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Five authors to see at Supanova

07/05/2019 | 杭州夜生活 | Permalink

Fans of Robin Hobb’s fantasy books include George R.R. Martin. Photo: SuppliedThe line up of stars from popular movies and TV shows are always the most hyped guests at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo.
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But the three-day event is also a great literary meet-up for fans of genre writing, such as science fiction and fantasy.

Here are five authors to see at this year’s event.

Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb is the second pen name of Californian-born author Margaret Ogden. Her first novel was Assassin’s Apprentice, the beginning to her successful Farseer Trilogy. She’s also celebrated for her Tawny Man Trilogy. Ogden’s written in a different style of fantasy novel under the name Megan Lindholm. Lindholm’s most popular title is probably Wizard of the Pigeons, a contemporary fantasy set in Seattle. Hobb’s books have garnered acclaim from esteemed novelists George R. R. Martin and Orson Scott Card, the latter stating she “arguably sets the standard for the modern serious fantasy novel”.

Hobb will participate in signing sessions at 2.30pm-5:30pm on Friday and 10.30am-5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. She will also participate in Q&A panels on Saturday and Sunday.

Colin Taber

Colin Taber is a Perth resident whose first novel, The Fall of Ossard, was published in 2009. Over the past twenty years he’s written over a hundred magazine articles, notably for Australian Realms Magazine. Taber’s also had a diverse range of occupations, from working in bookshops to event management, small press publishing, landscape design and even tree farming.  Red Winter, the second title in Taber’s series The United States of Vinland, will be launched in time for the Supanova.

Taber will participate in signing sessions at 2.30pm-5.30pm on Friday, 10.30am-5.30pm on Saturday and 11.00am-5.00pm on Sunday. He will also participate in a Q&A panel on Sunday, as well as conduct a “How To” Publishing Master class on Friday evening.

Ian Irvine

Ian Irvine is an Australian marine scientist who has written thirty novels, most notably the Three Worlds epic fantasy sequence, which has sold over a million copies. He’s now a fulltime writer and has written fantasy, eco-thriller and children’s novels. Irvine’s latest novel is Justice, the third book in his series The Tainted Realm.

Irvine will participate in signing sessions at 2.30pm to 5.30pm on Friday, 10.30am-5.30pm on Saturday and 11.00am-5.00pm on Sunday. He will also participate in a Q&A panel on Saturday.

Steve Worland

Steve Worland has worked extensively in Australian and American film and television. He’s written scripts forWorking Title and Icon productions, worked in script development for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and wrote Fox Searchlight’s Bootmen, the winner of five Australian Film Institute Awards. He’s written the action adventure novels Velocity and Combustion, as well as Quick, which was released in August.

Worland will participate in signing sessions at 2.30pm-5:30pm on Friday, 10.30am-5.30pm on Saturday and 11.00am-5.00pm on Sunday. He will also participate in a Q&A panel on Saturday, and conduct a Screenwriting Master class on Sunday.

Kylie Chan

Brisbane-based, best-selling author Kylie Chan’s marriage to a Hong Kong national and ten-year stint living in on the island piqued her interest in Chinese culture. When she returned to Australia she used her knowledge and study of Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Buddhist and Taoists philosophies to help weave the stories of her successful trilogies Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang. Chan’s most recent book is Demon Child, the second in theCelestial Battle series.

Chan will participate in signing sessions at 2.30pm-5:30pm on Friday, 10.30am-5.30pm on Saturday and 11.00am to 5.00pm on Sunday. She will also participate in a Q&A panel on Saturday.

For more information about Supanova and ticket prices, visit their website.

Business confidence improves

07/05/2019 | 杭州夜生活 | Permalink

Phillip Vlahogiannis, Martin Seward, Minister Bruce Billson, Melissa Jackson (L-R)Small business confidence has improved after a post-budget slump, the November Westpac-Melbourne Institute Small Business Index report has found.
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Despite a positive appetite to increase businesses activity in the next quarter, however, small businesses said they were reluctant to invest.

“This could largely be a result of current macro economic conditions, including the slow-down of the mining investment boom and the historically high Australian dollar, continuing to weigh down on small business confidence,” Westpac general manager of small business, Julie Rynski, said.

While the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Small Business Index which surveys small business outlook nationally, was up 10.4 per cent from the previous quarter, only about 20 per cent of small businesses were planning to expand.

