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    Hardy survivors of Tornado Alley take stock of losses

    29/11/2018 - Author: admin

    The scale of destruction in Moore on the fringe of Oklahoma City was so vast that during the first full day of recovery authorities could do little more for dazed survivors than clear the roads and sling a protective perimeter around them.

    Once the dead and injured were rushed from the shattered streets, police and national guards set up roadblocks in places as arbitrary as the twister itself.

    As the sun set, the cordon was reinforced. No one who left the zone would be allowed to return after dark. Arc lights powered by growling generators threw shadows over the wreckage. On one block, a wrecked police car sat in a driveway. The officer had been on duty elsewhere when the storm hit.

    As his family picked through the remains of his house, they kept their sense of humour: by sunset a garish Halloween mannequin’s head poked through the patrol car’s smashed windscreen.

    Throughout the day, a highway dividing the path of destruction was choked with the traffic of day-to-day commuters, with onlookers (lambasted by radio broadcasts as ”lookyloos”) and army engineering vehicles hauling heavy equipment into the disaster zone.

    By midnight, many in Moore were shocked not by how many had lost their lives but by how few. Early in the day authorities revised the death toll from 91 to 24, and there it was expected to stay, with 237 injured. This though the tornado had been upgraded from EF-4 to EF-5, the top of the scale.

    The surrounding city was almost unscathed as residents watched Moore take a direct hit. About 2800 homes were damaged and 10,000 people directly affected by the twister’s 40-minute march.

    In a medical centre that lost its whole faç¸ade and top floor no one was injured. Doctors and nurses had hauled patients to lower floors and covered them with mattresses. In a daycare centre that was also destroyed, teachers threw mattresses, and then themselves, over their charges. All survived.

    At Briarwood Elementary School teachers packed their students into a bathroom. It was the only part of the structure left standing. There too all survived.

    At Plaza Heights Elementary School, seven students, caught in the rooms and corridors of a building without a storm shelter, had lost their lives.

    As soon as the storm passed, residents began the recovery. Those who still had homes patched holes with tarps and plywood.

    On Tuesday, Fairfax Media crossed into the disaster zone and ended up ferrying one family back to their home. Their house was badly damaged, but a block away homes were reduced to kindling.

    Nearby, James Cornell, 27, whose home resembled the mounds thrown up on a beach by a violent storm, recovered only a handful of sturdy tools and an outboard motor. As the tornado approached, he had jumped into his ute and headed to his grandparents’ home five minutes away, because, as he said, they didn’t get hit by the last two twisters that hit in 1999 and 2003.

    He was insured but said glumly that if he did not have to rebuild here he would not.

    Around the corner from Mr Cornell’s home, Justin Padden, 38, settled in to spend the night in his damaged home without power or water. He wanted to keep an eye on the wreckage of his neighbours’ homes. Armed with a handgun, he was not worried about looters.

    Despite fears, by sunset there had been very little evidence of looting. Just two men, found with valuables in their pockets, had been arrested.

    After the storm passed, those who had not evacuated crawled out of their storm shelters, if they had them, or from closets and bathtubs. Those who had fled made their way back. Groups formed rescue parties and began to dig.

    They went from house to house, listening for calls for help, hauling out the injured and trapped and checking damaged homes.

    Once they had established that a house was clear of occupants, they marked the debris with a spray-painted ”X” or ”OK”, speeding the work of authorities, who made it into the worst-hit zones within minutes.

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    Tabloid tale a real page-turner

    - Author: admin

    Screaming headlines: Nene King (Mandy McElhinney) plays to win in the latest instalment of the Kerry Packer tale.It’s been an idea that just keeps on giving.

    A few years ago, producer John Edwards (Love My Way, Rush, Tangle) pitched the concept for a drama trilogy about Kerry Packer to the ABC.

    The three parts would span the launch of Cleo magazine, the World Series Cricket story and the 1984 royal commission on the painters and dockers’ union, with its ”Goanna” code name for Packer and allegations of tax evasion and criminal activity.

    The ABC was interested only in the first part, and the mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo screened in 2011 and averaged more than 1.2 million viewers.

    Channel Nine’s interest was then spiked, given that Packer had been Nine’s proprietor – twice – and a towering figure in its history. So Nine green-lighted Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, about his assault on the cricket establishment, which last year drew more than 2 million viewers.

    Following the success of Cleo, the ABC opted for a sequel and approved the development of Paper Giants: Magazine Wars. The drama stays in the world of women’s magazines, moving a decade on from Cleo’s 1970s setting and focusing on the battle between New Idea and Woman’s Day under the editorships of Dulcie Boling and Nene King.

    Meanwhile, Nine has gone into production with Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, a mini-series about media moguls Sir Frank Packer and Rupert Murdoch.

    So, to date, from Edwards’ original idea have come four mini-series on two networks, two potent incarnations of Kerry Packer, by Rob Carlton and Lachy Hulme, and an energetic reflection on Australia’s media history.

