Cowboys’ Taumalolo in doubt for Kiwis tour

North Queensland premiership forward Jason Taumalolo has revealed he is in doubt for New Zealand’s rugby league tour of Great Britain due to a knee problem.


Despite pumping out a team-high 165 metres to help claim the club’s inaugural grand final win against Brisbane on Sunday night, Taumalolo said later he could face post-season surgery.

Taumalolo suffered the injury in round eight, forcing him to miss two games as well as the Kiwis’ mid-season Test win over Australia before playing through the pain in the back half of the year.

The 22-year-old said he would meet with Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney and the North Queensland club’s medical staff to discuss the best course of action.

“I obviously came back from it earlier on in the year but I’m thinking about getting a scope (arthroscopic surgery) on it to clear it out,” Taumalolo told AAP.

“There’s still some fragments off the bone and the tendon’s still a bit how’s it going.”

However the hard-running big man remained hopeful of taking part in three-match series against England, beginning on October 23.

“I’ll catch up with Mooks (Kearney) this week to have a chat and see how we go for the tour. I’m hoping I can pass medicals next week,” Taumalolo said.

“Any time I get an opportunity to pull on the black and white jersey, I’m more than happy to take it. I want to play for New Zealand.”

Despite his knee problem, Taumalolo was one of the Cowboys’ best in his three separate stints on the field.

He spurned a lucrative deal from the Warriors earlier in the year to win a premiership in Townsville, and he predicted more success for the relatively youthful side.

Skipper Johnathan Thurston is the only player over the age of 30, and the entire 17 will return to the fold next season.

Asked whether the Cowboys had an opportunity to create a modern-day dynasty, Taumalolo said: “Definitely. Obviously Johnno’s hitting the back end of his career but we’ve got young players around him like Michael Morgan, Jake Granville and Kyle Feldt.”

Should Taumalolo be ruled out of the Kiwis’ tour, he joins a lengthy list of high-profile stars to miss trip, including key men Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran.

With the Peeple app you will be judged by the crowd – whether you like it or not

Ansgar Koene, University of Nottingham

Never shy of publicity or fearful of controversy, Silicon Valley’s app entrepreneur scene seems on course to establish a new low in ethical values and/or self-delusional thinking with the planned launch of the Peeple app – described as “Yelp for people”.


Having reportedly raised US$7.6m from venture capitalists, Peeple aims to use the crowdsourced review model of Yelp, TripAdvisor and other sites where customers review and rate restaurants, hotels, companies, films or whatever else. Except that this time it’s people who are rated – people rating people as the people they are, rather than for any professional skills or service they might provide. Co-founder Julia Cordray says: “People do so much research when they buy a car or make those kinds of decisions, why not do the same kind of research on other aspects of your life?” It’s the equivalent of reducing human beings to a five-star rating.

So how have people generally reacted to the news of this app? A brief look at the Facebook page for the Peeple app quickly reveals the enormous chasm between the world views of Peeple’s creators who post about the supportive emails they claim to have received, and more or less everyone else commenting on their page. Comments include:

This app is disgusting you have to be a sociopath to even consider wanting to do this. If you’ve ever been stalked online let alone bullied in real life you’ll know exactly how this is going to go.

You will find out the hard way what a monster you have unleashed. Then you will be hypocritical and edit out negative stuff about you while leaving everybody else’s negative information, subscriber or no, up for the world to see.

I do not give my consent for Peeple, or any user of its platform to use my name, photograph, likeness, or personal information including but not limited to my phone number and email address in any way whether for profit or not for profit. I will be keeping a record of this message for future legal proceedings should you choose to disregard my failure to provide consent.

Some of the founders’ statements also border on the delusional, marketing Peeple as a “positivity app for positive people” where you can post positive comments on friends and acquaintances, while failing to recognise the potential for the app to become a repository of unwarranted criticism and personal attacks (after all, Yelp itself has been abused this way):

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. 杭州桑拿网,杭州夜生活,/sQIvkkeqrZ pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/Sj6i4e6Gs7

— Heather Champ (@hchamp) October 1, 2015

Given the prevailing business model for online services however, it’s not so strange that someone would equate people and products in this way. After all, internet companies do it all the time when they harvest and trade personal data without truly informed consent. Or, as it was put in a Washington Post article: “The most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.”

