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    Qantas aims to close fuel surcharge loophole

    29/07/2019 - Author: admin

    Exposed: A loophole in the Qantas and Emirates alliance has slashed fuel surcharges for some passengers. Photo: Nic WalkerSavvy frequent flyers are avoiding as much as $610 in fuel surcharges on Qantas international flights by exploiting a loophole in its alliance with Emirates.

    Almost two months after the airlines launched their tie-up, executives from the two airlines will meet within the next week to talk about resolving a major difference between their fuel surcharges.

    Travellers wanting to fly economy from Australia to London return have been able to escape paying $610 in fuel surcharges by redeeming their frequent-flyer points on an Emirates flight rather than Qantas. They can also pay $290 less for a return economy ticket on Emirates to an Asian destination.

    The discrepancy is high on the agenda of the upcoming meeting between Qantas and Emirates executives about their alliance. They have not tackled the problem earlier because the airlines had been focused on overcoming other matters such as regulatory hurdles.

    A possible resolution could be for Qantas to lower its fuel surcharges to better match Emirates. But a reduction would mean that Qantas would take a hit to its revenue. Conversely, any increase in charges by Emirates is likely to face a consumer backlash.

    Fuel surcharges are mostly an expensive irritant for frequent-flyer members.

    Qantas cannot raise the total cost of a ticket considerably higher than its rivals because it would make it uncompetitive. But it can try to recoup the cost of fuel by imposing fuel surcharges on passengers who are using frequent-flyer points to pay for their fare.

    Qantas has almost 9 million frequent-flyer members.

    The airline would not speculate on the likely outcome of the talks but a spokesman said it monitored fuel surcharges ”closely and where there’s an opportunity to reduce them, we will”.

    Qantas has faced pressure from travel agents to reduce its surcharges after a fall in fuel prices.

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    Opposition calls for answers over $405m sale of government-owned office blocks

    - Author: admin

    The government has “serious questions to answer” : Opposition finance spokesman Michael Daley. Photo: Jonathan CarrollThe chairman of a property firm which has won the right to buy $405 million worth of state-owned office blocks also chaired the NSW government taskforce that recommended selling government buildings to the private sector.

    NSW Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce announced on Wednesday seven state-owned office blocks had been sold to Cromwell Property Group following a competitive tender. They include in the Sydney CBD the McKell building in Rawson Place, Bligh House on Bligh Street and Symantec House in Kent Street.

    The government has struck an agreement with Cromwell to lease back all but the Kent Street building for government employees at market rent for 15 years.

    Mr Pearce said the sale price was $100 million more than expectations and that proceeds would go into the government’s Housing Acceleration Fund.

    But the non-executive chairman of Cromwell Property Group, Geoff Levy, also chaired the Property Asset Utilisation Taskforce whose report last year recommended the sale of government buildings.

    Mr Pearce appointed Mr Levy as chairman of the taskforce, which recommended the government only retain properties to support ”core service delivery”. ”Leased or owned real property assets which don’t meet this test should be relinquished or realised and the rental savings or unlocked capital be put to better use,” the report said.

    The executive director of Cromwell Property Group, Paul Weightman, said Mr Levy’s dual roles ”caused us no end of grief because of all the probity rules attached”. However, he said the conflict was disclosed during the expression-of-interest process and Mr Levy was ”not involved in any way” in the transaction at the request of the state government.

    Mr Pearce said there had been ”an exhaustive, transparent tender process with interest from local and international bidders and I am pleased a diversified Australian listed property group like Cromwell has been successful”. But the opposition finance spokesman, Michael Daley, said the government had ”serious questions to answer”.

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    NSW hospitals worst place for Golden Staph

    - Author: admin

    Named: Prince of Wales hospital was one of a number in NSW which recorded high infection rates. Photo: Brendan EspositoPatients are more likely to catch potentially deadly infections in some NSW hospitals than anywhere else in the country, figures show.

    More than half the hospitals that failed to meet national benchmarks for Golden Staph blood infections are in NSW, according to a National Health Performance Authority audit released on Thursday.

    Overall infection rates in NSW are low but the state is being let down by dangerously high rates in Westmead, St George, Prince of Wales and Blacktown hospitals, as well as John Hunter and Calvary Mater Newcastle.

    Experts say these hospitals must do more to stop transmission of Golden Staph, which is linked to poor hand-washing and kills 20 to 30 per cent of people who have blood infections.

