Father and son cleared in ‘happy hooker’ case

Vincent George jr and Vincent George sr in court in New York. The father and son, who acknowledged they were pimps, have been acquitted of sex-trafficking charges after several prostitutes testified they were treated well. Photo: Seth WenigNEW YORK: A judge who heard prostitutes testify that a father-and-son pimp team made them feel like family cleared the two men of sex-trafficking charges on Wednesday.
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The men’s supporters in the courtroom cheered the verdict, but the gallery fell silent when Manhattan Judge Ruth Pickholtz announced convictions against Vincent George sr and Vincent George jr on charges they laundered millions of dollars through music recording and car service businesses. The pair showed no emotion aside from slight smiles as they were led back to jail in handcuffs.

George sr, 56, and his 35-year-old son had faced possible 25-year terms on sex-trafficking charges accusing them of coercing women into becoming prostitutes. They still could get up to 15 years at sentencing on July 8 for the money laundering conviction.

Despite the mixed verdict, District Attorney Cyrus Vance jr called the outcome a victory.

“The goal of the prosecution was to dismantle a criminal enterprise from top to bottom,” he said. “That goal has been achieved with the Georges… There is no fairy tale ending for these defendants.”

Defence attorneys — who called the women working for their clients “happy hookers” — also claimed victory, adding that they planned to appeal the convictions.

The verdict “recognises that people have free will and the right to make choices whether or not you like those choices,” David Epstein, the son’s attorney, said of the prostitutes.

The loving relationship between pimps and prostitutes “was vindicated,” Epstein added. “It’s a moral victory as well as a legal one.”

Prosecutors had alleged the prostitutes made as much as $US500,000 a year for the Georges but got only a few dollars a night themselves and had no bank accounts or property. They were threatened with beatings when they didn’t bring in as much money as expected or were late to check in, according to wiretap conversations played at trial.

“Bring me my [expletive] money right now and get your ass back to work,” the son said to one woman.

The women painted a different picture, saying they were treated to nice cars, vacations in Florida and affection from their pimps. Some lived together as “family” outside New York, and drove in to the city at night to turn tricks for $US300 a night, they said.

One witness, Heather Keith, has Vincent George jr’s nickname, King Koby, tattooed on her neck. She testified she was a drug-addicted 19-year-old stripper from upstate. He helped her beat a cocaine habit, she said.

“I would say that I make my own choices,” said Keith, now 26. “I am not a dumb person. I know what I’m doing.”

Another witness, 24-year-old Desiree Ellis, dismissed allegations that Vincent George jr abused her, calling him a “teddy bear”.

She once thought about leaving him. But once at a bus station, she changed her mind and asked if she could come back to their “family”, He welcomed her with open arms.

“We kissed,” she said. “We made up. We had a love session.”

– AP

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Senate to debate step towards marriage equality

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says a bill to recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas is an important step to marriage equality. Photo: Randy LarcombeThe Greens’ international same-sex marriage bill faces the Senate on Thursday, with debate and a vote due on recognising the marriages of gay and lesbian Australians who wed overseas.
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”It’s an important step towards marriage equality,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who out forward the bill, told Fairfax Media on Thursday morning.

”We have thousands of couples now living in Australia who’ve gone overseas and gotten married . . . and they arrive back home at Sydney International Airport and all of a sudden they have to check their marriage at the customs gate.”

Thursday’s bill would change a section of the Marriage Act that states that ”certain unions are not marriages”.

The Act says that foreign weddings between ”a man and another man” and ”a woman and another woman . . . must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia”.

Support for marriage equality is growing, not just in the Parliament, but significantly within the Australian public. MPs on both sides of politics support same-sex marriage but both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott remain personally opposed.

Kevin Rudd recently reconciled his Christian faith with allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, saying he had changed his mind and would now support marriage equality.

While Labor allows their MPs to vote according to their conscience on same-sex marriage, Mr Abbott has refused to allow a free vote within the Coalition.

This is despite party members including Kelly O’Dwyer, Malcolm Turnbull, Wyatt Roy, Simon Birmingham and Sue Boyce all declaring their support for same-sex marriage.

Senator Hanson-Young said the ”ludicrous thing” about the issue of marriage equality in this Parliament is that ”you have Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott effectively standing in the way of these reforms happening”.

The senator believed there was more support for the legislation in the Senate than in the House of Representatives and she hoped support had grown further since the issue was debated last year.

