31% adolescents battled extreme anxiety in past few months due to COVID-19

New Delhi: About 31 per cent surveyed adolescents battled extreme anxiety in the past few months worrying about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on their family’s financial status, according to a survey of over 7,300 adolescents from four states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Odisha

The survey on ‘What do the Adolescents have to say? COVID-19 and its Impact’ by NGO Centre for Catalysing Change was conducted in two rounds in the months of April, July and August.


Out of the 7,324 adolescents surveyed, 31 per cent admitted to battling extreme anxiety worrying about the pandemic’s impact on their family’s financial status.

The survey also found that adolescent girls faced significant gender discrimination in these months due to the pandemic.

“Only 12 per cent of surveyed adolescent girls had access to their own mobile phones to be able to attend online classes, while 35 per cent boys had access to their own mobile phones,” the survey found.

“Further, 51 per cent of the adolescent girls surveyed lacked access to essential textbooks in comparison to boys, highlighting how the pandemic had jeopardized girls’ access to education,” it said.


About 39 per cent of the girls were found to be contributing to housework as opposed to the number of boys at 35 per cent, it said.

Under the survey, the adolescent girls also stated how their mobility has been curbed, with only 39 per cent girls saying they were allowed to go out alone in comparison to 62 per cent boys of the same age who were allowed to go out alone.

“At the same time, only 36 per cent adolescents knew the correct helpline numbers, while awareness about the use of the helplines was even lower. Only 18 per cent was aware that the helplines could be used in reporting domestic violence and only 22-23 per cent knew that it could be used in reporting child labour and child trafficking cases,” it added.


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Hundreds of Tasmanians desperate for legal aid turned away due to budget delay

There are concerns hundreds of Tasmanians could be falling through the cracks and being left to figure out complicated legal documents because a program designed to help them has run out of funding.

The Launceston Community Legal Centre has run a free Legal Literacy Volunteer Program for the past nine years.

It’s a service well used in Tasmania, where research shows 50 per cent of the population lacks functional literacy and numeracy, and many struggle with day-to-day tasks like completing forms.

Through the program, volunteers help Tasmanians fill in government forms, including Centrelink and Jobseeker documents, and can help connect them with legal resources.

The volunteers are not lawyers, but are trained to help people understand their rights.

Shirelle Rigby from Launceston said she first got help through the free volunteer program in 2017, when she was part of a class action against Radio Rentals.

“It saved me having to struggle doing all the paperwork and she went step by step with me on it,” Ms Rigby said about the volunteer who helped her.

Ms Rigby (r) says the legal literacy volunteers have helped her several times.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

Ms Rigby said she had used the volunteer program frequently since then, including for help with her late father’s will.

Just like the almost 300 Tasmanians, who have been turned away from the program in the past four months due to it being suspended, Ms Rigby is struggling on her own.

“It’s hard because you’ve got to sit at home struggling trying to figure out how to do these forms and yet you don’t know, so you more or less put them in a cupboard and you leave them there,” Ms Rigby said.

More than 80 volunteers suspended

The Launceston Community Legal Centre’s chief executive officer Nicky Snare said the volunteer program was funded by the Tasmanian Government last financial year.

Prior to that was funded through the Tasmanian Community Fund and the Solicitor Guarantee Fund.

The program is funded separately to the legal centre.

“We put in a budget submission in November last year, when they all had to go in, but because the federal budget was postponed, the state budget was postponed, so we ran out of money on the 30th of June,” Ms Snare said.

“We’ve suspended our 80 plus volunteers until we find out whether we are refunded.”

Hands turning pages in a ring binder on a desk.
Legal literacy volunteers help Tasmanians with government form filling and can connect them to lawyers.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

The Tasmanian budget will be handed down on November 12 and the centre is hoping its program will be refunded then.

It has asked the State Government for around $600,000 over the next three years to help cover the program’s insurance costs and training of volunteers.

Ms Snare said the program, which helped up to 600 Tasmanians each year, was initially established to take pressure off lawyers and government organisations like Centrelink.

“Initially our lawyers were having to assist people in basic form-filling and we thought commonwealth and state funding would be better spent lawyering rather than just filling in forms,” Ms Snare said.

“We had legal literacy volunteers working in the local Centrelink office, which meant the Centrelink staff loved it, because they could refer people who had to fill in a form to a legal literacy volunteer.

“It’s a real win-win for everyone.

“We’re just crossing our fingers that it will be refunded in November and we can recommence in January 2021.”

Funding ‘is being considered’

Legal Literacy Volunteer co-ordinator Beylara Ra said she was concerned a “gap” was opening for those who needed support, especially those who did not understand Jobseeker paperwork.

“The people who have dropped through the cracks are people who can’t cope with forms or knowing where to get information,” Ms Ra said.

