Wednesday, February 22, 2006

the fattest big macs

Hong Kong

Big Macs in Hong Kong contain more fat and cholesterol than those being served anywhere else in the world outside the United States, the fast food giant's website says.

Each Hong Kong burger weighed in at 560 calories, the same as in the US but 80 calories more than Australia, 67 more than Britain and 60 more than the Middle East, according to nutritional information on the company's website.

The Chinese territory's Big Macs had the highest cholesterol content at 85 milligrams each compared with 80 milligrams in the US, and total fat of 31 grams, also the highest in the world, it said.

Nutritionist Georgia Guldan warned against high fat diets that could lead to heart disease and high cholesterol.

"If you eat out ... try to learn something about nutrition recommendations," she said. "Don't just go out ignorantly and eat anything that's cheap."


Saturday, February 18, 2006

doggy patrol

Dogged pursuit

Victoria Police have warned passengers to expect an increased police presence on public transport in the lead up to the Games – and that includes four-footed officers.  A dedicated officer, ready to put his life on the line for our safety – and that goes for his human handler as well.  Members of the Victoria Police Dog Squad will be conducting searches on public transport using highly trained ‘explosive detection’ dogs.

Officers from the Transit Safety Division will also be taking a much higher profile.  “Transit Police are onboard public transport every day of the year,” said Superintendent Kevin Sheridan. “It you’re a regular public transport user you can expect to see more of us around in the lead up to the Games.” 

Dog Squad officers put their canine partners through their paces last Tuesday to show public transport users how they operate on a train in service. They boarded a train at Flinders St, with media, and rode down to South Yarra. 

If you’re wondering why dogs are so useful at detecting explosives, drugs and a packet of M&Ms being opened ½ km away … they have about 220 million scent cells in their noses,  compared to about 5 million in humans. Depending on the breed and the scent being detected, their noses are between 10,000 and 10 million times more effective than ours.

- connexions

Friday, February 17, 2006

coming to a train, tram or bus near you

From the new Victorian anti Tobacco legislation comes into effect from the 1st of March, 2006 smoking will be banned from all covered areas at bus and tram stops and train stations. It means that customers will be able to smoke on platforms but only in an unsheltered area.  That effectively means there will be no smoking at Flinders Street or Southern Cross Stations.  How it's going to be enforce, well we'll find out soon.  The reaction by the public will be as interesting as the staff reaction. Time will tell.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

wining on water

Well I've been a little slow updating my happenings on here, mainly because I need to be more awake when I play with photos than playing around with news articles (but that's always the case when I'm on morning shift).  Last Saturday I ventured down to Waterfront City in the Docklands for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Wine on the Waterfront event.  There was plenty of wine to taste and much more talent to look at.  I even finally managed to meet the cute son who works at Pizzini since I did miss out on seeing him when I actually visited the winery a few years ago with a wine club.  The unfortunate thing about the day was that I was there by myself.  Everyone else was either busy, working, overseas or recovering from a hangover from the night before.  However I did taste my fair share of wine and did enjoy myself until I had enough standing in the brilliant and warm sun, and restricted myself to buying only 3 bottles (one from Pizzini) and then made my way down to St Kilda to meet up with friends for more fun and entertainment for the night at the National Theatre.

These pics were taken on my phone (much better than the last phone since it has a better camera)

Stud from Pizzini

The Enterprize was just sailing around the harbor.   This ship will also carry the Queens Baton for the Commonwealth Games.  The HMAS Yarra will be its escort.

Yes it's me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

praise for $1.3bn rail sell-off

Diversified industrial company Wesfarmers is to sell the Australian Railroad Group (ARG) for $1.3 billion.

Wesfarmers said on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with its joint venture partner, US-based Genesee & Wyoming, to sell ARG to investment group Babcock & Brown and to Queensland Rail (QR).  Analysts welcomed the sale of the underperforming ARG, saying it created space on the diversified industrial's books for more acquisitions.  Following the deal, Babcock & Brown will own and run ARG's rail business in Western Australia, mainly track and infrastructure, while Queensland Rail will own and run the rail haulage business and infrastructure. 

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said on Tuesday the sale would create a second major national rail operator.  "The increased capacity to be delivered by this transaction, bringing together as it does the second and third participants in the Australian freight sector, will provide the scale needed to be competitive in the national market," Mr Goyder said.  Wesfarmers said the $1.3 billion price tag covered freight operations in Western Australia and contracted services operating in NSW and Victoria.  It also included the remaining 43-year lease on the WA rail network.

ARG's South Australian freight services business, accounting for about 15 per cent of the business, would be separately sold to Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) for $20 million.  G&W originally bought the SA rail network in 1997, combining it with the WA assets three years later to form ARG.  "Wesfarmers' share of sale proceeds from the transaction after payment of debt will be approximately $425 million (subject to completion adjustments)," the company said.  "And it will record a pre-tax profit of approximately $235 million on the transactions."

The deal, which is subject to the expected approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, is expected to be completed by the end of this financial year.  Commenting, Shaw Stockbroking analyst Brent Mitchell said on Tuesday divesting the asset was a positive move for Wesfarmers.  "We couldn't see too much in the way of synergies with the other business units," Mr Mitchell said.  "It hadn't been a great performer - in fact it was a terrible performer."  He said Wesfarmers had secured a good price for ARG.  "The price they got was a lot higher than we'd expected from it," he said.  Divesting ARG showed Wesfarmers was not afraid to sell assets which did not fit with the company, he added.  Wesfarmers would either consider more acquisitions, he said, or put some of the cash towards capital expenditure programs.

DJ Carmichael industrial analyst Wendy Chesson said she would like to see the company bolster its energy division.  "It is just a matter of time of what they are looking at doing and where they are going to grow next," she said. Wesfarmers is due to report its interim profit later on Tuesday with analysts tipping a jump in profit on the back of booming coal prices.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said QR's end of the deal, worth $446.5 million, would be financed wholly through QR borrowings.  He said this was the only move available to QR if it was to survive in the competitive national market.  "If QR is to survive, prosper and continue to contribute healthy dividends back to Queensland taxpayers, it must look beyond traditional state borders," Mr Beattie said.  "Rail is a national industry and QR must be able to take advantage of opportunities in the national marketplace in the same way that its competitors are doing.  "With this acquisition, QR will become one of the major rail freight organisations in Australia, reinforcing our reputation as a hub for business and industry, and delivering a range of flow-on benefits to our economy."  Mr Beattie said the deal assured future job security for QR staff, and he encouraged unions to embrace the deal.  QR chief executive officer Bob Scheuber said the deal completed months of hard work and elevated QR into the top two rail freight haulers in the country, enabling it to challenge Pacific National, owned by the warring transport and logistics groups Toll Holdings and Patrick Corporation.  "This strategic acquisition is a critical step in cementing QR's position as a truly national major player," Mr Scheuber said.  "It helps ensure we can meet the needs of customers throughout Australia, who are increasingly looking for an alternative operator to provide seamless services from Cairns to Perth."

ARG's "above rail" assets include 121 narrow and standard gauge locomotives, more than 2000 wagons, terminals and depots in Western Australia, South Australia and NSW.  About 820 ARG staff, mainly train crew, will also be employed by QR.

- aap -

QR to purchase ARG’S above rail business