Puppy love could still turn sour

EVER since Michael Clarke was handed the leadership baton, it seemed that Pup was on a recruitment drive.
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A campaign to convince the many knockers that this ”young punk” surely can be man to hold what many believe to be the most important job in this country.

To fight off the opinion that the young man who has sported the peroxide look, worn the ear rings, driven the fast cars and had the supermodel companions surely couldn’t follow in the footsteps of street fighters like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor.

But after a breathtaking triple century, Clarke’s once empty bandwagon is now overflowing.

His demolition of India in Sydney was sublime to say the least, and exemplified leadership at its very best.

Shots all around the wicket, with a level of confidence and timing rarely seen from his unsponsored blade.

I didn’t think I would ever be more impressed with a Michael Clarke knock than his 151 against South Africa in Cape Town in November.

That was a gutsy, brave knock that ensured his side complied a respectable total.

There are comparisons to both those knocks, with Australia 3-37 when he came to crease (3-40 at Cape Town), but this innings soon changed from a dog-fight to a master class.

The other major argument against Clarke becoming our new leader was at the time he was barely demanding a place in the team.

His unbeaten 329 was his fourth Test ton since taking charge, in comparison to none in the 12 months leading up.

Combined with his cleverness in the field placements and with bowling changes, it’s nothing but a big tick for the 30-year-old.

And the cherry on top of our new-found love for Clarke is his unselfish decision to call time on his innings.

Even with the forecast of rain today, he could have batted on until deep into final session and had a crack at the magical 400, but put the team first.

But like any relationship, one event could easily end this bout of ”Puppy Love”.

A disastrous Ashes campaign, even if Clarke himself stands up with the bat, is all that it will take to get people off-side again.

As impressive as this current form is, it is against an Indian team which suffers from major cases of homesickness.

England are still the benchmark, and even with the likes of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja there is hope, but there’s still a lot of work needed to done before 2013 rolls around.

Losses to New Zealand and an inability to pass 50 against South Africa to close 2011 is evidence of that.

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

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Top fancies lose first Twenty20 games

BIG BASH: Wests batsman Chris Young on the attack yesterday against Hamwicks at Harker Oval. – Picture by Dean OslandTWO of the hot favourites for the Newcastle grade cricket Twenty20 crown suffered shock defeats yesterday in the opening round.
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Two-time defending champions University fell seven runs short of chasing down Waratah-Mayfield’s 119 at University Oval and Hamilton-Wickham were rolled for 73 in reply to Western Suburbs’ 9-86 at Harker Oval.

With Webber brothers Sam and Matt and captain Kirk Mullard in their ranks, Hamwicks boast some of the most destructive hitters in the competition.

Only a month ago at Harker Oval Sam Webber belted 15 sixes in a knock of 175.

But yesterday Webber made just six in five balls in a game that failed to produce a single six.

Fresh from match figures of 9-60 in the two-day win over Cardiff-Boolaroo, Rosellas captain Ben Woolmer took 2-14 off four overs against Hamwicks.

‘‘We bowled and fielded very well,’’ Woolmer said.

‘‘It was definitely a good win with only 86 on the board. We were looking a bit dodgy at the start at 6-30.’’

No.5 Wests batsman Todd Griffith top-scored for the game with 28, an innings that proved a saviour for the home side.

University captain Josh Emerton said he believed his and Daniel Odd’s dismissals led to the loss.

‘‘We restricted them pretty well as the pitch was dry, but a couple of decisions were pretty costly at our end,’’ Emerton said.

Waratah’s Myles Cook (34) and Nathan Hudson (36) were the backbone of the Tahs’ 119 from 19.3 overs.

Opening bowler Nathan Martin then cemented Waratah’s second win of the summer with a spell of 4-24 in 3.1 overs.

Merewether (5-124) chased down Stockton-Raymond Terrace’s 123 with four balls to spare at Lynn Oval.

And Charlestown got the points when they defended 5-154 against Toronto (140) at Ron Hill Oval.

Wallsend’s Joe Curk (56) ensured the Tigers handed Cardiff-Boolaroo a 91-run defeat at Wallsend Oval.

The Tigers made 7-196 and dismissed the CBs for 105 in 13 overs, thanks to 4-23 from Cameron Roxby.

Competition leaders Belmont (4-148) chased down Newcastle City’s 7-144 at Cahill Oval after an unbeaten 53 from skipper Mark Littlewood.

