Rosberg wins eventful Australian GP

Nico Rosberg delivered on Mercedes’ promise as 2014 favourites with a

dominant victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was second, fending off Dane Kevin Magnussen, who made a stellar debut for McLaren.

He beat team-mate

Jenson Button into fourth, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fifth

from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.

Rosberg’s team-mate

Lewis Hamilton started from pole position

but retired on lap three with an engine problem.


Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are both forced to retire early on in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

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Hamilton Vettel retire early on

Hamilton had a cylinder failing to fire from the very start of the race, and was down to fourth behind Rosberg and Ricciardo by the first corner.

The 2008 world champion dropped to fifth by the end of the first lap and was called into the pits shortly afterwards.

World champion Sebastian Vettel also hit early power-unit trouble in his Red Bull, retiring a lap later than Hamilton with an engine failure.

Ricciardo is currently under investigation by race stewards, who are looking into excessive fuel flow in the Red Bull.

Eight cars failed to finish as F1 started a new era with high-tech turbo hybrid engines and a limit of no more than 100kg of fuel for a race distance.

Hamilton’s retirement left Rosberg unopposed out front and the German drove a controlled race in what is clearly a dominant car to lead until the end.

Kamui Kobayashi

Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi’s race ended prematurely after a collision with Felipe Massa on lap one

“It’s been an amazing day,” said Rosberg. “I’m over the moon really, everyone has worked so hard over the winter and to have such an amazing Silver Arrow. I’m really thankful to Mercedes for giving me such an amazing car.

“There is a lot of work to do. We can still improve a lot and we must because the competitors are not going to be asleep.”

Behind him, Ricciardo was able to complete a race distance in a Red Bull for the first time since the car appeared at the end of January.

The team have bounced back impressively from a troubled pre-season testing programme and had previously not managed to do more than about 20 laps in a row.

“Two or three weeks ago I would have bet pretty much everything I had that we would not be standing up there,” said Ricciardo. “Full credit to the team for an unbelievable turnaround. I don’t know how they did it but they did.”

Valtteri Bottas (left) and Kimi Raikkonen

Valtteri Bottas (left) managed to finish sixth even after he hit the wall on the exit of Turn 10 and broke a wheel

The Australian was in a comfortable second place for most of the race but came under pressure from Magnussen in the final 20 laps.

Magnussen was within a second of the Red Bull with five laps to go but Ricciardo was able to hold on to the end.

Behind them, Button was unable to close on Magnussen, but beat Alonso by jumping ahead of the Ferrari at their final pit stops.

“It’s hard to believe,” said Magnussen. “It seems so surreal. The car was so much better than it has been at any point. I just had exactly what I needed the whole race. The preparation we have done this winter has been fantastic.”

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was sixth after an incident-packed race in which he hit the wall on the exit of Turn 10 and broke a wheel, triggering a safety car period.

The Finn dropped back to 16th place but used the pace of the Williams to fight back up the field.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg ran fourth in the early stages after jumping up from seventh on the grid and passing Alonso on the first lap.


Watch some of Formula 1's best opening races

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Spectacular starts to the F1 season

But the German slipped back to finish seventh ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and rookie Daniil Kvyat took the final points in ninth and 10th places. The Russian replaces Vettel as the youngest points scorer in F1 history.

Full Australian Grand Prix race results

Details for BBC coverage of the 2014 F1 season

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/26599556

France 20-22 Ireland

Ireland gave Brian O’Driscoll the perfect send-off with a nerve-jangling victory over France in Paris that saw the visitors clinch the Six Nations title.

Ireland needed to win in France for only the second time in 42 years to pip England, who also finished with four wins, on points difference.

Jonathan Sexton and Andrew Trimble scored tries for Ireland in the first half but Ireland trailed 13-12 at the break, Brice Dulin having crossed for the hosts.

After the restart Sexton and Dimitri Szarzewski exchanged tries, Jean-Marc Doussain missed a late penalty and Damien Chouly had a last-minute try disallowed for a forward pass.

