Pokemon Go has the world’s media losing their minds

A Canadian newsreader introduces a segment about the ‘dangers’ of Pokemon Go. A Pokemon fan on the hunt around Sydney. Photo: Peter Rae
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Why is everyone going bonkers for Pokemon Go?Pokemon Go’s unexpected side-effects

​Be afraid! Our streets are brimming with distracted drivers, people “walking into each other” and scenes of “untold carnage”.

Indeed, “there are now claims” the massively popular Pokemon Go app could be used by paedophiles to capture children. Who’s making these claims? “One woman … known as Robin”, says The Daily Mail, which reported her fears under the headline: “Is this the world’s most dangerous game?”

A week ago, everything was normal. Then Pokemon Go – in which users roam literal streets to catch virtual characters – was released. It’s already poised to claim more users than Twitter.

Of course, media around the world responded like we do to any new craze: by losing our minds.

Photos of Pokemon-related injuries are being splashed across evening news bulletins. That woman who stumbled across a dead body while searching for Pokestop became famous, for some reason. Inevitably, we began fretting about paedophiles.

Look. I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate concerns, or that we shouldn’t discuss them.

But does “absolute carnage” really include a guy falling off his skateboard, and a woman bruising her shin?

Every day, thousands of people hurt themselves going for walk, or a jog, or playing tennis. Simply stepping outside your front door is a risk: you could get assaulted, or run over, or catch an infectious disease.

Staying at home isn’t that safe, either.

According to the most recent Statistical Abstract of the United States – discontinued in 2012, which is a crying shame – 81,000 people sustained injuries involving a drinking glass. In a single year. How do they know? Because all required a trip to the emergency department.

Chainsaws prompted just 26,000 hospitalisations, while a whopping 169,000 Americans were seriously injured by their footwear.

This list is full of surprises. (How I wish I could find an Australian equivalent.)

Merely 33,000 sought treatment for hammer-related injuries, while 86,000 startled individuals were wounded by their toilets.

Fellow journalists: we’re missing the real stories!

You might expect scissors to be a crowded category (29,000). Yet bigger threats to safety include refrigerators (40,000) and daywear (60,000).

Personally, I could find time for any of the 175,000 souls who summoned an ambulance after failing to sit on their sofa correctly. Likewise, if you’re one of the 53,000 harmed by your “dancing equipment”, I’m all ears.

But just as I began to feel comfortably smug, I recalled my own sheepish trips to the doctor. Over the years, I’ve been felled while making a bowl of porridge. I’ve opened a vein while changing the photocopier toner. I’ve even come to grief while brushing my teeth.

The point is, there is danger everywhere. We’re accustomed to most of it, so it’s unremarkable. It’s novel danger that frightens us – and captures the headlines.

Imagine if someone proposed a new system of mass transport – but it will kill 1200 Australians annually, and leave many more with disabilities or permanent pain.

Instinctively, we’d brand it “dangerous” and demand it be banned. But that’s the cost of cars. We’re blase about it, though, because we’ve always had motor vehicles in our lifetimes.

We see studies that show talking on a hands-free phone can be as dangerous as drink-driving – and we carry on doing it. Then we worry about Pokemon Go, because news reports tell us it’s dangerous.

Can the app be made safer? Yes. There’s a sensible discussion to be had here, but let’s dial it down several notches before we start.

Is it “the world’s most dangerous game”? Pfft.

Whenever thousands of people leave the house en masse – whether for Pokemon Go or a charity run – some will fall over and get hurt. Some might get hit by a car. Nearly all will reap the benefits of physical movement.

Let’s recognise that we can make the world safer – but we can’t make it safe. And that’s okay.

Twitter: @Michael_Lallo

Email: [email protected]杭州龙凤419m.au

Scandinavia Spas: How to hit the spa like a Viking

Sturebadet – the oldest spa in Stockholm. Photo: Tuukka Ervasti The snow grotto spa on board the Viking Sea.
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Is it possible to miss Paris because you’re too busy Nordic bathing? As I jumped into the cold water plunge pool for the umpteenth time that day, I consoled myself it wasn’t as if I hadn’t seen the city of light before.

It all began innocuously enough when I boarded the new Viking Sea (930 passengers, 550 crew) in the middle of the Sydney summer. I had been invited to sail on one of the ship’s first voyages, Barcelona to London, for her grand christening on the Thames – the largest ship ever to be christened there. The upsides of high-end cruising are well documented: from unpack and repack once to cordon bleu meals sans washing up, friendly staff, endless ocean, deck chairs aplenty, ditto bars and restaurants; usually a library and a theatrette or two – plus of course, the day spa.

