Jack de Belin back to reserve grade and Matt Dufty’s disappointment with St George Illawarra Dragons


De Belin remains unavailable for selection because of the NRL’s no-fault stand-down rule, and will fight five aggravated sexual assault charges at a retrial before a judge and jury in the Downing Centre in April. His original hearing failed to reach a majority verdict late last year.

Distancing de Belin from the full-time squad will give him the chance to spend time with family and lawyers. More importantly, it will end suggestions his appearances at training the past two seasons proved a daily distraction for NRL players.

Griffin told the Herald de Belin was off the pace when he returned to training, but his main focus was preparing for his next court case. Because Griffin had not been at the club the past two years, he said he was not qualified to comment if de Belin’s presence had proven a distraction.

“He’s got an enormous event coming up in his life, that’s his main priority at the moment,” Griffin said.

Dufty caught up with de Belin last week and said while he was no longer training with the NRL squad, he was in good spirits.

Matt Dufty works up a sweat at Dragons training on Monday.

“He’s the most positive person I know; he’s always asking how training is going, he’s still interested and close with most of the boys here,” Dufty said.

De Belin reached an “in-principle agreement” with the Dragons to stay put at the club this year, provided he was cleared before the courts.

Dufty, who along with Zac Lomax was the club’s best attacking weapon last year, revealed he was yet to hear anything about the club’s plans for him in 2022 and beyond. Griffin said all negotiations were being dealt with by football manager Ben Haran and recruitment boss Ian Millward.

The 25-year-old Dufty knows he needs to cash in on his next deal, and has spent the bulk of his first-grade career proving himself to the Dragons hierarchy.

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“I haven’t heard anything from the club – it’s a bit disappointing they haven’t talked to me yet,” Dufty said on Monday.

“I’ve given a lot to the Dragons since I was about 14, I’d just like to think they want me. That’s all I want to feel. Money’s not an issue, it’s just the fact [I want] a bit of respect, that’s all.

“There has been [interest elsewhere], but I won’t say who at the moment. It is still early days. That makes you feel good [there’s interest]. But the one that matters at the moment, it’s disappointing.

“Obviously I’d like to stay in the ‘Gong’. There was a stage there last year where I could have gone, and I had permission to go. Huddersfield was probably the main [option], but I wanted to stay in the NRL.

“I still had a contract and I wanted to prove myself to the Dragons. Hopefully that loyalty gets rewarded.

“I like to think I’m a humble person, but I do need to think about my future as well.”

Dufty was out of favour this time last year and was close to joining Huddersfield, only to back himself and win back his No.1 jersey at the joint venture. He praised former assistant Shane Flanagan for a frank conversation that inspired him to chase the opportunity in front of him.

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George W. Bush speaks out, rips ‘reckless behavior of some political leaders’ after Capitol mayhem


Former President George W. Bush condemned the “insurrection” in Washington D.C. Wednesday and blamed “some political leaders,” after demonstrators broke into the U.S. Capitol building, prompting members of Congress and others to evacuate or shelter in place.

“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,” Bush said in a statement. “The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

LAWMAKERS, AIDES AND OTHERS SHELTERING INSIDE CAPITOL DESCRIBE CHAOS; AT LEAST 1 DEAD

President Trump delivered a speech to supporters in the nation’s capital earlier in the day, doubling down on unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him.

Former US President George W. Bush speaks during the funeral service of late Civil Rights leader John Lewis at the State Capitol in Georgia on July 30, 2020.  (Photo by ALYSSA POINTER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Later in the afternoon, Capitol Police struggled with protesters for hours after a mob broke in to protest President-elect Joe Biden’s expected Electoral College validation Wednesday. A joint session of Congress had to be adjourned early and postponed as members evacuated, wearing gas masks, to undisclosed locations. Images show that authorities barricaded doors to protect aides, journalists and others inside as an angry mob clashed with police in the halls.

At least one person died from a gunshot wound, according to police.

U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn stand near a barricaded door as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on  Jan. 6, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn stand near a barricaded door as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on  Jan. 6, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP)

At least one protester made it to the dais at the head of the Senate floor. Another posed for a photo behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Senators described in shocked tones how Vice President Mike Pence was rushed to safety when the perimeter was first breached.

“Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation,” Bush continued. “In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.”

GOP POLITICIANS CONDEMN VIOLENCE AT CAPITOL, CALL FOR AN END TO RIOTS

He concluded with a message to Americans still upset with the 2020 election results.

“Our country is more important than the politics of the moment,” he said. “Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety. May God continue to bless the United States of America.”

President Trump repeatedly encouraged demonstrators to be peaceful and to leave the Capitol, but he also doubled down on unproven rhetoric about how the 2020 election was “stolen” and was eventually suspended from Twitter.

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Pence, who spearheaded the National Guard response to restore order rather than President Trump, condemned the mayhem and vowed that agitators would face criminal prosecution.

At 7:30 p.m., reports emerged that members of Congress were headed back to the Capitol and return to the validation debate. A Pence spokesman confirmed that the vice president had also returned to reconvene the joint session.

Thank you for spending your time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed reading this post on current USA Business and Political news published as “George W. Bush speaks out, rips ‘reckless behavior of some political leaders’ after Capitol mayhem”. This article is shared by My Local Pages as part of our local and national news services.

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Josh Kerr says St George Illawarra Dragons won’t talk up finals hopes under Anthony Griffin


“I’ve come back and we’ve had a reshuffle of staff but the culture here is so similar to what it was for Queensland,” Kerr said on the Dragons’ second day of training for 2021.

“I don’t want to say anything bad about the years past but this is a refresh of everything.

“The culture they’re building here just reminds me so much of being in [Origin] camp.”

Kerr has clearly taken a leaf out of Bennett’s book: he has already reminded his teammates to talk their hopes of climbing the NRL ladder down.

“I was saying to the boys before – we’ve always fallen into the trap at the Dragons of talking about how good our team is and how well we’re going to do. And then we don’t make the eight. It’s embarrassing,” Kerr said.

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“We always say we’re going to do these things but we never do it. Not trying to sound big or anything but I’d rather just do it.

“I’d rather just go out there, play well and win games (without) telling you how good we’re going to go when we haven’t made the eight in the last few years.

“I don’t want to be rude by saying that but we’ve just fallen into that trap too many times over too many years.”

The “best month” of Kerr’s life – Origin camp – is also providing motivation for the prop who wants to make his Queensland debut sooner rather than later.

“I just thought ‘I could only be myself’ in that camp and to have that culture and that environment that they have – and you can definitely see it,” Kerr said.

“To be coached by Wayne Bennett – when I was a kid he was old as – it was crazy.”

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NRL 2021: New Zealand Warriors, CEO Cameron George, open letter to fans, relocating to Australia, COVID-19


Warriors CEO Cameron George has penned a passionate letter to the club’s supporters ahead of their relocation to Australia.

The NRL’s only New Zealand-based outfit spent the last year away from home, relocating to the Central Coast to ensure the 2020 COVID-19 affected season went ahead.

Some of the players were fortunate enough to have their families move over from New Zealand but others including star wingers David Fusitua’a and Ken Maumalo went back to Auckland as their New Zealand-native partners were not permitted an exemption to move to Australia.

The Warriors will endure a similar scenario when they land in Australia this week to ramp up their pre-season preparations.

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F1 2020: Romain Grosjean text message, George Russell, Haas


Romain Grosjean’s departure from the Formula 1 paddock hasn’t been met with sympathy or sadness by his fellow drivers, it seems.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, along with teammate Kevin Magnussen, were told they would be released from their contracts with Haas at the end of the season.

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The news was handed down on the eve of st month’s Portuguese Grand Prix, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner telling Grosjean the move was for financial reasons.

“I said to Guenther when he called me that I was expecting one of us (to leave) and he said, ‘No, for financial reasons, I need both of you out’,” Grosjean said.



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NRL 2020 Transfers: Cameron McInnes to Wests Tigers, Meeting with Michael Maguire, St George Illawarra Dragons


The Dragons face a huge decision in whether to keep hooker Cameron McInnes amid reports a rival club is circling.