Final 2014 Six Nations table

P

W

L

Pts dif

Pts

Ireland

5

4

1

83

8

England

5

4

1

73

8

Wales

5

3

2

43

6

France

5

3

2

1

6

Scotland

5

1

4

-91

2

Italy

5

0

5

-109

0

It is only Ireland’s second Six Nations title and the first since they won the Grand Slam in 2009. Defeat for France means they finish fourth in the table.

It was a fitting way for O’Driscoll, playing his 133rd Test for Ireland and 141st in total, to go out after 15 remarkable years at the top of the game.

O’Driscoll was given a rapturous welcome by the Stade de France crowd and it proved to be an emotional farewell for him and the travelling Irish faithful.

In between it was never likely to be easy for Ireland, whose last victory in Paris came in 2000, when O’Driscoll declared his greatness to the world with a stunning hat-trick of tries.

Scrum-half Maxime Machenaud, forming France’s third different starting half-back pairing of this year’s tournament alongside Remi Tales, kicked the first points of the game after Chris Henry was penalised for not releasing at the tackle.

France looked sharp in the opening exchanges, making Ireland play in their own half and competing with gusto at the breakdown.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s side, who were given a fearful drubbing by the French media in the build-up, also seemed to have extra pep in their attack.

And when Mathieu Bastareaud ran over Gordon D’Arcy, France should have had their first try, but the giant centre threw a wild forward pass.

Ireland slowly chiselled their way into the game, Sexton working an opening with a cute inside pass to Dave Kearney, who made a half-break.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the Six Nations trophy

Ireland survived a late assault to secure a Six Nations title that gives Brian O’Driscoll the perfect farewell

But when the winger became isolated attempting to run the ball from his own 22 and was penalised, Machenaud put boot to ball to double France’s lead.

O’Driscoll received treatment after tackling marauding French hooker Dimitri Szarzewski, but the French front row were also being given headaches by their Irish counterparts and the first two scrums ended in penalties for the visitors.

The second of those penalties led to the first try of the match, Henry finding Sexton with a back-of-the-hand pass from the base of the scrum and Ireland’s fly-half scurrying over from five metres out. Sexton missed the conversion.

Ireland did not have to wait long for their second try. Scrum-half Conor Murray broke through a couple of weak French tackles and having found Trimble inside him, the Ulster wing galloped over unopposed.

This time Sexton added the extras, but France hit back almost immediately.

Having had several darts at the Irish line off the back of a line-out drive, Tales kicked diagonally and Yoann Huget tapped the ball back brilliantly for full-back Dulin to score in the corner.

Official match stats

France

Ireland

47%

Possession

53%

50%

Territory

50%

3 (1)

Scrums won (lost)

7 (2)

10 (1)

Line-outs won (lost)

13 (1)

8

Pens conceded

9

82 (2)

Rucks won (lost)

79 (4)

28

Possession kicked

40

96 (15)

Tackles made (missed)

139 (18)

385

Metres made

353

16

Offloads

5

1

Line breaks

5

(provided by Opta)

Machenaud’s conversion gave the hosts the lead again but Ireland should have led at the break, Sexton missing a relatively straight-forward penalty kick on the stroke of half-time after Thomas Domingo infringed at the breakdown.

France looked better for the rest at the start of the second half, the recalled Louis Picamoles blowing a hole in the Irish defence with one carry. But when another French attack faltered shortly after, Ireland hit them hard on the counter.

Trimble found O’Driscoll outside him and for a second it looked like the Irish legend might go out with a try, but he was brought down just short of the line. But the French defence was slow to reorganise and Sexton scampered over for his second try of the game. And this time, he made the conversion count.

Sexton increased Ireland’s lead to nine points with a penalty, France having infringed at a maul, only for Szarzewski to score at the base of the posts after a prolonged period of pressure by the hosts and set up a thrilling finale. The plot became thicker when replays suggested Szarzewski had knocked the ball on.