    Mary-Louise McLaws, a professor of Epidemiology in Healthcare Infection and Infectious Diseases Control at the University of NSW, said NSW could be stuck in a ”vicious cycle”.

    ”If you have more people in the community with [Golden Staph], more people in hospital and sharing a hospital ward and staff sharing care of a large number of patients, you have an increased risk of transmission.”

    The results are an improvement for NSW, which last year had nine of 13 hospitals with infection rates above the benchmark of two cases for every 10,000 patient bed days.

    NSW Clinical Excellence Commission chief executive Cliff Hughes said on average NSW had only one case of Golden Staph for every 10,000 patient bed days – a decrease on last year.

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    Defiant mood at Fowler funeral

    - Author: admin

    Defiant: Roger Rogerson at the funeral. Photo: Janie BarrettThey brought the reputation of the NSW Police Service to its knees but there was no stepping back or apologies when they farewelled the cop who became the symbol of a force gone wrong, Graham ”Chook” Fowler.

    For many at the Palmdale crematorium funeral service on the central coast on Wednesday, defiance took the place of grief.

    The convicted and jailed former NSW policeman Roger Rogerson stood by the body of the former detective inspector jailed for his video portrayal of a corrupt cop in the Wood royal commission and swore vengeance.

    To rising appreciation, Rogerson described Trevor Haken, the former policeman who trapped Fowler into being filmed accepting a bribe, as ”a Judas … a drunk, a blackmailer, a thief, a wife beater” who dobbed in his mates.

    Rogerson told mourners that he, former hotelier Steve Farley and former Kings Cross policeman Peter Kelly, had visited Fowler as he lay stricken in his Bateau Bay home two months ago.

    They talked, he said, about the ”good old days” and the one thing Fowler had wanted was to live long enough to attend Haken’s funeral.

    ”And I speak for many here when I say that I’m going to make sure I’m around to attend the funeral of that lowest form of life,” Rogerson said as the Hillside Chapel erupted in applause.

    Fowler, who had been sick for some time, died of bladder cancer aged 69.

    He had been the boss of Kings Cross detectives, but achieved notoriety in June 1995 when the Wood royal commission watched video footage from a camera placed under the dashboard of a car showing him in his Stubbies pocketing $1000. His second-in-command, Haken, had rolled over and been secretly recording his mates taking bribes to save his own skin.

    About 500 people attended his funeral service.

    The crowd included many friends he made living on the central coast in recent years, including a large contingent from The Entrance Tigers rugby league club.

    There was no condolence book, but given the number of men in their 60s with large chests that had fallen south, it was clear many former police colleagues had come to farewell their mate.

    Fowler was born in Lake Cargelligo in 1943, and joined the NSW police service in 1963. He served in Wagga Wagga before joining the Criminal Investigation Branch and moving to Kings Cross. He married three times and had five children. He ran a delivery business with his wife of 31 years, Sue, on the central coast.

    Michael Byrnes, whose father had convinced Fowler to join the service, told mourners his uncle had become the ”poster boy” for the Wood royal commission.

    He said he was ”a hard cop” who got a bum rap, a man who had served when the NSW Police Force was far different.

    Fowler received a three-year sentence in 2000 with a two-year non-parole period after he was convicted of receiving a bribe and giving false evidence. Haken is in a witness protection program.

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    Monopoly money

    - Author: admin

    Illustration: Simon Letch.Monopolies, as someone riffing on Adam Smith said, are a conspiracy against the public good. Robust competition improves products and puts a lid on prices. Monopoly power, on the other hand, can lead to arrogant disregard for the customer.

    In the computer-software business, there are several monopolies in which a single product has become what we call ”the industry standard”, which means it is the product everyone must have to make their files transportable to any other computer running any other operating system. WordPerfect struggles on, and Open Office is a worthy contender, but Microsoft Word is the obligatory word processor.

    The Windows operating system is a de facto monopoly, which has had Microsoft involved in anti-trust actions in several jurisdictions.

    However, neither MS nor Apple has been as audacious as Adobe in exploiting its monopoly. When your product name becomes a verb, as in Google or Photoshop, you are in a dominant market position.

    By now, most are aware of, and angry about, Adobe’s announcement that there will be no more perpetual licences (that is, software bought on disc) for its Creative Suite of applications, including Photoshop.

