Bali nine: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s latest appeal adjourned until next week

Presiding Judge Ujang Abdullah: Adjourned the appeal case of Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran till March 25th. Photo: Kate GeraghtyJakarta: Bali nine organisers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have had their latest appeal against the death penalty adjourned until next week so their lawyers can present evidence to support their argument.
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Lawyers for the duo are appealing against an earlier ruling that the State Administrative Court does not have the jurisdiction to rule on their case.

Presiding judge Ujang Abdullah adjourned the case until March 25 so the lawyers can present their evidence. They may also provide witnesses if they wish.

Lawyers presenting Indonesian President Joko Widodo will then respond on March 30.

Judge Ujang said the court would summarise the rulings on April 1 and deliver the verdict a couple of days later.

The adjournment comes as Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said the government was unlikely to execute the 10 drug felons on death row for weeks or even months as they await the outcome of their appeals.

“Actually [the executions] should have been carried out weeks ago but some of them have filed judicial review to the court,” Mr Kalla told the El Shinta radio station. “The attorney-general has to await the rulings . . . so that there would be no legal problem in the future.”

Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo finally confirmed that the execution of all 10 drug felons had been postponed due to the ongoing legal processes.

“There are still ongoing legal processes. There are fresh legal processes that we have to [a]wait,” Mr Prasetyo said at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran are challenging Mr Joko’s rejection of their clemency pleas. They claim he did not assess their cases individually or take into account their rehabilitation as required by the law.

The appeal was thrown out by the Administrative Court last month on the grounds that the court did not have the power to rule on a presidential decree. However Chan and Sukumaran’s lawyers, led by prominent human rights advocate Todung Mulya Lubis, have appealed against this finding.

Lawyers representing the president said the Administrative Court did not have have jurisdiction over clemency pleas to the president. They said there was already a Supreme Court ruling that the president’s authority was unquestionable.

But a lawyer for the Bali nine pair, Leonard Aritonang, said they were not disputing that the president had the right to grant clemency.

“We know it is the President’s prerogative right as mandated in the constitution,” he said. “We didn’t dispute the president must grant or not grant the clemency pleas. But the President has a legal duty to fulfill. And he didn’t abide by it.”

 

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Eclipse switching off solar panels to test Europe’s power grids

The eclipse will test the ability of utilities to keep the lights on as grid operators switch to other sources to make up for the lost solar power. Photo: [email protected]上海龙凤419m.au Solar panels provide about 40 per cent of Germany’s power on sunny days.
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The eclipse due to bring most of Europe into deep shadows on Friday morning will put an unprecedented strain on the electricity grid, which takes power from the world’s biggest concentration of solar panels. The moon will cross in front of the sun, blocking about 80 per cent of its light across Europe from 8 am to 11 am London time. In Germany, the eclipse will briefly turn off thousands of panels, which provide about 40 per cent of the nation’s power on the most sunny days. A drop of that magnitude will test the ability of utilities to keep the lights on as grid operators switch to usually idle natural-gas and coal plants to make up for the lost solar power. Success would inform nations from the US to China working to integrate more renewables into their supplies, while failure would add to pressure for higher investment in grid-control technology — and boost power prices in the process. “Managing this event on the world’s largest interconnected grid is an unprecedented challenge,” said Konstantin Staschus, secretary-general of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, or ENTSOE. The darkest part of the eclipse will tear across the north Atlantic Ocean past southern Iceland, the Faroe Islands and reach Norway’s Savalbard archipelago in the Arctic. Mainland Europe will see the sun partly obscured, with 87 per cent cover in London, 83 per cent in Denmark and about 25 per cent in Turkey. Plunging productionPrevious eclipses such as one in 1999 passed without affecting power markets because photovoltaics only took off around 2004. Germany, which has about 38 gigawatts of Europe’s 81 gigawatts of solar capacity, will see a 70 per cent slump in PV generation at about 10:40 am, according to the MeteoGroup forecaster. A gigawatt is about equal to the capacity of a nuclear reactor. There’ll be “good expected sunshine across the southern half of Germany,” Stephen Davenport, MeteoGroup’s senior energy meteorologist, said Tuesday. “Assuming cloud does not increase too quickly, then there will be a surge of about 14 to 15 gigawatts to a peak of about 19 to 20 gigawatts once the event is over.” Electricity markets will ripple from the effects of the eclipse all morning. Danske Commodities, a power broker, is increasing staff because consumption is hard to predict and may shift depending on “how many people go outside to look at it,” said Bo Palmgren, the company’s head of intraday trading. Blackout risk”When you have plants ramping up and down, there is the potential for outages,” Palmgren said Monday by phone from Aarhus, Denmark. “The hours before and after the eclipse will be interesting.” Swedish utility Vattenfall will seek to profit by selling output from power plants that normally aren’t competitive, including gas- and oil-fired generators that “cost several hundred euros per megawatt-hour to operate,” said Hartmuth Fenn, head of intraday market access and dispatch in Amsterdam. Italy has the region’s second-biggest solar market and will also be affected, although more of the sun will be visible at that latitude. Terna Rete Elettrica Nazionale, the nation’s grid operator, expects to lose about 7 gigawatts of the 19 gigawatts of available PV supplies. Linked grids

