The Shipping News: What’s the best from a multitude of best on our high seas; wonderment to enjoy

All aboard Lindblad Expeditions with Ben Crop 1. Photo: Supplied All aboard Lindblad Expeditions with Ben Crop 1. Photo: Supplied
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All aboard Lindblad Expeditions with Ben Crop 1. Photo: Supplied

All aboard Lindblad Expeditions with Ben Crop 1. Photo: Supplied


Avalon Waterways has unveiled its new ship Siem Reap, joining an ever-increasing flotilla heading along the Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam. It’s the first of the company’s “Suite Ships” in Asia, though smaller than those in Europe, carrying just 38 passengers. Its 18 air-conditioned suites are fitted with Avalon’s signature open-air balcony with panoramic windows that have retractable screen systems and sliding doors. But its big advantage is that, at only 60 metres long, it’s able to sail both into Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City, avoiding the road transfers of other cruise itineraries.

Phone 1300 230 234. See avalonwaterways上海龙凤


Regent Seven Seas Cruises has revealed the all-new Seven Seas Explorer’s maiden voyage: a cruise from Monte Carlo to Venice departing on July 20, 2016. The 750-guest ship, which the company says will be the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, will spend its inaugural season in the Mediterranean, calling in at ports such as Ibiza, Barcelona, St Tropez, Alexandria and Istanbul, as well as lesser-known port destinations such as Kotor in Montenegro, Koper in Slovenia and Zadar in Croatia. Reservations are already being taken on the ship, which is under construction in Italy.

Phone 02 9265 7100. See rssc上海龙凤


Australian explorer Ben Cropp will be joining Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s “Global Perspectives Speakers” program in October for a Pacific expedition cruise between Palau and the Solomon Islands. Cropp has produced some 150 marine and wildlife adventure documentaries and discovered more than 100 shipwrecks, including the prominent Australian wreck of HMS Pandora. Guests will be able to listen to Cropp’s presentations and take daily expeditions in his company. The voyage combines ocean passage and island exploration, journeying through some of the most remote places in the Pacific.

Phone 1300 361 012. See expeditions上海龙凤419m.


Uniworld’s latest river-cruise ship SS Maria Theresa was launched this week and will mostly cruise Uniworld’s “European Jewels” voyage from Budapest to Amsterdam. The Super Ship is the  most ambitious yet for a company not shy about bold design and aims to transport passengers onto a floating eighteenth-century palace to recall the times of its famous namesake. It features a sweeping three-tiered marble staircase, tromp l’oeil murals, glass chandeliers and interiors clad in silk, mirrors and antique wood. The ship also boasts a Hapsburg Salon, Viennese-style café, 10-seat cinema and 64 staterooms.

Phone 1300 780 231. See uniworldcruises上海龙凤


“Connoisseurs of Cuisine” cruises on Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 this year are set to titillate the tastebuds. On-board experts will come from a range of culinary fields and will give gourmet-loving guests exclusive insights into their specialist fields during workshops and cooking courses that might cover Arabian cuisine on a late-2015 sailing along the Arabian peninsula, sea salt on a Dubai to Mauritius cruise, gin on a Hamburg to Lisbon cruise, and special ice cream creations on a sail along the Mediterranean coast. A June itinerary in the Canary Islands and Azores delves into sherry.

Phone 02 9977 7100. See hl-cruises上海龙凤419m

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Liberals’ tunnel vision

Transport plans in the minds of NSW voters: Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Anna WarrCongestion might be the issue foremost in the minds of NSW voters at the March 28 poll, according to focus group research for Fairfax Media. But even though this election features some of the most expansive, and expensive, transport proposals the state has seen for many years, travelling around Sydney is not likely to get any easier for years to come.
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The promises the Coalition is making on transport are the primary selling point for its decision to lease 49 per cent of key electricity assets for a $20-billion odd return.

And they are certainly ambitious, even if they would take years to build. The largest pledge, in terms of cost to the state budget, is another $10 billion rail tunnel under Sydney Harbour and through the central business district.

This tunnel, which would be the first addition of rail capacity to the city since the construction of the Eastern Suburbs Line in the 1970s, would connect the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link, which is taking over the existing Epping to Chatswood Line, to the Bankstown Line at Sydenham, adding at least three new train stations to the city.

