Western Sydney Wanderers out to avoid sophomore slump

September 29, 2013

David Sygall

Sports reporter

 

Wanderers fans

Devoted: the Red and Black Bloc. Photo: Getty Images

After finishing their inaugural season riding a tidal wave of form and popularity that made them the best story in Australian sport, the challenge for Western Sydney Wanderers is to build on their solid base and avoid second-season syndrome.

An extraordinary sellout of their 15,000-plus memberships three weeks before the first game of the season has laid the foundation off the field. Centre-back Michael Beauchamp believes the hunger he’s seen in the players around him throughout the pre-season suggests the team might go one better than last season when they lost to the Central Coast Mariners in the grand final in April.

”There is motivation from everyone to achieve more as a whole but we understand we have to be better than last season to achieve more,” Beauchamp said. ”Everyone will be expecting us to do well. But the other teams will have picked up too, some with new coaches and more stability.

Shinji ONO and 
Mark BRIDGE

Not a bad start: Shinji Ono and Mark Bridge celebrate winning the Premier’s Plate in the Wanderers’ inaugural season. Photo: Brendan Esposito

”There will be more competition. It would have been great to finish on a high. You play to win trophies and that’s motivation enough. But it’s been a tough pre-season and a good one because we’ve come out of it fit and ready. No one is resting on their heels, despite whatever we achieved last year.”

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Coach Tony Popovic will continue working towards a settled starting line-up for the round one clash with the Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on October 12, Beauchamp said, continuing with a trial against Melbourne Victory on Sunday in Hobart. It’s the latest in an interesting pre-season for the Wanderers. It included a 2-1 win over the Phoenix and a three-match 13-day trip to Japan and China – where they played Shimizu S-Pulse, Guangzhou and Tokyo Verdy. They returned to play a 1-1 draw with Adelaide in Penrith last weekend. ”Obviously the weather will be a little bit different in Hobart, but playing against a quality side like the Victory will give us a good insight into where we’re at at the moment, fitness-wise and tactically,” Beauchamp said. ”We haven’t played too many A-League sides so far, just Wellington and Adelaide, so we’re looking forward to that.

”We’re only a couple of weeks out from the season, so [Popovic] is looking at getting the main squad settled. I’m sure he wants to try out new players as well until we find the right starting line-up. There’s some good competition because we’ve been together for a while, a lot longer than last year, everybody’s on track, there’s no real injury problems and everybody’s fit.”

After their whirlwind debut campaign, Beauchamp said the Wanderers made the most of their time off. The players returned keen to avenge the bittersweet end to the season.

Beauchamp said it was ”brilliant” to know that, even before they kicked a ball at Parramatta Stadium, most seats would be taken for each home game by fans in red and black.

Twitter – @davesygall

The Sydney Morning Herald

Thousands march to remember Jill Meagher

September 30, 2013

Caroline Zielinski

Police Reporter at The Age

 

Thousands of people march in Sydney Rd Brunswick in honour of Jill Meagher and all women affected by domestic violence.  The Age. Photo: Angela Wylie. September 29 2013.

Enough is enough: Thousands of protesters march along Sydney Road Photo: Angela Wylie

The thousands of people who marched through Brunswick on Sunday in memory of Jill Meagher had one thing in common – they were there to say ”no” to violence.

Couples strolled hand in hand while parents pushed prams and carried toddlers on their shoulders; young girls in jogging gear marched purposefully in groups, and dogs of all sizes panted as their owners walked beside them at a leisurely pace.

Yet despite the thousands who gathered at the corner of Sydney and Moreland roads at noon to march in memory of Ms Meagher, the atmosphere was grim.

Thousands of people march in Sydney Rd Brunswick in honour of Jill Meagher and all women affected by domestic violence.  The Age. Photo: Angela Wylie. September 29 2013.

A marcher holds an image of Jill Meagher. Photo: Angela Wylie

Lois Knight and Keir Delaney, who live on Hope Street, where Adrian Bayley raped and killed Ms Meagher, said it was a chance for people to reclaim the night and to support Ms Meagher’s family.