”I hope that we can get a few more people across the line than we did last time,” she said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Holden seeks extended warranty

Holden is stepping up pressure on the federal Coalition to commit to funding for the car industry over the next decade, with a warning it could follow Ford out of Australia.
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The company announced this week it would attempt to slash wages at its manufacturing plants.

On Wednesday, managing director Mike Devereux also indicated the company’s future in the country was not certain if government funding was not locked in over a long period.

Coalition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella, who has been in discussions with Mr Devereux, said if Tony Abbott won the federal election, she was confident the car industry would survive.

Under the Gillard government’s assistance scheme, $1.5 billion will be paid out between 2011 and 2015, and a further $1 billion over the following five years.

The Coalition will cut the first round of funding to $1 billion, but it has also pledged to leave the second round of funding in place, while simultaneously promising to hold a Productivity Commission review into car manufacturing. This has caused some doubts within the auto industry over the money.

Ms Mirabella said Labor’s plan to save the car industry had not worked.

”Ford has gone under their watch, when they’ve given more and more money to the car industry,” she said.

”We think there can be a viable auto sector, but there needs to be a change in funding guidelines to look at long-term viability of the industry.”

She said ”no car company has said to me they are going to leave the country because we have reduced the fund by $500 million”.

Following a funding pledge from federal and state governments last year, Holden said it would spend $1 billion on its Adelaide plant. But Mr Devereux said this was not certain. ”Some people think that we have already been given money to do that investment but that is a prospective investment that we have not made.”

He said the long lead-times of the car industry meant Holden needed certainty for the next decade on government funding.

The company is poised to start investing in its new Adelaide plant by the end of this year to help manufacture new-model Cruze and Commodore vehicles, but wants guaranteed funding until about 2022 before it begins spending the money.

Other industry figures said if Holden believed there was a risk to funding from the federal government, the company would simply walk away from production in Australia and import vehicles, because this would be more profitable.

The national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s vehicles division, Dave Smith, said: ”If [car makers] can’t lock in the required government funding from a Coalition government … they will leave Australia.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Milne will return: Saints avert player rebellion

St Kilda has thwarted a potential player rebellion by assuring its senior group that it had every intention of clearing Stephen Milne to play, potentially within the next four weeks.
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A deputation of senior players including Milne, his captain Nick Riewoldt and Jason Blake met a group of club directors early on Thursday seeking urgent clarification of Milne’s status as a St Kilda player.

Coach Scott Watters also held talks with the board members in a bid to learn their position on Milne’s future after telling his players on Tuesday he would back the 33-year-old.

Milne is understood to have had his fears allayed that his playing career was finished. Placed on indefinite leave by the club after being charged on Tuesday with four counts of rape, he released a statement saying he would be contesting the charges. Milne’s first court date has been set on July 5 with a committal hearing not expected for some months.

Club president Greg Westaway confirmed the crisis meetings. He told Fairfax Media: “We had enough regard for the players to make sure they fully understood the process that we went through in reaching the decision that we did.”

Asked if he could place a time frame on Milne’s potential return Westaway said: “That’s a matter for the coach and for Stephen’s welfare.”

Milne, along with concerned senior players and with the strong backing of the AFL Players Association, held talks with Westaway, football director Andrew Thompson and board newcomer Ian McLeod, the managing director of Coles. Westaway was due to hold talks with AFL chief Andrew Demetriou on Thursday night.

The players had been disenchanted after the club appeared to shift its position on Milne after several directors had a change of heart on how to handle his immediate playing future. Some within the club also believed subtle pressure had come from the AFL.

With that crisis averted but the AFL closely monitoring St Kilda’s handling of Milne following the police charges, club chief executive Michael Nettlefold is understood to have cut short his holiday and was returning home from Italy in time for Saturday’s clash with Melbourne. Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo are due to become the 10th and 11th St Kilda players respectively to reach the 250 game milestone.

While Milne and his team-mates appeared comforted after the board meeting that the Saints has every intention of ending Milne’s enforced absence within the month – and perhaps by round-15 after Women’s Round for round 15 – the final decision on Milne’s selection and playing future could come from the AFL which has reserved the right to take action on the player pending further developments.

The AFL Commission met on Wednesday night to consider its position but in the short term backed the move by St Kilda to remove Milne from playing for an indefinite period. In 2009 Adelaide suspended Nathan Bock indefinitely after he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend. Bock returned to the senior team after one week.

Milne released a statement through his management Stride Sports.

