Spin king Shane Warne endorses Nathan Lyon as Australia’s go-to bowling man

Shane Warne backs Nathan Lyon as the go-to man in Australia’s bowling line-up. Photo: Morne de KlerkAustralian cricket great Shane Warne has endorsed Nathan Lyon as “the first picked” in the Test side, describing the former ACT Comets spinner as one of the “most important” in the team and a “go-to man” for captain Steve Smith.
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Lyon celebrated his 50th Test in style, taking three wickets in the West Indies first innings as Australia demolished the visitors in Hobart to win by an innings and 212 runs.

Lyon is the most successful finger-spinner in Australian Test history and the only off-spinner to play 50 Tests.

But uncertainty has hovered over his position in the team for most of his career as Australia launched a search for a long-term successor to champion leg-spinner Warne.

Warne says the former Manuka Oval curator has finally put any questions about his role in the team to bed, and is adamant he will evolve now that he sits comfortably in the selection ranks.

“What a great story Nathan Lyon is. He had his knockers when he first came into the Australian side, but he’s nearly one of the first picked,” Warne said on Channel Nine.

“He’s nearly one of the most important players in the Australian side because if you didn’t have Nathan Lyon in that side, who else is there around the country?

“We’ve got some good young spinners, but [Lyon] is a go-to man for Steve Smith and he was for Michael Clarke. Just look at the Ashes series recently, [Clarke] threw the ball to [Lyon in seaming conditions. He can bowl in all conditions.”

Lyon has now claimed 175 wickets in his 50-Test career and will take his place in the line-up for the Boxing Day match at the MCG.

He is fifth on the all-time leading wicket-takers for Australian spinners, sitting behind Warne (708), Richie Benaud (248), Clarrie Grimmett (216) and Stuart MacGill (208).

Australia used 12 spinners in a wide-ranging search for a long-term successor to Warne when he retired in 2007.

Warne and former Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy are united in the belief that Lyon now owns the mantle and will improve even more as the 28-year-old embraces selection certainty.

“He’s a good team man, his record is standing up and I reckon he’s getting more confidence because he feels like he’s part of the side, too,” Warne said.

“Every time he gets out to bowl, he’s not afraid to get the ball out there. The way he’s bowling at the moment is about as good as he’s ever bowled.]

“…[In the first-innings against the West Indies] he knew the team needed him to play a role and he did it.”

Lyon was scarcely used in the second innings on Saturday as Australia’s quicks tore through the West Indies batting line-up.

The Young junior bowled just four overs as Australia romped to an easy win.

But it was his first-innings performance that had Warne and Healy raving as he took three early wickets to trigger the West Indies’ collapse.

“For me, I was in and out of the side in 1991-92. At the Boxing Day Test match in 1992 I took 7-52 and then I knew I was in the team, after that you approach the game differently,” Warne said.

“You start thinking about how you’re going to bowl rather than am I getting a game. I think we’re seeing Nathan Lyon evolve now, a bit more expansive with his thinking.”

Healy added: “That’s really exciting, he’s in his 50th Test and he’s got such a wonderful platform that he’s laid. He’s got all that experimentation and freedom to perform … A very dependable cricketer.”

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Australian jockeys on show against the best at Hong Kong International Races day

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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The jockeys’ room at Sha Tin on Sunday may quite easily be mistaken for Randwick or Flemington as no less than nine Australian riders saddle up on Hong Kong International Races day.

There may be only a trio of horses – Preferment, Lucia Valentina and Criterion – flying the flag for Australia, but its jockeys are in demand with their reputations of being among the best in the world.

There is no disputing the king of Hong Kong is Brazilian Joao Moreira, who makes frequent trips to Australia for group 1s, but leading the chasers are Zac Purton and Brett Prebble, who sit second and third on the jockeys premiership.

“It is good to see the boys again,” Purton said. “We see quite a bit of each other these days because we are travelling more as jockeys but you notice there more Aussie boys around.

“There are four of us up here at the moment [on contract] and, out of nine of 10 western jockeys, it is a good number to have and shows how well thought of we are.

“Hong Kong racing in general is very similar to Australia, so it is easy for someone coming from home to fit in and adapt here. Whereas it can be tougher for the European jockeys because it is a completely different style for them.

“It is tough but I think most of the Aussies do well here because it is so tough and competitive at home.”

