Cutbacks give remote West Australian communities reform a new face

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Emma Young

The head of WA’s “once-in-a-lifetime” remote communities reform has moved back to Perth barely halfway through the process, despite saying at the outset he had moved to the Kimberley because it wasn’t possible to do the job from the city.

In July 2015 the former government backed off its wildly unpopular plan to close remote communities, instead appointing Graham Searle to lead a massive reform to end the waste of $4.5 billion in annual federal and state funding, by eliminating service inefficiency and duplication.

The vision was to let Aboriginal people transform their own lives with place-based, locally tailored services that let that spending make a real impact.

Mr Searle quit his job as Director of Housing and moved to Kununurra to do it, saying he wanted to stay in touch with Aboriginal peoples’ perspectives.

“As an old white guy I don’t bring that to the table … that’s part of the reason I’ve relocated to Kununurra,” he told WAtoday in an interview at the time.

“I don’t believe you can do this job as an old white guy based in Perth. I’m spending week a month in Perth to brief ministers and be on boards … the original approach was to get seconded from my position for two years and my view was that’s not fair on anybody.

“So I’ve given up my substantive position to do this. Because we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for real reform.

RAAF Growlers to make Red Flag debut

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The Royal Australian Air Force will deploy four EA-18G Growlers to Red Flag 18-1 at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, the first overseas exercise deployment for the new electronic attack aircraft.

The Growlers, from Amberley-based 6SQN, will be joined from January 29 to February 16 by an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and an AP-3C Orion, plus a control and reporting centre element from 41WG. In all some 340 RAAF personnel will participate in the exercise.

“Every year the RAAF is invited to participate in Red Flag, we gain so much as an organisation in terms of how we train and also how we operate as a deployed force in a multi-national environment,” Deputy Exercise Director and RAAF Task Group Headquarters Commander, GPCAPT Tim Alsop said in a January 22 statement.

“The Growlers’ overseas deployment to a multi-national exercise of this scale, a mere year after having been transferred to 6SQN, is an important milestone for both Air Combat Group and RAAF.”

The AP-3C, meanwhile, despite its maritime ISR origins, has been used extensively overland in recent conflicts.

“During the exercise, participants will practice planning and executing day- and night-time missions, using large numbers of aircraft and ground systems, coordinated to overcome a considerable simulated adversary,” GPCAPT Alsop said.

“This includes a range of air power roles for RAAF personnel, from air superiority and strike; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to electronic warfare. It provides a comprehensive training environment for aircrew, maintenance and support personnel alike.”


Source :  Australian Aviation

Germany discovers what self-check out is… 10 years after rest of the world

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Germany discovers what self-check out is… 10 years after rest of the world
Photo: DPA
On Tuesday a German newspaper breathlessly described the advancement of a new technology into the shops of Hamburg – the self-service checkout terminal.

One stereotype about Germans that we at The Local have often tried to disabuse readers of is the idea that they are a people at the cutting edge of technology. In fact, Germans have proved themselves time and again to be rather suspicious of technological advances – especially when they have to do with shopping.

With so many German businesses still refusing to take card payments, it should perhaps come as little surprise that they are yet to adapt to the concept of self-checkout.

On Tuesday, the Hamburger Abendblatt (HA) dedicated a lengthy feature article to the Self-Checkout-Kassen and their increased use in the port city over recent months.

On a visit to a branch of the clothing retailer Zara, which installed self-checkout terminals in its stores in December, an HA journalist found that none of the customers in the shop were using the technology. Instead they were waiting patiently in long lines at the manned terminals.

“This is a very new feature. Word hasn’t really spread about it yet,” an employee at the shop explained.

Slowly though, self-service terminals are becoming more common throughout the Bundesrepublik. While in 2015 some 295 businesses nationwide had the terminals installed, by November last year 488 shops were making use of them, a recent study by the EHI Retail Institute in Cologne shows.

“The significant increase within just two years shows how important this technology is becoming for German retailers,” Frank Horst, author of the study, said in a statement.

But the technology is still very much in its infancy in Germany. While there are roughly 200,000 cashiers in food stores across the country, there are still only 1,450 self-service terminals.

Supermarket Rewe is considered a trailblazer in Germany because it started trialling self-service checkouts way back in 2012. It now has a grand total of 62 self-service terminals across its 3,500 stores.

But Rewe spokesman Thomas Bonrath has reassured Germans that the technology won’t sweep over them all at once.

“We aren’t planning a wholesale roll out, we will just be deploying them selectively,” he told the HA.

So why have Germans been so slow to pick up on a technology that was first rolled out in other countries in the last century?

For Martin Fassnacht, a professor at the WHU business school in Düsseldorf, the answer is simple.