Roll in a Norwegian-flagged ship and the temptations are even more nagging: open-faced smoked salmon sandwiches on rye bread, trays of pert cream cakes; chic Scandi décor, and, when you’re sailing with Viking Cruises, facilities to indulge in the ancient art of Nordic bathing.

Situated on deck one, and billed as “a Nordic sanctuary of wellness”, it took me a few days to make it down to the LivNordic Spa, operated by Raison d-Etre Spas, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

My visit began routinely enough with a quick tour of the hairdressers, nail salon, barber and fitness centre, before the spa manager ushered me into the beating heart of this sumptuous, huge complex: a large, open, dimly lit room with a sizable hydrotherapy pool fitted out at one end with sunken metal day beds on which to rest, your head and shoulders peeping above the swirling waters. There was a smaller saltwater pool, and, in the far corner, four handsome ceramic-tiled thermal loungers, grand enough for a pharaoh. A steam room and snow grotto completed the picture. Snow grotto? True – not exactly what you’d expect to find on a cruise liner, but yes, a small cave or grotto with a floor of freshly made snow, no bigger than an Eskimo’s hut.

The ladies change room housed yet more wellness paradise: a sauna constructed of sweet smelling birch wood and a cold plunge pool. In this separate utopia of fluffy bathrobes and huge towels, there were more comfy spots to sit, both still and sparkling water on offer, tea, books, magazines, no Wi-Fi reception and best of all, peace and quiet with anxiety-reducing beige décor to stare at. I’m reliably informed the gents changing room was just as good.

Prior to discovering the LivNordic Spa, I’d harboured plans to do every single day trip; to be first off/last back on this ship for the duration of the cruise. Viking does, after all, bill itself as the cruise line that spends the most amount of time in port – stopping almost every day and docking for about 12 hours compared to an average of just over nine hours a day for most other ocean liners.

Instead, I whirled, steamed and sweated – then ventured into the grotto. I opened the large glass door – blast of cold air – and tentatively stepped inside, where I stayed put for the next few minutes. To conquer cold is oddly exhilarating – and that night I slept like a baby. I eagerly returned the day after to roadtest the sauna and cold pool combo, where the pool was set to a brisk 12 degrees Celcius. (By contrast most Scandinavians would bathe in water of around 2 degrees).

The idea with Nordic bathing is to relax in the steam room or sauna for about ten minutes, then dunk in the cold pool or stand in the grotto, or, for the true bravehearts, douse yourself with an overhead bucket of freezing water that was suspended next to the steam room. And repeat the steps as often as you like. Or for as long as the other spa-goers can withstand your icy howls. It’s true: after a few repeats of this you start to feel like a pre-packaged meal being microwaved then cooled. And yet, bizarrely, I was disinclined to stop.

Pretty soon, huge chunks of my days were disappearing in a blur of steam, dry heat, spa jets and fake snow. Outside, Lisbon, Malaga, Cadiz, Porto and numerous other European jewels drifted past. By the time we reached Le Havre – the jumping off port for a day in Paris – I was way too mired in lavender oil, rainhead showers and cloudberry facial masks to contemplate time away from the spa. “You enjoy it down there, don’t you,” Viking’s former Australia & New Zealand managing director, Teresia Fors, said nervously on spotting me, descending into the ship’s bowels for the third time – that day.

Prior to discovering the sport of Nordic bathing, I’d always been extremely reluctant about cold water – and figured you’d have to be tanked on vodka or Russian, or both, to jump in ice cold water. Sweden opened a bathhouse devoted to the purpose in 1269, however it feel into disrepute given the process, historically, included being whipped with birch tree branches “until the skin was a tingling pink”. Today, wisdom has it unless you have a medical condition or blood pressure issues, hot and cold Nordic style bathing is generally considered to be invigorating. It helps relax tired muscles, increase blood circulation and aid detox. It can even boost your immunity. “I once knew a guy who spent a week in Helsinki, came home – and built a sauna in his house,” one colleague told me.

On my final day aboard Viking Sea, I didn’t even get up for London – I lingered in the grotto, lay on the thermal loungers and tearfully farewelled the staff. If this is what the Vikings really got up to on those voyages, make me a Norse any day. I’ll even grow the beard. Just sign me up. More Information

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‘He is a different Sulu’: Simon Pegg puts forward final word on Star Trek Beyond debate

George Takei, the original Mr Sulu. Beam me up: Sofia Boutella as Jaylah and Simon Pegg as Scotty in Star Trek Beyond.
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Sulu comes out as gay

When the producers of the rebooted Star Trek decided the Starship Enterprise’s iconic helmsman Mr Sulu was gay, they no doubt prepared themselves for a fiery discussion on all sides.

