June, 2019

Wind farm proposal a jobs boom

More than 70 ongoing regional jobs would be created by the proposed Golden Plains Wind Farm if the project is given the green light, according to the developer WestWind.
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The company said a further 768 local jobs would be created during the construction process of the 200-240 turbine project, which will be completed by 2021 if the project does not face any hold ups.

The Mount Mercer Wind Farm, which is also located in the Golden Plains Shire.

WestWind held a community consultation process at the Rokewood Hall on Thursday, with around 200 locals attending.

WestWindcommunications and stakeholder engagement manager Paige Ricci said while the feedback from the community had been overwhelmingly positive, some residents had expressed concern at the scale of the project.

“It allowed a lot people to come through and hear about the proposal andthe majority were supportive and keen to hear how it might benefit the community,” Ms Ricci said. “We had a few who were concerned with the visibility of the project and some were a little bit overwhelmed by what they had read in the paper.”

Developers have proposed installing turbines with a tip height of between 190-220 metres, notably taller than the nearby Mount Mercer Wind Farm turbines which are also located in the Golden Plains Shire.

The farm would generate more than 2500 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power more than 450,000 homes.

The developers will hold a briefing with Golden Plains Shire councillors next Tuesday ahead of the council meeting. The project will need to have a planning permit approved by the state planning minister before construction can begin.

Rokewood councillorHelena Kirby said the response from Rokewood residents had been surprisingly favourable after the proposal was first made public a fortnight ago. “Most people have seen the turbines over in Mount Mercer so they’ve got some experience with them,” Cr Kirby said.

At least $200,000 per annum is required to be spent in the community as part of the farm’s community fund program.

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The poisoner’s handbook: What Israel and North Korea have in common

The front page of the New Straits Times showing an image purportedly of Kim Jong-nam moments after the attack. Photo: Supplied/New Straits Times Ri Jong-chol, the North Korean man in Malaysian police custody over the killing of Kim Jong-nam. Photo: thestar南京夜网
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In this image from security camera footage, Kim Jong-nam gestures towards his face while talking to airport security at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, shortly before his death. Photo: Fuji TV/AP

Khalid Mishal and his security detail walk the streets of Doha, Qatar, in February 2013. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Washington: Avoiding unfriendly airspace, Benjamin Netanyahu took a circuitous flight path to Australia this week.

Still, the Israeli prime minister’s Singapore stopover was probably closer than he would have preferred to the scene of a crime that draws attention to Netanyahu’s membership of an oddball global fraternity.

Its members are the messy assassins – either they botch the kill or they can’t make a clean getaway. The fraternity recently admitted as a high-profile member the erratic North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Try as they might, these two have been unable to master the craft like, say, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose opponents are poisoned or gunned down with regularity – but invariably the perpetrators evade capture, leaving a cloud of suspicion but, in most cases, no smoking gun.

As Netanyahu flew by early this week, authorities in Malaysia were trying to unravel the February 13 death by poisoning at Kuala Lumpur International Airport of a slightly pathetic figure – 46-year-old Kim Jong-nam, who might have inherited the Pyongyang dictatorship had he not been elbowed aside in the Kim family’s power struggles and eventually supplanted by his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un.

A team of four North Korean agents reportedly watched the attack on the exiled Kim from the Kuala Lumpur airport concourse, before boarding flights out of the country on their own circuitous return to Pyongyang. A fifth North Korean, a senior diplomat at the country’s Kuala Lumpur embassy, was with the four on the concourse and is now a wanted man.

The men reportedly recruited two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, who police say they trained in executing the attack on Kim with several dry runs in local shopping malls.

Authorities quickly detained the women. But despite some police statements and the leaking of dramatic snatches of CCTV footage from the airport security system, the emerging narrative is incomplete – for now.

The two women are said to have doused their hands in a poison, possibly one of them with a part-A potion and the other with a part-B additive, a concoction that became lethal only when the two mixed them on Kim’s face. Yet the leaked footage shows only one of the two women accosting Kim – from behind.

Other reports suggest a poison was sprayed in Kim’s face and according to China Press, a Chinese-language newspaper in Malaysia, his last words were: “Very painful, very painful. I was sprayed liquid.”

Kim’s reported use of the word “spray” recalled Netanyahu’s humiliation in 1997 when, during his first stint as Israel’s prime minister, he approved a plan by the intelligence agency Mossad to assassinate Hamas leader Khalid Mishal –  which was then spectacularly botched.

Just as Pyongyang chose the territory of Malaysia to unleash its attack on Kim, so Mossad chose to go after Mishal in the streets of Jordan’s dusty little capital, Amman.