But if they’re not already, the government’s plans for this line are surely to become more controversial in the years to come. Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s decision to run automated single-deck trains on the North West Rail Link, operated by a private company, means the existing Epping to Chatswood Line would need to be closed for about seven months in 2017 or 2018 to make it compatible with the new system.

Students at Macquarie University, and workers at Macquarie Park, who currently catch trains to work and school will need to switch to buses for more than six months.

And when the second harbour crossing is built, some time at the start of the next decade, there will be even bigger disruption to the Bankstown Line. The 17,000-odd commuters who catch Bankstown Line trains to the city every morning would also need to switch to buses, perhaps for longer than six months.

But the curious thing about this election campaign is that the Labor opposition has not been out picking holes in government transport policies. As Mike Baird and his ministers have been keen to point out, this election sees the bizarre situation in which the opposition does not want to talk about Sydney’s traffic and congestion.

Labor’s plans, which it has described as modest, would largely mirror the Coalition’s policies. But Labor, without the $20 billion expected to be raised from the partial privatisation of electricity assets, would delay the construction of the second harbour rail crossing, and also shave off about a third of the WestConnex motorway, the other big-ticket item promised by Baird and the Coalition.

The 33-kilometre toll road, which would also not be finished until 2023, would provide another M5 East Tunnel, a new M4 East Tunnel from Homebush to Rozelle, and then a tunnel under the inner-west to link them. Labor says it would scrap the linking tunnel, which WestConnex says is the most important element of the whole project.

And while there is plenty of controversy over whether the motorway is the right thing to be building, there is little question the roads it would alleviate – Parramatta Road and the M5 East – need some improvement. The Greens say they would scrap the entire motorway altogether, and instead build a rail line between Epping and Parramatta. What the experts say

Associate Professor Garry Glazebrook from the University of Technology, Sydney, is an experienced transport and urban planner.

Dr Glazebrook says it is unfortunate that both major parties have committed to WestConnex, or in Labor’s case most of WestConnex.

“What’s wrong with that, you might ask as you sit in Sydney’s notorious traffic?” says Glazebrook. He offers five reasons.

The first is that there has been a shift to increased use of public transport, as opposed to the car.

The second is that WestConnex would encourage more cars into Eastern Sydney, where streets can’t accommodate them.

The third is that more jobs should be encouraged in Parramatta and other western centres, and more roads in eastern Sydney would not do that.

“Fourth the development of Badgerys Creek airport, the Southern Sydney freight line and intermodal terminals at Enfield and Moorebank undermine the need for the duplication of the M5 component of WestConnex,” he says.

And fifth, the last four toll roads in Australia have gone broke, creating a financial risk for the state.

“I would suggest an alternative, multi-modal plan. This would include a much smaller two-lane tunnel linking the Airport/port to Strathfield, but limited to commercial vehicles, taxis and buses in peak hours; a West Metro built in stages between the CBD and Parramatta; and additional park and ride capacity on the East Hills line, at Strathfield near the end of the M4, and at the new stations on the West Metro.”

Professor Michiel Bliemer is chair in transport and logistics network modelling at the University of Sydney.

Professor Bliemer says that Sydney has been shaped by the Great Australian Dream, which is the belief that everyone should have access to a house and garden.

“As a result,” Professor Bliemer says, “extensive urban sprawl and suburbanisation has occurred and in order to enable travelling to these suburbs, tramways were removed in the 1950s to make way for roads for cars. Since then Sydney has seen rapid growth. Being a car-centric city with low-density housing, traffic has turned Sydney into a gridlock.”

He says the most important priority for Sydney, therefore, is to increase the density of housing in dedicated areas of the city while providing high quality public transport between those areas.

“Simply building more roads will not solve the congestion problems in the city (see California), and do you really want to live next to a big (polluting) road?” he asks.

“In the past decade there is a growing understanding that a liveable city is a walkable city, in which public transport and green areas play an important role. Living close to a train or metro station is desirable. Land prices increase as accessibility to public transport increases. If governments can capture this value and invest it in better transport infrastructure, we all gain. An important question that we have to ask ourselves is: how much are we willing to pay for an improved transport system, knowing that current tax revenues are not sufficient to achieve this?”

