2017 Ashes MCG Test: Day 1 from Melbourne David Warner celebrates a Boxing Day century. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith
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David Warner celebrates a Boxing Day century. Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

David Warner celebrates a Boxing Day century. Photo: Wayne Ludbey

Dave Warner celebrates a Boxing Day ton. Photo: Justin McManus

James Anderson. Photo: AAP Image/Joe Castro

David Warner pulls Chris Woakes to bring up his fifty runs Picture:Wayne Ludbey

David Warner of Australia plays a shot on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. AAP Image/Joe Castro

Stuart Broad of England rests on his knees as he watches Cameron Bancroft of Australia run between the wickets on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

Cameron Bancroft of Australia (right) plays a shot on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

Cameron Bancroft of Australia defends a short ball on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

David Warner of Australia runs between the wickets on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

Australia v England in the fourth Ashes test match at MCG. 26/12/2017 picture by Justin McManus. Fans enjoying the game

Australia v England in the fourth Ashes test match at MCG. 26/12/2017 picture by Justin McManus. Happy Santas.

Australia v England in the fourth Ashes test match at MCG. 26/12/2017 picture by Justin McManus. The English nights singing the national anthem.

Australia v England in the fourth Ashes test match at MCG. 26/12/2017 picture by Justin McManus. English fans in the festive spirit.

Australia v England in the fourth Ashes test match at MCG. 26/12/2017 picture by Justin McManus. Listerfield lifeguard.

David Warner of Australia plays a stroke on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

David Warner of Australia plays a shot on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

David Warner of Australia plays a stroke on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Fan enjoy the cricket on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

Cameron Bancroft of Australia (centre) plays a shot on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

David Warner of Australia (left) reacts after reaching fifty runs on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

David Warner of Australia plays a shot on Day One of the Boxing Day Test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

David Warner of Australia plays a stroke on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

David Warner of Australia plays a stroke on Day One of the Boxing Day test match between Australia and England at the MCG in Melbourne, Tuesday, December 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

TweetFacebookHANG ON! Warner isn’t going anywhere. AUS 1/129 pic.twitter南京夜网/pKtJG9wHuT

— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) December 26, 2017

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ROHINGYA INTERVIEWLaila Begum holds her son Mohammed Ifran??????s hand as he recieves treatment at the Red Cross Field Hospital in Kutupalong refugee camp. Mohammed only 40 days old, is malnourished and weighed 1.8 kilograms. Kutupalong, Cox??????s Bazar, Bangladesh. 28th November, 2017. Photo: Kate GeraghtyBangkok: An international Rohingya crisis appeal has raised $278 million to help deal with one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies, but that is less than half the amount experts say is needed.
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United Nations and international aid agencies have appealed for $562 million to assist 1.2 million people, including Rohingya people living in sprawling refugee camps and Bangladeshis affected by the crisis.

Aid workers are scaling up their distribution of shelter and non-food items as winter takes hold in the camps.

Health workers are also widening vaccination programs in response to the rapid spread of diseases, including highly contagious diphtheria.

More than 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 25, the day the country’s army launched systematic attacks on Rohingya villages in what the United Nations calls “text-book ethnic cleansing” and “very likely” crimes against humanity.

Survivors have told of atrocities including organised rape, torching of villages and the slaughter and burning of children.

In Australia, an appeal for funds in conjunction with the Australian Red Cross and the refugee agency UNHCR has raised millions which are being matched dollar for dollar by the Australian government in a campaign supported by Fairfax Media and the ABC.

The Australian Red Cross Myanmar Crisis appeal has raised almost $4 million, including the government’s contribution.

Jess Letch, the Red Cross’s disaster and crisis response manager, said money raised goes towards “providing healthcare for those who are sick and injured, running our field hospitals and mobile health clinics, ensuring families are able to access clean water and sanitation, providing essential relief items, as well as psychological support for those who need it.”

Ian Woolverton from Save the Children said “so far we have raised over $500,000, which is a great effort.”

