Tim Minchin mocks Trump on US TV with Matilda parody

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Tim Minchin will not be getting an invitation to the Trump White House any time soon.
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The n composer and comedian, whose musical Matilda has been a worldwide hit, took aim at the new president and some of his men, and women, in a song on late night American TV.

On The Late Late Show With James Corden, Minchin’s rewritten When I Grow Up, from Matilda, imagined Donald Trump and his associates Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon, as children in the show Donald: The Musical.

The new lyrics did not miss. Minchin, as Trump, sang about how “when I grow up I’ll… ban Muslims, play with Putin’s balls/Grab pussies of a lady grown up” and suggested that, once he repeals Obamacare “if you choose to be sick, you should just suck it up”.

Other lines, sung by Corden and actors Abigail Spencer and Ben Platt, mocked press secretary Spicer, who hopes to grow up to “tell lies, about crowd size”, special adviser Bannon, for being both a Nazi enabler and the brains behind the president, and counsellor Conway, for her willingness to play with “alternative facts”.

Minchin, who is no stranger to provocative material being nominated for an APRA Award next month for a song about Cardinal George Pell and the child abuse royal commission, joked afterwards that he “felt pretty powerful??? and quite stupid” playing the child Trump, while also revealing that his first musical love had been Andrew Lloyd Webber.

With Matilda already a success, Minchin is looking to join the English musical knight as a consistent hit maker with his new musical Groundhog Day, based on the Harold Ramis film.

Groundhog Day opened in London in 2016 and premieres on Broadway in April.

Neither President Trump, nor vice president Mike Pence who famously was addressed from the stage by the cast of the musical Hamilton last year, have been confirmed as attending a performance.

Maybe when they grow up.

Channel Nine finally confirms Gatwick Hotel purchase

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Gatwick Hotel in St Kilda is forced to close down by the government. 6 March 2017. The Age News. Photo: Eddie Jim.Ex resident Nikki Dimovski.Channel Nine has finally confirmed it has bought St Kilda’s notorious Gatwick Hotel for an upcoming season of The Block after several months of rumours and intense speculation.
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Speaking exclusively with Fairfax Media, The Block’s executive producer Julian Cress promised the hit television show would not start production until every single one of the Gatwick’s residents had found new accommodation.

He also said The Block would assist homelessness charities in the wake of the sale, either through cash donations or renovations. Around 30 people living at the Gatwick still need to find alternative accommodation, with owners Yvette Kelly and Rose Banks planning to rehouse a handful of long term residents themselves.

Fairfax Media has been told the purchase was made official on Monday, with the final price in the vicinity of $15 million.

The Gatwick – which has a history of bashings, overdoses and even murder inside its walls – was first advertised for sale in December. Its closure was announced earlier this month, bringing to an end months of uncertainty for people who often turn to the Gatwick as a last resort.

Mr Cress said the Nine Network wasn’t prepared to purchase the building until it was certain its residents could find a new home.

“Everybody who’s been there will get an offer and opportunity to move into better accommodation than they’re used to,” he said.

“I’ve spent a bit of time inside the Gatwick. I’ve met all the residents a couple of months ago. Anybody who’s seen inside there would agree with the [housing] minister Martin Foley, who said that it’s clear the Gatwick is an inappropriate place for people in the first place.”

However, the executive producer did admit he had been scoping out the site for some time. A “couple of years”, in fact.

“The Gatwick is a beautiful building,” he said. “It’s got a lot of character. Unfortunately, it has fallen into disrepair. Internally, it’s really poor – but I think we can do a lot with that. It’s a building that feels like it deserves a new lease on life and like we can do something really special with it.”

Mr Cress swatted aside suggestions The Block – which is currently working on thirteenth season – purchased the Gatwick in order to grab headlines over such a contentious property. Instead, he said the building’s location was the major drawcard.

He also confirmed the Gatwick’s historic facade will remain, but declined to reveal anything more about Channel 9’s plans for the site.

“While there are concerns by various traders and residents at that part of Fitzroy Street, I think that everybody who lives there knows they live in one of the most beautiful parts of Melbourne,” he said. “It’s right by the beach, it’s an outstanding place to live.”

Mr Cress said it was unusual for him to be talking about a future series of The Block given the show’s format revolves around keeping the location a surprise for the contestants. However, concerns about the Gatwick’s closure putting further pressure on Melbourne’s homelessness crisis prompted him to break his silence.