Failures in one region would have an impact everywhere else because of interconnections between 34 national grids in Europe, according to RTE, the French network operator. “If the loss of production is not immediately replaced by other forms of generation, it could pose a risk to the network and lead to power cuts,” RTE said on its website on Monday. European grid companies will organise for their control rooms to be in constant communication during the eclipse. They will use power reserves to balance their system and help others in the region. For this, they can rely on additional close to real-time data provided by the coordination initiatives like TSC in Munich and Coreso in Brussels, ENTSO-E said. “Not all incidents can be ruled out even in normal operational times,” ENTSOE’s Staschus said. Transmission system operators are “taking the event seriously but are confident that they will be able to manage it.” Germany’s four main grid companies have added staff and will stay in touch by live telephone conferences throughout the eclipse. They’ve also bought reserve power to prepare. “It’s not going to be a normal day,” said Regina Koenig, a spokeswoman for Transnet BW, the German company operating the network in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the state where carmakers Daimler and Porsche run their factories. Italian plan

Terna in Italy “has been working for more than a year on the safe management of this natural phenomenon and on ensuring the same level of supply as on any other working day,” said Antonio Carrano, head of the national control center. The actual impact of the eclipse is hard to predict as it would decrease with greater cloud coverage, said Eleanor O’Neil, a meteorologist at WSI Corp. “It can be tricky to calculate cloud amounts, even closer to the event,” O’Neil said by e-mail on March 13. Weather forecasts for Friday show mostly sunny skies in Berlin, Rome and Paris on the meteorological website Wetter.de. The eclipse will help Germany test its ability to absorb variable power supplies from renewable generators, which in the case of solar switch off at night and with wind don’t operate on calm days. By 2030, about half of Germany’s power will come from renewables, said Agora Energiewende, a research group. Grid operators have yet to make their biggest planned investments to cope with unsteady supplies. Glimpse into the future

“If today’s inflexible power system succeeds in managing the solar eclipse, then the power system of 2030 will easily manage comparable situations,” said Patrick Graichen, head of Agora. Utilities could prepare for that future by investing in energy storage, by encouraging customers to vary usage, and by offering pricing that better reflects actual supply and consumption, said Barry Fischer, a researcher and writer at Arlington, Virginia-based software company Opower, which is helping utilities manage demand. “The challenge posed by the eclipse resembles what is likely to be a more daily phenomenon, as Europe and other regions further expand their installed renewable capacity,” said Fischer. The eclipse, he said, is “a window into the future of power systems.”

