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Freed lawyer shocked by focus on her ordeal

Freed lawyer shocked by focus on her ordeal

Happy … Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, left, arrives at the airport in Rome. Detained in Libya… Melinda Taylor with husband, Geoffrey Roberts, and daughter, Yasmina.
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The parents of previously detained lawyer Melinda Taylor, John and Janelle Taylor, are chilling a bottle of champagne to celebrate when they see her daughter’s face via Skype later today.

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor leaves jail.

UPDATED

Human rights lawyer Melinda Taylor has been “shocked” by the media attention surrounding her almost month-long detention in Libya, telling her parents she had no idea it was getting any coverage.

Ms Taylor has arrived at her home in the Hague to her husband Geoff Roberts and two-year-old daughter Yasmina after being released. Despite a Skype session with her Brisbane-based parents Janelle and John Taylor, she is yet to go into detail about her ordeal.

Ms Taylor, has been held with three International Criminal Court colleagues since she travelled to Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, on June 7 to help prepare the legal defence of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam.

On Skype today, her mother and father talked to Ms Taylor and Mr Roberts about midday.

Both couples popped a bottle of champagne, though Ms Taylor did not talk about her experience of the past three and half weeks.

‘‘She didn’t [tell me about her experience in jail] she was too excited to be back home with her husband and her daughter,’’ Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor said her daughter did not think anyone would be interested in her ordeal and had no idea of the extent of the media coverage when she was being held.

‘‘She’s well she’s just looking forward to getting back to her normal life,’’ she said.

‘‘She didn’t know the media attention was happening, she had no idea, she had no idea there had been any media attention whatsoever.

‘‘She was hit with the media in Zintan where she was a little bit shocked that anyone was interested.’’

An “ecstatic” Mrs Taylor heard her daughter say “I love you” in the early hours of this morning when she was first freed.

The lawyer was able to reassure her Brisbane-based mother that she was fine in what Mrs Taylor described as an “emotional” phone call.

Mrs Taylor said she spoke to her daughter after the Libyans handed her over to Australian ambassador David Ritchie.

“She didn’t tell me anything about her experience in the jail because she was in the convoy and the phone call was monitored so the only thing she said was she loved us and looked forward to speaking to us and she’s excited to go home,” Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor has been in constant contact with her daughter’s husband Geoff Roberts over the past few weeks and arranged to talk to her daughter on Skype so Mrs Taylor and her husband could have a proper celebration.

“We’ve got a bottle of champagne here that our other daughters brought over two weeks ago and the whole time Melinda has been in there we said ‘we have to do something to support Melinda so we went off alcohol’,” she said.

“So the bottle of champagne is now in the fridge and [Melinda’s husband] Geoff said he’d Skype us when she gets home at about midday today and that’s when we’ll drink the champagne.”

“…It will be great, I’ll be very happy to see her face.”

Foreign Minister Bob Carr rang Mrs Taylor in the early hours of this morning to tell her that her daughter had been handed over by Libyan officials ending a “harrowing” few weeks for the parents.

“We are now ecstatic that she’s actually been handed over by them because we were excited when we told she was going to be released but we were ecstatic when we got the email last night to say and a phone call from Bob Carr to say the Libyans had handed her over to the ambassadors,” Mrs Taylor said.

She said Melinda did not have plans to come to Australia until December and her parents had decided it was best to wait until then to see her.

“Melinda said ‘look Mum and Dad I would love you to come over’ and we would be on the next plane but we feel maybe Melinda’s life need to go back to being normal so she can get on with her life,” she said.

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

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Five things we learnt from Super Rugby

Five things we learnt from Super Rugby

The Reds have two winnable home games to finish the season.1. Beware the Reds. The Brumbies will not be the only ones keeping a close eye on Queensland over the next two weeks. They have two winnable games at home and, more importantly, that priceless ability to switch between styles. Dom Shipperley scored a beautiful, long-range try from turnover ball against the Rebels but their work in tight, with the pick-and-drive, has repeatedly been exceptional. They can hurt any side in this competition, home or away. We have been critical of the wilder aspects of Saia Faingaa’s play in the past but he was great on Friday night – as was Adam Wallace-Harrison – while the durability of Will Genia continues to astound. But is the brilliant No.9 ever going to get a break?
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2. Too many Test players can be bad for your health. A month ago the Crusaders were the form team in the competition. Three Tests and three big injuries later – Kieran Read, Dan Carter and Israel Dagg – the All Blacks-laden Cantabrians simply couldn’t match the spark generated by the admirable Hurricanes on Saturday. Kiwis might want to look away at this point – there is an entirely plausible set of results over the next two weeks that would leave the Crusaders outside the top six – and with just one New Zealand side in the finals.

3. The weaker teams provided a softer landing. While most interest focused on teams with a healthy number of Test players backing up, another story emerged. The games involving the Force, Rebels and Cheetahs – who have few internationals and essentially nothing left to play for – were effectively over by half-time. Rust or lack of appetite? Perhaps a touch of both. There was one telling moment in the Rebels game when James O’Connor made a handy break but found himself isolated at the breakdown. The usual suspects – Gareth Delve and Stirling Mortlock – were among the first to arrive to clean out, but the tight five was conspicuous by its absence. The Rebels have now conceded 457 points in 2012 – 10 per cent higher than the next leakiest side.

4. Berrick Barnes might have some voodoo dolls. For there to have been a stampede for his Wallabies No.10 jersey at the weekend, you first would have had to find someone who could walk. James O’Connor did a hamstring, Kurtley Beale looks like he is playing with shrapnel wedged into his ribs and Quade Cooper’s removal at half-time prompted that dreadful word that no supporter wants to hear: “Precautionary”. In that 40 minutes, however, the Reds No.10 looked a lot better than in his previous game and a half. O’Connor’s injury has opened the door for him, too.

