News/Fox wishes that Australia does 10% of GWTW’s revenue!



Young opener Phil Hughes(left) – he made the plane!

Bruce Manly writes from Melbourne:

BRYCE McGain can be thankful his name is not Andrew Symonds after escaping serious punishment for missing the plane to South Africa. The Victorian leg-spinner missed his flight from Melbourne to join the team in Sydney on Monday. Apparently, he ‘over-slept’ and no-one noticed until they were at the airport.

Amazing. In the day of buses, roll calls, family saying goodbye, modern communications technology, this can happen. Doesn’t say much for management of the team!

McGain had to fly to South Africa via Hong Kong and did not arrive at the Potchefstroom team hotel until Tuesday morning – 12 hours after his teammates. The embarrassed 36-year-old faced the leadership group yesterday. The proceedings remain secret (as usual), but Cricket Australia indicated McGain received a slap on the knuckles for the offence.

McGain is yet to make his international debut but is considered the best leg-spinner in the country (so that’s why he got off?). He was robbed of a Test debut in India in October by a shoulder injury that required surgery. He has returned to form for Victoria and is a strong contender to make his debut in the first Test against Johannesburg starting next Thursday.

By contrast, Symonds was sent into exile after missing a team meeting last year, but he had a number of prior convictions for breaches of team rules. “It has all been dealt with internally,” team coach Tim Nielsen said yesterday. “We had a good chat with Bryce over the last 24 hours. We understand the situation and we looked after it. “As far as we are concerned it’s put to bed. We are happy with the situation and it’s all over.”


Valentine, Oh Valentine,
Say you’ll be mine.
You’re sommer my sunshine, my moon and stars,
My Airoma air-freshener for the old OK Bazaars

My perfumed love-letter, my breeze in the night,
My coffee, my Cremora, my Blitz firelight.
My Crime-stop, my tracker, you’re my AZT,
My pap, my mielie meal, my Nando’s for free;
My lambchop, my dewdrop, my partner in crime,
My chiil, my pepper, my vetkoek sublime.
The list is just endless and that isn’t all,
You’re my sweepstake, my jackpot, my dop and my zol.
I smaak you, my poppie, so much more than my wife,
‘Cause, babe, you’re the ketchup on the slap chips of life

[thanks SteveH]


KOALA Sam – a global face of the Victorian bushfires – has found love.She has fallen in love – with a koala called Bob who is another refugee of this week’s bushfires.The pair now share a cage and have a lot in common, both have survived terrifying bushfires and both have burnt and bandaged feet. They regularly comfort each other with hugs, according to animal carer Colleen Wood said.”They are very affectionate,” Ms Wood said.

“Koalas don’t always get on but these two definitely like each other a lot.”

Sam’s story has captured attention around the world and has provided a story of hope in a week of bad news and tragedy.Ms Wood said the happy couple would continue to share a care as they continued their rehabilitation in coming months.She said Bob was doing well now but it was touch-and-go when he first arrived.”We thought he wasn’t going to make it because he had pneumonia because he had severe smoke inhalation,” she said.While Sam and Bob are lucky Ms Wood many other animals have not fared so well.”We have got animals coming in here with varying degrees of burns, smoke inhalation and other injuries,” she said.

“They all require a lot of care and animal carers are working around the clock.”

[thanks to the Herald Sun for the pic and to the world for its focus on the plight of the animals during our recent bush fires]


On the eve of the last New Zealand vs Australia ODI and before the Aussies climb aboard the Flying Kangaroo for OR Tambo, Bruce Manly has scoured the Aussie media for some snippets of how the boys are feeling about the state of the game.

It shows how hard the Proteas have pushed them off the cliff of superiority and world domination:

** “REMEMBER Australia A? They were the days, weren’t they? Hey … this is just between you and me, OK? Don’t tell anyone and don’t tell the Kiwis but did you hear — our confidence is back? That’s right, the Australian cricket team has regained its confidence after two emphatic … well, sort of emphatic … umm, pretty good wins against New Zealand and will start a $1.40 favourite to win the one-day series in the fifth and deciding game today.That’s a relief, isn’t it? It sure is nice to have confidence again. Of course, a few years ago, sorry a few months ago, we used to eat teams like New Zealand for breakfast and beating them was certainly not a reason for confidence injections — it was expected. Now, despite the fact this series is into its fifth game, is on home dirt and is still alive, we’re telling everyone, with a distinct hint of trepidation, we’re confident.”

