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Wintry weather hits Bendigo and central Victoria in first days of spring

The calendar might say that spring has arrived but the weather tells a different story, with central Victoria infor awet and chilly week.
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Damaging winds are forecast for parts of the region over the weekend, which will also herald the return of showers that look set to continue for several days.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Chris Godfred said cloud would begin increasing from the west from Saturday, along with isolated showers that would move eastwards across the state.

Mr Godfred said winds would increase ahead of a cold front that would sweep across Victoria on Sunday, with elevated areas most at risk of damaging gusts.

A severe weather warning has been issued for damaging northerly winds across parts of the Central and North Central forecast districts, which covers such towns asMaryborough and Castlemaine.

The severe weather warning area, highlighted in yellow. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology

The BOM expectswinds averaging 60 to 70 km/h with peak gusts of up to 100 km/h will develop in these areas during Saturday afternoon and evening.

Mr Godfred said temperatures would begin to drop on Sunday.

“The main effect of this cold outbreak’s going to be during Monday and Tuesday, with the probably the core of the coldest air moving over central Victoria late Monday to Tuesday morning,” he said.

He said this meant there could be more snow on the way for the region andtowns such as Macedon and Trentham could be in for a fall or two on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Bendigo is expected to reach a top of 15 degrees on Saturday, with a medium chance of showers in the morning and afternoon.

Similar conditions are forecast across the region, with Maryborough forecast to reach 15 degrees, Castlemaine 14 degrees, Kyneton 13 degrees and Echuca 17.

The weather will be much the same on Father’s Day, but on Monday daytime temperatures will plummet.

A top of just 11 degrees is forecast for Bendigo on Monday and Tuesday.

The days not looking likely to warm up by the end of the working week, with Thursday expected to be the warmest with a forecast maximum of 13 degrees.

Auctions proving balance of power shifting from sellers to buyers

There was secrecy in the air at the auction of a modest freestanding cottage in North Sydney on Saturday – even after the property successfully sold for a handsome $2.6 million.
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The early morning auction was one of the first homes to go under the hammer this weekend, kicking off Sydney’s spring selling season.

There were 649 properties listed to go under the hammer on Saturday. By evening, Domain Group reported a clearance rate of 67 per cent from 438 reported auctions. It was a marked drop compared to the same weekend last year, when Sydney recorded a 76 per cent clearance rate.

The North Sydney home last sold in 2010 for $1.742 million.

The seller – a local investor – was not on site for the 9am auction, while the buyer, in his 40s, declined to be interviewed after the hammer fell.

Selling agent Tom Scarpignato, from Belle Property Neutral Bay, said the seller did not want his employer to know about his sideline in property investment, and that the buyer was a “private individual”.

The auction took place on the upper level, on a large timber deck with a leafy outlook that had been touted as a major selling point during the campaign.

Other appealing features in the compact three-bedroom home included secure off-street parking and a whole-floor parents’ retreat with ensuite on the lower level.

The four bidders did not seem phased by the motorway noise that was clearly audible from the deck, quickly bringing the price up from the opening bid of $2.2 million to $2.5 million.

At this point, two bidders retired, leaving the eventual winner to battle it out with a young couple. ‘Market has lost its energy’: Sydney enters spring with whimper’Stop pretending’ everyone will own a home, experts say

“We had two local up-sizers and two down-sizers, one local and one from the Hills District,” said Scarpignato.

According to the agent, that mix of prospective buyers is typical of North Sydney, which often flies under the radar of North Shore investors.

“It really is varied around here,” Scarpignato said. “The up-sizers are people who are coming from nearby apartments who want a bit more space or a back yard but still want the convenience of being so close to the city and to the North Sydney CBD.

“Then you’ve got the down-sizers who have come from big blocks of land on the Upper North Shore – Chatswood, Epping and the Hills District – in search of convenience and a slightly smaller block.”

Scarpignato said that, until recently, many prospective North Shore buyers were unaware that North Sydney even had houses, assuming the suburb was comprised solely of apartment blocks and commercial buildings.

But as value became harder to find in Sydney in recent years, North Sydney’s profile grew.

“Houses rarely come up in North Sydney, which I think is why they’re so well contested when they do become available,” he added.

According to 11 Doris Street’s auctioneer, Andrew Robinson, who auctions property across the North Shore region, North Sydney is holding up well amid a broader market slow-down. “The Lower North Shore has delivered some strong results recently, particularly in North Sydney,” he said.

Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson agreed, but said the Lower North Shore felt less hot than it did in 2016.

“It’s still a very strong market,” he said. “It’s now the best-performing market in Sydney. But I don’t think it’s as crazy any more.”

Dr Wilson noted that, although 11 Doris Street sold for $400,000 above the opening bid, the reserve price on the house was actually $2.5 million.

He said the balance of power between sellers and buyers is shifting. “It’s certainly a much more balanced market.”

