Archive Month: March 2019
Mar 01 , 2019 / By :

Smartphones are the latest weapons in the campaign to save abducted children in Australia following the launch of a new app.
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US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich hosted the launch of the phone app, developed by the Australian Federal Police with the support of the FBI, at his Canberra residence a short time ago.

It allows parents to store crucial data, including pictures of their children, on their phones ready to be shared with police in the event tragedy strikes.

Ambassador Bleich said America’s campaign to save abducted children had really begun on May 25, 1979, when Etan Patz, a six-year-old from New York, disappeared.

The case had sparked national outrage. Patz was the first child to have his face posted on milk cartons.

The smart phone app is an extension of that thinking. With 75 per cent of abducted children murdered by their captors within the first three hours of being taken it is essential to get as much information out as quickly as possible.

May 25 has now been designated missing children’s day internationally.

Using the app, which can be downloaded by Googling ‘child ID’ or through i-tunes, parents can preload photos, contact details, descriptions and other information onto their smart phones.

The information stays on the phone until, in the event a child disappears, they share it with the authorities so it can be circulated as widely as possible.

The data base can be updated with new photos and information as the child grows.Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Tony Negus, said the system, already operating with considerable success in the US, was totally secure.

“The information is stored on your phone until it is needed,” he said. “I encourage all Australian families to download the app.”

He said more than 130,000 Americans had downloaded the US version of the software already with the FBI indicating it had been of assistance in a number of cases.

“Almost 20,000 Australians under the age of 18 go missing each year,” he said.

“This can be for many different reasons and, thankfully, most are located in one week – but imagine the anguish of that week for their families.”

Ambassador Bleich said the US decision to make Australia the first country it shared the “sophisticated and sensitive” source code that made the app possible with underlined the strength of the alliance between the two nations.

He said that as a parent of teenage children himself he was “particularly grateful” for a new technology that would make them safer.

“I would like to hope it could make them do their homework too, but we may have to save that for another day.’’

In addition to allowing parents to pre-load information in an easily accessible and shareable form, the app also contains information and safety tips including check lists and contact numbers.

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation is also working on a phone app to help protect children.

“The two (apps) will be complementary; they will not be in competition with each other,’’ Commissioner Negus said.

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Mar 01 , 2019 / By :

Miami: It wasn’t long ago that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women couldn’t get security clearance from the CIA. Now the US national spy agency is actively recruiting them.
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The CIA and Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday night will sponsor a community-wide networking event at the LGBT Visitor Centre in South Beach.

“This is the first one ever,” said Michael Barber, the CIA’s LGBT community outreach and liaison program manager. “This is the first of what I hope will be similar networking events with LGBT chambers across the nation.”

A second networking event is scheduled for Thursday night in Orlando.

Mr Barber, “a straight ally”, along with gay CIA employees engineering development chief Bill French and technical information officer Tracey Ballard will speak to prospective employees about the benefits of joining the agency.

“I look at my job as informing and educating about the CIA’s mission. And in the LGBT community, debunking those myths,” Mr Barber said, referring to the widely held assumption that gay people are unwelcome.

In 1989, a federal appeals court found evidence that the CIA routinely denied security clearances to gay people.

“There was a history of discrimination against LGBT persons in the federal government,” Ms Ballard said. “The process was extremely difficult for LGBT people to get security clearance prior to 1995.”

That year, president Bill Clinton signed an executive order stating: “the United States government does not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, disability or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information.”

Clinton’s order opened the door to gay employees coming out at the CIA, said Ballard, who in 1996 founded ANGLE (Agency Network of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Employees and Allies), an agency-sanctioned employee group.

ANGLE, which Ms Ballard still co-chairs, has more than 230 “known members”, she said.

“There were a number of LGBT people at the agency prior to 1996,” Ms Ballard said. “We’ve always been there. But at that point of time, a small handful of us began finding each other and talking. We did informal networking among ourselves.”

The presidential order “allowed our LGBT officers to be more comfortable in the workplace and to be themselves”, she said. “It allowed conversations among our peers. True conversations. We didn’t have to hide any more. That’s a cultural shift, to allow our peers to be seen as equal, based upon the work they do.”

