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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WINE: The Wizard Pinot Noir 

A WINE, an Australian Wimbledon singles victory and a failed tennis racquet tree plantation in Tasmania are the ingredients of this story.
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It unfolded after I received a bottle of the Holm Oak 2010 The Wizard Pinot Noir from Rebecca and Tim Duffy’s Holm Oak operation at Rowella, 40kilometres north of Launceston, in northern Tasmania.

The wine, which is reviewed today, is the second vintage of the marque and gets its name from The Wizard tennis racquet used by Australia’s Jack Crawford when he won Wimbledon in 1933.

The racquet was made by the Alexander Patent Racquet Co in Launceston using imported English ash.

Rebecca Duffy tells me the Holm Oak property was once owned by Alexander North, a prominent Tasmanian architect, who was on the board of the Alexander racquet company.

North decided to plant oak and ash trees on his land with the aim of supplying wood for Alexander racquets. He was also involved in planting a larger English ash plantation at Hollybank, near Lilydale, in Tasmania’s north-east.

Sadly the wood from Holm Oak didn’t meet the standards required and Hollybank also proved a failure because the trees were planted too close together.

The Alexander factory on the corner of Abbott and Wentworth streets, Launceston, no longer operates. In the 1930s and 1940s, however, it prospered making not only tennis racquets, but cricket bats, badminton and squash racquets, furniture, wooden bicycle rims and, during World War II, ammunition boxes.

Although its tree-growing experiment failed, the Holm Oak property took a promising new turn in 1983, when the then owners established a small pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon vineyard. These vines produced the first Holm Oak wines in 1987 and in 1991 riesling vines were added to the mix.

In 2004 Rebecca Duffy’s father, Ian Wilson, a King Island farmer, and her mother Robyn, an island estate agent, bought the property.

Under Wilson family ownership, Rebecca made her first Holm Oak wines in 2007.

Born on King Island and schooled in Launceston, Rebecca tried her hand as a cheesemaker on King Island, but quickly decided that wine was a far better choice.

After graduating from the University of Adelaide wine science degree course, she worked at South Australia’s Tatachilla winery at McLaren Vale and in California’s Napa Valley.

From there she went in 2001 to Western Australia’s Capel Vale wine company as assistant winemaker, later rising to senior winemaker.

In 2006, Rebecca left WA to take charge of Holm Oak winemaking while her husband, viticultural agronomist Tim Duffy, took on management of the 10.4-hectare Holm Oak plantings of arneis, chardonnay, merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc.

Tim also oversees his parents’ vineyard in Victoria’s Swan Hill area that provides the muscat a petits grains grapes used to make the distinctive Holm Oak Moscato wines.

Rebecca and Tim, the parents of two young sons, have proved themselves expert and innovative producers, with riesling, arneis and pinot noir. Rebecca believes the 600-litre, $6000 seamless oval concrete fermentation vessel creates different temperature layers, producing a vortex that keeps the lees in suspension. The lees contain lots of dead yeast cells that over time break down and create wines of rich creamy textures.

Rebecca matured 20per cent of the current-release $30 Holm Oak 2012 Chardonnay for eight months in the Nomblot and is well-pleased with the results.

They have introduced a French-made Nomblot egg to their winery and along with the $25 2012 Riesling and 2012 Arneis, the $22 Ilex Pinot Noir, the $32 Pinot Noir and the $60 2010 The Wizard Pinot Noir are available at holmoakvineyards杭州夜生活m.au.

Rebecca and Tim Duffy.

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Synthetic drugs to be outlawed in NSW

Fell from balcony: Henry Kwan, who had taken synthetic drugs. Banned: a selection of synthetic drugs. Photo: NSW Police
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Synthetic drugs will be outlawed in NSW under new laws that carry jail terms of up to two years and fines of more than $2000.

The drug believed to have contributed to the death of Sydney student Henry Kwan is banned under the new legislation.

The NSW government said the laws are the first of their kind in Australia and will target the manufacture, supply and advertising of synthetic drugs such as synthetic cannabis, cocaine and LSD.

Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said the government would introduce the legislation on Tuesday.

“There is no silver bullet to protect people from the scourge of psychoactive drugs, but the NSW government has developed groundbreaking laws to tackle the problem,” he said.

Attorney-General Greg Smith said the new offences will be added to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.

“Manufacturers may try to alter drugs to avoid detection, but these new laws mean police have greater certainty in seizing substances where they have formed a reasonable suspicion that it is a drug or psychoactive substance,” he said.

