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28 Oct

Ben Simmons shows world class

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“He’s such a special talent”: world team coach Roy Rana on Ben Simmons.FORMER Newcastle Hunters junior basketballer Ben Simmons set an assists record and went close to posting a triple double to help lead the world team to a 113-111 victory over the United States at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday.
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Eighteen-year-old Simmons scored 13 points, pulled down nine rebounds and handed out a record nine assists as the world team defeated the US for the third time in the past four years.

“This is my fifth Hoop Summit, and every time we’ve had a very special player who has been selfless. I’m not surprised Ben broke the assists record,” world team coach Roy Rana said.

“He’s such a special talent because he can take over games offensively, yet he’s willing to help his teammates be successful and takes great joy in that.”

The game is an annual showcase between a selection of the world’s best under-19 players against America’s best high school seniors as chosen by USA Basketball.

Another Australian, the 216-centimetre centre Thon Maker, had 10 rebounds for the world team.

Simmons, who will play college basketball for Louisiana State University later this year, led Orlando-based Montverde Academy to a third straight national high school championship seven days earlier and was the tournament Most Valuable Player for a second consecutive year.

The 206cm forward, who was born in Melbourne but spent almost 10 years in Newcastle as a child and learned to play basketball in the city, is projected to be one of the first players chosen in the 2016 National Basketball Association Draft.

He was acknowledged last month as the best player in American high school basketball for the 2014-15 season by receiving the Morgan Wootten award, Naismith Trophy and Gatorade national boys’ player of the year award.

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28 Oct

Hunters no match for roaring Bears

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The Hunters’ Matt Holmes goes for the basket in his side’s loss to Norths Bears. Picture: Peter StoopTHE Newcastle Hunters slumped to their fourth straight Waratah Basketball League loss at Broadmeadow on Saturday night, 71-63 to defending champions Norths Bears.
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The Hunters (2-5) showed some promising early signs and led 25-18 at quarter-time and 37-32 at the long break, but the Bears bared their claws when it mattered and held the Hunters to just 26 second-half points.

Swingman Ryan Beisty scored a game-high 21 points and was well supported by forward Matt Holmes (13), but the rest of the Hunters shot a combined 11 of 45 (24.4 per cent) from the floor.

“We started well, but our scoring productivity was inadequate in the second, third and fourth quarters,” Hunters coach Larry Davidson said.

“We kept Norths to a final score that was within our reach, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough players score in double figures.”

Norths (5-1) leap-frogged Newcastle (6-2) into top spot with a 73-64 victory in the WBL women’s game at Broadmeadow on Saturday. It was the Bears’ second win against Newcastle this season.

Guard Sophie Kleeman scored a game-high 21 points for the Hunters, Jasmine Forcadilla chipped in with 12 points, Amanda Bendeich had 11 points and seven rebounds, and “bigs” Sophie Parente and Charlotte Bull pulled down 11 and 10 rebounds respectively.

The Hunters held Norths’ top scorers Renae Camino (17 points) and Mikaela Dombkins (11) below their season averages, but Maddison Penn (16 points) and Kristen Barnes (13) picked up the scoring slack for the visitors.

Former Newcastle and Maitland guard Dombkins also tallied 11 rebounds and six assists, and Kate Cranney contributed eight points, 17 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.

Meanwhile, men’s leaders Manly (6-2) registered a 76-62 victory over Maitland Mustangs (3-5) at Maitland Federation Centre on Saturday night.

American imports Mitchell Rueter (16 points, nine rebounds) and Terrell Turner (16 points, eight rebounds) led the way for Maitland, and Goran Veg had 10 points and five rebounds in his first game for the Mustangs this season.

● The NBA Players Association and reportedly the league itself are looking into the arrest of Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha in New York.

Swiss-born Sefolosha and Hawks teammate Pero Antic were charged with resisting arrest at a nightclub in the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday.

Both have said they will contest the charges.

Sefolosha suffered a season-ending broken right leg and ligament damage somewhere in the process.