Wide World of Sports reported on Tuesday that Wests Tigers are set to make McInnes their number one target for 2022.

It follows 1170 SEN Sydney confirming last week that McInnes met with Tigers coach Michael Maguire at a cafe.

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George Blake, British Spy Who Betrayed the West, Dies at 98


He was born George Behar in Rotterdam on Nov. 11, 1922. His mother was a Dutch Protestant; his father, Albert, was a Spanish Jew born in Turkey who fought the Ottoman Empire in World War I and was wounded, cited for gallantry and given British citizenship. He settled in the Netherlands as a businessman.

When his father died in 1934, George went to Cairo to live with relatives, including a cousin, Henri Curiel, who became an Egyptian Communist leader. He was visiting in the Netherlands when World War II broke out in 1939. His mother and two sisters escaped to England, but he joined the Dutch resistance, running messages and gathering intelligence for two years.

Retreating to Britain, he changed his surname to Blake, joined the Royal Navy, trained in submarines and was recruited by Britain’s wartime Secret Intelligence Service as a novice agent. Fluent in Dutch, German, Arabic and Hebrew as well as English, he translated German documents and interrogated German prisoners.

After the war he studied Russian at Cambridge — by then, Philby, Burgess and Maclean had graduated into spy tradecraft — and his teacher, a native of pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, inspired in him a love of Russian language and culture, a step in his conversion. He was then sent to Germany to build a network of British spies in Berlin and Hamburg. Using the cover of a naval attaché, he recruited scores of agents.

Just before the Korean War began in 1950, Mr. Blake was sent to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, under diplomatic cover to organize another spy network. But he was captured by invading North Korean forces. Held for three years in North Korea, he was subjected to Communist indoctrination.

He later denied that this had influenced his conversion, insisting that the American bombing of North Korea had been the prime factor. “The relentless bombing of small Korean villages by enormous American flying fortresses” killing “women and children and old people” horrified him, he said. “It made me feel ashamed” he added. “I felt I was committed to the wrong side.”

Mr. Blake said he met with a K.G.B. officer in North Korea, agreed to become a Soviet agent and immediately began disclosing secrets. He wanted no pay, and to avoid suspicion he insisted on being given no privileges and released with other captive diplomats. As the Korean War wound down in 1953, he was repatriated to Britain and received as a national hero.



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Bryony Frost and Frodon create history in King George VI Chase at Kempton


Bryony Frost embraced trainer Paul Nicholls after victory on Frodon

Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to win the King George VI Chase, riding Frodon to victory at Kempton.

The 20-1 chance led throughout the three-mile race and held off the fast-finishing Waiting Patiently (12-1), ridden by Brian Hughes, to give trainer Paul Nicholls his 12th King George win.

Hat-trick-chasing Clan Des Obeaux, the 85-40 favourite, was back in third.

“I have had the absolute best time going round there on him,” said a delighted Frost.

“He has just smashed everyone’s expectations. I don’t argue with him too much as he is his own personality.

“I cannot stress how much this horse means to me – he is my life. You dream as a little girl to ride a horse like this.”

The win gave Frost her 175th career win, making her become the most successful female National Hunt jockey of all time.

Frost and Frodon had also made history at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, winning the Grade One Ryanair Chase.



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Cold War British-Soviet double agent George Blake dies at 98


MOSCOW: George Blake, who died in Russia on Saturday (Dec 26) at the age of 98, was the last in a line of British spies whose secret work for the Soviet Union humiliated the intelligence establishment when it was discovered at the height of the Cold War.

Britain says he exposed the identities of hundreds of Western agents across Eastern Europe in the 1950s, some of whom were executed as a result of his treason.

His case was among the most notorious of the Cold War, alongside those of a separate ring of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five.

Unmasked as a Soviet spy in 1961, Blake was sentenced to 42 years in London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison. In a classic cloak-and-dagger story, he escaped in 1966 with the help of other inmates and two peace activists, and was smuggled out of Britain in a campervan. He made it through Western Europe undiscovered and crossed the Iron Curtain into East Berlin.

