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Australia’s political leaders launch last campaign ahead of elections.

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Source: Reuters

Australia’s political leaders on Thursday made their last big pitch to voters ahead of a May 18 election, with the opposition Labor leader calling for generational change and conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison promising economic stability.

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In contrasting campaigns, Labor leader Bill Shorten offered voters an egalitarian dream and reform agenda, saying “It’s Time” for a change, while Morrison warned a change to Labor would risk the nation’s long-held economic prosperity.

While Morrison’s re-election prospects have been lifted by tightening polls after early fears he would lose decisively, Labor is still on track to end six years of conservative rule.

An Essential Poll for The Guardian newspaper on Thursday showed Labor ahead of Morrison’s coalition government by a margin of 51.5-48.5 on a two-party preferred basis where votes are distributed until a winner is declared.

Both Morrison and Shorten have campaigned urgently since the election was called last month, squeezing in trips to the outback north and island south, along with obligatory big city tours. On Thursday, Morrison delivered his last major campaign speech in Canberra, while Shorten gave his in Sydney.

The opposing candidates begged voters to see Saturday’s ballot as essentially a fight between Morrison’s aspirations and Shorten’s reforms.

“I will burn for you everyday, every single day, so you can achieve your ambitions, your aspirations, your desires. That is what’s at the top of my agenda,” said Morrison.

While Morrison promised stability, Shorten promised “real change”, reducing inequality through tax reform, higher wages and better public infrastructure.

“Our political opponents stand where they always have stood – against change, against progress, and are servants to the same vested interests – the big banks and big business,” Shorten said.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change policy has consistently polled as one of the most significant issues this election, prompting a movement in marginal seats to remove government hard-right politicians who champion coal-fired power.

“I promise that we will send a message to the world, that when it comes to climate change Australia is back in the fight,” said Shorten.

“We will take this emergency seriously, and we will not just leave it to other countries or to the next generation.”

If Labor wins it plans to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach 50 percent renewable power by 2030.

Morrison’s coalition has committed to a 26 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 under the Paris Accord, but some in his government question the need for that and the coalition remains staunchly in favor of coal-fired power in Australia.

Morrison’s Liberal-led coalition and center-left Labor are vying for a majority share of 151 lower house seats to form government. There are also 76 Senate spots which determine how difficult it will be for the next government to enact policy.

While Morrison, who took over as prime minister last year amid party infighting, has kept the government within reach of an election upset, his path to victory remains narrow.

“Realistically, Morrison will require everything to go right,” said Chris Salisbury, professor of political science at the University of Queensland.

“He will need a number of surprising results, and the polls show this is unlikely.”

ECONOMIC FIGHT

Morrison has tied his campaign to economic management, after announcing in April the government would deliver the country’s first surplus in more than a decade.

But the promise of economic stability has been partially undermined by stagnant wage rises, high costs of living and falling house prices. Shortly before Morrison delivered his Canberra speech, Australia’s unemployment rate rose to the highest in eight months.

Labor, a party with deep ties to the union movement, has promised to abolish several property and share investment tax concessions primarily aimed at Australia’s wealthiest.

It has been able pledge bigger budget surpluses, while also ramping up spending on health and education, which directly challenges the government’s re-election platform.


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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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