RAAF Super Hornets return home

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The Royal Australian Air Force’s deployment of fighter jets to the Middle East to support combat operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has concluded with the final rotation of six F/A-18F Super Hornets returning to RAAF Base Amberley in south-east Queensland on Wednesday.

The aircraft and personnel from 1 Squadron were formally welcomed home at Amberley by family and friends and an official party including Prime Minsiter Malcolm Turnbull, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne, Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies.

The six Super Hornets had been deployed to Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE since June 2017, and flew their last “strike mission” earlier this month.

“The effort to establish the Air Task Group and then to sustain this mission was outstanding and the RAAF’s men and women have again proven themselves to be a professional fighting force,” Minister Payne said.

“I also acknowledge the valuable support our Air Force families provided while our serving members were deployed so far from home.”

Under Operation Okra, the RAAF had maintained a continuous deployment of six F/A-18 fighters, either single-seat F/A-18A ‘classic’ Hornets or dual-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets, in the Middle East since September 2014 as part of the US-led international coalition’s campaign to defeat Islamic State, or Daesh, in Iraq and Syria. Since their first operational mission, the Hornets flew more than 2,700 sorties accumulating over 21,000 flying hours.

While the six Super Hornets and their crews and support staff have now returned to Australia, for now theAir Task Group will continue operations in support of the Coalition air campaign in Iraq and Syria with a Wedgetail AEW&C and KC-30 MRTT aircraft.


Source :  Australian Aviation

‘January as busy as December’: Shortage of stock forces buyers’ hands

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Brisbane buyers are out in force this January, but very little new stock has been listed.
Brisbane buyers are out in force this January, but very little new stock has been listed. Photo: Luis Ascui

January may traditionally be one of the quietest months for real estate in Brisbane but a supply and demand issue has kept competition among buyers as strong as it was in December, agents say.

LJ Hooker New Farm principal Brett Greensill says there has been very little new housing stock come on the market since Christmas but the buyers are still “very much out in force”.

“There are still a lot of buyers around, many of them have been looking since before Christmas,” he says.

29 Thorne Street, Windsor, achieved a suburb record price for a knock-down property when it sold for $810,000 in January.29 Thorne Street, Windsor, achieved a suburb record price for a knock-down property when it sold for $810,000 in January. Photo: Supplied

“I would say we’ve got as many buyers looking for houses now as what we did in December, which is pretty amazing.

“From a seller’s point of view, it’s a great time to list your property because there’s hardly any competition from other properties.”

September and October are traditionally the busiest months of the year for new listings, with the lead-up to Christmas often a buying frenzy. More than 12,000 people listed new properties on the Domain website during September and October, whereas only 3,500 new listings went up in December.

The owners of 39 Yabba Street, Ascot, brought their house to the market with Ray White Ascot earlier than planned, to capitalise on the shortage of local stock.The owners of 39 Yabba Street, Ascot, brought their house to the market with Ray White Ascot earlier than planned, to capitalise on the shortage of local stock. Photo: Supplied

Mr Greensill says he recently went to list a house at Herston and was shocked to find there was not a single other house for sale to compare it with.

“I looked out to the suburbs around it and there was still absolutely nothing for sale. This is the issue we have at the moment — sellers are not listing their properties, there are still plenty of buyers around, so anything that does get listed gets snapped up very quickly.”

Mr Greensill says the prices are reflecting the lack of supply, citing the recent sale of a knock-down house at Thorne Street, Windsor, which sold for $810,000.

39 Yabba Street, Ascot, has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a pool on 810 square metres of land and will go to tender, closing February 15.39 Yabba Street, Ascot, has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a pool on 810 square metres of land and will go to tender, closing February 15. Photo: Supplied

The house, a three bedroom chamferboard home on 550 square metres of land in original condition, had been in one family since it was built.

“I would say this is a record price paid for a knockdown in the suburb. It certainly exceeded everyone’s expectations,” he said.

Ray White Ascot agent Alexander Shean says his office has sold $10 million of property in the last two weeks alone, which is “unheard of” in January.

