Benedict breaks silence to defend his papal record

August 8th, 2018

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has broken his self-imposed silence with a lengthy letter to a prominent atheist in which he defended himself from accusations that he did not do enough to bring to justice sexually abusive priests.
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The former pontiff spoke of his ‘‘profound consternation’’ that ‘‘evil’’ had entered so deeply into the Roman Catholic faith. But he denied that he had, either as pope or previously as head of the Vatican office dealing with abuse cases, tried to cover up the scandals that tarnished the Church’s reputation around the world.

‘‘I never tried to cover these things up,’’ he wrote.

‘‘That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time must do everything to prevent it from repeating.

‘‘Neither is it comforting to know that, according to research, the percentage of priests who commit these crimes isn’t any higher than the percentage of other similar professions.

‘‘Regardless, one shouldn’t present this deviation as if it were something specific to Catholicism.’’

The letter was sent to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an atheist mathematician, who in 2011 wrote a book titled, ‘Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You’.

In his book, Odifreddi posed a series of polemical arguments about the Catholic faith, including the church’s sex abuse scandal.

The letter was reprinted by the leading Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and was the first published statement from Benedict since he said on retirement that he would live out his years ‘‘hidden from the world’’.

It discussed topics such as the nature of Catholic belief, the conflict between good and evil, and evolution, came two weeks after La Repubblica published a similar letter from his successor Pope Francis on atheism and agnosticism.

The Vatican said the timing of the two documents was a coincidence, rather than a concerted attempt by the two pontiffs to launch a fresh engagement with non-believers.

But the fact that a former pontiff and his successor wrote letters on the same issue within days of each other underlined the peculiarity of a situation in which, for the first time in centuries, two popes live virtually under the same roof.

While Pope Francis lives in a Vatican guesthouse called the Casa Santa Marta, his predecessor is living out his retirement in a former convent a few hundred yards away. It is not known how often the two men meet as they move around within the walls of the tiny sovereign state but they share the same private secretary – Archbishop Georg Ganswein.

Benedict’s assertion that he had done what he could to end sexual abuse by priests was disputed by groups representing the victims of paedophile clergy.

‘‘Over a clerical career that lasted more than six decades, we can’t think of a single child-molesting bishop, priest, nun, brother or seminarian that Benedict ever exposed,’’ said Barbara Dorris of the United States-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

‘‘In the Church’s entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict. As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover-up.’’

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Palmer candidate Jacqui Lambie claims final Senate seat in Tasmania

August 8th, 2018

Federal politics coverageLambie celebrates win, flips on carbon tax
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The Palmer United Party has won its first seat at the election, with its candidate Jacqui Lambie taking out the final Senate seat in Tasmania.

A 42-year-old single mother with two children, Ms Lambie squeezed past the Liberals’ third candidate Sally Chandler and sex industry lobbyist Robbie Swan to win a seat in the new Senate.

In the tightest contest in Tasmanian history, Mr Swan fell just 244 votes short of overtaking Labor senator Lin Thorp at the point where one or other dropped out of the count.

With just another 0.08 per cent of the vote, the Canberra-based co-convenor of the sex industry’s Eros Foundation would have topped her vote, won her preferences and most likely gone on to take the seat.

Instead, Ms Lambie won the seat, winning 6.6 per cent of the vote, in the Palmer United Party’s best performance anywhere outside Queensland.

She was helped over the line by a horde of preferences from other parties, ranging from the libertarian Liberal Democrats to the Greens.

The Palmer United Party is certain to win a second Senate seat in Queensland, where rugby union legend Glenn Lazarus won 10 per cent of the vote, and has a 50/50 chance of winning a third seat in Western Australia, where it is in a fight with the obscure Australian Sports Party.

PUP leader Clive Palmer won the lower house seat of Fairfax by 36 votes but the slender margin means the contest is now subject to a recount, with results not expected until next week.

The Coalition’s loss means it will have only 33 seats in the new 76-member senate, one fewer than now. Labor and the Greens will have 35 seats between them, with a crossbench of eight senators holding the balance of power.

A combative former military policewoman, Ms Lambie has warned the government she will be no pushover.

”If he thinks that Pauline Hanson was a pain in the rear end, Tony Abbott better look out,” she told Fairfax Media in an interview after early counting showed she may secure the seat. ”He hasn’t come up against Jacqui Lambie.”

The AEC has also officially announced the Senate results for the Northern Territory. As expected, the Country Liberal Pary’s Nigel Scullion has retained his Senate seat, with Labor’s Nova Peris taking the second spot.

Ms Lambie joined the army at 18 and served for 11 years before a back injury forced her to quit. She then spent years fighting the Department of Veterans Affairs in the courts before it finally gave her a disability pension.

A former member of the Liberal party, she originally sought its preselection for the north-west Tasmanian seat of Braddon. When that failed, she decided to stand for the Senate as an independent, selling her house in Burnie to finance her campaign, but then ran into party leader Clive Palmer at an airport, and agreed to be his lead candidate.

Ms Lambie has already shown an independent streak, telling the ABC she disagreed with her party’s policy to remove the price on carbon. “There still needs to be a carbon tax, but it just needs to be a lot lower,” she said.