After days of debate, actor/writer Simon Pegg, the man who steered the decision for Star Trek Beyond, has responded with a full comment on his website, saying the character in the rebooted franchise is “a different Sulu”.

When the news broke that Sulu has a male partner in the new film, a surprising response was the comprehensive rejection from the actor who made Sulu an icon, George Takei.

Takei, who confirmed he is a gay man in an interview in 2005, reacted to the news by saying it was “really unfortunate”.

While Takei praised the inclusion of a gay character, he felt that by changing the history of an existing character, the producers of the Star Trek reboot were “twisting [Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s] creation”.

Pegg initially told The Guardian last week that he “respectfully” disagreed with Takei on the matter.

He has now followed up with a blog post, saying what was “initially intended as a moment of progressive affection has drawn comment and debate from the unlikeliest corners”.

“Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality,” Pegg wrote.

Pegg plays Scotty in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise, which takes place in an “alternate timeline” to the Star Trek franchise established in the 1960s television series and its spin-off movies.

Pegg also wrote the film’s screenplay, including the scene in which Sulu is seen with his male partner and baby daughter.

The scene was no doubt intended to fit part of the established canon of the character: in the original Star Trek narrative, Sulu has a daughter, Demora.

“Why Sulu?” offers Pegg. “It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker [and] who knows why Bones got divorced?”

Equally, he said it could have been Spock or Uhura, who are a couple in the new franchise, but are by no means exclusive, or even Chekov, who Pegg describes as “permanently horny”, or even Scotty himself.

Pegg said Sulu was chosen because of Takei’s own sexuality; “there was something sweet and poetic about it,” Pegg wrote.

He also flagged there was considerable internal hand-wringing about getting it right.

“We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising an exasperated “finally!” from those who have been waiting for representation for the last 50 years,” Pegg said.

“By the time we mentioned it to George Takei the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation,” Pegg said. “We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way,” he added.

Pegg points out that the Sulu in the rebooted film franchise isn’t the same character as Takei’s.

“This is not his Sulu,” Pegg said. “John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu.”

Pegg said the idea of introducing a gay character to the pantheon of iconic Star Trek characters was true to Roddenberry’s “idea of a tolerant, inclusive, diplomatic and loving universe to become a reality.”

“I know in my heart that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive,” Pegg said. “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.”

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations – or IDIC – is a concept from the fictional Star Trek universe; it is one of the founding principles of Vulcan philosophy, according to Enterprise’s Vulcan science officer, Mr Spock.

It was first introduced in an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series and, according to Spock, “symbolises the elements that create truth and beauty”.

Pegg also took the opportunity to thank fans for their observations, and to gently chastise those who have seen the debate as “an opportunity to sling abuse, or be rude and presumptuous.”

To the fans who have “joined this debate in the spirit of discussion and forward momentum, it’s been a pleasure to see your reactions,” Pegg said.

For those who did not, he offered this: “Please take a long hard look in the mirror and remember we are discussing the personal details of a fictional spaceman.”

Star Trek Beyond opens on July 21.

Newcastle GP Nauman Zafar Khan sought relationships with vulnerable female patients

Nauman Zafar Khan. Photo: LinkedInHis wife was overseas when a Newcastle GP decided to prey on vulnerable female patients, using their personal information totry to start intimate relationships.
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Nauman Zafar Khan said he began to “reach out” to patients because he was miserable about his family being in Pakistan and found Skype was unsatisfactory.

He sought out eight female patients who had been suffering from mental health issues because they “would be able to understand better” what he was going through.

“I have unconditional love for you,” hetexteda 20-year-old patient with anxiety and depression. “If you ever want to be with me I’m ready for you … I wanted you the first time I saw you.”

One day in July last year he sent the woman 120 texts.

At one point she wrote back saying:”Just tell me what you want with me?”

The woman later told the Health Care Complaints Commission that she had felt “violated”.

“The consultations with [Mr Khan] and his contact with me has made me feel violated and my personal life invaded,” she said. “The way he was being persistent and forceful, asking me why I wouldn’t see him, frightened me.”

Mr Khan’s registration as a doctor was suspended in October last year but he recently tried to appeal the Medical Council of NSW’s decision.

But last Friday the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal refused Mr Khan’s application to appeal against the decision.

Acting Judge Francis Marks described his behaviour as “appalling and disgusting”.

