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Cronulla Sharks skipper Paul Gallen rates Sharks team as good as he’s seen

Black, white and blue: Paul Gallen. Photo: Getty Images High hopes: Cronulla captain Paul Gallen said the 2016 side was full of promise. Photo: Chris Lane
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Cronulla captain Paul Gallen has compared his current side to the talented 2002 roster that came agonisingly close to breaking the club’s premiership drought.

The Sharks won’t have to wait long for a chance to avenge their 39-0 loss to North Queensland that bundled them out of the finals, with a rematch scheduled for the opening round of the new season.

Cronulla will go in with a new-look halves combination after adding James Maloney and Chad Townsend to a side that was the biggest improver from the previous season.

Gallen, the only surviving member of the 2002 campaign, believes the latest Sharks outfit has shades of the one that included former stars David Peachey, Brett Kimmorley, Preston Campbell, Danny Nutley, Jason Stevens and Chris Beattie.

On that occasion, they reached the penultimate weekend of the season before narrowly losing to the Warriors.

“I compare it about back to 2002 when I was first starting,” Gallen said.

“I was 19 or 20, me and Birdy [Greg Bird]  were a similar age and there was a number of us coming through.

“It’s like what we’ve got now. I’m like the old Jason Stevens of the team, we had David Peachey, Paul Mellor and blokes like that.

“We had a real mix of youth and experience, we played in a grand final qualifier that year. I’d love to be in that position at the end of the year but there’s a lot of hard work between now and then.

“We have some youth and experience and hopefully it can all come together like it did back then.”

The Shire outfit has yet to win a premiership and this season may be Gallen’s last opportunity to do so. The NSW skipper said the drought – and the fact it is often brought up – is a source of frustration.

“We do a lot of school visits this week and one of the questions put by the NRL was ‘how many comps have the Sharks won?'” Gallen said.

“What would you do that for? I can’t believe it was a question.

“It does [grate], to be honest with you. Especially personally, I’ve put so much into the club for so long, it is a bit hard to take.

“I do get hammered on social media a fair bit but I can be proud of my efforts, I always put 100 per cent in.

“It needs to be a team performance and, unfortunately over the years, to be brutally honest, we haven’t had a team anywhere near making the semi finals.

“There have been years we’ve won the spoon, we’ve come 14th or 15th a number of times. We’ve finally put together a spot that can do something and hopefully we make the most of it this year.”

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AFL considers short-term player contracts to cover injuries

The AFL could introduce short-term playing contracts into the game for clubs seeking to replace injured footballers mid-season.
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And the rookie player could become a relic of the past as the competition explores ways of simplifying club lists from 2017.

With the league’s finance boss Ray Gunston heading a team of AFL executives addressing each of the 18 clubs regarding the forthcoming carve up of the forthcoming $2.5 billion media rights, the league chiefs have also sounded out club bosses regarding potential list management reforms.

The mooted mid-season draft remains on the table but Fairfax Media understands the AFL’s preferred model is to introduce short-term contracts into the competition. The proposal has not yet been discussed with the players association but if adopted would form part of the next collective bargaining agreement.

Under the reform, clubs suffering long-term player injuries could sign a player from a state league or potentially country or amateur competitions on a short-term deal. The club would have no rights to retain the player beyond the term of the contract.

The short-term contract proposal has received more support at club level than the mid-season draft and is the preferred model of football boss Mark Evans.

Players union chief Paul Marsh said there was some support among the players to abandon the rookie system. “In some quarters there is a view that it is no longer necessary,” he said.

“We’re open to having discussions about all this sort of stuff. In the case of rookies we’ve heard the view that that there are young guys and older guys on rookie lists doing the same work and preparation as the rest so I’m sure that’s something we can explore.”

Gillon McLachlan told 3AW this week that the AFL was examining ways to simplify club lists in the wake of the one-year suspensions handed down to the 34 past and present Essendon players.

“Our view is if there’s ways to streamline the system then we would support that,” McLachlan said.

The complex issues and disputes surrounding top-up players at both Essendon and the five other affected clubs have prompted the push to provide the clubs with more list flexibility.