But he said the Lower North Shore will continue to be a relatively good performer compared with other parts of Sydney.

“The Eastern Suburbs and the Lower North were a little late coming to the party when the boom began and they’ve been making up for lost time over the past year or so,” he said. “Particularly this year.”

This weekend marked the start of the spring selling season, which experts predict will be more subdued, pricing-wise, than last year’s energetic spring.

But volumes this weekend were high, with 715 scheduled auctions, compared with 637 at the same time last year.

“I was fully booked today with 12 auctions,” said Robinson. “I’m busier than I’ve ever been before. Stock levels have certainly increased – there’s no doubt about that.”

Robinson says agents were generally pleased with the day’s trading. “The results today have been relatively strong,” he said. “We’re certainly not seeing the out-of-line results that we were seeing six or nine months ago, but it’s still strong.”

He added: “Quality properties are still selling very very well, there’s no question about that.”

And he revealed that prospective buyers should prepare for significant variety this season. “I’m fully booked up until the end of October. There’s going to be a lot of stock on the market.”

Blade Runner 2049 leaves star Ryan Gosling struggling for answers

Location: Korda Studios outside Budapest, Water Tank. Time: 2049, Night. Main cast on set: Ryan Gosling as Officer K of the Los Angeles Police Department; Sylvia Hoeks, evil henchwoman. Warning to all cast and crew: there are journalists on set.
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A scene from Blade Runner 2049. Photo: Alcon Entertainment

The newBlade Runner, possibly the most feverishly anticipated film ever, is 65 days into shooting. Another reporter and I have slipped out of the tent where we are supposed to be watching proceedings on a viewing monitor to stand out in the cold on the edge of the tank and watch the real thing happening. It’s so vast, so dark, so wet: actually, it’s thrilling. The local Hungarian publicity assistants come out every couple of minutes and ask us would we not like to come back into the tent rather than stand here in a couple of centimetres of water. No, we wouldn’t.

Here’s what we can see. There is a car “crashed” on a sea-wall constructed on the edge of a tank big enough to look like the sea, with three rigs under the water surface creating waves, two cranes on dry land that can swing the car around and a vast scaffold rising out of the water with wings like a crop-duster that intermittently sprays rainstorms over two people grappling on the levee. Roger Deakins, the director of photography and an acknowledged genius, has lit the scene apparently only from within the car and a semi-circle of strip lights at ground level, which means that the pugilists move in and out of visibility, one moment in a blare of yellow light and the next plunged into the black.

Ryan Gosling as K in Blade Runner 2049. Photo: Stephen Vaughan.

We can only just make them out, to be honest; we’re a good hundred metres away. As far as I can tell, there are stunt doubles who do the real fighting and roll into the water. Then they move off and Ryan Gosling, face bloodied, swaps feinting blows with newcomer Hoeks, whose strength and impeccably coiffed hair recommend her as a replicant. Filming this fight, we are told, will take three nights.

It must be getting cold up there; between takes, Gosling throws himself down on the cement and does some speedy push-ups while Hoeks trots with the briskness of a harness racer, ponytail swinging. Another wave, generated by a contraption of rotating buckets that could have been designed by Heath Robinson, surges over the car. Whoosh! The next level of wrangler comes and tells us we should go back to the tent right now. We won’t and we don’t. This is the newBlade Runner. We’re not missing this.

Ridley Scott’sBlade Runner, released in 1982, now ranks alongside Stanley Kubrick’s2001as one of the two greatest science fiction films of all time. Opening with a sweeping shot across a glinting, glassy cityscape dominated by a vast advertising screen, fireballs of filth pumping through a fug of pollution and a crowd of doomed, desperate and deformed people scurrying around hundreds of metres below, it remains an unmatched vision of a near-future hell.

From left, Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling on set. Photo: Stephen Vaughan

The story was simple enough. World-weary policeman Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, pursues four “replicants” or humanoid robots that have gone rogue and returned from the space station where they are mechanical slaves to Earth, home of their original manufacturer, to demand longer, human-style lives. All replicants are retired after four years; they come with a selection of supplied memories and if they function for too long, they can also develop independent feelings. The escaped four want freedom. Deckard’s job is to “retire” – read “murder” – them.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novelDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film raised intricate questions about identity, memory and mortality: whether, for example, we are all just the sum of our pasts. It is hard to believe now thatBlade Runnerwas initially a critical failure that also did badly at the box office, given that we have been chewing over it in all its official versions – there have been five – ever since.

Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford and Denis Villeneuve on set. Photo: Kata Vermes

The big question that has preoccupied the fanboys is whether Deckard himself is a replicant. It is this question that invests the current film with such urgency: surely, finally, this question will be answered. Ridley Scott, who directed the original and returns as executive producer this time around, said from the beginning that Deckard obviously was a Nexus 6, something he maintains to this day; Ford has always insisted he’s human; Hampton Fancher, the original scriptwriter and co-writer of the new film, has hinted that he might be a replicant after all.

