Administrator appointed to Hunter home builder 

HOMES under construction in the Hunter may be affected by the appointment of administrators to building company Holmwood Builders Pty Ltd.
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Holmwood Builders alsotrades as ProCorp, ProCorp Homes and ProCorp Builders.Hall Chadwick Chartered Accountants has been appointed Administrator.

The exact number of homes under construction is still being determined but Fair Trading understands between 80 and 100 dwellings across Sydney, the Hunter, South Coast and Riverina could be affected.

Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said every support would be offered to affected consumers and that Fair Trading was in contact with the administrator and the Home Warranty Insurance Fund.

“Fair Trading is ready to respond and assist the affected consumers while also working with the administrators and insurer to determine the best options for all parties as quickly as possible,” Mr Roberts said.

Mr Roberts said consumers, sub-contractors and suppliers could call the Fair Trading hotline on 13 32 20 during business hours for advice on their rights.

Home Warranty Insurance provides protection for home owners, including when a building company is unable to complete a contract because it is placed in administration.

“Home buyers should have been given a Home Warranty Insurance Certificate byHolmwood Builders Pty Ltdshortly after they entered into the building contract and that certificate will identify their insurer,” Mr Roberts said.

“Consumers who have signed a contract with Holmwood Builders are advised to contact the insurer immediately.

“Any subcontractor or supplier who believes they are owed money by the companies should lodge a proof of debt, along with supporting documentation, to the administrator,” Mr Roberts said.

Fair Trading has also created a Holmwood Builderspage on its website

More information about Home Warranty Insurance is available on the Fair Trading website.

Fair Trading has created a Holmwood Builders page on its website.

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Petraeus shockwaves jeopardise more top jobs

Timeline: the Petraeus affair
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The sex scandal that destroyed the career of former CIA director David Petraeus continues to reverberate in Washington, jeopardising the appointment of General John R. Allen, the top allied commander in Afghanistan, to a new post as Nato’s supreme commander.

The scandal has also distracted the White House as it enters negotiations with Republican Congressional leaders over the pending fiscal crisis.

It has complicated the congressional hearings into the attack in Libya that cost the lives of four Americans, including the ambassador. General Petraeus, who resigned on Saturday after confessing an affair with his biographer, was expected to appear before the hearing as CIA head this Thursday.

The Petraeus affair has also made other key defence, intelligence and diplomatic appointments more difficult. The White House must now replace General Petraeus as CIA director, but also Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had already planned to stand aside when President Barack Obama named his new cabinet.

With so many senior posts to fill, the president may need to draft Senator John Kerry, who has been interested in one of the posts, forcing a special election for his seat, which could be won by the Republican Scott Brown, whittling into the Democrat’s majority in the Senate.

On Friday it was revealed that the FBI’s investigation into the relationship between General Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, had uncovered a trove of up to 30,000 emails between General Allen and Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite who sparked the original investigation when she told an FBI agent that she had received threatening emails from Broadwell, who apparently feared there was a relationship between her and General Petraeus.

This unidentified FBI agent has now become a central figure in the scandal, because it has been revealed that although he was not part of the investigation – and although it was found that no crime had been committed – he believed a cover-up was in play, and approached the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor, with information about General Petraeus’s affair and the FBI investigation.

It has also been reported that the FBI agent was a friend or acquaintance of Mrs Kelley’s, and had once sent photographs of himself topless to her.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that General Allen denies having had an affair with Mrs Kelley.

During a White House briefing on Tuesday, the president’s spokesman Jay Carney said the president still had faith in General Allen.

“I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of General Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan,” he said.

“The president remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who General Allen continues to lead as he has done so ably for over a year,” he said.

He said he would not speculate on personnel changes.

Meanwhile, it is expected that General Petraeus will still be called upon to give evidence before a Senate hearing into the Benghazi attack.

Congressman Peter King said that the FBI should have told the White House that it was investigating General Petraeus months ago rather than last week.

