TAKE-OFF: The nurses’ union has backed John Hunter Hospital in a dispute with paramedics on the Westpac rescue helicopter, raising the disagreement to a new level. Picture: Max Mason-HubersRELATED: Rescue chopper hits turbulence over hospital rule
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THE nurses’ union has sided with John Hunter Hospital management in a dispute with paramedics on the Westpac rescue helicopter.

It comes after the Newcastle Herald reported the Health Services Union was pushing for Hunter New England Health to change its policies to allow paramedics to transfer patients between hospitals, known as secondary missions.

The HSU said John Hunter’s long-standing protocol had led to lengthy delays in responding to emergencies.

It wants the helicopter’s paramedics to perform both types of missions, but the hospital has resisted changing the decades-old rule, citing the “unique” medical demands of the health district.

It also cited the need to have the “best-equipped” medical staff for the inter-hospital transfer of critical patients.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association said on Thursdayclaims the rescue chopper’s two-tier structure was risking lives was an insult.

‘We depend, as do many outlying areas throughout Newcastle, on the helicopter to respond in the matter that they want to as quickly as possible’: Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.

“The assertion by the HSU that lives are being put at risk …is insulting to the hardworking and highly skilled nurses and doctors who coordinate these call outs,” acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.

“Doctor and nurse teams in the Retrieval Service are specifically trained in equipment, treatments and procedures that patients require, including complex ventilations, neurosurgical interventions, complex medication regimes, paediatric high-flow oxygen and non-invasive ventilations, which are not part of a paramedic’s standing protocols.”

However, Port Stephens MP and Labor’s Hunter spokeswoman Kate Washington said it “made no sense” for HNEH to applyinconsistent policies in the same health district, noting thatparamedics perform patient transfers on the Tamworth rescue chopper.

“Why should we be any different,” she asked.

“I have heard they can have an additional 45 minutes turnaround to change the chopper from hospital retrieval to a rescue.

“That puts lives at risk.

“We depend, as do many outlying areas throughout Newcastle, on the helicopter to respond in the matter that they want to as quickly as possible.”

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen echoed the concerns of paramedics, stressing that the Belmont-based rescue helicopter was “extremely important” to ruralcommunities.

“It is not practical to have such rigid guidelines for such an area,” Mr Johnsen said.

However, Ms Kiejda said it was precisely because of the region’s size that the rescue chopper maintained the nursing crew for secondary transfers.

“John Hunter Hospital is the only tertiary referral centre for adults and paediatric patients in this vast area,” she said.

“Therefore, when transferring these critical care patients, these doctor-nurse teams become a mobile intensive care unit, providing a unique skill set.”

Ms Kiejda added: “By utilising two different types of crews, response times have improved as both the doctor-nurse teams and the doctor-paramedic teams can be deployed simultaneously to different situations.

“In addition, if the Rescue Helicopter Service is already deployed, there are other helicopters in Sydney, Tamworth and Lismore that can be deployed.”

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There have been so many fine books published in the past year, it is almost impossible to recommend only 10 for holiday reading. And if these don’t tickle your fancy, you might try new novels by Michelle de Kretser, Sofie Laguna, or Richard Flanagan. Then of course there’s … too many to mention.
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Challenging, original, ventriloquial, engaging, audacious and, ultimately, deeply compassionate, Saunders’ novel deservedly won the Man Booker prize. Lincoln in the Bardo is set in the world between death and the afterlife, a Buddhist limbo, before the dead finally proceed elsewhere. Abraham Lincoln, stricken with grief at the death of his son Willie, visits the crypt to sit with his body. Narrated by a multitude of voices, a sort of ghostly chorus, it does take a while to get used to Saunders’ imaginative form but once you do – trust me, you will – you’ll be richly rewarded. Lincoln in the Bardo.” src=”http://梧桐夜网smh南京夜网419论坛/content/dam/images/g/w/b/d/y/w/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1508981105462.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

George Saunders won the Man Booker prize with Lincoln in the Bardo. Photo: Janie Barrett


A fascinating picture of George Orwell as he battles tuberculosis and struggles to finish Nineteen Eighty-Four. Going back and forth in time, Glover gives us Orwell in Barcelona, Wigan, literary London and the isle of Jura and lets us see the ingredients – emotional, personal, and political – that went into his masterpiece. Dennis Glover presents Orwell as intellectually honest and dismayed at the flaws of the world and writes in appropriately crystal-clear Orwellian prose.