More than 50 people have signed up for the free networking event. Many are bringing resumes “and seriously thinking of the CIA for employment”, chamber president Steve Adkins said.

The CIA proposed the event. “They obviously had a lot of LGBT employees,” Mr Adkins said. “They want to make sure we know their stories and, in addition, make people aware that they’re an open and inclusive employer. Who knew?”

Miami Herald

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Mar 01 , 2019 / By :

The Australian dollar has become a matter of ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ with the you being Australian exporters. Bad global news provides a reason for the Aussie to remain strong and good global news provides a reason for it to get stronger.
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The bottom line is that our dollar remains elevated and there’s nothing much that can be done about it. Thus wise managements have simply got on with the business of adapting to the reality of a strong currency, leaving the whingeing and complaining to those with the time for pointless pursuits.

At this stage it would be a little cruel to point out all the people who were bravely and foolishly forecasting the Aussie would be sliding below parity now, so as there’s not a fly handy to have its wings removed, let’s just finger a few who stuck their heads up back in July. NAB at that stage was briefly enjoying a spell of reasonably successful currency guessing, but it tempted fate by predicting we’d fall below parity for Christmas and they were not alone.

The only way to be able to claim a record of successful currency forecasting is to stick to a very wide band, so to suggest the Aussie is likely to trade between about US95¢ and US115¢ might be the way to go. Most forex forecasts are just extrapolations of whatever the latest trend might be. Thus there are plenty of suggestions that the Aussie’s current rally will continue.

And it might or it might not. Whichever ends up being the case, there’s little chance of our dollar becoming cheap again.

If you want to concentrate on the gloomy side of the equation, “the ongoing North Atlantic crisis and Japan’s miserable outlook”, it’s a good argument to hold Australian dollars as the Americans, Europeans and Japanese continue to try to debase their currencies. Why would anyone want to hold greenbacks when the Fed has promised to keep printing billions of them every month until American unemployment magically falls?

What is constantly missed in the usual discussion of the exchange rate is that it’s not all about us. The other side of the equation has to be considered and that other side is not a pretty picture.

On the more optimistic side, the gathering confidence that China’s growth rate is growing again is a reason for the world to look more fondly on the Aussie. A strengthening China restores the commodities story, which on top of strong national accountants, sound institutional governance, low government debt, AAA ratings, and a resurgent cricket team means the Aussie looks pretty good.

Yes, it’s higher than we’d like, but sometimes it would be nice if the sun rose in the west for a little variety as well. The good operators accept it and get working harder and smarter to deal with it. It’s all part of the uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding process of being pushed up the value chain.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor.

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Mar 01 , 2019 / By :

.Frank Farina will be announced as the new coach of Sydney FC later this afternoon. The announcement will be made by the club’s chief executive Tony Pignata at their Macquarie University headquarters.
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The former Socceroos and Brisbane Roar manager is understood to have accepted a short-term offer that will see him take the reins of the Sky Blues until the end of the season.

Farina, 48, will take charge immediately and is expected to arrive in Sydney tomorrow as Ian Crook’s replacement. He will take charge of the team in Sunday’s match against Melbourne Heart at Allianz Stadium.

Negotiations with Farina have been stalled as a result of his inaccessibility at times, for he is currently in Papua New Guinea, where he is coach of the national team.

Farina most recently coached in the A-League with Brisbane Roar and took them as far as a preliminary final in 2008-9 before being dismissed for being caught for drink-driving.

Prior to that he was coach of the Socceroos between 1999 and 2005, a role he took on after impressing in his first two coaching stints at Marconi Stallions and Brisbane Strikers in the NSL. He famously guided the Strikers to their one and only championship win as player-coach in 1997.

His playing career was highly decorated, scoring 14 goals in 67 appearances for the national team. He also starred in the NSL with Canberra Arrows, Sydney City and Marconi before embarking on a successful career in Belgium and France.

Farina already has a close relationship with Sydney’s assistant coaches Zeljko Kalac and Steve Corica, who he played with and later coached during his time with the national team.

The Sky Blues are currently last on the A-League table with two wins from their first eight games. However, they are only four points off sixth place, meaning there’s plenty of time for Farina to turn the season around.

