Hillary Clinton to reveal future plans in Australia

FORMER Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is coming to Australia to talk about her future plans after losing the 2016 US election to Donald Trump.

Mrs Clinton is expected to give a candid account of the presidential election and share stories from her New York Times bestseller, What Happened.

Mrs Clinton’s tour An Evening With Hillary Rodham Clinton is being planned by The Growth Faculty.

REVEALED: Trump slams FBI over Florida shooting

Since leaving office Mrs Clinton has commanded up to US$300,000 (A$379,000) for delivering major speeches. Tickets for An Evening with Hillary start at $195.

According to a blurb for the event, Mrs Clinton will “free from the constraints of running … share the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.”

The event promises to reveal: “What Happened and what’s next.

“Secretary Clinton explains how she got back up after a loss, and how we can all look ahead.

“An illuminating insight into Secretary Clinton’s experience as a woman in politics — she lets loose on this topic, and others, in a way she never has before.”

The Australian Financial Review said Mrs Clinton is expected to headline a number of business events during her time in Australia and visit a close friend who she went to college with and lives in Adelaide.

RELATED: Trump — “I never said Russia didn’t meddle”

The identity of the friend is a secret due to security and privacy concerns. Mrs Clinton also visited the friend during her 2012 visit to Adelaide.

During that visit parts of the South Australian capital were placed on lockdown as she visited her friend at a secret location. Mrs Clinton was the first US Secretary of State to visit Adelaide as she travelled in a motorcade of around 20 vehicles and visited a number of regional highlights including local wineries.

Her trip to Australia in 2012 was part of annual US/Australia ministerial talks.

HILLARY CLINTON’S WAVE OF SADNESS

Mrs Clinton’s book What Happened, released in September, revealed sad details about how she coped with her crushing loss to President Trump in the US election.

“I had to fight back a wave of sadness that threatened to swallow me whole,” she writes at the beginning of the book.

“At every step, I felt I had let everyone down. Because I had.”

Her opponents claimed the book was “insufferable”.

Senator John McCain advised Mrs Clinton to “shut up” and “move on” and said she “doesn’t have anything better to do”.

Others have accused her of continuing to whinge about her shock general election loss.

President Trump himself still takes occasional potshots at “Crooked Hillary” on Twitter.

But that hasn’t deterred Mrs Clinton, who made an unexpected cameo at last month’s Grammy Awards, appearing in a celeb-filled skit poking fun at the man who beat her to the US Presidency.

Grammys host James Corden introduced a humorous skit involving Mrs Clinton who appeared reading a copy of Michael Wolff’s controversial book Fire and Fury.

“He had a long-time fear of being poisoned. One reason why he liked to eat at

McDonald’s: Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade,” she read.

The Trump administration was not impressed with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley claiming the skit “ruined the Grammys”.

Mrs Clinton’s tour kicks off in New Zealand on May 7, followed by Melbourne on May 10 and a final show in Sydney at the ICC Sydney Theatre at Darling Harbour on May 11.

‘I wasn’t hired for my looks’

TODAY show host Georgie Gardner has opened up regarding her return to the popular morning program while navigating her relationship with co-host Karl Stefanovic.

In a revealing interview with Stellar magazine, on sale today, the popular presenter reflected on taking her time to agree to return to the desk after a three-year absence.

Gardner left the show to spend more time with her young family and told viewers in November’s announcement that she consulted with them heavily before accepting the gig.

Gardner previously appeared on Today as the newsreader from 2007 to 2014 and was the Nine Network’s first choice to fill Lisa Wilkinson’s position after the former co-host’s sensational defection to Network Ten after a messy contract dispute.

“I wanted to be absolutely sure I was ready, and that I was right for the network, and right for the show,” Gardner told Stellar.

“There is no other gig like it.

“My feeling is you only get asked once in your career and, at age 47, the time was right. I had life experience behind me, hopefully something to offer, and great encouragement from management at Nine.

“To me, it was time.”

Gardner officially started her new role in January, propelling her into one of the most coveted roles on Australian television.

On the criticisms that get lobbed towards women who appear on TV she told Stellar it took her a “bit of adjusting”.

