News Corp. considers splitting into 2 companies; stock jumps to 4-year high

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is preparing to spin off its newspaper business into a separate company, an acknowledgement that the printed page that gave rise to a media empire will never again be central to its future.

Murdoch’s plan to split his company represents a break from the past. The 81-year-old billionaire built the company from a single Australian newspaper he inherited from his father. And through the years, he maintained a fondness for newspapers even as he purchased entertainment companies and assembled a global conglomerate with a market value of $52 billion.

The Wall Street Journal, News Corp.’s flagship newspaper, reported late Tuesday that News Corp.’s board of directors will consider the plan Wednesday and possibly announce its approval Thursday morning.

Under the proposal, newspapers will be shunted off into a separate publicly traded entity, which Murdoch will control along with a second company that comprises News Corp.’s entertainment business. That portion of the company includes Fox News Channel, its broadcast TV network and the 20th Century Fox movie studio.

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Investors hailed Tuesday’s announcement that News Corp. is considering a split, sending the stock up $1.68, or 8.3 per cent, to close at $21.76 Tuesday. During the day, the stock was as high as $21.89, its highest level since hitting $21.90 on Oct. 25, 2007.

Analysts said the newspaper and book publishing division could be worth about $5 billion – what Murdoch paid the Bancroft family for Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, in 2007.

News Corp. investors have never liked that acquisition and over the last five years the stock price has stagnated, hurt by fears Murdoch would overpay for other newspaper assets.

By contrast, investors adore Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, who along with Murdoch’s son James, the deputy COO, have been steering the company toward a future based on expanding profitable pay TV operations around the globe.

The split could be beneficial for both companies. Part of News Corp.’s problem in recent years is that it has been trying to please two kinds of investors with different, and somewhat conflicting, demands: Those looking to make a killing on a rising stock price and more conservative ones who like less risky, more predictable companies that pay generous dividends.

News Corp. has failed to please either. Its stock is no higher than it was five years ago, and it pays a dividend of just 17 cents a year, or 0.8 per cent of what it costs to buy a share. The average company in the S&P 500 stock index pays its owners cash each year equivalent to 2 per cent of its stock price.

A spin off might change this. It would free the TV and film business from the drag of the slower growing publishing business. And it would allow the publishing business the freedom to hike its cash payout.

“News Corp. has one of the best TV businesses, but some people like musty, dusty publishing companies that pay great dividends,” said Barton Crockett, an analyst at Lazard Capital. “It’s a good thing for shareholders.”

Crockett said newspapers have been raising dividends lately, and he thinks a separate News Corp. publishing business could do the same, possibly to 6 per cent, which is what rival Gannett Co. pays.

News Corp.’s move comes as Britain’s communications regulator, Ofcom, enters the final stages of its review of whether satellite TV firm British Sky Broadcasting is “fit and proper” to hold a broadcast license. News Corp. holds a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, but its ownership is in jeopardy because of the hacking probe.

Analysts said the separation of assets might appease regulators and help the company avoid being forced to sell its remaining stake, worth some $6.9 billion.

“I’m not saying it completely ameliorates Ofcom’s concerns. But I think it helps,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Tom Eagan.

British investigators have been probing allegations that News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper journalists hacked into phones and bribed public officials in the hunt for scoops. The probe caused the company to abandon its bid for full control of BSkyB last year.

The media conglomerate did not specify Tuesday which businesses each company would contain, although The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the company is considering separating the newspaper and book publishing businesses from the entertainment arm.

News Corp.’s entertainment business is far more profitable. It accounted for about 75 per cent of the company’s revenue and nearly all of the operating profit in the first nine months of the fiscal year, which ends this coming Saturday.

Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said in a research note that the split would allow the company to invest more in the growing entertainment field “without the baggage of publishing.”

A former News Corp. executive familiar with internal company deliberations says such a split has been talked about for years, although discussions gained new momentum in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, which erupted last July.

The former executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about internal company deliberations, said no final decision has been made.

Evercore Partners analyst Alan Gould said that without the publishing assets, revenue growth at the bigger TV and movie entity would nearly double to about 7 per cent a year.

It is unclear if the spun-off publishing unit would also bear the legal costs of the U.K. probe. In the first nine months of the fiscal year, probe costs have totalled $167 million.

The point of a split is not to create a smaller company “that would just wither and die,” said Tom Eagan, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity. It would have to contain enough profitable businesses to attract investors.

Eagan pointed to the successful spin-off of cable TV giant Time Warner Cable Inc. from the entertainment company Time Warner Inc. in March 2009. Because the cable division was more willing to pay out dividends and buy back shares, its stock price has more than tripled since then. Meanwhile, Time Warner Inc.’s stock price has doubled.

Time Warner shareholders were granted stakes in both separated companies and likely fared better than if the company hadn’t split, Eagan said.

So-called conglomerates that combine disparate businesses in one company were once popular. But the fashion for many years has been to slim down and simplify.

Motorola recently spun off its cellphone unit. Sara Lee Corp. is creating a new public company from its European coffee and tea business. Kraft Foods Inc. is also splitting in two – one for North American brands like Velveeta and one for Cadbury chocolates and other global snacks.