“Stephen is taking the legal matter very seriously and has engaged lawyers to represent him to contest the charges,” said his manager Tom Petroro. “Like every citizen, he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. It is requested that the privacy of Stephen, his wife and his family be respected during this time.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Darley’s Approach strikes gold at Ascot

Royal Ascot cemented its place as one of the world’s great meetings on opening day on Tuesday when one of the many highlights was unquestionably Dawn Approach regaining his pedestal in the group 1 St James’ Palace Stakes as Europe’s champion three-year-old.
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The son of Darley’s New Approach failed in the Epsom Derby, refusing to relax in the run, and Jim Bolger’s turnaround to fit him for the St James’ was a training triumph. A year earlier, New Approach sired a Royal Ascot hat-trick of juvenile winners from his first crop, including Dawn Approach, which was a huge kick-start for his career in both hemispheres.

Dawn Approach’s win in the metric mile on Tuesday was not a walk in the park as he had to work hard throughout and suffered interference at a crucial stage. He was able to overcome those to score narrowly and his stud career with Darley is a formality, as it is almost impossible to get a service to New Approach. The St James’ Palace win took New Approach’s progeny earnings to £1,182,803 ($2 million) this season, second only to his illustrious father Galileo, which has a figure almost double at £2,053,103.

Godolphin bought New Approach from Bolger, who bred the chestnut, and has a half stake in Dawn Approach. It was hardly surprising that during Royal Ascot week Godolphin announced the purchase of another New Approach three-year-old in Epsom Derby runner-up Libertarian.

The latter will have his first run in the all-blue Godolphin silks in the Irish Derby at The Curragh on June 29.

Other notable achievements from day one at Royal Ascot were:

❏ Aidan O’Brien’s double with Declaration Of War (Queen Anne) and War Command’s six-length Coventry Stakes success to take his overall tally of Royal Ascot wins to 39. He had another win on Wednesday to give him 40.

❏ A double by jockey John Murtagh took his Ascot winners to 41.

❏ A double to US sire War Front after O’Brien’s two successes above, both bred by Florida’s Joseph Allen, who sold shares in both horses to Coolmore.

❏ War Front is a son of sire of sires Danzig and stands at the famous Claiborne Stud in Kentucky for $US80,000 ($86,000). His recent claim to fame is that Zenyatta has just tested in foal to him.

Declaration of War’s group 1 success in the Queen Anne will probably result in the galloper heading Down Under to stand at Coolmore’s Hunter Valley base next year.

Unfortunately for the John Messara-Arrowfield group, there was little joy surrounding Animal Kingdom’s failure in the Queen Anne. However, the defeat should not detract greatly from his stud career, which begins in September. Animal Kingdom’s form had been superb and he would be a welcome addition to any stud throughout the world. Arrowfield recently bought him in the US.

Day two at Royal Ascot featured Cox Plate invitee Al Kazeem, a son of Darley sire Dubawi, winning the group 1 Prince of Wales’ Stakes (about 2000 metres) in an amazing effort after conceding a five-length start at the furlong peg (200m).

Al Kazeem scored his third win from as many starts this year and it was his second group 1 success. The jockey was James Doyle, who landed his first winner at Royal Ascot, made it a hat-trick during the afternoon in the most memorable racing day of his career.

There are several big races on the home front for Al Kazeem and it’s unlikely that he will come here.Broodmare injection

On the local front, Darley has revealed it has 21 racemare retirees making their stud debuts later this year. Each season Darley culls several older mares to make way for a an array of its beautifully bred three- and four-year-olds, which will be mated with top stallions. Peter Snowden will bid farewell to Lonhro’s sister Shannara after she contests Saturday’s group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara at Eagle Farm. Shannara’s earnings going into the race are $423,000 and she meets a fabulous field of fillies and mares in her swansong run. Detours is another off to the breeding barn and goes out a winner after her June 1 success in black-type company at Eagle Farm, which followed her Silk Stocking win on the Gold Coast. She won $451,000. Raspberries, a daughter of Lonhro, won more than $530,000 from seven wins and six placings in 28 starts. Altar ($375,000), Anise ($294,000), Classics ($248,000), Meidung ($253,000) and Quidnunc ($305,000) were other great Darley money-spinners.Meteor still rising

Northern Meteor’s surge of two-year-old winners continued at Canterbury on Wednesday when Bart Cummings produced Eurozone for a stylish first-up victory, giving his sire his 14th win for the season. Eurozone was a $110,000 yearling buy last year. Northern Meteor is trailing his Widden Stud barn-mate Sebring in the juvenile winners premiership by one, but leads on prizemoney for freshmen sires.

