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Tony Butterfield: Knights can muzzle the Dogs

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: The Knights could easily have beaten the premiers last weekend. Now for the Bulldogs. Picture: Getty ImagesThe headlines from last week could have been anything.
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Tony Butterfield: Knights can muzzle the Dogs TweetFacebook“Sharks attacked”, “Giantkillers” or “Upset of the season”. All would have been apt. If only the Knights found another gear and icedthewin, they could have celebrated like it was 1997.

Alas, not to be. But that shouldn’t change the positive head space of the players who, for the second week in a row, gifted control of the ball. They also lost the penalties, made more missed tackles, made less tackle breaks and fewer line breaks. A post-mortem like that would surely result in a morbid prognosis – much like the hammering by Penrith the week before. But they found something special against the reigning premiers. Is it their rhythm? Their mojo?Their attitude?

Whatever, the tremendously gutsy and character-building effort will have them in a great frame of mind for the reconstituted Bulldogs mob. Subscribing to the “you’re only as good as your next game” mantra, I’m tipping the Knights will fire on all cylinders on Friday night.

Interest in how our squad handles an even bigger pack of forwards than last week will be higher than it has been for some time. Whether each player is up for another herculean effort, well, we’ll see.

Special mention to Mitch Barnett for his wholehearted efforts this year. A star last week, he was the catalyst,in my view, who sparkedthe fightback. He’s a footballer, this bloke, from good Tareestock and an example to footballers who want to be just that. He pushes the envelope in a refreshingly brash rebuke to conservative rugby league,and itsboring and plentifulproponents. As I’ve said before, he’s a keeper.

Young Brock Lamb was also notable for his defensive transformation. Obviously targeted for inexperience and size, his clean sheet last week is testament to his improved technique and an impressive desire to deliver for his teammates. More than 20tough tackles and no misses.Kudos, young man.

Now for the Doggies.

* OVER the past 20 years, rule changes in rugby league have promoted bigger, faster, stronger, harder. That increases viewer appeal by increasing interchanges, building up the size of footballers and increasing the distance between players to add the speed. Bigger collisions? Brilliant! Precisely the aspects around which the game can make safer its workplace for players, but I digress.

Interpretive and subjective adjudications of the rules are confusing for everyone.

By way of example, I get frustrated watching legitimate kick-chasers being run off the ball by “lost” defenders. Often a “read call” by referees, its remains a blight on the game as referees refuse to acknowledge the foul. Even with replays, tworeferees, twotouch judges and someone in the ear?

Spare me days. It has always been a penalty and represents a capitulation by the referees. Already threatening the art form of the short-kicking game, non-action will only encourage further risk aversion and a lesser game.

But for “on trend” ignorance of the rules at the moment, I can’t go past the fakeplay-the-ball with the foot,and the lazy defender lying in the play the ball. Two classics. The players know it and the refs know it. It’s been open slather and they’ve been doing it all day! For 100years both have drawn a penalty. But not the past fiveweeks.

If only by halfa second, not touching your foot to the ball makes the play-the-ballit quicker. The defensive team must therefore counter. So they’ve add another layer of time-wasting by laying in the ruck. Tit for tat. This circular debate is a reflection of the match manager’s shortcomings.

Tough decisions, made early and with the authority vested in the whistle, send clear messages. Things will get a lot easier for referees if they jump on the bandwagon of long-term trends. It will also beeasier for the juniors to relate.

* FORme, thetreatmentof the three errant Penrith players dropped for getting out on the tiles in Melbourne town last week was a bit rough.

Fair dinkum, it’s hard enough playing against the Storm in Melbourne without pulling the old “hotelcurfew” on. I mean, players are back into it very quickly these days. They enjoya window of mere hours to mix, bond, relax with teammates. Reviewing the game, assessing next week’s opposition, or talking anything but footy would seem a reasonable option for a few blokes in their 20s who are likely still sweating from the evening’s encounter.

That said, it’s easy to understand the attitude of managementafter a tough loss. With sixdays to recover it was thought prudent to lock ’em in.

However observersmightfeel about it, the upshot was the players have been put on notice early in the season. The inclusion of captain Matt Moylan inthe mix communicated loud and clear thatnobody is above the team.Methinks theharshlesson may pay dividends down the track.

* THE appointment lastweek of Australian, Queenslandand Melbourne captain Cam Smithto the post of general presidentof the Rugby League Players Associationsignals less a new style and more a new standing for the union of NRLplayers. Replacing the long-serving Clint Newton, Smith will inherit a body of members largely engaged in the running of their business. NotwithstandingNewton’s significant input and influence over many years, it’s expected Smith connections and the esteem in which he is held will be a bonus for the union. Perhaps even something of a circuit-breaker in current horse-trading for a CBA.

In this regard, apart from the expected head-butting over a player revenue share arrangement, the NRL are also trying on an old chestnut that has been resisted for as long as I can remember. Thisrelates to the NRL wielding the power to inspect things like player tax records, bank accounts and mobile phones. All in the name of policing the recalcitrant player group and maintaining the integrity of the game and its partners.

Particularly the off-shore punting houses.A bridge too far?Tell ’em their dreamin’!

Working dogs keen as a whistle

Stockman Murray Wilkinson has developed his own secret language of whistles that he uses to direct as many as nine working cattle dogs at the same time.
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“One dog can do the work of six to eight men,” he said. “And I have never had a dog call in sick on Monday. They are available rain, hail and shine, and they work for a bit of kibble, a few pats and affection.”