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Sex offences under spotlight

Attorney-General Brian Wightman.ATTORNEY-GENERAL Brian Wightman has a wide-ranging legislative agenda for 2012, with the sex industry, electoral donations, surrogacy and sex offender sentencing all on his list.
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Sex offender sentencing is one of the more high-profile issues Mr Wightman will be considering.

He has referred the issue to the Sentencing Advisory Council.

“It’s very, very important that we make sure that we have an informed debate,” he said.

Mr Wightman said the council, in its second year of operation, would provide a good grounding for informed debate on a range of legal issues as its members were all experts in the operation of the justice system.

“We all have opinions on justice but at times we’re very reactionary,” he said.

“I think it’s absolutely vitally important that we have a link between the government and the public and the justice system.”

Mr Wightman will also follow up on work done by the council in relation to arson sentencing and said he was expecting the council to soon release a paper relating to assaults on emergency service workers.

He said he was eagerly awaiting a paper from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute on a review of sections of the Criminal Code relating to child sex offences, which was triggered by the 2009 case of a twelve-year-old girl sold for sex by her mother and a family friend.

Mr Wightman said legislative changes would be made if necessary.

He is hoping to release a discussion paper relating to electoral donations either this month or next, which will look at whether there should be a cap on campaign expenditure for House of Assembly candidates – a cap already applies to Legislative Council candidates.

A long-awaited discussion paper on the regulation of the state’s sex industry is also expected this month.

“It will particularly focus on the health and safety of sex workers and the protection of public health,” Mr Wightman said.

He expects to be able to re-introduce legislation to allow altruistic surrogacy, following an inquiry by a Legislative Council committee.

Mr Wightman said his department was working through the committee’s recommendations and that he hoped to have the amended legislation before the Parliament this year.

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

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Real men lift heavy things

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Physically we were spent before departure, but greatness is rarely achieved being sensible.

Some people believe men are basically useless unless they’re lifting something.

That’s harsh because many men are often useless lifting things too. But we must be doing something right because people keep asking us to lift things.

So the other day, the call went out: a lounge suite had to be picked up from somewhere sooner rather than later, triggering forward motion in our house not seen since the great bushfire evacuation of 2004. Not exactly panic – that came later when the three-seater sofa fell off the roof of the 4×4 – but definitely a sense of purpose.

First of all, a favour had to be asked of an unfortunate mate at short notice. I shudder to think what pleasant expectations this mate had of his day off as he answered the phone. But he responded in the affirmative, perhaps lured by the opportunity for men of valour to join in glorious union to defy gravity and middle age. More likely because he was a good bloke.

That decided, we got into it with gusto, as men of valour do when there’s a lift on.

A monster rack had to be put on top of the 4×4. It’s called a monster rack because it’s monstrously heavy. Nearly heavier than the 4×4 . And it’s amazing how much energy is expended hoisting one onto a roof, back to front first time. Second time I don’t remember much except screaming repeatedly ‘‘You got it? You got it? HANG ON!!!’’

Physically we were spent before departure, but greatness is rarely achieved being sensible.

First thing to do when we arrived at the pick-up spot was to look like we knew what we were doing. That was achieved by reversing into the neighbour’s fence with my rear vision mirror, at speed. Any remaining doubts were erased when my mate attempted to open the back door of the 4×4 by pulling the casing off the number-plate light. I could sense our host thinking ‘‘seasoned removalists’’, and I was pleased.

Next step was to address the lift. Seemingly an innocuous leather lounge; but when engaged, heavier than a war memorial.

The plan, if you could call it that, was to put it on the monster rack of the 4×4. The Egyptians had built pyramids without machines. How hard could it be putting a sofa on a roof? Without an army of slaves, reasonably difficult we discovered. It was hard enough getting the monster rack up there without a slave army! Getting it to the vertical was easy. Achieving lift-off was the catch. Avoiding crush injuries and hernias were other concerns. Don’t really know what went down, but when the red mist cleared, that sucker was up, proving miracles can happen if you strain hard enough.

Now to tie it down. Rope voodoo. Not much method in the madness, but by the time we finished that thing looked like the latest Christo creation.

Not sure whether stepping in dog poo was part of the plan, but I’ll always associate the sweet sensation of rope burn with the heady scent of Fido.

Next, navigate home without stacking it. Rather than a long wide load, we were a short, tall fulcrum.

Best to take the shortest route with the least amount of camber. That’d be ‘‘tilt’’ in layman’s language. One step away from ‘‘roll’’ in the 4×4 disaster handbook.

Once home, the thing had to come off the roof, which gets us back to the panic mentioned earlier.