Videos posted on website TMZ showed police aggressively trying to restrain him and taking him to the ground. One video shows an officer wielding a baton, but it was unclear if Sefolosha was hit.

Police say Sefolosha refused multiple orders to disperse and charged an officer. AFP

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28 Oct

Where Late the Songbird: Shakespeare’s domesticity

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Rehearsing for Where Late the Songbird at Newcastle Art Space are playwright and actor Carl Caulfield, Alexandra McKeown, Claire Williams, Angie Diaz and Angela McKeown. Picture: Jonathan CarrollTHE premiere of Where Late the Songbird at the Civic Playhouse on April 22 is appropriate. That is the birth date of the play’s central character, William Shakespeare. Or is it?
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Carl Caulfield, who wrote the play and is cast as the Bard, extensively researched Shakespeare’s life while on a visit to England.

He said the church beside the site where the playwright is buried notes April 22 as the birth date. But there is no official record of his birth, though he is known to have been baptised on April 26, 1564, and there is a lot of argument about whether he was born on April 21, 22 or 23.

His death on April 23, 1616, is recorded, with many scholars suggesting he died on his birthday.

Where Late the Songbird is set in the last years of Shakespeare’s life, with the writer-actor returning to his Stratford home in 1613 after spending most of his time from the late 1580s in London.

He finds that all is not well. His wife, Anne Hathaway, is understandably less than welcoming after his repeated absences and his two daughters, one married and the other preparing to wed, are facing problems.

He also upsets the farming community which provides much of the work around Stratford.

Caulfield notes that while Shakespeare became famous because of his plays, it was his shares in theatres, especially the Globe Theatre, that made him wealthy. He invested in farming land at Stratford, becoming involved in an angry debate about open farmland being enclosed by individual owners.

Caulfield began thinking about writing a play looking at Shakespeare’s late-life domesticity while performing as the playwright in 2010 in a comedy he wrote called Shakespeare’s Fools.

As the title suggests, that play’s focus is on the actors who played the comic characters in Shakespeare’s plays. The writer made occasional appearances to deliver instructions to the “fools”, and while Caulfield was in the wings waiting to go on stage he often thought about Shakespeare’s private life and relationships.

The writer occasionally gave hints of his personal relationships in his sonnets, making references to songbirds in them.

Sonnet 102, for example, which has references to nightingales, ends with the words:

“And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.

Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,

Because I would not dull you with my song.”

The cast of Where Late the Songbird has Caulfield playing Shakespeare, with Claire Williams as Anne Hathaway, Angie Diaz as their older and married daughter, Susanna Hall, Angela McKeown as the younger daughter, Judith, who is preparing for marriage, and Alexandra McKeown as Susanna’s daughter, Elizabeth, who, unlike the family’s other female members, warms to her grandfather after he returns to Stratford.

The other actors play multiple roles. Brian Randell is both Susanna’s husband and the man Judith plans to wed; Phil McGrath is playwright John Fletcher and actor and theatre owner Richard Burbage; Barney Langford is a farmer, judge and actor; and Theo Rule is a beggar and a clownish fool who is a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination, offering him amusing but sharp advice, and even a song, when he is troubled.

Caulfield co-directs the production with wife Felicity Biggins.

As Claire Williams notes, the play shows Shakespeare to share many of the hopes and problems people have today.

Anne Hathaway, for example, was six to eight years older than her husband, and she sharply reminds him at one point that “I knew you when you were a 16-year-old” when he is having difficulty adjusting to being a good husband and father.

Older daughter Susanna had been falsely accused of adultery and, though this had been shown to be untrue, she is still suffering from being considered a fallen woman.

And younger daughter Judith is a problem child. She is interested in a man whom Shakespeare learns is probably far from suitable as a husband.

The play also shows Shakespeare being visited by London theatre people who wanted him to continue writing.

They try, for example, to get him to adapt the popular Spanish novel, Don Quixote, for the stage.

There has long been a legend that Shakespeare was involved with John Fletcher in such an adaptation, and that it became one of his so-called lost plays.