5. Aaron Cruden is nipping at Dan Carter’s heels. Carter will start at five-eighth for New Zealand in The Rugby Championship, unless struck by lightning. But for the first time in a long time there is a player who can change the conversation around the All Blacks No.10 jersey. Cruden is shaping as an alternative, not just the preferred boot-cleaner. He played injured against the Highlanders and still got the job done – he’s a tough, increasingly mature navigator who brings a subtle box of tricks when attacking the gainline.

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The ghost ships that creep across the blue

The ghost ships that creep across the blue

Apparitions at dawn, but the asylum seeker arrivals at Christmas Island are real enough.DAWN on this rocky outcrop in the Indian Ocean brought the sight of two near-identical wooden fishing boats, each painted an almost cheery blue, riding a gentle swell hardly 200 metres offshore, right below the Christmas Island township.
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You needed to blink, for only the evening before, there had been only one of these boats, and its cargo of 53 Tamils from Sri Lanka had been unloaded and driven away to detention.

The sun had not yet risen over the island’s steaming jungle and it was difficult to discern if there was life aboard the second craft. I raised a hand and called a ”hullo” and suddenly a forest of arms appeared above deck.

Some time on Sunday night, as Christmas Island slept off its weekend, another 39 Tamils from Sri Lanka – 37 men and two boys – had slipped in from the Indian Ocean. Appearing as if from nowhere, theirs could have been a ghost ship. Plenty of people on this remote island, as it happens, believe in ghosts.

Next month, on August 17, the ethnic Chinese population, descendants of coolies shipped in and worked like slaves, will celebrate the annual Festival of the Hungry Ghost. Food offerings will be made to keep the spirits of ancestors content and disinclined to enter homes, prayers will be offered for those who suffered and died mining phosphate in the hot sun, and the population will stay indoors at night, fearful that at this moment, the gates of hell are open for those who venture out.

Only this week a sober member of the 72-strong contingent of Australian Federal Police on the island swore to colleagues he had seen the apparition of a ”lady in white” floating among the Islamic and Chinese graves bordering a main road out of the island’s township. The other police were amused, but many of the island’s permanent population claim to have had the same experience.

The Tamils, of course, were not ghosts, and neither was their little boat – though for all the interest shown by the locals, inured to the sudden and regular appearance of asylum seeker vessels from far away, they may as well have been. And soon, the 39 men and boys were barged ashore and removed by bus to the big detention centre far out of sight in a remote valley on the island.

At another time in history, their voyage might have been the stuff of adventure stories. They had endured 21 days at sea, travelling – assuming their helmsman had managed a straight course – about 3400 kilometres beyond sight of land, finding their way to a speck of an island 1500 kilometres west of the nearest mainland Australian coast. Food and water must have been in short supply for these hungry ghosts on such a small and crowded boat, but those of us on the island denied access to the detention centre and the asylum seekers themselves cannot know the depivations they may have suffered.

They were mere apparitions in the dawn, waving, insignificant among the 72 boats that have made it to Christmas Island this year and the 5242 passengers they have carried, including the 18 bodies retrieved from two sinkings in the past 10 days that are believed to have claimed about 100 lives.

Meanwhile, as Australia’s federal parliamentarians take their six-week winter break, having reached no agreement about how to dissuade such perilous voyages, there’s not a person on Christmas Island who does not expect each dawn to reveal more ghostly craft below their township.

The navy will tow the wooden boats out to sea and burn them, and steel craft will be sunk, leaving no sign of their coming.There are now 1475 asylum seekers out of sight in detention on the island.

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

My kind of market

My kind of market

Animated … a chicken at a Vietnamnese market.”What are we getting for lunch?” I yelled in Khien’s ear as we roared through Dong Mang, a small Vietnamese town on the road to Da Lat.
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“Chicken,” he yelled back from the front of the motorbike, dodging a car and narrowly missing a stray dog. “We will cook it later.”

OK, I thought. Chicken. Of all the things I’ve eaten in Vietnam, that will be up there with the least adventurous. It’s no snake or fried insect, but it sounds good.

So the two of us motored through town towards the central market, dodging the usual honking melange of scooters and trucks and pedestrians and livestock that litters a typical Vietnamese road.

The market was the sort you would find in almost every town in the country, with tarpaulin sheets rigged over a concrete floor, large stacks of fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs laid out on wooden benches. Khien wasn’t mucking around, heading straight towards the back to find his chicken lady. I just tried to keep up.

Now, if this were a normal market, I’d have been stupendously bored already. When I picture markets, I think of the arts-and-crafty ones, the type some people could wander around for hours without the slightest intention of buying things, just handling all the goods and saying things such as, “That’s quite nice. That’d look good in the lounge room.”

I hate those markets. All the goods either look exactly the same as each other to me, or they’re nothing I would ever want to buy anyway. And if you’re not going to buy anything, what are you doing there?

Food markets, however, are different, particularly food markets in foreign countries. They’re fascinating – a window into the culture. I could conceivably buy everything that’s on display and, even if I don’t, the act of looking is experience enough.

Whether it’s cheese stalls in Paris, mystery meat on a stick in Tanzania, fresh vegies in Bologna or weird nutty things in Moscow, I’m interested.

You see some fantastically strange things in food markets. There’s a stall in Phonsavan, Laos, that sells bats. Not single bats, mind you, but bats tied together in little bundles of three. Because, really, why would you want only one or two bats?

Go to Tsukiji fish markets in Tokyo and you’ll find seafood you didn’t know existed, the sort of strange things that should be wobbling through horror-movie sets, not presenting themselves on your dinner plate.

