In a win for old-fashioned paper books, new research has found children with access to a range of e-reading devices are less likely to read.
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The findings will serve as a wake-up call for parents, and schools, which have rushed to buy expensive devices to boost children’s literacy.

Giving children devices such as Kindles, iPads, computers and mobile phones inhibits reading, according to the study.

“Reading frequency was less when children had access to a greater range of these devices,” the research said.

Mobile phones were particularly problematic, and linked to reading infrequency.

Murdoch University lecturer Margaret Merga said her research, which was published in the Computers and Education journal, challenges the myth that children are digital natives who prefer screens.

It found that daily readers who had access to e-reading devices preferred paper books.

“There has been a knee jerk reaction that all children prefer to read on screens and that has led to school libraries removing all paper books,” she said. “That is not necessarily the case.”

Why do young people prefer paper books?

Previous research by Dr Merga suggests that it comes down to children liking the sensation of picking up a book and “feeling the weight of commitment”.

She suspects young people are also judging books by their covers, making the paper variety more attractive.

There’s also the benefit of fewer distractions.

“Reading on internet search enabled devices, such as tablets, also opens up easy opportunity for distraction, allowing engagement in the practice of media multi-tasking, which has been found to detrimentally impact on student comprehension and concentration,” the study said.

Nine-year-old Benji Mazzone said he prefers paper books because he likes turning pages and “being taken somewhere else”.

He reads one to two books a week and can be found browsing the shelves of the Little Bookroom in Carlton North most nights after school. He writes reviews for the children’s bookshop, and helps staff wrap up presents.

With the help of his mum, he set up his own book club last year, where he discussed the popular Tinklers Three series with his friends.

“I’m a bit of a bookworm,” he said. “I read for two hours a day – I do some in the morning and after school.”

Ten-year-old Madeleine Hayen, from Annandale, has mixed views on the merits of paper and electronic reading.

“I don’t mind what I read as long as it’s interesting,” Madeleine said. “I reckon I’ve got over 200 books on my bookcase.”

The Year 5 student goes to Glebe Library once a week with her grandparents to pick up a new batch of books.

“I used to read a lot of books and stuff, but ever since I found Kindles, I kind of enjoy that more because it’s a lot lighter and easier to take around with me. When I go to school in the morning I can just read and it’s a lot easier to use,” Madeleine said.

“When you read paperbacks and hardcover books, you can actually see the pictures which informs you a lot about what the story is trying to say.”

The study involved 997 Western Australian students in years 4 and 6 who were asked how often they read books in their spare time, whether they owned iPads, Kindles or mobile phones and whether they used them to read.

It coincides with the increased take up of e-books in Australian schools, with an estimated 34 per cent of schools purchasing e-books in 2015 compared to 28 per cent in 2013, according to The Australian and New Zealand School Library Survey.

Bring Your Own Device policies have also made it easier for students to access e-books.

Dr Merga said parents had been put in a difficult position and were targeted by aggressive marketing which suggested that technology improved children’s intelligence.

She said there was no scientific evidence to support this.

The research follows a 2015 OECD report which found that investing in computers and iPads in schools fails to boost numeracy and literacy skills. The OECD report went even further, saying that frequent use of computers in schools was often associated with lower results.

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 15TH MARCH 2017. Sally McManus will be the first female secretary of the ACTU. Photographed here in the banner room at Sussex street HQ. Thursday 2nd March 2017 SMH photo Louie Douvis . Photo: Louie Douvis
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ACTU secretary Sally McManus has admitted she made an error when she accused building company Grocon of “killing workers”, but continued to defend her stand against unfair industrial laws.

During an interview on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last week, Ms McManus said Grocon was fined $300,000 for “killing” five workers.

“While it was not accurate to say ‘Grocon was fined $300,000 for killing five workers’, it is accurate to point out that the huge discrepancy in fines paid by the company and the CFMEU is a glaring example of the inherent unfairness in our industrial relations laws,” Ms McManus said.

In a statement issued on Monday night, Ms McManus said Grocon did not have the best record for workplace safety.

The March 2013 collapse of a wall on a Swanston Street construction site in Melbourne led to the death of three passers-by. The incident followed the death of a construction worker on a nearby Grocon site the previous month.

It was convicted and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 – less than a quarter of the maximum available penalty.

“This compares with the almost $4 million in fines levied on the CFMEU over a similar timeframe for protesting Grocon’s record and taking action to stand up for worker safety on construction sites,” Ms McManus said.

Grocon issued a statement on Friday saying it did not deny tragic deaths had occurred on its sites, but insisting it had not caused them.

“Findings on the public record are that Grocon has not caused the death of any individual,” a company statement said.

“It is beholden on Ms McManus to publicly correct her statement and Grocon will be writing to her seeking this correction.”

The company said the Victorian Coroner’s Court confirmed in 2014 there were no workplace safety issues involved in the death of a crane driver, William Ramsay, on Grocon’s Emporium building site in February, 2013.

