Sixers eye ex-Test batsman North

In demand: Marcus North plays for the Perth Scorchers in last year’s Big Bash League. Photo: Dallas Kilponen DAKFormer Test batsman Marcus North is likely to join the Sydney Sixers for this summer’s Twenty20 Big Bash League.
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Franchises are in the midst of the player-contracting window for next season’s tournament – the first to be broadcast on free-to-air television – and 2011-12 champions the Sixers are understood to be in talks with North as they seek to complete their squad list within the $1.05 million retainer pool.

The 33-year-old veteran of 21 Tests was previously at last season’s finalists Perth Scorchers and notably quit the Western Australia captaincy last October after the Scorchers’ Champions League campaign unravelled in South Africa.

Elsewhere, the Sixers have retained the services of veteran crowd-puller Brett Lee despite suggestions he may have been heading across town to rivals Sydney Thunder.

The mission to transform the ANZ Stadium-based side from basketcase to boom franchise could, however, see Australian opener David Warner lost to the Sixers. The Thunder have already made the key acquisition of Michael Hussey, and have Test captain Michael Clarke on their books.

Although Warner, like Clarke, would only be available for one or perhaps two games if on international duty this summer, his return to the electric green would be another boost for last season’s BBL cellar dwellers.

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July RBA statement on monetary policy

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.75 per cent.
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Recent information is consistent with global growth running a bit below average this year, with reasonable prospects of a pick-up next year. Commodity prices have declined further but, overall, remain at high levels by historical standards. Inflation has moderated over recent months in a number of countries.

Globally, financial conditions remain very accommodative. However, a reassessment by the market of the outlook for monetary policy in the United States has seen a noticeable rise in sovereign bond yields from exceptionally low levels. Volatility in financial markets has increased and there has been some widening of credit spreads.

In Australia, the recent national accounts confirmed that the economy has been growing a bit below trend over the recent period. This is expected to continue in the near term as the economy adjusts to lower levels of mining investment. The unemployment rate has edged higher over the past year and growth in labour costs has moderated. Inflation has been consistent with the medium-term target and is expected to remain so over the next one to two years, notwithstanding the effects of the recent depreciation of the exchange rate.

The easing in monetary policy over the past 18 months has supported interest-sensitive spending and asset values and further effects can be expected over time. The pace of borrowing has remained relatively subdued, though recently there are signs of increased demand for finance by households.

The Australian dollar has depreciated by around 10 per cent since early April, although it remains at a high level. It is possible that the exchange rate will depreciate further over time, which would help to foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy.

At today’s meeting the Board judged that the easier financial conditions now in place will contribute to a strengthening of growth over time, consistent with achieving the inflation target. It decided that the stance of monetary policy remained appropriate for the time being. The Board also judged that the inflation outlook, as currently assessed, may provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand.

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RBA holds fire on interest rates

The Reserve Bank has keep the cash rate on hold for the second consecutive month, but has kept the door open for further cuts if they are needed to stimulate the economy.
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The cash rate remained at 2.75 per cent, a 53-year low, after the last RBA cut in May.

“At today’s meeting the Board judged that the easier financial conditions now in place will contribute to a strengthening of growth over time, consistent with achieving the inflation target,” Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said in a short statement.

“It decided that the stance of monetary policy remained appropriate for the time being. The Board also judged that the inflation outlook, as currently assessed, may provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand.”

The Australian dollar was trading at 92.23 US cents just before the statement was released. It rose slightly before slipping about a quarter of a cent to 91.72 US cents.

Financial markets were pricing in a 14 per cent chance of a 25-basis-points cut today, according to Credit Suisse data.

A majority of economists had expected the central bank to stay its hand, after a sharp fall in the Australian dollar over the past few months helped to ease the pressure on export-oriented sectors of the economy.

Mr Stevens said the Australian dollar still remained at a “high level” despite its recent falls.

Since the last RBA cut in May, the Australian dollar has slipped more than 10 per cent against its US counterpart, with currency strategists not expecting it to return to its above parity levels.

The Reserve Bank said in its June board minutes that further falls in the dollar would help to “foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy” as the mining boom peaks. Mr Stevens repeated the same comments in his statement today.