Chad Schofield and Nash Rawiller also have riding contracts in the former colony. Rawiller will ride Contentment, which is a rough hope of upsetting favourite Able Friend in the Hong Kong Mile, and a handful of jockeys have flown in for the International meeting.

“It’s a credit to our jockeys in Australia to have so many up here for this day,” said Tommy Berry, who has ridden with success in Hong Kong and is completing a contract in Japan. “People in Hong Kong are starting to see it and bring us here for more short-term contracts.

“There are more opportunities for all of us to ride internationally and I think it is because we really have a high level of competition at home.”

Berry has rides in each of the international races, three for John Moore, but he admits they are outsiders.

Hugh Bowman, who has also been in Japan for the past month, takes the ride on Preferment and has been picked up for several rides on the card, while Craig Williams reunites with Criterion, on which he won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier in the year, in the Hong Kong Cup.

“He feels great and can measure up to this class again as he has shown in the past,” Williams said. “We went close last year [when third] but we need the breaks to go our way [from barrier 13].”

Damien Oliver has the seat on Lucia Valentina in the Hong Kong Cup and James McDonald has the ride on Japanese Cup contender Satono Aladdin.

If an Australian horse can’t lift one of the main prizes, the attention will turn to the jockeys and Purton believes he may be able to go one better than last year on Military Attack in the Cup after running second on him, beaten by a short head.

“He just got touch off in this race last year,” Purton said. “He always turns up on the big days and has been a fantastic horse over a couple of seasons.

“Although we won last time, I thought it was a bit of below par performance from what he can give. Caspar [Fownes] has targeted this race with him and I think he will lift.”

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Duo offering a coal for Christmas service

O Coal All Ye Faithful: Wollongong entrepreneur Luke Szalla is all generosity with a handful of coal this Christmas. Picture: Georgia MattsThe legend of getting coal for Christmas has a part in just about every country’s Yuletide lore.
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Be a good child or your stocking will have only coal in it, the threat would go.

Now a pair of Wollongong entrepreneurs is offering the black diamond, as it was once known, for delivery this Christmas, for just $19.95, via their online trading business.

At that price it might turn out to be one of the most expensive per-gramcoal purchases going, but business partnersRegan Kerr and Luke Szalla said the raw material is close to the least expensive of their inputs.

“The coal’s not the biggest cost at all,” Mr Kerr said.

“We wash it up real nice so it’s clean and shiny. We put it into a nice little display box, we wrap it and put a ribbon on top, then we pack it up and send it.”

Send it to your enemies, send it to your friends, and you can even sit back in the righteous knowledge you have contributed to a small piece of carbon capture and storage, saving the coal from being burned.

The business partners wereinspired by the “send your enemies glitter” campaign earlier this year, and when they saw some sellers delivering coal for Christmas in the US, they thought they could do it better.

Now they are filling orders coming from the US.

They initially found it difficult to find a supplier for their needs –miners would have a minimum order of 200 tonnes, and some online brokers wouldn’t respond for less than 30,000 tonnes.

But now they have a supply and business ispicking up for the Send Coal team.

When the Mercury caught up with Mr Kerr on Friday, he was delivering another load of coal to their temporary premises and preparing to wash it for sale.

He and Mr Szalla are friends from school and have become business partners, focusing on online trading. They also runan online breakfast smoothie sales business, Compleat.

But that has had to take a back seat while their Send Coal idea has its moment that must be seized.

“It’s a fun side project that’s taken over our lives,” Mr Kerr said.

Mr Szalla said with the coal being about 165 million years old, it was a present for the ages.

“Theoretically, you could put this on a displayshelf and admire the sedimentary remains of ancient vegetation for millions of years to come –the longevity is great,” Mr Szalla said.

“It’d be perfect to send to the officesof your favourite Coalition MP”.

Illawarra Mercury

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Qantas will no longer carry racing greyhounds on flights to Asia

Greyhounds sent to Macau are kept in poor conditions, says Animals Australia. Photo: ABC 7:30Exported greyhounds receive a “death sentence”: ABC 7:30 report
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Qantas will no longer carry racing greyhounds on flights to Asia in what animal activists say is a “win for gentle dogs facing certain death”.

The move follows revelations that greyhounds were being exported to Hong Kong and Macau. As many as 800 dogs were being kept in prison-like cells in Macau to replace those that had been culled and incinerated.

