It’s all academic for me


How long have you been doing this job and what first sparked your interest in this area?

I started my role at UTS in 2019 after completing my PhD. I was inspired by many of the great teachers I had in my undergraduate studies who developed my passion for the area I now teach and research in. After a few years working in the public sector after completing my honours degree, I was encouraged to undertake a PhD which examined teacher union responses to neoliberalism as part of a broader international collaborative project looking at teachers’ working conditions in the context of marketisation and school choice in Australia and Sweden.

What do you like most about the job?

There is a growing emphasis in academia around conducting research that has real-world impact and drives social justice outcomes in society. I love that my work lets me not only challenge established ways of thinking through my scholarly publications, but potentially shape debate and public views through the media and informing policy.

What is the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?

I have been very lucky to contribute to leading UTS’s U@Uni Academy Program which provides an alternative pathway to tertiary education for high school students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds. I was born, grew up, and attended public schools in south-west Sydney and feel very privileged to support my community and help students develop skills and capabilities to succeed at university.

How have you adapted to online learning and to other challenges during the coronavirus pandemic?

Before the onset of the pandemic, I taught one class on campus in 2020. Since March I have delivered more than 100 online classes. The rapid shift to online learning became a significant learning experience for me, not only in new online platforms, but thinking how to retain the “human” connection in teaching and developing renewed empathy as an educator for students studying overseas, feeling the personal and financial effects of the pandemic, or even now completing group work remotely. While everyone was practising social distancing, it also highlighted the importance of staying socially connected to my colleagues, whether it was having virtual morning teas or participating in forums to share new teaching and learning strategies.

How transferable are your skills?

The skills that academics attain are very transferrable to different sectors – leadership, research, analysis, evaluation, managing projects, collaborating with others, critical thinking, communicating to different audiences and through different media, as well as developing personal skills like adaptability and resilience.

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What advice do you have for people wanting to get into this career?

While studying, think about how you want to build your profile as an academic in your field and how your unique profile sets you apart. Networking, collaborating with others and building good relationships is key. Consider how your research can make a contribution not only to knowledge and your field, but to your community more broadly.

Think about how your industry experience can help in your academic career. I worked in industry for a few years before embarking on an academic career and carried across not only relevant knowledge in my field that I could immediately teach into, but also important skills I learnt in industry.

What should they study and what experience do they need to get into this field?

Most full-time academic positions require a PhD qualification specific to the discipline area. Students will also need to demonstrate skills fit for a future academic role. My recommendation for PhD students would be to say yes to opportunities when they come along – peer reviewing an article, teaching students as a tutor, convening a symposium, presenting at a conference, working as a research assistant on other projects, writing grant proposals – even if you don’t have a lot of experience.

What personal skills do they need?

Confidence and resilience. Working through a large research project can at times be very challenging. It’s important to back your own work, but also be open to learning from the constructive feedback of your peers. Also take some time while completing your PhD to reflect on your own agenda and profile as a researcher and educator.

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Here’s what you can expect with today’s Moreton weather



Moist air with a dew point of 19.5 at 5am today means the temperature will feel like 23.5 degrees making the day slightly humid. The relative humidity is 79 per cent.
The highest expected temperature today is 29, which is 1 degree lower than yesterday’s max.
Warmer conditions are expected on three of the next six days, with the mercury climbing above today’s maximum on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
The chance of rain today is 30 per cent.
Showers are less likely tomorrow with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a slim (5 per cent) chance of rain.
The UV index is predicted to be 12. There is an extreme risk of harm from sun exposure. Unprotected skin can burn within minutes in today’s conditions. Experts suggest looking for shade and avoiding sun exposure around noon. General advice is to take all precautions such as using eye protection, sunscreen and covering up.
Winds will be south-southeast around 20 km/h in the morning shifting to east-southeast around 30 km/h in the afternoon.
Details for the next six days:
Tuesday, December 1: Partly cloudy. Min – 21. Max – 30.
Wednesday, December 2: Sunny. Min – 22. Max – 31.
Thursday, December 3: Partly cloudy. Min – 21. Max – 28.
Friday, December 4: Partly cloudy. Min – 21. Max – 30.
Saturday, December 5: Partly cloudy. Min – 21. Max – 29.
Sunday, December 6: Mostly sunny. Min – 22. Max – 29.