And Shakespeare is seen at one point in this work as a Quixotic character, leaping onto the stage with a sword and in an angry and threatening mood.

Caulfield said he used Where Late the Songbird to show Shakespeare as a man, not a genius.

When researching Shakespeare’s life, he read several biographies of him and none of them looked at his relationship with Anne Hathaway from her perspective.

That is one of the things he has included in this play.

Where Late the Songbird opens at the Civic Playhouse on Wednesday, April 22, and plays Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, plus 2pm Saturday matinees, until May 2. Tickets: $40; concession and Civic subscriber $30; youth (under 30), $20. Bookings: Civic Ticketek, 49291977.

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28 Oct

Bittersweet win for Chad ‘Hollywood’ Bennett

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Bittersweet win for Bennett Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop
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Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

Chad “Hollywood” Bennett v Pablo Martin “Bad Boy” Barboza: All the action from Wests Leagues New Lambton. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookNEWCASTLE’S Chad ‘‘Hollywood’’ Bennett overcame the disappointment of missing his world title shot by stopping Argentinian champion Pablo Martin ‘‘Bad Boy’’ Barboza at Wests New Lambton on Saturday night.

Bennett suffered a suspected broken left thumb delivering the winning body shot about 20 seconds into the fifth of 10 scheduled rounds. He will have X-rays this week.

The bout was supposed to be for the International Boxing Organisation world lightweight belt, but 41-year-old Bennett could not make the weight of 61.2 kilograms by the weigh-in deadline on Friday, so he and Barboza agreed to fight at a heavier catchweight.

‘‘It was bittersweet,’’ Bennett said of the technical knockout. ‘‘I went out and did the job, but it was hard to motivate myself after not making the weight, so I’m just going to weigh up my options over the next few days or so.

‘‘There’s a couple of things in the pipeline, but I’m just not sure which way to go at the moment.’’

Chad Bennett holds his injured hand as Pablo Martin Barboza is counted on Saturday night. Picture: Peter Stoop

Bennett said he struggled to find his mark in the early rounds against the 30-year-old Argentinian southpaw then had to withstand some punishment in the fourth.

‘‘It was a very awkward fight. He’s a southpaw and I was missing badly in the first couple of rounds,’’ he said.

‘‘I was hitting him with some good body shots and ended up dropping him in the fifth with a shot that I didn’t think was that good.

‘‘I think I hit him directly on the hip bone and might have broken my thumb because I felt the pain shoot right through my hand.

‘‘He came out pretty hard in the fourth round and probably won that round, then when he went down in the fifth, I was worried about him getting back up because my left hand was swollen and I thought I’d broken my thumb for sure.’’

Bennett’s 16-year career record improved to 36 wins, including 27 by knockout, and three draws from 43 fights. It was Barboza’s third loss by knockout and fifth overall from 28 fights.

Toowoomba-based Filipino Jack ‘‘The Assassin’’ Asis is the new IBO world super-featherweight champion after an eighth-round technical knockout of ‘‘Mister Frenzy’’ Kye Mackenzie in a high-calibre main event that could generate a rematch.

‘‘It will have to get nominated for fight of the year,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘There was some talk of a rematch, but they’re going to have to wait until the dust settles.

‘‘I don’t know how keen the Asis camp will be to give Kye another bite at the cherry, but money talks all languages.

‘‘If that fight happens, it would be great to bring it back to Newcastle, but it was such a good fight it might be out of our price bracket to bring it back here.’’

The previously unbeaten Mackenzie was ahead 69-64 and 67-65 on two of the judges’ cards and 31-year-old Asis led 69-64 on the other when referee Garry Dean stopped the fight.

‘‘It was a great fight and it was one that Newcastle boxing fans will be talking about for a long time because it was entertainment from the opening bell to the end,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘Both fighters and their entourages handled themselves so professionally before, during and after the fight, and Kye Mackenzie was really gracious in defeat.