While a small proportion of clubs remain opposed to abandoning rookies, the majority of clubs questioned to date have indicated they would have no problem widening the team list to include a total 48-50 players on their primary lists, dispensing with the rookie draft and making all listed players available on any given round of football.

Rookie-listed players wages have lifted to see them now earn about 10 per cent less than a third-round draft pick on a basic contract.

With concern around the extra cost of placing the 2016 rookie on a 2017 primary list, one proposal suggested by former AFLPA chief Matt Finnis would see fourth- and fifth-round draft choices signed to one-year contracts.

The investment model discussions headed by Gunston have also included a revolving team of executives – Travis Auld, Andrew Dillon and Evans.

The united view from the clubs addressed is that the AFL must cover the entire cost of the next six years of total player payments.

The clubs remain disenchanted at being forced to carry the cost of some of the benefits granted to the players late in the negotiations during the last protract CBA discussions.

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Insulted Rio mayor hits back at Australian Olympic Committee

A stoush has erupted between Rio de Janeiro’s mayor and the Australian Olympic Committee over an athlete ban that has offended the leader of the Games’ host city.
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Clearly fed up with a sense of negativity he has detected for some time, Rio mayor Eduardo Paes has hit back at the AOC for being “a source of aggressions to Brazil”.

“There is a lot of ignorance about Rio and Brazil, a certain drama of how things are,” Paes added.

The comments follow the AOC’s move to ban all Australian team members from visiting Rio’s favelas during Games time in August. The history of the tension, however, points back to an observation of AOC head and International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates who in April 2014 declared that Rio was “the worst” city he’d seen in terms of its Olympic preparations at the time.

While the AOC is steadfast on what it says is an entirely appropriate team safety measure, it was moved on Wednesday night to clarify its position with Brazilian Olympic authorities directly and underline that Rio had made vast improvements in regards to its competition readiness.

Mike Tancred, the AOC’s media chief, told Fairfax Media: “He [Paes] has taken it the wrong way. We didn’t mean to upset him. It was not intended to be a slur against the people of Brazil. It’s just a security question for our team and it’s nothing more than that. We’re disappointed and upset if he has taken it the wrong way.”

Australia’s position and Paes’ pointed public rebuff has attracted media attention internationally. The AOC on Wednesday night was preparing to send a written response to the communications director of Rio’s organising committee, Mario Andradas.

The Rio security plan for the Australian team, which will number around 450 athletes, is set to be formalised on Thursday after three days of planning meetings relating to all manner of issues.

The AOC is taking advice from the same security expert, Greg Nance, who guided the team in London four years ago. Nance will provide an up-to-date emergency response plan that will be distributed to Australian team leaders of all sports who will be responsible for conveying the advice to selected athletes.

The AOC accepts it cannot control the movements of every athlete or team official and has told Fairfax that a team member that chose to flout the favela directive would not be punished.

The committee expects that other large teams will impose similar limits on their teams for security reasons.

“We’re saying that officially they’re off limits,” Tancred said. “It’s a security risk and we can’t guarantee their security if they go to a favela on their own.”

The AOC released a press statement on Wednesday that began with hearty praise of the next summer Olympics hosts.

“We love Brazil and we look forward to sharing in the excitement of the Rio Games in August. Rio has made tremendous progress with their Games’ preparations and the Australian athletes are all looking forward to competing in Rio. We have no doubt Rio will deliver,” the statement said.

“In regard to the favelas, the chef de mission of the Australian Olympic team, Kitty Chiller, has decided that the favelas are off limits to our athletes because of the security. We have a team of 450 athletes, there is no way we could manage, or police, visits to the favelas by our athletes.

“Our athletes will certainly engage with the residents of Rio, and they will join in the fun on Copa beach but the favelas are areas we cannot control and the personal safety of our athletes must come first.”