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The Crown needs ‘work of fiction’ disclaimer, says U.K. culture minister


Britain’s culture minister thinks the Netflix TV series The Crown should come with a disclaimer: It’s a work of fiction.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden weighed in amid criticism of the historical liberties taken by the drama about the British royal family.

“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction. So as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” Dowden told the Mail on Sunday newspaper. “Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”

Dowden is expected to write to Netflix this week to express his view. Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Questions of historical fidelity were not a major issue during earlier seasons of the show, which debuted in 2016 and traces the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, which began in 1952.

Latest season set in the 1980s 

But the current fourth season is set in the 1980s, a divisive decade that many Britons remember vividly. Characters include Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose 11-year tenure transformed and divided Britain, and the late Princess Diana, whose death in a car crash in 1997 traumatized the nation.

Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter has called the series a “hatchet job” on Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his first wife Diana. The troubled relationship of the couple, played by Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin, is a major storyline in the series.

Emma Corrin, left, and Josh O’Connor appear as Princess Diana and Prince Charles in a scene from The Crown. The latest season of the Netflix series depicts their sometimes troubled relationship. (Ollie Upton/Netflix via The Association Press)

Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, has also said the show should carry a notice that “this isn’t true but it is based around some real events.”

“I worry people do think that this is gospel and that’s unfair,” he told broadcaster ITV.

Some Conservatives have criticized the program’s depiction of Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson. Britain’s first female prime minister, who died in 2013, is portrayed as clashing with Olivia Colman’s Elizabeth to an extent that some say is exaggerated.

Show is true in spirit, creator says

The Crown creator Peter Morgan, whose work also includes recent-history dramas The Queen and Frost/Nixon, has defended his work, saying it is thoroughly researched and true in spirit.

In a 2017 discussion of The Crown, Morgan said “you sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.” 

Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, said the suggestion that The Crown carry a disclaimer was “reasonable and yet pointless.”

“It invariably doesn’t have an effect,” he said. “There are studies that show that people believe fiction when it’s presented as fact — even if you tell them it’s not fact.”

Charles portrayed as ‘a bit of an idiot’

Fielding said it was no surprise that Charles and his allies were annoyed with the heir to the throne’s depiction as “a bit of an idiot.” But he said making a fuss about it only amplifies the attention.

Historians are used to railing at inaccuracies in dramas such as the Academy Award-winning Darkest Hour, which included an invented scene of Winston Churchill meeting ordinary Londoners on an Underground Tube train during the Second World War.

WATCH | Josh O’Connor on his experience portraying Prince Charles:

British actor Josh O’Connor, who portrays the Prince of Wales in season four of Netflix’s The Crown, explains what it was like to examine the “human” side of the royal. 1:03

“Mixing historical fact and fiction has been around since Shakespeare. This is not new to films, it’s not new to TV,” said Fielding, co-author of The Churchill Myths, which examines Britain’s wartime leader in popular culture.

“I don’t recall the culture secretary complaining about the ridiculous presentation of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour,” he said. “Because it went with the myth, with the idea of Churchill the hero, nobody complained.”

“Nobody’s bothered if fact and fiction are all mangled up, so long as it’s saying nice things,” he added.



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Pune: Campaigning ends for Graduates’ and Teachers’ constituency polls


By: Express News Service | Pune |

November 29, 2020 11:40:12 pm





There are 5.25 lakh registered voters in Graduate’s constituency and 1.18 lakh voters in Teachers’ constituency in Pune Division.

