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Nitro Circus’ Jackson Strong injured in fireworks explosion

Original source:The Daily Advertiser
Nanjing Night Net

Lockhart’s motocross star Jackson Strong is one of two menseriously hurt in a fireworks explosion at his home.

Details of the incident are still being gathered, but Mr Strong’s father, Lyndon,confirmed his son had been hurt in a New Year’s fireworks blast.

Strong has made an international name for himself in the daring motocross arena, rising from performing at the Lockhart Show as a youth to bagging swags of medals on the international stage.

PHOTOS: Jackson Strong in action

Strong, the reigning X Games Best Trick gold medalist,has ridden for Nitro Circus and most recently performed in Wagga as part of the Nitro Circus regional tour.

Ambulance media said paramedics responded to reports of a fireworks explosion on Milbrulong Road about 12.10am today.

A spokeswoman said two patients were taken to Wagga Base Hospital.

Jackson Strong, 22,is reported to be the more seriously hurt.

He suffered a serious leg injury as well as chest and facial injuries.

Pictures of Mr Strong’s facial injuries have been posted on his website www.jackostrong南京夜网.

“His left leg around his thigh is the worst part,” a worriedLyndon Strong said.

“He will pull through, no worries at all.”

He was flown into Wagga by helicopter and thenafter treatment at the base hospital was flown by plane to Sydney where he was admitted to the burns unit of St George Hospital.

A second man suffered a lower leg wound.

He is believed to be a good friend of Mr Jackson and was celebrating the new year with him.

X Games gold medallist and Nitro Circus star Jackson Strong has been injured in a fireworks explosion. WARNING: NEXT PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT

Jackson Strong posted this photo of his injuries on his website, jackostrong南京夜网

Ambulance media said he was a 20-year-old, but a spokeswoman for Murrumbidgee Local Health District said it was believed he was 28.

He is being treated in Wagga Base Hospital and is in a stable condition.

It is believed the incident happened on Mr Strong’s family property, where he regularly spends time and has filmed for a documentary,Headstrong.

In 2012, Strong became the first Australian to win back-to-back gold medals in the X Games Moto Best Trick category after creating history with the first-ever front-slip in competition and unveiling a body varial, The Jack.

Lockhart Shire Council did not have a fireworks display for New Year’s Eve.

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Baby Isaac the first of 2014

THE new year will be filled with hope and joy for Naomi and Jonathan Stucken who on Wednesdaywelcomed their first baby to the world.
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Baby Isaac, 12 days overdue when he was finally born at 1.35am on New Year’s Day, was also the first baby born at Orange Hospital in 2014.

He weighed 4.48 kilograms (9.8 pounds) and was 60 centimetres (23.6 inches) long.

“It’s been a bit of a marathon, but I’m just so happy he’s here,” Mrs Stucken said.

The first-time parents said they were a little nervous leading up to the birth, which was scheduled at Orange hospital instead of their home town in Cowra, due to a lack of an anesthetist over the festive period.

“When you know he’s so big I was quite nervous,” Mrs Stucken said.

“But I was very happy and relieved when he came out safely.

The name Isaac is an ancient translation meaning’he will laugh’, a fact the couple were aware of whentheychose the name based onone of their favourite bible stories.

Mrs Stucken said she had nothing but praise for the staff in Orange hospital’s maternity ward.

“I don’t think you’d have better service in Sydney, their standard of care is amazing,” Mrs Stucken said.

“Staff have been amazing and everyone we’ve spoken to is so helpful.”

[email protected]南京夜网.au

THE BEST NEW YEAR: Naomi and Jonathan Stucken with son Isaac, who was the first baby born at Orange Hospital in 2014. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER

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Vansittart Park hosts thousands at NYE party

HAILED A SUCCESS: Mount Gambier Community Events Management Inc (MGCEMI) chair Steve Toope was pleased with how the fourth annual New Year’s Eve community celebrations were received. Pictures: BRETT KENNEDY NEED FOR SPEED: Cooper Bobridge (8) got behind the wheel of the go-karts, one of many amusements for the hundreds of children on site.
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VISITORS GALORE: Mount Gambier’s New Year’s Eve community celebrations attracted many visitors, including Adelaide’s Kobi, 8, and Levi Swanson, 5, and Lily Cunningham, 3, who enjoyed building a block tower.

HEAVY HITTING: The Riot City Wrestling crew was once again a smash hit with the crowd, as many cheered on GD Grimm, who outmuscled his opponent.

BUBBLE TROUBLE: Cassidy Lynagh, 5, was extra bubbly Tuesday night at the Mount Gambier Community New Year’s Eve celebrations.

NO SEATING ROOM: Adelaide-based Circus Elements entertainer Scott Griffin got the crowd involved in his performance.

VANSITTART Park hosted thousands of revellers on New Years Eveas families and friends came together to usher in 2014 at the fourth annual Mount Gambier Community New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Residents flocked into the venue from the Wehl Street entrance, making their way to the centre of the oval where jumping castles, merry-go-rounds, musicians and wrestlers waited to entertain the festive crowds.

