Hazlewood to miss Sheffield Shield opener

Josh Hazlewood will skip NSW’s Sheffield Shield opener but the star paceman is adamant he will be cherry ripe for the first Ashes Test.

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Hazlewood, who is recovering from a side strain, has been a near-constant presence in Australia’s bowling attack in recent years.

Before returning home from the tour of Bangladesh, the reliable right-armer had played every Test since the 2015 Ashes in England.

But Hazlewood is suddenly the least-fit member of the pace attack. Mitchell Starc has returned successfully from his foot injury during the domestic one-day competition, while Pat Cummins has gone from strength to strength this year.

Hazlewood will miss the Blues’ day-night clash later this month at Adelaide Oval.

He plans on playing rounds two and three of the Shield season before the five-Test series against England starts on November 23 in Brisbane.

“The side is really good. I’ve been off the full run the last three or four sessions, so getting back to 100 per cent. I’m probably about 85-90 per cent,” Hazlewood said on Tuesday.

“The timing was a bit unfortunate but it’s given me a chance to freshen up and get some good work in the gym and on the running track.

“I’m feeling nice and fit.

“It’ll be good to put everything together in club cricket – bowl 10-12 overs; field for a couple of hours.”

Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle were put on ice during the final Shield round before the 2013-14 Ashes, a decision that helped them play all five Tests during the 5-0 belting.

“You’d much rather play one or two (games), I guess, then freshen up in that third week,” Hazlewood admitted at ASICS’ season launch.

“But you can always just bowl a little bit less at training in those days leading into the Test.

“There’s still a decent enough gap there.”

Hazlewood has already picked the brains of Johnson, Harris and Siddle. The trio were all instrumental in the lopsided series that unfolded four years ago.

“It wasn’t just all about Mitch. He obviously got the rewards but, on any other day, Ryano could have got the 30-odd wickets,” he said.

“Gaz (offspinner Nathan Lyon) is obviously going to be key in that talk as well.

“Hopefully, we can mirror that … keep that pressure building.”

Huawei launches AI-powered smartphones

Huawei has unveiled its new line-up of artificial intelligence-powered smartphones designed to take on Samsung and Apple.

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The Chinese manufacturer has announced the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, both of which house the company’s new Kirin 970 processor chip, which Huawei says is the first ever to include a neural network processing unit (NPU), enabling the phone to think and learn.

Apple introduced its own AI-powered processor – the A11 Bionic – alongside the iPhone 8 and upcoming iPhone X last month, while Samsung and other Android smartphones now support virtual assistants designed to understand and respond to voice commands.

The flagship Mate 10 Pro also features a six-inch OLED display, dual rear cameras designed in collaboration with imaging firm Leica, and will run the latest version of the Android operating system, 8.0 Oreo.

“As we enter the age of intelligence, AI is no longer a virtual concept but something that intertwines with our daily life,” Huawei chief executive Richard Yu said.

“AI can enhance the user experience; provide valuable services and improve product performance. The Huawei Mate 10 Series introduces the first mobile AI-specific Neural Network Processing Unit, launching a new era of intelligent smartphones.”

The AI built into the phone will learn user habits and learn which apps are used the most Huawei says, as well as recognise objects in photos and automatically edit images to improve them.

The Chinese manufacturer says its AI processor will deliver up to 25 times more performance and 50 times more energy efficiency because of the intelligence of the Kirin chip.

Smartphone expert Ernest Doku from uSwitch南京夜生活, said Huawei’s new line-up now made it a “serious contender” to challenge Samsung and Apple.

Vic MPs start emotional death bill debate

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has given an emotional account of watching his father die from cancer in support of a bid to legalise euthanasia.

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But his deputy is seeking to scuttle the proposed scheme and has told parliament MPs should not reflect solely on their personal experiences when considering the bill.

After describing harrowing suicides by the terminally ill, Mr Andrews told parliament about watching his own father die in palliative care and how it shifted his perspective.

“The rails of the bed went up, pain relief was increased, treatment was reduced, a stillness took hold and this giant, unbreakable man slipped away,” Mr Andrews said.

“Only when you’ve experienced something like that, only when you’ve seen someone you love succumb to, feebly and painfully, to what some people might even describe as a good death, you start to think ‘what on earth must qualify as a bad death’.”

Soon after Mr Andrews’ heartfelt plea, witnessed by his tearful wife in the public gallery, Deputy Premier James Merlino gave an equally passionate speech against the bill.