Her earlier novel set in the lead-up to Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones, was a gem, and her memoir of lives lost, Men We Reaped, masterly. This novel about race, ghosts, the dark history of the Deep South and family lives that could go terribly wrong is a stunner. Leonie takes her children, JoJo and Kayla, to pick up their white father when he is released from jail. But there’s another presence in the car who wants the truth about what happened years earlier in the prison. Ward won her second National Book Award for this powerful and moving novel.

Jesmyn Ward in DeLisle, Mississippi where she grew up. Photo: James Patterson/New York Times


Another novel with a road trip at its heart. The two-time Booker winner is in effervescent form as Irene and Titch Bobs, along with their navigator Willie Bachhuber, embark on the Redex Round Australia Reliability Trial in the early 1950s. But there are discoveries to be made along the way about the country and its dark past and the hidden background of at least one of the major characters. Carey excels in this fizzing, darkly comic novel that addresses white Australia’s relations with the Indigenous population while rattling from Bacchus Marsh to Broome and back with plenty of diversions along the way.

Two-time Booker winner Peter Carey. Photo: Steven Siewert


This is an astonishing story of murder, conspiracy, cover up, a dogged investigation and the early days of the FBI. New Yorker writer David Grann, who wrote The Lost City of Z, digs and digs into the mysterious deaths of members of the Osage nation, who in the early 20th century were, per capita, the richest people in the world thanks to headrights to minerals discovered under their Oklahoma land. Much of the book deals with what is already on the historical record but Grann’s additional research and conclusions are truly breathtaking. An appalling, brilliantly told story from the last days of the old west that is now being adapted for a Martin Scorsese film.


The first surprising thing about this follow-up to the technically audacious Visit from the Goon Squad is that it is really quite a conventional historical novel, albeit with an added touch of noir. But it’s a novel that intrigues with its mix of characters and time settings. Anna becomes a diver in the Manhattan naval yards during World War II. Years earlier her father disappeared after an encounter with the enigmatic gangster Dexter Styles and soon she falls into his orbit. As you would expect from Egan, it’s a remarkably assured novel peopled by characters who seem on the cusp of new lives in a world that has plunged into flux. Manhattan Beach is an intriguing historical novel.” src=”http://梧桐夜网smh南京夜网419论坛/content/dam/images/h/0/b/i/8/z/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1514535804224.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach is an intriguing historical novel. Photo: Pieter Van Hattem


Maryanne decides to go back to her husband Roy, giving him one last chance. The couple and their two children, Freya and Daniel, move to Newcastle where Roy has bought a run-down terrace house to restore. Can he restore the family though? Michael Sala’s second novel is a scrupulously written, scarifying story of impending tragedy, which is to give nothing away. Narrated largely from the points of view of Maryanne and Freya, it’s a picture of domestic tension, violence and disintegration. Worth reading in concert with Sala’s first novel, The Last Thread, which is virtually a memoir of his early life.

RELEASE Patrick Ness

This American author of YA fiction is best known for A Monster Calls, but this is perhaps his most personal book, the sort of book he would have reportedly liked when he was in much the same situation as his protagonist. Release is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and relates the intense events in a single day in the life of Adam, who is yet to come out, has already loved and lost, is now falling in love with Linus. It’s frank about sex and the difficulties Adam has negotiating adolescent life in a conservative family in a small US town.

HOME FIREKamila Shamsie

While this might be a reimagining of the classical Greek myth of Antigone and her brother Polynices, Kamila Shamsie’s novel about two British muslim families whose fates become dramatically entwined under the cloud of global geopolitics is bang up to date. At its heart lies the tricky problem facing western democracies: how to deal with jihadis who want to return home. It is also about how the decisions of fathers can impact so significantly on their children. Shamsie crafts a riveting novel and ratchets up the tension towards an ending that will leave you gasping. Home Fire.” src=”http://梧桐夜网smh南京夜网419论坛/content/dam/images/g/y/j/r/k/b/image.imgtype.articleLeadwide.620×349.png/1514536005116.png” title=”” width=”100%”>

Kamila Shamsie ratchets up the tension in Home Fire. Photo: Zain Mustafa

EXIT WESTMohsin Hamid

This fable-like novel follows the lives of two lovers, Saeed and Nadia, as they flee their unidentified home country – it seems to be in the Middle East – in the face of increasing violence and tyranny for uncertain futures in a fragile world. The couple move through mysterious doors – shades of C.S. Lewis and Narnia – that catapult them into new countries and new struggles to survive. It’s a short book that punches significantly above its weight and the future it describes seems only round the corner.

