Ballantyne, Hill set to bolster Freo as Eagles wait on Petrie

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Fremantle will decide this week whether dashing midfielder Stephen Hill resumes from injury in Sunday’s home clash with Carlton.
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The revitalised Dockers sit on the brink of the top eight with five wins from their last six engagements and emerged from Sunday’s show-stopping, last-kick, two-point victory over Richmond in Melbourne without further injuries.

Dangerous Dockers small forward Hayden Ballantyne is also set for a return to full training in a determined bid to play for his future and a potential contract extension before the end of the season.

And West Coast big man Drew Petrie is in for a recall ahead of schedule from broken bones in his left hand.

Petrie, 34, will be considered for a direct recall into the Eagles outfit for a road trip to confront Essendon at Etihad Stadium but could also return through alignment club East Perth.

He has missed seven weeks from surgery to implant plates and screws into his hand after snapping bones in his West Coast debut against old outfit North Melbourne in round one.

Petrie declared himself set for a return after resuming training last week.

He had been on the brink of playing in Friday night’s blockbuster with reigning premiers Western Bulldogs.

Petrie could resume at East Perth to regain important ball-handling touch after impressive outings from stand-in ruck pair Nathan Vardy and Fraser McInnes in the Eagles gutsy eight-point win over the Dogs.

“It’s always hard to press for a spot after missing seven games and also after a win,” Petrie told Fox Footy.

“I’ll be more than happy to pull on an East Perth jumper.”

Petrie seems more logically headed back to action at WAFL level and possibly resume as West Coast need important taller back-up for a shootout with glamour outfit Greater Western Sydney in Perth on Sunday-week.

Hill, 27, will have been out of action for 29 days recovering from a hamstring strain when the Dockers host the Blues on Sunday.

He broke down early into the last term of Fremantle’s stirring come-from-behind win over North Melbourne in Perth late last month.

Hill’s return will add substantial firepower to an in-form and imposing midfield with his brother Brad, star play-maker Nathan Fyfe, Lachie Neale, David Mundy and Michael Walters all in startling recent form.

A decision from Dockers coach Ross Lyon and his medical staff will be whether to recall the dynamic line-breaker or hold Hill back for a big occasion outing against premiership fancies Adelaide a week later on the road.

Ballantyne, 29, seems more likely to return through Dockers partner unit Peel Thunder later this month.

A complication to Ballantyne’s return hopes is a WAFL general bye in a fortnight when Western plays Victoria in Melbourne.

Ballantyne snapped his hamstring tendon in the final pre-season match two months ago and had initially been expected to miss up to 12 weeks.

The 2014 All-n pocket dynamo seems highly unlikely to get a succession of WAFL games to press for a recall to the Dockers starting forward line ahead of Fremantle’s round 13 bye, which would more logically complete his full three month recovery to resume at the highest level.

Centenary of the Great War

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BREATHER: n lighthorse troopers having a break from patrolling. Picture: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.
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Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for14-20 May 1917.

BULLECOURT FIRMLY HELDField-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the west front, reports:-

“On Sunday morning we repulsed two enemy counter-attacks upon our positions in the Hindenburg line eastward of Bullecourt.

The ns for the past ten days have gallantly maintained their positions in this sector, repelling at least twelve determined counter-attacks.

We hold the greater part of Bullecourt. We yesterday established ourselves in the western houses of Roeux, and again progressed on the western slopes of Greenland Hill.

We destroyed six German aeroplanes and drove down five uncontrolled. Six of ours are missing.

BULLECOURT CAPTUREDField-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant on the West Front, reports:-

“We completed the capture of Bullecourt on Thursday, and took 60 prisoners.

A previous report stated:- “There was night fighting at Bullecourt. We made further progress through the village and reached the western edge.

The “Petit Parisien’s” correspondent says that there were startling fluctuations on Wednesday on the British front.

The fighting went on without truce and mercilessly in and around Bullecourt. One of the German counter-attacks reached part of the southern line, and 250 Germans, drunk with fury, jumped into the trench yelling “Victory!” Suddenly the scene changed. While part of the ns were falling back and keeping the enemy at bay, yet drawing them further on, another body of Dominion troops hurled themselves boldly from beyond the trench and turned the assaulters’ flank.

Then the retreating ns charged, while a copious barrage prevented the Germans intervening from Reincourt. The implacable melee ended only when the last of the enemy had fallen. Two hundred were left dead, while the remaining 50 were pulverised while fleeing through the British barrage.

AUSTRALIAN CASUALTIESTwo lists of casualties, Nos. 299 and 300 were issued Friday night. They contain 1803 names, and include 316 killed in action, 16 died of wounds, and six died of other causes. There are 397 reported wounded, 1096 missing, 27 sick, three injured, and two prisoners of war.

