Archive for January, 2019

Qatar gets 14 days to send labour report to FIFA

By admin | 苏州美甲

“FIFA expects to receive information on the specific steps that Qatar has taken since president Sepp Blatter’s last trip to Doha in November 2013 to improve the welfare and living conditions of migrant workers,” world soccer’s ruling body said in a statement on Thursday.


“The application of international norms of behaviour is a FIFA principle and part of all of FIFA’s activities and is expected from all hosts of its events.

“FIFA firmly believes in the power the World Cup can have in triggering positive social change in Qatar including improving the labour rights and conditions of migrant workers,” the statement read.

The report will eventually be presented by FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger to a hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels on February 13.

“We are currently in the middle of an intensive process which is exclusively aimed at improving the situation of workers in Qatar,” said Zwanziger.

“Ultimately what we need are clear rules and steps that will build trust and ensure that the situation, which is unacceptable at the moment, improves in a sustainable manner.”

Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation have criticised the treatment of migrant labourers in Qatar.

Amnesty hit out at Qatar for “non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions and shocking standards of accommodation”.

The European Parliament joined the controversy in November when it passed a resolution expressing concern at the plight of the workers.

However, it stopped short of calling for the scrapping of the Kafala, or sponsorship, system under which employees cannot change jobs or leave the country without the permission of their sponsors.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez) nL3N0L45IQ

Yang sets early pace in Phoenix, Mickelson seven back

By admin | 苏州美甲

The 42-year-old Korean, a double winner on the PGA Tour, took advantage of ideal scoring conditions at the TPC Scottsdale and signed off with a superb approach to three feet at the par-four last before he sank the birdie putt.


Pat Perez and Kevin Stadler opened with 65s, while fellow Americans Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Tommy Gainey and long-hitting Jason Kokrak were a further stroke back.

While Yang set the early pace, defending champion Mickelson was happy to complete his opening round with an assorted mix of five birdies, three bogeys and a double after struggling with muscle pain in his lower back over the past two weeks.

“My back’s fine, my game was a little rusty,” Mickelson, who was diagnosed with and treated for locked facet joints in his back on Monday, told Golf Channel.

“Got off to a poor start, played a couple over (par) and finished poorly with a few over. In the middle of the round, I hit a lot of good shots and had a good little run.

“It just wasn’t quite sharp, I wasn’t quite focused on every shot the way I need to be and let way too many shots slide today.”

Five-time major champion Mickelson double-bogeyed the par-three 12th, his third hole of the day, after hitting his tee shot into water but got his round back on track with birdies at the 13th, 14th, 17th, first and fourth.

The American, who won last year’s Phoenix Open with a record-tying 28-under total of 256 after opening with a 60, then faded with bogeys at the fifth, seventh and ninth but preferred to dwell on the all positives in his first round.

“The back feels great, and hopefully I’ll come out tomorrow and get a good round,” Mickelson said of his game. “I won’t overdue it and practise too much.

“I do feel like I’ve got a good round in me, the game doesn’t feel far off even though I made quite a few careless spurts out there.”

England’s former world number one Lee Westwood and 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson were among the day’s late starters.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

Govt stands by SPC decision

By admin | 苏州美甲

The Abbott government is standing by its decision not to grant $25 million to SPC Ardmona, saying its up to the company’s owners to do right thing by the workers at the struggling fruit processor.


SPC Ardmona’s parent company Coca-Cola Amatil was seeking a $25 million contribution from the federal government, claiming the cash would allow it to continue production and provide thousands of jobs.

But following a cabinet meeting in Canberra on Thursday Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane announced the government would not be providing any assistance.

Mr Macfarlane said Coca-Cola was a $9 billion company that had the necessary to cash to do the right thing by the by regional Victorians and invest in its future.

“The commonwealth government is confident that Coca-Cola has more than enough assets to do this development,” he told the ABC on Friday.

But he said this was a defining point in the government’s industry policy, and they wanted to make clear they wanted a more strategic approach to assisting Australian companies.

They would no longer be handing out taxpayers money in an ad hoc fashion when companies got into trouble, he said.

“That is very much the old way of assisting industry,” he said.

Acting opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said with government assistance SPC Ardmona had a chance to restructure and a future in Australia.

But she said the government had once again shown it would turn its back on Australian workers.

“So far, there’s not been an Australian job that this new government hasn’t been prepared to see shipped offshore,” she told the ABC on Friday.

Melbourne firm brings video games to life

By admin | 苏州美甲

You burst into the abandoned hospital, machine gun raised, heart pounding.


Zombies jump from the shadows and drop from the ceiling.

It sounds like a bad dream – or a good video game – but this is real life.