[email protected]上海夜生活m.au

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Chase for big fish spawns idea

Stable return: Geoff Grimish’s Galaxy winner Shellscrape. Photo: Jenny EvansVietnam veteran Geoff Grimish is set to use his racing interests to fund a project to help East Timor people.
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A successful businessman, Grimish is starting a fish farm in East Timor, and hopes he can find a new sire in coming years to supply some cash for his project.

“They helped out our boys in World War II, so I would like to give something back, and this project can help in some way,” he said. “Now I’m retired I have a little more time to put in to this, and racing might be a way to fund it.”

His racing interests have a big weekend ahead as Red Tracer chases an elusive group 1 in the Tattersall’s Tiara. Her brother, Galaxy winner Shellscrape, continues his racing comeback in Melbourne and Green Tracer runs in Singapore.

“They are all Dane Shadows out of the same mare [Kisma], so we could have a big weekend for the family,” he said. “Red Tracer gets her chance in Brisbane to win a group 1, Shellscrape is the best he has been since coming back [from stud] and Green Tracer can hopefully win in Singapore. It is amazing because I had a couple out of the mare before she went to Dane Shadow and they weren’t that good, but these three have all been great horses.

“Something clicked there.”

Grimish has Redoute’s Choice colts out of Kisma coming through, and hopes they have the talent to become stallions.

“That’s the dream,” he said.

Shellscrape, of course, has been to the breeding barn, but when some of the foals were born without tails, he was no longer viable.

“There was something wrong there, so you can’t keep him going,” Grimish said. “I sent a couple of my mares to him, and the reports I’m getting are they are all right. I’m hoping eventually he might be able to go out to stud.”

Grimish decided to send Green Tracer to Singapore, where the Sydney metropolitan winner will make his debut on Sunday.

Singapore trainer Shane Baertschiger is looking forward to seeing how he shapes up.

“He’s obviously not in the same league as Red Tracer or Shellscrape, but he’s done nothing wrong since he came here,” he told the Singapore Turf Club ”… I’m not expecting much, but at least it will give us a better idea how to line up his form here.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

TOPICS: Fun police hit geographical names board

NOT HERE YOU DON’T: This sign could get the kiss off. POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman
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POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman

POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman

POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman

POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman

POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman

POPPING QUESTION: Daniel Eason proposes to Abbey Ellis with a flash mob in attendance. Picture: Darren Pateman

NOBBYS Road. Blackbutt. In the Hunter, we seem to give names to our prettiest places that sound borderline rude.

But the state’s road naming policy is in for an overhaul, and such fun could be a thing of the past.

The Geographical Names Board is reviewing which new street names it will allow, which are too hard to pronounce and which might flat-out offend.

Titswobble Road, Tuncurry might be a one-off, then.

At a more basic level, the definite article ‘‘the’’ is set to be discontinued, meaning the likes of The Terrace, Newcastle (near The Hill) are an endangered species.

Flannel Flower Fairway at Shoal Bay, on the other hand, could be deemed too hard to say. Topics tried. Our screen is covered in spit.

Do you know a Hunter road name that’s fun? Or dodgy? Or inspired? Share it with Topics – it could be a dying breed.

Some flash proposal

CLOSE your eyes.

Imagine the one you love, moving in slow-motion through that warm, soft light they use on daytime TV, like in that show 7th Heaven.

Now imagine your beloved delivering your dream marriage proposal. Are you at Charlestown Square? In the foodcourt, with a flash mob? Er, probably not.

That’s how it happened on Thursdayfor Abbey Ellis, whose partner Daniel Eason popped the question as part of a radio prank.

The Metford pair were the latest participants in NX-FM breakfast crew Heidi, Heath and Normy’s Indecent Proposal segment. Daniel knew what was happening, but Abbey was surprised. She said yes. It would be hard to say no to a flash mob.

Footloose, fancy-free

TOPICS introduced you to Stumps, a Newcastle seagull without feet.

Reader Glen Fredericks adds: ‘‘We’ve got a one-legged Indian myna bird around our place on Beaumont Street’’.

Asked if the myna has a name, Glen pointed out he doesn’t know its gender.

‘‘If it’s a girl, then I’m calling her Eileen.’’

Loathsome lasagne

WE asked what you hated as a kid but like now. Ken McInnes, of Harrington, has changed markedly. ‘‘When I was aged 12 and under I didn’t like females,’’ says Ken.

