Frosty red-hot on Supercars race wins

Mark Winterbottom admits he’s running out of time to avoid a career Supercars low.

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The 2015 series winner is running sixth in the championship and while that’s not ideal, it’s not what’s bugging him the most about this year’s campaign.

It’s the lack of podium time.

Winterbottom heads to Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend with a best effort this year of second place in the Sunday race on Phillip Island.

And that’s just not good enough.

“I want race wins,” he told Fox Sports.

“I haven’t been through a season without having a race win. That’s the priority.”

Not since joining Ford Performance Racing in 2006 has ‘Frosty’ failed to spray champagne from the top step on the dias at least once in a year.

With 10 races to go in the season, Winterbottom needs help from his engineers to make it happen.

The No.5 Falcon has struggled to avoid technical issues through the opening rounds, leaving insufficient time for fine tuning.

“I initially had braking issues,” Winterbottom said.

“All our first three or four rounds, our setups meant nothing. Because all I had was inside locking – the red light was on – scorching tyres.

“You get told it’s the tyre but then you find the brake and it’s not the tyre. It’s always something.

“When the car’s hooked up, its very very quick. When you get it wrong it spits you out very quickly.”

The emergence of DJR Team Penske and the return to form of stablemate Chaz Mostert has Winterbottom in the unheard-of position of the fourth best Falcon in the Supercars grid.

It’s not a position he’s used to but one he thinks he can improve before season’s end.

“Other guys are damn quick at the moment. The 17 with Scotty McLaughlin is very fast,” he said.

“The dream of catching him is not what you’re looking at.

“I’m not looking at the championship. I need a car that is going to do what I want it to do, week in, week out.

“That’s been the hardest thing this year. Even (co-driver) Dean Canto has been hopping out saying ‘what are you giving me?’

“We need to come up with something pretty quick, have a weekend and have a good endurance campaign.

“I know when it all clicks we’ll win races.”

Bulldogs to push AFL into MRP changes

Western Bulldogs will urge the AFL to remove the rigid classification of on-field offences by its match review panel (MRP) after being stung by Jack Redpath’s three-game ban.

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Bulldogs president Peter Gordon has criticised the matrix system of review, which classifies incidents by conduct (intentional/careless), impact (severe to low) and contact (high/groin or body).

Gordon, who has a background in law, wants the system to be replaced with legal experts — rather than former players — reviewing incidents.

“What I think we need are some judicial officers with common sense and experience in football who can look at it and make a decision based generally on the facts,” Gordon told SEN radio on Thursday.

“Not in accordance with some pre-imposed paradigm about gradings of intent and gradings of impact.

“There’s been an inappropriate focus on trying to achieve that sort of consistency, like codifying or grading levels of intent and levels of impact.

“No degree of intent is ever 100 per cent the same as another and no degree of impact is ever the same.”

The MRP comprises former players Jimmy Bartel, Michael Jamison, Michael Christian, Nathan Burke and Jason Johnson.

The AFL tribunal suspended Redpath for three matches on Tuesday after the key forward was charged with striking Greater Western Sydney’s Phil Davis during the Giants’ 48-point win on Friday night.

He could have accepted a two-game ban with an early plea.

Redpath’s legal team argued his open-handed blow was a push and careless, not intentional, and to Davis’s upper chest rather than his neck.

Gordon insisted he wanted to see more protection for players, praising the league for cracking down on sling tackles and high contact.

But he expressed concern penalties were sometimes too harsh.

“We will at the end of the season be communicating with the AFL about our concerns,” he said.

A number of issues have put the MRP in the spotlight this season, with critics claiming inconsistencies in rulings around punches.

At least 37 die in prison riot in southern Venezuela: governor

The prosecutors’ office said an investigation had been launched into “the deaths of 37 people” in the facility in the town of Puerto Ayacucho.

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Governor Liborio Guarulla had earlier tweeted that a “massacre” took place with at least 35 corpses counted.

Prosecutors said 14 officials were wounded in the violence, but did not say if any were among the dead.

Two prison-monitoring groups, A Window to Freedom and the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, said the 37 killed were all inmates.

“This is the worst riot we’ve had in a detention facility,” Carlos Nieto of A Window to Freedom told AFP.

“In this one, detainees are only supposed to be held for up to 48 hours, but there were prisoners who have been there for years,” he said.

The jail was holding 105 prisoners at the time of the riot, Guarulla said.

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It comes as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro paid tribute to the late leftist icon Fidel Castro during a surprise visit to Cuba, state media reported Wednesday.

The daily Granma said Maduro traveled Tuesday to Castro’s tomb in Santiago de Cuba.

Maduro was accompanied by his wife Cilia Flores, Cuban President Raul Castro — Fidel’s brother — and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, according to the newspaper.

“On the 91th birthday of the Commander in Chief a tribute by the president of Venezuela was appropriate for someone who always stood by the Bolivarian revolution,” the newspaper said.