I find it all amazing, so I could have happily followed Khien around that market in Dong Mang for hours, prodding vegetables and tasting fruits.

Old women grinned toothless grins at us as we wandered by, imploring the Western guy to buy large bagfuls of whatever it was they had for sale.

But Khien had come for chicken and it was a chicken we would have. The two of us made our way towards a small stand at the back of the market, me marvelling at everything around, before we arrived at our destination and the realisation finally dawned.

We weren’t here to buy chicken – we were here to buy a chicken. And when you buy a chicken at a Vietnamese food market, it tends to look a little more animated than the ones in the frozen section at Coles.

These chickens were proper chickens. Clucking, pecking chickens. Living chickens. “Which one do you like?” Khien asked, pointing at the 10 chooks nervously pacing around the little enclosure.

I wasn’t totally comfortable with this state of affairs but what can you do? I didn’t want Khien to think I was, well, chicken, so I surveyed the pen of potential lunch. Having never chosen my meat with such freshness, I wasn’t sure what to look for. They all looked scrawny and feathery to me.

“What about that scrawny, feathery one?” I said to Khien.

“OK,” he nodded. “We get that one.”

It’s good to witness this sort of thing, I guess.

If you’re a meat-eater, if you’re comfortable with your choice to dine on animals, then you should be able to watch how your food really makes it to your plate. It snaps you back to cold reality.

But that didn’t make it fun, standing there while the lady did what needed to be done to our scrawny little chook, working so swiftly that within a few minutes she presented Khien and I with a simple plucked carcass, the sort you’d find in the frozen section at Coles.

Lunch. Into a plastic bag, into Khien’s backpack and then off on the motorbike to a clearing in a forest where we’d be able to start a fire and cook our prize. Organic and fresh. Free range, I assume.

But, sadly, also a little chewy.

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Have you had any interesting experiences at markets while travelling? Eaten or bought weird and wonderful foods? Post a comment below.

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

Is your accountant worth keeping?

Is your accountant worth keeping?

It’s a good time to review how your business is performing, including your accountant.The new financial year gives business owners a chance to review how their business has performed. It’s also the perfect time to plan ahead for the coming year and look for ways to improve your business. But many owners forget to include their choice of accountant in this equation.
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If an owner wants to maximise their profit potential, while at the same time minimising taxes payable, they need to assess whether they have a tax agent or an accountant. A tax agent, despite what they call themselves, only ever looks backward, concentrates on tax returns and financial statements, and never makes suggestions on how to improve the business or the owner’s tax situation.

Q. I am in the process of changing accountants. So far it has taken four weeks and I have urgent taxation commitments to sort out. Is there a legal process I can follow to get reimbursement for overcharging? The old accountant has charged $53,500 for the 2011-12 financial year, which is not in accordance with the signed letter of engagement.

My old accountant did not lodge our March BAS when he was supposed to and it is now seriously overdue, and he will not sign the ethical letter sent by our new accountant. Does this preclude him from registering as our accountant with the ATO? The old accountant said he would not sign the ethical letter because there were more invoices to come and he will get around to that when he can.

A. As your new accountant has sent the ethical letter, and the old accountant is refusing to return it, there is nothing stopping him registering with the ATO as your tax agent and sorting out your urgent tax matters.

A good accountant should be able to take the last set of financial statements and tax returns prepared for your business and, combined with the information obtainable from the ATO, quickly sort out your lodgement commitments with the ATO.

I don’t know of any legal steps you can take to recover amounts that have been overcharged to you. From what you have described it sounds as if your old accountant has not acted in a professional manner. One of your best options will be to report your old accountant to the professional body he belongs to.

If you receive another bill from the old accountant you can request that he justify what is being charged. He should be able to provide you with time records that prove how much work has been done and what hourly rate the services are charged at.

In addition to him failing to lodge your March BAS on time it also appears he has not properly discharged his tax agent duties. This will mean your old accountant is in breach of several of the codes of conduct laid down by the Tax Practitioners Board. You should therefore also report his behaviour so appropriate disciplinary action can be taken by the board.

Questions on business tax and other matters can be emailed to [email protected]南京夜网.au.

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Sharp rise in sea levels to Australia’s north: report

Sharp rise in sea levels to Australia’s north: report

Leading Australian scientists have firmed their view on the rate of sea-level rise, in the latest snapshot of this climate change problem.
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Over the past 50 years, the global average rise of 1.9 millimetres a year measured in tide gauges has been confirmed in satellite measurements, raising confidence in predictions.

“We are very close to the final answer on this,” said oceanographer John Hunter, of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre in Hobart. “Once we do that we can do our modelling for the future much better.”

In the ACECRC’s Report Card: Sea Level Rise 2012 released today, a dramatic short-term rise was identified north of Australia, where waters rose at around 10mm each year over the past 18 years.

But Dr Hunter cautioned that this was likely to relate to El Nino events, rather than long term sea-level trends.

He said the Australian coasts faced a rise of about the global average rate through the 21st century – meaning sea level would be around 0.38 metres higher in 2090 than it was 100 years earlier.

Thermal expansion – the greater space occupied by hotter sea water – has contributed about 45 per cent of the total rise since 1972, according to the report card.

Melting glaciers and ice caps added another 40 per cent, with most of the remainder coming from ice sheets.

The report card warns that as a rule of thumb, a 0.1m rise in sea level increased the frequency of flooding by about a factor of three.

“This effect is multiplicative so that even a relatively modest increase in mean sea level of 0.5 m will increase the frequency of flooding by a factor of roughly 300,” it said.

“This means that an event which presently only happens on average once every 100 years (the ‘100-year return event’) will happen several times a year after sea level has risen by 0.5 m.”

