Matthew Ebden vows to move on after first-round Canberra loss

Matthew Ebden failed to get past Daniel Gimeno-Traver at the $75,000 Canberra ATP Challenger. Photo: Jay CronanMatthew Ebden’s Australian Open preparation got off to a less than ideal start on Tuesday, when he suffered a 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 loss to Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the first round of the Canberra ATP Challenger.
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This was Ebden’s first tournament in 2016, which has started slowly after the death of his coach Darren Tandy. Aside from missing last week’s Brisbane International to attend Tandy’s funeral, Ebden said his Open preparation wouldn’t change.

“Um, no, not really,” he said. “Not other than I probably would have played that tournament last week. But you know, that’s life.

“Plenty of guys played last week but not this week, so this way I still get some matches in before the Aussie [Open].”

Although Ebden said a few more matches in the Canberra Challenger would have been preferred, he said Gimeno-Traver had been too good on Tuesday.

“Daniel’s a great player, he’s been in the top 80, the top 90 most of his career.”

Gimeno-Traver got off to a quick start against Ebden, racing to a 5-1 lead before eventually taking the first set 6-2. Ebden regrouped to take the second in a tie-break, but his poor serving and Gimeno-Traver’s power and topspin quickly tipped the third set in the Spaniard’s favour.

Ebden noted the conditions played a part in his poor form – the blustery wind affecting his serve and groundstrokes.

“Yeah it was really breezy, there was kind of a hot wind, then more wind, then no wind. It was a bit strange.”

Gimeno-Traver will meet fifth seed Ivan Dodig in the second round, after the Croatian’s 7-6, 6-4 victory over Australian Dayne Kelly. The winner of their meeting will likely take on second-seeded Colombian Santiago Giraldo in the third round, who triumphed over unseeded Dudi Sela.

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Emails reveal secret property resumption report set to be released two years ago

A senior barrister’s landmark report into the NSW compulsory acquisition system being kept secret by the Baird government was set to be publicly released two years ago, emails reveal.
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But the report by David Russell, SC, is still under wraps amid the forced sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of properties for infrastructure projects such as the WestConnex motorway project and the Sydney Light Rail.

Many landholders are complaining about the process, including that they are being offered compensation well below market value, with limited recourse.

In November 2013, then Nationals MLC Jenny Gardiner told a businessman, Owen Coleman, that she had been advised the report “is due to be received later this month and that the government’s response to it will be made available in December”.

Mr Coleman was eager to learn the recommendations of the report as he had been through three compulsory acquisitions of parts of his property at Bulahdelah on the mid-north coast, where he owns a caravan park.

The latest had been by the Roads and Traffic Authority – now Roads and Maritime Services – for the upgrade of the Pacific Highway.

Mr Coleman says the initial valuation was $300,000, which the agency finally agreed to increase to $920,000 after he repeatedly challenged it.

However, in December 2013, Ms Gardiner emailed Mr Coleman saying that the office of then finance minister Andrew Constance “has advised that the report … is now expected to be released in January.”

The report, commissioned in May 2012, was initially due to be handed to the government by the end of that year but was eventually handed over in February 2014.

It is understood the broad range of issues raised by stakeholders contributed to the delay.

Mr Coleman said some months later he received a phone call from Mr Constance’s office saying its public release had also been delayed.

The government says that a number of Mr Russell’s recommendations, including a plain English explanation of the process and an improved meeting process between land owners and acquiring parties, have been adopted.

It notes RMS carries out about 80 per cent of compulsory acquisitions, of which 90 per cent proceed with agreement with the landowners.

But Labor’s roads spokeswoman Jodi McKay said the delay in releasing the report is “inexcusable”.

“Clearly there’s something the government wants to hide,” she said.

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Willesley, Laurel Hills for sale

MOREthan 32,000 hectares of premium agricultural land in the heart of Queensland’s Clermont regionis on the market.
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AGRICULTURAL OPPORTUNITY: Willesley and Laurel Hills in the Clermont district cover 32,000ha including 1400ha of irrigation.

GROWTH POTENTIAL: Clermont district properties Willesley and Laurel Hills are being offered with a 5000 head feedlot.

Located within the Belyando/Mistake Creek region,Willesley and Laurel Hills comprise 15,000ha(37,066 acres) and 17,500ha(43,243 acres) respectively.

The expansive aggregation includes 30,000haof grazing land, 1400haof irrigationfor row cropping with potential for expansion to in excess of 3000ha,and a 5000 head feedlot, also with capacity to more than double in size.

CBRE’s Geoff Warriner and Chris Holgar in conjunction with Queensland Rural’s Peter MacPherson have been appointed to sell the aggregation on behalf of the Hall family, who initially drew Laurel Hills in the 1960s.

Mr Warriner said the grazing operation thathas historicallymaintained a carrying capacity of about12,000 head of feeder type cattle.

“We expect there to be significant buyer interest from a range of parties,” Mr Warriner said.“One of the amazing attributes of this property is water security.”