OVER AGE SOLDIERSSenator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, stated Monday that he had telegraphed the Imperial war authorities, to know whether men between 45 and 50 years of age would be accepted for active service, provided that they are in good health, and of exceptional physique.

AUSTRALIAN HORSES IN EGYPTSenator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, made available today the following extracts from a letter received from Major-General Sir Harry Chauvel, the G.O.C. Anzac Mounted Division, Egypt:- “With regard to the horses you have sent over here, I think I am in a position to express an opinion, as so many thousands have passed under my ken one way and another; and all I can say is, I have never ceased wondering how has continued to produce such a splendid lot of horses. The work they have been called upon to perform in the last 12 months has been most strenuous, what with brackish water, sometimes short rations, heavy weights, always the softest sand (which is more often than not steeply undulating), and long hours without water; and their endurance and recuperative powers have been beyond all expectations.

“During the fighting at Romani, in the hottest month of the year, the horses of one regiment were without water for 52 hours. During the raid in Mazar in September, some of the horses were without water for 30 hours, under the saddle all the time, and did 40 odd miles; and during the raid on Maghdaba in December most of them were without water for 36 hours, having done nearly 50 miles, and been under the saddle all the time. In all these operations we have had a very few die of absolute exhaustion. As a general rule we have got a very good lot. I only once had an occasion to refuse to accept any horses from remounts, and these were issued to the New Zealand Brigade, and were, I think, returns from hospital. The scale and quality of forage are better than in any previous campaign, and the system of evacuation and treatment of sick is most excellent, though perhaps somewhat expensive, and the actual losses in horses other than from wounds have not, I think, been great.”

He saw the horses forwarded in recent shipments and adds: “They were all excellent horses, and they arrived in good condition.”

A SOLDIER’S LETTERCorporal W. J. Cram, of Hamilton, who, with his father, enlisted some months ago, writes from London:- “We are both in excellent health, and are doing well. We are having fine weather now — the snow has all gone, and the sun is beginning to make itself felt for the first time since we arrived here, and that is just two months ago. I do not expect to be sent to France for another two months yet. I was sent to a school for N.C.O.’s to be put through a course on the Lewis automatic gun. I passed as a corporal, and have been warned to be ready at any time to go to a higher school at Tidworth, 20 miles from where I am now camped. Will put in the next two months there. We are having plenty of drill now, the programme for the day consisting of bomb throwing and doubling round the parade ground with gas helmets on. This parade generally ends up with plenty of fun. Some of the boys do not understand the way to breathe with one on, and the result is they are red and blue in the face, and can hardly stand up. Musketry is the next parade, then dinner — not a bad parade at all — puddings every day. In the afternoon, platoon drill, bayonet fighting, and bombing lectures, and at night miniature range practice. The doctors here are very strict as to whom they pass for France. Some of the boys who stoked nearly all the way over have been turned down. It is said that all men past 43 are to do six months’ home service, and then be sent back to . We had a good time in London on leave. The ns are very popular there.”

NEWCASTLE RECRUITINGRecruiting Headquarters, Newcastle, have been officially notified to raise a special bantam reinforcement unit of 150 recruits, whose height ranges from 5 feet to 5 feet 2 inches. It is expected that this will be a popular unit, and will fill quickly.

DISTRICT CASUALTIESPrivate Shilling. – Mrs. G. S. Shilling, of Frederick-street, Merewether, has been notified that her husband, Private G. S. (Jack) Shilling has been wounded.

LIEUTENANT VARLEYMrs. G. H. Varley, of Gordon-avenue, Hamilton, has been notified that Lieutenant A. S. Varley was transferred to the First Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge, England, suffering from severe gunshot wounds in face, hand and leg, accidentally caused.

35TH BATTALION FUNDThe whole-hearted and consistent way in which the supporters of the 35th Battalion Comforts Fund have worked was shown in the report of the year’s operations presented at the first annual meeting, held yesterday afternoon at the depot at Scott’s Limited. Mrs. Brent B. Rodd, president, occupied the chair, and there was a very large attendance. Mr. R. G. Shea apologised for the unavoidable absence of Mr. W. Scott, who, Mr. Shea said, was very pleased not only with the work that had been done, but with the manner in which it had been performed.

In the military committee’s report, presented by Mr. H. G. Morgan, treasurer, and citizens’ secretary, a letter was embodied from Major Rodd, in which he acknowledged receipt of cases, notified by the secretary from time to time, and thanks were expressed to the members of the fund for the gifts forwarded. In the same letter Major Rodd also gave an account of the receipts and expenditure of the military committee at the front.