Bloomberg

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Joint will be jumping at Rooty Hill RSL

The Big Joint in all its glory in Nimbin.NSW hippies descend on Sydney this Saturday hauling their giant inflatable joint to that holy shrine to beer and skittles, the Rooty Hill RSL.
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With major parties endorsing a trial of medicinal cannabis, the RSL is the setting for a medical cannabis seminar.

“We’ve been holding these gatherings in Nimbin town hall and been surprised by the turn out,” said the president of Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy,  Michael Balderstone.

It is Balderstone’s great regret that, in the first election that dope has been endorsed by straight politicians, his Australian HEMP Party forgot to register itself as a political party.

At any rate, two America drug campaigners, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, will be at Rooty Hill to tell how legalisation of medical cannabis in Colorado and 23 other US states has afforded the drug a hitherto unknown respectability.

Other speakers include, doctors, patients and Crescent Head dope grower Tony Bower.

Mike Baird and Luke Foley have prior appointments but Greens’ John Kaye will attend. Organisers are charging a $10 entry to pay the RSL.

Balderstone said they planned on inflating the “Big Joint” outside Alan Jones 2GB studio on Friday to get the old radio rabble rouser on board. “The RSL venue made us think of how good pot is for post-traumatic stress disorder. Surely that’s right up Alan’s alley,” he said. House of a card

Peter Jones, the lead upper house candidate for the No Land Tax party, has emerged as a potential kingmaker should his prime donkey vote spot on the ballot paper give him the balance of power in NSW.

But Jones is no newcomer to the political game.

He was the wit behind a constant source of amusement for NSW politics tragics, the Fake Eddie Obeid Twitter account, but sadly it was suspended last January.

It appears to have been replaced by another, The Real Fake Eddie @HonEddieObeidAO, which Twitter explains is a “parody account run by Joe Tripodi”.

When asked if he was masquerading as Tripodi on Twitter, Jones reached for the Francis Urquhart dictum on House of Cards:  “You might very well think that; BUT FOR LEGAL REASONS I couldn’t possibly comment.”

Find out about your state seat using our election interactive: <a href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Mount_Druitt" _rte_href="/interactive/2015/nsw-election/electorates/electorates.html?el=Mount_Druitt">Key facts on NSW electorates</a>

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

ICAC witness Jeff McCloy makes $1 million donation to Vanuatu disaster appeal

Former Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy has donated $1m to the Vanuatu appeal. Photo: Darren PatemanVanuatu cyclone: Tanna’s homeless desperate for waterCyclone Pam: At least eight Australians missing in VanuatuJeff McCloy disputes corruption findings over developments in New South Wales
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The man who told a corruption inquiry he felt at times like a “walking ATM” for politicians has made a $1 million donation to the Vanuatu disaster appeal.

Wealthy developer Jeff McCloy, the former mayor of Newcastle, kicked off the The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in cyclone-torn Vanuatu on Thursday with a donation he described as a “no-brainer”.

“Cyclone Pam has done untold damage to infrastructure in Vanuatu. With Australia being such a close neighbour, we need to do whatever we can to lend a hand,” Mr McCloy said.

“I’m personally committed to this task and I am calling on businesses, individuals, sporting groups and churches across the nation to get behind the Salvos’ Vanuatu Cyclone Pam Disaster Appeal by donating generously.”

Mr McCloy became famous for his largesse when admitted at the Independent Commission Against Corruption last year to giving envelopes containing $10,000 in cash to state Liberal candidates before the 2011 election.

As a property developer, he was prohibited from making political donations in NSW under laws which came into force on January 1, 2010.

“They all come to see me for money,” Mr McCloy said in the witness box. “I feel like a walking ATM some days.”

Mr McCloy launched a pre-emptive strike against the ICAC when he filed a High Court challenge to the political donations laws, seeking to have the ban on developer donations struck down on the basis it infringes the implied freedom of political communication in the Constitution.

The outcome of the case, which is due to be heard by full bench later this year, will affect the findings that can be made by the ICAC.