    CS6 is the end of the line for Photoshop on disc – from now on, the only way to get the latest version of the software is to sign up for the Creative Cloud and pay to use Photoshop by subscription. Individual subscribers will have to pay $50 a month (after an initial discount period for the first year) to use the Creative Suite programs. For occasional users, this is expensive enough to be a deterrent. But spare a thought for big photographic studios where many licences are needed. Each ”seat” (as Adobe calls them) will cost $70 a month.

    Melbourne architectural photographer John Gollings has six seats in his studio, and he calculates that it will cost him $420 a month, in perpetuity (and what’s stopping Adobe from increasing the fee – monopolies can do that), which he says ”is simply unsustainable”.

    Adobe argues that the 100 gigabytes of Cloud storage included in the deal makes it value for money. A hundred gigabytes? When every new computer comes with two terabytes of storage these days, 100GB is not a generous offer. And Gollings says he is not about to entrust his precious images to an unseen storage system that may not be secure.

    As an amateur photographer, are you ready to sign up for a year’s subscription at $600 to use Photoshop? We thought not.

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    Hunters fire warning shot at farmer who caught them on property

    29/06/2019 - Author: admin

    Committed to allowing hunting in NSW national parks: Premier Barry O’Farrell. Photo: Dean OslandPolice are looking for two men who bailed up a farmer at gunpoint and fired a warning shot near Orange after he caught them illegally hunting on his land.

    The 43-year-old property owner was working on his farm when he heard shots and then saw two men chasing kangaroos.

    He followed them over his property boundary into the neighbouring Canobolas State Forest, but when he tried to take a photograph of their number plate, one of the men trained a gun on him, police said.

    One of the hunters smashed the phone and fired a warning shot at the farmer’s feet.

    This week Premier Barry O’Farrell confirmed that the government remains committed to allowing hunting in many of the state’s national parks.

    A similar program allowing the hunting of feral animals in parks in South Australia was shut down this month when one hunter shot another in the ankle during a supervised cull of feral goats.

    The NSW opposition says there is a ”very real risk to public safety” from hunters operating in parks.

    Park rangers have also objected to their role of supervising recreational hunters in parks, and have documented many close calls when hunting has spilled over onto private property or groups of hunters have acted carelessly.

    Game Council NSW says it only endorses hunting when it is done responsibly, by people with an appropriate licence.

    The Orange farmer was uninjured but badly shaken by the incident, police said.

    Canobolas Local Area Command Inspector Dave Harvey said the two men were less than four metres from the farmer when they shot at him.

    “It’s out of the ordinary and police are very keen to speak to any of the men who were there,” Inspector Harvey said. “All resources have been made available to investigate the matter.”

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    Cooney out as Dogs hit fresh snag

    - Author: admin

    The Bulldogs’ dismal season so far has been hampered further by a hamstring injury to one of their few success stories, with Adam Cooney to be out until the round 12 match against Collingwood.

    The Brownlow medallist is set to miss the next two matches after scans revealed the tightness he experienced late in Saturday’s loss to Gold Coast was actually small bleeding in his right hamstring.

    The bleeding was below that required to be graded, but the Dogs have taken a cautious approach with their star, leaving him out of this Saturday’s match against St Kilda and the following week’s game against Port Adelaide.

    Given the match against the Power is in Darwin and the week before the club’s mid-season bye, it makes sense for the Dogs not to risk Cooney on the interstate trip next week.

    “Adam felt tightness in his right hamstring towards the end of the game on Saturday. An MRI revealed a small bleed within the muscle, which will keep him sidelined for two weeks,” a club spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.

    Cooney had started the season well, moving more freely after cutting-edge treatment on his troublesome right knee in the off-season. He has led the team in key statistical categories such as disposals, uncontested possessions and is second for goals.

    Although on the same leg, medical staff are certain the hamstring issue is unrelated to the degenerative knee problem Cooney is now managing better than ever.

    Losing one of its in-form senior players will test the under-siege Dogs even more when they take on the Saints at Etihad Stadium.

    The club has endured more criticism this week than in any other time throughout Brendan McCartney’s short reign, with the loss to the Suns prompting several commentators to point out the Dogs have won only one of their past 19 games.

    Facing the media on Wednesday, McCartney said he believed the criticism was “partly” fair.

