Daley puts NSW game one team on notice

NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley hasn’t wasted time turning the blowtorch on his series-opening squad, telling them: Perform, or I’ll find someone else who can.

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Daley made six changes to the team that took out last year’s dead rubber in Sydney, including handing out two debuts to Nathan Peats and Jake Trbojevic.

But Origin week had barely been a day old when the fifth-year Blues mentor warned his 20-man squad that he wasn’t kidding about his rich pool of talent to pick from for the series.

“We’ve got plenty of depth, so the challenge for our players this year is not to feel comfortable because we have got players underneath that we haven’t had that in the past,” Daley said.

In addition to the rookie pair, stalwarts Brett Morris, Jarryd Hayne and Mitchell Pearce all received call-ups, while returning second-rower Boyd Cordner was named captain.

The change-up meant axings for veterans Robbie Farah, James Tamou and Michael Jennings, as well as makeshift five-eighth Matt Moylan.

Injured winger Josh Mansour was unavailable, as was Origin retiree Paul Gallen.

But despite the swathe of axings, Daley was also unable to find room for in-form hopefuls Paul Vaughan, Dylan Walker and Trent Merrin.

“That’s what excites me. We’ve got a good group of players to choose from, so the ball’s in their court. They know now they have to perform,” Daley said.

“If they don’t, we’ve got other people ready to go. That’s the pressure that we’ve been looking to build internally in our squad and I think we’ve done that.”

The newly-appointed NSWRL hall of fame inductee has previously been reluctant to make wholesale changes mid-series, unless forced to by injury.

However Daley suggested that could change this year.

“I don’t know whether we’ve had that group of players in the past that you could really choose and make a lot of changes,” he said.

“This year I think there’s a number of guys that have been unlucky to miss selection.

“And that’s what you want – you want them to be hungry as well and make sure that when their opportunity arises, they’re ready to take it.”

Air pollution may disrupt sleep: research

High levels of air pollution over time may get in the way of a good night’s sleep, according to research presented at an international thoracic conference in the US.

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Researchers at the University of Washington studied the impact of two of the most common air pollutants: NO2, a traffic-related pollutant gas, and PM2.5, or fine-particle pollution, on the sleep of more than 1800 people.

The group with the highest levels of NO2 over five years had an almost 60 per cent increased likelihood of having low sleep efficiency compared to those with the lowest NO2 levels.

The group with the highest exposures to small particulates (PM2.5) had a nearly 50 per cent increased likelihood of having low sleep efficiency.

“These new findings indicate the possibility that commonly experienced levels of air pollution not only affect heart and lung disease but also sleep quality. Improving air quality may be one way to enhance sleep health and perhaps reduce health disparities,” said lead author Dr Martha Billings who presented the findings at the American Thoracic Society Conference 2017.

“There may be acute sleep effects to short-term exposure to high pollution levels as well but we lacked the data to study that link,” Dr Billings added.

According to Dr Billings, it’s thought air pollution not only causes upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion but also affects the central nervous system and brain areas that control breathing patterns and sleep.

Future studies will explore the association between other air pollutants and sleep and how they may disrupt sleep patterns and whether traffic noise is the driving factor contributing to poor sleep quality.

Don’t pontificate to India on coal:senator

Australia shouldn’t be lecturing India about what kind of energy generation its poor villages should be allowed to use, a Turnbull government backbencher argues.

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Chris Back, who has spent time working on the sub-continent, was responding to an announcement by Indian mining giant Adani to defer an investment decision for the controversial Carmichael coal mine in northern Queensland.

The decision followed factional wrangling inside the Queensland state government that delayed a cabinet discussion over royalty payments.

“It’s well and good for us in Australia, with our alternative sources of energy, to stand back and pontificate about the fact they shouldn’t be using electricity generated from coal,” Senator Chris Back told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“People in the villages in India (should) have the opportunity to aspire to a better lifestyle and transition to a middle-class society.”

Resources Minister Matt Canavan labelled the Queensland government a “walking embarrassment”.

“This is not amateur hour, this is play school,” he said, urging federal Labor leader Bill Shorten to phone Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and sort the situation out urgently.

Greens senator Nick McKim was not impressed by Senator Canavan’s comments.

“There goes the minister for Adani,” he told reporters.

“Free coal, free water, free money, is there anything the government wouldn’t do for Adani?”

Adani’s decision appears to be an attempt to pressure the state government to follow through on a so-called “secret deal” to reduce the company’s royalties in the first seven years of the mine’s operation.

Under the deal, Adani would reportedly only pay $2 million in royalties annually, which could end up costing taxpayers $320 million in lost income.

Green MPs Adam Bandt cited a ReachTel poll that found only seven per cent of Australians were in favour of taxpayer support for coal mine projects.

Liberal MP Jane Prentice is disappointed with the Queensland government’s decision to delay a decision on royalties.