Analysts said the RBA could to ease rates again later this year amid a slower-than-expected transition towards non-mining-led growth as the resources investment boom peaks.

Data released yesterday suggested that the housing and manufacturing sectors – two key industries economists said needed to grow – were strengthening. But analysts said the sectors needed to expand more to fill the gap left by mining.

Economists said fears about China’s slowing economy and credit crunch were also weighing on Australia’s growth.

The Reserve Bank’s current easing cycle started in November 2011. The cash rate has fallen by 200 points since then.

More to come…

RBA interest rate decisions in current easing cycle

2013

May 7: -0.25, to 2.75 per cent

2012

Dec 5: -0.25, to 3 per centOctober 3: -0.25, to 3.25 per centJune 6: -0.25, to 3.5 per centMay 2: -0.50, to 3.75 per cent

2011

December 7: -0.25, to 4.25 per centNovember 2: -0.25, to 4.5 per cent

Cash rate kept at 2.75 per cent

THE Reserve Bank has keep the cash rate on hold for the second consecutive month, but has kept the door open for further cuts if they are needed to stimulate the economy.
Nanjing Night Net

The cash rate remained at 2.75 per cent, a 53-year low, after the last RBA cut in May.

Financial markets were pricing in a 14 per cent chance of a 25-basis-points cut today, according to Credit Suisse data.

A majority of economists had expected the central bank to stay its hand, after a sharp fall in the Australian dollar over the past few months helped to ease the pressure on export-oriented sectors of the economy.

Since the last RBA cut in May, the Australian dollar has slipped more than 10 per cent against its US counterpart, with currency strategists not expecting it to return to its above parity levels.

SMH

Moylan charged over hoax email 

ENVIRONMENTAL activist Jonathan Moylan is facing up to 10 years in jail after being charged under the Corporations Act for his January hoax email over Whitehaven Coal.
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The charges were confirmed today by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The Newcastle-based Mr Moylan put out a press release in January purporting to be from the ANZ bank saying that bank was withdrawing a $1.2 billion loan to Whitehaven for its Maules Creek mine near Narrabri.

Mr Moylan said he had been told of the charge on Thursday night and would appear in the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday, July 23.

Mr Moylan said he had been charged under Section 1041E of the Corporations Act, which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $495,000.

“Noone has ever been charged with this as far as my lawyers know,’ Mr Moylan told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday.

“In plain language, it charges with me with providing false or misleading information that could induce someone to sell their shares.’’

Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said the charges against Mr Moylan were a clear example of double standards.

He said Mr Moylan was potentially facing 10 years in jail over a protest press release while no action appears to have been taken against Whitehaven despite concerns over the accuracy of information in environmental reports compiled for Whitehaven over Maules Creek.

“We are asking ASIC to reconsider their decision and withdraw the prosecution,’’ Mr Hutton said.

“The penalty is clearly disproportionate to the offence and Mr Moylan has apologised to anyone affected by his actions.”

“Whether you agree with his actions or not, Mr Moylan’s intent was obviously just to tell the world about the plight of the people and environments at risk from this massive coalmine.”

A spokesperson for Whitehaven Coal declined to comment on the charge facing Mr Moylan but said full information about Maules Creek was available on the Whitehaven website.

JONATHAN MOYLAN

Afghani teen on detention centre hunger strike

A 16-year-old Afghani boy at the Pontville detention centre has been on a hunger strike since Friday. A refugee advocate warns more asylum seekers could join the strike.Source: The Advocate
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More asylum seekers could join in a hunger strike at Pontville detention centre unless they are lifted from the “bureaucratic nightmare” of uncertain detention, a Tasmanian refugee advocate has said.

A 16-year-old Afghani boy at the centre has been on a hunger strike since Friday.

The boy told the ABC on Sunday he was acting in protest against being held in detention for seven months because he believed some people he travelled to Australia with had been released.

It is the first reported hunger strike at the centre and comes just two weeks after six detainees were hospitalised in a brawl over a game of pool.

That incident was just a week after a detainee and a detention centre worker were injured in another reported fight.

Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support founder Emily Conolan said all the incidents could be traced to the uncertainty caused by longer periods in detention, after funding to community detention programs was cut.

Ms Conolan said everyone she visited at the centre said they could cope if they knew how long they would be detained for and could look to the future.

“It’s an act of desperation and a cry for help of people that feel that they have no other option to express themselves but self- harm,” she said.

A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the boy was being closely monitored.

In US, cheating is not just for husbands anymore

More American women are cheating on their husbands, a new report says. Photo: John McNamaraWashington: American women, who trail men when it comes to making money, leading companies and accumulating wealth, are closing the gap on at least one measure: cheating on their spouses.
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The percentage of wives having affairs rose almost 40 percent during the last two decades to 14.7 percent in 2010, while the number of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 percent, according to the latest data from the National Opinion Research Centre’s General Social Survey.

The narrowing gap, reported by a sociologist at Auburn University at Montgomery, reflects multiple trends. Wives with their own jobs have less to lose economically from a divorce, and social media have made it easier to engage in affairs.

“Men are still more likely to cheat than women,” said Yanyi Djamba, director of the AUM Centre for Demographic Research. “But the gender gap is closing.”

Blacks, executives and managers, and Southerners were most likely to report extramarital affairs to the 40-year-old survey, the oldest continuous source of data on American behaivour.

The main impetus behind extramarital affairs was predictable, Professor Djamba said: One in four men described their marriages as “not very happy,” more than twice the number of wives who rationalised their adultery that way.

The survey results lend support to one researcher’s argument that what’s been presumed about female sexuality for centuries may be wrong. Daniel Bergner, the author of the newly published book What Do Women Want?, said cultural expectations have prevented women from having more affairs.

“Women are programmed to seek out one good man, and men never have been really well-suited to monogamy, right?” Mr Bergner said. An increasing body of science suggests that women’s sex drives are as powerful as men’s libidos, Mr Bergner said, though they’ve been repressed by thousands of years of male-dominated culture.

Alton Abramowitz, president of the Chicago-based American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said he’s seen an increase in the number of divorce cases sparked by cheating wives.

“We always had a few cases with women, but they were much more discreet about it,” he said. “In the past 10 years or so, though, there’s been an uptick in those cases coming through our office.”

More women may feel free to cheat because the economic consequences aren’t as dire as they were when more women stayed at home, said Pepper Schwartz, a University of Washington sociologist who writes “The Naked Truth” column for AARP, the largest group representing the elderly in the US.

“They can afford the potential consequences of an affair, with higher incomes and more job prospects,” she said. “They have more economic independence and may meet a better class of mate.”

The ease of online affairs and the prevalence of computer use among younger women may be responsible for a large share of the increase, Ms Schwartz said.

“Think Ashley Madison,” she wrote, referring to the online affair-matchmaking service.

The website has grown since its 2002 creation to serve 3.5 million active users speaking nine languages in 26 countries, said Noel Biderman, the chief executive officer of Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc., which operates Ashley Madison.

“There’s been a cultural shift,” Mr Biderman said, “and female infidelity is very linked to cultural change.”

The website’s usage patterns by age highlight the shifts, he said. The ratio of males to females is greatest among users older than 65, with 14 men for every woman. The ratio is 4-to-1 among users in their 50s, 3-to-1 for spouses in their 40s, and evenly divided among people using Ashley Madison in their 30s.

The number of female affairs still lags behind male dalliances. For every two women like actress Meg Ryan, who exchanged cheating accusations with her ex-husband Dennis Quaid, or Paula Broadwell, the biographer-turned-mistress of former CIA Director David Petraeus, there are three men like former President Bill Clinton, pro golfer Tiger Woods or onetime South Carolina governor, and now US congressman, Mark Sanford, who have been the focus of much-publicised reports of extramarital affairs.

As the nation’s median age increases, changes in attitudes about women engaging in sex with someone not their spouse may cause the gap to narrow more, Mr Bergner said.

“Once you strip away the stigma from the equation, interest in casual sex is about equal for women and men,” he said. “So we men may have a lot to worry about.”

