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French government wins confidence vote

Posted by admin on 30/05/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿论坛 

France’s Socialist government has won a confidence vote tied to its economic reform package that could in theory have caused its collapse amid a damaging backbench rebellion.

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A total of 234 mainly opposition deputies on Thursday voted for the motion of no-confidence, far short of the number required to bring down the government.

The emergency vote was sparked when Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday employed a rarely-used constitutional device to force through a key package of reforms without a parliamentary vote.

He made this decision due to concerns the rebellion from within his own Socialist party would block the reforms, which now automatically go through after the failure of the no-confidence motion.

The reforms extend Sunday shopping and open up key parts of the French economy to competition.

The government says they are vital to “unblock” the eurozone’s second-biggest economy, which is suffering from high unemployment and sluggish growth.

They are also seen as crucial in Brussels, where the EU has urged France to reform in order to bring down its ballooning budget deficit.

“The French people expect us to act. For us to remove blockages. The main blockage is our too-weak growth. It prevents us from creating jobs, from reducing our mass unemployment that is hurting us so much,” Valls told MPs.

Despite their anger over the reforms, the left-wing rump of the Socialist Party said they would not go so far as bringing down the government by backing the no-confidence motion.

“No one has for a moment considered voting for this motion of no confidence,” said Christian Paul, one of the chief Socialist rebels.

But the reforms have split the party. On Wednesday, Valls condemned the “conservatism, irresponsibility and childishness” of those who oppose the bill.

The opposition UMP party has seized on the government’s need to force the bill through parliament, slamming Valls as weak and unable to carry his majority.

The head of the conservative UMP, former president Nicolas Sarkozy, said it was “the consequence of the repeated lies” of President Francois Hollande.

One of the key planks of the reform allows shops in certain tourist zones – notably the Champs Elysees in Paris – to open every Sunday of the year.

Another element of the reforms is to open up to competition previously closed sectors of the economy such as the legal profession.

Notarial lawyers, who set a fixed fee for their services regardless of the size of the job, will be able to charge clients more or less for certain projects, opening up the sector to competition.

The reforms will now be considered in France’s upper house of parliament, the Senate, from April.

Yesterday at a Senate committee hearing the Australian Submarine Corporation found itself being chastised by Liberal Senator Sean Edwards for not doing enough to chase up information about new rules for the so-called “competitive evaluation process” from either the defence minister or the Defence Department.

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“Have you reached into the defence minister’s office and sought him out?” Senator Edwards asked the ASC’s Stuart Whiley.

“No” was the answer.

The Senator wanted ASC to actively ask the government for more information. 

He said ASC should be “kicking the door down” asking about the process.

“Have you reached into the defence minister’s office and sought him out?” Senator Edwards asked the ASC’s Stuart Whiley. “No” was the answer.

Senator Edwards was the one who extracted the commitment from Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the run up to the leadership spill motion that the ASC would be able to bid for work on the submarine project.

It is a crucial issue in South Australia.  

It was believed at first the prime minister was offering an open tender but in later information Mr Abbott described it as a “competitive evaluation process.”

Confusing? Yes! The government hasn’t yet been able to clear it up.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews says he will have more information and detail later.

In the meantime the ASC is left wondering and, as a government-owned company, it is a bit hard for it to kick down the government’s door asking for answers. If it did that it would be unlikely to get a solid or helpful response from their owner, the Department of Finance.

“For a company in the ASC’s position there is quite a fine line between following direction from government and being proactive. They are unlikely to be thanked for trying to hurry the government along on such a big decision,” Dr Andrew Davies, the country’s foremost submarine expert, says.

“Confusing? Yes! The government hasn’t yet been able to clear it up.”

Dr Davies, a senior analyst from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute is an expert on tendering, capability and strategy and earlier worked for the Department of Defence itself.

Dr Davies was appointed by the defence minister in 2014 as a member of the expert panel advising on the development of the next Defence White Paper. He also teaches strategic studies at the Australian National University. There is no one more knowledgeable about this issue in Australia than he. His views are worth taking into account right now.

