Daily Archives: January 5, 2016

Greek islands potential Nobel Peace Prize winner


A global campaign is seeking to have the Greek islands of the East Aegean nominated for their contributions to the refugee crisis

A campaign has been launched online in a bid to recognise the efforts of Greek locals on the islands of the East Aegean, namely Lesvos, for their unwavering assistance and generosity during the refugee crisis as recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The native populations of the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea (and many other external, worldwide, non-profit organizations and diaspora Greeks) have done and are doing anything possible to help the displaced Syrian refugees and make them as comfortable as possible, although they themselves have very little to offer,” reads the global campaign on the Aveez website.

Set up by an American going by the name of Stephen K, once the campaign draws to a close the activist has plans to send the signatures to the Nobel Prize Committee.

Considered to be the biggest wave of mass migration since the second world war, of the estimated 900,000 migrants to have arrived in Europe last year, at least 750,000 have travelled through Greece, 60 per cent of which arrived on the shores of Lesvos.

Included amongst the numerous acts of kindness were locals scrambling to find dry clothes for those arriving on the shores, along with mothers and grandmothers from around the islands caring for babies and young children found unassisted and without parents.

Many churches have been converted into makeshift clinics with the assistance of volunteer nurses and doctors catering to the injured as hospitals and emergency services have been stretched to their limits.

While local authorities have been hard at work trying to track down the names of any refugees missing at sea.

Aside from their general willingness to assist the refugees with food, shelter and medical care, the campaign also endeavours to highlight that the influx of refugees occurred during a particularly difficult time for Greece, which has found itself at the centre of a harsh economic crisis barely able to assist and cater for its own people.

“Despite being subjected to a severe economic crisis for many years[,] they have shown their Christ-like behaviour with acts of filotimo, love, respect and filoxenia to those who are total strangers to them!” reads the campaign.

Stephen hopes these acts and sacrifices do not go unrecognised, stating that the actions of the Greeks have been “significant contributors to World Peace and Stability, and are clear examples of love for others in the world to use and to learn from.”

To date, the campaign has already attracted more than 43, 530 signatures, close to reaching its target of 50,000.

source:neos kosmos

Bodies of 21 asylum seekers, including children, found on Turkey’s Aegean coast, authorities say


The bodies of 21 asylum seekers, three of them children, have washed up at two separate locations on Turkey’s Aegean coast, Turkey’s gendarmerie says, after their boat apparently capsized as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

A gendarmerie official in the local headquarters told Reuters 11 of the bodies were discovered on the shoreline in the district of Ayvalik, while 10 others were found in the district of Dikili.

A coast guard official said three boats and a helicopter were searching for any survivors.

Images published by Dogan news agency showed the small corpses of children, fully dressed and wearing shoes, lying on the beach with their life-jackets still on.

There were no details on the nationality of the victims.

The images of the small lifeless bodies on the sand echo those of three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, the pictures of whose corpse lying face down on a Turkish beach in September 2015 spurred Europe into greater action on the migrant crisis.

Turkey, which is home to some 2.2 million refugees from Syria’s civil war, has become a hub for those seeking to move to Europe, many of whom pay people smugglers thousands of dollars for the risky crossing

The UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have said more than one million asylum seekers and refugees reached Europe in 2015, most of them by sea.

The vast majority — more than 800,000 — landed in Greece, according to the figures.

The onset of winter and rougher sea conditions do not appear to have deterred the migrants, with boats still arriving on the Greek islands daily.


Dick Smith enters receivership due to bad sales, banking woes


Electronics retailer Dick Smith has gone into receivership, with Ferrier Hodgson appointed to run the firm following a failure to secure adequate funding to support the business.

Dick Smith employs around 3,300 people across 393 stores in Australia and New Zealand, leaving those jobs at risk if a buyer for the business cannot be found.

The firm’s management said sales and cash generation were below expectations in the key December trading period, continuing a poor run in the later part of 2015.

Dick Smith said that, while confident in the long-term viability of the company, the directors were unable to secure support from the company’s bankers to provide finance for restocking to see it through the next month to six weeks.

That caused them to appoint McGrathNicol as administrators to run the firm while restructuring or sale options are explored.

