Ben battles flu in 76ers loss

BATTLED HARD: Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons (center) takes the ball to the ring against the Phoenix Suns. Picture: AP Photo Matt Slocum
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Ben Simmons has battled flu-like symptoms to score 20 points but he couldn’t prevent Philadelphia suffering an upset home NBA loss to Phoenix.

The Newcastle-raised guard had eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals in the 115-101 result, but was upstaged by star Suns guard Devin Booker, who registered a season-high 46 points.

The 76ers trailed for most of Tuesday’ game but narrowed the margin to five points with just under five minutes remaining, before Booker fired three of his five three-pointers to snuff out their challenge.

Guard JJ Redick top-scored with 25 points for the 76ers, while centre Joel Embiid had 22 points and 12 rebounds.

20 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds for @BenSimmons25 vs Phoenix. pic.twitter南京夜网/vSMfvX107U

— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 5, 2017

A game-high for steals sees Simmons claim outright second in the league’s tally for the statistic with 51, four behind Paul George of Oklahoma City.

The loss to the Western Conference’s 11th place side sees Philadelphia slip to 13-10 to sit fifth in the Eastern Conference.

Boomers centre Aaron Baynes was productive in limited minutes as the NBA-leading Boston Celtics defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 111-100 to improved their record to 21-4.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 32 points while Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had a game-high 40 points and nine rebounds.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won their 12th straight game after 24 points apiece from Dwayne Wade and Kevin Love saw them past the Chicago Bulls 113-91.

LeBron James added 23 points as the Cavs (17-7) consolidated second spot in the east behind Boston.

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Scott’s golden medal chance

IN: Raymond Terrace lawn bowler Natasha Scott. Picture: Robert PeetThree-time world champion Natasha Scott hopes it will be a case of third time lucky when she lines up on the Gold Coast next year.
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The Raymond Terrace 27-year-old aims to claim her first Commonwealth Games medal in what will be her third appearance at the international tournament.

Scott, who debuted in Delhi in 2010 and also went to Glasgow in 2014,was on Tuesday named in the 10-person Australian squad for the April competition on home soil.

She will be joined in the Jackaroos team by Hunter product and four-time Bowls Australia international player of the yearAron Sherriff, who this week announced a 2018 move from Ettalong to Gold Coast club Helensvale.

On the weekend Scott wrapped up her Australian Championships campaign with one gold and three silver medals. In October she clinched a historic clean sweep of all four women’s state titles in one season.

Elsewhere and Teralba’s Mariah Williams is now a step closer to making her Commonwealth Games debut after being picked on Tuesday in the Hockeyroos squad for 2018 while five-time Cessnock medallistDan Repacholi rounded out his qualification period at the Shooting Australia Open in Brisbane on the weekend.

It comes after Newcastle basketballers Suzy Batkovic and Katie Ebzery were on Friday announced in the Opals squad for a Gold Coast training camp whileNovocastrian triathlete Aaron Royle recently missed out.

JACKAROOS:Kelsey Cottrell,Carla Krizanic,Karen Murphy,Natasha Scott, Rebecca Van Asch, Barrie Lester,Nathan Rice, Aron Sherriff,Brett Wilkie,Aaron Wilson.

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The RBA ends the year as it started – with rates at a record low

The Reserve Bank of Australia has left the official cash rate on hold at 1.5 per cent at its last meeting before Christmas, ending the year the same way it started – with interest rates at a record low.
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In explaining why it had left the cash rate on hold for the 16th month in a row, the RBA board noted wage growth was going nowhere fast and inflation remained below the target of 2 per cent, as the Turnbull government prepares for mixed gross domestic product results when the national accounts are released on Wednesday.

The RBA warned household consumption in the lead-up to the festive shopping season was a “continuing source of uncertainty”.

“Household incomes are growing slowly and debt levels are high,” RBA governor Philip Lowe said in a statement.

But Dr Lowe offered hope to workers, noting some businesses were struggling to find the right workers in a time of high employment and might have to start lifting salaries to avoid a skills shortage.

“There are reports that some employers are finding it more difficult to hire workers with the necessary skills. However, wage growth remains low,” he said.

“This is likely to continue for a while yet, although the stronger conditions in the labour market should see some lift in wage growth over time.”

Dr Lowe signalled the board was closely watching developments in other countries that had been moving to return interest rates to normal levels.