The problem for News Corp. isn’t just that newspapers and books make less money than television and film. It’s also that investors value the earnings from each differently. They are willing to pay less for a single dollar of earnings from the former than they are for a single dollar of earnings from the latter.

On Monday, investors buying News Corp. stock were paying the equivalent of $5.80 for every $1 of operating earnings that the combined company is expected to generate this year, according to Gould. That’s 20 per cent lower, or $1.50 less, than investors are paying for more pure play TV and film companies like CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc.

Do the math on News Corp.’s expected $6 billion in operating earnings this year, and that means the company is being valued $9 billion less than its TV and film rivals. Gould says the idea behind the split is to capture some of that $9 billion. He believes the company could do it and is recommending that his investing clients buy the stock.

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Business Writer Bernard Condon in New York and Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

Katy Perry shows her side of breakup from Russell Brand on-screen in concert film

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Things aren’t all dreamy in Katy Perry’s new 3D concert film.

The pop star’s energetic Day-Glo performances and chart success – tying Michael Jackson’s “Bad” with five No. 1 singles from her album “Teenage Dream” – are undercut by heartbreak. She sobs uncontrollably backstage as her marriage to Russell Brand falls apart during her world tour, and talks about her dashed desire for “fairy tale” romance.

Perry co-produced “Katy Perry: Part of Me” and is now promoting it with the same energy she gave to the year-long “California Dreams” tour it documents. Like Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never,” the movie cross-cuts between concert footage and biography. It includes interviews with Perry’s friends, assistant, manager, makeup artist, Christian evangelical parents, and plenty of fans. Brand is on screen in several scenes but his presence is reduced by the end mostly to phone and text messages.

In an interview, Perry spoke about sharing her side of the breakup on-screen, leaning on her fans as “a support system,” and plans for her next album.

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The Associated Press: Your relationship with Russell Brand supplies the narrative arc of the film. It’s very personal. You’re crying on screen. Is it the same to you as doing a break-up song like “Wide Awake”?

Perry: Oh my God, I have tear ducts! Crazy! I am human! I think it was important for me to leave some of the more difficult things in the film so that it wasn’t just a narcissistic fanfare film about how great I am. Because I’m not all great. There might be moments of greatness but they are very hard-worked (sic). I think it was important to show that there are obstacles and problems in people’s lives and it’s OK if you have them. You just have to overcome them. … Sometimes if you want to achieve something great, there will be curveballs. You just have to dodge them every once in a while.

AP: There’s a clip in the movie where you tell Ellen DeGeneres you’re going to take a long nap when the tour is over. It seems like you never did. You never took a break.

Perry: I’m still having fun. When I thought of documenting this whole process of last year, I didn’t know it was going to be a huge movie with billboards and Hollywood and stuff. But I just knew that there was a huge wave coming and I wanted to be able to forever keep the memory of that wave. So I caught everything. I threw the net out very wide. And at the end of it it was over 300-plus hours of film. And it turned into this movie. And I’m glad. Because it sends a great message, it’s very inspiring and it’s another kind of layer of me that I’ve revealed in time.

AP: At one point in the film, you’re heartbroken and sobbing before going onstage in Brazil, where fans chant “We love you Katy” in Portuguese. The movie makes it feel like fan love replaces Russell Brand’s love – or at least helps you through the breakup.

Perry: Nothing was replaced. It was always there. … Yeah, of course, it’s a support system. It’s exactly like when I was signed to major labels and dropped. And the guys that really didn’t understand my artistic vision were like, “No, we’re not going to put her record out.” I packed up my things and went to Hotel Cafe, here in Los Angeles, which is a tiny venue. And I played my songs. … And people were supporting these songs. And they were telling me that this was the right thing to do. So there is no void filled. It’s just that it’s always been there.

AP: You wonder in the film about whether you can have a relationship and a career. Do you feel like there is an answer to that?

Perry: The answer is always changing for me, you know, because every day is kind of a bit of a surprise. Sometimes it’s a great opportunity, sometimes it’s a situation I have to deal with. So I don’t know. I still believe in love, most definitely. I’m just going to let that take the lead.

AP: Where are you at on the next album? Will there be a shift in your sound?

Perry: I don’t want to completely self-sabotage everything that I’ve got and alienate everyone. But I definitely want to take some chances as I always have. And after the movie comes out, I think it’ll be appropriate for me to go away for a while.

AP: Do you worry about getting overexposed?

Perry: I worry if it’s not real. I’m OK if everything is honest and truthful and relatable. If it’s fabricated and ill-motived, it’s not good. But I don’t try and involve myself in that type of stuff.

AP: What will change in your next phase in terms of balancing your public and private life?

Perry: I’ll continue to try and balance like a circus act. And I will just fight to always tell the truth. Even if it’s difficult.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson on Twitter at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州龙凤/ryanwrd

Spanish government debt auction sees rates double or triple as investor concerns mount

MADRID – Spain’s borrowing costs soared in a pair of short-term auctions Tuesday as investors worried that the country would not be able to manage an expensive rescue of its ailing banking sector.

