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  1. Line call: final decision looms on corridor rezoning

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    The rezoning of the former heavy rail corridor goes before Newcastle council for a final decision on Tuesday night. Picture: Simone De Peak NEWCASTLE COUNCIL will deliver afinal verdict on the state government’s plan to rezone the former heavy rail corridor on Tuesday, at its last meeting before the Christmas recess.
    Nanjing Night Net

    If the council gives the rezoning the tick, it will clear the path for residential and commercial development, open space and tourism uses along a stretch of the corridor between Worth Place and Watt Street.

    Council’s interim chief executiveJeremy Bathhailed Tuesday’sdecision a“turning point” for the city.

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    Newcastle council votes to back rezoning of heavy rail corridorNewcastle city councillors vote to retain corridor’s public transport zoningRezoning of rail corridor shelved by Newcastle councilRezone plan for rail corridor open for public comment“It ends what has been a very divisive debate in the community,” he said.“Developers and ratepayers need to know that there is planning certainty and that is what will come out of Tuesday’s decision, whichever way it goes.”

    Newcastle council gave a tentative green light to the rezoning last year, before it received gateway approval from the state government.

    Howeveritssmooth passage through City Hall is likely tobe tested by the results of community consultation –carried out in September and October –which indicatespublic opinion remains sharply divided over the fate of the land.

    According to a staffreport to betabled at the meeting,394 submissions and 137 form letters objected to the rezoning, while226 submissions and46 form letterswere in favour ofit.

    A further 44 submissions did not clearly state a position.

    But the results of a telephone survey commissioned by the council in November have been obtained by theNewcastle Herald,showing starkly different results.

    The survey of 955 residents, by ReachTEL, saw 57.5 per cent of people support mixed-use development, university or recreational uses of the old corridor, while 34.7 per cent supported maintaining it for rail.

    The survey indicated people aged 18 to 34 were most likely to support the redevelopment of the corridor.

    People aged 51 to 65 were most likely to oppose it, while men tended to feel more strongly about the issue generally than women.

    Several councillors were laying low over the weekend. Independent Kath Elliott said she was still formulating a view on the rezoning.

    Deputy Mayor Declan Clausen (Labor) said it was up to councillors to make individual decisions, but he was pleased about additional benefits the council had been able to negotiate with the state government.

    The telephone survey results, supplied by Newcastle City Council.

    These included “hard commitments on affordable housing, appropriate public green space and a detailed transport masterplan.”

    Activists mobilised, calling on the councillors to hold fire on the rezoning.

    “Before any rezoning occurs, we need to be sure that we have the capacity to cater for the future transport needs of the city,” said Ron Brown, a transport engineer and spokesperson for Keep Rail on the Corridor (KROC).

    Resident Barbara Ferris alleged 137 handwritten objections had been “misrepresented”as form letters and not counted amongsubmissions. She labelled it“appalling” aduplicated submission supporting the rezoning– which she deemed to be a form letter –was published 80 times.

    Of the 394 objecting submissions, 248 supported leaving the current zoning in place so that rail could be reinstated in the future.

    Many of the objections opposedthe light rail route, arguing it should follow the existing corridor rather than Hunter Street.42 objections suggested leaving the entire corridor as open space.

    Other concerns hinged on parking, traffic congestion, the over-development of the city, creating a visible barrier to the harbour and the overshadowing of Hunter Street.

    The telephone survey results, supplied by Newcastle City Council.

    Staff emphasized many of thoseconcerns were not within council’s control.

    “They relate to decisions that have previously been made by the NSW Government in relation to terminating of the heavy rail and the light rail currently being constructed,” the report said.

    A letter written by Transport Minister Andrew Constancehasbeen circulated among councillors, in which he reiteratesthe land is no longer required for transport.

    Supporting submissions argued the rezoning would“dramatically” improveconnectivity, reuniting the city withthe working harbour.

