Jetta not sighted in Eagles’ AFL shocker

  • 07/19/2019

Buddy’s back.

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The Eddie Betts Show has returned.

But Lewis Jetta was hardly sighted in the NAB Challenge first round, which included a nightmare start by AFL grand finalists West Coast, who copped a 100-point humbling by the Betts-inspired Crows in Adelaide.

Eagles assistant Justin Longmuir was not reaching for the panic button after fielding just seven players from their 2015 grand final team on Sunday.

But few would have predicted such a quiet Eagles debut from former Swan Jetta, who managed just three touches.

“We expect him to take a little bit of time to get to know the players he’s working with now, get to know our system of play,” Longmuir said.

“He’ll probably play three games in the pre-season.

“I’m sure come round one he’ll be much more familiar with his surroundings and have a bigger impact.”

Betts didn’t waste time making a statement.

He booted five goals and a nine-point supergoal while racking up 18 touches as Adelaide coasted to a 2.20.10 (148) to 0.7.6 (48) win at Unley Oval.

“We’ve planned to play our best side in the last two weeks of the pre-season,” Longmuir said.

“We’ve done a lot of work on changing momentum and hopefully our more senior players will take a lot more ownership than what happened today.”

Lance “Buddy” Franklin also made a quiet return as Sydney outlasted an undermanned Port Adelaide by 21 points at Blacktown on Saturday.

In his first game since round 23 after battling mental health issues, the triple Coleman Medallist started the match in the centre square and spent time in the midfield before moving forward.

He gathered just six touches, one goal and a mark in three quarters.

“Buddy was fine. It was good to see him out there again and it’s good to get a run around,” acting Sydney coach Jarrad McVeigh said.

Meanwhile, Fremantle’s Hayden Ballantyne and Aaron Sandilands appear in strife after the full-strength Dockers’ 60-point win over a no-name Richmond in Mandurah.

Ballantyne was caught using his phone in the change rooms during the game on Friday – a practice outlawed under AFL laws.

He also suffered a second-quarter hamstring injury.

Sandilands may be in trouble for a third-quarter bump on Ben Griffiths.

Richmond forward Ty Vickery came off early with a head knock.

St Kilda missed a chance to catch a glimpse of life after Nick Riewoldt in their 44-point loss to North Melbourne at Wangaratta.

The man expected to replace Riewoldt in the forward line – former No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin – lasted just 10 minutes on Saturday due to hamstring tightness.

Three-time premiers Hawthorn kick-started their NAB Challenge with a 21-point win against 2015 wooden-spooners Carlton at Launceston on Thursday night.

And Tom Lynch kicked three goals to help Gold Coast beat Brisbane by 25 points at Burpengary on Sunday.

Report urges more budget cuts to pathology

  • 07/19/2019

Claims women could be forced to fork out $30 for pap smears have been slammed by a scathing report which accuses the pathology industry of using patients as pawns to keep shareholders happy.

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The Grattan Institute report handed to Health Minister Sussan Ley last week says proposed funding cuts to pathology services outlined in the government’s mid-year budget update do not go far enough.

Report author Stephen Duckett, the institute’s health program director and a former federal health department boss, has called for a major shake-up of the industry to protect patients from co-payments and stop government paying too much for pathology.

The government wants to scrap bulk-billing incentive payments for pathology services (worth between $1.40 and $3.40) which, along with changes to bulk-billing incentives for diagnostic imaging, would save $650 million over four years.

Pathologists say it’s unlikely they’ll be able to absorb the cuts, forcing patients to pay for tests, and Labor has vowed to do whatever it can to block the changes in the Senate.

Dr Duckett says the government pays too much for pathology – $2.5 billion in 2014/15 – and has outlined a plan to save around $340 million each year “from narrowing the margins of profitable corporations, not from cutting services to the ill and vulnerable”.

Access to Medicare rebates should be limited to providers that bulk-bill out-of-hospital pathology services, abolishing the need for any bulk-billing incentive payment and removing the risk of patients being slugged.

“What was wrong with MYEFO is it allowed the companies to use the consumers as bargaining chips,” he told AAP.

Two publicly-listed companies, Sonic Healthcare and Primary Healthcare, control 78 per cent of the market.

And while the number of tests being conducted in Australia increases, the rebate paid for those tests remains fixed, despite the fact additional tests can be performed for little cost.

Greater volumes are amounting to greater profits for the companies, but taxpayers are failing to reap any of those benefits, Dr Duckett says.

He’s proposing a five per cent volume discount for large providers.

“We pay as if testing was still done by thousands of small providers manually processing tests, and not by two industry giants with automated services.

