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New York: As a punishing drought continues to grip parts of the world, bodies of water have been drying up, exposing submerged World War II relics in Europe, several sets of human remains at Lake Mead outside Las Vegas, statues in China and even an entire village in Spain.
The latest find: dinosaur tracks in Texas.
These dinosaur tracks were previously hidden underneath the Paluxy River in the Dinosaur State Valley Park, Texas.Credit:DVSP via The New York Times
Severe drought conditions at Dinosaur Valley State Park, about 96 kilometres south-west of Fort Worth, exposed dinosaur tracks from around 113 million years ago that were previously hidden underneath the Paluxy River, according to Stephanie Garcia, a spokesperson for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The tracks, which were discovered this month, belong to Acrocanthosaurus – theropods, or bipedal dinosaurs with three toes and claws on each limb.
The dinosaur would have stood 4½ metres tall and weighed more than 6 metric tonnes as an adult. They left their tracks in sediment that hardened into what is now limestone, researchers say.
“Due to the excessive drought conditions this past summer, the river dried up completely in most locations, allowing for more tracks to be uncovered here in the park,” Garcia said in a statement. “Under normal river conditions, these newer tracks are under water and are commonly filled in with sediment, making them buried and not as visible.”
Read more here.
Woolworths boss Brad Banducci says Australians are gradually starting to change how they shop as inflation bites, trading down beef to cheaper proteins and stocking up on more canned produce.
The retail giant on Thursday reported a 0.7 per cent rise in net profit from continuing operations for the year ended June 26, making $1.5 billion off the back of $60.8 billion in sales.
The rising cost of fresh produce is seeing customers switch to cheaper, frozen productsCredit:Edwina Pickles
Reported net profit surged by 282.5 per cent to $7.9 billion, but this figure reflects the spin-off of drinks business Endeavour Group as its own listed entity last year.
Sales at Woolworths supermarkets were up 4.5 per cent to $45.5 billion, while Big W revenues dropped 3.3 per cent to $4.4 billion, with virus-related disruptions felt across the year.
Banducci said the tough trading environment, which included COVID-19 disruptions, supply chain issues and widespread flooding across the nation resulted in a “financial performance that was below our aspirations for the year”.
COVID absenteeism and supply chain challenges are still making themselves felt, but the business is hoping that pandemic-related costs should substantially drop from next year as long as no further trading restrictions come into effect.
Read more here.
The birth-control pill may be blunting women’s drive to achieve across the month, according to a new Australian study that is poised to divide health experts amid the authors’ fears it could threaten women’s reproductive rights.
The world-first University of Melbourne study of 278 women found participants who weren’t taking any hormonal contraception experienced an increase in their motivational drive to achieve around the time of ovulation. It was six times larger than the motivational increase that was experienced by hormonal contraceptive users during the same time of the month. Those who used hormonal contraceptives had their desire to achieve “flattened” over the course of a month.
Dr Khandis Blake, left, and Lindsie Arthur-Hulme have headed up a world-first study examining what impact hormonal contraceptives have on women’s competitive drive.Credit:Simon Schluter / The Age
“It’s crazy, it blows my mind,” says lead researcher Lindsie Arthur-Hulme about the fact that, until now, no one has known much about the psychological impact of the pill on the more than 100 million women who take it each day.
This is the first time in 61 years of hormonal contraceptive use that any study has looked at how it affects a woman’s competitive drive. And it’s the first study to show that women’s desire to be in competitive situations varies throughout their menstrual cycle, says Arthur-Hulme.
“We didn’t know that before,” she says. “But we don’t know why these fluctuations are happening.” And the fact that hormonal contraceptives “disrupt” this process is significant, she says.
“Over generations of women, we’ve evolved to have these fluctuations that benefit different goals or outcomes. Hormones are doing that to our bodies. Because people can’t compete all the time. We need to do other things, like eat and sleep.”
Read more here.
Vice chancellors at some of NSW’s biggest universities kept their million-dollar salaries last year despite heightened scrutiny on top-level pay and heavy job losses across the sector.
As universities attempt to claw back international students and rehire staff, vice chancellors’ pay packets remained steady or fell in 2021, but at least four had salaries about the $1 million mark.
The salary for the top job at Sydney University fell by $500,000 a year for vice chancellor Mark Scott.Credit:James Brickwood
The figures come as new data shows students at some of NSW’s top universities are among the least satisfied in the country, although the institutions regained some ground lost during the pandemic.
The 2021 Student Experience Survey, commissioned by the federal government and released on Wednesday, revealed the University of NSW was the lowest ranked in the state, with a 66.9 per cent overall positive student approval rating.
But, of the 265,000 domestic students who responded to the survey, 73 per cent were satisfied with their overall educational experience, up from 69 per cent in 2020.
“The student educational experience has changed appreciably since 2019 as institutions have adapted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.
Professor Andrew Norton, a higher education academic at the Australian National University, said some vice chancellors took pay cuts during COVID as universities shed thousands of jobs, and “internal politics dictated university leaders had to participate in the pain”.
Read more here.
China is tearing down tower blocks and pausing construction on buildings that could house 75 million people as Xi Jinping’s government seeks to prop up the country’s stalling property market.
