How to keep office equipment safe in the COVID-19 era


The virus that causes COVID-19 can remain active for hours or even days on hard surfaces such as office printers, keypads, and other devices. This means that, as workers return to the office, business owners and managers must have a plan for minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission via these devices. Keeping office equipment safe requires various precautions.

Businesses across Australia are taking steps to manage their return to the office safely. Some businesses are taking a staged approach to bringing staff members back, others are working in shifts to limit the number of people in the office, and still others are sticking with a remote model for most workers with people coming into the office when necessary, such as when they need to print documents.

In addition to basic hygiene procedures such as mandating the use of hand sanitiser and encouraging the use of masks, organisations can minimise the risk of cross-contamination and infection when employees are using shared devices. Multifunction devices (MFDs) remain an essential business tool, so keeping them clean as employees return to work is essential.

There are four ways to keep MFDs clean:

1. Remote access

If an employee is unknowingly infected with COVID-19 or the flu, for example, they can inadvertently leave traces of the virus on the keypad or other parts of the MFD. To avoid this, businesses can use the remote access functionality of the MFD, controlling it via users’ own tablets and smartphones. This means no one needs to physically touch the MFD but can still access all of its functions.

2. Personal stylus

Where remote access isn’t available, employees could use their personal stylus to use the multifunction panel without ever touching it with their fingers. Any stylus can work for this, including those that work with other devices such as tablets.

3. Pull printing

Often, when people send documents to the printer, they can forget they’ve done so. This can result in printouts being left unclaimed on the printer for extended periods of time, which can compromise document security. Or, the person may resend the job, resulting in wastage due to duplicate printouts. A pull-printing solution requires a user to authenticate the job by swiping their ID card or fob at the printer before the job will be released. This helps maintain security, reduce paper wastage, and avoid unnecessary physical interaction with the MFD.

4. Cleaning

Like everything in the office, it’s important to keep the MFDs safe by cleaning them regularly. This includes the panel (screen and keys), document feeder and document glass, and the handles of paper trays. The best way to do this is to use a soft cloth that’s just damp with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or ethanol for disinfection. The cloth shouldn’t be too wet or it could damage the electrical components. It’s not advisable to use sprays containing solvents, as these will damage the MFD. And, it’s important to wear vinyl gloves when cleaning the MFD.

COVID-19 has caused a heightened awareness of hygiene and many people are understandably nervous about going back to a shared working environment. With these few simple precautions, organisations will be able to use their MFDs with confidence while minimising the risk of disease spread.

Shane Blandford, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Konica Minolta





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Saved by the Bell is brought kicking and screaming into the modern era


Well, TV executives have a caffeine-pill compulsion to keep turning over the cultural compost heap, of course, but there’s also some serious nostalgia for the original series.

“Saved by the Bell is my Star Wars,” reboot creator Tracey Wigfield revealed recently in possibly the saddest disclosure of a deprived childhood ever made by someone who won an Emmy for 30 Rock. And Wigfield has certainly dragged Saved By the Bell into the modern day. There’s a slightly thin sprinkling of zingers that recall 30 Rock and Wigfield’s own personal tour de force, Great News (Netflix), along with thoughtful approaches to issues of race, class and gender. Old faces are back too – Elizabeth Berkley’s Jessica Spano is now a school counsellor whose own son isn’t the best advertisement for her work, and Mario Lopez’s A.C. Slater is a school sports coach who has a strange obsession with the surface of the indoor basketball courts.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Zack Morris even pops up as the Trumpy California governor whose education cuts have caused all kinds of chaos – such as the fact that poor black and brown kids are now being bussed into the rich white enclave of Bayside High.

Some of the new kids shine – particularly Josie Totah and Alycia Pascual-Pena – but it won’t make too many year-end top-10 lists.

For very different – and incomparably gritty – look at modern high-school life, you can check out the between-seasons special of the wildly popular Euphoria (Monday, December 7 on Fox Showcase, 1pm, then on Foxtel On Demand and Binge). If it’s anything like the first season you can expect American teenager Rue (Zendaya) and her pals to be up to their necks in colourful and uncompromising sex, drugs, violence, mental illness and ennui.

Hillbilly Elegy, Netflix

Amy Adams and Glenn Close bring their A-games but Ron Howard is an oddly distant captain and there’s a tired after-school-special feel to this underwhelming, over-long movie based on the memoir by American rust-belt survivor turned venture capitalist J.D. Vance.

