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News ‘committed’ to The Daily despite axing third of its staff

The Daily, a digital-only news publication championed by News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch, is laying off nearly a third of its staff.
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In cutting 50 of the roughly 170 employees at The Daily, the publication plans to focus resources on its more popular features. It says the move reflects the "changing business environment for news and media."

When The Daily launched in January 2011, News Corp executives predicted that it would cost $US30 million a year to run the publication. Yet more than a year later it had only about 100,000 subscribers who paid up to 99 cents per week, and about 250,000 visitors each month. The publication also runs some advertisements.

The app is available on Apple's iPads and iPhones and tablet computers that use Google's Android system.

The reorganisation at The Daily comes as News Corp makes plans to spin off its publishing assets, including The Daily, from the more profitable entertainment arm, which houses its TV assets such as Fox News Channel and movie studio 20th Century Fox.

The Daily will stop reporting on sports and instead use content from partners such as Fox Sports. The standalone Opinion section is being scrapped. Instead it will publish opinion pieces in news pages from time to time.

It will also publish pages in the portrait format only, instead of horizontally as well, to reflect the preference of most readers.

"These are important changes that will allow The Daily to be more nimble editorially and to focus on the elements that our readers have told us through their consumption that they like and want," editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo said in a statement.

News Corp said the media conglomerate "remains committed" to The Daily and will keep it an important part of its publishing assets.

AP

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Watson trades blows with former skipper

The bail-jumping Sea Shepherd leader, Paul Watson, is embattled on a new front, with the group's former boat skipper, New Zealander Pete Bethune.
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Apparently hiding out at sea, Mr Watson claims Mr Bethune gave evidence that would have let Japan mount the prosecution to extradite him from Germany, had he not fled.

Mr Bethune rejected blame and instead said he was claiming $US500,000 ($476,000) from Sea Shepherd over his sunken vessel, Ady Gil.

After being detained for nearly three months in Frankfurt pending extradition to Costa Rica on navigation charges, Mr Watson disappeared on 22 July, forfeiting €250,000 ($293,000) bail.

In a message through his group's headquarters, Mr Watson told supporters he is now "in a place on this planet where I feel comfortable, a safe place far away from the scheming nations who have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of our oceans".

A senior attorney in the Frankfurt Attorney-General's office Guenter Wittig confirmed to Fairfax Media that his office had received a Japanese request for Mr Watson's extradition, and had issued a warrant for his arrest.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, said his government wanted to hold Mr Watson for further investigation.

Sea Shepherd and the Japanese government are preparing for renewed conflict this coming summer over its Antarctic "research" whaling.

Mr Watson said the extradition order to Japan relied on fabricated evidence provided by Mr Bethune, who boarded a Japanese whaling ship in 2010 seeking restitution after it sliced his boat Ady Gil in two.

"He co-operated to provide false evidence to the Japanese Coast Guard to blame me for the boarding actions, despite the on-camera documentation that I specifically advised against the boarding," Mr Watson said.

Mr Bethune, who now heads his own Earthrace Conservation organisation, told Fairfax: "Paul needs to stop blaming me for his problems. He has been battling Japan's whalers for years in Antarctica, and they have a mountain of evidence against him."

Mr Bethune said it was no secret that Mr Watson headed Sea Shepherd, that he was the captain of the Steve Irwin, and he had been very effective in standing up to Japan's whaling.

"To then blame his current predicament on my testimony from two years ago is crazy. I'm surprised he's not blaming me for his problems with Costa Rica as well. And when his car breaks down."

Mr Bethune said an arbitration hearing had begun this week in Annapolis, Maryland, into his claim for $500,000 that he said Sea Shepherd owed him over the initial purchase of the Ady Gil.

"I am looking forward to seeing an end to it all and being able to concentrate on the mountainous challenges to our marine environment rather than my mountainous debts,” Mr Bethune said.