It said WorkSafe had also confirmed Grocon’s conduct did not cause a wall to collapse on a Swanston Street footpath, killing three people. However, the Swanston Street case did see a Grocon subsidiary fined $250,000 after it pleaded guilty to failing to ensure a safe workplace.

Ms McManus sparked controversy when she told the ABC on Wednesday that she believed in the rule of law “where the law’s fair, where the law’s right, but when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it”.

Unions have thrown their support behind Ms McManus by challenging the fairness of industrial laws that outlaw strike action to achieve better pay and conditions.

The Coalition has strongly criticised the ACTU secretary as a law unto herself in promoting unlawful conduct.

The Labor Party has also opposed breaking the law, saying it is better for parliamentarians to work towards changing unfair legislation.

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Up to half a dozen players could make their debuts for Carlton on Thursday night, as the Blues’ rebuild begins to take shape against old rivals Richmond at the MCG.

And young gun Patrick Cripps has won his battle with injury and will play in the AFL season opener.

After an off-season during which the dramatic reshape of the club’s list been scrutinised, the Blues hope the next generation of Carlton players can cause a major upset by knocking off the Tigers in front of a massive crowd.

Former GWS players Caleb Marchbank, Jarrod Pickett and Rhys Palmer will all play barring any training mishaps, while former Cat Billie Smedts has cemented his spot in Carlton’s best 22.

The 21-year-old Cripps looked a long shot to take the field for round one after being diagnosed in late November with a stress reaction in his lower back.

The injury required a 12-week rehabilitation, which severely hampered the bullocking midfielder’s preparation.

But Cripps was able to feature in the past two games of the pre-season series to convince medical staff of his fitness.

“I can confirm that Patrick Cripps has got through and is ready to play for us (against Richmond),” coach Brendon Bolton told Fox Sports News on Monday.

“We’re rapt with the work that he’s done and the conditioning staff to have him up and ready to play.

“He’s terrific for us in and around stoppages, we know he wins the contested footy and he’ll be important for us on Thursday night.”

Harrison Macreadie – who also has ties to the Giants after being part of their academy – is also in the frame.

His selection will largely depend on whether Bolton wants the flexibility to throw Jacob Weitering forward.

New draftees Cameron Polson and Zac Fisher remain in contention, but they are considered less likely to debut.

While the Blues would like to settle Weitering in defence, where they see him playing the majority of his career, they are also aware of their inability to score freely.

The Blues are likely to start with Levi Casboult, whose struggles in front of goal have been well-documented, up forward along with second-year players Charlie Curnow and Jack Silvagni.

If that combination isn’t potent enough, Bolton would like to be able to throw Weitering into attack as he did at times in 2016.

A bumper crowd of more than 70,000 is expected at the MCG for Thursday’s season opener, which is a Carlton home game.

That would be a strong start to the opening round, with the AFL hoping to break the record attendance for a single round by surpassing the 400,000 mark.

While there have been doubts as to whether two sides that didn’t make the eight last year can draw such a big crowd, both Carlton and the AFL are confident the figure will be reached.

More than 75,000 were at the corresponding match last season, which saw a wasteful Carlton lose by nine points.

In 2015, 83,493 turned out to see the Tigers down the Blues by 27 points.

Carlton haven’t beaten Richmond in round one since 2012, when captain Marc Murphy amassed 32 disposals and Matthew Kreuzer earned three brownlow votes.

Murphy will lead his side out on Thursday night for the first time since injuring his ankle against Geelong nearly 10 months ago, and the Blues will be desperate for Kreuzer to return to dominant form.

While a fully fit Marchbank has been earmarked for Carlton’s best 22 since making the move from GWS, Pickett has been a pleasant surprise to many at Ikon Park.

The number four pick in the 2014 draft missed last year with a foot injury, after an impressive first season yielded 26 goals in 17 NEAFL games.

The West Australian speedster was in solid form during the JLT series, before kicking three goals in the final hit-out against Fremantle.

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Former Top Gear star Richard Hammond has been involved in a high-speed motorcycle crash in Africa.
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The 47-year-old presenter of The Grand Tour, the show he and fellow presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May make for Amazon Prime following their defection from the BBC’s Top Gear in September 2015, was filming in Mozambique when he came off his bike and was injured.

Clarkson reportedly told the UK’s The Sun his friend “really did hurt himself quite badly”.

The incident immediately sparked memories of Hammond’s horrific high-speed crash in September 2006 while filming a stunt for Top Gear.

On that occasion, the jet-propelled Vampire dragster had reached a speed of 464 kmh when one of its tyres failed, causing the vehicle to slide off the race track before flipping.

The top of Hammond’s helmet was reportedly dragged along the ground, leaving Hammond with a significant brain injury. By November, he appeared to have made a full recovery and was behind the wheel again.

Despite The Sun describing the more recent incident in Africa as a “horror bike crash”, Hammond has moved quickly to reassure fans that all is well.

He posted to motoring forum Drive Tribe under the heading “I’ve checked and I’m not dead”.

Hammond wrote of his injuries: “I banged my head, yes, along with pretty much everything else apart from my left thumb, which remains un-bruised.”