A barely recognisable Glenn Close is the standout in Hillbilly Elegy, which is based on J.D. Vance’s best-selling memoir of the same name.

What’s most obviously missing is real compassion for those who grew up in Appalachian poverty and then got left behind by the offshoring of industrial jobs. J.D. (Owen Asztalos as a boy; Gabriel Basso as a young man) grows up in dysfunction that, it seems implied, everyone ought to just overcome.

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds, Apple TV+

Werner Herzog is in full eccentric-director mode as he and his Cambridge-boffin pal Clive Oppenheimer travel the globe learning about meteorites and the effects they have had on the planet and on human cultures from Western Australia to the Torres Strait and the Middle East.

Clive Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog.

Clive Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog.Credit:Apple TV+

They end up in Antarctica, becoming the first humans ever to lay eyes on a 4.5 billion-year-old lump of space rock that moving ice has just pushed into plain view. The best part? You can find your own meteorites just by dragging a magnet around pretty much anywhere.

We Are the Champions, Netflix

This fun half-hour series follows people competing in the strangest arenas – from chilli-eating championships to fantasy hairdressing competitions. The most immediately terrifying one is the famous cheese-chasing race down that insanely steep hill near Gloucester in England.

Fantasy hairdressing is one of the unusual challenges in We Are The Champions.

Fantasy hairdressing is one of the unusual challenges in We Are The Champions.Credit:Netflix

There’s no catching the cheese – which hits speeds up to 130km/h – but you can break plenty of bones. Slow-motion footage of people tumbling like helpless rag dolls underlines the danger, while interviews with competitors obsessed with the event work to shine light on the attraction.

Wayne, Amazon Prime Video

Rarely have teenage runaway stories shown teenage runaways to be so vulnerably childlike on the one hand yet so fearlessly stiff-necked on the other. Perhaps never have they had such children pursued by a gallery of low-life rogues colourful enough to tickle Elmore Leonard – all while also dropping bombs of ultraviolence when you least expect it.

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It’s on the meanest, poorest and most frozen streets of Boston that we meet 16-year-old Wayne (Mark McKenna), an uncommonly angry youth who can’t let any injustice go – which usually results in him getting beaten bloody or him beating someone else bloody. An extraordinary escalation of this routine violence leaves Wayne and his new 15-year-old-friend, Del (Ciara Bravo), fleeing on a motorbike headed for Florida, where Wayne intends to take back his father’s Trans Am from his mother’s violent dirtbag boyfriend.

Series creator Shawn Simmons heightens things in a way that will be pleasantly familiar to fans of things like Justified and Claws, but not so far that it detracts from the poignancy of his brilliantly cast protagonists. A little gem.

The Pack, Amazon Prime Video

The Pack is a globe-trotting adventure for American dogs and their owners.

The Pack is a globe-trotting adventure for American dogs and their owners.Credit:Amazon

Finally! It’s a globe-trotting Survivor for American dogs and their owners – sorry, partners. But ordinary house pets can’t really do anything, can they? That’s where you’re wrong. The Pack‘s 12 pooches have undergone pre-production training, including scent work. So at a search-dog training ground in Mexico, for instance, they can “find” pretend earthquake victims. Elsewhere, an amusing doggy-waiter challenge answers the age-old question of whether a big plate of spaghetti bolognese spilled on the floor can make dogs lose focus on the task at hand. Good, clean fun.

*Stan is owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead.

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China strikes again; A November to remember on ASX; Bega’s new era


In retaliation, China has targeted a range of Australian export industries with sanctions. They have mostly been soft commodities exports, but coal has been in the firing line and there is a belief copper could be next. Importantly, the business sector is broadly supportive of the government’s approach to stand up to China on matters of principle.

The one industry China is yet to touch, though, is iron ore. If it were to do so, the relative calm about the situation in corporate Australia would surely dissipate, and quickly.

The key steelmaking ingredient is Australia’s most lucrative export earner. At the moment, there is a prevailing belief that China can’t afford to boycott Australian supply as it ramps up infrastructure projects to prop up its economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Yet Chinese state-owned enterprises are rapidly moving to diversify their sourcing through ambitious projects in various parts of the globe, most prominently Africa.

Unless things improve dramatically on the diplomatic front, Australia is going to need to diversify its economic reliance on China just as quickly.