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Macka tackles gator weed

Landfill: Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie plans to tackle alligator weed on his property, within the Williamtown RAAF Base contamination zone, by putting up to 200mm of landfill across it. PORT Stephens mayor Bruce Mackenzie has such an alligator weed problem on his Williamtown propertythat he needs a development application to deal with it.
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But the landfill solution he has proposed, within the Williamtown RAAF Base contamination zone, has nearby residents, one of his councillors and Port Stephens MP Kate Washington concerned about the impact on surrounding areas.

Mr Mackenzie plans to scrape the alligator weed off the top of potentially 12 Williamtown lots of land and replace it with up to 200 millimetres of landfill. The development application will be considered for approval ata council meeting in March.

A council document shows the landfill proposal could include acreagesowned by Mr Mackenzie on Nelson Bay Road and Stockton Bight Track.

The Federal Department of Environment describes alligator weed as one of the worst weeds in Australia, responsible for the failure of small crop and turf farms in the Lower Hunter. It recommends repeated spraying to remove it.

Physical removal isdifficultand requirestakingweed material to a depth of one metre, and “deep burial” disposal, the department said.

Mr Mackenzie declined to comment when contacted by the Newcastle Herald.

Councillor Geoff Dingle described the proposal as extraordinary because of serious drainage issues in the area and concerns about any development within the Williamtown contamination zone that could potentially exacerbate the drainage issues.

“If you’re looking at up to 200mm of fill across such a large area, you’re talking about a very large amount of fill, and residents aresaying there’s flooding here that they’ve never seen before,” he said.

He also questioned the approach taken, saying it was contrary to material supplied to councillors recommending alligator weed be sprayed, or if removed from land that it should be “burnt or buried to a depth of up to five metres”.

Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association spokesman Nigel Waters said the development application showed the area proposed was “substantial” but there was “no estimate of how much fill would be involved”.

“It’s a bit of a mystery that the council would even consider such a proposal because it’s partly in the contamination zone,” Mr Waters said.

Ms Washington wasconcernedabout potential impacts from introducing fill into a known flood area.

A Port Stephens Council spokesman said the application was referred to the Environment Protection Authority which “raised no objections to the proposal subject to conditions”.

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Melbourne Victory hold Champions League dream, win praise from unexpected quarter

Right: Matthieu Delpierre’s calm demeanour, organisational skills and tactical understanding made the difference on the back line against Shanghai. Photo: Robert Cianflone Victory’s defence was excellent against Shanghai, with youngsters Nick Ansell and Jason Geria producing coming-of-age performances. Photo: Robert Cianflone
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Melbourne Victory and coach Kevin Muscat have won praise from an unlikely source for their Asian Champions League triumph over Shanghai SIPG on Wednesday night – Melbourne City boss John van ‘t Schip.

Victory clawed out a 2-1 win over the big spending Chinese club, coached by former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, in a thrilling contest played at a frantic pace.

Muscat’s team managed to quell, for the most part, Shanghai’s big name imports Dario Conca, Elkeson and Asamoah Gyan, and Van ‘t Schip was impressed with their organisation and strong will.

He was not, however, impressed by Shanghai, who, he said, looked less like a team and more a collection of individuals.

Granted the Chinese team was playing only its second competitive match since the Chinese Super League season ended last December, and it was trying to integrate players new players.

But, said Van ‘t Schip, the game showed how preparation and team spirit could take Australian teams a long way against superior technical opponents with much bigger budgets.

The Dutchman hopes to be in Muscat’s position next year, if City can nail one of Australia’s guaranteed two spots in the competition.

“To be honest, I think Victory deserved to win that game. Shanghai had some chances as well, but  I was very disappointed in the Chinese team,” the Dutchman, who was at AAMI Park to watch first-hand, said.

“You can see with less money and more team effort and a game plan you can still achieve a lot of things in the Asian league.

“Western Sydney is a good example, and yesterday was another. If you have players that are really wanting to make the effort and work with each other you can still get wins against teams that have maybe three or four individual good players, but the team doesn’t really work together.

“I think that was the key yesterday, that Melbourne Victory looked like a team and Shanghai didn’t .”

Muscat can feel delighted that his side got off to such a positive start, even if Eriksson felt his team did enough to secure a point.