‘‘Kye’s only 22 and it was his first defeat, but he’ll go away and learn from that. He got a bit trigger-happy and was on top of Jack early and tried to take him out, but Jack hung in there, he used his experience, and turned the table on him.

‘‘It was Kye’s first loss, but he’s got world champion written all over him and he’ll come back twice the fighter.’’

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28 Oct

P2P lending may hit banks’ profits

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Internet platforms allow investors to lend their cash to consumers.MIKE Israel is at the forefront of a trend that some reckon could disrupt the very lucrative business of lending money to consumers and businesses.
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An information technology worker in his 50s, Mr Israel is one of a growing number of people pocketing a piece of the major banks’ healthy profits, by lending their savings directly to borrowers and charging interest.

He’s doing it via the internet, on platforms that allow investors to lend their cash to consumers for expenses like a new car, a holiday or a wedding.

Known as peer-to-peer platforms, these websites don’t have to pay for sprawling branch networks or hold billions of dollars in capital like banks do, allowing them to offer lower interest rates for personal loans or small business loans.

Investors such as Mr Israel are able to charge interest rates of 7 to 9 per cent, sometimes more, for taking the risk of putting their money on the line. It is not guaranteed like a bank deposit, though he hasn’t had a default after lending to more than 100 borrowers.

“That $5000 to $30,000 segment is the most profitable lending in Australia,” says Mr Israel, who has lent money to more than 100 borrowers on peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne since late 2012.

“The returns rival pretty much anything else in my portfolio.”

For the country’s very profitable major banks, however, these are returns they want to keep for themselves.

Peer-to-peer rivals, though tiny, represent yet another front in the growing competition they face from a new breed of small technology companies eyeing a cut of a concentrated industry that made more than $28 billion last year. We have been hearing for years about the growing competitive threat to banks from “digital wallets” – the likes of Google trying to take a cut from the payments system.

Now small technology-based firms are eyeing banks’ vast loan books in consumer finance and small and medium business lending. These are markets where the Australian banks have almost $250 billion in loans, according to consultancy Digital Finance Analytics. It is not just peer-to-peer lenders. Others are trying to harness digital technology in other ways, such as promising rapid credit without the bureaucracy created by a big bank, or linking finance directly with other online services such as eBay or online classified.

For banks, this new wave of rivals is sparking a debate about how best to respond to the growing competition from technology companies that although tiny, have the potential to pinch valuable customers.

The banks’ record share prices can make them appear indestructible, and the new challengers face enormous barriers in trying to enter the market, but there is a strong awareness of the power of “disruption”.

Witness the upheaval unleashed by Uber in taxis, or iTunes in music.

As a senior Bank of England official, Andrew Haldane, argued back in 2012, there is no automatic need for banks if borrowers and savers could connect directly.

“The banking middlemen may in time become the surplus links in the chain. Where music and publishing have led, finance could follow,” Mr Haldane said.

So, what might the wave of new online competitors mean for Australia’s all-powerful banks?

Barely a week goes without a technology firm trumpeting a new offering in the finance market. With unfamiliar brand names, and often led by former bankers, these businesses are typically offering cheaper or easier credit, to an online customer base that has little need to walk into a bank branch.

Peer-to-peer lending is perhaps the most visible example. Simply put, it is where a website facilitates lending between saver and borrower – cutting out the need for the bank. It is an approach that has sparked rapid growth overseas.

In Britain, peer-to-peer lending has been roughly doubling in size for the last few years and last year its volumes eclipsed £1 billion ($1.9 billion), the industry association says. Across the Atlantic in the United States, the world’s biggest P2P business Lending Club last year floated in a bumper initial public offering, with its shares surging 56 per cent on debut.

Daniel Foggo, chief executive of the Australian arm of British peer-to-peer lender RateSetter, is eyeing the $100 billion personal loan market, which includes automotive, credit cards and unsecured credit.

Ultimately, he says the peer-to-peer lenders could grab as much as 20 per cent of these markets in Australia.

