Eels heap more misery on under-fire Potter

It wasn’t pretty but no one of a Parramatta persuasion cared on Friday night as their embattled Eels ended a run of 10 straight losses with a 26-22 win to heap more pressure on Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter.

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It may have lacked quality at times, but the NRL’s two bottom sides produced an exciting encounter that was won by the hosts thanks to a try three minutes before fulltime from winger Vai Toutai following some sterling work from Ben Roberts.

The defeat will fuel speculation about Potter’s future and the 49-year-old was on the cusp of a much-needed win when rugby-bound Benji Marshall converted Tim Simona’s 72nd-minute try.

Parramatta welcomed back Jarryd Hayne following a hamstring injury that sidelined him for more than two months.

The NSW star was named at five-eighth by Ricky Stuart and his return certainly galvanised the Eels, who looked far more menacing in attack than in recent weeks in front of a crowd of 12,013.

The Tigers opened the scoring after seven minutes through David Nofoaluma’s eighth try of an excellent debut season.

However, Stuart’s side responded well to that early setback with Ken Sio and the impressive Jake Mullaney crossing in quick succession.

Hayne played a role in both tries and his side should have extended their advantage when Roberts got his hands to Marshall grubber kick and broke free, only to produce an appalling pass to undo all of his good work and cough up the ball.

And just shy of the half-hour mark the Tigers regained the lead through the lightning-fast Marika Koroibete with Marshall adding the extras.

Toutai finished in the left corner after more good work from Hayne just before halftime, but after the break the Tigers came racing out of the blocks but were unable to score following three successive sets on the Eels’ line.

Both sides struggled to keep hold of the ball on occasions, but the Tigers did finally add a third try when Koroibete, who scored four times against Parramatta last year, added his second 12 minutes after the restart.

But the Eels kept pressing and Joseph Paulo showed great strength to touch down just after the hour mark, only for the visitors to hit back through Simona.

A big run from Fuifui Moimoi set up a final push for the home side and Roberts showed brilliant footwork and vision to find Tautau who made no mistake with Paulo kicking the extra two points.

Stuart said he was relieved by the win but admitted his side were desperate to end their wretched run.

“That game was pretty ugly, we didn’t play well, and it sounds funny as we have been getting beat all these weeks,” he said.

“But I felt we have played better in those losses than tonight.

“In saying that, we knew it was going to be a desperate game for both teams, but we had a relaxed build-up and it was about desire tonight.

“We have a lot of spirit in the joint.”

Potter said he expected to still be in his job by next week, but admitted the speculation had been unsettling.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been my easiest week at work,” Potter said.

“I just got on with business as best as I could. You don’t like it, but it comes with the job and you just have to get on with it.”

To compound the Tigers woes, Koroibete sustained a suspected fractured cheekbone.

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Who’s voluntarily leaving politics at this election?

This election campaign will be the voluntary end of the political careers for several members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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Among them are high-flyers…notably the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and several others of her frontbenchers who resigned when Kevin Rudd was reinstalled as Labor leader.

 

Erdem Koc looks at those departing the nation’s capital.

 

Deputy Speaker: “I call the Prime Minister.”

Gillard: “Thank you very much Deputy Speaker and I rise to oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition…. And in so doing, I say to the leader of the opposition, I will not be lectured about sexism and misogny by this man, I will not…”

 

It’s said to be one of Julia Gillard’s finest moments — the speech where she accuses Tony Abbott of being a misogynist.

 

The former P-M made international headlines when she delivered the impromptu speech, following an unsuccessful no-confidence motion by the Leader of the Opposition, who claimed private text messages sent by the then Speaker Peter Slipper were sexist.

 

Mr Abbott claimed in parliament that he was offended by the texts – and so should everybody who read them.

 

But it was Ms Gillard’s reply that caught the most attention.

 

“I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of parliament and stood next to a sign that said “Ditch the Witch”. I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a “man’s bitch”. I was offended by those things. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this Leader of the Opposition, every day in every way across the time the Leader of the Opposition has sat in that chair, and I’ve sat in this chair, that is all we have heard from him.”

 

Julia Gillard is one of the several M-Ps who are quitting politics at this election.

 

She was Australia’s first female Prime Minister, but many claimed that the way she came to power in 2010 by ousting Kevin Rudd one evening, would always haunt her.