Wilkinson was eight when he was transfixed by a stockman at the Easter Show who commanded his working dogs with a series of whistles.

When the 195th Royal Sydney Easter Show opened on Thursday, Mr Wilkinson launched a new show to demonstrate the old craft of dog whistling – not the political kind practised in Canberra these days.

Using nothing but whistles, his border collie cattle dogs – including Zac, Merle, Chime, Boo and Mambo – put cattle through an obstacle course and herded them to different parts of the arena.

“Zac,” he called out, and then issued a quiet whistle that sent the black and white border collie running away. Another whistle, barely audible, brought the dog back immediately.

Each whistled command is personalised with a different tone for each dog.

So why whistle? “Because of the distance it can carry,” replied Mr Wilkinson who works 13000 head of cattle on the Packer family owned Ellerston Pastoral Company located east of Scone, NSW.

“Where we are working every day, it is steep mountain country with thick timber,” he said. “We whistle so it carries through the bush instead of voice commands. There is a left whistle, there is a right whistle, there is forwards, backwards and then there is another one to break out even farther to go after cattle.”

Mr Wilkinson also breeds and sells working dogs that can handle stock in all conditions.

“Where I work is quite steep and thick country, and that’s where these dogs excel because they can go and do their jobs by themselves.”

His dogs are so well trained that even if he put a T-bone steak inside the front door, they wouldn’t dare cross the threshold.

“You’ve got to set boundaries,” he said.

They are strictly outdoor dogs, rewarded with lots of pats and motivated only by an innate love of rounding up animals. To discipline them, he issues a deep doggy growl.

The Farm Dog Survey, by Sydney University, found a working dog costs its owner about $8000 but does about $40,000 worth of work in its lifetime.

Mr Wilkinson said it wasn’t feasible to employ many full-time cattle hands these days. “If you can send one dog one way, and another round the other way to get the cattle, that’s two men you’d otherwise be using. “

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

Get your affairs in order

It is undoubtedly important to put measures in place to ensure that our “blood, sweat and tears” accumulated over our lifetimes fall into the right hands after we are gone.
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VALID REASON: The most important reason for making a will is to make sure that, after your death, your property is distributed in the way you would have wished it to be.

We may want our children to profit from our labours; our favourite charity to flourish from our endeavours; our spouse to be financially secure.The legal instrument that enables us to look after those we leave behind is known as a will.

It is of paramount importance that the will is drafted to accurately reflect your wishes,to allow for the contingencies of life, and is valid.

If a will is invalid you may as well not have bothered creating one in the first place.

An invalid will is discarded and legislation then dictates how your hard-won labours are to be distributed.

This same legislation operates if you never made a will and died intestate.

The legal process addressing this situation is known as Letters of Administration.

The legal process involved with Letters of Administration is far more expensive than obtaining Probate in relation to a valid will.

So what easy steps can you take to ensure a more cost-effective probate?

First of all, seek the help of a lawyer. They understand the legislation and case law associated with the creation of a valid will.

Don’t fall afoul of the rules like Mr Burge who determined to “go it alone” and amend his will himself rather than seeking professional legal advice: Burge v Burge [2015] NSWSC 289.

In that particular case, Mr Burge had consulted solicitors who had drafted a valid will on his behalf in 1983.

Thereafter, and at varying times until his death in 2013, Mr Burge, himself, prepared various amending documents including a later will and handwritten notes on the original will.

These documents were found in different locations.

After two-plus years and two appeals incurring enormous legal expense, it was determined that the 1983 will would prevail.

Second, keep your legal instruments in the same place. Most lawyers offer their clients a deed packet facility whereby your legal instruments can be stored free-of-charge.

-Nada Vujat, Solicitor, Emery Partners

Leunig on Leak, and how to let go

NATIONAL TREASURE: Beloved cartoonist Michael Leunig is a headline guest of the Newcastle Writers Festival. Picture: Simone De PeakIF ANYONE wantsto wind back Australia’sracial discrimination laws in the name of a beloved cartoonist, they’d best not ask Michael Leunig.
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The 71-year-oldsays cartoonists in Australia “have masses of freedom”, despite arecent push to overhaul section 18C of the Racial Discrimination act.

A guest of this weekend’sNewcastle Writers Festival, Leunig said the cartoonist atthe centre of the free speech maelstrom, the late Bill Leak, was “egged on” by commentators eager for a fight.

Leak died last month aged 61, following an investigation by the Human Rights Commission into his cartoon that portrayeda neglectfulAboriginal father.

“I thought Bill made a terrible mistake in drawing that cartoon,” Leunig told the Newcastle Herald.

“I thought it was a cruel cartoon which had no point except for reinforcing some stereotypes. I didn’t like it.”

The national living treasure andCurly Flat creatorsaid he had reservations about more protections forspeech deemed offensive, and that Australians readilyacceptlibel and slander laws.

But Leunig, whose workhas criticisedAustralia’s militaryinvolvement in Iraq,aspects ofchildcare,and Victoria’sban on un-vaccinated children attendingkindergarten, said he’d thought about the latter stages of Leak’slife.

“I imagine it could’ve been painful, deep water he was in.”

In the social mediaage, when anyone can be used“as a bit of content”, Leunigsaid being a cartoonist camewith its share of soul-searching.

“It’s a lonely job. You’re given great freedom on the one hand, but you’ve got to wear it alone,” Leunig said.

“Some people say cartooning is just making wisecracks about politicians, but I’m more interested in our part in all of this.”