It means Australia’s two major carriers to Asia, Qantas and Cathay Pacific, will no longer carry racing greyhounds as freight.

The change of heart followed coverage last week by the ABC of an investigation by Animals Australia into the export of dogs to Hong Kong and Macau.

Australians have been exporting dogs to countries like Macau and China, an investigation by the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed.

The practice is not illegal but, without the required passports, it is against rules set out by Greyhounds Australasia.

Animals Australia said as many as 30 dogs a month – dogs that were too slow to race on Australian tracks – were being condemned to a death sentence, and being held in conditions that were “a blatant breach of the industry’s own rules”.

Animals Australia said the “game-changing decision” by Qantas was “a win for the gentle dogs exported to certain death each year” and for its “passionate and relentless supporters and caring community members who have been leaving no stone unturned to be a voice for these animals”.

In its expose, the organisation claimed more than 800 dogs were kept in squalid conditions in cages, dozens were destroyed every month, and one dog died on the track every day, animal rights advocates estimated, according to the report.

“For those dogs it’s actually a straight-out death sentence,” Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White said.

“The conditions are awful, it’s prison-like, barren cells, and in fact it really is like being exported to another country and put on death row,” she told 7.30.

Athough Qantas has not issued a formal announcement, it telegraphed the change in policy on social media on Friday night.

“We share your concerns about the disturbing story that appeared on the 7.30 Report earlier in the week,” Qantas said in response to inquiries about its policies, including by Animals Australia.

In a response, the carrier acknowledged that it had transported a small number of racing greyhounds to Asia.

“However in light of the story we have made the decision to no longer provide racing greyhound freight services to Asia.”

On Friday night, an animal activist on Twitter known as @Nez_animallover posted an image of dead greyhounds dumped in a mass grave and asked Qantas if it was true it was going to ban exports of racing greyhounds.

Qantas responded nearly immediately.  @Nez_animallover In light of the recent ‘7.30 Report’ story, we’ve decided to no longer provide racing greyhound freight services to Asia.— Qantas (@Qantas) December 11, 2015

The response on social media was overwhelmingly positive.

“Qantas thank you so much for refusing to export our wonderful greyhounds to a fate worse than death! Well done for taking the right stand, the only stand, to protect these dogs. Qantas – you are the BEST!” said one supporter on Facebook.

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Brave little Jaxon loses fight with cancer

IT was a story that touched almost every person in the Ballarat community.
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A story of a boy who never let the word cancer get in his way.

For those who knew Jaxon Cooper, you may have heard him say “stuff you cancer”.

That’s exactly what the brave 11-year-old did right up until the end.

Sadly, Jaxon lost his battle with aninoperable brainstem tumour on Friday night after bravely fighting for his life since hewasdiagnosed last year.

Jaxon’s family shared a message to the local community who have followed Jaxon’s incredible journey on Saturday morning, saying “Last night, surrounded by family Jaxon slipped away. He is now free to run, play and talk.

He was only here with us for such a short time, but has taught us so much. He has done more than most adults have done on their lifetime.

Jaxon has shown us to live each day and treasure every moment and that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Brave little Jaxon loses fight with cancer Jaxon surrounded by mum Jodie, dad Rob and his siblings Grace, 4, Logan, 8, and Tyson, 13.

Jaxon as principal for a day at Black Hill Primary School.

Jaxon spent much of his time focused on raising money for ‘Dream Day’ which raises money for brain cancer research.

Jaxon wearing a beanie for Brain Cancer Action Week.

Jaxon ticked off his watching the New York Knicks from his bucket list.

Jaxon ticked off his watching the New York Knicks play from his bucket list.

Paul Tudorovic gives Jaxon a signed New York Knicks shirt.

TweetFacebookIn his honor make today and everyday count.”

Over the weekend hundreds of tributes flooded in for Jaxon who inspired an entire community to remember justhow precious the gift of life is.

But no one is more proud of Jaxon and his journey thanhis family.

Jaxon’s mother, Jodie Cooper said she will always remember her little star as the cheeky boy who wanted nothing more than to beat cancer and ensure other children would neverbe facedwith the same terrifying reality he experienced.

“He was an average kid, but wanted to beat cancer and was determined to help others and make sure other kids didn’t go through the same thing,” she said.