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LDV Comanche is the new line honours winner of the Sydney to Hobart after successfully protesting against Wild Oats XI after a near collision between the two yachts just outside Sydney Heads on Boxing Day.
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Wild Oats XI was penalised an hour for the infringement, enough to wipe away the 26 minutes and 34 second winning margin it had when it crossed the finish line on Wednesday evening.

A protest hearing, lasting more than three hours, decided the 73rd Sydney to Hobart and denies Wild Oats XI a ninth line honours win.

The result of the protest voids Wild Oats XI’s race record which goes to LDV Comanche in a time of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.

The five-person international jury took witness testimony from LDV Comanche owner Jim Cooney and navigator Stan Honey, Wild Oats XI navigator Ian Burns and tactician Ian Murray.

They found Wild Oats XI was at fault for the near collision and failed to keep clear of LDV Comanche while tacking. Both boats were on a beat to windward between seamarks V and Z just outside Sydney Heads.

Wild Oats XI had the option to do a 720 degree penalty turn in the aftermath after LDV Comanche had raised a red protest flag, but decided against taking the manoeuvre.

“I’m thrilled to be installed as the line honours winner, it’s something we’ve worked so hard for,” Cooney said after the hearing. “It’s always a bit of a shame that it may happen in these circumstances. Both boats sailed a fantastically good race, it was a close fought race all the way.

“The jury’s decided that very clearly there was an infringement. When things come down to the wire so closely like that I think it’s only fair and reasonable that the jury acted the way they did. The boats have to be conducted responsibly and with fair respect to the conditions and the impact that your manoeuvres might have and I felt very strongly that wasn’t the case on Tuesday.”

LDV Comanche had led for most of the race but was overhauled by Wild Oats XI just south of Opossum Bay on Wednesday night and finished more than 26 minutes adrift.

“We’re very disappointed but we’re also good sports and we’ll have to take this one on the chin,” skipper Mark Richards said. “At the end of the day it’s a yacht race, has someone been run over or told you’ve got cancer, no, it’s a yacht race.

“We are very disappointed but I can see the jury’s point of view. They saw the incident the way they saw it, we saw it a bit differently.”

It is the third time in the race’s history that a line honours winner has been penalised post race and subsequently lost first position.

Nirvana came first in 1983 but ran into Condor in the Derwent River, pushing her rival yacht aground. The race was taken from Nirvana and awarded to Condor. Then, seven years later, British boat Rothmans claimed line honours but had flagrantly been advertising the cigarette brand on her spinnaker throughout the race, in contravention of race rules. She was penalised and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin was handed the line honours win.

The crew aboard Wild Oats XI celebrated on Wednesday night after arriving in Hobart having thought they’d ended a three-year run without victory, but their misfortune has continued for another year.

Twelve months ago the boat retired with a hydraulics issue and in 2015 they shredded their mainsail. The boat was also struck by lightning while docked in the lead up to this year’s event, damaging key navigation equipment.

Meanwhile, the prize for handicap honours looks like going to Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, who was ahead on the overall standings late on Thursday. Ichi Ban sat more than 20 minutes ahead of Bob Steel’s Quest, who had looked like claiming handicap honours as the fleet tore down Australia’s east coast.

However, Ichi Ban crossed the finish line ahead of Quest, Hollywood Boulevard and Mascalzone Latino on Thursday morning after negotiating the Derwent less than 12 hours after Wild Oats XI was first past the post.

“Matt [Allen] deserves to win – it’s his 28th Hobart,” Steel said. “I’ve had my share, so I am jubilantly disappointed for us but happy for Matt.”

Steel’s crew endured a bumpy ride down to Hobart, despite the spectacular downwind weather conditions which allowed the first five yachts across the line to finish faster that Perpetual Loyal’s race record set last year.

Sailing master Mike Green fell heavily into the port wheel, which was broken in the process, while a number of crew fell through the deck rail, fortunately still tethered to the boat.