He took the opportunity to spruik The Grand Tour, saying he couldn’t say any more about what happened because “that’s all for later in the year on the show”.

As for the seriousness of the injuries, he said “I don’t think I can get a book out of it”.

Clarkson also tweeted about his friend’s welfare, suggesting no serious harm had been done. Doctors say Richard Hammond suffered no damage to his brain in his bike crash. Because he hasn’t got one.??? Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) March 20, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Sleep-deprived mum suffered ‘forgotten baby syndrome’ TRAGEDY: The Coroners Court has been told 22-month-old Noah Zunde’s mother was severely sleep deprived and suffering forgotten baby syndrome when her son was found dead in her car.
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Baby found dead in car at KynetonPolice investigate death of 22-month-old boyTHE mother of a 22-month-oldchild was “severely sleep deprived” andsuffering from so-called “forgotten baby syndrome” when her son wasfound dead in hercarin 2015,the Coroner has been told.

RomyZunde’sson NoahZundewas found in a car outside a Kyneton childcare centre in February, 2015. The death is the subject of a coronial inquest.

MsZundefalsely believed she dropped her son at childcare that morning.

Shereturned in the afternoon to collecthim, not realising he had been in the back seat the entire time, according to a medicalexpert’s report given to the Victorian Coroners Court.

The report stated that in the week leading up to the death,MsZundehadn’t been able to sleep well due to suspected gastroenteritis. Initially she was unwell with vomiting and nausea and later her daughter fell sick too.

The night before the death, Noah was uncomfortable due to teething and slept in his parents bed, meaning MsZundewas virtually unable to sleep, according to police statements by MsZunde’spartner,AndrewKrespanis.

On the morning of the death, Thursday February 19, MsZundehad to disrupt her usual morning routine to drop off a misplacedmykicard to her partner at Kyneton train station so he could get to work, the report said.

MrKespanisdescribed MsZundeas “considerably distressed”from the disruption and the possibility of her daughter being late for school.

MsZundetraveled toTylden Primary School for the school drop off and then instead of taking her son Noah toBambiniChild Care Services, she traveled home and commenced doing chores, the report said.​

In her statement MsZundesaid the childcare was”very close to ours, a left turn directly opposite the right turn to our house. I can only assume I automatically made a right turn instead of left”.

MsZundealso didn’t have the usual memory “cues”that Noah was in the car, according to expertneuroscientistassociate professor Matthew Mundy, including the fact the baby seat was not visible from the driver’s seat.

“Without a visual cue to the presence of Noah, it is less likely thatRomyZundewould have been reminded of his presence after a failure in short term memory of driving home instead of toBambinidaycare,” the report said.

“Noah must have fallen asleep on the way.… he was probably asleep in the car which is something he hardly ever did,” MsZundestated in her interview with police.

“This seems important, since he would normally be making some kind of noise during the journey. Again, these observations would also suggest a lack of external ‘cues’ to prompt the maintenanceofRomy’sshort-term memory”.

​”MsZundehad suffered several days of acute sleep deprivation,”Mundy submitted.

“She was overwhelmed with confusion and thought about several alternatives where she could have left Noah.”

Associate Professor Mundy saidZunde’sexhaustion had affected her long term, short term and habitual memory and led herto believe she had dropped Noah at the daycare centre close to their home.

The sleep deprivation was partly due to suspectedgastroentritisofZundeand her primary school age daughter, along withNoah’s teething discomfort.

Father AndrewKrespanistold police he and Ms Zunderesorted to having Noah in their bed, which was very uncomfortable for her and resulted in her getting “much if any sleep”.

“Noah had a really – almost unprecedented night of not sleeping” Ms Zundetold police adding she “needed help” due to her fatigue but could not ask for it.

The report also found that Ms Zundesaid to a woman at her daughter’sprimaryschool that morning that it had been a”hellish” week.The witness said Ms Zundewas “very fatigued” and “probably overwhelmed”.

Sleep isrequired for memories to be consolidated so the deprivation would have decreased the likelihood that MsZunderemembered her child was in the car, the report said.

“Cognitive performance and short-term memory integrity are reduced following sleep deprivation.”

Mundy also stated that a recent change to the childcare routine adding an extra daymeant MsZunde’shabitual memory took over and led to an error.

MsZundetold police she had been on “auto pilot” during the trip from her daughter’s school that afternoon.

She said “the change in routine…the extra careon Thursdayand (her daughter) starting school…Over the school holidays (her daughter) and Noah doing childcare days together…dropping them off together,” added to her belief she had dropped Noah at daycare.

“In my opinion, it is possible that due to the recently changed routine for the destination of aThursdaydrive (which would otherwise have been to the family home), and the competing and confusing information from the other items held in long term memory (arrangements for Fridays, arrangements for previous weeks etc.), there was a potential for error introduced into the day’s travel,” it said.

Mundy submitted that MsZunde’smemorymay have been affected by stressful situations including a recent dog attack on the family’s pet pigsas well having to retrievea forgottenMykipass that morning so her partner could travel to work.

The inquest will be heard in the Coroners Courton Wednesday.