Those looking to invest will focus on finding customer bases, improving their technology or hiring staff.

The survey also found small businesses in the health care and professional services industries are most likely to invest.

Marred by a high level of insolvencies, small businesses have traditionally found it difficult to sustain their businesses with most struggling to maintain a steady cash flow, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

“Three quarters of small business owners in Australia say it’s getting harder to run a small business, with two in five admitting they’re not sure they’ll be around in five years’ time,” the American Express Australian Attitudes to Small Business Report, which was released last week, said.

The report echoes the results of the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Small Business Index finding 40 per cent of small businesses are planning on investing in online channels or social media, and many plan to increase marketing and discounting to remain competitive.

“What I have found is that my small business clients are planning on doing things in 2015 and implementing strategies to expand which is a sign of optimism,” sales consultant, Licence to Bill director, Jenny Tse said.

“I myself am also looking to invest in my business.”

In an effort to revive small business patronage, American Express is running a “Shop Small” campaign in November by providing a $10 statement credit to those who register their cards online.

Federal minister for small business, Bruce Bilson also unveiled a Shop Small Gallery in Melbourne’s fashion strip, Bridge Road to revive the strip which has seen the closure of many small independent outlets.

“For consumers who value a broad range of options and the unique characteristics of a local shopping strip, it is important for them to support thriving and cherished high streets to ensure they don’t become a thing of the past. It is of our responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen,” Mr Bilson said.

These efforts are starting to produce a positive outcome with the November Westpac-Melbourne Institute Small Business Index finding a substantial increase in local sales, 4.5 per cent higher than the previous quarter.

“This may be attributed to increased spending from tourism and customers are opting to support their local businesses to make a difference to their local community,” Ms Rynski said.


Tamir Rice: Not a boy with a toy in a park, but a black male with a gun

07/05/2019 | 杭州夜生活 | Permalink

Shot: An undated photo of Tamir Rice, who was killed by police. Photo: New York Times
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Shot: An undated photo of Tamir Rice, who was killed by police. Photo: New York Times

Shot: An undated photo of Tamir Rice, who was killed by police. Photo: New York Times

Police shoot dead 12-year-old boy waving fake gun

Washington: Tamir Rice, 12, was with his sister and a friend in a gazebo in a Cleveland park on Saturday when a rookie cop shot him in the chest. He was playing with a gun that fired plastic pellets, but looked dangerously real.

Someone had called local police and reported seeing “a guy with a pistol, and it’s probably fake … but he’s pointing it everybody.”

According to early reports the two officers who responded – the rookie and a veteran – were not told that the caller had twice said he believed the gun to be a fake.

In the last minutes before he was shot Tamir could not have known that he was now in grave danger. As though by magic a stranger had reached out and transformed him.

He was no longer a boy with toy in a park but a black male with a gun.

According to the police when the officers arrived on the scene they instructed Tamir to put his hands up. He reached for his gun and two shots were fired, they say.

Tamir did not die until early on Sunday morning. Later on in the morning CNN was having a roundtable discussion about the tension in Ferguson, Missouri, where the community fears violence might break out should a grand jury decide not to lay charges against another cop who shot dead another unarmed young black man, Michael Brown.

One of those on the CNN panel was Jim Wallis, a Christian social justice activist. There is no suggestion he had even heard of Tamir Rice when he spoke, but he could have been talking about him.

“Every African American dad that I know has the talk with their son about how to deal with being in the presence of a white policeman with a gun,” he said. “I am a white dad … I won’t have that talk with my two white sons.”

It is not known what colour the Cleveland police were, though others have noted that the problem in America is not between young black men and white police, but young black men and police in general.

Studies show African-Americans males are about as likely to smoke marijuana as whites, but four times more likely to be arrested for it. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, innocent New Yorkers were stopped and frisked by police four million times between 2002 and 2010, 90 per cent of them from minority communities.

The impact on crime rates of the stop-and-frisk practice is contested. The fact that it has destroyed the relationship between police and minorities is not.

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson could have been discussing Tamir last year when he wrote, “Our society considers young black men to be dangerous, interchangeable, expendable, guilty until proven innocent.

“But black boys in this country are not allowed to be children. They are assumed to be men, and to be full of menace.”