Miss G. J. Short, the honorary secretary, in her report said:- “If the general public could find time and interest to step out of the lift into the top floor of Messrs. Scott’s Limited to the 35th Battalion depot on Monday and Thursday afternoons of each week, they would see from 25 to 30 ladies at work, and in addition a steady stream of women and girls coming and going all the time. Too much appreciation could not be given to the staunch band of regular workers at home and at the depot, who had kept things going from the start. Another branch of valuable helpers did steady work in their own homes, while groups and societies of women and girls worked in the district and suburbs in conjunction with the comforts fund, making up cut-out garments and knitting from wool supplied. It was an interesting fact that the youngest knitter was a girl seven years old and the oldest a man of 76 years. How did the soldiers themselves regard the work of the fund? One sentence written by a private on active service was sufficient:- “We always know we have something to fight for when we receive such fine gifts from such fine friends. We will never be able to repay you for all your kindness and your great work.”

A summary of the made articles sent away from the depot to the front to March 31st comprised the following:- 2277 pairs of socks, 1000 balaclava caps; 986 flannel shirts, 863 pairs of mittens, 630 pairs of underpants, 84 blanket vests, 916 handkerchiefs, 125 silk shirts, 100 washers, 263 pairs of calico shorts. Since the committee had been in office (May, 1916) they had sent from the depot 240 cases totalling in value £2035. That was inclusive of Christmas cheer (£299 5s 6d), and that did not include private parcels. In addition 10 cases of tobacco had been sent through Messrs. H. and O. Wills, of Sydney, for Christmas and Easter valued at £73. The reinforcements were not forgotten. A supply of’ tobacco, games, literature, and foods for on board ship had also been sent. Battalion flags were donated to the various reinforcements by the ladies of the Comforts Fund and by Mr. W. Scott. An organised effort was started in July and August to provide Christmas cheer for “Newcastle’s Own.” During the Christmas season spent in France, the battalion received 130 cases, valued at £540. From their many friends in Newcastle, the northern district, and Sydney, they received 495 Christmas puddings, 308 cakes, 1040 war chest boxes, five cases of n tobacco and cigarettes, and private and individual parcels.

ADAMSTOWNA company of cadets put in some musketry shooting at Adamstown range on Saturday. Evidently their windage was at fault, as the target shed on the right of the range bears several bullet marks, and the tank was perforated sufficiently by bullets to let the water out.

ENLISTMENTSLeonard Appleyard, Tighes Hill; Roland Thomas Bond, Newcastle; Leslie Carlton, Greta; William Cumming, Singleton; Thomas Meicklejohn Dickson, Scone; Vincent Donald Douglas, Cooks Hill; Dorothy Mary Feneley, West Maitland; Samuel John Hunt, Merriwa; Norman Betteloy Jefferson, Newcastle; Frank Burton Perks, Adamstown; Sydney Edward Smith, Cessnock; James Patrick Williams, West Maitland; Cecil Harold Wooden, Newcastle; Roy Yorke, Lorn.

DEATHSPte William Baillie, Cessnock; Pte Herbert George Compton, West Maitland; Pte Edward Bernard Corbett, Singleton; Pte Arthur Crampton, Cardiff; Pte Kenneth Daley, Stroud; Pte Edward Dixon Deas, Islington; Pte Frederick Albert Harris, Wickham; Pte Richard Hill, Aberdare; Pte James Augustus Hughes, Mosquito Island; Bdr William Kelly, Kurri Kurri; Pte James Loos, Upper Rouchel; Pte Robert Paton Lygoe, Hamilton; Pte John McInerney, Hinton; Pte Edward Musgrove, Stockton; Sgt Douglas Laurie Page, Main Creek; Pte Bert Poole, West Maitland; Pte William Roy Purvis, Denman; Pte William Ernest Steadman, Cessnock; Spr Sydney Thoroughgood, West Wallsend; Cpl Charles Russell Tonkin, Mayfield; Pte David Henry White, Dora Creek.

Muzzy Pep return with first new album in 14 years

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HALCYON DAYS: Muzzy Pep in 2003 when the Maitland lads appeared set to become the Hunter’s next break-out band.THERE was a time when Muzzy Pep were so ambitious theywould perform at the opening of an envelope.
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“You need a pretty big envelope these days,” bassist Nic Munnings joked.

Someone has obviously found an envelopeused to housethosebig novelty cheques because Muzzy Pep is about to scratch a seven-year itch by performing their first show since 2010.

It won’t be a mere nostalgiashow. Muzzy Pep are coming armed with new material. Last Friday the band dropped their first new song since 2003, the fast-paced 88.3% Of Statistics Are Made Up. It will be followed by the album Cyclic.

“Itfelt like the right time to do this again,” Munnings said. “Even though we’d often go years at a time without doing anything, it doesn’t take long to get the glow back on.”