In a career spanning 40 years of whimsy in Fairfax newspapers, has Leunigregretted a cartoon?

“I think I have. There area deadlines, and sometimesthere’s nothing coming,” he said.

“You look backand think, that was a bit spiteful, or that was a bit clever dick-ish. That pressure to be cruel for the sake of it, I find pretty pointless.”

Onhis second visit to Newcastle, the first having been at night, Leunig said he was still recovering from a near-fatal head knockthat had “sent the books flying” from his memory.

Leunig was struckby asteel trapdoor last year in a bushfire shelter in rural Victoria, and suffered seizures and bleeding onhisbrain.

Since then, Leunig said he values“letting go-ness”and being in the natural world.

“It’s sort of liberating to have an accident like that;it makesyoulet go,” he said.

“Life is a kind of injury. None of us gets awaywithout some kind of damage.”

Political comment is one thing, he said, but “sometimes you just want to do a drawing of a little guy talking to a dog, saying something about life”.

No excuses: Why Kyrgios doesn’t deserve Australia’s love

Here’s a question for the Australian sporting public: Have you any self-respect? Or are a few cheap wins all that stand between you and the surrender of your pride?
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Australia’s moral bottom line is for sale, and the transaction is being run by Nick Kyrgios, sometime professional tennis player and amateur auctioneer. Kyrgios, if you didn’t know, put his car up for sale on his Facebook page this week. But in wearing the national colours for Australia’s Davis Cup tie with the US in Brisbane over the weekend, he is also taking bids on the price of our national sporting principles.

I have not bothered to write about Kyrgios in this column previously. One thing he and I have in common is that neither of us is all that interested in tennis. But Kyrgios is the chump; he’s the one trapped in it. The rest of us can walk away from this most pointless of corporate advertising vehicles, but he is snared by his own prodigious talent, poor dear, and can’t break out into his preferred professions of basketballer, car salesman or gentleman of leisure because, bless his cotton ankle socks, he is, like his heroic forebears in the land of Homer, cursed by too much talent.

Kyrgios’ talent is such that, in spite of his best efforts, he is on a path to fulfilment. His results this year suggest he is not only unable to avoid the destiny that his natural gifts bestow but is also luckier than he deserves, rising to the top just as a lot of tall timber is falling around him. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are enjoying an Indian summer before they take their leave, and behind them, the Djokovic-Murray generation is showing signs of burnout. Kyrgios’ time is nigh.

Now for Australia to ask itself: will on-court success whitewash their reservations about Kyrgios’ personality? Should he reach his potential and begin winning major tournaments, will Australia forgive him (or script for their own absolution and willed amnesia), and rewrite the past as a story of perfectly understandable youthful indiscretion? Will the Davis Cup – a green-and-goldwash of reputation-laundering – be Kyrgios’ avenue to redemption?

Shame on you, Australia, for even contemplating it.

In case that path seems well-trodden, it’s not. Look at Lleyton Hewitt, courtside, the patron saint of redeemed bad boys. Hewitt grew up in the public eye, made his mistakes, but then transformed himself from uncouth bogan into national treasure. But Hewitt never had to climb out of a gutter as deep as Kyrgios’. He was not quite comme il faut, but never so wantonly foul.

Nor was it winning titles that earnt him the public’s love. When Hewitt was, briefly, the world’s best player and the winner of Wimbledon and a US Open (at which Kyrgios has never proceeded beyond the round of eight), he still carried the stigma of his occasional displays of ignorant temper. What absolved Hewitt was not success, nor even his commitment to Davis Cup, but his long, long, long career of giving every ounce of his energy and willpower to his game.

Hewitt was far more loved as the eternal middle-aged battler, giving his all year after year, chasing down every ball even when the game had left him behind, than he ever was as a brash youngster. It wasn’t success that saved him, but sheer persistence. We resisted him, but he ended up wearing us down. Whatever else we thought of him, we had to bow to his epic determination.

Perhaps Kyrgios will still be courageously chasing down younger opponents in his 30s. Hard to see, when the generation gap between him and his seniors is so deep. Why would he have respect for his own seniority when he has so little for anybody else’s? During his duel with Roger Federer at Indian Wells last week, Federer’s wife Mirka – the Dorian Grey portrait of Roger’s true feelings – was catcalling the Australian. At the end of the match, which should have been a celebration of tennis for tennis’ sake, Kyrgios threw his toys out of his cot while Federer looked as if the first thing on his list, after having to shake his opponent’s hand, was to have a wash. Kyrgios has earnt this treatment through his actions and his words. He cannot complain that he is not being valued, among his peers, at his true worth.

But will some wins for Australia win Australia over? It’s a depressing thought. Yes, we all love a winner, but at what cost? Do we have no principles at all?

A lot of the Kyrgios-forgiveness line is engraved around the pressures of individual sports. The young man is on his own, he is exposed on the court, he lacks the warm bosom of a team to sink into and hide behind, so the outbursts of temper are entirely understandable. And other crap of this kind.

Look at some other young Australian individual sportsmen plying their trade this weekend. Jason Day has carried his debt to his mother with a love that is plain to see and heart-wrenching in its naked authenticity. Adam Scott and the other Australians at Augusta National have brought nothing but credit upon their country and their sport through their conduct over the years. What has Kyrgios got, next to these men?

Look to the west, where surfer Owen Wright continues to overcome a brain injury that left him with a terrifying future, looking at one point as if he might never be able to hold a coherent thought, let alone practise his sport. After a 15-month convalescence, Wright came back to defeat the best in the world at Snapper Rocks last month and has extended his world championship lead taking on ground-shaking waves at Margaret River. This is courage.

