UPDATED: PROTESTERS including Hunter rail passengers and union members have gathered outside state parliament this morning and called on the government to ditch plans to end heavy rail services at Wickham.
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Members of Save Our Rail and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, as well as some representatives of the Teachers Federation and the Socialist Alliance, have rallied with signs urging the O’Farrell government to ‘‘improve not remove’’ rail services.

They are opposed to the proposal to terminate services at a new Wickham interchange and replace them with buses to Newcastle’s east end, as part of the government’s broader plan to revitalise the city centre.

Greens MP David Shoebridge told the crowd along Macquarie Street that the government was planning to spend billions of dollars on the rail and light rail projects in Sydney but would ‘‘rip the guts’’ of public transport out of the centre of Newcastle to appease developers.

‘‘[It] wants to tear public transport out of the second biggest city in the state,’’ Mr Shoebridge said.

He said the government should consult for at least six months about the plan.

Labor’s transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe urged people to make submissions to the government’s city strategy, which is on public exhibition until mid March.

Independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the problems of Newcastle were not caused by the rail line and would not be solved by its removal.

‘‘I support retention of the rail until someone can articulate a better system,’’ Mr Piper said.

Other politicians to attend included Labor’s Clayton Barr and Sonia Hornery.

Save Our Rail president Joan Dawson told the crowd commuters from Maitland, people with prams and beachgoers would be among those affected.

‘‘They can move the businesses up towards Wickham all they like but they can’t move the beach,’’ she said.

The government has previously said efficient bus services will replace the heavy rail, and the transport changes were one part of a broader plan for improving the city, creating thousands of jobs and attracting more residents into Newcastle.

It has so far committed about $120 million to the plan.

– Picture by Mark Riboldi.

– Picture by Mark Riboldi.

– Picture by Mark Riboldi.

– Picture by Mark Riboldi.

– Picture by Mark Riboldi.


ARIES: Life seems to flow a little more easily during February 19, 20, aided by an enhanced ability in communication and an increased number of contacts: phone never seems to stop ringing!
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TAURUS: February 19, 20 is a fairly routine time when it comes down to the business of earning money and managing it. You will have to invest fair effort in this direction.

GEMINI: You should bubble with life as usual during February 19, 20, even though you will experience increased sensitivity. You tend to be focused on ethical issues then.

CANCER: A preference for solitude is indicated during February 19, 20. Perhaps you simply need time to gather your senses as you face life’s challenges. This is also a time for healing.

LEO: A socially-minded spirit prevails over Leonine individuals during February 19, 20, increasing contacts with friends. You will also feel troubled over some trivial personal issue.

VIRGO: Business activities, dealings with authoritarian figures or associations with a parent will all be taken in your usual stride during February 19, 20. You’ll also be furthering your ambitions.

LIBRA: Life will bring you a variety of experiences during February 19, 20, broadening your mind and perspective of life. Your mind is open to influence then as you exchange ideas and philosophies.

SCORPIO: There is a tendency to scrutinise every little detail during February 19, 20 as you dig deep for elusive answers, no matter how seemingly trivial. This is a good time for doing so.

SAGITTARIUS: People are more open with you during Tuesday and Wednesday, making it easier to relate to them. You should be able to understand their motivations intuitively.

CAPRICORN: February 19, 20 is a time when you should be paying attention to the completion of regular tasks. You will also feel compelled to do things for others, who are more likely to need assistance.

AQUARIUS: A taste for life infuses your soul with vitality during February 19, 20, making this a generally sociable time. However, your social expectations might not be realised.

PISCES: There are many routine activities indicated within the home during February 19, 20, whether you are spending time with the kids or being creative. You enjoy the experience.

LUCKY NUMBERS: Aries: 1, 3, 4, 9; Taurus: 5, 8; Gemini: 6, 7; Cancer: 3, 4, 7, 9; Leo: 1, 3, 4, 9; Virgo: 6, 8; Libra: 5, 7; Scorpio: 2, 3, 7, 9; Sagittarius: 1, 3, 4, 9; Capricorn: 5, 6; Aquarius: 5, 6; Pisces: 2, 4, 7.