Muzzy Pep – 88.3% Of Statistics Are Made UpBack in the early 2000s the Maitland-Newcastle indie rockers were arguably the Hunter’s biggest band and appeared set to go national.

After Scott Blackley and Errol Moyle formed the bandin 1997 they won Triple Unearthed a year later for their track One 85.

Thealbums Moments in Weightlessness (2000) and The Faintest Clue (2003) earned glowing reviews and the single Haven’t Got Time to Spell It Out became an earworm fora legion of Triple J listeners.

So what happened?

“We’re still really proud of that record [The Faintest Clue],” Munnings said.“Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

“We just kind of wore out after playing so many shows.After a while when you’ve been driving around the country with the same three guys for a while you start to get sick of each other’s BO.”

Muzzy Pep – Haven’t Got Time To Spell It OutMuzzy Pep came back together in 2007to play 10-year anniversary shows, before again calling it quits in 2010.

During their sabbaticals, Munnings played withthe now-defunct Faker,Moyle (guitar/vocals)and Blackley (vocals/guitar) launched the bandsTrade Secrets and Great Dividing Range respectively and last year came together inForever Since Breakfast.

Cyclic is proof Muzzy Pep have lost none of their ability to write immediate pop-rock.

Blackley’s lyrics havealso lost none of their cheekiness.That humour is best displayed in Welcome To The Cock Forest, an observation onmisogyny.

“Scott likes to stand at the top of the hill and catch a bit of wind in his hand and usually he can write it down,” Munnings said.“I’m sure there’s meaning to Scott’s lyrics, but he pretends there isn’t.

“Whenever the four of us get together there’s always going to be that vibe [humour], because we’ve been doing it for so long.”

Muzzy Pep make their comeback at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel on May 26 and 28 and at the Mayfield’s Stag and Hunter Hotel on June 10.

George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones ‘successor shows’

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George RR Martin has shed new light on the potential Game of Thrones spinoffs, revealing HBO is in fact developing five scripts instead of four.
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Earlier this month, the television giant announced it had commissioned several writers to come up with the next blockbuster set to take place in the fictional world of Westeros.

The four writers are Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) and Carly Wray (Mad Men).

On Monday, the undisputed king of contemporary fantasy let slip there is, in fact, a fifth writer involved. And while Martin would not reveal his name, he did say the “fine writer” loves Westeros just as much as he does.

Original reports indicated the Song of Ice and Fire author was collaborating with at least two of the screenwriters, but in his blog post Martin confirmed he was working closely with each of them.

“I had my first meeting with HBO about the possibility of a successor show back in August, when I pitched them two possible series,” he said. “One of those is among the concepts being developed, one is not. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen.”

Martin also addressed fans’ concerns that any potential spinoff would butcher the original TV series (not to mention delay his novels, the next one already being overdue). While he wouldn’t say what any of the scripts are exploring, he did rule out exploring the period known as Robert’s Rebellion – the period immediately before the events of Game of Thrones season one.

“The one goal that everyone involved shares here is to make these new shows just as good as Game of Thrones itself,” he said.

“No easy task, mind you. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are a tough, tough act to follow, as all those Emmys demonstrate. And yes, before someone asks, I am still working on Winds of Winter.”

The author – as he is wont to often do – also delivered a tut-tut to entertainment journalists who have been calling the potential spinoffs, well … spinoffs.

“What we are talking about are new stories,” he said. “I prefer the term ‘successor show’.”

Seven ordered by court to mediate Amber Harrison case

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Seven West Media has been ordered to mediate a possible resolution to a workplace lawsuit by a former employee who had an affair with the company’s CEO.
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Amber Harrison in March launched Federal Court action alleging Seven had contravened the Fair Work Act by prejudicing her workplace rights and engaging in adverse action.

Counsel for Seven on Friday told the court it opposed Ms Harrison’s request for mediation, but Justice Mordecai Bromberg said “mediations can often resolve proceedings, despite the resistance of one of the parties”.

A spokesman for Seven said orders for mediation were not unusual.

Ms Harrison, a former executive assistant at the media company, has been locked in a bitter court battle with Seven since she revealed embarrassing details of her affair with Seven West CEO Tim Worner in December.

The NSW Supreme Court imposed a temporary gag order in February preventing her speaking publicly about the relationship or the company, and Seven will push for a permanent order at a four-day hearing starting on July 10.

“We will continue the actions in the NSW Supreme Court to a final outcome before taking any further step in these proceedings,” Seven’s spokesman said.

“We also note the orders made by His Honour to engage in mediation with Ms Harrison which as the Judge indicated are routinely made in Fair Work Act matters.”

He added that Justice Bromberg’s decision to “defer the Fair Work claims until after the final Supreme Court decision is sensible”.