    Other benefits were bringingpeople back to the CBD, improvingtourism and supportingthe creation of jobs, education, housing and a high quality public domain.

    There was “excitement” about the development of the university precinct and Market Street lawn.

    “Council received positive comments on the changes happening to the city, since the closure of the heavy rail in 2014,” the report said.

  2. Chapple begins new gig perfectly

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    Mitch Chapple. Picture: HRNSWMITCH Chapple is still months away from returning to driving from a broken wrist, but the Louth Park 20-year-old is happy to focus on his new training career.
    Nanjing Night Net

    And for good reason.In his first two weeks as a trainer, Chapple has had three starters for three winners, including a double at Newcastle on Saturday night.

    Burning Ambition and Derringer won, with Michael Formosa and Leigh Sutton driving respectively, to maintain Chapple’s perfect record.Burning Ambition, which has been trained by Chapple’s father, Guy, gave Mitch his first winner six days earlier at Maitland.

    He made a promising start to his driving career but he has been out since a fall at home “shattered” his wrist, which required surgery.

    “I broke my wrist about a month ago, so I thought I’d focus on the training until it heals up,” Chapple said.“Then I might have a drive every now and again, but I’m quite happy to focus on the training side of it.

    “I’ve always wanted to do it.Dad’s been pretty successful as a trainer so I thought I’d give it a crack, and hopefully I’m as good as him.”

    Chapple said Burning Ambition will head to Menangle next Saturday night, while Derringer willrace in heats of the Inter City Pace at Maitland on December 23.

    Formosa completed a winning double when driving home the Ray Harkness-trained Eyes On Beers in the last.

    Maitland reinsman Dan Morgan started the meeting with a double aboard La Patata and Dreaming Big.

  3. Sixers win Sydney derby honours as women showcase power hitting

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    The Sydney Sixers cruised to a second win of the weekend on Sunday, stamping themselves as the team to beat again this summer with a six-wicket win over crosstown rivals the Thunder.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Following up Saturday’s crushing win over the Melbourne Stars, the reigning WBBL champions restricted the Thunder to 6-142 before chasing down the total in the 19th over before 4812 fans at North Sydney Oval.

    Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy set the tone early after missing out on Saturday, blasting four boundaries off Stafanie Taylor’s opening over and setting the Sixers well on their way.

    By the time she holed out for 49 on the straight boundary, the result was just about in the bag.

    Saturday’s centurion Ashleigh Gardner took over from Healy, not quite as lethally as when she destroyed the Stars attack the day before, but effectively enough all the same.

    She finished on 47 from 35 balls, paving the way for Sara McGlashan to hit the winning runs.

    It capped a sparkling opening weekend of WBBL that produced a staggering 2023 runs across the opening six matches, and included two centurions in Gardner and Adelaide Striker Suzie Bates.

    “Everyone’s just backing themselves a little bit more now,” Healy said.

    “Girls are clearing the boundary with ease and just batting really freely, which is really exciting. There was a lot of wickets as well, so there was actually some really good bowling.

    “Most of the girls playing in this Big Bash are professional cricketers now. They can spend the time that they probably didn’t have previously working in the gym, working on their fitness or working on their batting or their bowling.”

    All-rounder Ellyse Perry registered a rare failure with the bat, run out by Alex Blackwell at mid-on for 12 after unsuccessfully taking on the Thunder captain’s deadly accurate arm.

    Perry still contributed though, taking 2-15 off her opening overs a day after hitting a six that thudded into an unsuspecting fan’s face. The boy was taken to hospital on Saturday but discharged later that night, and Perry spoke with him on the phone on Sunday morning.

    Just which WBBL team is capable of stopping this Sixers juggernaut remains to be seen.

    Granted it’s very early in the season, but this side is even more powerful than the one that beat Perth in last summer’s final.

    Outside of the Australian trio of Healy, Gardner and Perry, they are also served by South African pair Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne, and New Zealand veteran McGlashan.

