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Archive for February, 2019

Banana-throwing Thai leader on media warpath again

Bangkok: Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha once threw a banana peel at reporters and has threatened to “probably execute” those who did not tell the truth.
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Now the former army chief, who holds sweeping dictatorial powers, is on the warpath again accusing journalists of stirring up controversy over an expensive watch and ring that his 72-year-old deputy, Prawit Wongsuwan, was spotted wearing at a public relations event.

Photographs of Prawit’s Richard Mille watch, which is estimated to be worth up to $US500,000 ($660,000) and the diamond ring, have gone viral across Thailand’s social media.

And they have prompted questions about why the career military man failed to declare them in his list of assets, as required by Thailand’s anti-graft agency.

Prawit, who also serves as minister of defence, has not publicly explained how he could afford such expensive accessories.

The country’s National Anti-Corruption Commission is expecting a letter of explanation.

Only days after urging Thais not to tolerate corruption, Prayuth accused reporters of wanting to divide the country’s leadership that has ruled since toppling a democratically elected government in 2014, after months of political instability.

“If nobody is beside me, I will tell you, I will be fiercer. I will fully exercise my power,” he told reporters, adding questions about his deputy’s wealth would be dealt with in compliance of laws.

Thailand’s military-dominated government has restricted freedom of expression, censored media outlets, banned large public gatherings and prosecuted dozens of people under a draconian sedition law.

Prayuth partly justified seizing power in 2014 because of what he called endemic corruption in the government then led by Yingluck Shinawatra, who has fled Thailand after being convicted of negligence over a corruption-riddled rice subsidy scheme.

Just as the furore over Prawit’s accessories was erupting, Prayuth claimed his government had taken many steps to combat corruption, including improving laws and setting up anti-corruption networks.

“Thai people must reject and no longer tolerate any kind of corruption,” he said.

“Corruption is not an easy problem to solve but if all parties help one another to fight against it, I believe we can do it,” he said.

Last year Thailand was ranked the 101st worst country Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Prayuth has promised to restore democratic rule but deadlines for elections have been repeatedly pushed back.



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short takes for Thursday December 14 2017

WELL done Joanne McCarthy, Peter Fox and Julia Gillard for your dedication to exposing the evils in our community.
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I watched the ABC show last night Undeniableand was choked up at the pain and suffering the victims and their families had endured.

Hopefully all that areaffected can start thehealing process.

Suzanne McColl, ThorntonTOupstage our big brothers in Sydney maybe we could stage a raft of same-sex marriages aboard the Stockton ferry under theshining light of the phallic tower before it too is removed.

John Bradford,BeresfieldWHAT a dumb decision by Newcastle City Council to rezone the heavy rail land.

With the unprecedented population increase in Newcastle over the next few years this land should have been reserved for open space.

In addition it would serve as a utilities corridor to provide for increasing the capacity of sewerage, water supply, gas, electricity and telecommunications to the new developments within the city. Very short sighted.

Steve Weatherstone,Warners BayI SUPPORT Allan Earl’sdenunciation of the Liberal Party of the last 20 years (Letters 13/12) for putting Section 44 in the constitution, and for the Labor Party turninga surplus of $17 billion and net assets of $29 billion into a $19 billion deficit and net debt of $153 billion. Oh, wait –no.

Sean Farnham,Kurri KurriI AGREE with MacMaguire (Letters 11/12) that doesneed a new flag and anthem.

I suggest that we remove the Union Jack and replace it with a rainbow in a square border with the colours red, black and yellow.

Our new national anthem could be “Advance Queer”.

Alan Kendall,NeathI AM not giving a vote of confidence to either political party, but have to pointout the depth of hypocrisy that has enveloped our politicians.

I ask who is shocked by Sam Dastyari’sjudgment failures?

John Howard and Alexander Downerwere unaware of the n Wheat Board doing deals with a country we were at war with andboth men are still suckling on the public teat.

Allan Earl,ThorntonSHARK nets are an archaic method thatreally do not stop sharks based on sightings so far.

It’s just so the people who watchedJaws one too many times or freak out at any little shark incident can imagine they are safe.

Matt Harper, KahibahTHE POLLSShould the Knights let Jack Cogger go?

Yes53%, No 47%Should shark nets be phased out?

Yes 59%, No 41%



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‘Feel-good effect’ of same-sex marriage buoys consumers

It hasn’t just helped the wedding planners and the florists: The “feel good factor” of same-sex marriage has had a hand in driving consumer confidence to a four-year high, the latest Westpac Melbourne Institute Index shows.
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The monthly survey measures how confident people are in their income stability, economic future and their spending decisions as one of the key indicators for the overall health of the economy.