“Germans find it particularly difficult to get used to new things,” he said explaining why self-service checkout has long since established itself in France, the UK and Sweden but not in Deutschland. “Many Germans simply don’t see the point,” he told the HA.


But, according to a spokeswoman for the the trade union Ver.di, Germans are also wise to the fact that the self-service checkouts are at least partly an attempt by supermarkets to load them with more work while reducing costs.

“The self-service terminals are an attempt – just like online shopping – to make the customer do more work,” Ver.di spokeswoman Heike Lattekamp told the HA. “The aim is to reduce the number of people in employment.”

“It is already the case today that the cashier is sometimes the only staff member that a shopper meets in the supermarket,” she added.

In the UK, where the technology has been well established for at least a decade, customer surveys show that shoppers often hate self-service and see it as an attempt on the part of supermarkets to cut costs. And it is not just the customer that ought to be wary. A separate survey carried out in Britain in 2014 showed that one in five people admitted to shopliftingat self-service checkouts, adding up to around €2 billion of items every year.

Still though, one wonders if the German cashier, famed for their penchant for scanning items at a speed which appears to defy Einstein’s theory of relativity, could do with a little help from a late 20th century technology.


Source :  The Local Germany

Germany in top spot for entrepreneurship in 2018 world ranking

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Germany in top spot for entrepreneurship in 2018 world ranking
An employee at a startup in Berlin. Photo: DPA
While Germany remained at the top of the list in the entrepreneurship category in this year’s U.S. News Best Countries ranking, it came in third place in the overall category.

In the third edition of the annual ranking, which evaluates 80 countries on criteria ranging from power to citizenship, similar to last year, Germany nabbed the gold medal in terms of entrepreneurship.

“True, creative energy clusters in the country’s major cities, helping make Germany a startup haven,” U.S. News writes.

Not only is Berlin’s tech scene gunning to compete with London as Europe’s hub for startups, the German capital’s so-called Silicon Allee has even been compared with San Francisco‘s Silicon Valley.

New data released by Founder Institute in November moreover indicated that Berlin and Munich founders are similar in that they are more open, creative and extroverted than founders elsewhere across the globe.

“Unique approaches, such as Germany’s worker retraining programme, also help the country’s workforce adjust to new industries, earn middle-class salaries and enjoy a high degree of job security,” U.S. News adds.

According to the World Bank, Germany spends 2.88 percent of its gross domestic product on research and development.

In spite of its position at the top of the ranking for innovation and its enterprising citizens, in the U.S. News ‘Best countries to start a business’ category, Germany didn’t even make it into the top 25. This could be due, in part, to meager venture capital possibilities and the large bureaucratic burden of starting a business in the Bundesrepublik, as a late 2016 report found.

Bronze in the overall ranking

Nevertheless in the overall ranking, which is “dominated by countries with more progressive social and environmental policies,” Germany came in third place, following only Canada (second) and Switzerland (first).

Deutschland moved up one spot from last year’s ranking, kicking the U.K. down to fourth place.

U.S. News attributes this rise to “Germany’s reputation as an open nation with government transparency and strong gender equality.”

For the first time, respondents in the 2018 report were asked their opinions of major world leaders. Along with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was on a global scale viewed as the most respected leader.

“It is once again clear that military vigor and economic power are no longer the key determinants to a country’s brand success,” says David Sable, CEO of Y&R Global, a consultancy which helped produce the Best Countries report.

“Nations that are multidimensional and that reflect a wider range of qualities, such as innovation and compassion, have the brand appeal that propels them on the global stage,” Sable adds.

Serbia, Angola and Algeria ranked at the bottom of the list in 78th, 79th and 80th place, respectively.

In order to compile the ranking, a total of 21,117 people from countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa were surveyed.
Source :  The Local Germany

How some people are allowed to be stoned at the wheel in Germany

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How some people are allowed to be stoned at the wheel in Germany
Photo: DPA
Is it logical that you can have your driving licence taken away if you smoke weed for fun, but those who take it as medicine are free to judge their own ability to drive? Not really, say several experts.

Since March last year roughly 13,000 people have been prescribed cannabis by their doctors in Germany under a new law which legalized the drug for people suffering from chronic pain.

There are no figures available on how many of these people also drive. What is clear though is that they are free to drive if they want to, regardless of how much cannabis they have just smoked. According to the law, it is up to the patients themselves to decide if they trust themselves to drive.

This is in stark contrast to people who smoke cannabis recreationally. They risk losing their licence if they are caught smoking a joint, even if they are nowhere near their car.

From a toxicological point of view it makes no difference whether one got their supply from the local pharmacy or from a dealer, says Prof. Thomas Daldrup, a toxicologist at the University of Düsseldorf.

Daldrup will be speaking at a conference this week organized by the German Traffic Assembly (VGT) on the theme “cannabis consumption and driving.”