Again I remember screaming ‘‘you got it, you got it, HANG ON!!!’’ before the sofa slipped off the rack and started inexorably crushing me. As I sagged I recall crying out ‘‘tell the kids I love them’’ and ‘‘I’m melting’’.

Just before asphyxiation, I gave it one last desperate death roll and got a grip. Then we lugged it to the door.

I kid you not, though, after all the guts and glory, when we got it there, the thing didn’t fit.

Who said we’re useless?

Are men basically useless unless they’re lifting something?

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Great expectations asAmbrose takes top spot

Marocs Ambrose will move into the spotlight this year as the lead driver at Richard Petty Motorsports.MARCOS Ambrose has been declared the `undisputed’ lead driver for the Richard Petty Motorsports team for this year’s top-level NASCAR series after the departure of team mate AJ Allmendinger.
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Richard Petty Motorsport announced yesterday that well-performed second tier racer Aric Almirola will drive the team’s No. 43 Ford Fusion in 2012.

Allmendinger, who finished the 2011 season in 15th place, replaces 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch at Penske Racing and will drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger.

Ambrose confirmed his commitment to the Richard Petty team after a disappointing did-not-finish in the last race of the past season in Miami.

“It’s a bad way to finish the season, but we’ve had a great year and really wanted to finish on a high note . . . I’m looking forward to 2012 and making it ever better.”

The Launceston-born driver scored his first Sprint Cup win in August when he won at Watkins Glen International, one of two road races in the series, and finished the season in 19th place.

The Watkins Glen victory was his 105th start and he joined Mario Andretti (Italy), Earl Ross (Canada) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Columbia) as the only non-American drivers to win a race in the US’s premier motorsport category.

Writing on the official NASCAR website, commentator Joe Menzer says Ambrose is poised for more success in 2012.

“Ambrose will enter this season as the undisputed top driver at Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 9 Ford.

“With that comes increased expectations to get to Victory Lane on an oval (track) and contend for a Chase berth.

“This year he seems better prepared for what may lay just ahead.

“If he can contend again on the two Cup road courses and finally get it done on at least one oval (track), his closely-watched season will be considered a success.”

It will be Ambrose’s fourth season of full-time racing in the Sprint Cup series.

Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in the second tier Nationwide Series in 2011, has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and drove five races for Richard Petty Motorsport in 2010.

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

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Hunter shares in top achievers

ALL SMILES: Merewether High School students Ellie Smith and Katie Fisher. – Picture by Phil HearneTHE Hunter fell just shy of having one of its students achieve the top university entrance score of 99.95, but there were plenty of high scorers in yesterday’s release of marks.
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Two Merewether High students Jacqueline Krynda and Ellie Smith are thought to have shared the Hunter’s top spot with Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks of 99.75.

St Clare’s High School Taree student Kristy Everett was close behind with 99.65.

They were followed by Hunter Valley Grammar student Nikolas Willmott with 99.60, St Paul’s Booragul student Brigette Holt with 99.55, Hunter Valley Grammar’s Harkiran Singh with 99.40, and St Francis Xavier’s College Hamilton student Georgia Pyne and Hunter Valley Grammar student Jake Parker both with 99.35.

Rounding out the 99s were St Paul’s Booragul student Sebastian Howe with 99.20, Hunter Valley Grammar students Robert O’Grady and Alanah Thornton both on 99.05 and Merewether student Katie Fisher on 99.

The top Hunter School of Performing Arts student was Natasha Lennard with 98.65. She also came third in the state in Society and Culture.

To view the Top Achievers in Course list, click here.

To view the All-round Achievers list, click here.

To view the list of Distinguished Achievers, click here.

Overall, it was a mix of state selective, grammar and Catholic schools with some of the best university entrance scores.

Entrance scores are not sent to schools and not all students publicise their achievements.

The release of ATARs yesterday was the end of a week of Higher School Certificate results.

At Merewether, Katie and Ellie plan to study medicine at university while it’s the law for Jacqueline.

Ellie said she was sitting at her computer at 9am yesterday when the results were uploaded.

‘‘I may have had a dance around my room a little bit,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m glad it’s over.’’

Katie said she had her alarm set for 9am.

‘‘There was no one home so I had a little party for myself,’’ she said.

‘‘I would have been happy with the HSC and ATAR being released at once. It was too much suspense.’’

For the pair, the next wait is for university offers in January.

Know someone who’s just completed their HSC? Send them your congratulations by commenting below.

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Blues welcome back ex-players

Adrian FinchLAUNCESTON Football Club looks set to regain the services of former NTFL premiership players Adam Derbyshire and Adrian Finch for the 2012 State League season.
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The reigning premier will resume pre-season training next week as the Blues builds towards a Foxtel Cup appearance at the end of March and the opening round of the new TSL season the week after.