It’s been pointed out that some dating apps, such as Lulu, have very similar features. However, these dating apps only allow people to rate others who joined the same dating app. Peeple by contrast intends to allow users to create profiles for someone else – anyone else. They state: “You will need their cell phone number to start their profile and they will receive a text that you were the person to do so and that they should check out what you said about them on our app.” But the website’s FAQ doesn’t state what Peeple would do in cases where the phone number given doesn’t belong to the person for whom a profile is being made.

The site also states that only those who have joined the app and agreed to the terms and conditions can see the information it contains. But combined with the previous statement that looks a lot like someone else can create a profile for you, without your consent, which you cannot see without joining the app. It sounds almost like a way of pressurising people into joining. A cynic might interpret this as a shrewd strategy to promote rapid growth in the number of registered users for the app, which will make it more appealing to advertisers and investors.

However, in the UK any restriction that prevented people seeing the data on them held by the app would be in violation of the right of subject access under the Data Protection Act 1998, which gives everyone the right to request a copy of the data held by any organisation holding or processing their personal data. Would a Peeple profile created by someone else come under this definition? Under the legislation, personal data is defined as: “… data which relate to a living individual who can be identified (a) from those data, or (b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller, and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.”

In this context the ratings on Peeple are similar to tax records, bank statements or health records: they are personal information about you.

So far the Peeple app is still in beta testing and in light of the overwhelmingly negative response to the app in the media and on social networks, its creators might still decide not to launch in November. Who knows – if we’re lucky they may reveal themselves to be performance artists engaged in an elaborate hoax or act of social critique against the decline of ethical standards by Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

Ansgar Koene is a Senior Research Fellow on the Citizen-Centric Approaches to Social Media Analysis (CaSMa) project, which is based at the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute of The University of Nottingham and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). He is also affiliated with the University of Birmingham where he is a visiting researcher at the Psychology Department. Views in the article are those of the author and not the Research Councils.

Assad says Russian alliance is only hope to save region

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has warned the Middle East faces destruction unless a coalition including Russia, Iran and Iraq succeeds in destroying what he calls terrorist groups.


Mr Assad has described the United States-led coalition and its air strikes in Syria as counterproductive.

Naomi Selvaratnam reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Speaking for the first time since Russia began air strikes in Syria, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has told Iranian state television Russia, Iran and Iraq are united in beating terrorism.

(Translated)”This coalition has to succeed. Otherwise, we will witness the destruction of the entire region. We are sure this coalition will be successful. If the countries supporting terrorism take part sincerely in the fight against terrorism, or at least stop supporting terrorist organisations, we will see our expected results in practice.”

Mr Assad says the air strikes in Syria and Iraq by the United States-led coalition, which includes Australia, are only enabling the further spread of terrorism in the region.

His remarks come after a fifth day of Russian air strikes, with a senior Russian officer claiming jets based in western Syria have carried out more than 60 attacks in the past three days.

Russia maintains it is targeting the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or IS, but the strikes have predominantly been focused on areas not held by IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond insists Russia is deliberately targeting groups opposed to the Assad government.

“Assad, with his barrel bombs and his chemical weapons and his wholesale slaughter of civilians, is the recruiting sergeant for ISIL, and Russian support for him will drive the opposition in Syria into the arms of ISIL, strengthening the evil that Putin says he wants to defeat.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan agrees the Russian air strikes are unacceptable and says they may only further isolate Russia in the region.

(Translated)”The latest steps taken by Russia, and its air strikes in Syria, are unacceptable for Turkey under any circumstances. I conveyed our stance to Mr Putin, both when I went to Moscow and when we had a conversation a couple of days ago. Russia is making a grave mistake, and this mistake could be a step that might isolate Russia in the region.”

Syrian rebel leader Bashar al Zoubi says the impact of the Russian air strikes is being strongly felt across the country — and the world.