Bastareaud, who had a mighty game with ball in hand, delivered Sexton a knockout blow after 68 minutes, meaning Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt had to throw the inexperienced Ian Madigan into the game.

Replacement scrum-half Doussain had a chance to nick the lead for France with 10 minutes remaining but pulled his fairly simple penalty effort wide of the uprights.

And France should have stolen the win with a minute remaining but Vincent Debaty’s final pass to Chouly, who was in acres of the space on the right wing, was correctly adjudged to have gone forward by the video referee.

It was a monumental defensive performance by Ireland and proof that Schmidt’s ageing outfit still has plenty to offer and could be a factor at next year’s World Cup – albeit without the iconic O’Driscoll among their ranks.

Team line-ups

France:

Dulin; Huget, Bastareaud, Fickou, Medard; Tales, Machenaud; Domingo, Szarzewski, Mas, Pape, Maestri, Picamoles, Lapandry, Chouly.

Replacements:

Mermoz for Fickou (75), Doussain for Machenaud (66), Debaty for Domingo (41), Guirado for Szarzewski (68), Slimani for Mas, Flanquart for Maestri (53), Vahaamahina for Picamoles (66), Lauret for Lapandry (75).

Ireland:

R Kearney; Trimble, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, D Kearney; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Ross, Toner, O’Connell, O’Mahony, Henry, Heaslip.

Replacements:

McFadden for D’Arcy (66), Madigan for Sexton (68), Reddan for Murray (63), McGrath for Healy (70), Cronin for Best (70), Moore for Ross (63), Henderson for O’Mahony (63).

Not Used:

Murphy.

Att:

80,000

Ref:

Steve Walsh (Australia).

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Australia in surprise jobs boost

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Australia to purchase US drones

File photo: Prime Minister Tony AbbottMr Abbott said the drones are essential to Australia’s national security

Australia has announced it will buy unmanned surveillance drones from the US to protect its borders and commercial interests.

The fleet, to be based in Adelaide, would provide the defence force “with unprecedented maritime surveillance capabilities”, PM Tony Abbott said.

The drones would also be used to protect energy resources, he added.

The drones, which are still being tested by the US navy, can remain airborne for up to 33 hours.

The number of drones to be purchased is yet to be determined.

“We do need to have a strong defence – national security is as important as economic security when it comes to the good government of our country,” Mr Abbott said.

“Given that Australia has responsibility for something like 11% of the world’s oceans, it’s very important that we’ve got a very effective maritime surveillance capability.”

The MQ-4C Triton drones, which are unmanned aerial vehicles used for surveillance, can cruise at altitudes up to 55,000 feet.

The vehicle’s size is comparable to a small aircraft with a wingspan of 40 metres (131 feet), Reuters news agency says.

In Australia, the drones are to be stationed at Adelaide’s air force base.

Mr Abbott said the purchase plan would boost South Australia’s economy with about A$100m ($90m, £54m) in investments.

The announcement comes as Australia steps up its maritime border patrols to deter asylum seekers arriving by boat from neighbouring Indonesia.

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Australia ‘to stick’ with flag

Flagmakers Victor Gizzi (L) and David Moginie pose next to flags of New Zealand (L) and Australia (R) in their factory near Wellington, New Zealand on 3 March 2014Both the Australian (R) and New Zealand (L) flags feature the Union Jack

Australia’s foreign minister says there is “no great demand” to change the national flag, a day after New Zealand announced a referendum on the subject.

Julie Bishop, who is visiting the UK, said she believed Australia would “stick with” the current flag.

Both the Australian and New Zealand flags include the Union Jack – the UK’s national flag.

New Zealand’s PM said on Tuesday that the flag represented history from which New Zealand had moved on.

Speaking late on Tuesday, Ms Bishop said changing the flag was “not an issue that actually draws much attention in Australia”.

“There’s no great demand to change it and many Australians have fought and died under that flag, sadly,” she said.

“We have competed in Olympic Games under that flag and there’s a sense of pride in it.”