“The needs are massive with children and families living in the most appalling conditions,” he said.

Oxfam has raised about $300,000.

“Humanitarian support for the Rohingya refugees has not been able to keep pace with the scale of the crisis and needs to be urgently increased,” said Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke.

“With the crisis likely to go on for years, it is now time for donors to support longer term needs.”

The Australian government has pledged $30 million of its more than $3 billion-a-year overseas aid budget for the Rohingya crisis, which includes up to $5 million to match money raised.

The government is also supporting the delivering of programs by Care Australia, Caritas Australia, Oxfam, Plan International Australia, Save the Children Australia and World Vision Australia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said “I urge the Australian public to give generously. Your support will help to deliver life-saving assistance to those caught-up in this crisis.”

To donate to a national appeal launched by Australian charities, visit 梧桐夜网dfat.gov419论坛/jointappeal

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An artist’s impression of the proposed Lingard Private Hospital building in Merewether. The paint is barely dryon Lingard Private Hospital’s newest building and the Merewether health care provider already haslodged plans foranother extension.
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The hospital submitted a development application this month to Newcastle City Council to build a $13 million, three-storey annex on the corner of Lingard and Merewether streets.

If approved, the new building will comprise four operating theatres, 17 consulting rooms and three levels of car park, two of them underground, providing 129 parking spaces.

The building exceeds height and floor-space-ratio limits for the area, but Lingard’s DA argues the structure does not unduly affect neighbouring properties and provides “essential infrastructure and high-quality health services”.

The council will refer the development application to the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel for determination.

Lingard was built in the early 1970s as a nursing home before morphing into a surgical hospital in 1981.

Ramsay Health Care sold it in 2006 to Healthe Care Australia, which has embarked on about $50 million inextensions and upgrades in the past 10 years.

The site of the latest addition to Lingard hospital.

Lingard was largely rebuilt in a $24 million project in 2011, and a new $15 million, two-storey section opened this year at the western end of the hospital.The western addition was planned at three storeys, 50 per cent more than the height limit, but was reduced to two after residents complained.

The 2600 square metre site of the latest extension is across the road fromTownson Oval andadjoins a modern church in Lingard Street and a smash repair shop in Merewether Street.

The new building would exceed the block’s 10-metre height limit by six metres and almost double the maximum floor-space ratio set out in planning regulations.

Meanwhile, developerGTS Unit Trust hasamended its DA for the heritage-listed Hamilton Fire Station in Belford Street.

Plans for the site includefive new townhouses on a car park and lawn at the rear of the station, but a proposal for a sixth dwelling inside the station has been dropped.

The amended plan for Hamilton Fire Station.

The latest plans also amend the townhouse design and alter a fence adjoining the fire station after residents complained about the development’s impact on the heritage value of the area and the station.

The station was built in the 1920s and still in use until Fire and Rescue NSW moved to new headquarters at Lambton in July 2016.

The site sold for $1.96 million in November last year.

The council is also assessing a development application for a 14-storey, $8.5millionresidential tower at 811-815 Hunter Street, near Dairy Farmers Corner.

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All rounder: Rachel Kim of One Tree Espresso at Charlestown Square, Charlestown. Picture: Jonathan CarrollOne Tree Coffee, Shop 201, Level 2, Charlestown Square, Mon-Wed: 8am-5pm, Thu: 8am-8pm, Fri-Sat: 8am-5pm, Sun: 9am-4pm.
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With so many of us exhausting ourselves at our nearest and largest shopping centres at this time of year, it is an enduring oddity that so few of these house quality coffee outlets. Most of the espresso available in these enormous malls comes from franchises that are more about speed and convenience than a memorable cup of distinctive flavours. Whilst they might call your order a double shot latte, it rarely tastes anything like what your local barista pours you around the corner.

One Tree Espresso at Charlestown Square prides itself on being an exception to this rule. There may be nothing artisanal or trendy about the appearance of this café but the coffee and the food proves that there doesn’t need to be. Order a double shot here and you can expect to see latte art that would prompt at least a few Newcastle baristas to rush back to work and clean out their steam wands.