These are young professionals in individual sports with all the same excuses for being dickheads that Kyrgios leans on – uneducated, precociously spoilt, insulated from the real world – and yet, when the real world has broken into their bubble, the likes of Day and Wright have shown true character, true bravery. They don’t need to win in their sports to gain our admiration. They have gained it already, for who they are.

So enough of the rubbish. Kyrgios himself has shown zero regard for what Australians think of him, and that disregard ought to be mutual. But will it? If he brings down the US in the Davis Cup, if he goes on to win Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow and Melbourne Park, Kyrgios will still be Kyrgios. But what of you, Australia – how will you be changed?

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

Work like a dog, now time to rest like one

Work like a dog, now time to rest like one HEART MELTER: Guide Dog Stamford with Belinda Carroll and musician Matt McLaren on Friday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

Matt McLaren and Stamford in Martin Place, Sydney, last year. Picture: Jessica Hromas

BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

BUDDIES: Musician Matt McLaren and his Guide Dog Stamford. Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebook Matt McLaren and StamfordIF adog is man’s best friend, a Guide Dog must be family.

Stamford, the four-legged companion of Newcastle singer and songwriter Matt McLaren, has proven he’s still got it, raising more than $4000 for Guide Dogs at his retirement party.

The Labrador melted hearts across Australia when he appeared with McLaren onAustralia’s Got Talentin 2016. Stamford will hang up the harness next month after nine years of service. But he is not going anywhere, McLaren will keep him as a pet.

Scores of people turned out to farewell the pup two weeks ago, and on Friday, the proceeds of his retirement party were handed over to a graciousBelinda Carroll of Guide Dogs’ Newcastle branch.

McLaren said it was a fitting tribute to the selfless canine.

“People love getting behind Guide Dogs because it’s tangible thing –they enable so many people in so many ways,” he said.“It’s incalculable, really, what they do for people. I wouldn’t even understand the scope (of what) Stamford has done for me over the years.”

A Guide Dogcosts more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train.

PM ‘knew in advance’ of US strike on Syria

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne. Photo: Alex EllinghausenUS bombs Syria: Transcript of Donald Trump’s statement in fullWhat we know so far Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Photo: HOPD
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The Trump administration informed the Australian government in advance of its plans to launch the Tomahawk missile attack on Syria, Fairfax Mediaunderstands.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had pointedly said before news of the strikes broke that the chemical attack on civilians “cries out for a strong response”.

On Friday morning Mr Turnbull linked the attacks to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and blamed Russia for failing to rein in its ally.

But Mr Turnbull carefully sidestepped questions about what action Australia might take against the regime after Washington appeared to ramp up its rhetoric about the need for Mr Assad’s removal.

“This is a war crime of the worst sort. It is inhumane and it has been universally condemned,” Mr Turnbull told radio 3AW.

Within hoursreports emerged that the US had launchedabout 50 Tomahawk missiles from US Navy warships at targets in Syria.

United StatesSecretary of State Rex Tillerson overnight described the chemical attack as a “serious matter” that warranted “a serious response”.

He said given the gas attack, “it would seem that there would be no role for [Mr Assad] to govern the Syrian people”. He also said removing Mr Assad needed an international effort and, when asked if the US would organise that effort, said “those steps are under way”.

The US response in Syria has been an about-face from its previous stated position. Last week Washington told the United Nations that removing Mr Assad was not a priority. And it was uncertain whether Mr Tillerson was referring to international steps that have been underway for two years to find a political process for the removal of Mr Assad as part of ending the Syrian civil war.

US media reports overnight stated that the Pentagon was preparing military options for President Donald Trump against the Syrian regime.

Mr Trump said of Mr Assad that “something should happen” in response to the chemical attacks.

Hillary Clinton on Friday called for the Trump administration to “take out” the Syrian air force to prevent further attacks.

The gas attack on the opposition-held town onKhanSheikhounkilled more than 70 people, including dozens of children. Photos and videos shared on social media showed victims choking and foaming at the mouth, with some locals needing to be hosed down by rescue workers.

On Friday morning, Mr Turnbull branded the gas attack “a war crime of the worst sort”.

Asked whether Australia would step up its military effort in Syria beyond air strikes against the so-called Islamic State group, Mr Turnbull said he had spoken “a little while ago” to Defence Minister Marise Payne and Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin but refused to say if any action was being discussed.

“I don’t want to speculate any further about that. You know where we stand. We have condemned this attack, utterly. It cries out for a strong response and we are in very close touch, as we always are, constant communications with our allies, in particular the United States.

In a slap at the administration of Vladimir Putin, Mr Turnbull said that “Russia obviously is the principal foreign sponsor of the Assad regime”. Asked whether Russia has behaved appropriately, Mr Turnbull said, “No.”

The most likely way that the US can find a political path forward to removing Mr Assad would be to persuade his key backer Moscow to help engineer his removal. But Mr Putin has long refused to abandon his military and political support for his ally, frustrating international efforts to remove the dictator.

Illustrating the uncertainty about the process for removing Mr Assad, Mr Tillerson said the international community effort would mean first defeating the Islamic State group, then stabilising Syria and working on a political transition.

But such a transition has been discussed for two years without progress, given that there is little leverage to oust Mr Assad – a situation that would only become further solidified if Syria were stabilised with the regime still in power.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten saidAustraliawas already providing forces to fight the Islamic State inIraqandSyriabut it was up to countries such asRussiaandIranto pressure the Assad regime.

