White wants to push Ireland rugby league

AP – Not even the most one-eyed Irish fan will be expecting the Wolfhounds to topple Australia at the Rugby League World Cup, but Brett White is looking at the bigger picture as he prepares face a host of familiar faces.

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The Canberra prop, who played three times for Australia in the 2009 Four Nations Series, qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather and sees himself as a pioneer as the Wolfhounds try to make up ground on their rugby union cousins.

“I see my role as trying to build the brand of rugby league in Ireland,” White said.

“I think that’s important.

“I think there’s a fantastic future ahead for rugby league in Ireland and, if I can try and help to build that, I’ll do my part.”

White has led from the front on the field during Ireland’s difficult start to the World Cup and, despite comprehensive defeats by Fiji and England, is relishing the experience.

“It’s been fantastic, really enjoyable,” White said.

“We’ve worked really hard actually. I guess what’s surprised me in a way has been the amount of work we’ve been putting in.

“In saying that, we’ve needed to. We were in the toughest position of the tournament.

“That and the professionalism of the organisation has been fantastic. I’m really enjoying the experience.”

White will face former Melbourne teammates including Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in Saturday’s Group A match at Thomond Park.

“I’ve played with or against most of them,” he said.

“A lot of those boys I played with in Melbourne.

“I know first hand the quality of players we’re up against. We just want to try and be competitive and do our best.”

Ireland coach Mark Aston heaped praise on the 31-year-old for his bravery and leadership during the side’s crushing defeats by Fiji and England, but White insists he is nothing more than a foot soldier.

“Most of these boys have played more Test-match footy than I have,” he said.

“I have a bit of experience and, if the team can benefit from my input, then fantastic.

“But I am here to learn just as much. Like everyone. I will take a lot out of this camp.”


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Sth Africa down Pakistan, lead ODI series

Legspinner Imran Tahir took four wickets while JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis scored half-centuries to help South Africa beat Pakistan by 68 runs in the third day-night international in Dubai on Wednesday.

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Tahir wrecked Pakistan’s middle order with figures of 4-53 to bowl them out for 191 in 44.3 overs after they were set a challenging 260-run target at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

The emphatic win gives South Africa a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

Both teams will meet again at the same venue on Friday before the series is rounded off in Sharjah on Monday.

South Africa won the first match in Sharjah by one run while Pakistan won the second match in Dubai by 66 runs.

South African captain AB de Villiers was delighted with the victory which he said was a good all round performance.

“I am very happy with our performance, we stuck to the basics and got a few partnerships going,” he said.

“We lost a couple of wickets at the wrong time but it was a better performance today and our bowlers came to the party.”.

His Pakistan counterpart Misbah-ul Haq was frustrated by several batsmen not learning from previous mistakes.

“It’s again the same problem with us in the batting order and we couldn’t transform a good start into a big one, we kept losing wickets to Tahir and that’s what made the difference,” said Misbah.

Tahir, who conceded 18 in his first two overs, returned for a second spell, triggering a batting collapse which saw Pakistan lose five wickets for 30 runs.

Tahir trapped Misbah (19), caught and bowled Umar Akmal (seven) and Asad Shafiq (11) caught at cover to leave Pakistan struggling at 7-116.

Wahab Riaz, who top-scored with 33, added 61 for the eighth wicket with Sohail Tanvie (31) but it only delayed the inevitable.

It was Duminy (64) and du Plessis (55) who anchored the South African total after they won the toss and batted.

Duminy hit three boundaries off 89 balls and gave the innings much needed impetus with a 66-run fifth-wicket stand with David Miller (34), adding 65 in the last ten overs.

Du Plessis had steadied the innings during his 60-ball knock, adding 77 for the second wicket with Quinton de Kock who made 40 from 57 balls.


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Earliest sign of autism is ‘looking away’

Scientists say they may have found the earliest signs yet of autism in infants – babies as young as two months starting to evade other people’s eyes.

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Eye-evasion has long been regarded as a hallmark of autism, but its potential value as an early diagnostic tool had not been explored before, a team of researchers wrote in the journal Nature.

They studied 110 infants from birth until two years, using eye-tracking technology to measure the way they looked at people’s faces, and 13 of the children were later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“In infants later diagnosed with autism, we see a steady decline in how much they look at mom’s eyes throughout the first two years of life, and even within the first six months,” study co-author Warren Jones of the Emory University School of Medicine told AFP.

In some children, the signs could be observed already from the age of two months.

Making eye contact is considered an important part of human social interaction and development.

The research team not only uncovered that eye-evasion was present in autistic children already at an early age, but crucially also that eye contact declined over time rather than being absent from the start.

“Both these factors have the potential to dramatically shift the possibilities for future strategies of early interventions,” said co-author Ami Klin, director of the Marcus Autism Centre in Atlanta.

While there is no cure for autism, studies have shown that an early start with behavioural therapy improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism.

The team had used technology to measure eye-movement patterns when they showed the children videos of actors posing as caregivers — playing games and interacting with them.

