions to ‘provide some difficulties’ at the Camp Nou.

“The difficulty is in the two-leg nature of the game; [PSG] are an opponent coming here with a deficit and they won’t be holding anything back,” Enrique has been quoted as saying by AS.

“We’re going to go out and try and win the match, we want to have the ball and we have to be ready if they play against us in a similar way to the first leg, or in a completely different way. We’ll have to evaluate what sort of game it’s going to be.”

Barcelona were knocked out at this stage of the competition last season by Atletico Madrid.


Νewcastle weather: Three people dead in flash flooding in NSW town of Dungog


A house is swept away by a storm in Dungog.

Three people killed in flash flooding in the Hunter Valley township of Dungog were reportedly trapped in their residences unable to be reached by emergency services.

Police said a woman and two men were found dead on Tuesday morning following the severe weather event, which continues to batter the Hunter, Sydney and the Illawarra.
A house is swept away by a storm in Dungog.

A house is swept away by a storm in Dungog.

The precise circumstances surrounding the deaths of the trio are still to be determined, however the Dungog Chronicle reports they were trapped as flood water surged through the town in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said on Tuesday more severe weather was forecast to hit before conditions eased at midnight.

He urged workers “head home as soon as you possibly can”.

“That’s really from the Illawarra to Newcastle, that is specific advice to Newcastle in particular,” he said. “If I can ask for bosses to be flexible, for people to make arrangements in an orderly way to start to head home as soon as you possibly can.”

He said there had been more than 4500 calls for assistance and up to 1000 calls to triple-zero.

‘We will get to you’

Mr Baird urged people to be patient as emergency crews dealt with life-threatening situations.

“People need to be patient while we focus very clearly on the critical services in health and aged care,” the premier said.

“We will get to you,” Mr Baird said.

There had been over 47 flood rescues and over 200,000 homes and businesses had lost power.

Emergency Services Minister David Elliott described the weather system as a “one-in-a-decade storm”.

The 500 SES volunteers were risking “life and limb” to ensure that the people of NSW got through the storm.

“Today’s events are going to test our emergency services,” Mr Elliott said.

Evacuations were currently underway in Dungog, where the three elderly people died, and the township was now isolated.

Local newspaper the Dungog Chronicle said the heavy rain that fell throughout the night intensified about 4:30am on Tuesday.

Along with the three dead, four houses in Dungog had been washed away and the State Emergency Service also rescued a couple in their 70s as they dangled from their gutters.

A younger couple was also reportedly rescued from the roof of their house.

‘We checked it at 5am … it washed away at 7am’

The home of Tinara Braham’s father, Andrew, was washed away in the floods early on Tuesday. A neighbour, Jarod Rits, filmed it being carried off by the water.

Ms Braham said it was one of a number of houses in the low-lying end of town which were submerged after torrential rainfall overnight.

“It washed away about 7am this morning,” Ms Braham said.

“We checked it about 5am and it was submerged but OK – by the time we got back to our house in Mary Street, it was gone.

“The house next door to it was also washed away and completely destroyed.”

Mr Rits, 18, said he woke up to sound of heavy rain hammering his house, and went outside to asses the situation.

After seeing people fleeing their houses, Mr Rits said he “ran back inside to get things ready to get out quickly” but the water rose so quickly “we had to walk up to waist-deep to get out”.

“The water came out of nowhere, it just rose that quick,” he said, in a phone interview from the shelter of a friend’s house.

‘Very upsetting times’

As he joined neighbours gathering at the pub on Dowling Street, directly opposite his house, Mr Rits said he decided to capture footage of the street from the pub’s verandah.

As he pointed his camera phone, a neighbour’s house dislodged from its bearings and floated across the street.

“Three or four houses” in total got swept away, he said, including those of his friends.

“They’re a bit shattered, as you would be, because they didn’t have any time to get anything out [of their houses]. Very upsetting times.”

