Categotry Archives: 杭州桑拿

Fugitive father and sonbehind bars after evading police for eight years

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Gino Stocco, left, and his son Mark after their arrest.A SIGHTING of an abandoned ute in dense bushland and a missing person report in Sydney were the two crucial jigsaw pieces that led police to Gino and Mark Stocco’s hideout on Wednesday morning.

After eight years on the run, the father and son fugitives were captured by heavily armed police on Wednesday at an extremely remote property near Elong Elong, 50kilometres east from Dubbo in central NSW.

Described by police as modern day bushrangers, the dangerous pair were wanted for a string of violent and property crimes across three states.

They had led police on a wild chase across NSW and Victoria since allegedly shooting at officers near Wagga Wagga on October 16.

Hours after the dramatic arrest on Wednesday morning, police discovered the ‘‘fairly decomposed’’ body of 68-year-old Rosario Cimone on the rugged property, Pinevale.

Fairfax Media understands he was an Italian-born caretaker who had worked with the Stoccos at Pinevale and disappeared four weeks ago.

As they were surrounded by tactical officers and dragged from the ground, the Stoccos claimed ‘‘self defence’’ when confronted about Mr Cimone’s death, Fairfax Media has been told by a police source.

Mr Cimone’s sister had made a missing persons report at Green Valley police station, in western Sydney, on October 8.

‘‘All we knew was that he was missing, we’d been trying to call him for days without luck,’’ a relative said last night.

Police visited the property, which the Stoccos had worked on as recently as the October long weekend, but they couldn’t find the caretaker.

Then, on Tuesday, an Elong Elong local reported a white ute, similar to the one stolen by the Stoccos in recent days, parked suspiciously in the Goonoo State Forest not far from Dunedoo.

That ‘‘put the final pieces of the jigsaw together’’, Acting Assistant Commissioner Clint Pheeney said.

Tactical operations officers surrounded the Pinevale property, which backs onto the Goonoo State Forest, on Tuesday afternoon and covertly monitored the Stoccos for 16 hours before striking.

‘‘They did not surrender to police or hand themselves in,’’ Mr Pheeney said. ‘‘There was some resistance to the arrest and as a result of the arrest, some minor injuries, which are still being assessed at Dubbo Base Hospital.’’

The manhunt for the Stoccos had covered thousands of kilometres in the past 12 days, with the pair last sighted on Saturday night filling up at a South Gundagai petrol station, 500 kilometres away from Elong Elong.

However, a spur-of-the-moment decision in recent days to return to the remote Pinevale property would prove to be their undoing.

Locals described the property, down a hidden bush track, as hard to find and ‘‘the perfect place to hide’’. The owner would visit no more than a few days a year, a farmer, Matt O’Leary, said.

‘‘It’s not something you drive past at all,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a pretty good hiding spot.’’

Mr Pheeney said it had been a ‘‘very intense operation’’ and police would continue to comb the 385-hectare property, looking for firearms, ammunition and evidence for what is now a homicide investigation.

‘‘They knew the bush very well, they knew all the ways and times to avoid police,’’ he said. ‘‘[But] it was only going to be a matter of time before we tracked them down.’’

Young Warriors teammates Bhana, Cook to join Knights

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TWO years after emerging as one of New Zealand’s most promising prospects, back-rower David Bhana is set to join the Knights in search of a fresh start.

In 2013, Bhana captained the Junior Kiwis in a 38-26 Test loss to the Junior Kangaroos, just weeks after he skippered the Warriors under 20s to a 42-30 defeat in the National Youth Competition grand final against Penrith.

He was named on the bench in the NYC 2013 team of the year, which also included the likes of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Luke Brooks, Bryce Cartwright, Jake Trbojevic, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Michael Lichaa.

Described as the “next Simon Mannering” by New Zealand media because of his high defensive work rate, Bhana has spent the past two years in the Warriors’ NRL squad.

But the closest he came to a top-grade debut was being named several times on an extended bench.

