With ripples from North Korea’s latest nuclear test continuing to spread throughout the region, speculation surfaced Monday that the communist state may be gearing up to detonate another fission device in defiance of international condemnation.
Friday’s underground explosion as well as the previous three rounds occurred in the second of the three tunnels installed at the North’s Yongbyon nuclear complex in the northwest town of Punggye, leaving the others ready for additional blasts, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said. The North’s maiden experiment in 2006 was carried out in the first one.
|A satellite image of Punggye-ri nuclear test site (Yonhap)|
“The South Korean and US intelligence communities assess that North Korea is prepared for further nuclear tests in the Punggye region,” ministry spokesperson Moon Sang-gyun said at a news briefing.
“If (the North) does conduct an additional test, it is possible to take place in a tunnel that branches off from the second tunnel or in the third tunnel, where preparations have been completed.”
Defense Minister Han Min-koo also raised the possibility of another detonation in the remaining channels during a parliamentary session late Friday.
Confirming its fifth test, Pyongyang pledged to “continue measures to qualitatively and quantitatively strengthen the nation’s nuclear forces.”
Emboldened by recent technical progress, the Kim Jong-un regime may push for the fresh launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching US mainland, possibly in time for the Oct. 10 anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party or the US presidential election slated for Nov. 8, observers say.
Pyongyang also successfully fired a long-range rocket on Feb. 7, about one month after its fourth atomic test.
“A new ICBM test sounds like one of the doable scenarios,” a diplomatic source said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“The North appears to have been making headway in its nuclear and missile capabilities as shown in recent various tests, which is probably why it did press ahead with them despite warnings from everywhere including China.”
To review the situation and coordinate sanctions, the chief nuclear negotiators of South Korea and the US plan to hold talks in Seoul.
Sung Kim, US special representative for North Korea policy, arrived here late Monday for a two-day stay after visiting Japan last weekend. He is scheduled to have relay meetings including a joint news conference on Tuesday with Kim Hong-kyun, the special representative for the Korean Peninsula’s peace and security affairs at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.
The allies are currently spearheading a campaign to craft a fresh batch of stronger sanctions at the UN Security Council, while exploring independent steps to back up the international resolution.
Pyongyang, on its part, dispatched Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to Beijing in an apparent move to appease an angry China, its economic lifeline and top diplomatic sponsor which holds a permanent UNSC membership.
Shortly after the newest provocation, Beijing quickly issued a statement carrying its “resolute opposition” to North Korea’s nuclear development and urging it to comply with the UNSC resolutions.
Ri is reportedly expected to continue traveling to Venezuela for the Non-Aligned Movement Summit before visiting New York for the UN General Assembly later this month.
By Shin Hyon-hee (email@example.com)
Source : The Korea Herald
By Frank Chung
Australia has roughly “six weeks” to prevent a housing market collapse caused by the banks’ crackdown on foreign investor lending, a US defence think tank has warned.
In an article titled “Australia Risks Strategic Setback From a Significant Foreign Direct Investment Drop Due to Changes in Bank Policies“, the Washington-based International Strategic Studies Association warns that Australia “may be entering a significant phase of its economic-strategic development”.
It argues “changes in local banking policies” could see foreign direct investment in the property sector “decline markedly”. “This will profoundly impact the Australian government’s ability to fund major programs in the defence and civil sectors,” it said.
The article is contained in the ISSA’s latest Global Information System newsletter, described as a “strategic intelligence service for use only by governments”.
“The Royal Australian Navy’s submarine acquisition program, budgeted at $50 billion, may be the first major defence casualty,” the article said.
“However, the government itself seems unaware that the anticipatory caution on the part of Australian banks may accelerate a decline in the Australian economy.”
ISSA president, West Australian-born Gregory Copley, told news.com.au the “banks’ caution is precipitating the market collapse”.
“We estimate that Australia has about six weeks or so to turn this situation around, otherwise there would be a massive hit on property valuations and the building trades,” he said.
“The urgency is, I believe, based on the fact that this is about how long it will take for the banks’ policies to start switching off a lot of existing and planned contracts for Australian properties.