“This is clearly symptomatic of predatory conduct on the part of the appellant without any concern for the impact of his behaviour on any of these persons,” he said.

On another occasion, Mr Khan visited the home of a woman, 44, who had been the victim of a sexual assault.

She said when she answered the door he “was standing there with his shirt half undone”.

He then allegedly said words to the effect of: “You know I like you … I need a sexual companion apart from my wife.”

One woman, 26, who was suicidal, had had a pregnancy termination and suffered from depression, said she hadbeen “disturbed” by Mr Khan’s contact on her mobile.

Over a three-week period in June and July last year, he began texting her a series of questions about where she lived, if she had a boyfriend and if they could meet for coffee.

“I have been very disturbed by [Mr Khan’s] contact,” she said. “I had confided a lot of things about myself and my problems to him during consultations with him. I had been having a terrible six months and he knew all my problems.”

Another patient agreed she had formed a friendship with Mr Khan outside their professional relationship but said she had been in a “very low and dark place”.

Between July and September last year, Mr Khan sent her 491 texts, including one that said:”What if I fall in love with you?”

One woman, who suffered from anxiety and emotional problems, became quite distressed when Mr Khan stopped contacting her after the pair allegedly hadan affair.

“You used my vulnerability,” she wrote to him.”You used your knowledge and your position. You used me for your own benefit. You wanted to feel wanted and loved and you manipulated with me.”

A psychiatrist who assessed Mr Khan believedthe risk of him repeatinghis behaviourif his suspension was lifted was “extremely high”.

“[Dr Samuels found] there was a clear pattern of predatory behaviour with selective targeting of several extremely vulnerable, young women.”

Inhanding down his judgment against Mr Khan’s appeal, acting Judge Marks said he should have known better.

“As a human being he has acted selfishly; as a medical practitioner who should have some understanding of the complexities of interpersonal relationships, he has acted with wanton disregard for the wellbeing of these persons, who… he knew to be vulnerable.”

PCYC Nations of Origin netball played out in Raymond Terrace

Nations combine for netball | Photos ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts
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ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: The PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition kicked off in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday, July 12. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Worimi netball players Keisha Beale and Mahalia Bidwell. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Worimi Team 1 (back, left to right) Tracey Marks, Abbey Marks, Rhiana Thompson, Belle Nikki, Ali Beasley, Kylie Beasley (front, let to right) Grace Hyde, Heidi Farley, Ellie Levido and Milli Beasley. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Worimi Team 2 )back, left to right) Alison Baillache, Poppie Howe, Kimberley Moar, Mahalia Bidwell, Keisha Beale, Tarsha Wellings, Nadina Porter (front, left to right) Jade Ballard, Lyssa Coggan, Andi Law and Madi Mitchell. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

ON THE BALL: Action from day two of the PCYC Nations of Origin netball competition held in Raymond Terrace. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

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Errors haunt the Brumbies ahead of uncertain Super Rugby finals race

The Brumbies were steamrolled in New Zealand on Friday night, losing to the Auckland Blues 40-15 at Eden Park.
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The result has blown open the Australian finals race and set the Brumbies on an uncertain and nervous path to a hopeful play-off berth.

Here are the key talking points from a drubbing at the Australian rugby graveyard.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

The Brumbies’ finals hopes now hinge on their biggest enemy – the NSW Waratahs. The Brumbies and Waratahs are locked on 39 points each, but the Brumbies are ahead on the ladder because they’ve won more games. That will change if the Waratahs beat the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday night. If the Waratahs win with a bonus point, it would be almost impossible for the Brumbies to make the Super Rugby finals. If the Waratahs lose and don’t get a bonus point, it will open up a last-round war. The Brumbies play the Western Force in the final game of the season while the Waratahs travel to Auckland to take on the Blues. It’s anyone’s guess as to how those games will turn out. Missing the play-offs would be a disaster for the Brumbies, given they farewell Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, David Pocock and Joseph Tomane at the end of the year.

WHAT WENT WRONG IN BRUMBIES’ BLUES?

If you’ve got to cut the Brumbies’ 40-15 loss down to two moments, it would be two errors in the opening seven minutes. First it was Nigel Ah Wong dropping the ball at the kick-off, giving the Blues possession and leading to Jerome Kaino’s first try. Then it was a lineout mistake close to the line that opened the door for another Blues try. That’s two weeks in a row that the Brumbies have started slowly, and the Blues punished them by scoring four tries in the first 21 minutes. That’s not the sort of start you’d expect from a team capable of being a title contender. There was a brief fightback and the Brumbies’ scrum and lineout functioned well. But it wasn’t enough to match the high-octane attack of the rampant Blues.