However, after the appointment of administrators, Dick Smith’s lenders appointed receivers to run the firm and protect their financial interests.

The receivers – James Stewart, Jim Sarantinos and Ryan Eagle from Ferrier Hodgson – say that Dick Smith stores will continue to operate as usual while they evaluate restructuring or selling the group, or parts of it.

“Dick Smith is one of the best known brands associated with consumer electronics in Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Stewart said in a statement.

“We are immediately calling for expressions of interest for a sale of the business as a going concern.”

However, he also said that any outstanding gift vouchers held by customers will not be honoured and deposits will not be refunded.

Instead, consumers in those situations will have to stand in line with other unsecured creditors of the company and may only get a small fraction of their money back.

The first creditors’ meeting will be held next Thursday, January 14, at the Wesley Centre in Sydney.

The company had halted trade in its shares on Monday as the company sought to refinance its debt.

They last traded on December 31, 2015 at 35.5 cents.

Poor Christmas sales the final straw

Shares in Dick Smith plunged 83 per cent over 2015, largely due to profit downgrades in October and November.

In November, the retailer slashed the value of its inventories by $60 million, or some 20 per cent.

An analyst at financial firm IG, Evan Lucas, said the company’s cash flow problems have not improved since then.

“Clearly their syndicate loan leads, being NAB and HSBC, saw the numbers and were not impressed with what they saw and called in their loan, which net debt sits around $40 million for Dick Smith,” said Mr Lucas.

“It’s a very sad situation for shareholders, it obviously means they won’t be able to get out of the company and they may only get cents back in the share.”

Dick Smith shares opened on the market at $2.20 when it was floated by private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners in December 2013, valuing the company at $520 million.

Anchorage bought the business from Woolworths for about $20 million in cash upfront just a year earlier – in total the private equity firm ended up paying around $115 million.

Dick Smith Electronics was started by its namesake as a car radio installation business on Sydney’s North Shore in 1968.

Australian retail giant Woolworths took a majority stake in the business in 1980 and full ownership two years later as the electronics chain expanded nationally, before selling it to Anchorage in 2012.

Dick Smith: What went wrong?
Private equity group Anchorage Capital bought Dick Smith from Woolworths in 2012 for an initial payment of just $20m.

Anchorage then “dressed the company up to look good for just one thing – to persuade people to buy shares,” according to analysts from Forager Funds Management.

Anchorage “wrote down the value of the inventory, took provisions for future onerous lease payments, wrote down the value of the plant and equipment and liquidated a lot of the inventory as quickly as they possibly could to throw off cash,” according to Forager’s Steve Johnson.

The cash was then used by Anchorage to effectively make Dick Smith ‘buy itself’.

The writedowns inflated profits, a key factor in enticing investors into the company.

For example: a stock item that may have been bought for $100 may have been in the books at $60 after the writedowns, which meant an extra $40 profit on every sale.

The writedown of plant and equipment lowered depreciation charges, also boosting the bottom line.

“But when they liquidated all that inventory to pay for the purchase price, they didn’t replace it,” according to Forager’s Steve Johnson.

“And the new owners of the business, since it’s been listed on the stock market, have had to put in a lot more money to fund the increase in inventory.”


Newcastle:Warnings of heavy rain and flash flooding across Hunter as low pressure system forms

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UPDATE, 9pm: THE Hunter has been hit by a 24 hour deluge that saw hundreds of millimetres of rain cause flooding from Wallsend to Bulahdelah.

Emergency service volunteers worked into the wee hours of Wednesday morning responding to hundreds of calls for assistance from Hunter residents caught up in sometimes frightening weather conditions.

Eight properties in Dungog were evacuated as the Bureau of Meteorology predicted minor flooding of the Williams River, and the Chichester Dam began to spill.

In Newcastle two people were rescued from a car by fire crews in Tighes Hill, and dozens of roads were closed due to flooding, including Industrial Drive at Mayfield, and University Drive at Waratah, where two cars were briefly underwater.

Between 30 and 60 millimetres of rain fell on parts of the city in less than half an hour on Tuesday afternoon, and 2200 homes lost power in Mayfield and Waratah.

In Wallsend, where the flash flooding was at its worst, Newcastle City Council send out evacuation alerts to residents warning of imminent flash flooding.