In both cases the government setting out to kill was prepared to burn a friend – in the case of the Mishal attack, one of only two Arab states that had diplomatic relations with Israel.

Netanyahu was determined to avenge a recent series of bloody Hamas suicide attacks in Israel. But the Mossad team’s blunders left Jordan’s King Hussein holding all the aces.

Mishal’s life hung in the balance for days. But his bodyguard had captured two of the Mossad attackers, who were thrown into prison – and King Hussein announced theatrically that he’d happily hang them. When it emerged that four of their accomplices were holed up in the Israeli embassy, the king threw a military cordon around the mission.

Hussein then got on the phone to Washington, demanding the unquestioning support of the Clinton White House – Netanyahu had to be ordered to hand over the formula for the poison and an antidote. If Israel refused to comply, the king would tear up the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, signed in 1994 in the first optimistic days of the Oslo peace process.

The audacity of Netanyahu’s venture meant that Hussein was able to demand and win the release from an Israeli prison of Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, and dozens of other long-term Palestinian prisoners.

In the assassination business, poison usually is preferred over a bullet, because the cause of death might go undetected and if it is administered correctly, death might not occur for some time after what ideally would have been a surreptitious attack.

That was certainly Israel’s plan for Mishal. And it seems likely that the North Koreans would have intended Kim to have died on the flight he was due to board, rather than making a spectacle of themselves and of his death in a foreign country.

Mishal survived the attack – in which a poison was sprayed in his ear. His doctors concluded that the Mossad team had sprayed a little less of the drug than was required for him to die over a period of hours, quietly and seemingly of natural causes.

Did Kim’s attackers apply too much of their chemical weapon? Malaysian doctors have concluded an autopsy, and a statement from the inspector-general of police on Friday said a preliminary analysis of substances taken from Kim’s face identified a “VX nerve agent”.

In Mishal’s case the drug was levofentanyl, an incredibly powerful derivative of the widely used surgical painkiller fentanyl, which, experts believe, had been shelved by its Belgian producers because it had no medical application – but which was then acquired by Mossad.

If Mishal had quickly ingested a large quantity of levofentanyl, he would likely have died very quickly. His doctors were puzzled – they could find no research on the efficacy of administering the precursor drug fentanyl through the ear, in which the tougher tissue of the eardrum effectively acts as a shield.

But looking through a killer’s prism, and not a doctor’s, the thinking became clear – the Israelis had wanted Mishal to die in his own time, so they needed the drug to be absorbed slowly. Ideally, his attacker was to have brushed past him, spraying the drug into the Hamas leader’s ear as an accomplice distracted Mishal by popping a pre-shaken can of fizzy drink.

Had they not botched that street encounter, Mishal’s family and colleagues probably would not have connected his bodily system shutting down to bumping into someone in the street – the  expectation was that his only symptom would be a need for sleep, from which he would not awake.

But that deliberately delayed action became the plan’s fatal flaw – the hours in which the Israelis had expected Mishal to die became the hours in which Jordanian doctors might save him.

Both governments, Israel in 1997 and North Korea nearly 20 years later, resorted to censorship in efforts to keep their people in the dark on the detail of their acts and the uproar they provoked. And in both cases they would have been relying on whispers, not megaphones, to convey the message to their target audience – the Hamas leadership in the case of Israel;  the wider Kim family and activist dissidents in the case of North Korea.

Netanyahu wore his shame quietly. He really had no choice – the Clinton administration was remarkably friendly to Israel, yet at the time of the attack on Mishal, not a single senior Clinton official was prepared to defend the Israeli prime minister.

Pyongyang, however, is kicking like a mule.

On Thursday, it accused Beijing of hypocrisy for suspending coal imports from North Korea, in punishment as much for the Kim killing as for its recent ballistic missile test, analysts say. Kim Jong-nam was reportedly being warehoused by Beijing – if for no other reason than as a bloodline successor to the North Korean leadership, he was a useful pawn at China’s end of the regional chessboard.

But Pyongyang has saved its most vitriolic language for the Malaysian government, blaming it for Kim’s death, demanding that the body be handed over and that the “innocent” women be freed.

No government likes to see its territory used a killing field. So Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak likely took great satisfaction in informing Pyongyang that a requirement of Malaysian law must be met before Kuala Lumpur could hand over Kim’s body – a DNA sample was required from the victim’s next of kin.

Kim Jong-un is not expected to provide a blood sample any time soon.

Paul McGeough is the author of Kill Khalid: Mossad’s failed hit … and the rise of Hamas

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘I had the courage not just to give speeches, but to act’: Malcolm Turnbull hits back at Tony Abbott

“I’m not going to be provoked,” says Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: SMHPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he will not be distracted by Tony Abbott’s “latest outburst” and most direct attack on the government to date, defending his record of achievement and portraying the backbencher as a hypocrite who was unable to govern effectively when he was leader.
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Mr Turnbull has joined cabinet colleagues Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne in rounding on an emboldened Mr Abbott following his “deliberately destructive” speech and interview on Thursday calling for a shift to the right to avoid defeat at the next election.

