Dragons can be NRL benchmark, says Price

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Coach Steve Price is confident St George Illawarra can regain their status as one of the NRL’s leading teams this season after a raft of personnel changes.

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The Dragons were one of the biggest disappointments of the 2013 season, only winning more games than back-to-back wooden spooners Parramatta.

The joint venture have suffered something of a hangover since their breakthrough 2010 premiership triumph and the departure of supercoach Wayne Bennett at the end of 2011.

But the club has recruited smartly for 2014, and Price believes he finally has a team that can make a mark.

“We want to get back to being one of the benchmark clubs of the competition,” Price told AAP.

“And I would like to think that can happen in 2014. It is going to take a little bit of time and some hard work and commitment, but we have a playing group and a coaching staff that we believe is capable of that.

“It’s a whole new beginning for the club, and the way the new personnel have fitted into that is really pleasing.”

Price nominated former Warrington prop Mike Cooper, former South Sydney centre Dylan Farrell, Melbourne premiership player Gareth Widdop and Sam Williams, who has moved up from Canberra, as among the recruits who have impressed him in the pre-season.

After playing alongside Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater at the Melbourne Storm, Widdop will be asked to reinvigorate a Dragons attack that spluttered through much of 2013.

Price says from what he has seen in the pre-season, England pivot Widdop is set to take his game to a new level.

“He wants to get to that,” Price said.

“And the signs are there that he is ready to evolve his game.

“He is so meticulous and demands quality in everything that he does.

“He is still young but he brings a great calmness to his game.

“He wants to be a leader. He wants to be a senior player at our football club, and he is doing everything he can to get there.”

Jamaica’s Powell faces disciplinary panel

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Former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell told a Jamaican disciplinary panel on Tuesday that he didn’t tell a doping control officer about most of the supplements he was taking because the products were new to him and he couldn’t recall their names.

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The 31-year-old sprinter, who lowered the 100m world record to 9.74 seconds in 2008, was testifying before a three-member Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) panel.

Powell and his attorneys will try to explain why he tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrone.

Like former teammate Sherone Simpson, a three-time Olympic medallist who tested positive for the same stimulant at the Jamaican national trials in June, Powell blamed a newly hired physiotherapist who provided them with supplement regimes. Both sprinters have been suspended from competition since testing positive.

Powell testified that he received nine supplements from Canadian Christopher Xuereb, including Ephiphany D1, which lab tests later found to contain oxilofrone. He said he started taking Epiphany and other new supplements after he and a friend researched them extensively online and found no prohibited substances.

He said he also had the go-ahead from agent Paul Doyle, who Powell testified had recommended Xuereb. Doyle has said the sprinter was referred to Xuereb through other physiotherapists who Doyle’s clients had worked with in the past.

Powell testified that he quickly became “good friends” with the Canadian physiotherapist, who he said he first met in May – a month before the national trials. Powell said he trusted Xuereb so much that he invited him to live in his home and even let him play with his young daughter.

Xuereb has said he didn’t give Powell and Simpson any performance-enhancing drugs and only purchased major brand vitamins.

In July, he said “both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat”.

On the morning of the world championship trials, Powell said he took four Epiphany D1 capsules at Xuereb’s suggestion, previously taking two each morning since early June. He testified that he did not tell the doping officer about all the new supplements, only listing three on his declaration form.

Powell told JADCO attorney Lackston Robinson: “Sir, these were new supplements to me so, due to the excitement of the trials, I couldn’t remember”.

Robinson accused Powell of being “significantly negligent”.

Simpson’s disciplinary hearings started last week and were expected to last for two days, but were adjourned until early February.

Feb 05

Selena Gomez left rehab early

US singer Selena Gomez has been accused of leaving rehab four weeks early.

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It was revealed on Thursday that the former Disney star had received 14 days of treatment at The Meadows recovery facility.

A spokesperson for Gomez confirmed to RadarOnline that she had voluntarily checked herself in for emotional issues and stressed that it was not for substance abuse.

Now reports have surfaced claiming that 21-year-old only completed the first two weeks of her six-week course, leaving the treatment centre early to attend the Sundance Film Festival.

“Selena Gomez ignored the advice of medical professionals and waltzed out of rehab just 14 days into a six-week program over the strenuous objections of the rehab staff,” reports celebrity news website TMZ深圳桑拿网会所,.

The website also claims that Gomez was in fact suffering from problems with alcohol, marijuana and prescription medication.