The Age

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The Eagles tuned up for Round 1 with a 25-point win over Melbourne in their final JLT Series match, while an Ed Langdon goal after the siren saw Fremantle beat Collingwood in a thrilling final preseason hit out.
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Meanwhile both clubs packed their WAFL feeder sides full of AFL players on the weekend in a bid to get everyone fit and firing to start the season.

With the start of the 2017 AFL season just around the corner, players are desperate to prove they deserve an opportunity for Round 1 and there were some standout performances throughout the preseason.

Adam Simpson and Ross Lyon have some tough decisions to make on what is the ideal mix to start the year.

Here’s our take on who we believe is in line to start for the Dockers and Eagles in their season openers. Fremantle Dockers

Predicted round one starting lineup (vs Geelong at Domain Stadium)

B: Lee Spurr, Joel Hamling, Zac Dawson

HB: Garrick Ibbotson, Michael Johnson, Stephen Hill

C: Bradley Hill, Lachie Neale, Danyle Pearce

HF: Lachie Weller, Shane Kersten, Ed Langdon

FF: Michael Walters, Cam McCarthy, Jon Griffin

R: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy

I/C: Connor Blakely, Cam Sutcliffe, Tom Sheridan, Darcy Tucker

Knocking on the door

Harley Balic

Hayden Crozier

Sean Darcy

Matt Taberner

???Injury listHarley Bennell (Calf, 5-7 weeks)Michael Apeness (Knee, 6-8 weeks)Hayden Ballantyne (Hamstring, 8-10 weeks)Zac Clarke (Knee, 3-4 months)Alex Pearce (Fractured leg, 3-4 months)


Senior list: Nick Suban, Sam Collins, Ethan Hughes, Brennan Cox, Griffin Logue, Luke Ryan.

Rookie list: Brady Grey, Josh Deluca-Cardillo, Taylin Duman, Ryan Nyhuis, Luke Strnadica, Matthew Uebergang.

Ed Langdon should take the spot vacated by Hayden Ballantyne. Photo: Getty Images


Hayden Ballantyne’s hamstring injury creates a gaping hole in Fremantle’s forward structure.

Not only must the Dockers now cover for his trademark pressure they so heavily rely on, they also need to find a goal-scorer, and it’s slim pickings when you glance at their roster.

But hope remains and, as the Dockers enter what coach Ross Lyon has labelled a four-year rebuild, what better time than to test some of their youth?

We’re predicting Ballantyne’s loss will be Ed Langdon’s gain and he will line up on a half forward flank, while fellow youngster Lachie Weller could find himself standing opposite him for his natural goal scoring ability.

The mix of youth and experience in Fremantle’s forward line mimics the rest of the team sheet.

It’s now imperative the Dockers get games into their younger players, but it’s also hard to see Ross Lyon picking rookies over seasoned players.

Alex Pearce’s bum leg makes the backline fairly clear cut and while many Fremantle fans might want Zac Dawson replaced with new draftee Griffin Logue or Sam Collins, the veteran played every JLT Community Series game and performed well enough.

The return of Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands highlights what is hoping to be a resurgent Dockers midfield, while new recruits Joel Hamling, Brad Hill, Shane Kersten and Cam McCarthy are all likely inclusions for round one.

Bradley Hill looms as a key player for the Dockers in 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Key new face

The Dockers will have plenty of new faces in 2017 but, we’re tipping Hawks premiership midfielder Bradley Hill to have the most impact of any player recruited to the club.

Hill is a proven player with three premierships next to his name, and has spent a lot of time developing in one of the most successful football programs ever.

Cam McCarthy could prove to be more valuable for the Dockers if he can kick more than 35 goals, however the former Giant could find the going tough if he’s matched up against the opposition’s best defender every week which seems likely.

Hill’s speed and ability to hit the scoreboard should see him slot easily into Fremantle’s side this season – just so long as he doesn’t forget to take an allergy tablet before stepping into the ice baths. West Coast Eagles

Round one starting lineup (vs North Melbourne at Etihad)

B: Brad Sheppard, Eric Mackenzie, Tom Barrass

HB: Shannon Hurn, Jeremy McGovern, Sharrod Wellingham

C: Andrew Gaff, Matt Priddis, Lewis Jetta

HF: Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling, Chris Masten

FF: Drew Petrie, Josh Kennedy, Mark LeCras

R: Nathan Vardy, Sam Mitchell, Luke Shuey

I/C: Elliot Yeo, Jackson Nelson, Dom Sheed, Josh Hill

Knocking on the door

Sam Butler

Liam Duggan

Will Schofield

Jack Redden

Jonathan Giles

Injury listMatthew Allen (Hamstring, TBC)Willie Rioli (Hamstring, 6 weeks)Jake Waterman (Foot, 8-10 weeks)Scott Lycett (Shoulder, 10-12 weeks)Simon Tunbridge (Knee, 3-4 months)Nic Naitanui (Knee, 4-5 months)


Senior list: Mark Hutchings, Tom Cole, Kurt Mutimer, Luke Partington, Malcolm Karpany, Tom Lamb, Josh Rotham, Daniel Venables.