“He was always positive andwanted to get the best out of life.

“He had an ability to always make us laugh and he was always full of energy.”

Despite being told he had less than 12 months to live after doctors found the inoperable tumour, Jaxon continued to defy all the odds to make a difference.

He made himself amission to prove he couldcomplete his bucket list of everything he would like to achieve.

“We started the bucket list as a little thing to help him and us,” Jodie said.

“How big it got was amazing.”

Thanks to the community’s generosity, Jaxon flew to America last year to watch his favourite NBA team, the New York Knicks.

“When we watched the Knicks, he turned around–it was like he couldn’t talk–and said‘that was the best night ever’,” his mother said.

Jaxonalso explored the Great Barrier Reef, watched his parents get married in Cairns, met the players from Melbourne United and this year went back to school.

But it was his meeting with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, where he stood tall and advocated for funding formedical research into brain cancer and, ultimately, his goal tofind a cure that really left a imprint on the entire nation.

“We are extremely proud. Even through his bucket list he wanted to do things that would help others,” Jodie said.

“It shows us, even as an adult, that‘you can get on with it’. His determination to be who he could be is something I will never forget.”

But Jaxon and everything he has achieved for brain cancer will never be forgotten.

“We made him a promise to raise awareness for children’s brain cancer and help find a cure,” Jodie said.

Hundreds of tributes have flooded into the Jaxon’s Journey Facebook page with many people commenting on the how‘extraordinary’ Jaxon was.

“Jax you have taught us all so much along the way,” one message read.

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NBL: New Zealand Breakers v Sydney Kings | Photos

NBL: New Zealand Breakers v Sydney Kings | Photos Charles Jackson of the Breakers lays the ball up during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
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Head coach Joe Connelly of the Kings reacts after losing the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Corey Webster of the Breakers lays the ball up as Julian Khazzouh of the Kings defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Cedric Jackson of the Breakers shoots during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Cedric Jackson of the Breakers shoots during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Head coach Joe Connelly of the Kings reacts during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Corey Webster of the Breakers lays the ball up during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Damion James of the Kings walks off after losing the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Charles Jackson of the Breakersn complains to the referee during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Alex Pledger of the Breakers lays the ball up as Julian Khazzouh of the Kings defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Charles Jackson of the Breakers complains to the referee during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Corey Webster of the Breakers makes a break during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Charles Jackson of the Breakers lays the ball up as Damion James of the Kings defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Alex Pledger of the Breakers lays the ball up as Jerome Hill of the Kings defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Corey Webster of the Breakers passes the ball during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Charles Jackson of the Breakersn lays the ball up during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Damion James of the Kings reacts after comitting a foul during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Julian Khazzouh of the Kings steals the ball off Mika Vukona of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Angus Brandt of the Kings shoots during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Cedric Jackson of the Breakers lays the ball up during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Damion James of the Kings is blocked by Tai Wesley of the Breakers and Alex Pledger of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Damion James of the Kings is blocked by Tai Wesley of the Breakers and Alex Pledger of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Mika Vukona of the Breakers defends with Corey Webster of the Breakers against Julian Khazzouh of the Kings during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Damion James of the Kings is blocked by Tai Wesley of the Breakers and Alex Pledger of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Cedric Jackson of the Breakers defends as Julian Khazzouh of the Kings shoots three points during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Mika Vukona of the Breakers and Alex Pledger of the Breakers secure the rebound during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Jason Cadee of the Kings passes the ball back around Cedric Jackson of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Tommy Garlepp of the Kings tries to dribble past Tai Wesley of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Julian Khazzouh of the Kings tries to get past Cedric Jackson of the Breakers during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Julian Khazzouh of the Kings and Angus Brandt of the Kings collect the rebound during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Tai Wesley of the Breakers complains to the referee during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Charles Jackson of the Breakersn secures a rebound during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Julian Khazzouh of the Kings looks to shoot during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Jason Cadee of the Kings lays the ball up as Cedric Jackson of the Breakers defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Jason Cadee of the Kings lays the ball up as Cedric Jackson of the Breakers defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Julian Khazzouh of the Kings lays the ball up during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Tai Wesley of the Breakers complains to the referee during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Jason Cadee of the Kings lays the ball up as Tai Wesley of the Breakers defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Julian Khazzouh of the Kings lays the ball up as Charles Jackson of the Breakers defends during the round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena on December 11, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

TweetFacebook Round 10 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Sydney Kings.

