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Police in Brazil say body sighted during search for missing Australian Rye Hunt

07/06/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Rye Hunt disappeared while on a six-month trip around the world with his friend Mitchell Sheppard. Photo: Facebook Rye Hunt with his girlfriend, Bonnie Cuthbert. Photo: Facebook
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Rye Hunt’s uncle Michael Wholohan and girlfriend Bonnie Cuthbert speaking with reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. Photo: Laura McQuillan

Rio de Janeiro: Police investigating the disappearance of Tasmanian man Rye Hunt in Rio de Janeiro say they have received a report of a body sighted in the city’s harbour, but searchers have been unable to find it.

Mr Hunt has been missing since May 21 following an argument with travel companion Mitchell Sheppard at Rio de Janeiro’s international airport, where the pair had planned to buy plane tickets to Bolivia.

On Friday, lead investigator Elen Souto said a fishing boat reported spotting a body on Wednesday morning. The body was dressed in clothing similar to that worn by Mr Hunt when he was last seen.

The body was reportedly sighted near a small island, Ilha Rasa, some eight kilometres from Copacabana Beach.

However, two days of searches by police and the navy had been unable to find the body.

Police did not explain why they had not made the information public earlier.

The development follows a reported sighting of Mr Hunt by a man fishing on an uninhabited island, Ilha Cotunduba, near Copacabana Beach, on May 22.

The fisherman did not contact police until May 30. He said he had spoken to the man, who confirmed he was Australian, and said he had swum to the island.

However, searches on May 30 and May 31 found no sign of Mr Hunt.

Police made the latest information public shortly before Mr Hunt’s uncle Michael Wholohan and girlfriend Bonnie Cuthbert spoke to media in Rio de Janeiro.

The pair, who arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday night (local time), declined to comment on the latest revelations from police, and said they were hopeful Mr Hunt would still be found alive.

“What I hope for is for him to be found – I don’t know where, but healthy and safe, and that’s all I’m focusing on at the moment,” Ms Cuthbert said.

“We’re obviously very apprehensive, nervous but still very hopeful. At this point in time, we’ve had no confirmation of anything to say that anyone that has been sighted is Rye or anyone has seen Rye, so at this stage still very, very hopeful and determined to find him.”

Police said they would seek a DNA sample from Mr Wholohan to confirm the body’s identity if it was recovered.

Police believe Mr Hunt had taken the party drug MDMA before a night out in Rio de Janeiro’s Lapa party district on May 20.

Mr Hunt had “never, never” used the drug in Australia, Ms Cuthbert said.

“He’s the biggest fitness freak you’ll ever meet and it’s completely unlike him.”

However, she added: “I wouldn’t say he was a swimmer.”

Ms Cuthbert described her partner of five years as “very loving”.

“He’s just like a big bear on the inside. On the outside, he comes across as a big tough man that can do anything, but inside he’s just soft, loving and a beautiful person,” she said.

Mr Hunt is an electrician and had been working on a mine site in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

He had saved for three years for his six-month round-the-world trip with Mr Sheppard, Ms Cuthbert said.

She said Mr Sheppard, who has not yet spoken publicly, was “feeling the same as we all are”, and was assisting with the search.

“He is not in the right head space at this time to be speaking to anyone,” she said.

“He has been by himself for 10 days in a foreign country and he just needs to focus on finding his friend at the moment.”

Mr Wholohan reiterated that the group was concentrating on finding Mr Hunt.

“We’re all feeling the same,” he said. “(We’re) optimistic, and we’ll remain that way too.”

Baird budget cuts spark ICAC ‘funding crisis’

07/06/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

ICAC chief Megan Latham has warned of staff cuts. Photo: Peter RaeThe Independent Commission Against Corruption says it has been plunged into a “funding crisis” and will shed 15 per cent of its staff after a “reduction in funding” by the NSW government.
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The decision, ahead of the June 21 state budget, comes as the watchdog prepares to report on Operation Spicer, a major investigation into Liberal Party political donations rorts before the 2011 state election.

ICAC commissioner Megan Latham wrote to the general secretary of the Public Service Association, Anne Gardiner, on Thursday outlining the impact of the decision.

In the letter, obtained by Fairfax Media, Ms Latham says Premier Mike Baird told the ICAC on May 24 that “at this stage, no supplementation will be made to the 2016-17 budget and forward estimate years”.