“In a number of economies, there has been some withdrawal of monetary stimulus, although financial conditions remain quite expansionary,” he said.

Australian National University shadow RBA board member Mark Crosby said he was encouraged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s calls for the bank to eventually move towards a higher cash rate.

“The economy is clearly doing well, and monetary policy has done its job in terms of supporting the economy in recent years,” he said.

“It is time for the central bank to start normalising policy, and for other policy arms to support labour markets and productivity.”

Figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority released on Tuesday undermined the need for a rate rise to cool overheating housing markets.

The regulator said interest-only housing loans fell again in the three months to September 30, after a government crackdown on risky lending.

“Nationwide measures of housing prices are little changed over the past six months, with conditions having eased in Sydney,” the RBA statement said.

The economy is gearing up for a mixed GDP result when the national accounts are released on Wednesday, with negative balance of payments and government spending results.

Government investment dropped 7.5 per cent between June and September, leading to predictions of a soft GDP rise of between 2.7 and 3 per cent for the year.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday showed another round of sluggish retail results, with rises led by cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services driving the 0.5 per cent growth in October.

Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird said the cash rate would stay on hold until wages growth and core inflation were on a sustained upward trend.

“The latest data on both wages and inflation suggests that while we have probably hit inflection points, we remain some way off from a rate rise,” he said.

“Indeed the RBA’s own forecasts for core inflation are consistent with policy on hold over the next year.”

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Fairfax Media refuses to sign up for Commonwealth Games

Fairfax Media has confirmed it will not sign its journalists up to cover next year’s Commonwealth Games under the current accreditation rules.
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Fairfax, publisher of The Age,The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times, is the latest media organisation to take such action due to the strict coverage rules imposed by the Commonwealth Games Federation designed to protect the TV rights of host broadcaster Channel Seven.

“We will not be signing up for Commonwealth Games 2018 accreditation under the current terms and rules required,” a Fairfax spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The restrictions compel publishers to obey a 30-minute delay for broadcasting content collected at news conferences and limit digital news bulletins to a maximum of 60 seconds a day across no more than three bulletins a day.

News Corp has also advised it will not send journalists to April’s Games, which will be the first held in Australia since Melbourne 2006.

Before Fairfax’s decision on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the company had said previously: “Australians deserve unrestricted coverage of their government-funded Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“We won’t be forced into providing journalism that’s anything less than ‘Independent. Always.’ and we will not agree to the terms and rules currently required for accreditation of journalists at the Games.

“We welcome having productive discussions with the organisers to resolve these important matters.”

News wire Australian Associated Press has also raised concerns on coverage rights.

AAP chief executive Bruce Davidson said the agency was still in discussions over accreditation, but was concerned with the restrictions.

“AAP agrees with the industry in general that the current accreditation conditions being sought by the Games organisers impose undue restrictions on press freedom and limits the ability of publishers to provide vital and independent news coverage for Australians,” Davidson said.

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation chairman Peter Beattie said there was nothing the corporation could do to change the news access rules.

“They can only be varied between Seven and News, Fairfax and AAP,” Beattie told The Australian.

“Our hands are tied. We’re not party to the agreement. I can’t change it even if I wanted to. We have to enforce it.”

The corporation released a statement on Monday, reiterating it cannot negotiate further on broadcast rights but hoped media organisations would cover the Games.

“While [the corporation] is not in a position to negotiate further on broadcast rights, we hope that for the benefit of [the Games] all media outlets will seek accreditation and share the once-in-lifetime moments that only an event of this size can bring,” the statement read.

It said the news access rules apply to video and audio content generated within Games venues, but were trying to provide other opportunities for “enhanced event coverage” and increased access to athletes and officials.

“They provide little restriction on written and photographic coverage and no restriction on video or audio content outside of venues,” it added.

with AAP

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Consumer health groups call for total ban on all pelvic mesh devicesvideo

Tragic: Mother of two Christina Lynn Brajcic, 42, who campaigned on behalf of mesh-injured women around the world until her death last week. She kept in contact with Australian mesh-injured women via Facebook.CONSUMER health groups across Australia have called for a total ban on all pelvic mesh devices after the death of a Canadian mesh campaigner, and despite the objections of Australia’s medical device regulator.
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In a joint media release on Tuesday the chief executives of groups in five states and the Australian Capital Territory said the Therapeutic Goods Administration had “unfinished business” after it announced a targeted ban of prolapse mesh and some incontinence sling devices on November 28, but stopped short of a total pelvic mesh ban.

