Month: July 2019

Chinese writer wins Nobel Prize for literature

Chinese author Mo Yan has won the Nobel Literature Prize for writing that mixes folk tales, history and the contemporary, the Swedish academy has announced.
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”Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition,” the Swedish academy said on Thursday.

Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye and was born in 1955, ”with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”, the jury said.

Mo Yan has published novels, short stories and essays on various topics, and despite his social criticism is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors, the Nobel committee noted.

In his writing Mo Yan draws on his youthful experiences and on settings in the province of his birth.

Last year, the literature prize went to Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer.

The literature prize is the fourth and one of the most watched announcements this Nobel season, following the prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry earlier this week.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday, with the field of possible winners wide open, followed by the Economics Prize on Monday, wrapping up the Nobel season.

As tradition dictates, the laureates will receive their prizes at formal ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the death of prize creator Alfred Nobel in 1896.

Because of the economic crisis, the Nobel Foundation has slashed the prize sum to eight million Swedish kronor ($A1.18 million) per award, down from the 10 million kronor awarded since 2001.

AFP

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

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Djokovic powers into Shanghai quarters

Player-of-the-year honours are still to be decided between the quartet that split the season’s four major singles titles, but the consistency award is Novak Djokovic’s to lose. In just one tournament has the world No.2 failed to reach at least the semi-final stage, and he is now one match away from extending that record in Shanghai.
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Djokovic hit 12 aces, won 93 per cent of points on his first serve and did not face a break point in last night’s 6-3, 6-3 third-round domination of Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, in a worthy sequel to Wednesday’s fine serving display against Grigor Dmitrov.

“I’m trying to enjoy the efficiency of my serve,” said Djokovic, who won the China Open on Sunday in his first event since losing the US Open final to Andy Murray. “I’m not very well known around the tour for big serving.  But so far in this tournament, and also in Beijing, it has been working very well for me. It has been giving me a lot of free points, a lot of confidence into the matches.”

Having relinquished the No.1 ranking to Roger Federer after Wimbledon, Djokovic is still capable of regaining it before the end of the season, although a Federer victory against Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka last night would have been enough to guarantee an unprecedented 300 weeks at No.1 for the 17-time grand slam champion.

“I think it’s fair to say it has been quite an evenly balanced year between the four, if you want to call it,” said Djokovic. “But it hasn’t been over. There’s still a few more big events to come. Still there are things up for grabs, like No.1 place in the world. It’s something that gives me a lot of motivation with Roger also.

“On the other hand, we haven’t had four (different) grand slam winners in how many years? So this is a great opportunity for the people to see a new grand slam winner, to get more attention to our sport. From that perspective it’s really good.”

Murray, who had a first round bye and a second round walkover, made a belated but brisk start to his title defence, dropping just four games against  Alexandr Dolgopolov, and will now meet tricky Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, who eliminated eighth seed John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the first to reach the last eight, a 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) winner over Marcos Baghdatis. The ATP World Tour finals aspirant will next play Tomas Berdych, the fourth seed in the ongoing absence of Rafael Nadal, who reached his fourth Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season with a 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 defeat of American Sam Querrey.

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How Lance cheated us all

TO START what was deemed a new and better doping strategy, Lance Armstrong and two of his teammates on the United States Postal Service cycling squad flew on a private jet to Valencia, Spain, in June 2000, to have blood extracted. In a hotel room there, two doctors and the team’s manager stood by to see their plan unfold, watching the blood of their best riders drip into plastic bags.
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The next month, during the Tour de France, the cyclists lay on beds with those blood bags affixed to the wall. They shivered as the cool blood re-entered their bodies. The reinfused blood would boost the riders’ oxygen-carrying capacity and improve stamina during the second of Armstrong’s seven Tour wins.

The following day, Armstrong extended his overall lead with a swift ascent of the unforgiving and seemingly unending route up Mont Ventoux.

At a race in Spain that same year, Armstrong told a teammate that he had taken testosterone, a banned substance he called ”oil”. The teammate warned Armstrong that drug-testing officials were at the team hotel, prompting Armstrong to drop out of the race to avoid being caught.

In 2002, Armstrong summoned a teammate to his apartment in Girona, Spain. He told his teammate that if he wanted to continue riding for the team he would have to follow the doping program outlined by Armstrong’s doctor, a known proponent of doping.