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Chauffeur Nader Rida in court accused of dealing cocaine from his Mercedes

Police arrest Nader Rida in Haymarket after a two-month investigation. Photo: NSW PoliceChauffeur Nader Rida​ allegedly drove around in his shiny black Mercedes hire car selling cocaine on the streets of Haymarket.
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Police arrested Mr Rida on December 15, when he was allegedly caught selling two grams of the drug in a car park in Sydney’s CBD, and charged him with several drug supply offences.

The 41-year-old on Wednesday faced Downing Centre Local Court, where police documents described him as a family man, with a full-time job and “minimal” criminal history.

Mr Rida, from Turrella, in Sydney’s south, was this week charged with three new supply offences, as well as a stolen property charge relating to $340 cash found in his car, the court heard.

Police bail documents before the court showed that, although Mr Rida is married, employed and from a good background, investigators are concerned about his links to sophisticated drug rings.

“The offences are serious in nature and involved premeditated and organised criminal activity,” the documents said.

“The accused has some criminal associations and the nature of these offences suggest he has links to organised drug supply syndicates.

“The prosecution case is extremely strong with drugs seized [and] corroboration from police witnesses.”

Mr Rida now faces a total of nine charges, including possessing the steroid testosterone enanthate.

Police said Strike Force Dogal had been investigating Mr Rida’s activities for two months before the arrest.

Mr Rida remains on bail on the condition that he reports to police every day.

He will appear in court again on March 10.

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Facebook, Twitter drive record number of calls to Lifeline crisis support

Rate of female suicide on the riseThose who feel alone at Christmas don’t miss much
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Feelings of isolation enhanced by our increasingly technology-obsessed lives have contributed to a record-breaking year for crisis support service Lifeline, which received more than one million requests for help from troubled Australians in 2015.

It is the first time in the charity’s 52-year history that the number of crisis and suicide prevention calls passed the one million mark in a year, while September to December was the busiest four-month period ever for the service’s 24-hour crisis phone line.

Lifeline Australia chief executive officer Pete Shmigel said it was no coincidence that more Australians were seeking help at a time when they were also spending more time online, particularly on social media.

“We’ve seen the restructuring of the conventional way of our society. We don’t know the neighbours on our own streets … and at the same time you’re getting this amazing phenomenon called social media, which I believe has the capacity to accelerate those senses of loneliness and isolation,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The more connected we are online, physically we don’t have time to be connected in real life, and that goes against the grain of hundreds of thousands of years of human experience.

“We’ve been in families and we’ve been in communities because we need direct, real, human, sticky, gooey, social contact. It’s what keeps us well.”

Mr Shmigel said many people also cultivated idyllic versions of themselves and their lives on social media, a process that has been named “digital amnesia”.

“We filter out all of the things that are unattractive about our lives and our personas for the purposes of social media, and only put our best foot forward,” he said.

As a result, many people were left wondering whether, for example, they were the only unhappy person on Facebook, while there was also an intense pressure to have the “best car, the best holiday or the right dress”, Mr Shmigel said.

The demand for help from Lifeline was both heart-wrenching, but also heart-warming, because more people felt they could reach out and discuss their mental health issues with others, Mr Shmigel said.

“Mental health has become a mainstream discussion, whether it’s in the media, whether in a pub or in the workplace,” he said.

“We’ve made it socially acceptable to increasingly reach out and share about the things that concern us, and that is wonderful. People now have the green light to say ‘I’m in trouble here, and I need somebody else to help me get out of trouble’.”

Lifeline Australia said 977,503 telephone calls were made to its crisis line in the past year, while it received 44,470 online chat requests for help. On average, there was one phone call made to the Lifeline crisis line every 32.2 seconds, records show.

Mr Shmigel said the charity was hoping to introduce a new text message-based support service in the near future.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org419论坛

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Man charged over alleged attack on champion jockey Peter Wells

Sickening attack: Peter Wells. Photo: South Coast Register Peter Wells racing in Sydney in November. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛
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A man charged in connection with the alleged late-night bashing of jockey Peter Wells is believed to be an employee of a NSW race club.

A 35-year-old man has been charged over the alleged attack, which was triggered after Wells tried to intervene in a dispute between a man and his ex-girlfriend after leaving a pub in Berry in the early hours of January 3.

The champion rider said he was walking a female friend home when the pair noticed a man allegedly becoming aggressive towards the woman’s friend before trying to intervene.

Wells, who tips the scales at 53kg, was allegedly knocked unconscious by a single blow.

Wells suffered serious facial injuries after the alleged attack, including bleeding behind his eye, and has only just started to regain sight in his left eye.

He is also booked in for surgery so two plates can stabilise fractures in his face, including to his nose and eye socket.

His return to the saddle is scheduled for  four and six weeks.

The charged man is due to appear in Nowra Local Court on Friday.

Racing NSW stewards have been working in conjunction with NSW Police on the case because the alleged assailant is an employee of a club under its jurisdiction.

The chief executive officer of the club in question declined to elaborate further to Fairfax Media.

“I can’t comment at this point in time but we are working with Racing NSW to reach a satisfactory outcome,” the CEO said.

It is understood the club’s management is yet to meet with the employee while it is also believed Racing NSW stewards are still waiting to question the man.

