Sydney commuters face a wet trip home

Star-gazers hoping to spot the twilight lunar eclipse in Sydney tonight are nearly certain to be disappointed, after a bright sunny morning gave way to a rainy afternoon.
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As cloud moved in during the late morning and settled in for the rest of the day, many commuters would also have been ruing the fact they hadn’t brought an umbrella to work. Showers will potentially become most widespread during peak hour or in the early evening.

Cloud cover will most likely obscure the view of the eclipse. The Sydney Observatory says the moon will rise at 5.23pm, already in a total lunar eclipse.

It will stay in the earth’s shadow until 6.25pm and then slowly start to move out and lose its copper-red colour. The last of the eclipse will disappear from view at 7.33pm.

Showers started moving on to the coast between Gosford and Nelson Bay during the late morning.

Rain showers gathering off the NSW coast were expected to move on to the coast possibly as far south as Batemans Bay.

The showers were forecast to be focused near the coast, with only the odd shower moving through the western parts of Sydney and the Illawarra.

The Hunter is likely to be the wettest of the three districts, with the chance of thunderstorms.

The reason for the increase in showers is the approach of cold air in the upper atmosphere. As this cold air approaches, it increases instability in the atmosphere and forces moist ocean air to rise and develop into showers.

From tomorrow, showers will mostly clear up along the NSW coast as a high pressure system starts to take hold and the upper cold air starts moving out to sea.

The high looks as if it will be fairly dominant for almost a week, leading to beautiful weather for the Easter long weekend.

Rob Sharpe is a meteorologist with Weatherzone南京夜网.au, which is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website. 

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Game of Thrones shock spoiler: Has George RR Martin given away villain?

Spoiler outrage? … No that’s just Joffrey choking. The reason Joffrey’s wedding is commonly known as the Purple Wedding.
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Prime suspect … Olenna Redwyne-Tyrell talking to Sansa during the infamous Purple Wedding.

Recap of the Purple WeddingLive blog of the wedding

For the dedicated Game of Thrones fan, going online when you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode is always fraught with danger.

It’s very easy to be spoiled, particularly by some of the more smug readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, who seem amazed that anyone could not have the decency to read the books first.

But now it seems the man himself is doing some spoiling – for both TV and book fans.

The second episode of series four, The Lion and the Rose (aka the Purple Wedding), featured the long-awaited wedding of King Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell – and the even more long-awaited death of Joffrey.

His demise, following the ingestion of some sort of poison, stunned the TV watching fans, and started a wave of conspiracy theories about whodunit.

Tyrion was immediately accused of the crime and seized, but nobody believes it could be their favourite Lannister.

In an upcoming interview with Rolling Stone magazine, George R.R. Martin has spilled the beans – saying “the conclusion that the careful reader draws is that Joffrey was killed by the Queen of Thorns, using poison from Sansa’s hair net”.

Viewers of the TV episode certainly zoomed in on Olenna Tyrell, Margaery’s grandmother, as a prime suspect, and book readers would no doubt be proud of themselves for having already pieced together another one of Martin’s multi-layered jigsaw puzzles.

But in the Rolling Stone interview, Martin also says this about Joffrey’s murder:

“I make no promises, because I have two more books to write, and I may have more surprises to reveal.”

This suggests a more complicated motivation for the crime, and potentially different culprits.

Like any good whodunit, there is no shortage of suspects: apart from Olenna, Sansa, Margaery and Cersei were all near him before he died. Oberyn Martell of Dorne wants revenge on the Lannisters for the death of his sister Elia years before. Varys the spymaster does everything he does for the security of the realm – he could have decided Joffrey was too wild. And you couldn’t put anything past Tywin Lannister.

This means perhaps book readers may have a surprise in store for them after all.

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Brad Pitt hooks up with David Michod for The Operators

David Michod, whose film The Rover is released in June, will write and direct The Operators for Brad Pitt. Photo: Quentin Jones Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in The Rover.
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Movie session timesFull movies coverage

Australian director David Michod has signed on to write and direct a new film starring and produced by Brad Pitt.

According to numerous trade reports, Michod, the writer-director of Animal Kingdom and the forthcoming outback thriller The Rover, will direct The Operators.

Pitt’s production company Plan B – which also produced World War Z and 12 Years A Slave – will make the film in partnership with RatPac Entertainment, the production company established late last year by James Packer and Brett Ratner.

The Operators is based on a book of the same name by Michael Hastings, which grew out of a June 2010 article for Rolling Stone. It covers the rise and fall of General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan prior to the appointment of General David Petraeus.

McChrystal resigned from his post in June 2010, after the publication of the article, in which he and aides close to him were openly critical of the Obama administration and President Obama himself (this despite the fact McChrystal had voted for Obama in 2008).

“Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was,” one aide reportedly said of the first meeting between McChrystal and the President in early 2009. “Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f—ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss [McChrystal] was pretty disappointed.”

The hook-up with Pitt is a huge vote of confidence in Michod ahead of the June release of The Rover.

The film stars Guy Pearce and Twilight star Robert Pattinson, and was shot in the South Australian desert in early 2013. It is hotly tipped to feature in the line-up at the Cannes film festival, which begins on May 14.

Michod told Fairfax last year his film takes place “in an unspecified relatively near future, after a number of years of quite seriously steady Western economic decline.

“It’s not post-apocalypse. This is an Australia that has broken down into a kind of resource-rich Third World country.”

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Using super to pay for infrastructure

Super funds’ investment in infrastructure assetsWhat do your retirement savings have to do with run-down public transport or roads? On face value, not much at all.
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But lately, the superannuation industry has been lobbying for stronger links between these two seemingly unrelated things – through greater infrastructure investment by super funds. With super assets worth about $1.7 trillion and growing fast, it’s tempting to view this as a pile of money for financing new infrastructure, such as transport projects or toll roads.

Some estimates have put Australia’s infrastructure ”backlog” at $300 billion. In the past, many of these projects were bankrolled by governments or bank loans. But budgets are more cash-strapped these days, and banks prefer less risky forms of lending. So, the argument goes, let’s put the super pool to more productive use.

According to Industry Super Australia, infrastructure and super funds are a ”natural fit”. After all, these are typically projects that require ”patient” investors, which can wait for their money to be repaid as the projects are designed, approved and built. Finished projects typically pay a steady income stream over many years, which also suits super members.

But super funds complain that it’s still too difficult to invest in infrastructure. The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia is urging the government to remove ”roadblocks” to encourage more super money to flow into these types of investments.

It has the ring of common sense – why not upgrade the country’s infrastructure while also providing members with solid returns? And, to be fair, infrastructure has performed well. The Reserve Bank has cited figures showing unlisted infrastructure investments have returned almost 12 per cent a year during the decade to 2013, compared with 9 per cent for shares and 5.75 per cent for cash.

However, some of Australia’s top economic thinkers say we should be hesitant about channelling our retirement savings into infrastructure. The Reserve’s submission to the government’s financial system inquiry argues against rules forcing more super money to flow into these projects.

For one, it says super funds already allocate more to infrastructure than their peers overseas, as shown in this week’s graph. Australians also have an unusually high allocation to riskier ”growth” assets such as shares. More infrastructure investment would accentuate this trend.

Moreover, the Reserve points out that there are pitfalls of investing in complex assets such as toll roads. For one, it’s expensive. Because infrastructure projects are complicated, investors typically have to pay consultants hefty fees to advise them. These costs are passed on to members. Infrastructure assets are also illiquid – they cannot be easily sold at a good price, and it can be hard to measure and crystallise their value in a timely manner.

And there’s no guarantee infrastructure assets will perform better than other options. Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel has been placed in receivership twice since it opened in 2005 because traffic flows were a fraction of initial projections. It may give motorists a handy short-cut across town, but it’s been a poor investment.

Ploughing more super money into infrastructure may sound appealing, but the risks need to be balanced with the benefits. It is, after all, the country’s retirement savings.

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Kitchen spy: Ben O’Donoghue

After stints in London, Ben O’Donoghue has settled with his family in Brisbane. Photo: Harrison Saragossi Favourite: This wooden chopping board was cut out from the workbench in a warehouse flat O’Donoghue lived in in London. ‘It’s been with me for 16 years now and I wouldn’t like to see it go.’ Photo: Harrison Saragossi
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O’Donoghue bought this stone mortar and pestle at Chinatown in London and carried it all the way back to Australia. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Ben O’Donoghue would love a cooktop in a central island bench so he could watch everything going on in the house while cooking. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

O’Donoghue makes pasta, ice-cream, sausages and cakes using his KitchenAid mixer (and attachments). Photo: Harrison Saragossi

‘All my pots are Le Creuset’ says O’Donoghue. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Favourite tipple: Kah reposado (oak aged) tequila in a Day of the Dead bottle. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

A Moroccan mortar and pestle. O’Donoghue gets inspiration from his travels. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Secret vice: O’Donoghue keeps a bag of Kit Kats in the cupboard ‘for those sneaky chocolate moments’. Photo: Simon Schluter

Megachef premium fish sauce is a favourite. O’Donoghue prefers its ‘pure flavour’.

Chili paste with soya bean oil. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Pantry staple: Cobram Estate Australian extra virgin olive oil. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Pantry staple: Vino cotto. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Smooth peanut butter. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

Inspirtation: O’Donoghue thinks that Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are great. Photo: Veda Sarangapany

Billykart Kitchen chef Ben O’Donoghue in his home kitchen. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.