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Martin set to stay with Richmond in AFL

Greater Western Sydney and St Kilda have joined the list of AFL clubs turning their backs on young gun Dustin Martin who appears likely to remain at Richmond.

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GWS released a statement on Friday pouring cold water on a possible deal with 22-year-old Martin.

The Giants made the point they had entertained Martin on Thursday at the request of his manager Ralph Carr.

Wearing a hard hat, Martin toured the Giants’ facilities. But the league’s bottom side have moved swiftly to indicate their team-building plans don’t include Martin.

“We took up the invitation to meet with Martin and his manager Ralph Carr and showed them around our new training facility and Skoda Stadium,” GWS general manager of football Graeme Allan said.

“But we have made a decision not to pursue further discussions.

“We will continue to explore a number of opportunities with other players with a view to add more experience to our playing list and we wish Dustin Martin all the best for his career ahead.”

Richmond had earlier this week expressed their extreme disappointment that Martin, taken at No.3 in the 2009 draft, was considering other options.

The Tigers feel they’ve offered every assistance on and off the field to Martin, who was suspended for two games in 2012 for missing a training session.

Martin said he hadn’t quit the Tigers, but needed time to consider his future.

But now Martin and Carr are finding doors are closing rather than opening and a new deal at Richmond, less lucrative than the one previously offered by the Tigers, could be the likely outcome.

Carlton, Collingwood and Melbourne have also ruled themselves out of the Martin equation.

The Saints said no thanks on Friday to Martin, who was third in Richmond’s best and fairest award in 2011 and averaged 24 disposals this season.

“We are approaching the upcoming trade and draft period with a view to strategically building several aspects of our list,” St Kilda’s list manager Chris Pelchen told the club’s website.

“But Dustin is not a part of any plans we have in place.”

The Giants are still firmly in the running to secure Hawthorn’s star forward Lance Franklin.

“He wants to make a decision at the end of the year and we have seen that through the whole year and that remains the same,” GWS coach Leon Cameron told Fox Sports News.

Martin’s reluctance to commit to the Tigers could mean there’s less money left under the salary cap when a deal finally is done.

Earlier on Friday, Richmond announced they had signed midfielder Reece Conca to a three-year deal.

Conca, 21, produced some eye-catching performances in his 17 games this season as the Tigers reached the finals for the first time in 12 years.

Conca was taken by the Tigers at No.6 in the 2010 national draft.

The West Australian had been linked with a potential move to Fremantle or West Coast before signing the new contact that will keep him at Punt Rd until at least the end of the 2016 season.

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BCCI boss wants new term amid IPL spot-fix

Narainswamy Srinivasan plans to seek an extension to his term as president of the Indian cricket board despite being sidelined while his son-in-law is under investigation in the wake of the Premier League spot-fixing scandal.

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“Yes, I’m eligible for re-election,” he was quoted as saying in The Times of India on Friday. “Why shouldn’t I contest to seek a third year as board chief?”

The annual general meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is scheduled for September 29.

According to BCCI rules, a president is elected for two years but the tenure can be extended by a year unless there is opposition to his candidature.

Srinivasan stood aside from running the BCCI in June pending an investigation into Gurunath Meiyappan’s role in spot-fixing, with former president Jagmohan Dalmiya taking over on an interim basis.

An internal BCCI investigation cleared Chennai Super Kings official Meiyappan, but the Bombay High Court ruled that the BCCI panel was “illegal and unconstitutional”.

The BCCI has taken that matter to the Supreme Court, although it has handed down life bans on Test cricketer Shantakumaran Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan for spot-fixing after a separate investigation into the players’ roles.

The board has also banned former player-turned-bookmaker Amit Singh for five years and Rajasthan Royals pace bowler Siddharth Trivedi for one year for not reporting an approach by illegal gamblers.

Indian police are still investigating the involvement of officials and players. Delhi Police charged Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila for being part of a spot-fixing ring that allegedly involved the illegal gambling syndicates.