Mr Merlino said the proposed framework was not safe because the 68 protections are “68 things that can go wrong”.

He labelled the bill “state sanctioned suicide” and said more resourcing was needed for palliative care.

“We must not solely reflect on our own personal experiences, we must consider the impact this will have on our society,” Mr Merlino said.

He foreshadowed an amendment which would delay voting on the bill until concerns are addressed including clarification on the lethal substance, and safeguards for people seeking the scheme while suffering treatable depression.

Parliament is set for a marathon sitting in order to debate and vote on the bill by the end of the week.

Mr Andrews and Health Minister Jill Hennessy argue the bill is faultless and will not support any amendments.

However, many MPs are still undecided, including the Nationals’ Emma Kealy, who was lead speaker for the coalition.

Both sides have granted MPs a conscience vote on the bill, which includes harsh penalties for misuse and has sparked passionate campaigning from advocates, opponents, doctors, religious groups and the public.

Among the opposition, leader Matthew Guy will not vote for the bill but his police spokesman Edward O’Donohue is campaigning in favour after he investigated the issue as part of a cross-party committee.

The bill would set up a scheme accessible only to terminally ill patients with less than 12 months to live, who are suffering unbearable pain.

They would have to make three clear requests and be assessed by two senior doctors, including a specialist in their illness.

All lower house MPs were given the chance to speak on the bill, however some declined.

Scientists in frenzy over colliding stars

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN NEUTRON STARS COLLIDED?

Two ultra-dense stars spiralled toward each other, colliding and collapsing into a black hole.

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The “titanic” collision about 130 million light-years away created a flash brighter than a billion suns.

It was detected on August 17 prompting a frantic burst of scientific research that was kept under wraps for eight weeks.

The collision was detected within 1.7 seconds of the merger, gamma rays were emitted from the event and were picked up.

Australian researchers played a major role: from constructing the detecting devices to the rapid response of astronomical teams that were among the first to identify the optical and radio signals from the collision in galaxy NGC 4993.

WHAT IS A NEUTRON STAR?

It’s a burned-out core of a star that was once giant but exploded long ago.

Each neutron star was around 19km in diameter and contained a mass half a million times Earth.

WHY IS THE DISCOVERY SO HUGE?

The discovery has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of how elements are formed.

It’s the first time gravitational waves have been detected from a new source – the collision of neutron stars – as they were previously detected from merging of black holes.

This new field of gravitational wave astronomy could result in more sightings of neutron star collisions and other phenomena.

WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT GRAVITATIONAL WAVES?

Gravitational waves were discovered in 2015 and two weeks ago the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the three leading scientists behind an international project which first detected the tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time.

Einstein predicted gravitational waves over a century ago – he believed if you had two stars orbiting each other they would give off an intense burst just ahead of colliding.

GOLD IN THE UNIVERSE

The origin of gold has been a puzzle for decades. From the 1920s scientists knew stars acted like chemical factories – building nearly everything on the chemists periodic table – but they didn’t know how.

Scientists didn’t know how elements with a higher atomic weight – like gold and silver – were created.

But Monash University’s Dr Eric Thrane says scientists were able to observe “a glow of ejected matter” from the collision of the neutron stars and large amounts of gold were emitted.

“It’s amazing to think that that newly minted gold wedding band may have been contained in a neutron star collision,” he said.

Centre holds hope for lymphoma patients

A blood cancer sufferer has handed over $5.

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5 million to give other Australians access to revolutionary testing that will improve treatment options and extend their lives.

For 25 years Melbourne woman Christine Wilson has lived with lymphoma, one of the so-called “snipers” of the cancer world.

Unlike other forms of the disease – linked to abnormal genes or habits such as smoking – blood cancers like lymphoma often result from spontaneous mutations that occur as the body makes new blood cells en masse.

It’s one reason they can be so difficult to properly diagnose and treat, because there’s so much that can go wrong.

And that’s where genomics testing comes in.

It involves testing a patient’s blood for critical gene mutations, enabling doctors to hone in on what’s going on and making sure patients are on the right treatments.

In some cases, arduous rounds of chemotherapy might be avoided entirely if doctors can identify patients who are unlikely to respond to it.

Many people with lymphoma can be cured and Mrs Wilson has been among the lucky ones.

She wants all Australians to benefit from the latest cutting edge technology, which holds the promise of personalised, targeted treatments.

“We were struck by how genetics testing can save lives or improve quality of life for a group of patients who are in dire need of other treatment options,” she said.