“Australiacertainly can provide some sort of international condemnation of Assad,” he said. “You can’t gas citizens of your own country. That is a war crime.

“It’s time for Putin and the Russians to step up.”


US launches missiles on Syria: what we know so far

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The United States has fired more than 50 missiles at a Syrian airbase following orders from President Donald Trump. The escalation was in response to the chemical weapon attack earlier this week, which killed more than 80 civilians, including at least 30 Syrian children. The attack has been widely blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This is what we know so far:

What has just happened?

The United States has launched more than 50 Tomahawk missiles at the al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, an air base that is under the control of the Assad government.

A chemical attack was launched from this airfield earlier this week on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria, in which at least 80 people were killed, including some 30 children.

The Syrian government denied responsibility for the chemical attack. The Russian government said chemicals leaked when the Syrian government conducted an air strike on a rebel-held chemical weapons depot. What is the latest Trump has said on the strikes?

In a press conference about midday on Friday Sydney time, Trump said the strike was “to prevent and deter the spread of deadly chemical weapons”.

He said there was no dispute Syria was behind the chemical attack.

“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed,” he said. He called on other nations to end terrorism.

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face this challenge,” he said. Has anyone been killed in the missile strike?

Syrian state television says the strikes “led to losses”. CNN reported there were Russian personnel at the base at the time of the strike. It is not known if they were injured. What is Australia’s position?

It is being reported that Trump received support from nations including Australia before launching the attack.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not yet commented on the US’s response, but he has previously called for a strong response to the deadly chemical attack.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten supports the strikes. “We support the US sending a strong signal that these gas attacks should have never occurred – and they should never occur again,” he said. How will Russia respond?

It will certainly raise the risk of confrontation with Assad’s main military supporters, Russia and Iran.

A senior military official said there were no Russian planes at the Shayrat airbase and Russian military officials were informed ahead of the strike.

Just before the attack, Russia’s deputy UN envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned of “negative consequences” if the United States carried out military strikes on Syria over the deadly toxic gas attack. His government accused Trump of being “too hasty” in his response.

Neither country’s leader has yet issued a statement on the strikes. How are people reacting?

The attack was described as “American aggression” by Syrian state TV.

A Pentagon statement said “he strike was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act”. . “Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons,” it said.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton applauded Trump’s military action. “I commend President Trump for taking swift, decisive action against Bashar al-Assad’s outlaw regime.”

Fellow Republican Bob Corker, who is the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also welcomed Trump’s “decisive action”.

“It is critical that Assad knows he will no longer enjoy impunity for his horrific crimes against his own citizens, and the proportional step was appropriate.” What happens next?

The UN Security Council may convene another emergency meeting. The world is expecting Russia and Iran to make a statement. How did the United States initially respond to the chemical attack?

On Thursday, the United States signalled it could take a more aggressive response to the chemical attack..

When asked if the attack on a Syrian hospital crossed a “red line”, Trump said “it crossed a lot of lines”. “That crosses many, many lines, beyond red lines,” he said.

At a sitting of the United Nations Security Council an hour earlier, US Ambassador Nikki Haley stood up at her desk to show diplomats photos of dying children and accused Russia, which backs Syria, of pushing a false narrative blaming rebel forces for the attack.

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

Man, 29, stabbed in 14-hour crime spree across ACT and Queanbeyan

In a lethal rampage spanning 14 hours two teens have allegedly killed a man, stabbed another and brutally attacked a third with a tyre iron.
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Police are investigating whether two boys, aged 15 and 16, stabbed Caltex service station attendant Zeeshan Akbar, 29, to death at Queanbeyan in an act of terrorism.

The pair were arrested in the ACT on Friday morning and it is expected they will be extradited to NSW on Saturday.

NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burns said there was some evidence the spree could be terror-related or linked to drugs.

“We have two teenagers in custody and sufficient information to believe the actions of one of those teenagers may be related to terrorism,” she said.

“That information comes from physical evidence at the scene and other sources.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the circumstances of the stabbing warranted the involvement of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Team.

Friends paid tribute to Mr Akbar, a Muslim man who was hoping to get his Australian citizenship.

His friends had posted photos online of him celebrating New Year’s Eve at Sydney Harbour and sightseeing at the Blue Mountains and Collins Beach in Manly.

“This is really an unbearable loss for his family,” one friend posted.

It is believed the ordeal began about 8.10pm on Thursday with the alleged attempted robbery of the Vintage Cellars liquor store in Oaks Estate.

After fleeing the store empty handed the two teens allegedly embarked on a trail of destruction that included: Smashing a long neck beer bottle over the head of a man in Queanbeyan’s Apex Park between 8.30pm and 11.30pmBreaking into a home on Stornaway Road and bashing a man with a tyre iron between 8.30pm and 11.30pmStabbing an attendant to death at the Caltex Service station on Bungendore Road about 11.45pm???Stabbing another man in the stomach at the intersection of Southwell Place and Barracks Flat Drive about 6.20am on Friday

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the first victim allegedly approached by the two teenagers described the chilling signs of carnage to come.

The man had just finished a shift at the Oaks Estate liquor store on Thursday night when they approached him out of the darkness.

“One of them was holding something behind his back like they wanted me to think he had a gun,” he said.

“He said three times, ‘Give me the cash’.”