“They give up, they put it [the form] in a draw — and that’s what the legal literacy program was designed to address in the first place.”

Ms Ra said she hoped the program could be funded for at least three years, so it didn’t need to rely on year-on-year funding.

A State Government spokesperson said: “Funding for this program is being considered for the upcoming state budget.”

The Launceston Community Legal Centre is also funded by the state and commonwealth governments.

Legal Literacy Program co-ordinator Beylara Ra is concerned some people are giving up with filling out required documents.
Beylara Ra said she hoped the program could be funded for at least three years.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

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Giro d’Italia 19th stage shortened due to rain: Italian broadcaster Rai

FILE PHOTO: Cycling – Giro d’Italia – Stage 11 – Porto Sant’Elpidio to Rimini, Italy – October 14, 2020 General view of the action as spectators wearing protective face masks cheer REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

October 23, 2020

(Reuters) – The Giro d’Italia’s 19th stage from Morbegno to Asti has been shortened due to bad weather in the northern part of Italy, Italian broadcaster Rai reported on Friday.

Rai said that riders would start the stage amid rain and cold weather before getting on their team buses to travel south for around 100-110km. They will then complete the final 150km of the stage as scheduled on their bikes.

Dutchman Wilco Kelderman took over as leader of the Giro d’Italia as the fearsome Stelvio climb blew the race apart during a brutal and mesmerizing stage 18 battle on Thursday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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Motor racing-Vietnam cancels 2020 F1 race due to COVID-19 pandemic

FILE PHOTO: A man wears a protective mask as he guards at the construction site of Formula One Vietnam Grand Prix racing track in Hanoi, Vietnam March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Kham

October 16, 2020

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s first Formula One grand prix has been officially cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers said on Friday.

The Vietnamese Grand Prix was originally scheduled to take place in April on the streets of Hanoi as the third race of the season, but sources told Reuters in March that it was under threat.

“This has been an extremely difficult but necessary decision to reach in view of the continued uncertainty caused by the global coronavirus pandemic,” Vietnam Grand Prix Corp said in an emailed statement, adding that it would refund all tickets sold.

Vietnam has recorded over 1,110 COVID-19 infections, with 35 deaths, Ministry of Health data showed.

The start of the Formula One season was pushed back to July from March due to the pandemic, with extensive changes made to the 2020 calendar.

The total number of races was cut to 17 from the record 22 originally envisaged, with Vietnam becoming the 13th race from the original calendar to be axed this year.

Hanoi city authorities had hoped to hold the race in November, but Vietnam Grand Prix Corp Chief Executive Le Ngoc Chi said on Friday that cancellation emerged as the only option after a review of safety criteria.

Formula One only finalised its 2020 calendar in August, following six rounds of racing.

The 13 races announced before the final calendar was made public were all in Europe, after all four of the season’s races in the Americas were scrapped.

In its August announcement, Formula One cancelled the Chinese Grand Prix, while adding four more races – one in Turkey, two in Bahrain and one in Abu Dhabi – in the last two months of the year.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Additional reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Open golf titles are cancelled due to coronavirus concerns

The impact of coronavirus concerns on Australian sport continues, with golfing administrators announcing the cancellation of the three feature tournaments of the summer.

The Australian PGA Championship, and the men’s and women’s Australian Open titles, which were due to be played in February 2021, will not go ahead due to the pandemic.

The PGA of Australia, ALPG and Golf Australia came together to issue a statement acknowledging an “unprecedented” blow to Australian golf.

“It’s unprecedented and a real blow for Australian golf and its fans,” PGA of Australia chief executive Gavin Kirkman said.

“We have collectively spent months in exhaustive consultation with all relevant authorities and our sanctioning partners to try to find a way to stage all three events safely and at that world-class level to which we’ve all become accustomed.

International golf has already been affected by the pandemic, with two of golf’s majors — the US PGA Championship and US Open — completed later than scheduled for 2020.

A third, the Masters, will be held next month at Augusta, while the fourth, the British Open was cancelled earlier this year.


The Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship — the feature events on the PGA Tour of Australasia — were originally slated for a late November and early December window, to be played at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath and Brisbane’s Royal Queensland, respectively.

Both were postponed in recent months in the hope a late-summer timeslot would buy time to host the tournaments.

Golf Australia boss James Sutherland said the decisions to cancel due to the impacts of COVID-19 were made with a heavy heart given the tournaments’ history and international significance.

“On the advice of relevant domestic government authorities and, with consideration for the global nature of our fields and partners, the call was made with the health and wellbeing of the golfing community as the priority,” Sutherland said.

“The events rely on significant support from players and tours around the world, so given current quarantine restrictions, we believe the field strength of all three events would be severely compromised.

“This, in turn, is unsatisfactory for spectators, broadcasters and our events’ commercial partners.”