“Sources close to Selena tell us just after New Year’s she checked into a program at The Meadows called DAWN – for alcohol, pot and Rx Ambien – in addition to what her people believe is an unhealthy union with Justin Bieber,” the TMZ report said.

Gomez has been in an on/off relationship with Bieber since 2010 and it’s thought his wild lifestyle has had a negative impact on the singer.

The star was seen on the red carpets at Sundance, held in Utah, looking happy and healthy. She was praised on style websites for looking laid back and relaxed, in simple chic outfits.

But TMZ have reported that staff at The Meadows are less than happy with Gomez’s early exit.

“That’s not the way the medical staff at The Meadows sees it … the treatment program is 45-days and Selena bailed four weeks early. We’re told the staff feels it’s essential in any recovery to complete the therapy,” the TMZ report says.

“Selena is telling her people … she completed the toughest week, which the facility calls ‘Survivor’s week’ so everything is fine,” TMZ reports.

Feb 05

Concerns over sexual assaults against elderly people

Norma was 84 years old when she was sexually assaulted by a male staff member while staying in respite care.

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The incident came to light when her relatives met her soon after. “We were sitting around the kitchen table and she said to us with great distress, ‘he shouldn’t be allowed to do that, it’s not allowed.’ And we said, ‘what’s happened?’ And she described an early morning sexual assault by a male staff member. She told him to stop it, and that’s when he smiled and said to her, I can do anything I want,” said relative, Philomena Horsley. “We were shocked. Just gutted. Disbelieving – not of her story – but of how anyone could do that to an older woman who was really vulnerable.”

Norma’s family reported the incident to police and provided her with the support and help needed. Two years on her story has been the catalyst behind ground-breaking nationwide study into sexual assault against the elderly. Lead researcher of ‘Norma’s Project’ Catherine Barrett, hopes the project will expose a largely invisible crime. “The findings will raise awareness in the community, a lot of people don’t believe sexual assault against the elderly occurs. The evidence will show us what we can do to prevent it from happening,” she says.

Diane Brooks from the Older Women’s Network (OWN) in Western Sydney says victims from non-English-speaking backgrounds are even less likely to speak out. “They may not want people to know what’s happening in their lives, they may feel unsafe revealing the information and they may be disempowered,” says Brooks.

Presbyterian Aged Care CEO Paul Sadler says disempowerment of elderly women is the motivation behind the assault. “Often it’s about domination. Sexual predators against children, as well as older people, often seek out vulnerable victims. They’re looking for people who are isolated. not be able to stand up for themselves, not able to fight back and not likely to report what happened”.

Philomena Horsley says Norma has now been moved to an aged care centre where she is well-protected, respected and cared for. However she says incident had a profound impact on her emotional and physical health.

“It became very clear after the incident that she lost the feeling of being safe in her own home. It took a while for her to feel safe around other people again. She also became more frail.”

Norma’s family hopes her story will inspire other victims to come forward. “We want her experience to be a prompt for a wider social awareness for a wider range of support for older women,” said Philomena Horsley.

INTERVIEWS WITH CATHERINE BARRETT AND PAUL SADLER

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Feb 05

Thieves try to steal Sigmund Freud’s ashes

Thieves tried to steal the ashes of the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and his wife from a crematorium in London, severely damaging a 2400-year-old urn that housed their remains, police say.

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Detectives urged the public to help catch the “callous” people responsible after the attempted theft of the 4th century BC Greek urn sometime around New Year’s Eve.

“This was a despicable act by a callous thief,” said Detective Constable Daniel Chandler of the Metropolitan Police.

“Even leaving aside the financial value of the irreplaceable urn and the historical significance to whom it related, the fact that someone set out to take an object knowing it contained the last remains of a person defies belief.”

Freud died in September 1939 and his ashes were placed in the urn in Golders Green Crematorium near his home. Martha Freud’s ashes were added after her death in 1951.

Freud was given the urn – which depicts Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ecstasy – by his close friend and fellow psychoanalyst Princess Marie Bonaparte.

A relation of Napoleon and the wife of the Prince of Greece and Denmark, the princess helped Freud, his wife and daughter Anna flee Vienna when Adolf Hitler annexed Austria in 1938.

The Freud family arrived in London that summer, taking a house in Hampstead, a leafy suburb in the north of the city.

“Between December 31 and January 1, burglars attempted to steal an urn containing the remains of Sigmund Freud and his wife Martha,” the Metropolitan police said in a statement.

The urn, which was displayed on a plinth, was “severely damaged” in the process, police said.

