Super Pit owners enjoy positive quarter



Goldminer Northern Star Resources has enjoyed a spike in quarterly sales and significantly reduced its debt, while Saracen Mineral Holdings achieved record production at its WA mines.

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Western Sydney Wanderers and Carl Robinson enjoy the last laugh with win over jittery Newcastle Jets


Despite falling to a clear and deserved defeat, there were sparks of life, particularly across an impressive first half and late in the second, that could suggest this season might not be as barren for the Jets as many have predicted.

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Valentino Yuel and Ramy Najjarine were creative and electric down the flanks, but caretaker coach Craig Deans will be rueing the lack of finishing on the end of their crosses, and hoping that the club’s new owners – a group of rival A-League investors, including Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer – can provide funds to bolster his squad with some much-needed quality.

Yuel ran the Wanderers ragged in the opening exchanges only for his marker, Gordon, to leave him in the dust as he broke clear and nodded home a corner kick to give the visitors the lead in the seventh minute.

Just before the hour mark, Russell doubled their advantage with a first-time piledriver that exploded past Jack Duncan.

In between, an incredible long-distance strike from Nicolai Muller was chalked off after the VAR spotted Simon Cox straying marginally offside during the build-up play, while Thomas Aquilina – handed his maiden A-League start by Robinson – somehow missed an unmissable tap-in from point-blank range.

Newcastle captain Nigel Boogaard’s 73rd-minute header off a swerving Najjarine free kick gave the Jets hope of a late comeback but despite a gallant late rally, their fans would have little more to shout for.

They did, however, enjoy Ibini’s failure to convert a one-on-one chance, which elicited a round of sarcastic cheers, and the COVID-capped, mask-clad crowd continued to hound the Wanderers forward every time he neared the ball.

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The Jets certainly had their chances, but Western Sydney continually repelled them. They finished the first half with more shots on goal (11 to 7) but could not convert any of them, despite the toil and trouble caused by Yuel and Najjarine.

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Beijing likens Capitol storming to Hong Kong protests, hopes US can enjoy ‘peace, stability and security as soon as possible’ — RT World News



The Chinese Foreign Ministry has branded the “thugs, extremists and villains” who stormed the US Capitol Building on Wednesday a “disgrace,” adding that Beijing hopes Americans can experience stability in the near future.

Speaking on Thursday during a regular press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blasted the “thugs” involved in the violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and likened the unrest to the Hong Kong protests. 

“Some people in the US reacted and used very different words to what happened in Hong Kong in 2019 and what is happening in the US today. This sharp contrast and the reasons behind it are thought-provoking,” Hua noted.

The spokeswoman also took to Twitter, posting a video reminding people of the protests which swept across the former British colony of Hong Kong two years ago. 

The US and its Western partners have been critical of Beijing’s increasing influence over Hong Kong, and they have angered the Chinese government by supporting various protest movements in the Special Administrative Region.

Hua concluded by saying that China wishes for normality to be restored in the US. “We believe that the American people want safety and tranquility, especially in the severe situation of the current epidemic, we also hope that the American people can enjoy peace, stability and security as soon as possible,” she noted. 



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‘We’ve just seen confidence in democracy being shattered’: UK Home Secretary condemns the ‘terrible’ violence on Capitol Hill


The events of Wednesday, when supporters of outgoing US President Donald Trump breached the Capitol Building and staged an occupation, have been widely condemned around the world.

On Thursday, Trump promised “an orderly transition” to the administration of his successor Joe Biden, after US Congress certified the Democrat’s election victory.

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Authorities advise people to observe COVID-19 measures, enjoy festive period in responsible manner


SINGAPORE: Members of the public should continue to be socially responsible and take COVID-19 safe management measures seriously during the festive period, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment said on Thursday (Dec 24).

“We must not become complacent and must continue to remain vigilant; otherwise, our individual and collective sacrifices over the past year will be in vain,” said the ministry.

MSE reminded members of the public to not intermingle between groups and tables when dining at food and beverage outlets. 

The current group size limit of five people will apply until Dec 27 and large groups should not be split into multiple tables unless all members are from the same household.

READ: Zam Zam, some Punggol container park restaurants among 16 fined for breaching COVID-19 measures

READ: COVID-19: More safe management enforcement checks at F&B outlets during festive period

Diners must wear their masks while waiting for their food and drinks to arrive and put their masks on immediately after they finish eating and drinking.