Derbyshire is the club’s goalkicking record holder but has missed the past two State League seasons with business commitments. Finch played for the Blues in 2010 but took a year off last season with persistent back problems when the club won its first State League flag.

”Adrian and Adam are keen to go and it will be excellent for the club,” Launceston coach Anthony Taylor said. ”Adrian is fit and raring to go and Adam has missed two years of footy but has been training well and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

Taylor said a training run next Wednesday would mark the restart of pre-season training with sessions held Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights from January 16.

”We’re looking forward to kicking off after Christmas and ramping up our preparations for the Foxtel Cup and the season proper,” he said.

The Foxtel Cup is a knockout competition involving clubs from the various state league competitions across Australia plus the AFL’s newest expansion side Greater Western Sydney.

Launceston and Burnie will represent Tasmania as last year’s State League premiers and runners-up.

”The Foxtel Cup is massive for the club,” Taylor said.

”We play Morningside in Queensland on March 31 and then start round 1 against North Launceston the week after that. It’s a great stepping stone into the season for us.

”It will be an eye-opener and they will be tough to beat but it will be a really good hitout for us and an opportunity for some of our quality young fellows to show their worth on the national stage.”

Taylor said the Blues had retained all members of its premiership side from last season.

”With the exception of (Derbyshire and Finch) we haven’t got many other new players but we are certainly on the lookout for any potential recruits,” he said.

”We’ve got 14 kids involved with the state academy in under 16 and Mariners and if we can get three or four of those playing senior football this year that’s as good as any recruits in my eyes.”

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

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Pay day for politicians

THE latest pay rises for federal politicians and senior public servants may have been sugar-coated with assurances of cuts to non-salary perks, but it’s unlikely they’ll taste sweet to the taxpayers who have to foot the bill.
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In the midst of all the stern talk about trimming back services to the public in order to keep the government on track for its much-vaunted budget surplus, a $2200-a-week pay rise for prime minister Julia Gillard might seem audacious.

Similarly, while the Coalition seldom lets a week go past in Parliament without moaning about the industrial relations system’s alleged “inflexibility” and onerous overprotectiveness of wage earners, an extra $1600-a-week in opposition leader Tony Abbott’s pocket could raise an eyebrow or two.

Even the lowly backbenchers will be taking home an additional $846 a week, which could easily prompt many ordinary Australians to wish they could have a chance at earning just the pay rise component of the politicians’ salaries.

Top public servants are sharing in the largesse, with the treasury secretary, for example, to receive a series of pay increases from the present $540,000 a year to $805,000 by mid-2014.

That mightn’t rankle much, if it weren’t for the perception that the increasing politicisation of the public service has resulted in some senior roles taken, not by long-term career public servants with a thorough grounding in their areas of responsibility, but by short-term contractors connected to the politicos by partisan or family relationship.

Much is being made of counterbalancing savings being made by the planned axing or trimming of some of the most notorious perks that politicians have been enjoying. The much-abused “gold pass”, is just one example.

Many taxpayers may question the bona fides of these cuts, when hundreds of past recipients will retain their entitlements, albeit with a reduction in the number of free trips they are allowed to make.

Most Australians will never be comfortable with politicians’ regular hefty pay rises unless some evidence begins to emerge – and none has, so far – that paying higher salaries attracts better candidates.

It’s just not fare

WHILE one government-funded independent tribunal recommends paying more money to politicians and senior public servants, another is advocating more increases in public transport fares.

The standard dance-step, where the Independent Prices and Remuneration Tribunal recommends a certain fare increase (up to 10.6 per cent) but the kindly state government approves a smaller one (5.4 per cent), is being performed by the Coalition just as neatly as its Labor predecessor ever did it.

In the Hunter, where motorists pay a registration levy to fund transport improvements in Sydney, where infrequent buses wind through time-consuming routes and passenger trains struggle to find spaces between coal trains, the fare rises are just another nail in public transport, driven by a distant and misguided hand.

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SA pair in the money with Guineas win

Moving Money (Clare Lindop) wins the Tasmanian Guineas at Mowbray last night. Picture: BILL HAYESTHE South Australian partnership of Leon Macdonald and Clare Lindop made another successful raid when they won the $90,000 Tasmanian Guineas at Mowbray last night.
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Their in-form three-year-old Moving Money led all the way to hold off local hopes Barysh Quest and Anelene.