The Fair Work claim stem from Ms Harrison returning fire in March with a cross-claim alleging Seven breached an implied term of her employment contract to keep and maintain a safe system of work.

with AAP

Gregory John Thompson accused of stabbing murder of Michael Moad at Cessnock

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CAUGHT: Police surround Gregory John Thompson’s car outside Michael Moad’s house in Cessnock on March 1, 2015. This week, Mr Thompson pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter over Mr Moad’s stabbing. THERE were years of psychological abuse. Harassing phone calls, hundreds of text messages.
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Constant manipulative and controlling behaviour, intimidation, blackmail and nuisance complaints to police.

Then there were the threats. The threats of suicide, to kill his ex-wife, Karen Thompson, tokill anyone she had a relationship with, “to destroy anything that made her happy”.

Then in February, 2015, as his obsessive behaviour escalated to frightening new levels, Gregory John Thompson was arrested twice in two days for harassing his ex-wife and then stalking her and her new boyfriend, Michael Moad.

But it was during his second visit to Cessnock police station – for breaching an apprehended violence order that had only been in place a matter of hours – that he learned something, Newcastle District Court heard this week.

“[Mr Thompson] was arrested… [and] as a part of that he learned the name of the deceased and of the connection between the deceased and Karen Thompson,” Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell told a jury on Wednesday.

“Within 24 hours of learning Michael Moad’s name, Michael Moad was dead.”

Mr Thompson, 52, of Nulkaba,was arraigned before a jury panel on Wednesday morning, pleading not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter over the death of Mr Moad, who was stabbed 10 times in the laundry of his Cessnock home in the early hours of March 1, 2015.

During his opening address, defence barrister John Fitzgeraldraiseda partial defence of substantial impairment by way of “abnormality of the mind”.

With much of the grislydetails of the killing and the years of abhorrent conduct towards his ex-wifeunchallenged, the jury heard the key issue in the trial will be whether or not Mr Thompson’s capacity toeither understand events, judge right from wrong or control himself was “substantially impaired” by an abnormality of mindarising from a pre-existing condition.

During a detailed opening address, Mr Campbell outlined the events leading up to Mr Moad’s death.

“There had been a deterioration in the marriage, leading to the divorce, which wasfinalised on February 28, 2015,” Mr Campbell said.

“Thatdeterioration waspunctuated by threats and controlling, intimidating and manipulativeconduct, including threats to kill himself andspecifically threats to kill her boyfriend when he finds him.

“And the threat to destroy anything thatmade her happy.

“By the end of February Karen Thompson had in fact got the divorce, she had also obtained an apprehended violence orderagainst him.

“The accused had been charged twice onconsecutive days and he had been given the name Michael Moad.”

Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell.

After he was released on bail on the morning of February 28, Mr Thompson went to Bunnings and bought torches, hose clamps and a length of pipe.

He then bought alcohol.

“The Crown alleges that the accused has done something else, that he must have looked up Michael Moad’s address,” Mr Campbell said.

At about midnight, Ms Thompson was in the toilet when she heard yelling.

She went into the laundry and could see Mr Thompson fighting with Mr Moad.

Mr Moad was shouting “get help, get help”, the court heard.

Then Mrs Thompson realised her ex-husband had two knives and was stabbing Mr Moad.

Mr Campbell said Mr Thompson, covered in blood, came towards her and she fled into the house and out a door.

Nearby neighbours will tell the court they heard her screaming: “help help call the police myboyfriend is beingstabbed by my ex”, Mr Campbell said.

Two of the men armed themselves and yelled into the house for Thompson to come out, the court heard.

Mr Thompson appeared at the front door, locked it and fled back into the house.

A short time later Mr Moad lost consciousness and died.

As police and other emergency services raced to the scene, Mr Thompson fled down a back alley to his car. About two hours after the first triple-zero call, Mr Thompson’s car rolled towards the police tape around Mr Moad’s house.

He was alone inside, covered in blood and feeling the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning due to thepipe attached to his exhaust that had been fed in through the back seat

Inside his wallet they found a piece of paper with Mr Moad’s mobile number scrawled on it.

Mr Fitzgerald told the juryMr Thompson’s guilty plea to the manslaughter charge made clear his position and said expert psychiatricevidence will form the “crux of the trial”.

“Mr Thompson admits it was his actions that caused the death of Michael Moad,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“The real issue in this case, I expect, will be the mental state of Gregory Thompson at March 1, 2015, and perhaps in the days before.”

The trial, before Justice Peter Hamill, is expected to run for about three weeks.

The best TV shows of 2017 (so far)

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If you’re guided by genres then finding the best scripted comedies and dramas hasn’t been easy so far this year.
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The shows that have stood out to date have readily crossed both styles and boundaries:Big Little Lies, for example, appeared to be a soapy murder mystery, but it soon distinguished itself as powerful, fascinating drama about the choices women are compelled to make.