November to remember for stonks

It has been a November to remember for stocks (or “stonks” as the internet meme ridiculing the ebullience of equity markets describes them).

The major US equity indices hit fresh highs this week, and with two trading sessions left in the month the local S&P/ASX 200 is on track for a record month after adding as much as 15 per cent.

Remarkably, that means the local benchmark is back to where it started the year, and just a smidgen below its record peak set in February before COVID-19 erupted into a fully-fledged global pandemic.

Investor spirits have clearly been lifted by the encouraging news about three COVID-19 vaccine candidates and the prospect of more political stability in the United States.

Balanced against this is the alarming resurgence of the coronavirus in the US and Europe and the massive debt overhang that advanced economies including Australia will face when the pandemic is eventually behind us. Not to mention the ongoing trade spat with China.

The strength of share prices in Australia around the world this year serves as a useful reminder of one of the great investing truisms: the stockmarket is not the economy.

For starters, share prices are forward-looking (that said, the future doesn’t look terribly bright at the moment).

The businesses that are publicly listed often don’t reflect the underlying economies where they are listed. In the US, Wall Street and Main Street have de-coupled to the point where the stockmarket is arguably no longer a useful proxy for the world’s largest economy. Small businesses power most developed economies, but they aren’t really represented on stock exchanges.

In Australia, there are also disparities. Mining is over-represented on the local bourse (it accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the ASX 200) relative to the number of people it employs (under 2 per cent of the workforce).

Bega deal heralds new era for agribusiness

One of the more encouraging developments for both the stock exchange and the real economy in recent years has been the revival of the Australian agriculture sector.

After a horror, bushfire-afflicted summer last year, farmers in many parts of the country are preparing for bumper harvests, while livestock prices are also strong. Meanwhile, there are now a handful of genuinely interesting and substantial agribusiness stocks on the ASX for investors to consider.

There is no better example than Bega Cheese. The $1.1 billion, ASX listed dairy business based in a sleepy town on the NSW South Coast has now become a genuine force in Australian food manufacturing with the purchase of the Lion Dairy business for $534 million.

The deal will add the Pura Milk and Yoplait brands to Bega’s portfolio, which includes Bega Cheese and Vegemite (the latter of which it acquired for $460 million in 2017).

Bega now expects to generate $3 billion in annual revenue and will become one of the biggest suppliers to the major supermarket chains. As Elizabeth Knight wrote this week, it is good news for the government which is hoping to strengthen local manufacturing of essential goods after the coronavirus exposed our vulnerability to global supply chain shocks.

On the other hand, it adds more fuel to the fire of the original topic of this article. After all, there is one key reason why this deal happened: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg blocked a planned $600 million purchase of the Lion business by China Mengnui Dairy on national interest grounds last year.

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China strikes again; A November to remember on ASX; Bega’s new era


In retaliation, China has targeted a range of Australian export industries with sanctions. They have mostly been soft commodities exports, but coal has been in the firing line and there is a belief copper could be next. Importantly, the business sector is broadly supportive of the government’s approach to stand up to China on matters of principle.

The one industry China is yet to touch, though, is iron ore. If it were to do so, the relative calm about the situation in corporate Australia would surely dissipate, and quickly.

The key steelmaking ingredient is Australia’s most lucrative export earner. At the moment, there is a prevailing belief that China can’t afford to boycott Australian supply as it ramps up infrastructure projects to prop up its economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Yet Chinese state-owned enterprises are rapidly moving to diversify their sourcing through ambitious projects in various parts of the globe, most prominently Africa.

Unless things improve dramatically on the diplomatic front, Australia is going to need to diversify its economic reliance on China just as quickly.

November to remember for stonks

It has been a November to remember for stocks (or “stonks” as the internet meme ridiculing the ebullience of equity markets describes them).

The major US equity indices hit fresh highs this week, and with two trading sessions left in the month the local S&P/ASX 200 is on track for a record month after adding as much as 15 per cent.

Remarkably, that means the local benchmark is back to where it started the year, and just a smidgen below its record peak set in February before COVID-19 erupted into a fully-fledged global pandemic.

Investor spirits have clearly been lifted by the encouraging news about three COVID-19 vaccine candidates and the prospect of more political stability in the United States.

Balanced against this is the alarming resurgence of the coronavirus in the US and Europe and the massive debt overhang that advanced economies including Australia will face when the pandemic is eventually behind us. Not to mention the ongoing trade spat with China.