Comic-Con’s kids and all their cohorts clearly need to know. But in what is surely a unique convergence of interests, the same issue is central for the numerous academics – not just film theorists, but philosophy and political science boffins – who have madeBlade Runnerthe subject of endless critical thought. Because if the faltering, conflicted Deckard is not human, what does human mean?

We have no idea what the story in the new film will be. The trailers released since the set visit a year ago have given some hints. On set, we visit a bleak prairie house that the trailer reveals is a refuge from the authorities for a character played by Dave Bautista. The trailer also features Robin Wright as a government authority figure, saying (tantalisingly, given our current real-world situation) that “the world is built on a wall that separates kind – tell either side there’s no wall and you’ve bought a war”.

Jared Leto is the bad guy: a replicant manufacturer who declares that every great society required a slave class. It’s not a great deal to go on. On set, the producers hold a press conference at which nobody can reveal anything. “You’ll have to excuse me, we’ve been sworn to secrecy for years,” says Gosling, stumped by a “how’s it going?” question. “I have no idea how to approach not talking about it.”

At least there are fewer night shoots this time around, says Ford. “Of the 50-day shooting schedule on the original film, 35 were nights,” he says. “Which is a brutal regimen.” Ford’s fury at the end of that 1982 shoot has passed into legend, along with his terse dismissal of the film itself – “It’s a film about whether you can have a meaningful relationship with your toaster” – but he’s here anyway, playing Deckard 35 years on.

Robin Wright and Sylvia Hoeks in Blade Runner 2049. Photo: Stephen Vaughan

“Ridley and I have long since made our peace with each other,” he says gruffly. “Whatever the circumstances were during the original film, I have great respect for Ridley and admiration for his work.” Ridley Scott is not here, but his name is over everything: the script for which he is credited as story developer, the producer credits, people’s minds. We are all replicants here, holding on to a firmly implanted photographic memory.

When Alcon Films producers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson bought the rights to make aBlade Runnersequel in 2010, they imagined that Scott would direct it himself. “The first thing we did was call Ridley,” says Kosove. “He wanted to be involved.Blade Runnerwas never intended to be a one-off, but because of the contentious nature of the first production between Ridley and the financiers, nobody was talking to anyone.” Scott’sBlade Runnerwent way over time and over budget by a then-stupendous $30 million, after which the studio re-cut the film, added a new, upbeat ending and insisted Ford record a voice-over, which he did through twice-gritted teeth. “The acrimony was so great. It was like the Middle East,” says Kosove.

Alcon’s initial proposal was to make a prequel that would show the apocalypse that resulted inBlade Runner’s despoiled world. “But Ridley and Hampton got into a room and started rehashing ideas and came up with this amazing central concept hinted at in the first film, something nobody has ever talked about,” says Kosove. “It was like discovering a key to a bank vault; we’re very fortunate to have found the key that would bring them back together.” Scott was busy withPrometheus, however, so he couldn’t direct. The job passed to Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve, whose earlier films includeEnemy, Sicarioand last year’s sci-fi revelation,Arrival.

Where Scott is abrasive, Villeneuve is emollient, a mix of Gallic charm and Canadian niceness. “Denis is a very different kind of director from … what was his name?… Ridley,” growls Ford. “He is very direct and straightforward with the actors on the set. He either deeply, deeply loves something or thinks it is dog pooand it becomes almost immediately clear. I have had a wonderful time working with him.”

Villeneuve is too busy to do an interview, we are told, but he makes a point of leaving his impossibly complicated fight sequence to have a word. Recognising me from a recent interview, he gives my arm a companionable squeeze. That’s it, I think: permission to stand here and get as wet as I want.

A dystopian vision in brown defines Blade Runner 2049. Photo: Alcon Entertainment

Villeneuve’s line is that this is an indie film with a non-indie budget. “This is a very special set – I’ve never had this amount of toys. It’s like Christmas,” he says. The firstBlade Runner, he has said on more than one occasion, was the film that made him want to be a director in the first place. So is he feeling a certain pressure?

“I had pressure earlier in the process, when I agreed to do it. Then I met Ridley Scott and I met Hampton Fancher, who gave me a lot of advice and comforted me a lot. But the pressure I cannot think about, because I would just run and hide under my bed.”

The originalBlade Runnerwas set in 2019. The glass towers and legions of indigent street dwellers imagined by Fancher, designer Syd Mead and effects whiz Douglas Trumbull – the two design giants of the pre-CGI era – have come to pass, even if we have yet to deal with flying cars or “skin-job” robots. Technology in their own business moved on, however, in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Villeneuve is keen to keep to the spirit of the original by creating most of his effects in the camera.