Mount Gambier Community Events Management Incorporated chair Steve Toope said he was happy with the community response.

“I think it all went pretty well, the weather gods were definitely smiling on us,” Mr Toope said.

“You only have to look out the window today (Wednesday) to realise we were lucky.

“At the end of the day we didn’t have any hassles or hitches.

“We aim to get about 3500-4500 people and at a rough guess I’d say we were around the mark.

“It was a similar size crowd to 2012.”

Mr Toope said he received positive feedback from residents throughout the night.

“The fireworks were obviously well-received and everyone seemed happy with the range of entertainment,” he said.

“From an organiser point of view, I’ve really got nothing to complain about.”

Mr Toope said the central Vansittart Park location once again proved to be a winner.

“The one thing I see on New Year’s Eve when I’m walking about the area is that from a family perspective, it’s a good venue to go to,” he said.

“The kids can go off and parents know they will be safe and you see all the extended family catching up with a rug on the grass.

“From my point of view, I look at it as one of those events that friends and families can really come together, sit down and have a chat to catch up.

“From a parent’s perspective, if the kids are being entertained, then that can mean the parents or grandparents are in for an easier night.”

With live music a strong feature of the night, Mr Toope said the committee’s gamble on securing the services of Adelaide band Platinum Plus paid off.

“I think they went down really well, they were a tight outfit,” he said.

“We sort of punted that they’d fit the demographic and that’s exactly what happened.

“It was very easy listening and family friendly, so they were a good fit.”

While a large portion of the crowd left after the early fireworks, Mr Toope said organisers were prepared for the exodus, with other people still entering the venue right up until the stroke of midnight.

“That’s how we’ve designed the night, because we understand a lot of people have younger families,” he said.

While the committee has barely had time to celebrate the beginning of 2014 with plenty of packing up done yesterday morning, the next installment is already on their minds.

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Growing party sets city seeking headache cure

Revellers came out in far greater numbers than expected to celebrate New Year, with early estimates of about 2 million people crowding around the central city area. This was nearly half a million more than predicted.
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The huge crowd made for a great party but also foreshadowed future problems about managing the burgeoning event.

Ten years ago, the crowd was half that number.

”The event has just become more and more popular, and that is something that we will have to take into consideration,” lord mayor Clover Moore, said.

As the celebrations grow larger so does the challenge of managing that number of people.

More than 170 people were arrested in the Sydney and northern area – another 13 were were sent to the sobering-up centre – in what the police viewed as a successful New Year’s Eve operation.

“Generally the crowds were well behaved, when you have that number of people,” NSW Police acting deputy commissioner David Hudson said.

”But as predicted a couple of days ago, we did have certain individuals who saw fit to ruin the evening for a number of people – exacerbated by excessive consumption of alcohol.”

The alcohol exclusion zones were very important, he said. The increase in those areas meant people with children could visit the city to enjoy the fireworks ”confident that they were not going to be standing next to some drunk or someone who’s going to be violent towards them”.

But by the early hours of New Year’s Day thousands of revellers had flocked to Beare Park in Elizabeth Bay – a venue with no alcohol ban – where residents reported that the party had become unruly.

”They started coming onto our property and climbing on cars and using our garden as a toilet,” said Jana Masarova, who lives adjacent to the park. There were only three toilets in the park, which was already full of drunk people, she said.

”We had planned to go down there to have a look at the fireworks but it was too dangerous,” Ms Masarova said.

The City of Sydney promised that the park would be better managed next year. ”[We] will consult with residents and police to minimise any behaviour that could mar this wonderful event,” a spokesman said.

Cr Moore, said the site had been overrun by an unexpected influx of backpackers and tourists and that the city’s cleaners had recovered several passports from the site.

Cr Moore on Wednesday morning visited the park, where a peak of 50 cleaners worked from daybreak until after lunch gathering four tonnes of rubbish and cleaning up broken glass on their hands and knees. This was just part of an extensive clean-up operation involving more than 350 workers and 60 trucks collecting 58 tonnes of rubbish, and which cost the city $300,000.

The lord mayor said she would consult with the state government about how better to manage crowds next year.

But she said she was against levying additional fees on revellers as a means of controlling numbers.

Despite a bashing in Kings Cross which left a teenager in a critical condition, emergency services said the celebrations were broadly in line with their expectations.

”The crowd swelled early in the evening making it difficult for our paramedics to move in and around,” NSW Ambulance deputy commissioner Mike Willis said.

Police said their crowd control efforts were successful, notwithstanding the arrests. ”You have to be realistic about the number of people [and] the amount of alcohol that is consumed,” Mr Hudson said.

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Spike Jonze taps into love in a virtual world in Her

More on HerMovie session timesFull movies coverage
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Years before the invention of Siri made people comfortable talking directly to their digital devices, Spike Jonze got the seed of an idea for a story about a romance between a man and his computer.