“I was someone who was always very self-conscious of my looks. I was the plain, chubby teenager who never in a million years would have dreamt of a career in TV.

“I don’t let it overwhelm me. In a way, I think I took some comfort in knowing I wasn’t hired for my looks, to be honest. I didn’t feel that pressure.”

After leaving Today seven years later to focus on her young family, Gardner became a regular fill-in host for Sonia Kruger on Today Extra and occasional reporter for 60 Minutes.

On chatter that Today’s ongoing success will depend on how she and Stefanovic get along, she said “good chemistry doesn’t necessarily equate to being best friends”.

“Good chemistry, to me, is interaction and respect and knowing when to let one shine [or] pull back. Drawing out people’s strength, having their back. Making each other laugh, finding the humour.

“Relationships by their very nature are often complex, and when it’s in those hosting chairs on national TV, you’re exposed. But that’s interesting.”

Gardner first worked at Nine in 2002, and later returned in 2006 to replace Leila McKinnon as presenter of National Nine News Morning Edition, before taking on the newsreader role on Today.

Stellar is available in today’s News Corp’s Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Herald Sun and Sunday Mail.

Inside Jen Aniston’s luxurious $27m home

JENNIFER Aniston has given us a rare glimpse into her private life and opened the doors to her luxurious $27 million Bel Air mansion.

The notoriously private Friends star — who’s reportedly worth around $255 million — bought the sprawling 1965 estate in 2011, and now shares it with her husband, Justin Theroux, and their three dogs.

Showing off her home in the March issue of Architectural Digest, Aniston sums up her interior decorating style very simply: “Sexy is important, but comfort is essential … I’m all about the cosy.”

The star revealed that when she bought the mansion, it was “the furthest thing” from what she wanted, prompting her to enlist her decorator friend Stephen Shadley for help.

“I immediately had the sense that it could work,” she said of the property. “It’s hard to describe, but I felt a connection.”

Aniston explained that they set out to create a mix between its original modern look and her “Old World meets New World” decor.

She admitted that learning to include Theroux in the process didn’t come naturally to her.

“Justin definitely wanted to be involved, so there was a bit of a learning curve for me on how to include another voice in the design process,” said Aniston. “For instance, I figured out that immediately saying ‘No!’ to any suggestion is not the most collaborative move.”

From the pictures, it’s clear the teamwork paid off, with Aniston and Theroux’s home a stunningly unique mix of abstract expressionist paintings, handpainted wallpaper and silk rugs.

“If I wasn’t an actress, I’d want to be a designer. I love the process,” says serial home renovator, and superstar actress Jennifer Aniston. “There’s something about picking out fabrics and finishes that feeds my soul.” Aniston’s commitment to the craft was certainly put to the test in her latest residential project, the reimagining of a Bel Air house that was designed by architect A. Quincy Jones and completed in 1965. Aniston enlisted the aid of #AD100 interior designer @stephenshadley to help preserve the modernist ethos of the original scheme while softening some of its sharp lines and outfitting the interior with tactile, organic finishes and furnishings. “Sexy is important, but comfort is essential,” she avers, pointing as evidence to the vintage Jean Royère Polar Bear sofa, Jacques Adnet armchairs, and Mies van der Rohe daybed arranged in the living room, pictured here. Take the full home tour through the #linkinbio Photo by @francoisdischinger; text by @mayer.rus; styled by @lawrenhowell

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Outside, it’s a luscious blend of terraces, gardens and a pool with a teak deck — just how the star wanted it.

“Every corner you turn, you have an experience. Everywhere you look, you get a vista,” Aniston said. “We worked very hard to get that flow right.”

These days, her custom-designed home is her haven.

“There was a time when I thought there was something romantic about picking up and trotting off somewhere different every three months,” she told the magazine.

“Now I’m becoming more particular about the projects I take … I look around at my husband and my dogs and our home, and there’s nowhere else I want to be.”

Alex Nation: ‘I’ve always been pansexual’

ALEX Nation says the public scrutiny over her same-sex relationship wasn’t the challenging part of her romantic whirlwind.

The 26-year-old shocked the nation when, after winning Richie Strahan’s heart on The Bachelor in 2016, she announced she was in a relationship with her now fiancee Maegan Luxa.