Analysts have warned that Beijing has adopted a “build, pause, demolish, repeat” strategy as Chinese officials seek to restrict supply to avoid a plunge in house prices and boost economic activity through more construction.
Analysts have warned Beijing has adopted a “build, pause, demolish, repeat” strategy.Credit:Bloomberg
Researchers at Fathom Consulting revealed that about 3 billion square metres of housing had been put on pause or demolished in recent years, stopping properties reaching the market. It is enough to house 75 million people, more than the entire population of the UK.
Indebted Chinese developers have been plunged into crisis as the struggling property market weighs heavily on the world’s second-largest economy.
China has vast unoccupied “ghost cities” over huge amounts of debt-fuelled development, while demolitions have increased as builders run out of money.
Joanna Davies, head of China economics at Fathom, said that houses on average take a “staggering” eight years to be completed as supply is “drip fed into the system”.
“A key policy tool to manipulate supply is to order the mothballing of properties during the construction phase of a project,” she said.
“These practices enable the amount of new housing under construction to keep rising – which helps to prop up short-term economic growth and keep a lid on social unrest – without flooding the market and driving down property prices.”
Read more here.
Good afternoon, here are today’s major news stories.
The Greens have welcomed today’s announcement that there’ll be a royal commission into the robo-debt saga.
Here’s what Victorian senator Janet Rice had to say:
It’s important, however, that the royal commission also examines the structural factors that continue to exist in our broken social security system. We need the royal commission to inform how we fix the system, rather than it simply be an opportunity for the Labor government to attack the former government.
The Greens want to see the royal commission examine protections for whistleblowers in the public service, broader debt-collection issues beyond a retrospective look at robo-debt, including third-party debt-collection, and the role of automation in our social security system.
It’s also worth noting that the new Labor government has questions to answer on its own current algorithm mess – Workforce Australia – and the problems and stress this automation is causing to thousands of people on income support.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has left the door open to a royal commission into the cosmetic surgery industry, saying it was “completely unacceptable” that victims of botched procedures had not had their cases adequately investigated.
A joint The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes investigation this week revealed hundreds of cosmetic surgery patients across Australia have been left disfigured, in pain and psychologically damaged by under-regulated doctors operating with little or no oversight.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announcing the royal commission with members of his frontbench. Credit:Dean Sewell
“We are not considering that latter [royal commission] at this point but, clearly, I think that Australians will be shocked at some revelations,” the PM said during this morning’s press conference.
“People who, in good faith, have undertaken procedures that have had lasting consequences … and I think that is of real concern.”
More on this issue here.
Reporting season is coming to a close with some big names declaring their performance today including Qantas, Woolworths and Nine Entertainment Corporation (owner of this masthead).
The Australian sharemarket has extended its gains, with the energy and materials sector leading the charge, and the real estate sector seeing its first rise in six days.
The benchmark S&P/ ASX200 index was up 0.75 per cent higher, up 52.4 points to 7,050.5 at midday on Thursday, as investors await the next steer on interest rates from US Fed Chair Jerome Powell at the annual economic conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the end of the week.
Qantas shares jumped 6 per cent to $4.82 after the airline reported an underlying before-tax loss of $1.9 billion for fiscal 2022 and announced a $400 million share buyback.
Retail heavyweight Woolworths fared less well and was down around 3 per cent after revealing its shoppers were buying less premium protein and more tinned food.
The retailer reported a 0.7 per cent rise in group net profit for 2022, hitting $1.5 billion off the back of $60.8 billion in group sales.
Domino’s Pizza is the biggest drag of the day so far, down around 7 per cent to $67.17 following the company’s surge yesterday.
Whitehaven Coal’s share price also dipped around 4 per cent despite posting a record after-tax earnings of $1.95 billion, as it continues to complete its share buyback program that began in February last year.
Shares of IDP Educated Limited surge to 10 per cent to $29.44, after the international education company reported $163 million in earnings before taxes, a 127 per cent increase from the previous year.
Investment management firm Pendal’s shares jumped over 8 per cent to $5.28 after it agreed to tie the knot with rival Perpetual, in a deal that values Pendal at $2.5 billion.
Read more here.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has derided the union movement’s push for new sector-wide enterprise bargaining rules, condemning it as a throwback to the 1970s-era of industrial relations that would subject employers to crippling strike action.
Seizing on the plan pushed by ACTU national secretary Sally McManus ahead of next week’s job summit, Dutton characterised it as an attack on small businesses and put pressure on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to rule it out.
“I mean, surely [this is] not something that Mr Albanese can entertain, but he owes the unions a lot. They donate millions to the Labor Party,” Dutton said during a visit to an Adelaide construction business on Thursday.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has condemned the ACTU’s call for industry-wide wage deals as a throwback to the 1970s.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
“What Sally McManus is proposing is going to make a bad situation worse. I don’t support a throwback to the 1970s because it would result in crippling strikes that would adversely impact businesses like this and businesses right across the country.”
In a plan pitched at tackling stagnating wages, ACTU wants to overhaul workplace laws to allow unions to negotiate enterprise bargaining agreements across industries such as aged care and childcare with employers as small as a single nursing home or early learning facility.
Read the full article here.
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