Fidel Castro, born on August 13, 1926, died in November 2016. His remains are buried at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, some 960 kilometers east of Havana.

Venezuela is Cuba’s most important economic and political ally, and Havana has offered strong support for Maduro’s embattled leftist regime.

UN calls for solution to crisis

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the Venezuelan government and opposition on Wednesday to re-start negotiations, calling for a brokered solution to the country’s economic and political crisis.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the army to conduct a round of military drills later this month in response to US President Donald Trump’s threat of military action in the crisis-stricken nation.

The oil-exporting South American country has been plunged into economic chaos and rocked by angry street protests from opponents demanding Maduro’s removal. Nearly 130 people have died in recent months of unrest.

“Venezuela needs a political solution based on dialogue and compromise between the government and the opposition,” Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters, backing international and regional efforts to advance talks.

“I strongly support those efforts. I’ve been in close contact with all of them, and I urge the government and the opposition to restart negotiations because I believe that only solution is a political solution.”

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Trump said last week that he was considering a range of scenarios for Venezuela and was “not going to rule out a military option.” Russia on Wednesday called any threats against Venezuela “unacceptable.”

Trump’s apparent threat was also roundly condemned across Latin America, even by states opposed to the socialist Maduro.

“Latin America has successfully managed to get rid of both foreign intervention and authoritarianism, and this is a lesson that is very important to make sure that this legacy is safeguarded,” said Guterres.

What’s ‘app’ with Australia’s ghost buses?

Ever been at a bus stop tracking your bus on a mobile app only to see it disappear rather than arrive?

The developer of real-time travel application TripView thinks he knows what’s happening with these so-called “ghost buses”.

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Most transport apps use GPS data to track buses as they travel along their route.

The system relies on both a device in the bus and real-time information from customers tapping on and off with their travel cards.

Regular bus timetable information and a log of when drivers sign on at work also helps determine the location of buses and when they should arrive.

Collectively this data – in NSW – is the Public Transport Information and Priority System.

The PTIPS data – provided by Transport for NSW – is estimated to be 99 per cent accurate for arrival times, a spokeswoman told AAP.

But sometimes things go awry.

If GPS data isn’t available – for whatever reason – some travel apps revert to using old-school timetable information. Hence you may see a bus approaching when it doesn’t actually exist.

It may have been cancelled or the bus itself switched off when the driver takes a break, for example.

Similarly, if travel-card consoles aren’t working. apps may again switch to showing estimated arrival times.

“From a TripView perspective, a bus should only disappear from the map if there is no longer GPS data for that bus on Transport’s real-time data feed,” TripView developer Nick Maher told AAP.

“I sometimes receive reports of this where it turns out that the bus in question wasn’t providing any real-time data. In this case, TripView would have just been showing the scheduled time.”

A Transport for NSW spokeswoman acknowledged some external apps don’t always use PTIPS data.

“At times they may apply their own logic to interpret (PTIPS) data … which can in turn cause inconsistencies in tracking information,” she told AAP.

Morrison summons ‘better angels’ over NDIS

The Turnbull government has appealed to Labor’s “better angels” to change the party’s position on hiking the Medicare levy to fund the national disability insurance scheme.

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Treasurer Scott Morrison, introducing legislation to parliament on Thursday, called on the opposition to rise above the day-to-day morass of political debate and consider the long-term benefit of the measure.

However negotiations with the Senate crossbenchers have given the government confidence it can get the legislation through.

Labor supports the 0.5 per cent rise but only for people with incomes over $87,000.

Mr Morrison said the package of bills was built on the idea of mateship, inspired by his brother-in-law Gary Warren’s battle with multiple sclerosis.

“There must be no more playing politics with disability,” he told parliament.

“I’m not a fan of increasing levies … but I am a fan of sticking up for your mates, I am a fan of supporting Australians living with a disability.”

He suggested Labor had let down former prime minister Julia Gillard, who introduced the scheme to parliament in 2012.

“I pray that they change their view,” Mr Morrison said.

“I would hope that the better angels of the opposition would prevail when it comes to considering this bill and that they will put Australians living with a disability and their families first.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten again accused the government of holding the NDIS hostage.

“There is more than one way to fund the functions of government,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“It is horribly wrong of the government to hold the NDIS hostage and say that the only way the NDIS can be funded is through increasing taxes on people who earn $50,000 and $60,000 a year.”

If Labor remains opposed, the government will face a hurdle in getting it through the Senate.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie says she’s still talking with Mr Morrison about the income level at which a rise from two per cent to 2.5 will kick in.

“I want the NDIS and I have no problem with the 0.5 per cent, it’s at where do we start,” she told ABC radio on Thursday.

Senator Lambie also doesn’t like the government’s position of having those earning $28,000 a year paying an extra $75 but she believes Labor preferred threshold is too high.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said reports Mr Morrison was confident a deal was imminent was news to the minor party.

“The Medicare levy and any proposed deal haven’t been the subject of discussion in our party room,” he told reporters in Canberra.