    Interestingly, no network has yet felt inspired to touch the final part of the originally proposed trilogy.

    In two 90-minute telemovies, Magazine Wars spans a decade from the mid-’80s, focusing on the rivalry between two smart, ambitious and very different women: Boling (played by Rachel Griffiths), who headed New Idea and ran multiple publications for Murdoch’s magazine division, and King (Mandy McElhinney), her deputy.

    When King is denied a promotion, she jumps ship and takes the job editing Woman’s Day for Kerry Packer, and a vigorous fight for readers erupts.

    Mimi Butler (Rush, Howzat!), who assumed the producer role on Magazine Wars at Edwards’ request, says, ”Dulcie and Nene will deny that there was ever a war; they’d say that they just got on with their jobs”. But from the title, through the wardrobe and production design to the depiction of the women’s lives and personalities, the drama creates an opposition.

    Griffiths’ Boling is almost regal in her composure, her office an oasis of elegant calm. Where her professional domain has china teacups and glass vases filled with roses, King’s favours a riot of colour and porcelain figurines. Boling’s wardrobe runs to classic colours and power suits with pearls; King goes for bold colours – black and gold jumpsuits, animal prints – and dangly earrings. ”Basically, they’re chalk and cheese,” McElhinney says. ”There’s no real friendship there, they’re colleagues.

    ”Dulcie is methodical, businesslike, and has a great business mind; Nene’s more of a creative thinker – she has a drive and a passion. She’s impulsive, she has great instincts, she responds to things quickly and makes decisions quickly. Dulcie’s more considered.”

    The story spends a lot of time with King at home with her beloved partner, Patrick Bowring (Angus Sampson). Boling’s house is seen relatively briefly and reflects the tasteful order evident in her office.

    Butler says the reaction of most people who discover that they’re going to be dramatised onscreen is that ”they’re terrified”, adding that ”Nene didn’t want it to happen”. ”She’s got a wonderful sense of humour and she sort of smiled at me and said, ‘But darling, even if I don’t help you, you’re going to do it anyway, so I’d better be part of it’.

    ”We’re asking them to trust us,” she continues. ”We won’t get everything perfectly as they want it to be portrayed. We’re not sanitising it – it’s a warts ‘n’ all portrayal. But we’re trying to honour and protect them as best we can.”

    Boling and King agreed to meet the actors who would be playing them and McElhinney and Griffiths both describe the women that they play as ”generous” with their stories and insights. ”Nene’s incredibly emotionally available,” McElhinney says. ”She’s a very brave woman. She’s very funny, self-deprecating and witty, and she’s got a real-life force about her.”

    Of Boling, Griffiths says, ”She’s very, very smart and she has a lack of doubt about her ability.

    ”I wanted people to see a woman of great substance. I wanted to make sure that we could see her merits and also what may lie beneath.”

    Dramatising recent history, involving real people many of whom might have markedly different memories of events, is tricky. ”When you’re adapting a true story, you don’t want to bend the truth too much and this story had a natural dramatic structure that we loved,” Butler says. ”But because it’s dramatised, there are bits where we’ve had to take the spirit of what we know and we’ve condensed stuff.”

    As in the Cleo mini-series, fictional characters have been created to get the story to places that real life might not go. Here it’s cadet reporter Beth Ridgeway (Caren Pistorius) and photographer Nick Trumpet (Khan Chittenden) and through their experiences, a sense of the swingin’ ’80s – the heady club scene, the drugs, the spectre of AIDS – is evoked.

    At that time, Boling and King were fiercely competing to drive up circulation at their magazines, and their publications changed radically and irrevocably, moving decisively away from knitting patterns, scone recipes and respectful coverage of royal family tea parties. Instead, there were screaming headlines trumpeting Prince Charles’ intimate conversations with his mistress, and photos of Sarah, Duchess of York, aka Fergie, poolside at a French villa, having her toes sucked by an American financier.

    The push spearheaded by Boling and King crashed through established boundaries and reshaped one branch of the media for decades to follow. And, boosted by exposes of royal misbehaviour and early examples of the kind of intense and intrusive coverage of celebrity life that is now common, the magazines’ readerships rocketed.

    ”I think that there’s always been a sort of giddy excitement when somebody changes the rules,”Griffiths says.

    Paper Giants: Magazine Wars premieres on ABC1 on Sunday, June 2, at 8.30pm.

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    Hockey plays it cool on chances of any tax cuts

    - Author: admin

    Further tax cuts would have to wait until the budget was repaired under a future Coalition government, which has also declined to rule out harsh savings such as reducing the childcare rebate.

    But small businesses could gain from strengthened rules to force prompt payment within 30 days for services provided to federal agencies.

    Making the traditional budget reply speech to Canberra’s National Press Club on Wednesday, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey cited a complete loss of faith in the government’s official numbers as justification for not specifying detailed spending and savings plans until the election campaign.

    In their place, he offered a feeling: ”I think if there is a change of government on 14 September there will be a surge of confidence. I believe that in my heart.”

