HOW astoundingly brilliant is the new Chris Lilley series? The comedian has physically transformed himself to play a group of diverse characters who all bear the Lilley trademark of exaggerated personalities and punishing self-delusion. There’s the bow-tie-wearing ballet dancer from the Sunshine Coast, Jake (classic Lilley catchphrase: ”Calm the farm”); incredibly uptight Adelaide yuppie Lisa; and Indian-born Sydney princess Biswa. Ja’mie and S.mouse have been made redundant.
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OK. My Kitchen Rules isn’t the new Chris Lilley series, although if it were it would certainly make amends for Angry Boys. But Channel Seven’s hit reality cooking series – actually, hit is probably an understatement at this point – does unexpectedly share a viewpoint with the comedian’s work. Lilley is fascinated by his characters’ extremes, and in casting the latest series of My Kitchen Rules, its producers have put together a fascinating cross-section of contestants who are equally pushing the limits.

All reality shows, including the previous three series of My Kitchen Rules, look for extremes in the casting process, fitting them under easy labels such as ”the villain” or ”the top bloke”. This time, however, their characters also speak to the growing breadth of Australian society. The notion of Australian egalitarianism is dissipating under the weight of financial inequality, self-important billionaires and political divisiveness, and as a country we’re slowly starting to accept that we’re a broad, increasingly strange coalition of people.

Last week on My Kitchen Rules, Jake and his sister Elle hosted the other pairs they were competing with at their family’s expansive Queensland residence. For their main course, Jake chose to serve T-bone steak, which didn’t fit his profile at all. Another contestant, Tasmanian abalone diver and father Mick, astutely noted that Jake had probably rarely eaten a T-bone, having been raised on scotch and eye fillet. Jake thought a T-bone was exotic; Mick knew it was everyday fare.

Those contrasts are some of the fascinating elements that fuel audience fascination with the series. As a reality show, My Kitchen Rules is sharply made, but the hook of hosting a dinner party at your home that is judged doesn’t just resonate on a personal level, it provides a view inside lives that aren’t entirely familiar to us any more. Even with the artificial constraints of mainly capital-city residents, the cross-section of competitors is far more eclectic than most of our fictional dramas or comedies allow for. Solve that mystery, Dr Blake.

My Kitchen Rules is very much Australia’s show, both in terms of content and ratings.

When the show launched in 2010, it was written off as a MasterChef clone but, as the runt of the reality litter, it survived and then prospered. Last week, several 7.30pm episodes drew blockbuster-level audiences of more than 2 million people in the mainland capital cities, exceeding 3 million nationally. Many of us are watching creme brulee nightmares and the matching comedy of social manners and awkward status.

Whether it’s culturally harder to cast a renovation show or not, the contrast with Channel Nine’s monochromatic The Block is readily apparent. Despite starting half an hour earlier at 7pm, the much-promoted spinoff, The Block All Stars, is being pummelled by My Kitchen Rules. The only thing Scott Cam’s show has more of is blatant product placement. It’s struggling to make 1 million viewers in capital cities – a ratings pass mark, basically – while MasterChef: The Professionals, which is going head-to-head with My Kitchen Rules on Mondays and Tuesdays, is doing even worse, despite being good viewing.

My Kitchen Rules has a formidable format, although it’s apparent the show has aired long enough for contestants to be familiar with its working and game the show’s structure and rules to their own benefit. Biswa and her companion, Jessie, who were portrayed as entertainingly horrendous people, judged rivals on their threat to them, not their food, and a show can sour with viewers if a flaw such as that becomes prominent.

There are few other worries, even if eliminations and a move into a central kitchen for contests take away the social insight. Judges Manu Feildel and Pete Evans are performing well, with the former revealing a sly sense of humour. No one has had the nerve to serve activated almonds to Evans yet but, if they do, I fully expect a shocked silence before Lilley pulls off his latex mask and takes a bow.

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In his show’s fifth season, the ‘Bondi vet’ takes his devotion to animal welfare overseas.HOW in the world do you operate on a goldfish?
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”Everyone says, ‘Why do you bother?’ but, at the same time, ‘How do you do it?’ ” says Chris Brown with a laugh as he discusses one of the more bizarre surgeries featured in the fifth season of Bondi Vet.

”You don’t do it in the water; you get the fish out of the tank. It’s amazing how you can keep a goldfish alive out of the water, while also under anaesthetic.”

Brown enjoys challenging himself. The 34-year-old negotiates one of television’s most hectic schedules, bustling between three separate Channel Ten shows and a number of writing gigs, all alongside working at the titular clinic. Rest is rarely an option; the man has been home about 10 days in the past two months.

In a way, he’s his own worst enemy. The immense international popularity of Bondi Vet has led him to field numerous overseas requests in the latest season.