Winning home matches is vital in such tournaments, and if Victory can now pick up a point away to Gamba Osaka next week its chances of making it past the group stage will multiply.

The club is one of a number of A-League sides said to be chasing Socceroo winger Tommy Oar after he ended his contract with English Championship team Ipswich Town last month, citing homesickness.

Club officials confirmed on Wednesday night that Oar was on their radar, most likely as a replacement for Kiwi wide man Kosta Barbarouses, who is expected to move to Wellington for a big-money marquee player contract next season.

While Oar could undoubtedly assist with a rebuild at Victory, Muscat must surely wish he could persuade veteran French defender Matthieu Delpierre to reconsider his decision to head back to Europe at the end of the season.

The former Stuttgart captain has said he plans to return to live in Germany at the end of his contract later this year and his will be huge shoes to fill when he goes.

Delpierre was immense in the win over Shanghai, hardly losing out in any contest.

Victory’s defence was excellent through the night, with youngsters Nick Ansell and Jason Geria producing coming-of-age performances.

Delpierre’s defensive attributes – he is strong and good in the air and the tackle – are one thing. But his calm demeanour, organisational skills and tactical understanding make him the outstanding  leader of a backline that often features younger players.

Muscat would love to have him for one more season, both as a player and as a mentor to his youthful defenders like Ansell, Geria, Scott Galloway and Thomas Deng.

“Jason’s season has been interrupted with international duty, we are still not going to see the best of him, he is still finding his feet because of his fitness,” said Muscat, predicting further improvement from Geria.

“Nick and Matthieu were outstanding, and both Nick and Thomas are gaining so much experience from playing alongside Matthieu. It will be hard to persuade him to change his mind, but lets enjoy watching him for the rest of the season,” Muscat said.

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From goats to goannas, 2500 rescued

HOME: Facebook pet rescue page founder Melissa Wilson with bearded dragons Slayer (large) and Mary (hatchling). Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.WITH a cattledog,kelpie,fosterdachshund and twobearded dragons at home, Melissa Wilson couldbe forgiven for decidingquite enough creatures are inher care.
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But in the eightmonths since she foundeda Facebook pageforlost pets, Ms Wilson and herbandof volunteershavereunited 2500 animals with their owners.

“There were 91 on New Year’s Eve alone,” the LostPetsNewcastle,Hunter Valley&Surroundsfounder said.

“Wehelped reunite a cat after two-and-a-half years. We’ve organised horse floats in flood-affected areas,had goats and sheep stay the night ina volunteer’sbathroom.”

Armed with microchip scanners and the will to crawl under houses,Ms Wilson’s team issummoned daily bythe Facebook page’s 11,000 members to deal with lost and frightened animals before the authorities do.

A simple “lost dog” notice that appearson the page will, Ms Wilson said, resultin success 90 per cent of the time.

Her most recent high-profile clientwasa goanna seenscurrying towards Lambton’s Mark Hotel and,it turned out, socialmedia stardom.

The fugitive goanna was corralled away from traffic as Ms Wilson rapidlycalled the Native Animal Trust Fund, put out a Facebook alert and madeherbest attempt atreptilian reassurance.

Despite a cut to its head, the goanna was expected to fullyrecover.

Then there’sScooter.

The Maltese terrier was found onthe streets of Charlestown on Boxing Dayin what looked like a textbookcase oflost dog, until Ms Wilson scanned his microchip.

Scooter was500 kilometres from home,thetown of Tottenhamin the state’s Central West.

It is now believed Scooterwas takenby someonepassingthrough Tottenham whobroughthim to Charlestown to live out his days, untilhe escaped.Michelle Owen, hisowner, was beside herself with relief.

The family own a petroleumcompany, and a truck was dispatched to retrieve Scooter in the night.

On Thursday, an appeal wasmade on the Facebook page fora lost male chihuahua.

He had escaped from Wangi, wearing a blue collar.