The 22-year-old, who stands 183 centimetres tall and weighs 96 kilograms, told New Zealand’s Maori Television on Wednesday that he would be playing next season with Newcastle, along with a former Warriors NYC teammate, halfback Sam Cook.

“It was a hard decision, but I had to think about my family,” Bhana was quoted as saying. “That’s just how professional footy is.

“They’ve been doing a lot of recruiting in the off-season.

“They didn’t have a good 2015, so I’m excited about the rebuild.”

Bhana and Cook are former teammates and childhood friends of Newcastle’s NSW Cup prop James Taylor.

New Knights coach Nathan Brown said last month that the club had “a little bit” of room to move under the salary cap and were looking to recruit a prop and an outside back.

Since then they have released hooker Adam Clydsdale to Canberra but are yet to supplement their ranks with any imports boasting first-grade experience.

As well as Bhana and Cook, the only other player the Knights are reported to have signed is 20-year-old five-eighth Will Pearsall from Manly. Yet to appear in the NRL, Pearsall captained Manly’s under 20s last season and played junior football for The Entrance.

Brown may have further funds to bolster his roster if former NSW Origin winger James McManus is forced to retire. McManus, who has one season to run on his contract, has been weighing up his options after a series of concussions caused him to miss the last six games of Newcastle’s 2015 campaign.

Newcastle’s two main recruits for 2016, halfback Trent Hodkinson (Canterbury) and prop Mickey Paea (Hull FC), were both signed before former coach Rick Stone was sacked in July.

Stone also signed veteran back-rower Todd Lowrie, but it is understood Lowrie is considering retiring from playing so he can take on the position of Newcastle’s under-20s coach.

Horror holiday: Staying in famous haunted hotels for Halloween

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The haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado, USA. Photo: Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo The haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado, USA. Photo: Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

The haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado, USA. Photo: Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

The haunted Stanley Hotel in Colorado, USA. Photo: Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

Sometimes you get an unexpected bonus with your luxury accommodation. I don’t mean a Nespresso machine or a bottle of Taittinger​ by the bed. I mean something more ectoplasmic. As in a ghost.

I was once staying in a medieval castle in Burgundy, France, one that had been turned into a rather sumptuous hotel. After dinner I returned to my room, after a day of cycling around vineyards.

I was lying in bed when a visitation appeared by the window. I can’t say exactly what it was but I sensed it was male and young, dressed like Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. (And, no, Puligny Montrachet doesn’t make me hallucinate. And it wasn’t wishful thinking.)

I was more irritated than frightened. I was bone tired, keen to get to sleep. The presence of a ghost had the potential to disturb my circadian rhythms. “Oh, go away will you?’ I said out loud and put the silk covers over my head. I suppose he obeyed me.

Why am I recalling ghosts today? Because it’s Halloween – which happens to be my favourite holiday and favourite time of the year in north-east America, when the beauty of the fall season coincides with the splendid absurdity of thousands of revellers dressed as Donald Trump (this year’s most popular ghoul.)

According to the festival’s Celtic roots, the end of the harvest ushers in the darkest half of the year, and there’s a window of time when cracks appear between the earth and the fairy world, allowing all the demons and ghosts to spill out. That’s traditionally sunset on October 31 to dawn on November 1.

If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people lining Sixth Avenue watching the annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (which began in 1974, initiated by puppeteer Ralph Lee) you might very well begin to believe that the crack between earth and fairyland has opened up.

I knew a Frenchman who arrived in New York on Halloween and, fighting through the crowds to get to his Greenwich Village sublet, imagined this was just a normal night in New York. In the 1980s it was.

Halloween may be a frivolous celebration, but it’s not difficult to get caught up in if you’re travelling in the northern hemisphere, where it’s celebrated from Hong Kong to Derry City. In Mexico, it’s the Day of the Dead, surely one of the most dazzling and disturbing festivals anywhere.

