Auto’s cricket hopes bowled over

Scone upset minor premiers Muswellbrook’s Scottitall Auto tocollect the Upper Hunter Junior Cricket Association under-14 title at the weekend.
Nanjing Night Net

WICKET-TAKER: Scottitall Auto’s Jeremy Smith captured 1-12 with the ball.

Muswellbrook won the toss andsent Scone in to bat on a wet and slow outfield.

Great bowling by Jarrod Watts 3-9, Boston Gageler 1-7, Connor Hugo 1-16, Jeremy Smith 1-12, Finn McLoughlin 1-3, Lachlan Ballard 1-4, Josh Cooper 1-19, Jack Clare, Jake Fox, Campbell Schmierer and Josh Fuller kept the opposition batsmen on their toes.

And, complemented by catches to Clare (2), Cooper and Kyle Eriksson, Scottitall Auto restricted Scone to 9-99 after 28 overs.

Strong bowling from Scone put the pressure on Muswellbrook early on.

However, Smith produced another outstanding performance with the bat, reaching 33 runs, as did Josh Fuller with 12.

Unfortunately, Scottitall Autocouldn’t find its form of previous games and was all out on 95, with one ball remaining.

Another close encounter occurred in the under-16/17 grand final but, on this occasion, Muswellbrook’s Osborn Transport accounted for Denman at Volunteer Park.

Osborn’s Ben Talty (38), Nathan Connor (34), Jarrod Watts (18), Caleb McNeil (14 not out) and Mason Solly (8 not out) lifted their side to 3-131 after 14 overs.

Then, with ball in hand, Nathan Connor returned the figures of 3-13.

Watts and Talty also capturedwickets.

Catches to Talty, Nico Swanepoel, Watts, McNeil and two runs outs to Connor limited Denman to 7-120 after 15 overs.

Meanwhile, the Muswellbrook Junior Cricket Club’s presentation night will take place on Tuesday, April 1, at the Railway Hotel, from 5.30pm for a 6pm start.

A barbecue and soft drinks will be provided at the venue.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

More than $40 for a sandwich: The world’s costliest room service

Cities in Scandinavia have the most expensive room service prices in the world. Photo: Tamara Voninski hotels 170107 AFR photo Tamara Voninski AFR/FBM First USE ONLY Observatory Hotel in Sydney generic luxury hotel domestic travel service industry room service SPECIALX 60078 Photo: Tamara Voninski
Nanjing Night Net

If you are dining in a Helsinki hotel room, expect to part with around $42.25 for a club sandwich.

A study measuring the cost of the most popular items from room service menus from 48 destinations around the world found Helsinki to be the most expensive for Australian travellers.

Tunis in Tunisia charged the least for room service.

Items in the TripAdvisor study included a club sandwich and the dry cleaning of one shirt; from the mini bar, costs were measured from a bottle of water, peanuts, a mini bottle of vodka and a can of coke.

The total cost of all measured items will set you back $20.39 in Tunis. in Helsinki, you would pay around five times more – $98.48.

The world’s most expensive charges for room service originate in Scandanavia, with Oslo, Sweden and Copenhagen featuring in the top ten, along with Paris and New York.

Travellers on tighter budgets would find South Africa’s prices more palatable, with a club sandwich in a Cape Town hotel costing $8.03, which can be washed down with a mini bottle of vodka at the extremely reasonable price of $2.55 –  which is cheaper than a $2.62 bottle of water.

Australia’s most expensive city Sydney had moderately priced room service in comparison, with a total cost of all measured items reaching $53.58.

London, considered one of the world’s most expensive destinations, missed out on a top ten spot, slotting in at number 13 in the world’s most expensive list.

When the room service orders are combined with average room rates, Jakarta becomes the most cost-effective destination, while New York becomes the priciest.

The TripAdvisor survey is similar to the annual “Club Sandwich Index”, published by the website Hotels南京夜网, the most recent of which – published in June last year – found that hotels in Geneva charged the most for the popular snack.

One five-star hotel in the Swiss city charged guests a princely $61.73 for the humble chicken, bacon, egg and salad sandwich.

A trio of Scandinavian capitals – Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen – came next in the poll, while the most cost-effective destinations to feature were New Delhi ($10.73), Mexico City ($12.43), Taipei ($13.40), Bogota ($13.45) and Bangkok ($13.92). 

with THE TELEGRAPH, LONDON

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Native vegetation codes open way for destructive clearing: environmental groups

Native vegetation codes irk both environmental and farm groups.Proposed loosening of land-clearing codes by the O’Farrell government will allow NSW farmers to “slash, burn and rip” will little oversight, environmental groups claim.
Nanjing Night Net

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Environment Minister Robyn Parker on Thursday unveiled for public comment the first three “self-assessable” codes for clearing native vegetation.

The codes – for managing invasive native species, thinning native vegetation and clearing paddock trees in cultivated areas – will “help ensure we strike the balance between conservation and efficient agricultural management”, Mr Stoner said.