Add alternate histories and comic book labyrinths, not to mention Jude Law as the head of the Catholic Church, and you have a top 10 that will keep you both guessing and engrossed

Atlanta (SBS on Demand)Communitystar Donald Glover painted a funny, fraught vision of his home town that both sends up cliches about African-American communities and deepens the true underpinnings. Powered by the beats, verbal dexterity and attitudes of hip-hop, with Glover’s Ern as a college dropout managing his rapper cousin,Atlantahad a street corner specific authenticity and a yen for formal experimentation – one episode was a talk show parody with sharp edges.

Billions (Stan) Damian Lewis as Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in Billions. Photo: Jeff Neumann

The pairing of Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti, as a hedge fund mogul and a powerful USattorney respectively, continues to flourish on this pungently enjoyable drama where the two adversaries don’t so much prosper as secretly battle to maintain their privileged seat at the table. The second season added twists and new characters, but it continues to make the exercising of power a dangerous and much more humanly flawed occurrence than other shows about the 1 per cent.

Big Little Lies (iTunes and Foxtel Play/Anytime) Reece Witherspoon (left), Shailene Woodley and Nicole Kidman star in Big Little Lies.

Transplanted from Sydney’s suburbs to the Californian coastline, Liane Moriarty’s novel took radical, revealing shape on the screen, giving Reese Witherspoon and particularly Nicole Kidman, as an abused wife in a seemingly perfect marriage, drawcard roles. A whodunit where the who wasn’t known until the finale, the series was defined by both tart, combative exchanges and school pick-up intrigue that dug down to reveal feminine conflict and bonds.

Chewing Gum (Netflix)Like its debut season, the second go around for this unpredictable British comedy clocked in a succinct six half-hour episodes, but that was more than enough to confirm the gifts of the show’s young creator, writer and star, Michaela Coel. Playing Tracy Gordon, an outlier in a deeply religious family trying to make sense of society’s supposed norms (and lose her virginity), Coel brought an absurdist glee to her depiction of life on a London council estate.

Creator, writer and star Michaela Coel in Chewing Gum. Photo: Mark Johnson

Girls (iTunes and Foxtel Play/Anytime)Just concluded, the sixth and final season of Lena Dunham’s brash, bittersweet sitcom went out on the same terms it arrived in 2012: unafraid of its characters’ flaws, astutely directed, and both funnier and more emotionally genuine that its persistent detractors imagined it to be. The show’s four 20-something female protagonists were rarely in the same scene – or state of mind – which spoke to its refusal to neatly sum up anything about their generation, except the idea that it’s easy to be misunderstood.

Girls creator and star Lena Dunham and Matthew Rhys in the standout season six episode American Bitch. Photo: Craig Blankenhorn

Homeland (Ten)Moving around the Sunday night schedule, much like one of its fugitive characters, the sixth season of this age of terror thriller finally brought Claire Danes’ former CIA agent, Carrie Mathison, back to America. While the show didn’t call the USelection result – the fictional president-elect is female – the plot points of a deep security state and the growing manipulation of public opinion through the internet is very much on trend. Characters such as Carrie and Rupert Friend’s Quinn are operating from positions of vulnerability, andHomelandhas become about where your loyalty lies: country, friends, or just yourself?

Claire Danes in season six of the high-stakes thriller Homeland. Photo: Network Ten

Legion (iTunes and Foxtel Play/Anytime)​An antidote to the blockbuster culture of the comic book movie,Legionwas a strange sideways step into a corner of the X-Men universe, where the concepts of mutants with special powers and mental illness coalesced on a show where the visual motifs and distinct, often deliberately repetitive, rhythms, were full of unexpected allusions as the life of David Haller (a terrific Dan Stevens, formerly ofDownton Abbey) was interrogated. BetweenLegionandFargo, creator Noah Hawley has revealed himself as one of television’s signature auteurs.

Dan Stevens (left), Rachel Keller and Aubrey Plaza in Legion. Photo: Chris Large

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime Video)Plainly suiting the times, or at least our heightened fears, this alternate history set in a 1960s where the Allies lost World War II and the world is controlled by now rival totalitarian states in the form of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan struck a delicious, destiny-laden balance in its second season. The evocative drama matched the otherworldly mystery of parallel realities to a potent depiction of how life may – or may not – change when freedom is deposed.