The TGA announced a ban on all transvaginal –surgery throughthe vagina rather than the abdomen –prolapse mesh devices and a group of problematic sling devices, but said there was good evidence supporting “gold standard” midurethral mesh sling devices to treat urinary incontinence.

Christina Lynn Brajcic, dead at 42Consumer health groups argue the catastrophic injuries suffered by some women even with the “gold standard” mesh sling devices was not outweighed by benefits experienced by the majority.

The push for a total ban also follows evidence from individual doctors and doctors’ groups to a Senate inquiry on pelvic mesh which emphasised that low complication rates were obtained by skilled, experienced doctors, but complication rates canrise sharply with unskilled or inexperienced surgeons.

Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Stephen Robson told the inquiry there was “a need for a formal mechanism to ensure that training in new surgical techniques should be undertaken by experienced surgeons with an ongoing audit of the cases they do”.

“We have been recommending this, but we don’t have any actual power to enforce our recommendations,” Dr Robson said.

Health Consumers Queensland chief executive Melissa Fox said Australia’s consumer health groups were “concerned that the TGA’s decision still leaves those women who are being advised to undergo mesh surgery for incontinence at risk”.

“We are heartened that the TGA has finally acted to remove some mesh products from theregister of approved devices. But this still leaves products available for despite evidence that these too have caused adverse outcomes.”

Health Issues Centre Victoria chief executive Danny Vadasz said the American drug and device regulator had identified 2874 reports of injury, death and malfunction of mesh implants over three years by 2010. Of these 1371 were associated with stress incontinence repairs, the majority using “gold standard” midurethral slings.

“Given the noted under-reporting of complications and a dearth of retrospective data, how could any woman make an informed decision about the risk of undergoing mesh surgery?” Mr Vadasz said.

The consumer health groups released the statement backing Australian women who called for a total ban on Monday after the death of well-known Canadian mesh campaigner Christina Lynn Brajcic, 42, the day after the TGA announced its targeted mesh and sling ban.

Mrs Brajcic died one month after emergency treatmentfor sepsis after chronic infections following mesh surgery using an incontinencesling device in 2013. A formal cause of death is yet to be determined.

In a statement on Monday the TGA said Mrs Brajcic’s death was tragic, but “we don’t know the circumstances surrounding it”.

There is “a different risk benefit profile” between midurethral slings for incontinence and the prolapse mesh devices banned in November, the TGA said.

“While there are obviously a number of Australian women who have had problems from the surgery, the total number of women operated on is extremely large,” it said.

The TGA conceded it did not know “exact numbers”.

“The weight of evidence thoroughly supports midurethral slings for stress incontinence. The TGA is not banning the midurethral slings and this position is constent with all overseas regulators,” a spokesperson for the TGA said.

The health groups called on the TGA to immediately establish a mesh user registry similar to the Australian Orthopaedic Association national joint replacement registry, and to undertake retrospective health checks of the many thousands of women who have had pelvic mesh implants since the late 1980s.

A registry “would ensure there is a central database of device types implanted by women and a way to track complications”, the health groups said.

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Supermoon and heavy rain cause flooding at the Botanic Gardens

High tide at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Tuesday 5th December 2017 SMH photo Louie Douvis .Monday night’s supermoon was one factor to blame for the flooding of part of the Royal Botanic Gardens on Tuesday morning, a meteorologist said.
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A high tide lapped at the top of the waterfront wall along Farm Cove and flooded the walkway around the Botanic Gardens about 10am.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said the supermoon event was “likely to have been a factor” in the high tide – the highest experienced since midwinter.

“It was forecast to reach a little bit over two metres, we hadn’t had a tide that high since mid-July,” he said.

“The difference back then was that high tide was after a fairly dry spell; there would have been less flooding as a result.”

Mr Dutschke said the last high tide after significant rainfall was in June, but that tide occurred “a couple of weeks” after the rains.

Meteorologist Graeme Brittain said parts of NSW received more than 50mm of rain in the 24 hours to midday on Tuesday.

Narooma and the South Coast received 54 millimetres, while Jervis Bay had 61 millimetres.

Sydney received 10 to 20 millimetres of rainfall, Mr Brittain said.

A spokeswoman from the Royal Botanic Gardens said the pathway near the waterfront floods once or twice a year in high tides, but the gardens remained undamaged.