 

And it did.

 

At the third leadership ballot called by Ms Gillard in two years, she was defeated when her predecessor was elected as her successor.

 

In calling the June ballot, Ms Gillard issued this ultimatum in an interview with Sky News.

 

Gillard: “I believe anybody who enters the ballot tonight should do it on the following conditions: that if you win, you’re Labor leader, that if you lose, you retire from politics.”

Reporter: “And you’re agreeing to do that?”

Gillard: “Oh, absolutely.”

Reporter: “If you lose tonight, you will leave parliament at the election?”

Gillard: “Correct.”

 

And so ended her 15 years in federal parliament, representing the Melbourne electorate of Lalor, and an even longer one in politics, which included being the chief-of-staff to the former Victorian Premier, John Brumby.

 

Ms Gillard’s defeat resulted in the resignation of several of her former frontbenchers, who also voluntarily leave parliament at this election.

 

They’re Defence Minister Stephen Smith, former Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, former Trade Minister Craig Emerson, and former Education Minister Peter Garrett.

 

The former Labor leader Simon Crean has also quit, ending 23 years of his political career.

 

Another Labor veteran leaving politics is former Speaker of the House, Harry Jenkins.

 

His father, who also carries the same name, was his predecessor in the Victorian seat of Scullin, and was also once a Speaker of the House.

 

Mr Jenkins says the greatest moment of his 27 years in parliament was the apology to the Stolen Generations.

 

“There is nothing that can underestimate the way this place buzzed throughout the grand halls, right down to the mall. People were really energised and excited.”

 

And in his valedictory speech, Harry Jenkins urged his divided party to unite.

 

“United we stand, divided we fall. That’s clear. The motto – unity is strength.”

 

Other outgoing Labor members are former ministers Robert McClelland and Nicola Roxon, Capricornia MP Kirsten Livermore, Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons and Newcastle’s Sharon Grierson.

 

For the Liberal Party, there’s Joanna Gash in the House of Representatives seat of Gilmore, Judi Moylan in Pearce, Alby Schultz in Hume, Patrick Secker in Barker, Paul Neville in Hinkler, Alex Somlyay in Fairfax, and Mal Washer in Moore have also called it quits.

 

Two of the unexpected resignations came from the key independents who delivered power to Labor following the hung parliament in 2010.

 

Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor both cited personal reasons for leaving, with Mr Windsor battling a health issue, and Mr Oakeshott saying he wanted to spend more time with his young family.

 

In his valedictory speech, Mr Oakeshott said the past three years had the been the toughest of his life, but paid tribute to the person who he said kept it all together.

 

“About 10 minutes before a party room ballot last night — you know, we all get a bit of a sense of what’s going on in the joint — I sent the Prime Minister a text. And it was to say her father would be proud of her.”

 

Senate retirees include Labor’s Chris Evans from Western Australia and Trish Crossin from the Northern Territory, and the Coalition’s Sue Boyce, from Queensland.

 

Senator Crossin’s retirement though comes not by will, but by force.

 

She was dumped by Julia Gillard and replaced with indigenous Olympian Nova Peris as the new Labor candidate.

 

In her valedictory speech — which was partly given in an indigenous language — Senator Crossin delivered a parting swipe at her own party.

 

“Do we need more women in Parliament? Well of course we do. But not at the expense of each other. And do we need Indigenous representation? Most certainly, but not in a vacuum without a plan or without a strategy. Just because one person says it must be so doesn’t make it right or democratic.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Human cloning technology grows stem cells

Scientists say stem cells be a source of any of the cells or tissues in a human body.

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So potentially, stem cells could be used to treat diseases by repairing or replacing cells that have been damaged.

 

But this latest development has drawn criticism from those who believe it’s unethical to experiment on human embryos.

 

Greg Dyett reports.

 

The fear among some is that cloned human embryos have the potential to become living, breathing human beings if they were to be implanted in women.

 

Cloning humans, they say, would be morally wrong and something that should remain in the realm of science fiction, something to experience in a book or perhaps a movie like the The Stepford Wives.

 

The 1975 film and it re-makes is based on a satirical thriller written by Ira Levin where photographer and young mother Joanna Eberhart suspects the overly submissive, subservient women in the town of Stepford, Connecticut are actually robots created by their husbands.

