Bracing for the big one

The map is uncannily similar to today’s: a spray of black dots showing the recorded sightings of a foul grey haze spreading across Europe, from Helsinki to Naples, from Heligoland to Majorca, and reaching eventually to Aleppo and Damascus – all of it caused by clouds of ash from an immense volcano erupting far across the sea in Iceland.But this was a map made from data collected in 1783. The volcano was called Laki, it erupted for eight dismal months without cease, ruined crops, lowered temperatures and drastically altered the weather. It killed 9000 people, drenched European forests in acid rain, caused skin lesions in children and the deaths of millions of cattle. And, by one account, it was a contributing factor (because of the hunger-inducing famines) to the outbreak six years later of the French revolution.Great volcanoes have a habit of prompting profound changes to the world – much greater in extent than the most savage of earthquakes and tsunamis, even though the immediate lethality of the latter is invariably much more cruel. Though ground-shaking events are generally fairly local in extent, their potential for killing can be terrific: 250,000 died after the Tangshan earthquake in China in 1975 and a similar number died in the Indian ocean tsunami of 2004. Volcanoes seem by contrast relatively benign: the accumulated total number of deaths in all of the great volcanoes of the past 300 years has probably not exceeded a quarter of a million: the total number of casualties from a hundred of the biggest recent eruptions has been no more than those from a single giant earthquake.But there is a significant difference. Earthquakes, once done, are done. Volcanoes, however, often trigger long-term and long-distance ill-effects, which generally far outweigh their immediate rain of death and destruction. Emanations of particles from the tiniest pinprick in the Earth’s crust, once lifted high into the skies by an explosive eruption, can wind themselves sinuously and menacingly around the planet, and leave all kinds of devastation in their train. They can disrupt and pollute and poison; they can darken skies and cause devastating changes in the weather; they can bring about the abrupt end to the existence of entire populations of animals and people.Earthquakes and tsunamis have never been known to cause extinctions but volcanoes and asteroid collisions have done so repeatedly – and since the Earth is still peppered with scores of thousands of volcanoes ever yearning to erupt, they and the dramatic long-term effects of their eruptions are in fact far more frequent, far more decisive, and far greater than those that are triggered by any other natural phenomenon on the planet.It is worth remembering that ours is a world essentially made from and by volcanoes. They are creatures that will continue to do their business over the aeons, quite careless of the fate of the myriad varieties of life that teems beneath them and on their flanks. Including, of course, ours.There is perhaps no better recent example of the havoc that a big eruption can cause than that which followed the explosive destruction of Mount Toba, in northern Sumatra, 72,000-74,000 years ago (which, in geological time, is very recent indeed). The relics of this mountain today are no more than a very large and beautiful lake, 100 kilometres long and 800 metres deep – the caldera left behind by what is by most reckonings the largest volcanic explosion known to have occurred on the planet in the past 25 million years.On the widely used volcanic explosivity index (VEI), Toba is thought to have been an eight – meaning that in the unusually flamboyant official language of vulcanology it was a super-plinian type eruption with mega-colossal characteristics (Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull is by contrast listed as a strombolian type, with its characteristic regarded as merely gentle, and having a probable VEI rating of just two).About 2800 cubic kilometres of rock were instantly vaporised by the super-eruptive blast of Toba, all of which was hurled scores of thousands of metres into the air. This is what did the lasting damage, just as Iceland’s high-altitude rock-dust did in Europe. But while we merely suffered a large number of inconvenienced people and a weakening of the balance sheets of some airlines, the effect on the post-Toban world was catastrophic: as a result of the thick ash clouds the world’s ambient temperature plummeted, perhaps by as much as 5 degrees – and the cooling and the howling wave of deforestation and deaths of billions of animals and plants caused a sudden culling of the human population of the time, reducing it to maybe as few as 5000 people, perhaps 1000 breeding pairs. Many anthropologists believe that the event caused a sudden evolutionary bottleneck, with genetic implications that linger to this day. Put more crudely, humanity was nearly wiped out by Toba, and only by the merest hair’s breadth did our ancestors of 72,000 years ago manage to cling on and bequeath to us our existence.Mercifully, from humanity’s point of view, there have been very few Tobas known in history. They are probably so large that they reach the upper limit of the kind of eruptions that can physically occur on Earth – one VEI-8 event occurs only every 100,000 years or so. Yet of those known to have occurred, two have taken place in Britain (mainly because Britain has such a vast variety of geology, with almost every age of rock known in the world found somewhere