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Ms Knight said she was ”defiant about the idea of being scared in my own neighbourhood”.

”I don’t think Brunswick is more dangerous than any other area. I think it was an extremely unlucky and terrible thing to have happened to Jill, rather than a reflection of this area,” she said.

Phil Werner, the event’s organiser, said he co-ordinated last year’s peace march to unite people in their humanity, and to bypass the anger and hatred that followed Ms Meagher’s murder.

However, it was clear that Melburnians had not forgotten, or forgiven, Bayley and those who commit violence against women.

Michael Turner, a local resident, said he was marching to say ”don’t judge men by the standards of Adrian Bayley”.

Glenda Esse and her daughter, Kym Stanley, led the march while carrying photographs of Ms Meagher. Both were pessimistic on the issue of violence against women. ”I don’t think it will change. We’re not hard enough with our criminals – we look after them more than the victims,” Ms Stanley said. ”We need to bring in harsher sentences – no parole, and life should be until you’re dead.”

A man and woman marching beside the pair stared ahead in grim silence, carrying signs which said: ”Respect women, castrate repeat rapists”; ”Enough is enough, parole and court toughen up”; and ”May you rot in there”. The march ended with participants observing a minute’s silence for Ms Meagher at Princes Park.

The Age

Surge in rich gaining New Zealand residency

James Cameron

LAND OF PLENTY: An aerial view of Hollywood director James Cameron’s property in the Wairarapa.

James Cameron

Director James Cameron.

Kim Dotcom

Getty Images
Mega founder Kim Dotcom.

Mega-rich people are flocking to New Zealand after immigration rules were relaxed for people with at least $10 million to spend.

The change in 2009 has led to a surge in seriously wealthy people gaining New Zealand residency and most don’t need any business experience or English language expertise.

More than 100 people have been approved under the “investment plus” category, open exclusively to those investing $10 million in New Zealand, and dozens more are applying every year.

Immigration New Zealand has even started headhunting multi-millionaires they have heard could be inclined to relocate here along with a sizeable investment.

Successful applicants have included Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and Hollywood director James Cameron.

The more modestly wealthy – those with $1.5 million to spend – are also applying in their hundreds through another category for smaller investors.

But their smaller investment means they face more rigorous scrutiny, including proving they can speak English and have at least three years’ business experience.

Immigration lawyer Simon Laurent said it was unclear what New Zealand was getting from lowering the bar for the super rich.

While they may need to invest money to get into New Zealand, after three years the new Kiwi residents did not have to keep it here.

“If these people get residency and after three years funnel off the money, we might get stuff all out of it,” he said.

“There is a lot of cynicism about the benefits to New Zealand.”

David Cooper, director of immigration consultancy Malcolm Pacific, said he had helped about a dozen people apply for the $10m residency package, including Kim Dotcom.

Most of them were from the United States or United Kingdom and often spent far more than $10 million.

The number of mega-rich moving to New Zealand had previously been a trickle but had steadily increased since the change, he said.

“From an economic point of view, we want these people to come here to contribute.”

He defended the looser rules around language and experience for people able to invest more.

“If you are that wealthy, English will not be barrier.”

Matt Hoskin, migrant attraction manager at Immigration New Zealand, said the mega-rich were already being approached by the New Zealand Government with offers of residency for investment.

Under the scheme, more than $770 million had been invested by new New Zealand residents, with another $480m approved but still awaiting confirmation.

Most people kept their money in New Zealand after the three years required to gain residency and often went on to spend more.

Americans were the biggest investors, followed by the Chinese, he said.

Most had visited before and had developed a fondness for New Zealand.

 

– © Fairfax NZ News  

Russia and Shishin shine in the sun

Russia and Shishin shine in the sun

© AFP

Russia have well and truly proven that their shock win two years ago in Ravenna was no fluke with a deserved, and ultimately comfortable, win against Spain in the Tahiti 2013 finale. Their level of professionalism and single-minded approach is undoubted and was on display in Papeete on Saturday night as they overpowered the Spaniards.