The campaigning for the elections to the Graduates’ and Teachers’ constituency seats in Pune division ended on Sunday. The voting for one seat each in the two categories for the Maharashtra Legislative Council will take place on Tuesday.

Since this is the first election in the state amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the candidates had to adopt novel methods and techniques for the campaign.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has nominated Arun Lad for Graduates’ constituency and Jayant Asgaonkar for Teachers’ constituency against BJP’s Sangram Deshmukh and Jitendra Pawar, respectively. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the Aam Aadmi Party have nominated Rupali Patil and Amol Pawar, respectively, in the Graduates’ constituency.

There are 5.25 lakh registered voters in Graduate’s constituency and 1.18 lakh voters in Teachers’ constituency in Pune Division.

Vacancies in these constituencies were created owing to the resignation of BJP’s Chandrakant Patil, who was elected to the state Legislative Assembly from Kothrud last year. The tenure of Dattatraya Sawant, who was representing the teachers’ community, ended in July this year.

Candidates have put up banners across Pune city, which holds largest number of voters in both constituencies among all five districts in the division, while various political parties have been using social media to canvas for their candidates. Some public rallies have also been held by leaders including state cabinet ministers in recent days.

Liquor shops shut

Pune District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh has announced that all liquor shops and bars will remain shut for the voting and counting of votes.

The closure came into effect from Sunday morning, 48 hours before the voting day, and will continue till the end of voting on December 1. The shops would be allowed to open after 5 pm on Tuesday when the voting will end. The shops will remain open on December 2, before closing again on December 3, when the votes will be counted and results will be announced, officials said.

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Diego Maradona’s personal physician in tears as he defends himself after police search


Diego Maradona’s personal physician mounted an emotional defence of his treatment of the soccer legend after a police search of his home on Sunday

Leopoldo Luque broke down in tears as he insisted he had done everything possible to assist the retired footballer in his first interview since investigators launched their shock operation to try to establish whether Maradona had been the victim of medical negligence.

Tears rolled down his cheeks as he insisted in a hastily-arranged press conference at his home near Buenos Aires which lasted nearly 40 minutes a “friend” had died and Diego was his own worst enemy when it came to accepting help from professionals.

He said: “I was shocked when police turned up at my door. I’m going to co-operate fully.

“I know what I did and what I did was for Diego’s benefit until the last moment. I did the best I could.

“I feel terrible because a friend died.



Leopoldo Luque, the personal physician of Diego Maradona

“I don’t blame myself for anything. It’s very unfair what’s happening.

“I didn’t see Diego’s daughters a lot but the rest of his family, his siblings and his nephews adore me.

“Someone is trying to find a scapegoat here when I don’t see one anywhere.

“We all did the best we could with Diego.”



Maradona and Luque in Buenos Aires after his brain operation earlier this month

“You’ll need to ask his psychologists but I thought he looked very down. I’d seen him that way for a while.”

Insisting Diego had a problem with pills and alcohol, he added: “He punished himself in a way I wasn’t going to allow, not as a doctor but as a friend.

Diego Maradona dies age 60

“I don’t see good and bad people in all this. We all did what we could.

“But Diego was the most difficult one of them. You couldn’t do anything if Diego didn’t want it.

“He hated doctors and psychologists. With me it was different because I was honest with him. He was my friend.

“He should have gone to a centre of rehabilitation when he left hospital but he didn’t want to.

“If I’m responsible for anything when it comes to Diego, it was loving him and improving his life.”

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Lewis Hamilton wins after Romain Grosjean escapes dramatic Bahrain GP fire


Lewis Hamilton took his 11th victory of the season in a Bahrain Grand Prix notable for a violent, fiery crash by Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean was taken to hospital with minor burns and suspected rib fractures after his car pierced the barriers on the first lap.

The burning Haas was trapped sideways in the barrier, but Grosjean climbed out as medical crews rushed to help.