“Do remind those around you to do the same. This will protect you as dining out is an activity that involves considerable risks,” said MSE.

Members of the public were also advised to avoid visiting shopping malls, supermarkets, post offices and stadiums during peak hours.

At beaches or parks, individuals should not gather in groups of more than five and must ensure they are a safe distance from other groups. The latest updates on visitorship levels and temporary closures for gardens, parks and nature reserves managed by the National Parks Board can be found online. 

Those who wish to visit Sentosa’s beaches on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays must reserve entry and can do so up to five days before their visit.

For households celebrating the holidays at home, visitors must be kept to a maximum of five people. The current group size limit will apply until Phase 3 takes effect.

“While many may wish to meet up with family and friends, or visit popular areas for shopping or dining out, we urge everyone to avoid visiting in large groups and to adhere to the prevailing safe management measures,” said MSE.

COVID-19: Social gatherings of up to 8 people allowed from Dec 28, further reopening of activities in Phase 3

READ: 5 things to know before visiting bars under COVID-19 nightlife pilot

MSE said that safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers will continue to be deployed across the island to remind the public to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

The Government will also not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against those who treat safe management measures with “flagrant disregard”.

“A resurgence of infections as seen in other countries would have devastating effects on lives and livelihoods in Singapore. The cooperation of individuals and businesses will help to safeguard public health, while allowing businesses to remain open. Together, our collective efforts will determine if we can successfully make the transition to Phase 3 and to a new normal,” the ministry said.

PUBLIC ADVISED TO BE VIGILANT

Separately, the police on Thursday advised the public to be vigilant against molesters, pickpockets and thieves during this festive period.

The police said they will conduct “enhanced” patrols and enforcement checks at popular areas like Orchard Road, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay.

“The public is reminded to be considerate and avoid engaging in activities and/or use of party novelty items, including aerosol foam sprays, that may annoy or compromise the safety of others,” added the police.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

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Curly-Haired Sows and Piglets Enjoy Colorado Snowfall



The National Weather Service office in Grand Junction said snow bands brought heavy snowfall to southwest Colorado as they moved across the area on Saturday, December 12. They had forecast snowfall across areas of western Colorado on Saturday. This footage was shared by Cedar Springs Farm in Hotchkiss and shows curly-haired Mangalica sows and piglets in the snow. Credit: Cedar Springs Farm via Storyful



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Charlemagne – Poland and Hungary enjoy a physics lesson courtesy of the EU | Europe


INERTIA IS ISAAC NEWTON’S first law of motion. “Every body perseveres in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed thereon,” wrote Newton in 1687. It is the first law of the EU, too: things stay as they are, until a big enough force shoves them to change. The covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing recession gave the bloc an almighty push. Over the summer EU leaders agreed to issue collective debt at scale for the first time, to the tune of €750bn ($890bn). After five days of talks, all 27 heads of government agreed that anyone spending EU money would have to abide by some form of “rule of law” stipulations.

Hungary and Poland are learning the hard way about introductory physics: once things get going, they are hard to stop. The two countries have belatedly teamed up to try and scupper the scheme, arguing that the rule-of-law mechanism goes too far. They have reason to fear a crackdown. Both governments have trampled on democratic norms in recent years, nobbling judges, thwarting journalists and using the state to hobble rivals. There is little Hungary and Poland can do to stop the new rules coming in, since they can be approved by a qualified majority. Instead, they have vetoed other policies. Both have refused to sign off the EU’s budget, which is worth about €1trn of spending over seven years, and withheld permission for the EU to push on with disbursing the €750bn recovery fund, until the rule-of-law scheme is watered down.

Leverage is the stuff of politics as well as physics. At first glance, holding €1.8trn of funding hostage seems a strong lever to pull. Economies in southern Europe are gasping for the cash. But it is a kamikaze attack. EU funds to Hungary and Poland were worth 4.5% and 3% of those countries’ GDP respectively in 2019. It is their own economies they are most in danger of damaging for the sake of a law they cannot stop from being introduced. Some are interpreting the move as a warning shot. If Hungary and Poland are trampled over, a bureaucratic dirty war will commence, with both countries blocking everything they can.

But Newton’s third law also has a role in EU politics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Other countries have vetoes over the budget process. Some like the Netherlands, which has a reputation for being a stickler for rules, could block the process if any compromise goes too far. The rule-of-law legislation is narrowly defined. Some countries wanted a far more wide-ranging tool, which would hit governments in their wallets if they trampled on the rights of minorities or gay people.