Rufus Sewell (left), Alexa Davalos and Rupert Evans, stars of the Amazon original series The Man in the High Castle. Photo: Charles Sykes/AP

Shots Fired (Showcase)An examination of America’s racial divide that is currently airing on Foxtel’s Showcase channel,Shots Firedinverts expectations to reveal the underlying issues. Here the unarmed motorist shot during a police stop is white, while the officer who pulled the trigger is black. Gina Prince-Blythewood and Reggie Rock Blythewood’s drama takes in political angling, media ricochets, and the personal loss that can reveal where a community truly stands. It’s a smart, investigatory and self-aware series.

Stephan James and Sanaa Lathan in Shots Fired. Photo: Supplied

The Young Pope (SBS and SBS on Demand)Further proof that television is a rewarding destination for filmmakers with a personal vision, this European co-production is the obvious work of leading Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino. Like his previous features, it tells the story of a newly elected and chaos-causing American Pope, played with charismatic anger by Jude Law, with offbeat tableaus, a fascination with flawed faith, and moments whose weirdness is nonetheless illuminating.

“An odious, if uncomfortably attractive, anti-hero”: Jude Law in The Young Pope.

And still to come in 2017:The Americans(Showcase): Get your wigs ready – the fifth season of the Cold War espionage drama returns to Foxtel on May 11.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt(Netflix): Season three of the comic whirlwind about Ellie Kemper’s gone and come back girl debuts May 19.

Twin Peaks(Stan): The first episodes in 26 years of David Lynch’s cryptic mystery begin streaming on May 22.

Game of Thrones(Showcase): July 17 brings the seventh – and second last – season of the fantasy blockbuster. Expert tip: more characters will die gruesome deaths.

Pulse(ABC): Currently undated, this new ABC drama stars Claire van der Boom (Rush) as a financial analyst who takes up medicine after a life-saving kidney transplant.

Sydney FC showed their potential, says Arnold

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After every one of their previous 20 wins this season, Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said his players still hadn’t displayed a complete performance. On Saturday night against Perth Glory in the A-League preliminary final, he says they finally showed their potential.
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The Sky Blues clinched a first home grand final in 12 years following a commanding 3-0 win over Perth which Arnold says was as close to the Sky Blues playing to “one hundred-percent” of their capacity.

The result was clinched by half-time and on another night, they could have hit the back of the net three or four more times, but settled for a scoreline that perhaps flattered Perth.

“Yeah look I think we showed that tonight. A little bit disappointed not to get a goal or two [in the] second half. The aim at half-time was to go for the fourth and the fifth. Perth are always the dangerous side,” Arnold said.

“Outstanding performance, especially on that pitch. I thought we could have had at least another four goals. Reddy made a couple of good saves. We hit the post and the crossbar a couple of times but it was a total dominant performance.”

Of all of Diego Castro’s 13 goals and seven assists this season, none have come at the expense of Sydney FC, and the Sky Blues continued to keep the Spanish star quiet at Allianz Stadium. Throughout their five competitive games against Perth this season, Castro has been unable to inflict any pain on Sydney and Arnold says their tactics were to double-up in marking Castro.

“Every time we play them we have a plan for Castro, how to stop him and we did it again tonight. Once you take his creativity out of the game it makes it tougher for them,” Arnold said.

Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe expects Sydney FC to go on and win the title after being eliminated by the premiers on Saturday night.

“We’ve been beaten by a better side tonight and we can’t hide from that,” Lowe said.

“They’re focused, they’re driven. Albeit we went toe-to-toe for the first 20 [minutes] but I think they look the real deal.”

Meanwhile, Arnold believes Bernie Ibini will be fit and available to play in the grand final despite limping from the field in their preliminary final victory over Perth.

Sydney’s winger was looked to have suffered a hamstring injury late on at Allianz Stadium, but Arnold says his withdrawal was only as a precaution.

Arnold was tight-lipped about Ibini’s situation when asked after the match but says he hasn’t suffered a serious injury.

“Good. Yeah, he’ll be fine,” Arnold said.”[Ibini] felt his hamstring.”

Roxy Jacenko keeps people guessing about relationship with Oliver Curtis

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It was third time lucky for Roxy Jacenko when she took to the stage for her In Conversation With… business seminar on Friday alongside Seven’s Sally Obermeder as emcee.

Sydney’s “PR Queen” managed to avoid any mishaps this time around, after she discharged herself from hospital on her first outing in July 2015 because of an infected rhinoplasty, while coincidently on the same day as her second seminar in June 2016, her husband Oliver Curtis’ sentencing hearing was held for conspiracy to commit insider trading.

Reminiscing about that day, she said: “I slipped into a sombre dress [after I held the talk] and off I went to court, you can never think life is too hard.”

On previous occasions she opened up about her curious, almost soap-like private life, but this time Jacenko mostly stuck to the script, save for a few glimmers into her private life.

She touched on speculation surrounding her marriage, joking that she wished she had got Justin Bieber’s number when he recently dined at Chargrill Charlie’s, which is one of her clients.