The strength of share prices in Australia around the world this year serves as a useful reminder of one of the great investing truisms: the stockmarket is not the economy.

For starters, share prices are forward-looking (that said, the future doesn’t look terribly bright at the moment).

The businesses that are publicly listed often don’t reflect the underlying economies where they are listed. In the US, Wall Street and Main Street have de-coupled to the point where the stockmarket is arguably no longer a useful proxy for the world’s largest economy. Small businesses power most developed economies, but they aren’t really represented on stock exchanges.

In Australia, there are also disparities. Mining is over-represented on the local bourse (it accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the ASX 200) relative to the number of people it employs (under 2 per cent of the workforce).

Bega deal heralds new era for agribusiness

One of the more encouraging developments for both the stock exchange and the real economy in recent years has been the revival of the Australian agriculture sector.

After a horror, bushfire-afflicted summer last year, farmers in many parts of the country are preparing for bumper harvests, while livestock prices are also strong. Meanwhile, there are now a handful of genuinely interesting and substantial agribusiness stocks on the ASX for investors to consider.

There is no better example than Bega Cheese. The $1.1 billion, ASX listed dairy business based in a sleepy town on the NSW South Coast has now become a genuine force in Australian food manufacturing with the purchase of the Lion Dairy business for $534 million.

The deal will add the Pura Milk and Yoplait brands to Bega’s portfolio, which includes Bega Cheese and Vegemite (the latter of which it acquired for $460 million in 2017).

Bega now expects to generate $3 billion in annual revenue and will become one of the biggest suppliers to the major supermarket chains. As Elizabeth Knight wrote this week, it is good news for the government which is hoping to strengthen local manufacturing of essential goods after the coronavirus exposed our vulnerability to global supply chain shocks.

On the other hand, it adds more fuel to the fire of the original topic of this article. After all, there is one key reason why this deal happened: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg blocked a planned $600 million purchase of the Lion business by China Mengnui Dairy on national interest grounds last year.

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In an era of political polarization, ‘Trump TV’ makes perfect sense


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Though he may never publicly admit it, Donald Trump effectively conceded the 2020 presidential election on Monday, when his federal government’s General Services Administration finally signed off on the transition to President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming regime.

With a constitutional crisis, for now, averted, there is much speculation on what the future will hold for Trump. Whatever follows his remarkable, unprecedented four-year term in the White House, it’s hard to envisage him settling into a quiet post-presidency—perhaps one spent designing his presidential library and keeping quiet on his successor’s job performance.

What’s clear is that he leaves Washington much as he arrived: a divisive, polarizing figure who, despite losing a national election by millions of votes, retains a fiercely devoted following among segments of the American electorate. A new CNBC/Change Research poll this week found that 73% of Trump voters, apparently parroting the President’s baseless propaganda, believe that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. Should Trump decide to break away from the Republicans and start a political party of his own, 72% of those voters said they would gladly desert the GOP and follow him to a fledgling Trump Party.

If Trump really did run for president in 2015 primarily to bolster his brand and generate publicity—if he truly did think his long-shot candidacy would, if nothing else, lead to future media opportunities, or at the very least provide the upcoming season of The Apprentice with a ratings bump—then, all in all, the entire affair was a raging, unmitigated success. For all the talk of the Trump Organization’s sullied reputation and the millions of dollars in revenue lost as a result of Trump’s presidential joyride, the man himself will leave the White House with a built-in audience of tens of millions of Americans willing to hang on his every word and posture. As a public-facing brand, Trump’s is perhaps the most formidable in the history of American politics.

As such, there’s been heightened conjecture that Trump will finally realize what his presidency may have always been about in the first place: capitalizing on his burnished brand, and its fervent following, via a media venture of his own. Talk of “Trump TV” sprang up almost immediately after the election, apparently fueled by the President’s fury at Fox News Channel—and, reportedly, News Corp baron Rupert Murdoch—over the conservative network’s coverage of the race.

What that venture could look like is anybody’s guess at this point. Given the financial and logistical barriers to launching a cable news network from the ground up, a subscription-based online streaming channel has been floated—one that could see Trump parlay his campaign’s enviable troves of cell phone and email contact information into a database of would-be subscribers, according to Axios. And last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that allies of the President have explored an investment into Newsmax, the conservative website and broadcast network run by Trump confidant Christopher Ruddy, with the aim of building Newsmax into a legitimate challenger to Fox News. (Ruddy, for his part, has denied there being any such deal in the works.)

