Dragons lose Dugan for Manly NRL match

St George Illawarra have suffered a significant body blow ahead of their vital NRL match against Manly, with fullback Josh Dugan ruled out due to a hamstring injury.


Dugan pulled up sore from last week’s golden-point loss to Canberra however, at this stage, the Dragons are hoping the injury is only minor.

“Upon follow-up scans, it was determined that he would miss this weekend’s game against Manly,” performance manager Nathan Pickworth said.

“He will be reviewed and progressed accordingly over the next couple of days.”

It caps off a difficult week for the NSW State of Origin centre, who has been the focus of the fallout from the Blues’ series-decider loss after he and Blake Ferguson’s six-hour visit to a pub on a day off.

It represents a massive hit to the Dragons’ top-eight hopes.

St George Illawarra are hanging on by a thread to their spot in the eight, having dropped seven of their past 10 games.

Jason Nightingale will return to fullback – a position he has played regularly this year – while Matt Dufty is set to make his NRL debut off the bench as Kurt Mann goes to the wing.

In better news for the Dragons, Russell Packer is set to overcome a hip injury to play, while Tyson Frizell is also considered certain to return from a hip injury.

Blake Lawrie, after playing NSW Cup on Saturday for Illawarra, will drop off the bench, along with Taane Milne.

The injury news came after coach Paul McGregor believed he had seen the Dragons turn a corner in last week’s loss.

“We know where we are on the ladder,” McGregor said.

“It wasn’t a complete performance but it was a clear sign of improvement on previous weeks.

“We created three good scoring opportunities last week. We played direct, we played more straight and we engaged the line better.

“We do need to execute our finishes a little bit more. The line speed was more consistent last week.

“We need to build on that performance.”

Manly also have injury worries, with boom hooker Apisai Koroisau ruled out with a calf injury.

They will also rely on a secondary goal-kicker, with winger Matthew Wright succumbing to a hip issue.


* The Dragons scored at least 16 points in their first seven rounds, but have done so just four times since

* The Dragons’ left edge is the most-dominant in the NRL, with 31 tries this year

* Manly lead for points per game (23.3)

‘Mystery’ signal from space is solved. It’s not aliens

It hasn’t.


The signal, which has been formally named “Weird!” was interference from a distant satellite.

Of course, astronomers said all along that extra-terrestrials were quite far at the bottom of the list of possibilities for the signals detected from Ross 128, a dim star known as a red dwarf some 11 light-years away.

To experts, the true mystery was that they couldn’t figure out if the bursts were unusual stellar activity, emissions from other background objects, or interference from satellite communications.


“However, many people were more interested in the signals as potential proof of transmissions from an extraterrestrial intelligent civilization,” wrote Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo in a blog post Friday, revealing the true nature of the signals.

After further fueling speculation by summoning the world experts in the hunt for life elsewhere in the universe — The SETI Berkeley Research Center at the University of California — the team issued its conclusion.

“We are now confident about the source of the Weird! Signal,” Mendez wrote.

“The best explanation is that the signals are transmissions from one or more geostationary satellites.”

The signals only appeared around Ross 128 because it is located “close to the celestial equator where many geostationary satellites are placed,” Mendez added.

Study of people 

He also released the results of an informal survey that he had posted on his website, asking people to weigh in on what they thought the source of the signals was, and whether or not they were scientists well versed in the matter.

“Nearly 800 people participated in this informal survey (including more than 60 astronomers),” he wrote.

The whole group’s consensus was that the signals were most likely coming from some story of stellar activity, or some kind of astronomical phenomenon.

Most people discounted the possibility of radio interference or instrumental failures, saying these were least likely. This, Mendez explained, was hardly a scientific approach to the question.

“This is interesting since in the absence of solid information about the signal, most astronomers would think that these were probably the most likely explanation,” Mendez wrote.


Furthermore, about one quarter of respondents said “the most likely explanation of the signal was that of a communication with an Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI),” he added.

“These results reflect the still high expectations the public maintains on the possibility of contacting ETI.”

Still, all was not lost in these last few weeks of speculation and tumult.