He wasn’t of course. He was writing about Trayvon Martin, a young black man who was followed home and then shot dead by the neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was not even arrested before six weeks of protests forced authorities’ hands, and later he was found not guilty of committing any crime.

And in considering Tamir’s killing it is impossible not to think of the shooting of John Crawford, who in September picked up a pellet gun from the shelves of a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Another customer called emergency services to say there was a man in the store waving a rifle about. Police arrived five minutes after the call and in seconds had shot him dead. Other witnesses – and video evidence – suggest that Crawford had simply been wandering the aisles, chatting on his phone. Neither officer has been charged.

Ohio is an open carry state. Even if Crawford had been carrying a loaded rifle, it would have been perfectly legal for him to do so, just as it is for the overwhelmingly white members of Open Carry Texas, who are commonly to be found hanging around in shopping centers armed with military-style semi-automatic rifles in celebration of their right to bear arms.

None of them have yet been stopped by police, let alone shot.

The sense among many African-Americans that the most dangerous part of their day will be when they inevitably cross paths with a police officer now runs deep.

Some are scared, others are angry, many are determined to use the protests in Ferguson as a fulcrum for change.

As the community waits to hear from the grand jury, US President Barack Obama, has called for calm.

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. Allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust. But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are,” he told ABC News in an interview on Friday. He added that minorities who believe they are unfairly treated are sometime justified in that view. “Sometimes they are not.”

After Tamir died on Sunday a police union spokesman told the media:  “We have to assume every gun is real. When we don’t act, that’s the day we don’t come home.”

And this is a fair point for the representative of a public servant doing a dangerous job to make. But you can’t help thinking that Tamir’s family expected him home on Saturday afternoon, too.

Thunderstorms move into Sydney region

07/05/2019 | 杭州夜生活 | Permalink

Sydneysiders should prepare for a short period of intense rain on Monday afternoon and evening. Sydneysiders should prepare for a short period of intense rain on Monday afternoon and evening.
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Sydneysiders should prepare for a short period of intense rain on Monday afternoon and evening.

Sydneysiders should prepare for a short period of intense rain on Monday afternoon and evening.

Dark skies: the storm hits Sydney’s west on Monday afternoon. Photo: Adnan Bhatty

The storm clouds and rain hitting the city on Monday afternoon. Photo: Ben Rushton

The storm rolls in over Sydney Harbour. Photo: Cole Bennetts

Three people were struck by lightning and almost 15,000 homes and businesses lost power across a wide area of Sydney when a fierce thunderstorm hit Sydney on Monday afternoon.

Ambulance officers responded to a woman who was struck by lightning when she put her hand out the window of a car travelling on the M5 at Casula in Sydney’s south west. The woman, believed to be the passenger, was taken to hospital.

A man, 33, was reportedly hit by lightning in Holsworthy about 4pm, suffering minor injuries and a third person was struck in Wetherill Park about the same time.

More than 3000 lightning strikes were recorded with heavy rainfall and wind gusts of up to 80 km/h. Emergency crews had restored most of the blacked out homes by 7pm.

The NSW Rural Fire Service reported that the storms had caused dozens of new blazes, with 107 bush or grass fires burning across the state, 71 of which were not contained at 10pm.

The NSW State Emergency Service recorded more than 100 calls for assistance in the lower Blue Mountains, Richmond and Windsor with trees falling across roads, cars and properties.

The storm was intense but brief with the Bureau of Meteorology cancelling its severe thunderstorm warning for the Sydney metropolitan area just before 5pm.

It issued a warning for severe thunderstorms including large hail storms and damaging winds across rural parts of NSW, including Albury, Deniliquin, Broken Hill, Taree, Tamworth and Moree.

Some regions in Sydney’s west copped heavy rain of as much as 10 mm in 10 minutes as the storms moved in a south-easterly direction from the Blue Mountains, Bureau of Meteorologist forecasts said.

Richmond and Penrith have had wind gusts reaching 80 km/h.

