Support for new network

Wendouree MP Sharon Knight has thrown her support behind the new Ballarat Bus Network despite a series of complaints around the new timetable and the change to bus stops throughout the system.
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Backing the services: Wendouree MP Sharon Knight, Buninyong MP Geoff Howard and PTV chief executive Jeroen Weimar at the network unveiling in December last year. Picture: Kate Healy.

The new network which was unveiled on January 31 consolidated the region’s 19 bus routes into 15, with services boosted on the remaining lines to provide an average of one bus every half an hour.

In the weeks since the network was unveiled residents from a number of suburbs including Golden Point, Wendouree and Lake Gardens have expressed concern at the new arrangements.

Ms Knight said while there had been some negative feedback in the wake of the roll-out, the reaction was inevitable given the magnitude of the changes. Public Transport Victoria and the state government also added 10 V/Line train services to and from Melbourne.

“There has been a mixed response but it’s a huge changeand the bus system hadn’t been reviewed in a long time so we knew it was going to be a big job,” Ms Knight said.

“We knew we needed to get more trains to thestation for commuters and we need to service that with more buses and there’s whole areas not even being serviced by the existing bus service.”

Ms Knight and Buninyong MP Geoff Howard will meet with PTV on Tuesday to discuss some of the complaints which have been made about the new system.

The Bus stop placement in Humffray Street near the corner of Water Street, connectivity to Central Square and the route connecting Wendouree to Ballarat North were among the issues which had been raised.

Ms Knight said she had been in regular dialogue with PTV and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan since the service was unveiled at the end of January and was confident some of the faults could be ironed out in the coming months.

“We have already sent through a list of common complaints we are getting and we have also got a meeting with CDC planned because I want the perspective of the bus drivers who are ina great position to help us.”

The changes to the network have led to the creation of 36 new driver jobs due increase in services. Thirteen new buses were also built in Victoria to accommodate for the increase in traffic.

“CDCBallarat has created a significant boost to the local economy through employing 36 new staff to date as a direct result of the Ballarat Bus Network Upgrade,” A CDC spokesperson said. “The spread includes bus drivers, mechanics and operations staff.”

A PTV spokesperson said “The new bus network has been informed in consultation with the Ballarat community who overwhelmingly called for more direct routes with more frequent services and better connections with trains”.

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Tassie’s new side backs in ANL title win

QUICK HANDS: Cavaliers centre Shelby Miller passes off during a training drill in Launceston ahead of the Tasmanian Magpies’ ANL season. Picture: Scott GelstonStar Tasmanian Shelby Miller said the state’s new-look Magpies entity believe they can snare the Australian Netball Leaguepremiership in its inaugural season.
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The Launceston centre said the rookie teamis riding confidence ahead of facing Queensland Fusion after its season openeragainst the seven-time ANL winners.

While all the talk in the national media has been about Collingwood Magpies’ premiership favouritism for the maiden Super Netball title, Tasmania’s new netball side exceededexpectations in their debut appearance.

The state’s Magpies that included five Victorians for Collingwood’s feeder side delivered justVictoria Fury’s second defeatsince 2012.

“We stated at one of our team meetings before we played any games about goal-setting that our goal was all about winning the premiership,” Miller said.

“So I think in every game, no matter who you play, you have to go in expecting to win.If you’re not expecting to win that your mindset is not of a winning team.

“We definitely expected to do well and win that game.”

Miller, while studying year 11, last played ANL for Tassie Spirit in 2014 before heading ona hiatus to focus on study during the side’s last season.

FULL STRETCH: Shelby Miller finding it hard to keep her feet on the ground during training ahead of the Tasmanian Magpies’ ANL season. Picture: Scott Gelston.

Though Tasmanian Magpies dropped their second game the next day against the Fury, Miller said coach Jon Fletcher has convinced the girls of the right mentality before runningout on court.

“We talked about how they were the benchmark team of the competition; now we decided we’ve made ourselves the benchmark team of the competition,” she said.

“We can now build on that and hopefully other teams feel we are the benchmark.”

The Cavaliers 19-year-old said the Magpies shouldbe better prepared for the weekend’s second-leg in Brisbane against theQueenslanders.

Both sides are allowed to bring down unplayed Super Netball players from overnight for Sunday’s game.

“As our coach always says, it’s always two different games on each day; the team can vary a lot like it varied last week,” Miller said.