”We’re keeping it fresh by travelling; being as much the vet in Bondi as the vet from Bondi,” Brown says. He ventures to the US, Fiji, Thailand, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands, among other places.

Brown was conscious of the need for reinvention in the show’s fifth year and it promises to be an eye-opening experience, with stark international differences in veterinary care visible from the outset.

”The degree to which a country has developed economically is highly related to their attitudes towards animals,” Brown says. ”Places that are developing are often lacking in pretty basic care for animals, [so] you can make a really significant difference in a very short period of time.”

Despite the location shift, the core of the show – the bond between owner and pet – remains constant. It’s a universal thing, according to Brown. ”That passion, that care and wanting to really show that animals mean something – that was the element that needed to remain the same.”

Brown never wished this life upon himself, nor did he seek it out after a chance encounter with a talent scout in a Mosman pub. Fast forward nearly 10 years, though, and the boy from Newcastle is now a commentator, overseas reporter and travel correspondent, alongside his vocational calling.

”It was nothing I ever planned on doing, and I think that’s why there’s an innocence and relaxed outlook to it that comes through,” he says. ”I’ve never really been chasing it – it’s something that organically just happened.”

His other returning gig, sitting on the couch of The Living Room, means he is in the prime-time flagships on both Friday and Saturday nights for Ten, coverage that hasn’t harmed the chiselled veterinarian’s heart-throb status.

Even Living Room co-host Amanda Keller has professed repeatedly to having a crush on him, to which Brown laughs and replies, ”we sit on opposite sides of the couch”.

His poster-boy status is not something he feels entirely comfortable with – he continues to cop flak from colleagues at vet conferences – though by embracing it he hopes to, show by show, educate audiences and promote the profession.

”Hopefully, through the show, people get to see that it’s not just a 9-5 job. It’s all hours; it is demanding,” he says. ”If it can increase the awareness of what vets do, and if it can increase information about what to do with your pets … that’s what I’m proud of.”

Bondi Vet is on Saturday at 7.30pm on Channel Ten.

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Why the sad faces? All will be revealed when these spouses bare their relationships on the ABC.ALBERT Einstein was a man who believed in the limits of science. ”Gravitation,” he once professed, ”is not responsible for people falling in love.”
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He might have been curious, then, about a coming show pitting positive psychology, the so-termed ”science of happiness”, against love lives in crisis.

The ABC explored the emergence of the science with its 2010 show Making Australia Happy, whereby eight individuals, with identifiably low happiness ”scores”, were equipped with techniques from clinical experts to improve their overall contentment.

The reincarnation, Making Couples Happy, doubles the stakes, literally. Public call-outs were extended for couples seeking to improve their relationships, with video diaries sent in to the show.

Not surprisingly, for a show in which people have to unglamorously bare all about their love life to a national audience, the response was not overwhelming.

However, after interviews with the hosts, four were selected, each with their own problems and each of whom returned statistical scores of unhappiness when tested.

Some harbour too much explosive communication, others too little. Intimacy issues are a constant: ”We’re like passing ships in the night,” Alison remarks matter-of-factly of her 29-year marriage to Paul.

During eight weeks, the couples are forced to confront their issues, aided by specialists in the field, and every fortnight their happiness is measured to test the methods.

Married with children in Sydney, Laney had to persuade her understandably apprehensive other half, Darren, to take a punt on the show. They had seen relationship counsellors in the past to no avail and were struggling with balancing a family business, children and a marriage.

”[For us], the downside, which is a little bit of an embarrassment, was worth the upside of a happy marriage,” Laney says.

Each of the couple’s situations deliberately differed from the next, something that struck a chord with Darren. ”Coming from my experience, believing you should keep a lot of your relationship just between the two of you, I think what everyone will notice is the reality of all the couples on the show,” he says. ”Everyone has their issues.”

In this way, the show is as much about the four couples onscreen as every couple at home. Working with real-life case studies and not invented scenarios inevitably draws the public closer in a therapeutic sense.

For host and clinical psychologist John Aiken in particular, it was about taking scientific strategies and reworking them for television. After all, no one wants to watch an hour of talking heads, he says.

The show is intended to deliver tips to couples everywhere, a lofty prospect that excites Aiken. ”For me it’s kind of a dream job, because it gives you a national platform to make relationships accessible,” he says. ”It demystifies them and it empowers couples.”

Making Couples Happy is on Thursday at 8.30pm on ABC1.

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FRANK Rigby will give his wife of 64 years a flower on Thursdaymorning, but it won’t have anything to do with Valentine’s Day.
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‘‘He gives me a flower every morning,’’ says Beryl Edith Rigby.

