Chinese moon probe begins return to Earth with lunar samples


Chang’e 5’s lander module, which remained on the moon, is equipped to both scoop samples from the surface and drill two metres to retrieve materials that could provide clues to the history of the moon, Earth other planets and space features.

While retrieving samples was its main task, the lander is also equipped to extensively photograph the area surrounding its landing site, map conditions below the surface with ground penetrating radar and analyse the lunar soil for minerals and water content.

Chang’e 5′s return module is supposed to touch down on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, where China’s crewed Shenzhou spacecraft have made their returns since China first put a man in space in 2003, becoming only the third country do so after Russia and the United States.

Chang’e 5 has revived talk of China one day sending a crewed mission to the moon and possibly building a scientific base there, although no timeline has been proposed for such projects.

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China also launched its first temporary orbiting laboratory in 2011 and a second in 2016. Plans call for a permanent space station after 2022, possibly to be serviced by a reusable space plane.

While China is boosting cooperation with the European Space Agency and others, interactions with NASA are severely limited by US concerns over the secretive nature and close military links of the Chinese program.

AP

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Freedom Foods accounting scandal worsens, as ASIC begins its investigation


Cereal and snack-maker Freedom Foods is being investigated by the corporate regulator ASIC for a series of “significant” accounting problems.

The beleaguered company has also revealed that its earnings would be hurt by $590 million in write-downs.

In a series of announcements made after the market had closed on Monday, the company said a profit of $11.6 million in the 2018-19 financial year had become a $145.8 million loss.

It said the loss widened in the past financial year to $174.5 million.

Also, two of Freedom’s board members — chairman Perry Gunner and non-executive director Trevor Allen — will retire in late January, close to its next annual general meeting.

Their departure will come just five months after former chief executive Rory Macleod, and then-chief financial officer Campbell Nicholas, were forced to quit.

In the wake of their removal, Michael Perich was appointed interim CEO; the Perich family are Australia’s largest dairy farming family, and own 54 per cent of Freedom Foods.

Freedom shares have been suspended from trading since June.

The company’s shares last traded at about $3, having peaked at $7 in September 2018.

Michael Perich and his family are the majority owners of Freedom Foods.(ABC News: Sarina Locke)

Shareholders find news hard to chew

Freedom’s board received a frosty reception from shareholders at a hastily convened webcast on Monday evening, following the news.

Callers questioned company oversight and the scope of the $590 million write-down, of which $372.8 million is linked to asset values being slashed.

It was explained that Freedom has incurred enormous costs building machinery to handle its new product lines, but did not put it down as an “expense” in its books.

The company also wrote down its goodwill and brands by $75.9 million.

It also had to write down $60.1 million due to “out-of-date, unsaleable and obsolete inventory”.

“These accounting treatments contributed to decisions on new products and expansions that were based on unrealistic assessments of market opportunities and margin assumptions that were not realised,” Freedom said in a statement.

“As a result, too many group products were sold at prices that did not fully recover their costs.”

Freedom Foods logo over a red background
Shareholders are unhappy about spending an extra $280m to fix Freedom Foods’ mismanagement.(Supplied: Freedom Foods)

‘Good money after bad’

Mr Perich said it was a deeply disappointing set of results for Freedom Food Group, its people and its shareholders.

“The results reflect the significant costs of past accounting and operational matters — matters we have identified with the assistance of independent experts and are taking steps to remedy,” he said.

To fix its balance sheet, the company is asking shareholders to stump up $280 million through a capital raising.

The request didn’t go down well during Monday’s webcast.

“Why should I throw good money after bad?” asked one frustrated shareholder.

Mr Gunner said Freedom’s problems were due to its “fast” pace of growth, and the board was keen to address those issues by simplifying the business.

Curiously, the company also decided to publish its updated “Securities Trading Policy” to the public on Monday.

The policy contained a section that bans insider trading, which is already illegal under Australian law.