** “Ricky Ponting in his newspaper column during the week, called for calm and patience as Australia rebuilds.Ponting wrote: “One-day games and series come and go pretty quickly and while our current results have been disappointing, everybody has to understand there is a long-term plan in place…”

and the journo replies thus:

** “The questions are: since when did we need a long-term plan and where were the long-term plans prior to this summer? Mongrel Punter is fairly certain the plan used to be: we go to the domestic-cricket well, find an in-form player who is about 30 and give him a cap. That’s not good enough any more, now we “need to understand” that we have a plan.Is Punter suggesting our cricket recession has been orchestrated and has nothing to do with the perception that the Australian selectors have been dozing at the wheel for a few years?”

** “Ponting continued: “Even now, we are working towards the 2011 World Cup, blooding players, testing tactics and finding out who performs under pressure.”

the hacks can’t help themselves:

** “Well, yes, when you lose consecutive Test series, a one-day series and you struggle to beat New Zealand, you are under pressure … and what’s all this talk of “blooding players”? For years now, the Australian selectors have been criticised for not blooding players in dead rubbers or against Test minnows such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Indeed, who can forget Langer, Hayden, Ponting, Steve Waugh, Lehmann and Gilchrist lining up to bludgeon Zimbabwe into submission on their way to 735 in 2003? Of course, that was only a few months after we rattled Bangladesh in Darwin with the usual suspects wining by an innings and 132 runs — no talk of long-term plans and blooding players back then. Suddenly, with things rock-bottom, we are “blooding” players or — as was the case with Dave Warner — feeding them to the wolves (let’s just hope they treat him better than poor old Jason Krejza).”

and the last word:

** “Pardon me for not rejoicing in our new-found confidence, but it all sounds a bit like the selectors are making it up on the run and that $2.95 on the Black Caps today seems mighty tempting. One thing is sure; Michael Hussey’s confidence is back, so the $6 on him making the most runs for Australia is worth a look.”


SIR Richard Branson has spoken about “laughing his head off” after receiving a now infamous complaint letter regarding the quality of food aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight.

The letter has swept the internet following the author’s flight from Mumbai to Heathrow in December in which he details his “culinary journey of hell” complete with photos of the curious looking food.

London’s Daily Telegraph has since identified the man as 29-year-old advertising executive Oliver Beale.

Sir Richard told Fairfax Media that he had offered the man the task of suggesting improvements to Virgin’s in-flight meals.

“I read it and laughed my head off. I was on holiday so I gave him a ring and we had a good laugh together,” he said.

“We have actually won prizes in India (for our food) but it obviously wasn’t to an Englishman’s taste at all and I said we would make sure we tried to get the presentation more to his taste next time. I offered him the job of coming down the airline and seeing if he could help in terms of presentation.”

Sir Richard said the letter had taken on “a life of its own” and now has some speculating whether it was a media stunt by Virgin.

“The man sent an email to his friends saying Richard Branson offered me a job and his friend posted it to another friend and then it has become one of the most read letters of any company … after a week I noticed the Financial Times thought it was one of our PR people that had actually started the whole thing in the first place,” he said.

[thanks The Age]


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This sequence of pics mirrors a happy story from the Victoria bush fires. A koala was saved by a CFA volunteer, shared his water bottle and was christened Ken.

Further investigation necessitated a change to Sam.

Following on from the articles in many sectors of the media, it seems as if we have some terrible murderers in our midst..

Here’s the latest from Sky News:

There have been two arrests in relation to Victoria’s deadly bushfires.


Earlier, Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said arsonists were responsible for Victoria’s Churchill fire and Marysville fires.

Ms Nixon said on Thursday police were continuing to investigate whether arsonists caused more of the devastating bushfires that have so far claimed more than 180 lives.

Police now believed the Churchill fire, which claimed 21 lives, and the Marysville fire, where 15 dead have been identified, were deliberately lit.