‘‘We could be in the middle of the desert and he’ll find me a flower.

‘‘It’s not always a rose but I always get a flower – every morning.’’

So is the romantic Mr Rigby content with making every day feel like Valentine’s Day? Not a chance.

Today, as he has for six decades, the former Newcastle councillor has published a love poem to his wife in the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘She thinks I’m crazy,’’ says the lifelong Stockton resident.

‘‘And I think she’s right.’’

Mr Rigby met his wife, who he affectionately calls ‘‘Beb’’, in 1944 and the pair married five years later.

Mr Rigby said he started writing poetry as a way to share the wild tales he heard while working on the waterfront.

‘‘You’d hear some funny stories down there but you couldn’t tell them anywhere else,’’ he said.

‘‘I just tried to turn them around so you could tell them in mixed company and I’d put them to rhyme.’’

Eventually, he started penning poems for his wife and submitted one to the Herald for the first time in the early 1960s.

As the tradition continued, he soon found his audience growing to beyond his beloved.

‘‘It seemed like half of Newcastle was reading my poems – the paper should’ve been paying me to write them,’’ he said.

Mr Rigby said his wife cuts out the poems each year and adds them to her jewellery box. And she is looking forward to many more poems and years together.

He chalks up the success of their relationship to their special bond.

The couple founded the John Hunter Children’s Hospital charity, The Kids Club, which has since raised more than $3million.

‘‘We have done everything together – everything I did with the council and John Hunter Hospital foundation wasn’t just me, it was the two of us,’’ Mr Rigby said.

Though Mrs Rigby knows what to expect today, she says she always looks forward to his latest work.

But she can’t nominate a favourite poem.

‘‘They’re all beautiful,’’ she said.

LOVING: Frank still gives his beloved a flower every morning. Picture: Simone De Peak

BLISS: Frank and Beryl Rigby on their wedding day 64 years ago.

MOST club captains believe action is needed to improve the standard of Newcastle district cricket, but opinion is divided on how to achieve that.
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The Newcastle District Cricket Association is expected to reveal more details of its proposed eight-team premier league to the 12 clubs in the next two days, after an initial meeting with the presidents on February 4.

While support for the radical change to the competition appears weak among presidents and other powerbrokers, the captains are more open to the possibility.

Merewether have dominated the competition in the past year, winning two-day, 50-over, Twenty20 and SCG Country Cup titles, and vice-captain Troy Goodwin said the premier league was needed.

“It needs to go to eight teams for the good of Newcastle,” Goodwin said.

“If we want to compete in the Twenty20 comp in Sydney next year, cricket in Newcastle has got to strengthen.”

Stockton-Raymond Terrace skipper Nick Foster and University counterpart Josh Emerton are also supporters.

“They really do need to look at the premier league or cutting a couple of teams back, which will in turn make those players go to other first-grade clubs and make them stronger, which is obviously good for the entire comp,” Emerton said.

Almost three years ago, the NDCA proposed cutting the competition to 10 sides before five of the six clubs threatened to form a voting bloc to defeat the plan.

Veteran Charlestown skipper Steve Mace and first-season Wallsend captain Brett Jackson, whose clubs are struggling, both believe standards will rise only through mergers or cutting sides.

Neither supports a premier league.

“I think the competition has to bite the bullet and actually reduce the number of clubs, whether it be us merge with someone, or someone else,” Jackson said.

“I just think there’s definitely too many clubs and obviously not enough quality players in the top grade.

“With this premier league, who’s going to want to play in the second division?”

Jackson, one of the competition’s leading batsmen, said he would likely leave Wallsend if they were relegated, as he aspired to play the best standard of cricket possible.

Mark Littlewood (Belmont), Ben Woolmer (Wests) and Steve Christie (Waratah-Mayfield) are open to change to improve the competition but are unsure about the premier league until more details are released.

Hamwicks captain Kirk Mullard and Toronto skipper Joe Price believe the competition does not need big changes.

“You can’t have some clubs with the best players in the comp playing in the lower leagues, like for instance the rep captain [Littlewood],” Mullard said.

Hamwicks have won the past three minor premierships and lead the competition.

“It’s just evolution; it goes around in a roundabout,” Mullard said.

Mullard said that when he joined in the mid-90s Hamwicks ran eighth or ninth.

“We’ve been very successful, but we’re under no illusion that at some stage the run will come to an end.”

MEDICAL staff at Muswellbrook District Hospital say a plan to solve its emergency department woes by taking over nursing home beds is a ‘‘poor compromise’’.
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The hospital’s medical staff council chair Dr Mark Rikard-Bell tabled a signed letter at the February council meeting from 14 doctors at the hospital.

They totally disagreed with a plan to expand the emergency department into the on-site nursing home.

