Monthly Archives:March 2019

Wendy Bridge was just a few hundred metres from the office of Charlie Hebdo when masked gunmen stormed the building, killing 11 inside and one police officer on the street in front.

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The Australian-born woman said she noticed something was amiss when she saw “a particularly large” amount of police cars nearby.

“There was a lot of noise and commotion,” she says.

She then got a call from a friend and realised the alleged gunmen were heading in her direction.

“I was in shock because they said the car was going towards Pantin, and Pantin was where I was walking,” she says.

With two of the men responsible still at large, she remains unsettled.

“I think they’re going to have to crack down a bit on security, the way the Americans have,” she says.

“It’s really sad because it affects everybody’s liberty and that’s something the French really stand for.”

Fellow Australian Stephanie Hooper was shopping on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris when she heard of the attack.

Though she quickly rushed home, the experience has left her rattled.

“The general vibe seems a bit shocked and sad in Paris at the moment, she says.

“Everyone’s just trying to come to grips with what’s been happening.”  

The attack, which came just weeks after a siege in a Sydney cafe left two hostages dead, has been particularly bruising for those with links to both cities.

Journalist Richelle Harrison Plesse was in Sydney over Christmas before returning to Paris.

“To come back home and for this to happen here, yeah it was just complete disbelief really,” she says.

Australians at home and abroad joined a day of mourning yesterday for those killed in the massacre.

 

 

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Canada, US in deep Arctic freeze

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿网 /

An Arctic blast sweeping Canada and parts of the United States this week closed schools, grounded jets, killed at least four people, and even shook the ground.

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“What the hell was that?” screamed a startled woman at a loud crack produced by a “frost quake” in Ottawa on Wednesday night.

Frost quakes, or cryoseisms, occur when frozen water-saturated ground cracks in extreme cold.

The University of Toronto Climate Lab tracked dozens of such events, mostly in Ottawa and Montreal regions, but also in a few US states.

Temperatures plunged as low as minus 40C with a windchill on Thursday.

The cold is considered dangerous at this level, freezing exposed skin within minutes.

Officials in both countries urged people to stay indoors and not to travel unless absolutely necessary. Pet owners were also told not to let dogs or cats out.

People who must venture out were told to dress in layers covering all skin, to stay dry, to seek shelter and not drink alcohol which gives people a false sense of warmth.

Temperatures dropped at the beginning of the week and the cold is forecast to linger until at least Saturday.

In Ottawa, most public servants stayed home after temperatures plunged overnight after several days of snow and freezing rain.

Ice on streets sent cars sliding into ditches as road crews worked around the clock to clear snow and salt roadways – with little success.

Others were unable to get their cars started as engines were frozen solid.

Hundreds of flights were delayed or cancelled at major airports throughout the week.

Homeless shelters in most Canadian cities were packed full and hundreds of schools were closed across the continent.

In places where schools remained open, bus drivers in some cases picked up students directly from their homes.

Biting cold temperatures, bringing snow and freezing rain, were recorded as far south as Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

As much as 30cm of snow fell or was forecast in some US southern and western plains states.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from automotive exhaust, home heating systems and obstructed chimneys as well as poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters or gas grills.

In Detroit, firefighters’ emergency radios were reportedly freezing to their coats.

In New Jersey, police were empowered to move homeless people off the streets and into shelters.

Extreme winter weather was also blamed for an 18-vehicle pile up on a Pennsylvania highway that left two people dead and dozens injured.

In Toronto, street cars were stopped in their tracks after brake lines and doors froze, leaving as many as 250,000 riders stamping their numb feet on kerbs.

“The ageing streetcar fleet and related equipment – over 30 years (old) in many cases – do not respond well to extreme cold,” the Toronto Transit Commission said on its website.

The cold also sparked a political row between Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, and public health officials, over when to issue an extreme cold alert.

When temperatures drop below minus 15C the city typically opens emergency warming centres and reaches out to homeless people, providing additional shelter beds, transportation and other services to try to get them out of the cold.

Public health officials were accused of having waited too long to issue an alert after two men believed to be homeless froze to death – one in a bus shelter, the other in an abandoned truck – this week.

“We’re very sorry that these men died,” Howard Shapiro, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, told the daily Globe and Mail.

A third man discovered unconscious outside overnight on Wednesday was rushed to hospital in critical condition.

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Which stocks to watch in 2015

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 柳州桑拿网 /

With 2014 at best a so-so year for most Australian investors, many are hoping for a better 2015.

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Here’s a look at what to expect:

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR DOWN, PROFITS UP?

The dollar fell from more than $US1 to almost 80 US cents during 2014 and Esho Group CEO Peter Esho says exporters in particular should do well in 2015.

“The fall in the Aussie dollar is going to have huge implications for the economy and I think that’s been overlooked,” he said.

IG market strategist Evan Lucas says companies with a large percentage of their earnings derived from the US or elsewhere overseas – think QBE, CSL etc – should also benefit from the higher US dollar.

WHO WINS FROM CHEAPER OIL PRICES?

Oil prices have more than halved since July last year and that’s been great news for Qantas (which has a fuel bill of $4.5 billion) and helped the airline’s share price to double last year.