(Translated)”First of all, Russia is losing trust in the international community. Secondly, it is delaying the political solution. As we have seen lately, there has been an agreement among all the political and military factions stating the political solution should not include Assad. And, thirdly, Russian intervention is triggering extremism in Syria. As you have seen, the Russian air strikes did not target ISIS. Instead, they attacked Free Syrian Army components.”

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition has carried out 16 more air strikes against IS militants, weapons and buildings in Syria and Iraq over the weekend.

After more than four years of civil war in Syria, more than 240,000 people have died.





Australia committed crime in paying smugglers for boat turnbacks, Amnesty claims

Amnesty International has slammed Australia’s secretive Operation Sovereign Borders as a “lawless venture” that should be fully exposed through a royal commission.


A new Amnesty report, entitled By Hook or By Crook, was released on Thursday, a day after former prime minister Tony Abbott – who used the expression to describe the controversial strategy – encouraged Europe to adopt it.

The report claims from interviews with asylum seekers, a boat crew and Indonesian police that in May, Australian officials paid $US32,000 to six crew who were taking 65 asylum seekers to New Zealand, to get them to return to Indonesia instead.

Amnesty also questions whether Australian officials paid money to the crew of another boat turned back in July.

Author Anna Shea says the actions of the Australian Navy and Border Force amount to transnational crime.

In effect, she says, they directed a people-smuggling operation, paying a boat crew and then instructing them on what to do and where to land in Indonesia.

Amnesty wants a royal commission to look into whether criminal activity took place, as well as asylum seekers’ claims of ill treatment at sea.

“Australia appears willing to do absolutely anything to stop people seeking asylum from reaching its shores,” she told AAP.

“The idea that the ends justify the means is extremely concerning.”

In the July 25 incident, Amnesty found Australian officials intercepted a boat and separated the two Indonesian crew and 15 passengers on a Border Force ship for a week.

The passengers told Amnesty that when they were put on to a different boat and sent back to Indonesia’s Rote Island on August 1, the boat’s crew acted differently and had two new bags.

When they threatened to open the bags, the Australians repeatedly told them not to.

Ms Shea says all available evidence indicates that turnbacks are not saving lives, but endangering them.

“What’s equally concerning, central to the Australian approach to border control is secrecy, which means that abusive and dangerous practices appear to be happening without any kind of legal or democratic scrutiny,” she said.

“When governments say that `on water matters’ are exempt from public scrutiny, in effect they are saying that they can do anything they like.

“This is a very dangerous and profoundly undemocratic idea, and must not be replicated in Europe or elsewhere.”

Saturn moon ‘plume dive’ searches for signs of life

Only a drop of water will be collected during the 30,600 kph flyby.


Scientists say that will be enough to answer some key questions about Enceladus, which has a global ocean sealed beneath its icy surface.

“This is a very big step in a new era of exploring ocean worlds in our solar system bodies with great potential to provide oases for life,” said Curt Niebur, program scientist for NASA’s Cassini mission at Saturn.

The spacecraft does not have instruments to directly detect life, but scientists hope to ferret out details about the underground ocean that is believed to be the source of Enceladus’ geyser-like plumes. Scientists suspect tidal forces are keeping the ocean liquid.

Cassini discovered the plumes, which stretch hundreds of miles into space, in 2005, a year after reaching Saturn.

During repeat flybys of Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon and just 310 miles (500 km) in diameter, scientists confirmed that the moon holds a slightly salty, liquid ocean beneath its crust.

Saturn, a gaseous planet and the second-largest in the solar system, is about nine time the size of Earth and is the sixth farthest from the sun.

During Wednesday’s flyby of Enceladus, which will take place just 30 miles (50 km) above the moon’s active southern polar region, scientists hope to make chemical measurements of the plume that will allow them to determine if the moon has hydrothermal vents on its sea floor.

Similar superhot, perpetual-night deep ocean habitats on Earth support a wide variety of life.

Cassini, which is due to end its mission in 2017, will make a final flyby of Enceladus in December.

Rivals Saudi Arabia, Iran to discuss Syria face-to-face for first time

Saudi Arabia said it aimed to gauge during the talks the willingness of Iran and Russia, the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, for a peace deal, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Wednesday.