Wells, a former champion Sydney apprentice, has enjoyed a renaissance of such in recent months and rode a rare winning double at Rosehill late last year to complement his prolonged success on the provincial circuit.

He won the Kembla Grange jockeys’ title last season despite missing four months of the season with a broken kneecap.

His biggest success in the saddle came when he won The Metropolitan in 2008 on Paul Perry’s Newport, a horse he rode in the Melbourne Cup the following year.

In the days after the alleged attack he said he “was a lot happier the man took his anger out on me than anyone else there” and that he was “very, very lucky” that he walked away with just the injuries he did.

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Jordan Spieth replaces Tiger Woods as golf’s top money earner

Tiger Woods has lost his place as golf’s top earner for the first time in 12 years.
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Jordan Spieth leapfrogged the 14-time major champion for the first time since Golf Digest started compiling the list in 2004.

Spieth, who also tops the world rankings, jumped from 16th place in 2014 to first with a total of US$53 million ($75.2 million), with US$23 million ($32.6 million) coming from on-course winnings.

The 22-year-old American enjoyed a bumper 2015 on the course, winning the Masters, the U.S. Open and the FedEx Cup, while supplemented with his off-course earnings with sponsors Under Armour, Rolex, Titleist helping to rake in US$30 million ($42.5 million).

Woods, who dropped to third on the list, made US$48.5 million ($68.8 million), a far cry from the US$115 million ($163.3 million) he reportedly earned in 2007.

Woods made less than US$1 million ($1.4 million) on the course in 2015 and has been in decline since his infidelity scandal in 2009, alongside battling injury troubles in recent days.

Australian golfers Jason Day and Adam Scott also made the list, coming in No.7 and No.18 respectively.

Day made a jump from No.28, helped by his winning of the 2015 PGA Championship that saw his stocks rise on and off the course, rising to No.2 in world golf rankings while taking in US$19.4 million ($27.5 million).

Former world No.1 Scott dropped from ninth place after suffering the longest win drought of his career, failing to produce a win in a calendar year since turning pro in 2000.

Scott took home a total of US$9.4 million ($13.3 million), with a mere US$1.4 million ($1.9 million) of on-course earnings accounting for his total.

The world No.11 will return to competitive gold at the Sony Open in Hawaii this week in a bid to end his 600 day winless streak.

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Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro review: a very different Android tablet

The Yoga Tab 3 Pro has a built-in projector. Photo: Lenovo The Yoga Tab 3 Pro features a hinge to allow it to be propped up. Photo: Adam Turner
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An idea of the Yoga Tab Pro 3’s picture quality over a short distance. Photo: Adam Turner

The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro has the potential to be an excellent on-the-go hybrid device. Unfortunately the current state of the software was such that it delivered a buggy and frustrating experience, particularly when trying to use it as a filing device at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas after my laptop gave up the ghost.

Screen sensitivity

First off the touch screen is not nearly responsive enough. I found myself continually mashing the screen with my fingers trying to get apps to open or words to type.

It suffers from fat finger syndrome, where — as I type this — I’m having to fend off unwanted commands like Google Voice, and other apps accidentally opening because apparently if your fingers are not precisely on the letter of choice, the Yoga will take you all of the places you didn’t want to go, like back to the homescreen or to review all of your open apps (both buttons are located directly under a rather skinny space bar). As a result, it takes three times as long to achieve the task at hand.

The volume keys don’t work properly

The volume keys only work to make the audio louder, even when trying to decrease the volume. I had to manually adjust the audio in settings which meant exiting Netflix / Amazon Video / Spotify to make this work.

The buttons are also located directly above the charging port. Even touching that side of the screen while plugged in caused havoc with the volume and charge settings.

Some apps wouldn’t download

This included Spotify and Amazon Video. Amazon Prime Video is not available to Australian customers. However a VPN and adjusting location settings will rectify this. It took me about an hour all up to fix.

I have no explanation for Spotify except to say nothing happened when I clicked the app to download in Google Play.

Multitasking? Forget it

I could only run one app at a time to achieve a fluid experience. This is particularly true for video function. Netflix would shudder and crash whenever I received another notification or message.

The page reloads automatically when navigating between apps which I found especially frustrating and I can’t imagine is particularly healthy on the data consumption front. Google docs takes you back to the beginning of the page, so I find myself continually scrolling down to find where I was up to.

It’s light as hell

At 1.6 kg it’s a perfect device to carry around a tech convention all day without it weighing down your backpack.

Battery

While Lenovo claims 18 hours of battery life, my device couldn’t push it that far. Nonetheless it lasted about 12 before I had to recharge. This was with heavy use. Recharging the device took longer than 24 hours however, keep in mind this was probably partially due to having to use an adapter for my Aussie plug and Vegas hotel rooms not having the best voltage in the world.

Projector

It has a projector which you can use to throw video against a wall or ceiling of choice, or continue playing with your tablet (though I can’t imagine why anyone would except maybe in a board room type scenario). It works fairly well, and makes for a pleasant in-bed viewing experience. Nothing worse than winding down with Netflix trying to make sure your partner can see the 10 inch screen as well as you can.