October is a reflective time that has its own melancholy beauty as the seasons change. This may not mean that ghouls rule, or the ghosts in French chateaux suddenly all materialise, but I find all that mulch and mist does tickle the imagination a bit.

Instead of collecting candy corn, how much more fun would it be to visit some really creepy places, such as cemeteries, old penitentiaries, crypts and catacombs? I especially love churches with dusty reliquaries and shrines, especially if there’s a cobwebby corner featuring bones of a saint.

Many European churches are famous for their bejewelled “catacomb saints”, skeletons dug up from the Roman catacombs in the 16th century and dressed up in precious jewels and expensive fabrics and then sold on by the church to the wealthy, unsuspecting faithful as saints. It was a fabulous racket and it left a trail of truly grotesque specimens that are more authentically creepy than any Freddy Krueger costume.

Then there’s the 1000-year-old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, with its crumbling, erupting tombstones, one of my favourites. Or the magnificently macabre cemetery of Pere Lachaise​ in Paris, with its streets of crypts, whole neighbourhoods of the dead. And the spectacularly terrifying Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, which contains almost 10,000 corpses and mummies, some in bizarre, contrived poses.

This year, Airbnb ran a bidding war for a night in the ossuary room of the Paris catacombs, where the lucky winner could be wined and dined and bedded down among the skulls.

If you missed on that experience, there are many ways you might be able to rustle up your own personal spectre, as I did in Burgundy. Some hotels, such as the Hollywood Roosevelt, the five-star Langham in London, the Fairmont Banff Springs, the Chelsea in New York,  the Stanley Hotel in Rocky Mountain National Park, setting of Kubrick’s The Shining, and Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor are famously haunted and, where this might not be something they usually promote, this time of year it’s a selling point.

It makes new sense of the term “horror holiday”.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat heaps praise on Hume side who ‘play the game the right way’

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Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat heaped praise on Hume City boss Lou Acevski and his team for making the A-League champions work right to the end to ensure that they, and not the NPL Victoria team, came through the FFA Cup semi-final at AAMI Stadium on Wednesday night.

Victory will now host A-League rivals Perth Glory in the Cup final at AAMI Park on Saturday, November 7.

The 3-0 scoreline — courtesy of two late goals which made the game safe for the champions — might have flattered Victory but Muscat said nothing should take away from the performance of the part-timers from Broadmeadows who, he said, “came and played the game the right way”.

“We have to give a lot of credit to Hume and what Lou has done. They made us earn everything we got tonight, they came and played the game in the right manner. We have really had to earn that result tonight.

“I don’t think I felt threatened at all throughout the night, but I really think we have to give credit for the way Hume played. It was an excellent game and we were the better team, but we had to earn what we got tonight.”

Muscat rolled the dice with his selection, playing new signing Giancarlo Gallifuoco and starting younger players Scott Galloway, Jason Geria, Conor Pain and Jesse Makarounas.

“I thought they acquitted themselves very well. Hopefully it gives them the confidence to know they need to keep pushing,” said Muscat.

The game, in some ways, hinged on a decison by referee Ben Williams early in the match to deny Hume a penalty when a cross from Theo Markelis struck Geria on the hand.

Muscat, unusually for a coach, admitted that it would not have been a surprise had the referee pointed to the spot.

“Jason is closing the ball down, I know it’s come off some part of his body. Sometimes they are given, sometimes they are not.”

For Acevski, it was a question of so close and yet so far. Victory had the ball for long periods, but when his side was only one down with just two minutes to play, they were still in the contest with a fighting chance.

“I thought it was far from easy (for Victory), especially up to the penalty (which gave Victory the lead just before the interval). The boys did really well, they didn’t allow Victory to play their free flowing game, they closed down the space,” said Acevski, who could only rue the fact that Williams did not award the penalty.

“I believe it was a penalty… it’s one incident. Moments in football really change games. We get a penalty, we score, it’s 1-0 and Victory is really under pressure in a game they must win.

“I thought the referee gave them a lot of soft free-kicks. Is he full-time? I think he might like to do some overtime,” he quipped about Williams decision making.