    Asked if the childcare rebate was safe under an Abbott government, he said he would not rule things in or out but appeared to signal a further winding back of family assistance. ”There are other initiatives, and as we get closer to the election you will hear our position on them, but we’ve said that we cannot continue to borrow money to hand it to people,” he said.

    However, he pleaded with journalists not to misrepresent the stance on childcare, an issue seen by both sides of politics as a potential vote-changer in middle-Australian households.

    Asked about future tax cuts, Mr Hockey was even more circumspect. ”We’re not going to make the reckless sort of promises that the current government has done in that regard,” he said.

    Mr Hockey said the Coalition wanted to help small businesses, which might involve having the ATO open for business outside normal business hours when many small operators do their tax.

    ”For too long the Tax Office has developed an insular and inward-looking culture … when dealing with taxpayers it has everything in its favour,” he said.

    ”And when it comes to its legislated powers it all works in favour of the [Tax] Office as well. For example, if a taxpayer is assessed for tax, the only way the amount can be disputed is if the tax is paid in full, with few exceptions.”

    Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon admitted on Wednesday that Labor’s continuation of John Howard’s generous tax cuts was partly to blame for the ”structural problem” in the budget. ”Since the Howard years we’ve been giving the community everything it wants,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

    ”So you don’t have to be an economist to work out that we have a structural problem and some very big challenges ahead.”

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    Leaders hail indigenous strategy

    - Author: admin

    Aboriginal leaders say a new national strategy to strengthen communities will be a watershed in the battle to reduce indigenous suicide rates that, in some age groups, are several times higher than for other Australians.

    The Gillard government strategy, to be launched on Thursday, provides $17.8 million over four years for suicide prevention measures aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have a rate of suicide about double that of the rest of the population.

    Among the young, the statistics are even more alarming. Indigenous women aged 15 to 19 are almost six times more likely to take their own lives than their non-indigenous peers, while the figure for indigenous men of the same age is 4.4 times.

    The strategy, which aims to build the resilience of individuals and better target and co-ordinate services, was overseen by a working group chaired by indigenous social justice campaigner Tom Calma, who hopes the strategy marks a ”line in the sand”.

    ”It is our hope that today heralds the end of that awful and unnecessary burden of loss, pain and suffering for our peoples,” Dr Calma said.

    ”Suicide not only robs precious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals of their lives, but devastates the families, extended families and communities left behind.

    ”It contributes to grief and a sense of hopelessness that undermines our mental and physical health and can lead to more suicide deaths,” he said.

    Australia’s first indigenous psychologist, Pat Dudgeon, who also served on the working group that developed the strategy, said it acknowledged that indigenous suicide was different to other suicide and demanded a tailored response.

    ”The advantage of the dedicated strategy is that it recognises those differences and aims to build on the strengths in our families, communities and cultures to generate uniquely Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-based responses to this critical challenge,” Professor Dudgeon said.

    ”We look forward to a day when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide is as rare as it reportedly was prior to colonisation,” she said.

    Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin will announce a further $26 million in funding for the Healing Foundation, an indigenous organisation that addresses the past trauma and hurt experienced by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, particularly members of the stolen generations.

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    Jets to kick off season with free-to-air game

    - Author: admin

    Download the A-League draw here

    THE Newcastle Jets will feature in the first ever free-to-air A-League game next season when they begin their campaign against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Friday, October 11.

    The A-League draw for 2013-14 was issued yesterday morning.

    Other round-one games include a grand final replay between Central Coast and Western Sydney, the Melbourne derby between the Victory and Heart, Perth hosting Adelaide, and Brisbane, who signed Perth star Liam Miller yesterday, travelling to Wellington.

    SBS will broadcast a live match every Friday night next season, and Foxtel will host the other four games.

    The Jets kick off their home season at Hunter Stadium in round two against Perth Glory on Sunday, October 20, at 3pm.

    The Jets will feature four more times on SBS, against Brisbane (away), Melbourne Victory (home), Melbourne Heart (away) and Adelaide (home). The Jets have eight home games on Saturday nights, two on Friday nights and four on Sundays.

    A-League champions the Mariners will visit Hunter Stadium in round four on Saturday, November 2 at 7.30pm, but the other two F3 derbies will be played at Bluetongue Stadium, on January 25 and March 15.

    ‘‘As a club, we’re very pleased with the draw in both a football and commercial sense,” Jets CEO Robbie Middleby said. “We’re excited to make history by playing in the first A-League match ever to be televised on free-to-air TV when we take on Sydney FC.’’

    Glory, Heart, Victory, Wanderers and Phoenix will all visit Hunter Stadium twice.

    But the club has missed out on repeat visits from two of their biggest drawcards, Sydney FC and the Mariners.

    To the delight of Jets players and management, the club will play only once at Perth’s nib Stadium and Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

    ‘‘Having six of our last 10 games at home could be very beneficial for us come the pointy end of the season,’’ Middleby said.

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