    Last year’s leading wicket-taker and Australian representative Sarah Aley is back for another season. So strong is the Sixers’ line up, Irish star Kim Garth, an injury replacement for Lauren Cheatle, is running the drinks.

    The Thunder will likely bounce back. They are stacked with batting power themselves, but only Alex Blackwell (58) caused any serious damage on this occasion.

    “Not enough runs,” Blackwell said after her side’s loss.

    “I thought Perry and Aley bowled really well in the middle there, [they are] outstanding players who I enjoy captaining when I get the chance for [the NSW] Breakers. No surprises that they’re key players in this Sixers line-up.”

    Meanwhile, English import Nat Sciver helped steer the Perth Scorchers to a season-opening win over the Brisbane Heat.

    Sciver blasted three sixes in her knock of 84 off 46 balls to help Perth post a lofty 6-188. The Heat fell 18 runs short in reply, despite an unbeaten 87 by Australian all-rounder Delissa Kimmince.

    “Really pleased to probably score as many runs as I did in the first two seasons in the one game,” Sciver said.

    “The longer you bat on it, the easier it becomes. I managed to capitalise on a few bad balls and create a few boundary balls. I managed to get a few out of the middle and lucky when you get it through the in-field here it races away.”

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

  4. Lakes swoop to sign Edwards

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    Former NRL forward Joel Edwards is confident Lakes United have the roster and the coach to become a premiership force next season after confirming he will play with the Seagulls in 2018.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Edwards knocked back offers from Maitland and Kurri to link with Lakes on a one year deal that includes employment in the mining industry. It will alsosee him re-unite with his former coach Todd Edwards.

    “Obviously, the package Lakes offered played a part but I’m also looking forward to playing under Todd again,”Edwards said.

    “”I played under him in the junior Knights and at Cessnock the year Wyong beat us in the grandfinal so he knowswhat it’s allabout.

    “He is putting together a pretty strong roster with some young guys there I’m looking forward to playing alongside so I’m looking forward to next season.”

    Edwards, who featuredin 107 NRL games for the Knights, Canberra and Wests Tigers in the past eight years, sayshe still hasn’t completely given up hope of playing at NRL or English Super League level.

    “I’ve got some things in the contract that if something did come up, they would let me go but it’s probably unlikely,”he said.

    Edwards will spearhead a Seagulls pack that will also include former Wests Tigers Under 20’shooker Daniel Peck.

    Peck will have big shoes to fill in 2018 with the youngster set to replace departed skipper Chris Adams.

  5. Under-siege England may be split by factions, says Pietersen

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    England are imploding after the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents but Kevin Pietersen has climbed into the tourists for other failings, accusing Alastair Cook of looking uninterested, batsmen of making out that the Australian attack “is the scariest bowling they’ve ever faced” and suggesting there may be a factional split in Joe Root’s touring party.
    Nanjing Night Net

    At 2-0 down in the Ashes series and with England Lions squad member Ben Duckett having caused a new wave of controversy by throwing a beer over the head of James Anderson in a Perth bar, England are in proper eat-their-own mode.

    Pietersen is at the front of the queue. He says the surprise decision by captain Root to bowl first after winning the toss in Adelaide may not have had the support of all his players.

    “I have heard there are rumours that a couple of people didn’t want to bowl first in Adelaide. If a couple of people didn’t want to bowl and Root’s made that decision and they’ve lost, yeah there are certain factions that can happen in dressing rooms when that happens,” said Pietersen, who on the weekend labelled the Duckett episode a “f****** embarrassment” on Twitter.

    “We’ll just have to wait and see. I think Perth is going to be a fascinating Test match – to see if the wheels are going to come off or not.” What the hell is happening in English Cricket?!?! Strauss????? It’s becoming a f*****g embarrassment! KP (@KP24) December 9, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  6. Why batting records are tumbling in the WBBL

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    Cricket superstar Meg Lanning says conditions, tactics and the professionalisation of women’s cricket are leading to record breaking scores on the opening weekend of the WBBL.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The Sydney Sixers, who scored 242, set a record on Saturday for the highest score in a BBL or WBBL match.