“This places trust in landholders to manage their property sustainably while maintaining environmental standards.”

Environmental groups, though, say the codes permit the use of chains dragged by bulldozers and blade ploughs that run counter to the recommendations in the Native Vegetation Regulation Review completed a year ago by agricultural consultant Joe Lane.

Self-assessable clearing should only include methods such as burning or clearing individual plants “with nil to minimal disturbance to soil and groundcover,” Mr Lane’s review said.

The codes “will obviously lead to a lot more destructive land-clearing when we need to be protecting [native vegetation] as much as possible and moving to a more sustainable agriculture – not slash, burn and rip”, said Jeff Angel, director of the Total Environment Centre.

Pepe Clarke, chief executive officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, said the prospect of large-scale clearing “creates a substantial environment risk” while placing landholders at risk of breaking laws if their self-assessment proves to be erroneous.

A spokesman for Ms Parker, though, said the draft invasive native species (INS) code only allows chaining and blade ploughing subject to conditions that protect soil, water and biodiversity. Such clearing methods cannot be used in threatened ecological communities or within certain distances of watercourses, and no clearing in areas of moderate to high land degradation risk for soil protection.

Ms Parker said the codes would be backed by “ongoing education” with Local Land Services providing advice.

‘Frustrating’

NSW Farmers, though, rejected the codes, saying “most farmers will find them frustrating, unworkable and difficult to understand”.

Fiona Simson, president of the group, said the codes fall far short of what farmers had been expecting and still require two weeks’ notification for ‘‘routine land management’’.

Cameron Rowntree, a native vegetation spokesman for NSW Farmers, said farmers should be allowed to thin native vegetation and remove invasive species without a code.

“Farmers are being treated like mugs,” he said. “Our productivity is being absolutely crushed as a result of these impractical rules.”

Mr Angel of the Total Environment Centre said proposed spot audits would do little to protect sensitive habitat, such as paddock trees that are home to endangered animals and birds: “How would you know what was there before it was cleared?”

Mr Clarke said the new codes open the way for hundreds of thousands of trees to be felled, breaking wildlife corridors and degrading the beauty of the landscape.

The government said the codes, on exhibition for comment until May 26, aim to create a “mosaic” of native vegetation while removing or thinning native plants that have spread beyond their original range.

Paddock trees that are felled must be balanced by “setting aside” existing areas of native bush or allowing natural regeneration to occur, the government said.

The spokesman for Ms Parker said that only paddock trees in cultivated areas can be cleared. “This is an area that is cropped, ploughed or fallow or covered in perennial or annual exotic pasture,” he said. All big paddock trees, with a diameter of 80 centimetres or more, remain protected.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Samsung launches Galaxy S5 and Gear smart watches in Australia

Anthony “Harries” Carroll and Bruce “Hoppo” Hopkins at the Samsung Galaxy S5 launch event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Photo: Belinda Rolland/SamsungSamsung fired the latest shot in the battle for gadget supremacy in Sydney on Wednesday night, announcing pricing and availability for the new Galaxy S5 smartphone and Gear smart devices, and a deal with Westpac and Commonwealth Bank to allow people to pay for goods with their phones.
Nanjing Night Net

The Galaxy S5 runs on the Android operating system and will be available in four different colours for $929 from April 11, with pre-orders beginning on Thursday. It will also be available on plans with all three major mobile carriers – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – on their 4G networks.

Samsung’s wearable gadgets will also go on sale on April 11. The Gear Fit fitness band will retail for $249, while its smartwatches, the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo, will cost $369.95 and $249 respectively.

The wearable gadgets, first unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February alongside the GS5, will be available at Samsung’s two flagship stores in Sydney and Melbourne, and at major electronics retailers across Australia.

The S5 claims to be dust and water resistant, allowing it to be submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes – a point its sponsored ambassadors from Ten’s Bondi Rescue and swimming champion James Magnussen were happy to make at the celebrity-studded Museum of Contemporary Art launch.

Other key features include a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen, 16-megapixel rear-facing camera, better battery – 2800 milliamps hours (mAh) compared to the S4’s 2600 mAh – fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, download booster, and ultra power-saving mode.

That mode shuts down all of the S5’s key functions, turns its screen black and white, and dims it to allow users to squeeze out the last bit of battery power when they realise they have forgotten to charge it. While in the mode, users can use up to six apps.

The download booster fuses the phone’s Wi-Fi and 4G data connections together, when requested by the user, so the phone can provide a smoother internet connection. Samsung says this feature can eliminate buffering.

Speaking of Wi-Fi, the phone also uses a smart antenna technology called MIMO, that enables it to connect to a Wi-Fi access point at two times the speed previously available on the S4. It does this by using two antennas to improve communication performance.

Mobile payment

Perhaps one of the most interesting features for those who like to pay quickly at the checkout is the phone’s mobile tap-and-pay functionality.

Utilising near-field communication (NFC) technology, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank customers will be able to tap-and-pay their phones on point-of-sale terminals instead of taking their tap and pay-enabled credit card out of their wallet.