The Treasury auctioned €3.1 billion ($3.9 billion) in the two maturities, just above its target range, and demand was strong.

But the cost was very high – an indication that investors are concerned that the Spanish government will be stuck with huge expenses after a European bailout of its fragile banking system.

The interest rate on 3-month bills was 2.36 per cent, nearly triple the 0.85 per cent paid in the last such auction on May 22. The rate on the 6-month bills was 3.24 per cent, nearly twice as much as the 1.7 per cent paid in May.

The auction came a day after Spain formally requested financial aid for its banks from its partners in the eurozone. The move was a formality – it had expressed its intent a week early.

Once again, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos did not say how much of the €100 billion ($125 billion) lifeline on offer the country planned to use.

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While the bailout will help the banks, the government is ultimately responsible for repaying the money. That has raised fears that it will be stuck with huge liabilities and that’s evident in the country’s borrowing costs.

Addressing a parliamentary commission Tuesday, de Guindos also said no new austerity measures have been set by Brussels as conditions for the loan.

That could irk other bailed-out countries that did have string attached to their rescues. However, on Monday Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy did say Monday that new “economic measures” were in the works even though the Spanish economy is back in recession. These are widely understood to include an increase in the sales tax, a tax on goods and services.

The new conservative Spanish government has already enacted a wave of spending cuts, raised income and property taxes and frozen civil servant wages.

De Guindos reiterated that Spain’s three biggest banks — Santander, BBVA and CaixaBank — will not need aid to meet new capitalization requirements. He said the aid requested will not surpass the €100 billion the government has available, and that terms of the loan are being negotiated. These terms are expected to be announced by July 9.

The minister said that banks which do accept loan money might have to separate toxic assets from clean ones, although he did not go so far as to say Spain will create a bad bank. So far the government has resisted such a step, which de Guindos said the EU wants.

He said this asset separation would be an additional step for individual banks that need it, aside from measures applying to the whole banking sector in Spain. He did not elaborate.

A key problem for Spain is that its banks hold massive amounts of its government bonds. So as those bonds lose value, the banks take losses, fueling a vicious cycle of uncertainty over the banks’ and the government’s finances.

Those concerns were evident in Moody’s decision Monday to downgrade 28 Spanish banks, including international heavyweights Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA. The agency cited the banks’ exposure to the government’s bonds and said they are vulnerable to further losses from Spain’s real-estate bust.

“The problem facing Spanish banks, which is again being reflected in rising Spanish bond yields, is that no-one is clear on how much bailout money Spanish banks will end up needing,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

Hewson noted that it also remains unclear what conditions will come attached to the aid for Spain’s banks. If, in the event one of the rescued banks fails, the eurozone bailout fund gets the right to be repaid before other creditors.

The Moody’s downgrade had been widely expected and stock markets were mostly steady on Tuesday.

But tensions remained high in bond markets. In the secondary bond market, where auctioned debt is traded freely, the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds edged up 0.23 percentage points to close at 6.81 per cent, a painfully expensive rate. The yield last week punched through the 7 per cent level, a level seen as unsustainable over the long term.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry reported that the central government budget deficit had soared to 3.41 per cent of GDP in the first five months of 2012, just 0.09 percentage points below the targeted figure agreed with the European Union for the entire year.

Spain has agreed to aim for an overall deficit of 5.3 per cent of GDP for 2012 based on a projected 3.5 per cent figure for the central government, 1.5 per cent for regional governments and 0.3 per cent for town halls.

Tuesday’s figure, up 30 per cent on the same period last year, was due to advance payments to regional governments, increased Social Welfare costs and reduced income, the ministry said.

Spain is battling to slash its deficit, which was 8.5 per cent last year, to the EU limit of 3 per cent of GDP by 2013.

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Ciaran Giles contributed to this report.

Former captain Adam Oates hired as Capitals coach, replacing Dale Hunter

WASHINGTON – Once again, a Washington Capitals leadership baton is passed from Dale Hunter to Adam Oates.

More than a decade after Oates followed Hunter as captain, a similar transition happened Tuesday when Oates was hired as the Capitals coach.

Except for one major exception: the one happened to fall on the same day Oates was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Even as he was joining Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin and Pavel Bure in the Hall, Oates joined Washington six weeks after Hunter’s abrupt resignation. Hunter led the team to the second round of the playoffs as a midseason replacement before deciding he would rather be at home with his family, his farm and the junior club he owns in Canada.

So next up is Oates, 49, who played 19 seasons as a centre in the NHL, including parts of six seasons with the Capitals from 1996-2002. His 290 assists rank 10th in team history, and he and Hunter were part of the 1997-98 team that made the only Stanley Cup finals appearance to date in franchise history.

When Hunter was traded in March 1999, Oates was selected as captain for the following season.

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Oates, who will be formally introduced at a news conference Wednesday, has spent the last three seasons as an NHL assistant, first with the Tampa Bay Lightning before moving to the New Jersey Devils in 2010. He was part of the staff that helped lead the Devils to this year’s Stanley Cup finals, which they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.