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PHOTOS| Central west students build their interest in merino industry

Trangie Central School students Jacana Powell, Demi Dunn and Abbie Fraser. Photo: Taylor JurdIncreasing students knowledge of the merino industry and giving them the opportunity to explore the agricultural industrywas the aim of the School Wethers Challenge.
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Held at the Dubbo TAFE campus along Narromine Road, on Monday, February 20, the students and their agricultural teachers were split into four groups which focuses on wool, nutrition, breeding and an industry overview.

Over 200 students from across the central west took part in the challenge.

This was the first time Tullamore Central School have participated in the School Wethers Challenge andagriculture teacher Natasha Shankelton said taking part would give her students a lot more exposure to merino wool and the meat industry.

“It’s our first year in the Challenge and it’s just a great opportunity to be a part of,” she said.

PHOTOS| Central west students build their interest in merino industry Gilgandra High School Ellanorah Matthews, Aysha Tobin, Mitchell Carlow, Matthew Coddington, Rabobank National Merino Show and Sale president. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston

Gilgandra High School Andrew Dinsey, Connor Whiteman, YR 11. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston.

Forbes High School Tye Stewart, Vanessa Cole, Mitchell Jack, Jack Piercy, Jack Hodges-Lockwood. Photo: Gabrielle Johnstone.

Greg Sawyer, AWN, Condobolin High School Kenny Dodds, Cameron Charles, Clifford Lanyerie, Dave White, teacher Anne Farney. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston

Macquarie Anglican Grammar School, Dubbo, Abbey Cusack, Jenni Tink, Angus Bodlan, Brett Cooper, AWN. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston

Gunnedah High School, left, Haylee Murrell, Lucy Moore, Helena Pease, front right, Philip Tydd, agriculture assistant. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston

Red Bend Catholic College, Matthew Mitton, Oliver Squire, Clinton Hooper, Hugh Squire, Grace Frazer. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston

Tullamore Central School Jack Darcy, Angus Porter, Lachlan Curr. Photo: Gabrielle Johnston

Trangie Central School students Jacana Powell, Demi Dunn and Abbie Fraser. Photo: Taylor Jurd

Gilgandra High Scool students Robyn Holland, Tianna Watt and Shanae Shepherd. Photo: Taylor Jurd

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Fear for safety of kids

WARNING: Princiapl Deb Bowman with students Lily and Abby Dinneen, and Jackson and Bradley Eberle outside Kiewa Valley Primary School.MOTORISTS are being urged to take greater care around a North East school zone amid concerns for the safety of students.
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Kiewa Valley Primary School principal Deb Bowman is concerned about drivers not following the rules around school crossings.

Vehicles must give way to anyone preparing to walk through the crossings when the flags are out.

Theycan’t pass through until the pedestrians have completelycrossed.

Ms Bowman has sent out a flyer to parents and said the issue was about educating people.

“Some people haven’t been stopping when people were waiting,” she said.

“I think it’s just about reminding people of what to do and making people aware of the issue.

“I’ve sent a flyer out saying staff and teachers were concerned about safety at the crossing.

“We’re just reminding people to follow the rules.”

The site, on Kiewa East Road, does not have enough traffic to be eligible for a crossing supervisor or flashing lights.

Leading Senior Constable Tim Park said people may be complacent due to the fact the area was quiet.

“The school zones in small country towns are just as important as the zones in Wodonga where it’s busy,” he said.

“People in smaller towns may be a bit more complacent as the traffic isn’t as intense, butthe same rules apply.

“People need to be aware that when people are on or entering the school crossing, they need to give way.”

The road is normally a 50km/h zone, but is 40km/h between 8am and 9.30am, and 2.30pm to 4pm, on school days.

Leading Senior Constable Park said police ran enforcement operations at school zones.

“We just want drivers to think about it a bit more,” he said.

“We will be continuing to pay attention to school zones and crossings.

“The main concern is people failing to give way to someone on or about to enter the crossing.”

He said it was an ongoing issue at many sites.

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Far West conference

Ross Earl, general manager of the Bourke Shire Council, writes on issues in the Far West.
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NSW Deputy Premier and Ministerfor Regional Development, Skills and Small BusinessJohn Barilaro will be the key-note speaker at the Western Division Shire Conference at Wentworth from Sunday to Tuesday February 28.

Murray MP Adrian Piccoli and the Parliamentary Secretary for Western Division, Rick Colless MLC, will also attend.

Mr Barilaro will attend the conference all day on Monday and join delegates for the conference dinner that night.

One of the questions that will, no doubt, be asked of Mr Barilaro will be the future of the Far West Initiative (FWI) and if it is to continue, what form it will take and how it will be funded.

