Tourism increase

22/07/2018 // by admin

COULD Singleton become the main gateway to the Hunter Valley vineyards?
Nanjing Night Net

Broke Fordwich could be one of the big benefactors from an increase in visitors to the region.

That’s the thoughts and hopes of Singleton Council and local tourism operators after the Visitor Information and Enterprise Centre recorded a five per cent increase in visitors compared to this time last year.

The past two months were compared with last year and it showed a correlation between the opening of the Hunter Expressway and an increase in visitors.

With Singleton being the final stop on the highway and the vineyards only a short drive away, instead of just passing through the town, people are making a day out of seeing all there is to offer in the area.

“We’ve experienced an uptake of visitors to our region and we think it has a lot to do with the opening of the new Hunter Expressway,” Broke Fordwich Tourism Association president Eden Anthony said.

“Hopefully this leads to more employment and an increase in midweek traffic to the vineyards.”

Council is working to create more interest in Singleton and it’s surrounds through the revamp of its visitsingleton南京夜网 website.

“We have a unique opportunity to capitalise on the growing domestic market. With award-winning wineries, restaurants, events and accommodation just minutes from our town centre, the future for Singleton’s visitor economy looks bright,” Singleton Council general manager Lindy Hyam said.

Studies by Roy Morgan show that Australians are increasingly planning on holidaying with almost 58 per cent of intended holidays expected to be in Australia in the next 12 months.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

OPINION: Amateur hunting hopelessly ineffective

22/07/2018 // by admin

By David Shoebridge, Greens Member of the Legislative Council
Nanjing Night Net

In reply to Gary Mallard’s opinion piece regarding”Greens deception over anti-killing stance”

In his defence of the blood-sport of amateur hunting Mr Mallard claims campaigns against amateur hunting fail to address effective control measures for introduced species.

Unfortunately for the pro-hunting lobby, the evidence is clear that amateur hunting is in fact hopelessly ineffective at controlling introduced species.

The government-funded “Game Council” received more than $15million of government funding to lobby for amateur hunting and license more than 20,000 amateur hunters to hunt in the twomillion hectares of state forests the government approved for hunting.

The data produced by the Game Council to show its “success” was an annual tally of animals that its licensed amateur hunters had killed.

The figures from 2009 to 2013 are as follows:

These figures show that, on average, a licensed amateur hunter in NSW killed just one introduced animal a year, and most often that was a rabbit.

None of the hunting carried out by amateur hunters in NSW is coordinated or incorporated into a pest management plan, but is instead determined by the ad hoc preferences of amateur hunters.

Amateur hunters kill hundreds, or in some cases a few thousand, introduced animals from populations that are in the millions.

The evidence is that Australia has about sevenmillion foxes, 18 million cats, threemillion goats, millions of rabbits and between fourand 24 million introduced pigs.

Introduced animals have such large populations primarily because they have extremely high reproduction rates with a large “doomed surplus” each year.

This means most young do not survive to adulthood, but those that dobreed at such high rates they fully replace last season’s population.

Killing small numbers of a given population will therefore have no effect, as other animals, whichwould otherwise have died from the range of natural causes, then fill this niche.

The proportion of a population that needs to be removed to achieve an overall reduction in population from one year to the next is as follows:

When you look at just one species, such as cats, the inevitable failure of amateur hunting is easily demonstrated.

To effectively control the population, 57 per cent would need to be removed to have fewer cats in an area the next year.

The Game Council’s own figures show that the combined effort of amateur hunters in 2013 removed a total of 290 wild cats from millions of hectares of public forest, from a population estimated in the millions.

Amateur hunting took only a tiny fraction of feral cats from the already “doomed surplus”.

Their removal has made not one jot of difference to the wild cat population anywhere in NSW.

The same analysis can be applied to every species of animal killed by Game Council-licensed hunters.

Apart from small areas of land thatare subject to intensive, scientific and professional animal control programs, over the rest of the country introduced animals are controlled by their environment.

Competition for food, for habitat and natural predation keeps their numbers in check, not hunters.

Putting to one side the almost inevitable cruelty of amateur hunting practices such as pig-dogging and bow hunting, the evidence backs up our call for an immediate end to state-sanctioned and taxpayer-subsidised amateur hunting in our public forests.

* Tables fromInvasive Species Fact Sheet, “Recreational Hunting NSW: claims vs facts”

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Signs of ringworm in animals

22/07/2018 // by admin

RINGWORM: An example of the fungal infection STORY: Ringworm cases on rise in cats, dogs
Nanjing Night Net

RINGWORM is a fungal disease which creates scaly skin with a red outer rim.

The infection spreads through contact, and can be transferred from cats and dogs to humans.

Typical areas of infection in animals are the face, paws, ears and tail, and the infection often results in hair loss.

Scabs and crusts are often formed.

Common treatments include tablets and antibiotic antifungal creams.

Bendigo vet Max Tori said it was important pet owners sought treatment for their pets.

Some cases of ringworm will naturally cease, while others require multiple treatments. Environmental management is also important.

Vets recommend pets are well-groomed and regular brushing will help remove fungal spores.

Vacuuming also helps to remove contagious hair from flooring, and it’s recommended the bedding of infected animals is thrown away.

Pets should also be kept isolated from other animals.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Canberra coach Tara Steel looks to ‘get one back’ against rival Arawang

15/01/2019 // by admin

Canberra coach Tara Steel insists the team is ”not putting too much weight” on a win over arch rival Arawang on Friday night.
Nanjing Night Net

But she admitted their recent grand final history and a chance to ”get one back” for the loss in last year’s decider will spur her side on.