“What we do internally or create as a challenge for the contestants when they arrive [will surprise them],” he said. “I acknowledge there’s a lot of public interest in this.”

This engagement is basically the start of the ultimate fashion dynasty

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Get ready to do some deep Instagram stalking. Bee Shaffer???, the daughter of American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, is engaged to Francesco Carrozzini???, the son of Franca Sozzani???, the late editor of Vogue Italia.
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Can you imagine the Vogue wedding treatment these nuptials are going to get, let alone the guest list?

The announcement was made by Peoplemagazine, with confirmation from Vogue and a fleeting glimpse of the ring on Shaffer’s best friend, Vogue accessories director Selby Drummond’s Instagram story.

The couple made their relationship public last year, when Shaffer, who works as a producer on The Late Show With Seth Meyers, attended a screening of Carrozzini’s documentary about his mother, Franca: Chaos & Creation.

Carrozzini, like Shaffer, doesn’t work in the fashion industry. He works as a film director and photographer and has directed music videos for the likes of Beyonce and Nicki Minaj???.

Franca Sozzani, who died last year at the age of 66 from cancer, was good friends with Anna Wintour. In a tribute to Sozzani, who raised her son alone, Wintour wrote on Vogue苏州夜总会招聘:

“Very recently Franca was the subject of a documentary directed by her son, Francesco Carrozzini:Franca: Chaos and Creation. Being the star of a film made by your son can’t have been effortless or easy. During the course of filming, I am told there were some strong disagreements about the direction the movie was taking. Yet the results are both enchanting and insightful. After all, how could it not be, given Francesco is every bit his mother’s son: two intelligent, cultured, charming, don’t-ever-play-by-the-rule-book characters who brought so much of themselves to this movie.

“Francesco perfectly captures her drive and determination, her fearlessness, her beauty, her wild imagination, and her totally original way of fusing social issues with fashion. He always understood that she was no ordinary mother. But then, Franca was also no ordinary friend.”

It sounds like Carrozzini has the Wintour tick of approval, which you might say will come in handy with a mother-in-law whose nickname is “Nuclear Winter”.

It’s also lucky because Shaffer, who appeared in the 2009 Vogue documentary The September Issue and said of her mother’s industry, “It’s a weird world. I would never want to take it too seriously,” appears to be very close to her mother, often sharing sweet snaps of the two on Instagram. Including this most excellent throwback: Happy birthday mom! Thanks for seeing me through the tough times.A post shared by beeshaffer (@beeshaffer) on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:39am PDTBring your mother to work day!A post shared by beeshaffer (@beeshaffer) on Apr 12, 2016 at 4:13pm

OpinionProbing regional jobs growthAnthea Bill

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JOBS PANEL: Brett Lewis, Ian Richardson, Tony Sansom and Professor Caroline McMillen at the Hunter Economic Breakfast in Newcastle this month.
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The Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre’s latestHunter Region Economic Indicatorstell a positive story of economic recovery in the December 2016 quarter, including a new wave of business and consumer confidence, and the creation of almost 5000 local jobs.

Not only did the rate of jobs growth in the region (1.6 per cent on a three-month moving average) outstrip the State, but our unemployment rate (4.6 per cent) dipped below the NSW rate (5.1 per cent) for the first time in three years.

The latest figures continue a marked recovery in the Hunter’s labour market. From late 2013, with the wind-back in mining investment, Hunter employment fell and unemployment rose. Since March 2015, the Hunter has grown by 11 per cent, more than double the NSW rate (4 per cent) and adding 31,300 jobs. About 60 per cent of the new jobs have been part-time, with more jobs for females over males.

Jobs growth during the upswing was strongest in services, particularly health care and social assistance, professional scientific and technical services, and education and training, all sectors predicted to experience strong jobs growth out to 2020. However, nationally, service sector jobs are increasingly located in capital cities’ CBDs, and attracting and retaining high-productivity service-based firms remains a challenge for the region.

To further probe the Hunter’s jobs growth detail, we asked three leaders to join a panel at the Hunter Economic Breakfast in Newcastle this month.

NSW Department of Industry Office of Regional Development Regional Director Tony Sansom said recent jobs growth in the Hunter was no surprise, given the surge in economic activity in Newcastle.

“The NSW Government is investing in infrastructure, major projects and new industries in the Hunter and will continue to do so,” he said. “We are very collaborative in the Hunter. When industry, government, the University and TAFE all work together, we get some great results.”