Read Alison Moroney’s daily stars for Tuesday, February 16, 2013.


Miss Universe Finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett
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Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Miss Univers Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Announcing the finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Announcing the finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Announcing the finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Announcing the finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Announcing the finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Announcing the finalists. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Samantha Briant and Lia Tapper. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Natasha Di Ciano, Nikki Silverthorne and Ruth Tarvydas. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Rhianna Isard and Tamlin Dobrich. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Megan Newbery and Chris Billings. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Cassie Antunovich, Troy Barbagello and Casey Blackburn. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Dressed in Tarvydas evening gowns and Kooey swimwear, 20 girls were judged by Kooey operations director Nikki Silverthorne, Aussie Bombshell director Penni Towner, designer Ruth Tarvydas and Troy and Sophia Barbagallo, among others. 

Successful participants will go on to the Miss Universe WA State Final, to be held at Rooftop Movies on April 5.

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Verity Sassella-Otley, Alannah Ettridge and Megan Bilaloski. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Chanel Di Domenizo and Jessica Pemberton. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Ben Carrick, Erin Brice and Simon Huitenga. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Melanie Marris and Mara Pomana. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Aniqua Toquero, Enriqueta McGrath and Gabriella Batchelor. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Jacinta Rokich, Tyler Wood and Emily Cooke. Photo: Matthew Tompsett

Contestants at the Miss Universe Heats. Photo: Matthew Tompsett


The head of the European Central Bank has outlined the risks of keeping interest rates low for a long periods, suggesting the ECB is unlikely to slash rates further from already record lows.
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Speaking to members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Mario Draghi also reiterated the bank’s view on the level of the euro on the foreign exchange markets, saying talk of a currency war was ‘‘really excessive’’.

‘‘Naturally, the ECB is aware of the challenges arising from a protracted period of low policy rates,’’ Mr Draghi said, a week after the bank decided to keep its main interest rate on hold at a record low 0.75 per cent.

He said low interest rates for a long time could harm the returns for savers and investors as well as possibly fuelling bubbles in house prices.

In a low interest rate environment, banks might also have less incentive to monitor credit risk properly ‘‘and may provide too many loans to non-profitable business’’, Mr Draghi said.

He said current interest rates were ‘‘accommodative’’, which analysts often take to mean that the bank is unlikely to cut them further.

Turning to the exchange rate, Mr Draghi said: ‘‘I find really excessive any language referring to currency wars’’ amid concerns that the euro is too strong on the foreign exchange markets and worries over the weak Japanese yen.

He referred to the statement made by the Group of 20 developed and developing countries in Moscow over the weekend, where leading powers vowed they would not target specific forex rates or devalue currencies to make them more competitive.

‘‘I urge all parties to exercise very, very strong verbal discipline. I think the less we talk about this the better,’’ said Mr Draghi.

AFP

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Police are warning women in the Newcastle area to be extra vigilant following a sex attack at Warabrook earlier this month.
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Newcastle City Local Area Command detectives have been investigating the incident that happened about 8.45pm on Sunday, February 10.

A 21-year-old woman was jogging along Warabrook Boulevard, Warabrook, when she stopped near the Rosegum Road intersection to catch her breath.

She was then pushed from behind by an unknown man before being dragged into nearby bushes and sexually assaulted.

Her attacker left the area on foot.

Police were alerted to the incident and immediately began inquiries.

A crime scene was secured and examined by forensics officers, while police canvassedthe area to identify any potential witnesses.

The man has been described as being aged between 20 and 40, of Caucasian appearance and 165-180cm tall.

Investigators have issued a warning to women to be extra vigilant as they continue their inquiries to track down the offender.

Newcastle City LAC Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Graeme Parker, said women should take extra care when out and about.

“Women need to be extra mindful of their surroundings when they’re out and about and be wary of anyone acting suspiciously around them,” Inspector Parker said.

“We’re also urging women not to walk alone and to avoid dimly-lit and remote or secluded areas.

“If you think you are being followed or are concerned for your safety then immediately contact police for help,” he said.

Anyone who witnessed the attack on the woman or has any information that might assist investigators is urged to contact Newcastle City Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.