“I know a lot about him as a player,” the Capitals’ Troy Brouwer said in Chicago, where he’s attending union meetings. “Obviously, being inducted into the Hall of Fame helps his credibility and his stature, but guys already know that he was able to do a lot of good things in his career. He was able to be a good offensive impact player on any team that he played for, and I think he’s probably going to bring some of that mentality to our team.”

Brouwer was actually hoping the job would go to Mike Haviland, an assistant in Chicago when he played there. Haviland was recently fired by the Blackhawks.

“He’s had a lot of influence in my hockey career,” Brouwer said. “I guess they went with Oates, and it was obviously a decision that they felt was best for the team. Any decision that they’re going to make I think is going to be the one that they feel is going to propel the team into a good category.”

Oates’ most formidable task will be to develop a playing style that best suits a Capitals roster brimming with talent and that can also succeed in the playoffs. Led by Alex Ovechkin, Washington won four consecutive Southeast Division titles under offensive-minded coach Bruce Boudreau but couldn’t advance beyond the second round of the post-season.

Boudreau was fired in November after an early-season slump and was replaced by the defence-first Hunter. Hunter eventually rallied the players enough to get them back in the playoffs but couldn’t push them to the conference finals.

Oates played in the NHL from 1985-2004, appearing in 1,337 games while scoring 341 goals with 1,079 assists for Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton. Only Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux have averaged more assists-per-game than Oates in the NHL history, and only Gretzky (662) had more assists than Oates (636) during the 1990s.

Oates is the fifth consecutive first-time NHL head coach hired by general manager George McPhee during McPhee’s 15 years with the Capitals, following Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Boudreau and Hunter.

“Adam was a highly intelligent player in the NHL for 19 seasons,” McPhee said in a statement released by the club. “He has been an assistant coach in our conference for the past three seasons and is prepared to lead our club as head coach.”

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AP sports writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report

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Joseph White can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/JGWhiteAP

Replacement staff keep three N.B. stations on air as workers strike, says union

SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Replacement staff are keeping three private radio stations in New Brunswick on the air while unionized employees picket outside, the union representing the striking workers said Tuesday.

The seven employees, represented by the Canadian Media Guild, include on-air personalities at Saint John stations CFBC, K100 and Big John FM.

The guild said workers had been trying to negotiate their first contract with Halifax-based MBS Radio for nearly 10 months before walking off the job Monday morning.

Gary Stackhouse, president of the bargaining unit in Saint John, said the company has brought in replacement workers to help fill the airwaves.

He said his usual gig on Big John FM’s morning show was being done remotely from Halifax.

“They’re certainly on the air,” he said in an interview.

“They’re certainly not on the air in the kind of manner that they are when they’re fully staffed by local people who know the community.”

The guild, which represents thousands of media workers across Canada, said wages and unpaid overtime remain major issues.

Stackhouse said many of the employees earn just above minimum wage, which is $10 an hour in New Brunswick.

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He said the union is seeking a four-year agreement that would see morning announcers earn $12 an hour as a starting rate, and work up to $17.21.

In a statement posted on Big John FM’s website, MBS said the union’s demands are not realistic or sustainable, and are ultimately “out of touch” with the local market.

The company said it offered workers an increase of just over nine per cent over four years.

“We feel that our offer that was left on the table was more than fair, with a $1,000 signing bonus,” spokeswoman Kelly O’Neill said in an interview.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re still so far apart … we all would like to see this put to bed, for sure. They’re part of our family, the people walking out there.”

Stackhouse said the union believes the company can afford the increase.

“We understand the realities of private radio, but the other reality we’re being asked to ignore is that private radio is profitable,” he said.

OFF THE BEATEN AISLE: How to use fresh sage to make fried sage and Parmesan penne

It’s hard to not love an ingredient that loves fat.

And that’s exactly what sage does – it partners perfectly with foods rich in oils and fats. That’s why it is so common in hearty holiday foods.

Actually, that’s part of sage’s problem, and why it has a relatively low profile in American cooking compared to other savory herbs, such as basil and oregano. While we think of all manner of uses for other herbs in all seasons, we tend to pigeonhole sage as a Thanksgiving herb suited mostly for stuffing and turkey.

But the richly peppery-rosemary flavour of fresh sage can more than earn its keep all year. You just need to know how to use it.

Let’s start with what it is. Sage is a perennial related to mint. There are many varieties, including pineapple-flavoured sage from Mexico (best suited for desserts). Sage generally is sold in three forms – fresh, dry ground and rubbed.

Fresh is pretty self-explanatory. When shopping for it, look for leaves that are tender-firm with a downy coating and no brown spots.

Rubbed is dried sage leaves that have been quite literally rubbed off the stems. It tends to be pillowy soft and retains flavour well.

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Dry ground sage is the least appealing of the three. It has a more muted flavour and doesn’t hold up well in cooking. Skip it.

So what to do with sage outside of Thanksgiving? Just look oversees. Because sage pairs so well with dairy, the English have long made a sage-flecked cheese known as sage Derby. So take their cue and add a few fresh sage leaves to your next grilled cheddar sandwich.