The dominant palette is decidedly brown. “We worked with colour a lot, even though it seems there is no colour,” says costume designer Renee April. “One thing Denis and Roger have done is make this dystopia, which is horrible, then make it look beautiful. It took a while to find cohesion, because the costumes had to go with the set, the lighting, the feeling of it – how sad or dirty or crazy it would be. Finally, we made a ton of big overcoats.”

Props master Douglas Harlocker shows us around a collection of guns and the so-called “memory maker”, a device that looks like a steampunk camera lens. A dog-like construction of scrap iron with a head like a scanner is apparently designed to sniff out replicants. Whoops, we’re not supposed to know that. “Our inspiration comes largely from the director’s cut, but also from other versions of the firstBlade Runner,” Harlocker says. “And from things they had in their heads but never used.”

In designer Dennis Gassner’s office, we are surrounded by drawings and photographs of cities in fog. “I asked Denis ‘can you give me one or two words?’ and he said ‘I like chaos. We live in chaos today and we have to deal with it’,” says Gassner. There will also be extensive use of models. “To have something to light is incredibly helpful,” he says. “I love miniatures. I used miniatures to build the whole of New York City inThe Hudsucker Proxy. It’s interesting what sci-fi is going back to. It’s all about tone.”

We live in a cinematic age dominated by action films and, more particularly, by superhero action films: a long way, in other words, from Ridley Scott’sBlade Runnerwith its ambiguities, moral twists and bottomless philosophical potholes. The trailers released so far by Warner Bros begin with Ryan Gosling pointing his futuristic revolver at us, followed by a lot of fighting.Blade Runner 2049has to offer something more complicated than bad guys smashing through a skyscraper window, however, if it is to do anything like justice to the original. Denis Villeneuve can do that. He doesn’t have final cut, but surely nobody would try to dilute or tamper withBlade Runneragain. They have to deliver something extraordinary. And this time, we’ll be ready for it.

Blade Runner 2049opens on October 5.

Deaths in Tasmanian nursing home after an influenza outbreak

A number of elderly people have died in a North-West nursing homeduring an influenza outbreak, director of public healthDr Mark Veitch has confirmed.
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He said it was a “sad event”for the families affected, but could occur among frail people during an influenza season.

“Elderly people are susceptible to influenza, particularly if they have chronic medical conditions.,” he said.

“For this reason, Public Health Services wrote to all nursing homes in Tasmania earlier this year reminding them to prepare for the influenza season, recommending vaccination of residents and staff and reminding them of the national influenza outbreak guidelines.”

He said the nursing home –reported to bethe Strathdevon aged care facility in Latrobe, near Devonport –advised Public Health Services of this outbreak.

“Advice and support was provided in accordance with national guidelines,”Dr Veitch said.

“The influenzaseason in Tasmania this year has been moderately severe. Tasmanians are reminded to stay away from schools, work and health and aged care facilities if they are unwell.”

There had been more than 1500 confirmed influenza cases in Tasmania so far this year.


Influenza A outbreak at LGHReminder to get your jab ahead of 2017 flu season in Tasmania | PollOpposition accuses Health Minister of ignoring LGH warningsOn August 31, Dr Veitch said therehad been 1536 “laboratory-confirmed” flu cases in Tasmania so far in 2017.

According to the Pharmacy Guild of ’s Tasmanian president John Dowling this year’s flu seasonhas been a “severe” one, as a particularly virulent strain of the virus continues to tighten its grip on the nation.

He claimed that the strain of the flu virus currently causing problems was potent enough that it could still affect people who are immunised.

Breen’s 5km journey to kickstart sprint queen’s comeback

Sport100m runner Melissa Breen at the AIS track in Canberra.Photo: Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra Times.1 April 2015 Sport100m runner Melissa Breen at the AIS track in Canberra.Photo: Rohan ThomsonThe Canberra Times.1 April 2015
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Parking, start times, road closures: everything you need to know for The Canberra Times fun run

‘s fastest woman wants to break her own national record, but sprint queen Melissa Breen will be unusually slow when she races on Sunday.

Breen will walk the five kilometre Canberra Times fun run to raise awareness for the Heart Foundation more than a year after her dad, Mike, had a heart attack.

She will walk as part of her active recovery as she continues a five-month training plan of 12 sessions per week, edging closer to a 100 metre sprint return in the coming months.

The two-time Olympian has set her sights on the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and her first competition races in the United States next year.

But the motivation driving her racing comeback is the goal of beating her personal best time of 11.11 seconds after he broke a 20-year-old n record three years ago.

“I really just want to run fast, that’s all it comes down to,” Breen said.

“Breaking that record again and getting as close as I can to getting under 11 seconds is what drives me every day.

“I know it’s hard to run that fast – no one did it in 20 years. It requires something special but I’m working hard every day to get back to that and be a bit better. That’s my driving force.”