‘‘But now I have grown quite fond of them!’’

Reader Michael sounds like he was one fussy child.

‘‘When I was a kid, I hated the one food that no kid hates – lasagne!’’ says Michael.

‘‘Whenever mum was dishing that up for us, I would bung on the sore tummy routine.’’

Take note, young readers. A bout of ‘‘that bug going round at school’’ can get you out of dinner. Just don’t go to the well too often, and don’t ask for dessert.

Michael’s battle with lasagne, meanwhile, took a twist.

‘‘It wasn’t until about age 10 when I had a sleep over at a mate’s house and we had lasagne for dinner that I learned two things: lasagne is actually awesome and some mums just can’t cook.’’

So happy endings for all, unless you’re Michael’s mum reading this.

Have you grown to love something you loathed as a kid?

OPINION: China leads way on emissions

LAST year, in Colorado, I met up with Hunter Lovins from Natural Capital Solutions.
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His company is prominent in sustainability, energy efficiency and creating the next industrial revolution.

Hunter was upbeat about emissions trading schemes and spoke of how Australia was a leader but that China, Quebec, California and Brazil were not far behind.

China has now announced a trial carbon trading market, starting this month, which will be huge.

However, there are many in Australian politics who are determined to abolish our carbon trading scheme.

China has also announced massive reduction targets and expects to reach its carbon emissions peak by 2025.

In contrast, Australia uses three times as much energy per person compared to China.

Australia has to do more than just plant some trees and research the effects of carbon in soil strategies to be credible in a warming world.

Coal in China is a significant source of energy. It is used in homes, factories, power stations and by street vendors.

The smell of sulphur and the ever-present smog affects many cities and a massive area of the country. Modern Beijing is a magnificent city with wide boulevards and great architecture.

However, the health and smog problems are terrible, with estimates of up to 1million people affected in China annually by air pollution.

Australia is going to have real difficulties if it abolishes carbon trading just as our major export partner starts a scheme.

China is important to Australia and it is not that long ago that some of our leaders were arguing against carbon trading due to claims that China was taking no action.

Where are these people now? Why don’t they explain their strategy now that China has announced a trial carbon market?

Again we see that, while coal miners and governments argue about the economic impacts of taking action on carbon pollution, it is people, not profits, that must be the priority.

Everyone is entitled to be assured of good health, a safe environment and the well-being of their children. China’s leaders are taking action on a massive scale. They are also devising low-cost manufacturing for renewable energy with improved solar technology.

It will be a sad indictment of Australia’s politicians if their only response to atmospheric warming is to point to an ever diminishing circle of like-minded nations who do not have a trading scheme.

John Asquith is chairman of the Community Environment Network

The chimneys from a coal-burning power station are seen on the outskirts of Beijing.

OPINION: Researching 30 years of change in Hunter

FAREWELL: Dr Wej Paradice outside the Hunter Valley Research Foundation. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers FAREWELL: Dr Wej Paradice outside the Hunter Valley Research Foundation. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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WHEN I joined the Hunter Valley Research Foundation in 1982, the Hunter Region had a population of 473,000 people. Newcastle’s population had declined from 145,000 in 1976 to 140,000 in 1981.

The Hunter’s population now stands at 630,000 people. The Central Coast population was only 94,000 people in 1981 and this has now grown to over 320,000 people.

Between the Hunter and Central Coast we now have a combined population of almost one million people, a sizeable market in Australian terms. Tasmania has only 511,000 people while the Northern Territory has 231,000.

Up to the 1980s, Newcastle and the Hunter Region were synonymous with the image of iron and steel making and the dominance of basic heavy industries. Yet the seeds of change had well and truly been planted.

While BHP was then employing over 11,000 people, the writing was on the wall that this would not continue forever. The State Dockyard was beginning to wind down operations, with its last two ferry construction contracts for Manly ferries almost complete.

However, alternative industries were already developing, with aluminium production having begun at Kurri Kurri in 1969 and construction of the Tomago smelter under way with completion in 1984.

Saleable coal production from the region was about 28 million tonnes and the Port exported only about 13 million tonnes (133 million tonnes in 2012).

Most of the coal came from underground mines. Also at this time the Electricity Commission of NSW was still building Eraring and Bayswater Power Stations.

We found unemployment in the 1980s region was in the order of 16 per cent or more. Getting to year 10 was aspirational for students in the region.

As you can tell, the Hunter Region was a very different place. Even though I had grown up in the Upper Hunter, I was fortunate to be able to gain an even better appreciation of the Hunter by having spent time away, both outside the region and outside the country.