They were made to work hard throughout the tournament to ultimately claim the spoils. They had two single-goal wins plus a hugely challenging comeback victory against Tahiti in the semi-final when the hold on their crown hung in the balance.

This time, however, Russia dominated once they took the lead in the second period, and the retention of their crown was rarely in doubt from the moment Anton Shkarin hit the opener 30 seconds into the second period.

Little wonder then that Russia coach Mikhail Likhachev was of the view that they left their best to last. “It was our best match of the tournament and we are so happy to take home a winner’s medal,” he said. “Perhaps the Tahiti game in the semi-final was our most difficult.”

Golden Shishin
A recurring theme throughout the tournament for Russia has been the goalscoring form of Dmitrii Shishin. A tireless and powerful figure all over the park, Shishin collected the adidas Golden Scorer Award edging out Brazil’s Bruno Xavier.

“I’m so happy to win the World Cup for a second time,” Shishin told FIFA.com in the bowels of the To’ato stadium with his winner’s medal hanging proudly around his neck. “I think this proves that last time was not an accident.

“The level of all the teams have grown a lot, especially teams like Tahiti and Japan. They have really developed quickly and it shows that beach soccer is growing rapidly.”

Shishin scored in every match, although it took until the final ten seconds of the final to complete the full set. That eleventh hour strike was enough to claim the coveted goalscorers’ award.

“I’m so happy, I honestly could not ever dream that such an award would come my way,” he said. “I have scored in many games and when I entered the field today I was hoping to score, but most of all I wanted the team to win.”

 

FIFA.com

Audiência das novelas entre 23/09/2013 e 28/09/2013

Norwegian Air Shuttle pulls Dreamliner from service, demands fix from Boeing

September 30, 2013 – 10:32AM

Norwegian Air Shuttle has grounded a Boeing 787 Dreamliner before it has taken its first commercial flight.

Norwegian Air Shuttle has grounded a 787 Dreamliner and demanded Boeing repair the new aircraft.

The brochure for Boeing’s aircraft repair service makes a simple assertion: “No one knows Boeing airplanes better than Boeing.”

Now that claim is being put to a visible test as budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA grounded a brand new, $US212 million ($A228 million) 787 Dreamliner over the weekend. The airline demanded Boeing fix the state-of-the-art jet, saying it needs repairs after less than 30 days in service.

The aircraft’s reliability is simply not acceptable … our passengers cannot live with this kind of performance.

Investment analysts say the glitch involving a hydraulic pump is minor and isolated, and it is unlikely to affect Boeing’s stock price, which is towering at record levels.

But Norwegian Air’s vocal airing of its complaints is another black eye for the troubled Dreamliner. It follows a string of electrical and other safety problems that included battery meltdowns so severe they prompted regulators to ban the long-haul jetliner from flight for more than three months this year.

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On Sunday, Polish airline LOT 787 flying from Toronto to Warsaw was forced to land at Iceland’s Keflavik airport after problems with its air system.

Norwegian Air’s formal request on Saturday for Boeing to take charge of fixing the plane throw a spotlight on an often overlooked facet of the 787’s performance: reliability. And it shows how quickly a plane that cannot fly can hit a carrier’s bottom line.

Like other airlines with small long-haul fleets, Norwegian Air does not have a spare plane it can use if a jet breaks down. The carrier said it had to rent planes and cancel tickets when it could not use its 787s, and the company’s stock has fallen 6 percent since a peak earlier this month, hit by a string of 787 problems and concerns about its broader business.

“Reliability is a big deal, especially for low-cost carriers such as Norwegian,” said Russell Solomon, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in New York.

But since the problem appeared to be a “one-off” and part of the normal growing pains for a new plane, he added, it probably would not unsettle Boeing investors.

HALF A DOZEN BREAKDOWNS

When Norwegian Air began long-haul operations this year, it aimed to capitalize on the Dreamliner’s lower operating cost and the jet’s promised 20 percent savings on fuel burn.