A nuclear option being discussed in a stage whisper by diplomats (and bellowed by MEPs) would involve other countries simply bypassing the two countries and issuing the debt without them. This would banish Hungary and Poland to an outer circle of the continent. Such strategies have been used before. David Cameron, then the British prime minister, found himself outwitted in 2011 when he refused to sign off on a treaty change without regulatory guarantees for the City of London. His fellow leaders went around him. Mr Cameron’s failure offers a lesson in how not to deal with Brussels, which Warsaw and Budapest would do well to heed if they want to guarantee their place in the bloc. Oddly enough, voters in both countries are strongly Europhile, despite electing governments that enjoy fighting EU institutions.

Once the EU’s rule-of-law tool has come into force, inertia may become the friend of Hungary and Poland, rather than their foe. Any punishment for trampling on the rule of law would have to be approved by a qualified majority of member states. On paper, this improves on the current system. At the moment, a country can be fined and/or stripped of its voting rights for violating the rule of law only if all 26 other governments agree. Since Hungary and Poland have each other’s backs, such a move is impossible. In practice, the new measures may still struggle to be invoked. Hungary and Poland are far from the only countries nervous about EU budget payments being linked to good behaviour. Corruption allegations swirl in Bulgaria. High-profile murders of investigative journalists in Malta and Slovakia have shaken both countries in recent years. Cyprus sells passports. Croatian authorities are accused of beating up refugees at the border. It is not just a case of honour among thieves. EU leaders are reluctant to interfere in the domestic affairs of others for the simple reason that they fear they could be next. In such circumstances, abstention is appealing.

Unlike rules of physics, rules of politics can be bent. The danger is that the new mechanism will become another Stability and Growth Pact, the bloc’s oft-maligned but usually ignored rules on government spending. According to the pact, EU countries are expected to keep their deficits below 3% of GDP in any given year and their debts below 60% of GDP. Even in good times, these targets were missed, but consequences were few. Technically countries could be fined. None ever was. To critics, the rule-of-law mechanism is a very European compromise: strict rules (to placate supporters) which are never enforced (to placate opponents).

Errors are not in the art but in the artificers

Procedures for reining in misbehaving member states will do little if no one has the guts to use them. Fundamentally, dealing with rogue EU governments is a question of political courage. Big countries, such as Germany, have allowed political alliances to trump principles. Over the past decade, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, has reshaped the Hungarian state from within the comfort of the European People’s Party, in which Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats also sit. Belated action on Poland—a far more important country for the future of Europe—came only after its government had already stacked its constitutional court. The bloc’s failure to act has had consequences. Other countries are sliding in a similar direction and will not stop unless some force impresses thereon. Inertia, after all, is a mighty thing.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Newtonian Europe”

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Albury-Wodonga residents enjoy first weekend since Border checkpoint was removed | The Border Mail


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The first weekend of a reunited border was a scorcher with record breaking temperatures. Albury hit a high of 41.8 degrees at 2:25pm on Saturday, bypassing the previous November record set in 2019 when the mercury climbed to 40.9 degrees. But the heat didn’t stop residents from enjoying the weekend of freedom, with many flocking to Noreuil Park. Jack Fletcher decided to get to the river early with daughter Matilda. “I was surprised, I got down here at 9am and most of the seats in the shade were already taken,” he said. While the border checkpoint is now a thing of the past, he admitted it had become second nature to expect to be stopped. “You get ready for it and then it’s not there,” Mr Fletcher said. Maree Harper also decided to start Saturday at the river with children Alex and Phebe. However, she had some more festive plans in mind to stay out of the sweltering afternoon heat. “We’re going home to put the Christmas tree up,” she said. “Normally we wait until the first of December, but we thought there’s no rules this year.” Ms Harper, who lives in Albury and works in Wodonga, said it was great to have the two towns united again. IN OTHER NEWS: Further down the banks, John Martin was offering some relief. After opening Foxy’s Ice Creams at Norieul Park a month ago, Mr Martin said he’s seen an increase in the amount of foot traffic. “There’s more people around,” he said. “In that first month things were pretty quiet, but things have picked up in the warmer weather.” After falling ill last year and giving up his job, Mr Martin bought the van anticipating a busy year at festivals before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but instead struggled to get a permit to trade. “Just to get somewhere to trade has been hard,” he said. “Financially we’ve taken a really big hit over this last nine months.” Mr Martin said mango-passionfruit and lemon-lime appeared to be the flavours of the season. The weekend also marked a special reunion for siblings Emily Sarroff and Lizzy Delarue, with Melbourne based Ms Delarue finally able to visit Albury. “It’s been a long while since we’ve seen her,” Ms Sarroff said.