”About a decade ago, I saw an article online that said you could interact with an artificial intelligence program (called A.L.I.C.E.),” Jonze said during a recent interview about Her, his fourth feature film.

”So I IM’d (instant messaged) this address and got a little banter going back and forth, and for a moment I had this buzz of, ‘Wow, this thing is talking to me’. It didn’t take long to reveal it was just parroting back what it had already heard before, but for that 20 seconds I got the idea of a man having a relationship with an operating system.”

Jonze filed the idea away and says he ”didn’t really think about it until a few years later, when I realised just how intriguing this was, that the concept could be used to explore relationships, and it started to become much more”.

Did it ever. Her is being hailed by critics as a remarkably touching, deeply thoughtful achievement by Jonze, best known for his earlier mind-bending movies Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, as well as his award-winning commercials and music videos. Her was named best film of 2013 by the US National Board of Review.

Set in a near-future Los Angeles, it stars Joaquin Phoenix as the not-quite-divorced loner Theodore, who pens love notes to strangers as an employee at the website BeautfulHandwrittenLetters南京夜网. Still hurting from the separation from his wife (played by Rooney Mara, seen mainly in dreamy flashbacks), Theodore is walking through his life in a fog of heartbreak until he is enticed by an ad for ”OS1: a new operating system, an intuitive entity that listens to you, knows you, understands you.” ”Samantha” becomes the virtual assistant of his dreams. Voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Samantha brings order to Theodore’s digital life, organising his hard drive and emails. But before long, she becomes his inseparable, albeit disembodied, companion.

Despite its boy-meets-computer set-up, Her evolves into an earnest and subtly profound inquiry into what is both fulfilling and confounding about modern love.

”The biggest challenge, for sure, was creating a real, believable love story that people would engage with both characters, even though one half of the relationship is never seen,” Jonze says. Much of the film relies on close-ups of Phoenix’s face as he registers his character’s emotions and, by proxy, the emotions of his love interest.

”Joaquin is just so completely, naturally alive onscreen,” Jonze, who cast Phoenix as soon as he finished his first draft, says. ”Then I spent a year tinkering with the script, and every time I had a new version, I’d show it to him and we’d talk about it.”

Johansson has already received critical praise for the believability of her performance as the seductive operating system that tries to understand the human world and feel the weight of real emotions.

”I really tried to empathise with Samantha, to understand what her experience would be,” Jonze says. ”I cared about her as a real entity even though she’s without physical form, so I hoped others would, too.

”When Scarlett came in to audition, we ended up having this meeting that was seven or eight hours long. We talked about the movie, about relationships, about the character, then we’d read a scene and talk some more. At one point I was able to articulate the idea that when Samantha is created she doesn’t have any fears, just like we don’t when we’re born. She learns these self-doubts and insecurities. That’s when Scarlett said something like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,”’ Jonze says with a laugh.

Unlike many filmmakers who have brought to the screen a dystopian future of robots and rubble, Jonze has imagined in Her a comforting day-after-tomorrow of natural fabrics, rounded edges and muted colours.

”We weren’t trying to make a predictive movie that says this is what the future is going to look like,” Jonze says. ”Early on, K.K. [Barrett, the production designer] and I realised we could let that pressure go and make a future that is a feeling, and as it developed it became more utopic-feeling.

”It’s an LA love story, and I think LA is a hyper version of what modern life is. It’s easier in a lot of ways. The weather is great, there’s the beach, you can find great food everywhere, the coffee is great, even inexpensive clothes are really nice. And we’re never lost, we are never not in communication, because of this thing,” Jonze says, touching his smartphone. ”Yet, in this world where everything is easy and comfortable, there is still loneliness and isolation. Maybe even more so.”

San Francisco Chronicle

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Ashes 2014: Scott Borthwick gets dream call-up for England

Talent: Scott Borthwick at a recent Northern District training session. Photo: SuppliedScott Borthwick is a born-and-bred Englishman but that has not stopped one Sydney family from claiming the budding leg-spinner as an ”honorary Australian”.
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It might be a stretch for Australia to lay any dibs on the 23-year-old with the thick Geordie accent but the local system can at least claim some credit for Borthwick’s rise.

As recently as the weekend before Christmas, Borthwick was plying his trade with the Northern District club in Sydney’s grade competition but Graeme Swann’s shock retirement has left the spinner on the verge of making his Test debut on Friday.

Borthwick is no stranger to Australia, having played a season in Adelaide’s grade scene and also spent time at the city’s Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy, where he received tutelage from two of the best – Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill.

Add that to the six first-grade games he has played with Northern District and that is enough for the club’s president to label him one of ours.

”I’d call him an honorary Australian – and a decent Pom, too,” Mike Langford said.

No matter how thorough Australia’s dossier is on Borthwick, few on these shores would know him better than Langford, whose family has played host to the Englishman during his stint in Sydney.

