Olympics gold for Japan’s economy

Ever since a group of out-of-work samurai pooled their pensions to found Onoda Cement 130 years ago, the company has had its ups and downs: industrialisation, a crippling war, Japan’s post-war economic miracle.
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But after domestic cement demand peaked in 1990, at the height of Japan’s bubble economy, Taiheiyo Cement, the successor company, and the industry, fell into a seemingly permanent decline in a mature and shrinking Japan.

Tokyo’s victory on Saturday in the race to host the Summer Games for a second time, in 2020, is giving Taiheiyo a new lease on life.

On Monday, a day after Japan revelled in the good news, the stocks of general contractors, property developers and other long-suffering construction-related companies surged in Tokyo, as investors anticipated a construction boom before the 2020 Olympic Games.

Construction companies helped lead a 2.5 per cent rise in the Nikkei index to 14,205.23, a one-month high. Taiheiyo’s stock jumped more than 7 per cent to its highest level in six years, while Taisei, the contractor that built Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium in 1964, soared 14 per cent. Both stocks continued their rapid ascent today and the Nikkei has added another 1.3 per cent.

“We expect Tokyo’s success in bidding for the Olympics to become a very positive catalyst” for Japanese stocks, Hiromichi Tamura, a strategist at Nomura, said in a note to clients.

Helping to elevate shares was a revision of Japan’s second-quarter economic growth figures to an annualised rate of 3.8 percent on the back of strong capital investment. Preliminary estimates had shown growth of 2.6 per cent.

The government estimates that hosting the Olympics will increase the economy by 3 trillion yen over the next seven years, or 0.3 percentage points of Japan’s economic growth a year.

But that estimate is too modest, Robert Feldman, head economist for Japan at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities, wrote in a report last week.

He said that the impact would most likely reach 6 trillion to 8 trillion yen over the next seven years, or 0.7 to 0.8 per cent of gross domestic product.

The most visible impact will be in construction. Tokyo has promised to keep costs down by using as many as 15 “legacy” buildings, including three built for the 1964 Games. Still, it will build 22 more sites at an estimated cost of $US3.1 billion.

Tokyo’s huge new Olympic Stadium, called the cycling helmet for its space-age design, will seat 80,000 people and cost at least $US1.3 billion to build. It will feature a retractable roof – a first for an Olympic Stadium. The city also plans to spend $US955 million on a waterfront Olympic Village complex capable of housing 17,000 athletes and trainers.

Naoki Inose, the governor of Tokyo, has called the project “Tokyo’s biggest housing development in decades.”

Investors hunted for more Olympics-related shares. Advertising and travel agencies gained on Monday, as did Japanese sports equipment makers, like Mizuno and Asics.

Sagami Rubber Industries, which says it makes one of the world’s thinnest condoms, with a thickness of only 0.022 millimeters, jumped more than 8 per cent during Monday trade, and continued to climb Tuesday. Condoms have been distributed to Olympics athletes since the Seoul Summer Games in 1988. Last year, the London Games distributed more than 150,000 condoms to athletes, according to British media reports.

Taiheiyo Cement is also poised to be one of winners of the Olympic rally.

Analysts at Nomura said that building the stadiums for the Games would require more than three million tonnes of cement in 2016 through 2019. And total demand for cement could be even greater, as hopes for a tourist influx before the Games prompt developers to plow money into hotels and other commercial projects.

The tide is already beginning to turn at Taiheiyo, as it taps reconstruction demand after Japan’s tsunami and nuclear disasters.

For the fiscal year through March, Taiheiyo’s net profit surged 44 per cent from a year earlier to 11.3 billion yen, and the company expects an additional 14.7 per cent increase this year, to 13 billion yen.

But how long will an Olympics-fuelled rally last? Strategists at Nomura, who studied market patterns after past Olympic announcements, are optimistic. Their analysis shows that stock markets tended to perform well over the longer-term after a successful Olympics bid.

“Once strong investor interest in Olympics hosting-related stocks wanes, the stock market as a whole appreciates,” Mr Tamura said.