Under its policy, “Restricted persons” (defined as employees) cannot deal in shares of the company if they have “inside information”.

Nor can they buy or sell shares of Freedom during “closed trading periods”.

Basically, they have to wait for at least one day after the company’s results are announced to the ASX.

Further investigations

Alarm bells rang in March when it was discovered that some of Freedom’s executives had been giving themselves extra payments, over several years, without authorisation from the board.

Mr Gunner said the company did not find out until after this had occurred.

“During the year ended 30 June 2020, the board identified matters regarding the operation and administration of the group’s equity incentive plan (EIP),” the company’s external auditor Deloitte wrote in its report.

“The matters included the granting of previously undisclosed employee share options and/or extension of the expiry date of share options by management between September 2014 and September 2019.”

An audit by Deloitte and a forensic accounting investigation by PwC have discovered some “significant” accounting problems for the company, dating back a few years.

In addition to the internal probe, Freedom now has to contend with an external regulator in ASIC, which can wield its power in punitive ways.

Freedom said that ASIC had formally requested documents from the company as part of its investigation, and that it was cooperating with the regulator.



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Election voting begins in Burkina Faso under a looming threat of violence


Polls opened in Burkina Faso on Sunday in a presidential election dominated by jihadist violence, which has cost over 2,000 lives this year and will prevent voting in hundreds of villages.

President Roch Kaboré is seeking a second five-year term, campaigning on achievements such as free healthcare for children under the age of five and paving some of the red dirt roads that snake across the arid West African country.

But a surge in attacks by groups with links to the militant groups al Qaeda and Islamic State has eclipsed everything else.

Three weeks after his inauguration, al Qaeda’s regional branch attacked a hotel and a cafe in the capital, killing 32 people. An ambush on mine workers in the east last year killed 39.

People line up to vote in Burkina Faso’s presidential and legislative elections as polling stations open in Ouagadougou on 22 November, 2020.

EPA / AAP

“We need someone who is going to bring peace to our country. The president needs a second mandate to end what has started,” said secretary Maimouna Tapsoba, 59, who wiped purple ink from her finger after voting in Ouagadougou.

Small numbers of early voters waited in a large sandy schoolyard to cast their ballots after polls opened at 6 aam on Sunday (local time). 

Mr Kaboré faces stiff opposition from former finance minister Zephirin Diabré, the runner-up in 2015, and Eddie Komboigo, who runs the party of Blaise Campaoré, the president of 27 years who was overthrown in 2014.

Analysts expect a tight race that could go to a second round if no candidate wins more than 50 per cent.

Provisional results of the first round are expected by midweek.

In a press conference on Saturday, Mr Diabré said the president was orchestrating “massive fraud” ahead of the vote, without providing evidence.

The electoral commission says polling stations will remain shut across much of the north and east for fear of violence.

At least 400,000 people – nearly seven per cent of the electorate – will be unable to cast their votes, official data show.



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It begins with a book


Give the gift of reading to those who might not have access this Christmas

Getting cosy on the sofa and losing yourself in a good book is one of the small pleasures in life many of us relish. This year especially, being able to ‘escape’ the never-ending news cycle and the four walls surrounding you through the power of story has been something of a life-line for many.

I set a goal of reading 15 books this year and am currently 22 books deep. Filling the gaps where socialising and commuting used to be, reading has become a solace, allowing me to connect with something outside of my surroundings. But it’s not something everyone has equal access to.

Books cost money and, sadly, many libraries and charity shops have been closed for much of the year. Seeing a need to share the gift of reading with more people, Bookshop UK and Penguin have teamed up. When you buy any book on this list between 16 November and 21 December, Penguin will donate a book where it’s most needed.

Working with Neighbourly, the books will get into the hands of grassroots good causes across the country, including homeless shelters, food banks and community centres.

With 32 books to choose from, there’s something here for everyone. Whether you want to learn more about the inner workings of Barack Obama, get your hands on some tasty recipes or pick something up for the kids, there’s bound to be a book for you (I’ve got my eye on ‘The Lost Spells’ by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris).

Originating in the US, Bookshop launched in the UK on 2 November to roaring success. With a mission of supporting local, independent bookshops, the online retailer gives away over 75% of their profit margin to stores, publications and authors. A fellow B-Corp, Bookshop aims to strengthen the “fragile ecosystem and margins around bookselling” by keeping local bookshops at the core of our culture and communities.

Getting back into the reading habit

If you find it difficult to carve out time to read, you’re certainly not alone. The trick is to find a book you’re really excited about. A book that winks at you from the shelf, begging for its pages to be turned. Not sure where to start? Take a look at our top tips for getting back into the reading habit.

Book inspiration

Sharing book recommendations is a favourite pastime here at Happiful and we have several lists to help you find a book that speaks to you:


Hopefully this will help ignite a passion for stories and encourage you to give the gift of reading to others. Happy reading.






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Yvette Berry coy on leadership potential as she begins her third term in ACT Legislative Assembly | The Canberra Times


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Re-elected Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry has downplayed leadership ambitions as she embarks on her third term in the Legislative Assembly. Chief Minister Andrew Barr has indicated this will be his final term in the Assembly, but his deputy was coy on the possibility of filling the Labor leader’s chair when the time comes. “This year has shown us how unpredictable our world can be and so I think jumping in before anything’s happened or making any statements well before anything’s happened is probably not a wise move,” Ms Berry said. “So I think I’ll just continue with my role as Deputy Chief Minister and the portfolios that … I’m responsible for and supporting Andrew Barr as Chief Minister for as long as he’s here.” Ms Berry retained her portfolios and picked up the youth affairs ministry in the post-election cabinet reshuffle. The cohort of young people that the Education Minister is responsible for has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of mental health and employment opportunities. Ms Berry said having 81 school psychologists and employing more social and youth workers would address some of the impact, but the ACT government was not looking at extra funding for small group tutoring to help students catch up academically as the NSW government has promised. “There’s a bit of uncertainty around our world and Canberra, and the future for young people. But generally our young people are incredibly resilient and they have done amazing stuff this year. “So what they haven’t learned in a textbook, they have certainly learned through the experience of going through a national health pandemic.” READ MORE: One of her major tasks for the next term as Minister for Early Childhood Development is to bring in universal access to preschool one day per week for three-year-olds by 2024. She describes the early childhood strategy as one of her most challenging tasks to date, not least because of a clash of ideology with the current Coalition federal government. “The journey is completely different for a child if they have that those two years in preschool before they start their formal education. “So yes, I’ve been frustrated … we couldn’t get the agreement from the federal government to support us with funding or support us with a strategy that would implement that and that’s why I decided to do it ourselves.” Ms Berry said she occasionally gets advice from her father, Wayne Berry, who was a member for Ginninderra from 1989 to 2008. “His support for me is obviously backing me in when sometimes things aren’t as positive as you would like them to be and having somebody to reflect on decisions that you might make. But again, his time was a long time ago in politics and things were very different back then. We’re in a world now of 24 seven social media.” While her own children are not showing much of an interest in politics, she said she wouldn’t encourage them to go down that path. “At the end of the day it’s their decision, I wouldn’t sort of push them in that direction.”

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Canterbury Bulldogs pursue Matt Burton as Trent Barrett begins life at Belmore


Burton, 20, has a year left on his Panthers deal but former Penrith assistant Barrett knows the youngster will struggle to play regular first grade while halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai are fit.

Penrith are prepared to play him in the centres or back row in a bid to keep him from signing elsewhere. They are also trying to re-sign Isaah Yeo, Luai and Stephen Crichton.

We’ve got two spots left. There will be a lot of moving parts in regards to recruitment.

Trent Barrett

“We’d love Matt on board here next year,” Barrett told the Herald.

“He’s only a young player but he’s someone with a lot of ability and whose pathway is a bit blocked at Penrith.

“He’d certainly be handy. He needs to decide where he wants to be in 2022 and 2023 first.

“We’ve got two spots left. There will be a lot of moving parts in regards to recruitment.

Trent Barrett is keen to lure Matt Burton to Belmore for 2021.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what we have here. There are some players I don’t know a lot about, and because there was no Canterbury Cup this year there are players who haven’t played a lot of footy.”

Blake Green on Monday announced he would remain at Newcastle next year, which was a mutual decision reached between the five-eighth and Canterbury, and another excuse to up the ante when it comes to Burton.

Bulldogs fans are already impressed Barrett landed Flanagan, and you can only imagine their response should he convince Burton to switch clubs.

Barrett had watched Flanagan for a long time and was clearly pumped to work with the former Roosters half.

Kyle Flanagan is Belmore bound.

Kyle Flanagan is Belmore bound.Credit:Getty Images

“Kyle is very important for us, he’s a very good young player and someone we can build our team around for a long time,” Barrett said.

“I’m very excited to get hold of him. The skill set is there and he ticks a lot of boxes.

“He’s calm, a good kicker of the ball and a good organiser. He walked into a premiership team stuck between two internationals in Luke Keary and James Tedesco. It was never going to be easy for him but he did a great job and we’re lucky to have him.”

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The entire squad will listen to Barrett and his team’s vision before some of the senior players resume the last of their holidays. Recruit Nick Cotric remains in NSW Origin camp while Raymond Faitala-Mariner is quarantining in New Zealand and will join next week’s meet-and-greet remotely.

Meanwhile, Newcastle coach Adam O’Brien was grateful Green would hang around next year.

“Blake was massively influential in the short time he spent with us during 2020 and we could not be happier to welcome him back again for 2021,” he said.

“His experience is invaluable, he is a natural leader with a brilliant rugby league brain, adding key ingredients to complement our existing roster.

“He will continue to play that role with our young halves and his combination with Mitchell Pearce will only continue to grow.”

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In court: Trial begins for Goulburn man charged with offences against children | Goulburn Post



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A man is on trial charged with committing 13 offences against two children, including indecent assault, committing an act of indecency and sexual intercourse. READ ALSO: Woman charged over service station robbery
The man appeared in person before Goulburn District Court for the first day of the trial on November 2. The court heard the children were aged eight and 9-10 years old at the time the alleged offences took place between January and November 2016. The trial is expected to last between seven and 10 days with multiple children scheduled to give evidence. The accused pleaded not guilty to all charges on October 27, 2020. In her opening address to the jury the crown prosecutor outlined the evidence the prosecution would use. The court heard the children met the man when he started a relationship with their mother in early 2016. CHECK OUT: Goulburn man charged following discovery of $1 million of cocaine in storage facility The children did not live with their mother at the time but would stay with her on weekends. They moved in with their mother and the accused on April 27, 2016. The court heard the offences began when the children would visit on weekends and continued until November 22, 2016 when Family and Community Services became involved. The crown prosecutor said the children had told their mother when the “accused started touching them in a sexual way” but she did not act. The court heard that in April 2017 the children told other adults including family and school staff about the abuse. The children were then interviewed by police multiple times. The footage of these interviews will be presented as evidence during the trial, the crown prosecutor said. The crown prosecutor said the charges reflected many offences which included the accused touching the children on their genitals, exposing his penis and having sexual intercourse with them. The court heard the man had told one child: “If you tell anyone I’m going to kill you”. As a result of the offence, the victim was in pain and found it difficult to go to the bathroom for several days, the crown prosecutor said. The court heard that in October 2017 the accused had previously been found guilty and convicted of similar offences involving a 13-year-old girl. The crown prosecutor said the offences took place between 2013 and 2015 and at the time the man was married to the victim’s mother. The court heard that the man had been convicted of sexual offences that occurred when he picked the girl up from sporting events, in the car, in her room and while on vacation. The crown alleged the accused had “a sexual interest in girls aged between eight and 13 years old and a tendency to act in accordance with this interest”. READ ALSO: Woman waits in ‘excruciating pain’ for more than an hour until ambulance arrives
In his opening statement the accused’s barrister, Mr Winch, urged the jury to not to “pre-judge anything and to leave out any pre-conceptions or prejudice”. “It is the crown that has to prove its case, it’s not for [the accused] to prove anything,” he said. “Watch and listen to the witnesses with great care.” He said the case principally depended on the evidence of people who were children at the time of the events. The accused is currently in custody for previous convictions. The court issued a No Publication Order on the names of the victims and the accused on October 27.