Bloomberg

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Newcastle and Grafton share tournament spoils

Source: The Northern Daily Leader
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NEWCASTLE went to a one-on-one penalty shootout to win the Michael York Cup yesterday while Grafton Blue’s draw against Manning Valley was enough to secure it a Kim Small Shield when the two main divisions were decided at Tamworth’s Hockey Complex yesterday.

The Grafton side had plenty to celebrate too, with talented Grace Young also named the Kim Small Shield player of the carnival.

“We had a fantaastic weekend,” Grafton’s Kylie Winters said.

“Most of the girls in the A team had been before but for the girls in the B side it was their first time and they did extremely well to finish third.”

Sydney’s Riley Austin was named the Michael York Cup player of the carnival but his silky skills weren’t enough to secure his side a win when they drew their final nil-all with Newcastle.

Going into a thrilling one-on-one penalty shootout, it was the Novocastrians who won out, winning 4-3 with young goalkeeper Lachlan Mills making two great saves to spearhead his side’s win.

Co-coach Glenn Bisson was delighted with the efforts of a talented, young side.

“They all worked hard – all the boys played well,” Bisson said.

“We’re proud of them all. Then to win in a wobble-off was great.

“We had a couple of boys who hadn’t played before this season.

“Half the side doubled up from last year.”

Carnival convener Graeme McKenzie was delighted with the weekend.

“All went very well,” McKenzie said of a tournament that had a record 34 teams from all over the state as well as Canberra.

“We had some great feedback from coaches and managers,” he said.

Former Australian captain Michael York, whom the York Cup is named after, didn’t have a similar tournament to help launch his hockey career.

“If I had have I might have an Olympic gold medal,” he joked. “But this is all about fun and enjoyment.

“The boys and girls have fun on and off the field.

“The emphasis is on participation and enjoyment. It’s a really good atmosphere.”

While Newcastle and Grafton won the main divisions, Dubbo White won the Kim Small Shield B Division and Grafton 2s won the York Cup B Division.

McGuire topples FM rivals despite Goodes controversy

King… Eddie McGuire’s radio show on Triple M still tops the ratings.Eddie McGuire is now Melbourne’s top-rating FM breakfast host, talkback titan Neil Mitchell has been toppled by Jon Faine and 3AW is in danger of losing its ratings crown to the ABC.
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The results of today’s Nielsen survey suggest the furore over McGuire’s recent “King Kong” gaffe may have attracted listeners to his show instead of driving them away.

McGuire’s Hot Breakfast program jumped by 1 percentage point to claim a 9.5 per cent slice of the audience, putting him ahead of all his FM competitors – including long-time FM kings and Southern Cross Austereo counterparts Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley on Fox.

While 3AW morning host Mitchell increased by 0.5 points to a 13.8 per cent share, it was not enough to stop arch-rival Faine leapfrogging him with a 1.8 point jump to 15.1 per cent.

Overall, 3AW shed a negligible 0.1 point to a 12.8 per cent share while 774 climbed 1.1 points to 12.5 per cent.

Fairfax Media owns 3AW and this website.

3AW’s night hosts Bruce Mansfield and Philip Brady (down 0.4 points to 11.5 per cent) were beaten by 774’s Lindy Burns (up 1.8 points to 14.2 per cent). 3AW also lost the overall weekend ratings (down 0.4 to 11.1 per cent) to 774 (up 0.7 points to 11.3 per cent).

However, the station remains the clear AM winner in key shifts including breakfast (up 0.2 points to 18.4 per cent), afternoon (down 0.2 points to 9.4 per cent) and drive (up 1 point to 11 per cent).

Fox remained at the top of the FM ladder, climbing 0.4 points to a 10 per cent share. It also has Melbourne’s highest-rating drive shows: Hamish & Andy on Monday and Fifi & Jules from Tuesday to Friday.

“We’ve got two bloody good drive shows on Fox,” said Southern Cross Austereo’s chief content officer, Guy Dobson. “And we’re thrilled that not only did breakfast go up on Fox and Triple M but that Eddie is No. 1.”

Triple M (down 0.2 points to 8.1 per cent) is now ahead of Gold (down 0.7 points to 7.9 per cent), followed by Nova (down 0.2 to 7.1 per cent) and Mix (down 0.5 to 6.1 per cent).

