18 Feb

Kavanaugh accuser denies working in Aust

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Christine Blasey Ford gave evidence at the Senate Judiciary Committee.US professor Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, has been quizzed about her n work history at an intense US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
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Arizona sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, hired by the 10 male Republican senators who control the committee, was probing Ford about her fear of flying.

“In fact, you fly fairly frequently for your hobbies and you have had to fly for your work. Is that true?” Mitchell asked during Thursday’s hearing in Washington DC.

“Correct, unfortunately,” Ford replied.

Mitchell then appeared to presume Ford had worked in .

Ford, 51, is a professor at California’s Palo Alto University and teaches in a consortium with Stanford University.

“You were a consulting bio-statistician in Sydney, ?” Mitchell asked.

“Is that right?”

Ford denied it.

“I have never been to , but the company that I worked for is based in and they have an office in San Francisco, California,” Blasey said.

In a rare moment of levity during the hearing the professor laughed about the prospect of taking the long flight to .

“I don’t think I’ll make it to ,” Blasey said.

Mitchell, also breaking the stark tone of the hearing, smiled.

“It is long,” the prosecutor said.

Ford alleges Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 at a party by pinning her to a bed, groping her and attempting to pull off her swimsuit.

Kavanaugh vehemently rejects the accusation, but Ford’s claims have the potential to derail his hopes of being appointed to a lifelong seat on America’s highest court.

There had been reports Ford was reluctant to fly from California to Washington DC for Thursday’s hearing and her fear came from the alleged decades ago Kavanaugh assault.

Blasey, a keen surfer, did confirm she has flown to Hawaii, Costa Rica, other South Pacific islands and French Polynesia.

“It is easier for me to travel going that direction when it is a vacation,” Blasey said.

Critics, including US President Donald Trump’s son Don Jr, jumped on her comments.

“I’m no psychology professor but it does seem weird to me that someone could have a selective fear of flying,” Trump Jr wrote on Twitter.

“Can’t do it to testify but for vacation, well it’s not a problem at all.”

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18 Feb

Hazlewood, Marsh perfect in interview

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n Test cricketer Josh Hazelwood has been appointed vice-captain along with Mitch Marsh.Josh Hazlewood is used to being judged by coaches and captains but not so much chairmen, admitting Cricket ‘s search for new leaders took him out of his comfort zone.
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Hazlewood and Mitch Marsh have been appointed vice-captains of the Test side.

Selectors settled on David Warner’s replacement some six months after the banned batsman was stripped of the vice-captaincy.

The governing body broke with tradition by naming two vice-captains while the method it used to select Hazlewood and Marsh was also unprecedented.

Players voted on which of their teammates were leadership material.

This shortlist, which also included uncapped players Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Alex Carey, was then cut down after a formal interview.

Hazlewood and Marsh won over a panel consisting of selectors Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell, CA chairman David Peever, CA board member Mark Taylor, coach Justin Langer, team psychologist Michael Lloyd and CA high-performance boss Pat Howard.

The paceman and allrounder both spelled out their vision for the team, highlighting the cultural changes they’d like to help impart while also stressing how they wanted to support skipper Tim Paine.

“It was pretty nerve-racking to be honest,” Hazlewood recalled.

“I’d probably rather be out there in front of 50,000.

“A few greats of the game (were on the panel) and it’s not something we do every day.

“It was a little bit different … but a good process to go through. I guess we learned a bit from it, each individual that did it, and we’ll be a bit more comfortable next time we do it.”

Marsh expressed similar sentiments in Dubai.

“With the calibre (of people) in the room, it was quite daunting,” Marsh said.

Hazlewood will miss next month’s two-Test series against Pakistan because of a back injury.

The paceman’s comeback game was against David Warner in grade cricket last weekend while he is hoping to return for NSW in Monday’s one-day clash with Queensland.

If all goes to plan, Hazlewood’s next game for will be an ODI against South Africa in Perth on November 4.

The 27-year-old should have plenty of time to build match fitness before ‘s four-Test series against India starts at Adelaide Oval on December 6.

“There’s a bit of an underdog mentality going into this summer. India are the No.1 side in the world,” Hazlewood said.

“Even though they’ve never won in , you could see them as favourites.

“That will bring out our best cricket.”

