Archive for June, 2019

A-League: Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard says job not complete

FOCUSED: Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard puts boot to ball at training at Ray Watt Oval on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil

INSPIRATIONALskipper Nigel Boogaard has warned his Jets teammates that the job is not done yet.

The Jets have recorded back-to-back 2-1 wins over Perth and Adelaide to kick start a stalled campaign.

It is the first time this season that they have won consecutive games and has rocketed them from 10th to fifth.

“You definitely have to captilaise on momentum,” Boogaard said.“The biggest thing with this league is that it is so tight, and obviously with the limited number of teams, if you can get on a run for three or four games, you can go from second last to top fourin a matter of weeks. We have things to improve on for next weekend, but ultimately two games in a row and a little bit of momentum coming into Christmas is always good.”

Next for the Jets are a resurgent Wellington Phoenix at McDonald Jones Stadium on Boxing Day.Phoenix sit in eighth spot on 10 points but are only two points behind the Jets.

“There are key games during the year that you mark as ones you have to win to be in and around the top six at the end of the season,” Boogaard said. “For us Wellington at home is a big match. Off the back of two good results, we have to go out there confident that we can get the three points. A win would really set us up for the new year and make sure we are not playing catch-up football in the back half of the season.”

Boogaard, who returned against Adelaide after missing four games with an ankle injury, said a bright start would be crucial against the Phoenix.

“The last two games we have been very proactive, we have been on the front foot from the start and taken it to teams,” he said. “Second half [against Adelaide] we were a little flat and probably let them back in the game. For us it is about starting on the front foot, capitalising on our chances, and if we do that I’m confident we will get a result.”

Boogaard felt “better” for getting through 90 minutes against Adelaide.

Finnish striker Aleksandr Kokko (broken jaw) is in line to return on the bench against the Kiwis, leaving Ben Kantarovski (knee) as the lone injury concern.

Phoenix have beaten Central Coast (3-0) and come from behind to share the points with Wanderers (2-2) since Chris Greenacre and Des Buckinghamtook the reins after the shock resignation of Ernie Merrick.

The new bosses have reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation and given danger men KostaBarbarouses, GuiFinkler,Roy Krishna andRoly Bonevacia more freedom.

“They will come here confident,” Boogaard said. “There is quality there. In every team’s front third there is quality. If we concentrate on one or two individuals, amidfielder will pop up and score a goal or a defender. We will analyse them during the week and know what they are bringing to the table. If we concentrate on what we do – starting well, keeping possession and taking our chances –then we are confident of getting a result.”

Mike ScanlonForgotten raft expedition

SITTING upright on a table, the severely eroded small, round balsawood sculpture immediately grabbed my attention.

This was many years ago. Newcastle Art School students were putting on a public exhibition in Hunter Street West of their work, including paintings and sculptures.

Here, one student had cleverly carved a rough face into a deteriorated, lightweight log end, perhaps 60 centimetres tall. There may have been other similar sculptures also carved from balsawood there, but to me they were nowhere as memorable as the pitted face.

The balsa artwork was recognisable as once being part of an historic timber log raft, or what was left of it, salvaged from a disastrous fire not long before on a nearby Newcastle wharf.

The relics were from the historic balsa log raft named Guayaquil; the lead raft of three from the famous 1973 Las Balsas trans-Pacific expedition.

It had been towed into Newcastle Harbour in December 1973 by a local fisherman after it was abandoned, breaking up after an epic 178-day voyage from Ecuador in South America to Ballina in northern NSW.

Sinking and with a snapped mast, it was thought it would soon disappear. It didn’t though and the empty raft kept drifting south in the currents, moving another 563 kilometres.

The massive raft, made of metre-thick balsa logs, measured 46ft long by 18ft wide in old money, and came with a cabin and big, square sail.

Each of the three balsa rafts, fastened with wooden pegs and sisal ropes, had had four men onboard.

The hazardous voyage was led by its charismatic commander Vitale Alsar. No lives were lost luckily on the expedition that aimed to prove ancient civilisations in America could have once sailed the Pacific in large numbers.