48 Ferry Street, Sherwood, has been on the market less than one week and has already received an offer.48 Ferry Street, Sherwood, has been on the market less than one week and has already received an offer. Photo: Supplied

“I would agree with that 100 per cent. We’ve brought a number of campaigns forward because we don’t want to miss that opportunity with that competitive environment. We want to capitalise on the shortage of new stock,” he says.

“What we’ve found is that properties that may have had only one or two people coming through (open homes) before Christmas are now getting 10-plus buyers through, which is a clear indication there’s not enough stock on the market.

“Buyers that may have made offers and sat on them over Christmas are now increasing those offers by $100,000 to $200,000 just so they can secure a property quickly. The lack of new stock is forcing their hand.”

Brad Robson of Place Graceville says he’s also been surprised by the level of buyer activity this month.

“January is normally far more relaxed but this year, the buyers have really kicked things off early. One of my agents had 60-odd groups through at an open home on the weekend,” he says.

“There is certainly a shortage of new stock — very little is coming on the market — so those sellers who have jumped on it and listed early are doing very well.”

Mr Shean says he expects more stock will come on the market after the Australia Day weekend, the “last of the holiday period”.

“To me it’s a good indication of how the market is going to be this year. A lot of people in business had a great 2017 and I think we’ll start seeing the flow-on effects of that in the local property market.”


Source :  The Brisbane Times

WA police report card reveals 1 in 2 people scared to walk alone

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JANUARY 25 2018 – 2:34PM 

Heather McNeill

More than half West Australians feel unsafe walking alone in their neighbourhood at night and a similar number of people consider illegal drugs to be an increasing problem facing the community, a new report has revealed.

The Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2018, released in January, put the state’s government services under the microscope to track its progress in areas such as crime and social housing.


Statistics from the 2016-17 year showed $1.44 billion was spent on WA police services in 2016-17.

The state had 7,505 full time operational staff – equating to around one police officer for every 292 people, 18 officers below the national average.

Trends in property crime were typically downward except for the number of people who fell victim to a serious assault, which had risen steadily in the past five years.

Community concerns about illicit drugs and hoons in their neighbourhood were also on the rise as Western Australia holds on to its unenviable title as methamphetamine capital of Australia with nearly twice the national usage rate.

Social housing

More than 32,109 households lived in social housing in Western Australia in 2016-17 which equated to about $300 per person in the population.

Most social housing tenants spent one fifth to a quarter of their maximum $430 weekly income on rent, while each dwelling cost the state government on average $10,858 a year.

Nearly one in every ten Aboriginal people living in public housing was living in an overcrowded house – compared to less than one in every 20 people overall.


Around one in every 233 people in Western Australia was homeless in 2016-17 with support services receiving on average 50 calls a day from people looking for a place to sleep.

More than $75 million in funding, or $29 per person in the population, in 2016-17 assisted to provide nearly one in every two people with accommodation support and nearly one in every three with domestic violence support.

Less than one in every 20 received assistance for mental health problems and one in every 50 accepted alcohol assistance.

Corrective services

Figures indicated Western Australia’s prisons were operating on average at nearly 1000 prisoners over capacity each night across 17 facilities at a cost of $561,127,000 in 2016-17.

The average daily cost for a prisoner was $313 a day and prisoners usually spent 12.3 hours a day outside their cells.

One in four were receiving education or training while in custody.

Over the same period, on average each night 141 children were in detention and 60 per cent of those children who were of non-compulsory school age were receiving an education.


Source : WA Today


Moaiqaliya Souk woos visitors to Riyadh

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The Moaiqaliya Souk in the heart of Riyadh is distinguished for shops that sell both traditional and modern goods.

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

MOST tourists and holidaymakers who come to Riyadh tend to visit the Moaiqaliya Souk before they leave the capital city. Located in the heart of Riyadh, this market is distinguished for its shops that sell both traditional and modern goods.

“The market is located away from the din and bustle of the city. Elderly people who will not find all their requirements in big malls can find them in Moaiqaliya,” said Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, a shopper.