Hamilton was in control throughout to beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

A unique, horrific crash

Marshals try to put out the flames on Grosjean's car
Grosjean walked away from the terrifying crash at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Grosjean’s crash was an incident the like of which has not been seen for many years.

The Franco-Swiss triggered it himself after veering dramatically across the track between Turns Three and Four and colliding with Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha Tauri.

That sent him hurtling towards the barriers, which he hit at an angle that would normally not create such a dramatic effect.

But the car speared between layers of the barrier, and the twisting force generated split it in two, the engine and gearbox coming to rest away to the side.

The fracture to the chassis exposed the fuel tank, and the car, now lodged in the barrier, burst into flames.

Grosjean was in the inferno for several seconds before he managed to extricate himself and was helped over the barrier by FIA doctor Ian Stewart, who was in the medical car that rushed to the scene.

Grosjean initially sat in the medical car before being helped into an ambulance and then flown to hospital.

Grosjean
Grosjean managed to undo his seatbelts and pull himself through halo head protection and twisted metal of the barrier within about 10 seconds

Another win for Hamilton

Grosjean’s incident caused a lengthy stoppage while the wrecked metal barriers were replaced by concrete ones.

Soon after the restart, there was another incident, as Lance Stroll’s Racing Point was pitched into a roll by Kvyat and landed upside down – but the driver was unhurt.

That brought out the safety car and it was only on the ninth lap that the race finally got properly under way.

Hamilton, who had converted his pole into a lead at the first corner, made no mistake at the re-start and was able to control the race from there.

But he said it was “not as easy as it looked”, saying he struggled with tyre management and felt under pressure from Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver was critical of his team, saying that bolder calls on pit timing could have enabled him to push Hamilton harder.

“We had the tyres to put them under more pressure today but we didn’t do it,” he said. “I don’t know why we were so conservative.”

Lewis Hamilton
“This track has always been physical,” Hamilton said after the win in Bahrain

The Briton’s victory matches his own previous best tally for a season and means he can match the all-time record of 13 victories in a year, currently held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, if he wins the final two races.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was on course for a fine third place and his second podium in two races until an apparent engine failure with three laps to go promoted Red Bull’s Alex Albon.

The Mexican’s retirement was a massive boost for Renault and McLaren in the fight for third place in the constructors’ championship, as McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz were promoted to fourth and fifth, and the Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon to seventh and ninth, with Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly in sixth.

Perez’s failure meant the race ended under the safety car.

Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas made a poor start from the front row and had a desperate race thereafter.

The Finn was sixth at the red flag for Grosjean’s crash, but was promoted to fourth for the restart as a result of the point at which the officials decided to take the positions.

But Bottas suffered a slow puncture on the first lap of racing and had to pit for fresh tyres. He was able to recover only to eighth place.

Albon had been unable to challenge Perez before the Mexican’s retirement, while both McLaren drivers recovered well from difficult qualifying sessions – and Sainz, in particular, produced a fine drive after starting on the soft tyre, passing several cars.

Perez’s retirement promoted Charles Leclerc to the final point in 10th place after a dismal race for Ferrari, for whom Vettel could manage only 13th.

Driver of the day

Carlos Sainz
The fans gave it to Grosjean, in an obvious recognition of his remarkable escape, but Sainz deserves it for a strong recovery drive after a brake failure left him 15th on the grid. And an honourable mention to the unfortunate Perez, who deserved a podium

What happens next?

For the penultimate race of the season next weekend, F1 stays in Bahrain but will use a new layout, the so-called outer track, which is short and fast, and is a step into the unknown.

What they said

Hamilton: “It was physically very demanding. With the break we had at the beginning – you get into a mindset of going out and getting a good start – but with that 45-minute wait we had, it is so easy to step out of the zone.”

Verstappen: “I was lacking a bit. I tried to keep close but they were ahead and we didn’t have an answer and we didn’t really go aggressive enough with the strategy, we also had a slow pit stop. It is what it is. Second isn’t too bad.”