“The NSW government will also ban the advertising and promotion of a substance to be consumed for its psychoactive effects, or information that provides how or where to acquire the substance.”

Penalties will include jail sentences of up to two years, more than $2000 in fines or both for the manufacture or supply of synthetic drugs. The penalty for possession of the drugs will be up to one year in jail and/or more than $2000 in fines.

The state and federal governments introduced an interim ban on synthetic drugs in June, but this will be the first time the ban will be introduced in law.

Mr Roberts said the community is seeing the benefits of removing harmful synthetic drugs from sale “and these new laws capture the whole process”.

He said NSW Fair Trading inspected more than 1000 retailers since the ban was introduced to ensure synthetic drugs were removed from sale.

NSW will add 40 substances to the prohibited drugs list including NBOMe which contributed to the death of Sydney student Henry Kwan, 17, who jumped from the balcony of his Killara home in June. He was said to have suffered from a psychosis brought about by the synthetic drug.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said the government’s legislation was “doomed to failure”.

“The O’Farrell government has shifted the arms race between the drug manufacturers and the regulations to a new plane. The new battle ground will be over the meaning of psychoactive and will inevitably result in yet another generation of extremely dangerous drugs.

“The New Zealand approach of testing and regulating the availability of relatively safe substances, not only works but reduces the unnecessary criminalisation of both users and suppliers.”

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

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Bushfires threaten Sydney’s western suburbs: NSW Rural Fire Service issues emergency warnings

Bushfire Fire at Londonderry. Photo: Nick Moir
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A bushfire threatens properties in the Castlereagh area. Photo: Nick Moir

Fire

A fire burns along Devlin Street in Castlereagh. Photo: Kylie Pitt

Fire danger: smoke surrounds a property on Devlin Street in Castlereagh. Photo: Kylie Pitt

A man runs as bushfires burn near Devlin Street in Castlereagh. Photo: Kylie Pitt

The RFS Brigade abandons a truck as fire rushes along Londonderry Road. Photo: Nick Moir

A truck catches fire near Londonderry Road, Castlereagh. Photo: Nick Moir

The Sydney skyline is blanketed in smoke haze as kite surfers ride near Kurnell. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

A firefighter battles flames that destroyed a truck in Londonderry Road, Castlereagh. Photo: Nick Moir

Fires are threatening homes in Sydney’s west as temperatures soar past 30 degrees.

A large grass fire could threaten homes in Sydney’s west as the temperature soars past 30 degrees, firefighters say.

Fire crews are working to contain the blaze that broke out in Tickner Road in Castlereagh and was burning towards Devlin Road on Tuesday.

A second grass fire is also threatening a number of homes near Richmond and Bennett roads in Windsor. The fire has crossed Garfield Road and is now burning through Windsor Downs Nature Reserve.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has issued an emergency warning as strong northerly winds carried the fire towards George Street and Bligh Park, according to the RFS website.

An emergency telephone alert has been sent to phones in the area and people have been asked not to drive in smoky conditions.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said there were 40 fires burning across NSW that had not been contained.

”Fire behaviour very erratic. People need to keep monitoring situation rapidly changing,” he posted on Twitter about 1.30pm.null

The Rural Fire Service has now issued an emergency warning for another bushfire burning in the Blue Mountains area around Hawkesbury Road at Winmalee.

There are currently unconfirmed reports of property losses in that area, the RFS says.

Several fires have now flared up in Sydney’s west. Here is a map that shows the last reported location of the biggest blazes.

null

There are now more than 50 bushfires burning across NSW.

Three in Sydney’s west have prompted emergency warnings  to be issued – the Blue Mountains fire, the Castlereagh fire and grass fire burning around Richmond Road at Windsor.

A fourth is burning in the area of Grange Avenue and Marsden Park near Blacktown. Residents in that area are being told to protect themselves from the radiant heat.

The bushfires are causing traffic problems in some areas of western Sydney.

The NSW Ambulance Service says smoke has caused a collission on Castlereagh Road at Castlereagh.

Motorists should also be aware of:

BLIGH PARK: Motorists are advised to avoid Blacktown Road at Bligh Park near Richmond due to a grass fire.

Blacktown Road is closed in both directions between George Street and Bourke Street.

Motorists are being diverted onto Hawkesbury Valley Way and Richmond Road but motorists are urged to stay away from the area altogether.

Jocelyn Anderson said shops in Windsor were closing and the roads were clogged as people sought to leave the area.

“People were heading east, away from the fire,” Ms Anderson, who lives near Windsor, said. “We got caught in very heavy traffic.”