“The banks clearly believe Australian real estate values will decline, so they are attempting to avoid that risk. They’ve learned from the US collapse that seizing real estate collateral is a no-win scenario when the volume is great and the market slow.
“In so doing, they precipitate the market collapse but are less exposed to it.”
It comes after Australia’s richest man, billionaire property developer Harry Triguboff, warned that a “very significant” number of Chinese buyers were now failing to settle their off-the-plan units and urgent action was needed.
Triguboff, founder of Australia’s biggest apartment builder Meriton, warned the real risk was looming in the new wave of developments. As apartment price growth stalls or goes backwards, the risk of buyers walking away from their deposits grows.
It will likely also have a broader impact of depressing housing prices across the whole economy. It is a kneejerk response to fraud concerns.
Earlier, broker CLSA predicted a looming apartment “crisis” that would be kicked off by a wave of defaults forcing smaller developers into receivership, pushing down prices and potentially causing wider contagion that could lead to a recession.
The ISSA described moves by Australian banks from July this year to restrict or even withdraw funding to foreign property investors as “almost cartel-like policies”.
“The policies, now in place by all major Australian banks, were instituted in anticipation of an economic downturn internationally and domestically, but which, in fact, actually trigger or exacerbate such a downturn,” the article said.
The piece quotes a “leading Australian property source” warning that by cutting off the foreign buyer sector completely, “it is much more likely to be a self-fulfilling prophesy by depressing demand, creating oversupply and putting downward pressure on prices, thereby creating paper losses at the settlement date which would tempt buyers to walk away”.
What the banks were trying to do with the tightening of apartment lending, particularly to foreigners, was make sure that if people were having trouble offshore they didn’t end up in the Australian banking system.
“It will likely also have a broader impact of depressing housing prices across the whole economy. It is a kneejerk response to fraud concerns,” the source was quoted as saying.
“To my understanding the fraudulent activity has been linked mainly to one significant group, which has historically managed about 3000 sales into Australia each year.
“And notwithstanding the doctoring of supporting documentation, the actual settlement rates had remained high. That one property group needs to be taken to task, not the whole industry.”
NAB chief economist Alan Oster described the ISSA’s prediction of an imminent collapse as “garbage”, adding that the CLSA report was “very poor analysis”.
“One of the big problems of apartments is most of them, we don’t know who’s funding them,” he said. “If the big banks don’t know who’s funding them, then the bottom line is, basically the main risk is somewhere else.
“What the banks were trying to do with the tightening of apartment lending, particularly to foreigners, was make sure that if people were having trouble offshore they didn’t end up in the Australian banking system.”
According to NAB’s surveys of property developers, foreign buyers make up around 20 per cent of off-the-plan purchases, but that figure is “significantly higher” in Sydney and Melbourne CBDs.
Oster said the issue of settlement risk was “probably further down the track” in 2017-18. “The idea that the banks, who might own 20 to 30 per cent max of these apartments, will somehow crash the market is silly,” he said.
“To get any sort of problem you’ve really got to have something going wrong in China and then everybody selling their apartments at the same time. If they do that then it’s not an Australian problem, that’s a global problem.”
It’s worth remembering there is still a lot of money out there searching for a home or somewhere to invest.
ANZ economist Daniel Gradwell said while there was “definitely” a risk of rising defaults, “from our discussions with developers in the industry we are feeling a little bit like ‘where there’s a will there’s a way'”.
“There is still an incredible amount of demand coming from these Chinese buyers,” he said. “If they’re not getting finance from the major banks, it seems there are other options out there including non-bank financing.
“It’s worth remembering there is still a lot of money out there searching for a home or somewhere to invest.”
Commonwealth Bank said concerns about a peaking in the residential construction cycle “look overdone” and it wasn’t expecting any “significant contraction” until late 2017 and early 2018.
“A renewed lift in lending to build dwellings and good growth in lending to buy vacant blocks of land point to an extended top in new construction,” a Commonwealth Bank spokesman said.
“Rising lending for alterations and additions means renovations could make a significant contribution to economic growth.
