Month: April, 2019

$1.4 billion reportedly deposited in Malaysia PM Najib Razak’s account

More than US$1 billion ($1.4 billion) was deposited in the bank accounts of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak – millions more than was previously identified, according to the Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed people familiar with the matter.
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The newspaper published the allegation hours after Malaysia’s former leader Mahathir Mohamad quit his country’s ruling party, saying he did not want to be associated with a group that is seen as supporting corruption under Mr Najib’s leadership.

The Wall Street Journal said millions of dollars arrived in Mr Najib’s accounts in 2011 and 2012, citing two people familiar with flows into the accounts and a person familiar with one overseas investigation.

Mr Najib, a British-educated son of a former Malaysian prime minister who has close ties to the Australian government, denies any wrongdoing and says the allegations are part of a plot to topple his government.

The report will intensify pressure on Mr Najib in the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) where powerful division chiefs have refused to move against him.

The Prime Minister has purged key party members who have questioned the source of the money, put a lid on investigations into his actions and cracked down on media outlets that looked into the case.

Kadir Jasin, an influential commentator in Kuala Lumpur who has supported a fierce campaign against Mr Najib, described Dr Mahathir’s resignation as a “kick in the groin of UMNO”.

Asked about the resignation before travelling to Saudi Arabia for official meetings, Mr Najib smiled but made no comment.

Dr Mahathir, 90, who served as prime minister and president of UMNO for 22 years before stepping aside in 2003, said he has no plans to start a new party.

“I want to leave UMNO because it is no longer UMNO,” he said.

“It’s a party dedicated to protecting Najib. I can’t be a member of such a party.”

Last week Muhyiddin Yassin, a prominent UMNO member and former deputy prime minister, called on Mr Najib to step down over the “dark episode” of his financial dealings involving Malaysia’s heavily indebted sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which the prime minister founded and oversees through an advisory board.

Mr Najib’s loyalists in UMNO then suspended Mr Muhyiddin as UMNO’s deputy president.

Mr Najib has declined to comment on the latest Wall Street Journal allegation.

Malaysia’s attorney-general recently claimed that US$681 million that was deposited into his accounts in 2013 was a donation from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and most was returned.

But the Wall Street Journal and the London-based Sarawak Report earlier reported the money flowed through a series of international transactions from the sovereign fund.

Investigations into the fund are underway in the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

Mr Najib has not directly explained the source of the money or what happened to millions of dollars that is still publicly unaccounted.

But the Prime Minister has declared the matter closed and urged Malaysians to unite and move forward from the scandal that has dogged his leadership for months.

A Malaysian government spokesperson lashed out at the Wall Street Journal over its report, accusing the newspaper of becoming “a willing vehicle for certain political actors who are seeking to damage the prime minister and Malaysia for personal gain.”

The spokesperson said multiple lawful authorities who conducted exhaustive investigations have verified the funds were a donation from Saudi Arabia.

“It is therefore telling that the Wall Street Journal, and its sister entities, are continuing their attacks and trying to link 1MDB (the sovereign fund) to the donation,” the spokesperson said.

“They keep repeating the same old allegations without providing evidence; they keep relying solely on anonymous sources that might not even exist; and they keep choosing to omit key known facts.”

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

How to start running

Teaching yourself how to run for fun starts with the shoes and a great app. The key to learning how to run is mix up your work outs with walking and jogging. Photo: iStock
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Resilience a skill we can all learnHow much weight should you lift?

Running for fitness, not due to being chased by a bear like Leo in The Revenant, has many benefits, not just an excuse to legitimately wear activewear.

However when starting out, in order to become either a seeded sprinter or just to enjoy some fun run follies, it’s all about strolling to the start line.

Walking is a key element when it comes to taking the first steps, especially if you recruit the help of apps to help you learn how to canter.

For those looking for a simple way to get moving you can’t go past the tried and tested Couch to 5K. There’s a reason more than four million people have downloaded it – and not just because it’s free. You’ll be channelling your inner Cathy Freeman in a little over eight weeks when you commit 30 minutes of your life to training three times a week. Like a PT in your earphones it tells you when to walk and when to run and will also ignore your pleas for mercy.

According to Runner’s World – the cardio lovers bible – “Alternate running until you hear your breath, and walking until you catch your breath for a total of 20 minutes. No formulas or intervals—run by your body and breath.”

Physiotherapist and level two distance running coach Jane Miles agrees.

“I find the best way to start running is to intersperse some easy jogging in with some walking. The amount people do and the ratio of running to walking depends on their entry level fitness, but for someone who is already exercising three to four times per week a good way to ease into it is with 20 minutes total,” The Athlete’s Foot running expert said.