Mr Sansom said that the surge in opportunities created by the new Hunter innovation hubs and by incubators like Eighteen04 had helped to retain young people in the region.

Hunter Area Manager for global professional services firm AECOM, Ian Richardson, said that the Hunter’s relative affordability helps to attract skilled workers to the region.

“AECOM focusses on a strong graduate intake to build our team,” he said. “Innovation and collaboration are essential to sustain jobs growth in the Hunter.”

Managing director of The Bloomfield Group Brett Lewis, talked about the effects of the downward pricing of coal on the operations of the Hunter coal industry.

“One of the up-sides has been the need for the industry to look at itself and its processes, which encouraged innovation across everything that we do,” he said. “Innovation is core to the longevity of the coal industry in .”

Mr Lewis saw good prospects for the Hunter’s coal industry and welcomed the recent debate about ’s energy future.

“How much of a part coal plays in the energy mix in the future remains to be seen but we need to have that conversation,” he said. “Our customers in Japan, Taiwan and Korea are still building coal-fired power stations, using new technologies that drastically reduce the negative impacts. They see coal as part of their future energy mix.”

Dr Anthea Bill, Lead Economist, HRF Centre

Turnbull government caves to pressure on childcare and savings package

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Financial Review Business Summit Nick Xenophon. Photo: Louie Douvis
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The Turnbull government has caved to pressure from the Senate crossbench, splitting its childcare reforms from the contentious “omnibus” savings package in a bid to salvage the childcare bill and limited cuts to welfare.

It says about 800,000 families will benefit from the changes to childcare.

The government believes it has secured support for $1.6 billion in savings measures to offset the cost of the childcare reforms, chiefly from resurrecting an old proposal to pause the indexation of the Family Tax Benefit for two years.

The measure will raise $1.38 billion, government sources said. Other savings will be made through a freeze on the means test threshold for other payments, and extending waiting periods for parents and young people seeking welfare.

Other measures from the omnibus savings bill, including contentious cuts to the family tax benefit, will be split off and are unlikely to pass the Senate.

“There will be more work to be done after today, but this is as far as we believe the Senate is going to be prepared to go on this occasion, and that’s what we’re putting forward,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Wednesday morning.

Attorney-General George Brandis, leader of the government in the Senate, also moved to extend sitting hours on Thursday and into Friday in order to pass the bill this week.

The government began the week insisting it wanted to treat the various measures as a package deal in order to fully fund the $1.6 billion childcare reforms that will boost subsidies to low-income families and curb rising childcare costs.

But the plan had been thwarted by crossbenchers including the Nick Xenophon Team, One Nation, Derryn Hinch and Jacqui Lambie, who maintain objections to various parts of the savings package.

The government will use the revised package, stripped of cuts to the Family Tax Benefit, to heap pressure on the Labor opposition to support the bill, which is before the Senate.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham will present modelling showing about 800,000 families will be better off under the childcare reforms, with a family on $80,000 a year benefiting to the tune of about $3400.

Plans to scrap end-of-year family tax benefit supplements now appear doomed after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson told the government on Tuesday night her party would not support the measure. She gave the Turnbull government “less than 24 hours to change their tune”.

The Xenophon trio and Senator Hinch are also reluctant to support that element of the package, while Senator Hinch has demanded childcare subsidies for very high income earners are scrapped or reduced.

Labor has previously indicated it was open to supporting the childcare package if it were separated from the welfare cuts.

“We will vote to improve the deal for child care, absolutely, so long as he drops his cut to family payments,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said on Sunday.

On Wednesday he promised not be “obstinate or bloody-minded” but said he would reserve Labor’s position until the government presented the deal.

The Turnbull government was often “too stupid to know when they’re beat”, Mr Shorten said.

In total, the original omnibus savings bill would have improved the budget bottom line by about $4 billion, once the extra expenditure on childcare was taken into account.

Mr Birmingham on Wednesday said private discussions with the crossbench continued, and he was optimistic the government would try to salvage enough savings to pay for the $1.6 billion childcare package.

“They’re constructive discussions and we’re making good progress,” he said. “We obviously want to make sure these reforms – a $1.6 billion additional investment into childcare and early education – are paid for.

“We are working through to make sure we get an outcome.”