“The view of our partners … was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer,” al-Jubeir told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and three of his deputies will travel to Vienna, Iranian state news agencies said. It will be the first time that Tehran has been represented in international discussions on the Syrian crisis.

Iran says it supports a political solution in Syria, but says Assad should be part of the process. Opposition groups, and their regional backers including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, say Assad must leave power as a precondition for peace.

Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia and its allies would hold a separate meeting on Friday to seek “the time and means of Bashar al-Assad’s exit”.

The White House said the peace talks could only work if “all key stakeholders” were invited, adding that Iran’s participation should not overshadow the efforts to end the Syrian crisis.

“The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict in Syria,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters.

Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, the European Union and France also said they would attend Friday’s talks, which come a day after a smaller round of negotiations between the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Around a dozen participants are expected in total.

It was not clear whether any invitation had been issued to either the Syrian government or the opposition. Neither side was present at the last talks in Vienna.

Two most powerful countries

Speaking at a news conference in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart, British foreign minister Philip Hammond said he hoped the meeting would encourage dialogue between the rivals, who back opposing sides in conflicts across the Arab world.

“Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two most important and powerful countries in this region. It is very much in the long-term interests of the region that eventually these two countries are able to talk to each other, are able to discuss differences, are able to seek solutions peacefully,” Hammond said.

The Syrian National Coalition, an opposition group based in Turkey and backed by Western powers, said Iran’s participation in the talks would undermine the political process.

“Iran has only one project – to keep Assad in power … They don’t believe in the principle of the talks,” said the coalition’s vice-president Hisham Marwa.

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, told reporters during a visit to Pakistan that Tehran would join the Syria talks “with no pre-conditions”.

A senior Western diplomat in New York said on Wednesday: “We have got to start from a fairly low base given that you’ve got Russia and Iran on one side and everyone else on the other.”

“It would be successful if (the meeting) came off and didn’t completely fall apart,” he added.

Turkey, which backs the anti-Assad opposition, has no objection to Iranian participation in the Syria talks, a diplomatic source in Ankara said. Turkish foreign ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

Iran’s first test

Fighters from Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are currently taking part in ground offensives being waged by the Syrian army and its allies with Russian air support.

Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said in an interview on state TV on Monday that Iran had increased its military presence in Syria in recent months to help its army in response to a request from the Assad government.

An Iranian political analyst based in Frankfurt, Ali Sadrzadeh, said: “Iran was always saying that without it the talks on the Syrian crisis would not succeed. What has changed is that Russia and the United States have come to the same conclusion.”

He said the July nuclear deal between Iran and world powers paved the way for Tehran’s participation in the international arena, adding: “The Vienna talks will be Iran’s first test.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who will take part in the talks, welcomed Iran’s participation. After a phone call with the Iranian foreign minister on Wednesday, she tweeted: “Important to have all relevant regional actors at the table on Friday in Vienna.”

“This is an acknowledgement of reality, four years into the conflict,” said Julien Barnes-Dacey, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London. “Having Iran at the table complicates the goal of getting rid of Assad, but potentially opens the door to some kind of de-escalatory track.”

Some analysts suggested compromise remained far off.

Karim Sadjadpour, senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “There are no tangible signs that Iran is prepared to abandon Assad, or sees a way to preserve its interests in a post-Assad Syria.”

“Iran has consistently argued that Syria’s future is a choice between Assad and the jihadists.”

Patrick Clawson, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the idea that external actors were key to producing a political solution was misplaced.

“The difficulty we face is that the involvement of Iran is only going to inflame the opinion, the attitudes of some groups in Syria,” he said.

Austria hopes border barriers will slow migrants

Austria has largely served as a conduit into Germany for hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern, African and Asian migrants fleeing wars and hardship who have traveled from the Mediterranean and through the Balkans since early September.


But as the southern German province of Bavaria, which borders Austria, has complained increasingly stridently to Berlin that it is reaching the limits of its capacity to receive refugees, concern in Austria has risen that Germany could further restrict arrivals, creating a backlog.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere accused Austria on Wednesday of driving refugees to the German border after dark, suggesting it was doing so to help them cross undetected, and he said he expected Vienna to return to an orderly process immediately.