between Cape Wrath and Dover). They are comfortingly ancient: both – the volcano that created Scafell in the Lake District, and the other that gave us Glen Coe in the Western Highlands – took place more than 400 million years ago.But others of the 47 known VEI-8 volcanoes are more alarmingly recent. Taupo in New Zealand erupted with mega-colossal force some 22,500 years ago. The newer of the great eruptions that helped form the mountains of today’s Yellowstone National Park in the United States took place just 640,000 years ago, and all the current signs – from such phenomena as the rhythmic slow rising and falling of the bed of the Yellowstone River, as if some giant creature is breathing far below – suggest another eruption is coming soon. When it does, it will be an American Armageddon: all of the north and west of the continent, from Vancouver to Oklahoma City, will be rendered uninhabitable, buried under scores of metres of ash. (I mentioned this once in a talk to a group of lunching ladies in Kansas City, soothing their apparent disquiet by adding that by ”soon” I was speaking in geologic time, and that meant about 250,000 years, by which time all humankind would be extinct. A woman in the front row exploded with a choleric and incredulous rage: ”What?” she said. ”Even Americans will be extinct?”)Ratcheting down the scale a couple of notches, to the only slightly less gigantic eruptions that are classified as VEI-7 and VEI-6, and a host of more familiar eruptions come into view. These include Santorini, the Aegean volcano whose destruction around 4000 years ago may have triggered the collapse of the Minoan civilisation; Laki, the 1783 Icelandic volcano mentioned above, and which most obviously parallels today’s events at Eyjafjallajokull; the Javan volcano of Krakatoa, which erupted so infamously in August 1883; and the rather more profoundly world-affecting eruption of 1815, also in the Dutch East Indies, of the huge stratovolcano on Sumbawa Island, known as Tambora. Each of these had massive effects, and all were global in their extent.Tambora is the most notorious, not least because it was so immense: almost 170 cubic kilometres of pulverised Sumbawan rock were hurled into the sky, which darkened, cooled and polluted a world that, unlike in Toba’s day, was already well populated and widely civilised. The consequences ranged from the dire – a lowering of temperature that caused frosts in Italy in June and snows in the US in July, and the failure of crops in immense swathes across Europe and the Americas – to the ludicrous: Irish migrants, promised better weather in New England, found it on landing to be every bit as grim as the Connemara and Cork they had left, and so either went home, or pressed on in hope to California.Krakatoa’s immediate aftermath was dominated initially by dramatic physical effects – a series of tsunamis that were measured as far away as Portland Bill and Biarritz, a detonation that was clearly heard (like naval gunfire, said the local police officer) 5000 kilometres away on Rodriguez Island, and a year’s worth of awe-inspiring evening beauty as the sky lit up with dazzling colours.There was an important legacy to Krakatoa’s eruption not shared by the other giant volcanoes of the time. Close mapping of the spread of the 1883 sunsets showed them girdling the Earth in a curious set of spirals, the stratospheric aerosols evidently being borne around the world on high-altitude winds that no one at the time knew existed. An atmospheric scientist in Hawaii mapped them and decided to call the air current the equatorial smoke stream. It later became, more elegantly and economically, the jet stream. There has to be some irony that the jet stream that drove this month’s Icelandic dust so dangerously over Britain and mainland Europe is a phenomenon that was first discovered as a direct consequence of the study of Krakatoa.And yet, of all the consequences of the truly great volcanoes of the past, the phenomenon of mass extinctions of life must surely be the most profound and world-changing of all. Between two and five major extinction events occur in the world every million years or so. Humans have not been privileged to observe one of them – hardly surprisingly, since they would probably occur so slowly as to be barely noticeable. However, with painstaking care, palaeontological evidence is being amassed to link sudden and catastrophic changes in world climate, changes that promote such extinction crises, with the known major eruptions of the past, and with what are known as flood basalt events (such as those that have been triggered specifically in the past by eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull and her neighbouring volcano in Iceland, Katla, which is itself well overdue for an eruption). It is a study that opens up a fascinating speculative possibility.For what if the kind of event that we have seen this month, and which caused such commercial inconvenience, is in fact not just a minor volcanic hiccup, but the beginning of an event that causes in time a mass extinction of some form of earthbound life? And, since we know from the history books that the massive eruption of Santorini once had the power to destroy one proud part of human society, what if the extinction we might be beginning to see turns out to be what will one day surely occur, and that is the extinction of us?Guardian News & MediaSimon Winchester is a journalist and author of Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded.
Nanjing Night Net