“With the reduction in government funding, the commission will be forced to reduce its workforce by approximately 15 per cent,” Ms Latham writes.

She says the ICAC has decided to deal with the “funding crisis” via a round of voluntary redundancies and then a “spill and fill” process to reduce staff numbers from 123 to around 103.

It is understood there was a 7.5 per cent reduction in the ICAC’s staff budget in 2015-16 and a further 9 per cent reduction is anticipated next financial year.

Ms Gardiner said the decision was of grave concern. “At a time when we really need transparency and accountability in government, they’re cutting into the only agency that can provide it,” she said.

A spokesman for Mr Baird said base funding had been maintained for ICAC. It had received “temporary supplementation” over the past three years, including $1.3 million in 2015-16, “reflecting the abnormally high level of activity”.

“At this stage, there is no supplementation for additional work in 2016-17,” he said.

“However, the Premier has indicated that, while there is no supplementation for 2016-17, the government is prepared to monitor the financial situation in co-ordination with the ICAC.”

The parliamentary oversight committee for the ICAC is preparing to hold a hearing into ICAC Inspector David Levine’s report on its powers.

Mr Levine recommends stripping the ICAC of the power to hold public hearings to avoid “the undeserved trashing of reputations”.

He wants an “exoneration protocol” to allow people found corrupt by ICAC but not later convicted of criminal charges to have the watchdog’s records “expunged”, or the finding set aside by the Supreme Court.

It follows the ICAC’s aborted inquiry into whether crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen attempted to pervert the course of justice by counselling her son’s girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to fake chest pains after a car accident to avoid a breath test.

Ms Cunneen has always denied having done so. Ms Tilley later recorded a zero blood alcohol reading.

The ICAC dropped the inquiry after the High Court ruled it was outside its jurisdiction. The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions did not proceed with charges.

Council mergers: When Mike Baird’s government only pretends to listen, it invites trouble

07/06/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

A consultation meeting with Hunters Hill community members at the Hunters Hill Sailing Club in February. Photo: James Brickwood Opposition to council mergers was one of the factors that drew thousands into the streets on May 29. Photo: James Alcock
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Minister for Local Government Paul Toole conceded there had been errors in the public hearings in relation to the amalgamation of Strathfield Council with Canada Bay and Burwood councils. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Government ordered to reveal KPMG’s role in mergersGovernment push for mergers suffers setback$15 million council grant programBaird delays council polls at cost of lost trust

Ever been “consulted” on something and just known that those asking the questions are going to do what they want anyway, regardless of what you say? Ever suspected the reason you are being “consulted” is not so your ideas can be heard, but so that someone can say they have consulted?

We’ve probably all been there.

And following a series of legal hearings this week, Mike Baird’s NSW government may be caught out committing that most annoying of social faux pas: pretending to listen.

The issue is council amalgamations.

Although the government has successfully dissolved 42 NSW councils to create 19 new ones, other councils are fighting their amalgamation in court. They are arguing, in essence, that Premier Mike Baird and his Minister Paul Toole knew all along what they wanted to do, and merely pretended to “seek the views of electors” – as they are required to do under the Local Government Act.

Take the following example. Under the Act, government representatives are required to seek the views of electors in councils slated for mergers through public meetings and submissions, or through holding a formal poll.

All 28 delegates acting for the government in consultations this year opted to hold public meetings instead of a poll. As one reader pointed out this week, and assuming the two options were equally attractive to delegates trying to “seek the views of electors”, that is like tossing a coin and landing 28 heads in a row. And the odds of that are 268 million to one. Unless….

For many people in pockets of NSW, it is the perception that the odds have been stacked against them that has led to white hot anger about the public process used by the government to merge councils. (In total 70 existing councils are planned to be dissolved to create 31 new councils; 28 of those existing councils have not yet been dissolved, because of either legal challenges or for further consultation.)

Thousands of people across the state turned out to tightly managed public hearings earlier this year, where they were invited to present their views to delegates representing a supposedly independent Boundaries Commission.

It is partly the conduct of these meetings that has formed the basis for a flood of court cases in the Land and Environment Court brought mainly by councils in Liberal or National strongholds. The councils have alleged the merger hearings lacked fairness and proper process and failed to meet the basic requirements of the Act.

More explosively, documents are emerging that councils say point to the government going through the motions to achieve an ordained result.