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Tigers enjoy low-key AFL flag celebrations


It was a far cry from heaving throngs of supporters that gathered at Punt Rd and Swan St to celebrate Richmond’s previous two premierships in their ongoing period of AFL dominance.

Players, staff and families who had been part of the club’s travel bubble in this unusual season mingled on Sunday in the afterglow of another Tigers flag as leading figures – chief executive Brendon Gale, coach Damien Hardwick and captain Trent Cotchin – addressed the group.

The low-key honouring of the Tigers’ latest flag success, which was sealed with a 31-point win over Geelong at the Gabba on Saturday night, seemed to suit Cotchin just fine.

“The best way to describe it is it’s a bit more like a country footy premiership coming back here,” Cotchin told reporters at the club’s modest Elite Gold Coast accommodation.

“Clearly we have a lot of people at home that would’ve loved to have been a part of the celebrations, as we would’ve loved to have had them here.

“It was quite unique in itself and a bit more intimate.”

Winning three premierships in four seasons has elevated Richmond to a position along side the triple flag-winning Brisbane, Geelong and Hawthorn teams as greats of the 21st century.

Cotchin is one of 14 Tigers who have been part of all three and has now won more premierships as Richmond captain than anyone else.

He admitted the playing group hasn’t yet fully grasped the magnitude of what they have achieved.

“I will definitely take a moment or two, whether it’s today or tomorrow, just to sit back and reflect on season 2020 and our journey as a whole over the last few years,” Cotchin said.

“It’s been an exceptional ride and one that we’re incredibly proud of.”

Cotchin said Nick Vlastuin was “a bit worse for wear” on Sunday after being knocked out by a stray elbow from Patrick Dangerfield in the opening five minutes of the grand final.

The tough defender was taken from the field on a medicab and watched most of the match from the bench.

“Just the courage to get back out there and sit on the bench was pretty amazing given the hit he copped,” Cotchin said.

Gale made special mention of the 100,000-plus Richmond members who he said had “effectively donated” their money to the Tigers knowing that they would not be able to see any live football in 2020.





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locked down Richmond Tigers fans enjoy the Dustin Martin show


Still, they cheered. And, when Patrick Dangerfield took Nick Vlastuin out of the game with a stray arm to the head in the first quarter, they booed and swore.

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At the ground, their cries would have been swept up into a crescendo with tens of thousands of others, the footballing choir. This time, they were performing solo.

“That was dirty, I had a feeling they would come out and try it,” says cheer squad member Richard Alford at the first break, still catching his breath from a hot opening quarter.

“It’s just madness, it’s full on. But I reckon we had the better of it to be honest, they’re under a lot of pressure.”

The second quarter, things are a bit more tense. Geelong takes control of the game, kicking five unanswered goals to build a healthy lead.

It takes the wind out of the Tiger’s faithful. They aren’t used to close grand finals. The last two deciders against Adelaide and GWS were processions compared to this one.

Then, just before the quarter finishes, Dusty Martin produces a piece of brilliance to lift the Tiger army. Deep in the 50, he fends off a Cats defender and snaps truly over his shoulder. The lead is cut to 15.

Richard is on his feet in Mount Evelyn, screaming the house down. “It was a pearler of a goal,” he says. Now, there is hope, one of the most valuable commodities in football.

“It only takes a couple after half time, it changes immediately,” he says.

And that’s exactly what happens. Goals to Jack Riewoldt and Jason Castagna cut the lead to three points and the Tigers are on the march. Another Martin goal gives his side the lead at three quarter time.

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From there it’s all Richmond. In the final quarter, Martin confirms his third Norm Smith medal with two more majors, one of them a goal-of-the-year contender from the depths of the forward pocket.

The fans are agog, how can he keep doing this? Comments like “best ever Tiger” start flying around.

“What a star that guy is, every team wishes they had a Dusty,” says cheer squad member Dale Sherrard, holding back tears at her home in Mill Park after the final siren.

“He’s just one in a million that guy, he was born to play footy. He always clicks when we need him too. There’s something we need that’s impossible, he makes it possible.”

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