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Tokyo marathon 2021 postponed until after Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns

FILE PHOTO: Runners compete in the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo, Japan, March 1, 2020. Charly Triballeau/Pool via REUTERS/Files

October 9, 2020

(Reuters) – Next year’s Tokyo marathon has been rescheduled from March to until after the delayed Olympics due to the ongoing concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers said on Friday https://www.marathon.tokyo/en/news/detail/news_001791.html.

The race was originally scheduled to take place on March 7 and was expected to allow around 38,000 runners to participate.

But due to restricted entry in Japan, the race has now been pushed back to Oct. 17.

Tokyo is one of the six World Marathon Majors along with Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York and London.

The first four of these were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, while the London event was held last weekend featuring only elite runners in a “controlled secure biosphere” around St James’s Park.

The 2020 Tokyo event was also held under a similar format on March 1.

The decision to postpone the Tokyo marathon comes amid concerns over whether the Olympics, which was also pushed back by a year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, can be held safely starting July 23, 2021.

Organisers have proposed cutting back the number of staff at next year’s Games and shortening the opening period for training venues, as part of a plan to hold a streamlined event amid the pandemic.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Montreal tourism suffering historic lows due to coronavirus pandemic – Montreal

Tourisme Montréal reports that the summer of 2020 shattered a multitude of records due to a sharp drop in tourists in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization says in its more than 100 years of existence, it has never seen so many historic lows — including in entries at the Quebec borders, passenger traffic at the Montreal airport, the number of tourists, their spending and hotel occupancy rates.

Yves Lalumière, president and CEO of Tourisme Montréal, says the tourism sector will take several years to recover from the health crisis.

Read more:
Old Montreal tourist, souvenir shops struggling to stay afloat amid COVID-19 pandemic

In comparison with the 2019 tourist season, entries into Canada through Quebec’s borders have plummeted by 97.8 per cent. The number of passengers boarding and disembarking at Montreal’s Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport has also dropped by 94.5 per cent.

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Tourisme Montréal says the average amount of spending by international tourists fell by 95 per cent for the period of April to June, when lockdown was in effect.

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The Association of Hotels of Greater Montreal also notes that occupancy rates were only at 15 per cent for hotels in the Montreal area from June to September.

Tourisme Montréal says there could be an opportunity to overhaul tourism for the future in a way that’s more in line with Montrealers.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Don’t expect due process in the U.S. Election

Even if Joe Biden were to gain enough votes, Trump will not allow him to win the U.S. Election, writes Peter Henning.

Although it is impossible to believe anything that comes out of the White House in relation to the medical condition of President Donald Trump, a question now arises about whether the momentum towards his goal of achieving dictatorial power has been stymied or not.   

Will he yet succeed in wrecking what’s left of the weak U.S. democracy and achieve apotheosis as the first king-emperor of the “land of the free”?  Will his illness reinforce his ability to make the election itself redundant, which has been Trump’s stated aim for some months now?

He has covered all bases to ensure he will remain President of the U.S. for at least another four years. It will remain to undo the requirement that presidents can serve only two terms, but that will be no obstacle to Trump if he remains in power. Because as things now stand, Democrat mail-in votes will be treated as invalid, lost or simply destroyed and wherever possible Democrat voters will be prevented from voting — especially in Democrat strongholds in swing-states.

Measures have already been put in place to ensure that in large urban areas like Houston it will be extremely difficult for people to vote. 

It is indeed rather surreal that many mainstream media outlets are still focused on what the polls are showing and whether Democratic nominee Joe Biden will gain enough votes in the U.S. Electoral College — as if this is a normal election. 

They ignore that Trump will not allow Biden to win. 

The usual corrupt gerrymanders and obstacles preventing various constituencies from voting have been significantly strengthened in multiple ways, especially in relation to invalidating mail-in votes and restricting postal outlets. Targeting polling booths on election day with “volunteers” to physically control them – or close them as fraudulent – further corrupts the innate anti-democratic Electoral College.

Even if all the measures that have been put in place somehow fail to work, Trump can obfuscate with legal challenges – taking some matters to the Supreme Court as happened in 2000 – and delay others, until the Electoral College is unable to make a decision.

In those circumstances, the House of Representatives will make the decision, whereby each state has one vote. Currently, even though the Democrats have an overall majority in the House, the Republicans have 26 state majorities, which would result in Trump being re-elected if the current situation remains unchanged after November.  

Those who live in hope that Trump is a one-hit-wonder horror – an aberration that can be removed from office by an election – fail to understand and acknowledge that he has no interest whatsoever in due process. He has no respect for any established democratic principle and complete contempt for the institutional separation of powers at a federal level, and between Washington and the other states. 