However, she appeared to change her mind on the issue after her win was announced on Wednesday, saying ”I just buggered that up”.

She has also sharply attacked both major parties over cuts to welfare payments, and urged the new government to increase the staff of the Veteran Affairs department by 50 per cent.

She will replace Labor senator Lin Thorp when the new Senate takes its place next July.As expected, the other five seats in Tasmania went to sitting Labor senators Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk, Liberal senators Richard Colbeck and David Bushby, and Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

with Judith Ireland

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Roseville cinema robbery: pair arrested for assaulting police to be questioned

August 8th, 2018

Police are investigating whether two people arrested after allegedly assaulting officers at a Kirrawee fast food outlet are linked to a violent rampage across Sydney on Monday night, during which a hotel and cinema were robbed and an elderly man was carjacked.
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The 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman will be questioned at Sutherland Police Station on Wednesday over armed robberies at the Roseville Cinemas and the Revesby Pacific Hotel, in which staff and customers were threatened with a sawn-off shotgun. The pair will also be quizzed about a carjacking in Lane Cove on the same night in which an 87-year-old man’s car was stolen.

The pair was arrested at a McDonald’s outlet on the Princes Highway at Kirrawee about 11pm on Tuesday after police were called to investigate reports that they were acting suspiciously.

When police spoke with the couple, the man allegedly punched a constable in the face and the woman kicked another officer twice in the head.

The man then allegedly bit the first officer on the hand before running from the restaurant. He was arrested a short time later in Monroe Avenue.

More officers who were called to the fast food outlet were allegedly assaulted by the woman, before both were taken to Sutherland Police Station.

Police will also allege the woman scratched and punched the custody sergeant at the station.

A total of seven police officers were injured during the incident, police allege.

Officers seized a number of bags that were found with the couple and they are being forensically examined.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said the Metropolitan Robbery Unit, which was investigating the robbery at the Roseville Cinemas and at the Revesby Pacific Hotel on Monday night, was waiting to interview the couple. No charges have been laid.

During Monday night’s rampage, thieves carjacked a vehicle from an 87-year-old man in the driveway of his Lane Cove home before driving to the Roseville Cinemas.

Four thieves ran into the cinema about 8pm and threatened to shoot and kill a number of cinemagoers if they did not hand over their wallets, before stealing about $1000 from the cinema box office.

The thieves then fled in the stolen car, which police say was used in another armed robbery at the hotel in Revesby later that night.

Police have urged anyone with information about the robberies to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Birds on double date

April 10th, 2019

DUE to popular demand, Birds of Tokyo have announced an additional run of live shows for fans in November and December.
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As they make their way around Australia performing shows with Muse in capital cities, the band will also return to regional cities, including Newcastle on Saturday, December 14.

The band received rave reviews for their March Fires album tour, which saw them play sell-out shows across the country.

The album, the band’s fourth, debuted at No.1 on the National ARIA Albums Chart and is scheduled for release in North America early in 2014.

The album’s second single Lanterns exceeded triple-platinum sales and was the most played Australian song on radio for the first six months of this year.

Tickets for the show at Newcastle Panthers go on presale today at 9am and on general sale tomorrow at 9am through moshtix南京夜网.au or by phoning 1300438849.

The band will be the headline act for the Homebake Festival, performing on the closing night, Sunday, December 8.

Stillsons to play Wickham Park Hotel

MELBOURNE alt-country band The Stillsons are celebrating the release of their third album Never Go Your Way with a regional tour.

They will play free shows at The Wickham Park Hotel on Saturday, October 5, and at The Junkyard, Maitland, on Sunday, October 6.

Whalley heads forum at conservatorium

FRENZAL Rhomb frontman Jason Whalley leads the Newcastle Music Industry Forum today.

A partnership between MusicNSW and the University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, the forum features a free question-and-answer panel and networking drinks, focusing on recording and how aspiring musicians and arts workers can get heard.

Whalley will be joined by Dave Ruby Howe from triple j Unearthed, Paula Jones from Jones PR, Mark Dodds from record label Inertia and producer Lachlan Mitchell.

The forum kicks off at 6.30pm, at Newcastle Conservatorium. RSVP [email protected] Recent workshops can be downloaded from musicnsw南京夜网/workshops.

Meanwhile, Whalley’s band has announced a show at the Cambridge on November 9.

Dragon in fine voice on acoustic tour

DRAGON will revisit their extensive back catalogue with their acoustic tour Sunshine to Rain Live, which will stop at Lizottes Newcastle tomorrow.

When Todd Hunter reformed 1970s rockers Dragon in 2006, the band was largely an acoustic proposition.

Dragon recorded Sunshine to Rain that same year, an acoustic album released through Liberation that dictated their touring for the next few years.

The line-up of bassist Todd Hunter, lead vocalist and guitarist Mark Williams, drummer Pete Drummond and electric guitarist Bruce Reid soon stepped into a full-band sound and performed more than 500 shows with their electric instruments.

Dragon are now ready to return to playing acoustically.

