Archive for February, 2019

Declan quick to double up

13/02/2019

THE Irish eyes of talented jockey Declan McDonogh were smiling on Saturday when he landed a double on his first-ever visit to Newcastle Racecourse.
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The 37-year-old Irishman had four mounts on Saturday and he was first past the post on Puppet Master in the 900-metre Three-Year-Old Maiden Plate and California Turbo in the 1400m Maiden Handicap.

WINNER: Jockey Adam Hyeronimus (centre) rides Magic Choir to victory in race three at Rosehill Gardens. Picture: AAP

His other two mounts were unplaced.

The brilliant Pupper Master, the hot $1.60 favourite, wasn’t far outside the 900m track record when he treated racegoers to a display of sheer speed. With McDonogh sporting the colours of 2017 Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign, Puppet Master quickly put a gap on his rivals, and he straightened up with a big lead and full of running.

Puppet Master won by one-and-three-quarterslengths in 51.34, or 0.17 outside Rebel Miss’s track record.

The colt sped over the last 600m in a breathtaking 32.07.

He is trained for a large syndicate of owners by She Will Reign’s Warwick Farm trainer, Gary Portelli.

Purchased at a “ready to run” sale in Melbourne, the three-year-old has had five starts, for a win and three placings. McDonogh had a smile from ear to ear when greeted by connections on dismounting.

“Wow, he is quick,” he said. “Very fast.

“I wasn’t going to give up the rails but I had no worries there. He left them standing.”

McDonogh’s other winner California Turbo is from the power Snowden stable and he was very impressive.

The three-year-old was on debut after a recent Randwick barrier trial win and he settled at the tail of the field.

The leader, Starvino, kicked away inthe home straight and looked to have the race won. But California Turbo unwound a powerful sprint to gather in Starvino and race away to win by a widening 1.8 lengths.

“The trainer told me to have the horse where he is comfortable in the small field,” O’Donoghsaid.

“They got along up front, so I rode him patient and he attacked the line.”

McDonogh started his riding career at 17 and he has since ridden 960 winners.

“Unfortunately my visa only allows me to stay until the end of January,” he said.

“I love it here in Australia and the tracks are so much better than at home.”

Champion trainer Chris Waller produced a highly promising filly in the 1200mMaiden Plate.

Seahampton, a three-year-old daughter of Golden Slipper winner Sebring, is not only a magnificent looking individual but is also richly talented.

After firming from $4 to $2.80 in her second race start, Seahampton settled near the tail and was held up near the top of the straight.

Jockey Grant Buckley managed to find a gap and Seahampton stormed home to win by two-and-a-half lengths.

The Kris Less-trained Heat Haze was the only Newcastle-trained galloper to win at the meeting.

Meanwhile, AAP reports: Todd Howlett will target another Highway Handicap with Magic Choir after he made a successful metropolitan debut in the concept for country horses at Rosehill.

The four-year-old ($18) notched the third win of his six-race career after finishing strongly to beat Gitan ($7) by half a length on Saturday, with Forever Newyork ($18) a neck away third.

After recording his third Highway Handicap victory, Howlett said Magic Choir could expect to make another road trip from Muswellbrook over summer.

“We picked this out early in his prep and we’ll come back for another Highway,” he said.

“He’s racing well. He’s doing a nice job.”

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LeBron schools rookie Ben

13/02/2019

LeBron James had his 58th NBA triple-double and the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers 105-98.
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Despite shooting just 39.1 per cent from the field, James had 30 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Cavaliers bounce back from a loss in Indiana that ended their 13-game winning streak.

Former Newcastle Hunters junior Simmons –who ended the game with 14 points, six rebounds and 10 assists –scored with a breakaway dunk to give Philadelphia a 96-91 lead, but the Cavaliers ended the game on a 14-2 run.

James converted a three-point play and Kyle Korver hit a three-pointer, giving Cleveland the lead.

Dwyane Wade added two baskets and Jae Crowder’s three-pointer put the Cavaliers ahead 104-98.

CLASH OF THE TITANS: Cleveland superstar LeBron James and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons during Sunday’s showdown. Picture: AAP

James had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in the fourth quarter in his third triple-double of the season.