While banks have argued the popularity of peer-to-peer platforms is being inflated by low interest rates, Mr Foggo points out that in Britain it has been around for almost a decade.

“Overseas there have been peer-to-peer lenders operating since 2006,” he says. “Zopa [a British lender] has reported their return through that full credit cycle, and they had positive returns every year.”

One reason peer-to-peer lenders like Mr Foggo are eyeing Australia is that it’s an affluent, technology savvy market.

Underlining this threat to the banks, a KPMG survey this week found young customers rate the mobile and online presence as the most important attribute when choosing a bank, and they were becoming less loyal.

But the growth overseas is not just being driven by new technology or lower costs, but something much more profound: erosion in trust towards banks and large corporations.

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28 Oct

HUNTER HER0: Star in the making is dancing for a cause

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Sam Newman is participating in Stars of Newcastle Dance for Cancer. Picture: Phil HearneSAMANTHA NEWMAN,Cancer fundraiser
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EVERYONE loves an underdog.

Especially the Newcastle Herald.

So when one of our own bravely put up her hand to take on some famous local faces in a charity fundraiser, we thought she deserved a pat on the back, as well as a helping hand.

Newcastle Herald media adviser Sam Newman has spent the past few months learning a dance number and raising money for Stars of Newcastle Dance for Cancer.

On May 1, she will compete against the likes of NBN newsreader Natasha Beyersdorf, former The Block winner Lara Cranfield, former Newcastle Knights player Mark Sargent, 2013 Mr Universe Lee Priest, former Liberal candidate and public relations consultant Jaimie Abbott, and NewFM breakfast presenter Mel “Sarge” Sargeant.

“I’m definitely not an A-lister, that’s for sure,” Sam said.

“But I wanted to be involved, firstly, because I thought it would be really fun.

“And secondly, because it is for a really, really good cause.

“My nan was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the start of last year, and when they asked for volunteers to do this for the Cancer Council, I thought, ‘I want to be that person’.”

The 24-year-old has been getting two hour-long lessons each week at Newcastle Dance Academy with her dance partner, Chelsea Willis, ahead of the big performance.

Having drawn the “musical theatre” theme, Sam has been working on her high kicks as she prepares to dance to a song from A Chorus Line.

“It is so much fun,” she laughed.

“I might not be the best, but at least I’ll make some people laugh!

“My high kicks are getting better. They weren’t so good to start with.

“I am a quick learner. Even if my feet don’t like it.

“I’ve had a few blisters, and I’m using parts of my body I’ve never used before in my life.”

Sam said learning the routine had been surprisingly difficult.

“It’s not like an aerobics class where you just kind of do the movements,” she said.

“Everything has to be sharp and you have to think about what your fingers are doing, pointing your toes, you have to be conscious of how your head is sitting – so it is actually pretty intense.

“But Chelsea is so supportive.”

So far, Sam has raised $3300.

“The main thing is is that we’ve raised a fair bit of cash for the Cancer Council,” she said.

“As part of my commitment to the competition we had to raise $3000 each.

“I did aim high, I aimed for $7000 at the start, which might have been a bit unrealistic.

“Everyone at the Herald has been so supportive, giving me fundraising ideas, opening their wallets and helping me organise everything.”

Sam isn’t the only underdog in the competition.

She is also up against University of Newcastle cancer researcher Dr Nikki Verrills, Robinson Real Estate’s Matthew McKee, Hayley Nolan from Varley Industries, Gavin Murray, of Hub Wealth Solutions, and cancer survivor Phil Williams.

Sam admits she is feeling nervous about dancing on May 1.

“I think I am more nervous because it’s not just dancing. I’ve got props!” she laughed.

“And I’m up against some stiff competition.”

Support her efforts by visiting doitforcancer整形美容医院m.au. Go to “Search for a fundraiser” and type in “Samantha Newman.”