‘‘The emergency department is not as important as the care of the elderly,’’ Dr Rikard-Bell said.

‘‘We have struggled to keep both for many years and resent being coerced into accepting a poor compromise.’’

The Newcastle Herald reported in September complaints that the hospital’s emergency department was grossly undersized.

Doctors say the emergency department needs an estimated $10million facelift but has only got $4million.

Hunter New England Health wants to remove the 18-bed aged-care unit from the hospital’s ground floor to make way for the new emergency department.

However, it has not found a private aged-care provider, and building a new nursing home would be years away.

In the meantime, it is not accepting new nursing-home residents and its interim plans are to use hospital acute-care beds for the elderly residents.

‘‘This will primarily affect the surgical and cataract lists, once again disadvantaging the elderly,’’ Dr Rikard-Bell said.

‘‘It’s probably the worst emergency department in the state and it’s only an extra $2or $3million to fix it properly.’’

Hunter New England chief executive Michael DiRienzo acknowledged it was a difficult situation but said with the growing Muswellbrook population, the new emergency department would be best on the ground floor.

He said they were in discussions with Little Company of Mary Health Care to take over their nursing home licence and would move residents to elsewhere in the hospital when work starts in October.

‘‘No residents will be forced to leave Muswellbrook,’’ he said.

Dr Rikard-Bell has written to Upper Hunter MP George Souris with his objections.

For those interested in the Australian residential property market, a long history makes for fascinating reading. Australians are fortunate because much data on real estate and financial markets is publicly available, going into depth not seen in other countries. Careful scrutiny can yield useful ratios that go back over a century and offer context for where the market is now.
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Comparing housing prices to inflation is one of the more common indicators in property market analysis. If the trend is fairly even over time, then there is no indication that people are favouring housing relative to other goods and services.

On the other hand, if there is a wide divergence between housing prices and inflation, this tells us that people are considering housing to be relatively more important. Interestingly, every rise in real prices has led to a downturn, with the one exception of 1961-1964.

Another popular method of determining property valuation is comparing housing prices to rents. In a fairly efficient market, the costs of buying and renting should closely match each other, though due to factors such as taxes, risks and interest rates, it is unlikely that costs will equal. Since the post-World War II boom, the ratio has unevenly decreased. Upswings in the ratio suggest the presence of a bubble: the mid-’70s, early ’80s, late ’80s and today.

As with inflation and rents, housing prices have also outstripped incomes. Unfortunately, the ABS does not provide a long-term median household disposable income (HDI) series, so the denominator is derived by dividing aggregate real gross household income by the number of occupied households on an annual basis. This results in an unusually high HDI as averages are typically greater than medians, and is further amplified as the HDI is stacked with artefacts like superannuation which cannot be drawn upon to finance debt repayments. While the outcome is a rather low ratio, it keeps in line with that developed in Stapledon’s 2012 housing paper and shows a substantial increase from 1996 onwards. A more realistic median measure would result in a higher ratio.

It is easy to see the major cause of the Great Depression: a deflating land bubble, centred in the commercial property market. Every major rise in the ratio has resulted in a downturn, correlating with, and arguably causing, the economic recessions of the mid-’70s, early ’80s and early ’90s. The ratio has doubled from the trough in 1996 through to the peak in 2010. The substantial rise in the ratio during the late 1970s was likely due to an anomaly in splicing multiple land value series together, though part of the rise is justifiable because of a residential bubble.

The primary determinant of the boom and bust cycle in the land market is availability of credit/debt used to speculate on rising capital values of real estate. While data on private debt goes back to 1861, aggregate land values only begin in 1910. Debt peaked in 1893, driving a colossal commercial land bubble that burst, causing the worst depression in Australia’s recorded history. This also occurred in the 1920s, with the same result. It took until the 1970s for the debt cycle to assert itself once again, with one boom and bust after another. Debt reached the highest peak on record in 2008, driving the largest land boom on record.

Unsurprisingly, the cause for the massive rise in housing prices and land values, along with net rental income losses, is the colossal increase in household debt, primarily composed of mortgage debt. It has more than quadrupled since 1988, rapidly accelerating during the ’90s and 2000s. The ratio peaked in 2010, as did housing prices, which is clearly no coincidence.

While land booms have been a continual feature of the Australian economy, what separates this cycle is the relative size of the boom in both land values and private debt.

It is often claimed that “this time is different”. It certainly is, but not for the reasons usually given: Australia has not experienced a land boom, or bubble, of this magnitude in its history.