“People think running [downwind] is easy, but it isn’t, there’s a lot of pressure on the boat and the crew,” Steel said. “It’s a short race, but a challenging one. You have to work constantly, to keep the boat moving, keep your spinnaker flying without damaging it.”

Just five boats have been forced to retire from this year’s race. Blunderbuss pulled out on Thursday morning with a broken boom while Imalizard’s race ended when she dismasted. They joined Rockall, Jazz Player and Wots Next on this year’s casualty list.

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A woman has died in a crash on the Hume Highway on Thursday morning.
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The 72-year-old woman was driving a van south of Gunning about 9am when it collided with a truck travelling in the same direction.

Her death takes the official holiday road toll to 21, after a tragic few days on NSW roads.

Sisters Annabelle Falkholt, 21, and actress Jessica Falkholt, 28, are still fighting for life after their parents and another man were killed in a fiery crash on Boxing Day.

The sisters were pulled to safety before the cars went up in flames after the head-on collision on the Princes Highway. One sister was taken to Liverpool Hospital, and the other was sent to St George where they remain in a critical condition.

A 72-year-old woman has died after her van and a truck collided south of Gunning on the Hume Highway on Thursday. Photo: Baz Ruddick

That crash was one of many that has occurred since the Operation Safe Arrival was launched on December 16.

Charges have also been laid over a fatal crash in the Central Tablelands.

A BMW sedan and a taxi van collided about 10.45pm in Walcha. The 25-year-old front seat passenger of the car died at the scene, while the driver and the passenger of the taxi were both taken to hospital.

The driver of the BMW has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning death, and two counts of cause bodily harm by misconduct while driving a vehicle.

The deaths of a two-year-old who was hit by a reversing car in Campsie and a pedestrian who was struck by a car in Bonnyrigg were also not included in the official road toll as the deaths were on private property. The death of a 23-year-old woman at Peak Hill has also been removed from the official toll.

The toll is almost triple the same period last year, and on Wednesday Chief Inspector Phil Brooks said many families had been directly impacted by road trauma during the holiday period.

“Everyone who has been on our roads leaves home in the hope they can get back there [or] to their destination,” he said.

About half the deaths were the result of a vehicle leaving the road and crashing into a tree or power pole, while others were caused by head-on collisions, the Chief Inspector said.

“Those families will no doubt be feeling the pain and suffering of losing a loved one this close to Christmas.”

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BLAZE: A fire rips through the industrial arts block at Hunter Sports High School at Gateshead on Wednesday night. Police are investigating the cause of the inferno. Picture: Michael Bell/Merewether fire stationPOLICE have not ruled out suspicious circumstances as the cause for a fire that destroyed a block of classrooms at Hunter Sports High School on Wednesday night.
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More than 50 firefighters raced to the Gateshead school shortly after 11pm.

But the single-storey building was already well-alight when firefighters arrived, sending a thick plume of smoke overLake Macquarie.

There were existing plans for the building to be demolished as part of the school’s $45 million redevelopment, but the damage bill was still estimated to be half a million dollars.

Firefighters brought the fire under control in about two hours after some initial difficulty in sourcing a water supply.

PrincipalRachel Byrne saidthe fire wiped out five industrial arts classrooms and a storeroom, which were still in use.

She said the building also housed expensive industrial arts equipment.

The school made contact with the Department of Education on Thursday and confirmed industrial arts classes would take place in demountable buildings in the new year, which were being arranged to replace the fire-ravaged building.

The new industrial arts block is expected to open late next year.

Firefighters were still on the scene on Thursday to guard against potential spot fires.

And security guards attached to the construction site remained on site.

Police said the cause for the fire was still undetermined, not yet rulingout suspicious circumstances, if only because the investigation had thus far failed to show otherwise.Authorities appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

“Our investigation is still ongoing and we are chasing any information from the public as to how it occurred,” Lake Macquarie police Inspector SteveGallagher said.

“We would encourage anyone who can assist to come forward.”

The fire comes amid a substantial state government investment to rebuild the school.

At a site tour of the construction site in November, Education Minister Rob Stokes hailed the redevelopment as one of the biggest school upgrades in the state.

Mr Stokes said the reconstructionwas“a case study in complexity” and challenging for planners.