Covington and J.J. Redick scored 19 points each for Philadelphia.

Both starting centres missed the game.

Joel Embiid sat out for Philadelphia because he hasn’t been cleared to play on back-to-back nights and Kevin Love didn’t play because of a sore left hip.

Elsewhere, Jordan Clarkson scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away late to defeat the fatigued and short-handed Charlotte Hornets 110-99 on Saturday night.

Lou Williams hit a go-ahead three-pointer with a little over a second remaining in the game to give the Los Angeles Clippers a 113-112 victory over the Washington Wizards.

After Williams’s basket, to take his tally to 35 points, there was a video review of Bradley Beal’s potential winning baseline jumper.

The referees decided to replay the last 1.1secs but Marcin Gortat’s jumper bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson each scored 20 points and Miami beat the Brooklyn Nets 101-89 in the Heat’s first game in Mexico in franchise history – played in front of 19,777 fans at raucous Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 26 points on nine-for-nine shooting and the Atlanta Hawks overcame Nikola Vucevic’s triple-double to beat the Orlando Magic 117-110.

Vucevic had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, and Jonathan Simmons added a career-high 29 points for the Magic.

Kris Dunn made two free throws with 2.9 secs left to give the Chicago Bulls a 104-102 victory over the New York Knicks.

Kristaps Porzingis, who had 23 points for the Knicks, missed a three-pointer at the buzzer for victory.

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Yet another generation of Gandhis in Indian politics

13/02/2019

When Rahul Gandhi, 47, was appointed vice-president of India’s Congress Party four years ago – under his mother, Sonia Gandhi – he told reporters that “power is poison”.
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For a politician, it was a strange remark.

From Monday, Gandhi will be taking big draughts of that poison when he takes over from his mother as president of the party that was once an unbeatable election juggernaut in India.

It will be the start of one of the biggest political challenges in recent history for one of India’s most perplexing politicians.

Gandhi was a na??f who reluctantly entered politics 13 years ago on his mother’s wishes. He has taken many years to get to grips with his role. At crucial moments, when his leadership was needed, he was out of the country on some jaunt.

Over the years, he has battledwidespread mockery over his bumbling amateurishness and lack of political nous, earning him the derogatory moniker “Puppu”, a nickname for a small boy.

On occasions when he has tried to be aggressive, it has brought to mind British politician Denis Healey’s famous remark that being attacked by his rival, Geoffrey Howe, was like “being savaged by a dead sheep”.

On Monday, however, Gandhi takes over the reins as the latest member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to lead the 132-year-old Congress Party, which has been in opposition since 2014 when Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.

Gandhi’s election, uncontested, as president is a formality because he has been the de facto leader for the past four years as his mother gradually withdrew, letting him take charge.

His anointment has been praised by veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who said: “Rahul Gandhi will be successful and his leadership will bring the Congress back to power.”

But whether Gandhi has it in him to lead the Congress Party to victory in an election is an open question. Almost everything is stacked against him. The party organisation is feeble: in her 19 years as president, Mrs Gandhi let it become moribund in virtually every state. Rahul Gandhi has spoken of the urgent need to rebuild it but has done little.

The party simply does not have grassroots workers and leaders who can canvass support, campaign for candidates, and get the votes in.

Gandhi’s other disadvantage is that the notion of dynasty no longer holds sway over the Indian public as it once did – his father, Rajiv Gandhi, his grand-mother, Indira Gandhi, and his great grandfather, Jawarharlal Nehru were all prime ministers.

The glamour and charisma attached to the name made the Gandhis India’s answer to the Kennedys. But young Indians tend to be less deferential now and more inclined to have a modern outlook. Dynastic inheritance of a political party sits uncomfortably with this outlook.

“The India of 2017, with its large pool of young voters deciding electoral outcomes, is increasingly questioning the politics of entitlement,” wrote political commentator Neerja Chowdhury in the Indian Express on November 22.

Gandhi’s other difficulty is that he has to take on one of the strongest prime ministers India has seen. Modi enjoys a rarely seen dominance over the political landscape. He has made his contempt for the young, still wet-behind-the-ears Gandhi obvious.