Sandy Thomas is an experienced consultant and one of the authors of the Herald’s Transport Inquiry of 2009 and 2010

“The saddest aspects of the major parties’ transport policies are their triviality and their similarity,” says Thomas.

Thomas is highly critical of the manner in which transport planning, under both Labor and Liberal, has been taken away from transport service planners within government and handed to a new generation of bureaucrats who prioritise building things.

He is also critical of the impending privatisation of much of Sydney’s rail network.

While the two major parties obviously differ on the future of the electricity network , they are as one when it comes to the privatisation, by stealth, of Sydney’s public transport.

“The government has already contracted to privatise the new, publicly funded $2.4 billion Epping-Chatswood railway by quietly giving it away, for nothing, to the private operator of the North West Rail Link, a consortium led by the Hong Kong-based MTR,” Thomas says.

“And now both the Liberals and Labor, in the former case as a “benefit” of the electricity privatisation and in the latter case seemingly without realising it, propose to privatise the Bankstown-Sydenham section of the publicly owned Bankstown rail line as well, as part of the “second harbour rail crossing” project,” he says.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Liza Minnelli admitted to rehab in Malibu

Liza Minnelli is back in rehab.
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The performer’s publicist confirmed Minnelli had checked herself into a treatment facility.

The Cabaret star is primarily receiving treatment for alcohol abuse, US entertainment website TMZ says.

Minnelli, who turned 69 last week, has dealt with alcohol addiction and prescription drug abuse for much of her career. She was last admitted to rehab in 2004.

Her publicist, Scott Gorenstein, told media her decision to seek help was not triggered by a specific incident.

“Liza Minnelli has valiantly battled substance abuse over the years and whenever she has needed to seek treatment she has done so,” Mr Gorenstein said.

“She is currently making excellent progress at an undisclosed facility.”

The unnamed centre is reportedly in Malibu, Los Angeles County.

Minnelli – internationally regarded as a cultural and gay icon – won a Best Actress Academy Award in 1973 for her role in Cabaret. She has also won three Tony Awards for her Broadway performances. In 1990, she was named a Grammy Living Legend.

She continues to perform and in recent years has made guest appearances on the television series Arrested Development.

Minnelli’s mother, the acclaimed singer and actress Judy Garland, also struggled with substance abuse and died of a barbiturate overdose in 1969.

According to a 2011 profile in The Times of London, Minnelli has at various times been addicted to alcohol, Valium, cocaine and sleeping pills, and had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous for “a long, long time, every single day”.

She knocked back a reported $500,000 to appear in Celebrity Rehab in 2010.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

The Lowdown: Sydney FC v Melbourne City

Follow SMH Sport on Twitter
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Sydney FC v Melbourne City. 

Friday, 7:40pm at Allianz Stadium.

Live on Fox Sports 4 and SBS.

Twitter: SYDvMCY

Odds: Sydney FC $1.80, Melbourne City $4, Draw $3.50

Five to watch:

1. Marc Janko (Sydney).

Sydney’s man of the moment just can’t stop scoring. He’s hit the back of the net in his past seven games and broke a club record for most goals in a season. Another hat-trick this week and he will equal that of the league’s.

2. Robert Koren (Melbourne).

Melbourne City’s marquee has the ability to change a match. He doesn’t shy away from the physicality and adds much needed creativity to his side’s play.

3. Milos Dimitrijevic (Sydney).

The classy central midfielder has perhaps the best first touch in the competition, so expect a few moments of magic.

4. Josh Kennedy (Melbourne).

The towering centre forward will be looking to capitalise on the error-ridden defence of Sydney FC in recent weeks, so don’t be surprised to see his name on the scoresheet.

5. Bernie Ibini (Sydney).

Sydney’s winger is hitting some form whilst not the back of the net. He’s growing more comfortable with each game in his role out wide and will torment City’s defence.

In the dug-out. 

Graham Arnold. Despite steering a resurgence after the January break, Arnold is not happy with the defence of his side despite their nine game unbeaten streak. Sturdying the backline was the focus in training this week, so anything less than a significant improvement won’t be tolerated by the coach.