The New York Times

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Tips for growing herbs

Herbs such as lavender lend themselves to organic growing. Photo: Leanne PickettA herb garden is a must for every cook. You can have a tidy little herb garden in the smallest of spaces – just one square metre of garden bed, or near your kitchen in window boxes or tubs, and herbs grow quite quickly.
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Herbs lend themselves to organic growing. They do not need nor benefit from chemical fertilisers and many can grow in less than bountiful soils. But in general, they do need well-drained soils and in a sunny location – although tarragon and chervil grow much better if they can be shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

Don’t over-water or over-feed herbs. If you do the plants at best will be spindly and sappy and have very low levels of essential oils. The Mediterranean herbs including rosemary, sage and thyme have grown for centuries on rocky hillsides where rainfall is scarce. Herbs grow well in a raised bed, which you can build out of railway sleepers, planks of hardwood or brickwork. Don’t use treated pine because of the chemicals used as a preservative.

If you want a border or hedge of rosemary or lavender, plant it first to give the overall structure to the garden. Lavender and rosemary can grow quite tall, so consider planting them in the middle of a circular or rectangular bed with the smaller shrubby herbs such as marjoram, thyme, winter savory and lemon balm along the border.

Plant out basil, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage and winter savory seeds in early spring. Dill and borage are only grown from seed and should be planted directly into the garden bed or pot.

Some herbs grow easily from cuttings, including rosemary, thyme, winter savory, lavender, lemon balm and lemon verbena (see below).

Mint, thyme, oregano, lemongrass and tarragon can be propagated by dividing the roots of an existing plant. Dig up a well-established plant and divide the main root, ensuring each part has good fibrous roots attached.

Once the bushy herbs such as lavender and sage have finished flowering, they need to be pruned. Lavender and rosemary need regular attention and trimming or the plants will become too tall, and the stems will woody and scraggly. Pinch out basil leaves and regularly trim parsley to foster more leaf growth. In autumn prune the dead foliage off perennial herbs such as oregano and tarragon.This week I will:

■ Plant broad beans, carrots, silverbeet and beetroot directly into a well-prepared garden bed.

■ Plant seeds of lettuces, tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumbers and capsicums into punnets or propagation trays to get your spring plantings under way. For the smaller seed vegetables plant eight to 10 seeds in each punnet; for larger vegetables, plant two or three seeds a punnet. Keep the soil moist and place in a sunny, warm location to ensure good germination.

■ Remove weeds from all garden beds before they overrun recent plantings.

■ Do an early spring clean up around the garden to remove shelter spots for slugs and snails. Remove any broken flowerpots, old broken timber stakes and other debris that could provide cool damp places for them to shelter and breed.

■ Turn over your compost heap using a garden fork. Ensure it is moist throughout, so it generates the heat required for good decomposition rates.Propagation by cuttings

To propagate a softwood cutting for any herb, cut off a healthy growing tip below another growing tip, aiming to have cuttings of between 10 centimetres and 14 centimetres long. Make an angled cut with a sharp, sterilised pair of scissors or secateurs or a sharp knife. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip this section into a rooting hormone. It is best to pour some of the hormone compound into a shallow bowl to avoid transferring any between plant groups. Use rubber gloves.

Prepare a medium-sized plastic garden pot with a mixture of river sand and peat moss and water well. Make holes in the potting mix with a pencil or small clean stick. Insert the herb cuttings and press the soil down firmly. Cover the entire planting with a plastic bag and seal to retain the moisture. The plants need indirect sunlight to remain alive and healthy, such as inside a north-facing window.

The stems of the plants will begin to grow new roots over the next three to five weeks. Look for signs of new leaves appearing. After six to seven weeks, you should have new plants with good, fibrous root systems that can be transplanted into your garden.

>> Owen Pidgeon runs the Loriendale Organic Orchard near Hall.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Wind, pollen trigger asthma 

STRONG winds and an ‘‘extreme’’ pollen count wreaked havoc on asthma sufferers in the Hunter on Tuesday with ambulance paramedics called to treat 10 people struggling with the chronic inflammatory disease and several more with breathing difficulties.
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The NSW Asthma Foundation said an early start to spring had brought a high pollen count which was mixing with warm temperatures and smoke from hazard reduction burns to make the ‘‘perfect storm’’ for asthma sufferers.