Mr Turnbull said every Coalition MP should ask if they are contributing to the government’s success and said Mr Abbott “knows exactly what he’s doing and so do his colleagues”.

“I’m not going to be provoked,” Mr Turnbull told Melbourne radio station 3AW when asked if he would punish Mr Abbott.

“The fact is my government has a record of achievement. In the last six months or so since the election, we have achieved more with fewer seats in the Senate, in the House, than in the previous three years.”

The Prime Minister contrasted his record with Mr Abbott’s, declaring: “We are acting and we’re getting things done. We’re getting things done that we couldn’t or wouldn’t or didn’t get done in the last Parliament.

“I have not talked about abolishing the life gold pass for former MPs and minister, I’ve abolished it. I have not talked about reforming parliamentary entitlements and politicians expenses, I have set in place the biggest reform in that area in a generation. I have set up an independent parliamentary expenses.

“I haven’t talked about restoring the rule of law the building sector, I’ve done it. I had the courage not just to give speeches, but to act.”

As leader, Mr Abbott promised to scrap the gold pass – which affords certain retired parliamentarians free air travel – but never acted on it. Many Abbott government bills, including the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and contentious measures from the 2014 budget, were blocked by an unpredictable Senate.

In his speech launching a new book, Making Australia Right, on Thursday night Mr Abbott said “our politics can’t be just a contest of toxic egos or someone’s vanity project” and urged the Coalition to cut the renewable energy target, abolish the Human Rights Commission, halt all new government spending, reform the Senate and, notably, “cut immigration to make housing more affordable”.

Mr Turnbull dismissed the former prime minister’s calls for a review of the RET and a cut to immigration, observing that the RET was reviewed and set by the Abbott government.

He defended the immigration program as a “nation-building exercise” and a “question of getting the best and brightest of the world to meet the demands of our economy”.

Mr Abbott has also copped a strong rebuke from Senator Cormann, a senior conservative who backed the former prime minister in the September 2015 leadership spill.

“I was flabbergasted by Tony Abbott’s interview last night. I was watching live from my office in Perth and there is nothing good from an interview like that. It was deliberately destructive, it was completely unhelpful, it was not designed to be helpful, it was not trying to help our cause or help our country. It was quite self-indulgent,” Senator Cormann told Sky News.

After it was also reported that Mr Abbott has not given up hope of returning to the leadership, Senator Cormann told Sky News “I can’t see any scenario in which there is a return of Tony Abbott to the leadership of the Liberal Party”.

The ordinarily restrained senator said Mr Abbott’s latest intervention was sad and “much of what he says is either wrong or inconsistent with what he did as prime minister”.

The Prime Minister later said Senator Cormann had described the situation “perfectly” and reaffirmed his critique of Mr Abbott, declaring: “I don’t think Australians were impressed by that latest outburst and I am not going to be distracted by it.”

“It’s sad,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Pyne, a senior moderate, also hit back at Mr Abbott on Friday morning, saying his policy proposals would either be a disaster or had failed the first time around.

“We won’t be slashing spending, Tony Abbott tried that in 2014 in the budget during his leadership but of course a whole lot of zombie legislation sat in the Senate unable to be passed,” Mr Pyne told Channel Nine’s Today show.

“We won’t be going down the track of putting a freeze on immigration for example, which Tony Abbott wants to do, because it would be catastrophic in places like the Northern Territory, Tasmania – most places outside the major cities,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also defended her conduct after Sky News host Andrew Bolt, in his interview with Mr Abbott, said Ms Bishop was not “conservative, plain-speaking and loyal”. This elicited a laugh and smile from Mr Abbott, who accused his former deputy of treachery when he lost the top job.

The Prime Minister has refused to promote Mr Abbott to his frontbench, resisting pressure from him and his allies. Mr Abbott now regularly cites his backbench status as a licence to speak freely and says it is his duty as a former prime minister to speak up on matters of importance.

The theme of his latest remarks is the disaffection of right-leaning voters who have drifted to minor parties like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

with Latika Bourke

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UC study looks to develop a smartphone app to prevent falls

University PhD candidate Hafsa Ismail is investigating an alternative method using inexpensive video equipment to produce a new walk assessment tool that could prevent falls. Photo: Georgina Connery Video footage and data from the expensive force plate is collated and analysed. Photo: Georgina Connery
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University PhD candidate Hafsa Ismail is investigating an alternative method using inexpensive video equipment to produce a new walk assessment tool that could prevent falls. Photo: Georgina Connery

Tens of thousands of elderly Australians are hospitalised each year for fall-related injuries but a new University of Canberra PhD study hopes to put prevention in the palm of people’s hands.