Underneath the perfect rosetta pattern on my flat white ($4) was a smooth and richly textured coffee brimming with subtle caramel flavours.

If you’re chasing a quicker hit with a short black ($3.50) their single origin this month hails from Guatemala and is concentrated with every sharp and citric flavour you would want from a mildly roasted espresso.

If your tastes sit at the sweeter end of the coffee spectrum, they even blend their mochas ($5) with a special Lindt milk chocolate that is every bit as memorable as the rest of the beverage selection.

Unlike almost all of their nearby coffee competitors, One Tree offers a refreshing cold brew ($5.50) that goes down a treat over the summer months. If you are still unfamiliar with this fashionable method of making, it basically involves leaving coarsely ground coffee in cold water over a period of at least 12 hours so that the more bitter, espresso-like flavours can mellow themselves out. The single origin cold brew at One Tree is one of the better ones I have tasted. Left to brew for at least 14hours using the widely loved Toddy brewing system, theirs is a smooth and thirst-quenching coffee delight.

From the kitchen comes even more delicious surprises. Their famous Guinea toastie ($10) is layered with blackened chicken, pecorino and fresco cheeses, a corn salsa and a sriracha aioli. The Penny ($10) is packed with double smoked ham, cheddar, rocket, mustard and a tomato chilli jam. The vegetarian Herbie ($9) that I sampled comes with stacks of seasoned pumpkin, grilled haloumi, chilli jam and rocket. Even with a small army of hungry Christmas shoppers seated at their tables, it arrived almost as quickly as my coffee and was just as satisfying.

Quick, convenient and of a better quality than at least a couple of the cafés around my nearest corner.

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Bangkok: As staunchly Islamic Achenese bulldozed mass graves for the victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, the only explanation they could come up with was “inshallah”- it is God’s will.
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A tsunami, the height of coconut trees, had swept across Asia’s shores and no-one could be blamed for one of the world’s worst natural disasters.

Thirteen years later, survivors of Asia’s worst calamity since then are documenting acts of almost unspeakable barbarity committed by Myanmar’s military in Rakhine State.

And the generals are literally getting away with murder, so far.

There has been plenty of outrage across the world but little punitive action has been taken against them.

Denunciation by UN agencies and human rights groups – and much global hand wringing – seems an acceptable price to pay for forcing the Rohingya population from their homelands.

To be sure, Myanmar’s transition to democracy is at a critical crossroad.

Australia and most other countries have resisted calls for imposing new sanctions on the Myanmar military believing it could damage an already parlous economy and push the country back into isolation.

They worry punitive action could undermine the difficult situation facing Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian de facto leader, who was swept into power on a wave of democratic euphoria at historic elections in 2015.

But she has become the military’s chief apologist, mocking a “huge iceberg of misinformation” and rejecting reports of sexual abuse against women as “fake news”.

Only the United States has moved to impose new sanctions on those responsible for the Rohingya atrocities, singling out Myanmar General Maung Maung Soe, who was in-charge of troops in Rakhine.

But at the same time the US has invited the Myanmar military to take part as formal observers, with Australia, in a major multinational military exercise next year, led by the US and Thailand.

Australia is resisting growing calls to cut the Australian Defence Force’s support and training for the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw.

The ADF released to Fairfax Media details of its defence engagement program with Myanmar, which includes 22 Tatmadaw members training or studying in Australia, paid for by Australia taxpayers.

The ADF provides support in non-combat areas, including humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peacekeeping, it said.

An ADF spokesperson told Fairfax Media Australia’s “limited engagement” with Myanmar is to “encourage positive change through engagement.”

The spokesperson added that the maintenance of lines of communication with Myanmar’s military “provides a mechanism as required to influence behaviour and address the challenging situation in Rakhine State.”

I don’t buy it.

Those responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable if we are not to lose faith in humanity.