THE INJURED CAVALRY

The Brumbies will be wounded warriors when they return to Canberra on Saturday, with Scott Fardy getting stitches under his chin and on the top of his head and Christian Lealiifano being stitched up above an eye. Fardy is also nursing a sore shoulder, but should be fit to play the Force. Winger Joseph Tomane will make his comeback from a knee injury in Canberra’s club rugby competition on Saturday, but David Pocock is rated an unlikely chance to return from a fractured eye socket against the Force.

THE TRANS-TASMAN GAP

The Blues’ win against the Brumbies will reignite debate about the quality of Australian teams versus New Zealanders. Australian teams have struggled against their Kiwi rivals this season. The Brumbies have beaten only one New Zealand opponent – the Hurricanes in the first game of the season. The fact is four of the New Zealand teams are ahead of the top two Australian teams, the Brumbies and the Waratahs. The restructure of Super Rugby this season is set to be changed again in the coming years but no one knows how that looks. If the SANZAAR lords have any mercy, they’ll make Australian teams play fewer games against New Zealand teams after increasing the number of trans-Tasman battles this year.

MAULING IN THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME?

New Zealand teams are successfully employing a tactic of not engaging in rolling maul battles to avoid being marched over close to the line. After the Brumbies were awarded a penalty try early off the back of a rampaging maul, the Blues opted to stand off and let the Brumbies stand still in a pack. The tactic worked at disrupting the Brumbies’ set piece and the Blues varied the way they attacked the maul. Some view it as not in the spirit of the game while others think it’s open slather until World Rugby officials do something about it. Another loophole that needs fixing is the horrible Television Match Official review system. The Blues were awarded a try in the 67th minute that clearly should not have been given after Matt Duffie stepped into touch. The try stood until Christian Lealiifano raced out to the referee, Ben O’Keefe, while the Blues were about to take their kick. The kick was stopped, and the try was reviewed and the decision was overturned. But are we going to see captains running out to the referee all the time now if something looks dodgy. Someone has to stop the farce.

Is standardised testing putting too much pressure on kids?

Year 3 students sit the NAPLAN test in 2015. Photo: Pat ScalaOECD Education chief slams Australia’s education system What is the problem with Australian schools? 
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“School is not for everyone,” well-meaning people kept telling Lucy Clark, as her daughter struggled through high school.

But the author and Guardian Australia journalist began to wonder about the way parents, teachers and the whole education system puts pressure on kids, and how narrowly it defines success.

“I started asking questions about what school is for and how we measure success, because here I was with a child who was deemed to be a failure by the system,” she says.

In her new book Beautiful Failures, Ms Clark looked at where the system was letting kids like her daughter down, and argues excessive focus on standardised testing is part of the problem.

Australia’s slipping results in the international PISA rankings have generated much concern among politicians and policymakers, but Ms Clark says the emphasis on PISA ranking – a global test that every three years pits 15-year-old Australian students against contemporaries overseas – is getting too much focus.

“There is this overarching global pressure now with everyone thinking the way to measure the efficacy of the education system means we have to get up the ladder in PISA,” she says. “I think that narrows the focus of what education is becoming, and when we do that, that pressure drills down into the classroom and strips out much of what should be joyful and necessary in education, and leaves us with that narrow view of what success means.”

But what does a non-academic vision of school look like?

“We should talk more about the whole child and non-cognitive skills,” she says. “It’s all about balance. Focusing less on the grades and assessment and giving parents the language to talk about other things…. If we are obsessed with measurement, let’s measure other things  like character or values or ethical thinking.”

Not everyone is buying the argument that standardised tests are changing the nature of education, or even putting that much pressure on kids.

“It’s not every year. PISA is a sample test, not every student. Even NAPLAN is only a couple of days every couple of years,” says Dr Jennifer Buckingham, Education Research Fellow from the Centre for Independent Studies.  “There are no stakes attached to it: it’s not like schools are getting extra or less funding depending on results, no one’s losing their jobs, kids aren’t being expelled.

“If there is high pressure on children, I don’t think it’s got anything to do with PISA, or NAPLAN either. In and of themselves they’re not stressful events. It’s the way the adults around children deal with those events. The onus goes back on to schools and parents about the amount of pressure they might be putting on students.”

The former head of Curriculum at the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Phil Lambert, said there is value in PISA data, but Australia is already offering a more rounded curriculum than nations beating it on PISA scores.