Breen will be part of the thousands competing on Sunday morning for the annual fun run event.

She has teamed up with the ‘Heart Racers’ program and will walk five kilometres, giving her plenty of time to reflect on the reason she’s doing the fun run.

Mike Breen thought he had hard burn last year and drove himself to the emergency department the following mornings. Doctors told him he had a heart attack and there was a 90 per cent blockage.

“Dad won’t be doing the fun run, but it’s a cause close to my heart,” Breen said.

“We’ll catch up for our regular Sunday night dinner afterwards … family is a big part of my life and they’ve given me so much support to chase my goals.”

Breen hasn’t raced at competition events since the start of the year, but is expected to make her comeback in October or November.

She has one eye on making the Commonwealth Games final on the Gold Coast before testing herself in the US for the first time in her career.

“I didn’t think I’d have a chance to race at a home Commonwealth Games, so to be chasing that is something words can’t describe,” Breen said.

“I’ve always wanted to compete in America as well, so we haven’t locked in any plans yet but because of the Commonwealth Games timing, it opens up the rest of the year.

“It’s been a big training block, but I am fit and the body is handling it so I’m getting that itch back to race again.”

It is hoped The Canberra Times will raise $125,000 for more than 250 charities. There will be 14 kilometre, 10 kilometre and 5 kilometre races, with all events finishing at Rond Terrace.


How to get there

The 14km and 10km start lines are on Yamba Drive near Launceston Street, while the 5km starts on King George Terrace in front of Old Parliament House. But all events end up at the finish line on Rond Terrace along Lake Burley Griffin.

Those in the 5km event can jump on the shuttle bus from Rond Terraces, Commonwealth Park. If you’re sticking it out for the 14km and 10km, head to Parkes Place West in Parkes to catch your bus.

Buses run from 10am until noon. Don’t worry – there will also be shuttle buses operating from the finish line to take you back after putting in the hard yards.

Where to drop your gear

If you’re in the 5km run, head to gear collection at the event village on Rond Terrace. Just make sure you’re back at that line on King George Terrace before your 9:30am start.

Those taking on the 14km or 10km runs can drop their things off between 7:15am and 8:10am at the finish area on Rond Terraces.

It’s recommended runners arrive at the start area at least 30 minutes before the starting gun goes off.

Where to park

For the 5km race, head to the National Library car park, or the Treasure building. There are also open car parks at the John Gordon building and Parkes Place West.

Those heading out for the 14km or 10km should head to the Hellenic Club for spots.

Or, if you’re looking to tuck into some food at the event village, try Anzac Park east or at the CIT car park.

What the weather will be doing

After a low of four, Sunday is warming up to a blustery 19 degrees. But, expect a few showers to cap off the day.

There’s a 70 per cent chance of a downpour during the evening. Of course, many runners will be safe and warm in the pub by then!

Which roads will be closed

For those driving rather than running, expect a few detours throughout the first half of the day. Areas affected include Parkes, Phillip, Curtin, Yarralumla and Capital Hill.

From 6am until 1 pm, there will be closures on the northbound lanes of Kings Avenue and Wendouree Drive between Constitution Avenue and Kings Avenue.

Road closures for the 2017 Canberra Times Fun Run. Photo: Canberra Times Fun Run

From 6am until noon, the following road closures will be in place:

Yamba Drive, northbound lanes between Kitchener Street and Yarra Glen Yarra Glen, northbound lanes Yarra Glen, southbound lanes between Carruthers Street and Melrose Drive Melrose Drive, between Theodore Drive and Yarra Glen Launceston Street, between Easty Street and Yamba Drive Adelaide Avenue, northbound lanes State Circle, northbound lanes Parliament Drive, at the entrance to State Circle and Commonwealth Avenue Federation Mall, between Queen Victoria Crescent and Parliament Drive Walpole Crescent, between Queen Victoria Terrace and King George Terrace Queen Victoria Terrace, between Walpole Street and Langton Crescent Langton Crescent, between King George Terrace and Queen Victoria Terrace King George Terrace, between Langton Crescent and Kings Avenue.

Intersections impacted by these closures include:

Yarra Glen with Caruthers Street and Cotter Road Wisdom Street with Yamba Drive Adelaide Avenue with Novar Street, Hopetoun Circuit and Empire Circuit State Circle with Perth Avenue, Rhodes Place, Flynn Drive, Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue Kings Avenue with Walpole Crescent, King George Terrace, King Edward Terrace, National Circuit, Macquarie Street, Blackall Street and Bowman Drive.

Barriers as well as warning and diversion signs will be in place.

For information on changes to Transport Canberra bus routes visit www.transport.act.gov.au.