The Salvation Army’s Major Bruce Harmer said the Salvos were “extremely grateful to Mr McCloy for his significant donation to launch this appeal and for his ongoing support of the work of The Salvation Army”.

At least eight Australians have been missing in Vanuatu since the cyclone tore through the Pacific nation on Friday, claiming at least 24 lives.

“Tropical Cyclone Pam has caused extensive damage to communities in Vanuatu, especially those in more remote outlying Islands. Some have been forced to drink salt water in an attempt to remain hydrated whilst many have begun the long and costly process of putting their lives back together, one small step at a time with almost no support,” Major Bruce Harmer said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes aren’t talking

It seems a lot has changed since Tom Cruise declared his love for Katie Holmes while jumping on Oprah’s couch back in 2005.
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TMZ is reporting their relationship has reached a point of no communication.

“Our sources say there are bad feelings on both sides, and no desire on either Tom or Katie’s part to mend fences,” TMZ writes.

Not even matters regarding their eight-year-old daughter, Suri, could get the couple talking.

“They want nothing to do with each other to the point they don’t speak to one another, even about Suri,” a source told the site.

But the pair are said to have “intermediaries” who  they use for discussing their daughter.

The source claims Holmes is disappointed with 52-year-old Cruise’s  lack of involvement in Suri’s life, after the actor spent the past few months filming Mission Impossible 5 in London.

But TMZ’s “Tom sources” say Cruise will see Suri when he returns to LA on Thursday.

News of the tension comes after People reported Holmes was rumoured to be dating singer and actor Jamie Foxx, 47.

Apparently Cruise has some concerns with the influence Holmes’ boyfriends have on Suri.

“Multiple sources confirm the pair have been spending time together for well over a year – but it’s nothing serious,” People wrote.

“This is not some intense romance,” People’s source said.

“Jamie and Katie are friends and have been for a long time. They are two adults who are attractive and single, and so apparently conclusions will be drawn.”

The source added: “But contrary to those conclusions, they’re not about to run off and make some serious commitment.”

Though Holmes isn’t expected to take her relationship with Foxx to the next level, the Batman Begins actor told People she is “open to finding love again.”

Holmes and Cruise married in an Italian ceremony in 2006 and divorced in 2012.

Holmes’ new movie Mania Days premiered at SXSW last weekend.

After filming wrapped for the Mission Impossible sequel, the New York Post said Cruise’s next role will be in Mena, which tells the story of a “porky pilot” who trafficked drugs and guns.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Baird refuses to answer questions over UBS phone calls

NSW Premier Mike Baird at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital on Thursday. Photo: Darren Pateman The Premier has refused to say who in his office phoned UBS about its report on electricity part-privatisation. Photo: Darren Pateman
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NSW election 2015: full coverage

Premier Mike Baird has refused to say who in his office called an investment bank before it altered a report on electricity privatisation to make the findings more favourable to his government.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley on Thursday questioned if global investment firm UBS was offered “inducements” to rewrite the report, and said Mr Baird was “treating people with contempt”.

Just nine days out from the March 28 election, Mr Baird has been forced into a fresh defence of his cornerstone re-election policy: part-privatisation of the state’s electricity “poles and wires”.

It emerged on Wednesday that UBS, one of the two banks handling the power proposal for the government, had released a report saying it would damage the state’s budget in the long term because billion of dollars in dividends and other payments would be lost.

But the bank, which stands to benefit by earning millions of dollars in fees if the transaction proceeds, reissued the report with an addendum removing a statement that the transaction was “bad for the budget”.

On Wednesday, Mr Baird admitted staff in his office had contacted the bank shortly before it reissued the report, indicating UBS was told the original version did not take into account broad economic benefits flowing from the power plan.

Mr Foley said reputable firms such as UBS “don’t lightly change the public advice they issue”.

He demanded to know who in the government contacted UBS, and whether Mr Baird spoke to UBS Australia chief executive Matthew Grounds.

