The enormous gap in Australian Open prep for game’s biggest stars

As far as uneven playing fields go, it’s hard to look past the difference between the preparation for the lower-ranked players in hard, 14-day lockdown prior to the Australian Open and the treatment of the game’s biggest stars.

As 72 players enter the halfway point of their time in strict quarantine, superstars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams are currently enjoying a preparation that is as close to normal as is possible in the COVID-19 world.

Tennys Sandgren, who is one of the 72 in hard quarantine, has detailed the difference between his preparation and the build up of the lucky few in Adelaide.

“We’re all aware of the level of preferential treatment the top players get. And I’m not saying it’s undeserved, either,” Sandgren told the Herald and The Age.

Thanks for dropping by and reading this article involving Australian Sports news published as “The enormous gap in Australian Open prep for game’s biggest stars”. This article was brought to you by My Local Pages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.

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Victoria has made ‘enormous’ improvements to its coronavirus contact tracing system, Australia’s Chief Scientist says

Australia’s Chief Scientist has commended Victoria for making “enormous” improvements to its contact tracing system during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the state grappled with its second wave, it was criticised for being too slow to identify and notify people who may have crossed paths with a positive coronavirus case.

In recent weeks however Victoria has expanded its approach by advising close contacts of close contacts connected to key outbreaks to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate.

Dr Alan Finkel has been advising the State Government since August on modernising and digitising its processes.

“Improvements have been manifest across all of the system,” the Chief Scientist told Senate Estimates.

He said efficiencies and improvements had been made in workforce training and a shift from paper-based forms to fully digital processes.

“I can say with great confidence that the resources and personnel being applied to that task are significant, really substantial.

“The focus on improving the end-to-end process so cases don’t get lost in the system, so everyone gets followed up with minimal confusion as efficiently as possible — I’d say the effort being applied is enormous.”

Dr Finkel indicated that Victoria was achieving his target of notifying close contacts within 48 hours.

“I’m very comfortable with the performance of Victoria against that target,” he said.

When asked by Liberal senator James Patterson if Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton was right to claim that the state’s contact tracing system was the best in the country, Dr Finkel replied: “It’s not incorrect.”

“We need some more weeks of testing the system because it’s all very new, but by design and implementation it is very impressive,” Dr Finkel said.

Premier Daniel Andrews also insists the program is of a high standard.

Earlier on Tuesday, Victoria’s Parliament voted to establish an inquiry to assess if the state’s contact tracing system can cope in the event of another outbreak.

The inquiry will be chaired by Reason Party MP Fiona Patten and is set to report back to the Parliament by November 30.

Ms Patten said the terms of reference of the probe were focused on the current system and how it could be improved.

“So this inquiry is specifically going to look at Victoria’s contact tracing and not so much what we’ve done in the past but what we’re doing now and to ensure it’s the best system for Victoria,” Ms Patten said.

“I think certainly there hasn’t been great confidence in our contact tracing in Victoria. I believe everybody would accept that it’s improved enormously in recent times.

“But this inquiry I hope will provide that confidence and assuredness to community and to business that we can open and continue to stay open.”

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Australia Post investigation should review enormous executive salaries and bonuses – 16 News

Greens Spokesperson for Communications Senator Sarah Hanson Young responded to the Morrison Government’s terms of reference for an investigation into Australia Post:

“This investigation is supposed to establish whether this publicly-owned essential service is acting in the best interests of its shareholder – the Australian taxpayer – and yet the enormous pay packets and bonuses pocketed by executives don’t get a mention in the terms of reference.

“No one working in the public service should be taking home multi-million-dollar salaries and paid bonuses.

“It’s not just the Cartier watches that are the problem, it’s Australia Post becoming a quasi-private, quasi-public organisation that is now out of step with community expectations.

“It’s time to wind back the clock and ensure Australia’s postal service is a truly public organisation acting in the best interests of taxpayers, not millionaire executives.