Albon: “It was obviously a bit of luck with what happened to Sergio (Perez). He had a good race, but the guys did an amazing job to get the car ready. A double podium for us and I’m happy.”

Stroll flips
Lance Stroll saw his Racing Point flip upside after the re-start

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Boris Govt to Pay France £28m to Stop More Boat Migrants



Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that British taxpayers will be handing over £28 million to France to cajole them into stopping so many illegal aliens from pouring across the English Channel on small boats.

Patel, whose Home Office is the government department with broad responsibility for border control, immigration, policing, and national security, announced the signing of the new deal as if it were a triumph, boasting that it will pay for the French to “double number of police on beaches”, invest in “cutting-edge” surveillance tech, boost security in their ports, and, perhaps most controversially, upgrade migrants’ accommodation on the French side of the Channel.
Pro-borders campaigners and voters have been calling for the British authorities to simply start turning back migrant boats at sea, as the Australians did when they were facing a similar surge in illegal crossings, since at least 2018, when Patel’s predecessor Sajid Javid first declared a “major incident” in the Channel.

Boris Johnson’s administration still appears to be refusing to countenance this — but attempts to buy off the French to control illegal migration on their end have failed before, with the current crisis following previous payouts for them to upgrade security around Calais etc.

Indeed, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has previously accused the French of simply “switching off” British-bought equipment intended to detect illegal migrants entering Britain by lorry — an issue which has received less coverage as boat crossings have come to the fore, although it has not gone away.

“The French don’t want migrants to stay in France. They don’t want to provide asylum – in fact, they don’t want to deal with the issue at all,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett in 2018.

A similarly permissive attitude has been observed with respect to boat migrants, with French ships being observed simply shadowing migrant votes discovered in their territory into British waters by Nigel Farage and, later, mainstream media journalists, with the French sometimes claiming migrants would threaten to throw children overboard if they got too close.

Neither the French or British authorities have ever announced they were pursuing charges against anyone for such crimes, however.

“We call on the government to pass legislation to the effect that anyone who enters the United Kingdom illegally, for any reason, will be immediately deported. Rather than paying foreign governments to provide border security we call on them to invest in our own border security and UK Border Force to clamp down on illegal migration,” said Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of Britain’s oldest conservative think tank, in comments to Breitbart London.

“We have heard many good words from the Conservative Party over the past 10 years on dramatically reducing immigration, but what we have seen in the same period is record numbers of people pour into the country,” he continued.

“The public are not fools, and they can clearly see what George Osborne confirmed, the Conservative Party talk a good game on immigration, but never deliver,” he said, referring to the former Chancellor’s admission that the Tories’ never intended to keep their longstanding pledge to reduce net immigration “from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” — now dropped by Boris Johnson.

Indeed, Harris-Quinney hinted illegal immigration should not be allowed to overshadow legal immigration, which is once again rising sharply, with the government planning to further relax restrictions next year.

The British public have consistently expressed their view, by huge majority, that immigration to the UK has been far too high over the past two decades.

“A Bow Group study found that 82 per cent of new British citizens were foreign-born, or born to foreign parent. Whilst we are told circa 300-400 thousand people come into the UK each year, these are net figures, the gross figures are 600-700 thousand people,” he pointed out.

 

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London

 





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Cool change moves in after Sydney and northern NSW endure record-smashing heatwave


A cool change has begun moving across NSW after Sydney and regions of northern NSW sweltered through the hottest November night on record and firefighters battled dozens of blazes across the state.

Parts of Sydney – including the city – broke the 40C barrier for a second consecutive day on Sunday after swathes of western NSW, South Australia and northern Victoria baked through even higher temperatures approaching 45C.

While temperatures have cooled in South Australia and Victoria on Sunday, NSW’s eastern and northeastern regions sweated through another hot day.

Maximums in many central Sydney suburbs pushed over 40C again, including Penrith in the city’s west.

Temperatures across the Hunter were also well in excess of 40C, with the mercury hitting 41.9C at Cessnock Airport.