Hodgson urges fans to be force for good during Perth Test

Israel Folau of runs in the opening try against New Zealand in the Investic Rugby Championship test match between the New Zealand and at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, August 26, 2017. (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLYWestern Force fans will not achieve anything by boycotting the Wallabies Test in Perth next weekend.
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That is the overwhelming feeling from those in the rugby community as it emerged the Western Force’s future will become clearer while the Wallabies are in Western .

The Supreme Court of NSW is expected to hand down its verdict next week on the Force’s appeal against the n Rugby Union’s decision to cut them from Super Rugby.

Force fans are angry and there is talk they will vote with their feet by not turning up to watch Michael Cheika’s men take on the Springboks at nib Stadium.

It is understood RugbyWA is telling fans to go to the match, but advising people to wear their Force jerseys as well as Wallabies scarves in a show of solidarity.

Former Force captain Matt Hodgson, who has been a vocal critic of the ARU and its treatment of the club that means so much to him, has urged fans to front up, regardless of their frustrations.

“I’m telling everyone definitely go to the game,” Hodgson said. “My message is it’s not the Western Force that’s only suffering, it’s rugby in general. I’m hopeful everyone will come. Some of those players are Western Force guys and we should go and support them.”

There is some talk Force supporter groups will try and stage events at nearby venues rather than make their way to the match itself.

Former Wallaby and Western Force player Cameron Shepherd agreed with Hodgson and encouraged rugby fans in the west to think about what a boycott would actually achieve in the grand scheme of things.

“One hundred per cent, I don’t think people should boycott the game,” Shepherd said. “I understand why people would want to, but that’s showing the wrong message. That’s lowering ourselves to the same level that the ARU have handled the situation. I don’t think boycotting and punishing the players would be the right thing to do at all.

“I would love to see them pack the place and fill it with blue jerseys. If you want to protest, go and support the team, but wear your blue jersey to show how proud you are of the Western Force.

“They have the right to be angry, but they’ve got to understand it’s well past the point of where being angry is going to solve anything.

“The ARU has got more pressure on it then it ever has before. The board is under pressure, [chairman] Cameron Clyne is under pressure, [chief executive] Bill Pulver has already resigned, so I don’t see how boycotting a game is going to send any stronger message than has already been sent.”

Given what the Wallabies achieved in Dunedin, a small crowd in Perth would be a shame.

After the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney, n rugby was well and truly in the doldrums, with lifelong rugby lovers feeling disillusioned after a poor Wallabies performance.

The marked turnaround in Dunedin, where the Wallabies came within a whisker of beating a red-hot All Blacks team on their own turf, has reignited hope in the national team.

Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps has thrown his support behind people wearing Force clothing.

He also reminded people that every n player that takes the field in Perth wanted the ARU to stick with five teams.

“It’s an interesting situation,” Phipps said. “As a playing group, we were very staunch in the fact that we thought we were stronger as five teams. They’re fighting back now and that’s fantastic, good on them. They’re having a crack and standing up for what they believe in.

“If they’re going to wear their blue jerseys, that’s great and a show of solidarity. I don’t think there’s any threat of getting booed though.”

Shepherd said he could not understand criticism directed at players.

“These people who come out and say, ‘Oh, the players aren’t trying hard enough, they’re coming in with the wrong attitude’, it’s bullshit,” Shepherd said. “They’re representing their country and playing their hearts out every day. I get frustrated when people say they’re not trying hard enough.

“Let’s be honest, it’s not the players’ fault what’s happening in n rugby at the moment.

“People use energy talking about how bad the state of the game is rather than talking positive and promoting the game and supporting it.”

How Arthur has made the Parramatta Eels finals ready

Brad Arthur has left no stone unturned in the quest to snap rugby league’s longest premiership drought, demanding the Eels replicate finals-like conditions by warming up inside rather than on the field and scheduling night training sessions in recent weeks.
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The meticulous Arthur has already had an eye on Parramatta’s first finals appearance in eight years – perhaps mirrored in an ugly win over a depleted Rabbitohs – scrapping some of their traditional regular season methods to prepare for September.

The Eels, which booked a top four showdown with minor premiers Melbourne at AAMI Park next weekend, retreated to their sheds for the pre-game limber at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

Grand finalists and State of Origin sides ordinarily prepare for games inside their own sheds given the on-field pre game entertainment and pomp.

“We don’t want to get to the second or third weekend of the finals and get spooked and not know what’s coming,” Eels enforcer Kenny Edwards said. “The coaching staff decided to have it inside, which was alright. A bit different – not as much space – but it was alright.”

Added speedster Michael Jennings: “Come finals time I think we’ve got to warm up in the sheds – in the grand final we have to – if it does happen we’re prepped and ready and we’ve already done it.”

It is just one of a number of tactics employed by Arthur to help his squad lacking finals experience prepare for the big stage which awaits, best demonstrated by their clash with perennial title contenders Melbourne.

Regardless of how deep the Eels go into the finals, they will be forced to play the rest of their games at night and their training schedule has been altered to reflect that.