The Turnbull government does not have a majority in the Senate and is thus reliant on the support of the 12 crossbenchers when bills are opposed by Labor and the Greens.

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Taxidermy finds a new following

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Wild life: Images from the n Taxidermy Championships at Lilydale. Picture: Simon Schluter“YOU can’t have teddy bear eyes ona fish. It’s just weird.”
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If you stareddown the barrel of its pea-greensnout,Andrew Xanthoulakis’s trout had red eyes thatdomed out sideways. They’d beenshippedfrom the US.The fish’s demise, months ago, had triggered countless inventories and deadlines.

There were the fins to consider,the spinydorsals and the tail,ruffled chips ofbrown translucence. ThoseAmerican eyes.The faintly submarine-ishbody,shrunken, warped,restored from months of drying.

“And the thing aboutscales is they’reout everywhere,”Xanthoulakis, from Bacchus Marsh, said.

“Unlike fur, you’ve got nowhere to hide. Get the scales wrong and you’ve got two options:throw it outor fix it.”

The third n Taxidermy Championships were held atthe York on Lilydale, a one-storeypokiepalace inMelbourne’s Yarra Valleyoutskirts, wherethecars are flecked with mudand leisure timeis built around animals and recreational machinery.

New breed: Taxidermist Natalie Delaney-John with her common sparrow on a tiny twig at the n Taxidermy Championships this month. Picture: Simon Schluter

On the same weekendafunction centre up the road was hostinga whippet breeders’summit.

Lilydale isone of the fewplacesin with ataxidermy supplies shopand,with a sudden rush of those who might requireaflexiblerabbit ear-lineror a pig jaw-and-tongue set (no tusks), it wasin grand final mode.

In the early afternoon, the n Association of Wildlife Artists opened the doors ofthefunction room tothe public, who fell into a quiet reverence.

The animals, or mounts, had been assembled after painstaking journeys.

Deer had arrived in cargo hold herds,ducks stackedin truckshad nodded through roundabouts, glass-eyedboarhad quiveredatintersections.

Inside, a red fox balanced on a sheet of ironbark in the halogen glow,paw raised in fangy calculation, andtwo more locked sharp,white teeth in silent combat.

Families in matching camouflage inspectedhalf-deer, whole deer,a camel branching upwardin full-throated mid-bray.

There was a marmosetina bonzai tree;aReeve’s pheasant withtailfeathers down to the floor; a brushtail possum in the cleft of a branch, a red berry in its tiny left paw.

There was a fallowdeer withdappled hide somehow suggestive of water;a tawny frogmouth clutchingamouse; alionfish with spines fanned open; a replica orangutan frozen in furrowed resignation.

Xanthoulakis –stubbled, 40s, white Star Wars tee – quietlyagonised over hisfish’s puckeredleftunderfin, but lethimselfbe chuffed with its pale, dimpledunderbellyhe’d donewith terry towelling.

The trout was a full-skin mount, which meant after it dried–“most of this is drying” –Xanthoulakissculpted the plumpness back into its flesh and airbrushed its colours.

The airbrushhad requireda lacquer-based paint, so the fish’s dotty complexionwould “pop”. A water-based paint wouldn’t do.Such are the economies of scale.

Xanthoulakis mentally frisked histrout, suspended from a glass and wooden backdropmid-wriggle,with the air of a mechanic.

Which he was. Alove of fishing lured him outfrom beneath carsandinto the wild,to return withgreatscaly slabs for his freezer.

“The first piece I ever did looked like a sardine out ofa can, but I was absolutely rapt.”

Proud anglers come toXanthoulakis, one of thefew fish taxidermists in , with instructions forkitschyBig Mouth Billy Bass-style wall-mounts, which he tries to talk them out of. He can makesomething better, he tells them. His taxidermy colleaguesare “doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, ditch diggers”.

Through the championship aisles–Novice, Masters, Small Mammal, Reptile –amblednuggety dudes in gun club polos, mud-caked desert boots andtrucker caps.

There were hipsters in busy shirts and black jeans up from Melbourne; some were the competitors.

“See what he’s done with the fins? Must’ve taken f ––– ing ages”.

Natalie Delaney-John –33, blonde-fringed, sleeveless plaid–had won divisional prizes for hermyna bird skeleton (described as a work of “skeletal articulation”)and her sparrow on a twig over a tiny reflectivepond.

“To be completely honest, I finished itlast night,” she said. “It was an all-nighter. Wine and tears got me through.”