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28 Oct

UberX: companies ‘face penalties’ for use of ride-share service

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Australian businesses that allow staff to use Uber instead of taxis risk heavy penalties under work safety laws, experts warn, as job-related travel with the ride-sharing service soars internationally.
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UberX, an app-based network in which drivers use their private vehicles as hire cars, has faced sustained attack from Australian state governments and the taxi lobby.

Now, workplace lawyers are voicing major concerns about employers that permit staff use of the controversial service because it could breach their duty of care.

Law firm Holding Redlich said UberX’s popularity was booming in Australia but it should be banned by employers because the service was unlicensed and unregulated and there were no in-car surveillance cameras, used in taxis, to deter assaults.

“The UberX service is unregulated,” said Joel Zyngier, a senior associate in workplace relations. “A driver of an UberX service in Melbourne can be approved as a driver after undergoing a 30-minute induction and providing Uber with a driver’s licence, birth certificate and current insurance policy.”

Mr Zyngier said that while UberX may be a safe travel option, an employer’s duty of care required it to ensure staff used the safest option available, “so far as is reasonably practical”. Failure to do so could expose employers to penalties and prosecution under workplace health and safety laws.

“Although UberX drivers may indeed provide a safe service, it appears objectively an employer could not say UberX is as safe as a taxi,” he said.

Uber has strongly defended the safety of its ride-sharing service in response to the warning to Australian employers.

“All Uber driver-partners have cleared criminal history and driving history background checks, and all UberX trips are fully insured and backed by $US5 million of contingent liability cover,” a company spokeswoman said.

“In addition, the safety features of the app mean that the anonymity that exists with taxi trips is removed … The rider has the driver’s name, photograph, registration plate and car model before they enter the vehicle and can watch the car arrive at their pick-up location, so there is no standing out on the street trying to hail an anonymous ride.”

The spokeswoman said thousands of Australian workers were choosing the ride-sharing service to “travel safely while making huge savings for their companies”.

The calls for employment travel policies to restrict the service follow the release of statistics showing business travellers are increasingly bypassing taxi-rank queues in favour of UberX. Data from US expense-management company Certify shows 47 per cent of road travel by its users in March were through Uber, a figure that has tripled in 12 months.

In some cities, Uber’s popularity has shot well ahead of taxis for work-related travel. More than 70 per cent of rides processed through Certify in San Francisco were for Uber, while fewer than 30 per cent used taxis.

Victorian Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel is charging a dozen UberX drivers for operating a commercial passenger vehicle without a licence in a test case on the legality of the service. Mr Samuel has previously said attempts to penalise UberX are pointless because the service is popular with the public.

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

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28 Oct

TRICIA HOGBIN: Time to simply play

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It’s important to allow children plenty of time for free play. Picture: Tricia HogbinMY daughter recently reminded me of the importance of setting aside free time. I told her of all the fun holiday activities I planned to book her into. I thought she would be excited. Instead she sat quietly then whispered “all I want to do is play at home”. I tried to convince her how fun they would be. Then I stopped. I realised she had recognised what she needed most. What our busy over-scheduled kids need most is time to simply play.
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I reduced the number of scheduled activities and organised a few play dates and sleepovers at home instead. I’ve slowed down the scheduling and am setting aside plenty of time for unstructured play.

Unstructured play, the kind of play that happens without adult guidance or formal toys, is worth encouraging. Research has shown that unstructured play helps children develop their physical and emotional strengths, creativity, and imagination. Unstructured play among children is particularly valuable for teaching them how to share, negotiate, communicate and resolve conflicts.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I find myself having to schedule and organise unstructured play. It’s not a matter of simply ensuring my daughter has free time – because if she managed her free time she’d spend it sitting in front of a screen.

Here are some of my favourite ways to encourage unstructured play:

1. Suggest a cubby house be built

Provide some sheets, a couple of cardboard boxes, or send them outside and see what they can find. I recently sat back and watched my daughter and a friend create a cubby house in a small tree in our backyard. They enthusiastically planned their world and then decorated it. They negotiated, created, collaborated, and assessed risk. To them, they were simply playing, but to me they were gaining valuable life skills that will help them in the real world – far beyond their temporary tree house. I especially love that cubby houses provide a place seemingly separate from the adult world. A child-created cubby can give children a much-needed sense of freedom and achievement. It may only be a sheet over some chairs, a cardboard box, or a gap under a shrub to us, but to a child it’s their own secret space. Somewhere where they rule – if only for a moment.