“New construction activity is running ahead of demographically driven demand. The stockpile of unmet demand that built up during the earlier period of underbuild is eroding rapidly.
“CBA estimates of the apartment construction pipeline point to a significant lift in supply that will ultimately weigh on new construction. That point still seems some way off.”
Westpac declined to comment.
By Frank Chung
Source : New Zealand Herald
1:10 PM Tuesday Sep 13, 2016
The number of the super-rich Kiwis on the tax department’s radar has jumped by almost 20 per cent in less than a year.
The Inland Revenue’s High-Wealth Individuals Unit keeps an eye on New Zealanders who are worth or control more than $50 million and ensures they are paying the right amount of tax.
It looks out for things like big one-off transactions, unusual financial instruments, as well as the mixed business and private use of “lifestyle assets”.
The unit has identified 252 people worth more than $50m as at June 30 of this year.
That’s up from the 212 it was aware of last October and from 200 at the end of 2014.
These 252 super-rich New Zealanders are closely associated with 7,676 entities, according to IRD investigations and advice manager Lynley Sutherland.
These entities are in disputes with IRD over almost $111m of tax, Sutherland said in response to an Official Information Act request.
Of the 252 super-rich Kiwis, just over a third (88) declared income in 2015 of less of than $70,000 – the point when someone begins paying the top tax rate of 33c in the dollar.
Sutherland said it was common for income associated with high-wealth individuals to be declared in other entities such as trusts and companies.
Close to 40 per cent of the 212 super-rich New Zealanders being tracked by IRD last October declared income under the $70,000 threshold in the 2014 financial year.
Low-cost carrier Volaris took delivery of its first A320neo, making the airline the first operator of the A320neo in North America. Volaris is Mexico’s largest Airbus customer, having ordered 74 A320 Family aircraft, including 30 A320neo. The all-Airbus operator became a customer in 2006, and since then has become Mexico’s biggest A320 Family operator with 63 A320 Family aircraft in service, including 17 A319, 42 A320 and four A321.
The A320neo for Volaris is powered by Pratt & Whitney Pure Power PW1100-JM engines and leased through AerCap. Configured to seat up to 186 passengers in 18”-wide seats, Volaris’ A320neo will be equipped with the innovative Space-Flex cabin.
The A320neo Family incorporates latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, which together deliver more than 15 percent in fuel savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020.
“The arrival of the A320neo symbolizes an important step in our ambitious ultra low-cost strategy,” said Enrique Beltranena, CEO of Volaris. “Volaris is delighted to be the first to bring this new technology to passengers in North America.”
“Airbus is honored to deliver the first A320neo in North America to Volaris, an all-Airbus operator for more than 10 years,” said Rafael Alonso, President of Airbus Latin America and the Caribbean. “Mexico’s strong economic growth presents a key opportunity for the country’s top airlines such as Volaris to expand and remain environmentally efficient, and the A320neo will be exceptional in achieving this for Volaris.”
“Pratt & Whitney extends its congratulations to AerCap, Volaris and Airbus on the delivery of today’s A320neo. We are proud to be part of the team bringing the first A320neo to North America,” said Rick Deurloo, senior vice president, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service for Pratt & Whitney.
The A320neo Family is the world’s best-selling single aisle product line with nearly 4,800 orders from 87 customers since its launch in 2010 capturing some 60 percent share of the market. Thanks to their widest cabin, all members of the A320neo Family offer unmatched comfort in all classes and Airbus’ 18” wide seats in economy as standard. Including Volaris’ A320neo delivered today, 18 A320neo aircraft have been delivered to seven customers.
The satellite for Global IP will be the first to carry Boeing’s latest digital payload technology
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. and GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Sept. 12, 2016 – Boeing [NYSE:BA] will build a 702 satellite, called GiSAT, with a new digital payload offering twice the capacity of previous digital payload designs.
The customer, Cayman Islands-based Global IP, will use the satellite to deliver streaming media, digital broadcast and other communications services to Sub-Saharan Africa. With a coverage area encompassing 35 countries and 750 million people, GiSAT will deliver higher data rates at lower costs than previous satellites serving this part of the world.