The most damaging revelation came this week, during the case brought by Strathfield, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, Mosman and North Sydney Councils. The government has already conceded that part of the report into the proposed merger of Strathfield, Canada Bay and Burwood written by the delegate, Richard Colley, will have to be re-done.

But Strathfield’s counsel, Tim Robertson QC, has zeroed in on the role of KPMG, one of the big four accounting firms which provided crucial number-crunching on the savings to be made from each council merger.

Once Robertson receives further documents from the government, he has foreshadowed arguing that the Baird government has engaged in a serious misrepresentation to the public of NSW when it issued a press release saying that KPMG conducted “independent” analysis of the financial analysis of the financial benefits of each merger.

In fact, KPMG had been retained by the government as far back as July 2015 to develop merger reform options for the Baird government. This was before the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal ruled that many of the councils were unfit and before the government announced its plans to force mergers.

A document seen by Fairfax Media entitled “Options Analysis: Local Reform” and marked cabinet-in-confidence says in its preamble: “OLG [Office of Local Government] has commissioned KPMG to support development of a robust evidence base to support the NSW government’s Fit for the Future agenda.”

KPMG issued a statement on Thursday strongly denying any issue of independence in its work for the government, and saying that its eventual finding that there was likely to be a financial benefit from mergers were consistent with other analysis. Baird called Labor’s attacks in Parliament this week on the accounting firm’s report “desperate”.

David Shoebridge, the Greens’ spokesman on local government, said KPMG’s role as both adviser to the government and assessor of the financial benefits of each merger was equivalent to marking their own homework.

There are, however, multiple fronts to the legal challenges that have been launched by different councils. In its challenge, Woollahra Council has raised the fact that the delegate hearing submissions on its merger with Waverley and Randwick, Rob Lang, refused to answer questions about the KPMG report. Woollahra also says the delegate appears to have relied on a report commissioned by Randwick Council on potential savings, but did not make this clear to the other councils. A decision on Woollahra’s challenge is expected soon.

Ku-ring-gai Council, meanwhile, has begun legal proceedings to ask for the assumptions behind the KPMG report, arguing that the failure to give the public this information meant that there was inherent unfairness because the community could not challenge the findings.

On Thursday, Ku-ring-gai’s barrister, Geoffrey Kennett SC, also told the court the notice of the public meeting published in The Sydney Morning Herald was inadequate because it simply said the meeting was at the Pymble Golf club and did not give an address. The Pymble Golf Club is actually in St Ives; there is another golf course in Pymble, Avondale.

“People shouldn’t have to do further research in order to attend a public meeting,” he said.

Kennett also cited the fact that the meetings were advertised largely during the school holidays.

And there is the case by a cluster of regional councils, represented by former Liberal MP and barrister, Peter King. King argued that the state government has used the wrong part of the Local Government Act to pursue mergers, the part of the Act designed for voluntary mergers, not forced.

The government will be able to point to the fact that some mergers did not proceed because of the public hearings and delegate’s reports. The proposed merger between Hawkesbury and the Hills Shire Council, for instance, failed because the delegate recommended against it.

Nevertheless, the continued undermining in court of the council merger process adds up to a roiling storm for Mike Baird, which is gathering force as the federal election looms.

It may be unlikely the voters of Mosman, Hunters Hill or Strathfield will change their votes in a federal election because of local government elections, but they are certainly angry judging by the proliferation of anti-amalgamation signs in front gardens.

But the real risk for Baird is that this will drag on and on. If the councils win, the government will probably be able to hold fresh public inquiries and do so by the letter of the law. But that will take time and string out the concerns the government is undermining the capacity of residents to shape their own neighbourhoods – which tends to get them angry.

When it comes to achieving greatness in sport, practice does not make perfect, study finds

07/06/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Mike Hussey: “You’ve got to figure out what you’re passionate about.” Photo: Kate GeraghtyIt’s said that to become world-class in your field, it takes 10,000 hours of the right practice. Michael Hussey reckons he’s probably done at least that much in 30 years of playing cricket.
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The former Test and one-day star was renowned for his focus and commitment. He would face 1000 balls in a session while training for his club in Perth, toil for six hours in the nets to simulate a day’s play.

Despite the effort he put in, Hussey knew practice alone was not the key to success.

