Two bushfire emergencies in WA’s south

by admin on May 30th, 2019

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Two emergency warnings are in place for lightning-sparked bushfires in Western Australia’s south, with a veteran firefighter warning one of the blazes could burn all the way to the coast.

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While a fire threatens the town of Northcliffe, the alert level for the southern part of Lower Hotham has been upgraded to an emergency.

Roger Underwood, who has been fighting fires for more than 50 years, fears the Northcliffe blaze could continue to burn out of control until it hits the Southern Ocean.

Mr Underwood said the fire was burning in extremely dense Karri forest, thick with trees up to 70 metres high.

“It could be really bad,” he told AAP.

“It’s probably the biggest fire risk problem we’ve had in 50 years.”

The fire is spreading in some areas at a rate of more than 500 metres per hour, with spot fires starting up to 100 metres ahead of the fire.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services says forecast thunderstorms “could cause areas of extreme fire behaviour”.

Wednesday is expected to be very hot with possibly more storms.

About 300 firefighters and support crews are on the scene and have saved several homes in the area, and will soon be joined by almost 150 firefighters from Victoria who arrived in Perth on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Underwood said there was no way to stop the head fire.

“That’s unstoppable,” he said.

“Fires in the Karri forest are not put out by men on the ground or by aeroplanes – they’re only put out by a change in the weather.

“You’ve got to work the sides of the fire and bring in bulldozers.”

People in Northcliffe and the subdivisions of Parkview, Bracken Rise and Double Bridge are directly in the fire’s path and have been strongly urged to evacuate as the areas are considered undefendable.

Only a few people have remained behind.

The Lower Hotham fire has increased in intensity and hop-overs have occurred on the eastern and western sides.

The warning applies to an area bounded by Pinjarra Williams Road, Lower Hotham Road, Tunnell Road, Fletcher Road, Stockyard Road, Boundary Road, Trees Road, Harvey Quindanning Road, Dooganally Road, Lemercier Road and George Road.

“Homes on the eastern side of Lower Hotham Road will be impacted by bushfire,” DFES said.

About 70 firefighters are on the scene.

Almost 3000 bushfires have broken out around WA since January 1, with more than 120 sparked by lightning in the past week.

Mr Underwood, the chairman of prescribed burning advocacy group Bushfire Front, said the state had entered an era of very poor bushfire management after leading the world in the 1970s and 1980s.

“Unless you have control of the fuels, in an Australian environment you’re doomed to savage bushfires.”

Amir reprieve will encourage others to come clean – ICC

by admin on May 30th, 2019

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Amir and his former team mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were all banned for spot-fixing, particularly for bowling deliberate no-balls by pre-arrangement at Lord’s, during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010.

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The trio served jail sentences in Britain and were given minimum five-year bans by an ICC tribunal.

Amir’s five-year ban was scheduled to expire on Sept. 2 but ICC’s anti-corruption unit (ACSU) chairman Ronnie Flanagan exercised his discretion to allow him to return to domestic cricket with immediate effect on Thursday.

“There’s an incentive to players that if you have messed up there’s a way back,” Richardson told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Don’t forget that Amir would have been out of international cricket for five years. That’s more than half a career.

“Most players don’t even get to play five years at international level,” said the former South Africa stumper-batsman.

Left-arm bowler Amir was marked as a great prospect for Pakistan in his early days and at the age of 18 he became the youngest bowler to capture 50 test wickets during the controversial test match at Lord’s in 2010.

According to a revised anti-corruption code, a banned player can appeal to resume playing domestic cricket before the end of the ban.

“Not withstanding what he did, no one suggests that we should be tolerant or be lax on players who get involved in these type of things,” the 55-year-old Richardson said.

“But in his case, he admitted his involvement and since then he’s made every effort to disclose everything that he knows to help the ACSU with their education programmes.

“Therefore, I think he served as a good example to players who might have got involved in the past, regret what they have done and there’s a way for them to come back in due course.”