It is not uncommon for the club’s visiting players to stay with the Langfords for a week until they find their feet in Sydney but an exception was made for Borthwick, who happily performed household chores.

”I’ve had other cricketers come out to stay with me and it’s ‘What can you do for me?’, hence my wife’s hesitation, but this kid just went out of his way to help,” Langford said.

”He came in and it was ‘how can I help you?’ which is a nice change from a lot of touring cricketers. He stayed the whole time he was with us and we got to know him very well,” added Langford, a father of three.

”My wife wants to adopt him as a fourth son. That’s the sort of bloke he is.”

Borthwick was at the club’s Christmas party and due to fly home the following day to prepare for the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka when he received a phone call from England coach Andy Flower informing him to scrap those plans.

Swann had retired and he was needed with the senior squad rather than England’s development team.

Although Borthwick has not played internationally against Australia, he should not be a complete stranger to the side having lined up alongside Brad Haddin in a game in November.

Langford recalls seeing the pair ”chatting seriously” that day but does not expect any charity from Haddin at the SCG should Borthwick make his debut.

Asked if Australia would attack him in the manner that ended Swann’s career, Haddin said: ”No doubt.”

Borthwick’s numbers with Northern District – 11 wickets at 35, and 219 runs (including a century) at 31 with the bat – are respectable, though the Test arena is a big leap from the grade scene.

”The standard in Sydney is very good, it’s very competitive,” Borthwick said.

”You come across some good players, especially when the state players are playing. I got what I needed to get out of it. I got through some overs and got to spend some time in the middle.”

Borthwick considers himself more a spinner than a batsman but with a first-class average of 31 in both disciplines he is clearly no slouch in either.

As a leggie on debut, he expects the Australian batsmen to attack him but is backing himself to spin the ball past them.

”When batters do come at you it gives you the chance to get some wickets,” he said. ”Being around the squad … really excites me and I’m thrilled to be here.”

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Run-shy England skip batting practice before Ashes finale at SCG

Their batting has been streets behind Australia and they’ve been terrorised by Mitchell Johnson this summer but England have snubbed an opportunity to try to iron out their problems before Friday’s fifth Test.
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While Australian captain Michael Clarke and most of his top six had a hit-out in the SCG training nets on Wednesday, their opponents’ pre-match practice was restricted to a fielding session on the ground. Down 4-0 in the Ashes series, and having been blown away by Australia again in Melbourne thanks to another poor batting performance, they have not picked up a bat since.

”I don’t think they’re in a great place, to be perfectly honest,” Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin said. ”I think you can probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day. I think that’s the first thing to go when you’re struggling a bit. All the team stuff, all the 1 per centers, they’re the first things to go. The batting and bowling, it’s an individual thing, but I think the team stuff looked like it was breaking a bit the other day.”

England’s fielding reached a new low with captain Alastair Cook as guilty as anyone thanks to a sitter he dropped at first slip on the fourth and final day of the Boxing Day Test at the weekend. It followed another chance that Cook dropped after wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow failed to move.

Yet it is their failures with the bat that have been most damaging, clearing the way for Australia to dramatically turn a 10-month period in which they had not won a Test. Only twice in eight innings have England managed to pass 300, and Australia boast the top five scorers in the series, with Kevin Pietersen scraping into sixth place with 285 runs at an average of 35.62.

Australia’s eight hundreds for the Ashes campaign are matched by only one from England – an admirable maiden century by all-rounder Ben Stokes in Perth. And the tourists’ shortcomings have not only been in the ranks of their specialist batsmen. While Australia’s lower order have got them out

of trouble on several occasions with important partnerships, there has been little or no resistance to the onslaught led by Johnson on the England tail.

They lost 5-6 to be rolled for 179 in their second innings at the MCG, squandering their best chance of a win in this series.

Haddin, however, was reluctant to criticise Cook and the England leadership on Wednesday. ”It’s not my place to judge how Alastair runs his team. We have to make sure our own backyard is in order,” he said. ”I’m not concerned about moves he makes … it’s hard enough making sure we’re up for every game.”

Asked why England had declined to bat, their emerging leg-spinner Scott Borthwick said: ”No reason whatsoever. We just had a nice runaround, a bit of catching and worked on our skills.”

The 23-year-old from Durham was a mid-tour addition to the squad after the shock retirement of Graeme Swann before the fourth Test, and is tipped to make his debut in Sydney. He disputed the perception that England are in disarray.

”The lads are sticking together,” Borthwick said. ”We had a great fielding session, and our energy was fantastic. We were running around taking great catches and everyone was patting each other on the back. The spirit is brilliant. We’re trying our best to get a good win in Sydney.”

As for Australia, Ryan Harris (knee) and Shane Watson (groin) did not train on Wednesday – Harris and fellow fast bowlers Johnson and Peter Siddle had a pool session instead – but there remained optimistic that they would be fit for Friday. If they are cleared the other possible change to the XI is a recall for all-rounder James Faulkner in place of George Bailey.

