Australian Open: Players told not to feed mice while in Covid quarantine


A Victorian MP said she “understands” mice have been fed by players in the quarantine hotel used for the Australian Open

Australian Open players have been told not to feed mice at the quarantine hotel in Melbourne after one player complained of rodents in her room.

Yulia Putintseva, the world number 28, swapped rooms after finding a mouse but said her new room is also infested.

The 26-year-old is among more than 70 players and their entourages confined to their hotel rooms for 14 days.

Victoria state police minister Lisa Neville “encouraged” players to “minimise interaction” with the mice.

“As I understand, there may have been some feeding going on,” Neville added, without giving further details.

“We will keep doing pest control if we need to, but hopefully that pest control work that was done this week will have fixed the problem.”

Neville also said 10 people in total who have flown to Melbourne for the tournament had now tested positive for coronavirus, with three new cases on Wednesday comprising two players and a support person.

Kazakhstan’s Putintseva – who was among the first players to complain about the hotel quarantine rules for the Grand Slam event – again used social media to post a video of a mouse in her room jumping out from behind a cupboard.

Putintseva says she has lost sleep because of the rodents scurrying around, and also expressed frustration about being unable to open a window in her room.

“We need fresh air to breathe,” she posted on Instagram.external-link

A total of four players, have now tested positive for the virus according to officials, but there has been confusion over the figures with several test results later reclassified by authorities as “viral shedding” from previous infections, meaning they are not contagious.

The row over quarantine rules and allowances afforded to travelling players compared to residents, has cast huge controversy over the year’s first major tennis tournament.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said a “tightrope” was being walked, but that the safety of Victorians would not be compromised.

“I do understand the players, this is a new experience for them and I don’t think anyone expected to know what the 14 days was like and they are adapting to it,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“At the beginning, it was pretty challenging with their adaptation It’s got a lot better, I think the majority of the players understand and accept it and there is a minority struggling with it but we are going to do whatever we can to make it better for them.”



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Mexico to Decide if GMO Corn Ban Will Apply to Animal Feed


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(Bloomberg) — Mexican officials will meet with producers to decide on whether a new ban on genetically modified corn will apply to animal feed.

The meeting will take place “toward the end” of the coming week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said in an emailed statement. The ministry will discuss the issue with producers along the supply chain, it said.

Mexico has banned genetically modified corn and will phase out imports over the next three years as part of the government’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, according to a decree it issued on Dec. 31.

Mexico uses its own white corn to make the country’s staple tortillas, but relies on imports of mostly genetically-modified yellow corn from the U.S. for livestock feed. It was unclear from the decree whether the rules would affect feed for livestock, or only apply to corn for human consumption.

Energy Protectionism in Mexico Has Made Climate the Victim

Mexico was the top destination for U.S. corn exports in 2019, bringing in about $2.7 billion in shipments, a vast majority of that the yellow No. 2 variety typically used to make animal feed, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Over 90% of U.S. corn is produced using genetically-modified varieties.

Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and reading this news release on World Business news published as “Mexico to Decide if GMO Corn Ban Will Apply to Animal Feed”. This post was brought to you by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our national news services.

#Mexico #Decide #GMO #Corn #Ban #Apply #Animal #Feed



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Hamper scamper – Jobless Cambodians are catching rats to feed Vietnamese city dwellers | Asia




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Tired of coronavirus conspiracy theories in your Facebook feed? So was Elissa — so she did something about it


When the coronavirus pandemic first became serious back in March, Elissa McKay started noticing more and more troubling social media posts appearing in her feed.

“It ran the entire spectrum from it [COVID] is no worse than the flu, all the way up to it has been planned, this is a hoax, it doesn’t exist or it does exist and it is part of government control,” she said.

She also noticed a lot of fury directed at the media.

“And ‘the media’ was a catch all term, it was everyone from the ABC all the way up to Andrew Bolt. It was, ‘I don’t like what you are telling me so I am going to shoot the messenger.'”

What worried the Mount Dandenong mum and former communications advisor was where people would then turn for vital health information if they were not consuming news during the pandemic.

“I was getting very concerned, particularly with our demographic up here in the Hills,” she said.

‘We began to build consensus together’

Ms McKay helps run a community Facebook group called Mums of the Hills, which has many members from the Yarra Ranges, east of Melbourne.