Hume has won a lot of friends in their journey to the semi final, and Acevski and club officials hope to build on this success next season.

The disappointment was that only 6575 fans turned up, well below what they had hoped for.

Acevski said that had the game taken place in September, when Hume’s season had not long finished, it might have been an even tighter affair as all his players had been able to do in the interim was train, rather than play competitive matches.

“It doesn’t matter how much you train, if you are not match-fit it’s a big difference. Players pulling up with cramps, sore hamstrings. I would have loved to have played this five weeks ago.”

IAN KIRKWOOD: Same battle world over

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Former PM Tony Abbott. READERS may remember a kerfuffle in August when the Abbott government talked about new laws to stop ‘‘vigilante legislation’’ after the Federal Court briefly delayed approval of the Carmichael open-cut coal mine in Queensland.

The ruckus began when the court agreed with environmentalists who said Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered the impact the mine would have on two threatened species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

Attorney-General George Brandis was ‘‘appalled’’ by the decision, which was ‘‘very damaging to the economy’’. Tony Abbott, still PM at the time, said the ruling was ‘‘tragic’’.

‘‘And if we get to the stage where the rules are such that projects like this can be endlessly frustrated, that’s dangerous for our country and it’s tragic for the wider world,’’ Mr Abbott said.

But Abbott’s tragedy was averted. Hunt looked more closely at the skink and the snake, and the mine was approved with a slew of conditions applied by both the Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

The restrictions that Brandis and Co were calling for would have limited court action to those with a direct connection to the mine – its neighbours, in other words – dramatically reducing the ability of the environment lobby to act as the community’s watchdog.

In a similar light, Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm reacted to a February Four Corners program on animal cruelty with a proposal for ‘‘ag-gag’’ laws aimed at animal rights activists.

Leyonhjelm seems to have taken his cue from the United States, where agribusiness has kept its critics at bay with various ag-gag laws passed in state legislatures.

In North Carolina, hog farmers fighting environmentalists concerned about the effluent from piggeries convinced that state to pass House Bill 405, which from January next year will give business the right to sue people taking photos or videos in ‘‘non-public areas’’.

Taking things one step further, the Wyoming state legislature has passed Senate File 12 to create the crime ‘‘of trespassing to unlawfully collect resource data’’ from ‘‘open land’’.

The Wyoming law follows a long battle between cattle ranchers and an environmental conservation group, the Western Watersheds Project, which works to counter ‘‘the negative impacts of livestock grazing on 250million acres [100million hectares] of western public lands’’.

On one reading, the aim of the act is to stop people entering private property or leasehold land to take photographs on that land or on public lands reached after crossing the private property. But critics say the wording makes it illegal to photograph breaches on public land, whether or not private property was crossed to reach it.

Having read the law, it says ‘‘a person is guilty of trespassing to unlawfully collect resource data if he [there is no mention of ‘she’] enters onto open land’’ and does not own the land or have the permission of the owner.

Also, any resource data collected in violation of the law cannot be used in any ‘‘civil, criminal or administrative proceeding’’, and the government reserves the right to ‘‘expunge’’ any such data.

Unlawful collection of resource data – taking a photo of open lands, in other words – is punishable by up to six months jail and a $US5000 ($7020) fine.

Not surprisingly, given the implications, a coalition of conservation, animal welfare and media groups has challenged the Wyoming laws as unconstitutional, filing a lawsuit describing them as a violation of free speech.

Senator Larry Hicks, who backed the laws, said they included photos taken on state land, but not federal land. He compared ‘‘illegal data collection’’ by environmentalists to the National Security Agency secretly accessing people’s private phone records.

Commenting on the challenge to Senate File 12, Hicks said: ‘‘At the end of the day, let’s assume they [the plaintiffs] have a small victory. We’ll tweak the law. They still won’t like it. Anything we do to impede their authority to regulate someone off the land they will not like, and they will litigate, and we should have no expectation other than that.”