“Our vision for GiSAT is to provide end users with connectivity and services that are affordable, rich in local content and truly broadband in nature,” said Bahram Pourmand, CEO, Global IP. “With the ability to reconfigure the GiSAT on-board processor, the Boeing digital payload will allow us to broadcast different channels to different beams from different locations, providing better service to broadcasters, mobile operators and ISPs.”
“Boeing’s latest digital payload – the most advanced design in the industry – offers greater flexibility for Global IP’s customers,” said Mark Spiwak, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International. “Boeing is committed to driving innovation in satellite technology so that our customers can bring the benefits of reliable, high-speed communications to people across the globe.”
Scheduled to enter service in 2019, GiSAT is designed to operate with more than 10 gateways in Europe and multiple gateways within Africa.
Privately owned Global IP was founded by three satellite industry veterans with 75 years of combined experience providing satellite products and services in emerging markets. The company CEO, Bahram Pourmand, was until recently Executive Vice President and General Manager, International Division of Hughes Network Systems LLC. The other two founders, Emil Youssefzadeh and Umar Javed were founders and executives of STM, one of the VSAT industry pioneers with a 15 year track record in Africa before sale of STM in 2013 in a private equity transaction.
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Source : Boeing Website
SEPTEMBER 13 2016 – 12:36PM
The Turnbull government’s plans to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage have fallen into deeper disarray, with a Liberal senator revealing he will refuse to vote with his party on the issue.
West Australian senator Dean Smith, the Liberal Party’s first openly gay federal politician, said the idea of a plebiscite was so “abhorrent” to him that he could not support it.
Senator Smith told Fairfax Media he would either cross the floor or abstain from any vote when the plebiscite-enabling legislation arrives in the Senate.
Cabinet’s decision on Monday night to allocate $15 million in taxpayer funding for the yes and no cases had only added “insult to injury”, he said.
Senator Smith informed his colleagues of his position at a joint party room meeting on Tuesday, saying it was a difficult decision and had not been taken lightly.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s inability to convince all his colleagues to vote for the plebiscite is likely to further harden Labor’s opposition to a national vote. With the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team opposed to a plebiscite, the government will need Labor’s support to enact it.
Senator Smith said his stance was driven by a commitment to Australia’s tradition of representative democracy rather than his sexuality.
“As a lifelong parliamentary and constitutional conservative, I cannot countenance a proposition that threatens to undermine the democratic compact that has seen Australia emerge as one of the most stable parliamentary democracies in the world,” he said.
“I have never heard a candidate standing for election say they want to represent their community – except on issues where it’s all too difficult, in which case they will contract-out their responsibilities as a legislator.
“Yet, this is effectively what the plebiscite proposal is – a willing admission by some that an institution which has served the nation well for 115 years is suddenly, on one issue alone, not up to the job.”
Senator Smith said a plebiscite on same-sex marriage would set a dangerous precedent for other controversial issues such as euthanasia to be decided by a popular vote rather than the Parliament.
His stance is especially significant given he is the government’s deputy whip in the Senate, meaning he is responsible for enforcing party discipline.
Senator Smith first explained his deep doubts about the “democratic experiment” of a plebiscite in an opinion article for Fairfax Media last year.
A passionate monarchist and cultural traditionalist, Senator Smith was initially opposed to same-sex marriage but changed his mind last year – in part because of the death of gay man Tory Johnson in the Sydney siege.
Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said the opposition had always been wary of a plebiscite but recent developments had only “exacerbated” its concerns.
Labor is strongly opposed to public funding on the grounds that taxpayer money could be used to promote homophobia and bigotry in an anti-same sex marriage campaign.
Source : The Canberra Times
BOLD PLAN: Tasmanian Walking Company is looking to build an eco-tourism lodge at Lake Rodway, under the foothills of Mt Emmett in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
JENNIFER CRAWLEY, Mercury
TASMANIA’S best known eco-tourism group is one step closer to building a remote lodge in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Tasmanian Walking Company’s Cradle Base Camp lodge at Lake Rodway, under the foothills of Mt Emmett, will house up to 24 guests and employ three permanent and 34 casual staff.