Mr Rits said he was “pretty sure everyone got out” because all the neighbours gathered in the one spot as the water roared down the street, snapping powerlines in its path.

“The water was just a roar, really, just rushing through the streets,” he said.

Mr Rits said his house was standing, but substantially water damaged.

“My house is trashed inside and out. Everything is damaged.”

Dungog, which has a population of of 2100, was on Tuesday without electricity and mobile phone services. A number of roads and bridges have also reportedly been washed away.

source: smh.com.au

Urgent warning as Newcastle told to prepare for fast floods


Coastal NSW residents are in for a rough night with the storm set to get worse before it gets better and flood alerts issued for Newcastle.

The SES sent out a warning for Newcastle, urging residents to be prepared for strong flash floods.

“Expect rapid rises and high velocity flash flood water in local creeks, watercourses and urban areas over the next few hours,” the warning read.

“Due to forecast heavy rain, residents in Newcastle and surrounding urban areas may experience flash flooding and a rapid rise and high flow velocities in local watercourses.

“Do not enter floodwater.

“If you become trapped you should seek the highest point within the building and to telephone 000 if you require rescue.

Downed trees in Castle Hill. (Jerome Wicks)

Downed trees in Castle Hill. (Jerome Wicks)

“For more information listen to local radio or visit www.ses.nsw.gov.au“.

The warning comes as residents prepare for a wild night, with the storm set to maintain its current ferocity until at least midnight.

Authorities have also warned the 200,000 homes and businesses without power might not be reconnected to the grid until tomorrow.

About 100,000 of those blackouts are in the Newcastle and Hunter regions, with a further 70,000 in the Central Coast and 30,000 in Sydney.

Ausgrid has issued a set of instructions for people to follow if caught in a blackout.

People are advised to check if other lights or appliances are working, and to look outside for damage such as downed wires.

However, damage such as wires or downed trees should not be approached.

Flash flooding at Parramatta. (9NEWS)

Flash flooding at Parramatta. (9NEWS)

A tree has been uprooted on Laman Street at Cooks Hill. (Supplied: Elisa Haig)

A tree has been uprooted on Laman Street at Cooks Hill. (Supplied: Elisa Haig)

Instead, people should check to see if their neighbours have power and call Ausgrid’s emergency services on 13 13 88.

The Paterson River hit a record 16.1m height following heavy rain this afternoon, causing further flooding.

NSW Premier Mike Baird earlier urged bosses to let employees leave work early, to allow them to get home while it is still daylight during a “once in a decade” weather event.

Mr Baird is asking people to be patient as emergency crews deal with life-threatening situations during the storms that are battering the state. Three people have been confirmed dead in Dungog, north-west of Newcastle.

“The weather is forecast to worsen tonight so the SES is encouraging people to head home early while it’s still daylight. Stay safe everyone,” Mr Baird tweeted.

The Transport Management Centre is warning people in Sydney, the Central Coast and Hunter regions not to leave home unless it is absolutely necessary.

Around NSW, three people have died and one person remains in a critical condition in hospital after heavy rains and strong winds lashed the state.

A tree fall in a backyard in Gorokan. (NSW SES)

A tree fall in a backyard in Gorokan. (NSW SES)

The east coast low is expected to pound NSW for another 12 hours before easing tomorrow morning.

Incidents across the state include:

• An elderly woman and two elderly men were found dead in the township of Dungog;

• A family has been rescued from Greta, in a house that had been dislodged. Firefighters used a boat to access the house;

• Four people were rescued from rising flood waters at a home in Kearsley;

• Firefighters removed a large glass panel that was overhanging Martin Place at lunchtime;

A tree is down at Avalon.

A tree is down at Avalon.