Well, kind of.

In Real Life (IRL) Shooter is a Melbourne startup who bring the shoot-em-up video game experience to the real world.

They build complex, movie-quality sets, then fill them with flashing lights, sound effects and hundreds of actors dressed as baddies.

Over the course of an hour, teams fight their way through, just as they would in a video game. They complete objectives, accumulate points, and, of course, blow away the bad guys.

But co-founder Drew Hobbs insists it’s “not just a mindless shooter”.

“There’s a narrative, there’s a roleplay element, there’s a whole lot more going on than just running around a scary environment shooting zombies.

“However, you do get get to run around a scary environment shooting zombies.”

IRL Shooter’s debut event, Patient Zero, took place in Melbourne late last year after a campaign on crowdfunding site Pozible blew past an initial goal of $10,000 to reach in excess of $240,000.

About 6,200 people attended, including Amy Robertson, 38, a “female gamer and proud”, who says she’s been playing video games for 25 years.

“It was a surreal experience,” she says.

“To play out that fantasy that you’ve been playing on the couch and watching on movies for so many years was phenomenal.”

Hobbs, himself a long-time gamer, says IRL Shooter is the “the next logical step in narrative entertainment”.

Video games are becoming more realistic by the day as computing power increases but an in-the-flesh experience will always best them, he says.

“No matter how good the graphics, no matter how good the game, it’s still a controller and it’s still a screen and you’re still on the couch – and you can always press pause.

“No matter how good it gets, when it gets scary, its still not a real person running at you, screaming.

“What people want now is something they’ll really remember.”

Despite the strong debut in Melbourne, the company is struggling to get a Sydney follow-up off the ground.

With 44 days of a new Pozible campaign remaining, they’ve raised $90,000 of their $1 million target, and Hobbs says the campaign has slowed.

The Melbourne event raised about $1 million in crowdfunding and ticket sales but cost “a bit more than that” to put on.

A 7000 square-metre deconstructable set that can ship easily between sites should help keep costs down going forward, Hobbs says, but everything depends on getting the Sydney event off the ground.

If it fails, the team may look to go overseas.

The company has also invested in a few extras, including an optional sidearm and an electric belt that delivers a real shock when you get too close to a zombie.

“We just want to scare the pants off people.”

*Tickets are available from the pozible广西桑拿, campaign page from $175.

Campaign targets Indigenous smokers

By admin | 苏州美甲

The Council said smoking rates in regional and remote parts of Queensland are up to 70 per cent higher than in urban and metropolitan areas,

With a large Murri population living in the bush, Aboriginal smokers make up a large portion of this number.


Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said the rates were alarming.

“We know for Indigenous adults, they’re twice as likely to smoke as non-Indigenous Queensland adults, so the burden of smoking on those communities is far higher,” she said.

“We do know that lung cancer is the number-one cancer killer among Indigenous Queenslanders so it’s important for us to have culturally appropriate programs and the right local support for Indigenous Queenslanders to help them quit.”

Regions most affected include the Fraser Coast, Charters Towers, Longreach and Logan.

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council CEO Selwyn Button said he was optimistic the smoking rates would drop with targeted campaigns.

“What I would expect to see is that over the next three to five years, we’ll start to see even more decline in the numbers of smoking rates across the country – purely because there’s active interventions involved,” he said.

“There are teams out there working with communities and there’s a whole range of marketing and campaign material that’s actually addressing the issue in our communities.”

Ms Clift said The Cancer Council was also concerned about the number of pregnant Aboriginal women lighting up.

“We know that about 53 per cent of Queensland Indigenous women who are pregnant smoke during their pregnancy. It’s a very, very high percentage and far higher than non-Indigenous Queensland women at about 15 per cent,” she said.

Heatwaves coming longer, earlier, hotter

By admin | 苏州美甲

Hotter days and longer heatwaves will occur in Australia more frequently and earlier in the year, a report says.


And it will be decades before extreme temperatures stop rising due to the effects of human-induced climate change, one of the co-authors of the Australian Heatwaves report, Professor Will Stefan of the Climate Council, says.

Heatwaves are occurring up to two weeks earlier than previously recorded, are lasting longer and the number of record hot days has doubled in the last 50 years, the report says.

Scientists define a heatwave as more than three consecutive days where the temperature is in the top 10 per cent of days for that time of year, as well as being hotter than the previous month.

During the past decade there were three times as many hot-day records as there were cold, Prof Stefan said.

“That’s virtually impossible to happen on the grounds of natural variability alone,” he told reporters.

“What’s behind this? The physics is really, really clear. The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is going up.”