But, speaking inCosmopolitan’s Pride Issue, which hits stands today, Nation said “it (the publicity) was nowhere near as challenging as coming out and being honest with myself.”

“People ask, ‘Are you gay now?’ And I say, ‘No, I’m just Alex!’”

She added: “I knew there was something special about Maegs the moment I met her. But it was a confusing time for me.”

But the mother of one, who said she always identified as pansexual, said reports her relationship was a publicity stunt had been hurtful.

“That grinds my gears. Why would I put myself through that? My life can be complicated enough as it is,” she said.

The package in Cosmopolitan celebrates 11 inspirational people including Christian Wilkins, Clover Moore, Penny Wong, Patrick Abboud and Gold Coast-based ex rugby league player Casey Conway.

Miley Cyrus, who also identifies as pansexual, features on the cover.

Australia’s steamiest secret

THE age of the alpha hole — the brooding, brutish alpha male that would set hearts aflutter in the bodice-rippers of yore — is over. The nice guys have won.

These days, the men steaming up the pages of romantic fiction are single dads, emotionally vulnerable Regency lords and bikies yearning to swap guns for groceries.

Gone too are the passive damsels with heaving bosoms; the modern heroine is feisty and independent. “Love comes as a secondary thing to their quest for a fulfilling life,” says Stephanie Laurens, Australia’s romance queen.

Whether the hero is a self-doubting doctor, a struggling farmer or a sheik presiding over an unusually progressive Arabian oil state, romance novels are Australia’s hottest secret.

Whether the love interest is a self-doubting doctor, a struggling farmer or an unusually progressive foreign royal, romance novels are Australia’s steamiest secret.

In print, romance is the third biggest genre, but combined with e-books — for which Australia-wide figures are not available — “publishers believe it is the second or even most-read genre,” said Adam Van Rooijen from Harlequin books.

Last year, Australians bought 1.4 million hard copy romance books, two thirds of them from genre publishing powerhouse Mills & Boon. They also bought almost 300,000 Mills and Boon e-books.

The typical reader is a 40-plus woman who is married with two teenage kids and lives in the suburbs or in regional Australia. She reads between six and 10 books a month.

She devours her so-called sweet romance in hardback and the raunchy stuff on her tablet; according to Harlequin, women buy four steamy e-books for every sweet one.

“It may be a shock to some people, but women enjoy sex,” says Jo Grant, Mills & Boon’s global editorial director. “And they like reading about sex.”

Sex on the page is so popular that Mills & Boon is launching a new line of explicit fiction called DARE, which is targeted at younger women. “It’s the perfect entry into reading romance … for those younger readers who think it’s ‘not for them’,” says Grant.

“The language, attitudes, power dynamics between the characters are firmly 21st century — and did I mention the hot sex?”

Australian writer Clare Connelly is a DARE author. Her heroes are still rich, powerful men — think billionaires in the Bahamas — but her heroines are powerful too. “We are writing women who don’t need a man, but when they do take one, it’s on their terms.”

The brute may have had his day, but with so many subgenres within romance, there’s a still hero to suit everyone’s taste. There’s warriors, vampires, Nascar drivers, aliens, and even the Amish (these books are known as bonnet-rippers).

Laurens, a New York Times best-selling author, likes her Regency heroes manly, but they still “have to be able to recognise the heroines’ qualities and to value them. The hero can’t be a testosterone-fuelled jock with no brain.”

Rural writer Cathryn Hein prefers beta males. She writes about shy farmers, disability carers, injured war veterans. “I create a hero that I would fall in love with,” she says. “I like heroes like my husband, really.”

Rebekah Turner, author of paranormal romance (including one about a bikie werewolf with a conscience), wonders whether women are turning to kinder heroes because there are so many real-life “alpha-holes” in the post-Weinstein era.

“It feels [like] every single hero you had is turning out to be a sexual deviant, so you might want something safe and nice and comforting,” she said.

In decades past, there has been a whiff of disapproval lingering over the romance genre — perhaps because of the sex, or because it’s for women, or because it still carries the stigma of being cheap, “pulp” fiction.