Each raft was built with seven balsa tree logs. These had had to be ‘female’ trees, cut down during the full moon when they had a higher sap content. The belief was the more sap in the log, the less likely it was to become waterlogged.

I was reminded of the Guayaquil voyage only the other day while watching a preview of the 2012 film Kon-Tiki screening on SBS TV on Friday night as part of its current (no pun intended) ‘All at Sea’ movie season.

Back in 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and five others had first sailed the wide Pacific in a balsawood raft, also facing storms and sharks. There is now a museum in Oslo to their heroism.

Heyerdahl is rightly remembered, while the Las Balsas expedition is largely forgotten despite it being acknowledged as the world’s longest known raft expedition.

The Kon-Tiki expedition sailed about 4000 nautical miles to Polynesia, or roughly 5000 nautical miles less than the Las Balsas vessels.

The abandoned Guayaquil raft was salvaged by well-known Newcastle fishermen Kent Bollinger in his trawler Una eight nautical miles north east of Nobbys on December 6, 1973. The tow into Newcastle Harbour took five hours.

And this week Kent Bollinger could still clearly recall the perilous sea tow 43 years earlier.

“It was a very hard tow. We were only doing about 1½ to 2 knots. The raft was hard to tow straight in the ocean, it wanted to go at an angle, to go sideways all the time,” he said.

“It had no rudder and was half submerged and drifting. I brought the raft in because it was a danger to shipping. It had no markings, no navigation lights and was heavy in the water.

“Someone might hit it in the dark. The logs were 75 per cent waterlogged. The ends of the logs were sharpened to slice through the water better.

“If it had struck a boat, it would have sunk it. It was really dangerous left floating out there,” Bollinger said.

“We had to get dangerously close to attach a tow rope as we had to back the trawler up to the raft. Then someone had to get aboard. That was pretty hard, too.

“The logs were all slippery and slimy. I sent my deckhand Bevan onboard to secure the tow.

“That’s him in the photos, sitting or standing on top of the raft hut.

“In port, the raft then went into quarantine up in the BHP channel for a while.

“I would have liked to have got the sextant from onboard, not for any value it might have, but just as a memento for my den, to remind me of the tow. Anyway, I didn’t get it. It was taken away.

“There was other gear onboard, like guitars and personal items, which I wanted to give back. I got nothing out of it, but at least it wasn’t a danger at sea any longer.”

Bollinger thought it only fair that he be compensated for the time and loss of income to save the abandoned craft. The legal wrangle, however, was still unresolved almost 11 months later when the balsa raft Guayaquil was lifted from the water by crane and placed on Throsby No I wharf.

It had been feared the raft might otherwise sink at its moorings. The raft’s balsa logs had by then turned a dark grey. It weighed about 25 tonnes, including three tonnes of water and the underside was covered in thick marine growth.

The raft was left on the wharf to dry out, but it became a haven for vagrants at night. It was still a shock though when fire suddenly destroyed it less than five months later, on March 12, 1975.

Before it had become a blackened pile of timbers, however, the Newcastle Maritime Museum had decided the Guayaquil could not be restored after being in the water for 18 months.

“It was not worth tackling, because it would have been too big a job,” museum president Captain Ken Hopper said at the time, while still hoping a model might be made from log remains.

There was later scuttlebutt Lake Macquarie radio enthusiasts may have eventually got hold of the raft’s salt-encrusted raft radio, which could receive but not transmit messages, but otherwise very few raft relics probably remained.

Meanwhile, unlike what happened in Newcastle, the two other Las Balsas expedition rafts which reached the NSW coast have survived.

They were finally made into one composite raft as a tourist attraction inside the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, as a lasting reminder of one of the world’s most daring sea adventures more than four decades ago.

[email protected]成都夜总会招聘 All at sea: Left drifting after crossing the Pacific Ocean, the Guayaquil is towed into Newcastle Harbour in December 1973.

EARLIER: The balsa raft at sea much earlier with its crew members still onboard.