The top two sides in the ACT State League will do battle on Friday, with the victor taking a giant step towards the minor premiership.

They have clashed in the past three grand finals, with Canberra victorious in 2011 and 2012 before Arawang turned the tables last year.

Having initially billed this season as a rebuilding year, Steel said her side was relishing turning from the hunted to the hunter.

“Every game we go out in we treat with the same level of respect and intensity, [but] the history between the two teams does add that extra bit of motivation,” she said.

“Definitely, coming off the grand final loss last year, we’re still looking to get that one back. When we played them earlier this year [45-35 loss] we were fairly depleted.

“I’m not putting too much weight on the game in regards to the outcome, but it gives us a good indication of where we’re at.”

Canberra boasts the best attacking record in the competition, but Arawang is the defensive benchmark, led by Melina Saunders and Nat Jones.

Arawang coach Kim Symons admitted it would be a handy psychological blow if it was to beat Canberra for the second time this season before finals begin in a fortnight.

“I’d love to be able to walk into the finals with two wins to nothing against them – we’ll be going in with guns blazing,” Symons said.

“Last year Canberra had that advantage over us and come finals time we turned it around. It’s an advantage but you don’t rest on that.”

In other matches Belconnen and South Canberra will continue their dogfight for the fourth and final playoff spot, against Queanbeyan and Tuggeranong respectively.

All matches begin at 9pm at the Netball ACT Centre in Lyneham.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Save for university now to avoid crippling debt, experts warn

15/01/2019 // by admin

PM defends daughter’s scholarshipAbbott says cannot guarantee university fees won’t doubleChristopher Pyne smuggled past students at Sydney Uni
Nanjing Night Net

Parents should start putting money aside to fund universities degrees if they want to spare their children crippling debt burdens, academics warn.

“I would start saving now,” says Monash University’s associate dean of education Lucas Walsh.

Professor Walsh expects the federal government’s proposed changes to higher education could result in substantially larger university debts in some areas for students.

University graduates will most likely be subject to higher rates of interest on their loans under the reforms.

Interest rates will be pegged to the government bond rate instead of inflation with a cap of 6 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent currently.

And Professor Walsh says these larger debts could mean graduates delay major life choices, including starting a family or buying a home.

In the changes outlined in the recent federal budget, fees will be deregulated, allowing universities to charge as much as they want for courses.

But Education Minister Christopher Pyne said university students are misguided about the federal government’s education reforms

”University students will not be paying double the fees they are paying now,” he told Fairfax Radio Network on Friday morning.

”They are very misguided and spreading a great deal of misinformation.”

Although students will not have to pay back their loans until their pay reaches a threshold, Professor Walsh says their debts will be accumulating interest while graduates struggle to find jobs.

He says the workforce is becoming more “fluid” with stable, long-term jobs increasingly difficult to find.

“As a consequence I think it could affect the paying power of these students to repay their loans.”

Grattan Institute higher education program director Andrew Norton says course fees will rise on average but prices at private universities will almost certainly decrease.

He says the international student fee market in 2013 offers a rough guide to what domestic students can expect to pay for courses at the higher end.

His analysis of estimated maximum fee rises shows that student contributions to a law degree could go up 129 per cent to $22,415 a year.

An arts degree could rise by 159 per cent to $15,223 annually for domestic students.

However, he stresses there will be cheaper options available.

But students should make their own decisions about university education, he says.

“I’m still inclined to think these students are adults. They should be making adult choices about how much they spend and not expect their parents to pay for it,” he says.

And students should think carefully about the benefits of expensive courses particularly if there are cheaper alternatives for similar qualifications. “If you don’t get much, don’t pay it.”

But Smith Family general manager Anton Leschen says it is fanciful to think many parents have money to spare for their children’s future education.

“They’re focusing on transport costs, rising living costs. They didn’t have enough money to put aside previously,” he said.

Melbourne University higher education lecturer Emmaline Bexley says some parents may need to choose between independent schooling or setting aside money for tertiary education.

Dr Bexley points to US research that shows people with student loans are retreating from the housing market.

Last week Bloomberg reported that young people who weren’t saddled with college debts had taken out more mortgages than “student-loan borrowers”.

Bloomberg said the decline in “home-purchase ability” for people with student loans was an example of how education debt was dragging on the US economy.

Here the federal government wants to introduce measures to increase scholarships for disadvantaged students. But some university leaders have cited fears that children from middle-class families – who are unlikely to be eligible for hardship scholarships – could be priced out of university education.

But Mr Pyne said the students were wrong thinking the reforms would make universities accessible only to the rich.

”Not when you can borrow every single dollar up front from the Australian taxpayer and not pay it back until you’re earning over $50,000 a year and at the lowest interest rate that you’ll ever get for a loan in your entire life time,’’ he said.

Mr Pyne said middle-class families would not be priced out of tertiary education because of higher fees and higher rates of interest.

”That is just wild speculation. In my reforms to higher education we are massively expanding the number of providers who can access the Commonwealth government subsidies for students, that means there will be an adrenalin shock into the market. And if universities charge exorbitant fees, they won’t get any students,” he said.

He also said the Commonwealth scholarships program wais being expanded and there would be more opportunities for first-generation university goers.

Have you started saving for your child’s tertiary education? Let us know.

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Weekend planner: May 24-25

15/01/2019 // by admin

Africa Day Sunday. A celebration of African Unity with live music and dance performances, food stalls, market stalls and hair braiding. Free, 1pm to 5pm, Islington Public School.
Nanjing Night Net

3 Village Art Festival Saturday and Sunday. The first of its kind, a four-day celebration of the arts held at the three picturesque and historic villages of Paterson, Vacy and Gresford situated in the Paterson and Allyn River Valleys. At each village visitors can enjoy art, photography, sculpture, woodwork, market stalls, vintage car and bike displays, children’s activities and entertainment and side trips to an eclectic mix of rural highlights. Free.