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

DR Congo players told to put euphoria behind them

by admin on May 30th, 2019

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“I’ve been talking about it all the time in training,” coach Florent Ibenge told a news conference as the Congolese prepared for their semi-final against the fancied Ivorians in Bata.

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“We have to really get our concentration back and focus on what is going to be a really tough encounter. Our last game was one of great emotion but I’ve been working hard to get all the euphoria behind us.”

DR Congo were 2-0 down just after an hour of the quarter-final against neighbours Congo in Bata but scored four goals in the last 25 minutes to seal a thrilling win.

“We expect a game full of a lot of tactics, very physical and with the need for strong mental concentration. It is difficult for the players in what will be their fifth game after two weeks of this tournament and also a couple of weeks of preparations before the tournament,” Ibenge added.

“It will be complicated for us but we hope it will as difficult for them,” he added at a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

The Congolese last played the Ivorians in the qualifiers in October when they produced another thrilling performance to force a surprise 4-3 away win.

“But no two games are the same and we must forget that one. The Ivorians team has changed a lot since then, they have stiffened up the midfield and since Kolo Toure came back they’ve been a lot tougher to break down in defence.”

DR Congo must again do without captain Youssouf Mulumbu, who tore his hamstring in their second match of the tournament against the Cape Verde Islands.

Ibenge said the West Bromwich Albion midfielder remained an important team member with his leadership role on the bench.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Dam fences could stop cane toad spread

by admin on May 30th, 2019

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Toad-proof fences around man-made dams could stop the spread of the toxic pests in some arid parts of Australia, scientists say.

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In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of NSW examined the long-term control of cane toads and found that blocking their water source would kill them in large numbers.

Lead author Mike Letnic said dams built for livestock attracted toads and had vastly increased the areas that the poisonous creatures could invade.

“Cane toads need water to survive and we have previously shown they use the dams as refuges in the hot, dry periods,” he said.

“They enter the water during the day to cool down and rehydrate.

“When the rainy period returns, they move on from these dry season refuges into new territory.”

Associate Professor Letnic said it explained why cane toads were so successful as invasive species.

During the study, researchers made small fences from shade cloth around three dams in the Victoria River region of the Northern Territory and maintained them for a year.

Toads could not jump over the fences or burrow underneath, so they died en masse.

Their numbers remained low for another year while there were up to 100 times more toads living at the unfenced dams used as controls.

“By excluding toads from dams, we converted their invasion refuges into ecological traps and thwarted their spread,” Assoc Prof Letnic said.

The researchers suggested pastoralists and wildlife agencies in semi-arid and arid regions could fence out toads at dams or replace dams with tanks.

“If conducted strategically, excluding toads from man-made water sources could effectively control their populations across large areas of Australia and relieve the impacts that cane toads are having on native predators and dung beetles,” Assoc Prof Letnic said.

Head youngest-ever SA cricket skipper

by admin on May 30th, 2019

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Travis Head will become the youngest-ever South Australian cricket captain after taking over from Johan Botha.

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The 21-year-old batsman was given the job on Tuesday following Botha’s decision to stand down after three years in the position and he becomes the youngest leader in the state’s 122-year first-class history.

A former Australia under-19 skipper, Head has also led his state at under-17 and under-19 level but is in just his fourth senior season.

Given he’s yet to post a first-class century, his selection as skipper ahead of more established teammates such as Callum Ferguson and Tom Cooper came as a surprise to some.

The left-hander’s first game in charge will be the Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia in Perth beginning on Saturday.

South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) chief executive Keith Bradshaw, who himself was 23 when he captained Tasmania for a Sheffield Shield match in 1987, said the appointment was a long-term move.

“Travis’s appointment demonstrates a long-term focus for our young Redbacks team,” Bradshaw said.

“Travis has demonstrated an ability to show resilience under pressure on the field in his short time playing for South Australia.

“Off-field, Travis is already well respected by the entire cricket community both in South Australia and around the country.

“We are excited to appoint a young, capable leader who we believe can achieve higher honours in his cricketing career.”

Botha, the South African international who was recruited in 2012, informed the SACA during the recent hiatus in Shield competition that this season would be his last at the helm.