But the first two Dreamliners, delivered in recent weeks and part of a planned fleet of eight, broke down more than half a dozen times in September, forcing Norwegian Air to lease back-up planes on short notice or cancel flights.

Norwegian Air grounded its 787s several times, citing problems with brakes, hydraulic pumps and power. On Sept. 23, the carrier said one Dreamliner was beset with problems in the oxygen supply to the cockpit. A problem with a valve on the airline’s second 787 was repaired around the same time, but only after delaying a flight from Oslo to New York.

Boeing said the repairs of the latest problem, to be carried out in Stockholm where the aircraft is parked, would take a matter of days. That is much better than with the 787’s volatile battery system, which grounded the worldwide fleet of Dreamliners from mid-January through late April.

“Norwegian has contracted with Boeing to provide engineering, spare parts and maintenance services for its 787s,” Boeing said in a statement. “We regret the inconvenience and disruption caused to theairline and its passengers as a result of this process.”

Norwegian Air was the first to sign up for Boeing’s GoldCare maintenance contract for its 787s, and is still the sole 787 customer for the plan. The brochure says GoldCare “significantly reduces the risk of new airplane introduction surprises” and helps airlines keep the plane in service.

But the grounded planes have prompted Norwegian Air to voice its dissatisfaction with the aircraft.

“The aircraft’s reliability is simply not acceptable,” Norwegian Air spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsensaid on Saturday.

“Our passengers cannot live with this kind of performance.”

Saturday’s announcement capped a tough week for Boeing in which Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner flew to Oslo to face Norwegian Air bosses over the earlier 787 mishaps.

Boeing maintains a formidable global workforce to support planes, and tracks the status of out-of-order jets in real time at an operations center in Seattle. But even so, the world’s largest commercial jet manufacturer had appeared unprepared for the storm of negative publicity Norwegian Air stirred.

“They didn’t do themselves any favors at all when Ray Conner went to Norway and did not talk publicly,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia.

“There was no better signal for the airline to aggressively go public” with its complaints, he added.

The public relations furor appeared to ease after Conner met with Norwegian Air management on Wednesday. Boeing promised to locate spare parts centers at all of the airline’s long-haul destinations and send a team of engineers to the Nordics to monitor the planes.

Said Norwegian Air Chief Executive Bjorn Kos after the meeting: “It was a positive discussion.”

SERVICE BUSINESS TEST

All new planes have so-called teething problems when first entering service, and most are forgotten when the issues are ironed out. The Airbus A380 superjumbo had wing cracks that required reworking by the manufacturer, but that crisis faded from the headlines.

Boeing faces an additional test with the 787 and Norwegian Air because Boeing had claimed that the jet’s advanced electrical systems and computerized fault-tracking would be both easier and cheaper to repair.

Boeing and rival Airbus also face a test of efforts to build lucrative after-sales service businesses to boost profit margins. Even as Boeing touts the reliability of its service, other airlines have been raising concerns about 787s.

A 787 operated by Poland’s LOT airline had to land unexpectedly in Iceland on Sunday due to a fault in its air identification system, a spokeswoman for the airline said on Sunday.

Like Norwegian air, state-owned LOT airline has had a list of problems with its Dreamliners, including last week delaying flights after check-ups showed two planes lacked gas filters.

LOT also said last week that Boeing had until the end of the year to agree on compensation for the three-month grounding of the 787 because of the battery issues, or it would take the matter to court.

Norwegian Air’s GoldCare maintenance contract has served only to deepen Boeing’s PR troubles by giving the company direct responsibility for sorting problem out.

Still, Solomon at Moody’s said it would take significantly more than Norwegian Air and LOT’s problems to dent investor confidence in Boeing as an investment, or a credit risk.

It would have to be “something that called into question the viability of the program,” hurting Boeing’s reputation and finances, he said.

Instead, Boeing is “performing quite well in these two important regards,” and still has strong growth prospects for its commercial plane business.