The French Film Festival Saturday and Sunday. See films Belle and Sebastien, The Finishers, The Past, Blue Is The Warmest Colour and What’s In A Name?. Tickets $15 for a single session, or $12 for Alliance Francaise and Newcastle Film Society members. Weekend passes available. Tower Cinemas, Newcastle. newcastlefrenchfilmfestival.weebly南京夜网.

Dungog Duathlon Saturday and Sunday. A cross-country run followed by a mountain bike ride that finishes with a cross-country run. Choose from a long course – 10km run, 40km ride, 6km run – or short course, 6km run, 12km ride, 0.5km run. Arrive on Saturday from 2pm for registration, Australian Bike Throwing Competition, carbohydrate dinner and country music. Race starts from 8am on Sunday. Individual entry $75, short course entry $65, team of two entry $120. Dungog Showground, Dungog. dungogchallenge.org.au.

Gem and Mineral Auction Saturday. The Hunter Valley Gemology Club’s annual event. Rock specimens, gemstones and finished cabochons for sale. Free, 11am, clubrooms, 1 Maize Street, Tenambit.

The Wardrobe Exchange Sunday. Secondhand ladies clothing, shoes and accessories, as part of the Weekend To End Women’s Cancers, with money raised to benefit Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Free, 10am to 2pm, Edgeworth Community Hall.

Bubbles On A Sunday: Winter Fashion Sunday. Bubbles on arrival followed by scrumptious high tea with a winter fashion parade. $45 per person, bookings essential. Sala’s Function Centre, 298 Hillsborough Road, Warners Bay.

World’s Biggest Car Boot Sale Sunday. Sponsored by Ray White Maitland, this community market and garage sale will have more than 300 stalls with toys, tools, books, games, craft, antiques and collectables to raise funds for Hunter Life Education. Music, dance, Big Dog and Healthy Harold. Free, 8am to 1pm, Hunter Stadium.

Expresso Sunday. Celebration of faith, art and music will welcome Matt Anslow, an activist for refugees and people without a voice, who will perform and share his experiences. 6pm, free, The Dungeon, Adamstown Uniting Church, corner Glebe and Brunker roads, Adamstown.

Art Zone Saturday. Trained tutors encourage young participants to experiment with materials and learn new skills in a fun environment. Students aged 9 to 12 years old from 10.30am to 12.30pm, students aged 12 to 16 from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. $180 per student per term, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, First Street, Boolaroo.

Between The Lines Saturday. A comedy/drama with original live music about four very different women, each of whom have a story hidden beneath the surface. Written and directed by Maureen O’Brien, stars Kathleen Newman, Amanda Rietdijk, Cherie Mackinnon, Abby Hobson and musician Greg Russell. Tickets $15, bookings essential on 4954 8575. 2.30pm to 4.30pm, Cardiff Library.

The Centenary Centre Meet The Curators Saturday. Celebrate all things antique, vintage, rustic and industrial and meet those behind the centre’s 31 stores and welcome new stores Hunters Vintage Traders, The Vintage Spot, Nanna Had That. Retro music, food and lucky door prizes. 2pm to 5pm, 29 Centenary Road, Newcastle.

Southlake EcoHealth Expo Sunday. Join Permaculture Hunter, the Morisset and Peninsula Sustainable Neighbourhood Group and the South Lake Macquarie RSL for a festival of environmental health and personal well-being. Guest speakers Antoinette Balnave and Tom Farrell Institute Professor Tim Roberts, as well as a range of hands-on eco-skills workshops and information stalls. 10-4, free, Masonic Hall, 54 Yambo Street, Morisset. sustainableneighbourhoods.org.au/ecohealth-expo.

Hunter Valley Caravan, Camping, 4WD & Fish Show, Maitland Showground, Maitland, Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 9am to 4pm. Adults $15, aged pensioners $11, children 16 years and under free.

Hunter Valley Caravan, Camping, 4WD & Fish Show Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can escape the everyday just by researching how and what they would like to escape in. Choices are endless with tents, camper trailers, slide-on, caravans and motorhomes to suit all lifestyles and budgets. Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 9am to 4pm. Adults $15, aged pensioners $11, children 16 years and under free. Maitland Showground, Maitland.

En Plein Air Sunday. Learn under professional guidance about creating landscape drawings and paintings in the tradition of en plein air. The course of four weekly three-hour sessions is $100 per person. $30 for a casual attendance. 1pm to 4pm, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, First Street, Booragul.

Dine 4 Charity Saturday. A night of fun and entertainment from singers, dancers, a magician, auctions and raffles. Fund-raiser for Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation and Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance. 6.30pm to 11.30pm, tickets from the venue, Cessnock Leagues Club.

Biodynamic Workshop Saturday. Led by experts Hamish Mackay and John Priestly, participants learn the philosophy, theory and how-to of biodynamics farming and gardening. Fill and bury cow horns, get hands on with compost making and create the cow-pat-pit. $135 per person or $210 per couple, includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. 9-5, Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard, 712 Wollombi Road, Broke.

Tallavera Grove Vineyard Tour Saturday and Sunday. Guided vineyard tour including wine tasting. 10.30am. Costs $12. Bookings essential, 4990 7535. Tallavera Grove, Mount View.

