Coffs Boardriders survive scare to battle on

THE Coffs Harbour Boardriders club are through to the final of the biggest grassroots surfing tournament despite some tense moments at Gallows yesterday.

Competing for a place in the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle final, Coffs Harbour went close to being knocked out in Heat 2 when a rushed score in the final ride by veteran Lee Winkler left the hometown favourites with an anxious wait.

Winkler posted a 3.3 to lock Coffs Harbour on 27.36 and despite having comfortably led almost the entire heat, suddenly Cabarita and Kingscliff were in with a shout.

While it seemed like an age before the judges posted the final scores, in the end Cabarita fell agonisingly short of a mighty upset and just 0.19 points separated them from the home side in second place, leaving Coffs and Kingscliff to face Byron and Le Ba (Lennox Head – Ballina) in the main event.

Rosie Smart

The close call galvanised the hosts who got off to a strong start in the NSW North Final and fought what effectively became a two horse race with Le Ba.

Le Ba Boardriders Club ultimately came out on top edging Coffs Harbour by just 1.36 points.

Kingscliff and Byron Bay fought out their own battle for the third and final qualifying spot but in the end Byron, who trailed for much of the final, left their run too late and missed out by 1.4 points.

Local gun Rosie Smart won the Oakley Prism Performer Award for the standout surfer of the competition for her huge effort during the semi-final.

Le Ba, Coffs Harbour and Kingscliff will all head down to Newcastle for the Boardriders Battle next year, making up the North Coast contingent among 24 clubs from around Australia.

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MotoGP: Casey Stoner opens up on battle with chronic fatigue syndrome

Aussie MotoGP legend Casey Stoner has opened up on his ongoing battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, revealing he starts each day feeling only “50 per cent” energy.

The 35-year-old two-time world champion, regarded as one of the greatest MotoGP riders of all-time, retired in 2012 and first revealed his battle with the illness last year.

And Stoner has now told Spanish newspaper El Mundo things have only become worse, although he has at least getting used to managing the disease.

“It’s been months in which I felt that my body was deteriorating for no apparent reason: I went to train and came back burst,” said Stoner, who won world titles in 2007 and 2011.

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UK family loses court battle in US diplomatic immunity case

The parents of a British teen who was killed in a car crash have lost a court battle with the U.K. government over whether their son’s alleged killer, an American woman, had diplomatic immunity

LONDON — The parents of a British teen who was killed in a car crash lost a court battle with the U.K. government Tuesday over whether their son’s alleged killer, an American woman, had diplomatic immunity.

The family has been seeking justice for 19-year-old Harry Dunn, who died after his motorbike crashed into a car driven on the wrong side of the road outside a U.S. airbase in central England last August.

The car’s driver, Anne Sacoolas, left for the U.S. several weeks after the collision. Officials said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity because her husband worked at the airbase.

Sacoolas, 43, was charged in December with causing death by dangerous driving, but the U.S. State Department rejected a request to extradite her to Britain to face trial.

Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, launched the court case to argue that Britain’s Foreign Office wrongly decided Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity.

But two judges rejected that Tuesday, ruling that the American “enjoyed immunity from U.K. criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry’s death.”

The teen’s mother said she was determined to continue finding justice for her son. She was backed by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who said he stands with the family.

“We’re clear that Anne Sacoolas needs to face justice in the U.K, and we will support the family with their legal claim in the U.S.,” Raab said.

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EU, Canada, others push trade plan to help in COVID-19 battle

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

November 23, 2020

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union, Canada and 11 other countries agreed on Monday to measures such as eliminating export curbs they believe should form the basis of a global deal to help tackle COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The “Ottawa Group” will present its proposals to the World Trade Organization in mid-December in the hope its 164 members will sign up early in 2021.

“If we adopt something in early spring of next year, say March, that would still be a moment when this would be relevant for the management of the pandemic,” a European Commission official said, adding this would cover a busy period when vaccines were being made and distributed.

The group, which does not include the United States or China, wants WTO members to commit to removing export restrictions on medical supplies – some 70 still have them in place, according to EU officials.

Any such restrictions should be targeted and temporary and not disturb the COVAX initiative to provide equitable access to COVID-19 drugs.

WTO members should, they say, take steps to ease trade flows, such as streamlining customs, and not impose on pandemic-related goods during the crisis.

They also urge greater transparency and believe the WTO, World Health Organization and World Customs Organization can work more closely to be ready for future pandemics.

The Ottawa Group’s other members are Australia, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.

The group’s initiative is not the only one related to the pandemic at the WTO.

India, South Africa and other developing countries want to waive intellectual property rules to improve access to affordable drugs.

The European Union, the United States and other wealthy nations oppose this, saying pharmaceutical companies need financial incentives to develop vaccines and therapies and there is sufficient flexibility under existing trade rules.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Stacey Abrams drops into historic Verzuz rap battle to encourage Georgians to vote in critical Senate runoff races: ‘Let’s get it done’

To kick off a Thursday night matchup described as “the battle to end all battles” between two Atlanta hip-hop legends, Jeezy and Gucci Mane, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams had an important message for residents of the state leading up to the Jan. 5 Senate runoff races: “Vote.”

“We [need to] at least make sure that everyone shows up to vote so we have two senators to make sure we have COVID response and we’ve got stimulus money coming back to Georgia,” Abrams said, while remotely opening up the event for the two rappers at the famed Magic City strip club in Atlanta.

Verzuz, the brainchild of producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, is a virtual series of music battles between popular artists streamed on Instagram and Apple Music that sprang up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to keep people entertained at home.