The German Council for Road Safety (DVR) complains that German lawmakers never even considered the role of road safety when they passed the law on medical marijuana.

Herbert Engelmohr, from the car club AvD, also complains that drivers should not be the ones who get to decide if they are fit to drive.

“Whoever sits behind a wheel should be sober,” he stated.

“What legislatures have allowed to happen here has in no way taken account of the safety of other drivers,” said Kay Nehm, head of the VGT.

The Accident Researchers for German Insurers (UDV) meanwhile, point to the fact that doctors can prescribe patients up to 100 grams of cannabis for 30 days, which is enough for 30 joints a day – a fairly substantial amount.

But the German Lawyers’ Association sees things differently. A spokesman made clear that cannabis should be treated like every other medicine.

“If doctors don’t believe that cannabis consumption does anything to reduce one’s capabilities to drive, then there is no reason to doubt a patient’s capability to drive,” the spokesman stated.

At the VGT conference, the experts will also discuss what quantity of illegal cannabis can be consumed before a user can be considered unfit to drive. German courts have not yet been able to come to a consensus on this question.

The German Hemp Association also commented before the conference. It stated that it sees it as discriminatory that, while one can only be punished for consuming alcohol when one drives, cannabis users can have their licence taken away even if they were not behind the wheel.


Source :  The Local Germany

IOC bars Russian figure skaters Stolbova, Bukin from 2018 Olympics

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The Russian Figure Skating Federation believes that “this ungrounded and absurd decision once again proves the inadequacy of the IOC statements”

Ksenia Stolbova

Ksenia Stolbova

© Alexandr Demyanchuk/TASS

MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided against extending invitations to Russian figure skaters Ksenia Stolbova (pairs skating) and Ivan Bukin (ice dance) to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, the Russian Figure Skating Federation (RFSF) announced on Tuesday.

Vice President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Stanislav Pozdnyakov announced earlier in the day that the national committee received a list from the IOC of the invited national athletes to the 2018 Winter Games and the list and it missed many athletes, including the team’s leaders such as 2014 Olympic Champion in biathlon Anton Shipulin, two-time World Champion in cross-country skiing Sergey Ustyugov and six-time Olympic Champion in short track Viktor Ahn.

“According to the information obtained from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), the IOC barred from the 2018 Olympic Games athletes from the main roster of the Russian Olympic figure skating team Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin,” the statement from the RFSF said.

“This ungrounded and absurd decision once again proves the inadequacy of the IOC statements that it makes decisions on its own without yielding to outside pressure and violates all basic principles of the Olympic Charter, in particular the inadmissibility of discrimination, the observance of the principles of solidarity and fair play,” the statement added.

 Stolbova skates in pair with Fyodor Klimov and the duo are the 2014 Olympic Champions in team competition as well as the winners of the 2015 International Figure Skating Grand Prix final. Bukin is paired with Alexandra Stepanova in ice dance and the duo are two-time bronze medalists of the European Championships.

The IOC’s decision against extending 2018 Olympic invitations to Stolbova and Bukin means that their partners Klimov and Stepanova would be also unable to perform at the Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The ROC earlier provided the IOC with the list of Russian athletes, who intended to go to the Winter Games. After than a special IOC Panel, chaired by ex-sports minister of France and the Chairperson of the ITA (Independent Testing Authority), Valerie Fourneyron, picked up from the list the names of athletes, whom the IOC would like to invite to the 2018 Olympic Games.

The edited list with the names of the athletes was returned by the IOC to the ROC on Monday and it missed the names of Russia’s leading athletes, including the leader of the Russian biathlon team, Anton Shipulin.

The IOC, however, stated that doping-free athletes from Russia might go to the 2018 Olympic Games under the classification of neutral athletes, or the OAR status, which stands for ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia.’ The IOC reserved the right to the final word in regard to Russian athletes, who will go to PyeongChang under the neutral status.

The upcoming Olympics, which are the 23rd Winter Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.

Source : TASS

Russian Direct Investment Fund mulls large-scale joint investments with partners in 2018

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Partnership with leading sovereign funds will allow RDIF to make joint investments worth billions of dollars into the Russian economy

MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) intends to make significant cash injections into the Russian economy together with its partners in 2018, RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in an interview aired by the Rossiya-24 TV news channel on Tuesday.

“We are planning investments in technologies, which will total up to 25% of the funds invested by the RDIF. We have already injected over a trillion rubles into the Russian economy jointly with partners, which is why the issue is about considerable funds. Obviously, our partnership with leading sovereign funds will allow us to make joint investments worth billions of dollars into the Russian economy in 2018,” he said.

“We expect positive and lucrative investments, which means a good year,” Dmitriev concluded.

Source : TASS