Both Newsmax and fellow right-wing cable channel One American News Network (OAN) have grown their reach substantially during the Trump era, thanks in no small part to co-signs from the President in the form of retweets and endorsements. In turn, they’ve displayed a willingness to do his bidding by disseminating talking points that are factually dubious at best and misinformation at worst—such as peddling spurious claims about COVID-19 and promoting Trump’s baseless allegations that the election was somehow stolen from him. It is content that “MAGA Nation” has proven all too ready to gobble up.

Indeed, Trump’s foray into politics was always a product of the sprawling, reactionary echo chamber that is the right-wing media apparatus. With his keen grasp of television and his mastery of social media, Trump was able to parlay his rhetoric of nativism and economic populism into a national political movement. Spurred on by conservative media figureheads like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, he has long since surpassed them in both his gravitational pull and tenuous relationship to the truth—driving conservative political discourse even further to the fringe in the process. With an army of devotees willing to follow him down any rabbit hole, no matter how bizarre and factually challenged, “Trump TV” would be the logical next step for America’s propagandist-in-chief, a man for whom even Fox News isn’t cutting it these days.

And should Trump somehow manage to avoid the myriad legal storm clouds looming on his post-presidential horizon, an upstart media vertical could not only prove a profitable endeavor, but also a launching point for yet another run for the White House in 2024. Deprived of the platform afforded to him by the White House, “Trump TV” would provide a bully pulpit from which he could strengthen his command of a conservative electorate that already appears to favor him as its preferred candidate the next time around.

While it would take some feat to challenge Fox News’ dominance of the conservative airwaves, there are signs that the Murdoch empire is taking notice. This week, Vanity Fair reported that News Corp is considering offering Trump a $100 million deal to bring him back into the fold—one that would involve publishing his presidential memoir through its HarperCollins subsidiary, and potentially rewarding him with his very own show on Fox News. “Rupert is going to make a humongous offer,” a source told the publication. “The thinking is, Let’s buy Trump off so he shuts the f— up.”

It remains to be seen whether such a reconciliation truly is in the cards, or if Trump decides to strike out on his own. Whatever path he chooses, any foray Trump takes into the media world will certainly be followed by the tens of millions of Americans who still look to him as their political truth-teller, despite ample evidence to the contrary. The era of hyper-polarization that he ushered in has equipped Trump with an enormous audience eager to tune in to what he’s pitching. In the media business, there are few things as valuable.

More politics coverage from Fortune:

  • Betting markets called the presidential election more accurately than polls
  • Biden beat Trump but now faces the final boss: Mitch McConnell
  • Lockdown, superspreader, unprecedented: 2020 has changed the English language, for good
  • The women joining the Biden-Harris administration
  • Biden’s corporate tax plan depends on Georgia’s Senate results



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Britain set to reveal spending plans for virus era


Britain’s government, seeking to support the pandemic-ravaged economy and the nation’s post-Brexit future, on Wednesday unveils its eagerly-awaited spending plans.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak will deliver his spending review to parliament, one week before England ends a month of restrictions aimed at cutting a second wave of infections.

The chancellor of the exchequer will reveal the outcome of his review that will set state departmental resource and capital budgets for 2021/2022.

Britain’s rightwing government has already spent billions so far this year on battling economic fallout from the virus, subsidising private-sector jobs, and boosting the state-run National Health Service (NHS).

His speech comes amid a global race for vaccines that is strengthening hopes for a return to normality, particularly in Britain which has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.

This week’s key review has attracted more attention than usual because the government decided in September to axe Sunak’s planned autumn budget due to chronic virus turmoil.

– ‘Economic shock laid bare’ –

Sunak warned last weekend that the British economy was under “enormous strain” because of Covid-19 — and ruled out cuts to public services amid soaring borrowing.

But he has refused to say whether he will impose a public sector pay freeze, angering unions and the main opposition Labour party.

Alongside the statement, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) watchdog will publish its latest economic growth forecasts, detailing the fallout from the pandemic.

“People will see the scale of the economic shock laid bare,” Sunak told the Sunday Times newspaper.

“We can see the data every month, and obviously the shock that our economy is facing at the moment is significant.”

The watchdog will also examine the impact of England’s latest virus restrictions that have sparked widespread concerns of a so-called double dip recession before an expected recovery in 2021.