Blues and Burgers Saturday. A celebration of the harvest hosted by Macquariedale Organic Wines. Gourmet burgers prepared by chefs from Mojo’s Restaurant. $45 per adults, $20 children. Noon, Macquariedale Organic Wines, 170 Sweetwater Road, Rothbury.

Hunter Writers Centre Poetry Group Saturday. Attend for one week before deciding whether to join the group. 10am to 2pm, Theatrette, City Library, Laman Street, Newcastle.

Savour The Flavour Saturday and Sunday. The small group tasting includes eight wines ranging from classic old vintage wines from the cellar contrasted with some more recent vintage cellar door exclusives such as Shepherd’s White Semillon. $47 per person, bookings essential 1800 677 366, 11am and 2pm, Wyndham Estate, 700 Dalwood Road, Branxton.

Handmade In The Hunter Saturday. 9am to 3pm. Kevin Sobels Wines, corner Broke and Halls Road, Pokolbin.

Hamilton Clock Tower Markets Saturday. 8am to 2pm. James St Plaza, Hamilton.

Maitland Harvest Markets Saturday. 8am to 1pm. Maitland Showground, Maitland.

Lake Macquarie Farmers Markets Saturday. 8am to 1pm. Speers Point Park.

Newcastle and Hunter Vietnam Veterans Inc Market Sunday. 7am to 1pm, Wickham Park, Islington.

Hopscotch Sundays Market Sunday. 9am to 2pm, Broadmeadow PCYC.

Baby and Kids Market Sunday. 9am to noon, Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium.

Adamstown Markets Sunday. 7am to noon. Corner of Glebe and Brunker roads, Adamstown.

Newcastle City Farmers Markets Sunday 8am to 1pm. Newcastle Showground, Broadmeadow.

Art Systems Wickham Vera Zulumovski, Reflection of the Dark Beast, to May 25.

Back to Back Galleries Connections, sculptures by Robyn Outram and Cathe Stack, to May 25.

Cooks Hill Galleries The Autumn Collection, to June 2.

Finite Gallery Kiss My Arts 2, an exhibition that will also be a fund-raising event for MS Australia. To June 1. Caves Beach.

Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery First Class 13, to June 1, Click: Schools In Focus, to June 1, Janet Laurence: A Case Study, to July 20.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery Groovin: The Story of Groovin the Moo, to May 25, The Three Os: Orban, Olsen and Ogburn, to June 29. Dick Watkins: Love of Women, to July 13. Nola Jones, to July 13.

Maitland Gaol Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles All Tied Up, an exploration of ties and neckwear and the place they have played in social interaction and identity, to July 20.

Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre Annette Bezor: Iconic Works 1997-2013, The Kevin Tester Retrospective, Miniatures XVII. To June 15.

Newcastle Art School Night, Diploma in Visual Arts Exhibition, to May 29.

Newcastle Art Gallery Novocastria to July 13.

Newcastle Art Space The Seven Painters featuring works by Jennifer Finnie, Patricia Williamsz, Michael Bateman, Malcolm Sands, Sarah Knights, Neville Cottee and Andrew Finnie, to May 25.

Newcastle Region Library Shaun Tan: The Lost Thing exhibition to June 3.

Timeless Textiles Akin by Meredith and Rae Woolnough, to June 15.

University Gallery Instantiating Ideas of Limitless Space by painter Lucila Nalvarte Maddox, to June 7.

Watt Space Gallery Watt Space 25th Anniversary Open Show, to May 25.

Newy parkrun Saturday. Starting at 8am at 1 Arnold Street, Carrington, it’s a 5km run in the area near Throsby Creek. Register before first run (parkrun南京夜网.au/newy).

Newy parkrun Saturday. Starting at 8am at 1 Arnold Street, Carrington, it’s a 5km run in the area near Throsby Creek. Register before first run (parkrun南京夜网.au/newy).

Futuro Financial Services Race Day Saturday. Thoroughbred racing, with the option to dine in Cheval’s Restaurant. Gates open 11.15am, $10 general admission, Broadmeadow Racecourse.

Ice hockey Saturday. Newcastle North Stars take on Canberra Brave. 5pm, tickets $20 adults or $15 kids, Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.

A Streetcar Named Desire A fading Southern belle tries to escape her past when she stays with her sister and brother-in-law; tense drama by Tennessee Williams. Woy Woy Little Theatre, at the Peninsula Theatre, Woy Woy. Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm, until June 1; plus 2pm Saturday matinee May 31. 4344 4737.

Argyle House Saturday, L00ve featuring Kagz, Fuel, Jace Cordell.

The Bradford Saturday, Secret Society. Sunday, the Gunswingers.

The Brewery Saturday, Troy, Mardmax, DJ Dola. Sunday, Love That Hat, Perry Carter, DJ Ules.

Cambridge Hotel Saturday, Free Your Mind with Northlane, Thy Art Is Murder, Veil Of Maya, Volumes and Make Them Suffer.

Catho Pub Sunday, Viagro.

Charlestown Bowling Club Saturday, Original Sin: The INXS Show.

Civic Theatre Newcastle Saturday, It’s Dark Outside. Tuesday, Djuki Mala (Chooky Dancers).

Great Northern Hotel Sunday, Dead Letter Circus.

Grand Hotel Saturday, Tim Rossington, Jazz. Tuesday, Jazz with Holly Clayton Group.

Grand Junction Hotel Saturday, Melody Pool, Ahlia-Rain. Sunday, Zoe K.

Kent Hotel Saturday, Rubber Bullet. Sunday, Moose Preservation. Tuesday, Poker. Wednesday, Trivia.

Lizotte’s Newcastle Saturday, Abby Dobson. Sunday, The Idea of North. Wednesday, Hats Bennett, Jack Dawson, Matt Semmens, the Dockadoras.