The Hunter, already considered an asthma hot spot in NSW due to the region’s extensive coal-related industries, was responsible for nearly half of the northern region’s call-outs on Tuesday.

Strong north-westerly winds caused a dust storm in the Upper Hunter on Tuesday morning, forcing Mount Thorley Warkworth Mine and two others to shut down operations.

An Ambulance Service of NSW said the figures only related to calls specifically about asthma and could be more than 30 per cent higher once sufferers of breathing difficulties were included.

The spokeswoman said paramedics had treated 34 sufferers across NSW by 10.30am, more than the entire total for Monday.

By 4pm the number had grown to 65.

‘‘On days like Tuesday where there is an extreme pollen count people should follow their asthma management plan closely,’’ an Ambulance Service of NSW spokeswoman said.

‘‘You should ensure you minimise your exposure to stimuli that ‘trigger’ your asthma.

‘‘We also advise hayfever sufferers to speak to their pharmacist about managing the sneezing and sniffling that can come from an increase of pollen in the air.’’

Asthma, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, causes recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning.

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Carrington’s new restaurants

THE historic harbourside suburb of Carrington is the new epicentre of a burgeoning wave of eateries, enticing those who traverse the Cowper Street Bridge with mouth-watering cuisine ranging from Asian fusion to Mediterranean.
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The newest kid on the block is Cafe Inu, which opened in a former warehouse in May and blends the industrial grunge of the suburb with the simple pleasures of Japan.

Owner Miwa Haas relocated in 2004 from south-west Japan to Sydney, where she worked as a barista in a French patisserie before moving to the tight-knit community – ‘‘the city’s best kept secret’’ – in 2010 to work at Nagisa and Asa-Don.

‘‘I saw a gym that was for sale and thought it would be great to have a cafe there; it’s a lovely place with lots of parking and a nice atmosphere and I wanted it to be dog-friendly,’’ she said.

Ms Haas’ American Staffy named Bear is with her every day, wandering among early-morning customers who favour the breakfast roll made with free-range Hunter Valley eggs, bacon smoked by the cafe and homemade spicy sauce with tomato, oregon, garlic and jalapeno.

The menu includes Crave espresso blend coffee and loose-leaf tea, and wholesome fast food made with seasonal ingredients, including open sandwiches and salad, as well as teriyaki chicken pizza with cabbage, shallots, Japanese mayo and dried seaweed.

The hot dogs are made with pork sausage, curried cabbage and Japanese mayonnaise; crocodile with spicy sauce, jalapeno and cheese; and duck with rocket, caramelised pear and sliced almond.

A few steps away, noted chef Lesley Taylor has opened another restaurant in a bowling club.

The head chef at Longworth House, Made By Lesley Taylor (formerly known as Le Petite Deux) and rustic Italian-based Osteria at Merewether Bowling Club has opened The Cove at Carrington Cove Bowling Sports and Recreation Club.

‘‘Considering the economic climate at the moment, I wanted to do good food, but wanted to do it at a cheaper price,’’ she said.

‘‘It doesn’t matter what people pay for food, they deserve to get a good product.

‘‘If they order a burger, we want it to be the best burger they have ever eaten.’’

The lunch and dinner menus include steaks, schnitzels, chicken paninis made using LaIonica poultry, pizza and pasta dishes.

The Cove also offers specials with a twist, including seafood pies and lemon and oregano chicken, as well as a constantly changing range of house-made desserts.

Around the corner in Young Street, Melbourne-raised Andy Scurry is planning to celebrate the second birthday of his cafe, Ground Up, which he opened with the aim of creating a suburban cafe that doubled as a community space, away from the traditional cafe districts.

The cafe in a former house features a funky outdoor dining area, a children’s corner and communal tables.