A car has been crushed by a falling tree at Redfern. (Supplied: Hayden Cook)

A car has been crushed by a falling tree at Redfern. (Supplied: Hayden Cook)

• Twelve buildings have collapsed, 85 trees down and 51 reports of wires down;

• One hundred schools, several universities and hospitals were either completely or partially closed;

• More than 5000 calls have been made to emergency services across the state;

• Newcastle is expecting rapid rising and high velocity flash flooding this evening;

• Wind gusts up to 130kmh have been measured;

• Up to 200,000 homes and businesses have lost power;

• A cruise ship is stuck outside Sydney Heads because of a massive swell – and it may be there for the next 48 hours;

• A bus driver was winched to safety after the school bus he was driving was washed off the road at Martins Creek, in the Upper Hunter. No children were on board;

• A woman is fighting for her life after suffering a heart attack while trying to escape flood waters in Stroud.

Commuters are being urged to take care on roads and extend their patience where services are disrupted.

Gum trees were pulled from the ground in Booragul. (NSW SES)

Gum trees were pulled from the ground in Booragul. (NSW SES)

For drivers:

NSW Police advises the following tips: drive to conditions; slow down; increase distance from vehicle ahead and; don’t drive through flood waters.

More than 250 traffic signals are blacked out with the Central Coast, Hunter and Sydney’s northern beaches the worst affected.

Flooding has closed some major roads including Oxford Falls Road and the Wakehurst Parkway on the Northern Beaches, the Audley Weir in the Royal National Park, the Illawarra Highway at Albion Park among others.

For the latest updates, see: www.livetraffic.com

For train users:

The Hunter Line is closed, and the Central Coast/Newcastle line remains closed between Hamilton and Woy Woy.

The South Coast line is closed between Oak Flats and Kiama, with a replacement bus.

Trains on tracks have disrupted city lines, with Sydney Trains urging people to allow extra time.

A photo from the Higgins Storm Chasing Facebook page shows the situation at Dungog. (Facebook)

A photo from the Higgins Storm Chasing Facebook page shows the situation at Dungog. (Facebook)

For the latest updates, see: http://twitter.com/TrainsInfo

For bus users:

Buses have been delayed across the city due to fallen trees, flooded streets and traffic.

Northern beaches services are using Allambie Road instead of the Wakehurst Parkway due to fallen trees.

Buses have been diverted around Sutherland, Seaforth, Epping and Guildford due to fallen trees.

For the latest updates, see: http://twitter.com/BusesInfo

The entrance to the popular Dunningham Park, Coogee, swamped in beach sand. (Twitter - @CoogeeBayHotel)

The entrance to the popular Dunningham Park, Coogee, swamped in beach sand. (Twitter – @CoogeeBayHotel)

For ferry users:

Parramatta Weir has overflowed, with buses replacing ferries between Rydalmere and Parramatta.

Sydney Ferries between Manly and Circular Quay will not operate.

The SES has warned people to beware of downed power lines, trees and storm debris. (9NEWS)

The SES has warned people to beware of downed power lines, trees and storm debris. (9NEWS)

Manly Fast Ferries will not operate for the rest of the day.

The Palm Beach to Ettalong ferry is not operating due to large swells and strong winds.

Central Coast ferries are cancelled between Empire Bay and Woy Woy.

Buses are replacing ferries between Bundeena and Cronulla.

For the latest updates, see: http://twitter.com/FerriesInfo

Send your storm photos and videos to contact@9news.com.au – but remember to stay safe.

Deputy State Emergency Services Commissioner Steve Pearce says the conditions are “cyclonic”.

“This is an enormous event that’s been unfolding.

“We haven’t seen gale-force winds this consistent for years – gusting over 100km/h.”

A video filmed by a local showed fast-moving flood waters sweeping a home off its foundations and along a street in the town centre of Dungog, where three elderly people were found dead.

The Upper Hunter town is believed to be one of the worst affected after 312mm of rain fell in 24 hours.

The town has been cut off as roads and bridges were washed away, power was down and mobile phone and landlines were unresponsive.

