Penrith records 28-12 NRL win over Canberra Raiders as Newcastle and Melbourne Storm enjoy victories


The Penrith Panthers have beaten the Canberra Raiders 28-12 to match the club’s record of eight straight wins, again proving they are the genuine NRL premiership threat in 2020.

In what shaped as another acid test of their premiership credentials, the Panthers flexed their muscles in a powerful first half to play last year’s beaten grand finalists out of the match.

The win drew the Panthers level with the club’s best winning streak, set in 2003, while they also finish a fourth straight round in top spot on the ladder.

In Saturday’s earlier matches, Newcastle’s finals hopes were given a massive boost with the heavy 44-4 defeat of the Wests Tigers, while Cameron Munster sustained a knee injury in the Melbourne Storm’s 41-10 victory over Canterbury.

Against the Raiders, halfback Nathan Cleary was again brilliant for the Panthers.

He became the youngest player to pass 700 first-grade points since Graham Eadie way back in 1976 with his first goal, while his combination with Viliame Kikau proved lethal when he isolated his teammate one-on-one.

He was also superb in defence, once helping hold up Josh Papalii alongside Apisai Koroisau and another time putting Jordan Rapana into touch.

It was Cleary and Kikau who got Penrith on the board when the hulking second rower was unleashed from close range in the 10th minute.

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Koroisau had a hand in Penrith’s next try, darting out of dummy half and putting Liam Martin through a big hole.

And while the Panthers’ size and smarts are beating teams down in the middle, their speed and athleticism is doing the job out wide.

Stephen Crichton has 10 tries in his past eight matches and is now the NRL’s leading try scorer with 12, despite only getting his starting spot in round three.

The Panthers have now scored 10 tries on the right wing from the past five weeks, this time coming from Brent Naden with a classic on the sideline from a Tyrone May cut-out ball.

The Raiders, meanwhile, were not as bad as the scoreline suggested.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had a nervous start at the back on return from a gruesome finger injury, but scored both of the team’s second-half tries.

The loss leaves the Raiders in fifth place on the ladder, two points behind the Roosters in the race for the top four and with a far inferior for-and-against.

Knights humiliate Wests Tigers

The Knights’ comprehensive win at home simultaneously threw the Tigers into a tailspin to save their own season as the dismal display produced their third consecutive loss.

For Green, it was the second win in as many weeks over the Tigers after arriving at the Knights from the Warriors at the start of the week.

An old hand at fitting in quickly, Green slipped easily into attacking structures and set up the first try of the night and put up the kick for the second within the first 14 minutes.

His experience allowed the new-look spine to click as the Knights advanced to a 24-4 half-time lead before completing a 40-point rout.

Star full-back Kalyn Ponga was as dangerous as he has been all season, scoring two tries as well as setting up another two.

A Newcastle Knights NRL player grounds the ball as he scores a try against the Wests Tigers.
Kalyn Ponga touched down for two tries for the Knights against the Wests Tigers.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

His 194 run metres and three line breaks ripped through poor Tigers defence that did not do milestone man Chris Lawrence justice in his 250th NRL match.

In all, the Knights scored eight tries with Hymel Hunt, Starford To’a, Jacob Saifiti, Herman Ese’ese, Gehamat Shibasaki and Phonix Crossland also crossing over.

Half-back Benji Marshall, in his 250th appearance for the Tigers, had a particularly difficult night as his forward pack was thoroughly outmuscled.

Marshall and recalled halves partner Luke Brooks were targeted in defence, but had limited ball in attacking space to get points on the board.

The Tigers’ lone try was not a moment of brilliance and came just before half-time when Luciano Leilua kicked through a ball that ricocheted from Marshall’s boot to score.

Munster injury sours Storm win

Munster, a Queensland State of Origin representative, fell awkwardly in a tackle and is set to miss two matches.

The Storm were already without injured hooker Cameron Smith (shoulder), in-form full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen and forward Dale Finucane (both rested) on the Sunshine Coast.

Munster has already missed time with a knee injury this season and will now join Smith on the sidelines for next Thursday’s clash with the Sydney Roosters and possibly the following round against Parramatta.

The Munster injury did not fluster the Storm on Saturday, however, as replacement hooker Brandon Smith, back rower Kenny Bromwich (two tries) and new full-back Nicho Hines ran riot.

A Melbourne Storm NRL players has an anguished look on his face as he lies on the ground getting treatment on his right knee.
Cameron Munster will be sidelined after sustaining a knee injury against the Bulldogs.(AAP: Darren England)

The Bulldogs did not help themselves. Lachlan Lewis and Josh Jackson both threw loose passes that were scooped up by wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu respectively for long-range tries.