However, in the past few months Gandhi has lifted his game. Some of his barbs – including a series of sarcastic and catchy slogans – have landed. He has got under the skin of some of Modi’s ministers who normally treat him like the village idiot.

Moreover, he has led an unusually aggressive campaign in the past few weeks in the lion’s den – Modi’s home state of Gujarat where polling is to take place in phases up to 14 December. Political commentators were surprised at the energy and spirit which Gandhi brought to the task.

“He has shown at least that he can put up a decent fight, that he is not daunted by taking on Modi in a state where the Congress is extremely weak,” said Seema Mustafa, editor of the online newspaper, The Citizen.

But the scale of the task ahead of him is daunting. In the 2014 election, the party under his de facto leadership suffered its worst ever outcome: just 44 seats in Parliament. This was followed by a string of defeats in other state elections. The Congress Party, which has dominated the life of the nation since the days when it led the movement for independence, now rules in just six of India’s 29 states.

For the Congress, being so diminished is an existential crisis. Gandhi needs a vision and, so far, no vision has emerged.

He attacks Modi but fails to offer an alternative, nor even to offer solutions to questions of how he will create jobs or reduce poverty. Capitalising on Modi’s mistakes is useful (and Gandhi has succeeded in tapping into rising unrest over the lack of jobs and the economic slowdown) but this can only take him so far.

If he manages to narrow the gap between his party and the BJP in Gujarat (no one gives him any chance of winning), it will be a big feather in his cap.

But more than that, he needs to come up with fresh ideas that can inspire his party and the electorate. In the 13 years since he joined politics and stood for election as an MP, Gandhi has failed to make his mark.

He cannot afford to take another 13.

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

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Foreign boats set to fish in Australian waters, expert claims

13/02/2019

FV Margiris giant fishing trawler that will operate in Tasmanian waters1939803.jpg South Australian Senator Anne Ruston poses for a photo in a florist store in Adelaide, Friday 25 September 2015. AFR news Picture By David Mariuz
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The federal government is stripping marine protections from remote waters off the Australian coast because it plans to change the law to allow foreign fishing boats with low-paid crews to fish there, a leading fisheries expert claims.

The suggestion, backed by conservationists, has been rejected by the government as “unsubstantiated scaremongering”.

However the Australian Fisheries Management Authority says some waters are being under-fished and they are in talks with several operators about allowing foreign boats to operate in Australia’s fishing zone under existing laws.

The Turnbull government has proposed changes to the 3.3 million square kilometres of Australia’s protected offshore regions, allowing commercial fishing in a host of sensitive marine areas.

Dr Quentin Hanich, head of fisheries governance research at the University of Wollongong’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, said many of the proposed changes were in distant waters far from port and “it had never been profitable for the fishers to go there”.

“But if you allow cheap distant-water vessels to come in … those vessels won’t come into port. That combined with subsidised fuel, a $1000 annual wage and a whole bunch of problems with the way they treat their crews means they have incredibly low costs and can fish those remote areas,” he said.

“Not only does that undermine the protection of those conservation values, it will return incredibly little benefit to Australia.”

Dr Hanich, who advises international organisations and governments on fisheries governance and marine conservation, said such a scenario would require law changes allowing cheap foreign boats.

He believed the government’s proposed weakening of protected marine areas was based on “hypothetical future changes in Australian regulations on foreign vessels [that] may enable industry to reduce business costs and fish in these previously economically marginal zones”.

Dr Hanich questioned the economic need to relax marine protections, saying official estimates showed that under current laws, it would result in a mere $4 million gain to the Australian fishing industry.

There are no foreign boats operating in the Australian fishing zone. Foreign boats can be deemed Australian, and allowed to fish in Australian waters, when there are no domestic boats of that type available – such as large distant-water boats that can deep-freeze fish and stay at sea for long periods. Such boats must operate under Australian standards.

AFMA confirmed it has been in “discussions with a number of operators this year about deeming boats to be Australian across several fisheries”.

At a Senate estimates hearing in October, AFMA chief executive James Findlay said there was “significant underfishing … going on in a number of quota-managed fisheries.”

“We’re only taking about half of the quota that we’ve scientifically demonstrated is sustainable. Understandably, quota holders are looking to explore opportunities to harvest that quota … they’re looking at opportunities on the global market to bring in cheap capacity,” he said.