Rookies: Simon Tunbridge (injured), Fraser McInness, Francis Watson, Tarir Bayok, Paddy Brophy, Thomas Gorter.

Ex-Cat Nathan Vardy looks set to lead West Coast’s ruck line. Photo: Getty Images


Sam Butler, the ageless veteran of West Coast’s defence, is unlucky to miss out in Round 1 but if Ben Brown gets up for North then the Kangaroos will probably field three talls in attack and will also have Goldstein resting forward.

This is likely to see the Eagles go with three talls of the own in Jeremy McGovern, Tom Barrass and former club champion Eric Mackenzie who seems to have moved ahead of Will Schofield for a key defender spot.

With Hurn, Wellingham and utility Brad Sheppard automatic inclusions in the Eagles back six, there’s just the one small defender spot up for grabs and it appears Jackson Nelson has edged out Butler for that spot despite the latter’s 28 touches for East Perth on Saturday.

Liam Duggan, Jack Redden and Mark Hutchings also find themselves on the outer with West Coast’s midfield depth having improved significantly due to Sam Mitchell’s arrival. Mitchell, Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey are all but locked into the Eagles starting team while the pace of Lewis Jetta and Elliot Yeo get them a gig to compliment that quartet.

That leaves Dom Sheed, Chris Masten, Duggan, Redden and Hutchings fighting for a spot. Sheed had an injury-affected year in 2016 but when fit looks a key part of the Eagles midfield puzzle while Masten’s experience and incumbency sees him take the final spot.

Meanwhile Nathan Vardy’s uninterrupted preseason and Drew Petrie’s ability to impact the game as a forward and in the ruck mean the two Eagles’ offseason recruits are likely to get first crack at the ruck spot ahead of Jonathan Giles whose preseason was disrupted by a thumb injury.

Jamie Cripps and Josh Hill get a game as defensive small forwards, however both could be looking over their shoulder once Willie Rioli returns from a hamstring injury, as the electric 2016 draftee appeared on course to make an early debut before his untimely setback.

Sam Mitchell’s kicking skills will be an asset for the Eagles in 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Key new face

Long term injuries to Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett mean former Geelong big man Nathan Vardy and North Melbourne legend Drew Petrie will have a vital role to play in determining how the Eagles go this year.

However, there’s no going past fellow recruit Sam Mitchell as the man most likely to make an impact this year for the Eagles with the champion midfielder named by his peers as the 20th best player in the competition.

A Brownlow Medal. Four premierships. Five best and fairests. Three All-Australian selections and even the Rising Star way back in 2003. There’s not much Sam Mitchell hasn’t done and his experience and kicking skills will be a huge asset for the club in 2017.

Mitchell showed in the preseason that he hasn’t lost any of his ability, despite turning 35 this season, with the former Hawk racking up 28 and 39 possessions in his two JLT Series outings.

Eagles and Hawks fans will still be kicking themselves in disbelief when he runs out for West Coast in Round 1, wondering just how the club was able to pick him up in exchange for Pick 88 in the trade period.

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A former anti-Indonesian guerrilla fighter is leading a slow vote count in East Timor’s presidential election, the country’s first without help of the United Nations.
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Backed by Fretilin, the party that led the revolutionary struggle to the country’s independence, Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres was leading with 59.24 per cent of votes.

But only 34.34 per cent of votes had been counted by early Tuesday, reflecting huge logistical problems in the largely mountainous country with a poor road network.

In previous elections, UN helicopters were used to ferry ballot boxes from the most remote polling stations.

Despite that voting was not compulsory, hundreds of thousands of Timorese waited patiently in long queues in blistering heat to vote for a new president for a five year-term ahead of general elections in July.

The elections will be a key to the future of Asia’s newest democracy amid concerns the half-island nation’s oil and gas revenues are rapidly running dry.

Running second in the early vote count with 30.06 per cent was Democratic Party politician Antonio da Conceicao, the 53 year-old current education minister who says he represents a younger generation of Timorese demanding a change of leadership in the country where poverty remains endemic and there are growing concerns about corruption.

Mr da Conceicao ran a strong anti-corruption campaign that seemed to resonate with many voters.

He also campaigned to the build the nation “from the grass roots” by ensuring the majority of people who live in rural areas have enough food, access to markets, schools, clinics, and water and sanitation.

Mr Guterres,62, will need to get more than 50 per cent of the vote to avoid a run-off election in April.

He is backed by the country’s behind-the-scenes powerbroker and independence hero Xanana Gusmao, a former president and prime minister who created a government of national unity two years ago.

The president is largely a ceremonial post but the incumbent Jose Maria de Vasconcelos, who is known as “Taur Matan Ruak” has spoken out about corruption and insisted on revision of the government’s budget.

Mr Vasconcelos is expected to contest the July elections for the newly formed People’s Liberation Party (PLP), aiming to take the even more powerful position of prime minister who is appointed by 65 elected MPs.

East Timor has 744,613 registered voters in a population of 1.261 million.