Opposition leader Bill Shorten also said he was “not keen” to change the flag, saying it reflected Australia’s history.

The referendum in New Zealand is to be held within the next three years, Prime Minister John Key announced on Tuesday.

“It’s my belief… that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed,” he said in a speech.

Mr Key said that he liked the silver fern – popularised by national teams including the All Blacks – as an option.

But he said he was open to all ideas and that retaining the current flag was “a very possible outcome of this process”.

A group of cross-party lawmakers would oversee the vote process and a steering group would seek public submissions for new flag designs, he said.

Are you in the region? What do you think about the New Zealand flag? How would you redesign the New Zealand flag? Send us a picture of your design using the form below.

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Major blackout hits Australia city

Map

The northern Australian city of Darwin has been hit by a major power blackout, forcing schools to close and knocking out traffic lights.

The power cut, which was caused by a tripped circuit at a sub-station, affected all of Darwin and towns up to 300km (185 miles) away.

Government offices were closed for the day and the bus network was affected.

Power was eventually restored more than 12 hours after the outage began in the early hours of Wednesday, reports say.

The power cut hit the whole of the city of 130,000 and extended south to the town of Katherine.

“Technicians have been working since the outage occurred to restore power to affected areas,” Power and Water, the area’s electricity provider said in a statement, adding that it apologised “to customers for today’s extended outage”.

The Northern Territory (NT) government is to hold an inquiry into what happened, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Earlier, a statement on the NT government’s website read: “The NT public service has mobilised its emergency management protocols to ensure the community’s safety.”

All schools were closed, as were the courts. Motorists were urged to use extra caution because of the traffic lights’ failure, although local reports said police were manning road junctions.

“Unless advised by their department, Territory public servants are encouraged to stay at home and await further advice on power restoration,” the statement said.

The airport had a back-up generator and was functioning as normal during the blackout, reports said, as was the local hospital.

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New Zealand to vote on flag change

A man holds a New Zealand flag at a ceremony in Christchurch on 22 February 2012Mr Key said that the current flag represented a “post-colonial era” that had passed

New Zealand is to hold a referendum on whether to change the national flag, Prime Minister John Key has announced.

Mr Key, who on Monday called an election for 20 September, said the vote would be held within three years.

The current flag shows the Southern Cross constellation and includes the Union Jack – the UK’s national flag – in one corner.

Mr Key said the flag represented a period of history from which New Zealand had moved on.

“It’s my belief… that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed,” he said in a speech at Victoria University.

“The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom.”

“I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag.”

Mr Key said that he liked the silver fern – popularised by national teams including the All Blacks – as an option, saying efforts by New Zealand’s athletes gave “the silver fern on a black background a distinctive and uniquely New Zealand identity”.

But he said he was open to all ideas and that retaining the current flag was “a very possible outcome of this process”.

‘No need’

A group of cross-party lawmakers would oversee the vote process and a steering group would seek public submissions for new flag designs, he said.

An All Black supporter waves a flag during a New Zealand All Blacks IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 fan day on 18 September 2011 in Christchurch, New ZealandMr Key said his preference was for the silver fern, currently associated with national sports teams

Mr Key said there was no move to cut ties with the British monarchy.

“We retain a strong and important constitutional link to the monarchy and I get no sense of any groundswell of support to let that go,” he said.

It is not clear to what extent there is support for changing the flag. One poll late last month showed only 28% of respondents wanted to change the flag, compared to 72% who were happy with the current version.

Representatives of service personnel have argued that troops have fought and died under the existing flag.

“The view of the RSA is there is no need to change the flag,” Don McIver, national president of the Returned and Services Association (RSA), was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

The opposition Labour party has said it supports the process.

“We’re not going to differ or divide from the government on this issue. It’s a broad constitutional issue, if the country wants a debate about the flag so be it, but it’s not the primary issue for this election,” leader David Cunliffe said.

The polls have been scheduled so that a new government will be in place by the G20 meeting due to take place in Australia in mid-November.