Different country, same politics.

Mutant fruit flies help scientists make headway in brain disorder research

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The work of geneticist Coral Warr, who works with fruit flies, could have implications for research into neurological conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Photo: Simon Schluter Geneticist Coral Warr with postdoctoral researchers Dr Michelle Henstridge and Dr Travis Johnson. Photo: Simon Schluter

Scientists have discovered how female fruit flies produce mutant embryos without heads or tails, findings which could prove fundamental to human health research.

Outlined in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday, the work answers long-standing questions in developmental biology and could have implications for research into neurological conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The team at Monash University, led by fruit fly geneticist Coral Warr and structural biologist James Whisstock​, established what was going on at a molecular level when a particular protein was removed from the female fruit fly.

“It sounds gory but if you have a female fruit fly that does not have this protein, then the offspring won’t have a head or a tail and they will never develop one,” Associate Professor Warr said. “They just consist of a torso.”

The protein has been aptly named the “torso-like protein” and has been known about for decades following its discovery as part of Nobel prize-winning research. However its role in embryonic development has remained a mystery.

Using innovative microscopy and imaging techniques the researchers were able to show that the torso-like protein played a key role in the release of a growth factor, which prompted the development of the head and tail in the fruit fly embryo.

By removing the protein in genetically modified fruit flies, the researchers found the cells in the female’s offspring never received the growth factor’s instructions on how they should develop – so they didn’t.

Having established how the protein worked in fruit flies, Associate Professor Warr said the quest to shed light on how the process worked in humans was closer to being solved.

“How they develop and how their brain works is very similar to humans,” she said.

Up to 75 per cent of human genes are shared by the fruit fly – a tiny insect no longer than five millimetres.

The culmination of five years of work, Associate Professor Warr said having discovered the fundamentals behind how cells talk to each other during development, studies using vertebrate species such as zebra fish or mammals such as mice could begin.

Significantly the torso-like protein comes from the same family as a human immune protein called perforin, which is associated with autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“Autism in particular is thought to be a problem with brain development, so this gives us an idea of where we can look in future studies,” she said.

Plea made to keep school

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Martin’s Creek Public SchoolMARTINS Creek Public School parents have called on Premier Mike Baird to intervene in their campaign to keep their school open.

The Newcastle Herald reported last week that a parliamentary inquiry had recommended Education Minister Adrian Piccoli reconsider the closure of the school of six students, which is scheduled to shut its doors at the end of this year. The inquiry’s report advised the school stay open until at least 2019 to allow Hayden, 8, who has Down Syndrome and complex needs, to finish his education.

‘‘The committee considers that the risks to this student’s psychological wellbeing and development are sufficiently substantial as to warrant an exceptional approach being taken to the closure of [the school],’’ the inquiry’s report said.

But parents are perplexed about why the executive director of public schools Frank Potter sent them a ‘‘disgusting, shameful’’ letter on the same day the inquiry report was tabled.

Hayden’s carer Sue Coutts said Mr Potter had written to her and another parent after they had contacted Coalition ministers asking for support. ‘‘The decision to close Martins Creek Public School has been made,’’ Mr Potter wrote.

‘‘I can assure you that the Department is committed to working towards the best possible outcomes for all students in their transition towards alternate education settings, which will meet their needs.’’

Mr Piccoli’s office told the Herald this week that the state government was still ‘‘considering the recommendations … and will respond in due course’’.

Ms Coutts questioned how the government could leave the school in limbo just seven weeks before its scheduled close date.

‘‘What I want to know is, is the Premier going to step in here?’’ Ms Coutts said. ‘‘At the end of the day, we need an answer.

‘‘You would not knowingly make a child suffer. ‘‘I’m thinking and hoping that common sense and compassion prevail.’’

Ms Coutts said she could not consider the possibility of the school ceasing to operate because it ‘‘did not make any logical sense’’.

‘‘Even at the 11th hour, anything is possible,’’ she said.