“We’ve been doing a bit of training at nights for when we have night games,” Edwards said. “We do opposed [sessions] against the 20s at night so we can acclimatise.

“This week our warm-up was a bit different and that’s just Brad preparing us for what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks.”

Premiership winner Jennings, who described the feeling as “weird” playing against his brother Robert as the pair traded the first two tries of the Eels-Rabbitohs clash, boasts the most finals experience in Parramatta’s squad bar Beau Scott.

And he said Arthur has constantly reminded the jet-heeled 29-year-old he was brought to the club for situations like this as the Eels bid to win their first title since 1986.

“Brad reminds me almost every week [and says], ‘[this is] why we brought you here’ and what my responsibilities are,” Jennings said. “I understand and I’ve been in these situations before and he’s confident in my ability.

“That’s the reason why he brought me over in the first place and we’re in this position now so I need to step up as a leader as I’ve got that experience.

“It’s finals footy, but I think the good thing about going [to Melbourne] is they’re favourites and they’ll have the pressure. There’s still pressure on us because we want to play the best footy we can. We still haven’t played our best footy. It will be a good test for us against all odds.”

with Adrian Proszenko

Gabrielle Keaton named Miss Multiverse China

Newcastle girl wins Miss Multiverse The winner: Gabrielle Keaton, middle, with her new crown.
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Winner: Gabrielle Keaton in the swimsuit competition at Miss Multiverse .

Natural girl: Gabrielle Keaton at Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebook Gabrielle Keaton wins Miss Multiverse Young Newcastle woman Gabrielle Keaton, of New Lambton has won the Miss Multiverse contest.

She was announced as the winner on Thursdaynight in Sydney.

Contest director Yolandi Franken said, “Gabrielle displayed qualities of great business skills, fitness and beauty. She stood out from other contestants throughout the competition and was a hands down winner.”

Keaton will compete in the Miss Multiverse World contest in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic,in November.

As a country girl from a property near Bulahdelah, Gabrielle Keaton has a good sense of direction. In her first year after graduating from theUniversityof New England with a degree in zoology, she’s realised the possible rewards from exploring an opportunity to enter a new model contest based on an array of skills and talents beyond the catwalk.

Keaton was one of 10 finalists in the Miss Multiverse contest, whichis being filmed for broadcast as a reality TV show.It’s considereda blend of’sNext Top Model,SurvivorandThe Apprentice.

After graduating from Bulahdelah Central, Keaton enrolled at the University of New England. She has plans forpost-graduate study in zoology.

“I took this year off,” she says. “I went straight into study from school. I decided to take this year off and see what direction I want to go.”

She was encouraged to enter the Miss Multiverse state final, which included an IQ test and a team 10-pin bowling event with other competitors, and was surprised to reach the national finals.

The n winner gains entry to international finals, held over two weeks in Punta Cana.There isno cashprize, but for Keaton, the experience at this level is already worth it.

Keaton surmises the on-the-job learning could providean opportunity in media.

“I actually never really thought about it until recently,” she says. “I wanted to research. I began thinking it would be cool to get into documentaries. This would be nice for a foundation. Hopefully, once I do post grad, Iwould enjoy getting into media.”

Keaton has had a life-long appreciation of animals, particularly reptiles, with fond memories of picking up snakes along the country roads near her home with her brother Bradley and letting them loose safely in the bush.

She’s considering research on reptile embryos and climate change. “Itinterests me because somereptiles are temperature dependent,” she says. “When they are developing, temperature can affect egg development, the sex or how the fetus develops.”

If she could combine research with documentary-making skills, it would expand the reach of environmentalmessages, she says.

“I would love to get the word out about conservation,” she says. “I would love to get this experience, to build a profile for me. So that what Isay gets heard. So people can say, ‘we know her, we can relate to her’. It’s more than just a name at thebottom of a paper.”

She recently ventured into modelling for the first time, including swimwear, and also works at CarlaSwimwear’s Sea Folly store.

She has always been involved in sport, playing soccer since the age of five and competing incross country for several years.

Keaton’s sponsors are University of New England, CarlaSwimwear, Vida Cruz, Planet Fitness Lambton, Lairne’s Hair &Beauty, Diamond Smile International, AustinCollegeandGenesis Skin Health.

Mass killings, beheadings as Myanmar ‘cleansing operation’ underway

Bangkok: Survivors have described mass killings, including beheadings of children, and arson attacks in a dramatic escalation of the Rohingya crisis that the United Nations warns could be a humanitarian catastrophe.
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A 41-year-old witness told the rights monitoring group Fortify Rights he found his brother and other family members in a field after attacks by Myanmar security forces on the Rakhine state village of Chut Pyin in Ratheduang township.

“They had marks on their bodies from the bullets and some had cuts,” he said.