Previously, she spent years working in communications for not-for-profit groups, the Federal Government and the Greens.

She decided to use her skills to try and include public health information in posts on her local community Facebook page.

Elissa McKay says her local Facebook page can be used as a template for other groups who also want to share health information online.(ABC News: Ron Ekkel)

It was a different response to many community groups on Facebook, which banned conversation about COVID-19 because it was deemed too controversial, too political or too difficult to moderate.

But Ms McKay thought it was important for people who were not consuming news to have another space to access information and talk about the pandemic.

“We were certainly expecting a fair amount of conflict and a fair amount of pushback,” she said.

Ms McKay wrote COVID updates, taking information from the Premier’s daily press conferences and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and summarising the news of the day with humour and links to external news reporting.

“I wanted people to question what they were reading, and what they were hearing,” she said.

As the conversations grew, members of the group who were doctors, lawyers, public servants and psychologists began to share their own knowledge.

“We were able to cut through the misinformation and say ‘this is the piece of the puzzle that I have’ and ‘this is the information I am quite confident on’, and we began to build consensus together.”

Ms McKay believes her experience shows community social media groups can be part of the answer to combating dangerous online misinformation.

Women tuning out of news and into social media

RMIT University’s program manager for journalism, Alex Wake, said research from the University of Canberra had been tracking “news fatigue” in some groups, even before the pandemic started.

It shows that certain groups of people, particularly women, were starting to avoid news. Women are also spending more time on social media than men, Dr Wake said.

“Women, in this social media sphere, have always preferred taking recommendations of stories from others,” she said.

“So they are more likely to get the anti-vaxxer story, rather than going to The Age or to the Sydney Morning Herald or whatever it is to go to a verifiable news source.”

Dr Alex Wake looks into the camera, with a bookshelf visible behind her.
Dr Alex Wake says it is important for Australians to read widely and support quality journalism, to ensure they are getting accurate and verified information.

While major news outlets recorded big audience jumps during the pandemic, and some outlets recorded increased trust levels, Dr Wake said there was also another emerging trend.

Just as Ms McKay noticed on her Facebook page, Dr Wake said there had been a growing number of people who didn’t trust any media for their information.

She said the best way to get accurate information was for Australians to pay for quality journalism and read widely.

Political extremists and government agents pushing misinformation online

Cyber analyst Jake Wallis works for the independent think tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which tracks online misinformation campaigns that some people read and share as news.

“There is a whole eco-system of misinformation around COVID-19 and the origins of the virus,” Dr Wallis said.

Jacob Wallis at work
Jacob Wallis tracks misinformation campaigns across the world.(Supplied)

His research has found there are “state actors” involved in propagating false information about the virus.

“We have tracked pro-Russian vaccine disinformation from Eastern Ukraine into a prominent anti-vax Facebook group here in Australia,” he said.

While Dr Wallis acknowledged the links were not always direct, “you can track narrative and the impacts on audiences as far away as here in Australia”.

And it is not just foreign government agents trying to spread misinformation online.

Dr Wallis said extremist groups, from Islamic State to far-right political organisations, were “increasingly adapt at using social media environments to target mainstream audiences with narratives and perspectives that are outside the bounds of healthy political discourse”.

He has some simple tips for avoiding misinformation online.

“Just taking some critical distance, checking the source, reading content before we share it, and retaining our own critical judgement about content that we see online,” he said.



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One of Queensland’s biggest punters stole $10 million from friends’ company to feed gambling habit, police allege


Police have charged one of Queensland’s biggest punters in one of the largest cases of gambling-related fraud in Australian history.

Police allege Paul John Montgomery stole more than $10 million from the bank accounts of the family-run civil engineering firm RDS from 2007 to 2017.

The son of a Toowoomba horse trainer, Mr Montgomery was first employed by RDS in 2004 and was a friend of the Gurney family, who have owned and operated the company since 1969.

Police alleged the 55-year-old used multiple bank accounts to transfer money from the family business into his own personal accounts.

He appeared briefly in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with one count of fraud.

“It will be alleged that these funds were then used to fund gambling, purchases of property and personal and lifestyle expenses,” Detective Senior Constable John Shilton told a media conference in Brisbane on Thursday.

When asked by the ABC how many betting agencies Mr Montgomery had allegedly transferred money into, Detective Shilton confirmed he was “gambling with multiple agencies”.