Residents in Dungog and surrounding areas are being urged to stay with family or friends, or to make other accommodation arrangements.

An evacuation centre has been sent up at the local high school, on Eloiza Street.


Panathinaikos recovers to beat CSKA for 2-1


Three-pointer master Panathinaikos had the last laugh at the end of Game 3 of its series with CSKA Moscow on Monday winning 86-85 and reducing the Russians’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-five play-offs.

The Greens managed to inflict on CSKA only the third loss it has suffered this season in Europe by avoiding the game in the paint where the Russians are far superior and insisting instead on distance shots, that on the night produced a spectacular result for them: 16 out 31 three-pointers, i.e. 52 percent.

CSKA was on top throughout the first half, with the first quarter ending 20-14 in its favor, but a late rally in the second period by Panathinaikos allowed it to end the first half on level terms (34-34).

The Greeks raised their defensive game – which Dimitris Itoudis, the CSKA coach, dubbed “aggressive defense” – and urged on by 12,500 fans they grabbed leads of up to eight points in the third quarter (45-37) and 10 in the last one (71-61).

CSKA would not concede defeat though, and led by a breathtaking Sonny Weems, scorer of 24 points, it staged a comeback that brought the score level at 85-85 with just a few seconds left.

However a free throw that the game’s top scorer Nikos Pappas (25 points) made settled the game with just three seconds left, for Panathinaikos to take the series to another game in Athens on Wednesday.

Yet even if the Greens lose in Game 4, at least they have regained their confidence that had been badly bruised by the two defeats in Moscow last week.


Government takes state bodies’ cash reserves to meet needs




With pressure growing on state coffers as cash reserves run low without any immediate prospect for the release of rescue loans, the government on Monday signed a legal degree obliging state bodies, with the exception of pension funds, to transfer their reserves to the Bank of Greece for the state’s use.

The move, issued in the form of a presidential decree which does not require a parliamentary vote, indicated that the government is close to running out of cash. It dictates that all state bodies, ranging from hospitals to local authorities, must move their cash reserves to the central bank, but noted that pension funds were strictly exempt from the obligation. Regional authorities were said to be planning legal action against the decree. The move is expected to tap around 1.2 billion euros, meaning that the government will likely be able to pay civil servants’ salaries and pensions this month.

But the initiative will not solve Greece’s financial problem, which will rear its head again in May when the country must make further repayments to the International Monetary Fund, one of its three creditors.

The government is hoping that a Eurogroup summit due on May 11 will lead to the release of 1.9 billion euros in profits from Greek bonds held by the Eurosystem on the secondary market. European officials have already indicated that a eurozone summit due to take place this Friday in Riga, Latvia, will be no more than an opportunity to take stock of progress in negotiations between Greece and its creditors which have been moving slowly. The talks, which had been taking place in Brussels, have been based in Paris over the past few days.

Government sources have sought to appear upbeat on the prospects of a deal. But European officials appear frustrated at the slow progress. There were reports of some convergence as regards privatizations though no details were forthcoming on which assets talks were focusing on. And the two sides remained far apart on the contentious issues of labor market and pension reform.

It is likely that progress will be discussed in a Euro Working Group expected to take place Wednesday ahead of Friday’s Eurogroup summit. European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici insisted Monday that the clock was ticking for Greece. “There is no time to lose,” he said, expressing concern about intensified speculation of a potential Greek exit from the eurozone.

In Athens, some government officials continued to discuss the prospect of early elections or a referendum in the event of talks with creditors collapsing while others ruled it out.


Understanding Greek drama’s latest twists


With negotiations faltering, the rhetoric intensifying and a daunting payment schedule ahead, there is mounting concern that the latest disagreements over Greece may be more than just another stage in the prolonged repeated game involving that country’s debt drama.

The worry is that, this time, a ghastly set of circumstances is coming together to form an inevitable reality – that of Greece being ejected from the euro zone (a forced “Grexit”), which wouldn’t be caused by a conscious decisions, but would be the result of a huge accident (“Graccident”).