 

Her suspicions are confirmed when she stabs one of them and finds there’s no blood to be seen.

 

“I thought we were friends! I thought we were friends! I was just going to give you coffee. I was just going to give you coffee. I thought we were friends. I thought we were friends. I thought we were friends. How could you do a thing like that? “

 

While that form of cloning remains the stuff of fiction, the concerns over the cloning of animals and its ethics are based on fact as the world first saw in the late 1990s.

 

Hello Dolly! “Dolly is the name of the first mammal, yes a sheep ever to be born as the result of cloning. Cloned from and adult sheep, in a laboratory. Dolly is doing fine, thank you, she is seven months old already and from the scientific community to the water cooler, we human beings have had a future, or seen a future at least, that had only been imagined up until now. If a lamb, why not a man? ”

 

The question posed by the late American newscaster Peter Jennings in 1997 is again being asked today in light of this latest development which used methods like those that brought Dolly into the world.

 

Doctor Lyle Armstrong from Newcastle University in the UK provided this explanation to the BBC as to what the scientists in the United States have managed to achieve.

 

“They’ve taken a human egg cell, they’ve removed the genetic material from it and replaced it with the genetic material of one of the skin cells of a human patient and that embryo that they’ve created has developed to the stage where they can extract stem cells from it and grow them in a laboratory.”

Doctor Armstrong says stem cell therapy has great potential.

 

“They (stem cells) can become any of the cells or tissues that we would find in the adult body so, for example, if someone is suffering from a heart complaint we may be able to make new heart muscle cells to replace the dead or dying cells in their body or if they’re suffering from diabetes or Parkinsons disease we may be able to make the cells to replace those or repair those conditions.”

 

The successful cloning of a human embryo was the work of researchers at the Oregon Science and Health University.

 

Their team leader Doctor Shoukrat Matalipov says caffeine played a role in the research.

 

“So we have probably a battery of different drugs which we could use but most of them appears to be very toxic and they would have a side effect and for some reason caffeine is mild, it did the job we wanted but they didn’t do any side effects.”

 

As for the ethical debate, Dr Lyle Armstrong points out that most countries have strict laws against human reproductive cloning and he says what the scientists have achieved in the US is another quite distinct form of cloning.

 

“What has been attempted here is a process called therapeutic cloning which aims to do no more than to make embryonic stem cells but there is also the possibility that if you can make a cloned embryo that you can implant it into a human female and it will grow to become a child and there are very good reasons why we should not do that. Studies in animals have shown that cloning produces malformed offspring so we should not do this with the human species, it would be a great mistake.”

 

The campaign group, Human Genetics Alert is alarmed by the developments.

 

Spokesman Doctor David King says the scientists in Oregon have finally delivered the baby that would-be human cloners have been waiting for: a method for reliably creating cloned human embryos.

 

Doctor King says it’s imperative there be an international legal ban on human cloning before any more research of this sort takes place.

 

He says publishing the research was irresponsible in the extreme.

 

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Nadal making hard court look easy as U.S. Open approaches

But the Spaniard had no complaints as he glided into a news conference on Tuesday ahead of his opening-round match at the Western and Southern Open to discuss what has been a perfect start to the North American hardcourt campaign.

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Nadal has already counted two hardcourt wins among his eight titles this season with victories at Indian Wells in March and in Montreal on Sunday.

With the exception of grass courts and an opening-round slip up at Wimbledon, the Spaniard has impressed on all surfaces this season having added to his grand slam collection at the French Open and capturing four of six Masters Series events.

Playing in his first tournament since a shock exit at the All-England Club, Nadal returned to action in Montreal last week and showed he was back to near his best and that his ailing body was ready for the gruelling demands of the North American hardcourt campaign.

Less than 24 hours after Saturday’s hard-fought, semi-final win over world number one Novak Djokovic, Nadal, playing with all the conviction and freedom of a man near the peak of his powers, crushed Milos Raonic in front of the Canadian’s home crowd to claim his 25th career Masters title.

With eight wins from 11 events, there is speculation that Nadal has finally struck a balance between tournaments and time off that has always proven elusive for the top players.

But the muscular Majorcan laughed off that suggestion saying it was virtually impossible to come up with a foolproof plan simply due to the nature of the sport.