Mr Dutschke said Tuesday’s tide would be the highest tide for the week. High tide now at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens .. “Never seen it this high” says one gardener. A taste of things to come. pic.twitter南京夜网/h7ICq6h2Qx??? Joe O’Brien (@JoeABCNews) December 4, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Knights scouting for recruits to bring “community feel”PHOTOS

Knights scouting for recruits to bring “community feel” | PHOTOS STARLETS: The Newcastle Knights cheerleading squad is looking to expand for the 2018 season.
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The Knights cheerleaders at McDonald Jones Stadium in the 2017 season.

The Knights cheerleaders at McDonald Jones Stadium in the 2017 season.

The Knights cheerleaders at McDonald Jones Stadium in the 2017 season.

Auditions for the roles in the squad will be held on Tuesday, December 12 at McDonald Jones Stadium.

TweetFacebookThe Newcastle Knights might be making some big-money signings in the form of Mitchell Pearce and a host of other incoming names, but its not the only change the rugby league squad is making for 2018.

The Knights cheerleaders are looking to bring in their own ‘new signings’ as part of their highly-trained dance team, and want talented individuals that are can embrace the “community feeling” that the dance troupe aims for.

Alex Tsambas, who took the helm of the cheerleading squad in 2016, believes that the team is a perfect way to “meet new best friends and get involved in the sporting community in town”.

“The cheerleaders, especially in Newcastle, have become so much more than just the girls that are dancing and providing entertainment at each of the rugby league games,” Tsambas said. “That said, they’re definitely all amazing dancers and pretty awesome at entertaining.”

It’s more about the community feel that the “faces of the game” bring, and Tsambas admitted she loves to bring new and eager dancers into the fold.

“We have gone beyond what a lot of people expect of cheerleaders these days, and speaking to the fans, getting involved in events and being a bridge for the kids and adults at the games is a really fun and rewarding role,” she said.

“It’s disappointing when people suggest that cheerleaders aren’t really needed in the game anymore, because we bring a lot to the excitement. You look down on the field after a try or a goal and the girls are celebrating hardest and creating the atmosphere.

“It’s a special role that we are always honoured to take on. The girls that are at the Knights always say that they might retire at the end of the season, but they miss the roar of the crowd too much to leave I think.”

The roles will also include representing the Newcastle Knights on game days and at a variety of corporate, community and charity events across the season.

“There’s so much below the surface that I feel people miss when they first think of the girls on the side of the field,” Tsambas said. “We are constantly promoting the game, and we all love it so much. A lot of my girls [in the team] play league tag as well –we might need our own cheer squad to fill in if more of them keep playing!”

To be considered for the position within the team, applicants must be over 18 years old, and have a current drivers licence.

They must also be available for all Newcastle Knights home games for 2018, be available for Tuesday training sessions, have the ability to perform routines with 5-6 hours of rehearsal and be committed and flexible for all aspects of the position.

The Newcastle Knights will be holding auditions for the 2018 cheerleading team onTuesday, December 12 atMcDonald Jones Stadium at6pm.

To apply for the audition, [email protected]南京夜网419论坛.

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‘At immediate risk’: How bushwalkers could be spreading devastating fungi

Bushwalkers and other travellers heading to Victoria and Tasmania over the summer are advised to take care to avoid spreading a fungus that has already placed dozens of native plant species at “immediate risk”.
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So far, the two states have only identified the imported myrtle rust in nurseries but its rapid spread along Australia’s east coast in just a few years underscores the challenges facing biosecurity staff in all states to contain the fungus.

The devastating rust has been blamed for killing about 57 per cent of adult native guava trees, a common shrub along the east coast in just a few years.

Some 380 species among the Myrtaceae??? family of plants, ranging from eucalypts to paperbarks, are considered susceptible to the rust.

“It’s very unusual among rust fungi in that it’s got an extremely wide host range,” said Bob Makinson???, a conservation botanist and vice president of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation, adding most rusts only threaten a couple of species.

“There are about 50 species of immediate concern” in Australia, said Dr Makinson, ahead of a two-day workshop on myrtle rust control attended by government agencies and scientists that began on Tuesday in Canberra.

Along with wild species at risk, the emerging lemon myrtle and aniseed myrtle plantation industries are threatened, as are many plant nurseries, prompting the involvement of state agriculture bodies. Rapid spread

The fungus does best in moist forests and woodlands and has spread widely since its first detection at Wyong, near Gosford in NSW, in 2010. (See map below.)