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Is there simply no stopping Disney? Probably not.
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The studio’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast has just opened in the United States with a massive $US170 million ($220 million), the biggest March opening weekend ever and the seventh-biggest opening of all time.

In foreign markets it took a further $US180 million ($233 million), to give it a global tally just north of $A450 million so far. And with it yet to open in several strong territories – including Australia, this week, and Japan – the film looks set to continue a run of $1 billion-plus box office monsters.

Disney last year became the first Hollywood studio to pass the $7 billion mark at the global box office, despite releasing fewer movies than any of its major studio rivals. Four of its pictures (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War and Zootopia) topped $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) globally, while a fifth, The Jungle Book, fell just short of that mark.

In all, the studio released 13 movies in 2016, for a 26.3 per cent share of the US box office. By comparison, its closest rival, Warner Bros, released 23 titles for a 16.7 per cent share. According to a recent report by market analysts Cowen and Co, more than half the profits (57 per cent) made in the motion picture business globally last year went to Disney.

It’s an astonishing performance, but it’s no fluke. With fresh instalments in the Pirates of the Caribbean, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor and Star Wars franchises in the pipeline, 2017 promises to be another big year. The Mouse has become a monster by becoming the most adept franchiser in the business.

In essence, Disney is now effectively a franchiser of franchises. The parent company, Walt Disney Studios, is an umbrella beneath which sits a cluster of very productive – and, crucially, very focused – mini-studios (though given their size, mini hardly seems the right word).

There’s Pixar, turning out high-end animated comedies such as Finding Dory. There’s Marvel, churning out superhero movies. There’s Lucasfilm, home to the Star Wars empire. There’s Walt Disney Animation, whose work – such as the recent Moana – most closely resembles the kind of film the studio originally made, albeit with computer animation largely replacing drawing by hand. And there’s the slate of films released under the Disney banner, including Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, films that have re-animated the company’s back catalogue of cartoon fairytales through a powerful blend of CGI and live action.

A decade ago, Disney released the same number of movies as it did last year – 13 in 2007. Only two of them – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and National Treasure: Book of Secrets – were franchises.

Last year, six of the movies it released were franchises, sequels or remakes of earlier Disney titles (a seventh, the live-action The BFG, was a remake of an earlier non-Disney animated picture).

Each of Disney’s strands presents a clearly defined product, one that instantly takes its place among other similarly defined products. We know what to expect of a Marvel movie because it sits within a defined universe; we know that when a Star Wars movie comes with a roman numeral in the title it sits within a particular lineage, and when it doesn’t it sits slightly outside it.

Audiences crave the new, of course, but they also love the familiar. Bring them together in a big-budget spectacle that demands to be seen on a big screen in the company of like-minded fans, and it’s a winning package.

A decade ago, the six major Hollywood studios were tightly packed. Paramount had the winning share, with $1.5 billion and a 15.5 per cent share of the US total; in sixth place, 20th Century Fox still had 10.5 per cent of receipts.

The BFG was a remake of a non-Disney animated film released in 1989.

In 2016, though, Paramount – a studio that has struggled to identify a franchise to replace its ageing Star Trek and Mission: Impossible product lines – could manage only slightly more than a quarter of Disney’s grosses as it finished sixth, with a 7.7 per cent share.

The gap between the top and bottom studios has never been greater, and it has never owed so much to the power of the franchise.

That’s not good news for anyone who wants to see the Hollywood studios backing more adventurous fare. It’s not great news either for those studios without the clout to buy up already powerful brands, the way Disney did with Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel, to guarantee a pipeline of production.

But for Disney, for now and the foreseeable future, it’s a beautiful thing.

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Baby AnimalsBaby Animals and Screaming Jets are joining forces on a national tour this winter that includes Newcastle.
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Fans can look forward to a four on the floor night of rock and a set list including rock classics like Better, One Word, Helping Hand, Painless, Shivers, Early WarningandRush You.

Newcastle’s own the Screaming Jets have nine albums, seven top 40 radio hits and countless live shows under their respective belts.

Frontman Dave Gleeson’s frantic and frenzied command of the stage leads a revitalised band of Paul Woseen on bass and main backing vocals, Scott Kingman (Divinyls and James Reyne) and Jimi “The Human” Hocking (blues and rock guy extraordinaire) on guitar and backed up by the thumping beats of Mickl Sayers on drums.

“We first shared a shared a stage with the Baby Animals about 25 years ago. We’ve all done a lot of miles since then,” Dave Gleeson said.

“There’s always been a lot of mutual respect and musical admiration between the two bands. We’re all pumped to be part of what’s going to be a huge event in live music.”

This time in 1992, Baby Animals were celebrating their first number onealbum as their debut self-titled release reached top spot on the ARIA Albums Chart. Fast forward 25 years and the band are riding high on the back of full houses for their recent One Wordanniversary tour. Suze DeMarchi’s reputation as a fierce and inspiring frontwoman remains undiminished, her rapport with songwriting partner and guitarist, the legendary Dave Leslie, as dynamic as ever.