However, it only produces 50 lumens of brightness and the resolution of 854×480 has not been upgraded from previous models. The projected video experience pails in comparison to the screen’s 2650×1600 resolution.

Should you get one?

The Yoga Tab 3 Pro is primarily an entertainment device and will make for a nifty secondary device once the bugs are ironed out. Despite all the problems, I like the look and feel of the Yoga. It has potential. The tablet retains the bulged hinge from previous iterations containing a 10,200 Ah battery and a kickstand. Given the Yoga is designed as a hybrid device I would have thought a keyboard that doubles as a kickstand would have been the more logical option, but why make customers’ lives easier when you can make them purchase a keyboard adapter instead?

The settings button is also hidden away in the drop down menu and cannot be navigated to any other way. This isn’t immediately obvious and will be a giant pain in the arse for mum and dad type users.

Claire Connelly attended CES as a guest of Lenovo which also provided her with the Yoga to use during the trip. This review is the result of around 2-3 weeks of daily use.

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Improved carbon capture equals improved soil fertility

The results of a four year trial in the Upper Hunter clearly show farmers can lift farm productivity by increasing carbon levels in their soils.
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More soil carbon also equates to lower soil erosion, better moisture retention and better pasture health and resilience.

The trial was made possible by a partnership between Rio Tinto’s Bengalla mine, landholders, University of Newcastle, BDM Resources and Hunter Local Land Services (LLS).

Soil carbon is widely considered an important indicator of soil health, landscape resilience and productivity while increased levels can help drought-proof properties.

Seventeen landholders from three local government areas,Upper Hunter, Muswellbrook and Singleton, implemented carbon management practices such as rotational grazing and improved cropping techniques as part of the project.

Merriwa farmer Kim Fenley

Results from their properties show an average increase in the amount of carbon stored in the top 30cm of soil of close to 12 per cent, or 7.6 tonnes per hectare.

Merriwa district grazier Kim Fenley, who implemented the trial carbon management practices on his property, has noticed significant improvements in productivity as a result of a two-fold increase in organic carbon levels in his soils.

His property located south of Merriwa includes a range of soils types ranging from sandy to black soils.

And no matter the soil type the extra carbon captured made a difference to its fertility, he said.

“Everyone who participated in the trial saw an increase in their soil’s organic carbon,” he said.

Mr Fenley set aside a third of his 800 hectare property for the trial and used a grant from the Hunter LLS to build fences to implement a rotational/cell grazing regime on that land.

Running a Simmental based breeding enterprise on his farm Mr Fenley opted to trail rotational grazing as his preferred method to increase soil carbon levels.

“The difference between the lands I traditionally graze to the trial area is a two to three fold productivity increase due to the carbon practices put in place.

“The carbon practices included using rotational grazing to allow better use of the paddocks and using controlled improved grasses and crops to increase productivity while native grasses are allowed to come forward.

“Capturing carbon not only removes CO2 from the atmosphere but it comes with benefits such as helping to manage the impact of drought on the land. Carbon in the soil means better moisture retention and the ability to then see out a drought is increased.

“We’ll continue on this process to look at what other people are doing. Everyone involved has a better understanding of soil carbon and the benefits of better management tools.”

Mr Fenley said the extra dry matter available thanks to rotational grazing means less soil erosion.

But he laughed saying that also means less run-off into on-farm dams and water courses.

However he can cope with that because overall farm productivity is improved.

Mr Fenley wanted to thank everyone involved in the trial in particular the support from Rio Tinto.

Participants in the Soil Carbon project.

“Without their funding this trial would not have been possible. And we are planning to keep this group together and continue this work and hopefully encourage more landholders to join us,” he said.

District Coordinator for the Upper Hunter Local Land Services Steve Eccles said “The adoption of grazing rotations and innovative cropping as part of the carbon management practices during the project has resulted in an increase in carbon stored in the soils.

“This has led to increased ground cover and pasture production, with a reduction in weeds and land degradation issues. “Farmers implementing these practices have benefited from improved soil health and resilience of the properties to adverse weather such as dry conditions.”

Increased soil carbon equates to increased productivity.

Bengalla general manager Jo-Anne Scarini said “I am very proud of the partnerships and engagement with community members that has been a key to the success of this partnership.

“The project has delivered great results and the fact landholders can continue to benefit from the outcomes mean it was truly worthwhile.” The project area included approximately 1,100ha of Upper Hunter Valley land and resulted in an approximate 8,400 tonnes of additional soil carbon present in the project area.

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Dealer busted after helping out mate

HE answered the last minute call-up to supply 50 ecstasy tabletsafter his mate forgot that he was due in court.
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But for Morpeth’s Blake Bambach, 21, showing up to a pub car park in Broadmeadow with 50 tablets, known as “white ladies”,would prove to be his downfall after he was detected by a police strike force dismantling Hunter drug supply syndicates.

Bambach pleaded guiltyto supplying an indictablequantity of ecstasy in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

He was committed for sentence to Newcastle District Court next month.

Text messages between one of Bambach’s matesand another man, which were intercepted by police, reveal his mateintended to supply 50 MDMA tablets, known as“pink hearts”, on January 16 last year.