“Most people start running too fast and hard. The intensity of these jogs should be such that you could still talk to someone while running. Initially this could be quite slow but eventually as you become fitter and stronger the pace will naturally increase while still being able to maintain the same low intensity.”

Here’s her tips:

Start with 4 minutes of walking, followed by one minute of running. Do this the first two sessions and see how your body responds.

For the next session:

Do three minutes of walking and two minutes of jogging for 20 minutes. Keep this pattern up and you will eventually be running for 20 minutes without a break.

Now for the fun stuff.

The shoes, the music and most importantly the tights or shorts to wear that won’t falter at the first sign of sweat.

When it comes to running, one must be sure the sneakers are fit correctly. It’ll take just one slight injury or strain to realise fashion is nothing over function when you’re on the road to your first marathon or just heading out to your weekly running club meet. Before you start get your kicks fit by professionals – The Athlete’s Foot staff use specific technology and techniques to ensure your trainers are winners for your body and the track.

The choice of running tights are also important, regardless of brand or cost, moisture wicking and a comfortable length are key as these elements will keep you comfortable and chafe free.

Some may enjoy listening to the world around them and treat running like upright meditation, others may need an extra boost. While a banana may load you up with energy, the best of Bananarama will help you burn it off. Be sure to load up your iPod with a range of songs with varying tempos to help you set, steady and quicken your pace when needed.

Like Miles says: “Running can be an enjoyable activity if you do it correctly. For all those people wanting to give it a go, ease into it, start slowly and learn to know your body and your body’s limits. It is then likely to become quite a pleasant way to get fit and feel good.”

Sponsored by The Athlete’s Foot

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Flight to safety drives bond yields back down

ECB president Mario Draghi: market expects further stimulus. Photo: Jasper Juinen Bond yields across the globe are heading down again.
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Government bond yields fell sharply this week as sub-zero inflation, central bank stimulus and investor flight to low-risk assets amid global growth concerns drove up prices across the world.

The latest rally – yields fall as prices climb – has accentuated again the allure of Australian bonds, which offer one of the widest return spreads over European, Japanese and US counterparts.

After easing late in 2015, so-called carry trade – where investors borrow in one currency at a low rate and invest where fixed-income returns are better – is returning, market watchers say.

Economists have ascribed the Australian dollar’s resilience in 2016 partly to demand for the currency from investor flows into the country’s government bond market.

The benchmark Australian government 10-year bond on Tuesday was offering a yield of 2.36 per cent, compared with a high of 2.43 per cent on Monday and a 12-month peak of 3.14 per cent. The current level was last seen in April 2015.

The equivalent US Treasury, meanwhile, was on track this week for its biggest two-month decline in almost four years, Bloomberg data showed. On Tuesday, the 10-year Treasury was offering a 1.73 per cent return, down from 1.76 per cent on Monday and 1.78 per cent late last week.

The latest bout of bond buying was triggered by a raft of disappointing economic data from the US and Europe. Negative inflation rate

Germany’s benchmark 10-year bund yield, for one, hit its lowest point since April 2015 after the eurozone’s annual inflation rate dropped to negative 0.2 per cent in February, from 0.3 per cent in January.

On Tuesday the 10-year bund was offering a yield of just 0.1 per cent, down heavily from 0.14 per cent before Monday’s data release. It was the lowest yield since April 2015, just after the European Central Bank stepped up its quantitative easing, or bond-buying, program in a bid to stimulate investment and growth.

Markets are betting now that the ECB will be forced to expand its stimulatory policy again.

“Inflation is now negative throughout the big four eurozone economies – Germany, France, Italy and Spain – with the core measure also slipping, to 0.7 per cent from 1 per cent,” National Australia Bank’s global co-head of foreign exchange strategy Ray Attrill wrote.

“That is seen to mandate a strong response from the ECB . . . a fact not lost on the bond market,” he said.

Consumer prices across the world have been contained by a combination of low oil prices, flat wage growth, weak aggregate demand and lower input costs.

Even in Australia, where the official consumer price index is well above its US, Japanese and European counterparts, inflation is weak.

The Melbourne Institute said on Monday its monthly inflation gauge for February dropped 0.2 per cent from January, reducing the annual rate from 2.3 per cent to 2.1 per cent.

“The fall is largely due to continued downward pressure in fuel prices, which fell by 5.6 per cent [in February], following a 4.8 per cent fall last month,” Melbourne Institute’s senior research fellow Dr Sam Tsiaplias said.