Macdonald and Lindop are no strangers to Mowbray, having combined to win the Launceston Cup with Dakasha in 2005, and the trainer has also been successful with Umrum and Almost Never on previous visits.

“It’s good when a plan comes off and I want to thank Clare for a terrific ride,” Macdonald said.

The trainer said he had been convinced to come to Tasmania after Moving Money had won over 1250 metres at Morphettville carrying 58 kilograms.

“I thought he would be well suited coming to a race with set weights,” he said.

Macdonald said he would wait a few days before deciding on the future for Moving Money, but it was likely he would return home to South Australia for a break.

Lindop said that while Moving Money ($4.50) had only a head to spare over fast-finishing Barysh Quest ($11.20), she had always felt confident of victory.

Anelene ($3.70 favourite) made up good ground to finish a neck away third after being midfield in the early stages.

Lindop had the satisfaction of having her parents watching the race from the grandstand.

“They live near Hobart and made the trip up to watch,” she said.


Luckless filly Oxys Angel will now be aimed at some of the feature races over the Launceston Cup carnival after breaking her duck last night.

The three-year-old filly had been placed five times without winning before running in the Ron Evans Memorial Maiden-Class 1 Plate (1600m).

Oxys Angel is trained at Brighton by Terry Evans, who indicated the $30,000 Thousand Guineas on February 1 and the $100,000 Tasmanian Oaks were on the horizon for her.

Evans had considered running Oxys Angel in the $90,000 Betfair Tasmanian Guineas, but then decided a restricted race would be easier to win.

Evans said he was delighted to win a race named in honour of Hall of Fame jockey Ron Evans.

“When I was growing up I rode trackwork at Mowbray alongside Ron, Fred Riley and Kerry Bird,” he said.

Oxys Angel had Shuji Amano back in the saddle last night and he took a rails run before dashing to the lead 100m from home.

“Hopefully this will be the start of some big wins for her,” he said.


A subtle change of gear helped promising three-year-old Miswaki Call break through for his first win in the Jack Chambers Maiden Plate (1200m).

Longford trainer Troy Blacker explained that Miswaki Call had lacked confidence in his previous races and had originally tried blinkers to help the gelding do his best.

“I then decided to put winkers on instead and it seems to have worked,” he said.

Miswaki Call ($10.10) led all the way to hold off the fast-finishing Scoville ($2.70 favourite) by a length and Blacker is now eyeing a couple of three-year-old races for him over the Launceston Cup carnival.

Miswaki Call went through the 2010 Magic Millions Yearling Sales and after being passed in was sold at a secondary sale.

Blacker bought the son of Tough Speed for $7000 and the gelding is now raced by former Spreyton trainer Michael Sims and his wife Sally-Anne.

Sims is a builder by trade and said he found it difficult to combine his business with training horses and instead looked to Blacker to prepare Miswaki Call.

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

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Pensioner fed up with Telstra

UNHAPPY: Monica Orman and her problem phone. – Picture by Ryan OslandA 72-YEAR-OLD cancer patient who has had two heart attacks has taken aim at Telstra after she got locked into a contract in an area where she cannot get coverage.
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Monica Orman said she bought a special Telstra explorer phone with mini aerial to get mobile phone reception at her holiday house at Lostock, north of Gresford.

She said Telstra assured her she would get coverage, but now she is paying $98 a month for no coverage.

It’s just one of a number of telecommunication hurdles Miss Orman, a pensioner, has faced while trying to set up communication.

Click on the phone graphic to find out what Herald readers had to say about mobile coverage in that area. Email [email protected]南京夜网.au to contribute.

She said that because she was only a permanent part-time resident of Lostock, the government refused her satellite television access, which would have enabled her to use online telephone service Skype.

She was also refused a landline because of the cost and she cannot afford a satellite phone.

Miss Orman has thyroid cancer and is an insulin-dependent diabetic and asthmatic who needs phone access. She recently upgraded to a special Telstra aerial but it only gave minimal reception and did not work in bad weather.

‘‘The aerial is so flimsy that a big storm will wreck it,’’ she said. ‘‘Telstra assured us that we would receive coverage. They failed.’’

Like many, she misunderstood Telstra’s claim of 99per cent coverage, which means its signal covers 99per cent of the population not 99per cent of Australia.

Dave Hooper, from Lostock Dam Caravan Park, said they struggled to get Telstra mobile phone reception but other providers offered none at all.

Telstra Countrywide Hunter manager Chris Cusack said Telstra maps did not advertise that they had coverage at Lostock and early investigations suggested the landline issues were related to property access, not Telstra. ‘‘We’re working with the customer to resolve their complaints,’’ he said.

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