Dr Hunter said with new data submissions to the International Panel on Climate Change set to close within weeks, the report card represented the state of play on sea level rise as it was likely to be in the IPCC’s 2014 report.

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Housing outlook: the bad and the ugly

Housing outlook: the bad and the ugly

The outlook for Sydney’s housing is less clouded than for Melbourne.Anyone who has followed my blog on MacroBusiness will be aware that this columnist holds a bearish view on the Australian housing market overall.
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This view is based primarily on the fact that Australian home prices experienced a decade of strong growth that was not matched by the growth in underlying fundamentals: incomes, rents and construction costs (see chart below).

While my overall view of the Australian housing market is pessimistic, it is by no means uniform, with some capital cities providing superior investment prospects than others.

In this report, I provide my 12-month price forecasts for each of Australia’s capital city housing markets, based on consideration of key price drivers: housing finance; housing supply; affordability; and the macroeconomic outlook. My forecasts are based on a “stable” economy, and would change materially should conditions deteriorate (e.g. a Chinese “hard landing”).

Sydney

Relative to the rest of the nation, Sydney’s housing market has displayed resilience, with detached house values declining by 6.4 per cent since peak and unit values remaining flat as at May 2012, according to RP Data-Rismark. This result compares with declines of 8.1 per cent (houses) and 2.8 per cent (units) at the national capital city level.

Over the next 12-months, Sydney’s home prices are projected to perform slightly better than the national average, experiencing a price shift of between minus-3 per cent and 1 per cent.

While Sydney home prices are the most expensive in the nation on a price-to-income basis, due to its relatively attractive rental returns, Sydney’s price-to-rent ratio is below the national average, suggesting that buying is relatively more attractive than renting.

Sydney’s housing market is also relatively supply-constrained, experiencing one of the lowest home construction rates in the nation.

The number of homes for sale in Sydney is also not particularly elevated, and has fallen from this time last year.

In addition, Rental vacancy rates, while higher than last year, are below the national average, as is the average time taken to sell a home.

Melbourne

Melbourne’s recent price performance has been poor, declining by 11.0 per cent (houses) and 7.4 per cent (units) since peak as at May 2012, according to RP Data-Rismark. Yet, despite the sharp decline in values, Melbourne’s housing market still offers the worst investment fundamentals in the nation and is the market most at risk of a severe house price correction.

Our baseline forecast is for Melbourne home prices to decline by between 5 per cent and 8 per cent over the next 12 months. This pessimistic view is based a wide range of considerations.

First, Melbourne home prices are the second-most expensive in the nation on a price-to-income basis, and owing to its very low rental returns, the most expensive when home prices are compared against rents. Melbourne’s housing supply is also relatively abundant, with the rate of construction running well above average, as are the number of homes for sale, which are nearly 20 per cent above last year’s levels.

There is also significant construction in the pipeline.

Brisbane

Brisbane’s recent price performance has been poor, declining by 12.4 per cent (houses) and 10.8 per cent (units) since peak as at May 2012, according to RP Data-Rismark. However, investment fundamentals are improving, which should result in above-average performance over the coming 12 months, with prices forecast to shift by between minus-2 per cent and 2 per cent.

Brisbane home prices are relatively affordable, with its ratio of house prices-to-incomes the second lowest out of the major capitals and its home prices compared to rents the lowest, suggesting that buying is relatively attractive compared with renting.

Housing supply in Brisbane is tightening, with dwelling construction rates running below average and the number of homes for sale some 8 per cent below last year’s levels (albeit still elevated). Rental vacancy rates in Brisbane also remain tight relative to both the national average and last year’s levels.

Perth

Perth’s housing market is likely to be a star performer over the coming year. Although values have declined by 9.5 per cent (houses) and 4.7 per cent (units) since peak, which are above the average decline nationally, fundamentals have improved significantly, which should support price growth of between 2 per cent and 5 per cent over the next 12 months.

Affordability in Perth has improved considerably, with home prices relative to incomes the lowest in the nation, and prices compared with rents below the national average.

Rents are also rising sharply – up by around 16 per cent over the past year according to RP Data – caused by a rental vacancy rate that is the second lowest in the nation and has tightened considerably compared with the same period last year.

The tightening of Perth’s rental market has been driven by the highest population growth in the nation combined with a low rate of dwelling construction. The number of homes for sale is also relatively low, and has fallen by 14 per cent since the same period last year.

Adelaide

Adelaide’s housing market has performed surprisingly well, experiencing the lowest decline in values from peak in the nation (3.7 per cent for houses and 3.6 per cent for units as at May 2012, according to RP Data-Rismark). However, the good fortune is unlikely to last, with prices predicted to fall by 2 per cent to 5 per cent over the next 12 months.

Although Adelaide housing provides better-than-average affordability when measured against incomes, prices are more expensive than average when compared with rents.

The overall supply situation in Adelaide is deteriorating. Dwelling construction relative to population growth is the highest in the nation, whereas the number of homes for sale is elevated and some 3 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Hobart

Hobart’s housing market has been one of the weakest performers in the nation, declining by 11.8 per cent (houses) and 8.9 per cent (units) from peak as at May 2012, according to RP Data-Rismark.

A broad range of indicators suggest that Hobart housing is unlikely to improve any time soon, with prices predicted to decline by a further 4 per cent to 7 per cent over the next 12 months.

Housing affordability is not a key concern in Hobart, with home prices amongst the lowest in the nation compared to both incomes and rents.

Rather, the supply situation is deteriorating, with the number of homes for sale some 20 per cent higher than a year ago and dwelling construction rates relative to population growth running well above the national average. Similarly, rental vacancy rates in Hobart are around 50 per cent higher than this time last year and are the second highest in the nation after Melbourne.