Unlike the solution found by the Commonwealth Bank to make NFC work on the iPhone, the Galaxy S5 does not require an NFC sticker or adaptor, as the functionality is built into the phone.

Samsung is also hoping a partnership with online payment provider PayPal that uses the phone’s fingerprint scanner will provide people with another reason to use its device.

When using the S5, PayPal users – there are 5.5 million active in Australia according to PayPal – will be able to scan their digits on the S5 to authorise payment from their accounts instead of entering an email address and password.

This reporter is on Facebook: /bengrubb

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Heart of darkness: Scam allegations follow gold bars, kidnap and $100,000 fees

In happier times: Rodney and Rebecca Smart. Photo: Supplied In happier times: Rodney and Rebecca Smart.
Nanjing Night Net

Rodney Smart went to Ghana in 2012 to do a gold deal. Instead, the former real estate agent from Double Bay in Sydney says he ended up being kidnapped in the neighbouring West& African republic of Togo.

After 23 days in captivity – threatened with jail on trumped-up money laundering charges by a gang of thugs and corrupt police – Smart says he escaped to the US embassy.

He soon found safe passage back to Ghana where he and an associate, Norman Jamieson, were in business sourcing gold from West Africa to ship for refinery in Dubai.

Rodney and his wife Rebecca Smart had separated a few months before the businessman was abducted. In December 2012, Smart had been introduced to Dr Moses Owusu in Ghana. Owusu, says Smart, purported to be a lawyer and told him he had access to 70 kilos of gold doré bars from Libya and, if Smart would travel to Togo, he could buy it.

“He was convincing and well spoken,” says Smart. “On December 19, I packed an overnight bag and departed for Togo”. When he got to the border he handed over his passport to an associate of Moses Owusu. After a short drive to a hotel in the capital Lome however Smart was told that his passport had not been stamped and he could be in trouble for money laundering.

He was then held captive in the hotel room he says and was warned it was for his own protection. Owusu, says Smart, told him that he would have to pay $US150,000 to avoid charges of money laundering. Smart rang his business partner Norm Jamieson who transferred the funds. His abductors however demanded another $US250,000.

“I was sitting idle and was told I was in a grave situation and I could end up in prison over there and a white boy like me wouldn’t last in prison with all the disease and rape and so on,” says Smart.

After four days in captivity, he was transferred from the hotel to another location with bars on the windows and steel doors. Under pressure from his captors, Smart says he rang his wife to obtain more money for his release. Meanwhile, Rebecca was asked if her father could provide security over his real estate assets to raise money.

After three weeks in captivity however Rodney Smart says he managed to escape. The man who brought him food daily took pity on him, he says, and left him a key in the kitchen of the house where he was detained. Smart fled, hailing a taxi to the US embassy and soon finding passage back to Ghana.

The story didn’t end there. A few loose ends remain. Rodney Smart’s estranged wife Rebecca, who was asked for a ransom, is now in dispute with the colourful financier Ian Lazar. Desperate at the abduction, she had contacted the Sydney wheeler dealer for help.

At Lazar’s behest, she put $100,000 into trust with lan Lazar’s lawyers Cambridge Law. It was spent. Rebecca says Lazar promised her the help of Israeli commandos but appeared to have done little more than commission a report.

Lazar says he used his connections to help her husband escape -even sending an extraction team to Africa – but when he found what he claims was a scam he advised Rebecca Smart not to pay the alleged kidnappers any money. The report he commissioned, by former ASIC investigator Niall Coburn, says Rodney Smart’s abduction bears all the hallmarks of a West African internet scam. Rebecca Smart says there was no evidence provided to her that an extraction team had been dispatched.

Coburn identified a raft of flaws in Owusu’s documents, such as his practising certificate as a barrister. He recommended that no funds be sent to Owusu as he was highly likely to be a scammer.

“The documents, provided to Rebecca Smart and Ian Lazar in relation to Rodney Smart’s detention, are fraudulent and cannot be relied upon. It is highly likely that Rodney Smart and Dr Moses Owusu (who befriended Smart in Togo) are working together to defraud either Rebecca Smart and or Ian Lazar for $US750,000,” wrote Coburn.

Smart denies this. “My wife and I have a wonderful friendship. She knew that I was not out to defraud her,” he said last week. Rebecca Smart said she did not believe her husband was involved in any scam.

“Ian said (Rodney Smart)  was involved but never gave me any proof,” she said. “Niall Coburn believes Rodney was involved based on the forged documents, but again, no proof. If it was so easy to say he was involved why was it so hard to send me an iPhone photo with all of their “surveillance”?

After inquiries by Fairfax Media, Ian Lazar provided Rebecca Smart with an invoice for his services.

The invoice provides no specific evidence of Lazar’s contractors or a breakdown for the costs of his various services. He said Rebecca Smart got off cheaply and still owed him another $10,000 in GST on the $100,000, at least.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading