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Australia’s PM launches official campaign six days out from election

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Source: Reuters

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison officially launched his party’s election campaign on Sunday, less than a week before the May 18 vote that opinion polls have consistently indicated he will lose.

At the campaign launch in Melbourne, Morrison’s focus was on economic management and said his center-right Liberal-National coalition would support the “decent, simple and honest aspirations” of Australians.

“A stronger economy where people have the confidence to invest more, to employ more, to invent more, to work hard,” Morrison said.

The government has been trailing the center-left Labor Party, led by Bill Shorten, in polls for years, though recent figures indicate the race is tightening.

Morrison’s Liberal Party has been rocked by division in recent times, having had three different leaders in four years.

Neither of Morrison’s two immediate predecessors as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott, were present at the campaign launch. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who led Australia from 1996 to 2007, also did not show up.

Morrison previously dismissed questions about why the former prime ministers wouldn’t be attending, saying the day was about speaking directly to the Australian people.

“It’s not about party festivals and slapping backs and doing all that sort of stuff,” Morrison told reporters on Saturday.

Morrison has been the dominant figure for the government in the campaign but members of his front bench attended the launch on Sunday, including Environment Minister Melissa Price, who has largely been unseen during a campaign in which climate change has been a prominent issue.

The coalition has had to focus its attention on many traditionally safe seats this election, which appear to be under threat from candidates running on platforms focused on more action on climate change.

The Age newspaper reported on Sunday the government was facing tight contests in Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah in Sydney and the seat of Higgins, in Melbourne’s wealthy inner-east.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said there were a lot of disillusioned voters in Higgins, which the Liberal Party has held since the seat was created in 1949.

“There is a mood for change,” Shorten told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Morrison also took aim at Shorten and said Labor had a history of poorly managing the economy.

“Reckless spending is not a vision … it’s a burden on current and future generations,” Morrison said.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Barcelona appoints ‘Valdes’ to coach their youth team

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The Spanish giant ‘Barcelona’ has appointed their legendary star victor Valdes to coach U19A team.

The Spaniard picked up UEFA A and B coaching licences after retiring from football last year and has now reunited with the Blaugrana

The 37-year-old racked up 539 appearances for Barca across all competitions over the course of 12 seasons between 2002 and 2014, winning 21 major titles in total.

Valdes picked up three Champions Leagues, six La Liga titles and won the Copa del Rey twice, earning legendary status at the club while also establishing himself as one of the finest shot-stoppers in Europe.

Barcelona released the following statement on their official website: “Victor Valdes is back at FC Barcelona after signing a contract on Friday morning to become the new head coach of the U19A team. The agreement binds him to the club until June 2020, with the option for an extension by one additional season.

The Spanish born has been enjoying with ED Moratalaz role in the fifth tier of Spanish football before Barcelona reach an agreement with him.

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BMW and Tencent to team-up in developing self-driving cars

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(Reuters) – German automaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) are teaming up to launch a computing center in China that will help develop self-driving cars in the world’s biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.

The computing center, which will start operations by the end of the year, will provide cars with data-crunching capabilities to help them drive semi-autonomously and, eventually, autonomously.

The two companies did not disclose the investment in the center. Sources familiar with the deal said the center will be built in the eastern city of Tianjin.

The establishment of the center “will support BMW’s autonomous driving development and innovation in China,” Jochen Goller, head of BMW’s China operations, said in a statement.

“BMW can, therefore, develop autonomous driving solutions that fit better with the specific driving conditions in China.”

BMW said the new computing center will leverage Tencent’s cloud computing and big data, and provide the automaker with infrastructure needed to develop the autonomous cars.

The Munich-headquartered automaker says it will likely introduce semi-autonomous, or L3 classification, cars in China in 2021 which would need massive computing power to analyze real-time flow of digital information on road and traffic conditions.

Driverless cars need sophisticated data-crunching capabilities as they rely on so-called artificial-intelligence, or neuro-network technology, to help them “learn” from experience and could eventually drive themselves without human intervention.

BMW’s planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich.

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