Shortly before de Maiziere’s remarks, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said Austria was planning to build barriers at the Spielfeld border crossing with Slovenia through which several thousand migrants pass daily.

Having criticized the government of neighboring Hungary for building razor-wire border fences to keep migrants out, Austria was at pains to explain that the Spielfeld barriers it was planning would be much more limited and were not comparable to those of Hungary.

“We want to be able to carry out controls on people, and for that one needs certain technical security measures,” Faymann, a Social Democrat, told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

No open invitation policy 

His coalition partner, Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, a conservative, said another aim of the measure was to discourage migrants from coming.

“Slowly word will spread among the refugees that individual states do not have a form of invitation policy but are at the limits of their capacity and are carrying out tougher controls and security measures,” Mitterlehner said.

Speaking in Kosovo, Austrian President Heinz Fischer said his country had handled refugee crises before though it was now facing an influx the likes of which the Alpine nation of 8.5 million people had never experienced. “We are reaching the limits of our capacity,” he said.

Austria announced tougher border controls last month but since then it has largely refrained from implementing them when large groups of migrants have arrived.

“I expect, firstly, that the flow will thin, which is an advantage, and, secondly, that it will be lower overall,” said Mitterlehner.

The flow of migrants shifted this month after Hungary fenced off its border with Croatia, prompting those trying to reach Germany to transit Slovenia rather than Hungary.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, who on Tuesday announced the plan to introduce “technical barriers”, told ORF radio on Wednesday that it would involve erecting a fence.

Faymann, who has been particularly critical of right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, likening his treatment of migrants to Nazi-era deportations, defended Austria’s measures.

“We are not fencing Austria in,” Faymann told a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting, adding the plan, which had yet to be finalised, did not involve barbed wire.

“This is not about a border barrier of several kilometers,” he said, adding technical experts would determine the shape and size of the barriers.

Finance News Update, what you need to know


The Australian dollar has broken below 71 US cents after the US Federal Reserve kept its near-zero benchmark interest rate unchanged.


At 0630 AEDT on Thursday, the currency was trading at 71 US cents, down from 71.20 cents on Wednesday.

And the Australian share market looks set to follow European and US stocks higher at the open, after the Federal Reserve held tight on its near-zero interest rate but said the US economy is growing moderately.

At 0645 AEDT on Thursday, the share price index futures contract was up 42 points at 5,348.


WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve has kept its near-zero benchmark interest rate unchanged but said the US economy is growing moderately on the back of “solid” consumer spending and business investment.

FRANKFURT – German car giant Volkswagen has booked its first quarterly loss in 15 years in the wake of the global pollution-cheating scandal which also forced it to lower its full-year forecasts.

LONDON – British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has posted rising third-quarter earnings and revenues, buoyed by sales of HIV drugs and its asset swap deal with Swiss peer Novartis.

THE HAGUE – Dutch brewing giant Heineken has posted a 7.5 per cent rise in global beer sales for the third quarter, boosted by warm summer weather in Europe and high-profile sponsorships.

BRUSSELS – The world’s biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev and its takeover target, British rival SABMiller, have agreed to extend the massive offer by a week to allow for further discussions.

LONDON, Oct 28 AFP – Britain’s state-rescued Lloyds Banking Group has posted mixed earnings as the lender set aside more cash to compensate customers who were mis-sold insurance.

TOKYO, Oct 28 AFP – Toshiba says it will sell its image sensor business to Sony, as part of a wider overhaul in the wake of a huge accounting scandal.

Dockers star Pavlich to play on in 2016

Fremantle superstar Matthew Pavlich has announced he’ll play on for a 17th season in 2016.


The Dockers skipper, who is the club’s record appearance holder with 335 games, took time away from the game to consider his future following the AFL preliminary final defeat by Hawthorn last month.

But the club revealed late on Wednesday that the 33-year-old will go around again after signing a contract extension until the end of next year.

“While I can still play, I will choose to play,” Pavlich said.