The first was one of three in five minutes to break the match open, while Vunivalu made up for some lazy play to close the first half just as the Bulldogs threatened a boilover trailing 23-10.

Addo-Carr then added salt to the Bulldogs’ wounds, winning the race to a long kick down-field to grab a brace.

Hines was as far back as fourth in the pecking order last season but was all class in the number one jersey with strong carries, assured kicking, safe hands and an early try.

Lewis’s forgettable match included being sin-binned and placed on report for a high shot on Munster.

The Bulldogs (2-11) remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder, while the win was the Storm’s (11-2) seventh straight.

AAP/ABC



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SA Police seeking witnesses of officer’s alleged assault at Elizabeth Downs, north of Adelaide


SA Police have called out for witnesses of an incident north of Adelaide on Thursday in which a police officer was allegedly dragged alongside a reversing vehicle.

Northern District Police officers reported a silver Holden sedan committing traffic offences on Hamblynn Road, Elizabeth Downs, just before 9:00pm on August 6.

The car was stopped at a petrol station and police attempted to speak to the driver through an open door, but the car was suddenly reversed, dragging an officer alongside it.

The occupant of the car then allegedly assaulted the officer, before driving off at high speed.

The officer sustained minor injuries that were treated at the scene.

Detectives from the Northern District Criminal Investigation Branch attended an address at Craigmore on Friday, following an investigation.

The silver Holden sedan that was involved in an incident at Elizabeth Downs on Thursday night.(Supplied: SA Police)

A 28-year-old man was arrested at the address and charged with endangering life, assaulting a prescribed emergency worker and driving unlicensed.

He was refused bail and will appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on Monday, August 10.

Detectives have urged anyone who witnessed or has dashcam footage of the incident to contact Crime Stoppers.

In July, two men were arrested following an alleged police assault at Para Hills, also in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

A policeman was allegedly punched in the face by one man, while a second suspect allegedly reversed a Subaru wagon, clipping a police car, as an officer was reaching for the keys.



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Argentine economy to shrink 12.5% this year, central bank poll says



People wear protective face masks, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

August 8, 2020

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s economy is likely to contract 12.5% ​​in 2020, a central bank survey of economists showed on Friday, a slightly more negative outlook than a month earlier as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic hammers the South American nation.

The economic outlook in the monthly report polling 44 economists was down from a 12% estimated drop previously.

Economists predicted a larger fiscal deficit of around 2 trillion Argentine pesos ($27.49 billion) as the government steps up spending to reignite the economy after two years of recession and to recover from COVID-19.

Those polled forecast a deeper contraction in the second quarter, but had a more positive outlook for the third quarter, “indicating that the period of greatest impact of the pandemic has already been overcome,” the report said.

Argentina has registered 235,677 confirmed infections of COVID-19, with daily cases accelerating in recent weeks as the country has looked to ease some lockdown restrictions in place in and around Buenos Aires, the capital.

The country, which defaulted in May, reached a deal with creditors this week to restructure $65 billion in foreign debt.

The central bank survey also estimated inflation for 2020 at 39.5%, slightly down from its month-earlier forecast. The peso currency was seen rising to 86.4 pesos per dollar in December 2020 and 123.2 pesos per dollar in December 2021.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Leslie Adler)





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Digerati50: A hotline to BlinQ


  • Bob Chua, believes entrepreneurs must always be lean and hungry
  • AR feature, initially a gimmick is key differentiator, especially in Covid era

Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its series that profiles 50 influencers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 2020-2021 (Vol 4), a special biennial print publication released in July 2020. The digital copy can be downloaded from the sidebar link.

The following article is an expanded version from the print edition.

For serial entrepreneur Bob Chua, data is everything. This is, of course, to be expected of the man who founded market intelligence company Pulse Group PLC, which he exited in 2015. “That was my life,” he says. “I have always lived and breathed data.”

Taking a step away from the data world, Bob asked: what’s next? He knew he wanted to do something with mobile – everything seems to be revolving around mobile at that time, after all. He also wanted something to do with the Southeast Asian region. It has to be e-commerce, too – a sector that’s still at its infancy in the region today.

This all culminated into BlinQ, best described as a luxury fashion digital marketplace focused in Southeast Asia. Bob is essentially tapping into the growing personal luxury market, which is currently estimated to be US$300 billion (RM1.26 billion) en-route to growing into US$500 billion (RM2.1 billion) by end 2020. McKinsey’s Global Fashion Report finds that close to 44% of this will be derived from Asia.

It’s not that big of a leap for Bob. After Pulse, he was a director at Dematic, a supplier of integrated automated supply chain technology, software and services. It gave him an in-depth look at how e-commerce is done at a large scale.