2. Visit a natural environment

Take a thermos of tea, sit back and watch the kids find something to do. It won’t take long. There’s space to run and explore and endless natural objects such as sticks, stones, dirt, leaves, mud and water to play with.

3. Let there be mess

Unstructured play can get messy. There might be mud pie making, cardboard boxes scattered across the living area, or every towel dragged out to create a tent. I’ve learnt to accept the chaos and mess. It’s a small price to pay for the valuable play. But I do make sure to involve the kids in clean up.

4. Provide plenty of creative materials

We’ve had bits of waste timber sitting by our back door for a couple of weeks. It’s become our daughter’s favourite play material. I also like to sacrifice the kitchen table for the day. I place paints, recycled containers, glue and other craft material on the table and tell her she can create whatever she wants. One of the benefits of unstructured play is that it doesn’t cost anything. Kids don’t really need loads of fancy toys or expensive activities – what they need most is time to simply play.

Tricia shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints整形美容医院m and on Instagram (TriciaEco).

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28 Oct

More Australians support an increase in the GST

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Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Photo: Andrew Meares Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Abbott and Hockey lead Coalition poll diveSour voters brace for budget verdict

A growing number of voters say they would now support an increase in the rate of the GST, following a year in which the tax has been a simmering political issue.

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows a steady rise in support among the general population for a GST hike, with more than one in three Australians now supporting an increase.

Wealthier Australians are more likely to support a GST hike than those on lower incomes, and Coalition voters are more likely than Labor or Greens supporters to think it is a good idea.

The rate of GST is currently 10 per cent.

 

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll found support for a GST hike among the general population has jumped from 30 per cent to 37 per cent in the last 12 months.

It continues a steady increase from late 2012, when just 12 per cent of the population supported a GST increase.

It appears constant talk from Canberra of the need for a balanced budget has had an effect, with some voters saying they had not previously wanted the GST to rise but they now think it should be done.

The Abbott government has said repeatedly it will not push for an increase in the rate or base of the GST unless every state and territory government supports the idea.

But the issue has been kept alive over the last year by numerous government inquiries, including on the nature of Australia’s Commonwealth-state relations and the future of the taxation system.

Prominent economists such as the Grattan Institute’s John Daley have also repeatedly argued that Commonwealth government finances would benefit if the GST was applied to more goods and the rate was raised.

And last week Treasurer Joe Hockey revealed state and territory premiers had agreed in principle to extend the GST to cover music and movie downloads, and online imports worth less than $1000, to help improve the “integrity” of the tax and reap billions of extra dollars in revenues.

The national poll of 1404 respondents, taken between Thursday and Saturday last week, found support for a GST hike is significantly higher among people living on household incomes of over $100,000 per year (46 per cent in favour), compared to those on lower incomes (32 per cent support among those earning $40,000-$100,000, and 35 per cent support among those earning less than $40,000).

Coalition supporters (49 per cent) are also more likely than Labor supporters (31 per cent) to think the GST should be increased, while more Greens supporters (34 per cent) than Labor supporters think the rate should be raised.

Voters gave various reasons for their support for a hike.

Pensioner Margaret Robinson, 74, told Fairfax Media she had not considered a GST rise before the last election but now believed an increase was needed to balance the budget.

She also said she was not concerned about a rise causing cost-of-living pressures, despite living on an aged pension. “I would feel confident that the government would make allowances in the pension for that,” she said.

Helicopter pilot Paul Cross, who works for the oil and gas industry, and earns more than $150,000 a year, said raising the GST to 15 per cent would be fairer than reforming income tax.