“Horrendous winds, incredibly dry and hot and scary,” were the conditions around 2pm, she said.

Trains were still taking passengers towards the city from Windsor but the service to Richmond had stopped, Ms Anderson said.

The fires are also causing power outages in surrounding areas.

Students at the University of Western Sydney’s Hawkesbury campus have been sent home for the day.

UWS Hawkesbury campus has been closed this afternoon due to widespread power outage caused by fires in the area. Other campuses remain open.— UWS (@UWSNews) September 10, 2013

The Rural Fire Service has confirmed one home is alight at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains.

The Premier, Barry O’Farrell, has just told NSW Parliament that two firefighters have also been injured fighting that blaze.

Premier tells state parliament report of a house alight in wsyd #bushfires and two firefighters injured— Liz Foschia (@lizfoschia) September 10, 2013nullnullnull

Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers says there are now 45 fires burning out of control across NSW with the biggest concern those blazes in western Sydney.

He has told ABC TV there are now unconfirmed reports of property loss in the Marsden Park fire near Blacktown.

One home is alight at Winmalee. Mr Rogers says there are unconfirmed reports of property lost in the Marsden Park fire near Blacktown.

There are more than 800 firefighters, 200 fire trucks and “numerous helicopters” currently working across the state to bring these blazes under control, he said.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) major fire updates page has the latest information for what residents living near major blazes.

Seven firefighters have now received treatment while trying to contain the Winmalee bushfire in the Blue Mountains.

That fire has now crossed Hawkesbury Road and is burning under strong northerly winds. One property has been destroyed.

#Winmalee Fire: 5 firefighters have sustained smoke inhalation and 2 have received minor burns. #NSWRFS— NSW Rural Fire Srvce (@NSWRFS) September 10, 2013

What’s sparked such intense bushfires only days into spring?

Adding to the many records to fall this year, Sydney had both its warmest night and hottest day so early in spring.

Temperatures remained above 20 degrees overnight while the maximum of 31.6 degrees was a new early-season record for the city, said David Jones, head of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Combined with that has been Tuesday’s winds.

Simon Louis, from the Bureau of Meteorology said winds in Sydney’s west were averaging between 35-45 kilometres per hour, with gusts up to 70 km/h.

Over the next few hours the bureau is predicting a change in overall wind direction, which is likely to affect the course of the fire, from west-north westerly winds towards south westerly.nullnullnull

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

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From the Barossa to a new port

hero Winemaker David Baverstock.
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It was a perfect autumn day – warm, the water refreshing, and a gentle sea breeze soothed a young David Baverstock, the fresh-faced Barossa boy with piercing blue eyes. Recently out of agricultural college and having finished a stint of vintages in France and Germany, he thought a few days’ holiday in Lisbon would be just the thing before returning home.

Except love got in the way. At the beach he met Antonietta – now his wife and mother of their two adult sons – and life changed irrevocably.

Today Baverstock is one of Portugal’s most celebrated winemakers, heading the hugely successful and enormous winery Herdade do Esporao in the Alentejo, about 280 kilometres south-east of Lisbon. Baverstock also oversees its Douro Valley outpost, Quinta dos Murcas – and he has a clutch of awards to prove it. Recently he took out the coveted winemaker of the year gong in one of Portugal’s leading wine magazines, Revista de Vinhos, but he also took out the title in 1999, becoming the first non-Portuguese winemaker to do so.

Before that fame, he returned to the Barossa Valley – Antonietta soon followed – where he landed the winemaking role at Saltram after the abrupt exit of Peter Lehmann and his winemaker, Andrew Wigan.

Baverstock was barely 25. ”I was just happy to get a job, and it was a great experience to be at this famous [and expanding] Barossa winery,” he says. ”We had chardonnay juice coming from the Hunter Valley. There wasn’t any chardonnay in South Australia and there was very little in New South Wales at the time. It was pretty exciting. We had cabernet coming up from Coonawarra and there were some great fortified wines [being made in the company]. It was a fantastic learning experience – well, for a couple of years anyway.”

Unfortunately, the experience soured and the multinational owners at the time were more interested in profit than great wine and too many worthy people were being sacked.

”We were losing character in the winery. [The owners] wanted gold medals for certain wines while we were also doing bag-in-the-box. By the second year there, I was working under difficult circumstances,” he says.

His friend and mentor, Robert O’Callaghan of Rockford fame, offered sage advice: ”If you’re any good at your job and you’re working for a big company, you won’t be making wine for very long. You’ll be pushed up the ladder and you’ll be controlling information and crunching numbers.”