“Trying to keep a school operating in situ at the same time as building around it and all of the work place health and safety issues that need to be managed, it’s a case study in complexity and … an incredible logistical challenge,” he said.

The school moved to reassure parents classes would resume as normal at the end ofholidays.

Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Fireworks crackdown ahead of New Year’s Eve CRACKDOWN: The 150kgs of fireworks seized in Sydney earlier this week. Picture: Supplied.
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TweetFacebookHunter fireworks’ enthusiasts are being advised of the dangers and illegality of the unapproved use of pyrotechnics on New Year’s Eve.

SafeWork NSW are encouranging people to stick to attending compliant and official displays, of which 211 have been approved across the state.

A fine of up to $27,500 and 12 months jail awaits anyone caught selling, purchasing or letting off fireworks without a licence.

Authorities seized close to 150kgs of fireworks from a property in Sydney’s north in recent days and initial inquries suggested they were going to be sold or used illegally.

Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean said the products are now being held while investigations continue.

“However, it serves as a timely warning for anyone using fireworks; these items are not toys,” Mr Kean said.

“In the wrong hands they can be very dangerous and capable of causing horrific injuries, including burns, loss of limbs, or even death.”

Last New Year’s Eve, a 52-year-old man tradgically lost his life after being hit in the head by an illegal firework on the state’s Central Coast.

Read more:Tributes flow for Barry ‘Baz’ Walsh, killed in New Year’s Eve fireworks accident

“That’s why fireworks should only be set off by trained and licensed individuals who know how to manage the risks and ensure everyone’s safety,” Mr Kean said.

“We want New Year’s Eve to be memorable for all the right reasons, not because a loved one was maimed through the illegal use of fireworks.

“My message is simple: if you’re thinking about buying or selling illegal fireworks this summer, you will be caught and you will face significant penalties.”


Your gig guide to celebrate New YearMental As Anything to headline free New Year’s Eve concert in NewcastleNewcastle’s Queen’s Wharf to become a sea of neon for New Year’s EveRead More →

2017 Ashes MCG Test: Day 2 from Melbourne Mitchell Marsh. Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro
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Alastair Cook of England makes his way from the field after the end of the day’s play. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Jackson Bird. Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro

David Warner of Australia (left) and Alastair Cook of England shake hands after the end of the day’s play. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Alastair Cook in full flow. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Jackson Bird. Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro

Alastair Cook edges the ball in front of Steve Smith at first slip off Nathan Lyon in the last session. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Alastair Cook looks up towards the sky after scoring is century then returns to his crease. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Joe Root: Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro

Alistair Cook. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Fans of England react after Alastair Cook’s century. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Pat Cummins. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Josh Hazelwood. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Nathan Lyon catches Mark Stoneman caught and bowled in the middle session. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Nathan Lyon is given out LBW to James Anderson to end Australia’s first innings. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

TweetFacebookAlastair Cook wound the clock back to post a potentially career-saving century on a day Australia’s over-reliance on Steve Smith was exposed, leaving the hosts in a grim struggle in the fourth Test.

The second day crowd of 67,882 came to the MCG expecting another ton from the Australian skipper only to see the home side crumble with the bat as England enjoyed one of its best days on what has been a miserable campaign.

Australia had been well placed to post another gargantuan first innings total but its hopes of inflicting a third straight whitewash on home soil now hang in the balance.

The visitors were 2/192 at stumps on the second day after Australia suffered a dramatic batting collapse in which it lost 7/67 to be all out for 327.

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Nat Hurst isn’t sure how long she’s got left in a Canberra Capitals uniform, so she is soaking up every moment before the curtain is drawn.
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Hurst was crowned the club’s most valuable player and the fan favourite on Thursday to cap off her return to the Capitals in stellar fashion.

The 34-year-old point guard is in the final stages of signing a short-term deal to play in Poland, after which she will step back and reassess her playing future.

It means she will be enjoying every second of Canberra’s clash with the league-leading Perth Lynx at the National Convention Centre on Friday night as she weighs up a return next season.

Hurst is the only player to have played in all seven of Canberra’s WNBL championship wins but the prospect of adding a major individual award to the mantelpiece left her speechless.

“It’s really humbling for the girls to name me MVP of the season,” Hurst said.

