Monthly Archives:June 2019

Housing sector shows signs of booming ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

House prices are continuing to surge, especially in Sydney, as buyers take advantage of record low interest rates.

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In the year to September, the house price index rose 7.6 per cent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, the biggest increase in three years.

Of the eight capital cities, Sydney had the largest increase with a rise of 11.4 per cent, followed by a 8.6 per cent increase in Perth.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy said the data showed the housing market, particularly in Sydney, was on the rise.

“In the nation’s largest property market, things really are starting to heat up,” he said.

“In Melbourne as well, price appreciation was very strong and also in Brisbane.”

Mr Kennedy said recent interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia are making an impact on the housing sector.

“A big part of the Reserve Bank story is that they’ve been trying to revive the construction sector, so I think the big uptick we’ve seen in prices definitely is supportive of that, as higher prices encourage activity and investment,” he said.

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the continued rise in house prices may mean that the housing sector is picking up where the mining and resources boom left off.

“The official house price data confirmed what the more timely indicators have been suggesting – that Australia is at the beginning of a house price boom.

“While some pick-up in employment will be needed soon, to keep the RBA from cutting rates further, we expect to see some improvement in coming months supported by low interest rates, rising asset prices and lifting confidence.

“Growth appears to be rebalancing, with a modest upswing underway in the non-mining sectors and regions of the economy.”

Australian capital city house prices rose 1.9 per cent in the September quarter, and were up 2.7 per cent in the June quarter.

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Gabon gets rare glimpse of solar eclipse ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Despite rain and overcast skies, residents of southern Gabon got a glimpse of a total eclipse of the sun, a rare phenomenon also visible in eastern Africa.

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“I saw a black disc progressively cover the sun. It’s magnificent,” said Clarence Diledou, who lives of the port town of Port-Gentil.

“But unfortunately the bad weather spoiled the party a bit.”

The west African nation got peak viewing of the total eclipse as it swept over a path nearly 60km wide.

At its peak over land in central Gabon, the sun was blocked out for about a minute.

Weather permitting, partial phases of the eclipse were also visible in southern Europe and in the eastern United States.

In Port-Gentil, families gathered together for the occasion along the sea front, facing the sun.

Like many in the town, Diledou used special glasses distributed by authorities to watch the rare event.

Those who did not have any came up with imaginative solutions, among them Pauline Koumba, who put a bowl of water in her courtyard and watched the reflected eclipse.

“I saw the brief passage of the eclipse in my bowl. But it was over quickly and the black clouds spoiled the effect,” she said.

Families also gathered in the capital Libreville, where the eclipse was less spectacular, but where the skies darkened noticeably for about half an hour from 1330 GMT on Sunday (0300 AEDT on Monday).

It then continued across Africa, passing through northern Uganda and northern Kenya, although overcast skies marred the effect.

Experts say a safe way to view an eclipse is by making a pinhole camera – piercing a tiny hole in a piece of paper then turning your back to the sun and using the pierced page to project the image of the sun on another sheet of paper.

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Ireland coach thanks NRL prop Brett White ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Ireland coach Mark Aston has publicly thanked Canberra Raiders prop Brett White for his bravery during Ireland’s difficult World Cup campaign.

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White was singled out by Aston for his part in the side’s opening 32-14 defeat by Fiji, while he lavished praise on the former Kangaroo for defying an early head knock to lead their challenge in Saturday’s 42-0 loss to England.

“He went back on but it was probably tougher for him to come off in the first place,” Aston said after the defeat which effectively ended Ireland’s hopes of qualification from the toughest group.

“He didn’t want to come off.

“He’d have stayed out there if we had let him.”

White, who qualifies through his Irish grandfather, was one of four NRL players recruited by Aston.

“He’s a champion,” Aston said.

“He’s certainly come over here and set the tone for us.

“The nice thing is that he’s mixing with the younger guys and giving them the experience he’s had.

“I know he’s helped (captain) Liam (Finn) really well. He just speaks sense and gets his point across.

“There’s nobody more disappointed than him at the moment. He wants to win every single game. That will rub off.

“And over the years we’ll build the culture that we want in Ireland and hopefully take it on to another level.”

The 31-year-old had put his hand up to play for Andy Kelly’s team in the 2008 World Cup but was ruled out by a foot injury.

He went on to play for the Kangaroos in the 2009 Four Nations Series and was in the team that beat England 46-16 in the final at Elland Road.

White is now set to face his fellow countrymen, including his Canberra teammate Josh Papalii, as Ireland prepare for their final group game against Australia in Limerick on Saturday night.

Aston’s men will need to pull off one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time if they are to topple the tournament favourites but captain Liam Finn insists his players will play with pride when they run out at Thomond Park.

“That 20-minute purple patch by England killed the game off but you’ve seen 17 blokes out there have a dig,” Finn said.

“They put plenty of pride in the shirt and that’s all we’ve asked for from day one.

“If we do that (against Australia), we’ll walk away from the tournament happy with ourselves.”

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Comments: Progressives are losing the language war ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Australians aren’t ones to mince words when it comes to sharing what we really think.