Many visitors go to Moaiqaliya to purchase oud, oud oil, and other perfumes as well as mishlah, a kind of overcoat, and various types of clothes and readymade dresses, he said.

“People often visit this market to see a variety of goods being displayed, including very essential commodities. My family wants to visit Moaiqaliya whenever they go to Riyadh,” said Al-Ghamdi while speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

He said people could purchase quality products in Moaiqaliya at low prices. “This is one of the distinctions of this market and this is why many people visit the place.”

Salim Surouri said the market was famous for oud and oud oil as people can get high quality products there.

Surouri said visitors would be able to find most of their requirements in Moaiqaliya including mishlah, sweaters and high quality igal (head gear), which is an essential part of Saudi men’s wardrobe.

“Holidaymakers will enjoy the smell of the past when they visit Moaiqaliya, which is filled with enchanting aroma of oud and oud oil. Whenever I visit Riyadh I find time to visit the souk in order to purchase my various requirements, especially oud and oud oil,” Surouri told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Mohammed Al-Saghir said the market lacked some essential services required by visitors such as parking. He urged the municipality to provide such services and keep the market neat and tidy, especially during vacations when a large number of people visit Riyadh.


Source :  Saudi Gazette

Sewage surrounds Sanabil Mosque

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Neglect by local authorities ruins landmark on seafront

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

THE Sanabil Mosque on Jeddah Corniche is surrounded by sewage, causing untold problems to worshippers.

Residents have expressed their anguish over the mosque’s pathetic condition due to environmental pollution and held the municipality, the National Water Company and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs responsible.

They urged the authorities to find a quick solution for the problem because the condition of the mosque was giving visitors and tourists a bad impression about Jeddah and its municipality.

“It’s unfortunate that the Jeddah municipality did not take any action so far since the surfacing of sewage around the mosque several days ago,” said Nasser Al-Saeedi, one worshipper who frequents the mosque, which is one of the beautiful landmarks on the city’s seafront.

People enter the mosque with difficulty as it is surrounded by sewage. “We don’t know who is responsible to relieve us of this problem, whether it is the National Water Company, the municipality or the Islamic Affairs Ministry,” he added.

“What we need is to put an end to this nasty problem as quickly as possible,” he said.

Ahmed Ali, another resident of the area, called for a drastic solution to the problem of sewage around the Sanabil Mosque, which attracts a large number of tourists and holidaymakers every day.

“Worshippers find it hard to reach the mosque because,” Ali told Okaz/Saudi Gazette. He urged the NWC to solve the problem immediately.

Khaled Al-Yaseri said the presence of sewage around the mosque would affect the mosque’s spirituality. He called upon the Islamic Affairs Ministry to take immediate action to end the problem.

“Worshippers are greeted by a nasty smell coming from the sewage. They are not able to concentrate on worship due to this disgusting smell,” he added.

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Crown Prince thanks water plant operators during a surprise visit

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CROWN PRINCE Muhammed Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, surprised workers at a desalination plant in Jeddah on Wednesday to thank them for the work they do every day.

The Crown Prince expressed his thanks and appreciation to the workers for a surge in production from 3.5 million cubic meters to 5 million cubic meters during the past two years without an increase in costs.

The increase in efficiency is part of the plant’s commitment to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the National Transition Program 2020.

He told the plant operators: “I wanted to visit one of the plants to thank everyone for their efforts, [increasing productivity] without spending a single riyal.” — Al Arabiya English


Source :  Saudi Gazette

Tokyo experiences coldest day in 48 years

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The sun rises over city buildings seen through a window covered in condensation on Thursday morning.  Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko

Tokyo experienced its coldest day in 48 years on Thursday when the temperature fell to minus 4 degrees in the morning.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the mercury dropped to minus 4 degrees in central Tokyo at 6:20 a.m., Fuji TV reported. The last time the temperature was minus 4 was on Jan 17, 1970, according to the agency.

The cold temperatures this week, as well as Monday’s rare snowfall in Tokyo, are being caused by a low atmospheric pressure system that has been moving north over the Japanese archipelago, the meteorological agency said.