“Medicare is not meant to provide guaranteed revenue for corporations. But pathology companies don’t seem to agree.”

He’s also calling for a tender process where companies would compete for contracts to provide pathology services in a bid to increase competition and drive down costs.

Pathology Australia chief executive Liesel Wett said Dr Duckett’s conclusions were incorrect, insisting removal of the incentive payment will force providers to charge patients for critical tests.

Airlines restore Fiji flights

  • 07/19/2019

Some airlines will resume flying in and out of Fiji after a tropical cyclone tore through the islands, leaving homes flattened and at least five people dead.

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As the clean-up effort began after Cyclone Winston, the strongest cyclone on record to hit the Pacific islands, Virgin Australia, Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand said flights would resume on Monday.

Unrelenting rain and downed powerlines hampered relief efforts on Sunday as officials assess the damage.

Virgin updated its Monday flight details about 4.50pm on Sunday, giving relief to stranded tourists.

People whose flights were cancelled will be provided with updated flight details, Virgin said in a statement.

Fiji Airways advise passengers due to the destruction caused by the cyclone, some services out of Nadi on Monday may operate without its regular catering.

Air New Zealand cancelled flights in and out of Nadi on Sunday but said scheduled services would resume on Monday.

Jetstar’s flights between Sydney and Fiji remained cancelled for Monday.

A decision on Jetstar’s Tuesday flights will be made on Monday.

The devastating category-5 cyclone that swept over Fiji led the government impose a nationwide curfew.

Winston made landfall late on Saturday, delivering wind gusts of up to 325km/h.

Weatherwatch says the storm was the strongest on record to hit Fiji.

UNICEF worker Alice Clements – who is staying in Suva – described the beginning of the storm to AAP on Saturday night as a dystopian scene of downed banana trees, howling winds and the “ominous” sounds of corrugated iron lifting on some of the roofs.

Djokovic determined not to get carried away with success

  • 07/19/2019

The Melbourne Park victory earned the Serb an 11th grand slam trophy, bringing him level with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver, and the 28-year-old admitted such milestones are important to him after winning four of the past five majors.

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“People start talking about the all-time greats and me coming closer to them, but I still would like to follow the same approach and philosophy of focussing only on the next tournament,” Djokovic told reporters in Dubai.

“I try not to be over-confident because I have lots of respect for other players … but being at the peak of my career I’m trying to use this momentum and take everything out of myself and achieve more.”

After winning 34 of his last 35 grand slam matches, it is not inconceivable that Djokovic could end up eclipsing Roger Federer’s record of 17 majors before too long.

But for all his success, Djokovic has yet to crack the French Open, finishing runner-up on three occasions.

But with rivals such as Federer, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal unable to keep pace with him in the best-of-five set contests, the Serb is hoping to end his Roland Garros jinx in 2016 and perhaps even become the first man to achieve the calendar year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

“I try to approach each tournament optimistically and I believe that I can win every match that I play against anybody on any surface,” said Djokovic, who is 12-0 this year.

Anything other than victory in Dubai, where Djokovic will potentially only face two other top-10 players, would be a huge shock especially after Federer withdrew with injury. The duo have won the last seven Dubai titles between them.

Djokovic’s most likely challenger in Dubai will be world number four Stan Wawrinka, who beat him in last year’s Roland Garros final.

“He has been playing at a different level from the rest of the players. He’s number one by far. It’s going to be tough to beat him this year,” Wawrinka told reporters.

(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Missing radioactive material found in Iraq

  • 07/19/2019

Radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found dumped near a petrol station in the southern town of Zubair, officials say, ending speculation it could be acquired by Islamic State and used as a weapon.

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The officials told Reuters on Sunday the material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, was undamaged and there were no concerns about radiation.

Reuters reported last week that Iraq had been searching for the material since it was stolen in November from a storage facility belonging to US oilfield services company Weatherford near the southern city of Basra.

It was not immediately clear how the device, owned by Swiss inspections group SGS, ended up in Zubair, around 15km southwest of Basra.

“A passer-by found the radioactive device dumped in Zubair and immediately informed security forces which went with a special radiation prevention team and retrieved the device,” the chief of the security panel within Basra provincial council, Jabbar al-Saidi, told Reuters.

“After initial checking I can confirm the device is intact 100 per cent and there is absolutely no concern of radiation.”

A security official close to the investigation said it had been established soon after the material was stolen that it was being kept in Zubair and controls had been tightened to prevent it being taken out of the town.

“After failing to take it out of the town, the perpetrators decided to dump it,” the security official said. “I assure you it is only a matter of time before we arrest those who stole the radioactive device.”

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days.

SGS and Weatherford have both denied responsibility for the disappearance of the material last year.