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18 Feb

Sidebottom “phenomenal” for AFL’s Magpies

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Steele Sidebottom has been phenomenal in the Collingwood’s AFL finals run, teammate James Aish says.Steele Sidebottom has been so good this AFL season, there are times when Collingwood’s game plan is simply to give it to him.
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The Brownlow bolter and lock-down favourite for the best player of the AFL finals has been un-containable this season.

He’s also the man judged most likely to win the Norm Smith medal.

And that’s evident when you consider the esteem he’s being held in by his teammates.

“If I see him I’ll give him the ball because that’s the best thing almost always,” fellow Magpies midfielder James Aish said.

“His year has been phenomenal. I’m sure he has to win the finals award.

“You know whenever he has the ball you’re safe as a team and he’s going to do something.”

Eagle Mark Hutchings is the man most likely to get the job on Sidebottom, who finished runner-up to Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell in Monday’s count.

A strong tag will be crucial to delivering West Coast its fourth premiership.

It’s unlikely to stop Sidebottom winning the Gary Ayres Medal as best finals performer.

Sidebottom is six votes clear of Eagle Jack Redden, the only man who can catch him.

Irrespective of that prize, Aish said he and Pies captain Scott Pendlebury had played a significant role in setting the tone for Collingwood’s unlikely finals run.

The pair both played in the 2010 success and have been crucial sounding boards for younger players.

“During the whole finals, Pendles and Steele have both been enormous,” he said.

“After our first loss to West Coast, they were the first ones to talk after the game. They said we’ve got to treat that as a normal game, learn from it and move on.

“They’ve also made a point to make an effort to enjoy it … to enjoy and take it all in. I go off those guys, they’ve got the experience and know the occasion.”

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18 Feb

Melbourne’s Smith ambiguous on NRL future

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Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is remaining ambiguous about his intentions for NRL in 2019.Cameron Smith insists he wants to play on at Melbourne in 2019 but has again refused to confirm that Sunday’s grand final against the Sydney Roosters won’t be his last NRL match.
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A week after dropping a bombshell that he could consider retiring alongside Billy Slater if the Storm win back-to-back titles with a victory on Sunday, the Melbourne captain steered away from the topic in Thursday’s joint press conference.

With coach Craig Bellamy beside him adamant he wanted the superstar hooker to remain at the club next year, Smith again pushed home the fact he remains unsigned for 2019 when asked about last week’s comments and if he would retire if the Storm won.

“I don’t have a contract for next year. I don’t know,” Smith said.

“I worry about this week and preparing well. Hopefully helping the team prepare well and go out and play well on the weekend.

“That’s all I asked to do for my coaches and teammates and whatever happens after the year will happen.”

Pushed on whether he wanted another contract, Smith said: “I’ve said this year several times that I would like to play on next year but at the moment I’m not in that situation.”

Bellamy claimed he hadn’t spoken with Smith about his future since Friday’s press conference, but admitted he’d be mad not to want to the former Kangaroos captain at the club next year.

The 35-year-old has played a record 383 NRL games, and will almost certainly become the first to pass the 400-mark if he plays on in 2019.

He still shows no real signs of letting up, and has been just as influential in the Storm’s run to this year’s grand final as he has in their other seven appearance during his tenure with the team.

However some have argued the fact he retired from representative football at such short notice earlier this year gives some credence to the suggestion he could retire with a win.

“He knows I want him to play on, but it’s up to Cam and his management and our club have to come to some sort of agreement,” Bellamy said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Cameron going on is the best thing for our club.

“I want him to play on and I can’t see any reason why he can’t go on for another couple of years to be quite honest, but at his age he will go year by year.

“We all know what he has done for the game and our club and the sides he has played for and he is still playing as well as he has ever played.

“I’d be an idiot if I didn’t want him to play on next year.”

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18 Feb

Newcastle Potters Studio marks 50th anniversary

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Back to Back Galleries’ current exhibition tells the story of the city’s love of clay. Photo: Denise Spalding
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The exhibition at Back to Back Galleries until October 14 marks an important anniversary for Newcastle Studio Potters Inc. Fifty years ago the area’s ceramic artists and amateurs formed an association, which continues to flourish.