”I have never wanted to do that and never will,” Baverstock says. ”I was still young and adventurous and I thought, ‘What the heck, let’s go to Portugal’.”

He and Antonietta headed back in 1982. ”Returning was more of a challenge than I realised,” he says. ”I didn’t speak the language and there wasn’t much work so I really struggled for the first 12 months or so. There were no jobs working with table wines.”

So Baverstock headed to Oporto to make port for Crofts for a year before joining the famous Symington Family Estates, owners of exemplary port houses today, such as Graham’s, Warre’s, Dow’s, Quinta do Vesuvio and more. It was a happy, prosperous time.

”What I learnt most about being in the port trade and working in different houses was the blending, and creating a house style,” he says. ”Although we were making port, it still translated into an idea about table wines. There’s no doubt that working in port helped me understand more about blending than had I stayed in Australia.”

While making port, he couldn’t help wondering what the wines would be like if they were fermented dry and not fortified. With Symington’s blessing, he played around with some trial batches. ”One of the nice things about the port trade was the social side, with fantastic lunches at lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia [Oporto’s famous port area], yet the buyers would be served really average table wines, leaving the ports to shine at the end. So I started serving my wine, which was pretty good, and these buyers would say, ‘Hey, this stuff’s great, where can we buy it?’ They were told it was just a hobby to keep me happy. I went along with this for a while but I wanted to do something more.”

Baverstock was fortunate because Symington allowed him to consult to Quinta de la Rosa in the Douro Valley for the sole purpose of making table wines. It was 1991 and only Dirk Niepoort had started to make table wines a year earlier so for the Douro in this modern era, it was revolutionary. The art was in the blending.

In 1992, wealthy banker, businessman and owner of Esporao, Jose Roquette, offered Baverstock the job of a lifetime – chief winemaker. Today the company edges towards 20 million bottles, with many tiers of Alandra, from inexpensive fresh table wines to the expensive age-worthy Torre.

Since 2000, Baverstock has concentrated on the burgeoning Esporao brand, although latterly he has overseen its Douro venture, Quinta das Murcas, a beautiful property bought in 2008.

Baverstock says returning to the Douro Valley is a reminder of just how diverse and special Portuguese varieties are – both white and red. Varieties such as tinta amarela, tinta barroca, tinta roriz, touriga francesa and touriga nacional, plus extraordinary whites such as rabigato and viosinho – and that’s just in the Douro. It makes you think, he says, that with a few exceptions, such as burgundy, complexity comes from blending.

”You just don’t get enough complexity working with one variety, especially in a warm to hot region. Using three or four … you’re going to get a different flavour profile and have a better chance of making a well-balanced wine, whether a better acid-tannin balance or lots of different flavours – just like cooking.

”That’s the best thing about Portugal. Thanks to those unique varieties, the end result is something quite special,” he says. ”It’s great to have trophies in your cabinet but I get more of a kick out of these wines that go well with food that people enjoy now, because they won’t take 20 years to be drinkable and ready. They are wines you can enjoy and they give pleasure. That’s what it should be all about.”

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

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OFFCUTS: Mad about hats

WITH the announcement of the SMH Good Food Guide awards last week, comes a slew of repercussions for restaurants and diners. Some good, some not so good.
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Of course, for those eateries (Subo, Mason, Muse, Muse Kitchen and Bistro Molines) who received the coveted hat, massive kudos to them. It takes dedication, innovation, passion and a bloody lot of hard work to get the scores that earn a hat.

The hours are long and your weekends aren’t your own. And I’ve never met a chef that didn’t have burns and scars on their arms.

But getting toqued, or even included in the guide, has many benefits: it boosts awareness of the restaurant, often removing the need for advertising and its associated costs; it’s a tick of approval that reaffirms diners they will be receiving a pretty special experience, and it adds a boost to the bottom line – an increase in bookings is the usual reaction to the announcement.

And full dining rooms equal bigger profits. Which is good for owners, good for employees and good for diners – a thriving city food scene is an indication of a strong economy and a vibrant lifestyle.

The pros far outweigh the cons, but there are still some. Personal expectations become high before you even step foot into a hatted restaurant.

I’ve eaten at Quay, expecting something akin to gold fairy dust splashing me in the face with every mouthful. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen.

It’s tough to keep up the standard too; once you’ve got that reputation, everyone’s a critic.

Despite the circus surrounding the awards, the basic message is that we have some top notch eateries here in the Hunter – stop eating junk and pay them a visit.

[email protected]杭州夜生活m.au

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