Myanmar’s generals have for decades ignored international condemnation of their treatment of Rohingya, who have been denied basic rights, including citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

International sanctions and pressure matter to the generals because that is what led to them to end half a century of iron-fist rule and allow democratic elections.

Without being held to account, they will be free to continue their barbaric treatment of Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in the country.

The Turnbull government’s reaction to the Rohingya crisis has been feeble. Foreign Minister Bishop Julie Bishop has pledged $30 million of Australia’s more than $3 billion-a-year overseas aid budget and sent aid experts to Bangladesh, to where more than 800,000 Rohingya have fled.

Last week she announced Australia would deploy a team of medical experts to survey health needs following an outbreak of deadly and highly contagious diphtheria in the camps, months after experts warned of a looming health catastrophe.

Bishop should go to Bangladesh to see for herself how the Rohingya are struggling just to survive in horrific conditions, and hear some of the harrowing accounts of atrocities, including the slaughter of babies and mass rape.

She could be the first high-profile politician from a foreign country to go into the camps, sending a blunt message to Myanmar that the world will not stand idly by as the Rohingya are exterminated.

Bishop may then come to see that Australia should take the lead as a regional power to ramp up pressure on Myanmar, including as a first step, ending the ADF’s support for the country’s generals.


Fairfax Media ???South-East Correspondent Lindsay Murdoch and Photographer Kate Geraghty visited the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh last month.

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CSIRO has confirmed that WA is Australia’s great white shark hot spot Photo: ShutterstockA study suggests there may be twice the number of adult great white sharks off WA’s coast.
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Preliminary results from the CSIRO have found white shark numbers in WA are not increasing but are steady and remain somewhere between 750 to 2,250, with a 90 per centmake these bold statements that tougher measures need to be taken, without outlining the details of any plan and how it would make people any safer.”

Opposition tourism spokesperson and Liberal member for Vasse Libby Mettam has slammed the McGowan Government’s approach to the issue.

“The complete absence of a strategy to manage shark numbers means we can expect them to grow exponentially,” Ms Mettam said.

“This debate has to be taken from the ‘sharks over people brigade’ that is currently holding the McGowan Government hostage and given its rightful priority as a serious public safety issue.”

Mr Kelly said Ms Mettam’s comments were “ridiculous”.

Ms Mettam said the subsidy program was a tokenistic approach to shark attacks and suggested that concerns about shark safety could take a bite out of the tourism industry.

“As the Margaret River region opens its doors to a swelling population of tourists, the Fisheries Minister should refrain from patting himself on the back and look at what more he can do to address the public safety of the hundreds of thousands of people taking to beaches around the state this summer,” she said.

Ms Mettam said it was the previous Liberal Government that had invested in science to better understand shark populations, while the current government had provided only a limited subsidy which only benefited scuba divers.

“I remain convinced that providing $200 towards a $750 commercial product for 2,000 scuba divers is not an appropriate government response to what is a major public safety issue,” she said.

WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said Ms Mettam’s concern for WA’s tourism had no basis.

“The amount of sharks has had no impact on tourism in WA,” he said.

“What has had an impact on tourism is the appalling tourism strategy that was implemented by the last government.

“If she focused on things that actually have an impact on tourism she actually might be conceding their failure and supporting the government responding much more appropriately and aggressively towards improving tourism in WA.”


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UNCERTAIN: Maitland Pickers president Frank Lawler at Maitland No.1 Sportsground. Picture: Maitland Mercury
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PICKERS president Frank Lawler fears the Newcastle Rugby League club could be $50,000 out of pocket underproposed fee and canteen policies at the redeveloped Maitland No.1 Sportsground.

The Pickers’ traditionalhome has undergone an $8.6 million facelift, including the construction of a 1100-seat grandstand, and the club is set to return there next season after playing out of Coronation Oval this year.

However, Lawler said the clubfaced a rise from about$5000 to $18,000 in costs under Maitland City Council’s draft fees and charges restructure, which was available for public comment until December 4.