Delaney-John hasdevouredtaxidermy lore since the Sunday shefound the skull of a bullat Melbourne’s Camberwell markets.

Finding a mass extinction ofTAFE and universitycourses in taxidermy sincethe 1970s, she started teaching her own.

Delaney-John has scarcely had a vacancy inthree years, and most of her students arewomen older than 50.

“They’re great. Taxidermygets pigeonholed as weird, or all about hunting –and a lot of people do come to it from hunting –but it’s not weird, it’s fucking great,” she said.

“Please don’t make it out to be weird. I can see the humourin, say,a photo of a cat helicopter.But when you see people really doing this, you think, this is the best. And it’s going to keep getting better.”

No one’s pet was mounted in the York onLilydale, but it wasclear thattaxidermy demandsa certain kind of love.

If you’re a taxidermy person you love animals, it was explained, an arguably more honest dutyof care that can meanhunting them, photographing them, perhaps raising them, all while noting the tilt of an ear or thecurl of a lip for the day youskin them.

That doesn’t mesh witha clean, Japanese-garden idea of an animalworld that’s chaotic andsubject to death, sure, but free ofthe sightof skinpeelingfrom flesh, thanks very much.

“Inspiration on a Saturday is wet preserving these amazing deformed baby piglets!” the Facebook page forDelaney-John’s taxidermy school posted.

“It looks like this guy’s brain has grown outside of his [skull emoji].”

In the video, astillborn piglet’s pinkbrain-sac fluttered gently, tissue-thin.

“I need it!” someone wrote.

Before the VictoriantaxidermistDennis Grundy heldthe firstnational titles in the Lilydale Scout Hall in2015, thosewith a use for Critter Clay oralbino mouse eyes had less opportunityto discuss them at length.

Permanentlydisplayed, three dimensionalanimals –oryx andantelopeshotabroad,made rigid for the house guestswith cotton and rags –were items offashioninVictorian England.

But they nevercarried the same currencyinthe n colonies.

There was aworking class sense to keepingpelts andhides, and a trip to themuseummight offer a glimpse ofatiger, orthe mounted headof agreat white shark. But preserving a pet? That was the realm of eccentrics.

Hitherto,most of ’s taxidermyhas splitbetweendisplays innatural history museums and a kind of post-1960s,stuffed-owl kitsch;thestag’sheadin abar draped in theteamcolours.

Taxidermy’s niche-ness as an art, perhaps, explains its reputation as animal“stuffing”. That’s not what it is.

It actually involvesskinning an animal, stretching its hide over a model –mass-produced from polyurethane, or one you’ve sculpted–and sewing it together.

Then it becomes a makeover from the inside out, often demanding the skills of a seamstress, a hairdresser and a sculptor.

Feathers and scales are trickier than fur, it’s widely agreed, but a lumpy moose head still looks funny. No one wants funny.

Handmade or store-boughtparts substitutefor whatcan’t be preserved, such as lips, ears,tongues ortheeyes ofatrout.

Tom Sloane –38, bespectacled,a bit frazzledon the day of the titles–has perhaps set the jaws and shaped the snarls of more native animals than most ns have laid eyes on.

The formerTasmanian Museum and Art Gallery taxidermist, whoworks for himself, is knownfor hisowls, hawks, Tasmanian devils and, in a gaping market gap, platypuses.

“Imake their bills myself. No one sells them.”

Some taxidermists hunt their animals, while othersuse frozen rodentsbred forpet storepythons.

Sloane’s partner Nicole Zehntner –taxidermy’s Tom and Nicole met workingat the museum in Hobart –won atthis year’s titles with hermount of a baby saltwater crocodilefrom a farm in the Northern Territory.

Working on commission for educational displays has madeSloane ago-to taxidermist these days. Among his blue-chip clients: he does work forthe National Parks and Wildlife Service.

His vast taxidermy dominionranges fromoceantosky, his subjects, octopuses to sea eagles.

Themarmoset and its bonzaiwere Sloane’s –both won awards –as was thepheasant, another winner.

Last year, the providence ofalonely deathon a beach in Tasmaniagiftedhim the lithe corpse ofa leopard seal.

When restored,the sealwassnake-likewithsharp whiteteeth, eyes wet and livelyas your own, if only inthe moment you remembered it had been alive.