China on second red alert as smog smothers cities, stops flights, closes roads

Beijing: Hazardous levels of smog covering an area more than twice the size the state of Victoria has blanketed northern China, prompting dozens of cities to issue pollution “red alerts” shutting schools, factories and disrupting flights.

In the year’s worst air pollution episode, more than 200 million citizens across six provinces were experiencing hazardous levels of smog, with a further 260 million experiencing “heavy” pollution, Greenpeace said.

In Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern Hebei province, air quality readings of PM2.5 fine particulate matter soared beyond 1000 micrograms per cubic metre on Monday night, more than 100 times levels the World Health Organisation’s recommended annual average.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said as of Monday evening eight cities had shown Air Quality Index readings that were “beyond index” or above official maximum reading levels of 500, including steel-making cities Handan, in Hebei, and Anyang, in Henan province.

Pollution red alerts are issued in Chinese cities when AQI readings are forecast to exceed 200 for more than four days in succession, 300 for more than two days or 500 for at least 24 hours. The first red alert was announced in Beijing in December last year, in a four-tier system first introduced by Chinese authorities in 2013 amid widening popular anger at the country’s severe air pollution.

Worsening air pollution in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan, triggered calls for a mass protest on social media earlier this month, though they were shut down by police before they began. Guerrilla-style protests had also seen activists place masks on statues in parks and public squares.

There has also been controversy over mooted moves by authorities in Beijing and Shanghai to classify smog as a meteorological phenomenon, prompting concerns it was an effort from authorities to shirk accountability.

The cities experiencing the most severe pollution are all among China’s largest steel or coal industry clusters, which have recently experienced a major rise in production driven by “retrograde stimulus policies”, Greenpeace said.

“The scale of the red alert measures show that the Chinese government is taking air pollution seriously,” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Dong Liansai.

“However, the ongoing ‘airpocalpyse’ is further evidence that China must implement far stricter limitations on coal consumption and accelerate the restructuring of the economy away from the heavily polluting sectors.”

In Beijing, where a pollution red alert has been in place since last Friday, air quality index readings hovered neared 400 since Monday despite strict measures closing schools, factories and polluting industries, while ordering half the city’s traffic off the roads. At least 181 flights were cancelled at the capital’s major airports, with sections of a major ring road closed due to poor visibility.

LG V20 review: master of some very specific trades

The V20 is a huge phone with a lot of features. Photo: LG As this image suggests, the combination of the V20’s camera, second screen and Hi-Fi credentials would make it ideal for recording a rock show, if that’s something you do a lot with your phone. Photo: LG

Coming in at the very tail-end of the year, LG’s V20 might be the most feature-packed phone of 2016. It looks pretty weird and it’s arguable how much utility you’ll get out of some of its marquee gimmicks, but the chances are that if you’re looking for an Android phone with a specific feature the V20 has it.

A 5.7-inch screen makes this one big phone — which could be enticing for anyone wishing Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 had stuck around — but the most striking aspects of the handset on first glance are the tiny always-on display that sits above the main screen on the front, and the complicated array of camera gear on the back.

Audiophiles will find that the phone’s sound is driven by a Quad-HD DAC provided through a partnership between LG and B&O, while those concerned about longevity will appreciate a feature that’s become a true rarity these days — a removable battery.

Throwing all these headline features together with most of the other bits and pieces you expect from a modern flagship, LG’s latest is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster. But does it pull it all off? Hardware

The V20 is the best-looking handset LG has put out for a while. It’s not as interesting as the curvy, leather-clad G4 but miles ahead of the janky G5. Though the screen is huge, the bezels above and below are minuscule, and paired with a convex metallic back this makes the whole thing surprisingly comfy to hold and use.

Speaking of the G5, fans of that phone will recognise the combo camera array on the rear. Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, this is not for zoomed pics but instead to give users the choice between a regular wide-angle shooter and a weird super-wide one. The latter captures much more of the scene in front of you, so you can get nice wide shots without having to take a step back. But, while it’s a neat trick not seen in many other phones, I didn’t find it all that useful.