“It’s a decision I took very seriously. Retiring and playing on were toing and froing in my mind.

“It didn’t necessarily come to me straight away. I had thorough discussions with (coach) Ross Lyon and (general manager) Chris Bond and they were so supportive and gave me the time and space I needed.

“I needed to ensure the decision being made was the right one and it suited the football club, myself and my family.

“I had some really good conversations with my wife, Lauren and, more recently, with my dad.”

Pavlich said the time away was crucial in coming to his decision.

“To get the time away, get away from football, get away from Perth and really understand what I value and what I want to achieve in this last season was critical,” he said.

Lloyd said Pavlich’s decision was exciting for the club and its supporters.

“Matthew is a tremendous player and an outstanding leader,” he said.

“He has been a champion player for this club. The club was happy to afford Matthew the time to consider his decision and he is 100 per cent committed to playing on and were really excited about that.”

Night swimming with manta rays

A three-metre-wide creature swooping within inches of your face in the middle of a dark ocean probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.


But night snorkelling with giant manta rays off the Kona coast in Hawaii is undoubtedly a major drawcard for tourists.

I had the chance to get in the water with these creatures during a seven-night trip with Un-Cruise Adventures, which touts the activity as “thrilling” and an “unbelievable experience”.

Lonely Planet says it is one of the top 10 activities on Hawaii’s Big Island, and the Travel Channel apparently voted it “one of the top 10 things to do in your life”.

I was yet to be convinced.

A Kona Dive Company guide came on board to give us a quick lesson on manta rays and what we could expect from our hour in the water.

He made a few points that got me over the line and into the water:

One: manta rays are not stingrays and therefore do not have the eponymous weapon.

Two: manta rays do not have teeth.

Three: we were not supposed to kick around too much because it could scare them off. I assume it was not the guide’s intention, but I liked that I now had a way to fight off these stingless, toothless monsters.

I shrugged into my wetsuit, and jumped into a skiff to be taken to the snorkelling site about 200 metre from the ship.

To attract the plankton and, in turn, the manta rays, divers put spotlights on the sea floor and snorkellers grip surfboards with torches pointing downwards.

Just that scene itself was amazing. About 100 people in full rubber suits and masks bobbing in the dark ocean with sharp lights coming up through the water was like something out of a science fiction movie.

We split into groups, six to a board, and lay still as the plankton gathered, wondering if the guide’s “we see manta on 90 per cent of our outings” was going to apply to us.

It was quite clear when the first one appeared because fingers jutted out from all directions, everyone eager to point it out.

We got cooler as more arrived though, eventually just enjoying the experience and not feeling the need to alert each other to the new arrivals.

After 40 minutes of watching the rays cruise through the water, the winter Hawaiian waters had taken me to my limit and I climbed out shivering.

I agree, it was a thrilling, unbelievable experience – and I was also pretty stoked to have not been eaten.


– Industry standards for interaction with manta rays off Kona were created in 2013.

– They aim to protect manta rays, the aquatic environment and the people viewing the sea life.

– A list of activity providers that follow the guidelines can be found at Manta Ray Advocates Green List (杭州桑拿网,杭州桑拿,mantaraygreenlist杭州桑拿会所,).

The writer was a guest of Un-Cruise Adventures.

FFA hopeful on flare restrictions in NSW

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is hopeful the NSW Government will adopt legislation to make it harder to buy flares and light them at A-League matches, following a string of violent displays in last weekend’s Sydney derby.


FFA chief executive David Gallop said he’s had promising discussions with government representatives about implementing restrictions like those on spray paint, where the buyer’s name is entered into a system and a serial number matched to the flare so they can be tracked.

The restrictions would also make it illegal for minors to purchase them or for adults to supply them to under-18s.

Gallop said the concept would be another step towards putting a stop to incidents that are becoming a regular occurrence in the high-intensity fixtures between Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers.

“We have written to the governments in NSW and Victoria and requested that there be more regulation around the purchase of flares,” he said.

“Graffiti spray can paint is under a legislative system now where you need to register to buy it, and we would certainly like to see that kind of thing brought in with marine flares.

“At the moment it’s too easy to buy a marine flare and use it for the wrong purposes.

