Unemployment expected to rise to 5.9%

The jobs market is expected to have weakened in December, after enjoying the best two months of employment growth in almost 28 years.

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The number of Australians with a job is forecast to have fallen by 5,000 in December, and the unemployment rate is expected to have risen to 5.9 per cent, according to an AAP survey of 12 economists.

In November, jobs growth was 71,400, after a 56,000 rise in October, the strongest two-month period of employment growth since the 1980s.

That sent the unemployment rate to its lowest level in almost two years, to 5.8 per cent in November.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its December employment report on Thursday.

JP Morgan chief economist Stephen Walters said the November figures were exaggerated by the ABS survey methods but added that the employment market is still strong.

“Recent labour force surveys have looked too good to be true,” Mr Walters said.

“Although we have become increasingly optimistic on the labour market outlook, given the upbeat signals from job ads, business surveys and government welfare data, the official data still appear too firm relative to gross domestic product growth.”

The ABS said last month that that the current group of households it surveys for its labour force report have a higher participation rate in the jobs market, which could inflate the size of the jobs growth figure.

The latest ANZ job advertisements survey, a key indicator of employment growth, showed the number of jobs advertised in December fell 0.1 per cent, following four consecutive months of rises, seasonally adjusted.

In 2015, the number of jobs ads grew by 10 per cent, just short of the above 12 per cent growth experienced in each of the previous three years, figures from ANZ show.

ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan said that has helped the unemployment rate fall below six per cent and expects it to stay there in the coming months.

“The solid trend in job advertising bodes well for the near-term employment outlook,” he said.

“For the Australian economy the major risks still appear to be external, as is often the case. Only time will tell whether recent ructions in China are indicative of broader challenges in that economy.”

UNEMPLOYMENT STAYING STEADY

* Unemployment rate to rise to 5.9pct in Dec, from 5.8pct in Nov

* The number of people with jobs tipped to fall by 5,000

* Jobs growth forecasts ranged from a fall of 25,000 to a gain of 25,000

* Participation rate forecast to fall to 65.2pct, from 65.3pct

(Source: AAP survey of 12 economists)

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MTV Australia deletes ‘racist’ Golden Globes tweet

Twitter users are accusing MTV Australia of racism following a hastily-removed tweet making fun of America Ferrera and Eva Longoria’s accents in an English-language Golden Globes speech.

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The official MTV account defended the tweet following initial critism saying it was part of a joke the actresses were making themselves, but swiftly removed both tweets after hundreds of users began tweeting and replying the statement was racist.

Users pointed out the joke the actresses were making was about their similar looks, not their accents, and others made the point that deleting a tweet does not equate to an apology.

I would call you out on this @MTVAUSTRALIA but as I’m Latina, you might not understand what I’m typing here. pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/942hB7mVrW

— Ella Cerón (@ellaceron) January 11, [email protected] @MTVAUSTRALIA *Their* joke was “you think we all look alike”. MTV’s joke was “& their accents are SO heavy we can’t understand”.

— Purl Bailey (@TallGrrl) January 11, 2016Screenshots are forever, @MTVAUSTRALIA. pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/kr9xU5FHOf

— Awqasisa (@lowsell) January 11, [email protected] deleted their racist #GoldenGIobes tweet. Here it is. pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/eANzmk1AKr

— Shane Bazzi (@shanebazzi) January 11, [email protected] @ERN_Malleyscrub @MTVAUSTRALIA luckily the internet is a great thing where screengrabs can live forever. Unlike MTV employees.

— Leon Downey (@ledow) January 11, 2016I swear we’re not all like this, despite particularly strong evidence to the contrary of late #GoldenGlobes pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/YYxPKn8kHi

— Tonile Wortley (@tonilehelena) January 11, 2016Hey @MTVAUSTRALIA, you do know deleting a tweet and saying “we didn’t mean offense” isn’t really an apology right?! pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/Q5c35eZqE2

— Ebs (@Ebswearspink) January 11, 2016

UPDATE: MTV Australia has apologised for the tweet.

Our Tweet was in reference to @EvaLongoria & @AmericaFerrera’s #GoldenGlobes joke. We sincerely apologise for causing offence.

— MTV AUSTRALIA (@MTVAUSTRALIA) January 11, 2016

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Chronium pills linked to cancer: research

A nutritional supplement used for weight loss and body building is partially converted into a carcinogenic form when it enters cells, say Australian researchers.

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Chromium supplements also are used by people with metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

The UNSW and University of Sydney findings, published in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, raise concerns over the risks of taking chromium pills long-term or in high doses.

