Daily News Roundup

April 10, 2019

Image: IMDB

Wednesday, April 10

Talks between US casino giant Wynn Resorts and James Packer’s Crown Resorts over a proposed buy-out of the Australian operation have stopped abruptly.

The reason is that word of the potential buyout was leaked to the media.

In a brief statement, the Las Vegas casino company said it was ending all discussions with its Australian rival.

“Following the premature disclosure of preliminary discussions, Wynn Resorts has terminated all discussions with Crown Resorts concerning any transaction,” Wynn said in a written statement.

Crown Resorts, which is controlled by Australian billionaire James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings, confirmed on Tuesday Wynn proposed to buy the company for $10 billion.

Crown, which owns casinos in Melbourne, Perth and London and will soon open another in Sydney, had said before Wynn walked away there was no certainty of a deal.

After the takeover offer was confirmed by Crown on Tuesday, its share price closed 19.7 per cent higher at $14.05.

Its value had fallen 20 per cent since mid-2018, profits falling short of expectations.

It has attributed the slump slowing economic growth in China, with big gamblers travelling to Australia now less likely to be in the mood to gamble.

Mr Packer resigned from the board of his family company Consolidated Press Holdings last March, citing mental health issues.

CPH holds Mr Packer’s 47 per cent stake in Crown and various other business interests.

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Hollywood actor Allison Mack has pleaded guilty to blackmailing two women as part of an alleged New York sex cult.

Prosecutors have called the cult a racketeering operation, that carried out sex trafficking and other crimes.

Mack, 36, who made her name in the TV series Smallville entered her plea to racketeering and conspiracy charges before US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, admitting that she coerced the two unnamed women into performing services by threatening to release damaging information about them.

Fighting back tears, Mack said she had joined the organisation, led by self-described spiritual guide Keith Raniere, a decade ago to find purpose in life.

“Through it all, I believed that Keith Raniere’s intentions were to help people,” she said.

“I was wrong. I now realise that I and others engaged in criminal conduct.”

There was no mention at the plea hearing of any agreement by Mack to cooperate with prosecutors against Mr Raniere, who is expected to go on trial later this month. Mack’s lawyers declined to provide any further details about her plea deal.

Mr Raniere, 58, is currently being held without bail after being arrested on sex trafficking charges in March, 2018. Mack was arrested the following month.

Prosecutors accused Mr Raniere of running a cult-like secret society within his organisation, NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium”), in which women were branded with his initials, put on extremely restrictive diets and forced to have sex with him.

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Donald Trump has suffered another Mexico border set back with a judge blocking his administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico while they apply to legally stay in the United States.

Under the policy, which was launched in January, migrants are forced to return back over the border while they wait for an immigration court to hear their cases.

Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco this week granted a request on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups to halt the practice while their lawsuit moves forward.

He held off on enforcing his decision until Friday to give the Government a chance to ask an appeals court for a review.

After the judge’s ruling, Mr Trump said on Twitter the decision was “unfair to the US” and “out of control”.

The Trump administration’s policy does not do enough to ensure migrants do not face “undue risk to their lives or freedom” in Mexico, Judge Seeborg said.

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