Mr Watson indicated that, despite his predicament, he still planned to go south for his ninth campaign against the whalers.

"The campaign will be called Operation Zero Tolerance, and we will risk our ships and ourselves yet again in the effort required to stop these pelagic bandits in their remorseless slaughter of the gentle giants of the seas."

Former Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, said the federal government should offer political asylum to Mr Watson.

“No one on earth has done more to protect Australia's whales from the illegal slaughter of the Japanese fleet than Paul Watson. He should be honoured, not hounded,” said Dr Brown, who is about to co-lead a Sea Shepherd campaign against the James Price Point gas hub in Western Australia.

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‘Pimp slap’: Vodafone staffer goes postal

One of the tweets Kotsopoulos posted yesterday. Arthur Kotsopoulos next to a grab from his LinkedIn page.
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One of the tweets Kotopoulos posted yesterday.

Another of the tweets Kotsopoulos posted yesterday.

A Vodafone store employee who describes himself as the telco's "social media expert" and "ambassador" has been deriding customers on Twitter and Facebook as "mentally retarded" and threatened them with a "pimp slap backhand".

Vodafone, which has lost 600,000 customers since mid-2010 after network and other issues, confirmed that Arthur Kotsopoulos was a retail employee working in the Sydney CBD and was part of the telco's "TNT Ambassadors" program. He also wrote articles and reviews for Vodafone's blog but the telco says his "self-appointed" title of "social media expert" was "not endorsed by the company".

In just a few tweets yesterday, Kotsopoulos, who goes by the Twitter handle "GrathiusXR", managed to ridicule Vodafone customers, suppliers and co-workers.

"HTC rep just walked in get ready for another hour of blabbering about what are the worst phones on the market," he wrote yesterday at 1:19pm.

A minute or so later he derided a casual employee he was working with at the store that day. "She changes music & puts on this filthy emo music. Literally want to neck myself," he writes.

But his harshest barbs were reserved for customers. "To top it off i'm serving mentally retarded people who buy phones and have no clue how to use them. Asking me to message people for them. Creating contacts for them and dictating me to enter the contact names then screaming at me when I spell it wrong. Speak English idiot!"

His rage continued on to Facebook, where his profile was open to the public. He wondered in a post yesterday whether "the local mental institution shut down today or something".

"If I have to serve another person who repeats everything I say like a parrot or I have to explain the same thing to them more then 6 times somebody is going to cop a pimp slap backhand," he wrote.

"It's starting to get extremely frustrating right now. Don't buy a phone IF you have absolutely no idea how to even use the most simple of functions."

It doesn't appear to be a momentary lapse of judgment as in February this year he tweeted that "some European women would be drop dead gorgeous if they didn't open their mouth to speak".

"Ugliest voices I've heard in my life. Served an amazing Brazillian with a booty but when she opened her mouth eeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrr....," he continued.

On his LinkedIn page Kotsopoulos says he has been Vodafone's "social media expert" since November last year. He also lists his job at the Vodafone George Street store in Sydney where he has worked since October 2010.

On Facebook and on Twitter he lists another role at Vodafone, "TNT Ambassador". He describes this as: "Front-line for technological queries for Vodafone AU. Lending my ideas on how to sell the latest phones on the market as well as checking out what's to come."

He writes on LinkedIn "since I am apart of the Y Generation I have the knowledge in technology and handsets that allows me to generate content for the [Vodafone] blog".

Of his retail sales experience at Vodafone, he writes that he has "learnt to have a certain etiquette when it comes to communicating" with customers.

A Vodafone spokesman said the telco welcomed feedback from its customers and employees in any forum but was "disappointed" with Kotsopoulos' views, which did not reflect those of the company.

"We will be following up with Mr Kotsopoulos on why he expressed these views," the spokesman said.

Of Kotsopoulos' Vodafone "ambassador" claim, the telco said it ran a program for retail staff called "Talking New Technology" that encouraged staff to give feedback on the technology the company sells. Vodafone has referred to people in this group as "TNT ambassadors".