”We would love to have the same group go out that we did at the start of the tour, and if they are right to go they deserve that right to come out in this fifth Test,” Haddin said.

Twitter – @ChrisBarrett_

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Jackson Strong, motocross star, in hospital after backyard fireworks mishap

Jackson Strong, who made a name for himself in the motocross arena, was hurt in a fireworks mishap on New Year’s Eve.Motocross star Jackson Strong was among several people injured in backyard fireworks incidents in NSW on New Year’s Eve.
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An ambulance spokeswoman said paramedics responded to reports of a fireworks explosion on Milbrulong Road, Lockhart, in south-western NSW’s Riverina region, about 12.10am on Wednesday.

She said two patients were taken to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital but Strong was reported to be the more badly hurt. He suffered a serious leg injury as well as chest and facial injuries.

He was flown to hospital by helicopter and then by plane to Sydney, where he was admitted to the burns unit of St George Hospital.

“His left leg around his thigh is the worst part,” his father Lyndon said.

“He will pull through, no worries at all.”

Strong, 22, made a name for himself in the motocross arena, rising from performing as a youth at the Lockhart Show to bagging a swag of medals on the world stage. The reigning X Games Best Trick gold medallist has ridden for the action sports show Nitro Circus.

A 24-year-old man suffered burns to his face and large cuts above both eyes after a fireworks accident at a property at Waukivory, north of Newcastle, at 10.37pm on Tuesday, a NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said.

The victim was taken to Gloucester Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, then flown to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition.

He underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday amid fears that he could lose the sight in both eyes.

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Live A-League: Wanderers v Phoenix

Do the Poznan: Wanderers fans dance the night away. Photo: Cameron SpencerFollow live coverage as Western Sydney host Brisbane.
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Welcome to our live coverage of Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix. Shane Brady here with you for the next two hours.

The Phoenix finally cracked it for a win two weeks and backed it up with another so this game could be closer than the gap between these two sides on the table might suggest.

The Phoenix’s lowly position has belied some of the football they have played, and but for some diabolical finishing they could be much higher as they have always been hard to beat.

The Wanderers go into this match with the lingering distraction of ugly incidents off the field and we hope it does not become a regular occurrence.

Everyone enjoys the spectacle of the Red and Black Bloc but hooliganism is one thing football in this country does not need.

Not long now until the action unfolds on the pitch where Tomi Juric announced his return from injury with a bang last week. It will take something to top that flying volley, surely one of the contenders for goal of the season.

No Matthew Spiranovic or Tahj Minniecon for the hosts as they make six changes but Shinji Ono and Youssouff Hersi will start.

The Nix have lost Carlos Hernandez for six weeks with a broken list, a big blow to the visitors.

1 min: The Nix kick off and we’re away. The ball goes dead and the Wanderers have a goal kick that releases Tomi Juric but he is flagged offside, wrongly as well. 0-0

2 min: Friendly fire as Polenz and La Rocca collide in an aerial challenge but they appear to be OK. 0-0

4 min: Brockie almost stole in on goal after an error by Polenz but Wanderers skipper Michael Beauchamp, back in the side, made a timely tackle that had be spot-on on the edge of the area. 0-0

6 min: The Nix get an early shot away through Cunningham but it is blocked by Mooy. They are putting together some decent possession in the Wanderers half and don’t seem overawed by their opposition. 0-0

8 min: The Nix win a corner and go short. The ball drops in the area but Huysegems’ shot is blocked and falls to Covic. They go straight down the other end and win a corner but it is easily cleared. 0-0

9 min: The Wanderers win another corner as Bridge breake through on goal but his touch is heavy and forces him wide, allowing the Nix defence to block his shot. Huysegems again clears the resultant corner but the hosts seemed to have joined the game now. 0-0

11 min: Muscat gets boxed in trying to play out and the clearance falls to Ono. Fenton’s attempted chest back to the keeper falls dangerously to Bridge but his shot is smothered for a corner. La Rocca meets the header but it is deflected wide. That was close. 0-0

14 min: Juric puts a beautiful cross on La Rocca’s head clear on goal but it flies just over. It wouldn’t have counted as he was flagged offside. The Wanderers are starting to flex their muscles. 0-0

16 min: Lia wins a free kick outside the area. Brockie curls it but can’t beat the wall. 0-0

17 min: Bridge wins a corner, the Wanderers’ 5th so far, but again they fail to beat the first man. Polenz bombs a long ball into the box but Moss is all over it. 0-0

19 min: Brockie pounces on a loose pass in defence and finds Huysegems but the Wanderers are able to regroup and defuse the attack. 0-0

22 min: No Hernandez, no Ifill, no worries so far for the Nix as they look composed on the ball and terrier-like in defence, pressing the Wanderers across the park. 0-0

24 min: Huysegems fashions a shot out of nowhere in a crowded area but it flies wide. Nice footwork from the big man, who has been in fine form for the Nix. 0-0

26 min: The Nix have been camped in the Wanderers’ half for a couple of minutes now but can’t penetrate their watertight defence. 0-0

29 min: Riera finds Fenton with a lovely sand wedge over the defence. Hicks shoots but it is deflected behind for a corner.