    “The scoreboard’s the scoreboard, the ladder’s the ladder and your wins and losses and percentage . . . reflect how you’re playing. It probably doesn’t reflect how we’re training and preparing for games – actually, it doesn’t reflect it – but those bottom-line results also reflect your draw, your injuries, the youth of your list, the inexperience of your list.”

    McCartney said he had “no doubt” the Dogs were on the right track, despite the external criticism this week.

    “We’re disappointed with our results but we’re very clear about where we’re going. Outside our club not everyone might see that – and at the moment it’s quite clear very few people would probably agree with what I’m saying – but internally we believe we’re a lot closer to some better results than people realise,” he said.

    “We know where we’re at and we know that we’ve got a lot of work in front of us. We haven’t shied away from that, for almost 18 months now. The challenge is when we do get presented with opportunities, we take them.”

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    Waterhouse is ruining betting: rival

    - Author: admin

    Australia’s biggest corporate bookmaker, Sportingbet, has backed calls for a complete ban on the spruiking of live odds in sports broadcasts and launched a withering attack on Tom Waterhouse.

    Sportingbet joined market leader Tabcorp in voicing concern at the damage being done to the gambling industry by the growing public outrage at the intrusion of betting into football coverage.

    Michael Sullivan, chief executive of Sportingbet, said he would support a full ban for the good of the industry, and accused Tom Waterhouse of ”acting irresponsibly”.

    ”What he’s doing now is affecting all our businesses,” said Mr Sullivan. ”I’m the biggest consumer of rugby league in the world and it makes me sick in the guts when he comes on TV. The frequency of his appearances is what’s also driving people mad and Channel Nine has a lot to answer for.

    ”Prohibition of advertising full-stop is going too far but there’s some middle ground. If it means banning live odds on TV to sort this out then that’s what should happen. I wouldn’t have a problem with it.”

    Tabcorp, Australia’s largest betting operator, has also gone public with its concern at the public outcry and a call for the Gillard government to step in with a national regulatory framework to replace state-based systems.

    It is understood Tabcorp -which is the only other live odds provider alongside Mr Waterhouse on televised sport through its expert Glenn Munsie – would support a ban as long as the playing field was equal for all wagering operators.

    In a statement, Tabcorp said: “Sports betting makes up a fraction of the gambling market but we acknowledge the extent and nature of the advertising is causing growing public concern. Tabcorp supports the introduction of further controls on sports betting advertising but if they’re to be effective they need to be nationally applied and enforced.”

    Mr Sullivan told Fairfax Media from London that he had ”held his tongue” on the Waterhouse issue for 12 months but had now had enough. ”About 98 per cent of the gambling market has been doing the right thing for years. Tom represents probably 2 per cent of the market. He’s trying to court this hype – perhaps with an eye to selling his business – and, quite frankly, I think he’s acting irresponsibly,” he said.

    Mr Sullivan said Sportingbet had grown from a $500 million a year business to $3 billion through promotion – ”and no one said a word”, he said. ”We’ve been there building our business for 12 years, as has Sportsbet, as has Tabcorp but this whole thing is about Tom. Quite frankly, it’s gone too far.”

    Betfair said it would be comfortable with tighter controls. The company stepped back from paying for odds placement on TV three years ago as it became established in the market.

    The appetite for change by the major players could give the opportunity for the government to take a tougher stance. It sidestepped more calls on Wednesday to stop live odds being ”rammed down the throats” of sports fans. The government is waiting on a new TV code of practice to be approved by the Australian Media and Communications Authority despite claims it would simply cement the status quo.

    Two-thirds of Australian gambling advertising on television should be banned, a poll has found. Just 16 per cent of 1400 people surveyed by the Australia Institute think unrestricted gambling should be allowed during sporting broadcasts. A fifth of those surveyed said they wanted gambling advertising only after 6pm. A spokesman for Mr Waterhouse declined to comment.

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    Feeding the soul gives new hope to anorexics

    - Author: admin

    New research could help anorexics physically and psychologically.Weight can become the whole world in anorexia, with every gram lost and gained the subject of intense focus. But new research has found people with severe and treatment-resistant anorexia, which kills one in five sufferers, may fare better if their doctors stop trying to get them to gain weight.

    The international study of people who had anorexia for an average of 16 years found giving them therapy to improve their physical and psychological quality of life and get them back into the community helped where all other past treatments had failed.