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Paris UN Climate Conference 2015: Zombies trying to avoiding a warming apocalypse

Former US Vice-President Al Gore, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal and Californian Governor Edmund Brown at the climate conference. The talks were supposed to finish at 6pm Friday but missed the deadline.
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A weary Segolene Royal, No. 3 in the French government, was having little of one journalist’s query that the fate of the Paris climate talks was now in the hands of sleep-deprived zombies.

“Why zombies? Have you never worked for two or three days straight?,” she told a clutch of reporters deep inside the warren of meeting rooms and pavilions at the summit site.

“The more you work the less tired you are – that’s my philosophy,” Ms Royal added with elan. “It’s fantastic these 10,000 people are trying to save the world.”

The upbeat assessment belies the experience of negotiators, some of them heading into their third day without sleep, as the French hosts drive towards an agreement by some time on Saturday – only a day over schedule so far.

Take Fobissie Kalame​, a senior – and sometimes the only – negotiator seemingly punch-drunk after fighting Cameroon’s corner for 48 hours straight.

“I’m losing my stability – my centre of gravity,” Dr Kalame, who in civilian life teaches at the University of Helsinki in Finland. “I feel sick, I just want to sleep.”

Not much chance of that for the climate policy expert, who says he is toiling so far without success to get text dealing with carbon markets and deforestation in the final text.

As the intense talks dragged deep into Friday morning, idle staffers were grabbing naps in corners or in corridors. “Some were just barefoot – it’s normal,” Kalame said, propping himself up at a table near a well-patronised coffee cart.

Indeed, seemingly endless rounds of discussions that run overtime have become the norm at climate summits. More is at stake this time around given the need to set targets to cut carbon emissions beyond 2020 before dangerous climate change – marked as 2 degrees warming above pre-industrial levels – becomes unavoidable.

Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign minister, was on hand for consultations up until 4am before breaking off to rest and report back to Canberra.

Many of the Australian delegation stayed on until 6am when they left the freezing conference room briefly to their hotels for breakfast and warmth.

“It was bitter,” one staffer said. “We were cold and hungry.”

The Aussies were relying on adrenaline and passion to get through.  Staff were told: “This is a crunchy point”. After 20 years of talks it was “too critical to make a mistake”.

Late-night texting

Mistakes may be less a problem for the outcome of the conference than the determined actions of well-briefed, organised and powerful teams.

A European negotiator said the Americans all seemed  too fit and alert, led by their tireless top climate negotiator Todd Stern.

At about 4.15am, in a small group session, the US chief demanded changes to a crucial article dealing with the aid wealthier nations will be offering to developing nations to nudge them to a lower-carbon growth path and help them cope with climate impacts now and in the future.

Instead of “shall” give aid, donors will only be “expected to” provide help, a change the European delegate said appeared aimed at avoiding any legal obligation.

The repercussions of the change, reluctantly waved through by the EU, would stir angst and drain the energies of developing nation blocs through the rest of the day. It also put at risk the chances of a successful agreement, Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s chief negotiator told Fairfax Media and two French journalists later in the day.

“The key to an agreement is finance,” Ms Mxakato-Diseko said, blaming the Umbrella Group that includes the US and Australia. “Once you unlock finance, everything will fall into place.”

The finance problem – with developing nations expecting to be promised at least $US100 billion ($136 billion) a year by 2020 – joins reviews of targets and their transparency as key remaining issues.

The French say they will release the final text of the agreement late on Saturday morning,  releasing exhausted delegates to get some much-needed rest.

For some of the Australians, a couple of long plane rides awaits, and then days of debriefing in Canberra.