For one thing, images taken in super-wide mode are a lot harder to frame, especially since being anywhere near glary lights or the sun will make weird for artifacts. More problematic is that anything toward the edges of the frame gets a fish-eye warp. Add the fact that the super-wide lens captures a much less detailed image than the regular one (8MP v 16MP), and I almost always preferred the traditional camera. For selfies, the V20 has a fairly unremarkable 5MP camera.

An image taken in super-wide, on top of an image taken with the regular camera. The wide format certainly gets more in the frame, but at the cost of detail and perspective.

The other big feature is the secondary display, which allows you to see the time or your incoming notifications at a glance. This is a touchscreen, so you can also interact with your phone somewhat without having to unlock the screen. In essence it’s a bit like a smartwatch. Your phone buzzes and you see the notification run across the top so you can read it. Swipe left and you get quick controls like the torch, a Wi-Fi switch or whatever else you like, swipe right for media playback controls. Some apps, like LG’s stock camera app, will even extend to the second screen for additional options.

It’s a great feature and works flawlessly, but the issue again is how useful it is. Using quick options or seeing text messages without turning on the phone is great (especially for two-factor authentication codes), but beyond that I didn’t really use it. Those who have their phone on their desk all day and don’t have a watch might feel differently.

Elsewhere this is your standard high-end Android. A Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM drive pixels to the perfectly nice Quad HD LCD, the back-mounted fingerprint scanner is nice and quick and a microSD card slot gives you expandable storage up to 256GB. As an unfortunate consequence of the removable battery (which is definitely big enough to get you through the day, by the way), the V20 is not water resistant. Software

The V20 runs the latest Android 7.0, which is great, but I just can’t come around to the bright, busy “UX 5.0” skin LG slaps over the top. The colours and icons are crazy, the frosted effect on some of the widgets is weird, and worst of all the menus and default apps are filled with completely superfluous descriptive text and other details. It’s a very showy, very Korean take on Nougat I’m sure many will be perfectly fine with, but it clashes hard with a lot of Google’s own stuff and makes me a bit cross eyed.

The other issue you may come across at first is that this new version of UX ditches the app drawer by default, laying all your phone’s apps on home screens iPhone-style. This can be changed if you dig through the settings, though.

The size of the screen makes switching to Google’s Now launcher a bit wasteful, as you’ll only end up with a handful of huge apps on each home screen, but after some tweaking I was happy enough with LG’s take, even if I never got used to some unchangeable aspects of the design.

Home screens, from left: straight out of the box; with Google Now installed, with LG’s UX 5.0 after some tweaking.

The good news is that many of the stock apps are very good and take specific advantage of the V20’s hardware. This includes an impressive HD audio recorder, a programmer for the phone’s IR blaster so it can replace your remote controls and probably the most comprehensive stock camera app I’ve ever used. From filters and grids to options for shooting in RAW, it pretty much has it all. Should I get one?

It’s clear LG is aiming at creative types and those who need their phone to do something more specialised than just make calls, play games and browse the internet and social media — and in the process it provides many features other phones don’t have — but unless any of its efforts specifically appeal to you it might be a hard sell.

It’s a great phone for photography, but its signature super-wide lens is iffy. The secondary screen is brilliant, but only for very specific circumstances. The audio equipment is crazy good for a smartphone, and the software makes good use of it, but if you’re not an audiophile or someone who needs to record crystal clear speech you may not care.

For most people it’s probably the huge screen that sets it most apart from its high-end 2016 competition, as it’s bigger than both the Pixel and Pixel XL, Sony’s Xperia XZ and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. If a really good phone with the biggest screen possible is what you want, this one’s for you.

Yet while the $1099 V20 is comparable to the others performance-wise and beats them outright in several niche areas, for me it’s beaten by the best of the best in some fundamental areas including design, comfort, and ease-of-use.