“The Planetary Habitability Laboratory of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo made many new friends from this experience,” Mendez said, adding it had been a “great experience of open science.”

“The lesson here is that we all need to continue exploring and sharing results openly. Some people prefer to only learn about the successes, but others prefer science in real-time, no matter the end result.”

Justin Bieber banned from China to ‘purify’ nation

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture revealed it was not a “Belieber” when it said the 23-year-old Canadian, who last played in the country in 2013, had a lot of growing up to do if he wanted to return.


The statement came after Chinese fans posted comments on the agency’s website demanding to know when their heart-throb would be allowed to perform in China again.

It is “inappropriate to introduce bad behaviour into the performing arts” it said, calling the performer out for his antics and urging him to turn over a new leaf.

““In order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment, it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers,” the statement from the Chinese government said.

“We hope Justin Bieber can improve his words and deeds in the process of growing up and become a singer people really like.”


The singer recently helped hit single “Despacito”, originally released by Luis Fonsi in January before Bieber came out with a remix two months later, achieve 4.6 billion streams, according to the Universal Music Group.

The Beijing cultural bureau did not specifically mention Bieber’s 2014 visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honours millions of mostly Japanese war dead, including convicted World War II war criminals.

The shrine is seen across Asia as a symbol of Japan’s perceived lack of penitence for its past imperialist aggression, under which China in particular suffered heavily.

Shortly after his trip, the singer behind the hit song “Sorry” issued an apology to scandalised Chinese fans, saying he was “mislead to think the shrines were only a place of prayer”.

But some have never forgiven him.

“Anyone who knows and then visits the Yasukuni Shrine is annoying,” a user called Qiao Ating wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo website on Friday.

Another Weibo post agreed: “It’s good he’s not coming. He is a bad boy.”

Fan Jiayi, a jewellery designer in Shanghai, told AFP she supported the authorities’ stance, saying: “I do not think the government would reject him unless there was a big problem.”

Bieber is due to perform in Hong Kong in September as part of his “Purpose Tour”.


Big-name Western acts have in the past been banned from performing in mainland China over political gestures.

Maroon 5 cancelled a concert in 2015 after authorities refused permission because a band member had met the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing views as a separatist threat.

Later the same year American rock group Bon Jovi — who have included imagery of the Dalai Lama in a show — abruptly scrapped two dates in Beijing and Shanghai.

Chinese officials have been especially sensitive about live concerts since Icelandic singer Bjork chanted “Tibet! Tibet!” during a performance of her song “Declare Independence” in Shanghai in 2008.

China says its troops “liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse Beijing of religious repression and eroding their culture.

2.1 million Australian motorists urged to check potentially deadly airbags

A fatal Sydney crash is a “terrible reminder” for Australians to check whether their car contains a faulty Takata airbag which is linked to 18 deaths worldwide, says consumer advocate Choice.


A 58-year-old man was killed in a collision at Cabramatta on July 13 when his Honda CRV slammed into another vehicle at an intersection in Sydney’s southwest.

NSW Police on Friday said a faulty airbag was likely to blame after the driver was “struck in the neck by a small fragment”.

“Further investigations revealed the vehicle in the incident was subject of a worldwide recall for a faulty airbag,” they said in a statement.


Three others involved in the incident were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The dodgy Takata airbags, which can explode and launch metal shards when deployed, have previously been linked to 17 deaths and at least 180 injuries worldwide.

“The tragic news out of New South Wales this evening is a terrible reminder to motorists to check whether their own vehicle is one of those on the recall list,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said in a statement.

Prior to last week’s incident, there had not been any fatalities involving Takata airbags in Australia.

However, in late April a 21-year-old Northern Territory woman suffered serious injuries when one of the faulty airbags didn’t deploy properly during a crash in Darwin.

She was struck in the head by a small metal fragment, NT Police said at the time.

The recall covers approximately 100 million vehicles worldwide and 2.1 million in Australia.

Takata have been contacted for comment.

Sex robots: perverted or practical in fight against sex trafficking?

But look a little closer and it is clear they are not women but silicone sex dolls with wigs and artificial brains that Santos believes will not only earn him money but may also be used to staff brothels and help combat sex trafficking.