It is not yet clear how it will fare in the biodiversity-rich south-west of Western Australia. With a few exceptions, such as the Clarence River catchment of northern NSW, the rust has mostly been confined so far to about 40 kilometres of the coast.

The rust attacks new growth, such as leaves, preventing flowering. Seedlings are also particularly vulnerable, creating the potential for a rapid spiral decline of susceptible species.

The fungus is spread by microscopic airborne spores that can also accumulate on hats, tents and other gear used by travellers, such as bushwalkers. Its entry into Australia is unknown.

“It could have been somebody going for a bushwalk in Hawaii and then going for a bushwalk here,” Dr Makinson said of its introduction to Australia.

Myrtle rust spores attacking a paperbark species. Photo: Supplied

Increasing travel and trade are raising the risk from bio-threats for both wildlife and agricultural sectors.

“What we’re seeing is a very marked acceleration of the movement of some of these diseases out of their native areas and into new ones,” he said.

Along with the myrtle rust already found in Australia, there are two other “rather more aggressive” that are affecting eucalyptus plantations in South America but are yet to be detected outside the continent, he said. Control measures

The rust penetrates and infects leaves of susceptible plants. Treatment of diseased plants includes coating them with sticky sprays before their removal to avoid the inadvertent spread of spores into the air.

Standard washing-machine use with detergent will kill the spores on clothing.

Similarly, bush travellers can concoct a mix of 75 per cent methylated spirits and 25 per cent water to spray on tents and other equipment to kill the spores, Dr Makinson said.

He said New Zealand had taken a more proactive response to the arrival of myrtle rust, making more on-ground surveys to identify its spread.

It has started “a massive seed bank”, particularly of plants found to be particularly resistant to the fungus, for future restoration of vulnerable plants, an approach Australia should follow.

“We’re seven years down now and we haven’t got a coordinated response so far,” said Dr Makinson, who was formerly a senior researcher at the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney for 15 years. Preservation efforts

A spokesman for NSW’s Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the state’s government “is commencing a project under its $100 million Saving our Species program to help manage the threat”.

“The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan are part of a network of Australian botanic gardens raising awareness, providing expertise and establishing conservation programs in response to the threat of myrtle rust,” he said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Primary Industries said two species, Rhodamnia rubescens and Rhodomyrtus psidioides, have recently been provisionally listed as critically endangered, “in part as a result of the impact of Myrtle rust”.

“People carrying out activities where there is potential to spread myrtle rust to vulnerable species or plant communities are advised to take precautions to minimise risk,” he said, adding the DPI website had more details about its management.

Other work in NSW includes the Royal Botanic Garden, which has also led workshops in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to prepare and respond to myrtle rust.

The NSW PlantBank, which has been storing seeds of all the state’s species, is targeting plants threatened by the fungus, an OEH spokeswoman said.

Since many myrtle species have seeds that do not survive traditional seed banking methods, research is developing new techniques such as plant tissue and cryo-preservation.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Back from the brink: Former Knight’s long road to recovery

Back from the brink: Former Knight’s long road to recovery ON THE MEND: Ryan Stig is back training with the Knights’ NSW Cup side after overcoming a debilitating illness. Picture: Marina Neil
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TweetFacebook Ryan StigPictures: Marina Neil, Darren Pateman, Ryan OslandFiveyears after hisNRL career was cruelly cut short by a debilitating illness that could have killed him, RyanStig is taking the first tentative steps towards an unlikelyrugby league return.

For the past three weeks, the former Knights playmaker has been dipping his toe in the water, training with the club’sNSW Cupsquad.

Stigstops short of talking up a potential comeback but admits that even at the height of his illness, he never lost his passion for the game.

“I’ve done more running in the lastfew weeks than I’ve done in the pastfive years, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how the body has handled the load,” Stig said.

“I’m enjoying it and I’d love to play again. But in saying that, I’m still conscious that my health and my family comes first and I won’t be jeopardising that.”

Stig burst onto the scene in 2011 and after a man-of-the match performance against the Dragonsin just his third top-grade game for the Knights, heappeared to have the rugby-league world at his feet.

He went on to play13 games for Newcastle that season under coach Rick Stone,including the playoff loss to Melbourne, and was rewarded with a two-year contract by incoming coach Wayne Bennett.