Hunter Valley’s pain could be Victoria’s gain as mining row creates uncertainty

Godolphin training facilities in the Hunter Valley. Photo: supplied’s world-renowned Hunter Valley thoroughbred region has been an industry leader for decades, with some of the world’s leading racing operations, headed by Sheik Mohammed’s Godolphin, Irish giants Coolmore and local flagship breeders such as Arrowfield making multimillion-dollar investments in regional NSW.

But the leading stud farms, having fought off several attempts by mining companies to expand their operations in the past 10 years, are worried once again. They fear that fresh pressure to approve planning permission for a new open-cast project at Drayton South could be the beginning of the end for an industry that is synonymous with ‘s multibillion-dollar racing and bloodstock sector.

Already the Victorian breeding industry, which has long played second fiddle to the NSW giants, is capitalising on a lack of certainty over planning decisions and has succeeded in attracting Chinese, American and Middle Eastern investment and patronage.

And if the worst fears of leading NSW studmasters are realised, the industry south of the Murray could be in for significant growth in a region where there are few resource industry or environmental issues looming as a block on growth and development.

Mining company Anglo American has been knocked back on several occasions in its bid to gain approval to move from the exploration stage at its mine at Drayton South.

The resource major’s holding borders Godolphin’s Woodlands Stud and Coolmore’s vast acreage at Jerry’s Plains, two locations where  leading stallions such as Exceed and Excel, Medaglio D’Oro, Lonhro, Fastnet Rock, So You Think  and Cox Plate winner Adelaide are based.

But the miner is pressing on with its bid to begin production at the site, a prospect that has sparked fury in the normally bucolic valley.

A decision on yet another proposal, which has gone to planning appeal, is expected soon. The miner has produced specialist evidence in which it argues that the claims of the bloodstock industry about noise and air pollution and environmental impact on neighbouring farms has been overstated.

The appeal has created a political storm, pitting advocates of industrial development against those who champion a traditional industry which, its supporters say, is being destabilised by the lack of certainty surrounding its future.

The breeding industry fears that if Drayton South gets the go-ahead it will be the trigger for further mining expansion throughout the valley, with a wave of new capacity coming onstream that will provide huge environmental problems for thehorse industry .

They have already warned that in a doomsday scenario it could trigger a wave of closures and relocations to Victoria, Queensland, New Zealand, or even further overseas.

While there have been reports suggesting the NSW government will back the breeding industry and stymie the miners’ plans, Planning Minister Rob Stokes has been quick to say that the government has yet to make a decision.

“The proposal for the Drayton South coal project is before the independent Planning Assessment Commission for determination. The government has not made any decisions in response to a determination as no determination has been made … there has been no change in government policy and any suggestions to the contrary are incorrect,” Stokes said last week.

In any high-stakes argument of this nature, emotions run high and claims can be exaggerated, but the horsemen are all clear on one thing: the uncertainty surrounding the future industrial conditions in the region are having a negative impact on nvestment plans and threaten its future.

Henry Plumptre is the managing director of Godolphin , whose Woodlands and Kelvinside studs are in the affected region. The royal blue Godolphin colours are a familiar site on ‘s racetracks, although the company’s breeding operations trade under the Darley name.

Plumptre pulls few punches when asked about the gravity of the situation.

“The NSW planning system is inequitable. There is no certainty and no planning. There is no leadership and no vision. Mining companies are allowed to put up countless applications and communities are stripped of their appeal rights. Those who challenge the system face death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

“There is too much uncertainty in the Hunter due to the land-use conflict between mining and agriculture.

“Government inactivity to follow through on commitments to protect its iconic agricultural industries hasn’t helped.

“The uncertainty is now jeopardising our future, works against diversity of industry, and is discouraging new investment. It is putting at risk thousands of sustainable jobs and prospects for future growth. All for short-term gains with no long-term vision.”

Some will scoff and say this is a fight between those who favour jobs for industrial workers and those who want to protect a boutique industry run by and for the benefit of very rich men indulging their hobby.

But that ignores the cultural contribution that the horse, and Hunter horsemen, have made to n history and the lucrative revenues the Hunter, also a noted wine-producing region, generates through tourism.