“Getting some insight into our progress from an international measure is helpful, we can see where there are particularly groups that are not progressing as typically as we’d want. That should inform policy,” he said

Ironically, Dr Lambert says high-performing PISA countries have been locked into their current systems by doing well in the test, while churning out school leavers who may not be as proficient in creative, social or adaptive skills.

He points out that the Australian curriculum, spanning a range of subjects including arts, sport and technology, is broader than that of most other countries.

“We should recognise other aspects of learning where we do very well and acknowledge that’s because we culturally value a broad curriculum. Other countries would like to have a curriculum like ours.”

Wimbledon 2016: Lleyton Hewitt an inspiration and support for boys’ finalist Alex De Minaur

London: Lleyton Hewitt was already winning ATP Tour titles at the same age that Spanish-based Sydneysider Alex De Minaur will on Sunday contest his maiden junior grand slam final at Wimbledon. Hewitt has been both inspiration and support for the 17-year-old, who lists the Davis Cup captain and Roger Federer as the players he admires most.
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Hewitt, the former No.1 and dual grand slam champion, has been in the crowd for for each of De Minaur’s matches so far. The teenager knows because he recognises the voice and the accent. “It’s always good because whenever he says anything I can sort of hear it and know it’s him.”

“Lleyton’s always been like a role model for me and I also love the elegance of Roger, I’ve always loved it. They’ve always been my two favourite players and I really aspire to be able to achieve what they have done.”

Like Hewitt, the 183-centimetre junior has only a relatively modest physical stature in the land of tennis giants. “He’s also a great competitor,” De Minaur said of Hewitt. “I like to think that I’m not too bad in that aspect as well.

“I try to fight every ball and find a way to win matches, which sometimes look like they’re not gonna go your way, but I’m always gonna fight until the end and sometimes you do turn around matches.”

The pair have spoken several times, Hewitt urging the youngster to take each point on its merits and fight for each. So no surprises there. “It’s been just great to have his insight, especially such a legend like he is,” De Minaur said. “He’s encouraging me, supporting me on court, and it’s pretty special to look on the sidelines and see Lleyton supporting me.”

Seeking to become the first Australian to win a junior singles title at the All England Club since Saville and Ashleigh Barty completed the double in 2011. De Minaur has eliminated the third and second seeds in consecutive rounds, and in contrasting circumstances, and on Sunday will play Canada’s No.5, Denis Shapovalov, for the title. It’s been quite the tournament for the boys and men of Canada, considering Milos Raonic will contest his first major final later on Sunday.

“It’s good to finally get over that semi-final barrier,” said de Minaur, who reached the last four at both the US and Australian Opens. “I’m just enjoying every second of it. I think it helped that I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I just came out on court just wanting to play my game and just be on top of it.”

His is an interesting back-story. Born in Australia to a Spanish mother and Uruguayan father, De Minaur’s family was split between Spain and Australia before settling in Alicante with long-time coach Adolfo Guitierrez about a year ago.  “I play for Australia, I was born there and I feel Australian,” he says, also happy to have just six months of year 12, which he is studying via distance education, still to go.

In Alicante, the bilingual De Minaur practises and plays on clay, mostly, but loves grass the most, always has. Which helps at Wimbledon, he thinks. “Liking the surface is gonna make you play better on it. I think grass has always been my favourite surface and best surface, so it was probably the best (grand slam) chance I had, but I’m just ecstatic to be where I am right now.”

His style, he says, he adapts to the conditions and environment. “My best shot? I’m not sure. I reckon my backhand or my slice. Since I was little it’s always been my best shot and what I’ve built my game off. In fact I try to base my backhand on Lleyton’s a bit, but I see myself as an aggressive player who likes to take the net, and also a little bit crafty at times.”

Rankings, he says, are just numbers, although the ITF media guide lists his ambition as reaching the top 10. He wants to soon start playing more Futures events, then transition to Challengers, “and see how I’m going (against) the bigger guys”.

“The most important thing for me is just to stay healthy and just go day by day. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself; I want to always stay humble, stay as if I’m just playing tennis cos I love it. I don’t want to start winning some matches and then believe that I’m unbelievable, that’s never gonna happen. I’m just gonna stick to the basics and just enjoying life.”

How refreshing. A big tick for that answer, young man. Can he imagine even being Nick Kyrgios, and not being mad about the game? “I’m guess I’m just lucky I’ve always loved it. I still don’t see playing tennis as a job. I see it as an activity, which I love, so I think that really helps me day to day.

“I actually enjoy being able to play tough three-setters on court. Playing three-hour matches, I actually enjoy that, it’s what gets me up each day.”