Baby Animals emerged on the Australian music scene in 1991 and delivered four massive hits off their debut album. They also picked up three ARIA Awards in 1992, for Album Of The Year, Breakthrough Artist Of The Year – Album and Breakthrough Artist of The Year – single for Early Warning. Their self-titled album was also named in the 100 Best Australian albums. Their second album ‘Shaved And Dangerous” reached number two and their 2013 album, This Is Not The Endreached top 20.

Catch Baby Animals and The Screaming Jets in Newcastle at NEX on Friday, June 30. Tickets are on sale Wednesday, March 22.

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A deal has been finalised which will keep television’s biggest cash cow, the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, on air for at least two more seasons.
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The show’s 10th season kicked off last year and will conclude this coming May.

The new deal will put an 11th and 12th season into production and on television schedules in the US and around the world through to 2019.

It is unclear whether the two additional seasons would be the series’ last; some US media outlets are suggesting the 12th season would be planned as the show’s conclusion.

The deal was stitched up between the studio Warner Bros, which produces the series, and the US broadcaster, CBS, which airs it.

The two additional seasons are also a huge windfall for Australia’s Nine Network, which owns the local rights to first-run episodes of the series.

In a re-tooled deal in 2015, Nine retained first run rights but surrendered repeat rights to the show’s earlier episodes to Seven.

The series, which is a major commercial hit for CBS, is currently in the process of finalising a sequence of complex talent deals with the show’s cast.

The five leads – actors Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg – all took pay cuts to around US$900,000 ($1.2 million) per episode – in order to finalise the larger suite of deals.

The pay cuts helped to underwrite pay increases for the show’s other two key cast, actors Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

Bialik and Rauch joined the show in its third season but are only paid US$175,000 ($226,000) per episode; the current negotiation is expected to net them something closer to the half-million mark.

As part of the trade-off, Parsons, Galecki and Helberg also signed longer-term production deals with Warner Bros.

In real commercial terms, the space in which the fine print of the deal is being worked out is tight.

While it’s absurd to suggest that a show like The Big Bang Theory is not a money-spinner, its age, and increasing costs, both eat deeply into its revenue.

Million-dollar-range salaries, such as those commanded by actors in the final seasons of shows such as Friends, effectively soak up any profit potential in first-run episodes of television shows.

For The Big Bang Theory, where the actors are also entitled to share in the show’s profit, their own high salaries effectively undermine the network’s ability to deliver a profit on the show.

CBS is also planning to launch a spin-off series, Young Sheldon, which will be narrated by Parsons and will explore his character’s childhood, later this year.

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JUMPING SHIP: Otto and Michael Dal Zotto are looking into other options to access the interest for their winery, after the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service kept dropping out.
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The NBN was supposed to be the 21st century technology set to change accessibility to the internet, but North East residents and businesses have been left with disappointment.

Single mum Toni Brezac lives on a rural Wangandary property with two children and, after she was told the old copper lines would be shut down in 18 months, decided to switch to the NBN.

Then the phone and internet connection was worse than she had before, frequently dropping out.

“I do feel we’ve been mislead a bit,” MsBrezac said.

“I’m very concerned we won’t have copper wire anymore –severe weather seems to affect the NBN.”

A tight budget meant the woman had chosen what she thought was the more reliableNBN landline and internetover a mobile phone, and was left in the lurch when she needed to call someone to help with a flat tyre.

“I panicked and I had to walk half a kilometre up the road to the neighbours to use their phone,” she said.

“It really hits home that we are isolated,it’s not easy.”

Wangandary mother Toni Brezac

Ms Brezac tried for weeks to get her internet company to address the problem, but only had success when she spoke to Indi MP Cathy McGowan’s office to learn her rights and threatened to change service providers without paying any costs because the NBN was faulty.

Her persistence worked–she now has a decent enough internet connection to actual watch a movie.

“Suddenly, after three to four weeks of sheer hell, it can be fixed,” Ms Brezac said.


Dal Zotto Wines has reached the point where it is looking for an alternative to the NBN because the connection is so poor at its King Valley site.

WinemakerMichael Dal Zotto said the business used a cloud-based server, which could not be accessed at times because the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service regularly dropped out during business hours.

“We’ll be working on it one minute, then it’ll be dropping out,” he said. “It’s a bit frustrating –we’ve got growing businesses here, we want what everyone else has.”

The King Valley’s mobilereception was not much better on busy tourist weekends.

“Don’t bother sending a text, don’t bother trying to post anything to social media to promote the event,” Mr Dal Zotto said.

He said the winery would look into switching to a wireless broadband plan instead of the NBN because it would be faster and better value for money.

NBNhead of business, products and servicesBen Salmon said this weekthe NBN rolloutwas rampingup.

“We are seeing Australian businesses, regardless of location and size, maximise their productivity and improve their work-life balance,” he said.

INVESTIGATION: Indi MP Cathy McGowan wants NBN answers.

A federal parliamentary inquiry into theNational Broadband Network is hoped to be the answer to a rollout“fraught with problems”.