    The Sydney Thunder also set a previously unmatched WBBL team total of 200 on Saturday, while the Melbourne Renegades (189) and the Perth Scorchers (188) – who were missing Lanning through injury – posted the fourth and fifth highest WBBL totals respectively.

    The Adelaide Strikers’ 183 against the Hobart Hurricanes in South Australia on Saturday was the sixth highest score in the competition’s history. Their 176 against the same team on Sunday was the seventh highest score.

    The Sixers’ total included the highest and quickest ever WBBL century, a brutal 114 off 52 balls smashed by Ashleigh Gardner. Susie Bates made 102 off 65 balls for the Hurricanes on Sunday.

    Before Bates and Gardner smashed centuries on consecutive days only two centuries had been made in two whole seasons of the WBBL.

    The previous highest team score of the competition was Brisbane Heat’s 190 in 2015.

    Lanning, who said she was frustrated having to watch others make runs on the pristine North Sydney Oval deck, believed the trend toward high scores would continue through the season.

    “We have got a great ground to play at, the wicket has been really good,” Lanning said. “I think the other thing is more batters are able to utilise only having four fielders out, so I think in the first couple of WBBLs you could have your cover fielder up a lot more and you’d probably get away with it.

    “Now a lot of players can hit both sides of the wicket and once play gets going I think it’s pretty impossible to stop so hopefully the scores continue throughout the WBBL and it’ll be an exciting tournament that’s for sure.”

    The ropes at North Sydney Oval were only very slightly in from the men’s rope outline which was still visible. The outfield was quick too, however given how hard many of the batters were striking the ball it would be hard to argue that it was too much of an aid.

    With Australian contracted players being paid more, NSW contracted players taking home full-time wages and players who play WBBL and domestic one-day cricket getting close to, if not, a full-time wage, Lanning said Cricket Australia’s investment in the women’s game was reaping rewards.

    “No doubt, I think that [the professionalisation of women’s cricket] makes a massive difference,” she said. “Not only training more for skills but you’ve also got your strength and your fitness ability as well that’s able to go along with that so we’ve had a good week and a half together as a team which helps so I think we will only see that continue to grow.

    “It’s a combination of all those things and I think teams are going harder early, we’re not waiting for the last five overs to start taking on the bowlers so obviously that gives you a better chance to get a higher score so look, 242 last night, that’s just a bit ridiculous really, but it was a great spectacle to watch.”

    Sixers and Australia star Ellyse Perry, who smashed 91 off 49 deliveries against the Melbourne Stars on Saturday, agreed with Lanning.

    “We are another year into the development of women’s cricket,” Perry said. “Most of the women have been full-time elite cricketers for the past 12 months so that’s always going to lead to development.

    “The girls are fitter, they’re stronger and have more time to work on their technique and get to know their game so it’s probably not surprising.”

    Meanwhile, the boy in the crowd who was hit in the head by a Perry six during her stunning innings is OK. Perry rushed off the pitch after hitting the ball to check if the boy was well.

    He did not spend the night in hospital and is at home under the supervision of his parents. Perry phoned the boy on Sunday morning to check in after she gave him her hat during the innings break on Saturday.

    Other big, quick-fire scores from the weekend’s games included Natalie Sciver (84 runs off 46 balls), Delissa Kimmince (87 off 54), Jess Duffin (81 off 47) and Nicola Carey (47 off 17).

    The match at North Sydney Oval attracted 3914 fans for Saturday’s WBBL double-header. 4812 turned up for Sunday’s double-header at the same venue. A lot of those fans were families, with many young children in attendance across the weekend.