Co-author and heatwave expert Dr Sarah Perkins said “it is clear” heatwaves are becoming more savage and are lasting longer.

“This summer and last summer have been characterised by extreme temperatures a lot of which have been record breaking,” she said.

Extended heatwaves will have significant negative impacts on health and infrastructure, co-author Professor Lesley Hughes said.

“Heatwaves have been dubbed the silent killer,” she said.

About 1000 people in Australia, generally elderly or children, die each year due to heatwaves.

In the 2003 European heatwave about 70,000 people died and in Russia in 2010 more than 50,000 were killed by extreme heat.

Heatwaves also damage infrastructure, Prof Hughes said.

Roads can melt, train and tram tracks can buckle and over-stretched electricity networks can black out.

The final report is due out in late February.

As the authors spoke to reporters in Sydney, soaring temperatures scorched Australia’s southern states, fanning bushfires, health alerts and power outage concerns.

Melbourne is facing its longest run of 40 degree days since 1908.

Meanwhile Adelaide is heading towards 46C on Thursday, close to its all time high of 46.1C set on January 12, 1939.

Missing Aust man fails to board US flight

By admin | 苏州美甲

Hopes that missing Australian soldier Captain Paul McKay would appear at a New Jersey airport for the first leg of his scheduled flight back to Australia have been dashed.


“At this point he has not boarded a plane,” Saranac Lake police sergeant James Law told AAP on Wednesday.

Capt McKay was last seen on New Years Eve walking on railroad tracks in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.

A ground search of the dense forest area involving Saranac Lake police, state rangers and volunteers has failed to find any clues to where Capt McKay might be.

He has been suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour of Afghanistan and is on leave from the Australian Army.

Capt McKay, 31, purchased an Australia to the US round-trip airfare, with the return leg beginning from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport to Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon.

He was then scheduled to fly from LA to Australia on Wednesday evening.

The Transport Security Administration (TSA), airlines and airports have been alerted to be on the lookout for Canberra-based Capt McKay.

Banks will alert authorities if he uses a credit card.

“We have everybody watching and looking with the hope we would find him, but we haven’t heard from anybody,” Sgt Law said.

Capt McKay went missing when the northeast US was hit by the polar vortex, bringing minus 30 degree temperatures and snow storms, but Saranac Lake police chief Bruce Nason said Capt McKay’s Army training gave searchers and his family hope he could survive.

“Based upon his experiences, if anybody has a chance of going into this wooded area and coming out it is him,” Chief Nason said.

“He has some experience.

“We are hoping he got slowed down by the weather.

“I remain optimistic.

“If I wasn’t, we wouldn’t be looking that hard and if it was my child I would want everybody to remain optimistic and we are.

“We are committed to continue the search for as long as it takes.”

Capt McKay sent an email to his father on December 30.

In the email, Capt McKay said he was leaving all of his possessions to his father.

UK, US and Australia police probe Philippines child sex ring

By admin | 苏州美甲

British police are working with Australian and US counterparts to break a Philippines pedophile ring that has been streaming live scenes of child abuse over the internet, the National Crime Agency says.


The NCA, which has been investigating the ring since it discovered obscene videos on a British pedophile’s computer two years ago, called abuse in developing countries “a significant and emerging threat”.

“This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with,” said the agency’s Andy Baker.

“Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt.

“Protecting the victims of abuse is our priority and that means attacking every link in the chain, from dismantling the organised groups who are motivated by profit through to targeting their customers,” he added.

The inquiry – called Operation Endeavour – has taken place in 12 countries and led to the arrest of 17 Britons, five of whom have been convicted. Fifteen children aged between six and 15 have been rescued.

Three other investigations into live streaming of child abuse have netted 733 suspects globally.

The investigation was sparked when Northamptonshire Police seized the computer of registered sex offender Timothy Ford, who was later jailed for eight-and-a-half years after being found guilty of paying to view live sex abuse.

The NCA added: “The use of webcams to stream live abuse, particularly from the developing world, is a significant and emerging threat according to the NCA’s CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) command.

“Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain,” it warned.

US growth mostly moderate at year-end: Fed

By admin | 苏州美甲

The US economy grew at a “moderate” pace across most regions at the end of 2013, the Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” survey showed, with muted price and wage rises.


The survey, covering the end of November and December, showed hiring in most areas was slow but steady, “with few instances of rapid growth but very few reports of staff cuts or plant closings.”

That backed official data showing the economy continued to pick up pace in the fourth quarter but may have hit a slight lull in December.

Labor Department data showed last week that a weak 74,000 jobs were generated in December, compared with expectations of nearly 200,000.

The Fed characterised growth in nine of its 12 districts as moderate, three “modest” and one, Kansas City, “steady”.