Philip Soos is a master’s research student at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University. The full chart pack on the history of Australian property values is available free at MacroBusiness

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

BORAL is several months away from completing the first stage of its restructure as it battles severe headwinds from cheap imports and overcapacity in sectors of the building products market.
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On Wednesday it disclosed a net loss of $25.3 million for the December half, a reversal from the profit of $152.7 million posted a year earlier, on revenue of $2.8 billion, up from $2.4 billion a year earlier.

It posted a loss of 4.1¢ a share for the half, after earning 20.4¢ a share a year earlier.

Even so, directors have sought to retain investor confidence by declaring a 5¢ interim dividend, down from 7.5¢ a year earlier. This helped push up the shares 5¢ to $4.92.

Last month, Boral said it would axe 700 jobs – a quarter of its head office staff – as it attacks an ”entrenched bureaucracy”, according to the chief executive, Mike Kane.

A third of head office staff will probably lose their jobs by the time the restructuring is completed. ”Our internal focus was getting in the way [of focusing on customers],” he said.

Boral refused to provide guidance for year to June earnings, since several decisions about the future of key building products are yet to be made. ”Right now we’re moulting, and it’s not pretty,” Mr Kane said of the restructuring.

Analysts welcomed his directness in outlining Boral’s problems. ”It’s a turnaround story, not a cyclical recovery story,” said one analyst, who pointed out ”it is a six to nine-month story”.

”CEOs who tell it how it is are always welcomed by investors. He’s put his reputation on the line” in committing to getting costs out of the business.

Key problem areas are cement and building products – bricks, timber and windows – while the US is yet to turn round even with the small rise in housing starts there.

In the US, Boral expects housing starts this financial year will reach 860,000 units and rise to 1 million units next financial year. Changing market conditions there have pushed back Boral’s break-even point to just above 1 million units, it said. Boral lost $38.7 million in the US before interest and tax, while the building products division lost $17.8 million.

In the cement division, Boral is to halt the production of clinker at Waurn Ponds in Victoria, with further changes planned.

”In cement … the dynamics are changing – and changing rapidly,” Mr Kane said. ”With import [price] parity the ceiling, a low import price out of Asia and no price leverage, the halcyon days of the past won’t come back. We’re taking costs out on a phased basis.”

Problems remain with the timber division as well, where the sale of several masonry units is yet to be completed, and also east coast bricks, where excess capacity is hurting margins.

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Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images
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Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican. Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI leads the Ash Wednesday service at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Vatican.

Ash Wednesday opens the liturgical 40-day period of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, penitence and alms giving leading up to Easter.

After more than two years of silence, the Israeli Government has admitted a prisoner it held in detention for “security reasons” – believed to be the Australian Ben Zygier – committed suicide in custody.
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Amid increasing pressure on the Israeli and Australian Governments to reveal what they knew about the December 2010 death of Mr Zygier in solitary confinement in Ayalon Prison, Israel’s Justice Ministry released a statement on Wednesday night announcing that the court’s gag order had been partially lifted.

Without naming Mr Zygier or identifying him as an Australian citizen, the statement said: “For security reasons, the prisoner was held under a pseudonym, but his family was notified of the arrest immediately. The prisoner was held by proxy of an arrest warrant issued by the court. The proceedings were overseen by senior officials in the Justice Ministry and he was duly represented in all the proceedings against him by attorneys Roi Belcher, Moshe Mazor and Boaz Ben-Zur.

“The prisoner’s legal rights were observed at all times, according to the law,” the statement said.

One of Israel’s most prominent human rights lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, told the Israeli news site ynet南京夜网: “I’m the last lawyer who saw him alive. They asked me to see him and a day after that he was gone.

“When I saw him, I saw no signs that he was going to kill himself. He sounded rational and he asked pertinent legal questions that I can’t expand on.”

The Justice Ministry’s statement said the prisoner was found dead in his cell two years ago and that Jude Daphna Blatman Kedrai – president of the Rishon LeZion Magistrate’s Court – ordered an inquiry into his death.

Six weeks ago, the investigation ruled the prisoner’s death a suicide and the judge recommended that the state pursue a negligence investigation in the matter, Ynet reported.

“National security prevents the release of any other details in this case,” the Justice Ministry statement reads. “These aspects of national security have been reviewed by the Central District Court, which decided to impose a comprehensive gag order on the case.

“The order was given at the request of the defence establishment, and was approved by the Justice Ministry.”

Human rights groups had long campaigned for details about the circumstances of Prisoner X’s arrest, detention and suicide to be made public.

The Association of Civil Rights In Israel sent a letter on Wednesday to the deputy attorney-general, Shai Nitzan, asking that he allow the disclosure of additional details in the case of Prisoner X, who is widely believed to be Mr Zygier.

“Was this indeed a suicide? Was there negligence in the supervision of the detainee? Has any official body taken responsibility? What steps have been taken to prevent the recurrence of similar events in the future?,” the letter from the association’s chief legal counsel, Dan Yakir, said.