I lived in Sydney when you could pick up a townhouse in Paddington for $15,000, as well as a number of years in the US, all of which was great preparation for working for the Hunter Valley Research Foundation.

One of my early tasks on joining the foundation was to assist in recording data from the foundation’s weather station. The task was to take weather readings at 9am and 3pm every day, 365 days of the year. The data was recorded in a weather book and then a phone call to the post office was made in the morning and afternoon to send a telegram to the Bureau of Meteorology with the recorded readings.

Reflecting upon these types of memories gives one pause to consider the significance of the changes we have experienced as a community and as an organisation over these last three decades.

The Hunter has changed dramatically, moving from a heavy industry base to an economy in which services, innovation and creativity are the key generators of jobs and wealth.

BHP was the previous paternalistic presence within the region, but now the university, alongside major health institutions, are the employers of note, while trade and capital investment have been the characteristics of the resources sector that have been contributing to the local economy in recent years.

Technology, and the digital revolution, has played a critical role in how we relate to each other and how we do business. When I was undertaking my PhD we stored data and ran statistical programs through main-frame computers using punched data cards.

These major changes in the structure of the regional economy and how we all do business have meant redefining what information the foundation collects and how we collect it.

In those early years the foundation had a focus on collecting physical resource information. As the needs of the community changed so did the demands on the foundation. The community wanted current information that was relevant to their needs.

As a result, the foundation developed its regional economic monitoring program, which collected information directly from households and businesses and which could be benchmarked to similar information collected at a national level.

Over the last decade the foundation began its work to track the overall well-being of our community. Our research demonstrates that personal relationships, individual health and perceived relative wealth are the main contributors to a person’s feeling of life satisfaction.

In closing, I would like to remind those in decision-making roles that investing in regional research is an investment in the future of NSW. The foundation has been an integral part of the evolution on one of Australia’s pre-eminent regional economies and should serve as an excellent example of how governments can help regions to help themselves.

Let’s hope we can re-establish that partnership in the near future.

Low-cost TV rules as networks chase cheap news

New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows why commerical free-to-air broadcasters love news and current affairs: it’s dirt cheap.The reason free-to-air commercial broadcasters are so fond of news, current affairs and sports programming was made abundantly clear in new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday – it is dirt cheap.
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According to the data, the FTA commercial networks produced 57 times as much news and current affairs programming in 2011-12 as they did drama – more than 36,000 hours versus 632 hours. TV news and current affairs costs just $14,000 per hour to produce, one-fortieth the cost of an hour of drama at an average of $560,000.

The figures will add fuel to the production sector’s concerns that recent changes to the commercial licence arrangements – in which the FTA commercial broadcasters were given a permanent 50 per cent discount in return for showing more Australian content, but of any sort at all – is likely to produce an increase only in low-cost programming rather than the more expensive drama, documentary and children’s content.

The ABS analysis showed that news and current affairs is by far the largest contributor to the commercial networks’ programming slate, comprising almost half of all programming. Sport is a close second, with “sport and other” content accounting for just over 40 per cent of all broadcast hours. Although the number of hours for this category was not given – on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality” – the maths suggest it was 31,513 hours – about 40 per cent of the total broadcast hours – at a total cost of $450.3 million. That equates to just $14,289 per hour.

The licence fee discount granted by Senator Stephen Conroy in March has been estimated to be worth about $130 million a year collectively to the networks. In return, each is required to broadcast an additional 730 hours of Australian content across its digital channels next year, rising to 1460 hours in 2015.

At an average cost of $14,000 an hour, that suggests they will be between $68 million and $99 million a year better off. If they fill their quotas with repeats – which they legally could do – the bottom line could be even better.

The survey of the film, television and computer games industries, which was last conducted five years ago, produced some other surprises.

The subscription television sector is now worth almost as much as the free-to-air commercial sector, both having estimated income of just over $4.65 million in 2011-12.

Total income in the film and video production sector – those companies and individuals actually making content – was $2.19 billion, an increase of 38 per cent since the last survey in 2006-07. The sector employed 13,414 people, an increase of 23 per cent.

But the value of the post-production sector has declined by 25 per cent over the same period, to $329.6 million, despite a 30 per cent rebate that has helped attract foreign film productions, such as the current Will Smith sci-fi adventure After Earth, to the country. Employment in the sector dropped by 21 per cent over the same period, to 2346.