A gusty southerly arrived late on Sunday afternoon and is expected to bring cooler temperatures for Monday before the heat returns to NSW from Tuesday.

“That sweet cool relief is finally making its way through Sydney,” the bureau tweeted.

“Airport just dropped from 35 degrees to 26 in 20 mins while Bellambi saw a 10 degree fall in 1 hour. Southerly now heading into western Syd and will push into Hunter in coming hours.”

Southeast and southern Queensland are also likely to experience elevated temperatures from Monday, with no respite until at least Thursday.

It follows Observatory Hill in central Sydney recording an overnight minimum of 25.3C, breaking the November record of 24.8C set in 1967.

Overnight November minimum records also fell in Camden, Newcastle, western NSW’s Bourke and Cobar and Ulladulla on the state’s south coast.

Saturday’s overnight minimum at Nobbys Head in Newcastle was 24.1C, breaking a 64-year November record of 23.1C.

“The (places) that have the longer records, some of them have been broken, which is reflective of the fact the weather has been rather insanely hot overnight,” Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Helen Kirkup told AAP.

NSW has sweltered through the night amid the state’s first heatwave of the season, with no respite to arrive until Sunday evening.

AAP

NSW Ambulance’s Dominic Morgan said the agency was called out to 3356 emergency incidents on Saturday, its third-busiest day on record.

Total fire bans will remain in place on Monday in NSW’s Northern Slopes and North Western districts.

RFS crews battled more than 60 bush and grass fires across the state on Sunday including a blaze in the western Sydney suburb of Northmead which damaged a home.

It was declared under control about 3pm, while another further west in the Blue Mountains jumped to a “watch and act” alert before being downgraded just before 6pm.

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said on Sunday the service was deploying “overwhelming force” to attack every major blaze and encouraged NSW residents to have their fire plans ready.

“As soon as we get a fire call, we’re sending everything we can to it to limit the spread of these fires,” Mr Rogers told reporters.

“Just because we’ve had some rain in the past few months doesn’t mean the risk is eliminated, because it isn’t – it’s a different risk this year.

“I’d rather not be on the back of a four-year drought, which is what we were in last year … (we’re) definitely better positioned but nonetheless it’s a risk.”

Last summer’s bushfires destroyed 2476 homes and claimed 26 lives.





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Swiss firms narrowly avoid ‘Responsible Business’ liability as vote divides nation



FILE PHOTO: A small banner reading: “Responsible Business Initiative – Yes on November 29” is fixed to the frame of a bicycle in Zurich, Switzerland November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

November 29, 2020

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss firms narrowly avoided facing greater liability for human rights and environmental abuses on Sunday after a national vote rejected the proposal due to regional differences despite it winning majority popular support.

In a divisive referendum, 50.7% of Swiss voters supported proposals by the Responsible Business Initiative (RBI) to extend liability over international human rights abuses and environmental harm caused by major Swiss companies and the firms they control abroad.

But the initiative failed to win support in a majority of cantons, a necessary condition for a public initiative to be enacted in Switzerland, paving the way for a milder government counter-proposal to come into force.

It is the first time in over 60 years a Swiss vote has failed on regional grounds after winning popular support.

“The Federal Council is pleased with the result, but is also aware that many who have fought for years for the initiative are disappointed today,” Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said at a press conference.

She said the enactment of new government measures meant supporters would not leave the campaign with empty hands. “The Federal Council is convinced that this is a good way to achieve the common and undisputed goal of better protecting human rights and the environment.”

The government proposal will require firms to step up and publicly report checks on their overseas operations and supply chains, hitherto voluntary measures, but stops short of extending liability to Swiss courts.

Proponents of the initiative said its broad public support – a rare, if symbolic, victory for a politically and economically progressive issue in the traditionally staid country – remained cause for sharper scrutiny of multinationals and commodities firms in one of the world’s leading commercial centres.