Britain has been one of the worst-affected countries in the world in the outbreak, registering more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.

– Borrowing set to rocket –

The OBR is also widely expected to reveal an explosion in public borrowing which could reach almost £400 billion for the current financial year, as public debt exceeds £2.0 trillion.

On Saturday, ahead of the spending review, the Treasury unveiled another £3 billion to support the NHS in tackling the impact of coronavirus.

As part of the package, £1 billion will be spent on addressing backlogs in the health service -– paying for up to one million extra checks, scans and additional operations for those who have had their treatment delayed since the outbreak began.

Sunak is also expected Wednesday to flesh out details of a vast £100-billion infrastructure investment plan to modernise the UK transport network and help combat climate change.

In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government imposed four weeks of tough restrictions in an attempt to stop surging virus infections.

Schools, colleges and universities have remained open to avoid disruption to education but shops and services deemed non-essential have been forced to close.

Office workers have also been told to work from home wherever possible.

The restrictions are due to be partially lifted on December 2, giving some relief to businesses.

But there could still be disruption, as Johnson said the country would revert to three tiers of restrictions according to infection rates.

The worst-affected areas could see businesses and services closed or restricted.

“We’re not going to release national measures with a free-for-all, a status quo ante covid,” he told parliament on Monday.

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Away’s new luggage collection is designed for our stay-at-home era


The winter holidays are nearly here, but this year, they’re probably going to look a bit different than year’s past. With the pandemic still raging, some of us will not be traveling at all, while others might decide to take road trips closer to home. Away, the luggage startup, is closely observing these trends. The company’s design team has created a collection of new products perfectly designed for our travel needs today but also versatile enough to be used in the future, if and when travel returns to normal.

Away is best known for its first product, a hardshell suitcase with distinctive ridges, designed for carrying on board. But there’s been a steep decline in air travel, the company’s design team has been designing a range of soft luggage that are perfect for car trips. The hero of the collection is a duffle called the Everywhere Bag. It come in three sizes and two materials, water-resistant leather or nylon. “While the hardshell is connected to planes, people tend to think of duffle bags when they’re planning road trips,” says Cuan Hanly, SVP of product design and merchandise. “Soft bags collapse when they’re empty and they’re easier to squeeze into tight spaces.”

[Photo: courtesy Away]

Hanly and the design team have been working to iterate on the design of the Everywhere Bag, based on focus groups and customer feedback. The most innovative design tweak is that the bags open all the way around, like a clamshell suitcase, with two compartments on the side. This makes it much easier to pack and access items than in a traditional duffle bag, which generally opens that the top, meaning you have to dig to find items at the bottom. The large and medium bags come with a dedicated padded laptop compartment, so you don’t need to carry a separate bag for your computer. These bags are thoughtfully designed to fit into your post pandemic life. They’re equipped with sleeves that slide onto the handle of a suitcase, so you can bring them on the plane as your “personal item.” And the medium bag, in particular, could easily work as a gym bag or an office bag.

[Photo: courtesy Away]

If you’re staying put during the holidays, Away has created a mini Everywhere Bag that’s effectively a small purse with a main compartment large enough to fit an iPad. It comes in shiny black or brown leather with lots of pockets inside along with a key fob, so it’s ideal for toting around on walks or trips to the grocery.  Away’s design team has invested heavily in creating a range of bags that are designed for everyday life. This holiday season, it is releasing several backpack silhouettes, belt bags, messengers, totes, and even pet carriers. But Hanly says the brand is still focused on travel. Each of these items is designed to be neatly integrated into a suitcase, thanks to luggage sleeves. And the brand has created a design language that extends across all the products: The horizontal lines on the soft luggage mimics the ridges on the hardshell suitcases. “Even before the pandemic, customers wanted to be able to quickly transition from work to the airport for a quick trip,” says Hanly. “We wanted to create products that allow them to more easily move between these spaces.”

If you’re looking for small gifts and stocking stuffers, Away has got you covered. The brand has released a selection of leather goods in bright, cheery colors just in time for the holidays, including jewelry boxes, wallets, and passport holders. They’re designed to be useful right now, while tapping into your wanderlust. “We believe that travel will, eventually come back,” Hanly says. “And we’ll be here for travelers when the time comes.”

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Queensland Maroons star Cameron Munster’s coronation sets up new era of rebooted Origin rivalries


Cameron Munster’s coronation as one of the modern kings of Origin football has arrived at the perfect time for the Maroons and headed off any threat of a long-term NSW dynasty in the interstate series.