A project manager and planning team have signed on for the ambitious project, which is the closest to fruition of the four TWC projects in the State Government’s expression of interest process for tourism in national parks.
The project has advanced to the lease and licence stage.
“We think that they are all good ideas but if we put all those products on the market at the same time it’s unsustainable,” TWC general manager Heath Garratt said.
The site is only accessible by foot and the lodge will be built with prefabricated materials to minimise site disturbance. All materials will be flown into the area by helicopter.
“The aim is to be able to potentially remove every building material from site and remediate the area,” he said.
The Greens oppose the TWC proposal because it is “smack in the middle of a national park”.
“This is a lodge, not low-impact tourism,” Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said.
The lodge at Lake Rodway is within the recreation zone of the World Heritage Area Management Plan but is outside the existing day walk and Overland Track areas.
TWC has yet to submit a development application with the local council or a reserve activity assessment with Parks and Wildlife because they are still working with Parks to determine the most suitable site, Mr Garratt said.
“There are significant checks and balances in place given we are looking at a World Heritage Area, national park and an incredibly special area,” Mr Garratt said.
“This has caused – and will continue to cause – delays but we welcome them.”
Mr Garratt said the TWC vision was to transport guests who were keen to immerse themselves in a wilderness experience but who were not happy to “tent it”.
“That’s why we are keen to have commercial infrastructure in national parks. We want to take the client into national parks who wouldn’t otherwise go. They can have a hot shower, a glass of wine and a three course meal – they are guided safely.”
Source : The Mercury
SEPTEMBER 13 2016 – 12:17PM
Cancer conwoman Belle Gibson had “no reasonable basis” for believing she had terminal brain cancer, a court has heard.
Ms Gibson failed to appear before the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday morning to answer questions about her global health scam and fundraising fraud.
Consumer Affairs Victoria alleges Ms Gibson falsely claimed that she had healed herself of terminal cancer and run unlawful fundraising appeals to promote her top-rating app and cookbook, The Whole Pantry.
The action is in response to her claims of beating cancer by eschewing conventional medicine and of failing to hand over thousands of dollars raised in the name of charity in 2013 and 2014.
Barrister Catherine Button, for Consumer Affairs, on Tuesday said Ms Gibson had “no reasonable basis” for believing she had brain cancer.
The court heard that Ms Gibson’s medical records from The Alfred hospital, after she was supposedly diagnosed by an alternative practitioner, do not mention the terminal disease.
Ms Button said there was also “no evidence” Ms Gibson had suffered a stroke, as she had claimed during her rise to fame, or that any suggestion she had been treated for cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy was true.
Penguin has supplied the court with raw footage of a recorded interview with Ms Gibson from a media training session it conducted with her ahead of the release of her book in October 2014.
Ms Button told the court there was a “fairly stark contrast” between the claims Ms Gibson made about her fundraising endeavours and what was actually given to charity.
The consumer watchdog will use Ms Gibson’s medical records, last year’s 60 Minutes interview, correspondence from tech giant Apple, and various social media posts form The Whole Pantry accounts as part of its evidence against her.
Consumer Affairs launched an investigation into Ms Gibson’s fundraising activities after Fairfax Media revealed she had stolen thousands of dollars raised through charity fundraisers and lied about giving $300,000 from her business profits to charity.
The disgraced wellness blogger has refused to appear at a case management hearing or file a defence in the civil case brought against her earlier this year.
But Consumer Affairs is not backing down from pursuing Ms Gibson and her company, Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd, which is in liquidation.
The Whole Pantry founder faces penalties of up to $1.1 million.
Ms Gibson rose to prominence in 2013 with the launch of The Whole Pantry app. She partnered with tech giant Apple and, with Penguin, published a book containing dozens of false claims.
Penguin has since been ordered to pay $30,000 over its role in the scandal and will be forced to include “prominent warning” notices on all future books containing claims about natural therapies to explain they are not evidence-based.
Source : The Age