Mr Key’s National Party currently has a sizeable lead over the Labour opposition, polls show.

What is your reaction to this news? Send us your designs for an alternative New Zealand flag?

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Get the best travel news here curated by Lonely Planet Destination Editors, who use their expertise to bring you the stories that matter from all over the world. In today’s edition: the search continues for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Ireland shrinks in size following winter storms, and the world’s oldest message in a bottle is discovered in German waters.

Europe
Asia the Pacific
The Americas
Africa
Weird, odd just plain fun

EUROPE

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Europe Destination Editors: Jo CookeJames SmartBrana VladisavljevicKate MorganAnna Tyler and Gemma Graham.

Myrtos beach, Kefallonia. Image by Antti Simonen / CC BY 2.0
Myrtos beach, Kefallonia. Image by Antti Simonen / CC BY 2.0

Seaplane island-hopping in Greece
Greece’s new airline Hellenic Seaplanes SA will start offering flights between Greek islands this summer. It will also build new water aerodromes, and the government will speed up licensing so that the flights can start before the main summer season. Other plans include offering sightseeing flights, resort transfers and cargo services. It’s estimated that with continued growth in tourist numbers, seaplane commercial flights could generate 1 billion in annual revenue. Read more: ekathimerini.com

Human rights featured at Bucharest’s One World Film Festival
This year’s One World Film Festival, which takes place 17–23 March in Bucharest, Romania, is dedicated to the memory of Czech writer and president Vaclav Havel. The programme will feature 50 movies focusing on human rights issues in eastern Europe over the past 25 years. Read more: balkaninsight.com

The Caucasus Mountains. Image by Rio Murr / CC BY-SA 2.0
The Caucasus Mountains. Image by Rio Murr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Georgia avalanche kills four
Two French and two German snowboarders have been killed after being caught in an avalanche in the Caucasus mountains in Georgia. The incident occurred on Saturday in the Svaneti region of the country. A fifth snowboarder survived and has been evacuated. Read more: thelocal.de

Thousands celebrate Rotterdam’s Museum Night
Rotterdam celebrated its 13th edition of Museum Night on Saturday. Fifty-one art galleries and museums opened to the public with exhibitions, installations and music. There were also food trucks and an after-party. The beautiful spring night attracted around 15,000 visitors to the event. Read more: dutchdailynews.com

Scooter hire scheme in Paris
A new scooter hire scheme could be introduced in Paris according to the deputy mayor. Scootlib would provide up to around 5000 electric scooters to complement the existing bike hire, Vélib, and electric car hire, Autolib, schemes. Hire will cost around €3–10 per hour and scooters will be fitted with a GPS tracker to avoid theft. Read more: connexionfrance.com

Abandoned Spanish villages for sale
Whole rural villages are currently for sale in Spain for under £50,000. The small hamlets were abandoned during the financial crisis by families leaving to seek work in the city. There are reported to be around 2900 ‘ghost’ villages in rural Spain, with English buyers purchasing job lots of houses for less than the price of a London garage. Read more: dailymail.co.uk

Turkey discusses banning Facebook YouTube
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested he will ban Facebook and YouTube if he wins local elections in March. Erdoğan has recently been at the centre of corruption allegations, with recordings posted online that are alleged to feature Erdoğan and his inner circle. Erdoğan claims the recordings are faked. ‘We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook’, Erdoğan said last week. Read more: theguardian.com

Naples science museum to be rebuilt
Italy’s government will invest €56 million to rebuild the Città della Scienza museum on the outskirts of Naples that burned down last March. The world-class science complex in a former steel plant contained a planetarium, interactive museum and conference centre. It is believed the fire that destroyed it could have been caused by arson. Read more: ansa.it

Image caption: Michelangelo’s David. Image by jay8085 / CC BY 2.0
Michelangelo’s David. Image by jay8085 / CC BY 2.0