CCTV footage seen by Fairfax Media shows a brief scuffle, before the assailants flee empty handed.

“To think that a man was killed later that night. It’s too scary to even think about man.

“I could have been killed.”

Mr Akbar would not be so lucky when the pair allegedly entered a Caltex store on Bungendore Road just three hours later.

Police alleged the teenagers were let into the store by Mr Akbar, before they set upon him in a “horrific” stabbing.

He was found by a workmate about 11.55pm and died a short time later, Monaro police commander Superintendent Rod Smith said.

It is alleged the teens took the cash register before fleeing.

In the hours leading up to the fatal stabbing, police alleged the boys violently attacked a man in Queanbeyan’s Apex Park.

“They approached a man in the park and it is alleged they made some demands of him before hitting him over the head with a beer bottle.

“They caused him significant facial injuries.”

After that, they allegedly forced their way into a property on Stornaway Road and bludgeoned a man with a tyre iron.

Their final act came about 6.20am on Friday, when they allegedly stabbed a man in the stomach and stole his silver Ford Falcon.

A witness told The Canberra Times she peered out her window to see a man lying in the middle of the street surrounded by police cars on Southwell Place near Barracks Flat Drive.

It is understood the two boys fled the scene in the stolen car, evading police attempts to stop them as they travelled through Queanbeyan.

They were arrested a short while later by ACT police about 6.35am, on the Monaro Highway south of Isabella Plains.

NSW Police have begun extradition proceedings to bring the teenagers back across the border, with the pair expected to face court in the ACT on Saturday morning.

Prime Minister Turnbull said his thoughts were with all those affected by the violence.

“Our condolences go to the family of the victim,” he said.

“We send our prayers and best wishes to the two other victims of that evening.”

ACT Police and Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said police believed the incident was an isolated matter, and there was no ongoing threat to the community.

With Rachel Olding, Megan Levy

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

Bill Nighy goes from “laughably low expectations” to his Finest hour

There is one line people have been quoting at Bill Nighy??? for the past 14 years. He even heard it from a tough-guy customs officer as he entered the US.
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“Hiya kids,” it goes. “Don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star and they give you them for free.”

That’s Billy Mack talking, the ageing rocker from Love Actually. It’s the role that changed Nighy’s life; the first step to becoming a beloved British actor.

You can still see the impact as Nighy, a dapper 67-year-old in a sharp blue suit, arrives at a Sydney cinema for a screening of his latest film, the British drama Their Finest, which has him playing an actor making a World War II propaganda film.

Outside, a small posse of fans is queuing for photos and autographs. These particular admirers – young, male and dressed mostly in black – know him from playing the squid-like Davy Jones in The Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour??? in the Harry Potter series. “I loved him in The Boat that Rocked too,” confides one.

When a woman gushes that her mother loves him, Nighy feigns a grimace. “It’s always the mothers,” he says. “Sometimes the grandmothers.”

As he enters the cinema for a Q&A session, women considerably younger than grandmothers call out “Bill, Bill” and wave hello as though he’s a real-life Billy Mack.

Taking to the stage, Nighy gives a rock-star shimmy then turns on the comic charm. “They were looking for someone to play a chronically self-absorbed, pompous actor in his declining years,” he says. “And they came to me.”

Since Love Actually became a worldwide hit in 2003, Nighy has never had to audition again. “No more sitting in outer offices at 9am and then having to pretend to be on horseback and fighting with an imaginary sword in the heat of battle in front of three or four not very interested people,” he says later.

His other films include three Underworld instalments, two Best Exotic Marigold Hotels, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Shaun of the Dead, Notes on a Scandal,Hot Fuzz, Valkyrie and Total Recall.

BLA – Before Love Actually – Nighy had a respectable life as an actor. “I was doing OK, I’m always desperate to tell people,” he says. “I had a familiar English career; I was on the TV and I was in the theatre. That had already exceeded my expectations. I suppose I had what you might call laughably low expectations.”

When it came to playing romantic roles, which he was often offered because he was tall, Nighy was chronically uncomfortable. “If I was ever required to suggest I was attractive to women, I used to go to pieces,” he says.

But Love Actually showed his talent for getting laughs.

Recently, Nighy enjoyed reuniting with writer-director Richard Curtis and the cast for a short Love Actually sequel that was released for a Red Nose Day fundraiser for British charity Comic Relief. “Richard has done a great job of what might have happened to those characters in the last 14 years,” he says. “And I still fit into the trousers.”

Nighy started acting at an all-boys Catholic school in London. “I was tall, which meant I didn’t have to play girls, which was a result!,” he says.

With his father a works manager for a motor-vehicle garage and his mother a psychiatric nurse, the young Nighy wanted to be a writer. But when he fell for a girl at 17, love actually made him try acting.

“She said, ‘You could be an actor’ and I completely over-reacted,” he says. “She could have said ‘astronaut’ and I would probably have given it a shot.

“Because she kissed me, I thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. I had names for our children.”

He studied at the Guildford School for Dance and Drama, which he knew as the School for Prance and Murmur. While that early romance didn’t last, the acting did. He found work in plays then, in 1976, was “third bankrobber on the left” in the police series Softly Softy. Impressed with that television appearance, his father encouraged him to stick with it.

“I was always retiring,” he says. “I was thinking, ‘In a minute, I’ll find out what I’m really going to do with my life’.”

Now Nighy is acting opposite Gemma Arterton??? in Their Finest. She plays a scriptwriter brought in to supply the “women’s dialogue” for a government film to keep spirits up during the Blitz. Nighy is both pompous actor Ambrose Hilliard and, in the propaganda film within the film, boozy Uncle Frank.