Kotsopoulos also works for video game review site OXCGN南京夜网. On his Facebook "about" section he lists the things he hates. These include Australia ("and the scum people that populate it") and the internet ("full of keyboard heroes, idiots who think they are actually something special coz they can swear").

Social media expert Tiphereth Gloria, from VML Australia, said Kotsopoulos' social media experience meant he had no excuse for not knowing what he was doing.

"It's like he wants people to see his rants and he probably thinks his managers are not going to notice or he's egotistical enough to think he can get away with it," she said.

"I don't know what their [Vodafone's] internal and external social media policies are, but some of the things he is saying publicly are racist and sexist and hardly appropriate for someone who's identifying themselves as working for a corporation."

Gloria recommended companies have clear social media policies that link to their general HR policies. She said spot checks on personal social media channels should be carried out by managers when employees have identifying bios showing the company details.

Anthony Mason, manager of digital research and analysis at social media monitoring firm SR7, said this incident would damage the reputation of Vodafone in the eyes of consumers, business clients and employees.

"Incidents such as these should further crystallise the high potential for social media risk, particularly stemming from employee activity, to damage corporate brands," said Mason.

"This risk is not limited to brand damage either; employees are the key source of corporate information leakage on social media platforms."

He said companies could implement intelligence monitoring tools that detect risky posts or accounts and provide early warnings.

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House prices post surprise gain

Property prices rose in the June quarter despite buyers receiving conflicting signals about the outlook for the property market.
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House prices rose 0.5 per cent in the June quarter, following a 1.1 per cent slump in the first quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Economists polled by Bloomberg tipped a 0.5 per cent fall.

Over the year to June, house prices fell 2.1 per cent, after a 4.5 per cent fall in the year to March, the ABS said. Analysts forecast a 4.2 per cent drop in that time.

Values on residential property have drifted lower through much of the year, as consumers show caution about borrowing for properties and the outlook for the economy remains unclear.

The Reserve Bank, responding to a broader slowdown in the domestic sector, has cut rates four times since November, helping to buoy prices in June and July, according to RP Data figures released today.

ANZ property economist David Cannington said the June quarter data was stronger than expected but it did not suggest a recovery in house prices.

"It's still too early to call a turnaround in house prices because of the weak sentiment and weak sales activity in the market," said Mr Cannington.

The property market continues to be dogged by poor confidence, said Mr Cannington, with the European debt crisis and uncertainty about the health of the global economy likely to continue to weigh on market sentiment in the near-term.

The 75 basis points in RBA rate cuts in May and June should help prices in the September quarter, said Mr Cannington.

‘‘But on their own I don’t think the rate cuts are enough to trigger a turnaround in house prices given the weakness of sentiment.’’

More to come.

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Oil left on stove leads to Horsham blaze

ON THE JOB: Horsham fire crews work to stop house fire in mcLachlan Street, Horsham, yesterday afternoon. The fire started when a pan of oil on the kitchen stove was forgotten. Picture: PAUL CARRACHERA FORGOTTEN pan of oil on the stove resulted in a house fire in McLachlan Street, Horsham, yesterday afternoon.
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Home owner Paul Glaubitz said he put the pan on the stove and went out to his garage to do a quick job, but became distracted.

He said when he eventually returned inside, his kitchen was on fire.

"I saw flames shooting towards the kitchen fans,'' he said.

Mr Glaubitz, who lives in the house with his wife Pat, said his first reaction was panic.

"I turned the power off,'' he said. "I was going to try to put it out with a blanket but then I had to leave it. It's one of those stupid things. I've never done something like that in my life.''

Horsham Fire Brigade and police attended the fire after a neighbour noticed smoke.

Sergeant Julie O'Brien said police were driving past and also saw the smoke.

She said the fire had spread through the roof.