Of greater concern was the plan to put exclusive catering rights for the ground out to tender.In the past, the Pickers, like most Hunter sportingclubs, have been able to operate their canteen and bar on game days with minimal cost or restriction.

“For us, the canteen is a big one,” Lawler said.“We probably take $8000 through the bar and canteen at a home game. About 50 per cent of that is profit and you would be looking to make at least $30,000 out of the canteen and bar over a year.

“Kurri survive on their Old Boys and their bar takings. Cessnock have total control over their canteen and I think all the other [Newcastle RL] clubs are same.

“We need to do something to have use of the canteen because without that, together with the increase in fees, we could be $50,000 out of pocket.”

The Pickers have long been main tenants of Maitland Sportsground, which council hopes to make a multi-use venue in a sporting precinct taking in redevelopedadjacent athletics fields.

Lawler said there were manysubmissions to council criticisingthe fee hikeand asking“how was a club like Maitland, as a main user, going to be able to afford to do it?”

He said the club was discussing a potential tender for catering rights“but that’s an additional cost and if we lose the tender, we lose potentially a lot of income”.

“It’s just another battle we face up here in Maitland,” he said.“We always seem to face something, but nothing has been confirmed yet and we are talking to council about it.”

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American actress Heather Menzies-Urich, who played one of the von Trapp children in the iconic 1965 film The Sound of Music, has died; Menzies-Urich was 68-years-old.
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Menzies’ son Ryan Urich told US media his mother had been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme about a month ago.

Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive brain cancers; Urich said his mother’s health had declined rapidly in the wake of the diagnosis.

Urich, Menzies-Urich’s son by the actor Robert Urich, said his mother died surrounded by family at home in Canada.

“She was an actress, a ballerina and loved living her life to the fullest,” Urich said.

“She was not in any pain but, nearly four weeks after her diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, she had enough and took her last breath on this earth at 7.22pm.”

Though Menzies-Urich had a diverse acting career, the role with which she remained associated her entire life was that of Louisa von Trapp, the 13-year-old daughter of Captain Georg??? von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) in the film adaptation of The Sound of Music.

In the film’s iconic scene where aspiring nun Maria (Julie Andrews) is introduced to her seven charges, Menzies-Urich’s Louisa is remembered for attempting to impersonate her younger sibling, Brigitta.

The character of Louisa was based on the real-life Maria Franziska von Trapp, the second eldest daughter of the real-life Georg von Trapp; Maria Franziska died in 2014, aged 99.

The Sound of Music, in which Menzies-Urich appeared, was based on the true account of the family’s life in Austria and their flight in the face of German occupation to the United States of America.

Menzies-Urich won the role in The Sound of Music at the age of 14 not long after her family moved from Toronto in Canada to Los Angeles, to help her pursue a career in acting.

Though she worked after The Sound of Music, Menzies-Urich never equalled that film in terms of cultural impact or enduring memory.

Her later credits include the genre horror films Sssssss (1973) and Piranha (1978) and, on television, series such as Marcus Welby, M.D., Bonanza, Love, American Style and The Bob Newhart Show.

In the mid-1970s, while filming a television commercial, Menzies met actor Robert Urich; the pair later married and they had three children, Ryan, Allison and Emily.

After Urich’s death in 2002 from synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, Menzies-Urich created the Robert Urich Foundation and devoted much of her time to raising money for it.

“After my husband lost his battle on April 16th, 2002, I vowed that I would make it my life’s mission to continue to fight for his dream and vision: a world where the word cancer is simply a memory of war we have won,” she said.

Menzies-Urich’s later television credits included the short-lived TV reboot of the science fiction hit film Logan’s Run.

Menzies-Urich’s on-screen sister, Kym Karath, who played Gretl, said she was “filled with infinite sadness” upon learning of Menzies’ death.

“My precious friend and [Sound of Music] sister Heather Menzies passed away this evening,” she said. “[I am] devastated.”