Newcastle Panthers Sunday, the Wiggles.

Shinnies Hotel, Boolaroo Sunday, Leadbellies.

The Small Ballroom Saturday, She Rex, Lepers and Crooks. Wednesday, Happy Club featuring Closure In Moscow.

Stag And Hunter Hotel Saturday, Bluesbombers.

Warners Bay Hotel Saturday, Misbehave. Sunday, Troy Kemp. Wednesday, Trivia.

OPENING

Kochadaiyaan 3D (MA15+) Indian Tamil computer-animated period film. (Event Cinemas Glendale)

Son of God (M) The story of The New Testament.

X-Men: Days of Future Past 3D (PG) The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history.

Sunshine on Leith (PG) Rab (Peter Mullan) and Jean (Jane Horrocks) are busy planning their 25th wedding anniversary, but a revelation from Rab’s past threatens to tear the family apart. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

The Trip to Italy Rob Brydon has been commissioned by a newspaper to go on a driving tour of Italy from Liguria to Capri, following in the footsteps of the great Romantic poets. (Event Cinemas Newcastle)

ADVANCED SCREENING

Maleficent 3D The events that hardened the villainous Maleficent’s heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora.

NOW SHOWING

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3D (M); Bad Neighbours (MA 15+); Belle (PG); The Book Thief (M) (Reading Cinemas Birmingham Gardens); Caesar and Cleopatra (Avoca Beach); Chef (M); Chinese Puzzle (M) (Event Cinemas Newcastle); Dora Snow Princess and Paw Patrol (G) (Hoyts Charlestown); The Finishers (PG) (Avoca Beach); Godzilla 3D (M); The Grand Budapest Hotel (M); Healing (M); Heaven is for Real (PG) (Reading Cinemas Maitland); The Invisible Woman (M); The Lego Movie (PG); Lalaloopsy Ponies: The Big Show (G); The Man From Cox River (Avoca Beach); Muppets Most Wanted (G); My Sweet Pepperland; The Other Woman (M); Mr Peabody and Sherman (PG); Wadja (PG) An 11 year old girl pursues a simple dream of one day owning a bicycle. From Saudi Arabia and subtitled in English.

SAVE THE DATE

Destination Port Stephens, along with its whale cruise operators and Karingal Preschool, are inviting the public to celebrate the end of Japan’s whaling program in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary by forming a 100-metre long outline of a humpback whale on Sunday, June 1 on the western end of Shoal Bay Beach at Port Stephens at 11am. Participants are eligible for half-priced whale watching cruise from 1pm on the day.

TAKE NOTE

Paul Greene and the Other Colours perform songs from their new album One Lap Of The Sun at Lizotte’s on Thursday May 29, showcasing a style that shifts effortlessly from folk to soul, skiffle and back.

Barack Obama forced to address deaths, cover-up claims as Veterans Affairs scandal grows

15/01/2019 // by admin

Washington: US President Barack Obama has been forced to address allegations that as many as 40 military veterans died while waiting for treatment at a Veterans Affairs facility and that administrators sought to cover-up long waiting lists.
Nanjing Night Net

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonourable, it is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it, period,” said Mr Obama

after he met with the Veterans Affairs secretary on Wednesday and one of his senior aides, who he had attached to the department during investigations.

The potentially devastating scandal has spread from revelations about deaths and cover-ups at one facility in Phoenix and investigators are now looking into 26 Veterans Affairs facilities.

“I know that people are angry and want swift reckoning,” he said. “I sympathise with that. But we have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened.”

Mr Obama has made care for veterans a pillar of his administration after having campaigned on the issue in the lead-up to the 2008 election, which came after a scandal over the neglect of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington.

Mr Obama has spent much of his second term hosing down potential scandals, ranging from revelations of widespread data-harvesting by the National Security Agency to investigations into claims the State Department attempted to cover-up the events surrounding the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

And even though Americans remain divided over the causes and effects of more than 10 years of war, nothing unifies the nation so much as its regard for veterans.

As the November mid-term elections approach, many Republicans are seeking to lay blame for the Veterans Affairs’ poor care and cover-ups at the door of the White House, and even link the healthcare reforms known as Obamacare to the brewing scandal.

“This administration’s ineffectual response has created a crisis of confidence in our veterans’ community,” said Senator John McCain. “We need answers, leadership and accountability, none of which we’ve seen from the Obama administration to date.”

A columnist in the conservative National Review wrote: “No one is suggesting that such scandals are widespread in the general health-care system. But they should serve as a warning sign of what could happen as the pressure to ration, inherent in all government-managed health care, is applied to the general population.”

Mr Obama said some Veterans Affairs staff had already been put on administrative leave and that anyone found to have falsified records would be held accountable. He also announced a wide-ranging review into the department’s administration.

Its workload has been significantly increased by the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the recognition under the Obama administration of veterans of the Vietnam War suffering from long-term illnesses caused by the spraying of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange alone took up 37 per cent of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s claims-processing resources nationally from October 2010 to March 2012, The Atlantic reported.

Though Veterans Affairs had funding increased from $US100 billion ($108 billion) in 2009 to $US154 billion this year, claims for assistance jumped from 423,000 in 2009 to 883,000 in 2012.

According to The Atlantic’s analysis, the organisation could not expand fast enough to meet demand, even with the increased funding.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Rolf Harris trial: prosecution due to end its case

15/01/2019 // by admin

London: The prosecution was due to wrap up its case against Rolf Harris overnight, with a story which it claims shows him again taking advantage of his celebrity status to molest a young girl.
Nanjing Night Net

A pair of witnesses on video link from New Zealand were expected to testify over an encounter in Hamilton in 1991, where Harris was appearing at a British Paints promotion.