Some schools cancelled activities because of the storms, as noted on Twitter: 4pm, Cancelling primary & secondary tennis due to thunder storms. All girls are returning back to school — SCEGGS Sport (@SCEGGSSport) November 24, 2014

Mark Scott announces ABC job cuts: TV and radio programs axed, bureaus closed

07/05/2019 | 杭州夜生活 | Permalink

ABC staff embraced at ABC studios in Ultimo after hearing managing director Mark Scott’s announcement of widespread cuts. Photo: Wolter Peters* ABC’s D-Day: 10% of jobs to be cut
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* There’s plenty of fat to be cut at the ABC

* Outcry at ABC cuts: Pollies blamed

ABC staff confronting forced redundancies consoled each other with hugs after managing director Mark Scott announced on Monday that more than 400 jobs will be cut, television and radio programs axed and five regional radio bureaus closed.

Adam Harvey, a television reporter with the 7.30 Report, said the job cuts “will have a huge impact” on ABC programming and staff.

“There is a lot of money going out of the ABC, a lot of jobs going. It was a very sad day,” he said. “Everybody here knows that this amount of money and this amount of staff going out of the ABC will result in a poorer product.

“They are not doing a general call out for voluntary redundancies, it is going to be targeted redundancies so that’s particularly hard on people who may want to stay and can’t.”

Mr Harvey said staff were saddened that programs including Radio National’s Bush Telegraph and the 7.30 NSW television program were among those being cut. The flagship Lateline television news program will lose resources and move to a new timeslot on ABC News 24.

“[ABC managing director] Mark Scott talked about putting more money into digital because that’s the future,” Mr Harvey said.

Mr Scott told staff on Monday that more than 400 jobs would be lost, close to 10 per cent of the ABC workforce, as a result of a $207 million budget cut from July 2015. It comes on top of a cut of $120 million announced in May.

“We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation, but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who will lose their positions,” Mr Scott said.

The Adelaide television production studio would close, as would five regional radio centres.

Television sport broadcasts would also be scaled back as part of a rationalisation of broadcast vans.

Mr Scott said foreign bureaus would be restructured to allow a new post in Beirut to open.

The host of 7.30 NSW, Quentin Dempster, an ABC employee of more than 30 years, was sad about the loss of his program. The existing 7.30 Report hosted by Leigh Sales will be extended from Monday to Friday.

“I feel very sorry that when we get the long white envelope, it looks as though we won’t be there for the 2015 state election,” he said.

“That is a little bit of perverse editorial planning by the management in wanting to knock these shows on the head.”

Mr Dempster said the decision to sacrifice state-based shows, including his, with original content to channel $10 million in extra funding to upgrade iView technology was hard to understand.

“I think there is a fair bit more blood to flow that we don’t know about,” he said.

“I suspect they are going to run a spill of a lot of positions to have a skills audit and people will have to reapply [for their jobs].”

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Federal Secretary Chris Warren said the ABC announcement marked “one of the largest job cuts in the media industry that we’ve seen”.

He said 300 of the 400 jobs targeted would be cut before Christmas.

“It will mean a significant reduction in the ability of the ABC to keep the Australian people informed of the things that matter to them,” he said.

“Inevitably when you have efficiencies you lose regionalism and localism. There will be regional offices closed or downgraded,” Mr Warren said.

Newcastle and Canberra would lose much of their local content and be networked to national content providers.

“All of that will mean just less diversity particularly in local and regional news,” Mr Warren said. “That will be very bad for the important role the ABC has always played as being both the national voice and the local voice for so many people.”

Mr Warren said what was tragic about the ABC cuts were that they were “totally unnecessary”.

“There are some local managers who are jumping the gun who are trying to pick and choose who they want to move on based on personalities,” he said.

“I think there are some really key people who the ABC is going to lose and ABC management needs to take a deep breath and make sure these changes are being effected with the support of their staff.”

He said redundancies should be voluntary.

Community and Public Sector Union national president Michael Tull said the government cuts would seriously impact on the quality of programming, despite assurances to the contrary by Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“Programs are being cut and regional radio offices are closing so once again the government is lying when it said that the cuts to the ABC budget would not affect the public,” he said.

“These cuts are not about helping the ABC – as Malcolm Turnbull would have us believe – they are about attacking and weakening it.”

Mr Tull said the ABC’s formal consultation with unions would begin on Wednesday.

“We will be looking for more detail and justification for these cuts. We are absolutely opposed to compulsory redundancies and we will fight them tooth and nail. We want to protect as many jobs as possible. The ABC must consult with staff and we will be reminding ABC management of that legal obligation.”