It prides itself on fresh, homestyle cooking, with many ingredients gathered from its vegetable and herb garden.

The menu includes the popular smoked salmon on toasted sourdough, as well as a tuna wrap with herbs, hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, lemon, rocket and olives that can be served on wraps, sourdough, bagel or turkish bread.

On Fridays, customers can buy a freshly baked fruit and nut loaf from La Tartine Bakery in Gosford.

Across the road, Carrington Place hosts regular Thursday night performances by Jack McLaughlin’s Frenchman Street New Orleans Jazz Band.

Music-loving diners can choose from tapas and pizza in the bar or head to the a la carte restaurant for dishes including avocado and spanner crab tian and five-spice Magret duck breast.

Another block away, the Seven Seas Hotel has been a landmark since at least the 1930s but is now most renowned for its restaurant Paragon Thai, owned by head chef Kritika Rundle.

Licensee of almost four years Allan Jackson said locals opted for the softshell crab, jungle curry and braised duck, with traditional fare also popular.

Former head chef at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel, George Lau, will next week open the only Chinese restaurant on the island at the Criterion Hotel.

Named The Pits Stop, the restaurant will offer dishes including sambal chilli chicken; Peking-style pork ribs; satay king prawns; fish fillets with ginger and shallots and a range of soups, omelettes and noodles for dining in, takeaway and delivery.

It also boasts an extensive menu of pub favourites, including schnitzels, parmigiana, grilled perch and barramundi, and steaks.

Cafe Inu owner Miwa Haas and her dog Bear.

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PHOTOS: Firies injured, homes lost as west Sydney burns

Fire destroyed vehicles in Londonderry in western Sydney. Photo: NICK MOIR Fire destroyed vehicles in Londonderry in western Sydney. Photo: NICK MOIR
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Rural Fire Service crews from Sutherland and Loftus keep an eye on the flank of a bushfire near Londonderry. Photo: DALLAS KILPONEN

Smoke colours the sky in western Sydney. Photo: DALLAS KILPONEN

Smoke haze colours the sunset in Sydney. Photo: SIMONE DE PEAK

An RFS crew on Londonderry Rd. Pic: Nick Moir

An abandoned truck burns on Londonderry Rd. Pic: Nick Moir

City office workers might have complained about smoke in their eyes and nostrils on Tuesday afternoon but on Sydney’s north-western fringe, firefighters were engaged in a running battle to save lives and homes as the summer bushfire season kicked off with terrifying scenes.

With temperatures over 30 degrees, fires broke out and moved quickly, with north-westerly winds turning otherwise containable grass fires into dangerous, fast-moving infernos.

By 6pm, the Rural Fire Service said there were 63 fires burning across NSW – 31 of them uncontained – with four major fires at the highest emergency warning level, meaning property and lives were under direct threat.

VIDEO: Intense fire activity on Tuesday night at Marsden Park

Suburbs, including Castlereagh, Winmalee, Hawkesbury, Marsden Park and Windsor, were under siege, with two homes lost – one at Hawkesbury Road at Winmalee (in the Blue Mountains) and another at Marsden Park (in the Blacktown area).

Two fire fighters had to be treated for burns while five others required treatment for serious smoke inhalation.

The fires kicked off on the back of the warmest overnight and day temperatures recorded in Sydney so early in spring in more than 100 years.

Fairfax Media photographer Nick Moir captured frightening images on the fire ground, even witnessing fire fighters having to abandon their truck as flames rushed up to engulf the vehicle.

#bushfires#SydneyFires Bligh park.. Rifle range road pic.twitter上海夜生活m/JGkZEQwgdc

— AusBeno (@Ausbeno) September 10, 2013

He described the fires as “very erratic”, with fast-moving grass fires and dry weather over the past month causing serious problems.

“The winds are changing direction erratically,” he said.

“The RFS, they’re finding it very hard to put units in front of fires because it’s erratic bushland here. They’ll jump on one outbreak and the next second the plot down the road is on fire.”

Meanwhile in the CBD, the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, asked the public to remain patient in areas where fire was affecting traffic and electricity supply.