A 15-year-old girl who was passionate about art attended the promotion, and Harris offered to give her a hug, prosecutor Sasha Wass, QC, said in her opening statement two weeks ago. But when he stepped towards the girl he put his hand into her blouse and touched her breast, and also squeezed her bottom.

The court was also due to hear, via video link, from the woman’s mother, who said she confronted the entertainer after he rubbed against her at the same event.

The character witnesses in this case have shown Harris had a ”persistent pattern of sexual offending” over 30 years, Ms Wass said.

On Wednesday two Australians took the stand in Southwark Crown Court to testify about Harris’ behaviour in the make-up chair at Channel Seven, where he used to host a variety show in the 1980s.

The make-up artist said she had been hired for a day’s work at Seven, and worked wearing baggy denim shorts.

Soon after she started to do Harris’ makeup she felt his hand on her left leg, up under her shorts, over her bottom and up to her waist.

”He was really fast, it was slide hand up, slide hand down,” she said. ”I turned around and looked at the mirror. My first thought was ‘oh my God, I can’t believe he works with children’.”

She had to regularly touch up his makeup once he was out in the studio, and about two dozen times he did the same thing, she said.

She later complained to a female supervisor. ”I told her what had happened to me: ‘The dirty old man groped me all day and I was really pissed off’.

”I found out [afterwards] from makeup artists he was called ‘the octopus’,” the witness said. ”He was all hands.”

Defence counsel Sonia Woodley, QC, put it to the witness that the encounter ”simply didn’t happen”. The witness just laughed in response.

The court also heard from Tony Porter, a retired Australian actor who had worked with Harris on his variety show Rolf at about the same time.

He said he had seen Harris in a makeup chair when a makeup artist leaned over in front of him to do his face.

”Both arms shot up and he went to tickle her up … he went straight for her breasts,” Mr Porter said. ”[He] made like a lascivious noise with his mouth.”

Mr Porter said it was clear from the woman’s reaction that she did not welcome the approach.

Horseplay, innuendo and sexual suggestions were common between TV personalities and people in roles such as makeup, he said, but ”it was totally unknown for someone to reach out and grab somebody’s breasts … the first thing I said when I got home, I told my wife ‘you’ll never believe what I saw Rolf do tonight’.”

Ms Woodley asked Mr Porter if he had been upset by Harris, and he said once Harris had come up to him when he was telling jokes to the TV show audience and said out of the side of his mouth ”mate, I’ll do the funny stuff, OK” and walked away – but he took it as a backhanded compliment.

Mr Porter and the makeup artist were character witnesses for the prosecution case. Their stories did not relate to specific charges against the entertainer.

Harris, 84, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault against four complainants.

The trial before Justice Nigel Sweeney continues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bryce Hegarty starts to look the part as Melbourne Rebels’ No.10

16/12/2018 // by admin

Confidence can be a remarkable thing. Ask about Bryce Hegarty’s progress as Melbourne Rebels’ five-eighth and that is often the improvement that is pointed to.
Nanjing Night Net

Hegarty had a shaky start to the season as he looked to confirm himself as the preferred replacement in the No.10 jersey for departed superstars James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale.

In truth, the Rebels did not have many options for the No.10 jersey after Waratahs playmaker Bernard Foley had a late change of heart last year against playing for Melbourne.

And, thrust into the playmaking role, which he filled at times in 2013, Hegarty struggled to control the team around the park; his kicking game was badly exposed at times and his game was potted with errors such as kicking out on the full and poor decision-making.

But in recent weeks a transformation has taken place. Suddenly, he has become far more confident, his mistakes less common and his play notable for his impressive actions, often setting up tries.

His progress will take another step against NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park on Friday night, when he will be the senior partner in the halves combination.

With Nic Stirzaker and former Wallabies halfback Luke Burgess suffering leg injuries, 22-year-old Ben Meehan, who has played five games off the bench for the Rebels, will be handed his first start at No.9.

Hegarty’s long-time mentor and family friend, former rugby league star Steve Renouf, believes the best is yet to be seen from Hegarty, who was recruited from NRL club Brisbane Broncos’ junior system.

‘‘I noticed when he first started he was just playing, I think, with what he was told to do,” Renouf said.

“He didn’t try to overplay his hand, which I thought was a real mature thing to do because knowing Bryce he naturally has an eye for the game, so he likes to do his own thing.

‘‘But he’s really been disciplined, working in with the play of the Rebels … and now I think what you’ll see, he’ll start to get a bit freer in his play. You’ll see a kid who’s a bit more confident and he’ll start playing to what’s in front of him and to take a few more chances.’’

Teammate and leadership group member Tom English said Hegarty’s growing confidence could be seen in his performances.

‘‘It shows out there on the field,’’ English said. ‘‘He’s really looking to take it to the line and he’s playing all options and his vision got better.’’

Rebels rugby operations manager Baden Stephenson said the 21-year-old, who has re-signed until the end of 2015, was also showing a more assertive attitude in training and team meetings.

But despite Hegarty’s improvement, which has contributed to the team’s better performances, and the presence of highly regarded back-up Jack Debreczeni, Stephenson confirmed the Rebels were still chasing an established inside back who can play five-eighth, although the emphasis has seemingly moved to adding depth to the ranks after the unsuccessful bids for the likes of Foley, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano and reported interest in British and Irish Lions five-eighth James Hook and Queensland stalwart Mike Harris.