They found that infants later diagnosed with ASD showed less and less attention to the actor’s eyes over time, a pattern that is not seen in typically-developing infants.

Those whose levels of eye contact diminished most rapidly were also most disabled later in life, the researchers found.

The team warned that parents would not be able to observe the decline in eye contact themselves.

“The signs we observed are only visible with the aid of sophisticated technology, and they required many measurements over many months. If parents do have concerns, they should consult their doctors,” said Jones.

According to World Health Organisation figures, one child in 160 has an autism spectrum disorder, considered among the most highly heritable of psychiatric conditions.


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Russia meteor strike was ‘wake-up call’

A meteor that exploded over Russia in February was 20 metres in diameter and caused a blast equivalent to 600,000 tons of TNT, according to scientists studying the event.

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The space rock blew apart 18.5 miles above the city of Chelyabinsk, briefly outshining the sun and inflicting severe burns on a number of observers below.

It was the largest object to hit the Earth since the Tunguska event of 1908, when an exploding comet or asteroid destroyed 2000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

Analysis showed that the rock was a common type known as a “chondrite” – the kind most likely to cause a major extinction event in the future.

Professor Qing-Zhu Yin, from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California at Davis, US, said the meteor strike was a “wake-up call”.

“If humanity does not want to go the way of the dinosaurs, we need to study an event like this in detail,” he said.

The team said the Chelyabinsk object entered the Earth’s atmosphere at just over 19 kilometres per second, slightly faster than had previously been reported.

Three quarters of the rock evaporated in the explosion, said the researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Science.

Most of the rest of the object became a glowing orange dust cloud and only a small fraction – still weighing 4000 to 6000kg – fell to the ground.

The largest single fragment, weighing about 650kg, was recovered from the bed of Lake Chebarkul in October.

Shock waves from the airburst smashed windows, rattled buildings, and knocked people off their feet, more than 1200 of whom attended hospital.

Researchers visiting villages in the area found a region of shock-wave damage extending some 50 miles on either side of the meteor’s trajectory path.

The object may have come from the Flora asteroid family in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But the chunk that exploded over Chelyabinsk is not thought to have originated in the asteroid belt itself, the experts believe.


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Pressure on carers of intellectually disabled kids

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

One proposal by the advocates is a residential boarding model in which the children’s responsibilities are shared between parents at home and carers at boarding centres.

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And they are concerned carers will not be adequately supported in the DisabilityCare scheme previously known as the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

(Click on audio tab above to hear full item)

A report by Anglicare highlights the pressure on parents who care for children with intellectual disabilities.

Susan King is Director of Advocacy and Research at Anglicare.

She says parents often feel that respite services are inadequate.

“There’s some significant impacts. Apart from anything else, it means that at least one parent can’t work so it impacts in terms of employment. It’s 24/7 care, a lot of these children don’t sleep so parents are constantly sleep deprived. The behaviours are often dificult to manage in public so the families seldom go out. If they do go out, they have to put in a lot of arrangements and planning to make that possible.”

Susan King suggests that Australia introduces a residential shared care model which she says has been successful in Britain.

This is similar to a boarding school system, where the children are looked after throughout the week but sent home on weekends and holidays.

Ms King says it can provide a balance of responsibility for the families and carers of the children with disabilities.

Mary Lou Carter is the parent of a child with an intellectual disability.

She agrees that shared care would provide immense benefits to families.

Ms Carter says caring for children with intellectual disabilities entirely in the home is an incredibly demanding task, especially when the children have siblings.

“Well when you have other children as well, it complicates it immensely. So you’re trying to tear yourself apart to meet the needs of all your children and yet you have this overwhelming responsibility that falls entirely to you and you know that your other children need nurturing as well.”

Ms Carter says young people with disabilities don’t have a say in development of new programs to care for them.

And she says often parents are so preoccupied providing care and support that their voices are not being heard either.

Ms Carter says the residential care model can also have positive benefits for children with disabilities, and not just their carers.

“My son lived in a shared care arrangement for seven years. And he learnt all those basic skills – learnt to share, learnt to live with other people, learnt there were others who were part of his life that needed to have attention as well; when he was living at home, he was the centre of attention all the time. And he learnt so many extraordinary skills that he would not otherwise have been able to learn because you don’t learn, let’s say for example, toilet training does not take place between 9am and 3pm. Toilet training is an ongoing thing that has to be extended across the setting, whether it’s at home, at school or in the residence.”

Alan Blackwood is from an organisation called Children with Disability Australia.

Mr Blackwood says he’s confident the new DisabilityCare scheme, formerly known as the NDIS, will provide the necessary support for carers of children with disabilities.

And he argues the proposed shared care arrangement cannot be regarded as the ultimate solution to the issue.

“There needs to be a full range of options to work out exactly what support will work and what won’t. Some families may choose that option, others may want support in the home. So there’s no one answer to this. The NDIS promises this type of support so I think the experience will hopefully be difference once the NDIS is in place.”

 


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