“Those that I’ve spoken to in the government like the idea, so I’m hopeful. It’s obviously not an easy process to get legislation enacted, but I’m hopeful that will be one measure that they do adopt.”

A number of flares were smuggled in and lit on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium, where a brawl involving more than 60 people was among a string of violent incidents.

Police used capsicum spray to break up the fight between Sky Blues and Wanderers fan, while three people were charged during the night that saw smoke bombs set off and bottles thrown.

The Wanderers have long denounced any sort of violence along with the use of flares amid the Red and Black Bloc (RBB) supporters group.

“It’s difficult to hold clubs necessarily liable for flares,” Gallop said.

“There are security measures in place to try to stop flares coming into ground.”

Teenage geek overcomes disability

Video editing has helped Christopher Hills communicate with the world.


Before he discovered how to cut and produce clips, the only people who could understand the teenager were his immediate family.

Christopher has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic – the conditions mean his muscle function and speech are severely limited, involuntarily producing spasms and slurring his words.

But the 19-year-old’s mind is sharp as a tack.

And thanks to technology he’s become a certified professional video editor with Apple, is the owner of Switched-On Video Editing and a paid consultant.

It’s hard to follow him editing video on the screen because he does it with lightning fast speed.

Using accessibility software controlled with a button at the back of his wheelchair headrest, Christopher toggles through screens, surfs the web and cuts video with precision.

The self-described geek says it was a different scenario three years ago, when he struggled to be understood.

Today he uses video and YouTube to communicate.

“I have been able to connect with lots of amazing people all around the world using social media and email,” Christopher told AAP on Wednesday, speaking through his father Gary.

“Just for example, I’m part of a Facebook group of professional video editors who uses (software program) Final Cut Pro and I communicate with them without any barriers of speech.”

Christopher says his greatest achievement is the I Am More Powerful series of short videos which shows him working beside more able-bodied editors, showing he can do almost anything they can.

On Thursday, he’ll give a speech about his journey to the Disability in the 21st Century conference in Brisbane, which promotes technological innovation for the disability sector.

For now he’s looking forward to developments in technology and editing a feature film one day.

“Anytime there is some new technology that comes out, it opens up my world a little bit more and that’s very exciting.”

Women’s pill ‘hope for prostate cancer’

A gene-targeting pill for women may provide a highly effective treatment for up to a third of men with advanced prostate cancer, trial results have shown.


Olaparib, the first marketed drug to tackle inherited cancer mutations, was licensed last year for women with ovarian cancer who have faulty BRCA genes.

The new trial, described as a “milestone” by the UK’s Institute of Cancer Research, found it could also halt tumour growth in many men with treatment-resistant prostate cancer.

Of the 49 men taking part, a third responded to the drug. Cancers stopped growing, numbers of circulating tumour cells in the blood fell and clinically positive results were obtained from scans.

Levels of PSA – the blood marker used to track the progress of prostate cancer – also plunged by up to 96 per cent.

Chief investigator Professor Johann de Bono, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “We can detect prostate cancers with specific targetable mutations using genomic sequencing to deliver more precise cancer care by matching treatment to those men most likely to benefit.”

Sixteen patients had detectable faults in genes that play a role in repairing damaged DNA, including BRCA 1 and 2. Of these, 14 responded very well to olaparib.

A second stage of the trial is now planned that will only recruit men with prostate cancer who have similar detectable gene defects.

If this study also yields positive results, olaparib could become a new treatment option for men with genetically driven advanced prostate cancer, say the researchers.

Women with breast cancer and defective BRCA genes are also known to respond to olaparib.

The new findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In 84 per cent of prostate cancer cases, patients live 10 or more years, but once the disease has spread and stopped responding to hormone treatments, the chances of survival are much slimmer.

Dr Aine McCarthy, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This trial is exciting because it could offer a new way to treat prostate cancer by targeting genetic mistakes in cancers that have spread.”

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “These results demonstrate just how much we can benefit from the success of treatments for other disease.”

The research received support from the Movember Foundation, which raises funds and cancer awareness by promoting the growth of moustaches.