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New Atlas robot from Google’s Boston Dynamics shows off human-like qualities

Boston Dynamics — the Google-owned engineering company dedicated to creating robots that move like animals — has shown off a updated version of its human-like Atlas design with a new video.
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Standing 175 centimetres tall and weighing 82 kilograms, the new Atlas has long arms, short legs, a tiny cylindrical head and is designed to operate outdoors as well as inside buildings.

The new video shows Atlas walking confidently past other members of its robotic family — including WildCat and BigDog — and heading straight out the door before wading like a terrifying idiot through a stretch of snow.

Boston Dynamics is renowned online for its quirky videos of new robots that don’t seem quite ready to handle the tasks they’re attempting — stumbling like babies over rough terrain or being shoved and kicked by researchers until they fall flat on their metal face.

The uneven nature of the robots definitely makes the videos palatable – without something to laugh and point at most of Boston’s creations would be more than a little scary – but it’s also the most impressive aspect of the machines.

Staying upright while navigating uneven terrain and adjusting for unexpected complications is an extraordinarily involved process, requiring constant adjustment that’s difficult to come by without a brain and central nervous system. Mastering this will be required for most tasks mobile robots will be used for, be it search and rescue, military applications or travelling back through time to track and assassinate humans.

What makes Boston’s robots so interesting to watch is that, when faced with an obstacle or a swift kick, they tend to react in an eerily similar way to a dizzy human or quadrupedal animal.

Walking is not Atlas’s only trick however. The video also shows it lifting and stacking boxes, reacting appropriately when a box is cruelly moved out of its reach at the last moment, and managing to right itself after being knocked to the ground.

Previously shown Boston designs include BigDog — seen cutting an empathetic, scuttling figure in the above GIF — and Sand Flea, a tiny car that can leap 10 metres in the air. The firm has also developed a Cheetah-like robot that can run 45 kilometres per hour, and at Christmas last year posted a video showing a troupe of prancing reindeerbots towing a sleigh.

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Jamie Gao’s phone was picked up by someone hours after his death, court hears

Misaki Takebayashi told the court that an unknown person picked up Jamie Gao’s phone hours after he was allegedly murdered. Photo: Facebook Jamie Gao was last seen by his girlfriend on May 18, 2014. Photo: Facebook
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Glen McNamara leaving the Supreme Court in custody on Wednesday. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Roger Rogerson has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Jamie Gao. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Jamie Gao wanted to be a gangster, court hearsCCTV footage from the day of Jamie Gao’s murder​Rogerson and McNamara blame each other for Gao’s death

Just hours after university student Jamie Gao was allegedly shot dead and stuffed inside a surfboard bag, his girlfriend was desperately trying to call him when someone picked up his phone.

The voice said “hello” in Chinese and then hung up.

A few minutes later someone sent a text message from Mr Gao’s phone.

“I’m his friend, he’s lost his phone, his phone is on me,” the text message allegedly said.

A Sydney court has previously heard a friend of his found the phone after Mr Gao went missing.

When Misaki Takebayashi tried to contact Mr Gao later on the night of May 20, 2014, she could not get through to him.

This was what Ms Takebayashi told a jury during the murder trial of Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara on Thursday.

The pair are charged with murdering the university student on May 20, 2014 inside a southern Sydney rental shed.

The prosecution’s case is that Mr Rogerson and Mr McNamara were part of a joint criminal enterprise to murder Mr Gao and then steal the 2.78kg of methylamphetamine he had brought to sell to them.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to murder and supplying a large commercial quantity of prohibited drugs.

Wearing a black turtleneck jumper and pearls, Ms Takebayashi gave her evidence via video link from Japan to the NSW Supreme Court.

She spoke of how Mr Gao had met with Mr McNamara several times including three days before his death at a pub in Hurstville.

“I recall times where I would be shopping in Hurstville with Jamie and he would receive a call on his mobile from Glen wanting to meet,” part of her police statement, read out by Crown prosecutor Christopher Maxwell QC, said.

“Sometimes Jamie would be gone for hours.”

She said on May 17 she was with Jamie when he got a phone call from Mr McNamara.

“He went away for 30 minutes to one hour to meet Glen and then he came back,” she told the court.