John Van’t Schip. The Dutch coach is under pressure at City and is at risk of failing to qualify for the top six. Although in sixth spot now, they have played two more games than Brisbane so need to win to have a hope of making the finals.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Greg Shipperd hailed for getting Bushrangers into Sheffield Shield final

Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala
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Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala

Greg Shipperd. Photo: Pat Scala

Victoria veteran Rob Quiney has hailed the influence of long-term coach Greg Shipperd in helping the team emerge from the post-Christmas tailspin that threatened their Sheffield Shield title bid.

That the Bushrangers finished a game clear atop the table, earning hosting rights for the match starting on Saturday against Western Australia in Hobart, contrasts significantly with their first two performances after the Big Bash League.

Their trip to Queensland ended in an innings defeat, and in the next against NSW they were pummelled by 156 runs on a spin-friendly Wagga pitch they were unable to reach 200 on in either innings.

The then plummeting fortunes of the team coincided with Shipperd being told his role as coach of Melbourne Stars in the BBL was under review, a process which culminated in him being replaced by New Zealander Stephen Fleming.

Shipperd’s situation was complicated by the fact the 58-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season with the Bushrangers, and was in need of a significant lift in on-field results to bolster his case for a new deal.

Given Victoria finished the first half the season on top of the shield table, and had been bolstered by the addition of James Pattinson and Chris Rogers and had unfettered access to Peter Siddle, Quiney said starting February with two hefty losses was a huge shock.

“We’d had such a great start to the season, on paper we had a much stronger side than Queensland in the first shield game back – and they pantsed us,” he said.

While the Bushrangers misread the spin-friendly pitch conditions in Wagga the opener also conceded it was a factor that the NSW players “probably wanted it a bit more than us”.

“It wasn’t a crossroads, a crisis meeting or anything like that. It was more ‘Boys, we’re better than this’. We’ve got to pull our finger out,” he said.

“We had an opportunity to turn it around. We were third after that Wagga game and only a few points away from top spot. We were lucky that we’d set everything up in the first half of the season.”

Quiney said Shipperd and captain Matthew Wade were controlled, rather than apoplectic, in explaining the need for the players to make amends for those losses in their last three matches of the season. That Shipperd was able to maintain that composure during the period he was set to be axed by the Stars, and ultimately was, impressed Quiney.

“I think he kept himself in good order. Obviously it was something he wanted to continue to do and he probably felt it was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but as soon as that was done … his focus has been purely on the Vics,” he said of the coach, who took over as head coach just over 11 years ago.

“Losing those two games, it could’ve been easy for him to lose his shit, but he didn’t. He kept quite calm. He knew what the process was and the end result we wanted to get to.

“One hundred per cent [it was selfless]. He’s always been like that as well. It’s always been team first for him. That’s why he’s such a great coach, and I think a great person. Deep down he might be lying in bed going ‘Geez, I wish I had this role] and stuff like that, but he’s kept that in pretty good check, I think.

“It’s good the Stars have named their coach and everything has moved on. It means that ‘Shippy’ can just focus on us now, which is great.”

While the Bushrangers are the first team in 20 years to go from last to first in the shield, since Queensland in 1994-95, Quiney is still too disappointed about the former to take such a statistic as a badge of honour.

“Ultimately you try and forget about the past when it’s bad,” he said.

Quiney said he was proud of how his teammates had responded to the challenge of providing more rigidity with the bat since being thrashed by Queensland and NSW.

“We knew we could get 20 wickets, but initially it was our batting that let us down,” he said, explaining that he and Rogers aspired to “instead of being 3-40 and being none or one down for 60 or 70 gives us a good platform, and that’s what we’ve done in the past few games”.

“Everyone is averaging 40-plus. That is the really pleasing thing, that blokes like (Peter) Handscomb and (Marcus) Stoinis and contributing so strongly as young players,” he said.

Quiney commended Cameron White, John Hastings and Clint Mckay for their stoic reactions to missing selection in the first XI in the second half of the season. He also said it was a credit to young players – such as Handscomb, Stoinis and Scott Boland – that their form saw them keep their positions even when White, Hastings and Mckay were available.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Pakistan stalwarts Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi set for one-day retirements

That Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi wear the same uniform is one of the scarce similarities between the pair who between them have led Pakistan’s one-day team for the past five years. Another is that their one-day careers will end once Pakistan’s World Cup campaign does.
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Afridi will be remembered most for his longevity and his ability to produce memorable cameos, mostly good but some infuriating – like holing out in a batting collapse or biting the ball in his second match in charge. Misbah will be remember for his consistency as captain, his ability to maintain a sense of stability in a team that has long needed strong captains who have insulated players from any turmoil surrounding their team.