‘‘Playing our songs acoustically is an excuse to revisit these songs with a different musical mindset,’’ said Hunter.

‘‘It’s not about whipping up the crowd so much as it is about the interplay between instruments and giving the harmonies a chance to breathe. It means we can play songs like Show Danny Across the Water, Smoke and Same Old Blues – songs that there just isn’t room for in the rock set.

‘‘There will still be singing but I suspect it will be more choir-like than the rugby grand final vibe we normally go for.’’

Thundamentals hip-hop into town

BLUE Mountains via Newtown hip-hop trio Thundamentals – whose music video for their new single Smiles Don’t Lie was named Channel V’s Ripe Clip Of The Week – will perform in Newcastle next week.

The single is the first to be released from their upcoming, as-yet-untitled, third album.

Group member Jewson said the song was a way to express his respect, admiration and love for his partner.

‘‘I can imagine my partner driving to work and hearing this song come on the radio and seeing a big smile break out across her face, knowing that she is the inspiration behind my lyrics,’’ he said.

The band continues to redefine Australian hip-hop and recently won praise for their sophomore record Forevolution and their triple j Like A Version of Matt Corby’s Brother. Thundamentals will perform at the Small Ballroom, Islington, on Thursday, October 3.

McLeod joins Big Spring Jam line-up

LEAD singer of ARIA Award-winning band The Superjesus, Sarah McLeod, will perform at The Big Spring Jam at The Roundabout Inn, Gloucester.

McLeod has been performing with Rose Tattoo’s Angry Anderson and is about to release her new album. She will be joined at the festival by Central Coast songbird Sarah Humphreys, who recently released her album Hello through ABC Music.

Sydney-based Golden Guitar winner Karl Broadie rounds out the line-up.

Tickets are $30 and available from stickytickets南京夜网 or the venue.

The Big Spring Jam is on Saturday, October 19, from 3pm to 8pm.

Britt rolls out favourites at Cambridge

CATHERINE Britt will perform just one show in her home town as part of her tour The Hillbilly Pickin’ Ramblin’ Girl So Far…

Britt will perform a stripped-back, acoustic show based around the release of her new album package, a CD/DVD package of all singles and videos to be released before the end of the year.

Britt will perform at The Cambridge Hotel on November 8. Tickets from bigtix南京夜网.au.

Birds of Tokyo

Losing your illusion

April 10th, 2019

GRAND illusionist Cosentino has built a reputation on his spectacular stage magic, death-defying escapes and dangerous stunts, but he doesn’t always emerge unscathed.
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‘‘I’ve got seven stitches on my forehead from my first escape, 12 across my chin, two cracked ribs, broken fingers and I’ve had a broken left ankle from an upside-down straightjacket escape,’’ the Melburnian said.

‘‘The escapes are real – they’re real locks, real chains, real water, real knives – but of course it’s a calculated risk, I know my timing, I know my practice.

‘‘The danger is real and when things go wrong it is scary to get back on the horse and do it again but the good thing about the really big escapes or stunts is you only do them once – if you get injured, you’re done and then we move on.’’

It’s been a remarkable journey for Cosentino, whose first name is Paul, from reading a book of magic at primary school and mastering a coin trick, to becoming the first Australian to be awarded by the International Magicians Society the prestigious international Merlin Award for Most Original Magician. The Merlins are to magic what the Oscars are to movies.

‘‘I was very shy and introverted and the magic book was where I first saw all these vaudevillian posters of Harry Houdini and all these great magicians, I was fascinated with that,’’ he said.

‘‘In the back of the book they had these tricks so my mum [school principal Rosemary] started reading them to me and I started learning them, but no one knew what I did.

‘‘As my reading began to improve I gained a skill that was very unique – magic – and my confidence increased and I would use it as a tool to talk to people.’’

Cosentino performed magic regularly to pay his way through the first year of a business degree, but in 2002 was offered a six-month contract to perform on a cruise ship travelling around the US and Canada, and started making a living out of the art.

After returning to Australia, he honed his craft touring with theatre groups and in 2008 had the second-largest touring show in the country.

But it was his breathtaking escapes – interspersed with Michael Jackson-inspired dance moves across the stage – on Australia’s Got Talent that had the country collectively catching their breath.

‘‘Since the beginning of time mankind has wanted to fly, mankind has wanted to walk through walls, mankind has wanted to be invisible and I’m tapping into that,’’ he said about his popularity on the show.

‘‘Even as an adult all those elements touch you, even for a minute, in that small way and you say ‘I remember when I was a kid and I wanted to…’

‘‘So you’re tapping into this very raw nerve that goes back to your childhood.

‘‘You’re doing things that are absolutely amazing, you’re seeing me disappear and reappear in audiences, you’re seeing me levitate someone through the air, you’re doing things that defy the laws of nature.

‘‘If you’re a good illusionist you wrap it in story and mystery and you’re basically sending the message to the audience that we don’t know all the secrets and that’s a good thing because mystery is wonderful, it makes you wonder ‘What else? What about this, and that?’.’’

Cosentino addresses his loyal fans as believers, but is aware that some visitors to his shows are likely to be sceptics.