Mayor Barry Hollman, Deputy Mayor Lachlan Ford and I will attend and will be interested to hear hisaddress and comments.

Bourke Shire Council has lodged a number of motions to the conference, some of which are designed to reinforce the existing policy of the Local Government Association of New South Wales while others deal with contemporary issues within local government.

Tourism. At the conference I intend catching up with the Cross Border CommissionerJames McTavish to progress the concept of the cross-border promotion of Southwest Queensland and Northwest NSWWales from a tourism perspective.

The area has a lot to offer and if we can encourage visiting the area, each of the towns can promote the attractions of the neighbouring towns no matter which side of the border they are located.

Algae.The “red alert” for blue green algae at Louth remains in place and the issue of amber alerts for a number of other locations, including Bourke, is a reminder to all residents to exercise caution in those parts of the river.

If we continue to get hot weather and low river flows there will be an increased probability of getting further outbreaks along the river system.

Full details in relation to what the alerts mean for domestic, recreational and stock use is contained on the NSWDepartment of Water website 梧桐夜网dpi.nsw.gov419论坛

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Deregulation: Marshall stands with community

UPDATE: Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said he wont support any move which threatens the continuation of regular air passenger services between Moree and Sydney
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“Moree’s air link with Sydney is crucial for business, health services, tourism and government services and it cannot be jeopardised.

“I have had a number of discussions with the current carrier (QantasLink), mayor Katrina Humphries and community members over the past few days. I welcome and am proud of the local community’s passion and determination to preserve this crucial transport link for the district and to maintain the regulated route. It is typical of Moree’s spirit.”

He said QantasLink signed a contract through to the end of 2018 to service the Moree community, on the basis of exclusivity with a regulated route.

“In my view, that contract must be respected and honoured.

“While we should have an open and informed conversation about whether a regulated or deregulated option is best for Moree and the continuation of an air service in the long term, no decision should be made, especially now, that negatively impacts the community.

Mr Marshall believed any discussion and decision-making process hadto recognise the unique nature of the Moree to Sydney route, servicing around 34,000 passengers per year.

“I’m not opposed to the principle of deregulation and I acknowledge that it may work in some places, but I feel strongly that it is not in the best interests of the Moree community at this time.

“Exclusivity, via regulation, is currently vital for the Moree to Sydney route and the ability of the community to attract and retain a carrier. This may change in the future, but it is certainly the case at the moment.

“That’s why I stand with the community and Moree Plains Shire Council to maintain the regulated route and will make every effort to ensure this occurs.

“I will keep the community updated with progress, following the conclusion of the public consultation period.

LAST WEEK: MOREE Plains Shire councillors unanimously voted against deregulation at a meeting on Thursday night.

General manager Lester Rodgers said it was the most commitment he’d seen so far from the current council, taking a forthright position to support regulation.

“A submission will be prepared, having regard for survey results and discussions at the community meeting, on behalf of the community to tell the Minister we want a regulated route to remain,” Mr Rodgers said.

Mayor Katrina Humphries said deregulation was discussed in debate at length.

“I’m proud to be a capitalist but there are somethings you have to be smart about and sometimes competition kills and we just haven’t got enough people, I believe, travelling to maintain more than one air service.”

Councillors, together, addressed points set out by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance for their submission.

“We recorded the town meeting and will have survey results also included,” she said.

During their meeting, Minister Constance sent out a statement that said better services and lower prices were behind the NSW Government decision to deregulate air services.

“Since we deregulated four routes last year (Cobar, Cooma, Mudgee and Narrabri), new services have started on three of them and on the fourth (Narrabri) the council recently announced it has chosen Northwest Airlines to operate services to Sydney.”

The statement noted that keeping regulated routes did not guarantee it would remain in place.

“all it does is add unnecessary red tape and therefore cost for regional operators.

“I am determined to give regions the fair access to essential services they are crying out for.”

He said pursuing deregulation increased competition, reduced barriers for new entrants to the market and reduced costs to passengers.

“We are also committed to lobbying the Federal Government to open up an extra five slots at Sydney Airport reserved specifically for regional routes.”

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Support services that work for you

INNOVATIVE: Healthe Care’s Community Group have extensive experience in offering support services and innovative programs to people of all ages.
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HealtheCare’s Community Care group provides a comprehensive range of general and specialist care and support services to clients and their families and carers in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

They understand the value placed on independence, choice and freedom, and are passionate about offering personalised services that reflect individual needs, interests and aspirations.

Their CommunityCare group is made up of three organisations –Hunter Nursing,Mayo Home Nursing ServiceandRehab 2 Home.