“The Greens will re-introduce our bill to cap executive salaries and end performance-based pay at Australia Post and across the public service.

“Time’s up for those seeking a luxury lifestyle on the public purse whether its executives at Australia Post or ASIC, and the Parliament needs to do its job and rein them in.”

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Live exporters land six-month ‘audition period’ days out from ‘enormous change’ to industry rules

The implementation of a new law that would have reduced the number of cattle permitted on live export ships sailing from Australia has been put on hold.

Days before new animal welfare laws were expected to come into effect, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has changed the rules to allow exporters to continue to load cattle at existing stocking densities.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment said the Mr Littleproud had decided to make last-minute amendments that would be in place until April 30 next year.

The decision comes after changes to the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) were announced in April following a Federal review sparked by footage of the Awassi Express carrying dead and distressed Australian sheep to the Middle East in April, 2018.

The new ASEL stocking density rule was expected to come into effect on November 1 and would have required more space to be provided for each head of cattle exported.

The ABC understands the changes announced today only relate to cattle and do not include sheep.

The Australian Livestock Exporters Council said the changes amounted to a 17 per cent increase in the space allocated for cattle.

In the case of exports to Indonesia, for example, a vessel that would typically carry 5,000 cattle would be reduced to carrying 4,300.

The Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association (NTLEA) told ABC Rural the reduced stocking density rules had been “tweaked” and would not apply during a trial period.

The footage of sheep onboard the Awassi Express led to major changes in the live sheep export industry.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

‘Audition period’

NTLEA chief executive Will Evans said the reprieve would allow exporters to prove that current stocking densities were delivering good animal welfare outcomes.

Mr Evans said the industry had been told by the Government that the new stocking rate would not be imposed for at least six months, and exporters that maintained low mortality rates would be allowed to continue to export at a higher stocking density.

“It’s essentially an audition period,” Mr Evans said.

“Those exporters who have a rolling average of 0.1 per cent mortality rate or lower will be able to maintain the [current] stocking density.

“But those who don’t will need to go to the new ASEL 3.0 stocking densities.

“So for the next six months, you’ll be able to maintain access to current stocking densities.

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Bulk of recommendations to be adopted

Despite the last-minute change to stocking densities, Mr Evans said other significant changes to the way live animals were shipped under ASEL would commence as planned on November 1.

“Out of the 49 recommendations, one of those was about stocking densities,” he said.

“So there will be changes to how many stockmen are on vessels, changes to bedding, changes to the time we have cattle in registered premises.

“It’s an enormous regulatory change that’s coming in next week, it’s the biggest regulatory change to the industry since [the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System] in 2011.”

Cattle exporters had previously suggested introducing the changes would cost the industry as much as $40 million a year.


Former minister questions science

At a Senate Estimates hearing last week, former Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said the new ASEL stocking density was based on “loose science”.

Speaking to officials from the Department of Agriculture Water and Environment, Ms McKenzie said the change would mean as many as 130,000 fewer Australian cattle were sold into South East Asia.

“There isn’t a robust body of science available to us right now to be making these decisions,” she said.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has lobbied for an end to the live export trade, described Ms McKenzie’s appearance at Estimates as disappointing and feared a potential policy shift.

“The science is clear around stocking density reduction for cattle on these voyages,” RSPCA spokesman Jed Goodfellow said.

“This is simply about giving animals a little bit more space so they can lie down during the voyages, which sometimes take over two weeks, to give them further space to access food and water troughs.

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Melbourne Storm’s past success masks enormous 2020 achievement, says Billy Slater

Only two NRL clubs were forced to move away from home this season – the Storm, and the New Zealand Warriors, who left their families in Auckland and spent the campaign on tour.

The Warriors, who finished 10th with an 8-12 record, were praised throughout the league for their sacrifice as it allowed the season to go ahead in its full form.

Storm’s Jesse Bromwich has a laugh at training teammates on Wednesday.Credit:Getty Images

They travelled without the families as opposed to the Storm who were able to bring their families to their Sunshine Coast resort base although they couldn’t leave the resort for much of the season.