“My two nephews, their heads were cut off. One was six years old and the other was nine years old. My sister-in-law was also shot with a gun.”

A27-year-old survivor from the village told Fortify Rights “some people were beheaded and many were cut???when we saw that, we just ran out of the house”.

“The situation is dire,” said Matthew Smith, Fortify Rights’ chief executive officer.

The Myanmar government says almost 400 people have been killed in clashes since Islamic militants from a group called the Arakan Salvation Army attacked 30 police posts on August 25, killing 12 officials.

But rights monitors put the death toll in the thousands.

Myanmar security forces responded to the August attacks with a brutal counter-offensive they called “cleansing operations” that forced almost 40,000 Rohingya to flee to the border with Bangladesh in the past week.

Thousands more arriving at the border each day.

Human Rights Watch said on Saturday that new satellite imagery shows hundreds of buildings have been destroyed during the past week, including the “total destruction” of villages.

The New York-based group said numerous refugees who have fled villages in Rakhine, home to 1.1 million stateless and long persecuted Rohingya Muslims, have told how Myanmar soldiers and police had burnt down their homes and attacked villagers.

Many of those arriving at the border were suffering bullet and other wounds.

Bangladesh has refused to open its border posts, leaving about 20,000 Rohingya stranded.

The crisis has widened to the Rakhine capital, south of the conflict areas, where 120,000 already displaced Rohingya are not receiving food supplies or healthcare. UN and aid groups have suspended operations after the government accused them of supporting insurgents.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged restraint and calm in the state, cautioning that the situation may otherwise lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

Other countries, including , have told Myanmar’s government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure the protection of all its citizens.

Chris Lewa from the Rohingya monitoring group The Arakan Project, says it appears Myanmar security forces are trying to drive out a large proportion of the Rohingya population.

The latest bloodshed comes just days after an international commission led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned of more radicalisation if ethnic tensions in Rakine were not addressed.

Late last year, UN investigators detailed mass rapes, killings, brutal beatings, the torching of homes and forced disappearances by Myanmar security forces.

The UN said the “devastating cruelty” could amount to crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Ms Suu Kyi’s government has repeatedly denied its security forces have been responsible for any serious rights violations and blocked three UN investigators travelling to the country to further investigate.

Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong on Saturday said Labor is “deeply concerned” at the reports of abuses in Myanmar urged the Turnbull government to continue to speak out on human rights in the country.

with agencies

‘Hazardous’ air quality in parts of Sydney

News SHD Sydney Harbour covered in a smoke haze from hazard reduction burns on Saturday the 2nd of September, 2017 News SHD Picture by FIONA MORRIS Hazard Reduction along Wakehurst Parkway in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Baseball practice at Aquatic Reserve Baseball Park. Saturday 2nd September 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 170902
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As a haze hung over Sydney on Saturday, residents in parts of the city were warned to avoid outdoor activities as the air quality reached “hazardous” levels.

High pollution levels were recorded across the Sydney basin on Saturday, as hazard-reduction burning efforts are stepped up ahead of an expected active fire season.

Sunday will see a spike in temperatures and a pickup in winds, with little sign of rain for at least a week.

Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said he hadn’t seen conditions this dry so early in the season for 10-15 years.

NSW had its driest winter since 2002, with maximum temperatures the third-warmest on record, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Friday.

Among the areas with controlled burns this weekend are bushland near Fishermans Point on the Hawkesbury River, and an area near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

Gusty conditions were expected to strengthen overnight, which would clear the air pollution but exacerbate fire risks.

“Tomorrow we are looking at very gusty, north-northwesterly winds,” Weatherzone meteorologist Jessica Miskelly said.

“We are looking at quite a few ‘very high’ [fire danger warnings] across the state tomorrow and the possibility it could push to ‘extreme’ around the north coast and the western Blue Mountains,” she said.

“It depends on how hot it gets and the wind speed at the time, and how dry it is.”

Temperatures were expected to deliver an unusually hot first weekend of spring, with the mercury peaking at 28 degrees for Sydney on Sunday. That’s about 8 degrees above the average for this time of year.

Ms Miskelly said the gusty conditions would “slowly pick up” overnight, and then intensify throughout Sunday ahead of a cold front moving through. ‘Hazardous’

As the air quality deteriorated across the city on Saturday, NSW Health warned people with respiratory conditions to take extra caution.

As shown below in the government’s air quality index, the worst of the pollution came during Saturday morning in Chullora and Earlwood.

“If you have asthma you should follow your Asthma Action Plan and take your relieving medication where necessary and if symptoms get worse, seek medical advice,” NSW Health Director of Environmental Health Branch, Dr Ben Scalley said.

At-risk groups, such as people with lung disease, older residents and young children were advised to avoid all outdoor physical activities.

Hazard-reduction burning was expected to continue throughout Saturday.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.