“We are a bit maligned in publishing — it has been historically seen as not worthy,” says Hein. But “people are discovering that these are not what they thought they were. They are not your grandmother’s romance novels.”

(Grant, however, warns against judging a lady’s tastes by her age; “Just because she is defined as a grandmother doesn’t mean she wants her romances without the hot sex.”)

Melanie Milburne, a Mills & Boon author, wonders whether the stigma reflects deeper attitudes towards female sexuality. “Somehow [there is a view that] women should not be enjoying sex; that rapacious sexual appetite belongs to men and not women. We come up against that all the time.”

Connelly says romance writing is a powerful antidote to the male-dominated porn culture, which rarely takes female pleasure into consideration. “I think Mills & Boon is a great insight into what women want.”

Not all authors write sex. Tricia Stringer, who focuses on rural romance, shuts the bedroom door, as they say in the trade. “For me it’s about the build-up to the attraction. The rest happens, but I don’t go into detail.”

Turner shuts it, too. “It’s hard when you are trying to write something erotic and your kids are shoving Transformers in each other’s eyes.”

Yet Laurens would not dream of cutting out sex. “My readers would lynch me.”

Sex is more forthcoming from the Mills & Boon authors, although writing it is not always easy. “I do find it really hard if someone else is in the house — if the dogs are barking, or the gardener is mowing the lawn,” says Tasmania-based Milburne, who has written 76 Mills and Boon books since 2004.

Connelly has learned to plough through. “I have two young kids and a tiny house, so I have become adept at just putting my headphones in and writing things that would make you blush,” she said.

Once the passion is on the page, there are matter-of-fact discussions with editors about whether the sex scene is realistic, or pleasurable, or too adjective-heavy. “She might suggest we hold back on [the orgasm] until later in the scene,” says Milburne.

Connelly admits there is frequent blushing in her head office. “The copyeditor will come back with some finicky grammatical errors in words that are quite explicit,” she said.

There are no formulas for aspiring romance authors to follow, the writers say. There needs to be a love story, but that doesn’t need to be the only plot line — they can be thrillers or fantasies too.

The only rule is a happy ending.

When Harlequin asked Australian women why they read Mills & Boon last year, they replied, “to escape”. Knowing the ending would be happy made it a safe, relaxing experience.

Love amid horror: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

FOR more than 50 years, Lale Sokolov stayed silent about a lot of things.

The only evidence then that the world could see of the horror 2 ½ years he spent at World War II’s most notorious Nazi death camp were the faded, roughly-inked numbers tattooed on his forearm.

They gave no clue to his experience, or his role at Auschwitz at the hands of Hitler’s SS.

Lale, the Auschwitz Tattooist, carried survivor’s guilt and guarded his secret well.

His son knew not to ask about it and just listen when, after years of silence, the stories began to be shared.

Lale was also guarding an incredible love story ignited against the grim background of the gas chambers, with one of the women he was forced to ink.

Against all odds, the pair escaped the death camps to share a better life.

Lale’s transformation from Jewish prisoner to chief tattooist at Auschwitz stalked him into his old age. Terrified he’d be seen as a Jew who had worked for the Nazis to save himself, he carried shame and guilt inside.

His greatest regret, he once told his son, Gary, was “the people I couldn’t save”.

Lale’s story, and that of the woman he inked who would become his wife, is now being told in a book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

It’s a horror story, and a love story. And Lale’s legacy.

“WELCOME TO AUSCHWITZ”

Ludwig (Lale) Eisenberg (he would later change his name to Sokolov) was born in 1916 in Slovakia. He was well-dressed. A charmer. A ladies’ man. He loved to travel.

He was also a Jew. So Hitler’s war changed everything.

He was just 24 when, in April 1942, he was herded with hundreds of other Jews like cattle into a dark, cramped railway cargo carriages.

After two days, the doors opened.

The prisoners emerged: stinking, thirsty, weak, cramped and hungry, to find German soldiers barking orders at them. Dogs barked menacingly at their sides.

Some were belted with rifle butts for moving too slowly. Others were berated and attacked as their scant possessions were taken from them.

As a gunshot rang out, Lale heard the cruel words: “Welcome to Auschwitz”.