On the role of the ASC now, Dr Davies says this:

“ASC should be putting together an information package for the government for the competitive evaluation process and talking to all potential bid partners. But they can’t do that unless they get approval from the Department of Finance.

“It is likely as the government’s thinking clears up the ASC will get a firm direction,” Dr Davies says. 

“For a company in the ASC’s position there is quite a fine line between following direction from government and being proactive,” Dr Davies says. 

So effectively, for the moment, the ASC has to sit tight.

In Thursday’s Committee hearing, ASC’s Stuart Whiley said a bid for the submarine project couldn’t go in at this point as they have “no information to prepare a bid against.”

So tender or no tender? What is going on and should the ASC be bidding if the Europeans and the Japanese are getting into the process?

It is hard to bid when the government hasn’t determined the size or scope of the submarine it wants. Further the ASC wouldn’t be designing its own submarine it would be doing (if successful) some of the work for one of the international bidders.

The government has made it clear it favours the Japanese submarine but there is no guarantee that it can buy from the Japanese as who have never sold defence equipment internationally before. There are many issues to resolve including what does Japan do about its top secret design technology that it wants to protect? Will it pass that information over to Australia?

The Europeans have been lobbying hard for years. All potential bidders have offices here. The contenders from France were the last to get to town. They arrived in Canberra last year and set up a two-person office. They all want to be part of this defence contract. Not many countries are spending big on defence these days and all these nations want to be a part of it.

There has been little clarity around the process. The Swiss, German and French companies are now positioning themselves in the belief that if the Japanese plan falls over one of them could become the “compromise” choice.

Still facing criticism over the process, Kevin Andrews said on Thursday there had never been an open tender in earlier submarines programs.

“There are many issues to resolve including what does Japan do about its top secret design technology that it wants to protect? Will it pass that information over to Australia?”

“I am advised by defence there has never been an open tender for a submarine at any stage anywhere,” he said.

Kevin Andrews is right but it is important to say that the process this time around for the submarines has been substantially different from the last.

For the Collins class submarines there was what is called a Request for Information (RFI) where potential bidders gave information about what they could build. That was followed by a Request for Tender (RFT) where companies/countries were invited by the government to bid and provide more detailed information. Seven companies or countries were asked to bid for the Collins in a process that was effectively a “restricted” tender.

The Collins tender was won by the Swedish company Kockums with the submarines built by the Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide.

It is those jobs at the ASC in Adelaide that government members like Senator Sean Edwards are trying desperately to protect. While in the South Australia State Government is trying hard itself as well.

A lot of this issue as discussed in Australia is dominated by the question of jobs in Australia.

Defence strategy is crucial also. Andrew Davies is clear on that too:

“Ultimately what is important here is getting a submarine able to operate well into the 21st century, because surface ships will find the environment increasingly hazardous to operate in.”

That discussion is crucial and hasn’t had the public attention it deserves.

Young Formolo uncorks a diversion to wine trade

Posted by admin on 30/05/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿论坛 

“My grandfather had a lot of vine plants and I could have gone to work with him every day but I preferred to ride,” said the 22-year-old who was seventh in last year’s demanding Tour of Switzerland.

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“Sorry grandfather…,” he laughs in an interview with Reuters during a training camp with his Cannondale-Garmin team.

It all started when Formolo would go to see his brother, a bike rider, race on Sundays.

“When we were back home I would imagine racing against him in my head on the little plaza in my home town (of Negrar),” said Formolo.

He was quickly spotted in the youth ranks just like Fabio Aru, the 24-year-old Astana rider who finished third in the Giro d’Italia last season and fifth in the Tour of Spain.

“We’ve known each other for five years, we were team mates in the Italian team, he (Aru) is a good guy, very friendly,” said Formolo who last year finished second to Vincenzo Nibali in the national championships.