‘‘People who say ‘But it’s not real’, I’m so confused by that, my answer is always ‘Yeah, I don’t disagree with you’,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t even know how to answer that question.

‘‘When people say ‘It’s not real, it’s a trick’, well, I just told you it was a trick.

‘‘It is an illusion, it is smoke and mirrors, it is fantasy.

‘‘If you’re going to watch a movie like Avatar you know that those aliens don’t exist, you know those aliens aren’t real, but you suspend disbelief and you go with the story.’’

Cosentino is reluctant to go into too much detail about what Newcastle audiences can expect from his show, but said he will venture inside the belly of a scorpion closely followed by a 40-inch blade and, for the final act, will be shot at with arrows.

Cosentino will bring his The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness tour to Civic Theatre Newcastle on Wednesday, October 16. Tickets from livenation南京夜网.au.

Matthew Thompson runs with the Blood God:  Video, Readings

April 10th, 2019

Please enable Javascript to watch this video MATTHEW THOMPSON
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Prologue reading

Kosovo reading

Epilogue reading

MATTHEW Thompson’s new book, Running With The Blood God, will not leave a footprint on your brain – it will leave a bootprint, indelibly inked in your subconscious.

Thompson, who holds a doctorate in creative arts, is a part-time firefighter in Dungog, where he lives with his wife Renae and daughter Avalon. He is also a guest lecturer at universities and writes freelance articles.

Five years ago he published his first book, My Colombian Death, an intense non-fiction account of his six-month journey to the exotic, drug-laden South American country full of characters and character.

Blood God, his second book, charts a course through even more dangerous territory.

He spends time in Iran, avoiding the ever-probing eyes of soldiers, police and shady operatives who are constantly arresting, harassing and torturing ordinary citizens who dare to disobey the strict Muslim covenants set by then leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He journeys to the Philippines, secretly visiting guerillas in the jungles north-west of Manila.

He takes a jolting road trip from Serbia to Kosovo with hard-core Serbian nationalists.

And finally, a stop in Portland, Oregon, to hang out with counterculturists and Native Americans in one of the most alternative major cities in America.

The book is subtitled ‘‘down and dirty with freedom fighters, rebels and misfits’’ and Thompson certainly gives his subjects, who come from all walks of life but have common ground in fighting against governments they consider unjust, a fair chance to explain themselves.

‘‘It’s more of a literary work,’’ Thompson says, comparing it to his first book. ‘‘It’s still adventure, gritty, real things. But I decided to leave a fair bit up to the reader. T

“Too much interpretation is taken from the reader these days, too many opinions are pushed on people.

‘‘My book has more respect for the reader. People all around the world, in dictatorships, cracked-up states, lost countries .. A huge variety of people, they all have the urge to live freer than their societies will allow. It’s up to the reader to decide how they fit into that .. what’s life add up to in the end.’’

In between philosophical discussions about the purpose of government, the value of civil disobedience, the role of religion and the like, Thompson indulges in opium (in Iran and the US), marijuana and cocaine, drinks everything from Portland’s boutique beers, to Serbia’s home-made plum brandy to contraband vodka and wine in Iran, all with the locals, of course.

‘‘When in Rome … do as the Romans do,’’ Thompson says.

‘‘I go for a month [to each location] and I see them and we get trust. I don’t agree, but I’m listening, so they open up. That’s what it takes. … It takes time with people. There is something to respect about drinking with sources. It’s a respectable occupation. It may not suit people prone to alcoholism, but you train, get into the field and go hard.’’

There is constant personal danger in Iran, the fear of being detained. In Kosovo one of his travelling partners is seriously stabbed in a confrontation and Thompson steps in, surrounded by Albanian thugs (saving himself by yelling ‘‘Leave him! Get off him! I’m Australian! I’m f–––king Australian!’’)

For Thompson, it’s all about living life to the fullest.

‘‘I don’t take stupid risks. I take them a calculated way,’’ he says. ‘‘I don’t want to shy away from the world and its wildness.’’

He thinks everybody should pause to consider that concept.

‘‘Adventure is healthy. Sure, it’s injurious at times, put things under strain. So does long-term decline. The people I’m meeting, the spirit of the book: wake up and become who you are!’’

Newcastle Council to cut six management roles

April 10th, 2019

A FIFTH of Newcastle City Council’s senior management team will go under a new structure confidentially approved by councillors on Tuesday night.
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The major changes, which have drawn fire from some councillors who argue they were unable to review the proposal before the vote, will cut one director and five unit managers from the council to save $1 million a year.

That money will join $6.5 million saved through measures introduced in July, stemming the bleeding from the council’s ongoing deficit.

Under the changes, the existing four council groups will be reduced to three.

Planning, Corporate and Infrastructure groups will replace the City Assets, Liveable City, Future City and City Engagement departments.

Each of those departments will include five groups, bringing the existing tally of 20 down to 15.

Newcastle City Council general manager Ken Gouldthorp said the new structure would make the council more intuitive for ratepayers, offering greater transparency and accountability than previous attempts to alter the council.

‘‘Basically the whole approach is to simplify the structure,’’ Mr Gouldthorp said.

