March, 2019

Short Takes August 3: readers have their say on the day’s news

YES, Dennis Crampton (Short Takes1/8) a scary nightmare:Bill Shortstop in the Lodge. You, sir, nailed it. The country will be broke again in under 12 months.
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Tony Cooper,BelmontCONTRARYto Alan Metcalfe’s beliefs (Letters1/8) the population bomb is a myth.Poverty has never been lower,both locally and globally. Food prices are at the lowest levels in recorded history, with food consuming the smallest portion of Australian household spending since ABS records began.We’re back to where we were in the 1970s, when hysterical predictions of imminent starvation and depletion of oil, gold, iron and other resources were rampant. None of that came to pass, and we now have greater known reserves of all than we did at that time. We produce enough food to feed the entire global population several times over. In the past few decades hundreds of millions of people have escaped poverty to live a middle-class lifestyle.Australia is a big country, and Earth is a big planet. With the population density of Manhattan, the entire global population can be accommodated in a space the size of Texas.I suppose that no matter how full, the glass will always appear half-empty to some.

Scott Hillard,New Lambton THEphoto of the Frederick Ash Ltd building (Letters1/8) gave me the idea that a gallery could feature some tools of trade. As kids my sister and I would make the train trip from Gosford to Newcastle in the ‘50s so Dad, a carpenter by trade, could visit Fred Ash and stock up with new tools. Our reward was lunch in Scott’s dining room, linen tablecloths and napkins along with a full setting of cutlery. The presence of the lady maître d’ added to the class. Meanwhile, 60 years on, some of Dad’s tools lie silent in a wooden fruit box in my garage.

Allan Gibson,CherrybrookI BELIEVE there is a disarmingly simple solution to the secret Newcastle container fee(Herald, 1/8). The Port of Newcastle was leased for the unauthorisedpurpose of charging the fee. Either the fee is declared invalid or the leaseis declared invalid.

Greg Cameron,WamboinTHE federal government has created a scheme whereby millionaires can get permanent residency in Australia if they invest $5 million in land or shares (“Rich investors buying $5 million visas”, Canberra Times 26/3/2013). Sky News’ Peta Credlin saidthat up to date 2000 Chinese people had taken up this scheme.Most had bought shares, acquiring residence status and then reselling their shares back to the stock exchange. Some have profited and some have lost money, but they have all gained permanent status here in Australia, potentially with their families.I believeit makes a mockery of Minister Dutton saying everything is done by the book.I haven’t heard of this scheme before, does it sound right?

John Matthews,Belmont NorthIF BRAD Hill and Colin Fordham are unavailable for half-time entertainment (Short Takes 2/8), I bet the Bay Bandit would prove popular. Then again, Steve “Butcher” Barnett may find the steakstoo high.

Charles Farley,Adamstown Heights


Japanese gun Hiejima joins NBL’s Bullets

The Brisbane Bullets have turned to Japan to end a run of two wooden spoons in the NBL, signing shooting guard Makoto Hiejima in an historic move that could reshape the league’s recruitment strategies.
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Hiejima was the architect behind Japan’s surprise World Cup qualifier defeat of the Boomers in June and will join the Bullets as a local player under the NBL’s Asian Player rule.

The 27-year-old, who will be the NBL’s first Japanese representative, speaks limited English and will have a translator by his side as he teams with Brisbane and Australian coach Andrej Lemanis in a landmark arrangement.

His signing will open new doors commercially for the Bullets and the NBL as they continue to build an Asian footprint.

But it is no marketing gimmick with Hiejima averaging 16 points, four rebounds and four assists in the current World Cup qualifying campaign.

“(In June’s win) he was playing against the best Australians in the NBL and … he was something to deal with,” Lemanis said.

“You would imagine that’s going to translate into the NBL.”

Keen to develop his game, the shooting guard sought Lemanis out through Japan-based former NBL coach Shawn Dennis and will take a significant pay cut after claiming MVP honours in the nation’s rich B League last season.

“What he is doing is courageous – moving over 6000km to Australia, the change of culture, testing yourself in a new environment with the added challenge of the language barrier – I have a lot of respect for what he is doing and why he is doing it,” Lemanis said.

It’s how it turns out that will determine the (recruitment) attitudes of the (other) clubs for sure.”