“Where he (Formolo) ends up none of us know but he is a huge talent not just physically but also psychologically, he is strong mentally,” Formolo’s Cannondale-Garmin manager Jonathan Vaughters told Reuters.

“He trains very hard and likes it. He is one of the few riders who gets upset when the weather is bad and he can’t train for five, six hours. He is angry about it, really angry. He wants to be working hard.”

Formolo may be young but he has already identified his own strong and weak points.

“I’m very good at climbing and recovery,” he said cheekily.

SOLO EFFORT

As he tries to become a grand tour specialist, Formolo knows he needs to improve in the solo effort against the clock, something that sorts the wannabes from the true champions.

“(I need to get better in the) TT (time trials) of course because I want to be a racer for the GC (general classification) and now if you want to be good in GC you need to be good in TT,” said Formolo.

“I use my time trial bike every day for one, two or three hours, it’s important.”

Formolo underlined his credentials early this season when he was third behind Alejandro Valverde and Stephen Cummings in the Trofeo Andratx, a race decided with a brutal uphill finish.

He is unlikely to ride in a grand tour this season as his new team are set to let him bloom in one-week stage races such as the Tour of California.

Formolo said he felt good at Cannondale-Garmin, the youngest team on the elite World Tour.

“Maybe it’s a risk (to be the youngest team) but it’s also good for me,” he explained.

Formolo said a pre-season training camp involving sailing in the Caribbean helped him blend in. “I could get to know my team mates outside of cycling,” he added.

Cannondale-Garmin are the result of a merger between Italian outfit Cannondale and U.S. team Garmin. It was an association that did not seem natural at first but those few days out on the water helped, said the young rider.

“In sailing if you don’t know how to say ‘push’ or ‘pull’, you cannot go (forward) so it was good to improve my English,” he explained.

Formolo is now riding on the Tour of the Algarve. He will then test himself against the big guns on the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico race, the Criterium International, the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tours of California and Switzerland.

(This version of the story was refiled to change name in brackets in paragraph 8 from Aru to Formolo)

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Australian cyclones explained

Posted by admin on 30/05/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿论坛 

Tropical cyclones are intense low-pressure systems that form over warm ocean waters at low latitudes.

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They form when the sea-surface temperature is above 26.5C, drawing their energy from warm tropical waters.

Cyclones produce gales, torrential rain and storm surges of varying intensity, depending on how low the storm’s central pressure becomes.

They can last for days but usually dissipate when they move over land or cooler water.

The Australian cyclone season is from November 1 to April 30 each year.

The northwestern coast of Western Australia, between Broome and Exmouth, is Australia’s most cyclone-prone area.

HOW MUCH DAMAGE CAN A CYCLONE CAUSE?

The destructive winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges can cause extensive damage and lead to flooding, landslides and dangerous sea conditions.

Tropical cyclones are categorised from one to five based on the wind speed. A category one has gusts less than 125km/h and a category five has winds surpassing 280km/h.

The most destructive winds occur in an area known as the eye wall, which surrounds an area of relative calm in the eye, at the centre of the system.

The sharpness of the eye’s appearance in satellite images is a pointer to the intensity of the cyclone.

Australia holds the record for the world’s strongest non-tornado wind gust. That was 408km/h, when Severe Tropical Cyclone Olivia roared over Barrow Island, off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia, on April 10, 1996.

Severe tropical cyclone Tracy is probably the most infamous of Australia’s cyclones.

At least 66 people died when Tracy, a category four storm, struck Darwin early on Christmas Day, 1974, virtually flattening the city with winds near the eye estimated at 260km/h.

Despite its intensity and incredible destructive power, Tracy was tiny. The World Meteorological Organization recognises Tracy as the world’s smallest tropical cyclone, with gale force winds extending only 50km/h from its eye.

Cyclone Mahina, which struck Bathurst Bay in far north Queensland on March 5, 1899, holds two records. It remains Australia’s deadliest natural disaster, killing an estimated 410 people when it scuttled a sheltering pearling fleet.