America’s gaping hole: thousands queue up for free medical care

LOS ANGELES: They began arriving before dawn on a cold, misty morning, people of all ages lining up by the hundreds, some in wheelchairs, others hobbling on crutches, many of them missing teeth, all of them seeking the same thing: free medical care.It was a scene that could have been playing out in a Third World country or perhaps some place like post-hurricane New Orleans. But it was unfolding in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and the hundreds who showed up were mainly working people without health insurance.Kenny Gillett, 47, a welder, had not seen a doctor for two years, since losing his job and insurance when his employer went broke.Adriana Valenzuela, a self-employed and uninsured beautician, brought an eight-year-old son with a mouthful of cavities. Frank Carodine, 57, in a wheelchair, said he had lost parts of both legs to diabetes, which was now ravaging his right eye. He needed glasses. ”I’ve got coverage for my diabetes, I go to a clinic, but it doesn’t cover eye exams,” he said.Outside in the cold, several hundred people, some balancing toddlers on their hips, waited for their turn to enter the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Inside were hundreds of volunteer doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and other professionals, all brought together by a Tennessee non-profit group, Remote Area Medical.On this first day of the seven-day clinic, Maria Shriver, the wife of the Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, visited and said she was humbled by the scope of the volunteer effort.”What you’re seeing is a lot of Middle America here,” said RAM’s flamboyant founder, Stan Brock. ”Healthcare in this country is a privilege of the well-to-do and the well-insured.” At last year’s clinic 6000 were treated. More were expected this time.Jesse Serna, 51, a disabled warehouse worker, was waiting to get an aching tooth fixed.Referring to national healthcare reform, he said: ”We need it badly. We send people overseas when there’s a disaster. This is a disaster right here.”Associated Press, Los Angeles Times
Nanjing Night Net

India accuses one of its diplomats of spying for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Indian government has accused one of its own diplomats of handing secrets to Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence agency.The Indian Foreign Office said on Tuesday that Madhuri Gupta, 53, a second secretary at its high commission in Islamabad, had been charged with espionage.Ms Gupta, who had worked in the press and information section for three years, was arrested on Friday after being called back to New Delhi on the pretext of discussing a regional summit in Bhutan this week. She was charged in court on Monday.”We have reasons to believe an official in the Indian high commission in Pakistan has been passing information to Pakistani intelligence officials,” said Vishnu Prakash, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs. ”The official is co-operating with our investigations and inquiries.”The Press Trust of India reported that the head of India’s intelligence agency research and analysis wing in Islamabad was also under investigation.Indian officials did not elaborate on the nature of the secrets allegedly stolen by the junior diplomat. But the revelation is a big embarrassment for India’s diplomatic service on the eve of the Bhutan summit, where peace talks between the nuclear-armed rivals are high on the agenda.The arrest was not expected to derail a meeting between Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, due to take place today. But it may dampen expectations of a resumption of peace talks, which collapsed after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which more than 170 people were killed.India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group with historical ties to the ISI, for the atrocity, accusing ”state elements” of orchestrating the carnage.The two countries, which have fought three wars, have a history of skulduggery and periodically engage in tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, usually at times of political or military tension.But it is rare for a diplomat to be accused of spying and analysts were divided on the political significance. Some felt it was unlikely to damage relations because the accused is an Indian national; others saw it as an ominous sign for an early resumption of peace talks.Guardian News & Media
Nanjing Night Net

Fast-bowling find agrees to lay down the hockey stick and hit the nets

CRICKET’S find of the summer, fast bowler Trent Copeland, has made his first major sacrifice as a professional: he’s accepted a Cricket Australia ban on playing hockey.Before he broke into the NSW team, the 24-year-old played for the famed St George club. However, a clause in his prized contract prevents him from engaging in dangerous pursuits – and the risk of injury while playing hockey ranks the sport alongside the likes of skydiving.”It would be good to still play hockey purely for fitness,” Copeland said. ”It’s disappointing in the sense I really love the game but I appreciate it’s necessary for me to stop so I can further my cricket. And cricket-wise I have things to do that take time during my days; things like working on improving my batting.”Copeland, who took 35 wickets at 17.57 in only five games of his first season in Sheffield Shield, will press strongly for selection in the Australia A team to play Sri Lanka A in Queensland next month.The A team is used to blood Cricket Australia’s next generation of frontline players. Copeland knows he can’t afford to relax despite taking more wickets than Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger and Stuart Clark in their debut seasons.”Has it sunk in? Definitely not,” said Copeland, who announced his arrival with 8-92 on debut against Queensland in January. ”It’s been significant, but if I’m really serious about playing for Australia or Australia A or even cementing my place for NSW I can’t rest on my laurels. It’s been a great start but I have to back it up, and that means hard work.”Copeland, who only started bowling four years ago because he was tired of suffering broken fingers as the wicketkeeper for St George’s third grade XI, realises he’s now a marked man. However, he scoffs at cricket’s so-called ”second year” syndrome – a term describing the struggle some rookies encounter in the following year at the elite level.”I imagine people are going to watch vision of me from this season but … second year syndrome, it doesn’t really affect me.”I will keep it simple. The best advice I’ve ever been given is that you can’t focus on the ball after your next one. It’s about me bettering myself by doing the work to ensure I continue to take wickets and that I add new dimensions to my game.”Copeland hopes his decision to recruit Glenn McGrath’s manager Warren Craig as his agent will help form an association with Test cricket’s most successful fast bowler.”If my association with Warren means I could talk to [McGrath] about what he did when a batsman started to get on top of him, or when to bowl a bouncer and how he prepared, it would be a valuable asset.”
Nanjing Night Net