University PhD candidate Hafsa Ismail has to firstly investigate whether video can replace the the need for expensive and cumbersome force plate walking assessments.

The project aims to create a computer program or a smartphone app which could be used by older people to capture changes to their walking, gait and balance through their smartphone camera.

Over time, it would alert them or their carers to changes in the way they walk that might mean an increasing risk of suffering a fall.

“Clinicians now are using video to look back at movement but they also use a force plate in their assessment – a tool which costs about $50,000 and weighs between 20 to 30 kilograms,” she said.

“The idea is we can do the same assessment without the force plate. The main goal with the research is to have an app that can do the analysis from the movement on the video.”

Professor Roland Goecke is supervising Ms Ismail’s study and said it harnessed accessible technologies to improve healthcare access and would hopefully reduce the likelihood of falls.

“What we are interested in is three months in advance whether we can notice changes in people’s gait and sway so that there is enough time to put an exercise regime in place to counterbalance those changes so people don’t even have a fall,” he said.

Professor Goecke said the app would be a “set and forget style tool” and likely work by placing the smartphone on a dock or single spot and having the user pace past the camera.

It’s hoped portability and ease of use will allow the tool to be used in the home or in aged care facilities and end the era of booking on site appointments for regular walking assessments.

Ms Ismail is calling for 50 participants aged 50 years and over to get involved in the three stages of monitoring set three months apart.

Judith Wimborne, 77, has just begun monitoring sessions and said she had been mindful of her stability since she had a nasty fall tripping over something while walking hurriedly last year.

Ms Wimborne hoped taking part in the study would see the handy app developed rolled out for use very soon.

“I use my phone a lot so the app would be helpful,” she said. “The health field is full of things that cost a lot of money so if you can have something simple like this it could be so much better.”

People interested in participating in the research can contact Ms Ismail on [email protected]论坛.UC PhD candidate Hasfa Ismail is testing participants like Judith Wimborne to find smarter tools for falls prevention @canberratimespic.twitter南京夜网/9Q3TOEHdPM??? Georgina Connery (@georginaconnery) February 23, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Show pavilion upgrades receive support

The Parkes Showground is in for a major face-lift and Parkes Shire Council has decided to throw its support behind the project.
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With plans to demolish five out-dated pavilions to make way fora new multipurpose pavilion at the site, council last week voted to provide ‘in-principle’ support.

They also agreed to provide financial support for the future construction of themultipurpose pavilion.

The Parkes Showground Trust says the existing pavilions have “reached the end of their useful lives”.

“There’s always a need for more venues for functions around town,” Cr Ken McGrath said during the February 21 meeting.

But the councillor asked if council would have a say in the project.

Council’s general manager Kent Boyd told the meeting it depended on council’s commitment to the project.

“If council contributes a certain amount of funding, then that’s a whole different ball game,” he said.

“I’ve seen this grow from a wide span building to now what is a substantial, [well-thought-out] project, it has come a long way.

“But there’s no reason why we can’t (have a say).”

Councillors also agreed last week to offer to assist the Showground Trust in its endeavours to secure funding for the project.

The Showground Trust has already lodged a Development Application for the demolition of the showground pavilion buildings located to the east of the showground grandstand.

The demolition development application covered the main exhibit pavilion, commercial pavilion and the arts and crafts pavilion and receivedParkes Shire Council approvalat its final meeting in 2016.

In a letter to council, Showground Trust secretary Kaye Bird said the Trust is seeking to have council include the pavilion project in its forward planning.

The Showground Trust is currently gathering information to supportan application for funding of the project through the NSW Government but may also make a request for funding assistance from council in the future.

Ms Bird said the Trust was seeking council consider the project in its forward planning“with a view to providing both financial and verbal support of the project during the next financial year”.

“The Trust intends that the new buildings will have architectural and community appeal and provide a space which is accessible for a range of activities which Parkes residents currently do not have a venue for,” she said.

Some of the events, Ms Bird said, which have been discussed as possibilities for the new pavilion included machinery expos, stud cattle and sheep shows, produce and retail displays as well as balls, conferences, exhibitions and functions.

The Trust’s most recent costings putthe cost of the project at $1.5 million but Ms Bird said the Trust is currently updating the costs, adding interior fit out with the possibility of air conditioning to make the venue suitable for use during all seasons and conditions.

Toilets, showers and kitchen facilities are all included in the costings, Ms Bird wrote in the Trust’sletter to the council.

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