Greece’s Fiscal Odyssey

Here are the 11 things you need to know:

• What is making this scenario seem more plausible is the simple fact that Greece is rapidly running out of money, a situation so dire that the unthinkable is on the table: a default on obligations to the International Monetary Fund, one of the world’s few preferred creditors.

• With such an outcome becoming more than just thinkable, the walk away from Greek financial assets has turned into a jog that could be on the verge of turning into a run. Even some of the structural holders of Greek debt, such as foreign subsidiaries of Greek banks, have been exiting their holdings. Meanwhile, withdrawals of bank deposits are probably accelerating, this after large amounts have already fled the Greek banking system.

• The result is to suck more oxygen from an economy that is already struggling mightily. It also worsens dependence on “emergency lending” from an already hesitant European Central Bank system, which misses no opportunity to say that such funding isn’t intended to repeatedly fill gaps created by others — especially because the ECB has been Greece’s only large official financier for quite a while.

• The solution involves four main components: Policy reforms by Greece, immediate funding from creditors, additional debt reduction and easing some of the demands for budgetary austerity. These conditions will need to be implemented simultaneously, and should be accompanied by close collaboration and continuous constructive consultations among the Greek government, its European partner governments, regional institutions and the IMF. At the moment, what should be a cooperative undertaking is being approached uncooperatively.

• While this is by no means the first dramatic moment of brinkmanship in the Greek crisis, the disagreements this time are much deeper and consequential. Dogma, morality and blind spots are playing a much greater role, obscuring economic and financial realities. Also, negotiations have been undermined by months of a public blame game, with accusations and counter-accusations (including some unusually personal ones).

• Even though it has quite a bit of economic logic on its side, the new Greek government has failed both in meaningfully evolving the thinking of its creditors and in credibly signaling its commitment to carry out needed economic reforms. Part of this reflects unfortunate negotiating tactics, including public posturing in which nuances and confidence- building steps are lost in translation. But it also is the result of the intransigence of an impatient Europe, whose member states, to Greece’s detriment, no longer sort themselves along traditional debtor/creditor lines. That means the Greek government hasn’t even secured the negotiating backing of peripheral economies such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

• Europe’s uncompromising stance reflects more than simply disapproval of the way the new Greek government has handled the negotiations. The continent is in a better place to deal with the potential collateral damage of a messy Greek situation, be it financial or technical, especially compared with 2010 and 2012. The euro group has taken major steps to counter the risk of contagion by establishing stronger regional arrangements to insulate members that could be more vulnerable (including Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain) from the dislocations in a particular country (in this case Greece). Markets have been much calmer, containing until now the pricing of extreme risk to Greek assets. Moreover, most of the peripheral countries have taken steps to increase their own defenses, especially compared with July 2012, when ECB President Mario Draghi’s dramatic commitment to do “whatever it takes” averted the cascading financial collapse of several European economies (and the euro with them).

• Being in a better relative position doesn’t necessarily mean being totally safe. Fragile growth in Europe would probably take a hit from huge Greek dislocations. Some institutions would face financial pressures. And no one can forecast with any accuracy the regional implications of a potential Grexit/Graccident, given that these eventualities were never envisaged in the design of the euro zone.

• Putting all this together leads me to postulate today a 45/10/45 probability distribution: There is a 45 percent chance that a last minute messy compromise allows the muddling-through to continue; a 10 percent chance that a meaningful policy breakthrough will be achieved, and a 45 percent chance that the outcome is a Graccident in which both the Greek government and its European partners lose control of the situation. Under this third scenario, a series of Greek payment defaults, bank runs and the imposition of capital controls would force Greece out of the single currency.

• An optimist would espouse the 45 percent probability that a muddle-through compromise materializes at the 11th hour(or, to be more accurate, at 5 minutes to midnight). The realist would point out that there is a 90 percent chance that no decisive breakthrough is achieved, and that Greece and the euro zone experience an intensification of recurrent tensions and political stalemates, either immediately or down the road.