KP admits: I’ll walk off mid-match

ST LUCIA: Kevin Pietersen says he will walk off the field mid-match during the World Twenty20 and fly home if his wife goes into labour with their first child.The key England batsman must hope any volcanic explosions are limited to his time at the crease if he is to get back to London from the Caribbean in an emergency as his wife, pop star Jessica Taylor, is due on May 16 – the day of the World Twenty20 final in Barbados.”As soon as she goes into labour, I’ll be off,” Pietersen said. ”No matter where it is in the tournament, I’ll be off – and it’s been cleared with the management to do that.”If I’m in the middle of a match, I’ll obviously get off the field and then I’ll be on the next plane that flies into London Heathrow.”Pietersen, 29, rubbished critics who believe his departure would spoil the team’s campaign – they haven’t made the final of an ICC tournament in six years. ”I think it’s pretty sad that if you have your first child people criticise you for wanting to be there, whatever walk of life,” he said.England start their campaign on Monday against hosts West Indies in Guyana and will rely heavily on Pietersen, the highest-paid Indian Premier League player, who topped the run-scoring in the recent edition of the tournament.Meanwhile, Australia begin their quest to win the World Twenty20 for the first time by taking on defending champions Pakistan here (from 3.30am Monday, Sydney time) and look certain to omit specialist spinner Nathan Hauritz on a slow deck.Captain Michael Clarke said: ”Playing Pakistan, we need to have a look at how they play spin bowling, which they face a lot of. Also having David Hussey in the team, who can bowl some off-spin probably makes it harder for Haury.”Hauritz failed to take a wicket in the week’s two practice matches but, should he be left out, Australia would be the only side in the tournament not fielding a specialist spinner.Australia’s match is the second of the day at Beausejour Cricket Ground and Clarke said if the pitch had deteriorated to the point where more spin was predicted, Hauritz would come back into calculations. Otherwise, all-rounder Steve Smith would shoulder the spin burden, assisted by Clarke and Hussey.”I’ve seen how well [Hauritz has] bowled in one-day cricket, and how well he’s performed in Twenty20 cricket,” Clarke said. ”If conditions suit that extra spin option, he could definitely play a big part.”Opening batsman David Warner has already made a strong case to be favourite as the tournament’s leading run-scorer following successive half-centuries in the practice games and has been likened to Matthew Hayden.”With Davey you have to give him the freedom to play his way,” Clarke said. ”He’s got no restrictions on the way he plays. He plays a huge part, like Matty Hayden used to for us.”
Nanjing Night Net

Brumbies discover their mojo and bring Reds thudding back to earth

THE Brumbies kept alive their quest for a finals berth with a 20-point bonus-point win over the new darlings of the competition, the Queensland Reds, at Canberra Stadium last night.The most pressing question after their glittering performance, however, was: where has this form been all season?The Brumbies secured their fourth try in the 73rd minute when prop Ben Alexander crashed over for his second five-pointer.The win kept the Brumbies in sixth position on the Super 14 ladder – two points behind the Crusaders and Reds in third and fourth – with matches against the Highlanders at home and the Crusaders away to close out the regular season. Coach Andy Friend believes his side is destined to qualify for the play-offs. ”One-hundred per cent,” Friend said. ”I firmly believe we can do it. We need to play like that again the next two weeks, play with that belief and energy for each other. I’m now not standing here saying, ‘We’re getting close’. I saw it click tonight.”Captain Stephen Hoiles refused to get carried away with the performance. ”It just means we’re alive, that we live to fight another week. It doesn’t make the run home any easier or any harder though,” he said.”But against the form side of the competition tonight, to score four tries was very pleasing.”As has been the case for most of the season, the Brumbies controlled possession for most of the contest, which was played in front of a crowd of 18,025. However, last night they were able to turn that early dominance into points through a Mark Chisholm try.The Brumbies had a sense of urgency at the breakdown and the Reds struggled to handle the pressure. In their defence, though, the Reds lost both starting second-rowers, Adam Byrnes (knee) and Rob Simmons (jaw), in the first quarter of the match. The Brumbies capitalised, stealing lineouts at will and ruling at scrum time.The Reds’ front row also desperately missed the scrummaging power of injured prop Laurie Weeks.The Brumbies’ ascendancy in the forwards set the platform for two first-half tries and a 14-6 lead into the break.Josh Valentine’s 56th-minute try gave the Brumbies 24 minutes to score the all-important fourth try – a mission they accomplished.The Brumbies will be boosted for their must-win match against the Highlanders by an emotional farewell planned for club legends Stirling Mortlock and George Smith at Canberra Stadium.Meanwhile, the Hurricanes defeated the Chiefs 33-27 in Wellington last night.BRUMBIES 32 (Ben Alexander 2, Mark Chisholm, Josh Valentine tries Matt Giteau 3 cons 2 pens) bt QUEENSLAND REDS 12 (Quade Cooper 4 pens) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock (NZL).
Nanjing Night Net

