Australian DJs Speak Out After Infamous Royal Hoax



SYDNEY - The two Australian radio DJs who conducted the controversial prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying, have broken their silence for the first time since the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha on Friday.

Radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian gave interviews to two Australian current affairs programs on Monday about their distress upon hearing the news that Saldanha had killed herself.

Saldhanha was found dead in a residence near King Edward VII Hospital in London, where she worked, on Friday. She is suspected to have committed suicide after the media onslaught following the radio hoax. The two Australian DJs pretended to be members of the Royal Family in order to obtain information about Kate Middleton"s hospital stay.

Speaking to Australia's Nine Network, Greig said, "There's not a minute that goes by that I don't think about what that family of nurse Jacintha Saldanha is going through and the thought that we may have contributed to it is gut-wrenching."

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family," said Michael Christian. "We had the idea for a simple harmless call. A call that would go for 30 seconds that we thought we would be hung up on," said Christian.

Both Greig and Christan stressed that they could not have possibly foreseen the circumstances of the prank call: "At every single point it was innocent on our behalf. It was something that was funny and light-hearted and a tragic turn of events that I don't think we could have predicted," said Christian.

Producers of the 2Day FM radio network have been denounced for having aired the pre-recorded prank call without clearing permission with staff at King Edward VII Hospital or "revealing" that it had been a prank.

However, Rhys Holleran, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo that owns 2Day FM, assured reporters that the company had attempted to contact the London hospital several times before broadcasting the segment.

Very difficult not to feel for the Australian DJs having seen that interview.Idiotic prank but they're clearly devastated with consequences.

— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) December 10, 2012

Australian DJs at the heart of #duchess hoax now being given celebrity status; call it cynical, but appears they're milking the limelight.

— Vinny Person (@OhVinoir) December 10, 2012

I do not feel sorry at all for the Australian DJs, they should know boundaries and what is right and wrong.

— Natalie Isabella (@nataliedewar) December 10, 2012

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Monday that 2Day FM has suspended indefinitely both Greig and Christian, and put in place a company-wide suspension of prank calls.

The news follows the suspension of all advertising on the radio station; a decision that will cost Southern Cross Austereo an estimated $180,000 AUD ($189,000) each day, reports Australia's Financial Review.

Shares in Southern Cross Austereo fell 7.7% in early trading on the stock market Monday.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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