“Hi Samantha,” Santos said, switching on one of his dolls.

“I’m here, what’s up?” the robot replied, its bright blue eyes staring into nothing as a cable plugged into its neck charges the computer processor in its “brain.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into the global sex market, bringing with it a revolution in robotic “sextech” designed to offer sexual gratification with a near-human touch.

The robots’ responses are driven by microprocessor and an artificial intelligence algorithm (Reuters)Reuters

But the arrival of sex robots has divided opinion. Inventors like Santos argue they can potentially replace prostitutes, reduce sex trafficking and help lonely people, while critics say they objectify women and normalise sexism and rape culture.

“Get sexy,” instructed Santos, 39, who founded Synthea Amatus in 2015 and aims to start selling his sex robots in coming weeks, starting from about $2,000 each.

“I’m ready, what about you? I hope you are. I enjoy being with you, always,” the big-breasted robot replied, while Santos’ wife Maritsa Kissamitaki works at a desk in their home office.

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Roboticists like Santos and those from U.S.-based Abyss Creations are racing to become the first in the world to bring sex robots – which talk and respond to touch through AI technology – to the consumer market.

Sex robots at bigger companies like Abyss Creations will start from about $10,000 depending on added extras.

Experts say the increasingly life-like robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public – including whether use of such devices should be encouraged to curb prostitution and sex trafficking, for sex offenders, or for people with disabilities.

“I don’t see anything wrong in using a sex robot to provide sexual satisfaction to people who can’t achieve it in relationships with other humans. It’s much better for lonely and miserable people than no sex at all,” he said.

“Sex robots are just providing an alternative.”

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As the technology advances, brothels in global cities will be staffed by robot prostitutes, says Levy, and like most consumer electronics, such as laptops and mobile phones, the cost of sex robots will drop – to the point where it will be cheaper than paying for a human prostitute.

He believes as the stigma of having sex with robots wears off, robotics could disrupt the sex trafficking industry.

“The advent of sex robots will probably reduce the popularity of having sex with a sex worker. And if it’s going to have that effect, it will also reduce sex trafficking,” Levy said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I don’t see that anybody can possibly be harmed by people having sex with robots, so I think that the idea of a robot brothel should not only be legal it should probably be encouraged in order to reduce sex trafficking.”

Globally, nearly 46 million live as slaves, forced to work, sold for sex, trapped in debt bondage or born into servitude, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by Australia-based rights group Walk Free Foundation.

Santos said owning a sex robot could lead to fewer people visiting prostitutes which would combat sex trafficking.

“Should you be trafficking humans? I think it’s obvious – no. So what we should do is stop that, and make people spend the money on the doll,” he said.

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She said comparing prostitutes to robots was dehumanising and the sexual objectification of women through sex dolls was also problematic.

“I don’t think sex robots will reduce sex trafficking. It will just become another option on the menu for an already distorted and dehumanised commercial market,” said Richardson, an academic at De Montfort University who has been studying robotics for more than a decade.

“There’s something more insidious going on in sex trafficking about how you control and dominate another human being – and the pleasure you derive from rape.”

Richardson said sex dolls and robots could even be dangerous, used as proxies to act out fantasies like rape or pedophilia.

“Giving someone who wants to rape children and fantasises about that a doll with orifices that he can penetrate is . . . dangerous. It’s absolutely, extraordinarily irresponsible to promote that idea in wider society,” she said.

The Salvation Army in Britain, which supports survivors of sex trafficking, said it opposed the use of sex robots because it rewards people for exerting control over another.

“Trafficked people are being seen as a commodity and we don’t think that sex with a robot is going to reduce that,” said Kathy Taylor from the charity’s Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery unit.

“The reason some people purchase sex is because it can be a power dynamic in itself. And if you can buy a robot, does that not normalise this distorted power dynamic?”

But Santos, who aims to develop male robots as well, said sex robots had the potential to benefit society – from helping closeted lesbian, gay and bisexual people, to preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and progressing AI technology.

“Technology is always like that: people are against it, people are for it. But eventually, if you develop technology in the right way, you’ll always have many benefits for people,” he said.