An absorbing battle so far. 0-0

31 min: Mooy hits a volley low and hard but Moss is able to parry it away and it is cleared for a corner. The Wanderers try a variation with better results but the ball goes dead off Juric for a goal kick. 0-0

33 min: First card of the match as Cunningham collects Polenz late, not the first time he has had a nibble at his opponent. 0-0

34 min: Penalty area pinball as the ball drops to Ono who backheels to Hersi but they are crowded out and win a free kick to relieve the pressure. 0-0

35 min: Hersi bursts through and releases Ono on the right flank but his cross is overhit and the Nix regroup and Moss is able to snuff out the danger. 0-0

37 min: The Nix defence is very well marshalled to thwart the Wanderers’ attack. They come again through Hersi but Mooy’s cross is cleared and La Rocca fouls Fenton in an aerial contest. Hersi is starting to make inroads down the right. 0-0

40 min: Fenton is tackled in a 50-50 trying to burst through the Wanderers defence and has hurt his bung shoulder. He will have to come off. A shame as he is a talented young fullback. That hurts. Boxall comes on as the injuries mount for the Nix. 0-0

43 min: The Wanderers ping it around crisply and find Hersi on the right. He teases in another inviting cross but again the Nix are able to clear. Then Hersi and Juric exchange a one-two in the box but his shot is scuffed straight at Moss. All roads lead to Hersi at the moment. 0-0

45 min: Hicks finds Boxall down the right but his cross is intercepted by Covic and the Wanderers come again. Polenz hits a perfect cross on to Ono clear in front of goal but he hits the post and it bounces just the wrong side of the line and the Nix get a huge let-off. 0-0

46 min: Just the one minute added and the whistle goes for half-time in a very absorbing battle. The best chance fell to the Wanderers at the end of the half but chances have been few and far between despite the attacking flair shown by both sides. The Nix have obviously done their homework and are well in this match despite their mounting injury toll. Will they be able to keep it up for another 45 minutes? Join us again in a quarter of an hour and find out.

Happy New (World Cup) Year by the way. This is a good way to kick it off.

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Spies count the cost

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) may have made publicly available secret files opened on ”persons of interest” during its Cold War on home-grown communism, but surveillance footage from that time is apparently not so easily accessed. Filmmaker Haydn Keenan, who made 1980s Australian cult movies Going Down and Pandemonium, scoured the ”darkened corners” of the National Archives to find the astounding, disturbing and blackly amusing footage revealed in his four-part 2013 Walkley-nominated series, Persons of Interest.
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”It was extremely difficult to get access to the archival footage, as the existence of it was not acknowledged for quite some time,” Keenan says. ”There seemed to be huge gaps in what was available. I thought, well, either they stopped shooting surveillance film, or it is around somewhere. We ended up tracking down about 100 hours, so that was a massive breakthrough.”

Footage of the targets profiled in the series – Roger Milliss, Michael Hyde, Frank Hardy and Gary Foley – is chilling when cut with interviews with the targets themselves, along with academics and former ASIO spies. Narrated by Keenan, with the eerily soothing voice of actress Mercia Deane-Johns reading the files, the series reveals a human aspect to this notorious chapter of Australian history, from both sides of the operation.

The targets, when filmed reading their deeply personal and damning files for the first time, and the men who spied on them, when recalling their work and its damage to their own lives, are visibly overcome with bitterness and regret. One prominent Australian, whom Keenan will not name, pulled out of the series when his ASIO file revealed his lifelong best friend was a spy.

”He just went weak at the knees. His jaw dropped,” Keenan says. He says watching the men read their files was ”incredibly fascinating … It’s like a dark biography that’s written about you, by someone who neither likes nor trusts you, so it takes the worst option. So everything you do proves this hypothesis and that’s ultimately where ASIO fell down, because they shoehorned every bit of evidence into proving their hypothesis, as opposed to taking a scientific approach. They ended up drowning in their own information.”

Finding former ASIO spies was difficult enough. Finding ones who would speak on camera was almost impossible. But Keenan convinced Phil Geary and Tom Shepherd, along with another former spy who agreed only to be filmed in darkness, to share their stories.

”One of the really sad things that came out was that there was this other side [to the spies] that [the targets] hadn’t been aware of. They thought they were these bastards who’d gone in and ruined people’s lives, but in the end they were naive. They were always approached with the same line, ‘Would you like to help your country?’.

”And if you say ‘yes’, you will be drawn into a web out of which you cannot extricate yourself without paying a very high price. I think it became apparent to both Phil Geary and Tom Shepherd that the people they were reporting on were not going to overthrow the state by violence. They didn’t have the capacity. As Tom Shepherd says in the Frank Hardy episode, they were just people who believed in communism, believed in a fair go, believed in equality for women and a just society. The reports [the spies] were handing in were blighting the lives of those people, even though they may not have realised it.