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Imports surprise points to GDP miss

Trade surprise: net exports’ contribution to GDP growth was overestimated. Photo: Jessica ShapiroEconomists are revising down their estimates for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the December quarter after another set of weaker than expected figures.
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics said net exports’ contribution to GDP would be zero after the trade surplus came in smaller than forecast following a surprise jump in imports.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a 0.3 percentage point contribution from Australia’s trade and foreign income position.

The fourth-quarter current account deficit also blew out further than expected, adding to downward pressure on the income measure of GDP, which includes company profits, wages and rental and interest income.

Some economists began tweaking their GDP estimates after Monday’s surprisingly weak corporate profits and inventory results.

This week’s weaker than expected data, coupled with a sharp fall in building approvals in January, could put pressure on the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut the cash rate again, with the jobs market now central to its deliberations.

The RBA is expected to hold interest rates at 2 per cent when its board meets on Tuesday.

However, some economists expect a further cut as early as May.

“Building approvals were weaker than expected in January, supporting our view that the pipeline of planned housing construction is narrowing,” ANZ Bank economist David Cannington said.

“Today’s data highlights the risk that the Australian economy is unlikely to be able to rely on building construction to support jobs growth and economic activity for much longer. “

Westpac economist Andrew Hanlan was quick to tweak the bank’s GDP calculation on Tuesday.

“We have revised down our forecast for fourth-quarter GDP to 0.3 per cent, lowered from 0.5 per cent,” he said.

“This takes on board the downside surprises from inventories and net exports.”

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Bedroom ‘drops through floor’ as building collapses in Enfield

An excavator demolishes the building, which was structurally unsafe. Photo: Ben Rushton The hairdressing salon before the adjoining building was demolished. Photo: Google StreetView
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Residents evacuated as building collapses in Enfield

The owners of L.A. Lulu’s Touch of Style hairdressing salon stood on Liverpool Road in Enfield on Tuesday and watched as the family business they had built up for nearly 30 years literally was reduced to rubble.

“It’s a bit emotional for all of us, but especially mum, being 28 years there, and my sister has worked there for 15 years. It’s quite a big thing,” said Eleni Endt, as an excavator moved in to demolish the salon’s crumbling walls.

“After 28 years, it’s rubble. We had no opportunity to get anything out.”

The previous evening, the business had closed as usual and one of the salon’s employees, Josh, had retired to the small apartment where he lived above the business.

About 6.30pm, he started to feel vibrations in the floor and saw a crack forming in the wall, so he called Mrs Endt’s mother, Lulu Ross, to report what was happening.

“He felt really nervous, so he left to go to the neighbour’s house,” Mrs Endt said.

“About an hour later, mum rang him back just to see how things were. While she was talking to him, they heard a loud bang in the background. The bang was the wall collapsing. His [Josh’s] bedroom became the bottom floor. It went through … down to the salon, which is below.

“Luckily though he [Josh] had his wits about him and had decided to leave. Otherwise, we’d be having a very different conversation now.”

Police and firefighters arrived at the site on Monday night to find the building had partially collapsed into an adjoining construction site, causing a gas leak.

No one was injured in the incident. About 40 residents were evacuated from surrounding apartments, and spent the night in alternative accommodation.

The decision was made early on Tuesday morning to demolish the salon and apartment, which firefighters said was extremely unstable.

Mrs Endt co-owns the business with her mother, and her sister and brother-in-law Andry and Jim Vareltsis. They watched on Tuesday as an excavator moved in and demolished their business.

Mrs Endt said the building next door had previously been a mechanic’s workshop and smash repairers, but the council had recently given approval for apartments to be constructed there.

The old workshop had been demolished in recent months in preparation for the apartment construction, Mrs Endt said.

“Since then we’ve had vibrations and things like that happening. We kind of didn’t think anything about it though,” she said.

Mrs Endt said her family had insurance for the building, but were yet to speak with the insurance company to work out the finer details.

Despite the shock, Mrs Endt said the local community had shown incredible support.

“We’ve had a couple of people locally saying we could use their home or garage [to run the salon], or even one of the local salon owners said we could use their shop and work there,” she said.

“One of our stockists called to say they’re going to give us free stock to restart the salon, with all the colours, which is really nice. It’s been something positive out of it.”

She said the salon’s customers, including those who had appointments, would be kept up to date on the business’ Facebook page.

West-bound lanes of Liverpool Road remained closed at 1pm on Tuesday, and Detective Superintendent Mark Jones said crews were working to make the area safe for residents to return home.

“At the moment we’re in the process now of trying to knock the premises down to make it safe,” he said.

“We’re obviously very mindful of not causing any damage to any neighbouring premises.”

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