Wild life: Images from the n Taxidermy Championships at Lilydale. Picture: Tim Connell

Wild life: Images from the n Taxidermy Championships at Lilydale. Picture: Tom Sloane

Cranbrook School student charged with sexually assaulting girl at party

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A 15-year-old private schoolboy has been charged with the aggravated sexual assault of a teenage girl at a party in Sydney’s eastern suburbs this month.
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Detectives charged the former Cranbrook School student on Tuesday, following the alleged assault at the party in Bellevue Hill on March 4.

Police will allege in court that the 15-year-old girl, who also attends a Sydney private school, was unconscious when the boy sexually assaulted her.

The boy’s friend, also aged 15, allegedly filmed the assault on a mobile phone.

The mobile phone footage was then allegedly shared with scores of teenagers in a private Facebook messenger group.

It is understood the girl did not know she had been assaulted until she saw the footage online.

The boy charged with assaulting the girl, and who cannot be named for legal reasons, started studying at Cranbrook School at the end of January, and no longer attends the school.

Teachers at the school reportedly raised the alarm when they became aware of the allegations.

In an email sent to parents on Tuesday afternoon, Cranbrook headmaster Nicholas Sampson said the school would offer support to students who needed it.

“You may be aware of a serious incident that is currently before the courts and has received media attention. This incident did not occur on school grounds,” Mr Sampson wrote.

“As I am sure you will understand, we are not able to disclose further details at this stage, both because this is a police matter concerning a student under the age of 18 and because of our pastoral responsibilities for all our students.

“Should you feel your son requires support, please make contact with the school. We will continue, as always, to support our staff and students. This remains at the heart of what we do.

“As you know we, as a school, always place the highest priority upon the wellbeing of our students and students in other schools.”

The 15-year-old boy who allegedly filmed the assault, and who attends Rose Bay Secondary College, has been charged with filming a person in a private act without consent, producing child abuse material, and disseminating child abuse material.

The boy, who can also not be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared in Bidura Children’s Court in Glebe on Monday.

The boy charged with assaulting the girl was granted police bail and is due to face a children’s court on April 4.

Knights trainer Tony Ayoub was convinced Newcastle fullback Brendan Elliot could play on after a head knock

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By the time Tony Ayoub arrived at the scene of the crime, just past the halfway line on the far side of the ground, Brendan Elliot was already giving answers to questions he hadn’t yet been asked.
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You heard the result of the swinging arm from Souths centre Hymel Hunt before you saw it; an unpleasant crack of forearm on jawbone, the unmistakable siren song of the cheap shot.

But Elliot, the Knights’ fullback, still knew they were playing South Sydney. He knew which half it was. He knew the score. He knew they were in Newcastle.

He started firing out all these answers as Ayoub, the Knights’ on-field trainer, approached him, knowing that if he didn’t know them he’d be coming from the field for a Head Injury Assessment from the doctor.

Players want to stay on the field. That’s what makes them players. But the decision is no longer theirs to make. Not now and especially when it comes to concussion.

Yet Ayoub needed more proof that Elliot was fit to play on.

He has three decades of experience as a physio and trainer, including stints at the Storm, Bulldogs, Roosters and with NSW and .

You suspect he could spot a concussed player from a thousand yards, but as soon as he arrived he had his face about an inch or so from Elliot’s.

Ayoub’s first instruction was for him to stay down. Not to milk a penalty, not to have someone sent off. Just take a breath and a moment to take the panic out of the situation as Ayoub checked Elliot’s jaw and his neck.

Then he asked more questions after Elliot regained his feet. Then he looked for more clues to determine if Elliot should come from the field: glazed eyes, wobbly feet, talking like Jar Jar Binks.

With all those years of experience behind him, all those matches, all those situations, all that time being around footballers and footy and knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, Ayoub was convinced Elliot was healthy enough to keep playing.

And that’s where this whole concussion debate gets funky. Right there, in that moment. It lasts a second or two, but could endin tears, fines, reputations trashed and potential lawsuits. And, most significantly, brain damage.

On Monday afternoon, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg emerged from a lengthy meetingandslapped Newcastle ($100,000), St George Illawarra ($100,000) and the Gold Coast ($150,000) with finesfor breaching concussion protocols.

To some, it was a knee-jerk reaction following two days of bad press.

Inside League Central, they dismiss this claim. Greenberg has repeatedly said the heavy sanctions were about sending a strong message, not stopping the adverse headlines, and we’ll know this weekend how loudly it was heard in club land.