Even those sceptical that Afridi is as young as he is listed to be, 35, cannot dispute how impressive it is for him to be still playing in a career that began for Pakistan in October 1996. Only Sachin Tendulkar, Mahela Jayawardene, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara have played more one-day matches.

The biggest impact Afridi made was to bring Twenty20 batting to one-day cricket long before his peers considered it. That is reflected in his strike rate of 116.98 more than in his record of 8041 runs at an average of 23.48. Of the 73 batsmen to have scored at least 5000 runs in one-dayers, only one, India’s Virender Sehwag, has also scored at better than a run a ball, at 104.47.

Afridi’s bowling record of 395 wickets at 34.44 and 4.63 runs per over with his leg-spin is also commendable.

When Afridi stepped down as captain soon into Pakistan’s next tour after the 2011 World Cup, where they had been semi-finalists, his replacement was Misbah, a batsman nearing his 37th birthday who was reliable but otherwise thoroughly unremarkable.

Since being appointed captain Misbah has proved himself adept at playing the firefighter role – a rescuer in times of crisis – having scored 2969 runs at 44.98. That those runs have come at a strike rate of 71.66 has been a trait that, despite his reliability, has seen him attract criticism from Pakistan pundits and supporters.

In his 148 one-dayers he has scored 42 half-centuries without once reaching a century. His top five scores are all unbeaten innings, with two of them in the 90s. That puts him well ahead of the next-closest peer in that regard, New Zealand’s Andrew Jones, who in the 1990s reached 50 on 25 occasions without once making a century.

Misbah turns 41 in May but cuts an overtly fit figure, even to players almost half his age. The match against Australia will take him to level in third place with Inzamam-ul-Haq for appearances as Pakistan captain with 87, behind only greats Imran Khan (139) and Wasim Akram (109).

Misbah said he is proud of the legacy he and Afridi would leave on the Pakistan team after the World Cup.

“I’m pretty satisfied with what I have, and especially what Shahid has, achieved,” he said on Thursday. “The biggest satisfaction is that we gave everything to our team and country.”

Misbah was nevertheless adamant that he and Afridi would not, and should not, treat the match against Australia any differently because of the potential for it to be their last.

“Obviously this World Cup, and this game, is still not over and we would really like to go good in this tournament, especially trying to win tomorrow’s game and go further . . . that’s what our desire and dream is,” he said.

If Pakistan were able to defy the odds and reach the final, it would allow Afridi to finish his career with 400 one-day appearances.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

TOPICS: Tough ask as students to argue merits of feesDebaters Elyse Hudson and Paul Scott. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Debaters Elyse Hudson and Paul Scott ready to battle for the Godfrey Tanner Great Debate. Picture: Jonathan CarrollWE dare you to find a more turbo-charged thing to bring up at the University of Newcastle than fee deregulation. OK, maybe the cheating scandal. But fees are a big deal.
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That political hot potato will be served up next Tuesday during the Godfrey Tanner Great Debate, the uni’s annual tussle between students and staff. Popular former ABC Newcastle presenter Carol Duncan will adjudicate.

The debate topic, officially, is ‘‘to ensure Australia remains globally competitive in an international economy, universities should be able to set their own fees in a deregulated market’’.

Fraught, no? In a sadistic twist, the students have to argue for fee deregulation. Christopher Pyne will be sore from grinning.

Fittingly, the debate is a fund-raiser for the Godfrey Tanner memorial scholarship, worth $3000 to students facing hardship. They might need it soon.

The debate kicks off at 6pm in the Godfrey Tanner Bar, and regular punters are welcome to attend. It tends to be a ‘‘fun, loose evening’’, a source tells us.

Richie Beeton at his front door, which came from Rohallion, a reputedly haunted house on the Hill. Picture: Peter Stoop

​IF a spooky old mansion had a reputation as a ‘‘ghost house’’, you’d hesitate to souvenir a bit of it, wouldn’t you? Not Richie Beeton, of Belmont North.

He tells us his current place has the front door of Rohallion, a grand old house that once graced The Hill. It was pulled down 50 years ago.