Mr Montgomery was a friend of the Gurney family, who own RDS.(ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen)

ABC Investigations has discovered Mr Montgomery was a VIP customer with a number of betting agencies and was enticed to keep gambling through various forms of corporate hospitality, including high-end tickets to State of Origin games and big race meetings such as the Cox Plate.

VIP clients are a key source of betting-industry profits. The UK gambling regulator found one major betting agency took more than 80 per cent of its deposits from its VIPs — who comprised just 2 per cent of its customer base.

Detective Acting Inspector Adam Bennett would not rule out the possibility that the role of the betting agencies in this case could also be investigated.

“Obviously, this matter still has to go through the courts and it’s all allegations at this point. But those investigation inquiries will continue.”

Wayne Gurney Project Manager and part owner RDS Group.
Wayne Gurney says his family has since rebuilt their business.(ABC News: Curtis Rodda)

‘I am feeling relieved’

Wayne Gurney is one of five brothers who owns and runs RDS.

When he heard this morning that his former general manager had been arrested and charged with fraud, he was on the way to supervise the laying of new footpaths on a housing estate south of Brisbane.

“How am I feeling? I am feeling relieved,” he said.

Mr Gurney told the ABC he and his brothers had had a tough few years, but that the business was bouncing back.

“Since that time, we’ve enacted measures to stabilise and grow the business and we have appreciated the continued support of our employees, clients and suppliers.”

Mr Montgomery was released on bail and was due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 7.

His lawyer, Leigh Rollason, was contacted by the ABC but declined to comment.



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Pilbara wildlife refuge desperate for volunteers to help feed orphaned kangaroo joeys


Little bundles hang off a cabinet and one off a pantry door. Slowly, a small head with two very large ears and wide dark eyes peeks out, and then the adorable chaos begins; it is feeding time at Lisa’s Kangaroo Retreat, in the Pilbara town of Port Hedland.

There are 51 demanding, orphaned joeys on its books.

They come from the pouches of kangaroos killed in road accidents, by hunters, or other mishaps, usually via the local veterinarian.

Some, like these three, have taken over the kitchen and lounge area.

Others are pouched, sometimes in intertwined pairs, in the triage centre which is in a separate building about 50 metres away.

Many more live in the large paddocks outside, having grown quickly to a formidable size as they prepare for release back into the wild.

Lisa Rose started the sanctuary 10 years ago with one joey orphaned after its mother was killed by hunters.

Within a week, she had 10.

“I haven’t looked back,” Ms Rose said.

500 joeys released

Mr Rose has rescued, rehabilitated and released 500 joeys over the last decade, mostly the red and euro kangaroo, or common wallaroo, species.

They usually leave the centre after about 15 to 18 months of rehabilitation.

“It’s hard work but so rewarding,” Ms Rose said.

The organisation received its first funding grant this month with $10,000 from the West Australian Government’s Wildlife Heroes grant program.

It also received $2,000 from mining company Fortescue Metals Group (FMG).

“For the last 10 years I’ve been doing it out of my own pocket,” Mr Rose said.

The centre says she is desperate for volunteers.

The retreat has 43 volunteers on the books but only a handful of regulars.

Wanted: a joey au pair

Ms Rose said the centre has been desperate for more volunteers and recently advertised for a joey au pair to live at the retreat.

Belgian traveller Evelien Rosier answered the unusual advertisement on an au pair Facebook page.

Lisa’s Kangaroo Retreat founder Lisa Rose with her joey au pair, Evelien Rosier.(ABC Pilbara: Karen Michelmore)

“I was planning to travel the world this year but due to corona I got stuck in Australia,” she said.

“But I think this is the best place to be stuck in at the moment.

“But they make a big mess during the night.”

The centre is currently fundraising money for a bus to help with its release program and for cataract eye surgery for one of its permanent resident marsupials.

Close up of a young kangaroo outside
The young kangaroos usually spend 15 to 18 months at the sanctuary before they are released.(ABC Pilbara: Karen Michelmore)

Lyla Starling, 11, is one of the centre’s most dedicated volunteers.

“I like them all. They are just very interesting animals,” she said.