It had been on public view but has now been moved to a secure area while an investigation into security at the crematorium is carried out, according to the local Ham & High newspaper.

Officials at the crematorium, one of the oldest in Britain, were not immediately available for comment.

The urn was chosen to hold Freud’s ashes from his collection of more than 2000 largely Egyptian, Greek and Roman objects, which are on display at his home, now the Freud Museum.

Dawn Kemp, acting director of the museum, said the objects informed his work in developing a new way of understanding the human personality – psychoanalysis.

“He reflected on the stories of antiquity and fables and mythologies, using those as universal stories that depict human responses and conditions,” Kemp told AFP.

She declined to speculate on how much the urn was worth, saying it was a family matter.

The museum was set up following the death of Freud’s daughter Anna in 1982 and includes his famous psychoanalytic couch.

Feb 05

Mulvey says Roar will get better

Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey has delivered a chilling warning to his club’s A-League rivals by insisting the runaway competition leader can get better.

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The 1-1 away draw at closest challenger Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday kept the Roar seven points clear at the top with nine rounds to go and they also have a game in hand over the Wanderers.

Mulvey predicted ladder positions would change over the closing rounds and that Wanderers would find it tough to juggle domestic and Asian Champions League commitments.

While not ready to declare his team winners of the Premier’s Plate, Mulvey made it clear he expected his side to finish above Wanderers, as he wasn’t expecting to return to Parramatta for a finals game.

“We are so strong right now, ” Mulvey said.

“We’ve got Matt McKay to come back. We’ve got competition for places.

“We’re going to get bigger, we’re going to get stronger and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months.”

Roar would appear to have few deficiencies, but Mulvey was adamant improvement was possible.

“In terms of chances made, opportunities, taking control of all aspects of the game,” Mulvey said.

“Whether it be defensively, coping with the opposition, or whether bossing a team in the final third, finishing teams off and not conceding late on.”

He was hoping McKay (ankle) would resume training early next week and be available for the home game against Newcastle next Sunday.

While Roar were forced to defend for much of Friday night’s game, emerging midfielder Luke Brattan cemented his rising reputation with another classy performance.

Although keen to take the pressure off Brattan, Mulvey felt the 23-year-old had the potential to become a dominant A-League player.

“I don’t want anyone talking about him being a Socceroo and nobody talking about `he’s going to be signing for clubs in England’, because he’s still got an awful lot of development to do,” Mulvey said.

“But he’s somebody you want in the trenches with you.

“He was overlooked for a lot of representative sides (when he was younger).

“He is becoming a man now in a man’s game.

“I couldn’t be more delighted for him, but he needs to keep his feet on the ground.

“He’s got a lot of developing to do and I can see him potentially pushing for domination of midfields throughout the whole of the A-League.”

Feb 05

AFL player took drink before positive test

Former St Kilda player Ahmed Saad admits he took a banned substance before returning the positive test that led to his 18-month AFL doping ban.

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The Saints have delisted the 24-year-old, but he is hopeful that a club will re-draft him at the end of next season.

He said on Tuesday he is devastated about the suspension, which ends in February 2015.

Saad said he did not check the substance because he received it from a trusted source.

He tested positive for Methyl Synephrine HCL, which was in an energy drink he took earlier this year before an AFL match.

Under anti-doping rules, the substance is only illegal on match day and that was when Saad was tested.

Asked whether he had taken the energy drink previously before a match, Saad told SEN: “yeah, I have actually.”

Saad thought nothing of it until a doctor checked the substances he had disclosed for his doping test.

“From where I got the product, (it was) someone who was like a mentor and a family member for me,” Saad said.

“I had that much trust with him, as if a coach had given me that product.

“I’m a bit devastated with what happened.

“But … I have to move forward and that’s life.

“Something went wrong and now I have to deal with it.”

St Kilda confirmed Saad’s suspension late last month.

He said it was not a shock, because once the doctor checked the substance they knew there was a problem.

“From day one, we did everything we (could) to try to show the AFL it was a mistake,” Saad said.

Saad added that sacked Saints coach Scott Watters was one of the main reasons he had coped with the drama.

While the club has cut Saad, it continues to support him.

“They’re making sure my life is on track, (in) regards to work and school, making sure I make the most of this year,” he said.

Saad said he was determined not to waste his year out of the game.

“It’s all up to me, to make sure I’m fit and I’ve trained and worked hard,” he said.

“It does crush me, but it only puts some fuel in me to come back better.

“I don’t think it’s an end now, I don’t think my career is over.”