‘‘I must have been in my 20s, and the blokes doing the demolition said, ‘If you want anything just take it’,’’ recalls Richie.

‘‘So I went in with my screwdriver and got it.’’

Rohallion was considered a landmark in its 1880s heyday but, in the proud Newcastle tradition, was falling apart by the 1960s. There’s a block of units there now.

‘‘It also boasted showy blue Venetian glass surrounding a large panelled cedar door with a shiny brass knocker and knob,’’ according to Herald history writer Mike Scanlon.

Richie says he remembers the blue glass, though it’s long been replaced. The house’s dark reputation stems from a rumour of a young woman being murdered on its front steps in 1937.

If that door could talk, eh?

Rohallion, the reputedly haunted house on the Hill, which was pulled down 50 years ago.

YOU won’t catch us running for Premier. It looks exhausting.

Asked at a press conference yesterday to gauge the mood in Newcastle, Mike Baird tried gamely to whip himself into a frenzy.

‘‘Well … ah … can you feel it?’’ he asked.

Well, no. But Mr Baird warmed into his How Good’s Newy? routine and soon had the reporters transfixed. Most of them are crushing on him pretty hard, truth be told, queuing for selfies and beers after hours during the campaign.

‘‘Look at those beaches. I mean, those beaches,’’ Mr Baird enthused.

‘‘Across the world, if you happen to be unfortunate enough to be living in the UK you would be desperate, you would be desperate to get to those Newcastle beaches. I mean, they are, like, the best beaches in the world.’’

Topics thanks the Premier for his honesty about our world-leading beaches, and wonders how many other coastal communities have heard the same spiel.

​Email Tim [email protected]上海龙凤 or tweet @TimConnell or phone 4979 5944

Hunter Health Kick: 2-minute challenge for Friday March 20

Renee Valentine and Emma Gorton at Merewether Bathers Way lookout. Picture: Marina NeilThis week it is time to focus on the core – that’s the muscles that support and stabilise the trunk of the body.Add the seven two-minute challenges together at the end of the week for a tough core workout.
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Friday’s2-minute challenge

– 40 seconds V-sit

– 40 seconds prone back extension

– 40 seconds hover

* Looking for healthy food options? Click here for our seven-day meal plan.

* Photos: See who’sgetting fit in the Hunter

Missed previous challenges? Catchup here.


●Saturday Feb 7

● Sunday Feb 8

● Monday Feb 9

● Tuesday Feb 10

● Wednesday Feb 11

● Thursday Feb 12

● Friday Feb 13


●Saturday Feb 14

● Sunday Feb 15

● Monday Feb 16

●Tuesday Feb 17

● Wednesday Feb 18

● Thursday Feb 19

● Friday Feb 20


● Saturday Feb 21

● Sunday Feb 22

● Monday Feb 23

● Tuesday Feb 24

● Wednesday Feb 25

● Thursday Feb 26

● Friday Feb 27


● Saturday Feb 28

● Sunday March 1

● Monday March 2

● Tuesday March 3

● Wednesday March 4

●Thursday March 5

●Friday March 6


●Saturday March 7

●Sunday March 8

● Monday March 9

● Tuesday March 10

● Wednesday March 11

● Thursday March 12

● Friday March 13


● Saturday March 14

●Sunday March 15

● Monday March 16

● Tuesday March 17

● Wednesday March 18

● Thursday March 19

Cyclone Pam rips through Vanuatu’s Manua school

Children walk down a devastated main road on the north side of the main island of Efate. Photo: Lawrence Smith Children walk down a devastated main road on the north side of the main island of Efate. Photo: Lawrence Smith
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Children walk down a devastated main road on the north side of the main island of Efate. Photo: Lawrence Smith

Children walk down a devastated main road on the north side of the main island of Efate. Photo: Lawrence Smith

Vanuatu cyclone: Tanna’s homeless desperate for waterCyclone Pam: At least eight Australians missing in VanuatuICAC witness Jeff McCloy makes $1 million donation to Vanuatu disaster appeal

As Cyclone Pam ripped at the roof of Manua School, a group of men, women and children pulled desperately on electrical cable keeping them from harm.

In pitch darkness, the group rigged the ropes to the roof’s rafters so they could try to hold it down.