Matthews lambasts Folau offer as ‘obscene’

LEIGH MATTHEWS has labelled talk of luring Israel Folau to the AFL on a million-dollar-a-year contract as ”obscene” and disrespectful to other potential young recruits.Folau became a free agent on Friday after declining to renew his contract with the Brisbane Broncos. The 21-year-old has been closely linked with new Super 15 franchise the Melbourne Rebels, but is understood to also be weighing up an offer from Team GWS.Matthews, a Hall of Fame legend and four-time premiership coach, yesterday acknowledged the value of having a player with Folau’s profile to market a new AFL team, but said it was ”ridiculous” to pay him anywhere near the money earned by the best players in the competition.”It’s disrespectful to all the kids who play footy as teenagers,” he said on 3AW.”We ask them to operate under a salary cap [and] there’s no free agency, so you can’t go to a different employer if you want to – then you see someone from outside the sport [who has] never kicked an AFL football being offered the same money as Jonathan Brown and Chris Judd.”He said the league provides ”all the money for all the AFL initiatives around Australia” and allowing a player without experience to join the ranks of the AFL on such a wage would be in conflict with those initiatives.”We might as well recruit all around the world now because you don’t have to know anything about the game.”Poaching someone from another sport by offering them a Godfather million-dollar offer – to me, it’s embarrassing.”Recently retired Richmond star Matthew Richardson, who was on yesterday’s pre-game talk show with Matthews, said Folau would not be able to make the transition from the NRL to the AFL.”He’s absolutely no chance of making it,” Richardson said.”I don’t think you can pick up the game at the age of 22 and suddenly go out and play AFL football.”GWS chief executive Dale Holmes told The Sun-Herald yesterday the new club (under ex-Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy’s on-field leadership) was not going to comment on speculation about Folau.
Nanjing Night Net

Blues better off without Fevola, says Walls

FORMER Carlton premiership player and coach Robert Walls believes the Blues’ decision to offload troublesome Brendan Fevola is starting to pay off, and could eventually help return the club to glory.The Blues will try to back up their huge upset of premiers Geelong last Monday when they take on arch-rivals Collingwood at the MCG today.Walls believes Carlton’s resurgence has been helped by their bravery in trading Fevola to Brisbane – just before the twin bombshells of the Lara Bingle nude photo scandal and his gambling addiction dropped.The 1987 premiership coach believes a Blues side without Fevola as the attacking focal point is more unpredictable and promises more now they have unearthed a wider variety of routes to goal.”All the eggs in one basket – and a shaky basket at that – is not the way to go,” Walls said of Fevola.”They did a really strong act in getting rid of Fevola last year and that means the forward line has options, and you saw that last week with the three indigenous boys [Eddie Betts, Chris Yarran and Jeff Garlett] kicking seven between them.”Lachie Henderson’s a work in progress up forward, [Matthew] Kreuzer can be a part of it up forward – they’re on the right track, no doubt about that.”Collingwood assistant coach Nathan Buckley agreed Carlton’s forward line presented new dangers without Fevola and has also nominated tall Irishman Setanta o’hAilpin as a vital component.”There’s been a lot of talk from the outside about Fevola not being there, but they haven’t had any trouble scoring goals,” Buckley said.”Yes, they have a small forward line but o’hAilpin’s been a very hard worker for them. He’s playing a very important role forward of the ball.”While Walls is bullish about Carlton’s future, he still believes the Blues will take time to become legitimate flag contenders.”I don’t think they’re anywhere near top four at this stage, but they are one of the youngest teams in the competition,” he said.”This Carlton team that’ll play on the weekend is one of the three youngest teams in the 16 going around. It’s all in front of them.”The Blues have elevated young ruckman Sam Jacobs to replace axed Robbie Warnock against the Magpies, while defender Paul Bower returns from a quadriceps injury.He comes in as a straight swap for luckless Andrew Walker, who fractured his collarbone in the win against Geelong. The Magpies are unchanged from their Anzac Day win against Essendon.AAP
Nanjing Night Net