“Were inducements made, was pressure brought to bear? There’s many questions to be answered here,” Mr Foley said.

“Did Mr Baird direct one of his people to place a call to UBS and put pressure on them to rewrite their advice to their clients?”

At a news conference on the Central Coast on Thursday, Mr Baird refused to answer questions about the report, including who in his office called the investment bank, whom they spoke to or when the Premier’s office first learned about the report’s damaging contents.

“The MD of UBS put out a statement on this yesterday,” Mr Baird said. “He has dealt with it. End of story.”

Mr Baird denied directing any staffer to call the bank himself but would not provide details.

Asked again at a later press conference to reveal who called UBS, Mr Baird said: “UBS acknowledged in their own research that they did not take account of the broad economic impacts. At their own instigation. Full stop. End of story.”

On Wednesday, a UBS spokeswoman said the initial report was independently determined by the bank “to be incomplete as it had not taken into account the budgetary impacts of the investment proceeds”.

“The analyst then reviewed publicly available information about the investment proceeds and reissued his research based on his own views,” she said.

UBS has been contacted for further comment.

Mr Foley said the Premier’s request that voters “trust” the government will reap $13 billion for the privatisation, rather than the $11 billion suggested by the report, was “treating people with contempt.”

“Saying ‘trust me’ doesn’t cut it in an election campaign when all of our party’s policies are rightly scrutinised,” he said.

“I trust the expert advice. If he can only get $11 billion, what are the $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects … he will ditch?”

The government says the sale proceeds will be used to fund a range of big-ticket infrastructure projects including a second rail crossing of Sydney Harbour.

Labor has promised a more “modest” $10 billion suite of spending, which would delay construction of the harbour crossing by four years.

Mr Foley on Thursday announced a Labor government would spend $55 million to help NRL clubs expand their community programs, by strengthening links to their local areas.

It would deliver community-based amenities, such as playing fields, aquatic centres and visual arts spaces.   2015 NSW election: Policy reckoner

<a href="http://smh上海龙凤419m.au/interactive/2015/nsw-election/policy-reckoner/app.html" _rte_href="http://smh上海龙凤419m.au/interactive/2015/nsw-election/policy-reckoner/app.html">2015 NSW state elections – policy reckoner</a>

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Second time lucky for Study Group as Vocation sells Endeavour for $75m

Second time lucky for UK-based Study Group which has bought Endeavour College for $75m from Vocation. Endeavour runs courses in naturopathyEmbattled education group Vocation has cut loose one of its best performing businesses in a bid to ensure the survival of the mothership, selling the Endeavour College of Natural Health for $75 million to British-based global company Study Group.
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Ironically, Study Group was one of the under-bidders last year in a sale process when Vocation itself acquired the Endeavour operations in June, 2014 for $84 million, and has been able to pick it up cheaper this time.

Study Group’s Australasian managing director Warren Jacobson says he’s “very comfortable” with the price paid now, and he’s not worried about any of the spillover to the Endeavour brand from the so-called “Vocation contagion”.

Vocation’s reputation has been battered by damning audit reviews by regulators in Victoria on two businesses, BAWM and Aspin, which are unrelated to Endeavour. Vocation has shredded $700 million-plus in sharemarket value in the past six months.

“We’re very confident that the Vocation contagion, as the press has termed it, has not spread to the Endeavour brand,” Mr Jacobson says.

Investors remain sceptical about the long-term future for Vocation, which is still working on a strategic review of its business and looking at options for its capital structure to create a slimmed-down organisation.

The company has been through a tumultuous time since listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in late 2013. Vocation shares inched up marginally early on Thursday after the Endeavour sale announcement but are still wallowing around the 8¢ mark, compared with $3.40 in early September 2014.

Vocation will pay down almost all of its bank debt through the Endeavour sale, reducing debt from around $85 million to around $10 million.

The imminent sale of Endeavour was first revealed by Fairfax Media two days ago.