‘We’re sure that the fire in Churchill… was deliberately lit and we have now been given some information that makes us suspicious about the Marysville fire,’ she told the Nine Network.

‘It’s a matter of other fires that we’re looking at as well. We’re trying to get there as quickly as we can.’

Ms Nixon said a large team of police were gathering clues in the hunt for any arsonists behind the fires.

Victorian police announced a task force, named Phoenix, on Tuesday bringing in 100 police to investigate all fire-related deaths from the bushfires, and say they are confident of making arrests.

Police had already spoken to some suspects over the deadly Victorian bushfires, she said.

‘We’re obviously working very hard on that investigation and we’ve spoken to a number of suspects so far but it’s still an ongoing investigation,’ Ms Nixon told the Seven Network.

‘We’ll get there, but it is a matter of piecing together all of the evidence and getting information from the various groups so that we can add that to our current investigation.’

It’s feared as many as 100 people may have been killed in Marysville alone.

Ms Nixon said police were prepared to lay a charge of murder by arson – with a 25-year jail penalty – against anyone believed to have caused one of the fatal bushfires.

She added that police had received reports that more fires had been deliberately lit since Saturday.

‘We certainly have had reports of other fires being lit,’ Ms Nixon said.

‘You and I would just be staggered by that, but that’s what we’re certainly seeing. We’ve been investigating those as well.’

Croakey writes on an issue which should be creating sleepless nights for the Department of Health. It already is, down the road at the Pharmacy Guild.

The stellar results reported on Wednesday by JB Hi-Fi (41% rise in net profit); the steady progress by Woolworths and the solid Metcash performance raise questions not only for the total retail market, but particularly for the Healthcare sector.

After all, healthcare companies – and particularly those with retail pharmacy dominance – should be ‘insured’ against recession. They cater for market which needs their products (much like Woolworths and groceries).

In fact, the largest health and beauty retailer in the Southern Hemisphere (New Clicks in South Africa) has started a ‘lipstick barometer’ to explain their continued impressive growth and shareholder returns. It’s a well known fact that consumers spend more on lip colour in a time of recession, and with our ageing population it’s our pharmacies who keep us alive with chronic medication!

At the other end of the spectrum we have Australian Pharmaceutical Industries’ chairman Peter Robinson wringing his hands in exasperation at the 50.5c API share price and the normally ebullient Sigma CEO Elmo de Alwis staying well below the parapet with a share price languishing at $1.06. (share prices as at 12th February 2009).


APIs share price over the last 2 years (source: ASX)

The third player Symbion is now privately-owned by Zuellig but Metcash’s bid to buy them was thwarted by Terry White threatening to withdraw support if Symbion was bought by a ‘dreaded’ and efficient retailer.

At the AGM, Robinson tried to spin that it was all about the ASX performance and market sentiment. The share price fluttered to 53c and then returned back to its previous level of 50.5c. And, let’s not forget that in the heady days of 2006, this was a share price in the upper $2s and has declined steadily since – hitting 35c just before Christmas 2008.


Sigma’s share price over the last 2 years (source:ASX)

Perhaps the answer lies in the address given at the API AGM by its taciturn CEO Stephen Roche. In his address to shareholders, Roche fired off the first salvo in the negotiations for the next Government-Pharmacy Guild agreement due to commence later this year and become effective in 2010 for another five years.

Roche’s theme was that API ‘stood firm behind its pharmacists’ and supported ‘fully’ any moves to retain regulation within the sector.

Added to this, speeches and company policy at the recent Dubai junket which Sigma gave its leading pharmacists were concurrent with their support of a ‘no change’ to the regulations.

It seems that the industry is locked in the 90s. Terrified of competition, secure that their management mandarins can continue to earn massive bonuses for less than stellar performance and allow the Pharmacy Guild to wield unnatural power in Canberra.

The market does not like it. The marketplace (ie the suppliers and consumers) do not like it. They want efficiency, cheaper medicines, more convenience and, above all, integrity.

Shares will continue to languish. Current shareholders will remain disaffected. The sector is crying out for change.

Are we going to see it in the next Guild-Government agreement? It’s something that should be occupying the minds of the Department of Health. Especially as a heavy-hitter lobbyist from the Rudd camp has been hired to work on behalf of the Guild.

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