It also holds the world record for the highest storm surge ever recorded. Debris from the surge was found 13 metres above sea level.

Cyclone Yasi, which struck the far north Queensland coast in February 2011, is one of the largest cyclones to hit Australia in recent years.

It was a category five storm, the most intense on the Australian cyclone scale, with a peak wind gust of 285km/h.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Cyclones have many names depending on their location around the world.

In the south Pacific and Indian Oceans, they are known as cyclones.

In the northwest Pacific, they are known as typhoons.

In the Atlantic and northeast Pacific Oceans, they are known as hurricanes.

How cyclones are named varies among meteorological organisations and countries. For some, it’s as simple as making their way through an alphabetical list of names, while others start afresh each year. 

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology created a new list, with 104 names, before the 2008-09 cyclone season. There were three lists before then.

In the 19th century an Australian forecaster, Clement Wragge, used the names of South Sea Island girls, and then later used the names of the wives of politicians he disliked. When an especially destructive cyclone affects Australia, its name is retired. 

THE AUSTRALIAN CYCLONE CATEGORY SYSTEM 

Australia uses a different scale to the rest of the world when rating the intensity of cyclones. 

Outside Australia, tropical cyclones that we know as category one are regarded elsewhere as mere tropical storms, although they have the eye formation that characterises all tropical cyclones. 

A category three cyclone, the first category in what are known in Australia as severe tropical cyclones, corresponds roughly to a category two on the international Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

AUSTRALIAN CATEGORY ONE

Negligible house damage. Damage to some crops, trees and caravans. Craft may drag moorings. Strongest winds gust 90-125km/h.

CATEGORY TWO

Minor house damage. Significant damage to signs, trees and caravans. Heavy damage to some crops. Risk of power failure. Small craft may break moorings. Strongest winds are regarded as destructive, gusting to 125-164km/h.

CATEGORY THREE (SEVERE)

Some roof and structural damage. Some caravans destroyed. Power failures likely. Strongest winds are regarded as very destructive, gusting to 165-224 km/h.

CATEGORY FOUR (SEVERE) 

Significant roofing loss and structural damage. Many caravans destroyed and blown away. Dangerous airborne debris. Widespread power failures. Strongest winds gust to 225-279km/h.

CATEGORY FIVE (SEVERE)

Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction. Strongest winds gusts of more than 280km/h.

Veterans Singh, Goosen fly high at Riviera

Posted by admin on 30/05/2019
Posted in 深圳桑拿论坛 

Playing together in the opening round at a sun-splashed Riviera Country Club, the two seasoned campaigners fired matching five-under-par 66s in ideal scoring conditions with barely a breath of wind.

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Singh piled up six birdies and a lone bogey while Goosen picked up three shots in his last six holes as they finished the round level with Americans Nick Watney, James Hahn and Daniel Summerhays.

Mexican Carlos Ortiz opened with a 67 while Germany’s Alex Cejka, Australian Geoff Ogilvy and American Justin Thomas carded 68s.

“I kept my ball in play, hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and when I did miss, I chipped it real close,” former world number one Singh, who has battled assorted health problems in recent years, told reporters. “It was a comfortable round.

“I’m finally not hurting as much as I did the last five years. That’s a big part of playing good golf. You’re not hurting, you can go out and play and you’re comfortable.

“Right now, nothing hurts. The golf swing feels good, and I’m happy to be playing,” said the 51-year-old Fijian, who has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship.

Goosen, whose last victory on the U.S. circuit came at the 2009 Transitions Championship, has also been struggling for full fitness since having back surgery in August 2012 to repair a damaged disc.

“It was nice to play with Vijay,” said the 46-year-old South African, a twice former U.S. Open champion. “He played very solid too, and he putted really good. It’s nice that the two old boys played so well. We were sort of feeding off each other.”

Masters champion Bubba Watson, who won last year’s Northern Trust Open, was among the late starters on Thursday.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)