Vocation’s three remaining largest businesses – Real Institute, AVANA and Customer Service Institute of Australia – will form the core of the slimmed-down company.

Endeavour, which was established in 1975, runs a range of courses including acupuncture, remedial massage, homeopathy and Chinese medicine across six campuses. The Vocation banking syndicate, made up of Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and NAB, has insisted on substantial asset sales for its continued support, with KordaMentha’s corporate advisory arm 333 Capital running a sale process over the past few weeks.

Vocation chief financial officer Stewart Cummins says there may be one more small asset sale, but Vocation wasn’t necessarily trying to get to a point where it had no debt at all.

“No debt, low debt, it’s not a big difference,” he says.

Vocation chairman Doug Halley, who took over from inaugural chairman and former federal treasurer and education minister John Dawkins late last year, says there was strong interest from “many credible parties” for Endeavour.

He says Vocation will announce its capital and corporate structure in the coming weeks along with a revision of profit forecasts to reflect the skinnier version of Vocation after its asset sales.

On Tuesday, Vocation announced it had sold the Perth-based Australian School of Management and the Australian College of Applied Education for a combined $15 million, well above the $4 million it paid for the businesses last year.

Study Group is a global business.  It already operates the Australian Institute of Applied Sciences, a natural health education provider, and the Australian College of Physical Education, which runs tertiary courses in sports, health and physical education. Mr Jacobson says Study Group has 13,500 students in Australia, before taking into account the Endeavour acquisition.

He says Endeavour chief executive Carolyn Barker will stay with the business and be part of Study Group’s executive leadership team.

Analysts had been speculating for some time that Ms Barker may be under consideration to take over as the chief executive of Vocation, with inaugural chief executive Mark Hutchinson announcing in January he would be stepping down in the wake of Vocation’s heavy profit downgrade and serious operational problems.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp takes 14.9% stake in APN as Independent News & Media exits

APN has lost its long-time controlling shareholder, Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien Independent News & Media. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has acquired a 14.9 per cent stake in APN. Photo: Lucy Nicholson
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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has intrigued its rivals by swooping on a 14.99 per cent stake in APN News & Media, which owns strong-performing radio assets, positioning Australia’s biggest media company for further consolidation of the struggling media sector.

It acquired most of the stake in a sale by APN’s Irish dominant shareholders, ending a 27-year-relationship with the trans-Tasman newspaper, radio and outdoor advertising group by selling their combined 30 per cent stake for about $300 million.

The surprise move, news of which was broken on Thursday morning by Fairfax Media, comes as the federal government considers ripping up cross-media ownership restrictions that limit mergers between traditional players.

While News describes the holding as an “investment stake”, APN pays no dividends and the shares have already performed strongly in the past 18 months. “It’s not untypical for News to buy these strategic stakes as part of a bigger-picture move or a bigger play,” said one senior media executive who asked not to be named.

A 14.99 per cent stake gives News, which is prevented by law from buying APN, a right of veto if another company attempted to acquire APN via a scheme of arrangement. News Corp’s local rival Fairfax Media, which owns The Australian Financial Review and Business Day, has discussed various commercial opportunities with APN in recent years.

APN owns more than 100 regional newspapers, many of them in Queensland, and Australian Radio Network, which is the star of the radio sector with leading FM breakfast shows on its Sydney stations KiiS FM, and WS FM.

News Corp is prevented from acquiring 15 per cent or more of APN because News co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch owns 100 per cent of rival radio company Nova Entertainment. Nova owns the Sydney stations Nova and Smooth FM. No media owner can control more than two radio licences in a major market.

News Corp’s move took some media watchers aback because APN shares have already performed very strongly as it has fought back from a debt crisis. The stock, which was suspended at 94¢ on Thursday morning, has almost doubled in the past year having traded as low as 22¢ in June 2013.

The share price recovery has been put down to APN’s poaching of star radio duo Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson from Southern Cross Media’s 2Day FM and a series of asset sales and acquisitions orchestrated by APN CEO Michael Miller.