The last night she spent with Mr Gao was at a party in Hurstville and then the pair stayed the night at Mr Gao’s house on May 18.

The next day Ms Takebayashi said Mr Gao went to study at the University of Technology Sydney and she went to TAFE.

She never saw him again.

In the days after Mr Gao’s death, a devastated Ms Takebayashi and her close friends went to where his body was found at Cronulla and threw flowers into the water.

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James McDonald opts for Telperion in the Skyline Stakes

Together again: James McDonald has opted for Telperion for Saturday’s Skyline Stakes. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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Godolphlin’s Australian retained jockey James McDonald made a “gut call’ in preferring Telperion as his ride for Saturday’s Skyline Stakes at Randwick.

He waited until trackwork on Tuesday but still has respect for Souchez, which could hand English hoop William Buick a Golden Slipper lead-up for the second consecutive year.

“If anything Souchez has been working better than Telperion,” McDonald said. “But I really like him and have from the start and that sways me to Telperion. There isn’t that much between them.”

McDonald admits to usually being guided by trainer John O’Shea about most of his decisions when it comes to rides but this one was his alone.

“I’m just hoping I made the right call,” he said.

Buick, who won the Pago Pago Stakes on Tarquin, has flown in for five rides, including Magic Hurricane in the Chipping Norton Stakes and It’s Somewhat in the Liverpool City Cup.

ZANBAGH PLANS

When John Thompson told Sandy Tait he was thinking of targeting Zanbagh at the Guy Walter Stakes back in December, there was a laugh of approval.

“He obviously had a lot of success with Guy, and was pleased to have a runner in his race,” Thompson said.

“We [were] talking at the end of that summer prep where we got her back winning and I was fairly happy with her and thought she was up to the better races. This is a starting point but to win it would be a great honour because of who it is named after.

“She is going as well as she was before winning first-up last time but she did strike a wet track back then. We are going to look at races like the Coolmore Classic and Queen Of The Turf with her this time in and I’m sure she is up to that grade.”

CAVANOUGH’S CONTINGENT

Albury trainer Brett Cavanough looks set to dominate the Country Championship heat at Wagga on Saturday with trio of runners “that have been aimed and targeted at this day”.

There would not be a better-placed horse in the country than Just A Bullet on the weekend, with Cavanough having able back-ups in Another Rush and Steakandbearnaise.

Just A Bullet has had five wins and 19 starts to just fall in under the qualification criteria.

His last start was a third in the Rubition Stakes at group 2 level behind Heatherley, one of the popular elects for the Oakleigh Plate, and Politeness, which has admirers in the Futurity.

Those are a long way from a set weights Class 5 at Wagga. “He looks well in with 59kg,” Cavanough said.

“I have always thought he would run a strong seven [furlongs, 1400m]. We were aware of the conditions and like the other two we have set him for this race a long way out.”

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Arms Of An Angel the unknown factor in the Miracle Mile

Proven performer: Beautide doesn’t need an introduction. Photo: NSW Harness Racing ClubWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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The unknown factors going into Sunday’s Miracle Mile outweigh the proven form, setting up an exciting a couple of minutes at Menangle.

The known is that Beautide is a champion and Lennytheshark is the best horse in the country at the highest level  this season.

Have Faith In Me might be potential superstar after his 1.48.8 win in the Chariots Of Fire victory and is ready to match it with his older rivals.

But for trainer Shane Tritton the unknown is his friend. He has Arms Of An Angel, a flying mare with a will to win.

The given is she will lead from the pole, but what is she is actually capable of is the big question.

“No one knows how good she is, not even me,” Tritton said. “She is a fierce competitor and just wants to run and wants to beat every other horse around her.

“She doesn’t know what she is up against on Sunday. She will just go out and do her thing. How quick that will be, who knows?

“What we do know is that she should be a length in front at the top of the straight.”

Arms Of An Angel’s biggest test so far ended in defeat when third in Have Faith In Me’s Chariots Of Fire.

Glorious defeat, if that’s possible, with an excuse but a time to say she is very good.