‘‘It’s reducing the number of levels and the number of people that a customer might have to talk to to get their question answered.’’

Mr Gouldthorp said he was hopeful most of the changes could be made by mid-2014 while ‘‘about 30 per cent’’ could be in place before January.

The changes have drawn criticism from some councillors who argue they were made in a process that left them in the dark until Tuesday’s vote.

Cr Nuatali Nelmes said she believed councillors should have had more information in the lead-up to entering the chamber on Tuesday.

Cr Nelmes said she had contacted the Department of Local Government about the process of selecting a new structure, saying it was ‘‘mildly insulting’’ councillors were unable to weigh options until they entered the chamber to decide.

‘‘I’ve been through this process before and it was a much more open and collaborative approach,’’ Cr Nelmes said.

‘‘It’s a very big decision and I take it very seriously.’’

Mr Gouldthorp said the Department of Local Government was aware of the council’s process and was content with the procedure.

Greens councillor Therese Doyle said she believed the discussion should have stayed in open council rather than being held confidentially.

She said she believed that, and the inability to prepare questions about the new structure, indicated a lack of transparency at the council.

‘‘I’m very concerned about the creeping process of closing democracy,’’ she said.

‘‘I think we are looking at a much more corporate and presidential style of operation in council and the role of councillors appears to be downgraded.’’

The new structure was put forward as part of a required review of the organisation within 12 months of a local government election.

The new roles will be advertised and filled in phases to minimise turmoil within the organisation.

Willem Dafoe, Ellen Page star in interactive game

April 10th, 2019

Ellen Page in a scene from the computer game Beyond: Two Souls.David Cage doesn’t think he’s captured the future of storytelling, but he’s pretty confident he’s seen a glimpse of it. ”I’ve been interested in interactive storytelling for 16 years now and I really think this medium is just at the beginning,” the French writer-director of the acclaimed interactive game Heavy Rain (2010) says. ”We’ve only explored a tiny part of what interactivity can be.”Full movies coverageMore games coverage
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With Beyond: Two Souls, the new game from his production company Quantic Dream, Cage is hoping to push the advance party a little further into uncharted territory (though he readily acknowledges his games are not alone in attempting to do so).

”I’m trying to explore different types of emotions, in continuing to explore this strange relationship that the game can establish with a player that is very different to the relationship between a film and an audience,” he says. ”When you watch a film you are passive, you cannot change what is going on, but when you play an interactive game you become an actor, you can actually change the story. This is really fascinating.”

Fascinating enough, certainly, to lure Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page to sign on for the project. Cage says he had Ellen Page – best known as the title character in Juno – in mind for the lead role from the moment he began writing it three years ago; the game follows her character over a period of 15 years, and he worked surrounded by images of her as a child actor, a teenager and a young woman.

His game is, he insists, primarily an emotional and spiritual journey, conceived after he lost someone close to him, and it needed real actors to carry it off. ”It’s the first time we’ve had talents of this calibre in a video game,” he says, with pride.

Page filmed for four weeks, Dafoe for a little more than one, and it was a demanding and sometimes gruelling experience, with 20 minutes of footage a day being logged (by comparison, a film shoot would usually aim to capture two to three minutes a day).

They shot on a sound stage with no props or costumes – ”they shoot in this silly motion-capture suit”, says Cage of the lycra onesie dotted with what look like tiny ping-pong balls – surrounded by 65 cameras, trained to capture their every movement in three dimensions.

”Sometimes actors think ‘I can do films, so I can do a game’. Actually, it’s a very challenging exercise,” says Cage. ”It’s all about imagination. The role of the director is more important in a way, because you have to explain what’s going on, what’s around them. It’s like shooting thousands of pieces of a puzzle, most of the time in disorder, and then much later you assemble all the pieces in a way that is hopefully consistent and satisfying for the player.”

A typical film script runs to about 100 pages or so; Cage says the script for Beyond: Two Souls, which took him a year to write, has about 2000.

The game play takes about 10 hours, ”but it’s non-linear and all those possible paths you have to write,” he says. ”In every scene there are choices and some have local consequences, some have long-term consequences that will effect the outcome of the story.”

All up, he says, there are 23 different endings.

It hurts the brain a little to even contemplate such a complex web of narrative, but Cage has had 16 years to get his head around the possibilities and challenges of interactive storytelling. He started gaming at 10, and working as a composer at 14, and eventually found a way to combine those passions by writing music for games. From there he created the game Omikron The Nomad Soul (released 1999), which had cameo appearances and 10 songs from David Bowie (some of the songs later appeared, in reworked form, on his album hours…).

How, I wonder, did a novice game developer go about luring such a legendary figure to such an unlikely project? Much the same way, he responds, as Dafoe and Page were enticed. He asked.

”Talented people can be very easy to convince when you come to them with something they find appealing, exciting and new,” he says. In scanning Bowie’s face and motion-capturing him, ”we made him probably the first virtual actor ever in the gaming industry”.

With Page and Dafoe in Beyond: Two Souls, Cage is quietly hoping he’s created another bit of history. Even if it is only the beginning.