‘‘I am going to fight to the bitter end and if they lock the doors, I’m going to keep fighting to have it reopened.’’

The inquiry also found the Department of Education needed to review how it assessed whether to close small schools and to amend its protocols to ensure its staff undertook genuine consultation with communities before a decision was made.

A typically Newcastle episode

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Ken Gouldthorp. THE sacking of Newcastle City Council general manager Ken Gouldthorp seems a disappointingly typical Novocastrian episode.

Mr Gouldthorp, a Queenslander, was appointed to his role during the period when Newcastle businessman Jeff McCloy was lord mayor. Mr McCloy made no secret of his high regard for Mr Gouldthorp, and critics of the former lord mayor frequently expressed the opinion that Mr Gouldthorp and Mr McCloy were closely aligned on matters of council policy and finances.

When Mr McCloy chose to quit as lord mayor after allegations in hearings by the Independent Commission Against Corruption that he made illegal donations to Liberal politicians, the stage was set for a change in the political orientation of Newcastle City Council.

Under its new management, the elected council has seemingly not enjoyed a good relationship with Mr Gouldthorp. This has culminated in an alliance of Labor and Greens councillors combining to sack the general manager.

It doesn’t seem entirely clear why this step was taken. By all accounts recent assessments of Mr Goulthorp’s work performance had appeared favourable, but Greens councillor Therese Doyle remarked after Tuesday’s vote that ‘‘the elected council could not function effectively and be confident that its decisions would be implemented with Mr Gouldthorp remaining in his position of leadership’’.

Some other councillors, it must be noted, strenuously disagreed.

Public reaction to the sacking has been predictably strong and predictably negative. Many people seem to believe – rightly or wrongly – that this may have been a partisan decision with possible personal undertones.

It has been noted that the council has also shifted some of the responsibilities previously assumed by the general manager to the lord mayor, Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes. This includes the area of overseas travel and expenses, a vexed topic since the general manager’s recent cancellation of a business class air ticket to Geneva for the lord mayor.

It doesn’t take much, in Newcastle, for people to start calling for a council to be sacked and replaced by an administrator. Ratepayers with long memories love to reminisce about the period in the 1980s when the city council really was dismissed and its administrator-run weekly meetings lasted minutes instead of acrimonious hours.

Not surprisingly the usual sacking calls are already being made.

Some see this as potentially ominous, given the Coalition state government’s determination to achieve some amalgamations of local government areas across NSW. What better cover for a forced amalgamation, some suggest, than an explosive council feud that has ratepayers baying for blood?

Dismissed GM flags legal action

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Former general manager Ken Gouldthorp. SACKED general manager Ken Gouldthorp will take legal action over his dismissal by Newcastle council as Department of Local Government officers launch an investigation into his sacking.

Mr Gouldthorp was dumped from his $350,000-a-year job on Tuesday night just two years into a five-year contract, but he confirmed on Wednesday that he had alerted the lawyers and would be pursuing further action.

‘‘So I’m clearly not in a position to comment further,’’ he said.

A spokesperson for Local Government Minister Paul Toole confirmed a departmental investigation was already under way.

“Councils are responsible for the management of the employment relationship with their general managers consistent with the terms of their contract,’’ he said, adding that inquiries surrounding legal aspects of the dumping were taking place.

Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes flew out for Geneva late on Wednesday as the fallout from the council’s decision continued.

Cr Nelmes, her Labor colleagues and the council’s two Greens came under heavy fire for the way in which the dismissal occurred, but they made no apologies on Wednesday for the sacking they claimed had to happen because they had lost faith in Mr Gouldthorp’s ability to work with them.

The sacking came on the same day that Cr Nelmes personally handed over a report card on Mr Gouldthorp’s performance – a 6.3 out of 10 which reflects his meeting of all performance criteria. But Cr Nelmes said she and the city demanded better than just a pass mark.

She also refused to elaborate on the reasons for the sacking, although she told 1233 ABC that issues surrounding the art gallery, the city’s parking meter fiasco and a lack of proper communication with councillors were among the reasons.