• These probabilities aren’t set in stone. They could – – and should — be altered by more visionary policy making on both sides, along with early confidence-building steps. The challenge is that time to do so is running out.


Sydney storms: Thousands without power as rain continues to lash NSW

Powerlines remain down across much of Sydney. Picture: John Grainger

Powerlines remain down across much of Sydney. Picture: John Grainger

THE SES says it holds ‘grave fears’ for people trapped in floodwaters, while an estimated 100,000 homes are without power across the Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter regions after as much as 250mm of heavy rain lashed the coastal regions of NSW overnight.

Sydney storms: Live traffic and train updates

State Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Steve Pearce said at least 20 people had already been rescued and there were still numerous people caught in dangerous situations on the state’s central and north coasts.

“We have multiple rescues going on at the moment where people … are stranded in floodwaters, attempting to drive through floodwaters,” Mr pearce said.

“Other people have attempted to drive through causeways and been washed over causeways.

“We have really grave fears for some of those people and we’re doing everything we can to address that.”

The east-coast low is one of the worst the state has experienced in the past two or three years, he said.

There are flood watches on every major river system in the NSW Hunter and mid north coast area.

Earlier, two people missing in floodwaters at Stroud were found.

The SES is receiving 200 calls an hour – particularly from the Hunter and mid-north coast regions – but many others aren’t getting though due to power outages.

Winds the equivalent of a category two cyclone – up to 135km/h – have battered NSW’s Central Coast.

Mr Pearce said there had been mobile phone contact with the missing pair from Stroud but the phone battery appeared to have died before they were located.

One of the people found, an elderly woman, is believed to have been taken to hospital in a critical condition.

A car was destroyed in Avalon after a huge tree came down in the storms last night. Pictu

A car was destroyed in Avalon after a huge tree came down in the storms last night. Picture: Martin Lange

“It is really mountainous country up there so the reception isn’t good at all,” Mr Pearce said earlier this morning.

“It’s going to have to be line of sight to try and search for these people.”

The strong winds stopped helicopters from being used in the rescue mission, which was conducted on land and water.

“We have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers out in the field and we are calling in more from other parts of the Sydney and now up onto the Hunter area,” Mr Pearce told media this morning.

“We’ve had 24 hours of relentless gale-force winds. I haven’t seen this wind damage for years.”

“It’s basically like a flood island (at Stroud).”

Avalon pool virtually disappeared in big seas. Picture: Martin Lange

Avalon pool virtually disappeared in big seas. Picture: Martin Lange

Reports are coming in from various locations of homes with their roofs torn off. The danger isn’t over and people should stay home, Mr Pearce said.

“The roads are far too dangerous. Flash flooding is everywhere throughout the Sydney metropolitan and surrounding areas,” he said. “We have multiple people being caught in the floodwaters. Please do not attempt to walk, ride or drive through floodwater.”

Yachts washed up on Gosford waterfront in rough seas. Picture: Mark Scott

Yachts washed up on Gosford waterfront in rough seas. Picture: Mark Scott

There are also reports cruise ship Carnival Spirit is stuck outisde Sydney Heads due to the poor weather.

One house, in Rankin Park on the Central Coast, was reportedly split in half by a falling tree. Luckily, there were no injuries.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the weather was the result of an intense, slow-moving low pressure system near where the Hunter and Mid North Coast regions meet.

The system is expected to move gradually south throughout Tuesday.

A car was crushed by a falling tree on Pitt St in Redferm. Picture: Michael Bilbe-Taylor

A car was crushed by a falling tree on Pitt St in Redferm. Picture: Michael Bilbe-Taylor

Authorities are warning people on Tuesday to beware of downed power lines as well as avoiding storm debris that could be hiding live lines.