“Because the club is so successful and professional, I don’t think this group have got the recognition for what they have done this year,” Slater said.


“They are only one of two teams who had to pack their suitcase and move to a different destination to live and still perform at the elite level.

“The Warriors are the other side. If they had made the grand final you could imagine the stories and headlines that would surround that but because it’s the Melbourne Storm, it has become the normal thing that the Storm are successful.

“I think sometimes that gets lost, the enormity of what they have been able to achieve already and could possibly further achieve on Sunday night.”

The Panthers have lost just one game this season and drawn another so they will start as favourites but the Storm will have the edge in grand final experience with the likes of Cameron Smith, Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane having played in multiple grand finals.

If the Storm come out as premiers, Slater knows it will be a special achievement.

“I’m back here in Melbourne and I think to myself, wow, what an achievement it has been and what it could be come 9pm on Sunday night,” Slater said.

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Why the West’s Wildfires Are So Enormous

In other words, water responds to the sponginess—the thirstiness—of the atmosphere. And this summer, the atmosphere across the West had a lot of thirst. Climate scientists measure this trait using a statistic called the vapor-pressure deficit, or VPD.

“In the summer, in California and across most of the West, as long as there’s fuel to burn, then the climate variable that tends to matter most is the vapor-pressure deficit,” Park Williams, a research professor at Columbia University, told me. “In California this year, the vapor-pressure deficit has been record-breakingly high.”

The vapor-pressure deficit indexes two other measurements: the air temperature and the relative humidity. Both measurements affect the air’s sponginess. Hotter air is more likely to bump water into a gas state, while drier air can hold more water vapor overall. The vapor-pressure deficit measures the overlap. “It’s the difference between the amount of water vapor that’s in the air and the amount of water vapor that the air can possibly hold,” Williams said.

When the vapor-pressure deficit is high, it means the atmosphere has become an immense, six-mile-high sponge. The arid air will induce water to evaporate from wherever it’s hiding—the soil, the wooden boards of houses, the limbs and leaves of trees and underbrush.

The vapor-pressure deficit in August in California, as calculated by Park Williams

In August, even before the state saw a searing Labor Day heat wave, the vapor-pressure deficit reached its all-time peak in California. “So it was drying out these forests. They were already primed,” Williams said. The vapor-pressure deficit was extremely high across the West, he said.

That explains part of what’s been so dangerous about this month’s fires: They have grown explosively. Several have swelled to a size of 100,000 acres—that is, more than 150 square miles—in the first 12 hours of their existence, Swain told me. “That statistic is so astonishing that I’m having trouble putting it into words,” he said.

“[These fires] just poofed into existence—they were nothing and then they were megafires,” he said. The North Complex Fire, which has killed at least 15 people, “burned essentially 200,000 acres in a day—that alone would be one of the largest fires in California history, but it did that on the same day that eight fires made enormous runs.” And although the North Complex Fire was pushed by high winds, many other fires swelled to 50,000 or 100,000 acres in more stagnant weather. “In some ways, a 50,000-acre run in the forest with no wind at all is even more alarming.”

The horror of this year may seem, in retrospect, like an outlier. But the onslaught of fires in recent years should teach us something about climate change and western wildfire, the researchers said: Thanks to VPD, every additional amount of warming leads to exponentially more fire than the year before it. This is because VPD measures the absolute saturation of the atmosphere, which increases even if the atmosphere stays just as humid.

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Canberra’s healthcare system is under strain and it poses an enormous challenge to whoever wins the ACT election


September 06, 2020 09:04:40

Five-year-old William McLennan is well-acquainted with the treatment handed out in the children’s ward at the Canberra Hospital.

William has spinal muscular atrophy, a condition estimated to affect about one in 10,000 children.

And, after falling out of his wheelchair earlier this year, William spent 10 weeks in the Canberra Hospital with a broken leg.