Greens councillor Therese Doyle said she supported Mr Gouldthorp’s sacking because he had ‘‘failed to carry out his responsibilities as a gatekeeper for councillor proposals through notices of motion in an accountable and responsible way’’.

Other Labor councillors and Green deputy mayor Michael Osborne said Mr Gouldthorp’s position had become untenable because he didn’t share the same vision for the city as the council’s ruling bloc.

Liberal and independent councillors remained livid with the decision, with three calling for Mr Toole to intervene and suspend the council while the investigation was carried out. One went as far as saying the council should sack itself.

Former lord mayor Jeff McCloy, a staunch ally of Mr Gouldthorp, also entered the fray, accusing Labor and the Greens of a ‘‘vindictive attack’’ for a ‘‘purely political purpose’’.

‘‘Ken Gouldthorp was responsible for turning the city’s finances around, not Labor and the Greens who consistently voted against everything he tried to do, ’’ Mr McCloy said.

Business groups also rallied around the sacked former boss, with the Property Council’s Andrew Fletcher writing to Mr Toole and calling on his department to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sacking. Hunter Business Chamber did likewise.

Ironically, Mr Gouldthorp had to cancel a trip to Melbourne on Wednesday where a national symposium on local government leadership had invited him to speak.

Cr Nelmes, meanwhile, flew out to Geneva to jointly sign an agreement with the United Nations training organisation with Newcastle university chief Caroline McMillen. She flew economy class, after her original business class flights were cancelled by Mr Gouldthorp because they fell outside council travel policy.

Hunter pistol shooter aims for Olympic title

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Daniel Repacholi at the Hunter Olympic dinner launch on Wednesday. Picture: Ryan OslandNULKABA shooter Daniel Repacholi has his sights set on the ultimate Olympic farewell, a gold medal at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

A veteran of Athens, Beijing and London, the 33-year-old is preparing for his fourth and final appearance at the world’s biggest sporting event.

And this time he will not be content merely to be involved.

“Making the team is not my aim,” Repacholi told the Newcastle Herald.

“I want to go there and win.

“That’s my thought process. A lot of people are happy just to make the team and go to the Olympics, but then they have nothing after that. But, for me, the goal is to come back with a gold medal.”

Repacholi, who moved to the Hunter Valley from Victoria in 2009 after meeting his future wife and finding work as a mining operator with Rio Tinto, competes in the 10-metre and 50-metre air pistol.

His best performance at three Olympics was at London three years ago, when he finished 28th in the 10m and 19th in the 50m.

Two years later, after pondering retirement, he collected a 10m gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and bronze in the 50m.

With the experience he has gained from three Olympics and two Commonwealth Games, Repacholi believes he is at the peak of his powers.

“It’s important not to get too overwhelmed by the whole situation,” he said. “The first Olympics I went to, it was a massive thing and you’re really not ready for it. It’s the biggest sporting event in the world, and you know that, but you can’t understand how big it is until you get there.

“But I’ve been continually getting better at each one, so hopefully this time I’ll be ready to win it.”

Repacholi said he felt capable of competing at “six or seven” Olympics but family commitments had become his priority.

“This will be my last,” he said.

“I’ll go to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018, but I’ll retire after that.

“I want to spend more time with my family. I’ve got two young girls, one is two-and-a-half and the other is three months, so they’ll be at a good age where we can go on holidays together and things like that.

“So they’ll be my focus in future.”

The expense factor was also a consideration.

Repacholi said he tried not to think about how much shooting had cost him over the years, in equipment and days off work, but he had no doubt it would run well into six figures.

“I’m very lucky that I’ve got some generous sponsors behind me,” he said. “I really appreciate their support.”

His qualification hopes for Rio hinge on next month’s Oceania titles and ‘s selection series in February and March.

“At the moment, I’m shooting well,” he said.

“As long as I can keep going with the training I’m doing, I should be fine.”

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