His arrival on Monday ahead of an October 11 season opener continues Brisbane’s aggressive off-season recruitment drive following back-to-back wooden spoons since rejoining the NBL.

NBL veteran Mika Vukona as well as Boomers Cam Gliddon, Jason Cadee and Matt Hodgson have arrived in the off-season while Rio Olympian and former Chicago Bull Cam Bairstow is fit after a knee reconstruction ruled him out last season.

The Bullets plan to sign another import small forward to complete their roster, which leaves an import spot open if injury or form warrants a mid-season roster change.

“He (Hiejima) gives us great depth in the guard positions, the opportunity to run different line ups and keep pressure on the whole game,” Lemanis said.


Harassment claims are ‘lies’: Husar

Besieged Labor MP Emma Husar has rejected claims she sexually harassed staff and exposed herself to another federal MP as “absolute lies” aimed at ruining her career.
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A Labor investigation into Ms Husar’s behaviour reportedly received an allegation she flashed Labor frontbencher Jason Clare three times in his office while he was on the floor playing with his young son.

“This is categorically untrue,” Mr Clare said.

Ms Husar also denies the allegation, accusing a former staff member of trying to ruin her career.

“This smear is completely and utterly untrue, unfair and hurtful beyond belief. 100 per cent false,” the western Sydney MP tweeted in response.

“These are absolute lies that have been fabricated by [the ex-staffer], who’s working with his father to leak against me and ruin my reputation.

“I have done my best to cooperate with the investigation and clear my name, but it’s clear these people will stop at nothing to destroy me.”

Details of a letter from the Labor internal investigation sent to Ms Husar on May 16, containing a brief of staff allegations about bullying and sexual harassment, were published by news website BuzzFeed on Thursday.

Lawyer John Whelan spoke to more than 20 former staff as part of his investigation before sending the allegations to Ms Husar.

“(The staff member) alleged that he was sitting opposite you and that on three occasions you spread your legs, revealing that you were not wearing any underwear. (Staff member) felt that your conduct was deliberate, proactive and targeted towards Mr Clare,”

They include claims of sexual harassment, diversion of Labor funds into her personal bank account, bullying, aggressive behaviour, and using taxpayer money to hire a nanny who couldn’t work a computer.

NSW Labor said continued public speculation about Mr Whelan’s investigation was a significant concern.

“It is a cause of some delay to the process and is serving to escalate tensions,” the party said in a statement.

Labor expects Mr Whelan to provide a briefing about the investigation in coming weeks.

A spokesman for Bill Shorten told AAP the Labor leader hadn’t seen the letter referred to and nor was he aware of its existence before today.

NSW Labor informed the opposition leader of the independent investigation on July 18.

Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil said Ms Husar is “a really good person”.

“The things that are being said and alleged here don’t seem consistent with the person that I know,” she told Sky News.

Workplace Minister Craig Laundy said Ms Husar’s staff should have gone to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The staff who are involved with this obviously have no confidence in the process,” he told Sky News.

Ms Husar holds the western Sydney seat of Lindsay on a margin of 1.1 per cent.


Johnson’s AFL return to give Swans a boost

After 12 knee operations, Alex Johnson is ready to return to the AFL for the Swans.Sydney will be powered by a feel-good factor in their finals-like AFL match against Collingwood, with Alex Johnson’s return lifting the mood at the SCG.
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Johnson will tackle the Magpies on Saturday night, playing his first AFL game since helping the Swans win the 2012 grand final.

Johnson has spent 2136 days on the sidelines, undergoing a total of 12 knee operations.

The stakes will be incredibly high, with Sydney confronting the prospect of missing the finals for the first time under coach John Longmire.

The Swans, reeling from losses to Gold Coast and Essendon, sit ninth on the ladder and face top-eight teams during the final four rounds of the season.

Harry Cunningham suggested playing alongside the luckless Johnson, who has overcome five knee reconstructions and some serious knee infections, will give the club additional motivational this weekend.

“Absolutely,” Cunningham told reporters.

“AJ is pretty excited, as is everyone else.

“It’ll be very special for blokes to see him run out on the AFL stage.

“He was there for my debut game and I haven’t played with him since.”

Cunningham is a close friend of the injury-cursed defender, whose recovery has been a source of great inspiration for all players at the club.

“I don’t think anybody can put into words what has gone on throughout his career,” the speedster said.

“It just says a lot about his character and resilience.”