Together they provide over 18,000 home visits per month to clients living in Sydney, the Central Coast, the Hunter region and the Mid North Coast of NSW.

Hunter Nursing and Mayo Home Nursing have a long and successful history of providing community nursing, allied health and support services to aged care clients, clients with disabilities, veterans, and other members of the community.

Hunter Nursing fully support a ‘Consumer Directed Care’ philosophy and work with you to identify your goals and aspirations.

Theybelieve that through your active participation in the planning and delivery of your support services, you can achieve and sustain your positive health outcomes.

They provide a comprehensive range of home-based services and support including home nursing, personal care, domestic assistance, social support, transport, companionship, disability services, veterans’ services and rehabilitation services.

Their highly qualified and experienced staff work with you and those close to you, to develop tailored care plans that can be scheduled any time of the day or night, seven days a week.

Rehab 2 Home is a multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals including physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, dieticians and speech pathologists who provide preventative and restorative programs to clients in their homes as well as community based settings as appropriate.

For more information about these services offered by Hunter Nursing please call 1800 635 544 or visit 梧桐夜网healthecare南京夜网419论坛.

White House strategist Stephen Bannon out-rants Donald Trump in rare speech

White nationalist Richard Spencer. Photo: Twitter/@TheeCurrentYearWashington: In a week in which the US media has been found to be vastly more credible than Donald Trump, the White House has doubled down in its war with reporters, with Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon declaring the new administration to be locked in an unending battle against the media and other “globalist” forces.
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Claiming that Trump was “maniacally focused” on keeping his campaign pledges, Bannon warned in a speech to a conservative political conference of a daily fight against the media – which he often brands as the opposition party.

On stage with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, Bannon assailed the media as, to use a Trump phrase from last week, the enemy of the American people.

“The mainstream media ought to understand something: all those promises are going to be implemented,” he said.

This was CPAC, standing for Conservative Political Action Conference, where audience members have staged walkouts in the past because the likes of former Florida governor and failed presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was deemed to be not conservative enough.

Thousands of delegates come from across the country, and this year they are finding Washington a new fit. As they eagerly awaited Trump’s scheduled speech on Friday, many seemed to forget that a few years ago they had booed him.

Others, too, have come full circle – Breitbart News, controlled by Bannon until last year, used to host an event for the uninvited, those who were ejected or not given a speaking gig, but this year as many as seven Breitbart employees are listed as speakers or panelists.

The conservative jamboree coincides with a series of polls that can be expected to anger Trump.

Not only did the Quinnipiac University poll find that it was Trump, not the media, that was the more bountiful source of “fake news”, when respondents were asked who they trusted more, 52 per cent chose the media, compared with just 37 per cent who opted for Trump.

And despite partisan assessments by Republican and Democratic voters, when middle-of-the-road independent voters were included, 61 per cent disapproved of Trump’s treatment of the media, compared with just 35 per cent who approved.

In the same poll, 58 per cent of respondents said they were embarrassed by Trump, with majorities seeing him as dishonest, not level-headed​ and lacking leadership skills. And though a majority saw him as intelligent, a majority also declared that he did not share their values.

Bannon was enthusiastic in his depiction of a White House at war with vested interests: “The corporatist, globalist media are adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda that Donald Trump has.”

As some in the cheering crowd leapt to their feet, Bannon put his foot down, seemingly out-ranting his boss: “He’s going to continue to press his agenda and as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they’re [opposition] going to continue to fight. If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken.

“Every day is going to be a fight. That is the promise of Donald Trump … All the people who’ve came in and said you’ve got to moderate. Every day in the Oval Office he tells Reince and I: ‘I committed this to the American people, I promised this when I ran, and I’m going to deliver on this’.”

Bannon, who speaks of his West Wing office as “the war room”, stayed on the attack: “If you look at the opposition party and how they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition, how they portrayed the administration, it’s always wrong … you saw them all crying and weeping [on election] night.”

Describing Trump’s abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership “one of the most pivotal moments of modern American history”, Bannon set out the Trump agenda as three “verticals” – national security and sovereignty; economic nationalism; and “deconstruction of the administrative state”.

There was nothing convoluted in Bannon’s language. But just to be sure, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza offered a translation: “The message from Bannon was unmistakable: the enemy of Donald Trump and those who think like him is not, really, Democrats but, in actuality, the media. And the only way to combat the media is to fight like hell against them on everything and anything.

“Bannon doesn’t want to change the media. He wants to totally dismantle the media. He wants to break its back and leave it for dead by the side of the road. And he’s not afraid of telling the media to their faces about that plan.”