Captains cook up a real clash of styles

When Nick Maxwell was on the rookie list at Collingwood, seven short years ago, his then captain immediately noticed the kid from Geelong who seemed to have plenty to say.Nathan Buckley has been around football clubs long enough to know that there are blokes who want to lead and blokes who follow. In Maxwell, he saw the first of the two categories. ”I reckon he’s always been a leader,” said Buckley during the week. ”Even back then, he’d be organising blokes for social functions, making sure blokes were doing the right thing.”Hence, when Scott Burns retired at the end of 2008 and Collingwood needed another captain, Buckley was a strong advocate of Nick Maxwell’s credentials for the job, albeit from a distance. Outside the club there were doubts; in the inner sanctum, the self-made player was a walk-up start. As a player, Maxwell has had to work for everything. But as a leader, he is Mr Natural.At 2pm today at the MCG, he will trot into the centre to toss a coin and shake hands with Chris Judd, Carlton’s inspirational captain and champion of the game. Judd was destined to captain an AFL club from the time he was a teenager, though the journey has been strewn with difficulties.As a self-confessed introvert, Judd has struggled with aspects of the captaincy that was first thrust on him at West Coast when Ben Cousins imploded. When he lifted the premiership cup in 2006, he had to share the podium with Cousins who appeared intent on thumbing his nose at the world with his whirling dervish act. At Carlton, people let Judd down, notably Brendan Fevola. Critics took potshots at him for failing to control the actions of others, and some of the mud stuck.While Judd has always had the fallback position of performing heroics on the field – witness his game against Geelong last Monday – he is yet to win unequivocal public acclaim as a captain.The one thing today’s captains at the MCG have in common is that they are profoundly important to their teams.Aside from his leadership, Maxwell is now an all-Australian defender, a lightning rod for his team. Matthew Lloyd, the former Essendon captain, sees Collingwood developing in Maxwell’s image.”The way the team plays signifies what Nick’s about, I reckon,” said Lloyd. ”They don’t rely on any one individual, they all contribute. There’s nothing lairy about them. They do everything right, which is how you’d describe Nick Maxwell’s game. Also, they’re very strong and hard.”Improvement as a player has been pivotal to Maxwell’s success as a captain. Even his supporters at Collingwood would admit to some surprise that the upward curve was so dramatic.”I’ve always loved the way he’s gone about it,” said Buckley. ”I mean, he was always going to get the best out of himself.”There’s plenty of ways to judge an individual’s contribution to a footy club. First and foremost is their ability to play the game, and he’s improved that, probably exponentially, really. He’s gone from being a role player, worked on his game to the point where he’s a weapon for us now. You wouldn’t have said that three years ago, but he’s done that.”Unlike Judd, Maxwell was not a champion junior. He played for St Joseph’s College in Geelong and for Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup, but was scarcely noticed. He did not play for Victoria, and in his final year, osteitis pubis stopped him from finishing the season.He would not be drafted; not even rookie-listed.”He was a good player; I wouldn’t say he was an outstanding player,” recalls Michael Turner, the Falcons’ regional manager and former Geelong captain. ”But at the same time, he worked really hard.”Turner believes it is attitude that set Maxwell apart from any other rejected player. ”I remember when he was finishing with us, he needed a car, and he went ‘bang’ and bought a [Mitsubishi] Magna. He paid $18,000 cash and he’d saved it up. He always had a job, even when he didn’t need to. That’s the type of person he is.”Maxwell went to Ballarat University, played for North Ballarat in the VFL, and soon found himself at Collingwood. ”The thing that has driven Nick Maxwell and got him to where he is now is attitude,” said Turner. ”He’s very determined, very organised; he gets the best out of himself. That’s why he was a good pick as captain. He’s a good decision-maker … Athletically, he’s improved a lot. And as captain, he’s gone to another level. Being captain of such a big club, it’s never bothered him or overwhelmed him.”As for Judd, Lloyd believes he is growing into the role after the Fevola debacle and the infamous ”booze cruise” during the off-season.”One of the points I made is that if he’s not a vocal leader, he needs to become one,” said Lloyd. ”If they feel there’s a cultural problem at Carlton, he has to.”Buckley also admires Judd from afar.”There’s no doubt those players walk taller when he’s out on the field,” he said. ”Drawing a line from that, you’d have to say Judd’s pushing the right buttons at Carlton.”
Nanjing Night Net