On Thursday, Abrams thanked Jeezy and Gucci, former friends turned foes who are now back on good terms, for mobilizing formerly incarcerated people throughout the state to vote. She joked that the appearance earned her some “street cred” with her nieces and nephews.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)

“I just wanted to say thank you to both of you, especially for the work you’ve done to encourage folks who are coming back, returning citizens, to know that they have the right to vote,” Abrams said. “I’ve got a younger brother who’s been in and out of the system and I know that redemption is real and I know that the voices that these men and women can bring to our state matter.”

The live-streamed event had more than 5.5 million total viewers on Instagram and millions more through Apple Music.

Abrams shared a screenshot of her appearance on Twitter with the caption “Let’s get it done,” alongside a link for Georgians to request absentee ballots.

Both Democratic Senate candidates also gave shout-outs to Abrams. Jon Ossoff, who’s going up against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, tweeted, “Go Stacey!”

And the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who’s going up against GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, tweeted, “Thanks Stacey Abrams. … Let’s win this.”

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are seen at a campaign event on November 19, 2020 in Jonesboro, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are seen at a campaign event on Thursday in Jonesboro, Ga. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a controversial race in 2018 and has since dedicated her efforts to mobilizing Georgia voters through her Fair Fight national voting rights organization, which has been widely credited as a huge force behind President-elect Joe Biden’s winning Georgia in the 2020 general election.

In a fun exchange at the top of the Verzuz conversation, rapper Gucci Mane asked Abrams, “Can you wipe my record clean?”

“That’s a job that the governor could do,” responded Abrams, who came close to winning that position in 2018, and is rumored to be considering another run in 2022. “You know, we’ll have to think about that later.”

Below are key dates for Georgians to remember ahead of the state’s Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021:

Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty (2), Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images


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Democrats face uphill battle in Ga. runoff elections

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaks at a campaign rally on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Cumming, Ga. Loeffler and Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock are in a runoff election for the Senate seat in Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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UPDATED 10:02 AM PT – Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The fate of the Senate rests on two runoff elections, both of which Democrats will need to win if they want to claim the upper chamber’s majority. On January 5, 2021 they will attempt to flip two Republican Senate seats in Georgia.

With no candidates winning more than 50-percent of the initial vote in the two races, the top two performing candidates of each race will now go head-to-head in two runoff elections. GOP incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock, while her fellow Republican incumbent David Perdue will face Democrat Jon Ossof.

“We are standing up for you, but we need you to be our voice,” said Sen. Loeffler. “So please, get involved, chip in, get your friends and family in and vote early.”

On election night, Sen. Perdue was able to come just short of the 50-percent election clinching majority.

“I almost got 50-percent, I already won this race one time,” he stated. “Thank you, we beat them by 2-points.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Loeffler was running in a special election against nearly a dozen other candidates and ultimately came up short in her aim to win the majority with congressman Doug Collins taking a large portion of Republican votes.

Moving forward, one issue facing Democrat leadership is how damaging runoff elections can be for Democrat voter participation. History has shown, particularly in the state of Georgia, runoff elections heavily favor Republican candidates.

Back in 2008, Democrat Jim Martin rode the party’s excitement for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to secure 48.6-percent of the Georgia vote. As a result, this kept Republican incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss just under the elusive 50-percent threshold. However, Democrat turnout dropped significantly in the runoff election with Martin losing nearly a million votes the following January while Chambliss secured a 15-point victory.

Some expect something similar to occur this time around, following a presidential election riddled with media demonization of President Trump. Critics have said drumming up that Democrat support again could prove very difficult after an election with record-breaking voter turnout.

RELATED: Heritage Action to contact over 1.5M voters ahead of Ga.’s Senate runoff races

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Veteran rugby journalist dies aged 60, cancer battle

The Australian sporting community has paid tribute to veteran journalist Greg Growden, who sadly lost his battle with cancer on the weekend.

He passed away at Royal Prince Alfred’s Lighthouse facility on Saturday evening, aged 60.

Starting his career as a cadet reporter in the late 1970s, Growden became one of the most respected voices in the Australian sporting landscape.

He served as the chief rugby union correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald from 1987 to 2012.

Although he reported on countless sports throughout his stellar career, Growden was primarily renowned for his work in rugby. He was one of only two journalists to have covered every Rugby World Cup, dating back to the maiden tournament in 1987.

“Greg was widely respected here in Australia and abroad and made an exceptional contribution to the game,” Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke said in a statement.

“He was fearless and kept numerous coaches – and administrators – to account over his 40 years in the game. He will be remembered fondly and his legacy will still be felt for generations, thanks to his generosity as a mentor to young journalists around Australia.”

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Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons remembered the rugby icon with a touching tribute in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“As an author he was highly accomplished, with a very specific niche,” FitzSimons wrote.

“Greg went out after bringing to life those who history had passed by and forgotten, but who deserved to have their stories told.

“He faced his final illness with great stoicism and resolution. He knew he was in real trouble. The cancer came and went a couple of times. When it came back with a vengeance, he made his arrangements.”

The Courier-Mail journalist Robert Craddock tweeted: “Shattering news to learn of the death of outstanding sports writer Greg Growden. He was wonderful company and a superb writer. His biography of gifted but tortured wrist spinner Chuck Fleetwood Smith is regarded as one of cricket’s most compelling reads. RIP great man.”

READ MORE: World reacts to All Blacks ‘meltdown’

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The small shops in battle with the retail giants

Larger independents are showing their agility too. Those who weren’t already trading online have been quick to remedy that, and while their budgets make it hard to compete with the likes of John Lewis and Marks and Spencer, they’re finding ways to gain traction: reaching out to local online community groups, tapping into nostalgia with “Hovis-ad style” bicycle deliveries, and emphasising their environmental credentials.

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