With an interest rate rise now likely to be off the table until the end of next year and employment numbers continuing to grow, consumers have responded by pushing the index up by 3.6 per cent to 103.3 in December from 99.7 in November.

“This is a surprisingly strong result and confirms the lift we have seen in the index over the last three months,” said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans.

“Also supporting a more positive assessment for respondents’ finances is coverage of the government’s recent speculation around possible tax cuts.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said personal income tax cuts, on top of company tax cuts from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for all businesses, continued to be a priority for his government.

The rhetoric has buoyed consumers who are now expecting their most positive personal finance period in more than two years.

“With the labour market remaining strong respondents are generally more confident about the domestic economy and there is likely to have been a ‘feel good effect’ from the passing of marriage equality legislation,” said Mr Evans.

But shops hopeful of a Christmas rush should temper expectations with the “time to buy a major household item” index still stuck below the long run average of 127.5.

For the first time this year consumers and businesses have traded places, with consumers picking up the slack as businesss confidence struggles on the back of very disappointing household consumption figures in the third-quarter national accounts

Tuesday’s NAB business confidence figures showed that while construction is buoyant, other sectors are becoming increasingly pessimistic – none more so than retail.

“The subdued conditions in retail have been a major concern for some time now,” said NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

Nervous homeowners and hopeful homebuyers expect house prices to continue falling in NSW, with future price expectations down by 24 per cent over the year.

Victoria is catching up both in confidence and in price, with the expectations of future house price rises up by 10 per cent during the same period of time.

“The variations mainly reflect the sharper slowdown in price growth evident in the Sydney market,” said Mr Evans.



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BoatingFierce Farr 40 racing in cityMark Rothfield

SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN: Sydney yacht Edake, the winner of the Newcastle Farr 40 One Design series last weekend.NEWCASTLE once again showed its racing colours last weekend, hosting a super-competitive fleet of Farr 40 One Design yachts and crews at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for their Trophy Series.
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There was no digging up streets, breaking the sound barrier or alienating the East Enders – just a few buoys laid two miles off Strzelecki Lookout by race officer Ted Anderson and it was down to business.

Racing began in lumpy seas and 15 knots of sou’east breeze on Saturday, and the Novocastrian crew on Good Form, led by Joe de Kock, opened strongly by winning race one. Unfortunately they couldn’t quite maintain good form henceforth.

Jeff Carter’s Edake – rhyming with ‘headache’ – took boat-of-the-day honours over the more fancied Hill PDA – the Akubra-wearing owner/skipper was fulsome in his praise for the race management and hospitality, while also complimenting his largely amateur crew.

“We nailed three of the four starts and our speed was awesome,” he said. “We came out today and showed the other boats we have the ability and crew work to make a real go of it.”

NOVOCASTRIAN CREW: Newcastle’s Good Form, owned by Joe de Kock, in action on Saturday.

Martin Hill’s team sat just one point adrift after the first four races, Carter noting: “It was us and PDA fighting it out. We did six or seven tacks to windward and even tried to fake gybe on them, to get them off our hip. It was awesome; it’s just great racing up here.”

Hill PDA scored two firsts but a fourth in race two became their ball and chain.

“Farr 40 racing is about saving inches,” Hill said of another incredibly close contest.

Aboard were Rio 2016 Laser gold medallist Tom Burton as tactician and Finn Alexander, n Sailing’s Youth Sailor of the Year: “I was really pleased with Finn’s input, and the fact we improved over the day,” Hill added.“The race management was great and the courses well positioned. It’s all on tomorrow.”

But when tomorrow finally came, it was Jeff Carter’s day – Edake would clean-sweep all four races, their best ever performance in 11 years of Farr 40 campaigning.

With tears in eyes at the presentation ceremony, along with the salt from a celebratory dockside dip, the emotional skipper attributed the victory to hitting the line in a good position, sail design and crew work, which he said rivalled the pro teams.

“The boat is quiet and has speed. We’ve been working at this boat for seven years and all bar two are core crew from the 2016 Farr 40 worlds in Sydney,” Carter said.

“We’ve been up there on day one before but haven’t managed to complete a series of eight races, and we’ve never taken four bulletsin one day.It was humbling when Martin Hill and Tom Burton came up afterwards and said we did absolutely everything right out there.”

Hill PDA finished day two in second place overall, with a 14-point gap to Edake. Third on a countback was Rob Davis and Andy Baker’s Melbourne team on Nutcracker, while Joe de Kock grabbed fourth place after finishing with a solid second in the final race.“It’s awesome having everyone up here for one regatta, they are just a good bunch of people,” de Kock said.