Mr Miller, a former News Corp executive, is highly regarded by Lachlan Murdoch and his father Rupert, and has been tipped as a potential future successor to News Corp Australia CEO Julian Clarke.

In a statement from the US,  News Corp said: “APN has a high-quality portfolio of Australian and New Zealand radio and outdoor media assets and small regional print interests. It is led by a quality management team that has successfully driven improvements in the performance of the business.”

The purchase is subject to regulatory approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

News Corp acquired a 10.2 per cent stake in the block trade executed by Credit Suisse at 88¢ per share. News Corp had quietly built a 4.8 per cent stake before the trade.

In a watershed moment for APN, its long-time parent, Independent News & Media, controlled by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, sold 191 million shares valued about $180 million.

Simultaneously, Mr O’Brien’s investment vehicle Baycliffe has sold 125 million shares valued at $117 million. Both holdings were sold in a block trade handled by Credit Suisse, as revealed by The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk on Thursday morning.

APN’s largest shareholder, the contrarian fund manager Allan Gray Australia, did not buy any shares in the trade, having cut its stake in APN to about 15.5 per cent from 17.7 per cent earlier this week.

When asked for a comment on News Corp’s purchase, Allan Gray CEO Simon Mawhinney said: “Welcome to the register!” He said the fund manager had trimmed its stake to reduce its exposure as part of its “prudent portfolio management” because the “share price has done so spectacularly well off a low base”.

Independent News & Media has sold the holding as it earns no dividends from APN and is under pressure from its lending banks following a refinancing agreement put in place in April 2013.

The transaction will wipe out a €115 million ($161 million) debt and relieve the company of its €4.5-million-a-year interest burden.

It is understood that Baycliffe is exiting as it does not typically take minority positions in companies and is happy to leave the APN investment at the same time as INM.

APN’s New Zealand business NZME, which it has positioned for a float when conditions are right, owns The New Zealand Herald, the country’s leading newspaper.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Vixens unbeaten, despite being below their best

Star burst: The Vixens’ Madi Robinson in flight in her last match against the Thunderbirds. Photo: Grant TreebyAs the first draws in ANZ Championship history were played out in Sydney and Adelaide last Sunday, the Melbourne Vixens remained unbeaten three rounds into their title defence.
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After an emphatic 24-goal thrashing of the Central Pulse in round one, the Vixens followed up with uglier, closer wins against the Adelaide Thunderbirds  and the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

“Even though the last couple of weeks has been a hard slog, I think that’s good for us as well,” said Vixens coach Simone McKinnis.

“But we know that each week we have to get better at what we do. I don’t think we’re near where we can be.  You look at the weekend just gone and you had four teams that couldn’t win, and it was looking like it was going to be another case, but we found a way, and I’m rapt with that.”

While three of the five Australian conference teams are undefeated,  the Thunderbirds enter round four without a victory and on  Sunday face a second match in 15 days against a rival they have struggled  to beat – the Vixens.

“It’s incredible how sometimes you just have that bogey team that you really struggle against,” said star Vixens wing attack Madi Robinson. “I think the thing with Adelaide is that across the court and across our starting seven we do line up very well against them. There’s some incredible match-ups, and that’s probably why it’s always a tough encounter. But it’s obviously good to be on the winning side … that’s for sure.”

Robinson will line up against her close friend and Diamonds teammate Rena Hallinan, the T-birds’ captain and former Vixen due to play her 100th game.

As is their custom, the pair will not speak in the lead up. “Mentally after Sunday I’m going to really look forward to the rest of the season and know I can actually have my best friend back and start calling her every week because the last few weeks have been a bit difficult,”  Robinson said.

The Vixens lead the head-to-head with the Thunderbirds 12-6 overall, and 5-4 in Adelaide, where the match will be played this weekend.