Personal luxury marketplaces aren’t new. There are success stories – platforms like Farfetch and Net-a-Porter are valued at US$8 billion and US$533 million respectively. Yet no one is doing it at their scale in Southeast Asia. “This is a big gap,” Bob notes. One that he aims to fill, while bringing his past startup experiences to the table to ensure the highest chance of success.

His key management belief is now premised on four approaches:

  • Move even faster, be decisive, and don’t linger.
  • Measure what matters, and be as data-driven as possible.
  • Remain lean and agile.
  • Stay Private for as Long as possible.

But what stays constant and must underpin any repeat entrepreneurial effort is the “Always be lean and hungry,” mantra he stresses.

 

Gateway store for luxury brands

BlinQ is as much a platform like Zalora and Lazada, except that it’s serving as a gateway store for luxury brands. Merchants put up their items for sale on a consignment basis, and they rely on BlinQ as their payment gateway as well as other services that range from logistics to marketing. “We’re almost like an ecosystem,” Bob notes.

Besides the fact that it serves the SEA region, BlinQ stands out in other ways. For one, it uses a unique augmented reality (AR) system that allows users to basically try out a product on their mobile devices before they make a purchase.

Bob admits that the feature was initially done as a gimmick, but the inclusion of AR ultimately solves a problem when it comes to fashion e-commerce: product returns. For the most part, product returns in fashion are really high – as high as 30% on “a good time”, while peak sales seasons like Singles Day and Chinese New Year can see a 75% return rate.

The AR system is for BlinQ to reduce the return rates – the feature does the sizing and helps users figure out if the apparel looks well and fits well, which are two of the primary reasons clothing items are returned. Considering that BlinQ deals only in luxury items, this feature comes off as invaluable, even more so in the Covid era with many stores closing down their fitting rooms. “Our virtual fitting room has become a hit,” he says.

BlinQ is also doing two additional things that add value to the marketplace. They’ve launched Asean Houz, a collection of high-end fashion brands from SEA. Bob says that this helps regional brands get their products out to a global market. Since the introduction in 2019, Asean Houz has signed up over 500 brands across the region, with 140 coming from Vietnam alone.

Besides that, BlinQ is also part of the growing pre-loved luxury brand market, where they host P2P reselling of luxury products. BlinQ would take the product on consignment, perform the necessary process of taking photos, authenticating the product, marketing, price comparison and descriptions, and then sell it to their regional clientele.

All of this ultimately leads back to Chua’s underlying passion: data. BlinQ is able to collect important data about their primary customers, which is giving them tremendous insight into the market. For one, Chua says that the top 3% of their users generate more than 50% of their revenue.

“We know our real super users, and we know what they prefer. All of these things makes it very interesting.”

This might lead to more interesting models within the luxury goods sector that BlinQ can adopt, including luxury clothing rental and models like that of Stitch Fix, which uses algorithm and AI to personalise clothing items for users. 

“The market space in this region, despite being quite big, has not seen any of these aforementioned models. We’re building the infrastructure towards it,” he says.

For Bob, the system isn’t complex. “It’s not rocket science. I want to keep it simple, but it’s also sophisticated in a sense,” he says.

What he’s doing is being a person of data, and making good decisions with it.


Digerati50 2020/2021 is proudly sponsored by Maxis – Powering Malaysia’s 5G era.

For information on customised reprints kindly email [email protected]



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97,000 kids test positive for COVID-19 in two weeks, report says


Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics finds. Just over 97,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus from July 16 to July 30, according to the association.

Out of almost 5 million reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S., CBS News’ Michael George reports that the group found that more than 338,000 were children. 

Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Tina Hartert hopes increased testing of children will help determine what role they play in transmission, as school districts around the country return to some form of school. She is leading a government-funded study that saw DIY testing kits sent to some 2,000 families.

“The kits are shipped to the families, they are taught how to collect these samples, and then the samples are sent back by the families to a central repository,” she said.

In New York City, home to the nation’s largest school district, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a return to in-person schooling in the fall and pledged officials “have worked incessantly to get this right.”

“They’ve looked at examples from all over the world of what will keep the school community safe, and they’ve made a series of choices of how to do things from the health and safety lens first, while also making sure we can educate our kids,” he said in a Friday press conference.

De Blasio gave parents until Friday night to register students for in-person instruction, remote learning or a hybrid. 

More than 25 children died of the coronavirus in July alone. Pressure to get kids back into the classroom has left superintendents in more than 13,000 different school districts across the country to figure out how to keep children safe amid a myriad of public health advisories, and handle learning differences. 

Niles, Michigan Superintendent Dan Applegate is hoping Plexiglas could be a solution for children with speech impediments to be able to participate in class. 

He demonstrated by speaking behind a transparent slate at a press conference. 