Chromium is a trace mineral sold as nutritional supplements, with some containing up to 500 micrograms per tablet.

The US National Academy of Sciences has estimated up to 200 micrograms of chromium is a safe and adequate daily dietary intake for adults.

Australia’s current National Health and Medical Research Council Nutrient Reference Values, which are under review, recommend 25-35 micrograms of chromium daily as an adequate adult intake.

UNSW’s Dr Lindsay Wu said the researchers treated animal fat cells with chromium (III) in the laboratory.

A map was created of every chemical element contained within the cell using a synchrotron’s intense X-ray beam.

This allowed them to not only see the chromium spots throughout the cell but also to determine whether they were the carcinogenic form, Dr Wu said.

“We were able to show that oxidation of chromium inside the cell does occur, as it loses electrons and transforms into a carcinogenic form,” he said.

“This is the first time oxidation was observed in a biological sample with the same results expected in human cells.”

They say more research is needed to ascertain whether the supplements significantly alter cancer risk.

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Fire boss defends actions in WA bushfire

Fire authorities have been forced to defend their actions after a “full-on war with mother nature” in Western Australia’s southwest that destroyed 143 structures and killed two people.

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The blaze, which was sparked by lightning on Wednesday, killed two elderly men and wiped out most of the small community of Yarloop, where 128 homes were lost.

But the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has been criticised for what some Yarloop residents claim was a lack of communication about the severity of the threat, including the Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, which said they received no assistance or warnings for people to leave.

Related reading

DFES Commissioner Wayne Gregson defended the process and said firefighters were exhausted after battling the giant blaze for several days.

“Over the past four or five days we have been at full-on war with mother nature, I’m told we have not seen a firestorm of this magnitude, in terms of the size,” he told 6PR radio on Monday.

“It can be compared to the greater metropolitan area of Perth from Rockingham to Clarkson and out to Midland – this has been a significant endeavour by all of the response agencies.”

Mr Gregson said there would later be a detailed examination of the decisions made and warnings issued for Yarloop.

“There have been a number of issues raised with me concerning warnings, concerning water supply, concerning the availability of personnel, and we will look at that, but at this point in time it’s too early for me to make comment,” he said.

Mr Gregson said residents were told not to stay to defend their properties without a plan and to not rely on the local water and electricity supply, adding the blaze could not be defended with a garden hose.

“I sometimes think people don’t recognise the enormity of the fire front,” he said.

“I don’t believe anything could have stopped that fire impacting Yarloop.

“Fires get to a point where they just cannot be defended, either from a frontal attack or by the air.”

But the brother of 77-year-old Vietnam veteran Les Taylor, who is believed to have perished in the fire, says he does not blame authorities.

“I don’t think there’s any cause for blame on the death of my brother, I think it’s just a sad circumstance,” Bruce Taylor said.

“He just wasn’t able to be alerted.”

Related reading

The other victim is believed to be 73-year-old cancer survivor Malcolm Taylor, who told family he was staying put.

Police are yet to formally identify human remains found at the two homes.

The bushfire threat weakened overnight with a watch and act issued for east of Waroona, Hamel, the Harvey town, Cookernup, Yarloop and surrounding areas.

An advice level is in place for the Waroona town, Preston Beach, Lake Clifton, Binningup, Myalup and Pamelup Estate.

Harvey and Waroona residents can now return to their properties through vehicle control points.

The cost of the deadly blaze has climbed to $60 million and is expected to rise, the Insurance Council of Australia says.

Western Power is working to restore electricity.

Four firefighters have been injured in the fire, which has burnt more than 71,100 hectares and is contained but not controlled.

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Diversity scorecard: just exactly how did the 2016 Golden Globes fare?

In the past year since the 2015 Golden Globes and awards season hoopla, there has been more discussion about diversity in front of and behind the camera than ever before.

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From Jennifer Lawrence’s op-ed and Patricia Arquette’s Oscars acceptance speech on pay equality, to the Idris Elba black Bond debate and Viola Davis’ empowering Emmy Awards moment, everyone’s eyes were (rightly) on one of Hollywood’s night of nights.

So after a year of talking about it, how exactly did the Golden Globes fare when it comes to the diversity scorecard?