‘‘To Bryce’s credit, he has really developed as the year’s gone on and he’s been doing a good job for us,’’ Stephenson said.

‘‘Having said that, it’s probably fairly clear that we have been looking for a quality and experienced inside back to help the team and assist with our progression as a team.

‘‘Tony [McGahan] quite rightly mentions to Bryce and the team that the blowtorch is on, but that’s where you’re going to learn and the biggest thing for him and the team evolving this year is that we have to learn from our mistakes and keep making improvements.’’

Meanwhile, Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham said young halfback Meehan would have no problems fitting straight into the side against the Waratahs.

‘‘He’s a confident young bloke and we love playing with him,’’ Higginbotham said.

Former Waratah Josh Holmes, who was drafted into the squad two weeks ago as injury cover, has been named on the bench.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bye, Singapore: the hottest new stopover cities for Australians

16/12/2018 // by admin

Dubai is a top stopover choice for many Australians who are flying to Europe. Photo: Dubai TourismShopping in Bangkok and eating noodles in Singapore are yesterday’s news.
Nanjing Night Net

As we head into the peak season for trips to the northern hemisphere, the hottest stopover destinations are in the Middle East and China, with big-name attractions, cultural bites and longer stays on the menu.

“There’s definitely been a noticeable shift in recent times,” says the managing director of Creative Holidays, James Gaskell. “A lot of people are chasing more unusual experiences on their way to Europe.”

Gaskell says the nature of stopovers has changed, from the traditional one-night “wash and brush up” in Hong Kong or Singapore to three or four days of active sightseeing and exploring in new cities.

The shift in destinations is largely due to changes in the airline scene, particularly the growth of Middle Eastern airlines Emirates and Etihad, and Qantas’s partnership with Emirates.

Increased flight options to Chinese cities have also played a role, along with the introduction of visa-free stopovers for Australian travellers to Guangzhou.

China Southern Airlines, which has been actively promoting the 72-hour visa-free option since it was introduced last August, says nearly 40 per cent of travellers who have taken it up have been from Australia and New Zealand.

The airline has worked with local tourism authorities to put together stopover packages including Cantonese food and local sights, as an alternative to our traditional Asian stopover cities.

Guangzhou might be new to many Australian travellers, but China Southern says it is now China’s third largest city for tourism, clocking up more than 50 million visitor nights last year.

The executive general manager of marketing for Flight Centre, Colin Bowman, agrees long-standing stopover destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore have waned, with many Australians now flying to Europe via Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Bowman says some travellers are “not particularly enamoured” with the Middle Eastern routes, which offer a very long leg out of Australia followed by a shorter leg into Europe, but many see it as an opportunity to bypass London and go straight into other European cities.

Some choose the Middle Eastern routes because they want to fly with the well-regarded Middle Eastern carriers, while others see it as an opportunity to explore somewhere new and see “two cities for the price of one”.

“People are open to these options because they’re always looking for new places to go,” Bowman says. “There are some good accommodation deals, too, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

Bowman says stopover travellers in the Middle East can get four or five star hotels from about $100 a night, making it an affordable add-on to their holiday plans.

James Gaskell says the average stopover in Dubai for Creative Holidays customers is four days, while a typical stopover in Abu Dhabi is two to three nights. He believes the “Dubai publicity machine” has played a big role in the Middle East’s growing popularity, along with the number of big-name attractions in the region.

Do you think the Middle East and China are the best stopover destinations? What would your stopover choice be? Post your comments below.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Meet Gloria, the sex worker grandma who made Tony Abbott wink

16/12/2018 // by admin

Gloria, the pensioner and phone sex worker who surprised Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Luis Ascui Gloria, or Judith Palmer
Nanjing Night Net

Tony Abbott admits wink was a mistake

She is known as Gloria, the grandmother telephone sex worker whose talkback call with the Prime Minister, and the wink it evoked, triggered a storm of controversy.

Her real name is Judith Power and she is a long-time feminist activist and anarchist but insists she has never been a member of a political party, even though Liberal Party twitter accounts claim she is an ALP branch secretary.

An ALP spokesperson said Ms Power had never been a member.

The 67-year-old from Warburton, Melbourne, did not hold back in her interview with Fairfax on Thursday, saying the Prime Minister was as sleazy as some of her callers.

“He looks like what some of my clients sound like,” she said, of the wink and smile he gave as Ms Power revealed she worked as a telephone sex worker to make ends meet.

Ms Power said she decided to phone ABC talkback radio on Wednesday after “seething for weeks” about the Abbott government.

She has a range of illnesses including emphysema and was particularly incensed about their new $7 GP visit fee, which was revealed in the budget.

The wink: Abbott’s moment in a gif

The grandmother of three has a distinct, raspy voice and said the controversy has not been good for business. She suspects some of her clients may have recognised her voice and is uncomfortable with the fact her real name has been revealed in social media.

She began working on the sex line three years ago after losing her long-term cleaning job.

“I couldn’t find any other work at the time. I saw an ad in the local paper and needed work so I thought I’d give it a try and virtually started straight away.”

She receives 50 cents a minute and says the average call lasts 2 minutes.

Her clients come from across Australia and New Zealand and include isolated, single farmers, and before the mining boom ended, lots of men working in Western Australia.

She also provide phone sex services to disabled people, and young people coming home from nightclubs on a Sunday morning.

“Some of them do ring in because I’m 67. One of them is a granny line and they ring in because I’m an older woman.”

She said while sometimes the work is funny and interesting, it is mostly boring.

In the last fortnight she has made $84, which she has put towards her rent.

But she had no idea her conversation with the Prime Minister was going to go viral.