He spent the rest of his life in the Soviet Union and then Russia, where he was feted as a hero.

Reflecting on his life in an interview with Reuters in Moscow in 1991, Blake said he had believed the world was on the eve of Communism.

“It was an ideal which, if it could have been achieved, would have been well worth it,” he said.

“I thought it could be, and I did what I could to help it, to build such a society. It has not proved possible. But I think it is a noble idea and I think humanity will return to it.”

In a condolence message published by the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Blake was a professional of particular vitality and courage who made an invaluable contribution to global strategic parity and peace.

“The memory of this legendary person will be preserved forever in our hearts,” he wrote.

BECOMING A COMMITTED COMMUNIST

Blake was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on Nov 11, 1922, to a Dutch mother and an Egyptian Jewish father who was a naturalised Briton.

He escaped from the Netherlands during World War II after joining the Dutch resistance as a courier and reached Britain in January 1943. After joining the British navy, he started working for the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in 1944.

After the war, Blake served briefly in the German city of Hamburg and studied Russian at Cambridge University before being sent to Seoul in 1948 where he gathered intelligence on communist North Korea, communist China and the Soviet Far East.

He was captured and imprisoned when North Korean troops took Seoul after the Korean War began in 1950. It was during his time in a North Korean prison that he became a committed communist, reading the works of Karl Marx and feeling outrage at heavy American bombing of North Korea.

After his release in 1953, he returned to Britain, and in 1955 was sent by MI6 to Berlin, where he collected information on Soviet spies but also passed secrets to Moscow about British and American operations.

“I met a Soviet comrade about once a month,” he said in a 2012 interview published by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Blake described how, for these meetings, he had travelled to the Soviet-controlled sector of Berlin on a rail link joining different parts of the divided city. His contact would be waiting for him in a car and they would go to a safe house.

“I handed over films and we chatted. Sometimes we had a glass of Tsimlyansk champagne (Soviet sparkling wine).”

Blake was eventually exposed by a Polish defector and brought home to Britain, where he was sentenced and jailed.

When he escaped from Wormwood Scrubs, he left behind his wife, Gillian, and three children. After Gillian divorced him, Blake married a Soviet woman, Ida, with whom he had a son, Misha. He worked at a foreign affairs institute before retiring with her to a dacha, or country house, outside Moscow.

SIPPING MARTINIS WITH PHILBY

Blake, who went by the Russian name Georgy Ivanovich, was awarded a medal by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007 and held the rank of lieutenant colonel in the former KGB security service, from which he received a pension.

“These are the happiest years of my life, and the most peaceful,” Blake said in the 2012 interview marking his 90th birthday. By then, he said, his eyesight was failing and he was “virtually blind”. He did not voice regret about his past.

“Looking back on my life, everything seems logical and natural,” he said, describing himself as happy and lucky.

Though he worked separately from the Cambridge Five – a spy ring of former Cambridge students who passed information to the Soviet Union – Blake said that during his retirement he got to know two of them, Donald Maclean and Kim Philby.

He reminisced about drinking martinis, the preferred cocktail of fictitious British spy James Bond, with Philby but said he was closer in spirit to Maclean.

Maclean died in Russia in 1983, and Philby in 1988. Of the rest of the Cambridge Five, Guy Burgess died in Russia in 1963 and Anthony Blunt in London in 1983.

John Cairncross, the last to be publicly identified by investigative journalists and former Soviet intelligence officers, died in England in 1995.



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George Blake, last in line of Cold War spies who betrayed Britain, dies at 98



FILE PHOTO: Soviet secret agent George Blake gestures as he speaks at a presentation of a book of letters written by other spies from a British prison, in Moscow June 28, 2001. Blake — a notorious traitor in Britain and legendary hero in Russia — escaped from a British jail in 1966 while serving a 42 year sentence for passing secrets to Moscow./File Photo

December 26, 2020

By Timothy Heritage and Polina Ivanova

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – George Blake, who died in Russia on Saturday at the age of 98, was the last in a line of British spies whose secret work for the Soviet Union humiliated the intelligence establishment when it was discovered at the height of the Cold War.