Those things are merely tools to be used, manipulated and discarded at whim, in terms of whether they serve Trump’s own interests or not. Treated in the same way as he treats all people except those he admires and seeks to emulate — especially Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Whatever means Trump uses to retain power, what he does with that power could make the present seem benign compared to what the future holds. The U.S. and its political system – now so toxically divided and weakened by the Trump Administration – could fracture like the Weimar Republic under a second Trump term. American commentator Thomas Friedman predicts the fracture will be more dangerous and destructive than the 1860s American Civil War.

Trump's America: A ripe example of democracy in decay

Even if that doesn’t happen, the barbaric Trump version of the “American Dream” in all its gory splendour of lies, hate, venom and viciousness, now holds centre stage. There is a chilling irony that whatever the nature of Trump’s illness, he’s relying on the very best that U.S. medical science can offer — for that knowledge and expertise is the product of a civilised and humane version of the “American Dream”, entirely the opposite of Trump’s.

The Janus nature of the “American Dream”, falling between barbarism and civilization, has never had the depth of its darkest face revealed so clearly as by Trump. There’s every chance that the best that the U.S. can offer to him – restoring him to health from the jaws of death – will merely feed his malignant and demented megalomania and reinforce his warped hubristic aspiration to be the American Caesar.

Trump will regard his recovery from COVID-19 as further confirmation of his anointed destiny, conferred by divine favour and human genuflection (the very epitome of his“very stable genius” ), and literal personification of all that U.S. “manifest destiny” encompasses.

The thin line between the two sides of the “American Dream” hangs in the air, suspended between hope and despair — between hope that the wheel has not already turned too far into the abyss and fear that it is too late to avert the passionate intensity‘ of the worst.

Where that line falls will have massive consequences for a world where climate change is accelerating, inequality is worsening, ecologies are collapsing and totalitarianism is on the brink of global victory.

Peter Henning is a Tasmanian historian and author.

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Australian National University cops $225 million financial hit due to coronavirus crisis | The Canberra Times

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The Australian National University is finalising its plans to deal with the $225 million financial hit from the pandemic. The period of wide consultation with the main union and other groups has just closed. Vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt told staff that on Thursday “we will release a paper which summarises the suggestions and questions we received, as well as which options we’re exploring and which options we may be unable to pursue”. Next week, the university will then make public exactly what it intends to do. The union at the university said that jobs should not be the first line of cost-saving. “Humans should be standing in front of a class, not standing in a dole queue,” Dr Cathy Day, secretary of the ACT division of the National Tertiary Education Union said. “Throwing people out of work is a disregard for them as human beings.” Professor Schmidt has said that the ANU would earn $150 million less than expected and spend $75 million more than planned as a result of the health crisis. Big capital spending projects have been deferred and borrowing increased, he said. “But even after all of this, we need to find an additional $100 million in savings this year.” ANU senior management have taken pay cuts of 10 to 20 per cent. Staff have deferred a pay rise and are discussing offering other wage-saving measures to head off redundancies. The union argues that the ANU is one of the few Australian universities which has a large cash reserve and that could be reduced. The union’s Dr Day said that the surplus amounted to $250 million. “They keep telling us that’s for a rainy day. “Well, it’s pouring at the moment,” she said.


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Fireworks but no tweaked Taste of Tasmania on Hobart waterfront due to coronavirus limits

Hopes for a scaled-down Taste of Tasmania festival for Hobart have been dashed, with the city’s council saying it’s been unable to source a viable replacement.

The Taste, a week-long food and wine showcase at the end of December, and a key event on Hobart’s social calendar for more than 30 years — was cancelled in its usual form in May due to uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, there were hopes the festival would go ahead as a different, smaller event.

Coronavirus has led to the cancellation of several festivals in Tasmania, including the Dark Mofo winter festival.

A public expressions of interest process failed to find a suitable alternative, the council said.(Taste of Tasmania)

In July, the Tasmanian Government called for expressions of interest in staging a modified Taste of Tasmania but acting Premier Jeremy Rockliff said in a statement that was now deemed impossible.

“After working with the Hobart City Council, it’s become clear that following an end of year event submission process announced in July, that a modified ‘Taste’ style event cannot proceed this summer in the current environment as we continue to respond to the risk posed by COVID-19 and large gatherings,” Mr Rockliff said.

Hobart City Council general manager Nick Heath said that while several proposals were worthy of future consideration “it became clear in the feedback we received that a meaningful event on the waterfront this year was not viable”.

Fireworks are seen in the sky at night time above a group of people
The Taste usually attracts about 30,000 attendees each day.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Mr Heath said the council was still planning a New Year’s Eve fireworks display, subject to public health advice.

“We will make further announcements on the fireworks when we have more definitive information,” he said.

About 30,000 people attend the Taste each day with many greeting the fleet of Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race as competitors sail into Constitution Dock.

Race organisers have not yet made an announcement about this year’s event.

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