“I think everyone did their job this season. We didn’t get the results we wanted but we can hold our heads high and know that we did the right thing throughout the season.

“For them to name me MVP, it’s just a huge honour.”

Emerging star Eziyoda Magbegor was named Capital on the rise, American import Jordan Hooper clinched the players player award, while Chevannah Paalvast won the Kellie Abram defensive player of the year trophy.

But it was Hurst with the most impressive haul, however a middle ear infection threatens to rule her out of Canberra’s final game of the season.

An Australian Opals berth at the Commonwealth Games is on Hurst’s radar but she admits there will be a hint of sadness when Canberra’s season draws to a close.

“I’m still not feeling the greatest, but I’ll be there in whatever capacity. I just want to enjoy [Friday] night,” Hurst said.

“If that means me on the court it means me on the court, if not I will sit back and cheer for my teammates.

“We’re not happy the season is over the way it ended but like we always say, we’ve got a great group and we just want to celebrate what we have been able to do during this season, celebrate each other and the personalities we have.

“As much as we don’t want it to come to an end, being able to then just relax for a couple of days with each other and just chill, I think we’ve earned that.”

While Hurst was left stunned by her recognition, Capitals coach Paul Goriss wasn’t the least bit surprised – he says she was “the front runner all along”.

Hurst leads the league in assists per game with 6.72 and Goriss says her ability to make her teammates better players is what makes her so special.

“There’s been a lot made of her being a seven-time championship winner and I personally feel for her that we weren’t able to get back to the good old days that she first had when she was with the club,” Goriss said.

“She’s certainly said that things have changed here for the better and will continue to improve. We haven’t welcomed her back in the best way possible with our record but she’s had a huge impact both on and off the court in getting the Capitals back to where we want to be.

“She underestimates and undervalues her contribution to the team. I know she was taken aback by winning the award but in all honesty she was probably the front runner all along to win it throughout this season.”


Friday: Round 13 – Canberra Capitals v Perth Lynx at National Convention Centre, 7.30pm.


Most Valuable Player – Nat Hurst

Players Player: Jordan Hooper

Fan favourite: Nat Hurst

Capital on the rise: Eziyoda Magbegor

Kellie Abram defensive player of the year: Chevannah Paalvast

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Emergency services personnel attend a crash scene on the Hume highway near Oolong where a female driver of a van died on Thursday morning after accidentally clipping a truck. Photo: Sitthixay DitthavongA 72-year-old woman has died after her van and a truck collided south of Gunning on Thursday morning.
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NSW Police said a white Hiace van was travelling south on the Hume Highway when it and a heavy vehicle travelling in the same direction collided about 9am.

It was the 21st death on NSW roads during what has been a horror holiday period.

Fairfax Media understands the woman from Glenmore Park in Sydney’s west attempted to merge behind the truck when her van clipped the truck, and rolled.

“The female driver of the van died. No further details are known at this time,” police said in a statement.

She was the only person in the car.

The driver, a 56-year-old man was taken to Yass Hospital.

A lane was closed in each direction on the highway for much of the day, but they were reopened as of 3pm. /*\n”,color:”caution”, title:”Fatal crash”, maxWidth:200, open:0}] );}if (!window.googleMaps_Icons) window.googleMaps_Icons = {};window.googleMaps_Icons[“caution”] = {“marker”:{“image”:”http://maps.gstatic南京夜网/mapfiles/ms2/micons/caution.png”},”shadow”:{“image”:”http://maps.gstatic南京夜网/mapfiles/ms2/micons/caution.shadow.png”}};if (!window.gmapsLoaders) window.gmapsLoaders = [];window.gmapsLoaders.push(CreateGMapgmap20171128104030);window.gmapsAutoload=true;/*]]>*/OOLONG (EAST OF YASS): 1 of 2 lanes is closed in both directions on Hume Hwy due to serious crash near Oolong Rd. Allow extra travel time.??? Live Traffic NSW (@LiveTrafficNSW) December 27, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

A YEAR ago, almost to the day, a friendI’ll call Beryl settled on her ambition for 2017.
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She’s a teacher. She’s not given to hyperbole or hysteria.

When people put together dinner party lists Beryl’s always there as the sensible one who won’t end up in a gutter, blotto, wailing about not being 23 anymore. She’s the one who brings the perfect salad, or the just-so trifle, and who never leaves a friend’s dinner partywithout cleaning the kitchen,taking out the garbage, and even sortingbottles and cans into the recycling bin.