Retail sales were up in nine districts, and all 12 noted year-on-year increases in manufacturing activity, according to the Beige Book.

Prices were stable in half of the districts and saw small increases in the rest.

Two-thirds of the districts saw increases in hiring and wages, with the wage gains called “small to moderate.”

“Most district reports indicated that wage and price pressures were contained and did not present major problems for local contacts,” the report said.

In the regions that showed slower activity, particularly Kansas City, severe winter weather was one reason given, it said.

Growth was fairly broad across sectors, including construction and services.

The sharp fall in hiring in December as reported by the Labor Department was blamed by many analysts largely on a weather-caused slowdown in construction.

But the Beige Book said most districts reported increases in homes sales and residential construction, and the same for commercial real estate sales and building.

On the other hand, banking and financial activity was flat, with no district noting a substantial change in loan volume. In addition, it said, no district reported significant changes in credit standards.

An easing of standards would be a signal for generally more economic activity.

Three areas, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco, however reported some instances of more relaxed underwriting standards by financial institutions.

“Some contacts attributed this relaxation to increased competition in lending markets,” according to the report.

The onset of the Obama administration’s health reforms, the Affordable Care Act, continued to generate waves through business.

Respondents pointed to widespread expectations or fears of a rise in the cost of providing health benefits to employees.

Comment: No need to avoid caffeine during heatwave

By admin | 苏州美甲

By Ian Musgrave

Southern Australia is currently suffering under a heat wave; by all indications today Adelaide will enjoy a record breaking 46 degrees C.


With the extreme heat it is vital that everyone take appropriate steps to manage the heat, including drinking plenty of fluids. DON’T wait until you are thirsty, thirst is a poor indicator of dehydration under these conditions. The impact of this heat was brought home by one of my postgraduate students being diagnosed with dehydration yesterday.

However, some emergency services notices have been saying to avoid caffeinated beverages (see for example page 13 here). This is possibly due to the mistaken belief that caffeine can cause dehydration.

But caffeine doesn’t

We’ve known since 1928 that caffeine is a mild diuretic (i.e. it makes you wee more), I personally encountered caffeine’s diuretic effects back when I was running marathons. After a month of abstinence, I had two espressos just before starting a race. The time I spent at urinals negated any performance enhancing effect the caffeine might have had.

We use stronger diuretics such as Chlorothiazide to reduce body water and thus reduce oedema or lower blood pressure by lowering bloood volume. But even these strong diuretics will not cause dehydration at normal doses. It was assumed that caffeine, by being a diuretic would cause dehydration by causing you to wee more fluid out than you were taking in by drinking.

But caffeine is only a mild diuretic, our usual exposure to it is through drinking beverages such as tea and coffee which provide added fluid, and there was no good evidence that coffee consumption did dehydrate people.

Despite a series of studies that show caffeine consumption is unlikely to be dehydrating (my favourite is Kinderkrankenschwester. 2008 Jul;27(7):299.[Coffee does not dehydrate. New studies of Germany’s favorite addiction: coffee], the myth of caffeine/coffee and dehydration persists.

A recent study I was interviewed about by the UK version of the Conversation showed conclusively that in ordinary people with moderate coffee consumption caffeine did not cause dehydration.

But that was normal consumption, under normal conditions. What about these conditions of extreme heat?

Some of the better studies of the effect of caffeine on dehydration have been done on athletes, who use caffeine to improve sports performance. Despite athletes using higher levels of caffeine than would be consumed by normal conditions (about 3-4 times higher), studies on athletes doing high intensity exercise under hot conditions show no dehydration on caffeine compared to controls (see here and here).

This review sums it up thusly “This review, contrary to popular beliefs, proposes that caffeine consumption does not result in the following: (a) water-electrolyte imbalances or hyperthermia and (b) reduced exercise-heat tolerance” Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2007 Jul;35(3):135-40. Caffeine, fluid-electrolyte balance, temperature regulation, and exercise-heat tolerance.

High levels of caffeine consumption did not increase dehydration during simulated firefighting (see here and here), although consumption of 400 mg of caffeine (about 5 times what’s in a cup of espresso coffee) increased heat-related fatigue.

So when you drink lots of fluids to cope with the heat today, there is no need to avoid caffeine containing drinks. Be sensible though, a double espresso is no substitute for the amount of fluid you need, and tap water is free and readily accessible in most places. But on the other hand the occasional cup of tea or coffee won’t make you dehydrated.

Remember, don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink, as you can become dehydrated before feeling thirsty under these conditions.

In the meantime, spare a thought for the firefighters and emergency service personnel who will be out in the extreme conditions today.

Ian Musgrave does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.