Archive for March, 2019

Mariachi ‘Prince’ sure to grab headlines for Mexico

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Mexican-born Hubertus von Hohenlohe, whose family come from Austrian ancestry and German royalty, will be representing the Latin American country in the men’s slalom at his sixth Games.

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One of the oldest winter Olympians ever – he will be 55 on Sunday compared to the oldest competitor who was 59 – will not trouble the favourites but he is sure to make headlines.

Known for his theatrical flair on the slopes, his mariachi-style ski suit will certainly make a statement at Sochi and for him representing Mexico at the Games is the true prize.

“It’s a miracle that we’re there. It’s very difficult to qualify. For me it has been a lot, a lot of effort and we did it,” von Hohenlohe told Reuters.

“I now want us to go well, I don’t want to think about what placing because it won’t change anything in Mexico, nor the world, if I am 42nd, 56th or 31st, it won’t change absolutely anything.

“What will change is that (we) represent Mexico with dignity, with a good image and good intentions,” he said.

Nicknamed ‘the Prince’ because of his royal heritage, von Hohenlohe hopes his participation in Sochi will pay homage to the artistic heritage and diversity of his Mexican homeland.

“I’m representing a country with a lot of creativity, with many artists, of a people that for thousands of years have made divine things,” he said.

“It’s best to show off this side of Mexico, it’s artistic side, the very beautiful side that it has.”

Not satisfied with being an Olympic skier, von Hohenlohe is also an accomplished photographer, pop singer and was a friend of the late U.S. artist Andy Warhol.

(Writing by Paul Vieira; Editing by Rex Gowar and Ken Ferris)

Gales, rain hit north Qld as cyclone brews

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Evacuation centres in Townsville are preparing to open as a low-pressure storm moves closer to north Queensland.

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A cyclone warning is in place for every town and city between Cairns and Mackay on Wednesday as the huge tropical system approaches the coast.

An emergency storm tide alert has been issued for Townsville and the council will open three evacuation centres on Thursday morning.

The system, which was about 515 kilometres east of Cairns on Wednesday afternoon, is forecast to form into a cyclone before it makes landfall on Friday morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is warning people to batten down as the storm will likely bring heavy rain and winds up to 120km/h.

“Currently we’re anticipating the cyclone crossing the coast somewhere in the Townsville region, granting that it is a fairly long way out at the moment,” BOM Queensland regional director Rob Webb said.

BOM will issue warnings every three hours.

Gales are already battering coastal areas from Cairns to Mackay.

A king tide of up to 4.12 metres is forecast to hit the coast when the storm reaches land, which could cause dangerous storm surges.

Coastal residents between Innisfail and Hamilton Island are being warned sea levels could rise rapidly on Thursday and Friday, flooding low-lying areas.

Storm tides may also affect coastal residents between Cairns and Innisfail and also between Hamilton Island and St Lawrence.

On Wednesday the Townsville City Council released a map showing where people are likely to be affected by the surge.

Mayor Jenny Hill says three evacuation centres will open for at least three to four hours from 6am (AEST) on Thursday.

“We’re making these available for people who feel they’re at risk,” she told AAP.

She says potential flooding caused by a combination of high winds and king tides on Thursday and Friday morning were of most concern.

Large areas along the north Queensland coast are expected to see daily rainfall totals of 100mm-200mm between Wednesday and Friday, which could cause flooding, particularly in low-lying areas.

A cyclone watch alert is in place for coastal areas from Mackay to St Lawrence and inland to Clermont.

A cyclone warning was cancelled for areas between Port Douglas and Cairns on Wednesday.

Hinchinbrook Shire Council and Cassowary Coast Regional Council mayors urge residents to be prepared.

Cairns far north district acting Chief Superintendent Brett Schafferius had a similar message for Cairns residents.

“We’re never out of the firing line,” he told media on Wednesday.

“I’d urge everyone not to think they’re safe just because it’s heading further south.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Lee Johnson urged people living in the zones to prepare their properties and listen to advice from authorities.

“Whilst the advice from the bureau this time is that it will be a low category if it does form, we’re still going to get very, very strong winds, certainly flooding rains and on the coast damaging wave action,” he told reporters.

Finance News Update, what you need to know

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WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar has bounced back after falling on weak Chinese manufacturing data.