Temperatures are expected to stay low across much of Japan until the weekend, with heavy snow forecast for the Sea of Japan coast, the agency said, adding that Hokkaido and the Hokuriku areas can expect up to 80 cms of snow by Saturday.

© Japan Today

Source :  Japan Today

Museum opens in Tokyo, displaying documents to defend claims to disputed isles

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Tetsuma Esaki, right, minister in charge of Territorial Issues, is escorted to see a map of Japan after the opening ceremony of the National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty in Tokyo on Thursday.  Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko

The Japanese government opened a small museum Thursday displaying maps and documents to defend its territorial claims against neighbors South Korea and China.

The Japanese minister in charge of territorial issues, Tetsuma Esaki, said it was important for Japan to improve how information about disputed islands “is transmitted both internally and externally, so as to ensure as widely as possible that our claims are understood correctly.

The National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty displays replicas of historic documents that Japan says show its ownership of two sets of uninhabited islands, one also claimed by China and the other by South Korea.

The dispute with China has heated up in recent years, with Chinese coast guard ships sailing near the islands and their Japanese counterparts trying to chase them away.

The islands, which are near Taiwan, are known as the Senkaku in Japan and as the Diaoyu in China. Taiwan also claims them.

Japan has long feuded with South Korea over another group of tiny islands in the waters between the two countries. Japan calls them Takeshima, and South Korea calls them Dokdo.

South Korea denounced the opening of the museum and demanded that Japan shut it down.

“The Japanese government should immediately stop making pointless claims over Dokdo, which by history, geography and international law is clearly part of our territory,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said in a prepared statement.

South Korea opened a museum in central Seoul in 2012 to back its claim to Dokdo. Visitors can walk around a large 3-D model of the island and examine video and computerized content on the island’s history and nature. Video screens show live footage of the island from a fixed camera.

The opening of the Japanese museum comes two weeks before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to visit South Korea to meet with President Moon Jae-in and attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source :  Japan Today

Tochinoshin takes lead at New Year meet as Kakuryu falters again

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Tochinoshin snatched a one-match lead Thursday at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament after grand champion Kakuryu suffered his second loss in as many days.

The No. 3 maegashira, who entered Day 12 of the 15-day tournament tied with Kakuryu, earned his fifth straight win at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan when he forced out sekiwake Tamawashi (4-8).

After a fierce exchange of slaps and pushes Tamawashi appeared to have the advantage, driving Tochinoshin back with a hand to the throat before knocking him off balance. But the powerful Georgian kept his footing and his composure, outmuscling his higher-ranked opponent to secure the victory.

Yokozuna Kakuryu dropped to 10-2 after losing to No. 5 Endo (7-5) for the second time in their seven meetings. The loss followed his upset at the hands of Tamawashi on Day 11.

Endo, who earned his fourth “kinboshi” prize for beating a yokozuna, was forced onto the back foot in the opening exchange, but quickly turned the match around when he pushed Kakuryu out.

“Since (my opponent) was a yokozuna, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fight the way I wanted, so I just competed with all the strength I had,” Endo said. “Now I’m just going to stay focused on the last three days of the tournament.”

Takayasu (9-3) remained an outside contender for his first top-level title with a quick victory over fellow ozeki Goeido (6-6). Takayasu used his brute strength and 22-kilogram weight advantage to blitz his opponent and force him from the ring.

No. 13 Daieisho, meanwhile, saw his slim hopes of a surprise championship slip away after dropping to 8-4 when he was defeated by No. 8 Kaisei (8-4). After entering the day tied for third with Takayasu, Daieisho fell back into a six-way tie for fourth.

Sekiwake Mitakeumi’s slide continued after taking a fifth straight loss in his bout with No. 5 Okinoumi (4-8). Okinoumi took the initiative from the opening clash, sending his higher-ranked opponent backpedaling before propelling him over the edge of the ring.

Mitakeumi (7-5) had emerged as an early contender after the withdrawal of grand champions Hakuho and Kisenosato through injury, winning his first seven bouts of the tournament. But his sterling early form abandoned him from the start of the second week, with the latest loss leaving him out of contention.


Source :  Japan Today
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