Gun-toting David causes consternation in Italy
Italy’s culture minister has expressed his indignation on Twitter at an American advert that portrays Michelangelo’s famous statue of David brandishing an Armalite rifle instead of his traditional slingshot. The superintendent for Florence’s historical heritage and fine arts board has issued a legal notice asking for the advert to be withdrawn. Read more: theguardian.com

Ireland 250 acres smaller after winter storms
The storms and floods that ravaged Ireland over the winter months have made the country an estimated 250 acres (1 sq km) smaller. Environmental engineers say 2m of coastline has been lost to erosion in some areas. Ireland looks likely to invest more in flood defence, with €100 million promised for Cork city. Read more: independent.ie

Maker Faire, Bay Area, US. Image by James Bastow / CC BY-SA 2.0
Maker Faire. Image by James Bastow / CC BY-SA 2.0

Drones, robots geeks coming to the UK
Maker Faire is to open a new flagship event in London in summer 2015. Enthusiasts and companies show off their inventions at the massive fairs, which have helped popularise 3D printers and DIY drones and robots. The event joins other UK Maker Faires – there’s one in Newcastle on 26 and 27 April – but the London leg will be the first multi-week, flagship event outside the US. Read more: theguardian.com

ASIA THE PACIFIC

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Asia Destination Editors: Megan EavesSarah ReidJoe BindlossLaura Crawford and Tasmin Waby.

Search for downed Malaysian Airlines plane intensifies
Forty ships and 34 aircraft from nine different nations have joined the search for flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 passengers and crew en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian officials have confirmed that oil slicks and debris sighted off Malaysia are not associated with the missing plane, and have yet to rule out hijacking as a cause of flight MH370′s mystery disappearance in the early hours of Saturday morning. Read more: independent.co.uk

Nepal clamps down on Tibet protests
Police in Kathmandu have clamped down on protests near the Chinese embassy on the anniversary of the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. Kathmandu is a major transit point for travel into Tibet, with a huge Tibetan refugee population, but there is an official ban on protests against friendly nations. Read more: abcnews.com

Air India flight turns back after transponder failure
An Air India flight from Delhi to Chicago was forced to turn back after a transponder failure over Pakistan. This was the second transponder failure for the airline in the last fortnight. Transponders are used to locate passenger aircraft on radar, and planes without transponders are not permitted to enter European airspace. Read more timesofindia.com

Third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Memorial services around Japan on 11 March will mark the third anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake, the magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that devastated large parts of northeastern Japan and triggered a failure at the Fukushima nuclear plant. More than 250,000 people are estimated to still be in temporary housing in the region. Read more: japandailypress.com

Polished mother-of-pearl shell.  Image by Rojer / CC by 2.0
Polished mother-of-pearl shell. Image by Rojer / CC BY 2.0

Project to help women in Fiji make jewellery for tourists
A study published by the University of the South Pacific, with Australia’s James Cook and Adelaide Universities, found jewellery sold to tourists in Fiji was often made in Asia. A new project is now being set up to train rural Fijian women to make jewellery from mother-of-pearl shells to diversify their skills and increase income. It will also see tourists taking home locally made souvenirs from their Fiji experience. Read more: radionz.co.nz

Suspended rail services in New Zealand
KiwiRail has suspended North Auckland rail services after asbestos was identified as the soundproofing compound in the engines of the DL locomotives. Locals fear the closure may become permanent as was the fate of the Napier to Gisborne line, which was closed after storm damage and then deemed not commercially viable. Transport lobby group, Campaign for Better Transport, has raised its concerns. Read more: 3news.co.nz

THE AMERICAS

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Americas Destination Editors: Clifton Wilkinson and Dora Whitaker.