Darwin

Darwin’s housing market has experienced the heaviest losses in Australia, falling by 15.2 per cent (houses) and 16.9 per cent (units) from peak as at May 2012, according to RP Data-Rismark.

However, key indicators suggest that Darwin’s fortunes are turning around, which should support price growth of between 3 per cent and 6 per cent over the next 12 months.

Affordability in Darwin has improved considerably, with home prices relative to incomes just below the national average, and prices compared to rents the second lowest in the nation. Rents have rising sharply – up by around 14 per cent (houses) over the past year according to APM – caused by a rental vacancy rate that is the lowest in the nation and has tightened considerably over the past year.

The tightening of Darwin’s rental market has been driven by the lowest rate of dwelling construction in the nation. Meanwhile, the number of homes for sale is also relatively low, and has fallen by 30 per cent since the same period of last year.

Canberra

Relative to the rest of the nation, Canberra’s housing market has displayed resilience, with values declining by 5.0 per cent (houses) and 7.9 per cent (units) since peak, according to RP Data-Rismark.

However, the outlook for the capital is mixed, resulting in projected price shift of between minus-3 per cent to 0 per cent over the coming year.

Although Canberra’s housing market is relatively affordable – with prices relative to both incomes and rents below the national average – the supply situation has deteriorated somewhat, driven by a recent housing construction boom, as well as a near doubling in the number of homes offered for sale over the past two years. Canberra’s rental vacancy rate, too, has been rising, although it remains roughly half that of the national average.

Leith van Onselen is the Chief Economist at the Macro Investor newsletter. He has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs. To read the full Australian Cities Housing Valuation Report 2012/13, sign up for your free trial at Macro Investor (www.macroinvestor南京夜网.au)

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

Pain au chocolat, perfume and parfait

Pain au chocolat, perfume and parfait

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Watch MasterChef right here, right now!

Every episode of this season of Masterchef available on demand.

Oh bonjour!

*air kiss*

Welcome, ça va? Do come in. Can I get you a café au lait? Champagne? Please settle in and take a seat for tonight’s episode of “The Pastry Shop of Pain”.

The Pepé Le Pew of Patisseries, Vincent Gadan, is in the house and his cloche is bulging with charming confectionary just for you.

For tonight’s elimination challenge, Gadan is the culinary equivalent of François Truffaut and he’s whipped up something a lot like a French New Wave film – it’s a sexy tale which takes about two hours to fully comprehend.

Scissor-wielding Andrew, pipe layer Beau and nurse Amina failed (epically) in front of His Royal Heston and now must pay the price and risk having their “I want to pursue a career in the food industry” dreams smashed by “not just a dessert but a way of life”.

This ain’t going to be a cake walk.

“This is a dish for all the pretty ladies out there,” Gadan coos as he unveils a bottle of perfume made of parfait.

He explains the inspiration for the red-cocoa-covered creation, titled “Essence of Woman”, is his mother’s birthday. While the peanut gallery looks perplexed and Freud has a field day, Andrew and Sean take a closer look as Amina whips out her high school French to wish Chef Gadan’s mère a happy birthday.

Well played Miss A – Gadan bounces over and plants a smooch on her hands. “Show off,” mutters Andrew, who’s clearly worn his cranky pants today, as Beau holds his paw out for the same bromantic treatment.

“I tried to make it as beautiful as a woman,” Gadan grins as Matt, Gaz and Curious George back away from the dessert that looks like something van Gogh has thrown up (and successfully bank rolled).

After tasting the frozen salted hazelnut parfait, rhubarb coulis, crystalised violets (for floral crunch) and sugar bubble, Andrew, who considers himself the “black ninja” for facing four elimination rounds, and Amina, who hates pretty things, get started while elimination virgin Sean cracks under the scrutiny.

“It tastes like perfume but in a good way,” he exclaims.

Blame it on the raised blood sugars or the heat in the kitchen, but Beau has opened the tear flood gates. In the peanut gallery, Audra is sobbing over the railing as Beau delves into his back story. Turns out the day he was handed a Top 20 apron he was also accepted into the fire brigade – a dream he previously spent five years chasing.

George pipes up to inform the troops that tonight’s challenge has three “pressure points”. They are: 1. the salted parfait 2. the tempered chocolate and 3. the icomoulds which, once melted, look like the sickly sweet coating of a toffy apple or hot wax found at the beautician.

The trio have two hours to recreate the perfume bottle dessert. As eggs are whipped and gelatine is prepared, Chef Garan approaches Beau.

“Have you ever made parfait?” he asks.

“Nah,” Beau replies.

“Have you ever tempered chocolate?”

“Nah.”

“Have you ever used isomoulds?”

“Nah.”

And MasterChef 2012 is back! Looking forward to next week’s elimination challenge where they attempt to recreate Vegemite on ciabatta.

“Well did you taste your parfait?” he asks through clenched teeth.

“Slightly,” the tradie says.

Gaz steps in to diffuse the situation dragging Chef Gadan away. He’s staring Beau down like a French bulldog ready to pounce on Coq au Vin left overs.

Once he’s calmed down, the four judges have a CWA meeting to discuss and dissect the intricacies of the intricate dish, while Andrew snaps angrily at his support crew and abandons the recipe by doing four things at once. Meanwhile, over on the next bench, Amina’s dish is beginning to erode as she dumps fistfuls of salt into the parfait mixture, which is meant to taste like salty peanut butter not the Pacific Ocean.

The parfaits are now freezing and its temper time – enter death by chocolate.