His mum, Naomi Taylor, said from the minute William was admitted, to the time when the family left, the staff at the hospital were brilliant.

“To be honest, I can’t really fault them at all,” she said.

“They were fantastic.

“They work extremely hard, and I think we’re blessed to have a good team of nurses and doctors.”

Naomi’s sentiments are echoed by many, particularly within Canberra’s community of children with high-needs, who regularly interact with the hospital.

Patients often praise the hard work of doctors, nurses and specialists — caring for them in moments of incredible grief and joy.

But, early in William’s stay, one of the hospital’s shortcomings became clear.

Staff doing what they can, with what they’ve got

There were concerns William’s condition may worsen, and he would need to be transferred to intensive care.

The ACT has no public, paediatric intensive care beds — and William would have been flown to Sydney.

Naomi said at times like those, the lack of paediatric-specialist services was worrying.

“They had to get one of the doctors from the adult hospital to come down and do the surgery and everything,” she said.

“So there is a need for more paediatric specialists.”

Data tells a difficult story

Canberra’s population has grown rapidly over the past decade, and the demands placed on the city’s hospitals have grown too.

Demand for ACT public hospital care soared more than 50 per cent in the six years to 2020, before dropping off significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic also relieved the mounting pressure on the city’s emergency departments.

In early 2020, less than a third of patients considered “urgent” were being seen on time, but that figure improved as the number of patients presenting fell rapidly.

While the pandemic also blew out elective surgery waiting lists, they were already significant.

Just before the COVID-19 health crisis hit, 889 people were overdue for surgery. Less than four years ago, that figure was 157.

‘Chronic underfunding’ at the core

Many doctors suggest those figures are simply symptoms of larger, structural problems.

That includes the age of Canberra Hospital — the original Woden Valley Hospital was opened in 1973, and took on a range of primary services when Royal Canberra Hospital was closed in the 1990s.

But for Antonio Di Dio, the current president of the ACT branch of the Australian Medical Association, the primary issue is money.

“It is not unreasonable to describe a great deal of the problems in ACT Health as coming from chronic underfunding,” Dr Di Dio said.

And, he argues, demand has far outgrown capacity.

“The number of operating theatres has not changed significantly, and the number of hospital beds is almost completely unchanged, in the last decade,” he said.

“That is putting an enormous strain on the system.”

Both major parties recognise the strain and, no matter who wins government in the ACT on October 17, there are policies to address the state of the city’s healthcare system.

In particular the ACT Government wants to begin construction on a $500m expansion of the Canberra Hospital next year.

The expansion would add 148 inpatient beds, 39 emergency beds, and double the intensive care capacity from 30 beds to 60.

It would also add four paediatric intensive care beds, for the first time.

Dr Di Dio said after years of discussing an expansion, the work would be very welcome.

“I think that plan can be described as a very good start, but it’s not going to solve all of the challenges,” he said.

Both major parties have committed to expanding the hospital, and health experts are hoping the current plans stick.

Healthcare isn’t all hospitals

But an expansion to the hospital will not solve all of Canberra’s medical woes — it certainly will not help people like Donna Trucillo, who is tired of driving the Hume Highway.

Donna has spent years trying to manage her serious reflux, but while the issue is extremely common, she often finds she cannot get the treatment she needs in Canberra.

“I’ve seen a number of gastroenterologists here in Canberra, but, unfortunately, what I need in terms of treatment and investigation means I have to travel to Sydney,” she said.

While Canberra boasts a top-tier medical school and a wide array of specialists, complaints of having to seek treatment in Sydney and Melbourne are common.

Donna spent much of her life in Sydney, and was surprised at the challenges she found seeking care in Canberra.

“I often think that it’s amazing that I live in Australia’s capital city, and it’s difficult for me to find specialists and therapists,” she said.

But she recognises the problems with Canberra’s healthcare system are complex, and various governments have dedicated significant time and money to fixing them.

Emergency departments have been expanded, and nurse-led walk-in centres have opened to relieve pressure.