Mr Carney said he believed the FBI had protocols in place over when to notify other agencies over investigations, and that they had been followed.

The Senate intelligence committee is to meet shortly to discuss the scandal.

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The 63 degree egg

Hot Food: Jill Dupleix63 degree egg ( on toast with jamon)18th October 2012.Photo: Steven SiewertA humble ingredient is all it’s cracked up to be when you turn down the heat.
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What is it?

It’s an egg cooked slowly at a very precise temperature (from 60C to 65C) to achieve a high-impact result: a shimmering, silky orb of creamy egg white surrounding a rich, softly liquid egg yolk. Forget your three-minute egg; this can take anything up to 2 hours.

Where is it?

At Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Inc, weekend breakfasts are devoted to the famous 65/65 egg (65-gram eggs cooked for 65 minutes) served with grilled Lyonnaise sausage, braised beans and smoked hock. During the week, the egg is served with smoked sardines, grilled asparagus, tomato and sorrel on toast. At Prahran’s Hobba Coffee & Kitchen, the perfectly cooked 63C eggs come with grilled asparagus, hazelnut crumbs and horseradish panna cotta; and at Canterbury’s Maling Room, they’re served with chorizo and roast tomatillo salsa, grilled corn, avocado and tomato. “We don’t do a traditional poached egg at all any more,” Maling Room manager Adam Howes says. “Although we do have to warn our customers when they order that the eggs are soft, as some people freak out.”

Why do I care?

Because chefs from Britain’s Heston Blumenthal to Spain’s Andoni Luis Aduriz consider it ”the perfect egg”. Because it’s very impressive served over hot-smoked salmon, grilled tuna, new-season asparagus or baked beans and sausages. Or just because it gives you more time to get the toast on and the coffee made.

Can I do it at home?

For precise results, you need an immersion circulator, the temperature-controlled water bath used by chefs. Failing that, you can still have fun experimenting with an instant-read cook’s thermometer (about $6), a big pot, and a simmer pad, but it’s a bit hit and miss.

Sourcing it

Cumulus Inc 45 Flinders Lane, City, 9650 1445

Hobba Coffee & Kitchen 428 Malvern Road, Prahran, 9510 8336

The Maling Room 206 Canterbury Road, Canterbury, 9836 9889

Slow-cooked egg and jamon on toast

5 x 65g eggs, room temperature

1 garlic clove, roughly crushed

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 thick slices sourdough bread

8 slices jamon or prosciutto

4 tbsp chervil or microcress

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Heat water in a large saucepan or stockpot until a cook’s thermometer reads 60C to 62C. Place a saucer on the bottom to stop the eggs from gathering on the base, where the temperature is highest.

2. Carefully add the eggs and cook for 50 minutes, keeping the temperature constant. Remove a ”test” egg, crack in half, and slide on to a warm plate. The white should be soft, translucent and jelly-like, and the yolk still gently runny. If not yet cooked, give the others another 5 to 10 minutes.

3. To serve, stir the garlic into the olive oil. Grill the sourdough bread, brush with the garlicky olive oil, and top with folds of jamon and lots of chervil. Arrange egg on top, drizzle with remaining olive oil, scatter with sea salt and pepper and serve.

Recipe note on timing and temperature:I tried everything from cooking the eggs for 1 minute per gram (for example, a 60-gram egg for 60 minutes) to varying the temperature from 60C to 64C. While the whites were beautifully translucent, the yolks went one stage past runny. Try it yourself, or master the traditional poached egg instead.

Serves 4

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A royal yarn

His wife may have garnered attention for her not unimpressive handle on appropriate fashions, but the Prince of Wales’ visit to Australia also included his own fashion foray in the capacity of his role as patron of The Wool Campaign.
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And it was a shy year 10 student who was chosen to model one Aussie design for the royal visitor at the Museum of Contemporary Art last week.

Seventeen-year-old Brooke Pearce, who is completing year 10 at the Southern Highlands Christian School in Bowral, showcased a piece that won her the 2012 Wool4Skool prize. The deep pink skirt features a panel of multi-coloured strips that references a DNA helix.

