Brad Scott says AFL tanking talk laughable

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says talk that his AFL team is tanking to earn the No.

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1 draft pick is laughable and they will be doing all they can to keep their impressive record against Melbourne alive in Hobart on Saturday.

An understrength Kangaroos fell to Essendon last round for their seventh straight loss to languish in second-last spot on the ladder.

But Scott said he wouldn’t trade a winning culture for a top draft pick and pointed to the team’s solid recent record overall as proof.

“It has been dismissed because it is absolutely laughable,” Scott said.

“You could get offended because it does question your integrity to an extent, but it has just been so far removed from fact that I don’t want to engage too much in it, other than to say it is absolutely untrue.

“We want to create a winning culture and that’s always what our club’s been about and if you look back through our recent history, we’ve fought really hard.

“I know people will think the No.1 draft pick would be nice … but the difference between pick one, two, three and four – well, that’s in the eye of the beholder, anyway.”

In Scott’s eight years at the helm the Kangaroos have only missed the finals three times and, on each occasion, they won their last game of the year.

He said he had players he could send for early surgery but planned to play them until the end of the season in the hope of securing more wins.

A loss to Melbourne – a team the Kangaroos boast a 16-match winning streak against dating back to 2007 – would be their worst run of results since 1984.

Given the weakness of the Demons over much of that period Scott said he couldn’t read too much into the decade-long streak.

“When it stretches back that far it’s largely irrelevant,” he said.

“I think Melbourne have changed their coach and I don’t think there would be many players still involved.”

Greens call for MP citizenship audit

The Greens have called for all federal MPs to be subject to a citizenship audit, with Matt Canavan vowing to fight his ineligibility in court.

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The Queensland senator resigned from cabinet on Tuesday after it emerged his mother had signed him up to become an Italian citizen in 2006.

She informed him of his status as an “Italian citizen abroad” on July 18 having seen media reports about the ineligibility of Greens senator Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam which forced them to quit parliament.

Under Section 44 of the constitution a person is disqualified from being elected if at the time of their election they are a citizen of “a foreign power” or otherwise have an “allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power”.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said on Thursday he had written to the Senate President and House Speaker calling for an audit to immediately establish the eligibility of all members of parliament.

Senator Di Natale said the constitution was clear that people with dual citizenship were ineligible to stand and Senator Canavan should do the “honourable” thing and resign from parliament.

“We can’t have one set of rules for ministers within the Turnbull government and another set of rules for everybody else,” Senator Di Natale told reporters in Melbourne.

Senator Canavan told reporters in Rockhampton while he felt it appropriate to resign from the ministry, legal advice led him to conclude he was not in breach of the constitution.

“I did consider not continuing on, given the circumstances of other cases, but I base my decision very much on that legal advice that we’ve been provided which provides grounds that I have not breached section 44,” he said.

“I think it’s important we let that process run now and let the court make its decision.”

Senator Canavan said he was aware his mother had applied to become an Italian citizen but he had no knowledge or suspicion of what had occurred 11 years ago until last week.

“I’ve never signed a document, given consent or have any knowledge of these matters until last week.”

Asked whether he was aware his mother had been receiving Italian election voting papers in his name for the past decade, he said he had never received any correspondence from Italian authorities.

Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said the government should reveal whether there were clouds over any other coalition MPs in terms of their dual nationality.

The federal opposition also wants Senator Canavan to reveal his documentation, however he says all relevant material will be provided to the court.

100 million-year-old dinosaur bones confirm new Australian species

Analysis of 100 million-year-old dinosaur bones from a sheep farm in central Queensland has confirmed the Australian dinosaur, Austrosaurus mckillopi, to be a distinct species.

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The new research, published in the Alcheringa journal of palaeontology, puts to bed speculation about the dinosaur’s existence.

Swinburne palaeontologist Dr Stephen Poropat said before the new research not enough was known about or had been found of Austrosaurus mckillopi, causing fellow palaeontologists to often question if the dinosaur fossil was unique and deserved a species name.

But the 2014-2015 discovery of six ribs, coupled with a reassessment of the dinosaur’s backbone found at the site in the 1930s, has given researchers fresh information, allowing them to confirm Austrosaurus mckillopi is a distinct species.

Bird’s-eye view of the reconstructed Austrosaurus mckillopi site. Dr Stephen Poropat, Swinburne University

“With Austrosaurus mckillopi, we can now say it deserves to keep its name,” Dr Poropat said.

It becomes one of just 20 Australian dinosaurs with an official name.

But for the Australian and British palaeontology team, just finding the fossil site on the Clutha sheep station north west of Richmond in Queensland was a victory.

Lost since its discovery in the 1930s and with two previous searches in the 1970s and 1990s failing to find the dinosaur fossil, it took the local knowledge of Richmond Mayor John Wharton, who grew up on Clutha station, and some country-can-do to find the lost site Dr Poropat had first heard of in 2012 as a student in Sweden.