The Globes didn’t get off to a great start to begin with: back in December they confused actress America Ferrara with fellow Latino actress Gina Rodriguez not once, but twice as she read out the 2016 nominations at the offical announcement ceremony. Not one to shy away from speaking her mind, she and Eva Longoria addressed the gaffe directly when they presented an award this time around with the latter introducing herself as “I’m Eva Longoria, not Eva Mendes,” to which Ferrara replied added “Hi, I’m America Ferrera not Gina Rodriguez.” They delivered a one-two punch by following that up with: “And neither of us are Rosario Dawson.”

Denzel Washington became only the third person of colour EVER to be awarded the Cecil B. DeMille trophy for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” (Morgan Freeman and Sidney Poitier being the other two). Considering just two years ago Woody Allen was receiving the very same award, this is a hopeful step in the right direction. Then again in the 60+ year history of the gong, it has only been given out to three non-white winners so…  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Although there was notably more diversity in the pool of nominees, when it came to the actual winners in the major categories the list was still very, very white. There were a few exceptions, with Taraji P. Henson beating out her close friend Viola Davis for best actress in a television drama, Gael Garcia Bernal won for best actor in a television series comedy or musical, Oscar Isaac took the gong home for Show Me A Hero and Alejandro G. Inarritu winning best director for The Revenant – almost a full year after Sean Penn made his cringe-worthy “Who gave this guy a Green Card?” joke at the Oscars.

Racially and sexually progressive shows like Orange Is The New Black and Transparent had six nominations between them, but unfortunately didn’t leave with a single win on the night. In stark contrast to 2015, Transparent wowed the field taking out best television series comedy or musical and Jeffrey Tambor being awarded best performance.

Ava DuVernay was one of the breakout talents of 2015 with her groundbreaking work for Selma, which earned her a best director nomination last year and making her the only female nominee in the male-crowded field. In 2016 there wasn’t a single woman in this category, despite some excellent work from the likes of Sarah Gavron (Suffragette), Patricia Riggen (The 33) and Maya Forbes (Infinitely Polar Bear).

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Vic firies confident they can beat heat

A return of heat and high winds is re-energising the destructive bushfire on Victoria’s surf coast, but firefighters are confident they can keep the fire in check.

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Fire crews endured temperatures into the 30s and increased winds on Monday ahead of a scorching Wednesday, with temperatures to reach the high 30s in the area with strong northerly winds.

At least 350 firefighters and eight water-bombing aircraft worked through Monday to strengthen containment lines around the 2500-hectare Wye River-Jamieson Creek blaze, which destroyed 116 homes over Christmas.

It’s expected the fire will burn right through summer.

“There’s no doubt that we are seeing increased smoke and increased fire activity and that will continue until Wednesday,” incident controller Alistair Drayton told AAP.

“The fire is burning in a very deep, dangerous ravine at the moment and we have done a lot of good work in there, but we will be pulling those crews out of there and increasing our aerial presence.”

Those firefighters will be re-deployed to the flanks of the fire and to the towns of Wye River, Separation Creek and Kennett River, Mr Drayton said.

Additional aircraft will be assigned to fire-bombing duties, he said.

“The temperatures will get up to the high 30s and the winds will increase a lot but we have done a lot of good work over the past week and we are reasonably confident that it won’t be too big an issue come Wednesday,” Mr Drayton said.

In the meantime, crews will continue to strengthen containment lines around the fire.

Residents of Wye River and Separation Creek are being advised to think about their fire plans.

A second group of New Zealand firefighters will join 22 compatriots already at the scene to assist in the fire fight.

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Vic firies confident they can beat heat

A return of heat and high winds is re-energising the destructive bushfire on Victoria’s surf coast, but firefighters are confident they can keep the fire in check.

杭州桑拿

Fire crews endured temperatures into the 30s and increased winds on Monday ahead of a scorching Wednesday, with temperatures to reach the high 30s in the area with strong northerly winds.

At least 350 firefighters and eight water-bombing aircraft worked through Monday to strengthen containment lines around the 2500-hectare Wye River-Jamieson Creek blaze, which destroyed 116 homes over Christmas.

It’s expected the fire will burn right through summer.

“There’s no doubt that we are seeing increased smoke and increased fire activity and that will continue until Wednesday,” incident controller Alistair Drayton told AAP.

“The fire is burning in a very deep, dangerous ravine at the moment and we have done a lot of good work in there, but we will be pulling those crews out of there and increasing our aerial presence.”

Those firefighters will be re-deployed to the flanks of the fire and to the towns of Wye River, Separation Creek and Kennett River, Mr Drayton said.

Additional aircraft will be assigned to fire-bombing duties, he said.