Retiree Peter Telford said he did not want taxes to increase, but raising the GST was a better way to address the budget deficit. “I’m not totally committed to any form of tax increase but we have to address that we have a problem to solve,” the 77-year-old said.

The poll found Coalition supporters are almost divided evenly on the issue, with 49 per cent supporting a GST increase and 46 opposing the idea.

Labor voters are less divided, with 67 per cent opposing the idea and 31 per cent supporting it, while 61 per cent of Green voters oppose the idea, and 34 per cent support it.

Despite questions about the appropriate level of the GST, state and territory premiers were last week unable to agree on how the GST pie should be carved up and distributed among the states.

The meeting of state and territory leaders ended in stalemate after Western Australia refused to accept a decision by the Commonwealth Grants Commission to hand the WA government just 29.9 cents back next financial year on each GST dollar raised in that state.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann argued on Sunday that the commission’s decision was so bad it would require a political decision to fix.

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

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28 Oct

Vintage Jim Cassidy delivered the Sydney Cup, now for the All Aged

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He has been looking forward to the ride on Dissident in Saturday’s All Aged Stakes for the past month, and now Jim Cassidy will arrive on race day buoyed by his “special” Sydney Cup win on Grand Marshal.
Wuxi Plastic Surgery

Cassidy was in vintage form on and off the track on the final day of the Championships at headquarters. The 52-year-old lifted Grand Marshal to victory at the end of a testing 3200 metres, having stripped two kilograms to ride at 52kg with just four days notice.

“[Wife] Vicki helped a lot to do things right last week. I walk around at 54 or 54.5 and I had to get down,” Cassidy said. “I have learnt you don’t win too many group 1s sitting in the jockeys’ room.

“I didn’t even have a ride last week, so sitting at home makes you keen to prove a point. But you need to get to the races with your strength [when you waste], so you have to do it right. It was a tough week and riding two miles the first ride of the day isn’t easy but it was worth it.”

It took every bit of Cassidy’s strength to chase down Who Shot Thebarman on Grand Marshal, a champion he has partnered for five wins, all of them in photo finishes.

“He is that sort of horse he knows where the post is,” Cassidy said.

The joy for Cassidy of winning was more than matched by the response of his fellow jockeys. He is the old man of the room but there is not a more respected jockey in the country.

Riders lined up to hugged and shake his hand when he returned after the presentation.

“I have never begrudged anyone winning a group 1 and always try to make a point of congratulating the boys,” Cassidy said.

“But that made it more special, the boys coming up saying ‘good on you Pump’ and I’m not into twitter but I saw what Bossy and Blake Shinn did there. When I think of it I haven’t had that before.”

Cassidy never looks back, however, and knows Saturday will be another test of horse and rider. He won the first group 1 on Dissident in the Randwick Guineas last year and the Sebring entire has gone on to win another three at the top level, two at 1400m, the distance of the All Aged Stakes.

“He probably struggles to get a really strong mile but at seven [furlongs, 1400m] there aren’t that many that can much his strength and acceleration,” Cassidy said. “I rode him work on Friday and gee he felt great. He is fresh and ready to go but he will need to be if they all turn up.”

The All Aged Stakes was left out of The Championships concept but continues to hold its place as one of the best races in the country. The honour roll includes All Too Hard, Hay List and Atlantic Jewel in the past few years.

The star three-year-old Shooting To Win, Scissor Kick and Wandjina, which is the last-start Australian Guineas winner, have all targeted the group 1.

The older brigade, which includes T.J. Smith winner Chautauqua, William Reid Stakes victor Lucky Hussler, Terravista and Rebel Dane, will take the tally of group 1 winners in the All Aged towards double figures.

Cassidy believes all he needs is a dry track for Dissident to cause what many might consider a shock.

“He is a lovely colt to ride but I want the weather gods to be on our side because he is not as effective on wet tracks,” Cassidy said.

“He might not even start on soft or heavy track. I know what this bloke can do and it will take a good one to beat us on the right surface. I have been waiting for this one because I knew it was coming up and I want to make the most of it.”

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

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