The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association say that the uncertainty is already seeing new bloodstock players ignore what was traditionally the go-to place in when big investors wanted to set up a new stud. They are looking favourably at other states – or not investing at all.

The Chinese Yulong group has invested in a farm near Pakenham in Victoria and, according to Thoroughbred Breeders’ Victoria executive officer Patrick Clancy, has spent north of $10 million on land and breeding stock, and plans to up its commitment.

Victoria has also benefited from American and Qatari investment at the expense of the Hunter.

Spendthrift Farms, the giant US breeding operation with its main base in Lexington, Kentucky, moved into the Victorian market last year when it bought Yallambie Stud, at Romsey, its first foray into the n market. The venture will include breeding, racing, stallions, and buying and selling in the local sales market.

Some of the biggest spenders in the racing and bloodstock world in recent years have been the Al Thani family, the rulers of Qatar.

Sheikh Fahad made his first splash in when his galloper Dunaden won the Melbourne Cup. He now has mares in Victoria, at Stonehouse Thoroughbreds, near Maldon.

His cousin, Sheik Johann – who owned dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Treve – has also got a toehold in the Victorian industry with his shuttle stallion Toronado being employed at Swettenham Stud, Nagambie.

The Goulburn River town is also the location for Godolphin’s Victorian operation, at which promising young stallions Brazen Beau and Helmet are standing. While Plumptre doesn’t say that his company would shut down its Hunter operation and relocate overnight, the fact there is an alternative is a positive option for Godolphin/Darley.

“The uncertainty in the Hunter Valley has already resulted in increased international investment and growth in Victoria,” TBV’s Clancy said.

“We would anticipate that this will continue while the mining industry continues to loom as a major issue for the NSW breeding industry.”

Cameron Collins is president of the HTBA and also the managing director of the Scone Equine Hospital.

“If the Drayton South mining was to go ahead then you would threaten the viability of Coolmore and Darley in the Hunter Valley and therefore have a trickle down effect on the rest of the industry,” he said.

“The Hunter’s industry has developed over 150 years. You have got a lot of intellectual property, skills, equipment, and knowledge that couldn’t be picked up and moved immediately. You are talking about dismantling an existing industry which would then take 30-40-50 years to rebuild.

“If these guys go, then you start to dismantle the Hunter industry. Potentially the cost would be enormous.”

Collins knows first-hand the benefits of having a successful industry cluster.

His Scone veterinary business is the largest practice in the southern hemisphere and has been able to capitalise on its proximity to the nation’s best-known studs to attract high-calibre staff.

“To lose the core assets of the industry would have an enormous effect on our business. We contribute to equine research around the country and around the world. If you suddenly don’t have those veterinarians working here, or take away a reason for them to be here, the n industry will run the risk of losing them.

“We’re talking $500 million per annum, $2 billion to the state and $5 billion to the country in breeding and racing. It’s not an insignificant industry, and the advantage we have is that it’s a sustainable industry, one that is long-lasting and renewable.

“It’s not just the input it makes to the state’s economy and employment for 20 years, which might be the life of a coal mine. This has been going for 150 years and it can go for another 150 years if it’s allowed.

“I don’t think we have seen a major new farm invest and build in the Hunter in the last six or seven years. It’s the same in my own business.

“We have a state-of-the-art hospital which has been designed down to the shape of the doorknobs and the colour of the doors, but we have not proceeded with it. It’s been on hold now for six years.”

So in an ideal world, what would the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association like to see happen?

“The first step will be a rejection of this particular application to mine at Drayton South,” Collins said.

“We see the next step as being the state government putting a state environmental plan on the location so nobody else can mine that site, whether it’s the current or future owners.

“The next step is for the government to actually recognise that the critical industry cluster that is the Hunter Valley breeding industry needs to be protected with buffers around it.

“Until we get to that third step the industry has a lot of uncertainty to deal with.”

*Michael Lynch travelled to NSW to hear the arguments about the mining sector and the thoroughbred industry as a guest of Godolphin and the Hunter Valley Breeders Association.