The rider said that the conversation confirmed that ”Lance called the shots on the team” and that ”what Lance said went”.

Those accounts were revealed yesterday in hundreds of pages of eyewitness testimony from teammates, email correspondence, financial records and laboratory analyses released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency – the quasi-governmental group charged with policing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Olympic sports.

During all that time, Armstrong was a hero on two wheels, a cancer survivor who was making his mark as perhaps the most dominant cyclist in history.

But the evidence put forth by the anti-doping agency drew a picture of Armstrong as an infamous cheat, a defiant liar and a bully who pushed others to cheat with him so he could succeed, or be vanquished.

”The USPS Team doping conspiracy was professionally designed to groom and pressure athletes to use dangerous drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices,” the agency said.

Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, has repeatedly denied doping. Yesterday, his spokesman said Armstrong had no comment.

When Armstrong decided in August not to contest the agency’s charges that he doped, administered doping products and encouraged doping on his Tour-winning teams, he agreed to forgo an arbitration hearing at which the evidence against him would have been aired, possibly publicly.

But that evidence, which the anti-doping agency called overwhelming and proof of the most sophisticated sports doping program in history, came out anyway.

Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the anti-doping agency was required to submit its evidence against Armstrong to the International Cycling Union.

The teammates who submitted sworn affidavits – admitting their own doping and detailing Armstrong’s involvement in it – included some of the best cyclists of Armstrong’s generation: Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie, who claims he was clean by the time he cycled with Cadel Evans in 2011.

Their accounts painted an eerie and complete picture of the doping on Armstrong’s teams, squads that dominated the sport for nearly a decade.

”His goal led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own,” the agency said in its 202-page report.

Drug use was casual among the top riders, and some shared EPO – the banned blood booster erythropoietin – as if borrowing cups of sugar from a neighbour. In 2005, Hincapie on two occasions asked Armstrong, ”Any EPO I could borrow?” and Armstrong obliged without question. In 2003, Armstrong showed up at Hincapie’s apartment in Spain and had his blood drawn for a future banned blood transfusion, Hincapie said, adding that he was aware that Armstrong used blood transfusions from 2001 to 2005.

Kristin Armstrong, Armstrong’s former wife, handed out cortisone tablets wrapped tightly in foil to the team at the 1998 world championships.

Riders were given water bottles containing EPO as if they were boxed lunches. Jonathan Vaughters said the bottles were carefully labelled for them: ”Jonathan – 5×2” meant five vials of 2000 international units each of EPO were tucked inside.

Once when Vaughters was in Armstrong’s room borrowing his laptop, Armstrong injected himself with EPO and said, now ”that you are doing EPO too, you can’t go write a book about it”.

Landis was asked to babysit the blood inside the refrigerator of Armstrong’s apartment, just to make sure the electricity did not go out and the blood did not spoil.

David Zabriskie, a five-time national time-trial champion, recalled serenading Johan Bruyneel, the long-time team manager, with a song about EPO, to the tune of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze.

At the same time the drug use was nonchalant, it was also carefully orchestrated by Armstrong, team management and team staff, the anti-doping agency said. ”Mr Armstrong did not act alone,” the agency said in its report. ”He acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his team.”

Armstrong relied on the Italian doctor Michele Ferrari for training and doping plans, several riders said. Armstrong continued to use Ferrari even after he publicly claimed in 2004 – and testified under oath in an insurance claims case – that he had severed all business ties with Ferrari.

The anti-doping agency noted that Armstrong had sent payments of more than $US1 million to Ferrari from 1996 through 2006, based on financial documents discovered in an Italian doping investigation.

As an example of the extreme care the team would take to avoid positive tests, the doctor suggested that the riders inject EPO directly into their veins instead of under their skin, which would lessen the possibility that the drug would be picked up by tests. He pushed the use of hypoxic chambers, which he said also reduced the effectiveness of the EPO test.

The team’s doctors came up with fake maladies so that riders could receive an exemption to use drugs like cortisone, several riders said. When Armstrong tested positive for cortisone during the 1999 Tour, Armstrong produced a backdated prescription for it, for saddle sores. Hamilton said he knew that was a lie.

Riders said they felt that they needed to dope to stay at the top of the sport and stay on the team. Armstrong was instrumental in the hiring and firing of team personnel and pressured riders to stay on a doping program, the anti-doping agency said.