CATALINA CATCH-UPCATALINA yacht owners are invited to the annual rendezvous on Lake Macquarie from January 12-14, courtesy of Club Marine, Lake Macquarie Yacht Club and RA Mackay Yacht Brokerage.It starts at 6pm on the Friday with an informal get-together at Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, including welcome drinks and music on the deck – marina pens can be arranged. Saturday will feature a fun (non-spinnaker) race/sail past around Pulbah Island before returning to the club for a presentation dinner with a Hawaiian theme. The following day has a leisurely cruise and raft-up for lunch at Styles Point.

Contact Rod Mackay on (02) 4950 5706 or [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

ANCHORAGE SHINESTHE Anchorage Marina at Corlette has just completed a major upgrade to help raise the status of Port Stephens as a mecca for larger boats.There’s two new marina arms with 22 berths catering for vessels from 55-66 feet, plus a wave attenuator spanning the marina mouth. At 5 metres, it’s one of the widest in .Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer said it was a new angle on the traditional fishing and sailing the region was known for. “It’s about quality, not quantity,” he said. “Luxury boat owners can get away from it all up here, knowing there are now modern facilities for boats their size.”



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Russia’s mission in the Arab world is far from finished

Cairo: Flanked by army officials, two strongmen – Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sissi – stood motionless, peering over their respective energy ministers as they signed a deal to build a nuclear power plant to the tune of $US21 billion ($27 billion).
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Russia and Egypt might be entering a new era of close ties, reminiscent of the previous Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War, but that has more to do with haphazard US foreign policy.

As Yemen’s civil war worsens and Saudi Arabia assumes a more dominant regional role, American allies such as Egypt and Israel, as well as foes including Iran, are turning to Russia as a more reliable partner to push their domestic and foreign agendas.

The military pomp and parade on display for Putin in Cairo on his flash visit on Monday was a graphic indicator of how both autocratic leaders are attracted to exuding political might rather than necessarily acknowledging the terminal economic calamities gripping their countries.

Russia is facing a severe economic crisis with international sanctions and a high poverty rate of 14.4 per cent, but its projection of military power through its various arms sales to Arab client states is an important political move that has been effectively deployed.

A year after floating its currency, Egypt’s economy has steadied with more foreign investment but its debt has ballooned to more than $US80 billion.

Although Arab regimes still rely heavily on US security patronage, the Russian appeal lies in Moscow’s willingness to aggressively put its hands up as an international power that is concerned about regime stability and unencumbered by lip service to human rights.

“The message Russia is sending to other Arab countries by supporting [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is that if you are facing domestic trouble we are going to stick by our allies,” Karim Bitar, a Middle East expert at the Paris-based Institute for Strategic International Relations told Fairfax Media.

“We are not like the US, we are not going to sell you weapons and then abandon you when you face problems”.

“So when Sissi flirts with Russia he’s just sending a signal to the US that we might explore alternatives.”

Egypt is still the second biggest recipient of American military aid after Israel to the tune of $US1.3 billion annually but in August the Trump administration froze nearly $US300 million of weapons over human rights concerns.

Egypt has bought 50 fighter jets costing around $US3.5 billion from Russia and signed a deal last month to have mutual use of the two countries’ airbases.

Incidentally, Saudi Arabia paid $US3 billion for sophisticated Russian air defence missile systems in October, according to Reuters, while Iran, its regional rival, has negotiated the purchase of a $US10-billion Russian S-300 anti aircraft missile system.

Putin has also shrewdly capitalised on the US’s schizophrenic policy mainly towards Syria to fill the political vacuum that started with the Obama administration and was prolonged by Trump’s heavily-gutted US State Department.

In the process, he has managed to woo other important autocratic leaders such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, convincing him to withdraw his support to Syrian rebels and focus his political ambitions instead on curbing Kurdish statehood on his border.

In a show of Putin’s confidence, on Monday he announced a partial withdrawal of troops from Russian bases in Syria citing his concerted campaign to degrade Islamic State and other opposition forces.

But Bitar believed that is not the end of it.

“So far the cost benefit analysis shows that Russia got what it wanted without paying a heavy price, however I do think it will end up paying the price for its intervention in Syria,” he said.

He warns that much like the Soviet Union’s mishandled campaign in Afghanistan fuelled the rise of jihadis and birthed al-Qaeda, current militant groups are already including mentions of targeting Russia in their jihadi propaganda.

“The mission is far from accomplished”.



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