Bambach’s mate, who has been charged by police and is still before the courts, allegedly said he would purchase the tablets for $20 each and sell them for $25 or $30 per tablet, court documents state.

But the day before the pair were supposed to meet, Bambach’s matesent a message to the buyer.

“Ijust remembered I won’t be able to make it tomorrow,” the text message says.

“I have court. “But I have organised my mate to meet up with you in Newy to give you the pills. “He’s the one I get them off anyway.”

In another text message Bambach’smatesays: “Only thing is I won’t be able to get you the hearts.

“But we’ll have fifty of the white ladies.

“They’re good.

“I had one last night and I’m still a bit out of it.”

A short time later Bambach texted the buyer saying: “What time do you wanna meet tomorrow for the roundies?”, court documents state.

The pair organised to meet in the car park of the Sunnyside Tavern on Broadmeadow Road, court documents stated.

Bambach showed up in a green Toyota Pradowith another friend and was monitored by police as heexchanged 50 MDMA tablets for $1000.

Court documents state the tablets were white and embossed with a female emblem.

The tablets were seized and an analysis revealed they were 9.74 grams of 16.5 per cent purity MDMA.

Bambach and his two mates were arrested in September last year and charged with drug supply offences.

The other two men are due to next appear in Newcastle Local Court on February 3.

Strike Force Rupas was formed by Newcastle police in August, 2014 to target the supply of MDMA and ice in the Hunter.

The head of one of the allegedsyndicates busted by police, Beau Lawton, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesdaycharged with three fresh offences, including supplying a large commercial quantity of ecstasy which attracts a maximum jail term of life imprisonment.

He did not enter any pleas or apply for bail.

South China Sea: experts clash over China threat to commercial trade

Philippine Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te briefs speaking after the court’s decision that declared the constitutionality of the deal to base US military units in the Philippines on a rotational basis. Photo: Bullit Marquez The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen which in October sailed near Subi Reef, one of several artificial islands that China has built in the disputed Spratly Islands chain in the South China Sea. Photo: New York Times
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Vietnamese subs deployed as deterrent to ChinaSouth China Sea dispute: full coverage

An Australian expert has challenged claims that China’s build-up of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea threatens commercial ships passing through the world’s busiest waterways, declaring that they are “completely fabricated”.

Greg Austin, a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales based in Canberra, says despite the “shock” expressed by strategic analysts China has not embarked on an operation to expand its territory and is defending what it sees as its historical claims.

“We shouldn’t allow our shock at China’s building up of artificial islands to somehow convince us that this is naked aggression by China,” he told Xinhua, the Chinese news agency.

“It’s not naked aggression.”

But Carlyle Thayer, an expert on the South China Sea from Australia’s Defence Force Academy, told Fairfax Media that China is “definitely” expanding its territory through construction of the islands and has attacked rival claimant states, including Vietnam, on a number of occasions.

Professor Thayer cites charts by the US Office of Naval Intelligence showing that all the land reclamation by rival claimants amounts to less than 4 per cent of China’s activities.

China is “slowly excising the maritime heart out of south-east Asia” while steadfastly refusing to clarify its claims, using vague “historical rights” arguments, he said.

Professor Thayer said China’s routine challenges to planes flying over the region have no basis in international law and that its three-kilometre-long runways on the islands are by far the largest, allowing bombers to be based there.

The comments came as the Philippines’ highest court approved a deal allowing the United States to expand its military presence in the country in a move seen as countering China’s claims in the flashpoint waters.

The US has also begun making spy flights over the region in Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft based in Singapore, analysts and diplomats say, and the first of Vietnam’s new advanced Kilo-class submarines have begun patrols to reinforce that country’s territorial claims.

Professor Austin, a former Australian intelligence analyst who has studied the South China Sea for more than 30 years, described China’s land reclamation as catching up on rival claimants which had built habitable forward posts on disputed islands.

Rhetoric is “stoking the level of political intensity” over the competing claims, given that Vietnam and the Philippines have airfields and military assets in disputed areas, he said.

“There is no evidence of any Chinese government attack or pressure on any commercial shipping in the South China Sea since 1949 when the Communist Party took control of mainland China, and even before,” he said.

Goods worth more than $US5 trillion ($7 trillion) are carried by ships through the waters each year.

Professor Austin played down fears that war could break out over the claims.

“The recent tensions in the South China Sea are serious but they’re more political than military,” he said.

Professor Austin called on China to take a leadership role and settle the dispute, pointing to Beijing having negotiated the settlement of land borders in the past, including with the former Soviet Union and Russia.

The US’s agreement with the Philippines will allow the US to build military facilities and maintain ships, aircraft and troops in the former American colony on a rotating basis.

The US has a similar arrangement with Australia to rotate US marines through Darwin.

The US maintained military bases in the Philippines for most of the 20th century but they were ordered closed in the early 1990s. The US facilities will be built within existing Philippine military bases.

The 10-year agreement was signed in 2014 but not implemented because of legal challenges.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino told reporters the agreement will allow the Philippine military to train with the most modern equipment in the world and allow a “generational leap in our abilities”.