    The Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars match on the Saturday was the most watched regular-season WBBL match in the competition’s history, attracting an average national audience of 422,500 viewers with a peak of 629,000, a 59 per cent increase on last season’s WBBL average ratings.

    The other match televised on Saturday, Sydney Thunder vs the Melbourne Renegades, attracted an average national audience of 278,500 peaking at 426,000.

    The first day average audience of 350,000 was a 46 per cent increase on last season.

    Sixers wicketkeeper-opening batter Alyssa Healy lauded the success of the opening WBBL weekend.

    “It’s amazing to see just how far this competition has come and what it’s done for cricket in general and women’s cricket more specifically,” she said. “I think it’s been exciting to be a part of and hopefully it just keeps growing the game and we see more people coming.”

    Lanning also revealed she was aiming to return to cricket in early 2018, after the WBBL finishes on February 4.

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

  7. Lehmann keeps straight face as England become laughing stock

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    Australia coach Darren Lehmann is not taking any pleasure from England’s self-destruction as the visitors’ Ashes defence plummeted into further disarray after another alcohol-related episode.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The Australian team arrived in Perth on Sunday with the English camp in damage control over the behaviour of a player not even in their main touring party.

    Batsman Ben Duckett became the latest English player to find himself in hot water, after tipping a beer over James Anderson’s head at a Perth bar last Thursday night.

    The latest drama happened after England team management lifted a midnight curfew that had been imposed following the Brisbane Test.

    That the incident took place at The Avenue, the same establishment where Jonny Bairstow greeted Cameron Bancroft with a headbutt at the start of the tour, has only added to England’s already considerable embarrassment.

    There are already comparisons being made to England’s shambolic tour of 2013/14 despite this series still being alive, albeit with Australia up 2-0.

    But with England lurching from crisis to crisis they face a mammoth task to turn the tables on a red-hot Australian team.

    England coach Trevor Bayliss must now be wishing the curfew had remained as his players clearly cannot be trusted to behave responsibly.

    What started as a quiz night for England will end with several players having to answer stern questions from team management.

    There are reports suggesting Bayliss is set to axe several players in a bid to regain control over a squad that has lurched from one off-field drama to another in recent months.

    Nathan Lyon’s pre-series barb about Ashes failures bringing the end of careers now seems extremely prescient despite the furore it created among former players.

    This drama came after the midnight curfew was lifted to allow players to socialise outside of the team hotel. England’s senior squad had reportedly held a quiz night at their hotel before several players joined a group of Lions team members at The Avenue.

    According to reports, the team’s security officers who had accompanied the players had been told to report any poor behaviour to team management.

    Duckett’s conduct, along with Bairstow’s, may have been overlooked at any other time but the side is battling an image problem with alcohol after Ben Stokes’ wild brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

    Australia coach Darren Lehmann said he was not laughing at England’s predicament. Lehmann’s reign started amid the fallout of David Warner’s punch on Joe Root in the weeks leading into the 2013 Ashes.

    “I’ve been through all that, so no, I don’t have a chuckle at that,” Lehmann said in Perth on Sunday.

    “You have those situations at various stages throughout your career. It’s not funny.

    “It’s a case of actually making sure you’re trying the best you can to get your side prepared.

    “For me, I don’t have a chuckle at any of that.”

    Bayliss hinted that players would pay by being dumped.

    “I’m spending too much of my time in front of the cameras trying to explain behaviour the boys have been warned about,” Bayliss said.

    “I’m not sure what more I can say but I’m sure there will be some stern words.

    “We might have to review who’s in the team because we can’t keep on making the same mistakes. Most of the guys are fine but somewhere along the line some guys have got to pull their head in.

    “To be honest it’s fairly trivial but in the current climate it’s just not acceptable. Everybody has been warned about how small things can be blown out of all proportion. It’s just not right that this has happened again.”

    Former England players reacted savagely to England’s latest off-field indiscretion.

    “What the hell is happening in English Cricket?!?!” Kevin Pietersen said on Twitter. “Strauss????? It’s becoming a f*****g embarrassment!”