Smooth slipped 0.2 points to 5.5 per cent but it is now ahead of sister station Nova in the afternoon slot, with 7.1 per cent to Nova’s 7 per cent.

After several years of volatile ratings, the 9.15 frequency – formerly known as Vega, Classic Rock and Melbourne’s 91.5 – has enjoyed its best results since re-launching as Smooth one year ago.

“We’re right in amongst it now,” said dmg Radio’s group program director, Paul Jackson.

While the station’s breakfast share dropped 0.7 points to 4 per cent, Jackson said that patience was required.

“Our share of the workday market is now huge,” he said. “We always expected breakfast to be the last to grow because we’re up against heritage programs in an established market – but we are confident it will grow.”

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Milking popularity of lost shots

Forty years on, Angus O’Callaghan, 91, says he’s happy to have been discovered. Photo: Wayne TaylorIt’s a simple photo of a Melbourne milk bar, taken by Angus O’Callaghan about 1970, and it sold at a Leonard Joel auction in May for a record $2920, including buyers premium (IBP).
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At the same sale, another O’Callaghan print, Coffee Lounge, sold for $2440 IBP, as did The Block Arcade. The whole sale, Leonard Joel managing director John Albrecht says, went ”gangbusters”.

His prediction is these photos – reprinted in limited numbers from the original negatives – will at least double in value over the next decade.

Forty years after they were taken, the works of Angus O’Callaghan are very much in demand, yet he wasn’t a professional photographer. He was a school teacher. In 1969 he bought two Yashicaflex medium-format cameras and spent three years anonymously documenting the city he loved. He wandered at random and took snaps of whatever interested him.

”When I took the photographs, my purpose was to become a professional photographer,” he says. ”When that didn’t happen, I gave up that idea and went back to teaching.” His plan was to produce a book, but a publishing deal fell through. He filed the negatives in a shoebox, where they remained for more than 40 years. His second wife found them while unpacking a tea chest when they moved house.

O’Callaghan, now 91, says he had forgotten about them.

Their spectacular success on the secondary art market is a unique phenomenon not even the Leonard Joel art experts can quite explain.

Nor can O’Callaghan, although he’s happy to have finally been ”discovered”.

Word of mouth

Demand has spread largely during the past five years by word of mouth, as has interest in photographic prints in general, especially those taken in Melbourne in the 1950s to 1970s. This niche market was revealed in 2012 after Leonard Joel held the third of their specialty Photographic Auctions on July 22.

The saleroom was packed with young punters, who knew exactly what they wanted and were willing to pay well above estimates. They returned in force in May this year for the Angus O’Callaghan stand-alone sale, where three times the estimate was the norm for the top lots.

Photography was also included in Leonard Joel’s art sale in June but prices were well down on May. This is something John Albrecht attributes to the 60 lots of photography being included among more traditional paintings.

The best price paid was the $610 IBP for a stylish work by Melbourne fashion photographer Bruno Benini showing Helen Homewood on the steps of Parliament House.

In July, 2012, a Benini print entitled Hot Soup 1957 sold for $1500. Another, Eastern Markets, sold for $1850.

What sells and what doesn’t in this fickle market is fascinating to observe.

A 1930s nude study by Max Dupain – estimated at $3000-$5000 – failed to find a buyer this June. This is the same Dupain who was flavour of the month 10 years ago.

An iconic 1967 image by Wolfgang Sievers, titled The Gears: Gears for Mining Industry, generated interest on the night but as of last week, no definite buyer.

It’s Melbourne milk bars the young connoisseur wants these days.

This image – one of a series of five prints from the original negatives in ”supersize” (160 centimetres x 160 centimetres) format – is one of three Angus O’Callaghan photos to be included as part of Leonard Joels’ Modern and Traditional Auction this Sunday at 12 Smith Street, Collingwood, at 11am. This new auction concept is curated by artist David Bromley, a fan of O’Callaghan’s work. If the large-scale prints sell – estimates are $4000-$6000 – they will set price records for the schoolteacher who gave up his dream of being a photographer 40 years ago.

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