”You may just find that you couldn’t get a job, or you’d get a job and a few weeks later, you’d get the sack. And as Tom Shepherd says at the end, ‘They say, we will always look after you. Well they won’t, and I’m not the only one’.”

Personal curiosity has so far not driven Keenan, who, in the 1960s, attended protests supporting the development of the Australian film industry, to inquire as to whether he has an ASIO file.

”I regarded myself as a humanist and, therefore, probably left of centre and leaning towards socialism, but the split between Mao and the society line of communists was pretty extreme. My theory now is that I don’t think we’ve heard the end of socialist humanism. We all have a dishwasher and two cars and four tellies and still people do not seem happy. Still, the split in Australia, where it shouldn’t be, between haves and have-nots, seems to increase. If there’s a class war, it’s been run by the right wing in Australia, and they’re winning.

”And yet, I started out thinking, ‘Oh ASIO, those buggers, the poor left’. As I went on, I started to move back towards ASIO, and I’ve ended up in the middle. I think we need an efficient professional intelligence service.”

Keenan hopes Persons of Interest will serve both as an account of systemic injustice and as a warning.

”It might be the history we could learn from. As [Justice] Michael Kirby says in the series, ‘A healthy scepticism never goes astray’.”

Persons of Interest airs on Tuesday, January 7 at 8.30pm on SBS One.

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Racing: Dances on Stars waltzes through crowd to win Carrington Stakes

Jockey Brenton Avdulla Photo: Jenny Evans Brenton Avdulla only saw daylight late and Gerald Ryan is intent on making good with another small window of opportunity after Dances On Stars’ Carrington Stakes (1100 metres) win at Randwick on Wednesday.
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Hopelessly held up for a run for the majority of the long Randwick straight, Avdulla and Dances On Stars charged through a narrow passage late to win the listed sprint.

“It was just a matter of when the gap would come,” Avdulla said after Dances On Stars swelled its earnings past $350,000. “I tried nine times and missed and on the 10th time I was lucky.

“He’s a very promising horse, and he was racing against the better three-year-olds in Brisbane, and he never disgraced himself. I got enough luck from the 100 [metres] and he was good enough to do it.”

Dances On Stars ($4) is another progeny of Oakleigh Plate winner Snitzel, with which Rosehill-based Ryan has had so much success. And he wants to cash in over racing’s off-season with the four-year-old after he went into the Carrington Stakes without a trial.

“We had a go at the glory as a two and three-year-old, and now we just want to place him where he can win,” Ryan said. “It was all about today and … a race like the Canterbury Stakes in three weeks [would be suitable]. You’ve just got to get what you can before the good horses come back around.”

Avdulla snagged Dances On Stars back to the tail of the field, and always had plenty of horse underneath him rounding for home, even if an obvious run didn’t present itself immediately.

After electing to follow Glyn Schofield’s Hidden Warrior ($12), Avdulla changed tack a couple of times before bursting through to beat the Newcastle sprinter by a short neck. Another resuming horse, Dee’n’gee ($7.50), finished a further half-neck back in third.

“I jumped him out the other day, and it was the most decent hitout he’s had,” Avdulla said. ‘I thought there was going to be a bit more speed than there actually was, but it probably worked out in my favour.

“He’s only got a short turn of foot on him so that’s the way I rode him.”

Meanwhile, the royally bred Atmospherical maintained an unbeaten start to her career after sailing home to win a three-year-old restricted race (1100m).

Fresh from a debut win at Kembla Grange, David Pfieffer’s filly, a half-sister to Gai’s Choice and Peron, scooted home to beat Pirandello to notch her second straight win.

Atmospherical ($2.30 in to $1.80) was passed in as a yearling with Pfieffer, who has set up a successful satellite stable at Toowoomba, not needing long to lease her to a loyal band of clients.

“I sent an email out through my stable to see if anyone was interested, and in about 35 minutes it was done,” Pfieffer said. “Not long before that Gai’s Choice won three in a row and ran third in a group 1.

“If we’re going to find a stakes race she’s got to come up in her rating a little bit, and we’re better off trying to give her a go in one of these. When you’re competing here against Snowden and Waller, you’ve got to produce horses like this and maintain strike rates.”

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‘Never seen better’: McGrath in awe

United cause: The Australian team pose with Glenn McGrath and the baggy pink cap they will wear for the Pink Test at the SCG. Photo: Kate Geraghty Photo: kate geraghtyGlenn McGrath has hailed Australia’s red-hot attack as being ‘‘as good as I’ve ever seen’’ as the home side aims to complete a ‘‘pinkwash’’ of England in the fifth Test.
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The former great, who has more Test wickets than any other paceman in the game, is in awe of the manner Australia have systematically dismantled England’s batsmen, reducing what was once a world-class top seven into a rabble.

England’s batsmen have made just one century between them in four Tests, do not have a batsman averaging above 36, and have passed 350 in just one of eight innings this series.