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We’re known for being cynical, snarky, upfront and incredibly direct. We’ve taken to social media networks like Facebook and Twitter in a big way – often dominating global conversation. It’s no wonder that programs like the ABC’s Q&A and SBS’ Insight regularly feature as major “trending” topics – we love to voice our opinions.

In an age where we can read, see and hear thousands of opinions in an instant you can easily see the kinds of themes that are dominating public conversation. In the last few years we’ve seen a plethora of opinions shared by Australians on topics such as asylum seekers, the economy, gay marriage,  climate change, politics, gender and more.  We’re more aware than ever of how politicians and media seek to influence us on these topics and there’s one thing that I think has become particularly noticeable in the last couple of years.

Australia is in the throes of a great war on language – and progressives are losing.

You only need to look at the words of Rupert Murdoch speaking at the annual Lowy Lecture to see how progressives have lost control of the conversation – somehow we’ve let one of the richest, most influential and recognisable members of the global media and business elite turn the word “elitist” into the latest attack word against progressives. Almost unquestioned we’ve let one of the most  (to use his words) narrow-minded and stuffiest of elitists turn “elitism” into anything that doesn’t represent a pro-business, pro-conservative philosophy – and it’s working. Murdoch has led a very powerful narrative which turns progressive thinkers and leaders into “stuffy elitists”

Another example is gay marriage. As the rest of the world finally moves on, Australia is still caught on the semantics of the word “marriage”. Despite a clear back history showing a diversity of understandings of the word “marriage” somehow “between a man and a woman” has been accepted as a largely unquestionable fact. Read the comment sections of an article about gay marriage and you’ll see how powerfully this narrative has made its way into the mindsets of many Australians.

Asylum seekers is another area in which the language war rages with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison making it clear that he wants asylum seekers who arrive by boat to be spoken about as illegals. At the time of Morrison’s initial directive to his department the ALP’s Immigration spokesperson Richard Marles referenced just how important language is in policy debates saying “This is an area where language is bullets: it is really important that we are careful about what language we use and that we depoliticise this area of policy.”

If language is being used as bullets – then conservatives are using bazookas and flamethrowers whilst progressives are firing back on their own. The problem for progressives is that whilst they preach to the already converted –  conservatives are taking control of broader cultural language and winning.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard even conceded one of her biggest mistakes was “not contesting the label “tax”” when it came to the ALP’s toxic carbon tax. The now Prime Minister Tony Abbott may not be one of the most eloquent orators in recent Australian history, but he was (throughout his years of opposition) and continues to be a master of dominating language politics. Whenever he speaks his words echo throughout the day and hit their target audience with maximum effect.

If progressives want to bring their ideas and their parties back to electoral sustainability they must take back the conversation and stop letting conservatives and economic elites win the language war. They must not only contest the language used by their ideological opponents, but redefine the language and reframe the language to make sense to the broader community. They managed to do it with the Howard Government’s wildly unpopular WorkChoices legislation, but it has to be relatable beyond their own progressive audience. Merely responding on issues like asylum seekers or gay marriage – progressives need to find new ways to dominate the language again and it work it to their advantage to the broader, mainstream public.

As Australians increasingly use tools like social media to voice their opinions (often parroting/reflecting the dominant narratives) – the best thing progressives can do at this point is come up with their own weapons in the language war and take back control of the conversation.

Jonathan Brown is a media educator based in Melbourne.

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Danish cyclist asked dad to donate blood ( admin posted on June 17th, 2019 )

Retired Danish professional cyclist Michael Rasmussen, who earlier this year admitted to doping, said on Sunday he even persuaded his father to donate blood as part of efforts to conceal doping.

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“It felt like stepping over the line,” Rasmussen said about approaching his father, Finn, about donating blood to be used for blood doping.

“It was not easy,” Rasmussen said about the conversation with his parents.

“But they were aware I took medicine to race faster.”

Danish public broadcaster DR was to air the exclusive interview on Sunday evening.

Rasmussen said he felt he needed to use the same methods as his rivals to keep pace.

In 2003 he discussed various blood doping with his cycling team’s physician, who mentioned the method known as homologous doping where blood from a second person is used.

The following year Rasmussen’s father went to Belgium where his blood was analysed in a hotel room after the La Fleche Wallonne race, the former cyclist said.

“The blood samples were analysed and we discovered they were not compatible,” Rasmussen said.

“It (the blood doping) never took place.”

DR News said team Rabobank, which Rasmussen raced for at the time, declined to comment about the allegations.

Rasmussen’s parents told DR while they were shocked over the extensive use of various substances in cycling, they hoped his disclosures would help clean up the sport and help him move on.

“It is wrong that he is the only person to be branded a cheat,” Finn Rasmussen said.

“Our impression was that there was a culture (of doping).”

Rasmussen in January admitted to using a wide range of performance-enhancing drugs over a 12-year period from 1998, and has since cooperated with the Danish anti-doping agency.

Rasmussen was forced to pull out of the 2007 Tour de France, while seemingly heading towards an overall victory amid controversy surrounding the non-disclosure of his prior whereabouts to cycling officials, preventing them from conducting doping tests.

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