Ted Chapin???, the president of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organisation, which owns the rights to The Sound of Music, said “we are all lucky to have known her, and she will happily live on in that beautiful movie. We will miss her.”

Dan Truhitte???, who played the Nazi-sympathising Rolf in The Sound of Music, said it was “such a great sorrow to lose Heather Menzies Urich.

“She was a joy during filming, such a warm smile, and such a talent and I know she is now with her husband, Robert Urich. Aufwiedersehn for now, Heather,” he said.

Menzies-Urich’s on-screen elder sister, actress Charmian Carr, who played the eldest daughter Liesl, died in 2016.

Menzies-Urich is survived by three children and eight grandchildren.

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WORTH 1000 WORDS: Each day we will publish a finalist in the Herald short storycompetition. The winner will be announced on January 27. Picture: Jonathan Carroll“WE should head home.”
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Petey nudged me with his shoe. Sunlight failed to breach theclouds most days, so it was really more like the shadow of his shoe. To look at it, it was withoutsubstance – a lot like Petey.

I glanced up. The sky was leaden: dark, pregnant with thunder andpossibly rain. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing. It could go months without a drop or anentire year’s worth might hammer the parched earth in just a few hours. I heard rumbling in thedistance but it didn’t have the rich timbre of thunder.

“Jimbo’s working on his tunnel again.”Jimbo spent a lot of time playing with the excavator he’d tinkered into life. I watched itonce. Great metal teeth gnawed at the growing maw, spewing dirt and heat as if Jimbo wereboring a hole straight into hell. He said it would protect him from ghost-lights and data-loops.

The racket was as bad as the thick black cloud that puffed from the excavator’s exhaust. Thunk. Shoosh. Thunk. Whomp.

Right now I could just make out the thumps. Petey stood and gazed out to sea. I wassprawled on the brittle grass but I knew he was staring at the lights twinkling way out from theshore. Ghost-lights. They were all that remained of ships that would never sail through theheads into port: afterimages of vessels blinked out of existence back when the glitch hadvanished everything electronic from the world. Gran said her “fone” and “telly” and “conpooter”and some “world-wide tentacles” thing hadn’t stopped or died, but had simplydisappeared as if they never existed.Sometimes I wished Petey would disappear as if he never existed.

“Sandman’ll be around soon to flick the wicks.”Petey’s shadow turned and kicked myshoe again. “Don’t wanna end up like Bob.”A shiver that had nothing to do with the weather raced up my spine and made my headshimmy like a wet dog. Bob had been caught out after the Sandman came to spark thestreetlights into tiny golden flames before the full-dark. The skeletons of the old lights stillarched their skinny necks high above the potholed streets but the ghosts living in them hadforgotten how to shine. We found Bob clinging to one of the ghost-light poles after the full-darkhad turned to half-dark. His eyes were silvery orbs and he didn’t hear us calling his name. Hewas climbing to nowhere and shouting about things written on some wall in a book of faces.We knew he’d been caught in a data-loop but nobody could say if or when he might get flungback out again.

Loops were like memories from the never-more before the glitch remade everything. Theywinked into existence without warning, trapping those caught out after full-dark inside theirown thoughts and beyond our reach. Bob was wasting away while his mind was held captive ina phantom world that ceased to exist when Gran was younger than I was now.

We only knew of one person that had escaped a never-more loop: Mollie Havershell. Shewas lost for more than a year when the loop suddenly spat her out and she woke updemanding breakfast and something called a pea-hess-for. Nobody knew what she wasprattling about but the human resources agency had informed her family that she was nolonger required to hand in her card to be ticked. She was what we call “loopy” now: prone todisappearing into her own mind at times, although she always comes back soon enough andraving about strange things that make no sense to us.Bob had only been gone a few months. There was still hope for him. But, even if the loopspat him, he’d never be wholly Bob again.

“Sandman!”Petey’s shadow grabbed my hand and yanked me to my feet. He hauled mealong the edge of the street where the gutter was supposed to channel the absent rain intodrains meant to dump it into the sea. It was the only part left without gaps and holes.