“There’s a lot of different ingredients,” he says. “There’s the physical side, the mental side, the skills side, the diet side. There’s all different facets to what it takes to get to the top.”

Researchers agree, with a new study finding practice does not necessarily make perfect. It also found highly skilled athletes did not start in their sport at a younger age than less accomplished ones – something to be noted by parents hoping their kindergartener will become the next Sally Pearson or David Pocock.

The meta-analysis, published in Perspectives in Psychological Science, examined a raft of studies on practice and performance. It found that deliberate practice – activity designed to improve performance – only accounts for 18 per cent of the difference in individuals’ sporting success. For athletes competing at a national level or higher, practice explained just 1 per cent of the variance in performance, with factors other than practice differentiating who makes it to the very top.

An interplay of genetic, biological and psychological factors helps make a champion – things like the propensity to choke under pressure or suffer injury, motivation, hand-eye co-ordination and speed of cognitive processing, Macnamara says.

So for the ordinary sportsperson, there could be something liberating in this study.

“People can stop blaming themselves for not becoming the Olympians they think they should have become if they had only tried harder,” Macnamara says. “Realising it’s not just practice allows people to make better-informed decisions about how to spend resources, both time and money. Hopefully this research … motivates people to spend their time doing what they want without unrealistic goals.”

When it comes to the best age to get serious about sport, Cobley agrees with Macnamara that specialising too early can be detrimental.

“There is a popular perception out there that you’ve got to get in [early] if you want a professional career,” Cobley says. But injuries, dwindling motivation and a desire to explore their own interests and identity drive many talented youngsters out of sport. Evidence suggests that half of those involved in a sports development system at a young age do not go on to a professional career, he says, and that those who invest in early intensive training only last an average of three to five years in the system.

“Researchers think the early intensive sport participation model doesn’t work, even though a lot of team sports push it,” Cobley says. “[If you’re intensively involved] at 13, by 16 or 17 you’re potentially running out of steam but still two or three years away from decisions being made about who gets to become a professional.”

‘What I’m telling you now, I haven’t told anybody’: Angie Hong

07/06/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Restaurateur and interpreter Angie Hong now enjoys a quiet life playing with her grandchildren and posting pictures of her meals on Instagram – but she was raised in war. Photo: Steven SiewertDan Hong’s best places to eat in Sydney
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“What I’m telling you now, I haven’t told anybody,” says Angie Hong.

Hong is a Vietnamese-born former restaurateur and interpreter, with a degree in chemical engineering. She shepherded her son – chef Dan Hong – through his druggy and disaffected adolescence, and now enjoys a quieter life playing with her grandchildren and enthusiastically posting pictures of her meals on Instagram.

But she was raised in war, the second daughter of two Viet Minh who lived in the jungle with a guerrilla unit during the French Indochina War. Her father was a writer of patriotic plays and songs and her mother a nurse. Hong was born in 1952 on a hill called Godbi. The unit could not always carry her with them in case her crying gave away their position, and they once covered her with lotus leaves and left her alone for hours. “I survived,” says Hong. “I was determined to live.”

One of her earliest memories is picking up a snake. “I didn’t get bitten,” she says. “I could have died two times.”

The war with the French ended in 1954, when Vietnam was temporarily divided into North and South. Hong’s family returned to Saigon, where her mother gave birth to five more children.

Angie’s parents worked for the resistance against the Diem government of South Vietnam, “but they were more like messengers passing documents”, she says.

In 1961, Diem’s secret police raided their home. “I vividly remember this box of cotton wool but inside in the middle of the cotton wool was this piece of paper they were after,” she says. “It was maybe the names of people.”

Her father and mother were both arrested and imprisoned. “We didn’t have any parents,” says Hong, “so they moved us to my auntie’s house and locked up our house”. Her mother was set free after three months, but her father was held without trial until 1962.

“In the beginning,” says Hong, “they tortured him to reveal things, and I think he did, because of the children. I think that’s why he was released”.

While Hong shares her memories with great warmth and courageous generosity, we are served a marvellous Vietnamese steak tartare with lemongrass, chives and Vietnamese mint at Ms G’s, the Potts Point restaurant where her son is the executive chef. He’s also the executive chef for Merivale’s Mr Wong, Papi Chulo and El Loco.