Fairfax Media is a partner of the United Nations Foundation

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Estancia La Bamba de Areco, Argentina review: The real-life Rancho Relaxo

Estancia La Bamba, Argentina. Photo: Craig Platt Estancia La Bamba, Argentina. Photo: Craig Platt
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Estancia La Bamba, Argentina. Photo: Craig Platt

Estancia La Bamba, Argentina. Photo: Craig Platt

The place

Estancia La Bamba de Areco The location

Located 123 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires, the Estancia La Bamba is located in a gorgeous rural setting, surrounded by sweeping grass plains, babbling creeks and tree-lined paddocks. In fact, the surrounding countryside looks a lot like county Victoria – green farmland, grain silos, corn and chicken farms. Even eucalypts mixed among elms, firs and other trees. The main difference is it’s much flatter – there is little topological variety. The final stretch to reach the property takes us off the main roads and on to a dirt track. The space

We’re met at the gate by a gaucho on horseback who leads us along a beautiful tree-lined avenue to the entrance to the ranch, where the entire staff is lined-up to greet us individually. The colonial-style main building is a striking red, built around a central courtyard and surrounded by vast gardens, including a polo field. The lounge, dining room and library are all located in this building and nearby is La Pulperia, a 19th-Century structure formerly used as a shelter for horses and carriages but now converted into a lodge-style lounge and breakfast area. At the rear of the property are the elegant stables, which almost match the homestead in their grandeur. There’s also a swimming pool – one of the more modern touches for property that dates back to 1830. Estancia La Bamba first became a guest house in the 70s but was purchased in 2007 by a French polo fan (hence the field) and underwent major renovations, reopening in 2010. It features 11 rooms and suites, each named after a famous polo horse. Comfort factor

The room is fairly minimalist, though fits with the feel of the property. There’s a high, wrought-iron four-poster bed, an open fireplace and an antique dresser (but no wardrobe). The bathroom has a classic French feel, with chequered tiles and a bidet. There is a bath with a hand shower, but there is only a cradle for the shower head above the bath taps – there’s no wall fixture to place it in, so showering is a little impractical. This seems to be a deliberate style choice to encourage relaxing baths over quick showers. The food

Meals are all-inclusive, which is a necessity unless you have your own transport. Fortunately there’s no reason you would want to miss any of the meals. The quality of the food is excellent and, as you would expect from a rural Argentinean property, meat features heavily on the menu. Lunch is in an outdoor barbecue area, while dinner is in the communal dining room. It’s a good opportunity to mingle with the other guests (there are also nightly pre-dinner drinks in the lounge and are also included) from diverse backgrounds – during my stay I meet visitors from Australia, the UK, Brazil, France and the US. It’s three course meals at night and the chef is present to tell us about the dishes, which maintain local traditions with modern twists. Stepping out

This is a rural escape, so there’s no real need to leave the property. The estancia offers a range of activities to keep guests entertained. Horseback riding is the most popular option, with the resident gauchos available to provide guided rides in the mornings and afternoons. The polo field is also put to use during my visit, with the estancia’s own team taking on another local group in a practice match. A highlight is also a performance by one of the station’s gauchos who shows off extraordinary “horse whisperer” skills to put on a display that can best be described as “horse yoga”. The trust between man and beast as they position themselves into a variety of poses is highly impressive. The verdict

Like the property featured in that classic Simpsons episode, Estancia La Bamba is a real-life ‘Rancho Relaxo’ ideal for recharging the batteries after a hectic visit to bustling Buenos Aires, while also offering some cultural insight to Argentina’s gaucho traditions. How to get there

LAN flies from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland with connections to Buenos Aires. South America Travel Centre (see below) can arrange transfers to Estancia La Bamba from the city. http://梧桐夜网lan南京夜网  See and Do

The South America Travel Centre can create tailor-made itineraries including accommodation, transfers, activities and domestic travel across the continent. See http://southamericatravelcentre南京夜网419论坛  Essentials

Rooms at Estancia La Bamba start from $US590 ($830) per room per night, low season (from $US790 ($1103) per night high season). Prices include meals, drinks (including alcoholic drinks during meal times) and activities. See http://梧桐夜网labambadeareco南京夜网

The writer travelled as a guest of the South America Travel Centre and LAN.

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Missing from the classroom and in court

Research shows education can provide real protection against falling into a life of crime. Photo: SuppliedAlmost 40 per cent of Victorian children charged with criminal offences are not enrolled at school, new research has found.
Nanjing Night Net

Children’s Court president Judge Amanda Chambers said magistrates were frustrated about the large number of young people, particularly boys, who were not in school when they appeared in court.

“Nothing was being done,” she said. “There was no sense of urgency about what was a crisis for the young men appearing in this court.”

The new figures were included in a Victoria University evaluation of an initiative that connects young people with education and training when they appear before the criminal division of the Children’s Court. It found that 43 per cent of clients had not attended a single day of school in the previous month, and 38 per cent had been out of school for more than six months. One 15-year-old boy had been out of school for more than two years.