Federal election: Dawson MP George Christensen still awaiting AFP decision

George Christensen has been accused of electoral bribery over a promise to a local turtle preservation group. Photo: ABC NewsElection results: Bill Shorten predicts second pollElection 2016: news, analysis and video
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The Australian Federal Police is still evaluating a complaint of alleged electoral bribery against newly re-elected George Christensen, leading to calls from the Queensland MP for the process to be sped up.

Left-leaning activist group GetUp referred Mr Christensen to the Australian Electoral Commission over a social media post in which the Liberal National MP promised a local turtle rescue group a $12,000 “personal contribution” if he was re-elected.

The AEC, in turn, referred the matter to the AFP.

More than a month on, and with Mr Christensen having been successfully re-elected to the Mackay-based seat of Dawson, the AFP confirmed it was still an active matter for the agency.

“The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has received a referral from the AEC in relation to this matter,” an AFP spokeswoman said in a statement.

“The referral is currently being evaluated.”

GetUp had complained to the AEC after Mr Christensen posted his commitment, to Eco Barge’s Turtle Rescue Centre in the Whitsundays, on his Facebook page.

A spokeswoman for Mr Christensen said the Dawson MP had “had no further contact” from the AFP since GetUp’s initial complaint.

“He understands the AFP are still assessing whether the referral even warrants an investigation,” he said.

“Mr Christensen said it would be preferable if such referrals could be expedited during an election campaign, but that had not happened and he had no idea how long it would take.”

The AFP dealt with another complaint, this one against former Brisbane MP Teresa Gambaro, much more quickly.

The AFP referred that complaint, made by Labor MP Brendan O’Connor on June 27, to the Department of Finance on Thursday, 10 days after the original referral.

Labor’s complaint dealt with allegations Ms Gambaro favoured LNP donors when selecting her Brisbane electorate office in Newstead.

“The Department of Finance is responsible for the administration of entitlements for members of the Australian Parliament,” an AFP spokeswoman said.

The department was asked whether it was conducting its own investigation, but an answer was not forthcoming.

“The Department of Finance does not comment on its dealings with individual parliamentarians or in relation to the administration of parliamentary entitlements,” a department spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, an AFP spokeswoman said a Liberal Party complaint against Queensland Labor over its controversial “Mediscare” text campaign was still being evaluated.

That campaign saw text messages, seemingly from the sender “Medicare”, which said: “Mr Turnbull’s plans to privatise Medicare will take us down the road of no return. Time is running out to Save Medicare.”

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Dallas shooting: Five police officers shot dead, others injured during protests

US media is reporting that two police officers were shot during a protest in Dallas. Photo: Twitter: @Fox4 Dallas Police respond after shots were fired at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Dallas. Photo: Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News
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Dallas Police shield bystanders during a Black Live Matter rally in downtown Dallas. Photo: Smiley N. Pool

A Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer receives comfort at the Baylor University Hospital emergency room entrance. Photo: Ting Shen

Bystanders run for cover after shots fired at a Black Live Matter rally in downtown Dallas. Photo: Smiley N. Pool

The Dallas Police Department said this man was wanted over the shooting. Photo: Twitter

US police shooting: Philando Castile shot deadAlton Sterling shot dead in Baton Rouge

US president Barack Obama has branded the shooting in Dallas, in which five police officers were killed and at least six wounded in an ambush at a protest rally, a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack”.

Mr Obama, who is in Poland for a NATO summit, said he had offered federal government assistance to the city amid the “tremendous tragedy”.

The Dallas drama only reached a conclusion after a two-hour standoff between one suspect, who was holed up in a building, and police, with officers sending an explosive device towards the man on a bomb robot and detonating it, killing him.

Police have revealed the suspect made a number of statements during this stand-off, including saying that he was not affiliated with any group, that he he was upset about recent police shootings of black people, and that he wanted to kill white people and white police officers in particular. He also claimed he acted “alone”.

In the attack, at around 9pm Dallas time, police say five officers were fatally shot and six others were injured during a protest over recent fatal police shootings of black civilians in the US. Police originally said up to four snipers may have been involved but it was unclear in later hours whether the final suspect had in fact been the only gunman as he claimed or whether others were involved.

“As I told Mayor Rawlings,” Mr Obama said, “I think I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas.

“We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations but let’s be clear, there is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. The FBI is already in touch with the Dallas police and anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”

Mr Obama said it was a “wrenching reminder” of the sacrifices made by police, before hinting at the continual debate about gun control.