Sgt O'Brien said Mr Glaubitz did the right thing by leaving the house.

"It's a whole roof and kitchen damaged, plus smoke damage,'' she said.

Horsham Fire Brigade group officer John Davies said the brigade got the call out at 4.22pm.

He said he expected to keep working on it until about 5.30pm yesterday.

Mr Davies said one crew worked on the ground, while a second crew climbed on the roof to try to access the fire through the iron roof.

He said skylights in the house had melted from the heat.

Mr Glaubitz thanked police, fire crews and his neighbours for their help.

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Wimmera irrigation water sale waits for irrigator approval

A $25.2-MILLION deal to sell Wimmera irrigation water hinges on approval by 12 irrigators.
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GWMWater's Andrew Rose said 217 of 218 irrigators had received letters asking them to back the offer.

He said 12 irrigators were yet to accept the Federal Government's offer of $900 a megalitre.

Wimmera Irrigators Association submitted an irrigator-led group proposal to sell 28,000 megalitres to the government's Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities last year.

Despite irrigators being given a July 1 deadline to respond to the letters, Mr Rose said the authority and the irrigators association were working to finalise the sale.

The offer needs 100 per cent irrigator approval to go ahead.

Mr Rose said he was confident all responses would be received before the Federal Government's July 20 deadline.

"We received more letters in the post today. In some cases we are dealing with companies which need board meetings to give their approval, some are deceased estates and some are changes of address," he said.

"There is one irrigator in a remote location who has not collected the registered post letter.

"So far every one of the responses has been in favour of the sale. There are just a few minor issues that we need to work through to get it done."

Mr Rose said the $25.2-million sale would be a massive financial injection for the Wimmera.

Among the 218 irrigators is Horsham Golf Club which would receive $135,000 as part of the deal.

Wimmera Irrigators Association chairman Dale Frankel said he was anxiously waiting for the final responses to be collected.

"We have been working with GWMWater to help collect responses," he said.

"We have had to find irrigators from as far away as Darwin and Broome, even England.

"There is such a confident air about what is happening. There is no-one we can see who is opposed to the sale.

"I have come to realise that even though things have been happening quickly in the past few months, the bureaucratic process takes time to make sure every detail is correct."

Editorial - see Opinion.

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Horsham home on fire

HORSHAM Fire Brigade and Horsham police attended a house fire just before 4.30pm in McLachlan Street, Horsham, this afternoon.
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The fire started after home owner Paul Glaubitz put a pan of oil on the stove and went out to his garage to do a quick job, but got distracted.

When he eventually returned inside his kitchen was on fire.

About 14 fire fighters worked to extinguish the blaze.

For more, see tomorrow's Mail-Times.

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$12-million shopping mall still on its way for Horsham

DESPITE delays, a $12-million shopping mall development for Horsham is still on its way.
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Gateway Property plans to build a new Horsham shopping precinct including a new Target store, a chain store, seven specialty stores and a kiosk at the corner of Wilson Street and Park Drive.

It was originally due to be completed by 2013.

Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Peter Brown said Gateway Property had experienced issues with its planning permit.

He said he had spoken with Gateway's Ken Foss.

"I think originally he said he would start construction early this year,'' Mr Brown said. "I think it's taken him longer to organise everything than he thought it would.''

Mr Brown said Mr Foss was checking building costs.

"He's pulling together all the necessary permits,'' he said.

Mr Brown said he expected Mr Foss to make an announcement about the project in the next few weeks.

He said he was unsure when it would be completed.

The project was announced in October last year. At the time Gateway's town planner Brett Davis, of Davis Planning Solutions, said the development would create more than 92 permanent and part-time jobs.

He said there would be about 270 jobs during the construction phase.

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Cr Michael Ryan blasts State Government

Cr Michael RyanHORSHAM Rural City councillor Michael Ryan has slammed the State Government for allowing CMI Industrial's Horsham foundry to close.
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The historic foundry, which manufactures car parts, will close on Friday, leaving 29 employees out of work.