“The temperatures will get up to the high 30s and the winds will increase a lot but we have done a lot of good work over the past week and we are reasonably confident that it won’t be too big an issue come Wednesday,” Mr Drayton said.

In the meantime, crews will continue to strengthen containment lines around the fire.

Residents of Wye River and Separation Creek are being advised to think about their fire plans.

A second group of New Zealand firefighters will join 22 compatriots already at the scene to assist in the fire fight.

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Tyre fire keeps burning in Melbourne

Firefighters expect an out-of-control fire blazing inside a tyre dump in Melbourne’s north to burn for another day and a half and are warning people to stay away from the toxic smoke.

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The fire, which has already burnt through more than 130,000 tyres, started about 9am on Monday at an industrial area in Broadmeadows, attracting some onlookers as it emitted a plume of toxic black smoke visible 75 kilometres from the site.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s deputy chief Andrew Zammit said emergency crews have been attacking the fire with more than 10,000 litres of water and fire retardant each minute.

Two extra-large fire trucks from Melbourne Airport’s fire services were sent to help.

“We knew that these types of fires aren’t easy to extinguish,” he told reporters on Monday.

“We have our friends from the airport who have sent two large trucks that actually deliver quite a large amount of fire-extinguishing medium.”

Sky cranes dropping foam and water from above have helped crews make good headway in extinguishing the blaze, Mr Zammit said.

The EPA is monitoring air quality and fire run-off – such as water and fire-retardant – into nearby rivers and creeks, but Mr Zammit said the MFB’s quality control shows carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels to be “well within our expected limits”.

Residents have nonetheless been warned to stay away and shut windows and doors.

“The smoke is toxic, and if you can, please just watch it on TV,” he said.

Crews will work overnight to put out the blaze, the biggest they have had in a while.

“I have no idea what started this – yet,” Mr Zammit told reporters.

Cooler conditions and forecast rain on Tuesday will help.

Incident Controller David Youssef said the community could be confident the MFB would control the fire but it would take time.

A watch and act message remains for Broadmeadows, Campbellfield, Coolaroo, Dallas, Fawknew, Gladstone Pk, Glenroy, Gowanbrae, Hadfield, Janaca, Lalor, Meadow Heights, Reservoir, Thomastown and Westmeadows.

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ImpediMed considers heart failure trial

Medical technology developer ImpediMed expects to undertake clinical trials of bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) to detect fluid levels in chronic heart failure patients.

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ImpediMed on Monday said it had established a medical advisory board to advise the company on the trials’ design.

Bioimpedance technology involves applying a very mild electrical current to the body with the body’s resistance to the current measured by sophisticated electronics.

The measurements can provide useful information on a patient’s fat mass, fat-free mass and fluid levels.

Detailed knowledge of fluid levels is useful in the treatment of heart failure, cardiovascular complications, potential adverse events in dialysis patients, chronic swelling and lymphoedema (localised fluid retention).

Improving fluid and body composition measurements can lead to better treatment outcomes.

“Management of heart failure is currently a major challenge for patients, their physicians and healthcare systems,” Harvard Clinical Research Institute chief scientific adviser Dr Laura Mauri said.

“We intend to work together to develop clinical studies that will establish whether detection of fluid overload with this non-invasive technology can be used to improve care.”

The medical advisory board will work closely with Dr Mauri on how to incorporate bioimpedance spectroscopy in fluid monitoring and management of chronic heart failure patients.

ImpediMed has already launched a device in the United States, called L-Dex, which can be used to detect lymphoedema.

Shares in ImpediMed closed 0.5 cents lower at $1.075.

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Instagram famous magpie gets book deal

Penguin Bloom, the rescue magpie who has touched hearts of Instagrammers and Australians, will be celebrated in an upcoming book, Penguin Bloom: The odd little bird who saved a family.

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The book, published by ABC Books, will tell the story of Penguin, an injured magpie chick who entered the Australian Bloom family when they needed her most.

Wife and mother, Sam Bloom, had recently suffered a near-fatal fall that had left her paralysed and deeply depressed.

Penguin was abandoned and injured when she, too, fell from her nest.

The parallel of their stories struck a chord with the Bloom family, who took the young chick home and rehabilitated her.

The Bloom family maintain by saving Penguin, they gained a love that saved them from the tragedy their family had just faced.

Penguin’s Instagram page now has over 100,000 followers, and features shots of the magpie as a loved member of the Bloom family.

The photos on the Instagram page are taken by Cameron Bloom; his photography will also feature in the upcoming book.

The new book will be released April 1, 2016.

 

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