“I couldn’t believe that someone in charge of a country could look like that. It is really sleazy, it is as sleazy as some of the people who ring me up,” she said of Mr Abbott’s wink.

She said she is pleased the PM’s bat of an eyelid has received so much attention.

“I was a catalyst for him showing himself for what he is, which is sleazy and a misogynist.”

Her phone has been beeping incessantly since the drama with messages of congratulations from friends and family.

“I’ve received messages saying I was a warrior queen, go mum, you really stuck it at him.”

While the grandmother’s call to the Prime Minister has gone viral, Ms Power has not been able to view the #winkgate controversy because she does not have the internet at the moment. On Thursday she went to the local library in the hope of using one of their communal computers, but unfortunately they were all booked out by locals doing genealogy searches.

Ms Power said if former prime minister Julia Gillard was answering talkback calls she would have given her just as hard a time over her changes to the single parenting payment.

“It didn’t affect me personally but I thought it was a disgusting thing to do to vulnerable people.”

She suffered a heart attack around three years ago, has arthritis, and emphysema from years of smoking.

When asked to describe her financial situation, Ms Power says “it’s like walking along the edge of a precipice”.

She said she lives on $200 a week after rent and can never afford new clothes.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Deciphering the Fed’s alphabet soup

16/12/2018 // by admin

The US Federal Reserve has an alphabet soup of financing facilities and so for investors trying to understand what’s happening it’s like having a second language. But it is getting complicated.
Nanjing Night Net

Prior to the global financial crisis the debate was normally over whether the economic recovery would be in the shape of a V, U, W or even a square root symbol, with some talk about a J-curve thrown in for good measure.

Then we got acronyms like QE (quantitative easing) and LTRO (long-term refinancing operations), as central banks became the dominant players in global financial markets, dictating all the ebbs and flows.

Now we have TDF, RRP and IOER. Or for those that aren’t bilingual, the term deposit facility, the reverse repurchase agreements and interest on excess reserves.

Those three acronyms just happen to be a large part of the latest strategy that the Fed has signalled it will use when it starts to get interest rates back to more normal levels.

Not that it’s going to happen anytime soon.

More information offered

But the latest minutes from this month’s meeting show that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee have all bases covered.

The FOMC even wants to give investors more information about how the Fed is going to dismantle its balance sheet that has blown out to more than $US4 trillion since the GFC.

The committee also want to make it very clear what happens when all the US Treasuries on the balance sheet mature and how the principal payments on MBS will be reinvested. That’s mortgage backed securities on the balance sheet.

The main message however was how the Fed, eventually, is going to get monetary policy back to normal when banks have trillions of dollars of excess reserves.

In the past, the Fed would just take away a small amount of those reserves and then rates would go up. But that’s not going to work in the world investors live in now.

That’s where TDF, RRP and IOER come into it.

All are new measures and no one is quite sure how they will work so the Fed will roadtest them before launching them, but if they have one thing in common it is all about giving the Fed more control over interest rates.

The Fed is about to embark on a program that enables the banks to park money with the bank for seven days, that’s the term deposit, at 0.25 per cent, which is at the top end of its current policy rate range.

This keeps the money away from the overnight market that dictates the Fed funds rate and is a way of soaking up the excess reserves.

The IOER right now pays 0.25 per cent so is a little sidelined by the seven day deal. Some analysts say the RRP is the better option for the Fed.

It, too, is a way of soaking up extra cash, but this time it’s not from the banks, but from government agencies such as Freddie Mac and Fannie May that have as much as $US24 billion in cash and money market funds, with $US2.6 trillion in assets, that can’t use the seven-day deals.

This money attracts a rate of 0.05 per cent.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Iron ore slump weighs on rate rise expectations

16/12/2018 // by admin

The recent iron ore slump below $US100 a tonne, along with the sharp drop in consumer confidence, is casting doubt on consensus expectations that the next move by the Reserve Bank of Australia on interest rates will be a hike.
Nanjing Night Net

Last week, National Australia Bank was the last of the big four banks to call the end of the current rate cut cycle, which has seen the official cash rate drop 225 basis points since November 2011, to a record low of 2.5 per cent.

But, with iron ore slumping below $US100 per tonne for the first time in close to two years and consumer confidence plunging in the wake of the Federal Budget, that’s being questioned by some economists.

Markets are now pricing in a 17 per cent chance of a rate hike within the next 12 months. That’s down from a 50 per cent chance before the budget was presented last week, and from an 80 per cent chance in April.

“On the risks, iron ore at $US97.50 and little response from the Australian dollar has us thinking the risk of a rate cut over the next 12-18 months is now around the same as a rate hike,” Deutsche Bank chief economist Adam Boyton said.

In this scenario, unemployment could take a hit if iron ore was to remain at current levels for the rest of the year, instead peaking at around 6.5 per cent, rather 6.25 per cent, Mr Boyton said.

However, iron ore is expected to make a mild recovery and Deutsche Bank are forecasting to unemployment rate to be stuck between 5.75 per cent and 6.25 per cent.

“In our view we aren’t yet at the point where we’d include a rate cut in our forecasts off the back of the current iron ore price. Given, however, the post-Budget weakness in sentiment and the current weakness in iron ore; we remain comfortable with our ‘low for long’ cash rate view,” Mr Boyton said.

Most analysts expect iron ore to recover slightly in the second half, with Goldman Sachs, which is slightly more bearish than others, forecasting a price of $US105 per tonne in the September quarter and $US100 per tonne in the December quarter. Citi forecast an average price of $US100 per tonne for the rest of the calendar year.

However, both investment banks see heavy falls in the iron ore price in 2015

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.