After missing almost all of game two with a head injury, Munster was majestic for Queensland in their 20-14 win over the Blues, bouncing out of tackles and showing sublime moments of skill to wrap up the Wally Lewis Medal and the series.

Wally Lewis Medal winner Cameron Munster had a night to remember for Queensland.Credit:Getty

He burst onto the scene so early that it’s easy to forget Munster is only 26 and has half a decade, at least, of Origin football still in front of him. He has always been desperate to be the biggest star in the biggest show and has now won a series out of the shadow of the big three of Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.

“Premiership winner and now won a series by myself… I played my debut in 2017 and felt like I didn’t really contribute the first two games as I didn’t play,” Munster said.



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Queensland Maroons star Cameron Munster’s coronation sets up new era of rebooted Origin rivalries


Cameron Munster’s coronation as one of the modern kings of Origin football has arrived at the perfect time for the Maroons and headed off any threat of a long-term NSW dynasty in the interstate series.

After missing almost all of game two with a head injury, Munster was majestic for Queensland in their 20-14 win over the Blues, bouncing out of tackles and showing sublime moments of skill to wrap up the Wally Lewis Medal and the series.

Wally Lewis Medal winner Cameron Munster had a night to remember for Queensland.Credit:Getty

He burst onto the scene so early that it’s easy to forget Munster is only 26 and has half a decade, at least, of Origin football still in front of him. He has always been desperate to be the biggest star in the biggest show and has now won a series out of the shadow of the big three of Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.

“Premiership winner and now won a series by myself… I played my debut in 2017 and felt like I didn’t really contribute the first two games as I didn’t play,” Munster said.



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SpaceX’s ‘Resilience’ Lifts 4 Astronauts Into NASA’s New Era of Spaceflight


It’s not yet the same as hopping on commuter flight from New York to Washington or renting a car from Avis, but Sunday’s launch of four astronauts to the International Space Station in a capsule built by SpaceX was a momentous step toward making space travel commonplace and mundane.

In the future, instead of relying on government-operated spacecraft, NASA astronauts and anyone else with enough money can buy a ticket on a commercial rocket.

“This is truly a commercial launch vehicle,” Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, said during a post-launch news conference, “and we’re grateful to our partners at SpaceX for providing it.”

NASA designated Sunday night’s launch as the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft built and operated by SpaceX, the rocket company started by Elon Musk. The four astronauts aboard — three from NASA, one from JAXA, the Japanese space agency — left Earth from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A Crew Dragon took two astronauts — Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley — to the space station in May, but that was a test flight to shake out remaining glitches in the systems.

The four astronauts on this flight are Michael S. Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor J. Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese astronaut.

NASA and SpaceX last week completed the certification process, which provides the space agency’s seal of approval that SpaceX has met the specifications set out for regularly taking NASA astronauts to orbit. This launch, known as Crew-1, is a regularly scheduled trip to take four crew members for a six-month stay at the space station.

“It marks the end of the development phase of the system,” Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA, said in a telephone interview with reporters on Thursday. “For the first time in history, there is a commercial capability from a private sector entity to safely and reliably transport people to space.”

Despite iffy weather — forecasts gave only a 50-50 chance of favorable conditions at the launchpad — the skies remained clear enough. At 7:27 p.m. Eastern time, the nine engines of the Falcon 9 rocket roared to life and brightened the night sky as the rocket arced over the Atlantic Ocean.

After dropping away from the second stage, which continued to orbit, the Falcon 9 booster turned around and landed on a floating platform. SpaceX now, as a matter of course, recovers and reuses the boosters. This same rocket stage will be used to launch the next quartet of astronauts to the space station next spring.

The Crew Dragon, named Resilience, is scheduled to dock on Monday at about 11 p.m. after a 27.5 hour trip as the capsule caught up with space station, which is traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour.

When Mr. Glover arrives, he will become the first Black astronaut to serve as a member of the station’s crew in the 20-some years that people have been living aboard the International Space Station. Other Black astronauts have previously been aboard the space station, but they were there for briefer stays during space shuttle missions that helped assemble the orbiting outpost.

When asked during a news conference on Monday about his thoughts on making history, Mr. Glover modestly nodded to the significance.