But not everyone gets their way at CPAC. Alt-right movement leader and white supremacist Richard Spencer, who has been a delegate in previous years, was shown the door after CPAC executive director Dan Schneider declared from the lectern: “There is a sinister organisation that is trying to worm its way into our ranks – we must not be deceived by [a] hateful, left-wing fascist group.”

It counted for nothing that Bannon, who after Trump is this year’s second-most loved CPAC darling, last year declared Breitbart to be “the platform of the alt-right”.

As Spencer spoke to reporters, a delegate who identified himself as “Grizzly Joe” interrupted with this message for Spencer: “F— you, you don’t represent us. Get the f— out of here. You don’t represent us. You’re a piece of s—. I hope everybody got that.”

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Travel tips and advice: Hanoi’s new international airport is one of the best new airports in the world

TIP OF THE WEEKVIETNAM EASE
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I’d like to recommend Hanoi’s new international airport, Noi Bai. Quick, clean and efficient, it’s one of the best new airports in the world. From disembarking to meeting our hotel limo driver outside the airport took an amazing seven minutes.

There are no queues at immigration. You don’t have to fill out those ridiculous “entry forms”. Just show your passport and within seconds it is stamped. A word of warning however, Australians need a visa.

You can get one before you leave from the Vietnam Embassy, or you can get one on arrival, however, to do this you will need US dollars to pay for your visa on arrival.

The airport is spotless. Even the toilets have a nice view. Everything you need is within the terminal building and once you leave, a fast new freeway takes you right into Hanoi itself. Airports like Noi Bai make travelling internationally a sheer pleasure.

Congratulations to the people of Hanoi for doing it right.

Alan Bohlsen, Phuket, ThailandCAPE OF GOOD TASTES

Brooke Walker, of Balmain, asked about good food in Cape Town (Tip-o-meter, February 12). Here are two very different places to eat.

Africa Cafe, 108 Shortmarket St. Cape Town (africacafe.co.za) offers a taste of many different types of food and the decoration of the cafe is great. We went in just for a coffee and went back at night for the dinner. Then there’s the historic Mount Nelson Hotel (belmond南京夜网/mountnelsonhotel) for high tea (book via email from Australia). It’s a wonderful experience of how the other half live!

Margaret Irwin, St Ives, NSWBARGAIN BRIGADE

We belong to the Affordable Travel Club. Based in the US, there are members scattered throughout the world. It costs nothing for an Australian to join. You must be prepared to occasionally host other travellers for a few days and provide breakfast.

The cost is $US20 a night. Members in countries other than the US may charge an additional US$10. Guests are encouraged to be away during the day so as not to interfere in hosts’ day-to-day lives, and hosts to offer local knowledge to the guests. You need to be over the age of 45.

Pam Fichtner, Matraville, NSWCOLOMBO PLAN

When you arrive in Sri Lanka spend the night when you arrive (and before departure) at seaside Negombo near the airport.  Visas are obtainable for the equivalent of $US30 online from eta.gov.lk. Flights are only occurring from 4.30pm to 8.30am until April 6  because of runway repairs (we were told to arrive at the airport five hours before departure but got through in one hour). I easily booked Sri Lankan airline flights through Webjet.

L. Fagg, East Geelong, VIC

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Sayonara, Levi Strauss: How Japan stole the title of world’s best denim jeans from California

Kojima: Home of the Betty Smith Jeans Museum. Photo: JNTO Kojima Jeans Street (an area of the Museum). Photo: JNTO
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If we are in any doubt that we’re entering Japan’s denim capital, it is dispelled the moment we arrive at Kojima train station, in Okayama prefecture on the main island’s west coast.

There are displays of jeans everywhere, including a giant pair affixed to the wall of the entrance hall, beneath which we dutifully pose, fashionista-style. A 10-minute car ride later and we’re outside the two-storey log cabin that houses the Betty Smith Jeans Museum.

I usually have as much interest in garments and fashion as I do in crocheting or being prime minister. I go clothes shopping once a year and it’s over in an hour maximum. So I cannot imagine how this Betty Smith and her jeans are going to arouse anything other than cursory interest in me.  I’ll go in, say “yes nice threads” and then exit to find something more fascinating – like hot coffee – in the branded vending machine outside.

Once inside, there are, you’ve guessed it, jeans, hanging up as exhibits. One of them is even a replica of the prototype for Levi’s 501 range, supplied by the US manufacturer itself.

While several others in my group gaze at the exhibits and chatter excitedly, I drift into an historical dream.