Beryl’s dependable. If she says she’ll meet you at 5.30 in the morning for a run she’ll be there, always, even if her leg’s in a cast or she’s running a fever.

“A commitment’s a commitment,” she said one time when we met in a carpark at 5.30am and she was wearing an eye patch after a gardening incident too weird to go into (something about a stick, a spider web, some turps, a dark shed–in other words, very un-Beryl).

“If I say I’ll be here I’ll be here, and if I’m not, well, you know,” she said.

“What, you’ll be dead?” I said.

“Well, either that or unconscious, or something terrible,” she said.

“Good to know,” I said.

Anyway, a year ago Beryl announced that 2017 was the year she would commit to yoga. And in typical Beryl fashion that commitment came with a goal.

“My aim is to do the downward dog with my heels flat to the ground,” she said, before a demonstrationof how far she had to go. Her arms were nice and straight, her backwas flat, her backside was in line with her shoulders and her legs were not shaking, but her heels were centimetres from the ground.

“It’s hard. I’ve been trying for months but I’m asflexible as a house brick,” she said.

Now some people aim high at this time of year when they’re settling onnew year’s resolutions.

Quit smoking. Quit drinking. Quit binge-watching crap television series. Exercise at least three times a week. Spend more time with friends. Take up a hobby more serious than collecting pub coasters with the word“Beer” on them.

But Beryl, as I’ve mentioned, is one of those sensible people who goes for the vaguely achievable.

“If I can just do the downward dog without falling over or groaning I’ll be pleased, but heels flat to the ground is the goal,” she said.

It’s been a big year, 2017.

Donald Trump,Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un andRodrigo Duterte have slammed any romantic notions some of us might have had about human progress and the advance of civilisation back to earth with a thud.

There’s something about big, powerful men boasting about killing other people, or being able to kill other people without consequence, or sexually assaulting women, or laughing about the annihilation of millions, or appearing in too many photographs shirtless, that has you doubting whether we really have progressed very far from 1215, despite mobile phones andFacebook.

It’sthe year when we’vesadly achieved what politicians have always urged us to achieve after terrorist attacks–we’ve gone on with our lives.

Around the world thousands of people have died in terrorist attacks ranging from barely-reported single-person deaths following suicide attacks in countries like Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria, to the killing of more than 300 people in a mosque in November in Egypt’s worst terrorist incident, and the London Bridge, Manchester and Westminster attacks in England that left more than 30 people dead, including Australians. And life has gone on.

There have been many bright spots in 2017, even on those days where it’s felt like we’re only a Donald Trump tweet away from possible nuclear armageddon, or a Kim Jong-un ego trip from some other kind of military meltdown.

Australia has provided more proof of comedian John Oliver’s assessment that we’re not only home to Russell Crowe, but we are the Russell Crowe of countries.

How else to explain the world’s dumbest constitutional crisis?

Only in Australia could a pile of politicians solemnly swear they were Australianonly to find, one by one, that they actually weren’t.

Only in Australia could the party leader who notoriously threatened to kill a couple of fluffy dogs for being in the country illegally, end up out of parliament himself –if too briefly –because he was actually a New Zealander.

Only in Australia could pollies turn their sloppy paperwork into a political bun-fight without apologising to the millions of Australians routinely threatened with severe penalties if they stuff up on the paperwork for their welfare benefits ortax returns.

And only in Australia could normal, sensible Australians –more than 80 per cent of us –turn a potential disaster like the politically-contrived same sex marriage postal survey into a triumph for democracy, at a time when democracy itself seems under challenge in too many parts of the world.

My friend Beryl tried to do a downward dog with her heels on the ground on Thursday, to show the fruits of a year’s worth of yoga classes.

“So close,” I said, as she grunted and strained to push her heels to the ground while her legs stubbornly refused to cede another millimetre of flexibility.

She’ll keep trying.

And I’ll try to achieve my achievable goals in 2018 –planting out an area of my back garden, resuming a project of taking a substantial walk in each of this state’s national parks, and reading more.

As Beryl said when she’d grunted her way to a standing position on Thursday morning, her heels-fully-down-downward-dog still a goal, “There’s always next year.”

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