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Mar 01 , 2019 / By :

The big stick … Then AFL chairman Ron Evans, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Demetriou reveal the penalties 10 years ago. The brutal reality … Carlton’s contingent reacts to the penalties after they were announced in 2002.
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The dramatic day in 2002

It was simply one of the most theatrical nights in footy and there wasn’t a Sherrin in sight.

And the dramatic climax to the evening’s proceedings came after 2am – well after most people’s bedtime, even for a Friday night – instead of approaching time-on in the final quarter of a gripping night match.

The night we’re referring to was nearly 10 years ago to the day and it remains one of the most tumultuous evenings in footy history – in modern times, at least.

It was the night the AFL Commission wielded the biggest possible stick on Carlton, slapping the repeat offender of salary cap breaches with severe draft penalties and a massive fine that many thought would threaten the very existence of one of the foundation clubs of the AFL.

When then AFL chairman, Ron Evans, and then chief executive, Wayne Jackson, flanked by then football operations chief, Andrew Demetriou, announced at an early morning media conference that the Blues were to be fined almost $1 million lose the first two picks for the national draft less than 48 hours later, everyone was gobsmacked.

The fine was unprecedented and aside from dealing with the financial implications, Carlton also had to come to terms with the painful reality that the best two young footballers in the land, namely Brendon Goddard and Daniel Wells, had just slipped from their grasp. For days and months to come Blues supporters would react with venom.

After a commission hearing that lasted more than seven hours, Jackson said the Blues had been found guilty of “a complex and deliberate scheme designed and implemented to hide payments and deceive the AFL”. That fact was already known but few observers genuinely thought the league would come down so heavily on the team.

The media conference was held after 2am and the mood was patently hostile. There was clear and open animosity between the AFL and Carlton’s representatives to the point where the Blues were so angered by the outcome they refused to let AFL officials attend their own media conference, where they responded to the league’s penalties.

The Ian Collins-led administration had only recently taken over the club’s leadership and the penalty quickly hit home.

“I think it is the lowest point in Carlton’s history,” the new Carlton president said on that night.

The events of Friday November 22, 2002, have loomed fresh in the memory of this correspondent because of this week’s AFL Commission hearing where the Adelaide Football Club – and several related parties – will answer charges of draft tampering and other related offences.

There’s no suggestion the Crows have gone anywhere near orchestrating the same sophisticated process of breaching the salary cap as the John Elliott administration at Carlton, but the league is not happy that draft tampering and salary cap breaches have again reared their head in the AFL.

It has already been derided as the Kurt Tippett Saga. Ten years ago the Carlton affair had several different monikers and implicated some big names at the famous club in Stephen Silvagni and Craig Bradley.

No one expects the Crows will be hit to anywhere near the same extent as the Blues were 10 years ago, but the league has a history of coming down hard on individuals and groups who threaten the “key planks” of the competition’s equalisation strategies – the salary cap and the draft.

Truth be told, Carlton was not a first-time offender so they could have expected a right whack. They were fined $872,424 (plus a suspended fine of $57,576) and their first draft pick in 2002 suddenly became No.45 overall. They used it wisely, picking up the club favourite Kade Simpson.

The impact on Carlton was expected to be profound in the short and medium term. But it took years for the Blues to rebuild. Winning the pre-season competition, the AFL’s Wizard Cup, in 2005 was seen by some as the end to the club’s ills. But it was nothing more than a false dawn.

With the Crows preparing for their day of judgment on Friday, it is hard to accurately predict the outcome that awaits the club. But we can at least speculate on their motives after their gesture to “withdraw” their first two selections in last week’s AFL draft.

The scenario is different. Adelaide comes to the league with its tail between its legs after confessing to the AFL late in last month’s trade period that it had come to a secret arrangement with Tippett to trade him to the club of his choice for a minimum second round draft choice when his contract expired this year. The Crows also agreed to underwrite $200,000 worth of third party payments when it re-signed Tippett at the end of 2009.

Ten years ago the commission dropped something of a bombshell on the competition and the Blues. Now it seems the Crows are doing everything possible to mitigate against their past wrongdoings.

We’ll find out soon enough if another fateful Friday awaits a big AFL club.

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