Feb 05

Century-chasing Mourinho not fooled by United’s woes

United’s teething problems under new manager David Moyes have left them way off the pace, 11 points behind leaders Arsenal and nine behind third-placed Chelsea, and defeat at Stamford Bridge would effectively end their hopes of staying in touch with the main title protagonists.

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With strikers Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney likely to be missing for United, Chelsea will start strong favourites, although Mourinho warned his players against complacency.

“Read the match programme, my notes,” Mourinho told reporters on Friday. “I start by saying we don’t play against a team that are 11 points behind the leader, we play against the champions, we play against Manchester United.

“That’s the way I start my notes in the programme and that’s exactly the way I feel. I’ve been in the game a long time, I’ve played dozens and dozens of derbies and classic matches, games between the big teams and that’s what experience says.

“On many occasions, the team that looks to be in the most difficult situation appears stronger in the match, that’s why I consider this game especially dangerous.”

WELL-SCHOOLED

Mourinho is well-schooled in sporting psychology but his take on the 100-win landmark was simple.

“My 100th victory in the Premier League with Chelsea is going to happen; is it against United, West Ham or later? I don’t know, what I know is that the number will arrive.

“It’s the next match and if I can do it in the next match it’s better than doing it in three, four or five matches away.”

“We are going to try to do it against Man United because now we play two matches at home, after playing two matches away, and we have to try to go for the six points.”

This season’s Premier League title race is shaping up to be one of the tightest ever, according to Mourinho, and he says the immediate priority is to guarantee a top-four finish.

“If you look at the table, Arsenal and Manchester City are the top two teams. Man City have different ammunition but we are not far,” he said.

“Liverpool have a fantastic chance to do it, it’s almost unique the fact they are not playing in European competition.

“United are United, 11 points to the leader is quite a lot but I believe they will push all the way. The way this league is at the moment, I think for all the big teams the first objective is to secure a place in the top four because it will be difficult to get it.

“We are not desperate to win the title. We are building for the future, but we want to keep our DNA of winning.”

Mourinho said he would rather Van Persie and Rooney both be playing for United on Sunday.

“I’d prefer them to play,” he said. “The best thing is to play against the best players at the maximum of their potential.

“For us, the focus, concentration and motivation is bigger when they are there so I hope they are.”

Frank Lampard could be available on Sunday after returning to training following his calf injury but Branislav Ivanovic is a major doubt. New signing Nemanja Matic will also miss out.

“Matic will not start the game, I have to show respect to my other players who are doing well,” Mourinho said.

“I don’t think it’s the right message for them that a new player comes immediately and plays, so I’m not playing him from the beginning.”

(Writing by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ed Osmond)

Feb 05

One Australian perspective

SBS World News Australia received this email from one of those waiting for help, Lina Chiha is a 23 year old Australian tourist – this is her story.

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“You can all sit on the other side of the world and speculate about what’s going on and how we feel, but maybe you should hear from an Aussie stuck in this war zone. All the Aussies here are scared, we fled from our holiday resorts, beach villas and Beirut apartments to come up north in the safer mountains. Some have left their clothes and tickets and literally fled with the clothes they had on. But we don’t feel any safer up here.

There are entire families here looking for a safe haven. One Australian mother in particular forced her entire family to come up North and hide. She cries herself to sleep every night, wondering if she made the right decision.

As advised by our government we stay inside all day but can not understand what is happening as there are only two Arabic news channels available. Nobody understands the reports nor can we depend on reporting reliability (bias or not). The locals have also started to panic.

Today I witnessed busloads of locals making their way to Zgharta, the closest market place, to buy bulk food supplies. They do not know when they will be able to leave their homes again. How do you think the tourists feel? We have no electricity during the night, and any internet we can access is slow and painful.

I don’t care about religion, territory or power. This is not our war. I hate the fact that my father and I (along with all the other Aussies stuck here) are pawns in this huge SUPER-POWER game. The Australian government has hugely disappointed every Australian here.

The Embassy doesn’t even take our calls. They are now saying that they are going to rescue those in the most danger we all feel that we will be left behind because we are “in a part of Lebanon which is not subject to the violence.” Yet.

The French, Canadian, Norwegian, Italian, English and American Embassies have supported their people and are currently moving them, if they haven’t already moved them all. The government NEEDS to move quickly…as quickly as they sent troops to Iraq. 86 people is not enough.

I know it is possible to rescue us, I just don’t understand why it hasn’t happened yet.

Lina Chiha.”