“Very fortunately I still get offered quite a lot of roles,” he says. “Since Exotic Marigold Hotel, the revelation for producers was that you could make a film about people of my age and make a lot of money.

“They discovered there were apparently all these people that were over 40 or 50 or even 60 who might want to go and see a film. So I get a lot of films about groups of people of a certain age who are still having fun or haven’t given up – ‘you’re not dead yet’ movies.”

For all his joviality, Nighy is thoughtful about his work. “I try and involve myself in films that generally speaking, not to be too grand about it, will be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he says. “All my life I’ve been, broadly speaking, in opposition to whatever’s been going on.

“Now it’s an emergency. As evidenced in America, most of the people are in opposition to what’s going on.”

Nighy has never gone back to writing – not even to attempt a screenplay. “I’ve been cowardly,” he says. “I can procrastinate at an Olympic level. It’s a fetish not to write.

“It was the thing that I chose out of all the things one could do with life but I failed because I didn’t have the courage to sit there long enough, which means I’m not a writer. Since then I get a kind of an anti-kick out of not doing things. It’s a very bad habit.”

Then Nigh remembers that’s not entirely true.

“In the old days, when you were on TV and the dialogue was absolutely terrible, you’d be in the make-up chair and you’d think ‘I can’t say that on national television’,” he says. “Then you’d rewrite the line and you’d take it to the director and they’d say ‘yeah, alright, say that.’ But apart from that, no.”

So is he, as he seems, an introvert away from acting? Almost the polar opposite of loose cannon Billy Mack?

“I don’t get out much or anything,” Nighy says, thinking the question over. “I’m not a loner or anything but I do spend a great deal of time on my own.

“But then I always did and actors often do because you’re away from home, usually in hotels or on a train or a plane or a bus. You end up spending long periods away from people you know.

“But my tendency is to withdraw. If left to my own devices with no outside attractions or influences, I seem to end up in a room on my own with a book, with John Lee Hooker playing with Van Morrison on my Bluetooth speaker. That’s my reward for doing scary things.”

Nighy’s favourite writers include fellow Brits A.S. Byatt and Martin Amis, whose new novels he buys on the day they’re released, just like he once did with Beatles records???.

“If I’m in a hotel, I’ll get up early in order to be able to read,” he says. “And those times become the most precious and the most pleasurable part of your day.

“Well … I’ve had days when other things happen. But there’s that bit where you’re alone, particularly early morning and you’ve got a cup of tea and the music playing and there’s nothing else happening.

“You try and arrange it so that you’ve got maybe 25 minutes till the man comes to the door. Those 25 minutes become completely delicious.”

There are also pleasures in acting. “On occasion, and it’s not that frequently, you feel like you know what you’re doing,” Nighy says. “There’s a particular part and for some reason you can tune into it and you think you’re presenting something which is entirely yours.

“If you get laughs, particularly on stage because they’re happening while you’re there, that is addictive. Trying to get laughs, placing them in the air so that you get them louder, better, deeper each time, that’s an endlessly fascinating and pleasurable activity. To have a thousand people all laugh at the same time … that’s gorgeous.”

The actor’s life also has rewards, sometimes experienced in solitude.

“The best bit is afterwards when you think it’s come off and you think you’ve got away with it and you’re back in your hotel room and you just thank your lucky stars. I’m not very good at straight happiness but I’m really good at relief.”

But there was one transcendent moment when Nighy remembers being truly happy – just after opening his first play in New York. “For months, with the rehearsals then previews then you open, I remember just being in a general state of alarm for a very long time,” he says. “Then, the night after we opened, the producer came over and said, ‘It’s fine, we’re going to be OK.'”

Nighy and his driver Andrew had the habit of calling into the M&M store on the way back from the theatre – “I had an M&M problem at the time” – to buy two bags of all five colours for the actor to consume at home.

“I remember coming out of the M&M store and I opened the door of the car and Andrew had Barry White on, playing Never Never Gonna Give You Up,” he says. “Suddenly, somewhere between the M&M store and the car, I came out of this general state of alarm and I realised that we’d opened and it was OK.

“I got in the car and I said to Andrew, ‘Turn that f—er up … Let’s go to Brooklyn for dessert’.

“He put the wheel between his knees and he and I were waving our arms like [we were] in a football crowd. And I was absolutely, uncomplicatedly happy. There was absolutely nothing wrong.

“I knew that the minute I put my arms down, it was over but we just kept it going with Barry singing.”

So kids, don’t buy drugs. The secret to happiness, at least for one transcendent moment, is M&Ms and Barry White.

Their Finest opens on April 20.

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

Tech girls move up

Students across regional Australia are urged to sign up forthe 2017Tech Girls Movement.
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TECH GIRLS: The 2016 Tech Girls are Superheroes winners Claire Lau, Sophia Gianotti, and Angelicia Talevi. Photo: Steven Siewert

The non-profit initiative promotescareer opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

As part of the campaign, national competition Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero, challenges Australian female students to build an app prototype that will make their community a better place.

The winning team has the chance to fly to San Francisco to attend Silicon Valley’s global Technovation app pitch challenge.

Tech Girls Movement founder Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen said about 60 schools had signed up to the programand is expecting 2,500 girls to enter this year.

She said they were seeking more students fromregional Australia, to allow them to learn more about careers in STEM and gain the same skills as those programs offeredin metropolitan areas.