The four-year-old mare  was expected to lead despite a wide draw but missed the start by at least a dozen metres. The bit became lodged over the noseband, making her hard to steer.

From there, driver Lauren Panella had little control but Arms Of An Angel’s competitive instincts took over and she ran around the 1.49 mark.

“Of course we were disappointed for something like to happen,” Tritton said. “She could have quite easily have dropped out and ran sixth or something like that.

“But she showed what we know that she is a competitor.

“She just wants to beat whatever is around her and because of that, she ran a quick mile after giving away a start.

“I have had a couple of Miracle Mile runners before which we knew were vulnerable at the level. I think she is good enough but she is still learning.

“All she wants to do is race, we have to work her first in the morning because if she sees other horse she want to chase it down.

“In time she will get better and be driven with a sit but now, we let her show her natural speed.”

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Fire crews battle bushfire near Kearsley

Fire crews battle bushfire near Kearsley Blaze: The bushfire, near Kearsley, is in the Werakata National Park. Picture: Max Mason Hubers
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Blaze: The bushfire, near Kearsley, is in the Werakata National Park. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Blaze: The bushfire, near Kearsley, is in the Werakata National Park. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Blaze: The bushfire, near Kearsley, is in the Werakata National Park. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Blaze: The bushfire, near Kearsley, is in the Werakata National Park. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

TweetFacebookAdvice: #NeathRdFire easing conditions & good work by firefighters has seen the threat ease. A lot of work to do tonight by #NSWRFS & #NPWS

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) February 25, 2016Crews gaining the upper hand on Neath Rd Fire at #Kearsley. No property at threat just over 5 ha burnt. #NSWRFSpic.twitter南京夜网/XUQkiWex76

— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) February 25, 2016

EARLIER

FIRE crews are battling threebushfiresin remote country near Kearsley and Abernethy.

Crews from the Rural Fire Service and National Parks and Wildlife Service were called to the Werakata National Park following reports of smoke about 12.30pm on Thursday.

Inspector Glenn Byrnes, from the Lower Hunter RFS, said the fire appeared to be on the old Hebburn No2 coal mine landoff the Elrington fire trail.

They had received multiple calls from Kurri Kurri, Abermain, Weston and Kearsley.

There was no property immediately under threat.

The temperature near the fire ground at 2pm was 38 degrees celsius with light winds.

A second blaze has sparked up near Abernethy.

Two fire crews were also at a small blaze off Cessnock Road at Abermain.

More to come

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Is talcum powder going to give you cancer?

Johnson & Johnson has maintained its talcum powder products are safe to use. Photo: suppliedJohnson & Johnson in $100m talcum powder payout
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Please say it isn’t so. Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder – that soothing white talc probably hundreds of thousands of us have used for decades and on our babies too – causes cancer?

Members of the jury in the case of Alabama woman Jacqueline Fox obviously think so. They ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay Fox’s family $US72 million in actual and punitive damages after she died of ovarian cancer. It was reported that a pathologist found her ovaries were inflamed from talc which then turned into cancer. Aged 62, Fox had used Johnson & Johnson powder products for 35 years, applying them in her genital area. So should you stop using it?

If you are someone who wants to minimise or eliminate all possible risks of cancer from your life, the answer is yes. Because the highest authority available to us – the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer – classifies talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” when it’s used around the perineum – the nether region stretching from the vagina to the anus.

In other words, the international expert working group convened by the IARC to examine the evidence for a link between talcum powder and cancer has concluded that there possibly is one. That’s if we’re talking about the way body powder is most frequently applied, that is, by dusting around the vagina. Most commonly, women start using it around the age of 15, and for an unknown number like Fox it becomes a daily habit of a lifetime.

“On the one hand we can’t dismiss completely that the perineal use of talcum powder increases the risk of ovarian cancer,” said Professor Bernard Stewart, a world authority on environmental cancer risks who advises both the IARC and Cancer Council Australia.

“On the other hand all of the studies are not conclusive. Some studies showed an association and some did not,” he says. And of the ones that showed an association, some showed an adverse one: that the more you used, the lower the risk, and vice versa – “which is not what you would expect”.