“It is something to be celebrated once we accomplish it, and I am honored to be in this position and to be a part of this great and experienced crew,” he said. “And I look forward to getting up there and doing my best to make sure, you know, we are worthy of all the work that’s been put into setting us up for this mission. You know, unlike the election — that is in the past or receding in the past — this mission is still ahead of me. So, let’s get there, and I’ll talk to you after I get on board.”

He also said last week in an interview with The Christian Chronicle, a publication of the Churches of Christ, that the milestone was “bittersweet.”

“I’ve had some amazing colleagues before me that really could have done it, and there are some amazing folks that will go behind me,” Mr. Glover said. “I wish it would have already been done, but I try not to draw too much attention to it.”

Charles F. Bolden Jr., who served as NASA administrator under President Barack Obama, said that while Mr. Glover was making history, he should not feel burdened.

“Several of us have had an opportunity to try to talk with him regularly and try to help put him at ease and help him understand he’s not carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders,” said Mr. Bolden, who is also Black and spent almost 700 hours in space as a NASA astronaut. “He shouldn’t feel unusual responsibility because he’s Black. He should just go and be another crew member and have a good time.”

On Sunday afternoon, as the astronauts prepared for the launch, they were visited by Mr. Bridenstine and Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX.

For Mr. Bridenstine, this was the last astronaut launch he would view as leader of NASA. In an interview last week with the magazine Aviation Week, Mr. Bridenstine said he would not, even if asked by the incoming Biden administration, stay on in his current role past the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Mr. Musk, the chief executive of SpaceX, remained out of sight after he said he “most likely” had a “moderate case” of Covid-19.

At the space station, the four astronauts who lifted off on Sunday will join three others already there: Kate Rubins of NASA and two Russians, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

They will be doing what astronauts have been doing for the past two decades on the space station: overseeing scientific experiments, performing maintenance tasks, talking to students on the ground.

The astronauts, for example, will be collecting their own biological samples to help scientists on the ground study how dietary changes affect the body. The astronauts will also be growing radishes, the latest experiment to explore whether food can be grown in space. (Red lettuce and mizuna mustard greens are among earlier foods that the astronauts have studied.) They will also test whether fungi can break apart asteroid rock and help extract useful metals — a scientific prelude to extraterrestrial mining operations, and a follow-up to a similar, successful experiment that used bacteria.

With Crew Dragon entering operational status, the crew of the space station can be increased to seven. Since the retirement of the space shuttles, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft was the only means for astronauts traveling to and from the space station. The Soyuz only has three seats, and they also serve as lifeboats in case of an emergency there — with two Soyuzes docked there, the maximum size of the crew was six.

But for now, there are not places for seven astronauts to sleep there. “We are currently short one crew quarters on board station,” Mr. Hopkins said during a news conference on Monday. “There are plans to to have a temporary station that will be up there. Not sure when it’s going to arrive. It could arrive mid mission, or it may not get up there while we’re still on board.”

Mr. Hopkins, the commander of the SpaceX crew, said that he might sleep in the Crew Dragon instead.

During the post-launch news conference, Ms. Shotwell said SpaceX would be launching about seven Dragon missions, some to launch astronauts, some to carry cargo, during the next 15 months. Those would almost all be for NASA, she said, but it was possible that it could include one for a private customer.

A couple of companies have announced that they are buying flights on the Crew Dragon to take wealthy private citizens for out-of-this-world vacations. One company, Axiom Space, will take three tourists to the space station, perhaps as soon as late 2021.

One passenger could be the actor Tom Cruise. Mr. Bridenstine confirmed in May that NASA was working with Mr. Cruise to help make a movie at the space station.

Michael T. Suffredini, the president and chief executive of Axiom Space, would not confirm whether Mr. Cruise was booked on the Axiom flight, saying the company does not disclose information about its customers.

Last week, Axiom said all three available seats had been sold. The fourth seat would be filled by an Axiom employee, Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut.

The other company, Space Adventures, is offering a free-flying Crew Dragon flight that will not dock at the space station, but instead will go around Earth on a highly elliptical orbit that will provide passengers with a view of the planet from a very high perch.

Mr. Bridenstine, in remarks concluding the Sunday night news conference, repeated what he has said many times before, that a new era is opening for NASA and the space industry.

“We are now going into basically operational missions that are commercial in nature, where NASA is a customer.” he said, “Our goal has been and will be to be one customer of many customers in a very commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.”

Katherine J. Wu contributed reporting.



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