Johnson’s comeback game isn’t the only reason it will be a special night for Cunningham.

The Wagga Wagga product will play his 100th AFL game, while the Swans will wear a commemorative strip to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of South Melbourne’s VFL grand final victory over the Magpies.

“I’m pretty happy AJ has stolen the thunder. I’m more of a fly under the radar sort of guy,” Cunningham said, having joined the Swans via the 2011 rookie draft after being part of GWS’s academy.

“To raise the bat is something I’m very proud of.

“We also get to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the 1918 premiership, we’ve got a responsibility to do those guys proud.

“We’ve played some really good footy this year and just need to get back to doing that.”


Australia to oppose lift on whaling ban

The Turnbull government is being urged to send a senior minister to campaign in person against a push by Japan to relax a global ban on commercial whaling.
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The Japan Fisheries Agency wants a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in September to allow the capture of some “abundant” whale species.

But Australia politicians on both side of the divide are vehemently opposed and are calling on like-minded nations to help block the proposal.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia remained steadfastly against all forms of commercial and so-called scientific whaling and would continue to push for stronger protections against the practice.

In the last two years 660 whales have been slaughtered in the Southern Ocean as part of Japan’s ongoing scientific whaling.

Ms Bishop vowed to fight any attempts to undermine the 30-year moratorium through changes to voting regimes or the establishment of catch limits.

“Australia has worked tirelessly to see an end to commercial whaling,” Ms Bishop said on Thursday in a joint statement with Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.

“The science is clear, you do not need to kill whales in order to study them.”

Labor is calling on Mr Frydenberg to attend the September meeting and make Australia’s position abundantly clear.

“Words are not enough,” said senior opposition frontbenchers Tony Burke and Mark Dreyfus.

Australia has provided funding to support the IWC’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership, to show whales do not need to be killed in order to study them.

The government also backed the International Court of Justice’s 2014 finding that Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling program was not for purposes of scientific research.

And efforts are underway to ensure Japan’s whaling programs in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean are subjected to greater scrutiny.


Lost for words to describe your feelings?

Ever feel like you’re walking on air? How about broken-hearted? Or lost for words?
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There are some expressions we use about our emotions or our mental state that we usually don’t mean literally. They are shorthand for a variety of feelings, and everyone knows what they indicate.

But then you have one of those moments of ecstasy or despair and you realise how precisely the expression fits.

Heartbreak –the loss of a relationship, or other extreme emotional turmoil – really can give us pain in our chests. Coupled with a sense of grief and longing, it’s no wonder people feel as if their internal organs –principally the one we associate with romance –have been rippedapart.

Science-y types say it’s the emotional pain that triggersthe stress-induced sensations in our chest: muscle tightness, increased heart rate, abnormal stomach activity and shortness of breath. In fact, emotional pain involves the same brain regions as physical pain, suggesting the two are inextricably connected.

There’s less explanation for the feeling of walking on air when you are ecstatically happy, though. I scoured the internet (well, the first two pages of Google results, anyway) and couldn’t find much more than worried questions about MS and vertigo.

But I have a distinct memory, following a moment of euphoria, of thinking, “This is what they mean about walking on air!” as I floated along.

It’s probably anendorphine thing and I could produce the same effect by going running or taking morphine, neither of which are likely to happen in the near future.

As for being lost for words:unless you have suffered a brain injury, this is likely to be a temporary state associated with shock. A traumatic experience locks the body down into a low energy state, and out go the language functions.

Anyway, I guess these expressions came about because the feelings they describe are common to humanity. You just have to live through enough ups and downs to experience them. I’ll remember that, though, next time I use the phrase “mind blown”.

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


Financial disclosures reveal Maitland City Council’s big spenders

File image.Maitland councillors spent almost $40,000 in the last financial year on items including clothing, childcare and travel, a recent report has revealed.
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Cr Robert Aitchisonwas the biggest spender raking up $7544.32 on professional development, telecommunications and stationery, travel and subsistence.

Cr Ben Mitchell spent the least with only $337.30 spent on telecommunications and stationery.

While the incumbent councillors notched up their expenses for the full financial year, the new officers only spent from their starting date in September after the election.

Four councillors claimed professional development expenses associated with attending forums and conferences.The maximum yearly amount claimableto eachcouncillor is $4750 and $7750 for the mayor. However incidental expenses of up to $50 per day can be claimed forattending conferences, seminars or training courses.