But the start of Newcastle’s love of clay was earlier than 1968. The first pottery classes date from 1961 when London-trained Madeleine Scott Jones was encouraged to set up classes by a groundswell of women keen to join the trend for handmade pottery, then sweeping much of the world. There were brown glazed mugs and casseroles, along with caftans and internal raw brick walls. There were dinner parties with avocados, chilli con carne or canard à l’orange, all servedon handmade dishes. Life was suddenly more casual. Art was big. Anne von Bertouch set up her gallery.

Madeleine initially had four full classes, confirming to a previously sceptical Technical College administration, which provided the facilities, that there was a real local demand. Students learned simple hand-building processes and, after a year, graduated to the wheel. Everything they made was designed for use. Is the only surviving link with those earliest days Barbara Blaxland Pengelly, with her long history of supplying hand-built tableware for Hunter Valley resorts?

The Studio Potters maintained momentum and around 80 members, with audacious plans to set up a workshop and gallery. The former Back’s butcher shop was bought in 1973, but it took until 1992 before the gallery opened in a thoroughly renovated building, funded by the members themselves and a series of moneymaking events. Who can forget the Great Platter Auction of 1991, with large plates thrown by American virtuoso professional potter Sean Nicholson and decorated by celebrities? The gallery has exhibited work by many major ceramic artists. The workshop provides facilities for popular classes and a shop was later added.

Styles have evolved. Pottery became ceramics, taught in art schools. In the Newcastle context, charismatic lecturers such as Ken Leveson and Michael Keighery expanded the artistic horizons of their students to include ceramic sculpture, sometimes at the expense of traditional craft skills. Feminism and other forms of protest ideology entered the craft world. Porcelain was rediscovered, leading to a renaissance of decoration, with elaborate surface treatments such as we see in the present tea party-themed exhibition in work by members using different sets of skills.

The whimsical teapots of Claire Locker-Potter are designed not for pouring tea, but as handsome decorative objects. Other highlights include Patricia Luck’s boldly painted designs and Sue Stewart’s well-thrown mugs and bowls, as well as her miniature still life wall pieces, blurring the contemporary division between art and craft.

These terms are not mutually exclusive, as we regularly observe at Timeless Textiles or in the widely prized work of Newcastle-born international jeweller Helen Britton.

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18 Jan

Phelps draws poor ballot spot in Wentworth

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Independent Kerryn Phelps concedes her chances of taking Wentworth from the Liberal Party in the looming by-election have taken a hit, with the Sydney city councillor being drawn near the bottom of the 16-candidate ballot paper.

Dr Phelps is considered one of the most likely to steal the seat from the Liberals for the first time in the party’s history, but she drew 15th spot when the draw was conducted by the n Electoral Commission on Friday.

“Being down near the bottom of the ballot form might make it a little bit of a harder task from here,” she told reporters. “It is what it is.”

Licia Heath, a fellow independent, is 13th, while Liberal candidate Dave Sharma is ninth and Labor’s Tim Murray is fifth.

Robert Callanan from Katter’s n Party is No.1 on the ballot paper for the by-election, which will be held on October 20.

Asked if he was relieved to see his main rival down the bottom of the ballot, Mr Sharma said he believed voters were more than capable of picking out who they wanted to support from a list.

“Obviously the voters are going to decide who they support and I’m sure they’ll find whichever candidate of the 16 they want to support,” Mr Sharma told reporters.

“It will be a tough by-election, I’ve been saying that all along, I know that, the government knows that.”

Mr Sharma confirmed he had spoken to deposed prime minister, and former member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull on a few occasions during this campaign.

“He has been very supportive…it’s great to have him willingly offering me his advice and his support,” Mr Sharma said.

“He’s got a lot of valuable things to offer me.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore – who in 2017 had a public falling out with Dr Phelps who was serving as her deputy on council – has backed Ms Heath in the Wentworth poll.

Dr Phelps wouldn’t be drawn on whether she thought Ms Moore’s decision was personal.

“I think people can endorse whoever they like,” she said on Friday.

“I’d rather not comment on other people’s alignments, I think it’s really important that I stay with the policies that I think are very important.”