Mumbai Police are investigating Meiyappan’s role in spot-fixing, but no charges have been laid.

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O’Connor stood down by Wallabies coach

James O’Connor has been stood down from the Wallabies squad by coach Ewen McKenzie for at least two Tests after finding the Australian back had behaved unacceptably in Perth last weekend.

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O’Connor was prevented from boarding an Air Asia flight to Bali in Perth early last Sunday because he was allegedly intoxicated.

He was removed from the terminal by Australian Federal Police officers but ended up boarding a later flight to Bali.

O’Connor will not travel with the team on Monday, when they leave Sydney for their final two Rugby Championship Tests in South Africa and Argentina.

He has been replaced in the squad by uncapped winger Peter Betham of the New South Wales Waratahs.

Australian Rugby Union integrity officer Phil Thomson is conducting an investigation into the incident and McKenzie won’t make a decision about the length of O’Connor’s exclusion from the team until it is completed.

After his mid-year appointment, McKenzie spoke to O’Connor, who had incurred some disciplinary blemishes during the tenure of previous Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

He said 23-year-old O’Connor had let his teammates down with the latest incident and would need to make substantial changes in how he went about things.

“I had a chance to look at the circumstances round the incident the other day and had the chance to have a look at incidents over time,” McKenzie told reporters on Friday.

“From that, we’re not getting the right type of behaviour from him.

“There’s no doubt that since I met with him prior to the start of the season, he’s made incremental improvements.

“But he let himself down on the weekend so, from a behavioural perspective, it wasn’t acceptable, so we’re standing him down.”

Asked how the 44-Test back had taken his decision, McKenzie said he understood when they received the detail of the behaviour, the player put his hand up and said it wasn’t acceptable.

Asked what aspect of O’Connor’s behaviour the player himself had found unacceptable, McKenzie said “I think the way he conducted himself in public”.

He said O’Connor was a very good player who had been doing well on the field.

However he couldn’t shirk the decision he made to stand him down, even though it leaves him short of outside backs, with Nick Cummins and Jesse Mogg injured.

He said O’Connor had to eliminate the periodic problems that have punctuated his career.

In 2010, he was allegedly involved in an altercation with teammates Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale in Paris.

The following year, he was suspended for one Test after missing the Wallabies’ World Cup squad announcement and photo following a night out.

In June this year, O’Connor and Beale were photographed at a fast-food outlet at 4am in the days leading up to the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.

“There’s a track record there of similar types of events; they’ve all been different circumstances,” McKenzie said.

“I think a significant change in behaviour is required so there’s a challenge for him.

“He’s got to do something different because the frequency of this is not acceptable.”

“I’ll certainly be monitoring his progress, but I’m not interested in hearing about things. I want to see action – I want to see change.”

McKenzie was disappointed O’Connor’s behaviour on Sunday took the attention away from the team, who on Saturday night beat Argentina after losing the three previous Tests of his tenure.

“From a moving the team and the sport forward perspective, we’ve gone backwards, so that’s really disappointing,” McKenzie said.

“We need to shift the debate by, I guess, removing him from the environment.”

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Free Syrian Army ‘agrees to truce with jihadists’

The Northern Storm brigade, which is loyal to the FSA and was based in Azaz, and Al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which seized the town on Wednesday, both pledged to observe a ceasefire, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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The deal was brokered by Liwa al-Tawhid, a powerful rebel brigade loyal to the FSA, which sent fighters to the town on Thursday who have deployed between the two sides, the Observatory said.

   

The rival groups also undertook to free detainees captured in Wednesday’s fighting and to immediately return any goods looted from the other side.

   

They agreed that any future problems that might emerge be dealt with by an arbitration committee, the Observatory added.

   

Azaz was one of the first towns to be overrun, in July 2012, by FSA rebels, who set up their own administration.

   

Tensions have spiralled between some mainstream rebel groups and ISIS in recent months, especially in northern Syria, where the opposition controls vast swathes of territory.

   

Several local groups resent ISIS’s growing territorial control, its steady supply of arms, as well as its brutality, which opponents often compare to that of the regime’s.