They took his name and shoved a piece of paper with the number 32407 written on in into his hand.

Minutes later, the numbers were crudely tattooed in green ink into his left forearm.

It took less than 10 seconds to become a number in a Nazi death camp.

When Lale was struck down with typhoid, he was saved by Pepan, the man who had tattooed him. He dragged Lale inside and cared for him after he was pushed off a death cart.

The job offer, when it came, was simple, an extract from the book reveals.

“Would you like a job working with me?” Pepan asked. “Or are you happy doing whatever they have you doing?”

“I do what I can to survive,” Lale replied.

Surgical, Pepan said, lay in the job offer.

“You want me to tattoo other men?” Lale asked.

“Someone has to do it,” Pepan replied.

GRIM TASKS, AND LOVE

Lale chose survival. He inked fellow prisoners for three years.

Tattooing prisoners was unique to Auschwitz, and was introduced when the death toll in the fields, and gas chambers became so large it became impossible to identify bodies.

The tattoos would become one of the most sobering, recognisable symbols of the Holocaust.

Prisoners put to work at the concentration camps were inked on arrival. For those that didn’t, it was straight to the gas chambers.

It was the grimmest of tasks. But it found Lale the woman he loved.

Gisela Fuhrmannova — Gita — was sent to have a fading tattoo redone. The Nazis wanted to make sure the ink was permanent.

As he re-inked the number — 34902 — Lale held her arm for a second longer than he had to, meeting her eyes.

He spotted her again a few days later, head shaved, draped in prisoner black. Her eyes captivated him.

As Tätowierer (Tattooist), Lale was a prisoner of slightly more value to the Germans. It was enough for the pair to risk a clandestine courtship: secret letters smuggled between the men’s and women’s dormitories.

Love blossomed against a background of inhumanity, death and danger.

Lale’s guard, cruel and knowing, relished having Lale’s fate in his hands.

He would taunt him. Terrify him. Remind him constantly death was not far away, a book extract reveals.

Meanwhile, Lale tattooed his fellow prisoners, unable to meet their eyes. He feared some would think he had chosen to serve their jailers, and become a Nazi collaborator to save his own skin.

Another SS officer made sport of holding a gun to his head. He knew a bullet would be better than the gas chambers.

At one point, Lale was forced to enter those chambers — a nightmarish, macabre tangle of hundreds of naked bodies. Now he knew death smelled like blood and urine and excrement and other things he couldn’t identify, but would never forget.

As he left the chamber a guard cruelly said: “You know something, Tätowierer? I bet you’re the only Jew who ever walked into an oven and then walked back out of it.”

ESCAPE

As the Germans lost their grip on the war, Lale and Gita were separated — sent to different camps as prisoners were shipped out of Auschwitz.

When the war ended, a stubborn Lale went to the main train station in Bratislava. He couldn’t know if she was alive or dead as he scanned the crowds of emaciated prisoners disembarking.

It took a fortnight before Gita’s gorgeous eyes found his.

They married in October 1945, and eventually migrated to Melbourne where Gary, their only child, was born in 1961.

They tried to forget, but could never escape the nightmare of the Holocaust.

Not that young Gary would have known. He remembers a childhood surrounded by love, and warmth and joy.

“Dad was generous, kind, loving and always telling me to ‘try everything because we missed out. You have to do it, or you mightn’t get a chance’,” Gary says.

The house was full of kids and visitors and laughter and food.

“There were only three of us but on Friday nights mum would make 20 schnitzels, just in case people dropped in,” Gary says.

The tattoos were a visible reminder of far worse times.

The first Gary knew of his parents’ survival in the camps came when he was aged between seven and 10. They asked him to watch a documentary called World of War.

They couldn’t bear to watch it with him.

“Anything on the Holocaust, they wouldn’t watch,” he says.

“But once I’d watched it, that’s when my Dad started to tell me.”

The stories came sporadically, never in sequence. Gary soaked up the snippets. But knew instinctively to never ask more.

“He’d tell a story and then he’d move on. It wasn’t a question-and-answer session,” he says.

It took Gary a month to read the book.

“I read the first page and then I did not pick it up again for three or four weeks,” he said.