It was of deep concern that “people could disappear and be held in prison in total secrecy and isolation”, Mr Yakir told Fairfax Media.

Fairfax Media spoke to Mr Zygier in Israel early 2010 after learning that ASIO was investigating at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens who had emigrated to Israel in the past decade. ASIO would not comment on the case then or now.

In each case, the men had used the new passports to travel to Iran, Syria and Lebanon – all countries that do not recognise Israel and do not allow Israelis to enter. Israel also bans its citizens from travelling to these countries.

“I have never been to any of those countries that you say I have been to,” Mr Zygier told Fairfax Media at the time. “I am not involved in any kind of spying.”

* Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

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

HSV ClubSport R8.HSV stakeholders say the performance car market is alive and well in Australia after celebrating the release of the brand’s 75,000th vehicle locally.
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A blue HSV ClubSport that rolled off the production line in Claymore last month became the 75,000th vehicle built by Holden’s performance arm.  

The car is now headed for an HSV dealership in Fremantle, where the lucky buyer will receive a personalised letter from managing director, Phil Harding, authenticating the build number.

HSV marketing manager Damon Paull said the milestone reflected healthy interest in performance vehicles and bucked the trend of fewer large car sales domestically.  

“It’s really significant for our company, especially in the time we’ve done it – we’re really proud of it,” Mr Paull said.

“Obviously the large car segment has been in decline in recent years but we seem to have bucked that trend somewhat, which is pretty encouraging.

“In the last few years, our run rate has stayed relatively constant and I think what it shows is that we’ve got a solid core support-cum-owner base that are pretty passionate about our products.”

The milestone caps a solid 12 months for HSV. In 2012, the ClubSport outsold Holden’s SS-V Commodorewith 735 sales, while almost 700 Maloo utes were snapped up by Aussie buyers.

HSV also celebrated its 25-year anniversary in October last year.

The HSV range is expected to see significant changes when the new Holden VF Commodore arrives later this year.

In line with the changes associated with VF Commodore, the HSV range is expected to see the addition of a new supercharged V8 engine. That 6.2-litre powerplant produces significantly more grunt than anything else currently in the HSV range, with 410kW – an increase of 26 per cent over the current performance heroes, which offer 325kW.

For more car reviews, video and news download the free Drive app. It updates every Friday with seven pages of fresh content from the Drive team.Like Drive南京夜网.au on FacebookFollow Drive南京夜网.au on Twitter @DrivecomauAdd drive南京夜网.au to your circles on Google+

 

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Gathered on one side of the cabinet table were the newly-installed Prime Minister Julia Gillard, her Treasurer Wayne Swan and her Resources Minister Martin Ferguson. On the other were the heads of Australia’s three big mining companies: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.
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Absent were the key people from the Treasury – the ones who really understood the tax being discussed.

As the then Treasury head Ken Henry later told a Senate committee: “We were not involved in the negotiations, other than in respect of crunching the numbers if you like and in providing due diligence on design parameters that the mining companies themselves came up with.”

The smartest people were kept out of the room. They were ferried draft agreements and asked to examine them quickly. They were unable to test with the miners the propositions they were putting to the government.

The 1½-page heads of agreement signed by the ministers and executives on July 1, 2010, replaced the 40 per cent resource super profits tax with a much weaker 30 per cent minerals resource rent tax applying only to coal and iron ore. An “extraction allowance” cut the actual rate paid to 22.5 per cent. It would be paid only if the profits themselves reached a much higher hurdle.

And then there was the drafting error.

The agreement allowed “all state and territory royalties” to be deducted from the tax.

Ferguson thought the words referred to “royalty rates that applied, or changes to royalty rates that were scheduled to apply in the future, as at 2 May 2010”.

The interpretation made sense. Those were the royalty rates referred to in the original super profits tax. Agreeing to refund whatever any state government chose to charge in the future would expose the Commonwealth to an uncontrollable expense.

But read baldly, that’s what the ministers had signed up to.

Western Australia promptly lifted its iron ore royalty from 5.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent. It now grabs money the ministers believed the federal government would get.

Appearing before the Senate, treasury official David Parker later tried to explain the less-than-precise drafting this way: “This is a document which is 1½ pages long. One could say that the heads of agreement is, to use a musical analogy, a rather staccato document.”

The agreement allowed the mining companies to do more than deduct their royalty payments from the new tax. It allowed them to ”grow” the amount they could deduct at the long term bond rate plus 7 per cent, if low profits meant they owed less resource tax than the royalty payments.

The concession means the miners are unlikely to pay much of the new mining tax for some time to come.