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18 Jan

NRL grand finals between the top two teams

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The Melbourne Storm have played three of the NRL grand finals between first and second-placed teams.PAST FIVE GRAND FINALS BETWEEN FIRST AND SECOND

* 2012: Melbourne (2nd) bt Canterbury (1st) 14-4

It looked like a one-horse race when the Storm won their opening nine games of the season, but the bubble burst as they lost six of seven through the Origin period. That opened the door for the Bulldogs to claim the minor premiership on the back of their own winning streak of 12 games, led by Ben Barba’s Dally M-winning campaign. The grand final is best remembered for James Graham biting the ear of Billy Slater, later resulting in a 12-game ban. Cooper Cronk won the Clive Churchill medal, and it was Craig Bellamy’s first legitimate title.

* 2008: Manly (2nd) bt Melbourne (1st) 40-0

It was billed as a clash of the top two teams, but in the end it was a non-contest as Manly took revenge for the previous year’s defeat by trouncing over a Melbourne side without suspended captain Cameron Smith. Sea Eagles winger Michael Robertson got a hat trick, but the decider is best remembered for retiring champion Steve Menzies bowing out with a grand final try. The 40-0 scorelines remains the biggest grand final margin in history, and the first time a team was held scoreless since 1978.

* 2007: Melbourne (1st) bt Manly (2nd) 34-8

It was the last time first beat second, but it comes with an asterisk after the Storm were later stripped of the title due to salary cap cheating. Greg Inglis, playing at five-eighth, picked up the Clive Churchill medal in a team that had nine State of Origin stars, including Israel Folau, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Brett White, Matt King, Matt Geyer and Michael Crocker.

* 2004: Canterbury (2nd) bt Sydney Roosters (1st) 16-13

Arguably the biggest rivalry of the early noughties, this grand final proved heroes don’t always get the fairytale finish they deserve as retiring champion Brad Fittler failed to get the job done against a Bulldogs side missing injured skipper Steve Price. Willie Mason claimed the Clive Churchill in a team that had Sonny Bill Williams and a young Johnathan Thurston, who gave his premiership ring to Price.

* 2003: Penrith (1st) bt Sydney Roosters (2nd) 18-6

The last time the a legitimate minor premiers side knocked off second place to lift the trophy. The Panthers finished with one more regular season win than the Roosters but entered the decider as underdogs. However that failed to deter an inexperienced side inspired by Scott Sattler’s unforgettable chasedown tackle of flying winger Todd Byrne.

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18 Jan

Education minister denies funding ‘threat’

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Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has denied threatening to withhold school funding from states and territories if they don’t sign up to a new deal by December.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino has accused the federal government of “holding a gun to the head” of states and territories through the tight deadline.

Mr Tehan said he was simply seeking assurances from his state counterparts that funding would still be provided to schools as negotiations continued.

“It’s not a threat,” Mr Tehan told ABC Radio on Friday.

“Now it’s fairly sad, unfortunately, that James Merlino sought to leak that letter to the press and beat it up for what it wasn’t.”

The public feud erupted between the two ministers over how much the federal government puts towards state schools, after the announcement of a $4.6 billion peace-deal for Catholic and independents.

The Victorian Education Minister is pushing for an additional five per cent from the federal government to ensure state schools also get a boost.

In the leaked letter to Mr Merlino, the federal minister rejects the proposal and says investment to Victorian state schools is increasing.

Mr Merlino, who is also Victoria’s Labor deputy premier, says the federal government is demanding states and territories immediately sign a deal, which is unfair.

“Essentially holding a gun to the head of states and territories by inventing deadlines,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“The carelessness with which he (Mr Tehan) has ruled out funding the final five per cent of the schooling resource standard shows complete ignorance to the inequality set out in his own legislation.”

Mr Tehan says he has offered to brief Mr Merlino over the changes, but has been told by his office he is too busy.

He believes the Victorian is using school funding to play political games ahead of the November state election and said discussions with other state and territory ministers have been “incredibly constructive”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when asked about the coalition’s backup plan if the state’s don’t agree to the new arrangement, said it will spend money that has been committed.

“We spend the money, that’s the plan,” he told ABC Radio on Friday.

Acting federal Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says Mr Morrison has been using “desperate bully boy tactics” against state governments.

“This is a new low even for Scott Morrison – holding n schoolchildren to ransom,” she told AAP in a statement on Friday.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes says he will “very forcefully” argue for extra state school funding over 10 years when he meets with Mr Tehan on Friday.