Early works for the $500m Canberra Hospital expansion have already been completed, and contracts are all but signed with the builder.

Now, with both major parties promising change over the next four years, patients like Donna and William hope it might just come.

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September 06, 2020 08:28:50

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The president of Emirates says passengers will never again be as comfortable as they have been aboard the enormous, discontinued Airbus A380

Emirates Airbus A380


  • Emirates, the glitzy Gulf airline, plans to operate passenger flights using Airbus A380s for the first time since the pandemic led the airline to ground the fleet.

  • The airline plans to replace the aging A380 fleet with Boeing 777X aircraft, the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2022.

  • However, Sir Tim Clark, the airline’s president, told Business Insider that nothing will measure up to the passenger experience on board the A380.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As airlines around the world ground their Airbus A380 fleets during the global coronavirus pandemic — some permanently — one airline stands in stark contrast: Emirates.

With a price tag of $445.6 million and room for up to 800 passengers, the four-engine, two-deck behemoth is the largest passenger plane ever built. The first unit entered service in 2007, which some observers have said was decades too late.

Airbus has said it will halt production of the A380 in 2021, with just 251 delivered.

For Emirates, however, the A380 has been the perfect aircraft. As other carriers move to a smaller, nimbler point-to-point system, Emirates has made the “superjumbo” jet a staple of its global long-haul hub-and-spoke system, carrying up to about 600 passengers at a time split between three cabins.

Emirates has also taken advantage of the plane’s enormous size to build its brand as an ultra-glamourous luxury airline.

“It defined us, in many respects,” Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, said in an interview with Business Insider. “We’ve spent an inordinate amount on product, both in-flight and on the ground, and that’s really paid off.”

Emirates Tim Clark
Emirates Tim Clark


Clark, who has worked in the airline business since the early 1970s, helped found Emirates in 1985 as its head of planning.

In addition to its 115 A380s, the airline has more than 130 Boeing 777s in its fleet.

However, the A380 is a major part of what helped Emirates earn its current market share and reputation.

Among other features, Emirates introduced walk-up bars for first- and business-class passengers, enclosed first class suites, and even a shower that first class passengers could use during the flight.

Although the A380 is currently grounded due to the pandemic, Clark said that the airline plans to bring them back into service — the first A380s will begin flying this week — and keep them in use for as long as possible.

“Hopefully, we’ll see them flying for at least another 10 years,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s not being produced. So there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”

For after that, Emirates has orders for about 115 of Boeing’s next-generation wide-body jet, the 777X, primarily the larger 777-9X. as well as smaller 787 Dreamliners. 

An onboard bar of an Airbus A380 is pictured during a delivery ceremony of Emirates' 100th Airbus A380
An onboard bar of an Airbus A380 is pictured during a delivery ceremony of Emirates’ 100th Airbus A380

REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Despite the new plane’s technology and efficiency advancements, Clark says it simply won’t measure up to the A380 from the passenger’s perspective.

“We will have some very good products on the -9X,” Clark said. “But to be quite honest, nothing is going to be as good.”

“How could it be as good as the A380 on the upper deck, or as good as it is in economy with 10-abreast seating on the main deck,” he added. “It’s palatial. And people absolutely love it. They still go out of their way to get on the 380.”

Clark said that the 777X will feature updated first class suites — the airline unveiled the new suites in 2019 — as well as a new business class product, and some kind of walk-up bar.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not to say the other aircraft will not be good, but I don’t think they’ll be as good as the A380.”

Emirates Airbus A380 First class
Emirates Airbus A380 First class


Development of the 777X has faced multiple delays. Although Emirates was originally scheduled to receive its first deliveries this year, Boeing deferred to 2021 due to issues with the engines and a failed pressure test in 2019. Emirates chief operating officer Adel Al Redha told Bloomberg last week that the airline now expects that to slide to 2022.

“In some respects, that is okay with us,” Clark said. “If next year is a difficult year, we’ll have to make adjustments to our program of aircraft deliveries.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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