Julia Gillard and her ministers brought peace on July 1, 2010, but at a heavy financial price.

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

Scientists have reported on the bizarre sex life of a sea slug that discards its penis after copulation, and then grows a new one.
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Dubbed Chromodoris reticulata in Latin, the red-and-white slug – technically a shell-less mollusc – inhabits warms waters in South East Asia.

“No other animal is known to repeatedly copulate using such ‘disposable penes’,” Japanese biologists wrote in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, describing the behaviour as “extremely peculiar”.

The critter needs 24 hours between couplings to unroll an internally coiled and compressed juvenile penis to replace the used, external organ, scientists found.

It can repeat this feat at least three times.

The human thumb-sized slug is an hermaphrodite, meaning it has both male and female sexual organs.

The animals perform dual sexual roles during copulation.

They give sperm to a mating partner while simultaneously receiving sperm, which they store for later insemination.

The team observed copulation between sea slugs that they had captured during scuba dives and held in a tank.

After each coupling, which lasted between dozens of seconds and a few minutes, every slug discarded its penis – a thread-like organ that it projects from its side into a partner’s vagina.

The team also examined the microscopic structure and function of the male organs – observing an internal spiral structure they believe grows into a replacement penis.

“We propose that the tissue at the spiral part of the penis is compressed and undifferentiated, gradually differentiating into the ‘next penis’,” the team wrote.

“It may need approximately a day for the spiral structure to be ready for copulation.”

In another revelation about the sea slug’s sex life, the scientists found its penis was covered with spines – and suggested these may be used to remove the sperm of previous partners being held in store by their mate.

The spines are backward-pointing, making it difficult to withdraw the penis after copulation. This may explain the organ’s disposable nature.

“Chromodoris reticulata may compensate for the short-term cost of decreased reproductive opportunities caused by the loss of a penis with the reproductive advantage gained by sperm displacement,” wrote the study authors.

Various animals are known to discard parts of their body, such as the gecko which sheds its tail.

Few, though, are willing to part with their penis, the team noted with clinical understatement.

AFP

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A Koala with with chlamydia, which causes it to have a cloudy eye. Wildlife Awareness Month is coimg up and Tracey Wilson is a wildlife carer who currently has a koala joey.
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Koalas are an indicator that climate change is upon us, say researchers at the University of Queensland.

By Christine Adams-Hosking, University of Queensland and Clive McAlpine, University of Queensland

If we need an indicator that climate change is upon us, we need look no further than Australia’s koala.

The koala family (Phascolarctidae) has existed in Australia for tens of millions of years, yet in a mere evolutionary blink of 200 years, this unique Australian marsupial is declining significantly in many areas of its natural range.

Koalas are highly vulnerable to unprecedented heatwaves and just like humans, they suffer from heat stress and dehydration in extreme temperatures. Bushfires such as the Coonabarabran fires that burnt out 100,000 hectares can also decimate koala and other wildlife populations.

In the past decade, we have experienced the hottest temperatures on record followed by floods and cyclones. While many climate change cynics claim that this is just part of the natural climate variability (Dorothy McKellar’s Sunburnt Country hypothesis), the evidence suggests that recent extreme weather events are not typical.

Rather, they are becoming more common and going beyond the natural range of variability. For example, Roma in southern inland Queensland, experienced record flooding three years in a row and has now experienced record January temperatures. Across western Queensland and New South Wales, temperatures remained in the mid to high 40s for 10 days. These changes in climate are consistent with climate change predictions; a hotter climate with extreme wet periods such as that experienced in Queensland and northern New South Wales in late January.

Our research on the effects of climate change on the distribution of koalas and their eucalypt food resources used a “pessimistic” climate change scenario that represents a future of rapid economic growth, a global population that peaks in mid-century and a continuation of high energy demand being met by fossil fuel sources.

This was the correct choice. That scenario is no longer pessimism, but is tracking reality.

Our climate envelope modelling found that koalas occur at a maximum temperature of 37.7 degrees. However, the recent Australian heatwave and the weather conditions before the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 – with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees for consecutive days – are two examples of the koala being pushed beyond its climatic threshold.

Koala population crashes have been documented after such drought and heatwave events, most recently an 80 per cent decline in the Queensland Mulgalands following the 10-year drought.

In New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT, where koalas are now listed as vulnerable under Commonwealth law, our research has found that koalas and many of their critical food trees will contract and shift eastwards. Here, potential “climate change refugia” are rapidly diminishing due to urban development.

By 2050, the only climatically suitable areas for koalas and their habitat will occur in patchy regions closer to these coastal areas. In these areas, their numbers are often sharply declining due to other factors such as habitat loss, disease, cars collisions and dog attacks.