“I do have some available time as you may have read,” she laughed.

Checking her emails intermittently, Jacenko also discussed her decision to forgo a social life so she can focus on her businesses and her children, Pixie, 5, and Hunter, 2.

“I don’t like to go out, I only network with Pixie and Hunter,” she said.

After surviving breast cancer last year, she said her outlet is the gym three times a week. “Nothing feels as good as being skinny,” she laughed again.

More than 600 people were in attendance at The Westin, Sydney, to hear the Sweaty Betty boss’s tips and tricks on how to run a successful PR empire, with one lucky guest going home with a $13,800 3.13 carat Nicholas Haywood diamond ring.

Eman Sharobeem returns to Egypt ahead of ICAC hearings, seeks to renew ID card

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Former n of the Year finalist Eman Sharobeem??? recently returned to her native Egypt and has been making enquiries in Cairo to renew her national identity card, a prerequisite for seeking work in the country.
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Two senior officials at Egypt’s National Council of Women confirmed that Ms Sharobeem, who has lived in for 30 years, was at their offices in the upmarket suburb of Nasr City in Cairo about two months ago, requesting a letter that states she had worked for the government body, in order to renew her national identification card.

The revelation comes just a day before ICAC is due to begin public hearings into allegations Ms Sharobeem, the former CEO of two publicly funded community health organisations, misused credit cards, submitted false invoices, spent money on personal items and used public money to renovate a property she owned.

With Ms Sharobeem due to give evidence over two days in the second week of hearings, it is unclear if she remains in Egypt or has returned to . Her lawyer Mark Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

On Friday, the ICAC revealed it had called Ms Sharobeem’s entire family to give evidence – her sons, Richard and Charlie, as well as her husband, Haiman Hammo. Ms Sharobeem ran the Immigrant Women’s Health Services organisation for 11 years until 2015 and the Non-English Speaking Housing group. It’s understood Richard Sharobeem had a role with the housing group and concerns were raised about the purchase of a car.

Fairfax Media can reveal that the Egyptian NCW rejected Ms Sharobeem’s request for confirmation of previous work, with sources telling Fairfax Media “she was never employed with us and was a trainee for about three months. We had no formal ties with her whatsoever”.

The comments are a fresh blow to Ms Sharobeem’s unravelling life story, contradicting her claims to have worked for the NCW as an external relations manager, an organisation that was headed by Susan Mubarak, wife of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

In February, Fairfax Media revealed that the powerful NSW Crime Commission had sought and won an asset freeze in the NSW Supreme Court covering four Sydney properties, her car and her bank accounts.

In Egypt, the two NCW officials reiterated that the job listed on the national ID card should have never listed her affiliation with the council.

“She came here around two months ago saying ‘I need an official letter from the council stating that I worked here back in 2002’, we told her ‘no’ straight away,” the most senior official told Fairfax Media.

“If she really thinks she’s that clever in fooling people to believe she worked for us then she should show us the written evidence.”

When presented with media records from 2002 in the state newspaper Al Ahram and the Kuwaiti News Agency that listed her position as external relations manager for the council, both were visibly upset at how Ms Sharobeem had misled journalists.

“She had no relation with us in an official capacity,” another senior official reiterated. “She was just a trainee and I am astounded that she managed to mislead so many people with such ease.”

A third official in the National Council of Women recalled that Sharobeem was a good networker in the formative years of the council.

“We were only about 20 in the office. She was a trainee who was good at networking with various members, going from one person to the next of the newly formed council because there weren’t so many of us, but she was far from the manager of external relations that she claimed to be. She was never employed.”

Amongst witnesses due to give evidence in the first week of the ICAC hearings are committee members of the IWHS who worked with Ms Sharobeem as well as the auditor who qualified the organisation’s 2015 accounts, revealing Ms Sharobeem owed at least $100,000 in wrongly claimed reimbursements for that year alone.

Ms Sharobeem rose to prominence on the back of an inspiring life story in which she says she was forced to marry her first cousin as a teenager, escaping a violent marriage, before he died. She emigrated from Egypt and says she earned two PhDs, one in psychology and another in business administration. Those claims are now the subject of ICAC inquiries.

Fairfax Media has previously reported that Ms Sharobeem is not registered with the national health practitioner regulator, despite having publicly claimed to be a psychologist.

She earned numerous appointments to federal and state government boards, including the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board, the n of the Year advisory council and the Settlement Services Advisory Council. She has since resigned from them all.

Ms Sharobeem was hired last year by broadcaster SBS as its community engagement manager. She resigned, citing ill health, around the time of the asset freeze.

In a judgment freezing her assets, Justice David Davies noted the maximum penalty for the alleged fraud was five years in jail.