Beyond: Two Souls will be released for PS3 on October 9.

twitter: @karlkwin

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Telstra cuts a path to the future

March 10th, 2019

Telstra needs to ‘sweat’ traditional assets and free up resources for expansion elsewhere. Photo: James DaviesTelstra axes 1100 jobs in restructureTelstra key top stop NBN wobbles
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The 1100 job cuts that Telstra unveiled today are the result of a restructuring of the group’s operations, which in turn flows from an absolutely essential re-weighting of the group’s resources.

The telco is moving away from its traditional businesses including fixed line telephony and towards new and hoped for growth engines.

The aim is not to shrink the company to greatness – that never works – but to control costs by redirecting spending to the growth areas rather than expanding the existing budget to resource them.

The strategy does however create a vice for jobs in the traditional Australian-based businesses, and it is being turned tighter as Telstra also sends administrative work offshore to lock in lower labour costs.

The cuts announced today were flagged in May when Telstra’s chief operations officer, Brendon Riley, told staff that the telco intended to reorganise operationally into five groups.

Three of them – IT Solutions, Networks and Customer Service Delivery – were newly created.

Riley said there would be common support functions for them, and for existing Telstra operations covering the national broadband network and Network Applications and Services (NAS), an end-to-end business communications offer that Telstra sees as one of its new growth engines in Australia.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey doesn’t have a viable alternative, however.

As its old fixed line telephony business shrinks, it must invest in new businesses to maintain revenue and earnings growth.

It must also ‘‘sweat’’ its older assets to make them more profitable as their revenue declines, however, and it also knows that its support in the sharemarket among both wholesale and retail investors draws on the fact that it is a classic investment yield play.

The telco has paid a steady 28 cents a share in regular dividends since 2005, with occasional special dividends thrown in.

At around $4.93 this afternoon, its shares were up 13 per cent this year, 27 per cent in two years and 64 per cent in three years, but were still yielding 5.7 per cent before tax credits and 8.1 per cent after them.

The expectation is that payments will if anything rise in the next few years as income from its deal to co-operate with the roll-out of the new national broadband network starts pouring in.

The NBN co-operation deal was given a net present value of $11 billion by Telstra in 2011 when it was struck.

It has to be renegotiated now that the Coalition is in government and moving to restructure the roll-out from a fibre-to-the-home model to a fibre-to-the-node one.

But ahead of the election Tony Abbott said that Telstra and its shareholders would be kept whole, and Thodey is taking that to mean that the NBN shake-up will be value-neutral at least.

It could in fact be value positive, if the new government decided that after missing roll-out targets the NBN Co needs Telstra’s help in constructing the network.

The expectation that Telstra dividends will stay strong and probably rise is therefore not materially shaken by the change in power in Canberra, and as long as the expectation that Telstra will be a yield play is alive in its share price, its options for funding expansion are limited.

Decisions to cut costs including jobs to both sweat traditional assets and free up resources for expansion elsewhere become almost a fait accompli.

The Maiden family owns Telstra shares.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Graeme Hick named Cricket Australia high performance coach

March 10th, 2019

Former England Test batsman Graeme Hick has been appointed as the high performance coach at Cricket Australia’s centre of excellence in Brisbane.
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Hick fills the role vacated by former Australian player Stuart Law, who replaced new national coach Darren Lehmann as Queensland boss in June.

The Zimbabwe-born Hick, who played 65 Tests for his adopted homeland, will be charged mainly with looking after the Australia A and under-19 players.

He will also be used as a specialised batting coach for state and international players when they train at the centre.

“Graeme is a highly regarded former international batsman who has been a consultant coach this past winter working with our AIS scholars,” Cricket Australia performance manager Pat Howard said.

“Graeme knows what it takes to compete at the top level and has had many years’ experience playing in different conditions, which will be vital to the development of our young batters.

“He will complement the specialist skills with Troy Cooley and Tim Coyle who are responsible for our fast bowling and fielding programs respectively, as well as all national coaching staff in our pathway system including Darren Lehmann.”

Hick will begin his role by attending a batting forum in Sydney next month.

Several former Australian cricketers and current coaches are expected to use the forum to provide information for the creation of a national batting program.


Tests: 65

Debut: v West Indies, Leeds, 1991

Average: 31.32

Highest score: 178 (v India, Mumbai, Feb 1993)

100s: 6

50s: 18

ODIs: 120

Debut: v West Indies, Birmingham, 1991

Average: 37.33

Highest score: 126no (v Sri Lanka, Adelaide, 1999)

100s: 5

50s: 27

* Scored 41,112 first-class runs at 52.23 including 136 centuries


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Market has a spring in its step

March 10th, 2019

Early sale: The ABC’s Deirdre Brennan and her executive producer husband David Spencer sold their Macarthur Street, Ultimo, house for $1.25 million before it was due to go to auction. Trading in: Pengana Capital’s Russel Pillemer and his wife Carole sold their Latimer Road, Bellevue Hill, property for $4.64 million.
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False start: Terry and Elsa Jenkins have now sold Roselyn on Forsyth Street, Killara, after a previous sale fell through last year.