But the hardest-hit sector was game development, which has shed almost 60 per cent of its workforce – down from 1431 in 2006-07 to 581 in 2011-12 – as large foreign computer games developers have shifted work back home or to other cheaper markets in response to the high dollar. Total income for the sector was down from $136.9 million to $89.4 million.

The sector was offered some small solace, however, as the first recipients of the federal government’s new interactive games fund were announced at a Screen Australia conference in Canberra.

Ten companies received a total of $6 million in enterprise funding, designed to help them develop as viable businesses over the medium term. Six of the companies were from Melbourne, further cementing the city’s reputation as a hotspot for app and game development.

[email protected]上海夜生活m.au

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Officers break down in court over shot colleague

Shot dead while on duty: Senior Constable David Rixon. Photo: Barry SmithA police officer lying bloodied on the ground, colleagues frantically trying to help him, and an alleged gunman groaning while curled up in the foetal position.
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Two Tamworth police officers became emotional in court on Thursday as they recalled that scene, which confronted them the morning Senior Constable David Rixon was shot near a block of units on Lorraine Street.

Inspector Kylie Endemi, who was rostered on as duty officer on the morning of March 2, 2012, recalled Senior Constable Rixon lying on his back, with two colleagues kneeling by his side trying to resuscitate him.

At times, her voice cracked as she gave evidence.

That morning, 49-year-old Michael Allan Jacobs, the man accused of shooting Senior Constable Rixon, was also lying on the ground injured, having been shot by the officer, the court heard.

Jacobs has pleaded not guilty to murdering Senior Constable Rixon.

The jury has been told Jacobs blamed another man, Terrance “Terry” Price, for the shooting when police arrived at the units.

Inspector Endemi said she instructed other officers to locate Mr Price, and they later took him into custody.

Crown prosecutor Pat Barrett has previously told the court Mr Price denied having anything to do with the shooting, and police did not find any gunshot residue on his hands.

The court heard Mr Price told police who arrived at his home: “I’ve been here with my missus all night. I didn’t shoot anyone.”

Under cross-examination from Jacobs’ defence barrister, Tim Hoyle, SC, Inspector Endemi remembered seeing Jacobs lying on the concrete outside the units.

“He was lying in the foetal position on his right hand aside,” she told the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney. “He was groaning.”

Constable Hayley Simshauser said she saw Senior Constable Rixon lying on the ground with blood on the front of his body.

“When you got there the picture confronting you was obviously a very distressing one. There were a lot of police there and Senior Constable Rixon was clearly very badly injured and people were doing what they could to help him?” Mr Hoyle asked.

“Yes,” Constable Simshauser replied, before briefly breaking down.

“Your attention was focused on this rather than making precise notes on what happened?” “Yes,” she said.

She said she was instructed to tape off Lorraine Street, before later going with other officers to take Terry Price into custody.

Jacobs’ trial continues before Justice Richard Button.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

‘I would have thrown away the key’: father’s feelings of deja vu as man who killed his daughter allegedly attacks woman at bus stop

Killed: Vanessa Hoson. The bus stop where the alleged attack took place. Photo: Ben Rushton
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Murderer on parole ‘trying to kill again’

If it was up to Keith Hoson, the man who raped and murdered his daughter Vanessa in 1990 would have been locked away forever.

“I would have thrown away the key, for sure,” said the heartbroken father who has spent the past 24 years coming to terms with an event that tore his family apart.

Instead, the 46-year-old convicted rapist and murderer was released on parole last August and on Wednesday night was arrested for allegedly bashing, stabbing and attempting to rape a woman at a Hunters Hill bus stop in an attack that was interrupted by a passing motorist.

Terrence Leary has been charged with eight offences and is accused of wounding the woman with intent to murder.

A horrible sense of deja vu came over Mr Hoson when he received a call from the NSW State Parole Authority on Thursday morning to tell him that Terrence Leary, the man who raped Vanessa in their Kenthurst home, bashed her with a hammer and dumped her body in a Dural car park, was once again behind bars.

“When he had his trial originally, the psychiatrist said he didn’t think he could ever be rehabilitated,” said Mr Hoson, 68, who moved to the mid north coast when he retired 14 years ago.

“Each time he came up for parole, I would go down to Sydney for the parole meetings and they rejected him for about eight or nine years. From what I understand he wouldn’t admit to what he did and he wouldn’t take on any courses or anything like that.”

But Mr Hoson is not angry that Leary was eventually released on parole after serving 22-and-a-half years of his sentence.