“Human rights is such a fundamental issue. People understand you can’t justify human rights violations by economic considerations,” Florian Wettstein, a professor for business ethics at the University of St. Gallen and co-organiser of the initiative, told Reuters.

In a polarizing campaign, the government and multinationals denounced the negative economic consequences of the proposal, while activists, religious groups and various political factions argued Switzerland risked falling behind other countries in tackling progressive social and economic issues without it.

“It was the most aggressive campaign I’ve ever experienced in my 20 years in politics,” parliamentarian Christa Markwalder told Swiss broadcaster SRF.

Meanwhile, voters more clearly rejected a proposal seeking to impose a ban on funding arms makers, the latest anti-military referendum in a nation that has not fought an external war for 200 years.

The vote, which held implications for major Swiss banks and investors including the country’s central bank and pension funds, as well as Swiss industry, received 57.5% rejection.

Organisers said the more than 40% approval gained by the initiative, spanning beyond the country’s most left-leaning political camps, nonetheless put pressure on arms financing and showed the need for further action.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jan Harvey)





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Why Santa photos in Canberra will look different this year | The Canberra Times



coronavirus, santa photos canberra

Santa Claus is coming to town, but he’s packing plenty of hand sanitiser into his sleigh. Christmas photos will look different this year, with children and their families forced to sit a socially-accepted distance away from Santa at shopping centres across Canberra. Phill Cale said he was looking forward to bringing some Christmas cheer to a tough year. “Christmas is about the kids and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it as normal as possible for them,” he said. Mr Cale has brought Santa to life for more than 20 years, but it was particularly important to him that he wore the red suit in 2020. “It’s been such a tough year for everybody, and the kids have felt it too, so I’m giving them lots of positive encouragement,” he said. But Mr Cale was looking forward to a more traditional Christmas next year, as COVID-19 restrictions had strained even Santa’s job. “I’m doing the best I can do under the circumstances but it’s difficult. I’m really missing the interaction and it’s hard when kids want to come up and cuddle me. I’m promising all the kids that in 2021 they can cuddle me and we’ll do as many high-fives as they want,” he said. Canberra Centre general manager Gary Stewart urged shoppers to plan their visit to the centre this year to avoid extended time caught in the Christmas crowds. Many shoppers were expected to buy their presents online this year, but retailers were expecting the usual late rush for presents and some forecast $1 billion in spending as Canberrans splurged after a year locked inside. “Christmas will be a little different this year but our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our entire community is steadfast,” Mr Stewart said. Families have been recommended to avoid visiting shopping centres during peak times in the lead-up to Christmas, such as during the middle of the day from Thursday through to Sunday. Mr Stewart said the Canberra Centre had prepared for the Christmas rush in line with COVID-safe measures. “We’re keeping Santa, his elves and your family safe by introducing online bookings for Santa visits. This is to allow customers to plan their visit, reduce the risk of large crowds and queues of people in-centre and allow for thorough cleaning and disinfecting between visits,” he said. There’s even an option for people who don’t want to join the crowds, with the Canberra Centre offering online video sessions to meet Santa. Santa was busier than usual in the North Pole this year as he learned how to use Zoom, so he could share the Christmas spirit with those families who couldn’t make it into the Canberra Centre. “We’re also introducing contact-free Zoom calls with Santa. To give everyone a chance to have a call with Santa and to manage demand, these calls are available for a fee. Although these Zoom calls are contactless, customers will still receive photographs with Santa as part of this fee,” Mr Stewart said. Although it has been a dramatically different year, Mr Cale has not let that dampen his Christmas spirit. “That suit for me is something very magical, when I put it on, I become the character. I love doing it and if I could, I’d be Santa every day of my life,” he said.

/images/transform/v1/crop/frm/j2iwCiKfwhVWJky39Vsdpt/c22fea2c-0e9c-4f28-8eb9-ea89b3002515.JPG/r2_460_4498_3000_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg





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