Out of jail, Angie Hong’s father became a pharmaceutical salesman and her mother a French tutor. Both Hong and her elder sister passed the entrance examinations for the academically prestigious public high school system. Her sister went on to medical school to become a doctor, so her mother told Hong she should be a pharmacist. By this time, the Americans had replaced the French in Vietnam, the Viet Minh had become the Viet Cong, and a new war consumed the tortured country.

Hong did very well in her baccalaureate, and was eligible for a Colombo Plan Scholarship to study in Australia. She was allowed to apply, despite her parents’ political record, as her birth in the jungle had never been officially recorded, and she was eventually registered as the daughter of her uncle. “So I have a different surname to the rest of my siblings” she says, “and that’s how I got out of the country in 1971”.

Dishes of fragrant, delicious food arrive from the Ms G’s kitchen: a pickled eggplant salad with apple; a deconstructed beef pho.

Hong says she arrived in Sydney in June, wearing a traditional Vietnamese ao dai under her coat. “The first thing I noticed was the sky,” she says. “It was so bright, so blue, and there were so many birds around and they were not scared of humans. In Vietnam, they’d be ending up deep fried.”

She studied chemical engineering at UNSW and had planned to return home when she graduated, but Saigon fell to the Communists in June 1975 and she was allowed to stay in Australia. She worked for a while in a Vietnamese restaurant in Glebe, married a Vietnamese postgraduate electrical engineering student, and went with him to Paris while he completed a contract for the French government.

She studied advanced French at the Sorbonne and took a job in a Vietnamese restaurant, where the owners encouraged her to open a place of her own when she returned to Australia. Instead, she went back and took a postgraduate degree in Polymer Science. But it was 1978, the year large numbers of Vietnamese refugees began to arrive in Australia, and Hong was employed by the immigration department as an interpreter.

She met the new migrants on the tarmac at the airport. “Their faces lit up when I started speaking Vietnamese,” she says. “Then a person would ask me, ‘Can you buy rice in Australia?’ I’d say, ‘Yes.’ ‘Fish sauce?’ ‘Yes. It’s from Thailand, but you can’.”

Hong’s daughter Francoise was born in 1978, Dan in 1982 and her third child, Rebecca, in 1985. They all went to Epping West Public School, then Dan was sent to Barker College.

“When he was young, he was a charmer,” she says. “Everybody loved him. But when he got to about Year 10, he sort of slacked off and wanted to not go to school anymore. But I forced him to. Every morning I had to wake him up and he wouldn’t wake up. I told him once, ‘Dan, you take 10 years off my life. If you get up on time, every day I’ll put 10 dollars in your bank account’. It didn’t work. I kept on looking into his eyes to see if his pupils were dilated,” she says. “I was just so freaked out with him, so scared that he was going to learn the wrong path.”

The food keeps on coming: chargrilled broccolini with white soy and miso crumbs; and pan-fried mulloway with ginger and soy.

“This is a big lunch for me,” says Hong. It would be a big lunch for a table of four.

Her father came to Australia in 1991, disillusioned with the government he had fought for, and died in Sydney in 1993. Angie reluctantly took over running Cabramatta’s Thanh Binh restaurant – which her husband had bought while she was overseas – and later opened new branches in Newtown and Cabramatta. She had to put the children in summer schools.

“They’d been to tennis,” she says. “They’d been everywhere. So I sent them to cooking school in Chatswood.” Dan had enjoyed the school, so when he said he wouldn’t go to university, Angie found him a chef’s traineeship at the InterContinental Hotel. He went on to an apprenticeship at Longrain. “From then on, I didn’t need to help him anymore,” she says.

Hong divorced in 2004 and married again in 2005, to a Malaysian-Chinese lawyer who had been in Australia for 30 years. In 2008, Dan won the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award. She has four grandchildren, Dan’s daughter Namira and son Omar, and Francoise’s daughter Milena and son Luka, and she sold the last of her restaurants in 2012.

The kitchen is threatening desserts, but I don’t have room for anything more.

“I didn’t take any photos, man,” says Hong, suddenly. “They’re going to kill me! I’d better take a photo!”

I assume she wants a picture with me, a well-known writer and luncher.

“I have to Instagram my food!” she cries. “I forgot all about it!”   Forgot to take photos of all previous dishes #lunchwithmarkdapinA photo posted by Angie Hong (@angiehong52) on Apr 7, 2016 at 8:43pm PDT