I glanced behind to see the little yellow light of the Sandman’s lantern bobbing down thehill towards us. The man, himself, was nice enough. It was what his job represented that mademy skin crawl with fire ants. Full-dark. Little flashes of sparks burst behind the clouds in thewest while the brooding clouds in the east simply disappeared into pitch. The data-loopsroamed the pitch: ice pale lights that winked on and off, randomly appearing and disappearingalong a haphazard path. Inside the light, like Gran’s no-globe back home, you could see theafterimage of a world that no longer existed, like a negative imprint of the shadows and blightthat afflicted us.

Petey squealed and dropped my hand. He just vanished. I hadn’t meant it about himdisappearing. Honestly. I looked for him but he was relegated to shadow in a fast-fadinglandscape. The Sandman’s bobbing light swooped – not that the wan glow revealed much.

Ghost-light stole Petey’s shadow as a data-loop opened between us, and the Sandman’s lanternexploded into bright fog. Spidery veins of shimmering mercury webbed the fog and trapped thelight, dancing with iridescent sparks. I vaguely heard shouting but everything outside the loopwas darker than pitch.

Images scrolled across my vision in colours I never knew existed: millions of technocolours.Sunlight bedazzled a golden beach and there was a pale pearl on a nest of black, dottedwith glittering specks that shimmered. Water cascaded from the lip of ridge into a swirling poolthat defied description. Birds squawked and swooped in a clear sky. I poked at an image andwas sucked into a place of green fields and soft music, where I rode a purple dragon through aswarm of flutter-wings in search of treasure-diamonds in a pea-hess-for.

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HUNGRY: Riley McGree has returned from Belgium and hopes to get regular game time for the Newcastle Jets. Picture: AAP ImagesRILEY McGree’s decision to join the Newcastle Jets on loan from Belgium powerhouse ClubBrugge was not made lightly.
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But the ambitious midfielder is certainly not returning to the A-League with his tail between his legs.

The 19-year-old touches down in Newcastle on Wednesday after spending Christmas with family in Adelaide. He will undergo a medical and meet with Jets coaching and playing staff in the start of what he hopes is a productive five months.

“I learnt a lot in my first six months in Europe, butI knew it was probably better to come back and play regular football,” McGree said.

“At my age, I need to be playing consistently week-in, week-out at the top level. I don’t worry what other people think,I just concentrate on working hard, playing well and improving.

“They (Club Brugge) will be keep a close eye on me, watchgame footage and getconstant updates on training loads and game loads.”

Read more: Riley McGree stunned by Socceroos call-up

McGree’s home-town club Adelaide, where he burst on to the scene in 2016-17, and Scottish giants Celtic were also interested in acquiring the attacking midfielder.

“I thought the A-League was my best option,” he said. “I was familiar with itand keen to come back and prove myself.The Jetsshowed they were really keen.

“They got in contact with me and were really friendly. Straight off the bat I spoke to the CEO Lawrie and the gaffer as well. The playing group is good, they are up their competing and getting good results.

“Throughout the whole process they were calling me and hada plan for me.”

Read more: Give kids a go, says Postecoglou

McGree will spend the rest of the A-League campaign in Newcastle and then return to Belgium.

“I like to focus more on the here and now than what could happen in the future,” he said. “I want to come back, do the best I can, hopefully get the team to the finals and take it out.

“I have heard good things about Newcastle and understand it is a really nice place.”

At Club Brugge McGree trained full-time with the first team squad and played for the reserves onMondays.

“I played as an eight or No.10,” he said. “I did OKbut there is always room for improvement. As I got used to it, I started to get more comfortable.

“Europe is much different than the A-League. It is a bit fasterand the quality is better. It was tough at time. You obviously miss your family and friends. It was a learning experience and I have taken a lot from it.I have definitely improved as a player and mentally.”

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McGree will spend a couple of days with his new teammates before jetting out with the Australian under-23s to contest the Asian Cup in China, which runs until late January.

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