Professor Miles Prince is the co-founder of the Snowdome Foundation, which led fundraising for the new Christine and Bruce Wilson Centre for Lymphoma Genomics at Victoria’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Prof Prince says making forensic genetic analysis quick and affordable is a game changer for sufferers.

“We’ve really been in the dark and it’s only been the last few years that we’ve been able to identify the mutations that are occurring. Now we have the funding to properly diagnose patients,” he said.

“A lot of patients with lymphoma are cured but some are not and this will identify those patients at risk of not responding to standard treatments.”

Embattled Eideh quits Vic parliament role

Under siege Labor MP Khalil Eideh has quit as deputy president of Victoria’s upper house while corruption allegations continue to cloud his office.

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Legislative Council president Bruce Atkinson announced Mr Eideh would step down on Tuesday.

Questionable invoices, discovered in a parliamentary-wide audit, were referred to the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission in September and Mr Eideh’s office was subsequently shut down.

It came after allegations of government MP electorate offices misusing parliamentary allowances by claiming fake printing invoices and keeping the bulk of the cash for branch stacking.

The accusations prompted Mr Atkinson to launch the parliamentary audit, which resulted in the IBAC referral.

In a statement provided to parliament on Tuesday and published by News Corp, Mr Eideh again professed his innocence and said the allegations made his role untenable.

“Not withstanding my innocence, I am conscious that allegations about matters involving my electorate office result in unhelpful speculation about my role as deputy president, which may distract from the standing of the house,” Mr Eideh wrote.

“I am keen to protect the reputation of the house, just as I am keen to protect my own reputation.

“I wish to stand aside from my duties as deputy president, commencing immediately, until the reported outcome of any IBAC process.”

A government spokesman on Tuesday said the resignation was “decision taken by Mr Eideh” and his temporary replacement is a matter for the president and Legislative Council.

He is the third government MP to leave a parliamentary position, following the resignations of Legislative Assembly speaker Telmo Languiller and deputy speaker Don Nardella.

The duo left their roles following a police investigation into their parliamentary entitlements and neither will contest the 2018 election.

Mr Eideh has also announced his political retirement at the next poll.

Under-pressure Maxwell hopes new technique leads to Ashes

Since scoring a mature and composed century against India in the Ranchi test in March, the man nicknamed ‘the Big Show’ has failed to surpass 50 in seven test innings and his selection for the upcoming series against England is far from assured.

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Australia coach Darren Lehmann has said Maxwell’s number six spot is up for grabs, leaving the 29-year-old righthander in a shoot-out with other hopefuls in the domestic Sheffield Shield in the leadup to the first test in Brisbane on Nov. 23.

Maxwell’s faltering output prompted a self-analysis and he was not impressed with what he saw on video review.

“It was a little bit frustrating watching myself back and going ‘I don’t like what I see there’,” he told local media.

“I looked back at a lot of footage and I just noticed a few things creeping into my game.

“I had a very one-day technique where I was able to work the ball sidewards with my hands.

“I basically got rid of that and made sure I was holding my shape a lot longer.”

The correction failed to bring a big score during last month’s tour of Bangladesh but Maxwell said it had already helped soak up minutes out in the middle, as shown by a 98-ball knock of 38 in the second test in Chittagong.

“I’ve really honed a technique that can bat a long period of time and I changed a few things technically to make sure I had a solid defence and something that could sustain long periods of pressure,” he said.

“Unfortunately the way I got out was a bit disappointing, to have the ball just sort of crawl over my body and get to the keeper was a bit frustrating, but the work I did throughout that period showed me that was I was doing was the right thing.”

Maxwell’s lean run saw him axed after three matches of the one-day international series in India but former Australia captain Steve Waugh has backed him to make an impression in the Ashes if selectors stick with him.

“He’s inconsistent but he’s a match winner and there are not too many of them around,” Waugh told local media.

“If he’s managed the right way he can be a force in test match cricket, there’s no doubt about that.

“With him he looks like a confidence player so if he gets picked I would say to him ‘you are playing every test match’ and then you will get the benefit.”

While a handy offspin bowler and an excellent fielder, Maxwell’s batting average stands at 26.07 after seven tests.

Top order batsman Shaun Marsh, who has an average of 36 from 23 tests, and discarded opener Joe Burns (37.95 from 13 tests) are two players seen pushing for selection.

“There is some good, healthy rivalry for it and whoever plays well, hopefully they play well during the Ashes,” said Maxwell.