In it I am mining in mid-19th century California, hoping to strike gold and make my fortune.

However, my clothes are too flimsy for the grinding labour or too hot for the West Coast conditions.

What I need is a brand new tough but comfortable fabric to wear.

This is where Levi Strauss, a German-born, San Francisco-based Jewish businessman and Jacob Davis, a Reno-based tailor, come in.

Seeing the gap in the market, they produce the first pairs of jeans, in 1873, made from a canvas-coloured denim.  At first they appear with rivets or buttons for flies, as zips are yet to be invented.

Levi Strauss and co have struck gold, and in a way that will last far longer than California’s supply of sparkling nuggets.

With its collection of vintage sewing machines and yes, replica jeans, from down the ages, it is this quirky museum in a Japanese town that has induced this daydream.  Not only that but it’s taught me a thing or two.

Such as why Japan adopted the US garment – after James Dean’s appearance in a pair in the movie Rebel Without a Cause in 1955 – and then ran with it at production houses in the traditional textile manufacturing town of Kojima, making them on imported heavy-duty sewing machines from America.

After a slow start in the late 1960s, Japanese denim and the country’s skilled workers made jeans a must-have luxury fashion item, as that ever reliable website, highsnobiety南京夜网, explains:

“In short, Japan’s obsession in recreating the American jeans they crazed over led Japanese denim manufacturers to become the world’s best in terms of knowledge and production. From then on it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world caught on to the craftwork behind Japanese denim.”

Among the Japanese brands that made their mark were Big John, Bobson and Betty Smith. Betty Smith still produces all its jeans by hand, here in Kojima, with French and Italian fashion houses among their customers.

Some of the heavy equipment used in that jeans-making process, including original sewing, cutting and washing machines form another part of the exhibition.

Although the museum has tricked me into showing interest in jeans and how they are made, I draw the line at the second floor salon, where it’s possible to order a pair custom-made from a dizzying array of buttons, zips and different coloured denim.  Apparently, these jeans can be shipped internationally.

Nor am I tempted by the possibility of making myself a mobile-phone strap in the nearby workshop or of making a purchase – while several in my group buy big – from the purses, eco-bags and even denim yukatas (casual kimonos) at the factory outlet shop.

But hey, Betty Smith, whoever you are (or were), you’ve broken down at least part of my fashion resistance and your museum is clearly a hit, attracting 50,000 visitors a year to Kojima in search of the perfect jeans.  TRIP NOTES MORE

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Betty Smith Jeans Museum and Village is at 5-2-70 Shimono Town, Kojima, Kurashiki City, Okayama, on the west coast of Japan’s main Honshu island.  It opens 9am-6pm daily, admission free.  TEL- +81 (0)86 473 4460. See Betty.co.jp

Daniel Scott was a guest of the Japan National Tourist Office 

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Could Nintendo’s Splatoon 2 be the next big esport?

Splatoon 2 is launching this year for the upcoming Nintendo Switch, a machine with much greater competitive potential than the Wii U.A portion of the Nintendo Switch’s reveal trailer showed two esports teams filing into an arena, picking up some Pro controllers and gearing up for a round of Splatoon in front of a roaring crowd. While seemingly fantasy, Splatoon 2 as an esport isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.
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Nintendo of America recently tweeted a surprising announcement: That Splatoon 2 would be able to connect 10 Switch consoles over LAN for a private match, four on each team and two observers able to spectate from player-perspective or an omniscient overhead view. Exciting news for #Splatoon2 fans! Private Battle Spectator View is a new feature allowing up to 2 non-players to spectate a Private Battle. pic.twitter南京夜网/4exL7trO1x— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 11, 2017

These two facts in tandem might indicate a marketing push to try to force “esports” in as a buzzword for a non-endemic game. Most of the best, and biggest, scenes come from grassroots efforts. Street Fighter was born in the fluorescent depths of arcades, Dota 2’s grandaddy was built on the bones of another game and Super Smash Bros. Melee almost revels in being an esport with no real publisher or developer support. Often the esports cart is put before the proverbial horse.

Splatoon isn’t quite the same though. This quirky, ink-based squid-shooter wasn’t pushed as an esports title for its release on the Wii U, and despite being on the Wii U, it gradually garnered a following.

Organisers of Splatoon events faced some of the most significant logistical challenges of any esport. In an AMA a year ago, members of several teams and organisers discussed the competitive scene. The tournament organiser for the Booyah Battle Series, “BestTeaMaker,” described the amount of equipment needed to host just a single competitive match:

“While there’s a whole suite of tools for players to play competitive with in place, there isn’t much from a spectator’s point. LAN events are also very hard and expensive to do due to the number of capture devices and ethernet connections needed”.