Politician looks to ban orca shows at SeaWorld
Animal welfare groups have long been concerned about the treatment of the marine life at San Diego’s SeaWorld, and now a Santa Monica politician is proposing legislation that would ban the orca shows there. Read more: latimes.com

Whitney Biennial 2014 opens
The Whitney Biennial, New York City’s influential exhibition of contemporary American art, opened on Friday at the Whitney Museum of American Art. This year three different curators – Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms and Michelle Grabner – are each taking over a floor of the museum to showcase their choice of new and up-and-coming artists. The exhibition lasts until 25 May and will be the last biennial to take place at the museum’s Madison Avenue address before it moves to a new downtown location in 2015. Read more: whitney.org

Atlanta tops list of USA’s best value cities for travellers
According to a list of best value US cities produced by discount booking site Hotwire, Atlanta, Georgia offers the best value for travellers. The site produced the list by analysing the cost of airfares, car rental and accommodation as well as the prevalence of discounted rates in each city. Second on the list is Orlando, Florida, with Tampa coming in third. Read more: usatoday.com

MIDDLE EAST  AFRICA

Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Middle East Africa Destination Editors: Helen Elfer and Matt Phillips.

New park a first for the UAE
Hoping to blend education and leisure, the UAE has announced its first geological park. Officials say the outdoor natural history park, located within Al Jahili Garden in Al Ain, will highlight the UAE’s environmental and natural diversity. Read more: traveldailymedia.com

Aerial view of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Image by Justin Hall / CC BY 2.0
Aerial view of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Image by Justin Hall / CC BY 2.0

South African rhinos head to Okavango Delta for safety
Beyond, a luxury conservation safari company, has begun the first ever translocation of rhino from a private game reserve in South Africa to the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Six white rhino will be moved in the project, which is being done in an effort to protect the species from poaching. Botswana has a strong anti-poaching record and the delta has proved to be a successful rhino habitat. Read more: eturbonews.com

Faulty fire engine leads to BA KQ flight cancellations to Freetown
British Airways and Kenya Airways, the two international carriers operating at Sierra Leone’s Freetown airport, have suspended operations there indefinitely following an inspection by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which discovered the last remaining fire engine at the airport was not in working order. An airport official told Reuters they were working to have the problem rectified quickly. Read more: iol.co.za

WEIRD, ODD JUST PLAIN FUN

World’s oldest message in a bottle discovered in German waters
Fishermen in Germany have reeled in the oldest recorded message in a bottle. Written on a Danish postcard, the message is dated 17 May 1913, and requests that the postcard be forwarded to an address in Berlin. The fishermen are keen to establish the message’s authenticity, and would like to donate the find to a museum. Read more: thelocal.de
Gemma Graham

 

 

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Article source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/2014/03/10/malaysion-airline-flight-ireland-shrinks-oldest-message-in-bottle/

AUDIO: Australian gets lost in back garden

A man in Australia has been rescued by police after getting lost in his own back garden.

The man, known only as “Jason” wandered into the 20-acre garden looking for his dog.

He was finally located 300m away without shoes or a shirt and covered in bites and scratches.

Darwin NT News reporter Damian McCartney told BBC Radio 5 live’s Up All Night: “He’d only been on this rural property for about three weeks so he didn’t really know the lay of the land.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26466690#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Australia’s trade surplus surprises

shopping australiaJanuary retails sales in Australia increased at their fastest annual rate since November 2009

Australia has reported better-than-expected trade and retail sales data for January, sending its dollar to a one-week high.

The country’s trade surplus rose to $1.4bn Australian dollars ($1.3bn) – its highest in almost three years.

Retail sales rose by 1.2% for the ninth month in a row.

“It almost seems like the Australian economy is going from gloom to boom,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist with AMP Capital in Sydney.

“Retail sales are now up 6.2% on where they were a year ago, which is the fastest rate of annual increase since November 2009.”

The trade surplus data showed exports were up strongly in January and imports were down.

“This was way above market expectations… and is the biggest surplus since August 2011, which is a pretty good outcome given the fall in our export prices which has occurred since then,” Mr Oliver added.

“The silver lining to the end of the mining investment boom is clearly becoming evident.”

The data follows fresh economic growth data from Australia on Wednesday which showed better-than-expected numbers for the last quarter of 2013.

Boosted by exports and domestic consumption, official figures showed Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.8% in the three months to December.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26462307#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

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