‘‘DNA represents life and all the colours represent multi-culturalism and it’s all burnt together, like DNA is all burnt together,’’ Pearce said.

Her piece joined ensembles in wool from five leading designers – Akira Isogawa, Dion Lee, Josh Goot, Camilla and Marc, and Kym Ellery – were modelled for the prince, with each designer standing by for a chat about the merits of merino and the thinking behind their designs.

Dion Lee showcased a striking grey felt frock coat with anatomical detailing running down the back in woven PVC. The design won him this year’s Australian International Woolmark prize.

Josh Goot presented a sleek black tuxedo previously worn by Miranda Kerr for David Jones and Akira Isogawa presented a hand-embroidered cream ensemble with a thick plait along its neckline.

Ms Pearce said she was nervous at first but ‘‘[Prince Charles] was calm and collected so then I was calm, too.’’

He asked her if her design was comfortable and ‘‘the model actually answered and said it was comfy because, like, she was wearing it,’’ Miss Pearce said.

While wool has retained its premium position in the menswear sector – particularly for suits – cheaper, artificial fibres and fabrics have ‘‘challenged’’ its position in the women’s wear sector, said Peter Ackroyd, the executive director of the Prince of Wales’s Campaign for Wool. The campaign aims to re-gain ground for wool on the basis of its environmental benefits.

‘‘The Prince of Wales’ message [as the campaign’s patron] is basically one of sustainability,’’ Mr Ackroyd said. ‘‘Wool is biodegradable, renewable and sustainable, and it lasts … and people are starting to ask questions about the provenance of the clothing they buy and its environmental impact.’’

When it comes to fashion, Australian merino tops the class, Mr Ackroyd said.

‘‘It is the softest. It is the finest micron. And it is sought after,’’ he said.

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A frozen moment in time as the sun’s corona is revealed

Natural wonder … the solar eclipse. Waiting for the eclipse … stargazers were out in force.
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Thousands turned out to see the eclipse.

From beaches, hot air balloons, cruise ships and mountain tops, tens of thousands of eclipse watchers in far north Queensland witnessed a rare solar spectacle on Wednesday morning.

At 6:38am (7:38 AEST), tourists, scientists and amateur astronomers watched in awe as the moon completely blocked the sun.

In Palm Cove, north of Cairns, the crowd let out a round of applause as a patch of thick cloud – which had obscured most of the first phase of the total eclipse – parted just before totality.

As the final sliver of sun light disappeared behind the disc of the moon, solar gazers removed their protective glasses to marvel at the star’s outer layers of hot gas. A pitbull whined and jumped, confused by the sudden darkness.

A total solar eclipse is the only time the sun’s corona can be viewed from Earth.

Then, almost as fast as the sky darkened, a twinkle of light emerged and the moon continued its journey across the sun.

A Japanese couple, Tatsuo and Reiko Makino, travelled from Tokyo to Palm Cove for three days to view the total solar eclipse, their third.

Mrs Reiko said they almost gave up hope they would see it when rain pounded their hotel on Tuesday night.

“We are very lucky,” said Mr Makino.

Amateur astronomer Mike Chapman, who travelled from Sydney to view his first total solar eclipse, said the moment of totality was far better than he anticipated.

A book by the wife of world famous astronomer and author Carl Sagan first piqued his interest in eclipses.

“She described the full experience of the eclipse, watching the shadow across the ground, the drop in temperature and all the lights coming on in the house.

Today, with the excitement of seeing the eclipse, I didn’t see any of that, I was so mesmerised by the corona,” he said.

Some 60,000 people are thought to have travelled to Cairns and the surrounding beaches for Australia’s first total eclipse in a decade. Local officials estimate the event will generate $75 million for the region.

The final phase of the eclipse, where the moon last touches the sun, was again obscured by cloud.

But it did not matter. Everyone had seen what they came for.

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