We should take heed from what is happening to the koala because it is likely that our agriculture and towns will be facing similar risks from climate extremes; well beyond our limits to adapt to.

How can people and the natural environment, upon which human wellbeing and in fact survival depends, co-exist? It is time for all our decision-makers to recognise the urgency of the problem, look to the future and proactively address the fundamental challenges of environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation. Our very future depends on it.

Christine Adams-Hosking does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations. She is funded by the Australian Research Council and the University of Queensland. She is affiliated with the Koala Research Network.

Clive McAlpine does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations. He is funded by the Australian Research Council and the University of Queensland. He is affiliated with the Koala Research Network.

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

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

ARIES: The Arian Moon of February 14, 15 puts you in touch with your emotions. You will respond to varying situations in your usual fashion, strongly directed by impulse.
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TAURUS: Taurus needs time to think things through in a nice quiet environment during February 14, 15. By getting your head in order, you are able to deal with any problems you may have.

GEMINI: There’s likely to be a little extra money coming your way during February 14, 15; that’s good, for it allows you to get out there and do the things you enjoy so much.

CANCER: There will be plenty of contact with all sorts of people during Thursday and Friday. You will also be giving some thought to what you want out of life.

LEO: Your compassion is likely to be strongly aroused by the sentiments of different people during February 14, 15. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will also understand your point of view.

VIRGO: Many Virgoans will struggle with ethical issues concerning a friend during February 14, 15. This is not anything major, but tends to be something that niggles away at you.

LIBRA: There is someone around you who will play an important role during February 14, 15, evoking a strong emotional response. This tends to produce more positive results than negative.

SCORPIO: The mind will be on the job during February 14, 15, producing some excellent results. Your heart is in the right place, fuelling your ideas and commitment to getting things done.

SAGITTARIUS: Sagittarius tends to be in a rather playful mood during February 14, 15; it is a pity that others’ moods don’t always match your own. Life’s too short to not enjoy it.

CAPRICORN: February 14, 15 allow Capricorn to experience the domestic situation from an exceptionally emotional perspective. Family interaction is an important facet of daily life.

AQUARIUS: Your mind is impressionable during February 14, 15, but also busied by thoughts of all those little things that need doing. You will feel happier when you have them out of the way.

PISCES: There is a tendency for Pisces to feel lucky during February 14, 15. Luck has many ways of expressing itself, other than from the results of gambling. There may be extra money in your pay packet.

LUCKY NUMBERS: Aries: 1, 3, 4, 9; Taurus: 5, 8; Gemini: 6, 7; Cancer: 3, 4, 7, 9; Leo: 1, 3, 4, 9; Virgo: 6, 8; Libra: 5, 7; Scorpio: 2, 3, 7, 9; Sagittarius: 1, 3, 4, 9; Capricorn: 5, 6; Aquarius: 5, 6; Pisces: 2, 4, 7.

Read Alison Moroney’s daily stars for Thursday, February 14, 2013.

Source: The Courier
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A naked man led police on a 25-kilometre pursuit through the Victorian town ofBallarat yesterday before he struck a police officer with a vacuum cleaner fitting.

Police used batons and capsicum spray to arrest the man, who stopped in the car park of McDonald’s in Sebastopol.

The 47-year-old South Australia man was wanted for various offences.

He was detected travelling at 155km/h in a 100km/h zone before the pursuit began in Learmonth on the Sunraysia Highway at 11.43am.

The chase was soon joined by seven other police cars from Ballarat, including Highway Patrol units, who took the lead in the pursuit.

The man led police into Ballarat and through Wendouree, Redan and Sebastopol before coming to a stop at the McDonald’s outlet at the corner of Albert and Hertford streets.

At one point, the man waved a vacuum cleaner fitting out of his vehicle’s sunroof.

A witness managed to film the pursuit coming through a roadwork zone and noticed the driver waving the vacuum part at police cars following behind.

“I couldn’t believe it. I just thought ‘why is he holding a vacuum cleaner?’,” the man said

The Fairfax Regional Mediareader used his phone to film the man driving past during the chase.

“He was laughing as he went past — it was really weird,” he said.

Ballarat Criminal Investigation Unit Detective Senior Sergeant David Hermit said when the man finally stopped at McDonald’s, he resisted arrest by wielding the vacuum cleaner fitting like a club and managed to strike an officer who received minor injuries.

After a dose of capsicum spray and use of police batons, the man was taken into custody more than 30 minutes later.

He was admitted to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital for treatment to injuries he sustained during his arrest.

The man was expected to be interviewed and charged.

He will appear at the Ballarat Magistrates Court at a later date.

The man’s car is surrounded by police at Sebastopol after yesterday’s pursuit. Photo: LACHLAN BENCE