LIVE BLOG: Sydney and NSW storms as they unfold this morning

Sharks/Rabbitohs match was almost called off due to weather

Storms will continue to pommel parts of NSW for a second day, giving crews little chance of a proper clean-up effort.

Ausgrid says many homes and businesses will be without power throughout the day and into tomorrow.

A tree fell accross a bus in Steyne Rd, Saratoga, on the NSW Central Coast. Picture: Carl

A tree fell accross a bus in Steyne Rd, Saratoga, on the NSW Central Coast. Picture: Carleen Frost

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds and surf along the coastal fringe from the Illawarra to the mid north coast.

Overnight wind gusts were recorded up to 135km/h at Norah Head, north of Gosford.

There is also the danger of flooding in the Manning, Karuah, Hunter, Wyong and Lower Hawkesbury valleys, as well as Lake Macquarie and the Paterson and Williams Rivers.

A broken tree branch rests on power wires as a result of bad weather at the intersection

A broken tree branch rests on power wires as a result of bad weather at the intersection of Liverpool Rd and Frances Ave. Picture: Chris McKeen

Some parts of the city received more than 100mm of rain.

Terrey Hills, Richmond, Canterbury and Gosford also topped the 100mm mark.

An astounding 258mm fell at Crawford, near Bulahdelah south of Forster.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) expects to continue to be inundated with calls for help, after it received more than 2800 requests since the weather deteriorated on Monday. As many as 1500 of those calls came from the city.

“We’re not expecting conditions to ease until Wednesday,” SES spokeswoman Stephanie Wills told AAP.

A police vehicle with lights flashing negotiates flooding at the intersection of Eddy and

A police vehicle with lights flashing negotiates flooding at the intersection of Eddy and Pitt streets in Sydney’s CBD overnight. Picture: Chris McKeen


DESTRUCTIVE WINDS averaging 90 to 100 km/h with peak gusts up to 135 km/h are forecast for coastal parts of the Hunter forecast district (including the Central Coast) today.

DAMAGING WINDS averaging 60 to 70 km/h with gusts to about 100 km/h are forecast to continue along the coastal fringe of the Metropolitan, Mid North Coast and Illawarra forecast districts today.

Flooding on the Central Coast Highway at West Gosford. Picture: Llewellyn Lazaro

Flooding on the Central Coast Highway at West Gosford. Picture: Llewellyn Lazaro

HEAVY RAINFALL is likely in the Hunter district, but also possible about the Metropolitan, Illawarra, and southern Mid North Coast today.

VERY HEAVY SURF which may lead to localised damage and coastal erosion is forecast for the Metropolitan, Hunter and Illawarra forecast districts and southern parts of the Mid North Coast forecast district overnight and Tuesday. Beach conditions in these areas are dangerous and people should stay well away from the surf and surf exposed areas.

A Jeep splashes through flooding at the intersection of Eddy and Pitt streets in Sydney's

A Jeep splashes through flooding at the intersection of Eddy and Pitt streets in Sydney’s CBD overnight. Picture: Chris McKeen

Wind gusts overnight: 135 km/h at Norah Head, 120 km/h at Nobbys Head, 90 to 100 km/h at Williamtown, North Head, and Sydney Airport.

Rainfall since 9am Monday: 258mm at Crawford (near Bulahdelah), 161mm at Wallsend, 161mm at Wahroonga (Sydney).

The State Emergency Service advises that people should:

•Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.

•Secure or put away loose items around your house, yard and balcony.

•Keep clear of fallen power lines.

•Don’t drive, ride or walk through flood water.

•Keep clear of creeks and storm drains.

If you are trapped by flash flooding, seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.

For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.