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: any player on the end of any heavy contact from now on will be dragged from the field.

I feel sorry for people such as Ayoub, who are wrongly being accused of either incompetence or recklessly allowing players to do irreparable damage to their brain by allowing them to continue playing.

Ayouband others are having their integrity seriously questioned. They stand accused of being stuck in the 1980s, mindlessly sending players back into the battle in the pursuit of two competition points.

The NRL has probably got him and Newcastle on a technicality at best.

DAZED AND CONFUSED: Brendan Elliot after his second head knock.Tony Ayoub is in the orange shirt.

Under the game’s concussion policy, “the loss of responsiveness, when a player is lying motionless for two to threesecondsor until support staff arrives”, is enough to have him taken from the field.

The armchair critic can watch from home and easily assume Elliot should’ve come off. “He was out cold! We could all see it!” bellowedone talkback host on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, Dr Adrian Cohen, the director of “leading concussion organisation” Headsafe, fired out a media release to reporters quoting himself, applauding the NRL for backing up its own “rhetoric”.

“Clearly the education message is getting through, with commentators and fans alike asking questions about why players are allowed to continue with signs they are obviously concussed,” Cohen breathlessly declared in his release.

Obviouslyconcussed?

They’re dangerous assumptions to make from the safety of the lounge room.Heavy contact does not always mean heavyconcussion.

Indeed, toomuch of the debate about concussion is focused on what’s a “bad look” for the game instead of what is “bad practice” from those placed in positions to protect a player’s health and wellbeing.

Since the NRL introduced concussion guidelines in 2014, the number of players taken from the field for assessment has increased significantly.

In 2014, 155 players were taken off for HIAs. In 2015, it was 210. In 2016, it was 276. Last year, 66 per cent of players were allowed back onto the field, which suggests on-field trainers are erring on the side of caution instead of endangering players.

So far this season, nine players were taken from the field in round one for a HIA. Nine were taken from the field in round two. In round three, there were 16.

One of them was Sione Mata’utia, the Knights player who Ayoub ordered from the field in the second half.

Mata’utia already has some concerning history with concussion and he is only 20. He answered Ayoub’s on-field questions, but the trainer noticed his glazed eyes and sent him from the field for a sideline assessment.

It came at a delicate time for Newcastle, who were already down on players late in the match, including Elliot, who was removed after suffering a concussion in the second half.

It’s the reason why Knights coach Nathan Brown flagged the idea of an 18th man to aid clubs with concussed players. NRL coaches knocked back the idea 18 months ago, a sure sign that they’re suspicious of each other exploiting the free interchange.

Despite what somemight think, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the game that doesn’t treat concussion seriously.

And if you don’t think it’s an important issue, if you think it’s another indication of a game gone soft, consider the recent conversation I had with a former player, who was a forward in the 1980s.

Like all of them back then, he often kept playing despite a heavy concussion early in a game.

“How old are you these days, mate?” I asked, just out of interest.

“I’m 55. How good am I goin’?”

Goin’ good until I checked the records.He’s 52.

Trust issue: Too many discounts hurting Woolworths, Coles

admin | 苏州桑拿会所

Woolworths and Wesfarmers have arguably been outclassed by German discounter Aldi when it comes to private-label products.
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And now the big two supermarkets face a fresh challenge.

Premium private-label products are driving growth in UK supermarkets. Closer to home, Aldi’s premium private-label brand, Aldi Specially Selected, grew by triple digits in the year to August. Woolworths and Coles, by contrast, have focused on their mid-tier private label ranges.

Retail expert Daniel Bone said, “Aldi won the game of mid-tier private label and now has been able to focus its efforts on premium private label, which has been driving growth in the UK.”

“In the battle for foot traffic that’s going on in n grocery, I think private label is an extremely important theme.”

About 12.5 per cent of packaged grocery sold by Woolworths, Coles and independents are private label.

Mr Bone is channel insights manager at market research company IRI. IRI has developed a picture of supermarket sales through the scan data of Woolworths, Coles and independent supermarkets supplied by wholesaler Metcash, and its inhouse Shopper Panel consisting of 10,000 people.

IRI’s research shows that n supermarkets are discounting more frequently, and more deeply.

“In the last two to three years, we’ve seen the reliance on promotions marginally increase year on year,” Mr Bone said.