Mr Wharton remembered the two acacia posts of the sign erected at the fossil site by palaeontologists in the 1930s from his childhood but when he returned in 2014 he couldn’t find them, Dr Poropat said.

Not to be defeated, he used a helicopter to find the posts he was sure were still there but had just fallen over.

“And that’s how we found it, it’s quite remarkable to find dinosaur fossils from the air.”

A dig crew in 2015 watch as a council worker excavates the site. Dr Stephen Poropat, Swinburne University

Dr Poropat said Austrosaurus mckillopi was a 15-metre long barrel-chested herbivore with four column-like legs.

“Think an elephant’s body in size and shape but with a small head, long neck and a long tail.”

Sauropods like Austrosaurus mckillopis lived from 200 million to 66 million years ago but the fossil discovered at Clutha sheep station discovery is the only one of its kind.

 

Roberts was a drug user: Wayne Bennett

Wayne Bennett has made the startling admission that James Roberts had a drug and alcohol problem and praised the Brisbane centre’s will to get his life and NRL carer back on track.

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“Jimmy The Jet” on Thursday celebrated an exciting new chapter in his life with a four-year contract extension to stay at the Broncos until 2021.

The 24-year had no lack of suitors, however made it clear he wanted to be at Red Hill for the rest of his career under the guidance of coach Bennett and CEO Paul White.

Having been sacked earlier in his career by South Sydney and Penrith, Roberts was in danger of squandering his talents because of off-field issues.

A stint in a Thailand rehabilitation facility and the birth of his son Kirk resulted in him maturing as a man and a player.

His new-found peace of mind has been a major factor for Roberts, considered one of the fastest players in the NRL, rediscovering his best form in 2017.

Roberts has come so far from his trouble-plagued past that the club had refused to have behavioural clauses inserted into his contract.

“When he came here last year, you can hardly say he was part of the team,” Bennett said.

“But he is, an important part of the team, and an equal – they all respect him.”

“It’s not all about James anymore.

“It’s about the team and he interacts with them and he’s valued by them.

“His off-field behaviour, he’s made some commitments there and it’s not easy. He’s given up alcohol, given up drugs. He’s been in that situation for six or seven months and that’s been a game-changer for him.

“That’s why he’s got a four-year contract.”

Roberts, who this year was spoken about as a possible NSW State of Origin debutant, said he wanted to stay with Brisbane for the rest of his playing career.

He was reportedly chased by five rival clubs but decided to stay after getting his life back on track.

“I’ve always been able to play footy, but getting my life right off the field has been the main factor and I think they’ve done a wonderful job,” Roberts said.

Warriors undaunted by uphill finals climb

The maths are looking increasingly grim for the Warriors – but a flicker of NRL finals hope continues to burn.

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With six round-robin matches remaining, Stephen Kearney’s troops need at least five wins to hit the traditional 28-point finals barrier – yet, beyond Friday’s clash with the high-flying Sharks, that challenge doesn’t seem insurmountable.

Matches against fellow battlers Newcastle, Canberra and South Sydney will follow, before a major test at home in the form of sixth-placed Manly.

A tussle with the lowly Tigers will then close out the season.

For Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, there’s no reason why his 12th-placed side can’t sneak into the top eight – or even cause an upset this weekend over the fourth-placed Sharks, who have lost three of their past six games.

All the right signs had been there in the Warriors’ 24-12 loss to North Queensland last weekend, particularly up front.

Typically flaky for much of the 2017 campaign, the Warriors’ forwards showed genuine steel against the Cowboys, making more running metres than their opponents and neutralising the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess.

“The Sharks, they’re another similar team to the Cowboys – a big forward pack,” Tuivasa-Sheck said, referring to the rampaging Andrew Fifita.

“If we can continue to have our middles play that physical game up front, and a few of us fix our execution plays – that’s where we lost in the last game – against the Sharks, we can fix it up and come away with the points.

“A lot of the errors from the Cowboys game were players just not clear on what plays we’re on, where we’re supposed to be.”

With Shaun Johnson still nursing a knee injury, Mason Lino retains his grip on the Warriors’ No.7 jumper ahead of fellow young gun Ata Hingano.

More damaging for Kearney’s side, however, is the loss of prop James Gavet to an arm injury – placing the onus on Ben Matulino and Jacob Lillyman to front.

Kearney was confident the pair would do the business.

“The focus this week is on making sure, up against another good team, that we make them earn every metre they can,” Kearney said.

“All week it’s been about making sure it’s an 80-minute performance, and not having those periods where we drop off. It’s a wonderful challenge against the defending premiers and what they bring.”

STATS THAT MATTER:

– Cronulla has won seven of their past nine NRL matches against the Warriors – however, each of the previous four has been decided by four points or less.