“We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and tragic and in the days ahead we’re going to have to consider those realities as well,” he said.

The protest, which had been peaceful, was drawing to an end when shots rang out near the area of Market and Main streets in downtown Dallas just before 9pm on Thursday, local time. Carlos Harris, who lives downtown, said the shooting was “strategic. It was tap tap pause. Tap tap pause.”

Harris, who said he was in the military, said he heard someone fire back with an AR-15. Before the shots were fired, the demonstrators were calmly walking down Main Street. “The cops were peaceful,” he said. “They were taking pictures with us and everything.”

In the hours after the attack, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said it appeared four suspects had worked together to fire from elevated positions during the protest, shooting 11 Dallas police officers.

Associated Press reports a civilian, 37-year-old Shetamia Taylor, was wounded in the right calf shielding her four sons as gunfire rang out.

Mr Brown said the snipers fired upon the officers “ambush-style”, with some shot in the back in a bid to kill as many as possible.

“We believe that these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to triangulate on these officers … and planned to injure and kill as many law enforcement officers as they could,” he said.

In the hours after the shooting, three suspects were taken into custody while one remained in negotiations with police from the garage of El Centro College in Main Street, after shooting at them for 45 minutes. He was later killed when police detonated the explosive device.

Two of the suspects were arrested after they were seen to throw a camouflaged bag into the back of a black Mercedes before speeding from the scene of the shooting. Another suspect, a woman, was arrested near to El Centro College. Their alleged role in the attack has not yet been confirmed by police.

The suspect in the garage told negotiating police that “the end is coming” and he was going to “hurt and kill more of us, meaning law enforcements”, Mr Brown said. The suspect also said there were bombs “all over the place” across downtown Dallas. No explosive devices were found in a subsequent search of the area.

“We are being very careful in our tactics… as we negotiate further,” Mr Brown said, in a press conference almost four hours after the attack.

“We still don’t have a complete comfort level that we have all the suspects… we’re likely to be working throughout the early morning hours of Friday until we’re satisfied that all suspects have been captured.”

Earlier, the Dallas Police Department had released an image of a “person of interest” who was wanted over the shooting, pictured wearing a camouflage t-shirt. However, it was later confirmed the man was not involved in the shooting.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) said one of its police officers was among the dead, and three other of its officers who were shot had injuries that were not life-threatening.

The protest was being held following the deaths of two men – Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minnesota – in separate police shootings this week. The men, who were both black, were killed by police officers, and their deaths were captured on mobile phone cameras.

One witness at the protest in Dallas told Fox News that “complete pandemonium” broke out when shots were fired towards the end of the rally.

“Everyone just took off running,” he said.

He believed the shooter had an assault rifle, and said police returned fire. #breaking Crowd on the run downtown Dallas. Reports of an officer shot at the protest march. pic.twitter杭州龙凤419m/zstZnDIRlm— Doug Dunbar (@cbs11doug) July 8, 2016

The shooting unfolded near one of the busiest parts of the city’s downtown.

Footage of the panic in the moments immediately after the shooting circulated widely on social media. In many of the videos, multiple gunshots could be heard ringing out, while teams of police officers could be seen running through the area.

As the incident unfolded Clay Jenkins, a Dallas County judge and the county’s chief executive said “there’s no indication of who the suspects are or what their motives were, except they fired on the police.”

“We are still seeking a suspect that may be held up at a downtown building, so we’re asking the public to stay away. All government buildings in that area are on lockdown. That’s the government centre where this is happening.”

The Dallas Police Department’s Twitter account had been tracking the protest’s progress through the city, but abruptly stopped tweeting about 9pm, local time.

CBS news anchor Doug Dunbar tweeted that a witness reported hearing “about 20 shots in succession”.

Dozens of officers were at the scene “with their guns drawn”, Dunbar said.

Another witness, Michael Bautista, said he saw one police officer on the ground as he fled the scene.

“I saw the bullets hitting the cop cars,” he said.

He said the protesters had been involved in a “peaceful march” before the shooting occurred.

Devante Odom, 21, told The Dallas Morning News that everyone “just started running” when the shots were fired. “We lost touch with two of our friends just trying to get out of there,” Devante said.

Renee Sifflet of Dallas stood at the corner of Commerce and Houston, waiting for the chaos to die down so she could retrieve her three teenage children, who were in hiding.

“I brought them here for a positive experience, something they could say they were part of when they’re older,” she said. “Then it turned negative.”

When they started running, she said, she lost track of her 15-year-old son for two minutes in the mayhem. “Thank God he has a cellphone,” she said. */]]>