While the current Thunderbirds do not appear close to replicating the former glories of their two title-winning seasons in 2010 and 2013, they are prepared to experiment and innovate, and will be determined to pinch the win they need to avoid their worst start to a season.

Shooter Carla Borrego, who appears low on confidence, was terrible (13/25) in round two, but better in Sunday’s draw with the Mystics and remains a barometer of her team’s fortunes.

The problem is that formidable Vixen defender Geva Mentor has regularly had Borrego’s measure, and will anchor a team that continues to get the job done.

“I think even our first few games have shown a little bit of just what the ANZ Championship is always like,” Robinson said.

“You win one by a lot, you have a hard grind and you play horrible but you still win, and you fight out and just secure it. “It’s good to get the three wins, regardless of how we did it.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

NBA players won’t stop resting until crowded schedule changes

Breaking: LeBron James has been reinvigorated after taking a fortnight off mid-season. Photo: USA Today SportsFollow Hoops Heaven on Twitter
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The only solution to the supposed epidemic of resting star players is to stretch the NBA season out a few weeks so there are fewer crowded stretches on the schedule.

Playoff-bound teams are already resting players – it’s a trend which has grown in recent years and will only become more prolific.

Any time a coach decides to give one or more of his stars a night off, there will be a story about the kiddie who travelled hundreds of kilometres for that one night to see their favourite player in action.

Nobody likes to get disappointed when they fork out big dollars for an NBA ticket but sometimes when you go to a big event, you get the understudy instead of Bette Midler in Rochelle, Rochelle.

Golden State, Memphis and Atlanta have recently started following the lead set by San Antonio mentor Gregg Popovich and given some of their main performers nights off even when they have no specific injury concerns.

LeBron James took a couple of weeks off midway through the season and has been phenomenal since his return, helping Cleveland surge into the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s never fair to compare anyone to Michael Jordan but the old-school thinkers point to the Chicago Bulls superstar as evidence that players don’t need to rest to make it through an 82-game season. Jordan played all 82 games nine times during his 15-season career, including his Washington swansong in 2002-03. He only played less than 78 in the regular season in 1985-86 when he had a serious foot injury (18 games), when he made his comeback from baseball (17) late in 1994-95 and his first year as a Wizard (60) in 2001-02.

Perhaps if Jordan did take some games off during his first stint with Chicago from 1984-93, he wouldn’t have had the overwhelming feeling to walk away from the game at the age of 30 to walk onto the baseball diamond. There were many other reasons, including his father’s murder, cited by Jordan at the time but burnout was definitely a factor.

Maybe he wouldn’t have felt the need to retire again at the age of 35 in 1998 when he still had a few more years left in him although he said at the time the main reason for hanging up his Air Jordans that time was the decision by the Bulls to jettison coach Phil Jackson.

The climate has changed in recent years. Coaches won’t be going back to the old ways of playing their stars excessive minutes on every night they’re available. The only coach who seems to be in denial about rest and restricting minutes is at Jordan’s old team, Chicago’s George W Thibodeau. He gets away with it because he keeps getting the Bulls into the playoffs even though his team has been dogged by injuries although there have been several reports suggesting club management is fed up with his style of coaching.

Sports science is all about peaking at the right time of the season. Coaches know nobody cares about a random match against Orlando in March but everyone remembers how their team goes in the playoffs.

The NBA has paid lip service to its scheduling problem by trialling a 44-minute game in the pre-season and floating the idea or reducing the season from 82 games. Neither option should or is going to happen. Changing the length of matches or the season means every record in the history book will need an asterisk to denote which era any given feat occurred in.

There is no fix-all solution to the rest issue. If it was a 41-game season with no back-to-back matches you could still see someone like Popovich giving one of his veterans a night off just to ensure they had a few more miles in their legs for the playoffs.

If the NBA cut the pre-season of eight games per team in half and started the season in mid-October instead of at the end of the month or early November, then teams will have fewer horror calendar stretches where they have back-to-back matches or the dreaded run of four in five nights.

Why not?

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.