Britain says he exposed the identities of hundreds of Western agents across Eastern Europe in the 1950s, some of whom were executed as a result of his treason.

His case was among the most notorious of the Cold War, alongside those of a separate ring of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five.

Unmasked as a Soviet spy in 1961, Blake was sentenced to 42 years in London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison. In a classic cloak-and-dagger story, he escaped in 1966 with the help of other inmates and two peace activists, and was smuggled out of Britain in a camper van. He made it through Western Europe undiscovered and crossed the Iron Curtain into East Berlin.

He spent the rest of his life in the Soviet Union and then Russia, where he was feted as a hero.

Reflecting on his life in an interview with Reuters in Moscow in 1991, Blake said he had believed the world was on the eve of Communism.

    “It was an ideal which, if it could have been achieved, would have been well worth it,” he said.

“I thought it could be, and I did what I could to help it, to build such a society. It has not proved possible. But I think it is a noble idea and I think humanity will return to it.”

In a condolence message published by the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Blake was a professional of particular vitality and courage who made an invaluable contribution to global strategic parity and peace.

“The memory of this legendary person will be preserved forever in our hearts,” he wrote.

BECOMING A COMMITTED COMMUNIST

Blake was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on Nov. 11, 1922, to a Dutch mother and an Egyptian Jewish father who was a naturalised Briton.

He escaped from the Netherlands in World War Two after joining the Dutch resistance as a courier and reached Britain in January 1943. After joining the British navy, he started working for the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, in 1944.

After the war, Blake served briefly in the German city of Hamburg and studied Russian at Cambridge University before being sent in 1948 to Seoul where he gathered intelligence on Communist North Korea, Communist China and the Soviet Far East.

He was captured and imprisoned when North Korean troops took Seoul after the Korean War began in 1950. It was during his time in a North Korean prison that he became a committed Communist, reading the works of Karl Marx and feeling outrage at heavy U.S. bombing of North Korea.

After his release in 1953, he returned to Britain and in 1955 was sent by MI6 to Berlin, where he collected information on Soviet spies but also passed secrets to Moscow about British and U.S operations.

“I met a Soviet comrade about once a month,” he said in a 2012 interview published by Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Blake described how, for these meetings, he had travelled to the Soviet-controlled sector of Berlin on a rail link joining different parts of the divided city. His contact would be waiting for him in a car and they would go to a safe house.

“I handed over films and we chatted. Sometimes we had a glass of Tsimlyansk champagne (Soviet sparkling wine).”

Blake was eventually exposed by a Polish defector and brought home to Britain, where he was sentenced and jailed.

When he escaped from Wormwood Scrubs, he left behind his wife, Gillian, and three children. After Gillian divorced him, Blake married a Soviet woman, Ida, with whom he had a son, Misha. He worked at a foreign affairs institute before retiring with her to a dacha, or country house, outside Moscow.

SIPPING MARTINIS WITH PHILBY

Blake, who went by the Russian name Georgy Ivanovich, was awarded a medal by Putin in 2007 and held the rank of lieutenant colonel in the former KGB security service, from which he received a pension.

“These are the happiest years of my life, and the most peaceful,” Blake said in the 2012 interview marking his 90th birthday. By then, he said, his eyesight was failing and he was “virtually blind”. He did not voice regret about his past.

“Looking back on my life, everything seems logical and natural,” he said, describing himself as happy and lucky.

Though he worked separately from the Cambridge Five – a spy ring of former Cambridge students who passed information to the Soviet Union – Blake said that during his retirement he got to know two of them, Donald Maclean and Kim Philby.

He reminisced about drinking martinis, the preferred cocktail of fictitious British spy James Bond, with Philby but said he was closer in spirit to Maclean.

Maclean died in Russia in 1983, and Philby in 1988. Of the rest of the Cambridge Five, Guy Burgess died in Russia in 1963, and Anthony Blunt in London in 1983.

John Cairncross, the last to be publicly identified by investigative journalists and former Soviet intelligence officers, died in England in 1995.

(Additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Pravin Char)





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