    “It’s never been tried before, because in anorexia nervosa treatment getting back to a healthy weight is the main motivation for treatment,” said study leader Stephen Touyz.

    “But it’s not something some patients feel able or capable or willing to do so they simply drop out.”

    Not only did the patients show improvements in a range of tests of their social, physical and mental functioning, they also gained a small amount of weight.

    “A year later they were still doing well, so it wasn’t a temporary thing,” said Professor Touyz, the executive chairman of the Centre for Eating and Dieting Disorders at the University of Sydney.

    Globally people with long-term eating disorders are often refused insurance coverage and treatment because of the lack of treatments proven to have any effect, according to his paper, published in Psychological Medicine.

    Professor Touyz said although one patient in his study had died, the majority had shown improvements and one had even gone on to have a baby.

    The president of the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Eating Disorders, Anthea Fursland, said the research provided hope to clinicians and patients.

    “When you have had an eating disorder for a long time your quality of life and your health is pretty compromised,” she said.

    “It isn’t about being thin or attractive, it’s about staying in control and a fear of losing control, and a number of other things.”

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    Cross the deep Blu-ray sea

    28/05/2019 - Author: admin

    I walked into a big electrical retailer last week and asked for a disc player that would play American Blu-ray discs and also local ones. The guy told me it was illegal to sell such a player. At the next store I was told there was no such thing. And at the one after that, the salesman sold me one.

    Purely out of interest, I asked at a few more places. One salesman told me they used to sell them but were forced by law to stop. Another said they had none and wouldn’t sell them if they had – the fascinating point being that there was a stack of them behind him.

    I guess the lesson is that if you want to play American Blu-rays, you’ll need to exercise dogged persistence. There are certainly players around that do it, but in finding them you do start feeling a bit grubby, sort of as if you’re trying to buy drugs.

    Toshiba has several multi-region-capable players but they need a separate firmware upgrade that some retailers will give you for free, while others won’t.

    If not, you can find the download and instructions in mere seconds online. You load the upgrade just once, but every time you want to change Blu-ray regions you must go into the set-up menu and enter a code.

    Laser freely advertises multi-region Blu-ray players on its website and even on the boxes.

    There’s also a local internet retailer selling players it assures customers are multi-region Blu-ray capable, but you have to first buy the unit and then go through customer service to get an unlock code. Forgive our cynicism, but that worries us a little.

    Or you can buy a Blu-ray player from the US and play your American discs on that (you’ll need a step-down transformer), and use your existing Blu-ray player for local ones.The US option

    About $150

    American Blu-ray players are made for Region A Blu-ray discs (we’re Region B), so buying a player from there means access to American discs. We saw a Sony BDP-S1100 for $US75 ($75.85) plus postage on one US website (several local retailers have it at $99). However, the American machine needs a 110-volt power supply and will fry if plugged into Australian 240-volt mains power, so you’ll need a step-down transformer offered by Jaycar and Dick Smith, among others, for about $50. Some internet sellers, such as Amazon, won’t send an American player to an Australian address.Toshiba BDX3200KY

    Spotted for $169, toshiba苏州美甲美睫培训.au

    Toshiba has Blu-ray players that can be made multi-region capable. Ask the retailer – some are still handing out the firmware upgrade disc. If not, you’ll find the software on the internet. From then on, you’ll need to go into ”set-up” and enter a code whenever you want to swap regions. It’s actually quicker than it sounds. The BDX3200KY is a premium Toshiba and a terrific player for the money, with 3D and high-definition upscaling. It gets BD Live through an ethernet cable. The image quality is crisp and fast and Blu-ray sound is fabulous. It’s quick to crank up, too.Laser BD1000

    Spotted for $99,

    To change Blu-ray regions, you go into the set-up menu and enter a code. There’s no firmware upgrade but everything is in the handbook. This is the cheapest of the three Blu-ray players Laser says are multi-region capable. It packs a lot for the money, including full-HD video upscaling and a USB on the fascia, and it comes with a month of unlimited movie rental from Quickflix. The picture and sound quality are good for the money but there’s no resume function and no internet connectivity.Verdict

    Changing the region on the Toshiba and the Laser involves mucking around, but it works. The Laser is the easiest to get working, but if you make the effort with the Toshiba, you’ll note the quality increase and its operating superiority. With these two machines available locally, the US option is overkill, but will appeal to purists.

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