The English also like to use sage with sauteed onions, usually destined for a stuffing. So why not toss fresh sage into caramelized onions, then use them to top a pizza with gouda?

In Germany, sage lands in sausages. And sometimes beer. Not sure about the last one, but I’m inclined to borrow the sage and caramelized onions from England and spoon them into a bun with a grilled sausage. In Italy, sage rules saltimbocco and osso bucco. But it’s also a natural with butter-drenched pasta.

For more ideas for using sage, check out the Off the Beaten Aisle column over on Food Network: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛bit.ly/L6kzQq

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Fried Sage and Parmesan Penne

A great example of how the simplest of dishes can be so overwhelmingly good. For a heartier version of this dish, add cooked chicken or apple-chicken sausage.

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

1 pound penne pasta

1 egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and ground black pepper

12 large fresh sage leaves

4 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta, return it to the pot, cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Place the flour in a second bowl, then mix a bit of salt and pepper into it.

One at a time, dunk each sage leaf first in the egg, then in then in the flour. Shake off any excess flour, then set aside.

In a small skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. When it just starts to bubble, add the sage leaves and fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the pine nuts to the skillet and toast in the butter that remains in the pan for 1 minute.

Drizzle the butter and pine nuts over the cooked pasta. Sprinkle in the Parmesan and use tongs to toss until melted. While tossing, drizzle in just enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to create a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide between serving plates, then top each portion with fried sage leaves.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 730 calories; 250 calories from fat (34 per cent of total calories); 28 g fat (12 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 90 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 4 g fiber; 650 mg sodium.

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J.M. Hirsch is the national food editor for The Associated Press. He is author of the recent cookbook, “High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking.” His Off the Beaten Aisle column also appears at FoodNetwork杭州夜网. Follow him on Twitter 杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/JM_Hirsch.

Some spirits companies breaking away from “Boys’ Club” image to woo women

Maybe it’s the ad’s strikingly handsome spokesman dressed in fireman’s gear. Maybe it’s the fact that his shirt has a winsome habit of disappearing, revealing sculpted pecs. Maybe it’s the beret-wearing kitten he chats with. In French.

Whatever the reason, you don’t have to watch Sauza Blue Tequila’s latest YouTube video long before realizing this is not exactly your father’s liquor ad. Or your boyfriend’s.

With millions of views, the “Make it with a Fireman” video launched this year has caused quite a stir. Brand officials say social media mentions of Sauza are up and the adorable blue-eyed kitten costar has built a fan base of its own.

On a broader scale, the ad reflects a slight shift in spirits marketing as some producers look beyond traditional male-oriented campaigns.

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“Companies are realizing that women comprise a very heavy percentage of the cocktail-drinking community and I believe they are starting to speak more directly to women without the fear that they’re going to alienate the male base,” says Allison Evanow, one of the relatively few female executives in the spirits industry as founder and CEO of Square One Organic Spirits in San Francisco. “There’s more advertising that is either targeted to women or at least is not quite as male-dominated.”

For Sauza, the decision to engage female consumers was prompted by data showing that a good chunk of tequila sold is being consumed in margaritas. And those margaritas are being consumed by women. “So you just look at that and you go, ‘Wow! We should really be talking to this demographic,’” says Kevin George, chief marketing officer for Beam Inc., which owns Sauza.

Sauza’s all-digital campaign started with suggested recipes for ladies nights in or out, and this year they looked at ways to deliver that message in a new context, hence the fireman ad created by Euro RSCG Chicago.

Striking the same tongue-in-cheek note as the Old Spice TV spots featuring Isaiah Mustafa, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” the Sauza YouTube video is a mash-up of female appeal – Firemen! Kittens! – and aims to be just over-the-top enough to let women know they’re in on the joke.

More ads are planned in the Sauza campaign. Meanwhile, the company has other brands with a feminine touch, include Red Stag Bourbon, launched in a black cherry flavour in 2009 and in honey tea and spiced versions this year, along with Skinnygirl Cocktails and Courvoisier Rose.

“Marketing spirits to women is something that we think is a big opportunity,” says George.

Also reaching out is Campari America, formerly known as SKYY Spirits, and home to a number of brands, including Yamazaki Japanese Single Malt Whisky and Wild Turkey. The company has created a “Women & Whiskies,” campaign, a group and event series intended to give women a forum to enjoy and learn more about whiskies and cocktails.

On the consumer side, women have shown their interest in the spirits world, forming groups such as Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, which has chapters in several major cities.

Kiki Braverman, cofounder of the San Francisco chapter of LUPEC, has seen the Sauza ad and liked its humour and originality. “I LOVE that a guy is the sex object,” she says. Still, Braverman, who runs the microbrand Pur Spirits featuring spirits from her native Germany, would like to see advertising go further.

“What about women like me? Professional women with families who neither party the night away nor dream of being rescued by a 22-year-old fireman, but who really do enjoy a good drink with their meal – and who actually have money to spend?” she asks.