– Despite sitting 12th on the NRL ladder, the Warriors have lost just twice at Mount Smart Stadium in 2017, to Melbourne and Penrith.

– The Sharks have lost away from home just once in 2017.

Fortescue aims for further cost cuts

Fortescue Metals is targeting a further reduction in costs this financial year but expects to keep its iron ore shipments steady.

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The world’s fourth-largest iron ore exporter shipped 44.7 million tonnes of iron ore in the final three months of 2016/17, up three per cent from a year earlier, and a 13 per cent increase on a weather-impacted third quarter.

That took full year shipments to 170.4 million tonnes, just above the company’s guidance of 165 million to 170 million tonnes.

Cash costs were trimmed seven per cent from the March quarter to a record low of $US12.16 per wet metric tonne, and the full year average of $US12.82/wmt was down 17 per cent.

Chief executive Nev Power said the Pilbara miner is well positioned to continue to improve costs, invest in the core iron ore business and maintain production levels in the 2017/18 financial year.

“We will continue the consistent and predictable performance,” he told reporters.

“Capital management, further strengthening the balance sheet and generating shareholder returns remain our key priorities.”

Fortescue is aiming to hold shipments steady at 170 million tonnes in 2017/18, but could trim cash costs to between $US11 and $US12 per wmt.

The miner said its iron ore realised an average $US53.27 a tonne in the June quarter, or about 77 per cent of the average benchmark price for the top grade.

Discounts between the top grade iron ore and Fortescue’s lower grades have widened in recent months, and the company expects the gap to remain while steel mill profitability and iron ore port stockpiles in China remain at current high levels.

Royal Bank of Canada analyst Paul Hissey said the lower price realisation was the sticking point of Fortescue’s update, and the market may not be fully appreciating its significance.

“It may still be too early to ascertain whether this downgrade is a function of structural change in the steel industry or the result of shorter-term cyclical factors,” he said in a note.

Fortescue expects to realise between 75 and 80 per cent of the benchmark price in 2017/18, but said realisations will remain near the bottom of this range in the first half of the fiscal year.

Fortescue shares were down three cents at $5.27 nearing the end of Thursday’s trading session.

Tiny brain part may hold anti-ageing key

A vital pea-sized component of the brain may be the key to holding back ageing and extending the human lifespan, research suggests.

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The hypothalamus, a small bundle of neurons at the base of the brain, governs how quickly the body ages.

Tests on laboratory mice pinpointed ageing control to a tiny population of adult stem cells within the brain region.

The cells appear to keep a tight rein on ageing.

As their numbers decline naturally with time or if their function is disrupted, the body’s organs and metabolic processes age faster and death occurs earlier.

Humans are likely to respond to the influence of hypothalamus stem cells in just the same way, scientists believe.

Lead investigator Professor Dongsheng Cai, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said: “Our research shows that the number of hypothalamic neural stem cells naturally declines over the life of the animal and this decline accelerates ageing.

“But we also found that the effects of this loss are not irreversible. By replenishing these stem cells or the molecules they produce, it’s possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of ageing throughout the body.”

The hypothalamus acts like a computer’s central processor, regulating a wide range of biological functions in the body.

One of its most important jobs is to maintain homeostasis – keeping different parts of the body working in a stable, balanced way.

Among the many body functions it influences via a complex array of hormones are temperature control, appetite, blood pressure, heart rate, sleep cycles, sex drive and digestion.

The crucial hypothalamus stem cells are “mother cells” that mature to produce new neurons.

Prof Cai’s team of researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Nature, looked at what happened to the cells as healthy mice got older.

They found the number of hypothalamus stem cells began to diminish when the animals reached about 10 months, several months before the usual signs of ageing normally start to appear.

When the stem cells in middle-aged mice were selectively disrupted artificially, it led to “greatly accelerated ageing”.

The next step was to inject hypothalamus stem cells into the brains of mice whose supply of the cells had been destroyed, as well as “normal” old mice.

In both groups of animals, various measurements showed ageing was either slowed or reversed.

Late Morris goal delivers U.S. sixth Gold Cup championship

His 14-yard strike came after a cross by U.

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S. midfielder Gyasi Zardes ricocheted off Clint Dempsey and landed perfectly for forward Morris, who sent the ball past the diving arms of replacement Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.

Jose Altidore had given the hosts the lead just before halftime when his perfectly judged free kick curled over the defensive wall and a diving Miller into the net.

The goal was sweet redemption for Morris, whose defensive error in the second half allowed Jamaican midfielder Vaughn Watson to tie the game 1-1 in the 50th minute.

“He made up for it,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who is undefeated in 14 games since taking the reigns in November, told reporters after the match.

“It was a big step that he took tonight.”

Morris, who graduated from nearby Stanford University, lost his man close to the goal and Watson responded by delivering a six-yard strike off an assist by Kemar Lawrence, the hero from Jamaica’s upset 1-0 win over Mexico on Sunday.