“As I’m sitting here and I can articulate,” Applegate said. “The student on the other side will be wearing a mask. Then I can put my mask on, and that student can drop their mask and articulate as well.”

Indiana’s Lawrence Township is cleaning school buses with a hospital-grade disinfectant spray for students still needing rides to school. 

“You’re going to see a very clean and disinfected bus,” Transportation Director Matt Miles said. “We actually have fogging machines.”

However, they are not expecting many students to get on the bus — 35% of children in the area are expected to learn remotely, while other school districts in the U.S. will not open at all.

Saturday Sessions: Cordovas performs “This Town’s A Drag”

Saturday Sessions: Cordovas performs “Rain On The Rail”

Saturday Sessions: Cordovas performs “High Feeling”



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NSW Health records nine coronavirus cases, three of them under investigation



New South Wales has recorded a single-digit rise in coronavirus cases, the first time new infections have dropped below double figures in more than two weeks.

The last time the state saw fewer than 10 overnight infections was on July 24, with seven cases — six of them associated with the Thai Rock cluster in Wetherill Park.

Although COVID-19 daily cases numbers have been steadily decreasing over the past week, NSW Health has warned that mystery infections are rising.

“While most of the cases in the past week have been associated with local clusters and close contacts with known cases, nine have not been linked to known cases, indicating COVID-19 is circulating in the community,” NSW Health said in a statement.

“It’s extremely important we all play our part in prevention all the time.”

In the 24 hours leading up to 8:00pm on Friday health authorities recorded nine new infections out of 24,421 COVID-19 tests.

Three cases are under investigation, four are close contacts of known cases, and the remaining two are returned international travellers in hotel quarantine.

One of the cases under investigation is a student of Tangara School for Girls in Cherrybrook, north-west of Sydney.

The school has been closed for cleaning and contact tracing.

The other cases under investigation are close contacts of each other.

The latest figures come after a slew of border restrictions implemented by the NSW Government in light of the large virus outbreak in Victoria.

NSW authorities have vowed to clamp down on social distancing breaches, and today announced they had handed out $5,000 fines to a pair of Sydney hotels.

Liquor and Gaming NSW said its inspectors visited the Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain and The Eastern Hotel in Bondi Junction on Wednesday and found several breaches.

The agency’s director of compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said inspectors found Unity Hall had an out-of-date safety plan, failed to detail the time of entry of patrons, and did not digitise those records within 24 hours.

At the Bondi venue, inspectors viewed CCTV and found patrons at gaming machines were too close to each other.

“The licensee has since advised us that he will turn off every second machine to ensure compliance with the public health order,” Mr Argeres said.

“These latest breaches mean a total of 18 venues across NSW have now been fined for COVID safety breaches in the past month.”

He warned venues who were caught a second time would be shut down.



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Two-year-old boy named as Australian victim of Beirut explosion


“We request that the media respects our privacy at this difficult time.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced just hours after the deadly explosion that an Australian had been killed, however their identify was not known until Isaac’s family released the statement on Saturday.

He is one of 158 people known to be killed by Tuesday’s massive explosion at a waterfront warehouse packed with ammonium nitrate.

The explosion – one of the largest to strike a major city in peacetime – produced a shockwave which flattened buildings, flipped cars on their roof, and shattered windows and walls many kilometres away from the blast site.

The Lebanese health ministry on Saturday said the death toll had reached 158, although dozens are still missing. More than 6000 people were injured.

Australia’s embassy was damaged in the incident and some staff hurt by flying glass.

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Embassy officials are working from the home of ambassador Rebekah Grindlay, which was not damaged.

Isaac appears to be the only Australian killed in the incident, however consular officials in Beirut and Canberra are working to confirm whether others have been affected.

“We know that there are many thousands of people in hospital whose nationalities are unknown,” Grindlay said on Friday. “And of course the hospitals are focussed on saving people’s lives, where nationality is irrelevant.

“If you know of any [Australian] citizens who are injured or need assistance please do reach out to us.”

Tuesday’s explosion was thought to have been triggered by a fire in a warehouse containing 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate for the past six years. The material was stored there after it was confiscated from a cargo ship in 2014.

The explosion decimated the port and sent a powerful shockwave across the city.

The explosion decimated the port and sent a powerful shockwave across the city. Credit:Getty Images

While investigations continued into the conduct of port officials, it also emerged that senior government ministers were repeatedly warned about the risk of storing the highly dangerous material in a densely populated urban area, but did nothing about it.

New photos show bags of the ammonium nitrate had been stacked on top of each other in the large warehouse after Lebanese customs officials seized the chemicals from a ship in 2014.

The warehouse – which has now been replaced by a 140-metre-wide crater – appears to have had lax security and little ventilation despite Lebanon’s hot climate and the potential to raid the material for bombs.

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