At Square One, the company doesn’t specifically market to women, but Evanow says consumers tend to be aware that the company is 97 per cent female-owned (by Evanow and her sister; the other 3 per cent include Evanow’s husband and brother). “I feel like we have a combination of the ‘Go, girls! Women Breaking Barriers in a Male-dominated Industry’ message along with the cocktail,” she says.

Evanow expects to see more women of spirits. “I feel like the female palate is changing,” she says. “Women, as they start to get older, are starting to drink drier and less sweet, starting to incorporate more botanical and aged spirits into their repertoire,” she says.

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Online:

Sauza ad: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活youtube杭州夜网/watch?v=z0hq4bBnYIM&feature=plcp

Pur Spirits: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活purspirits杭州夜网

Campari site: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活facebook杭州夜网/WomenAndWhiskies

Square One Organic Spirits: 杭州桑拿按摩论坛squareoneorganicspirits杭州夜网/

Vancouver Humane Society wants Calgary mayor to oppose Stampede calf roping

CALGARY – The Vancouver Humane Society is hoping Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi will join its fight to stop calf roping at the Stampede rodeo.

“We think … in terms of the stress and fear and pain the animal is subjected to, it is the worst event at the Stampede, and we’re hoping our campaign will continue to raise the concerns about that event,” Peter Fricker, the humane society’s communications officer, said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

The event features a running calf and a rider mounted on a horse. The rider must catch the calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around its neck. He then dismounts from the horse, runs to the calf and restrains it by tying three legs together in as short a time as possible.

“We have written to Mayor Nenshi in Calgary asking him to urge the Stampede’s board to consider dropping calf roping, as he is a member of the Stampede board. We think he has a reputation as a very progressive and compassionate man,” Fricker said.

“He has a lot of respect in the community and we think if he were to speak to the board about this that they would be obliged to listen.”

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The letter was sent to Nenshi last spring. He received over 1,300 emails from concerned citizens encouraging him to use his position to help ban the sport. The mayor politely declined.

“Although the mayor of Calgary has a seat on the board of the Calgary Stampede, the Calgary Stampede has ultimate authority over animal care at the Stampede rodeo,” Nenshi replied in a letter to the humane society.

“Your inquiries and campaign should be directed toward that organization. However, I can say that the Calgary Stampede takes animal care very seriously and has been recognized across North America for its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all the animals that participate in Stampede-related events.”

The letter, dated April 13, included a short note at the bottom in the mayor’s handwriting. “Thank you for your interest in the matter and your continued advocacy for animals.”

Nenshi pointed out the Calgary Humane Society and the Alberta SPCA are working with the Stampede to make sure animals are well looked after.

It’s not the first time Nenshi has been approached about banning calf roping. He received a letter last July from the mayor of Surrey, B.C., who encouraged him to follow the example set by the her city’s annual Cloverdale Rodeo in 2007.

Mayor Dianne Watts said a decision to ban calf roping, steer wrestling and team roping has not hurt the event’s popularity.

“Thank your for your thoughtful consideration of this request, which would improve animal welfare and serve as an example for the rodeo world,” she wrote.

Court rules agency is ‘unambiguously correct’ in using law to curb global warming gases

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever U.S. government regulations aimed at reducing the gases blamed for global warming.

The rules, which had been challenged by industry groups and several states, will reduce emissions of six heat-trapping gases from large industrial facilities such as factories and power plants, as well as from automobile tailpipes.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said that the Environmental Protection Agency was “unambiguously correct” in using existing federal law to address global warming, denying two of the challenges to four separate regulations and dismissing the others.

The ruling is perhaps the most significant to come out on the issue since 2007, when the Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases could be controlled as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, a step the Bush administration had resisted.

It also lands during a presidential election year where there are sharp differences between the two candidates when it comes to how best to deal with global warming.

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President Barack Obama’s administration has come under fierce criticism from Republicans, including Mitt Romney, the party’s almost certain presidential nominee, for pushing ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass climate legislation. In 2009, the EPA concluded that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, triggering controls on automobiles and other large sources. But the administration has always said it preferred to address global warming through a new law.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called the ruling a “strong validation” of the approach the agency has taken.

The court “found that EPA followed both the science and the law in taking common-sense, reasonable actions to address the very real threat of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the largest sources,” Jackson said in a statement.

Carol Browner, Obama’s former energy and climate adviser, said the decision “should put an end, once and for all, to any questions about the EPA’s legal authority to protect us from dangerous industrial carbon pollution,” adding that it was a “devastating blow” to those who challenge the scientific evidence of climate change.

At a meeting in the state of New Hampshire last year Romney, said it was a mistake for the EPA to be involved in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas.

“My view is that the EPA is getting into carbon and regulating carbon has gone beyond the original intent of the legislation, and I would not go there,” he said.

The court on Tuesday seemed to disagree with Romney’s assessment when it denied two challenges to the administration’s rules, including one arguing that the agency erred in concluding greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.

Lawyers for the industry groups and states argued that the EPA should have considered the policy implications of regulating heat-trapping gases along with the science. They also questioned the agency’s reliance on a body of scientific evidence that they said included significant uncertainties.