But in early 2012, the former Australian Schoolboys playmaker was sidelined with a blood clot behind his eye and then battled chronic fatigue-type symptoms that saw his health deteriorate.

It took two years for specialists to diagnose Lyme disease,a bacterial infection spread by ticks, but treating the illness provedmore complicated than anticipated.

“I had a lot of neurological issues and towardsthe end of 2013, there was damage to the brain and I was in a bad way,” Stig said.“I started to lose effective function of my limbs and I just wasn’t getting good results from traditional treatment which is when we started looking at alternatives.“I knew if it blew out for another year –people I know have died because they didn’t getthe right treatment and were too sick to travel.”

At the recommendation of specialists, Stig went to Mexico for stem-cell therapy and vitamin courses in late 2013 for limited results.

But it was after a decision to travel to Germany the following year, that Stig finally felt like he was headed in the right direction.

“I underwent hyperthermiatreatment,” he said.“Theyput me to sleep,almost like I was on life support, and heated up my body to 42 degrees and held me there for eight hours.“I felt thattreatment was the trigger that finally got me going in the right direction.”

Indicative of his strong motivation to beat the diseasewas Stig’s decisionto take the advice of a friend the following year and go on a water fast.

Remarkably, over a five-week period, he ate nothing and drank only water.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but it is right up there with the best things I have ever done,” he said.The idea behind it is the body uses a lot ofenergy for digestion but when there is nothing to digest, it turns its attention to healing. I lost 20 kgs but it was instrumental in me getting better.”

Stig has been on anothertwowaterfasts since, and in mid-2016 travelled toSwiss clinic Paracelsusfor more hyperthermia treatment.

“Up until then, it was all about trying to fight the disease and kill it but I finally felt I was winning the battle,” he said.

Stig says his wife, Andrea, has been an enormous support and his family [daughters Norah 3, and Hazel, 6 weeks] are his priority,but he is also looking into a foundation to help people like him who can’t get answers.

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Singing in Christmas

REWORKED: Theo Rule, of Grainery Theatre, left, on stage in a scene from his popular musical, This Is Christmas.WHEN actor-writer-and-director Theo Rule put together in 2013 a musical, This is Christmas, which used carols and yuletide songs in telling the story of the nativity of Jesus Christ, it was popular with audiences at a Newcastle suburban venue.
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Rule’s church-related company, Grainery Theatre, is staging a new, reworked version of the show for two performances on December 23, this time in the Civic Theatre.

The focus in the original production was on the Biblical account of mother Mary’s conception of Jesus, with an angel telling her husband, Joseph, who was concerned that his virginal wife was going to give birth to a child who was not his, that she had been chosen by the Lord to conceive a saviour for all mankind. It also underlined the circumstances that led to Jesus being born in a manger.

Rule, who won a CONDA in 2016 for Best New Play or Musical Written for a Newcastle Company for another Christmas musical work, Saviour’s Day, which looked at the impact the ferocious Cyclone Tracy had on the lives of people in and around Darwin when it struck on Christmas Day in 1974, and was nominated in the same category this year for a very different Christmas story, Mrs Monacelli’s Christmastime Spectacular, has revised and added to This is Christmas, with the changes giving the story more relevance for contemporary audiences.

He said he has fleshed out the characters, and shows what life was like in Judaea, the then-name for Israel, under the control of a Roman Empire governor, Pontius Pilate, who presided over the trial of Jesus, and declared that he had not found him guilty of a crime warranting execution, but nonetheless sentenced him to death.

Flashbacks show the development and nature of the relationship between Mary and Joseph.

Rule noted that his research showed parallels between the story’s era and today. Pontius Pilate, for example, had statues of the Roman emperor erected in all the Judaean temples to emphasise his country’s control. And many of the nationalistic Judaeans weren’t happy with Jesus when he began voicing his views because he gave no indication of being a violent revolutionary.

Theo Rule, who co-directs with Susan Irwin, also plays one of the Three Wise Men. The others are Jared Mainey and Jeremiah Succar. Hannah King and Stuart Brown are Mary and Joseph, with other principal roles filled by Amelia Urquhart and Steve Durrheim. There is a 40-member ensemble, with an orchestra conducted by Lindy Connett providing the music for the largely contemporary Christmas songs.

This is Christmas has performances at 4pm and 7pm on December 23. Tickets: $10.20, children under 12 $7.15. Bookings: 4929 1977.

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