Sydney's Northern Beaches copped a belting from last night’s storms. Picture: Facebook/Na

Sydney’s Northern Beaches copped a belting from last night’s storms. Picture: Facebook/Narabeen Fire Station

Sydney's Northern Beaches copped a belting from last night’s storms. Picture: Facebook/Na

Sydney’s Northern Beaches copped a belting from last night’s storms. Picture: Facebook/Narabeen Fire Station

The hulls of upturned submerged boats sit in a flooded reserve in Narrabeen. Picture: Chr

The hulls of upturned submerged boats sit in a flooded reserve in Narrabeen. Picture: Chris McKeen


Αυστραλία: 70,000 σπίτια χωρίς ρεύμα στην περιοχή του Nιούκαστλ της ΝΝΟ


Πάνω από 70,000 σπίτια έχουν μείνει χωρίς ρεύμα στην περιοχή του Χάντερ της Νέας Νότιας Ουαλίας μετά την σφοδρή κακοκαιρία που πλήττει την περιοχή από χτες, και η οποία θα συνεχίσει έως και σήμερα.


Η περιοχή περιγράφεται ως χαώδης εξ αιτίας των υλικών ζημιών που προκάλεσαν τα 161 χιλιοστά βροχής που έπεσαν κατά την διάρκεια της βραδιάς ενώ ο αέρας έφτασε έως 120 χιλιόμετρα την ώρα.


Οι αρχές συστήνουν τους πολίτες να μείνουν στο σπίτι τους ενώ η ίδια συμβουλή δίνεται και στους μαθητές των σχολείων καθώς έχουν καταρρεύσει δέντρα, ενώ πολλά άτομα παγιδεύτηκαν από τις πλημμύρες.

Πηγή: studio3newcastle.com

Two people missing as wild weather lashes the Sydney, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra regions


Two people are feared missing in floodwaters in the New South Wales Hunter region as gale force wind and heavy rain continues to lash the state.

Fire and Rescue NSW said the pair disappeared at Stroud near Maitland overnight.

The State Emergency Service has continued the search for them this morning, but have found no sign of them.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Pearch said dozens of others are stranded in the Stroud Showground.

“It’s basically like a flood island. They’re safe but we just can’t get access to them due to no light and also the ferocious winds,” he said.

The SES has carried out 10 other flood rescues and has responded to more than 2,000 calls for help in Sydney, the Hunter district, Central Coast and Illawarra.

A deepening low pressure system has caused heavy rain and strong winds, which have brought down trees and powerlines, cut power to 100,000 properties and caused major transport disruptions in Sydney, the Central Coast and Hunter districts.

Anthony O’Brien from Ausgrid said the number of affected properties is likely to grow.

“As we sit here I can see the system updating and more reports of power lines being brought down and as we head into first light we expect that there will be a large number of calls coming through,” he said.

Ausgrid said crews would be out this morning to start repairs on the damaged network but said some households’ electricity may not be restored until Wednesday.

Superintendent Wayne Phillips from Fire and Rescue said coastal areas were bearing the brunt of the storm.

“The areas most affected are from Sydney to Newcastle. We’ve got numerous wires down, trees down,” he said.

The severe weather warning continues today for damaging and locally destructive winds, heavy rainfall and damaging surf across the Sydney, Mid North Coast, Hunter and Illawarra regions.

The Hunter and Mid North Coast are expected to bear the brunt of today’s wild weather, with about 200 millimetres of rain and gale force winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour forecast.

‘Stay home today if you can’

A number of major roads and rail lines have been closed in Sydney and around the state as a result of the wild weather.

The Princes Highway is closed at Sydneyham because of a fallen powerpole, The Bells Line of Road is closed at Kurrajong and flooding has closed the Wakehurst Parkway and Oxford Falls Road near Sydney’s northern beaches.

Train services have been cancelled between Newcastle and Sydney as well as between the Central Coast and Newcastle.

Brett Moore from the Transport Management Centre said the best approach may be to stay home today.

“If you can be home today, it may be a good option as the incoming weather has affected the roads and the public transport network,” he said.

“If you don’t need to be out on the road, probably best not to be.”