“I think it would be a huge personal accomplishment to hold my spot in the Australian test team after I’ve had a fair few doubters, especially in the long form of the game.

“So if I could hold my spot for that period of time and beyond, that would be exceptional.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Curtis Cheng’s son speaks out against racism and violence

It has been more than two years since the “senseless” daylight shooting murder of NSW Police accountant Curtis Cheng and his son, Alpha, continues to speak out against violence.

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He says it helps him cope with the loss of his father.

Mr Cheng, whose father was shot in the back of the head as he left work at the Parramatta police headquarters in October 2015, urged people at a Holocaust education exhibition at Victoria’s Parliament House not to give in to prejudice.

“It is part of a process … (in) trying to find meaning and purpose to a senseless act,” Mr Cheng told AAP after speaking at the Courage to Care exhibition on Tuesday.

The program encourages high school students to stand up against intolerance, prejudice and discrimination.

“The assailant that shot my father, we must not forget that he was a 15-year old and there has to be something quite tragic that has happened in society where young people don’t feel like they belong … that will allow such terrible things to happen,” Mr Cheng said.

Schoolboy Farhad Jabar was shot dead by police shortly after killing Curtis Cheng.

His son has since used his grief to publicly advocate against racism and intolerance.

He is angry politicians used his family’s tragedy to “whip up sentiments of hate or suspicion across various groups in our community”.

Mr Cheng was referring to One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson’s comments in July 2016, when she said “we know for a fact that the young 15-year-old who killed Curtis Cheng got the gun from a mosque”.

Mr Cheng is scheduled to address Parliament House again on Friday, to coincide with the close of the Courage to Care exhibition.

Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey ineligible for AFL Women’s draft

The AFL has told transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey she is not eligible to be selected in Wednesday’s AFL Women’s draft.

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The league announced the landmark ruling less than 24 hours before the national selection meeting is set to take place in Melbourne.

Having previously played for the Australian men’s handball team, Mouncey began a gender transition in 2015 and played eight games for Ainslie this season in the Canberra women’s competition.

The 190cm, 100kg ruck played eight games for Ainslie in Canberra’s women’s competition this season and kicked 17 goals.

“Good luck to all the girls who nominated for the AFLW draft tomorrow, especially my mates from Canberra,” Mouncey tweeted after the decision was announced.

“I can’t wait to see you all at the highest level and to play with and against you back in Canberra next year.”

Good luck to all the girls who nominated for the AFLW draft tomorrow, especially my mates from Canberra. I can’t wait to see you all at the highest level and to play with and against you back in Canberra next year!

— Hannah Mouncey 🤾‍♀️ (@hannahmouncey1) October 17, 2017

It is understood an AFL sub-committee rejected her draft nomination based on an exception in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s guidelines, ‘Trans and gender diverse inclusion in sport – complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010’.

The exception is to ensure players don’t have an unfair competitive advantage in single-sex competitions where the strength, stamina or physique of players is relevant.

“The sub-committee’s decision took into account the stage of maturity of the AFLW competition, its current player cohort and Ms Mouncey’s individual circumstances,” an AFL statement read.

“This decision solely relates to Ms Mouncey’s nomination for the 2018 AFLW draft and participation in the 2018 AFLW competition.

“Ms Mouncey may nominate for future AFLW drafts and for registration in other Australian Football competitions.”

The recreational nature of state-based women’s leagues – as opposed to the semi-professional AFLW – is understood to be the key factor in her continued participation.

The sub-committee was made up of AFL commissioners Jason Ball, Gabrielle Trainor and Major General Simone Wilkie, AFL general manager inclusion and social policy Tanya Hosch and AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon.

The process included consultation with Mouncey, her management, the AFLPA, the Australian Sports Commission and Pride in Sport.

The AFL follows International Olympic Committee protocols which state an athlete must prove their testosterone count is below a certain level.

It is understood Mouncey meets those requirements.

However, AFL football chief Steve Hocking said before the ruling was made public that it was not just a case of applying Olympic standards to the AFL.

“There have been a lot of references around the IOC and so forth and their criteria,” Hocking told AFL Trade Radio.

“But the AFL game is quite different to a number of those sports.”

In the past, Mouncey has opened about being a transgender person playing sports in Australia.

“Sports really has to play a role in being accepting and supporting people through a transition,” she said in a YouTube video.

“Especially men’s sport, [it] is a very masculine environment and it is very intimidating. 

“Coming out, I had no idea, I was really worried about how people would take it. But they were fantastic.