“Even though I knew most of the stories … to have them all in chronological order, just seeing it all there, it was just really, really hard.”

It’s the same reason Gary has tried to go to Auschwitz three times in the past 15 years — but turned around at the border every time.

“It’s just too raw. But the feeling when I stand there is I’m terrified it would make it that much more real,” he says.

“At the moment it’s still stories. To actually walk through the gates … it’s a bit too confronting.”

“A BEAUTIFUL LOVE”

Gita wasn’t into discussing the past. She had her tattoo removed 10 years before she died.

Lale kept his, testament to his pride that he had survived “and determined to outlive every single German soldier that was involved in the war”.

“I think Mum just wanted to remove herself from anything about that time that happened in her life,” says Gary.

Anything, that is, except her beloved husband.

It was, Gary says, “a beautiful love”.

“She adored him, he protected her. He knew whatever happened, as long as they were together, he could cope.

“When she got sick, the level of devotion … day in, day out … there was nothing more important to him than just sitting with her.

“She was the most beautiful person in the world to him, always,”

The first and last time Gary saw his father cry was in 2003, after Gita succumbed to heart problems, aged 78.

After the tears dried, Lale started to tell his stories for the book.

“It was like he needed to tell it now, because his wife was waiting for him,” Gary says.

Three months after Gita died, Lale was operated on for the same heart issue which had claimed her.

The surgery brought him another three years.

Time enough to tell his story. And then, in 2006, go to join his wife.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Bonnier Publishing Australia, $30) is out on February 1.

James Bulger’s mum reveals biggest regret

JAMES Bulger’s mum has spoken of how discovering her little lad’s killers were children themselves compounded her despair

The horror Denise Fergus felt at his murder in 1993 was deepened by the shock of learning that two boys not much older than him were responsible, reports The Sun .

RELATED: James Bulger’s murderer Jon Venables charged with possession of child abuse images

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, both 10, were caught on CCTV leading James, a month off his third birthday, from Liverpool’s New Strand Shopping Centre.

In an extract from new book I Let Him Go published in The Mirror, Denise, 50, recalls hearing how Thompson laid flowers by the train tracks in Walton where little James’ body was found.

She writes: “Thompson lived in Walton, not far from the murder scene, with his mum and two younger brothers. The arresting officer ended up speaking to Thompson’s seven-year-old brother.

“He said: ‘He knew about the murder, so much so that he and Thompson had been down to put flowers by the tracks.

“‘I remember hearing that and wondering if we were making a terrible mistake. I mean, what adult could be that conniving if they had murdered someone, let alone a child behaving so cynically?’”

“It was one of the hardest things to get my head around — my baby’s killers were just seven years older than him,” she wrote in the book.

Venables arresting officer was also disturbed by the kids who had committed the heinous crime. “I was so shocked to see his age and his size, I just couldn’t get my head around the possibility this tiny kid had committed such an evil act.”

She writes that a decision was made not to present all the evidence in court, as it would be “unnecessarily upsetting” for the family to hear.

“They selected the evidence they needed to secure a conviction but didn’t put everything in the public domain. Everyone did what they thought was right at the time.”

Had they done so, however, the boys would probably have been given a longer sentence, which Mrs Fergus says might have resulted in James getting “the justice he deserved”. The boys were handed eight-year sentences for the crime.

Mrs Fergus says that while she is haunted by many “what-ifs”, her biggest regret is turning the wrong way when she left the store after James went missing

“But do you know what my biggest regret is? That I didn’t turn right instead of left when I came out the shop — if I had taken the right turn and gone around the corner, I would have seen James being led away.”

The relations come as Jon Venables is to stand trial in secret at an un­named court charged with having child abuse images.”

Venables, 35 was recalled to prison in November after he was allegedly caught with the pictures.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed Venables, who has a new identity, had been charged and would appear at crown court.

It released a statement saying: “In order that justice can be done, no further details are being released at this stage and the proceedings are subject to reporting restrictions.”

After eight-year sentences, they were granted lifelong anonymity under new identities. But Venables was sent back to jail for two years in 2010 over vile child images.

Part of this story first appeared in The Sun.