So the evidence isn’t strong enough to warrant action by health authorities, such warnings against use or on labels, says Professor Stewart. So back to the question: what is a woman to do?

The professor says it’s “fair enough” to stop using talc: “The evidence is enough to justify anxiety in an individual woman, and if an individual woman wants to stop using talc in this way I have absolutely no criticism of that”.

But he also advises the evidence isn’t strong enough to justify any of us losing sleep over somehow putting ourselves at risk in the past. And he says a jury determination in a court case is “the last place one goes for objective medico-scientific assessment”.

While it is “understandable at a human level” that a jury might be outraged by the notion that someone might get cancer by the seemingly innocuous use of talcum powder, it “provides no scientific insight”. “Decades of science” back the safety of talc

Johnson & Johnson disputes the IARC’s conclusion. It said in a statement: “The recent US verdict goes against decades of sound science proving the safety of talc as a cosmetic ingredient in multiple products, and while we sympathise with the family of the plaintiff, we strongly disagree with the outcome.”

A Sydney-based spokesperson for the American multinational told Fairfax Media: “Johnson & Johnson relies on the greater body of evidence, and the greater body of evidence suggests there is really insufficient science to make that link.

“Do we believe that the product continues to be safe? Very much so.”

The NSW Cancer Council says on its website: “Further research is needed to determine whether and how talcum powder might increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”

(There’s a separate kind of naturally-occurring mineral talc that contains asbestos and definitely causes cancer. Asbestos may have been present in some body talcs before the mid 1970s, but the industry decided after a flurry of adverse publicity back then to market talc with no asbestos, the IARC said).

The IARC considered 20 studies to evaluate the risk of ovarian cancer from using body powder. It focused on eight studies it deemed “more informative” because they were population-based (that is, not focused on particular groups of people), of reasonable size, with acceptable participation rates and allowed control for unidentified factors which might confound the results.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Hunter woman victim of fraud and larceny slams judge’s verdict

COURT: Victim of crime Lisa Marks said she feels violated after a woman stole her wallet and used her bank cards to clock up several charges. A Hunter businesswoman has been left devastated after the woman who stole her identity and thousands of dollars from her bank account was allowed to walk free.
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Small business owner Lisa Marks had her wallet stolen by a phony customer at her New Lambton clothing store Parker and Barrow.

Within an hour the offender had used her cards to make several charges using the paywave function at shops and cafes.

“It just gave me a sick feeling knowing someone was walking around using my cards,” Mrs Marks said.

“I contacted police and the bank straight away and cancelled my cards and I thought that was the end of it.”

But matters got worse when the offender used Mrs Mark’s driver’s licence to withdraw more than $5000 from her bank account.

Many of the stores and banks used by the offender had recorded CCTV footage of the woman, 30-year-old Ebonee Cupples, which was handed over to police.

On February 18 police picked up Cupples at East Maitland Bowling Club as she sat playing the pokies.

According to a police report tendered to the court, a search of Cupples vehicle found two bank cards belonging to Mrs Marks and two bags of the illicit drug ice in her handbag.

“When I found out she had been arrested I felt a bit of relief,” Mrs Marks said.

“I thought I could finally move on and not worry about where she was and what she was doing.”

Cupples appeared at Maitland Local Court on Friday February 19 on charges of larceny, fraud and possession of a prohibited drug.

She pleaded guilty to all charges and Magistrate Andrew Eckhold handed down a 12-month suspended sentence, which meant she got to walk out of the courtroom that day.

“What a weak sentence,” Mrs Marks said.

“To know that she got to walk out of that courtroom is just disgusting.

“They never recovered my licence, what’s to stop her from passing that on to someone else?

“Who knows what debt is going to pop up in the future under my name because of this.”

According to police facts Cupples was extremely well known to police and her criminal history dictated that she had been committing offences of this kind for many years.

“I am so disillusioned with the justice system,” Mrs Marks said.

“There is no incentive for hard working citizens to go to police and report crime if they just get to walk out of court with no repercussions for their actions.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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