    Former England captain Michael Vaughan described the players’ decision to return to the same bar where Bairstow had been accused of headbutting Bancroft as “bloody stupid” while Chris Tremlett, who played on the team that was beaten 5-0 Australia in 2013/14, said England’s visit was “turning into a shambles like the last tour”.

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

  8. Import’s first-half hat-trick silences Roar

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    ON FIRE: The Jets congratulate Arin Gilliland after one of her goals on Sunday. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez Import’s first-half hat-trick silences Roar TweetFacebook W-League: Newcastle Jets v Brisbane RoarAAP Image/Albert Perez photosAfirst-half treblefrom Arin Gilliland has helped Newcastle to a 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar and second place on the W-League ladder at the halfway point of the season.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The 24-year-old American, in her second season with the Jets, scored in the 15th, 31stand 39thminutes to put the visitors in control of the round seven game at AJ Kelly Park, Brisbane.

    A wide defender with the Chicago Red Stars in the US National Women’s Soccer League, Gilliland has been used as an attacking midfield weapon at the Jets and scored a hat-trick against Sydney last season.

    Another American, Britt Eckerstrom, starred for the Jets in goal on Sunday, making several saves against a Roar starting side featuring six Matildas.

    Jets coach Craig Deans said he was “very happy to get the threepoints especially away from home”.

    “It was a very disciplined performance defensively to keep a clean sheet and we were very effective in the front third, which is particularly pleasing. Particularly up against a team like Brisbane with the amount of national team and experienced players they have.”

    Newcastle’s only current Matilda, skipper Emily Van Egmond, overcame a back problem to return to the Jets’ starting side following Australia’s two friendlies against China. Van Egmondlasted until the 57thminute, when she was replaced by livewireCortnee Vine.

    The Jets jumped from fifth spot to join Perth and the Roar on 12 points at the top of the table. Newcastle sit above Brisbane on a goal difference of plus three, but trail the Glory’s plus six.

    The win sets up a top-of-the-table clash with Sam Kerr’s Perth side at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.

    The 8.15pm match isone of five double-headers with Newcastle’s A-League side this season andwill be played after the men’s game for the first time.

    The Jets are on track to make the W-League finals for just the second time. Their only appearance was in the inaugural season of 2008-09.

    In other round-seven games, Victory defeated Adelaide 4-0, Western Sydney lost 3-1 to Sydney and City beat Canberra 2-1.

  9. Australian troops to stay in Iraq despite victory over ISIS

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    Australia will maintain a military presence in Iraq well into 2018 as local security forces continue their fight against Islamic State insurgents who have escaped capture.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the extremist group at the weekend, three years after IS first stormed the country and seized a third of its territory.

    The declaration came after Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria. But while the territorial battle is over, coalition security forces now expect the group’s remnants to engage in a new phase of deadly guerilla warfare.

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated the people of Iraq and their security forces for their “courage and determination”.

    “The liberation of Iraqi cities and towns from ISIS control has saved countless lives and ended a pattern of terror, anguish and murder,” Mr Turnbull said.

    “Their bravery in the face of unimaginable brutality has made the region and the world a safer place by robbing terrorists of their narrative of invincibility.”

    Australia has made a significant contribution to the fight, deploying hundreds of troops who have been focused primarily on training local troops and police. The Australian Defence Force has also contributed to air strikes against IS targets in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

    Australia’s sixth rotation of about 300 troops – along with 100 New Zealand troops – deployed to Iraq in recent weeks and are scheduled to remain there until the middle of 2018.

    There are no plans to cut short Task Group Taji 6’s deployment but Australia will now enter talks with Iraq and coalition partners about the road ahead.

    “While today’s announcement by the Iraqi government is an historic moment, Iraq’s liberation does not mean the fight against terrorism and ISIS in Iraq is over,” Mr Turnbull said.