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Polling booths close and counting begins as Queenslanders election hits crunch time


Polling booths have officially closed and counting has begun as Queensland’s state election hits crunch time after nearly a month-long campaign race.

The state’s election campaign has been dominated by jobs, the economy and Queensland’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said around 330,000 postal votes and 925,000 pre-poll votes will be counted tonight.

“We’re going to have a rush [of early figures], a plateau, and then the votes will start to go up again,” he said.

“Unless there’s something dramatic there in the early votes, we’re not going to know an early winner.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was heckled while leaving a polling booth in her electorate of Inala.(Twitter)

Queensland’s electoral body has advised last-minute voters who have been waiting in lines at polling booths since before 6:00pm to stay there and they will be able to cast their ballot.

Wild weather and hecklers

Election day was marred by wild weather in parts of the south-east with several polling booths at Logan, south of Brisbane, losing power due to dangerous thunderstorms.

Lines were quieter than usual — and some polling stations nearly empty — due to the surge of early votes cast this election due to the pandemic.

A woman and a man smile as they put their voting ballot in a box.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington returned to Townsville to casts her vote with her husband Jason.(Twitter)

Queensland’s Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen told ABC Radio Brisbane more than 2 million people had voted early or completed a postal vote.

Both party leaders cast their vote on Saturday morning, with LNP leader Deb Frecklington attending Oonoonba State School in Townsville in the marginal ALP seat of Mundingburra, flanked by her husband Jason.

Meanwhile, Annastacia Palaszczuk — who is seeking her third term as Premier — was joined by her father Henry and federal MP Milton Dick in her Brisbane electorate of Inala.

On her way out, she was heckled by a volunteer for LNP candidate Miljenka Perovic.

“Open the borders — consider the travel industry,” the man yelled at the Premier.

Ms Palaszczuk responded: “there you’ve heard it exactly today — that’s their secret plan.”

When asked if she believed Ms Frecklington would open the borders if elected Premier, Dr Perovic said “absolutely”.

“Deb will do everything,” Dr Perovic said.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our country so they need to get back working, we need tourism moving.

“Give me a chance, vote me 1 today, and we will do that.”

This election marks the first time in the state’s history that a four-year fixed parliamentary term will apply.

Both party leaders have made repeated pleas for a majority government.



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Newman says ‘no path to victory’ for LNP as voting begins


It seems the looming spectre of storms may have stirred some out of bed early to do so as well, with more than 140,000 voting in the first hour, the ECQ says.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and her husband Jason vote in north Queensland.Credit:Toby Crockford

The count will include all election day polling booth votes, available early votes, almost 400,000 of the returned postal votes and all those cast at Brisbane City Hall.

An unofficial indicative count will follow and include an allocation of preferences to two candidates selected by the Electoral Commissioner as most likely to receive the highest number of first preferences.

It should be noted that official counts and declarations by the ECQ will only start from tomorrow – it will largely be up to candidates and election watchers to make and calls around seat wins or losses tonight, based on the initial data coming through.

(But here’s hoping we don’t have to wait until the deadline for postal votes to be returned on November 10 to get a final result for too many electorates)



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