The US has increased exercises, training, ship and aircraft visits to the Philippines over the past year as part of US President Barack Obama’s “rebalancing” of US forces to Asia.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

-with agencies

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Top 10 hotels in amazing locations around the world

Aescher Cliff, Switzerland.There’s nothing wrong with a dingy hostel in a seedy part of town – well, apart from the obvious. Sometimes you have to put up with bad accommodation. It serves a greater good. It gets you where you need to be.
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Sometimes, however, your accommodation is your holiday. You travel purely to stay in an amazing place, to experience a location that couldn’t even be accessed if you weren’t staying at a particular hotel.

Some of these are extremely expensive. Some, not so much. But all are in amazing locations. Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat, Australia

Somewhere between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, far away from the rich faux-hippies and the surfer dudes, lies Crystal Creek, a rainforest set high in the hinterland. And somewhere deep in that rainforest lies Crystal Creek Retreat, an adults-only property of rooms that look out into the trees, of hammocks spread across bubbling rivers, of fireplaces and birdsong. Songs pretty good to me.

How much? From $503 per night.

Book: au.hotels南京夜网/ho504255

See: Our review of Crystal Creek Rainforest RetreatAirstream Camper, Lake Uyuni, Bolivia

You haven’t truly experienced the world’s highest and largest salt flat until you’ve spent the night there, and there’s only one way to do that: in an Airstream Camper. This luxury campervan is parked up in the middle of nowhere on Lake Uyuni, and as the sun goes down you get to be the only soul for hundreds of kilometres, surrounded by nothing but salt, stars and silence.

How much? Chimu Adventures has seven-day Bolivia packages that include a night in the Airstream Camper, from $5910 per person.

Book: chimuadventures南京夜网419论坛/tour/airstream-campers-uyuni

See: The only way to spend the night in one of the world’s most spectacular spotsTerelj Lodge, Mongolia

It takes long hours of bumping down bad roads through some fairly average-looking towns before you enter Mongolia’s Terelj National Park, which would have to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s all rugged hills and grassy plains in this part of the country, and the best way (actually, the only way, really) to enjoy it is to stay in a traditional ger at Terelj Lodge.

How much: From $181 per night, all-inclusive.

Book: tereljlodge南京夜网

See: Stunning to behold, hard to photographWolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namibia

There are plenty of properties in amazing locations in Africa, from campsites by the Nile in Uganda to safari lodges right next to waterholes in Zimbabwe, but this has to be up there with the most spectacular – and the most remote. Set in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, about a six-hour drive from Windhoek, Wolwedans makes the most of its desert location with rooms that open out to the fresh air, and a pool deck suspended above the sand.

How much? From $420 per night, all-inclusive.

Book: wolwedans南京夜网

See: How Australia was magnificently replaced in Mad Max: Fury RoadWait A While Daintree, Australia

Deep in the Daintree Rainforest, about one and a half hours north of Port Douglas, you’ll find the Wait A While Retreat, so named because that’s what most guests end up wanting to do when it’s time to leave. The location has the best of both worlds: seemingly endless rainforest on one side, and tropical beach near the Great Barrier Reef on the other. The building is a PNG-style longhouse with all of the mod cons.

How much? From $390 per night.

Book: au.hotels南京夜网/ho350690

See: The Daintree: A mighty magic forestWayra Lodge, Peru

While most travellers end up hiking the Inca Trail and camping out with 500 of their closest friends, there are better options to get to Machu Picchu. For example, the Salkantay trail, another path built by the Incas in the high Andes. The difference here is that the trail is dotted with luxury mountain cabins such as Wayra Lodge, while nestles almost 4000m above sea level on a plateau in the shadow of Salkantay peak.

How much? Seven-day, six-night packages with Mountain Lodges of Peru that include a night at Wayra Lodge start from $$4560.

Book: chimuadventures南京夜网419论坛/tour/salkantay-adventure-journey-machu-picchu

See: Wrath and luxury: The alternative path to Machu PicchuAttrap Reves Hotel, France

The location is part of it: Attrap Reves is set in a forest in southern France, far from the bustle and glam of the Riviera. But what’s most amazing about this hotel is the rooms, simple futons that are completely enclosed by glass bubbles. That’s it. That’s the room. It almost seems a shame to go to sleep as the stars come out at night and the forest rustles and you can lie there taking it all in.

How much? From $169 per night.

Book: attrap-reves南京夜网

See: Inside France’s greatest cooking schoolAescher Cliff, Switzerland

Switzerland is a country blessed with many a stunning vista. In fact you almost get vista fatigue in this part of the world, as alpine panorama after alpine panorama flashes past your eyes. The cure for all that, however, is a stay at Aescher Cliff, a dorm-style hotel that commands perhaps the greatest view in a country of seriously great views. You could never tire of it.

How much? From $64 per night.

Book: aescher-ai.ch

See: Falling for the beautiful home of the world’s deadliest sportKings Canyon Wilderness Lodge, Australia

This doesn’t really feel like camping. The roof is made of canvas and the great outdoors stretches on into infinity outside, but when there’s air-conditioning, when there’s an ensuite bathroom, when there’s a comfy bed and doona, it doesn’t really feel like camping. Not that you’d ever complain. This is luxury in the middle of Australia, and the middle of nowhere.