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At 0630 AEDT on Friday, the Australian dollar was trading at 87.78 US cents, up from 87.34 cents on Thursday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open higher following solid gains on Wall Street after data showed that the US economy had grown better than expected.

At 0645 AEDT on Friday, the March share price index futures contract was up 15 points at 5,155.

ELSEWHERE:

WASHINGTON – The US economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 per cent in the 2013 fourth quarter, slightly stronger than expected despite the partial government shutdown.

WASHINGTON – New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits jumped last week, breaking out of a five-week stretch of modestly low numbers, the US Labor Department said Thursday.

FOSTER CITY, California – Visa’s fiscal first-quarter net income increased nine per cent, as higher card spending boosted the number of payments it processed.

LONDON – Royal Dutch Shell will suspend drilling in offshore Alaska after a US court decision and as the oil major streamlines operations following a slump in annual profits, it said on Thursday.

NEW YORK – US oil giant ExxonMobil says fourth-quarter earnings have sagged under a drop in oil and gas production and major declines in its international refining and chemical businesses.

STOCKHOLM – Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson said Thursday it doubled profits in 2013 despite sluggish sales and a weak fourth quarter.

MILWAUKEE – Harley-Davidson’s fourth-quarter earnings rose 6.8 per cent as motorcycle sales continued to rise worldwide.

NEW YORK – 3M says its fourth-quarter earnings have jumped more than 11 per cent, fuelled in part by a revenue gain from the Post-it note maker’s industrial business.

NEW YORK – Viacom is reporting a 16 per cent jump in net income for the first quarter thanks in part to smaller losses at its film division.

NEW YORK – Facebook shares have staged a strong rally, buoyed by news of stronger-than-expected profits and sizzling gains in mobile advertising revenue.

McIlroy masterclass lights up Dubai

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Rory McIlroy has confirmed he’s back on top form with a stunning 63 as the first round of the $US2.

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5 million Dubai Desert Classic got underway with a barrage of birdies.

Firing seven birdies and an eagle, the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland continued his storming start to the season which saw him take second place at Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, his first tournament since winning the Australian Open in early December.

It was a flawless display of golf that left playing partner Tiger Woods in the shade, although the world number one was happy to settle for a four-under 68 in what is also his second tournament of the year.

His opener last week at Torrey Pines, San Diego ended in him firing a 79 on Saturday to miss the secondary cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.

The third member of the group, defending champion Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, was also high up the early leaderboard with a 66.

McIlroy said that the round and score was one of his finest for a while.

“Definitely up there. Controlled my irons a little better (than at Abu Dhabi), distance control was better. Wedges are still not where I want them to be but it’s getting close. It was good.”

With playing conditions ideal at the par-72 Majlis Course, hosting the 25th anniversary of a tournament which blazed new paths for the European Tour and put the Gulf region onto the golfing map, scoring was understandably low.

Playing down the easier back nine to start with, McIlroy, on the rebound after a frustrating 2013, had five birdies in seven holes from the 12th to briefly take the lead at the turn.

Minutes later Frenchman Julien Quesne pitched a sand wedge into the 17th green from 105 yards and it spun back into the hole for eagle which eased him out to six under.

But a birdie at the second and a 10-foot putt for eagle at the third saw McIlroy back on the pace. He then sunk a 15-footer at the par-three seventh to get to nine under and only Quesne was within three strokes of his pace-setting at that stage.

The Ulsterman parred his way in from there, coming up just short with a 15-footer for birdie at the last. It was his first 63 in tournament play since the first round of the Hong Kong Open in 2010

Woods, meanwhile, started well with four birdies down the back nine and while he struggled for accuracy off the tee on the way in, his short game was good enough to avoid any bogeys.

“Overall it was a pretty good score. Maybe could have gotten two more out of it,” said Woods.

“I hit a lot of good putts which was nice. Last week I didn’t do it. It was nice to actually play well again.”

Quesne was rock solid till the ninth, his last, when he went into the water and took a double bogey to card a fine 66.

Late in the day Italian Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari came in with a 65 to be solo in second place two shots behind McIlroy.

A shot further back level with Quesne and Gallacher were South African Richard Sterne, Ireland’s Damien McGrane and Matthew Baldwin of England.