“Looking at the way the bowling unit has gone about its business this series, that’s probably as good as I have ever seen,’’ McGrath said on Wednesday. ‘‘They have got good bowling plans, they are bowling well, they are executing their plans well and it’s working; there’s no weak link in the unit. It’s been as good as I have ever seen.’’

That is a big statement coming from the 43-year-old McGrath, who was part of some of the greatest attacks fielded by an Australian side. McGrath’s partnership with arguably the greatest bowler of all, Shane Warne, is well known but he also formed a menacing pace combination with the likes of Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz.

Lee is one of only four Australians in the 300-club while Gillespie is sixth in Australia’s all-time list.

McGrath has been particularly impressed by Mitchell Johnson, but said he was not surprised by the quick’s stunning resurgence despite his habit in the past of turning in hot and cold performances.

The left-armer, with 31 wickets at 14 and three player-of-the-match awards, has arguably been the difference between the two sides.

‘‘I don’t think you could have predicted him to go any better but to bowl at that pace with that consistency, and aggression and hostility; he’s not only taking wickets but lifted the whole of the Aussie boys as well,’’ McGrath said. ‘‘When you’ve got a guy bowling like that, and has an X-factor, it just lifts the whole team.

‘‘You need someone to lead the attack and he’s well and truly doing it. I can’t remember the last time someone’s bowled with this hostility and had such impact.’’

The added bonus of Johnson’s dominance has been the effect he has had on England’s psyche.

‘‘Without a doubt, you don’t see someone bowling up around the 150 km/h [mark] and with that aggression and that hostility and that in-your-face attitude, they have just been shellshocked,’’ McGrath said.

‘‘Six wickets down and they are all out for bugger all, the last four or five wickets they haven’t been getting much. When you can do that you are all over them.’’

McGrath said Johnson, who has lengthened his run-up under the tutelage of Dennis Lillee, was a different bowler both technically and mentally to the one who melted against England in 2009 and 2010-11.

Given McGrath’s habit of predicting a whitewash victory for Australia before every series, it seems only fitting the home side can complete a 5-0 clean sweep in Sydney in the “Pink” Test named after the charity he helped co-found with his first wife, Jane, who died in 2008.

‘‘It was never in doubt really,’’ McGrath joked. ‘‘Always happy to make a prediction but I was a little bit hesitant at the start but after day two of Brisbane I said definitely 5-0.

‘‘England had issues over in the Ashes in the UK. Australia were finding their feet with Boof [coach Darren Lehmann] coming in and all the big moments they lost. Three-nil was an unrealistic scoreline to how the series went. I thought England had a lot of issues then and this series they’ve all come out.’’

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Newcastle fireworks: cracker or fizzer? Poll

FOR some, it was a cracker, but for many who vented on social media on Wednesday Newcastle’s New Year’s Eve fireworks were a five-star fizzer.
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Hundreds of disgruntled revellers took to Facebook and Twitter only minutes after the final shells exploded over Nobbys, many stuck in traffic standstills in the city and at Stockton.

‘‘Newcastle council should be known as McScrooge Council,’’ reveller Kris Kelly said.

‘‘Absolutely pathetic,’’ said Susan Thorpe.

‘‘Looked like Newcastle council bought the cheapest fireworks they could,’’ said Peter Snow.

‘‘Worst fireworks in Newcastle in over 20 years,’’ wrote John Burke.

To be fair, about 40,000 people flocked to the harbourfront on New Year’s Eve. About 100 sent complaints to the Newcastle Herald. There was little or no praise.

Most of the complainants said the fireworks were ordinary and couldn’t be seen from many of the usual vantage points because they were launched near Nobbys headland instead of the usual launch site at Horseshoe Beach where the larger crowds had gathered. At Stockton, the fireworks appeared ‘‘a long way away’’, many said.

Some left early, saying the ‘‘bigger and better 9pm fireworks’’ promised by the council after cancelling the midnight fireworks, didn’t ring true.

In the city and at Stockton, traffic came to a standstill, with many revellers saying they sat idle in traffic for an hour following the ‘‘disappointing’’ fireworks.

The Herald was able to confirm on Wednesday that the event cost Newcastle ratepayers $120,000, of which $20,000 was spent on fireworks. The budget was not less than that spent on previous New Year’s Eve celebrations.

A council spokesperson yesterday said the event created ‘‘a fun, safe atmosphere for families’’ on an ‘‘incident-free evening’’.

‘‘We don’t have a multimillion-dollar budget, but we do try to get as much bang for our buck as possible,’’ she said.

‘‘Aside from the fireworks, there is security, toilets, fencing, traffic management, lighting towers, foreshore entertainment and St John Ambulance that need to be paid for.’’

Lord mayor Jeff McCloy didn’t see the fireworks, but defended the event.

‘‘My goodness, if these people who complain want to contribute some money in some way, then we can make sure that we do better,’’ he said.

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