How much? From $395 per night.

Book: au.hotels南京夜网/ho452480

See: Long way round: Driving the Red Centre WayConrad Maldives, Rangali

Though it’s hard to look at this place and not think of Troy McClure from the Simpsons (you might remember him from such films as “The Erotic Adventures of Hercules”, and “Dial ‘M’ for Murderousness”), it’s still undeniably amazing. A dining room under the sea, surrounded by all the beautiful fishes? That’s worth the price alone. But then throw in the overwater bungalows, and everything else the Maldives has to offer, and you know why this has been named “Best Hotel in the World” twice, and it can charge what it does.

How much? From $1671 per night.

Book: hilton南京夜网/Maldives

See: 20 reasons to visit the Maldives

What’s the most spectacular location you’ve ever stayed in?

Email: [email protected]南京夜网419论坛

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​See also: The world’s top 10 restaurants in spectacular locations See also: The 16 most amazing hotels opening in 2016

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Shack up in style in a South Australian beach shack

Beach shacks at Black Point. Photo: Adam Bruzzone Dusk at the beach shacks at Black Point on the Yorke Peninsula. Photo: Adam Bruzzone
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A spot of cricket at Streaky Bay. Photo: Rob Blackburn

Coffin Bay National Park. Photo: Rob Blackburn

Beach huts at Middleton. Photo: Adam Bruzzone

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The British define the word shack as pertaining to “a small house or building that is not put together well”.

The Americans meanwhile inform us that shack is a verb meaning “to spend the night at someone’s place, sleep in the same bed, and mess around”. (They helpfully add that “sex may or may not occur”.)

In South Australia, both dictionary definitions could well apply to one’s beach shack.

The thousands of beach shacks that line the 4600km coast of South Australia (not to mention the state’s lake shores and the banks of the River Murray) all owe their origins to the early 1900s and interwar years when people – mostly farmers – would knock together a roughly-made hut or cabin on a remote piece of beach.

They basically wanted somewhere to fish with the family between summer harvest and winter sowing

Shacks were typically made from whatever could be found, scrounged, begged or borrowed (ergo the derivatives ‘tin shack’, ‘bottle shack’, ‘gunyah’ and at least one dwelling fondly called ‘The Krap Shack’).

Some of these beaches were considered so remote that any issue of official land ownership was a moot point – many shacks were built on land that was loaned or leased by friends, or else simply occupied because nobody was around to say otherwise.

The post-war boom in car ownership gave rise to the shack’s slightly posher cousin, the ‘weekender’, established by Adelaide folk wanting to get away for some simple R&R.

They bought blocks in or near lesser-known fishing towns for practically nothing and, with little or no council regulations, knocked together crude structures of cement sheeting and corrugated iron before variously painting them in pale yellow, pale blue, pale green or a very fetching ‘mission brown’.

In some places whole communities sprang up on pieces of beach where the tide occasionally came in too high, but where the fishing was just too good to care.

The blocks came to be intersected by dirt tracks roads, usually bearing made-up street names painted on home-made street signs.

You took in your own water, beer and fuel for the generator, you left a lively long-drop, and you took home all of your empties and (hopefully) a bag-limit of freshly-caught fish.

Pretty, they were not, but they came to exhibit a distinctly Australian charm, imbued with an open, fence-free bonhomie. Seachangers drive beach shacks upmarket

Except for some modern utilities and the odd sealed road, some of these communities aren’t terribly different today – Point Gibbon on Eyre Peninsula and Fisherman Bay near Port Broughton are both classic examples.

Alas, the endless summer of cheap seafront was destined to end.

Over the past 30 years, where the sanctity of Crown land, national park or council regulations were judged to have been compromised, shacks were made legit with land titles or proper leases, and council compliance.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, came in the mid-2000s with the rise of the ‘seachanger’.

At first seachangers were city-based retirees looking to reinvest substantial funds in coastal idylls, but they came to include anyone with enough disposable for a second home sur mer.

The result of course was to send coastal land prices through the tin roof.

Fibro shacks with names like Dunrootin’ and Costadaplenty were suddenly sitting on half million-dollar blocks.

Inevitably they were bulldozed to make way for architect-designed two-storey dwellings complete with teenager’s retreats and garages tall enough to admit a LandCruiser pulling a Haines Hunter. Shonky diehards

Some argue there is such a thing as a million-dollar beach shack, but this is an affectation: the grub has become a butterfly, and in truth it has morphed into a ‘beach house’.

So has the South Australian beach shack disappeared?

Not at all. The fibro shack lives on, reliably leaning into sea breezes right along the South Australian coast – all around Yorke Peninsula, up and down the mighty twin coasts of Eyre, and out to the wild west of Fowler’s Bay and the Bight.

Even in swanky beach suburbs close to Adelaide (which have been all but cleansed of mission brown), there’s one or two shonky shack diehards, usually flying a tattered flag branded with Adelaide Crows or Port Power, proudly proclaiming the egalitarian spirit of the Aussie shack.

Moreover, they’re still loved as a holiday escape.