“They are all about waffle and delay tactics. Clearly, that’s a cost to any business,” she said.

‘Verging on catastrophe’: Fresh Venezuela clashes after man set alight

The death toll climbed to 49 as the unrest entered its eighth week, the public prosecution service said in a new toll.

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Fresh clashes broke out between protesters and police early Monday on the outskirts of Caracas, where demonstrators blocked streets with barricades.

After marches by various civil groups, it was the turn of the Venezuelan Medical Federation to vent its frustrations in the streets.

More than a thousand of its sympathizers marched towards the health ministry in Caracas. Police fired tear gas to drive them back, in scenes familiar after weeks of unrest.

“The country is verging on catastrophe. The health system is a disaster,” said Fernando Gudayol, a 50-year-old surgeon.

“One is always afraid to come out, but we will carry on doing it until there is a change.”

Maduro criticises protesters

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Related readingPro-government counter-rally 

The opposition is demanding elections to remove Maduro from power. They blame him for an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies.

“A simple infection can turn into something serious for a lack of antibiotics and any kind of supplies, and for a lack of maintenance of the equipment,” said Eliecer Melear, a 41-year-old urologist.

Maduro’s supporters staged a counter-demonstration near the presidential palace.

“What lack of medicine?” asked medical student Rangel Vegas, 31. “We are in the streets and in the clinics giving a response to what communities need.”

Maduro called for a further “march for peace” on Tuesday. 

Man set alight

In the latest gruesome unrest on Sunday, a man was beaten, doused in petrol and set alight during a protest in the capital Caracas, an AFP photographer saw.

Some witnesses alleged the man was a thief, but the government later said he was attacked for being a Maduro supporter.

Speaking later on television, the president identified the man as Orlando Figuera, 21. He said he was hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns over half of his body and six knife wounds.

Maduro accuses the opposition of plotting a coup against him with US backing. He says the crisis is a capitalist conspiracy.

Related readingOpposition risks ‘losing steam’ 

Elected in 2013, Maduro has resisted opposition efforts to remove him since January 2016.

He has said there will be presidential elections as scheduled next year, but not before.

Instead, he has angered the opposition by seeking constitutional reforms which his rivals say aim to strengthen his grip on power.

Maduro retains the public backing of the military and control of most state institutions.

Street protests and international pressure “could lead to divisions within the government or within the armed forces or between the government and the armed forces,” said David Smilde, a Venezuela expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, a nongovernmental organization.

But he added: “It is hard to keep protest waves going. People have to work, study, eat and live their lives. The opposition needs to think about how to consolidate their gains. Otherwise, this movement too could lose steam.”

Indigenous rights still behind 50 years on

It was the most successful referendum in the nation’s history, but the 1967 vote was only the beginning of an unfinished journey to equality for indigenous Australians.

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On May 27 that year, more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to include Aboriginal people in the Census and allow the commonwealth to create laws for them.

With the 50th anniversary of the historic vote marked on Saturday, prominent Aboriginal figure Tom Calma says the pace of indigenous advancement since then has been unacceptably slow.

The former Aboriginal social justice commissioner criticised a lack of consistent policy and funding approaches at all levels of government, which has robbed indigenous Australians of their self determination.

“We need a better vision for the future,” Professor Calma said.

This year’s Closing the Gap report showed only one of seven targets set down to improve Aboriginal health, education and employment outcomes is on track to be met.

Professor Calma said the targets, which expire in 2018, weren’t created in consultation with indigenous groups and should include mental health and incarceration.

While Canberra has claimed the targets are largely the responsibility of the states, Professor Calma argues the federal government has a leadership role.

“They can’t wash their hands of this. If all governments work together with Aboriginal people we will see a change, but whilst they unilaterally do their own thing, we won’t,” he said.

Indigenous business leader Sean Gordon says the 1967 referendum wasn’t the great turning point it’s trumpeted as, claiming the decades of oppression that followed can only be addressed through meaningful constitutional reform.

“As the birth certificate of our nation, the constitution is largely silent on the original people of this continent,” he said.

This week at a constitutional recognition convention in Uluru more than 250 indigenous leaders will hammer out a referendum proposal to put to voters.

There’s a powerful appetite for strong structural reform, not simply lip service, Referendum Council co-chair Pat Anderson said.

“We will not accept minimalism or incrementalism. Nor are we just going to settle for some poetry in a statement of acknowledgement,” she said.

“We can’t just sit on the fringes of society any longer in terms of decision-making in the political life of the nation.”

A referendum road map will later be presented to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who will be delivering commemorative speeches to parliament on Wednesday.

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra also will launch a landmark exhibition featuring historic items marking the anniversary.

National Reconciliation Week begins on Saturday, culminating in the 25th anniversary of the landmark Mabo decision which led to native title laws.