The evidence made it clear, the agency said, that Armstrong’s drug use was extensive, and that he also was the lynchpin holding the team’s doping program together. It said that is why it barred him from Olympic sports for life and stripped him of his record seven Tour victories.

”It was not enough that his teammates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping program outlined for them or be replaced,” the anti-doping agency said. ”He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and reinforced it.”

NEW YORK TIMES

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Battle heats up for W-League team spots

NEWCASTLE Jets W-League coach Wayne O’Sullivan has challenged his players to demand selection in round one with a strong performance tonight against the Herald Women’s Premier League Select side.
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The match at Wanderers Oval from 6pm will be the Jets’ final trial before their W-League season opener against Sydney FC on October 21 at Leichhardt Oval.

The WPL side will be coached by championship-winning Adamstown mentor Shelley Youman and comprises players from Rosebud, Merewether United, Charlestown City Blues and Football Mid North Coast.

Competition for spots is healthy in the Jets camp after two modified trials against the Sky Blues, a 4-3 loss and 2-all draw, and intraclub matches.

“We had an internal game last night among ourselves which was very competitive and it gave us another look at the final pieces and who is going to play where and who wants to be the first in line,” O’Sullivan said yesterday.

“So tomorrow night is very much about doing the right things and people showing they’re ready.

“The final pieces will go into place next week, so I really want people to put their hand up and say, ‘I wanna start first round’.”

All bar two of the 19-woman squad will be available tonight.

Madeline Searl (strained knee) and Mikaela Howell (thigh strain) will be rested to overcome injuries, but the remainder of the squad is expected to see game time.

Tonight’s trial will also give local fans their first glimpse at US imports Tori Huster, Tiffany Boshers and Angela Salem.

Salem and Huster will play in the midfield and Boshers is expected to push further forward on the left wing.

“They’ve been great for the group from a cultural point of view,” O’Sullivan said.

The imports were all leaders on the field and brought experience which had showed in training, he said.

Wayne O’Sullivan.

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EDITORIAL: Ideology and the jobless

MONTHLY unemployment figures should be treated with caution.
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The sample size used by the bureau of statistics in its regular survey is small and the figures are consequently best viewed as a series over time.

But that hasn’t stopped the government and the opposition from sparring over the latest set of numbers.

The September figures showed a jobless rate of 5.4 per cent, up from 5.1 per cent in August. This is the highest unemployment rate since April 2010.

The government says more people are in work than ever before, and a small swing upward in the jobless rate is all due to the Coalition in Queensland sacking swathes of public servants. Feeding this assertion is a high Queensland jobless rate of 6.3 per cent.

Extrapolating from this assertion, the government has warned voters that “this is what Liberals do”, adding that opposition leader Tony Abbott would – if elected prime minister – soon be drafting thousands of redundancy notices for commonwealth government employees.

Liberal shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, has come back at the government with the counter-argument that Labor is to blame for the higher unemployment because it has fostered a climate of low business confidence.

After that, the argument splits along the usual ideological lines, with Mr Hockey defending the Queensland job cuts and insisting that getting that state’s budget back into surplus is a better strategy than using public expenditure to bolster employment.

Mr Abbott, predictably, has declared that jobs are being lost because of the economic effects of the carbon tax.

Hollowed economy

Politics aside, a rise in unemployment has been predicted for some time.

The mining boom – untempered by any effective resource tax – drove up labour costs and the dollar, hollowing out the non-mining sectors of the economy.

Warnings went largely ignored, perhaps because some policymakers believed the process would reverse when the boom eased. It hasn’t, at least partly because massive programs of money-printing by foreign governments have created a “race to the bottom” in currency values, leaving Australia isolated as an attractive high-yield haven for overseas investors trying to preserve the value of their money.

Tragically, neither side of politics has managed to espouse any vision to combat this problem, leaving it up to the reserve bank to do what little it can by gradually cutting interest rates.

Even more tragically, it’s likely that neither side will be bold enough to act usefully in the near future, with Labor having badly mishandled parts of its stimulus package in the wake of the first round of the global financial crisis, and the Coalition philosophically wedded to notions of austerity.

Most tragically of all, that means unemployment figures may get worse before they get better. Instead of arguing ideology, the nation’s leaders ought to consider the human cost that possibility implies.

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