Landmark sold: A restored Craignairn in Wahroonga sold for shy of $6 million.

Sydney’s movers and shakers are making the most of a happy spring selling season.

Headlining the sales results is the Federation Arts and Crafts mansion Craignairn in Wahroonga.

The local landmark on 7100 sq m is one of the area’s largest lots and was designed by Howard Joseland for textile merchant Waler Symington Strang and wife Evelyn Mills in 1909.

In recent years it’s had about $1 million lavished on restoring and up-dating it by developer Alfred Attard and wife Alexandra, before they listed it with hopes of more than $6 million in August.

Landmark sold: A restored Craignairn in Wahroonga sold for shy of $6 million.It was sold by Chana Scotcher, of Chana Scotcher Realty, and Andrew Burns, of Burns and Burns, who declined to comment on the sale, but other sources say the result was $6 million, and is rumoured to have been bought through buyer’s agent Hylton John, of PK Property.

In Mosman, investment banker Cosmas Kapsanis and his wife Susan Turner-Kapsanis have sold their home for $5.8 million to a Chinese buyer.

Kapsanis, the co-founder and managing director of corporate investment advisory Ivest, and Turner-Kapsanis listed the Mistral Avenue property in August given their plans to move to the eastern suburbs, closer to their triplet sons’ Cranbrook school.

The sale was by Richard Simeon and Mark Manners, of Richardson & Wrench Mosman.

In Ultimo, the home of the ABC’s new controller of children’s TV Deirdre Brennan and her executive producer husband David Spencer has sold for $1.25 million.

Early sale: The ABC’s Deirdre Brennan and her executive producer husband David Spencer sold their Macarthur Street, Ultimo, house for $1.25 million before it was due to go to auction.

The Macarthur Street terrace was expected to go to auction this Saturday through BresicWhitney’s Matthew Carvalho and Chris Nunn, who had a guide of more than $1.1 million.

The couple listed the four-bedder – around their corner from their workplace at the public broadcaster – following their purchase of a Paddington terrace in July for $1.9 million through McGrath’s Ben Collier.

Francophile Ross Steele has also jumped the auctioneer’s hammer to sell his grand Victorian terrace in Paddington for $1.89 million.

The accomplished author and academic sold the Stafford Street property following his recent purchase of a three-bedroom apartment in the Paddington Green complex for $1.727 million.

Di Jones agent Victoria Morish and Ann Ramsay Arkins were marketing the terrace – where Steele wrote most of his 37 published titles – with hopes of more than $1.6 million.

In Bellevue Hill, chief executive of hedge fund group Pengana Capital Russel Pillemer and his wife Carole are free to trade up to their forever home now they have sold their property for $4.64 million.

Trading in: Pengana Capital’s Russel Pillemer and his wife Carole sold their Latimer Road, Bellevue Hill, property for $4.64 million.

Pillemer bought the property in 1998 for $1.67 million, before he and fellow Goldman Sachs alumnus and now local MP Malcolm Turnbull set up private equity firm Centrestone.

More recently renovated and extended, the two-storey home on Latimer Road was listed with brothers Mark and Barry Goldman, of Raine & Horne Double Bay.

And on the upper north shore, retired insurance executive Terry Jenkins and his wife Elsa have finally sold their Killara home after a couple of false starts.

False start: Terry and Elsa Jenkins have now sold Roselyn on Forsyth Street, Killara, after a previous sale fell through last year.

The 3210-square-metre property, Roselyn, has been home to the Jenkins since they bought it in 2005 for $5.7 million from investment entrepreneur Louis Carroll, who in turn had purchased it in 1998 for $3.8 million from executive recruiter Andrew Banks.

The Jenkins sold it last November for $5.5 million to a China-based buyer who then failed to complete the sale after exchange. It was relisted with an asking price of about $6 million and has now sold through Luschwitz’s Ceto Sandoval.

No word on the sale figure, but title records will show the final result when it settles.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Former Czech prime minister’s secret marriage to one time chief of staff

March 10th, 2019

Former Czech Republic prime minister Petr Necas and his one time chief of staff, ensnared in the most exhaustive anti-corruption sting operation in the Czech Republic since the fall of communism, were married in a secret ceremony on Saturday, the Czech media are reporting. The move was variously viewed by analysts as a declaration of love or a cynical ploy to avoid prosecution.
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In June, Necas, 48, was forced to resign after his chief of staff and lover, Jana Nagyova, was charged with abuse of office for using the country’s secret intelligence service to spy on Necas’ wife, whom he divorced in August. Nagyova was also accused of trying to bribe three members of Parliament, who opposed a government austerity plan, with offers of posts in state-owned companies.

But on Tuesday, Nagyova dealt prosecutors a blow when she walked into a police station in Prague and introduced herself as Mrs Jana Necasova, her lawyer, Eduard Bruna, told the Czech media. Under Czech law, family members cannot be compelled to testify against one another, and analysts said this could make it difficult for prosecutors to prove that any order to offer bribes came from the former prime minister.