Reuters

The Sydney Morning Herald

Cheap flights to Europe amid airfare price war

September 30, 2013 – 3:19PM

In the past, Singapore Airlines' reputation for superior service meant it could get away with charging significantly more for its flights to Europe. But times have changed.

In the past, Singapore Airlines’ reputation for superior service meant it could get away with charging significantly more for its flights to Europe. But times have changed. Photo: AFP

The dam wall on cheap fares on the world’s longest air routes from Australia to Europe has finally broken after years of stubborn resistance.

Illustrating that there are many conflicting dynamics in a competitive market, there have been dozens of airlines pitching for business on these routes for decades without driving down the price.

A decade ago, the top-of-the-line brands like Qantas and Singapore Airlines were complaining about how cheap fares were when they were above $2000 return.

At one stage, when high-season fares were around $2300 return, there were warnings that lead-in rates would “have to” rise to nearer $3000 because the route was “uneconomic” at then-current levels.

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Well, the world has changed since the 2007-08 global financial crisis. Since then, the US and European economies have been in or close to recession, which has hit long-haul business travel for six.

With the low-cost airline revolution proving that the best money is to be made from wall-to-wall budget seating, supplemented with ancillary fees for everything that used to be “free”, airlines like Qantas have begun to shrink their premium cabins in favour of more premium economy and economy seats.

Two years ago, the queen of the Asian skies, Singapore Airlines (SIA), which had also been knocked sideways by the GFC, shocked the industry by starting its own low-cost long-haul brand, Scoot, after sitting back and watching carriers like AirAsia X and Jetstar hoovering up the demand for no-frills travel.

Last week was a landmark when SIA moved aggressively into the market with what it acknowledged were its first real el cheapo fares in its 2014 “Earlybird” offerings between Australia and Europe.

“Our Earlybird 2014 offer is by far the lowest fares we have offered to date,” a spokeswoman for SIA south-west Pacific vice-president Subhas Menon said. “Earlybird has long been a cornerstone of our pricing strategy, as it helps ensure we have strong base loads for the year ahead.

“This is why we have never hesitated to be bold and grab the market’s attention and reinforce our superior product and service offering.”

Actually the folks at SIA are stretching it with that last sentence. Because of SIA’s service excellence – and, importantly, the consistency of service excellence, where competitors have struggled to make service standards uniform – they have always had the brand strength to park their rates up to $1000 return more than the price leaders on the long haul from Australia to Europe.

Not any more. Super-aggressive discounting from Chinese carriers like China Southern has forced SIA to drop its Earlybird rates to Europe to below $1500 return from Australia for the first time.

China Southern’s rates are starting to look a bit like those of AirAsia X, which grabbed the headlines three years ago with rates from Australia to Europe of less than $1000.

Of course, the AirAsia X option no longer exists because the low-cost pricing model of offering fares below cost as a market stimulant doesn’t work unless there is enough demand to fill most of the seats at much higher rates.

China Southern this month dropped its fares for travel from Australia to Amsterdam to around $1287 quoted by some agents from Melbourne and slightly more from Sydney.

But that offer was seasonal, applying only to the low season through the northern winter and into spring, expiring in June.

SIA upped the ante by making its Earlybird rates non-seasonal, applying right through until November 2014.

Not unexpectedly, Qantas and its new partner Emirates are more or less matching the SIA rates on key European destinations for advance-purchase buyers travelling in 2014, dropping last year’s lead-in fares by up to $300 return.

Will you still pay more for the quality of service Singapore Airlines offers, or is price the number one attraction for you? Will the new competition tempt you to look at Europe in 2014? Or are you heading for the States? Are there deals to other parts of the world you reckon are better? Post your comments below.

FOOTNOTE: Virgin-aligned Etihad Airways has today joined the price war with a 10th birthday sale – through Travelscene American Express ex-Australia, rates quoted for travel in October-November 2014 only: ex-Melbourne to Amsterdam from $1238 return; Frankfurt, $1320; London, $1444; Milan, $1240; Paris, $1271.

The Sydney Morning Herald