Telecommunications and stationeryincludes costs for fixed lines, mobile telephones and data, as well as toner, paper and business cards. Council allows claims of up to $120 per month for landlines (mayor $140 per month and deputy mayor $130 per month) and up to $100 per month for mobile phones.

Councillor expenses for the 2017/2018 financial year.

Childcare and carer expenses (up to $2750 a year)are listed.CouncillorsNicole and PhilipPenfold were the only councillors to make a claim. They claimed$2460 and $855 respectively.

Councillors arealso supplied with: iPad,printer, sharedcar parking, access to secretarial support, photocopiers, telephones, PCs and postage, safety equipment, meals after meetingsand official ceremonies. The mayor is provided with: Office, executive support, car,fuel card andparking space.

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


Grandmother of 23 dies in Sydney home fire

A grandmother of 23 has died and her husband has suffered smoke inhalation following a house fire in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
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One of the couple’s adult grandsons ran to the burning home on Thursday morning to find his distraught grandfather outside.

Fire crews arrived at the Waverley home on Carrington Road about 6.30am to discover the semi-detached residence well-alight, with the fire also spreading to the neighbouring home.

Salma Yazigi was found dead inside while her husband was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital suffering smoke inhalation.

Ms Yazigi’s grandson, Anthony Mitry, who lives two doors down on the same street, was woken by sirens and raced to the burning home.

“I raced down and saw my grandfather hysterical so I tried to console him and tried to understand what was going on and was greeted with bad news,” Mr Mitry told reporters.

He described his grandmother – who had seven children – as “a wonderful woman (with) a heart of gold.”

She was “quite frail” and was “in a better place now,” Mr Mitry added.

“She loves us all equally, no favourites, that’s how we’ll remember her.

“Twenty-three grandkids, you’ve got to have a pretty big heart to love each and every one of them, and she did.”

Mr Mitry said his grandfather was being consoled by family members.

“He’s not coping very well at all, they took him straight to hospital, all the family are gathered around him.”

The distraught grandfather believes the fire may have started after his wife tried to turn on a heater in the lounge room, his grandson said.

“Whether she collapsed or not, we don’t know, her health wasn’t the best.”

The couple’s next-door neighbour was woken by an early-morning dog walker banging on her door telling her to get out.

“What a day, what a day,” she told AAP.

The blaze burnt through the roof of the couple’s home and spread to the roof of the neighbouring property, a Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman told AAP.

The busy road was shut down with numerous police cars and six fire crews at the scene.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze.


Minnelli auction fetches superstar prices

Actress Liza Minnelli has sold a collection of her accessories from the Cabaret film set at auction.Liza Minnelli’s signature “Cabaret” bowler hat, boots and halter top vest have fetched $US81,250 at a Los Angeles auction, while her hand-annotated script for the 1972 movie sold for $US15,000, organiser Profiles in History says.
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The three-day auction in Los Angeles, coming from the vast personal collection of the actress and singer, raised more than $US1.2 million, with some items selling for more than triple their pre-sale estimates.

The more than 1,700 lots included items belonging to Minnelli’s parents – actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli – and hundreds of the singer’s hats, scarves and Halston designer outfits from the 1970s.

Garland’s blond Dorothy wig from “The Wizard of Oz,” which was later replaced by simply brown braids, went for $US17,500 – 16 times the original estimate. Vincente Minnelli’s photo collection spanning his film career fetched $US11,875.

Profiles in History declined to release information on the buyers.

Memorabilia from “Cabaret,” which brought Minnelli an Oscar for her performance as Berlin nightclub singer Sally Bowles and sent her career rocketing, attracted some of the fiercest bidding.

Her shooting script for the musical was estimated to fetch just $US2,000 ahead of the sale, while her iconic boots and bowler hat costume had an estimate of $US6,000.

Minnelli, 72, said earlier this year that she wanted to downsize her life and sell off the collection she had amassed over decades and kept in more than six locations.

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Honey, you ain’t gonna wait till you’ve bought the farm and leave your life on someone else’s doorstep.’ So it was time to go there, and I have, and it feels good,” she is quoted as saying in the auction catalogue.

Some of the proceeds of the sale will benefit the Great American Songbook Foundation which aims to preserve America’s musical legacy.