   

ISIS, on the other hand, has accused some rebels affiliated with the FSA’s Supreme Military Command of collaborating with the West and of being “heretics”.

   

The opposition National Coalition issued a rare condemnation of ISIS on Friday, accusing the group of violating the principles of the revolution by turning its guns on FSA fighters.

   

It accused the group of “repeated repressive practices against the freedom of civilians, doctors, journalists and political activists in recent months”.

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Links between disease and dementia

(Transcript from SBS World News Australia Radio)

They are emphasising the benefits of physical health for the long-term advantage of mental health.

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And they are urging increased research funding to find preventative measures to reduce dementia rates.

Dementia is a condition of the brain usually associated with ageing in which a person begins to have memory problems and other cognitive disruptions.

Dr Kristine Yaffe is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology at the University of California.

She says as well as risk factors including depression and obesity – cognitive decline can also be linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

“In the past few years we understand now that many chronic diseases of the body such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, obesity are connected to cognitive ageing. We think that it’s a complicated relationship partially due to the increase in vascular changes in the brain so just as the body has hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis, the brain can have atherosclerosis as well. And this can in turn lead to cognitive aspects being diminished.”

Dr Yaffe says one of the important preventative measures is being active – both physically and mentally.

Her motto is “what’s good for your heart is good for your brain”.

Australian of the Year 2013 and National President of Alzeimer’s Australia, Ita Buttrose agrees.

Ms Buttrose says dementia is a chronic disease, not a normal way of ageing.

She says it’s simply about getting into the habit of being physically active.

“There’s evidence now that strongly suggests physical exercise is a very important weapon against cognitive decline. If you did 30 minutes of walking a day, you’d be doing your brain such good and your long-term health would look so much brighter and at the same time you’ve also got to mentally challenge your brain and by that I mean make it tackle new things. Make it learn things it doesn’t know.”

Dr Yaffe, from the University of California, says rarer forms of neurological disease can sometimes result in younger people developing dementia.

But she says while the vast majority of dementia occurs in older adults, and it’s an increasing problem.

Dr Yaffe says currently there are 320,000 Australians with dementia, and by 2050 about a million are likely to have dementia.

“We think that in the next 35 years, Alzeimer’s disease is going to triple in prevalence and this is because we’re ageing, our society is ageing. We’re living longer and of course primarily this is a disease of ageing. So we’re living longer and also we think that there have been some demographic shifts in terms of the greater proportion of the population is older.”

Dr Bryce Vissel is a Senior Research Fellow at the Garvan Institute.

Dr Vissel says there’s no clear evidence as to why there is an increase in dementia.

He says one factor may be a growth in medical knowledge, contributing to longer life spans.

“We’re actually in the middle of what might be called another industrial revolution but it’s called a medical revolution. As the population is able to live longer, what we are in the middle of is some kind of revolution where in human history we haven’t really experienced something like this and as people are living longer, what used to be regarded as an old people’s disease or a disorder – something you got in your late 60s and late 70s and then unfortunately passed away soon after – now people are expecting to live until 100, and when they end up with something like dementia in their late 60s, they’re still regarded by society these days as being very young.”

National President of Alzeimer’s Australia, Ita Buttrose says more research is needed into why people get dementia, and how to slow down the progression of the disease.

She says the Abbott government has made a commitment to spend $200-million over five years for dementia research.

Dr Vissel, from the Garvan Institute, praises the continued government support for dementia research.

And he’s enthusiastic about the prospects for major breakthroughs in Australia.

“Some of the major breakthroughs actually occurred in Australia and have been influential worldwide and part of it is because of the great Australian spirit, innovation and in thinking and in individuality. The fact is that we are at the table and we are contributing in a big way to the discoveries that ultimately will lead to a lesser burden of the disease. We are making very very rapid progress. The pace of research is unbelievable, it is exciting and I believe there will be breakthroughs that either slow the disease initially and ultimately may even be cures that can lead to some recovery.”

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