CMI Industrial, Melbourne, went into voluntary receivership and administration on April 26 and then liquidation at the end of May.

The move affected up to four sites across Victoria, but the Horsham foundry is the only site to close.

Cr Ryan said he was disappointed with the decision.

"Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty says the government will do everything it can to help - I don't know what that means," he said.

"I don't think the government has.

"As for the State Government's Ararat Prison debacle - and I use that word politely - the prison expansion, which has gone into liquidation, is a government project and there is a Horsham business in difficulty."

Cr Bernard Gross said he also had concerns about CMI.

"We need to have some discussion with CMI, the liquidators and the government over this whole matter," Cr Gross said.

"CMI, as we know it, stems back to the old foundry north of May Park where the hotel now is and the service station.

"It has served Horsham for more than 100 years."

The CMI website said the business could trace its history back to 1872 when it manufactured wood heaters.

Cr Ryan requested council meet Mr Delahunty to discuss the implications of the CMI closure and Ararat Prison project for Horsham, as well as meet with CMI.

"We need to ensure enough is being done," Cr Ryan said.

"It's too easy to walk away and say it's not our problem, but it is.

"We need to do something and honour our commitment to the region."

Cr Gross said in hindsight, council should have been quicker to act on the CMI closure.

"We should have thrown our weight behind the move to save CMI," he said.

"But we now have an opportunity to attract other operations to our region.

"It is very much part of council and Wimmera Development Association work to roll up our sleeves and see what can be done.

"Lots of Australian jobs are moving offshore and if it continues, we will become a nation of consumers, not producers.

"We are losing so much important industry and we cannot allow any more to lapse in the future."

Council's corporate and economic director Tony Bawden said a council representative attended a CMI meeting at Wimmera Business Centre on June 25.

WorkCo, St Laurence and University of Ballarat were present at the meeting, along with representatives from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Centrelink.

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Carbon tax in the spotlight for Wimmera farmers

WIMMERA farmers can learn how the carbon tax might affect their businesses at a BCG Grains Research Expo tomorrow.
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The expo is at Birchip P-12 with breakfast available from 7.30am and will include a carbon tax session from 1pm to 2.30pm.

BCG member and farmer David Smith will facilitate the session.

Australian Farm Institute project officer Renelle Jeffrey will speak at the carbon tax session.

The institute believes the carbon tax will negatively affect the grain industry, along with the livestock industry.

Ms Jeffrey said increased processing overheads would affect grain producers' bottom line. She said there would also be increases in on-farm costs.

"Anything that contains energy is likely to come under the jurisdiction of the carbon tax, so that will affect fertilisers like nitrogen products in particular,'' she said.

National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie said the carbon tax would hit Wimmera farmers. He said it would make them less competitive on domestic and international markets.

"High input costs such as electricity and fertiliser are already putting considerable pressure on the farm bottom line and these costs are set to rise under the carbon tax,'' he said.

"The additional costs that farmers will wear from the carbon tax will make us less efficient, and as a result, less competitive.''

The Federal Government will give the farm sector $1.7 billion to help with new carbon tax costs, through initiatives such as the Carbon Farming Initiative and Carbon Farming Futures program.

BCG chief executive David Chamberlin said BCG received money from the Carbon Farming Initiative to look at ways farmers could reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions through efficient grain production and efficient finishing of lambs.

Climate champion, farmer and Nuffield scholar Jennifer Hawkins will share her insights into the initiatives at the expo. Ms Hawkins used her scholarship to study carbon trading.

Mr Chamberlin said BCG members could enter the expo for free. He said it was $30 for non-members.

Organisers said people could call BCG on 5492 2787 or email [email protected]南京夜网.au for more information.

For more on the Grains Research Expo, see this month's

Wimmera Farmer inside today's Mail-Times.

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