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18 Jan

ABC board must regain trust: acting chair

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The ABC’s new acting chair Dr Kirstin Ferguson says the board of the national broadcaster has always had its best interests at heart, but accepts they must rebuild trust among ns.

“Actions speak louder than words. We need to knuckle down now and really focus on the future of the ABC,” she told ABC TV on Friday.

ABC chairman Justin Milne quit on Thursday amid reports he called for journalists to be sacked because the government didn’t like their reporting.

The resignation came three days after former managing director Michelle Guthrie was fired, with the board claiming it was “not in the best interests” of the broadcaster for her to continue in the role.

The prime minister on Friday announced he had nominated Dr Ferguson for the role of deputy chair, with the Governor-General endorsing his recommendation soon after.

The appointment means Dr Ferguson, who was appointed to the ABC board on 2015, will be acting chair until a permanent chair is found.

Dr Ferguson said she was “grateful” to Mr Milne for resigning and is now focused on stability, echoing faith expressed in her by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Kirstin will be able to step up into that role as recommended and I think restore some stability there which is very necessary,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek says there is a cloud hanging over the entire ABC board, as they only asked Mr Milne to step down when allegations against him became public.

“I think other board members really do need to examine whether they have fully discharged their responsibilities to protect and defend the ABC,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Or whether, in fact, they’ve been voluntarily or involuntarily complicit in the government’s political interference.”

The former chairman denies he asked Ms Guthrie to fire senior journalists Emma Alberici and Andrew Probyn because the government didn’t like their reporting.

“This draws a real question over the entire membership of the ABC board as it stands,” Mr Albanese said.

Dr Ferguson said an inquiry ordered by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, which is due to report back within days, will shed light on when the board learnt of the allegations.

“This is something that will all come out in the departmental inquiry which has been announced, so it’s difficult for me to now go through that in detail.”

Mr Milne has denied demanding any journalist be sacked, but maintains he was entitled to intervene on issues of editorial accuracy and independence.

In one email to Ms Guthrie, Mr Milne reportedly said the government hated Ms Alberici and the ABC should “get rid of her”.

Mr Milne is also said to have ordered Ms Guthrie sack Mr Probyn by telling her “you just have to shoot him” because Mr Turnbull hated the journalist.

The ABC board met without Mr Milne on Thursday and asked him to step aside, but he resigned instead.

Labor has called for the appointment of a permanent chair to be a bipartisan process, and will join with the Greens in trying to initiate a Senate inquiry into the leadership issues.

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17 Dec

Eagle Shuey’s dog rumour is half true

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West Coast Eagles’ Luke Shuey has been chuckling over rumours his dog injured his ankle.Finals time always sends the rumour mill into overdrive, but did you hear the one about Luke Shuey and his dog?

Shuey is a certain starter for Saturday’s grand final against Collingwood despite injuring his left ankle in last week’s win over Melbourne.

After injuring his ankle in that game, whispers emerged that Shuey may have actually tweaked it in the lead-up – and that his dog played a part in the saga.

As it turns out, the rumour is half true.

“I had to chase my dog in the backyard and I tripped over, and my missus thought I might have hurt my ankle,” Shuey said with a chuckle.

“But it was fine. It wasn’t as bad as what people thought.

“I don’t know how the rumour got out. And the dog’s fine.”

Another rumour doing the rounds is that Jeremy McGovern has broken ribs.

West Coast have flatly denied that is true, saying the star defender is merely nursing a corked hip.

September has already been a big month for Shuey after welcoming his first child into the world – a boy named Oliver.

Shuey wants to cap off the month with premiership success.

“The new bub’s good. I’m very lucky to have him out happy and healthy,” Shuey said.

“My partner (Dani Orlando) has taken a fair share of the load and taken him into the spare room and let me have my seven or eight hours sleep every night.

“Hopefully I can bring something back to show off to him.

“It would be pretty special to win the grand final. It’s really the only reason you play football.”

Shuey tallied 26 disposals, six clearance, and a goal in the 46-point loss to Hawthorn in the 2015 grand final.

The 28-year-old is confident the Eagles are far better prepared this time around to deal with the big occasion.

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