“It’s clear that there is serious fire risk in the western parts of our city,” he told the Parliament. “I would hope that the public, motorists and households affected by power outages are patient.”

He said 999 firefighters have been involved in the effort on Tuesday.

The NSW Rural Fire Service said the cause of the big four fires in Sydney’s west will be investigated. The causes of each blaze are still unknown.

As night began to fall, residents in Windsor in Sydney’s northwest continued to help fight a bushfire just metres from their homes.

Devlin Road, Bligh Park. Picture: Kylie Pitt

Devlin Road, Bligh Park. Picture: Kylie Pitt

Devlin Road, Bligh Park. Picture: Kylie Pitt

Devlin Road, Bligh Park. Picture: Kylie Pitt

Bushfire heading towards Hawkesbury Heights. Picture: Nick Moir

Devlin Road, Bligh Park. Picture: Kylie Pitt

Smoke billowed over Windsor Downs Nature Reserve as water-bombing helicopters and crews battled grass fires fanned by winds of up to 80km/h.

Sanctuary Drive residents Michael and Sandra Bellamy left work early to return home to protect their house when they realised there was a fire in the reserve bordering their property.

“I got a text message from my daughter saying that I should probably go home,” Ms Bellamy told AAP.

However, police road closures prevented her from reaching the home in which they have lived for 19 years.

“I wasn’t allowed in. Then my neighbour came by in the car and said, ‘quick, get in’ and I jumped in,” she said.

Her husband, Michael, was confident fire fighters would be able to contain the bushfire..

“These guys are here to stop it in its track if it does come this way,” he said.

“The wind is a bit of a worry, it’s swirling around a lot. We don’t know where it will end up, and we’re still not sure.”

Many residents had fireproofed their properties ahead of bushfire season, he said.

“I have got a pretty good fire plan set up here and we’re ready to protect the house. I just wanted to make sure I was here to protect the house.”

Endeavour Energy said about 730 homes were without power, but it was trying to restore power to 500 homes around Londonderry and Cranebrook later on Tuesday night.

However, burnt infrastructure at Winmalee meant about 230 homes in the region were likely to remain without power overnight.

The grass fire burning around Richmond Road and Bennett Road at Windsor has been downgraded to “watch and act” by the NSW Rural Fire Service.

However, there was still the potential for fire to impact on properties around George Street and Bligh Park.

Earlier, Orica evacuated its plant at Ravensworth near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, after a small blaze erupted about two kilometres away.

Warnings had already been ringing out ahead of the start of summer, with most of the eastern NSW, the ACT and western Victoria being told to expect above-average fire activity this summer as warm weather dries out forests and winter rain adds fuel in grassland regions.

“Large areas of southern Australia, especially along the east and west coasts extending inland, face above-normal fire potential for the 2013-14 fire season,” according to the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook released by fire authorities and the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre.

The 31.6 degrees reached just before 1.30pm on Tuesday was the warmest since March and almost 12 degrees above the long-term average for September.

Wind gusts reached 70 kilometres an hour at Penrith just after 1.30pm, and 78 km/h over the harbour in the late morning. The winds dragged some of the smoke from a nearby fire into the Sydney basin, adding to allergy woes triggered by high pollen levels.

Since the record 45.8 degrees reached in January, Sydney has had just four days of 30-plus degrees days, half of them this month alone.

The city also posted its 18th consecutive day of 20 degree or warmer weather on Tuesday, and will match the record such run on Wednesday for so early in the season. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting at least another day of such weather before cooler weather arrives.

Heat building over central Australia will continue to keep temperatures above average for most of the next fortnight, said Ben Domensino, a meteorologist with Weatherzone.

While the weather models are indicating no early return of 30-degree weather for the city, Sydney should continue to see warmer than normal conditions for most of September and October, Mr Domensino said.

“We’re expecting less rainfall than we would typically see” for most of spring, he said.

Sydney has already had its warmest start to any year and its mildest start to spring. So far this month, the average maximum is tracking about 1 degree higher than the previous hottest September set back in 1980.

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