Judge Chambers said education provided “real protection” against crime, and saved money down the track.

“Incarceration isn’t the answer. Our focus is on rehabilitating them,” she said.

“It’s unfortunate they have an interaction with the court but the positive is that this initiative provides an opportunity … to bring education back in. I wish there was more happening earlier on.”

The Education Justice Initiative, which began in September last year, is funded by the Education Department and managed by Parkville College, a school which teaches young people in custody.

Staff have worked closely with 103 young people in court, helping them contact education providers to determine the best option. They then help the young person set up interviews, which hopefully leads to enrolment.

Many of the clients are from disruptive households or live in out-of-home care. Seventy per cent had attended four or more schools, and many had been suspended or expelled.

The report said that warnings and suspensions issued by schools often discouraged students from attending.

Report author Kitty te Riele​ said young people who were disengaged with school had more time on their hands, which could lead to criminal behaviour.

Living in poverty, being in out-of-home care, and living in disruptive households can also lead to disengagement from education and criminal behaviour.

“Because their life is quite disruptive, and they may not have the family to support them, getting back to school is not always straightforward.”

The Victoria University associate professor said schools were sometimes reluctant to enrol young people who had a brush with the law.

“Sometimes it takes a fair bit of time to get schools on board,” she said.

The evaluation said there was evidence the program helped divert young people away from a custodial sentence. It was likely to also reduce recidivism.

All of the clients involved in the initiative were willing to engage with education, and 75 per cent reconnected with education.

The Age revealed last year that 10,000 vulnerable children were dropping out of Victorian high schools, training and apprenticeships every year.

Victorian students must complete year 10 and then have to remain in full-time education, training or employment until they turn 17.

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It’s time to crunch the numbers as the only measure of success

I’m getting sick of reading that our playing numbers are up again. It’s getting monotonous.
Nanjing Night Net

Up 20 per cent this week and schools programs bursting at the seams. Last week, news that girls’ football has overtaken netball to become No.1.

I’m being facetious, of course, but not entirely without some truth in the statement, because the real question is what are we doing with the numbers?

We’ve always been the biggest. It’s just that now football’s popularity is translating into all sectors of society, across both genders, and all forms of the game.

But scale was never the main issue. Conversion was – turning our giant numbers into a unified machine that builds the game into the largest in the country, commercially.

That means crowds and broadcast revenues.

That is the last piece of the puzzle and one that we have not yet cracked.

Yes, every week there are more people playing football, but we can no longer be proud and pleased only at this. Scale is only of substantial value if we all pull together to build our league to the point where the funds start to trickle down, rather than up.

This is what I don’t understand: why the game hasn’t worked out yet that the vast majority of the ills we face are solved by getting everyone into stadiums, by working together for the common good.

The high cost of football is killing kids and parents. Get into stadiums, support a club, raise the broadcast numbers and a television deal 10 or 20 times that of today will deliver funds to every grassroots club in the country to lower the cost to play.

Lower costs means more talent, more participants, higher memberships in A-League clubs, a virtuous cycle.

I’ve written this several times over the past decade and the sad truth and the great challenge is we haven’t yet cracked it. The exciting part is what could we be if we did?

Many see the lack of big names this season as a major problem, whereas I look at the issue from the opposite viewpoint. When we all get into the stadiums, we’ll be able to afford any marquee in the world and compete with the United States’ Major League Soccer. Instead of expecting A-League clubs to spend more, let’s build the game’s revenues so that they can.

We should have 50,000-plus crowds at every game, feeding higher salaries to the players and more to spend on international marquees. A Del Piero for every club, and more than enough funds to feed many mouths.

Perhaps some incentivisation for grassroots clubs. It wouldn’t be difficult to monitor the number of attendees from any club, academy or school, which could translate to rewards that serve to create mutual benefits at all levels. A pull strategy, rather than push.

Whatever the mechanisms, we need innovative thinking, greater communication and more alignment of goals in the game so that everyone wins by working together.

It is simply not acceptable that at the same time as we announce greater and greater numbers of participants, which now happens on an annual basis, the professional competition is as yet commercially unstable.

Incredible numbers should automatically mean incredible strength.

But only if we all work together, at every level.

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