The judges – Chief Judge David Sentelle, who was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, and David Tatel and Judith Rogers, both appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton – flatly rejected those arguments.

“This is how science works,” the unsigned opinion said. “EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

Industry groups vowed to fight on.

“Today’s ruling is a setback for businesses facing damaging regulations from the EPA,” said Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers. “We will be considering all of our legal options when it comes to halting these devastating regulations. The debate to address climate change should take place in the U.S. Congress and should foster economic growth and job creation, not impose additional burdens on businesses.”

Environmentalists, meanwhile, called it a landmark decision for global warming policy, which has been repeatedly targeted by the Republican-controlled House.

“Today’s ruling by the court confirms that EPA’s common-sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defence Fund.

The court also dismissed complaints against two other regulations dealing with pollution from new factories and other industrial facilities. The plaintiffs had argued that the EPA misused the Clean Air Act by only requiring controls on the largest sources, when the law explicitly states that much smaller sources should also be covered.

The judges, when presented with these arguments in February, cautioned the industry groups and states to be careful what they wished for. If EPA chose to follow the letter of the law, they said, greenhouse gas regulations would place even more of a burden on industry and other businesses.

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Follow Dina Cappiello’s environment coverage on Twitter (at)dinacappiello

Facing deadline for judge’s ruling, American Airlines workers seek to resume contract talks

DALLAS – Flight attendants and mechanics at American Airlines want to resume contract talks as a deadline nears for a federal judge to rule on whether the airline can impose its own terms on workers.

Separately, the pilots’ union board was meeting Tuesday to reconsider whether to let members vote on American’s final contract offer.

Tuesday’s developments raised the prospect that American could negotiate voluntary cost-cutting deals with all three of its labour unions, which seemed unlikely just a week ago.

The Transport Workers Union said that negotiators for American’s mechanics expected to meet soon with company officials. Last month, mechanics rejected a company offer that was approved by five smaller groups of ground workers.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said Monday night that it was seeking to resume negotiations too. Company spokesman Bruce Hicks said American looked forward to more talks with the flight attendants.

The unions are facing a Friday deadline for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane to rule on whether American can throw out labour contracts and temporarily impose its own terms for pay, benefits and working conditions.

The judge has already postponed a decision twice, including a one-week delay until Friday to give the Allied Pilots Association more time to consider American’s latest offer. The union said its board needed more clarification from American on some terms.

American had sweetened its offer to pilots, proposing a 17 per cent cut in pilot costs with no layoffs instead of an earlier 20 per cent cut that included eliminating 400 pilot jobs.

The unions all back a potential takeover of American parent AMR Corp. by US Airways Group Inc., which has offered fewer layoffs and other cuts than American proposed. AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November.

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Gang leader arrested after weekend stabbings in Montreal

 MONTREAL- A man described by police in the past as a dangerous and violent street gang leader has been charged with two counts of attempted murder in a case where two men were stabbed outside a bar in the Plateau over the long weekend.

Jean-Philippe Celestin, 31, described in the past as the leader of a Montreal street gang called the K-Crew, appeared at the Montreal courthouse on Monday.

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He faces five charges in all in an assault that left one man in critical condition early Saturday morning outside the outside Commission des Liquers du Plateau, a nightclub on St. Laurent Blvd. near Mont Royal Ave.

The man who was more seriously injured was listed as being in stable condition as of Sunday.

A second man arrested in the attempted murders is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon, police said.

During the weekend the Montreal police said they believed the stabbings occurred as the result of a dispute that had started in a bar and that the violence occurred as the victims left.

In 2009, Celestin was described by police as the leader of a drug trafficking network that was very active on St. Laurent Blvd. A police investigation, dubbed Project Norte, targeted several members of the K-Crew, including Celestin.

In 2007, during a hearing before the Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeuxs, the provincial liquor board, the K-Crew was described as “a major and emerging street gang” in Montreal.

During the same hearing Celestin was described, by a police expert, as the most violent and most dangerous member of the gang.

On March 24, 2010, Celestin pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession of drugs with the intent to traffic in the Project Norte case and was sentenced to an 18-month prison term.

As part of the same sentence, Celestin was on probation when he was arrested during the long weekend as a suspect in the attempted murders.

 

B.C. flooding leaves engaged couple high and dry

SICAMOUS, B.C. – Up until this past Saturday, just before noon, Andre Robert was eagerly awaiting getting hitched to his fiancee come December in Hawaii.

Then the rain started, and within two hours and a 15-centimetre jump of water, the couple’s plans washed away along with large swaths of their town.

Widespread flooding in Sicamous, B.C., has halted the 29-year-old’s boat rental business just as the seasonal boom was about to go full throttle.

“We can go do the cheapy Justice of the Peace kind of thing, but we were hoping to go to Hawaii and elope on the beach there somewhere,” said Robert as he powered a boat from A.J.’s Marine Rentals through just one of multiple swollen lakes and rivers in British Columbia.

“I told her, if I don’t have any money it’s pretty hard to get married.”