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Jan Fran: Former The Feed host on diversity, fashion and sustainability


Jan Fran is a self-confessed criminal. The crime? Stealing clothes from her friends and family. Case in point: the turtleneck she’s wearing when she sits down to speak with Stellar. It turns out she has pinched it from her sister.

Of course, Fran says her sister doesn’t actually mind, since the decision to wear it aligns with a “no new clothes in 2020” policy the TV presenter has proudly adopted. It’s a sustainability-driven approach that has its roots in her time working as co-host of SBS Viceland’s The Feed, when she realised how much clothing her wardrobe had amassed.

“I didn’t just want to wear something once on television and then that’s it,” Fran, 35, says. “I thought, ‘Surely there’s got to be another way of doing this.’ That’s when we came up with this plan of not buying new clothes anymore. I wanted to wear outfits that no-one else has. I wanted to experiment and get creative.”

The decision to adopt a “no new clothes in 2020” policy the TV presenter has proudly adopted. (Picture: Steven Chee for Stellar)
media_cameraThe decision to adopt a “no new clothes in 2020” policy the TV presenter has proudly adopted. (Picture: Steven Chee for Stellar)
“I didn’t just want to wear something once on television and then that’s it.” (Picture: Steven Chee for Stellar)
media_camera“I didn’t just want to wear something once on television and then that’s it.” (Picture: Steven Chee for Stellar)

The inventive approach to getting dressed every day helped Fran become something of a fashion icon on Instagram – “That might be a bit of an exaggerated label, but I will accept it,” she laughs – and even after leaving SBS in July of last year, Fran continued with her experiment.

She says she has yet to buy a new item of clothing since. It’s a policy she’ll keep up for the rest of this year, and likely continue well into the future. “When I think of the amount of textiles and clothing we consume so quickly… there has to be a shift in consciousness.”

Fran acknowledges it’s far easier for her to follow the no-new-clothing rule because her “average size” affords her the luxury of finding items at vintage stores, and the nature of her job lets her wear what she wants – most of the time, that is.

“I had to do a corporate conference last year and I didn’t have regular clothes to wear,” she says with a laugh. “Everything was outrageous; really bright colours.”

Jan Fran with The Feed’s co-host Marc Fennell in 2018. (Picture: Richard Dobson)
media_cameraJan Fran with The Feed’s co-host Marc Fennell in 2018. (Picture: Richard Dobson)
“I had to do a corporate conference last year and I didn’t have regular clothes to wear. Everything was outrageous; really bright colours.” (Picture: Steven Chee for Stellar)
media_camera“I had to do a corporate conference last year and I didn’t have regular clothes to wear. Everything was outrageous; really bright colours.” (Picture: Steven Chee for Stellar)

Which makes her the perfect muse to execute Stellar’s vision of a post-quarantine fashion shoot, dressing up in statement pieces with playful silhouettes. And if Fran had fun mugging for the camera, she admits it wasn’t a novel experience. She plays dress-ups at home, too.

“I have this long velvet dress I really don’t need, with these excessive sleeves,” she explains. “I wore it on my balcony.”

All joking aside, Fran has spent much of the past months on serious matters, such as an upcoming memoir that covers growing up Lebanese in Sydney, particularly in the years leading up to the 2005 Cronulla riots.

For Fran, who makes regular appearances on panel shows including The Project, Q&A and Lateline, the book offers another chance to touch on and share her views around diversity, in both the industry she works in and Australia as a whole.

MORE STELLAR

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“I would love to get to the point where I’m not talking about ‘brown people on TV’, [but] where brown people on TV is normalised,” Fran says. “But to have that normalised, we have to have brown people on TV, and to have brown people on TV, you have to agitate. It doesn’t just happen.

“These are things people have been talking about and lobbying about for a long time. I think now we are starting to see it pay off. It’s a good step in the right direction and it’s credit to the people who have been pushing for this for decades. But we still have a long way to go.”

Jan Fran features in this Sunday’s Stellar.
media_cameraJan Fran features in this Sunday’s Stellar.

In late April, Fran joined co-hosts Tom Tilley, Annika Smethurst and Jamila Rizvi on The Briefing, a daily news podcast that takes a look at three to four big stories from the previous 24 hours.

“It’s about picking stories we think are important and what our audience will relate to,” Fran says. “We’re across the news of the week because we’re newshounds and we’d be doing that even if we were unemployed.”