Lower prices at the petrol bowsers should also see Australians spend more in 2015 and Peter Esho expects transport businesses like Toll Holdings and Aurizon to be among the biggest beneficiaries.

“Not only do low energy costs improve their bottom line, the spillover effect is greater spending and economic activity, which will improve their volumes.”

RETAILERS CATCH A BREAK?

Retailers, and other companies depending on discretionary spending from consumers have been generally weak performers for several years but the low oil price, coupled with low interest rates could finally change that.

CMC Markets market strategist Michael McCarthy thinks retailers should also benefit from the expected increase in spending, especially electronics retailers, who have been among the weakest performers in recent years.

“Although I’m not a huge fan of Harvey Norman’s business model I suspect that will be a beneficiary, as will JB Hi-Fi.”

THINGS CAN’T GET ANY WORSE FOR ENERGY STOCKS, OR CAN THEY?

As oil prices slumped, so, too, did the share prices of oil and gas companies.

And with no-one sure when prices will rise again the sector is best avoided, or is it?

Evan Lucas says there are good opportunities to be had for investors willing to go against the tide.

“It’s something that will turn around and when it does it will bring a very good buying opportunity, there’s no doubt that Santos and Oil Search at around $7 is undervaluing those companies.”

LAST YEAR’S LOSERS ARE THIS YEAR’S WINNERS?

Woolworths and Coca Cola Amatil had a disappointing 2014, with their share prices dropping 10 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

Peter Esho argues its only a matter of time before both come back into favour, though he concedes Coca-Cola still has issues to sort out.

*This reporter owns shares in Woolworths and Santos

A group of core al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning “mass casualty attacks” against the West, the head of MI5 has warned.

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As dramatic events surrounding the terrorist attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris continue to unfold, Andrew Parker, director general of the Security Service, said transport networks and iconic landmarks were among Western targets of “complex and ambitious plots” by Syria-based extremists.

Aviation bomb plots and Mumbai-style shootings in crowded places are thought to be among plans being developed by the shadowy group, which has Britain among its sights.

It is understood the organisation in question is the so-called “Khorasan” cell, which is made up of jihadists sent to Syria by al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Addressing about 70 members of the Royal United Services Institute at MI5 headquarters, Parker said: “We still face more complex and ambitious plots that follow the now sadly well-established approach of al Qaeda and its imitators – attempts to cause large scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets.

“We know, for example, that a group of core al Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West.”

Mr Parker says around 600 extremists are now among many Britons who have travelled to Syria, higher than previous estimates of 500, and a significant proportion has joined the extremist group IS.

He disclosed that in recent months three UK terrorist plots, which would have led to deaths, have been foiled by MI5 and its intelligence partners at MI6 and GCHQ.

It is understood the plots were a mix of mass casualty attacks and lone-wolf style killings as seen on the streets of Woolwich when Fusilier Lee Rigby was killed in 2013.

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Geoff Ogilvy has not and will not venture into the Kapalua surf this year.

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Returning to the US PGA Tour’s winners-only event in Maui after a five-year absence, Ogilvy is a quasi two-time defending champion, having missed his chance of a three-peat in 2011 when he cut his finger on a local reef in the lead-up.

While the surfing aficionado would love to cut loose on the waves, he knows it might not be the wisest decision this time around.

“I would go out, but can you imagine if it went wrong. The ocean will always be there,” a relaxed Ogilvy said on Thursday.

As part of golf’s elite at the time, Ogilvy had won seven times in six years, including the 2006 US Open, but the injury was the start of what turned into an almost four-year struggle.

After close to five years entrenched in the world’s top 50, including a high of No.3, Ogilvy spiralled as low as 216th last year.

There was no win in 2011, just four top-10s, and then 2012 and 2013 yielded just one top-10 finish each season, with 2013 being distinctly worse with a next-best finish of equal 27th.

Last year it appeared more of the same, Ogilvy reaching August without a top-10 result but a win late last year and a ride through the playoffs to the Tour Championship have the Victorian trending up once more.

He enters this week as world No.94, knowing the last two times he played in Hawaii he won, averaged 67 per round, shot a combined 46-under and won $US280,000 ($A303,000) for each of those eight rounds.

“It does feel like coming home. I am very comfortable here,” he said.

“It is interesting because right before I won I was over it, I was done. I was ready to shut it down for the year but now I’m here and I feel so much better for having the struggles.

“I feel a lot wiser about my game. It made me notice things and become more cerebral.

“Now I feel really good about the next few years, I am better prepared to ride the ups and downs and not chase too hard.”

With a two-year tour card exemption back up his sleeve and a trip to all four majors earned in 2015, Ogilvy has his sight set high once more.

He could start by joining Jack Nicklaus (5), Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Stuart Appleby as three-time event winners.

“There is no reason I can’t start strong here and get a third trophy. That’s the aim,” he said.

I’m also not done competing on Sunday’s in majors. I know I have it in me to contend and win again.

“Maybe this is the start of career No.2.

“I am excited about Augusta and St Andrews, I always get up for the US Open and I enjoy Whistling Straights.

“I’m sitting here really excited to play golf again and that is obviously a good thing.”