Jaroslav Plesl, deputy editor of Tyden, a leading political magazine, said on Tuesday that the marriage could prove a potent legal weapon for the newlyweds. ‘‘The heart of the bribery case has been whether she was acting alone or on behalf of Necas, and now it will be very difficult to prove whether he was giving her directions’’, he said by phone from Prague, adding, ‘‘That does not negate the fact that they are also very much in love.’’

Over the past several days, the Czech media have speculated that Necas and Nagyova married in a secret ceremony after they were spotted at Chateau Mcely, a 17th-century chateau near Prague with a manicured English park, a spa and a lake with a white sand beach. Tabloids have been offering big rewards for recent photographs or videos of the couple.

The two had been engaged for years in a surreptitious relationship that Necas finally acknowledged in July, telling Tyden that being romantically involved with a senior aide while he was prime minister was a bad idea. ‘‘Interconnecting a personal relationship with a working relationship is simply not correct, and I knew that,’’ he told the magazine, explaining that the heart had won out over the head.

Prosecutors have been seeking to prove that Necas, a churchgoing father of four previously nicknamed ‘‘Mr Clean Hands’’ for his anticorruption campaigning, was involved in bribing members of Parliament.

Necas has not been charged with any crime and has strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Nagyova has also professed her innocence and was released in July after a month in jail pending trial. On Tuesday, Bruna, her lawyer, told the Czech media that Nagyova had declined to give a statement to the police, saying she was ‘‘not yet ready’’.

The corruption investigation, which included wiretaps of Necas’ phone conversations with Nagyova, turned up $US8 million ($AUS8.5 million) in cash and stashes of gold that prosecutors suspect was linked to influence peddling, the authorities said.

The case has riveted the country in a region that has struggled to shed a culture of corruption in the aftermath of the communist era. Corruption in the Czech Republic is so endemic that one industrious young Czech recently started a ‘‘crony safari’’ bus tour. The stops include the modernist villas of influential lobbyists and a single address registered to hundreds of companies.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bennett non-committal over future at Knights

March 10th, 2019

KNIGHTS coach Wayne Bennett yesterday knocked back an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the club for the last two years of his four-year contract.
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Bennett’s future remains the subject of speculation in the lead-up to Newcastle’s preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, despite assurances from Knights chief executive Matt Gidley that the coach would remain at the club until the end of 2015.

‘‘Look, I’ve got no control over that, so I don’t worry about it,’’ Bennett told the media after overseeing training yesterday, when asked about that speculation.

But when asked if he was staying in Newcastle for the next two years, as per the commitment he gave Knights owner Nathan Tinkler in April 2011, Bennett said: ‘‘Look, I can’t give you an ironclad guarantee about anything in this game, so right now, I’m the coach here, and when that changes, I’ll let you know.’’

Fairfax Media reported yesterday that Bennett was still being linked to a move to Townsville to take up a role with the Cowboys, or a return to Brisbane to rejoin the Broncos, but Gidley said the seven-time premiership-winning coach was staying put.

‘‘I’ve spoken to him about that – he’s not going anywhere,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘We’ve put a lot of work in to get some of these players here. We bought players who want to play under Wayne and play for Wayne and improve on his watch.

‘‘He’s not going to let these guys down. Wayne is extremely loyal.

‘‘I don’t laugh at [the speculation] or buy into it. Whenever there’s instability at the Broncos, Wayne’s name will be mentioned as a possible solution.

Wayne Bennett at Knights training yesterday. Picture: Darren Pateman

‘‘He built the place there and had wonderful success there. I understand that. But I think he’s excited about what we’re trying to do here.’’

The Cowboys have spoken to several coaching candidates in the past week, including Kevin Walters, Paul Green and Broncos assistant coach Kristian Woolf.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin is contracted until the end of 2015 but is under pressure after his side failed to finish in the top eight.

Bennett told the media after training yesterday that the Knights would not be within one win of a grand final without Tinkler’s intervention and involvement.

‘‘I made a statement after the game [against the Storm last Saturday] – I was interviewed in Melbourne the other night – that without Nathan doing what he’d done, we wouldn’t be where we are today,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘We wouldn’t all be standing here talking about what our chances are – good, bad or indifferent – [against the Roosters] on the weekend.

‘‘His contribution has been outstanding and I’ll repeat, without it, we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have the team we’ve got here, we wouldn’t have the staff we have here.

‘‘It just wouldn’t have happened.’’

AAP reports: Gold Coast coach John Cartwright says he’s committed to staying with the NRL club despite speculation linking him with Parramatta.

Ricky Stuart’s decision to walk out on the Eels after one year of this three-year deal has led to plenty of discussion as to who will take over at the struggling club.

Cartwright was linked to Parramatta this week, joining ex-North Queensland mentor Neil Henry, Tim Sheens, and England coach Steve McNamara as possible candidates for the Eels.

But the foundation coach of the Titans is contracted with the club until after the 2016 season and says it’s his intention to see out that deal.

‘‘I’ve made a commitment to the Titans until the end of 2016 and I stand by that commitment,’’ Cartwright said yesterday.

‘‘I believe we are building a playing squad that can win the competition in the near future and I’m determined to help the club achieve that goal over the next few years.’’