Andrew decides to grate “three million grams” of the dark chocolate before boiling it and throwing it onto the transfer paper. As the peanut gallery shriek in terror at his disregard for the art of crisp and shiny chocolate, Amina and Beau go about expressing themselves on the cocoa-covered canvases.

Andrew’s woes follow him into the next phase – making the nozzle and pipe of the perfume bottle.

His sweaty palms are turning his gold-dust-covered shapes into what a box of Cadbury Roses looks like after spending an afternoon in the December sun.

MasterChef Beauty School then begins when Amina spray tans her parfait with the red velvet cocoa butter. The boys follow as she sets about melting down her isomoulds. As Andrew questions which planet these crystals come from, Beau chooses to make his goo with a gold hue.

“Why yellow?” Chef Garan asks.

“It looks like honey, you know, it’s sweet like a woman,” he grins as knees around the nation buckle and bile rises in some throats.

The melted isomoulds are poured onto a silicon mat where they react with vodka, dry and turn into a sticky, wax pot mess.

With less than one minute remaining no one is close to plating up, Amina has a minor existential crisis when her hardened isomould structures and tempered chocolate towers don’t stand to attention and Andrew can’t stop admiring how sexy the zebra print chocolate transfers are.

Times up! Step away from your beauty/cooking benches!

The judges want Andrew first and so off he trots to serve his version of the “Essence of Woman”.

Chef Gadan smashes through the creation like a bully smashing through sand castles on the beach, while the others nod in unison that it lacks texture and the chocolate has not been treated right.

Beau’s isomould has them captivated as does his crunch, salt and all round presentation.

“What’s the story behind the flame?” they ask.

“It represents the time I missed out on an opportunity to be a fire fighter,” as the tears begin to well again.

Matt believes it’s now time for Beau to join Julia and Jules for a dessert ménage a trios.

“He needs to start hanging out with the ‘I can nail tricky desserts’ gang, he’s no longer with Ben and Andy in the beefy, bloke gang.”

As the strains of the cello come to a crescendo, the judges determine that what Amina’s dish lacks in presentation she makes up for with flavour and they can’t get enough of her salty parfait and freeze-dried rhubarb.

Ultimately, Andrew’s lack of acidity and soft chocolate shards stop the clock on his time in the MasterChef kitchen. It’s a blessing because he’s got an arsenal of inspirational postcard messages he’s been waiting to use.

“Be fearless!” he cries.

“Just because you don’t think you can, doesn’t mean you can’t,” he adds.

Back at the house and the news of his departure hits Mindy and the other long-haired lasses like a “ton of bricks” – possibly because there’s no one left to touch up their highlights or create an on-trend immunity challenge up ‘do tomorrow night.

Once he finishes making his kids’ pizza and he realises he isn’t the 15thDalai Lama specialising in dining, he plans to open a ready-made meals business for foodies who can’t be bothered to cook.

Fin.

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

Beef tangine and a sweet dessert

Beef tangine and a sweet dessert

Beef tagine.BEEF TANGINE
Nanjing Night Net

800g prime beef fillet, cut into 2cm diceextra virgin olive oil1 red onion, cut into 6 pieces2 carrots, cut into 4cm pieces1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 4cm pieces8 green beans12 almonds, skin removedsea salt2 tbsp honeyjuice of 1 lemon8 fresh dates, pitted1 small handful pitted black olives1/4 preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped2 tbsp coriander leaves2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leavessteamed couscous, to serve

Chermoula

1 red onion, roughly chopped4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped1 heaped tsp sea salt1 tbsp ground cumin1 tbsp ground coriander1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder1 tbsp ground turmeric2 tsp sweet paprika1 1/2 tsp ras el hanout (see Hot Tips)3/4 cup extra virgin olive oiljuice of 1 lemon

Serves 4

To make the chermoula, place all the ingredients in a food processor, except the olive oil and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute, then slowly pour in the oil to form a thick paste. Stir through the lemon juice. Set aside 1 cup for the tagine. (Makes 2 cups; store extra chermoula under oil for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.)

Combine 2 tbsp chermoula with the beef and set aside to marinate for 1 hour.

In a tagine or a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat a little extra virgin olive oil and the rest of the reserved chermoula. Add the onion, carrot, sweet potato, beans, almonds and a little salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Add enough water to half-cover the vegetables, then add the honey and lemon juice and cover. Reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and turn the ingredients carefully. Add the dates and olives. Cover the pan again and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Heat a frying pan until hot and add some olive oil. When smoking, add the beef (see Hot Tips) and quickly sauté to colour and seal on all sides.

Spoon the beef into the tagine and mix well. You can serve the dish in the tagine or saucepan, spooned onto a large platter or divided among plates. Just before serving, sprinkle with preserved lemon rind and fresh herbs. Serve with couscous.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE TART

250g plain flour75g unsalted butter, cubedpinch sea salt90g icing sugar, sifted4 tbsp full-cream milk, plus 55ml2 egg yolks1 cup heavy cream200g dark bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces1 extra-large egg, beatencocoa powder (optional)

Serves 8-12

To make the pastry, place the flour, butter, salt and icing sugar in a food processor and process for 20 seconds. Add 55ml milk and egg yolks and process for 30 seconds, or until a mass forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead lightly for a few moments. Flatten it on the bench and form a ball. Wrap it in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, and spray a 28cm tart tin with oil spray.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured bench until it is 2cm wider than the tart case. Roll the pastry over your rolling pin and gently ease it into the tart case, pushing the sides in gently. Rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Line the tart case with foil, add some rice and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the rice and foil, brush the tart shell with egg wash and cook for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and increase the temperature to 200°C.

To make the filling, place the cream and 4 tbsp milk in a saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated. Strain the egg into the warm chocolate mixture, and stir until absorbed.