The teams are mentored for an hour a week over the 12-week competition by a woman who works in technology.

“They act as a role model and help create a professional network. They stay in touch after the competition is over,” Dr Beekhuyzen said.

The teams come up with a problem to solve and Tech Girls Movement helps them build a business plan, teaches them how to build their app, and how to finance the project.

“They look a pricing models, competitors, how to position it in the marketplace, and then pitch it in a YouTubevideo. It’s veryentrepreneurial.”

Fairfax Media is a key supporter of the initiative. Chief information offer Robyn Elliott, who grew up in the regional town of Kyogle in NSW, said from learning to program as a hobby at school, her interest in solving problems with technology led her to study and work all over the world.

“I want the initiative to reach girls in regional Australia, to provide them with a pathway forward to careers in technology,” she said.

Registrations for the program close on April 14.

To sign up, visit梧桐夜网techgirlsmovement.org

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

Trump orders US military strike on Syria

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Pete MarovichUS President Donald Trump has made a statement after the US military launched a missile strike in Syria.
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Below is a full transcript of his speech:

“My fellow Americans, on Tuesday Syrian dictatorBashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.

Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.

It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God shouldever suffer such horror.

Tonight Iordered a targeted military strike on theairfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

It is in this vital national security interest of the United Statesto prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.

There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemicalweapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN SecurityCouncil

Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically.

As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United Statesand its allies.

Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.

We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world.

Wepray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed, and we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail

Good night and God bless America and the entire world.Thank you.”

How to avoid retiring with insufficient super

Last year, after reading more advice on how individual women could overcome the gap in retirement savings, the Australia Institute’s chief economist Dr Richard Denniss decided to write some advice of his own.
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To avoid the pitfall of retiring with insufficient superannuation, he recommends women follow these four rules:

1. Don’t go into caring professions. Do not be a nurse, or work in childcare, or do a job where you help other people, because we will pay you low wages.

2. Don’t take time out of work while you are young. Do you not understand the way compound interest works? If you do take time out of work while you are young, it will have a catastrophic effect on your retirement income.

3. Don’t take time out of work to care for your parents, or your partner’s parents, in your 50s. These are your peak earning years, so you need to work as long as you can and put as much into super as possible.

4. Do not be a woman. Because we will pay you roughly 17 per cent less than a man for similar work.

It is starkly divergent from the proliferous advice women receive about their financial security: that if they were more financially literate or made better decisions or picked a better super account, they could minimise the retirement gap.

“If you read some of the advice aimed at women, you could be forgiven for thinking retirement income is like a nice pair of shoes and it’s your job to hunt down a bargain,” Denniss says.

The reality, he says, is that no information campaign, decision-making tool or new website can assist women overcome the structural flaws in our superannuation system.

The gap between what men and women retire with in Australia is incontrovertible.

A report by the Senate’s economic committee last year found that one in three Australian women retire with nothing at all, and that on average men end their working lives with superannuation balances twice as large as women’s.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the average Australian man retires with $197,054 while the average woman retires with just $104,734. This represents a 46.6 per cent gap.

It is exacerbated by the superannuation tax concessions, which the Senate report concludes are poorly targeted. Men, in aggregate, receive double the superannuation tax concessions as women.

“The existence of super tax concessions is heavily stacked against women,” Denniss says. “It’s inequitable, and because women are more likely to be poor it’s particularly inequitable for women.”

As it stands, low-income earners pay more tax on their retirement savings than they do on their ordinary income. By contrast, high-income earners pay far less tax on their superannuation contributions than on their salaries.

Poorer people effectively pay a penalty tax on their super while the wealthiest 5 per cent of the population reaps more than $10 billion a year in tax concessions.

Women, who comprise the majority of the 3.6 million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year, bear the brunt of this double whammy.

It makes the emphasis on women’s financial skills a little galling to Felicity Reynolds, the chief executive of the Mercy Foundation.

“It is a generalisation, but I would suggest that there are many women who are very, very good at managing a very small amount of money, and I think that gets lost,” Reynolds says.

Increasingly, she sees women being offered educational programs rather than solutions for affordable housing and structural inequities.

“These women could teach courses on saving money,” Reynolds says. “It’s less about a lack of financial literacy and more about a lack of finances due to structural inequity.”

Denniss agrees. “The focus on education is the perfect political strategy if you want to maintain the status quo,” he says. “Not only do the campaigns further confuse people, they are effective in making individuals blame themselves for the situation rather than question the whole system. We need to fundamentally change super and retirement income in Australia.”

Tax concessions cost $29.6 billion a year and the vast majority of those flow to high-income earners. Treasury estimates suggest that tax concessions given to the wealthiest 1 per cent of income earners is far more expensive than simply paying them the age pension.

As a case in point, Denniss cites the Tax Office’s revelation that there is a self-managed super fund with a balance of $100 million.

“If the account holder is over 65, they would be able to draw down $10 million a year and pay zero tax on it. Zero,” Denniss says.

How providing a tax break to a person who would never have been eligible for the age pension is supposed to “save money” is unclear. Regardless, a woman who spends her life earning the minimum wage is unable to access a similar tax break.

So if you are a woman looking to prepare for retirement, it’s wise to examine the fees your super manager charges and look to making additional contributions. But don’t be fooled into believing that through smart choices you can overcome the retirement gap between men and women.

For that, you’ll either need to follow Denniss’ advice or lobby for reform.

Georgina Dent is a journalist, editor and TV commentator with a keen focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

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

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