Ms McGowan, a member of thejoint standing committee looking into the issue, has called on Indi residentsto have their say on their experiences during theNBN’s introduction to their homes or businesses.

“Rural and regional Australians are not being served well by the NBN rollout,” she said.

“The process has been fraught with problems in Indi.

“I receive more calls to the office about NBN and telecommunications than any other issue.”

Ms McGowansaid the inquiry was a chance for community input and she woulduse the information from submissions to inform further action on the NBN rollout.

To make a submission,[email protected]论坛with the subject line“submission to the NBN rollout inquiry”or visit the inquiry page.

The Border Mail

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The Riley Park drain (left) and another drain – which is fitted with a meshed grille – elsewhere in Unanderra, at Derribong Drive. Photo on the right taken on Monday, after last week’s heavy rain.Wollongong City Council says it will wait for a report from the coroner before considering any changes to its stormwater and drainage systems following the death of 11-year-old Ryan Teasdale.
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The Lindsay Park Public School student died last Thursday night after being swept down a drain at Riley Park, around the corner from his house, while he was playing with other childrenin the gushing water on his boogie board.

His body was found on Friday morning about 500 metres from the drain opening at the downhill end of the Unanderra park.

The tragedy has prompted many Illawarra residents to question why the stormwater opening was not covered by a grate or some other covering.

However, the council saidgrates, in some cases, could increase the risk of blockages and flooding and were not used on all types of drains.

“The size of the culvert [drain tunnel], likelihood of blockage, consequences of culvert blocking and causing flooding elsewhere and the depth of flood waters at the location are all considered when deciding if culverts have grates placed over them,” the council said, when asked why Riley Park’s drain did not have a cover.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery joined search crews at Riley Park, Unanderra, on Friday morning. Picture: Adam McLean.

A council spokeswoman said small drains frequently blocked, with grates increasing the likelihood of flooding for surrounding homes.

Asked if the council would consider changing its policies on drain coverings, or whether it would review its stormwater systems the council said it would “await the coroner’s report and co-operate fully with those enquiries”.

The council collected nearly $1.8 million from ratepayers to fund stormwater management in 2016/17, and budgeted to spend $4.45 million onstormwater and floodplain assets in the same year.

Meantime, the communities of Lindsay Park Public School and Figtree High School –where Ryan’s older brotherJasonTeasdale attends– have pulled together to support their grievingstudents.

“Lindsay Park Public School and the Department of Education are deeply saddened by the death of one of its students,” the school said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the young boy’s family and friends at such a difficult time.”

“The schools will continue to support the family and will make decisions around additional support in conjunction with their school community and the young boy’s family.”

Counselling has been provided to students and staff at both schoolsand will be available for as long as necessary.

The schools have also sent home letters to parents detailing ways they can help children to understand and cope with grief.

Illawarra Mercury

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With education and the environment already under fire, US president Donald Trump has now put an American icon – Sesame Street’s Big Bird – in his cross-hairs.
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But in aiming his budgetary double barrel at this particular 249cm tall bright yellow canary, Mr Trump the big-game hunter may be about to bite off more than he can chew.

The president’s proposed 2018 budget, which was released late last week, drew a red line through funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the non-profit engine which drives America’s public broadcasting.

Though much slimmer in real terms than either the ABC or the BBC, America’s PBS is the home of a number of notable and iconic programs, not least of which is Sesame Street.

The cuts – worth about $US485 million ($630 million) – would also affect the National Public Radio (NPR) service.

Astonishingly, the argument used by the White House to justify the cuts was whether it was fair to “ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit” to fund PBS?

Using the same logic, it might well be worth asking whether it’s fair to ask anyone to pay for the president’s many golfing weekends at Mar-a-Lago?

Or the gargantuan security bill required to keep Mrs Trump in New York rather than Washington DC?

“We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said.

So it looks like golf is on the list too. And Mrs Trump. But early childhood education? That’s a government handout too far.

Mercifully, Sesame Street is not wholly funded by PBS; in 2015 an agreement was struck with HBO which puts cable money into the series in exchange for giving HBO a nine month exclusive window on the show.

So rather than killing Big Bird immediately, it merely relegates him and other cultural icons like Grover, Kermit, Cookie Monster and Prairie Dawn to the endangered species list.

But key figures in America’s public broadcasting sector have already indicated that a half-billion dollar haircut would seriously devastate its ability to deliver content – free of charge – to its audience.

Though their last official communique was publicly documented and did not end on a particularly friendly note, Mr Trump would do well to ask Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for advice.

Back in 2014, when Mr Turnbull was communications minister, proposed cuts to Australia’s ABC put a target on the rosy pink behind of the children’s television golden goose Peppa Pig.

Facing cuts to his budget, the then managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, issued a dire warning that the national broadcaster could not confirm Peppa’s long-term future.

The resulting feather-ruffling in the nation’s living rooms confirmed that while politicians might be able to fiddle while pensions burn, if you threaten kid’s TV you’re asking for seriously trouble.

“Contrary to media rumours, Peppa’s is one snout we are happy to have in the ABC trough,” Mr Turnbull said, calming the flames.

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