Sweet revenge – Bradshaw boomer sinks Lions

Sydney 16.11 (107) Brisbane 13.9 (87) UNWANTED former Brisbane Lion Daniel Bradshaw kicked six goals – including an epic 60-metre torpedo punt on the stroke of three-quarter-time – to remind those up north the kind of player they let go as the top-of-the-ladder Swans scored a momentum-building win over the highly fancied Lions last night.Bradshaw was replaced at the Lions by Brendan Fevola, but the controversial marksman’s formidable partnership with Jonathan Brown reaped only moderate rewards for the out-enthused visitors. They kicked four goals each as the Swans midfield starved them of possession.The Swans dictated most of the first half, including an extraordinary run of 9.1 between late in the first term and midway through the second, after which they led by seven goals, thrilling a vocal crowd of 30,975. The Lions hit back with three unanswered goals before the main break, including Fevola’s first, to leave the score at 9.5.59 to 5.3.33.The third term proved a vicious battle, but it was topped off by the goal of the season so far. With the Swans leading 15.8 to 11.4, Bradshaw marked about 55 metres from goal, deep on the right wing.The siren sounded and Bradshaw used the only option possible – a torpedo.He hit it sweetly and the ball seemed to take an eternity to travel the distance before sailing through the posts.All the Swans players ran to their new teammate, the crowd went wild and the Lions players stood stunned. The goal put the Swans ahead by 34 points and gave them the impetus they needed to remain on top in a nail-biting final quarter.The ingredients for a Bradshaw-Brown shootout were in place early. Brown scored twice in the first few minutes, including a silky free kick from 55 metres.But the Swans hit back heavily. On 14 minutes, Bradshaw marked strongly over Joel Patfull and converted from the arc.The Swans’ speed off half-back – a key to their early-season good form – hurt the Lions’ midfield and led to Bradshaw’s second, and his third moments later.Jarred Moore chipped in with a mark and goal after more frantic work over the ball, and Jude Bolton completed his comeback from a nasty concussion in the opening minutes by scoring to give the Swans a neat cushion at the first break. The rush continued in the second term. Bolton scored another from half-forward, Nick Smith picked up the crumbs to score a goal and Bradshaw took a brilliant one-handed mark in the forward pocket and then scored – all in the first five minutes.Daniel Hannebery left the field with a dislocated shoulder, but returned soon enough, as the Swans powered on, with Adam Goodes extending the lead to a commanding seven goals.But the Lions wouldn’t be tamed.Todd Banfield pulled one back midway through the term, before Fevola was awarded a free against his marker, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, and scored.The tussle grew in intensity and Lewis Jetta nearly brought the house down when he scooted down the left wing, shot from 45 metres … and shaved the post. Instead, five minutes later – off just one step – Brown punted a 55m goal to give the Lions some joy at half-time. Fevola had only four touches in the first half, but scored two goals in the first five minutes after the break to close the gap to just 14 points.The tension roused the Swans, who hit back with goals to Goodes and Smith.But the Lions again crept back. Fevola kicked another off the ground, Banfield kicked his second and when Matthew Leuenberger crumbed another goal, and the difference was only 10 points.The Swans responded.The in-form Kieren Jack snapped a goal, Bradshaw kicked his fifth and Nick Malceski wandered up the ground to mark strongly, score and restore a 29-point lead.Brown and Goodes swapped majors before Bradshaw produced his epic torpedo.A third goal to Banfield, and one to James Polkinghorne kept the final term anxious for the Swans, but after an all-round superb effort, they weren’t going to let the game slip out of their grasp.
Nanjing Night Net

Smith calls on NRL to halt the exodus of star players

MELBOURNE STORM skipper Cameron Smith last night declared the NRL must do more to retain its star players as Israel Folau continues to contemplate his future in the code.”I hear people at the top of our game say that young stars will keep coming through but I haven’t seen another Sonny Bill Williams come through since he left. He’s left a massive hole in our game,” an emotional Smith said.”I don’t know what way the NRL need to go about keeping all of our young stars or our older stars in the game, but I think they need to do something. You just can’t let blokes like Israel Folau leave the game – he’s only 22. I don’t know whether it’s increasing rep payments or what it is but I think we need to be working harder to keep those good players. We just can’t keep letting them leave our code to go to other codes or overseas.”You want to play against the best players in the world and I know the fans want to see all the great players play our game as well.”Meanwhile, Cooper Cronk’s week from hell will get a little brighter this afternoon when the halfback is named in the Australian Test team for this Friday’s Anzac test.Star No.7 Johnathan Thurston has been ruled out after leaving the field with a right shoulder injury just 11 minutes into the Cowboys’ loss to the carefree Melbourne Storm at Dairy Farmers Stadium, which packed in a season-high 19,853 fans – most of whom were sympathetic to the Storm.They might not be playing for points but the Storm showed they still have a point to prove, with big hits from Adam Blair and Brett Finch at the seventh and eighth minutes respectively relegating a sorry Thurston to the sheds.Many wondered if the team could replicate last week’s charged flogging of the New Zealand Warriors just three days after learning their season was effectively over; the Storm gave an emphatic yes at the 16th minute when forward Brian Norrie crossed to help the side to a 6-0 lead with Smith’s ensuing conversion. Cronk, Smith, Billy Slater, Finch and Greg Inglis dominated proceedings, at least two having a hand in all four first-half Storm tries to Norrie, Matt Duffie, Inglis and Finch.”The thing we look forward to now is enjoying our weekend and our game, and that was us having fun,” said Smith, who attempted one conversion with his right foot after a horrible night with his left. ”That’s no disrespect to the opposition; having fun is what we want to do. We’ve been told we can’t play for points and that’s a way for us to enjoy the game. Hopefully that will keep bringing the fans to the game.”I think a few of the boys took on board the comments from [Penrith coach] Matt Elliott about revolutionising the game and we’ve had a bit of a chat about the way we want to play our footy – but Globetrotters is probably going a bit far [laughs].”We just want to express our skills on-field whereas when we were playing for points, it was more of a regimented game … Now it’s about [scoring] points and [having] fun.”MELBOURNE 34 (M Duffie B Finch G Inglis J Lima D Nielsen B Norrie A Quinn tries C Smith 3 goals) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 6 (S Bolton try A Graham goal) at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Gerard Sutton. Crowd: 19,853.
Nanjing Night Net