About 350 people in the summer tourism town of 3,100, more than 340 km northeast of Vancouver, were ordered evacuated and its Two Mile subdivision was declared under a state of emergency after the weekend’s natural disaster.

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It topped the list of a series of communities in the B.C. Interior, the Kootenay region and the Fraser Valley where flooding is impacting lives. Across the province, about 700 people have been forced from their homes and another 1,000 remain prepped to evacuate on a moment’s notice.

Sicamous residents’ livelihoods are usually propelled by 100 days between June and September.

But fast-flowing waters, sprung from torrential showers and rapid snowmelt, cleaved a path of physical and economic devastation through the region.

That weather has stymied business for the marinas, boat and houseboat rental outlets. Local hotels, floating grocery stores and spin-off shops are suffering, too, and all say they haven’t experienced such conditions in years, if ever.

“This is going to be outrageous, it’s a little scary,” Robert said. ” Now, we’re going to be cut down to about 30 days in August. There’s a ripple effect for everybody in the community.”

The storm on Saturday triggered a massive debris flow that began when a local river became plugged with logs from previous rains. Massive pressure released the jam, sending rafts of water diverting from within the banks and thrusting the material down a road, through a parking lot and cascading around waterfront property.

A cottage was pushed off its foundation, several dozen vehicles were submerged in a mudslide, and an asphalt road gave way to leave gaping holes that swallowed vehicles.

“There’s a lot of people that just have this as their summer residence, so they probably don’t even know about it yet,” said Ken Meyer, 50, as he scoured a 40-metre sinkhole with a blue pick-up truck resting inside.

“It’s going to take a long time to clean up. It’s pretty sad to see our community looking like this.”

In other parts of town, locals canoed through parking lots, removing possessions from otherwise inaccessible homes.

A water ban was put into effect after a 20,000 litre gas tank toppled into Mara Lake, the major water body where many high-end cottages are located. Beaches normally filled with revellers were under water.

Road closures meant the only way to reach Two Mile was by boat.

A hefty stationary bicycle was heaved from inside onto one cottage owner’s lawn, a place where he said the young adults in his family played Bocci ball only days earlier.

When the downpour started, the group started sandbagging. By 2 a.m. they determined it was futile.

“Then the flow got too high for the sand bags and we let nature take its course. It was a very difficult decision,” said Bob, who asked for anonymity to protect his home from looters, as he surveyed the damage from his dock.

The retired vacationer from Calgary, whose family has had the home for 40 years, said the coming months will be rough – but he is certain that residents with pull together.

“It’s a town that cares and Sicamous will get through it. However, there’s going to be a lot of heartache in the meantime,” he said.

“This is a vacation paradise – and it will be again.”

Elsewhere in the province, 35 homes in the Creston area of southeastern B.C. were placed on evacuation alert Tuesday as the community declared a local state of emergency because of localized flooding.

The Kootenay River nearby is rising and heavy rains are forecast for the region, with up to 40 millimetres expected to fall before the storm passes.

Officials say nearby Kootenay Lake is expected to peak by the end of the week and forecasters say the lake could reach a height not seen in half a century.

Saskatchewan is lending resources and expertise to B.C. to help deal with the wide-spread flooding.

Three emergency services officers and an eight-person rapid response team has arrived in Chilliwack with equipment, including eight kilometres of flood barriers, five automated sandbagging machines and pumps.

Alex Ovechkin ready to be turned loose by new Caps coach Adam Oates

CHICAGO – Alex Ovechkin is ready to be turned loose again.

The Washington Capitals star was wearing a wide grin Tuesday after learning that the team’s new head coach, Adam Oates, has a track record of encouraging offensive play. That’s a distinct departure from the defence-first system preached by previous boss Dale Hunter.

“It’s not blocking the shots and it’s not dump and chase,” Ovechkin said during the NHLPA’s executive board meetings. “Any system that I play I learn a lot. I’m an offensive guy, it’s not a secret to anybody, and I’m pretty excited and very happy to hear the Caps signed that kind of guy who likes offence.”

After learning Oates had been hired, Ovechkin gave him a call of congratulations.

The two don’t have a history. In fact, all Ovechkin knew of Oates was seeing his sometimes animated displays behind the New Jersey Devils bench. The 49-year-old Oates was one of the NHL’s best setup men during his playing career and was credited with helping turn the Devils into a more potent team during two years as an assistant.

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“I just talked to him briefly and he seems to be a great person,” said Ovechkin. “I’m looking forward to working with him and again, you’re always excited when something big happens with your team. …

“I hope we’re going to work well and we’re going to play and we’re going to win I think.”

Ovechkin has seen his offensive production dip dramatically the last two seasons. The Capitals captain seemed to be out of favour with Hunter at times during the playoffs, when his ice time dipped as low as 13 minutes per game.

The Russian intends to build a strong relationship with the new coach. He hopes it might help him get back to being the most dangerous scorer in the league.

“I think coaches and players have to have a good relationship, especially in the kind of situation where we have right now,” said Ovechkin. “It’s nice.”