A number of low-lying streets in that suburb, including Nelson Street, were closed.

Cars were submerged on Maryland Drive, cricket grounds and skate parks inundated, and drains were transformed into rushing torrents of water.

State Emergency Services spokesman Phil Campbell said on Tuesday night that the majority of call outs had been for minor issues leak leaking roofs.

However, the Bureau of Meteorology flagged falls of as much as 200 millimetres of rain in some localised areas, as well as the potential for an east coast low pressure system to form off the coast, meaning conditions could worsen in the early hours of Wednesday.

Further north, heavy rain fell for most of the day in parts of the Myall Lakes and at Buladelah, where the main road had to be closed after more than 200 millimetres of rain fell in a 24 hour period.

Anthony Dorney lives on Markwell Road just north of Bulahdelah. He was up at 4am on Tuesday moving their cattle and horses to higher ground.

“I was wading through water about waist deep at 4am to get to them,” he said. “The paddocks they were in are under water now.”

A number of severe weather warnings and flood alerts remained in place overnight, with moderate flooding expected in the Hunter River at Bulga, and minor flooding of the Williams River at Dungog.

Two campers had to be rescued in the Myall Lakes, and five people clambered out of a car after it became stuck in about one metre of water at Pokolbin.

UPDATE, 7.30pm: THE State Emergency Service is responding to more than 200 calls for assistance across the lower Hunter on Tuesday night.
There were reports of flash flooding at a number of locations across Newcastle, with a number of roads inundated.

The majority of calls for assistance so far were in the lower Hunter in Newcastle and Maitland, the majority for minor roof leaks.

The Bureau of Meterology said that an average of 60 millimetres of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours to 6pm on Tuesday, with more forecast rain expected to cause minor flooding at Dungog and Mill Dam Falls later on Tuesday.

The Bureau said it was not possible to predict the flood peak because of uncertainty over how much more rain will fall.

However Dungog is expected to exceed the minor flood level of 4.9 metres at about 11pm on Tuesday, and Mill Dam Falls is expected to exceed the minor flood level of 6.1 metres at about 9am on Wednesday.

Phil Campbell from the State Emergency Services said the conditions were “no-where near” the April storms that swept through the Hunter, but predicted isolated rain falls of about 200 millimetres in some localised areas “could cause some issues”.

He said specialist crews had been placed at some areas including Dungog, and extra volunteers had been called in from Sydney.

While the majority of calls for assistance were for minor issues, there have been some rescues required.

Two campers were rescued by the State Emergency Services from a site at Myall Lakes, while at Tighes Hill firefighters reportedly rescued two people from a car caught in floodwater.
UPDATE, 6pm: TORRENTIAL rain has soaked parts of Newcastle on Tuesday afternoon, with some areas receiving between 30 and 60 millimetres in less than an hour.

There are currently flood warnings in place for Bulahdelah – where the main street is closed – and parts of the Hunter River near Bulga, while the Bureau of Meterology has also issued a flood watch for large swathes of the Hunter including Lake Macquarie and the Newcastle CBD.
Humid easterly winds are feeding into a trough on the NSW coast, generating widespread rain.
A small low pressure centre may form within the trough, most likely off the Hunter or Mid North Coast.

Widespread rain totals of 30 to 60 mm are likely during this time, and isolated falls of 200 mm are possible.

About 194 millimetres of rain fell on Bulahdelah between 9am on Monday and 9am on Tuesday.

Another 69 millimetres fell between 9am and 5pm.

Upper Chichester near Barrington Tops received 155 millimetres in that time, and Bungwahl copped 135 millimetres.

Closer to town the northern parts of Newcastle were the worst affected – with Wallsend among the worst, receiving 57 millimetres between 9am and 5pm.

The Bureau issued a flood warning for the Hunter River after as much as 105 millimetres of rain fell in the Wollombi Brook catchment area in the 24 hours to 4pm on Tuesday.
That’s expected to cause moderate flood levels of 3.7 metres in Bulga at about 8pm.
Further rain is likely, potential leading to high flood water levels.

The Bureau says that Singleton, Maitland and Raymond Terrace are likely to stay below the minor flood level.