“We’re looking at around a third of units that are sold in packaged grocery being on a discount of 10 per cent or more. And what was most significant about last [financial] year was the spike in deeper discounts. There was a 31.1 per cent increase in packaged grocery products with a discount of 50 per cent or more.”

Fifty-four per cent of IRI’s shopper panel agreed they were buying what was on special rather than their favourite brand.

The discounting might encourage people into stores and is great news for thrifty shoppers, but Mr Bone said a continual reliance on deep promotional activity was “not necessarily engendering trust.”

“While it creates volume uplift [the supermarket] in the short term, consumers feel frustrated by 100 per cent price cuts and increases and it forces them to do more work than they need to.”

And it has having an effect on the bottom line. Of the 182 categories IRI covers, 57 per cent experienced a price per unit decline, with hair care, confectionery, biscuits, sports drinks, frozen pies and pizza among the most frequently discounted products.

Tobacco and baby products such as formula were among the few products to hike prices.

???The entry of Aldi has helped pave the way for the decline in fortnightly or weekly shopping, Mr Bone said. People are now shopping more frequently, and likely spending less per shop.

“Thats why you’re seeing Woolworths putting more emphasis on its Metro [smaller stores with ‘grab and go’ meals] stores. That is something that’s played out in the UK … Tesco, Sainsbury’s have smaller stores that cater towards the urbanisation of the population. We’re really starting to see that now in , albeit five to 10 years after the UK.”

From a share of grocery trips perspective, Aldi has 12.6 per cent share as at September 2016, he said. Woolworths had 36.7 per cent, Wesfarmers-owned Coles had 35.5 per cent and Metcash-supplied independents had 13.1 per cent.

Eight years ago it was a different story. In 2008, Woolworths had 40 per cent of visits, compared with about 30 per cent for Coles. Aldi and independents had about the same share.

The data also shows that people are shopping across the chains, but they are not loyal to brands either. “We have a select number of brands that matter to us, and shop between those stores to maximise our money,” Mr Bone said.

Mr Bone’s commentary is backed up by ANZ Research. It said “price pressure in supermarkets has been intense and shows no sign of fading. To date, the bulk of the margin compression in the supermarket space has occurred at the wholesale level leaving retail margins above global norms.

“Coles and Woolworths are already feeling the impact of [US retailer] Costco and Aldi. Woolworths has invested $1 billion in cutting prices while Coles has extended its ‘every day pricing’ promise to over 4,000 products. Coles’ average prices have recorded 23 consecutive quarters of deflation.”

Storm warning extended to Sydney as big wet returns

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Commuters have faced a soggy journey home on Tuesday afternoon, with streets flooded and train services cancelled after thunderstorms and heavy rain passed over Sydney.
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Flash flooding inundated major roads in Strathfield, Bexley and the Blue Mountains and residential streets across the city after the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe thunderstorm warning for a wide area of central and eastern NSW, extending to the Sydney Metropolitan region. (See chart below.)

Peter Zmijewski, a senior bureau forecaster, said the storms were likely to continue for the next couple of hours: “There are quite a few cells.”

For the Sydney region, the bureau updated its detailed warning just before 6pm to state that while severe thunderstorms in the warning area had temporarily eased, “further severe thunderstorms are still possible”. Between 5pm and 6pm Marrickville had 33 millimetres of rain, while Richmond had 28mm. In the city, about 10mm fell in the half hour after 5pm, while a range of sites in the south-west including Camden registered more than 20 millimetres this afternoon. The storms are affecting flights in and out of Sydney Airport – which collected 25 millimetres – with delays expected. Lightning strikes at Blacktown caused “major delays” to trains, with services cancelled between Quakers Hill and Riverstone and replacement buses being arranged. Passengers were advised to allow extra travel time on the northern line and western line.”??????” Thunderstorms @SydneyAirport is having an affect on flights this eve… https://t苏州夜场招聘/bYVlvna14C via @S118869pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/E46L8ubNzD??? Aviation Source (@aviationsource) March 21, 2017#WesternLine Bus companies are being contacted to operate a replacement service, no ETA available as yet.https://t苏州夜场招聘/GDkXsR79Pz??? T1 Sydney Trains (@T1SydneyTrains) March 21, 2017Powerful #storm hammers Pittwater and #sydney northern beaches pic @nampix for @smhpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/MBG2wfEYsJ??? Nick Moir (@nampix) March 21,