All Blacks Sevens surprised to be recognised in San Francisco

The All Blacks Sevens team have been taken aback by the number of people recognising them in San Francisco ahead of the Sevens World Cup this weekend.

The New Zealand men's side went through strength and conditioning exercises today. Source: 1 NEWS

The team have been tourists in the Bay Area with players enjoying a tour of Alcatraz Island and taking in a Giants' baseball game at AT&T Park, which is hosting the World Cup.

While playing tourist, rookie Andrew Knewstubb has been surprised by the number of fans. 

“It’s pretty weird, walking around the street and people stop you for a photo and an autograph and stuff, and know your name,” he said.

“It’s crazy to be on the other side of the world and people know who you are."

Coach Clark Laidlaw said the new city, new stadium and new tournament had definitely energised the team after what he admitted had been a long season.

“We’re all quite excited by a new city, a new venue, a new tournament format, keeping everyone on their toes,” he said.

He said the All Blacks Sevens’ attractive style of play would hopefully help World Rugby make more of an inroad into the US market.

The All Blacks Sevens will play the winner of Russia v Hong Kong in their first match on Saturday 21 July (kick off 3.31pm NZT).

The Black Ferns Sevens face Mexico in their opening match of the World Cup on Friday 20 July (kick off 6.50am Saturday 21 July NZT).

Every game of the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens will be live from July 21-23 on TVNZ’s Duke channel - Freeview 13, Sky 23, and streaming on tvnz.co.nz

Andrew Knewstubb said the team had been stopped around the city for photos and autographs ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand’s women's and men's sevens teams have had a chance to see for themselves how much the game has grown. Source: 1 NEWS

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Donald Trump says Fed has 'gone crazy' after stocks' major drop

US President Donald Trump said the Federal Reserve "has gone crazy" after a major drop in stock prices today 

Mr Trump, who has been critical of the central bank's interest rate increases, told reporters after landing in Erie, Pennsylvania, that he thinks "the Fed is making a mistake".

He added, "I think the Fed has gone crazy." 

But he also called the drop "a correction we've been waiting for for a long time".

US stocks took their worst loss in eight months on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sinking 831 points and the Nasdaq composite logging its biggest loss in more than two years. 

Mr Trump has often pointed to stock market records set during his time in office as a measure of his success. 

The US President said he thinks "the Fed is making a mistake" with interest rate increases. Source: 1 NEWS

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Hurricane Michael slams into Florida with 249km/h winds, kills at least one as it charges into southeast

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 249 km/h today, splintering homes and submerging neighbourhoods before continuing its destructive charge inland across the US Southeast.

It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental US in nearly 50 years and at least one death was reported during its passage.

Supercharged by abnormally warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Category Four storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon Wednesday local time near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a 320-kilometre stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases. 

After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael barreled into south Georgia as a Category Three hurricane - the most powerful ever recorded for that part of the neighbouring state. It later weakened to a Category One hurricane, and there were reports it spawned possible tornadoes in central Georgia.

In north Florida, Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles. It set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 388,000 homes and businesses.

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The man wasn't immediately identified.

Damage in Panama City was extensive, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled off and homes split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Residents emerged in the early evening to assess damage when rains stopped, though skies were still overcast and windy.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her apartment, Spring Gate Apartments, a small complex of single-story wood frame apartment buildings. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and he said the roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the winds accelerated. Their ears even popped as the barometric pressure dropped.

"It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time. We had the inside windows kind of barricaded in with mattresses," Mr Beu said.

Kaylee O'Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, nearly hitting two people. Her one-year-old Siamese cat, Molly, was missing.

"We haven't seen her since the tree hit the den. She's my baby," Ms O'Brien said, her face wet with tears.

In Apalachicola, Sally Crown rode out the storm in her house. The worst damage - she thought - was in her yard. Multiple trees were down. But after the storm passed, she drove to check on the cafe she manages and saw breathtaking destruction.

"It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic," Ms Crown said. "There's flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. 

Houses that have been there forever are just shattered."

Governor Rick Scott announced soon after the powerful eye had swept inland that "aggressive" search and rescue efforts would get underway as conditions allowed. He urged people to stay off debris-littered roads.

"If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly," he said.

Michael was a meteorological brute that sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category Two on Tuesday to a Category Four by the time it came ashore. It was the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. But the fast-moving, fast-strengthening storm didn't give people much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

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Limo service operator linked to crash which killed 20 people leaves court after posting $232,000 bond

A limousine service operator was charged today with criminally negligent homicide in a crash that killed 20 people, while police continued investigating what caused the wreck and whether anyone else will face charges.

Nauman Hussain, 28, showed little emotion as he was arraigned today in an Albany-area court, and he ignored shouted questions from reporters as he left after posting $231,900 bond.

A judge had entered a not guilty plea for him.

Earlier, his lawyer said that Hussain wasn't guilty and that police were rushing to judgment in investigating Sunday's stretch limo wreck.

But State Police Superintendent George Beach said Hussain hired a driver who shouldn't have been behind the wheel of such a car, and the vehicle shouldn't have been driven after state inspectors deemed it "unserviceable" last month.

Hussain's car was packed with luggage when he was stopped Thursday on a highway near Albany, Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery said.

Hussain's lawyer, Lee Kindlon, said his client felt unsafe at home because he'd gotten threats.

The company, Prestige Limousine, has come under intense scrutiny since a 19-seater limo ran a stop sign and plowed into a parked SUV at the bottom of a long hill on Sunday.

The impact killed two pedestrians and 18 people in the limo, which was taking a group to a birthday bash.

Kindlon said his client handled only marketing duties and phone calls, while his father ran the company, though police called Hussain its operator.

Under New York law, criminally negligent homicide involves not perceiving a substantial, unjustifiable risk that leads to someone's death.

It's punishable by up to four years in prison.

Nauman Hussain, 28, entered a not guilty plea following Sunday’s stretch limo tragedy. Source: Associated Press


Watch: All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala shows off scars from broken arm as he prepares for rugby return

After nearly seven months on the sidelines, All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala is firming for his return to action, named on the bench for Counties' Mitre 10 Cup season finale against Canterbury on Saturday.

Having cemented his spot in the All Blacks' front row towards the end of 2017, Laulala's season was derailed just two weeks into his 2018 campaign, suffering a broken arm playing for the Chiefs. 

However, after a long road to recovery, Laulala is just one of three All Blacks front rowers to make their returns this weekend, with the Counties prop having seen the silver lining in his time away from rugby.

"It feels like an eternity," he began.

"I'm just really grateful for the time I got with my family - especially my wife. We're expecting our first child, (I'm) just trying to stay on the positive side of it all."

This isn't Laulala's first brush with serious injury, snapping three ligaments in 2015, ruled out for a year afterwards and fearing he'd never play again.

The burly front rower has used his experience though, helping him to come back stronger for a second time.

"I've been through some pretty intense trainings lately."

"This is my first full week with the boys. I'm going for whatever minutes I get, even if I get five minutes, I'll just be grateful to get back on the field, and just get an opportunity again."

Laulala will make his Counties debut, should he come off the bench.

After injury at the start of Super Rugby, Laulala will play for Counties this week. Source: 1 NEWS


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