Pour the warm filling into the cooked tart shell and smooth it with a spatula.

Turn off the oven, and bake the tart for 20 minutes or until just set. Allow the tart to cool, then sprinkle with cocoa powder, if using. (Do not refrigerate the tart.)

HOT TIPS

• You can also use a braising cut rather than prime beef fillet; just add more water and extend the cooking time to about 2 hours. However, I like the texture and the juiciness of using fresh-cooked meat served medium.

• Chermoula is a versatile addition to the fridge. For a great blackened and tasty piece of fish, smear a fillet with chermoula, then sear it in a pan.

• Ras el hanout is a North African spice mix. It is available at specialty food stores and spice suppliers.

• The chocolate tart is inspired by a recipe from French master Joël Robuchon. It is easy to make, with a great taste and texture.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Fortified grenacheThe 2008 Michel Chapoutier Banyuls ($25 for 500ml), a fortified grenache from the southern part of France, is perfect with chocolate. It handles the bitterness and bold flavours of the dessert with ease – and it’s a bargain.

Source: Good WeekendFor regular updates on upcoming stories and events visit the Good Weekend Facebook page. 

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

Their body language tells the story: gossip websites delve further into the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Their body language tells the story: gossip websites delve further into the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Vaguely smiling in the middle of a paparazzi pack … Katie Holmes steps out for the first time since the divorce announcement.It doesn’t take a team of Scientologist spies to figure out Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s marriage was in trouble.
Nanjing Night Net

Yesterday numerology, mysterious cars and a secret escape plan were behind their split, and today the gossip trade is resorting to that other old chestnut – body language analysis.

Apparently just from looking at pictures of the couple in recent months you could tell it was all going straight to hell.

“Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise hold hands in an awkward fashion on last outing together,” screams an equally awkward Daily Mail headline.

It goes on: “Candid family shots paint an awkward picture of the final weeks of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s doomed marriage.”

The article is based on photos of the couple in Louisiana in April, showing them holding hands, chatting and smiling.

Holmes was carrying a stuffed toy which is admittedly a little awkward, but surely not the deal breaker.

Us Magazine also urges readers to: “See Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes’ Awkward Final Photo Together”.

The photo shows the pair walking in Iceland together and the actress does indeed have a furrowed brow. A furrowed brow!

Many websites are also carrying pictures of Holmes stepping out in New York City for the first time since the divorce announcement.

For someone who, according to several reports from unnamed sources, fears she is being followed by a team of Scientologist spies Holmes looks … pretty damn relaxed.

TMZ says: “Here’s What Freedom Looks Like”.

Really? A photo of a woman smiling vaguely in the middle of a paparazzi pack is what freedom looks like? So, not that video of lab chimps seeing sunlight for the first time after 30 years of medical testing?

The gossip website reported the final straw for Holmes was Cruise’s decision to send their six-year-old daughter Suri to a “hardcore” Scientologist boot camp called Sea Organisation.

The boot camp teaches the highest levels of Scientology to children as young as five, who are sent there without their parents, TMZ reported.

According to a copy of a Sea Organisation contractpublished by the Los Angeles Times in 2005, members agree to commit to it for one billion years. One. billion. years. That is actually pretty hardcore.

The Church of Scientology has since denied Suri Cruise was a candidate for Sea Org, which their lawyer says has a minimum age restriction of 16.

Us Magazine has one hell of a scoop.

Get this: Katie Holmes bought flowers, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, olive oil and “other items” the day before she filed for divorce.

An “onlooker” told the magazine she was nice “but not effusive”.

The trusty onlooker also caught a touching moment between Holmes and her daughter, which sounds like something straight out of a particularly cheesy episode of Dawson’s Creek.

“Once they reached the checkout line, Holmes hugged Suri. ‘You know you are an amazing little girl, right?’ she told her daughter, according to the onlooker. ‘I love you more than anything’.”Scientology: The Ex Files

Holmes will soon be able to buy a lot more of those “other items”, with her estimated $US25 million worth expected to swell in the divorce settlement, America’s ABC News reported.

smh南京夜网.au

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

State shivers through winter’s coldest night

State shivers through winter’s coldest night

Brisbane awoke to its coldest morning since last winter today, while some parts of the state shivered through their coldest night in eight years.
Nanjing Night Net

The temperature in Brisbane dropped to 6ºC just before 6am, several degrees below the July average minimum of 10ºC.Check your local weather forecast

But it was far colder in other parts of the state, falling to -3.1ºC in Kingaroy and Oakey, -2.4ºC in Warwick and -1ºC in Ipswich. It fell just below freezing at Amberley and Beaudesert (-0.2ºC) and just under 1ºC in Gympie and Toowoomba, Weatherzone南京夜网.au senior meteorologist Brett Dutschke said.

”The overnight low was Brisbane’s coldest night since last winter and that’s the case for a good chunk of southeast Queensland – the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

Coolangatta fell to 3.8ºC and Maroochydore to 4.4ºC.

Mr Dutschke said the coldest recorded minimums were, as usual in the state’s west.

”Some real standouts are in the west of the state, mainly west and northwest. In fact for Cannington (3ºC) and Longreach (1ºC) it was their coldest night in eight years. In Winton (2°C) it was their coldest in seven years.”

In Brisbane and Ipswich today, maximum temperatures are predicted to reach 19ºC, while it will reach a top of 18ºC on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

”The coldest place in Queensland today will probably be Stanthorpe, which will probably only get to 10ºC or 11ºC degrees today,” Mr Dutschke said, while Toowoomba is expected to reach a top of 12ºC.

It’s expected to be much the same tomorrow before warming up later in the week, he said.