“I will say in a sport like tennis, my feeling is everybody who says, ‘I find the perfect schedule,’ everybody’s lying,” Nadal told reporters. “Because in tennis, when you prepare your schedule, you don’t know if you will play one match, two, three, four, or five. You can lose in the first round, so the schedule is changing a lot.

“You cannot predict which result you’re going to have in the tournament.

“I don’t want to be too smart and say I prepared the schedule great and that’s why I arrived to Montreal in very good shape. It’s not true.”

UNFORGIVING SURFACE

What is true is that Nadal is on top of his hardcourt game at the moment.

The U.S. Open has always been the hardest grand slam for Nadal because of its unforgiving surface and timing, spending more time grinding his gears on the pavement than looking like the well-oiled machine he has this season.

Of his 12 grand slam titles only one has come on Flushing Meadow’s hardcourts while he has only reached the final on one other occasion.

Some observers have suggested that Nadal is in the best hardcourt form of his career making him one of the red hot favourites to lift the season’s final grand slam.

“It’s difficult to compare with other seasons,” said Nadal, who will join the action in Cincinnati on Wednesday with a second round clash against German qualifier Benjamin Becker. “I only played two tournaments on hard, but it’s true that I played well.

“I watched a few matches of Indian Wells and tried to analyze what I really did well there and try to copy a little bit and practice with that goal.

“I played very well in both tournaments. Very happy the way that I played last week, especially last two matches.”

Nadal insisted his approach has not changed but Djokovic disagrees.

“He became more aggressive,” said Djokovic. “That’s where I felt it. Especially on the return in Montreal he was coming closer to the line and he was picking up the ball quite fast.

“So that was different probably comparing to our last matches on hard court but it was still a close one.”

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Isaac and a Republican blow out

As the Republican Party prepared to open the doors to its 2012 convention, the week-long hoopla that officially launches its Presidential campaign, along came Hurricane Isaac which blew its way across Haiti (19 dead) and barreled toward Tampa, on Florida’s West coast, hosting the knees-up.

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Isaac took a turn to the left and is now heading toward New Orleans, the city that suffered so much in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. That hurricane underwrote itself as a major failure of George W. Bush’s presidency. Mitt Romney, who so desperately wants to be President, will be hoping Isaac is neither a metaphor nor messenger.

The convention, no matter how Isaac affects it (events were cancelled on Monday), is Mitt Romney’s big opportunity to sell himself to American voters. In making his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for Presidency, Romney has to connect with the American people, be Presidential, and not come across as a robot.

The divide is simple but it’s no easy pitch.

Is Romney the one-percenter ruthless job-cremating millionaire tax-evading former boss of a Boston management consultancy company, who believes God selected a 14-year-old American boy in 1820 as a messenger? Oh, and the guy who took a road trip with his pet dog on the roof of his car.

Or is Romney clearly the only man in America with the business experience required to dig the US out of its economic problems and the guy to boost the middle class and cut debt all at the same time? Oh, and come up with a healthcare plan that is better than the one Obama has introduced that’s based on Romney’s own plan implemented in Massachusetts when he was state governor?

What’s a guy to do?

Romney gets one hour to speak in Tampa and has a lot of options in where to take his speech. As The Washington Post asked, “Should he concentrate on making himself likable? Should he instead try to project himself as a leader and decision maker for difficult times? How much time should he spend outlining his policies? How much time should he spend criticising the president’s record?”

Romney will also call upon his vice-president nominee Paul Ryan to sell his story and Chris Christie, the overweight New Jersey governor some think is future Presidential material, to boost his cause with their speeches. Romney’s wife Ann will make address the partisan audience as will Florida pin-up Senator Marco Rubio, a play for the Latino vote that has so-far shown little interest in Romney.

Isaac ultimately missed Tampa but it has diverted a lot of national attention from the convention to New Orleans. Romney will be hoping – praying – Isaac is not some kind of omen. This week is THE moment to define himself and his campaign.

It has to be. Next week the Democrats hold their own convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. President Obama will state his case for reelection on the week after Labor Day. Obama will be hoping that, in an election where the economy is issue number one, Labor Day is as symbolic of his reelection bid as Isaac is for Romney’s campaign.

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