There’s just one catch. Because it drops at 6am, Fran has to be ready to fire away with analysis and a fresh take. And as such, her weekday alarm now rings at 4am – which is not her ideal.

“I’m an afternoon person, so I’m doing it for the people of Australia,” she says, laughing. “I’m doing it with a lot of thoughts and prayers… for myself. I’m going to have a snooze now.”

The Briefing is available weekday mornings on PodcastOne Australia.

READ MORE EXCLUSIVES FROM STELLAR.



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Trickle-down theory continues to feed the rich


Continuing his examination of archaic economic models, Professor John Quiggin looks at problems associated with the trickle-down theory.

OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS, I’ve been looking at zombie ideas in economics. These are ideas that should have been killed by the evidence against them that has accumulated since the beginning of the 21st century and particularly the Global Financial Crisis. Yet they have remained influential and have made the pandemic catastrophe even worse than it would inevitably have been.

In previous instalments, I’ve looked at the Great Moderation (the idea that the economy of the early 2000s had reached a new and permanent state of stability), the efficient-market hypothesis (which stated that financial markets always make the best possible estimate of the value of any investment, public or private), and the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium macroeconomic model, which combines the previous two.

All of these zombie ideas arose within the last 50 years and we can hope that they may one day be killed, once and for all. But some zombies, like vampires, are effectively immortal. One of these is what has been called “trickle-down economics”, the idea that if the wealthy are treated with respect and not attacked with punitive taxation, everyone will be better off.

This idea has been propounded throughout history by the priests and scribes whose job it is to protect the wealthy from dangerous ideas. It can be found in the Bible, in Aesop’s fables and in the earliest written records of all cultures — doubtless, it long predates writing. In the modern world, the job of priests and scribes has been taken over by the purveyors of zombie economics. Some of these are academic economists, but many more are employed by financial institutions, PR companies and lobbyists. And as long as there are wealthy people, there will be a ready market for trickle-down advocates.

The low point of trickle-down economics came during the decades after World War II. During the “Great Compression”, market incomes were more equal than at any time before or since.

A typical CEO in a major company made 20 times the salary of the average worker, compared to a ratio of 361:1 today. Inequality was further reduced by steeply progressive income taxes and other redistributive policies. 

Yet contrary to the predictions of the trickle-down theorists, the supposedly disastrous effects of taxing the rich never materialised. Productivity and output grew steadily and more strongly than in recent decades. Middle-class prosperity seemed to be the way of the future.

The economic crisis of the 1970s was not the result of progressive taxation or inadequate rewards for the rich. But it empowered the financial sector to demand ever greater rewards, which then flowed to top executives and business owners while the majority of workers, particularly in the U.S., experienced wage stagnation.

Throughout the decades of market liberalism, workers were promised that they would share in the benefits that flowed so lavishly to the one per cent. That claim lost all credibility in the global financial crises and the years of austerity that followed it, particularly in Europe.

But the pandemic exposed the failure of the trickle-down theory in a more dramatic and deadly fashion. Although the first Westerners hit by the disease were international travellers, once it became established through local transmission, the pandemic has hit the poor and vulnerable hardest. This is a familiar pattern: the crowded slums of previous centuries were notorious as breeding grounds for disease. And, as in the past, it has proved impossible to stop the virus spreading beyond the apparently expendable poor. The most notable example is Singapore, which seemed to have beaten the pandemic, only to have it reappear in the barracks housing the poorly paid migrant workers who do the jobs Singaporean citizens will not.

The same pattern has played out elsewhere. Austerity-driven cuts have left European health systems overloaded to the point of near-collapse. Even in Australia, where the pandemic has been contained, the casualisation of the workforce has made the economy more vulnerable to the shocks arising from the lockdown.

But by far, the worst disaster has been in the U.S. With low wages, an inadequate system of unemployment insurance and no general entitlement to sick pay, workers cannot afford to take time off. As a result, lockdowns have been patchy and only partially effective. There now seems little chance the virus can be contained in time to prevent over a hundred thousand deaths as well as massive economic damage.

Far from allowing wealth to trickle down from the rich, market liberalism has created an economic underclass from whose suffering all manner of ills spread through the entire population.

Professor John Quiggin is an Independent Australia columnist and an economist and Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland. You can follow him on Twitter @johnquiggin.

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