A bit like retro caravans, original beach shacks are becoming cool, admired for their easy maintenance (half of them are on stumps) and loved for their honest aesthetic.

On the outside they may be pressed tin or cement sheeting painted primrose blue, but inside you’ll find limed floorboards and flat-screen TVs.

Beach shack holiday rentals also make sense.

They’re good value, especially if you have a family. Many are still flung far enough to give a proper sense of escape. On the beach is best

And thanks to their historic legacy, some are actually on the beach, which is a rarity in Australia owing to Crown land limitations and the national predilection for lining our foreshores with tarmac.

These days, rental beach shacks are often used by their owners out of holiday season.

As such, they have a lovely lived-in, and it’s perfectly OK to kick your shoes off and make yourself at home. The décor tends to be personal, fun and fancy-free, there’s a refreshing lack of odious OHSS and ‘duty of care’.

Pets are often welcome, and there’s usually a shed full of fun beach stuff out the back (not to mention that defining accoutrement, the fish-cleaning bench).

It adds up to old-fashioned good times. Think playing cricket in the road at twilight, sending the kids out to pick up fish and chips from the kiosk and early morning beach walks with a mug of (yup) instant coffee.

By anybody’s definition, it’s a great holiday. Carrickalinga, Fleurieu Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: 45 minutes

Carrickalinga has steep, bald hills behind it and the calm waters of the Spencer Gulf out front. True to its shack/weekender origins, there are no shops at all (you have to go into neighbouring Normanville for pub, cafes etc), only retreats of all shapes and sizes, with the seafront properties inevitably assuming mansion proportions. The attractions of the stunning Fleurieu – including the McLaren Vale to the north and Victor Harbor to the south – are all close.

Shack up: Try Beach Retreat Getaway for basic comforts a few streets back from the beach. Sleeps up to 6 in three bedrooms. From $95 per night.

Go posh: Try The Beach House for some elegant des-res beach-side dwelling. Three bedrooms sleep up to 8. From $450 per night.

Area price range: From $86 per night to $600 per night. Middleton, Fleurieu Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: 1 hour

Middleton sits on a handsome 3km beach with great surf, and is close to the terrific towns of Port Elliot and Goolwa. These days, the beach is backed by a vast estate of second homes and weekenders, and gentrification has noticeably taken place over the decades, with properties closest to the beach getting posh enough to appear on the covers of lifestyle magazines. That said, the shacks are still with us. In the older part of Middleton town atop the fine headland, there’s a delightful string of shacks looking onto Mill Terrace.

Shack up: Try Raz Shack for a nice salty surfer’s pad with perfect views of the breaks. Sleeps up to 6. From $130 per night.

Go posh: Try 156 Surfers Parade for a walloping chunk of contemporary seafront retreat. Sleeps up to 5. From $570 per night.

Area price range: From $90 per night to $570 per night. Black Point, Yorke Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: 2 hours

Black Point is a generous cusp of north-facing sand on sheltered clear waters. It was once a 2.5km-long line of shacks, mostly knocked together by grain and sheep farmers who loved the easy access to fishing grounds right off the beach. These days, the long phalanx of holiday houses is distinctly two-storey, but shacks still survive. Rentals of all shape and size still advertise under their original numbers – including Shack 17, Shack 77 and Shack 78.

Shack up: Try The Beach Shack, cute as a bug, right on the sand and sleeping up to 5. From $180 per night.

Go posh: Try Number 99A a modern two-storey retreat on absolute beachfront, sleeping up to eight in three rooms. From $260 per night.

Area price range: From $150 per night to $280 per night. Coffin Bay

Distance from Adelaide: 8 hours

Coffin Bay is famous for its oysters, and no small number of its original shacks were built by oyster growers as well as farmers from the beautiful hinterlands. While Coffin Bay has unquestionably gone upmarket (it’s a popular holiday spot and some of the pastoralists aren’t short of a quid) it retains a simple feel, with a few rudimentary dwellings still occupying prime waterfront positions around the stunning bay.

Shack up: Try Beachside , a dinky-di no-frills shack with up to eight sharing a single space. It also has its own little beach at the end of a path. From $130 per night.

Go posh(er): Try Sheoak Eastside, a contemporary stilted property sleeping up to 8 in four bedrooms. From $158 per night.

Area price range: From $100 per night to $300 per night. Streaky Bay, Eyre Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: Eight hours

Going further west, you’re into increasingly remote coastal country which was once prime ground for the shack builders.  The town of Streaky Bay is privy to some delicious beach and fishing country, with a few lone shacks close enough to the water to chuck a line in from the deck. Sadly, famous Cactus Beach (the remote surfing beach about 60km from Streaky) was in the news recently when some 250 surfers’ shacks came under scrutiny by the Development Assessment Commission.

Shack up: Try The Shack , another old sea shanty with its own beach, as well as a deck beside the sea. Sleeps up to nine. From $180 per night.

Go posh(er): Try Streaky Daze House and Spa Suite  located five minutes from the beach. The modern brick home sleeps up to nine. From $240 per night.

Area price range: From $110 per night to $240 per night.

This article is bought to you by South Australia Tourism Commission.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.