Obama to see oil slick amid unchecked gusher fears

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama will visit an oil spill area in the Gulf of Mexico in the next 48 hours to assess the situation and the US government’s response.Oil from a giant Gulf of Mexico slick began washing onto Louisiana shores on Friday, threatening an environmental calamity, as two more neighbouring states declared a state of emergency.With up to 757,000 litres of oil a day spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, the accident stemming from a sunken offshore rig may soon rival the Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst oil spill in US history.The Mobile Press-Register reported yesterday that the US Coast Guard now feared the underwater oil well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of litres of oil per day.Citing a confidential National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report, the Alabama newspaper said two additional release points had been found.”If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked, resulting in a release volume . . . higher than previously thought,” the paper quotes the report as saying.Earlier, Mr Obama said about 1900 federal response personnel were in the area with 300 boats and aircraft.The White House also put new domestic offshore oil drilling on hold until the disaster had been fully investigated. It has sent teams to the Gulf Coast “to inspect all deep water rigs and platforms to address safety concerns”.BP faces a slew of US lawsuits accusing it of negligence over the spill. The suits were filed as US government officials said that BP was responsible for cleaning up the slick and the British oil giant pledged to pay for “legitimate claims” stemming from the disaster.Two shrimp boat operators have filed a suit in New Orleans seeking class-action status on behalf of all Louisiana residents who live, work in or derive their income from the zone affected by the oil spill.Their suit alleges that the fire, explosion and resulting spill at the rig were “caused by the joint negligence and fault” of BP and other defendants.
Nanjing Night Net

Lovers caught in web of intrigue: desperate, dateless and married

We are a nation of philanderers. Two new dating websites have confirmed our infidelity.More than 280,000 people – 36 per cent of them women – have signed up to ashleymadison南京夜网 since it was launched here three weeks ago.Along with rival gleeden南京夜网, it follows the basic structure of most dating sites, where members publish profiles outlining their interests, passions and sexual proclivities.About 13,000 people visited gleeden南京夜网 in its first week.But instead of singles, the pay-to-join sites specifically cater for married people looking for secret dalliances or long-term affairs.”It is not in anyone’s DNA to stay with the same person,” ashleymadison南京夜网 founder Noel Biderman said. ”So this notion that [our site is] generating this kind of behaviour is wrong.”American TV host Dr Phil McGraw agrees. Last week, the clinical pyschologist known as Dr Phil told female viewers how to tell if their man would cheat on them.He said men with a ring finger longer than their index finger have higher testosterone levels and were more likely to cheat. He also said that men with a short gene – the vasopressin receptor gene – were predisposed to infidelity.But University of Sydney professor of medicine and molecular genetics Ron Trent said proving that a ”cheating gene” existed would be difficult.”There may be some sort of connection but these are complex traits and a lot of these situations involve a combination of genes and environmental factors,” Dr Trent said. ”For one, we cannot prove infidelity runs in families.”Running an adultery website has not made Mr Biderman insecure about his marriage but it has made him more pragmatic: ”It has challenged the paradigm I grew up with, that you should just get married. But there is more diversity than that out there.”NSW Family First representative the Reverend Gordon Moyes said the popularity of such sites was disappointing, if not surprising.”Infidelity solves nothing,” Mr Moyes said. ”It is not surprising that there are significant numbers of people who think they can get out of their rather boring malaise within their existing marriage by having an affair. However, you only have to read the celebrity pages to realise that the other partner often responds badly.”Mr Biderman said the Australian site had higher levels of female participation than sites in the US and Britain. ”Women who use the service haven’t been paid attention to, these women who were once such objects of desire that someone married them,” he said.University of Sydney behavioural scientist Dr Di Sansom said some people rediscovered the love they felt for their spouse after partaking in an affair: ”They find it is not as fulfilling as their marriage and so they end it.”Mr Biderman said his website was allowing more than 5.8 million people internationally to test the waters. ”It is hard for people to shed that idea of monogamy. When they are tired of vanilla, they want to try different flavours.”
Nanjing Night Net