It was a move that probably saved them.

“When the gale-force wind came in we tried very hard to keep the roof hanging on the house,” teacher Cooper Henry said. “It was the last thing we could do to save our families.

“Every time when the cyclone was heaving the roof up we had to [pull on the ropes], I was the captain and would call out “pull!” and everyone would hang on to the rope, even the little kids who were still awake. We stopped them from sleeping because it’s not safe.”

Usually home during the day to 314 children, the well-known school is now a scene of absolute destruction.

The school roof is gone.

School books, papers and toys are scattered in all directions, while the teachers and their families have nowhere to go.

Their homes lie in piles of rubble, with some parts stuck up in trees.

School principal Melizabeth Uhi said she had no idea when, or if, the school would reopen, because most of the pupils’ families were homeless.

“It’s more than I can explain, it’s too much for us,” she said.

“We woke up in the morning, on Saturday we came out and everything was gone. All our properties and everything were blown away. Everybody were walking around the front crying, that’s it, you just have to accept.”

Evan Shuurman, a member of the Save the Children charity in Port Vila, said there were an estimated 45,000 children who would not be going to school for the foreseeable future.

Many schools were either destroyed or are being used as evacuation centres, making them unusable for teaching.

“It’s a really challenging situation because homes have been destroyed, and until families can return home . . . they need somewhere to stay and schools are a common and logical place to use as safety centres,” he said.

“We want to minimise the length of time kids stay out of school as much as possible. Apart from the fact they’re missing out on valuable education, [going to] school is such an important place for children who have been through trauma, it provides them with routine and a sense of normality.”

For Henry, the pain is amplified by the fact he is yet to learn the fate of his parents, grandmother and extended family who live on Epi, an outer island in remote Shefa province.

With no communications available, he has no idea when he will receive word from them.

Until then, he plans to listen to the Government, and despite everything is thankful for what help they may receive.

“I would like to say thank you very much for the books you’ve given to us,” he said.

The Government of New Zealand has been donating a lot of educational materials to our school.

“I’m sorry if we’re asking you for more books for our kids, very sorry. We are still depending on aid. We hope we’ll be receiving some help from you.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Compromise opens doorfor Swansea and Stockton

Greg Perrin with Swansea-Caves Beach players at Parbury Park on Friday March 13. Picture: Max Mason-HubersGAME ON: Gloves off as league clubs fight for right to play
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STOCKTON and Swansea are free to play in the second division this season, but only once their Newcastle Rugby League affiliates have fielded four grades.

NRL chief executive officer Matt Harris met with his Country Rugby League counterpart Terry Quinn and operations manager Robert Lowrie on Wednesday to strike a compromise to end the impasse that threatened to prevent 50 footballers from playing rugby league this season.

The NRL originally blocked Stockton and Swansea’s re-entry into the second-tier Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League after the board voted to limit the inclusion of any new teams in that competition. That decision was made to safeguard the strength of the NRL’s open age competition that has been relaunched this season.

Stockton were a feeder club of Port Stephens Sharks, who have since folded due to a shortage of players. Stockton have become a South Newcastle affiliate.

Swansea are an affiliate of Lakes United.

Under the agreement between the NRL and CRL, Stockton and Swansea must register their players with their affiliate clubs and make the players available for selection if required.

If Stockton or Swansea players refuse to play in their affiliate’s open grade sides when required they could face fines, loss of competition points or suspensions.

It is understood that Souths and Lakes both have or are close to a full quota of players. ‘‘The option has been put in place so both Newcastle and Hunter sides can participate in the form they want to,’’ Harris said.

‘‘What it is also doing, as a priority, is we’re making sure the district clubs field all four sides.

‘‘That was endorsed as the main priority of Newcastle Rugby League – that we look after the clubs – and the CRL support the opinion we have.’’

Representatives from the NRL, CRL, Swansea, Stockton, Lakes and Souths are expected to meet in the next week to sign off on the arrangement.

Harris said Stockton had verbally accepted the new agreement.

Swansea secretary Greg Perrin said his committee were happy to support Lakes with players but wanted more information on the proposal before accepting it.

Swansea’s committee will discuss the proposal next Tuesday.

‘‘We support Lakes and there are players who are prepared to help them out if needed, but we just don’t know the finer details,’’ Perrin said.