“It really can, in many ways, make their transition a success or a failure socially.”

‘Papa Xi’: China’s new emperor?

In Beijing, crowds have been lining up for an exhibition celebrating power and progress.

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 Titled ‘Five years of diligent efforts,’ it showcases how China has leapt forward, in everything from technology, to trade.

It’s all thanks to President Xi Jinping – known affectionately to some attending the exhibition as ‘Papa Xi’.

“Papa Xi is great!” gushes a young woman visiting the exhibition with a friend. “Under his leadership, we’re getting closer to a well off society than ever before.”

It’s exactly the message the Communist Party wants to emphasise as it prepares for its 2017 Party Congress, held once every five years and beginning on October 18.

A visitor poses for a photo at a Beijing exhibition of China’s outstanding achievements over the past five years in September 2017. EPA

 The grand gathering will unveil who will lead the 1.3 billion-strong population until 2022 – including the elite-level politburo and standing committee.

And while up to 70 per cent of party spots are up for grabs this year, Mr Xi’s position has grown ever-stronger.

The new emperor?

Jaime Florcruz is a former journalist and political analyst based in Beijing. He expects the president to further shore up his power at the congress by giving key roles to those closest to him.

“I expect at the end of this congress he would have put all of his protégés, his allies into the most important positions in the government the party and the army,” Mr Florcruz tells SBS News. 

On the streets, and in state and social media, Mr Xi is being promoted as a strong-man and statesman. Songs have been written and dances even choreographed in his honour.

Women practice a dance routine in Beijing, China, during a media tour highlighting the Communist Party’s efforts at the grassroots level.AP

It’s a lavish propaganda push not seen since the days of the founding father of the Chinese Communist state, Chairman Mao. That has lead many, including Mr Florcruz, to believe that Mr Xi will remain president well beyond what should be his second and final term.

“He expects to be around to be the new emperor of China beyond the five years from now,” he says.

Power at the ‘core’ 

Since coming to power in 2012, Mr Xi has slowly tightened his grip on China’s most important spheres of influence. Late last year he was given the official title ‘core leader,’ a position never achieved by the previous president Hu Jintao. 

During his first term, Mr Xi has reigned in the media, famously reminding state-broadcasters in February 2016 that they “must have the party as their family name” during a Beijing tour. 

Xi Jinping attends a ceremony to mark China’s Martyrs’ Day in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in September 2017.AAP

Under his direction, the nation’s mighty military has also been overhauled, with senior generals removed in favour of younger, more professional, officers. The president now has more control over the military than any of his recent predecessors.

The Communist Party itself also had a restructure. President Xi purged previously untouchable political princelings, including former chiefs Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai, in a ruthless anti-corruption crackdown which has also served to eliminate competing party factions and political opponents.

Total loyalty 

Liu Zhiqin, an academic at Beijing’s Renmin University, disagrees with any notion that the anti-corruption drive was motivated by political ambitions. He believes total loyalty has been necessary for allowing Mr Xi to push forward with much-needed reforms.

“We need a steady central governance. A unified party and leadership, not interrupted by several ideas or several opinions. Because of this, Xi Jinping is the ideal leader of this generation,” says Mr Liu. 

A propaganda billboard in Shanghai, China, reading: ‘Welcome the 19th Party Congress, concentrated together to build the China Dream’.AAP

The president’s key policy is the popular ‘China Dream,’ a goal to eliminate extreme poverty by 2020.

Liu Zhiqin says Mr Xi’s lack of hesitation in taking concrete steps to improve living conditions in China, as well as his experiences as a youth during the cultural revolution, have made him appear more down to earth and relatable, especially for younger Chinese people.

“He is a person who grew up in the cultural revolution, a disputed time in the past 40 years. He knows what the people are really thinking, what they really want,” says Mr Liu.

The Communist Party has now agreed to amend its constitution to include Mr Xi political ideologies, the ‘Four Comprehensives’ ahead of the congress.

Centrestage to world stage

The 19th party congress should mark the beginning of Mr Xi’s final leadership term, but the most powerful leader of his generation is widely tipped to stay for a third, sparking comparisons to Chairman Mao and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Whether he names a successor at the congress or not will be a major clue.

As China’s waits to find out who will fill the president’s new inner circle, those outside are watching to see what it will mean for the international community.

Under Mr Xi, China has aggressively pursued its claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea, and as the all-powerful president steps into the spotlight, many expect a more assertive China on the world stage will follow.

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