Any match in the past needed capture devices and ethernet connections to hook up ten Wii U’s, leaving an observer only 10 player point-of-view cameras to work with for play-by-play. That’s certainly far from ideal, but tournament organisers and teams pushed through to make events happen.

The passion for Splatoon is still alive, though muted. Streamers still play online, and players gather in a Discord server called “The Inkademy” to discuss builds and share strategies. One of the most interesting niches I found was a content creator who goes by “Silver,” who delves into really in-depth game theory topics using Splatoon. This one on whether low accuracy is a boon is really something else:

Though a spot of esports in the Switch’s reveal trailer may be a marketing grab, the reality is that Splatoon already has a passionate following. Users have delved into the game data, charting shots-to-kill and theorycrafting map strategies. Twitch streamers like PKFuzzy, SendouC and Its_Power_ play scrims during the day, streaming high-level play in the Competitive Splatoon community group.

Many games fail to garner a grassroots community, much less one as fervent as Overwatch or Super Smash Bros. But with the right tools in the right place, and on a brand-new system, the stars might be aligning for Splatoon to have a real competitive presence.

Could it be at the level of say, the League Championship Series or The International? Probably not. But for passionate folks who have been hooking up dozens of Elgato capture cards and ethernet connections just to host a small tournament, being able to build up the scene without hardware or software limitations might be all they need.

For a community willing to go to that trouble and endure over a year of pushing a Wii U scene as far as it can go, the possibilities with these tools are exciting. celebrates video game culture with news, reviews and long form features.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe all but rules out rate cuts, defends corporate tax cuts

Dr Lowe says cutting rates would make housing affordability even worse. Photo: Jim MaloThe head of the Reserve Bank has dashed hopes of a further cut in interest rates, pleading for people to “focus on other things other than quarter of a per cent moves in the cash rate”.
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Appearing before a parliamentary inquiry in Sydney governor Philip Lowe said the Australian economy was set to rebound as the “headwind from falling commodity prices turned into a gentle tailwind”.

The headwind from falling mining investment “should blow itself out before too long”. Australia was also about get the payoff from large increases in production of liquefied natural gas. There were even “green shoots” of recovery in Western Australia.

The downside risks were much diminished from when he last appeared before the committee in September.

But he was often told that rates should be a bit lower “to try to encourage employment and get inflation up a bit”.

“People on my own staff argue this,” he told the hearing.

“The counter argument is that lower interest rates would mainly work through encouraging people to borrow more.”

“That would probably push up house prices a bit more, because most of the borrowing would be borrowing for housing.”

“While that would have some positive effect on the economy, the issue we are dealing with internally is how that would add to fragility.”

“Household debt is at record levels. Is it really in the national interest to get a little bit more employment in the short term at the expense of encouraging that fragility?”

Central banks in other countries were given more limited mandates, usually to target inflation, and probably would have cut interest rates further were they in Australia’s position. But the Reserve Bank was also charged with ensuring “the general welfare of the Australian people”.

It had to consider other things including real estate prices and household debt. House prices

Dr Lowe offered a “personal perspective” on housing affordability, saying he had two teenage children who would soon need places to live.

“I’ll be okay because I am paid a lot of money,” he said. “But high prices are entrenching inequality. Many people are putting too much of their money into housing. “In the days of higher wage growth it was much easier to pay of home loans. With wage growth now near 2 per cent buyers are forced to bear the burden of high repayments for much longer.”

“We certainly don’t solve the problem of high house prices by adding to demand. We solve it by increasing supply.”

“The things you can do involve transport, zoning and jobs. Most are matters for the states rather than the federal government. The population densities of our biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne not that high by world standards. We’ve got to make them denser, but not everyone likes that.”

Asked about immigration, Dr Lowe said if the only objective was to reduce pressure on house prices, there would be a case for cutting immigration, but he saw the program as a source of strength.

“I am fond of telling visitors 40 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. I wouldn’t want to give up that kind of advantage just for property prices.”

Asked whether it would help to rein in the so-called negative gearing tax break for investors, he said what was more important was the capital gains tax discount, which made negative gearing attractive. Australian dollar

Although Australia’s present exchange rate of 77 US cents to the dollar was not necessarily overvalued, Dr Lowe “would like it to be lower, if I had the choice”.