The tone of the match had changed when Jamaican goalie and team captain Andre Blake was forced to leave midway through the first half after American Kellyn Acosta stepped on his hand while taking a shot on goal.

Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said the injury to the standout 26-year-old may require stitches but insisted it was not serious.

The Reggae Boyz ran the Americans close during the entire match, playing tenacious defence and using their speed to push the tempo on offence.

But the Americans, who had nearly 70 percent ball possession, were eventually able to wear the opposition defence down.

“Congratulations to the U.S. team, they did a good job tonight,” Whitmore said. “But the sky is the limit for us, we just have to keep on working.”

The annual championship of North America, Central America and Caribbean played out before a half-full Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, California, home to the state’s famed Silicon Valley.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

NSW abandons council mergers in backflip

Questions have been asked about NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ability to implement the government’s agenda after another policy backflip, this time on the controversial council mergers plan.

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Ms Berejiklian on Thursday conceded defeat in her fight to forcibly merge more than a dozen Sydney councils.

Citing protracted legal battles with several councils and the uncertainty this was causing ratepayers, the premier admitted the government had failed to effectively implement the policy, but defended its merit.

“Is the policy the right one? Yes. Did we get the implementation wrong? Absolutely,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

“This is a decision that’s weighed heavily on the government.”

The government’s about-face on amalgamations has occurred after several other policy backdowns, including the failed attempt to ban greyhound racing and changes to the NSW fire services levy.

The amalgamations of 14 councils currently challenging their amalgamations will no longer proceed, but those local governments already merged will remain.

The amalgamation policy was dealt a blow earlier this year when the NSW Court of Appeal blocked a forced merger between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby councils due to a lack of “procedural fairness”.

The High Court was also due to hear Woollahra council’s challenge to the merger with Waverley and Randwick in Sydney’s east.

Ms Berejiklian in January decided to walk away from planned amalgamations in the bush, but she forged ahead with those in the city.

The premier on Thursday said she still believed the policy was “absolutely the right thing to do” for councils in metropolitan areas.

“But when some councils choose to use ratepayer money and take this issue to court, that is outside of our control and we did not anticipate how long those processes would take.”

There are 20 already-amalgamated councils across NSW.

Local government elections for the merged councils and the 14 affected by Thursday’s announcement will be held on September 9.

Woollahra Mayor Toni Zelzter described the government’s decision as “a great day for local democracy”.

Opposition leader Luke Foley says the back down is another example of the NSW government abandoning policy on the run.

“Another day, another backflip. It’s not so much a case of a bad policy, as a bad government,” Mr Foley told reporters.

The Labor leader also questioned whether Ms Berejiklian would consider re-introducing forced mergers in the future.

Mr Foley said the government should give rate-payers in local government areas that had already been amalgamated the opportunity to vote on whether they could de-merge.

“If the government has a skerrick of decency, what they’ll do is allow plebiscites, democratic votes in all those council areas where forced mergers exist today,” he said.

Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster brother jailed for lying to police in murder investigation

The mother of slain Brisbane schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer says the justice system has let her daughter down after her foster brother was jailed for a minimum of three months.

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Josh Thorburn, 21, was sentenced in the Beenleigh District Court on Thursday to 15 months’ imprisonment, to be suspended after three months, for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Thorburn admitted lying to police and the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) on multiple occasions during the investigation into Tiahleigh’s murder in October 2015.

Tiahleigh’s mother Cindy, who was part of a packed gallery for the sentencing, indicated she would seek to have Thorburn’s sentence reviewed.

“The justice system has let us down horribly today,” Ms Palmer said outside court.

“Most of all they’ve let down Tiahleigh and her fight for justice.”

A supplied image obtained Sat. Nov. 7, 2015 shows Tiahleigh Palmer, 12, who was last seen outside Marsden State High School.QLD POLICE

The court heard Thorburn was called to a family meeting regarding Tiahleigh after arriving home on October 29.

Fearful of his father Richard and what he might do, Thorburn lied to police on two occasions about seeing Tiahleigh the morning after police allege she was murdered.

During a CCC hearing into the alleged crime in June 2016, Thorburn again claimed to have seen Tiahleigh on October 30, 2015 and denied knowing about any sexual activity she was involved in or who had killed her.

Judge Craig Chowdhury said while he accepted Thorburn had an “acute fear” of his father and was being pressured by his parents to lie, he had time and opportunity to tell the truth.

“A significant police investigation was substantially obstructed,” Judge Chowdhury said.

Thorburn’s father Richard has been charged with Tiahleigh’s murder while his younger brother Trent is facing charges of incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Thorburn’s mother Julene was expected to face sentencing on Thursday on perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice charges but her matter has been adjourned after she changed lawyers.