He would rather that than he be kept in prison until January 2014 when his sentence would have been completed and he would have been released into the community without any monitoring.

Instead, he despairs that Leary would ever be allowed out of jail at all.

When the sentence of 24 years with a non-parole period of 15 years was handed down, Mr Hoson said he had “lost respect for society”.

“We don’t know why it happened. There’s nothing I can say to explain it – we’ve just lost all respect for society,” he said in 1990.

Vanessa’s mother Helen, who lives in Sydney, said at the time that she prayed the killer would get a life sentence.

“You are supposed to die before your children,” she told a newspaper.

The judge said Leary suffered an abnormal personality and had consumed alcohol and probably smoked marijuana before he left a Kellyville party, drove to the Hosons’ home and climbed in Vanessa’s bedroom window.

The judge said Leary was a “danger to the community” and would not be released during the maximum term of 24 years unless assessments showed he was no longer dangerous.

These days, Mr Hoson has accepted the fact that the punishment was the maximum penalty available to the judge at the time but it is still cold comfort for him.

“I didn’t get vicious until about 12 months after Vanessa’s death,” he said. “It’s the sort of thing that affects people in different ways. At first it just stunned me but then I got really angry and if I had’ve got hold of him then I’d have probably ended up in jail too.

“There was a time when I could be driving down Parramatta Road and all of a sudden I’d burst out in tears. It’s something you handle in different ways.

“I think after a while, you come to realise that all you can do is adjust for the fact that he’s been given what he’s been given and there’s not much you can do about it unless you know somebody very important.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Yield spread narrowing rapidly

The yield advantage on Australian sovereign bonds may crash to the least since 2001 as the Reserve Bank bank shows it’s willing to cut record-low interest rates even further, CBA says.
Shanghai night field

The extra yield benchmark Australian notes offer over US counterparts will shrink to 80 basis points by 2015 and may drop to as little as 50, Commonwealth Bank forecasts.

Economists expect the to narrow to 87 basis points by September 2014, according to a Bloomberg survey, after touching 107 yesterday, the least since November 2008.

The Reserve Bank said this week it retains scope to cut rates as the economy is dragged down by the end of a record mining investment boom and manufacturing struggles to fill the gap. Lower borrowing costs would further reduce sovereign yields and weaken the Aussie dollar just as the US Federal Reserve signals it may reduce monetary stimulus this year.

“We are going to have a slowdown in Australia, and if things go badly, it could turn into a recession,” said Philip Brown, a fixed-income strategist at CBA. If the run of poor data continues in Australia against the backdrop of a resurgent US, a spread of 50 basis points is plausible, according to CBA.

The 10-year rate was 3.63 per cent this afternoon, compared with 2.35 per cent for similar-dated US Treasuries. Australian sovereign debt returned 1.2 per cent from the end of March to June 18, while US bonds handed investors a 1 per cent loss, Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes show.

The gap to Treasuries reached 51 basis points on March 28, 2006, the least since May 2001, before soaring to a decade-high of 277 in February 2008.

“The inflation outlook as currently assessed might provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand,” the RBA said this week in minutes from its June 4 meeting, when it left its benchmark at 2.75 per cent.

The central bank repeated that resource investment was near its peak and would remain high for the next year or so. There was “considerable uncertainty” beyond that, it said.

Manufacturing has failed to signal it can pick up the slack. It contracted for a 15th month in May, after dropping to a four-year low the month before, according to purchasing managers surveys by Australian Industry Group.

“It’s the transition phase in the Australian economy that’s concerning the market,” said Steven Mansell, the Sydney-based head of Group of 10 rates strategy for the Asia-Pacific region at Citigroup. “The market will hold on to expectations of lower policy rates, whereas the only way is up in the US.”

Swaps markets are pricing in 28 basis points, or 0.28 percentage point, of RBA cuts over the coming year, while they see the equivalent of 16 basis points of tightening at the Fed, according to Credit Suisse indexes.

US economic growth has trailed Australia’s since 2006. It will recover to match the South Pacific nation by 2015, with both nations’ output increasing 3 per cent that year, according to the median forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg. Strategists raised their forecasts for the possibility of an Australian recession in the next 12 months to 10 per cent this month, from 5 per cent in May.

“With all the liquidity awash in the world, and an uncertain world with no growth, what you do is search for yield, and Australia’s triple-A bond market was one of the primary beneficiaries,” said Sam Tuck, a senior foreign-exchange manager at ANZ. “Now that can start to unwind.”

Bloomberg

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.