    “ISIS fighters who escaped capture will seek to conduct an insurgency to continue their legacy of death and destruction. The biggest challenge is to bring security, peace and unity to all Iraqis through inclusive, representative democracy and political equality.”

    Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq, fell in July after a gruelling nine-month campaign backed by a US-led coalition that saw much of the northern Iraqi city destroyed. Islamic State’s Syrian capital Raqqa also fell to a US-backed Kurdish-led coalition in September.

    The group was then squeezed into an ever-shrinking pocket of the desert along the border.

    Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio recording on September 28 that indicated he was alive, after several reports he had been killed.

    His followers imposed a reign of terrorism on the populations they controlled, alienating even many of those Sunni Muslims who had originally supported the group. They took thousands of women from the Yazidi minority as sex slaves and killed the men.

    The war has had a devastating impact on the areas previously controlled by the militants, with more than 3 million people still displaced, according to the United Nations.

    Iraq’s announcement comes two days after the Russian military announced the defeat of the militants in neighbouring Syria, where Moscow is backing Syrian government forces.

    With Reuters

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

  10. Robert Dillon: Why Christmas has come early for Newcastle football fans

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    September 26, 2019 by admin

    SELF-BELIEF: The Jets have won a number of games this season after trailing early.CHRISTMAS has come early for Newcastlefootball fans.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Just a few months ago, the Novocastrian faithful werewallowing in self-pity afterthe Knights collected their third consecutive wooden spoon, an embarrassment that immediately followed the Jets finishinglast in the A-League for the second time in three seasons.

    It’s not as if such humiliation was unprecedented.

    As recently as2015, our two footballing flagships were simultaneously cellar dwellers in their respective competitions.

    Yet suddenly supporters of both clubs are entitled to be brimming with hope and excitement.

    Read more: Kurt Gidley returns tothe Knights

    The Jets, after seven years as play-off spectators, are second on the A-League points table and shaping up as perhaps the team most capable of challenging defending champions Sydney FC.

    The Knights, meanwhile, won’t make a tackle in anger until March, but already their fans are counting down the days to watch Nathan Brown’s new-look squad in action.

    The recent acquisition of Mitchell Pearce, who has joined the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Connor Watson, Tautau Moga, Herman Ese’ese, Chris Heighington, Jacob Lillyman and Slade Griffin, might not be the last recruitment coup before Newcastle’s 2018 campaign kicks off.

    For the first time in too long, the Knights have a squad, that on paper at least, appears capable of making rapid progress.

    Obviously nothing is guaranteed and plenty of rival clubs appear to have strengthened their rosters as well.

    But as the Jets have shown, a few strategic signings and a little bit of self-belief goes a long way.

    With six wins in 10 games, the Jets have already surpassed last season’stally of victories.

    CLASS: Knights fans are eager to see Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga in action.

    Saturday night’s great escape in Perth was a reward for never-say-die spirit.

    Trailing 1-0 with only a few minutes to play, it appeared as if Newcastle would be facing another long, forlorn flight home across the Nullabor.

    In the circumstances, most teams would have been delighted to salvage a draw.

    To then grab an injury-time winner added weight to the theory that the footballing gods are finally smiling on this long-suffering club.

    Jets coach Ernie Merrick joked that he was worried he would be charged with theft, but the time-honoured sporting adage decrees that good teams make their own luck.

    To keep fighting back from early deficits, as Newcastle have done consistently this season, is a trait that augurs well for the big games ahead.

    The Jets have shown they not only possess firepower, as evidenced by their league-best 23 goals, but also the mental toughness to keep backing themselves until the final whistle.

    Moreover, it seems reasonable to assume Newcastle can continue to improve.

    Roy O’Donovan is back from injury, although he played only a cameo role against Perth.

    Ronny Vargas should return at least a month before the finals.

    There’s still a long way to go for the Jets, let alone the Knights.

    But at least their fans are finallyable to write out a wish list.