”Tonight and tomororw morning looks very similar to last night and this morning, mostly clear skies and top temperatures much the same. Tomorrow during the day will only be marginally warmer in most parts of the state compared to today, about the same or a degree warmer,” he said.

”Progressively [during the week] both nights and days will become warmer but the nights will be the most noticeable change, particularly near the coast.”

In Brisbane, overnight minimum temperatures are expected to rise slightly to around 7ºC on Thursday and 9ºC on Friday, before remaining at about the 10ºC average on the weekend and rising to 13ºC on Monday night. Maximum temperatures will rise after tomorrow’s predicted 19ºC to remain about 20ºC-21ºC during the rest of the week.

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

Watch: MP Craig Emerson’s song and dance show

Watch: MP Craig Emerson’s song and dance show

WHYALLA, poor Whyalla. Sources confirm the carbon tax, introduced on Sunday, has not (yet) wiped it off the map. But now the South Australian steel city has bigger problems than the prospect of annihilation.
Nanjing Night Net

As the unlikely pawn in the epic carbon tax battle between the government and the Coalition, the town was yesterday subjected to one indignity too many.

The Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, sang about it on national television. His song, accompanied by a jig that was more convulsive than it was rhythmic, was scarier than any carbon tax-related price rise could ever be.

In an interview with the ABC’s Mark Simkin, Emerson, who visited Whyalla on Sunday, was asked what the mood was like there.

The Trade Minister paused in a stagy manner as his media advisor cued the music and then sang: ”No Whyalla wipeout, there on my TV /Shocking me right out of my brain / Shocking me right out of my brain”.

It was a less-than-tuneful re-working of the old Skyhooks number Horror Movie.

There were other signs the world had gone mad. Julia Gillard did an interview with her radio nemesis, 2GB, home to her tormentor Alan Jones. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott spoke to not one but two ABC radio stations – Radio National and Melbourne’s local ABC. The Opposition Leader usually avoids the public broadcaster.

Both leaders were desperately peddling their versions of the carbon-tax future. They dashed from youth-focused commercial stations to morning television and then to press conferences.

Abbott tweeted and Gillard bantered with Kyle Sandilands, who invited himself to her place for a barbecue, the sausages for which may or may not be more expensive now, depending on whom you believe.

Gillard did more than 10 daytime media calls. She said the Clean Energy Future would create jobs, not cost them. She emphasised the tax cuts and compensation with which the government is showering lower-income earners.

She argued the difference between a ”price” and a ”tax” with broadcaster John Laws. Whatever you wanted to call it, individuals wouldn’t pay it, she said.

Abbott, who had around seven media engagements during the day, said ”millions of Australian households will be worse off”, according to the government’s own figures.

He said the tax wouldn’t even achieve emissions reductions.

Where Gillard uses averages (the cost-of-living increase will be a teensy 0.7 per cent), Abbott uses specifics (just wait till you open your electricity bill).

It remains to see which tactic will prevail, and whether or not Emerson’s creative use of song will prove an effective weapon against Abbott, or what the military euphemistically calls ”blue on blue”.

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

Health: Australian women using IVF to screen out cancer

Health: Australian women using IVF to screen out cancer

FERTILE women with genes that predispose them to breast and ovarian cancer are using IVF to select embryos without the genes so their children are free of the distress they cause.
Nanjing Night Net

In a new trend that has heightened ethicists’ fears of ”designer babies”, Australian IVF specialists said women with mutations of genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 were spending thousands of dollars on a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to select normal embryos

Females who carry mutations of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes have a 60 to 80 per cent chance of getting breast cancer during their lifetime. Those with BRCA 1 also have a 30 to 60 per cent chance of getting ovarian cancer while those with BRCA 2 have a 5 to 20 per cent chance of getting getting ovarian cancer.

Couples where one partner has such a mutation have a 50 per cent chance of having a baby with the same mutation so the technique allows them to cut this risk to between 0.1 and 10 per cent depending on the accuracy of the diagnostic test developed for their specific mutation.

Doctors from Victoria’s leading IVF clinics, Melbourne IVF and Monash IVF, said about 10 couples had used the procedure for the breast and ovarian cancer genes since a 2008 change in reproductive treatment laws allowed such use.

The medical director of Melbourne IVF, Dr Lyndon Hale, said some couples may chose to use the procedure to avoid the trauma of prenatal diagnosis which raises the question of abortion. Some had also seen family members endure breast cancer from a young age or had had their breasts removed to reduce their risk of cancer.

”Cancer is a horrible disease … so these people want to get rid of it from their family tree,” he said.

Dr Hale said he believed clinics in other states, including NSW, were offering PGD for BRCA mutations.

Dr Elissa Osborne, from Monash IVF in Melbourne, said couples wanting to use the diagnostic tests had to wait about three to six months for the one to be created for their particular mutation. This cost about $2000.

They could then go through the usual IVF procedure of creating embryos that would be tested at day three or day five of life to see if they carried the gene mutation. This allowed couples to select unaffected embryos for implantation. This roughly doubled the cost of IVF cycles from about $3500 to $7000.

While PGD has been used in Australia for 20 years to help couples remove the risk of a growing list of inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease, doctors and ethicists said using it for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations remained controversial for several reasons.

First, the test does not remove all risk of breast and ovarian cancer for the child who will still have a 10 per cent ”background risk” of the cancers which exists for the rest of the population without gene mutations. And second, there is a theoretical risk that hormonal treatments used for these women to go through IVF increases their personal risk of developing cancer.

Professor Willem Verpoest, an expert presenting research on the topic at a European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Istanbul this week, said although there was no evidence of an increased rate of cancer in these women yet, it was the subject of ongoing research and needed to be monitored.

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