“It would be better if it was lower still, but the dollar is hard to forecast. Economists believe the best forecast is where the rate is at the moment, but we can probably expect it to climb with climbing commodity prices and fall when they fall.” Penalty rates

The Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates would not necessarily make the Reserve Bank’s job worse by cutting consumer spending.

“If people have less in their pocket there will be less spending if you look at the individual,” Dr Lowe said. “But if you look overall it might allow more people to have more jobs. And when more people have joss they feel like they have more security and are more willing to spend.” Company tax

While Australia would face increasing tax competition from other countries cutting company tax, it was up to the parliament how it responded.

“Since the global financial crisis other governments have been talking about company tax rates as low as 15 to 20 per cent,” he said.

“I think you could argue that from a global perspective that is not useful. But that’s not the world that we live in. The choice for the parliament is whether to respond. Are we going to say ‘no’ because we’ve got other advantages that mean foreign firms want to move here?”

“Some countries for better or worse have decided to have lower corporate tax rates or less enforcement of the existing legislation as a way of attracting more foreign investment. The issue for us is not so much attracting foreign investment to buy the existing assets, it is foreign investors coming in and creating new assets and new jobs and new growth, and that capital is very mobile.”

“Australia has lots of advantages and firms come here for a lot of reasons, clearly a skilled workforce and the political system and property rights, and the wonderful places we have to live, but tax is a consideration, and I think it you are uncompetitive in the tax race you will probably get a few less dollars of capital formation from foreign firms in the country.

“It’s a choice for the parliament. It’s a decision about foreign investment, because dividend imputation makes a tax cut effectively irrelevant for Australian firms”. President Trump

It was too early to tell whether the policies of the new US president Donald Trump would boost or harm the world economy, Dr Lowe said.

The biggest risk was that he would erect barriers that wound back international trade.

“We will be the big losers if that deteriorates,” Dr Lowe said. “Our ability to sell our minerals, and our services to the rest of the world is critical to our standard of living.

“I suspect in many western societies we have passed the high water mark for public support for open international trading. It’s probably rue in Australia.”

“The idea that we make ourselves wealthier by erecting barriers, it’s crazy.”

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Sydney woman Margaret Goodwin struck by lightning in Bowral dies in hospital

Margaret Goodwin died in hospital, five days after she was struck by lightning. Photo: Rockdale Uniting ChurchA Sydney woman who was struck by lightning while sitting on a park bench with her two sisters has died in hospital, five days after a series of severe thunderstorms battered parts of NSW.
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Friends have remembered Margaret Goodwin, 61, as a dedicated member of the Rockdale Uniting Church, who “always thought of others’ needs before her own”.

Mrs Goodwin, the wife of the church’s minister, the Reverend Martin Goodwin, died peacefully in Royal North Shore Hospital on Thursday morning, after her life support was switched off.

Her sisters, twins Pam and Heather, survived the lightning strike.

Ms Goodwin and her sisters were in Corbett Gardens in Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands, about 3pm on Saturday when severe thunderstorms hit the area.

The sisters sought shelter from the storm under a large tree, on one of the park’s benches. It’s understood one of the sisters was holding an umbrella when lightning struck the women.

Police said a witness alerted police at Bowral police station, and an officer ran to the gardens and began performing CPR on Mrs Goodwin, who was the most seriously injured.

She was flown to Royal North Shore Hospital in a critical condition.

Mrs Goodwin’s sisters – aged 60, and from Mulgoa and Canberra – were treated at Concord Hospital and have since been released.

A friend said the sisters had met in Bowral, a half-way point between their homes, and spent a lovely day together before tragedy struck.

Rockdale Uniting Church confirmed in a statement that Mrs Goodwin had “passed away peacefully”.

“While we grieve the loss of Margaret, we also know that God was the love of Margaret’s life. She lived her life seeking to model her actions on her Saviour,” the church said.

“She acted with grace and love, and when provoked forgave.

“She always thought of others’ needs before her own.

“We give thanks to God for the precious time we have known her.”

One church member, Mark, wrote: “Words cannot express our sadness at the unexpected loss of Margaret. Such a wonderful lady who will be with us always in our hearts.”

Another member of the congregation, Dorothy, said: “Dear Margaret touched our lives in so many ways.

“She was a vital part of Rockdale congregation and it has been a privilege to know her. She will be sadly missed. Loving sympathy and prayers to Martin and family.”

Mrs Goodwin’s death comes two weeks after a young farmer was killed by a lightning strike in central western NSW while he was trying to protect his family’s livestock from several grassfires sparked by a storm.

Cameron Cox, 22, died on his family’s property in Moolarben, about 40 kilometres north-east of Mudgee, on February 7.

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