Mr Findlay said the moves were not linked to the wind-back of marine protections.

However Pew Charitable Trusts oceans director Michelle Grady insisted the “ambition of the tuna industry to see very deep water remote areas fished” was driving the marine park changes.

This could lead to increased bycatch of threatened species, depleted fish stocks and the loss of large conservation areas, she said.

Water Resources Minister Anne Ruston said such claims had “no substance”.

“Of course it is not the intention, nor has it ever been the intention, of the government to allow foreign fishing vessels to fish in Australian waters as a result of changes to marine park zoning,” she said.

Tuna Australia chief executive David Ellis described as “absurd” the claim that the Australian fishing industry required foreign vessels to access fishing areas, and said Australia was “recognised worldwide as a leader in sustainable fishery management”.

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin said cheap foreign labour “results in a race to the bottom rather than decent wages for all”, and unions would fight any such move in the fishing industry.

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

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AGL Liddell closure a game-changer requiring NSW Government action: green groups

13/02/2019

AGL Liddell closure a game-changer requiring NSW Government action: green groups Announce: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and campaigning former MP John Alexander during questions over the AGL decision on Saturday.
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Ageing: Liddell power station near Muswellbrook.

Calls: Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski said the AGL decision was a good start.

Future: Liddell power station outside Muswellbrook which will close in 2022.

Calls: There are calls for NSW to shift to 100 per cent renewable power by 2030.

TweetFacebookAGL’s decision to close Liddell power station at Muswellbrook should be backed by a NSW Government commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, said one of the state’s peak environmental groups.

AGL’s commitment to close Liddell by 2022, despite intense political pressure from the Turnbull Government was a game-changer that requires a NSW Government response, and further commitments from AGL to shift from coal by 2030, said Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski.

The AGL decision in the face of political pressure shows that clean energy is now the cheapest way for Australia to generate power, said Ms Smolski said.

“It’s time to get on with building wind and solar farms to bring down bills and create jobs in regional NSW.

“The important thing now is for a plan for the Hunter Valley to ensure that no worker or community is left behind in the transition to clean energy.”

AGL on Saturday said an independent analysis had found keeping the nearly 50-year-old Liddell power station open for five yearspast the planned 2022 closing date would cost almost $1 billion.

It found splitting the plant from surrounding infrastructure and trying to sell it was also not feasible.

The company said it planned to generate 1600 megawatts from renewables, 500 MW from a new gas power plant, 250 MW from a gas plant for Newcastle and another 250 MW from a battery on the Liddell site.

AGL is also exploring a pumped hydro project in the Hunter region of NSW.

The company said it did not believe its plan would adversely affect power prices. Its analysis showed it could produce power at $83 a megawatt-hour compared with $106 if Liddell was refurbished to extend its life.

The plan would also reduce the company’s carbon footprint by more than 17 per cent, in line with its commitment to reduce emissions and help meet the Paris agreement targets.

“This plan demonstrates that old power plants can be replaced with a mix of new, cleaner technology while improving reliability and affordability,” AGL chair Graeme Hunter said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government would seek expert advice on AGL’s plan, after imploring the company in September to keep the station open. AGL responded with a publicity campaign to demonstrate that Liddell failed to produce the dispatchable –readily available –energy required during peak periods in summer and winter, after a Liddell failure in February last year forced Tomago Aluminium to shut down operations for crucial hours.

Grattan Institute energy expert Tony Wood said the AGL decision fitted the recommendations of the Energy Security Board and Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s energy review. Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott also praised the proposal as innovative, secure and environmentally sound.

Ms Smolski said despite the Liddell decision AGL remained Australia’s biggest climate polluter.

“Committing to replace Liddell with mostly clean energy is an important start yet the company urgently needs a plan to transition out of coal entirely by 2030,” she said.

The Nature Conservation Council has calledon the Berejiklian government to setenforceable targets to source 100 per centof the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

The government also needed to develop a plan for aquick and orderly phase-out of coal-fired power stations that is fair to power-station workers and createincentives for the development of storage technologies, including batteries and pumped hydro, Ms Smolski said.

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