Google is leading an effort, supported by many tech giants, to maintain work authorization for tens of thousands of people whose spouses hold H-1B visas (Lauren Feiner/CNBC)

Lauren Feiner / CNBC:

Google is leading an effort, supported by many tech giants, to maintain work authorization for tens of thousands of people whose spouses hold H-1B visas  —  – Google is leading an effort to maintain work authorization for tens of thousands of people whose spouses hold H-1B visas …

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U.S. regulators should demand banks to hold more cash for climate risks -think tank

FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

May 11, 2021

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Reserve and other bank regulators should force banks to hold more cash to guard against potential losses due to climate change and possible steps to fight it, one of Washington’s top liberal think tanks said on Tuesday.

The plan, published by the Center for American Progress and seen first by Reuters, is likely to inform a looming debate about exactly how far bank regulators should go in policing climate change as the Biden administration looks to tackle the issue on all fronts.

The paper argues that regulators could move quickly to bolster banks’ capital cushions by establishing several new safeguards, including a new capital surcharge directly tied to how much pollution banks directly finance and heightened stress tests of big banks that incorporate climate risks.

Several of the changes are likely to be strongly opposed by Wall Street, and regulators, led by the Fed, have taken a much more deliberate approach to climate than sought by progressive Democrats.

After lagging European counterparts on climate change under the Trump administration, the Fed has ramped up efforts in recent months, including devoting new staff specifically to exploring how climate change could affect the economy and the financial system.

But the Fed has yet to adopt any new policies in response to climate change, which some argue are already overdue.

“It’s positive they at least have acknowledged the severity or potential severity of these risks,” said Gregg Gelzinis, a senior policy analyst who wrote the paper. “I give them credit for that, but it’s not going to provide a lot of comfort if we don’t see action.”

The paper argues regulators should move quickly, directing banks to hold more capital if they are exposed to more heavily polluting industries, saying they could lose value as the world moves toward cleaner industries.

It adds the Fed should go farther with the largest banks, imposing a new capital surcharge directly tied to how much carbon they finance with their activities.

The report also called on the Fed to create a new exercise to test banks’ resilience to climate change over the long term, as well as integrate near-term climate risk into the existing annual stress test of bank finances.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by David Gregorio and Steve Orlofsky)

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Animal-loving couple in Launceston put wedding on hold for pet rat rescue project

Ella Wright and Caleb Godden of Launceston are due to be married in April, but their big day may be pushed back due to rats.

The couple share their living room with 38 rodents thanks to a rat rescue project they began.

“We saw that there were some [pet rats] needing homes and rescue and it just blew up,” Ms Wright said.

Hazel Godden with two of the rats rescued by her parents.(

ABC Northern Tasmania: Sarah Abbott


Starting a rat rescue

The decision to get two pet rats last year was one Ms Wright and Mr Godden took seriously.

“I did months of research before even looking at buying them, so I knew what to expect,” Ms Wright said.

But not long after acquiring Loki and Klaus, Ms Wright realised through her continued online research that relatively few other rat owners were as thorough as she had been.

“People get rats thinking they are small animals with small needs,” she said.

Close shot of a brown and white rat being patted by a female hand that has an engagement ring on it
Pet rats are more difficult and costly to care for than many people think, Ms Wright says.(

ABC Northern Tasmania: Sarah Abbott


But rats, Ms Wright explains, have “complex needs” which, along with the cost of keeping them, result in many rat owners not caring for their animals adequately, and not wanting to keep them for long.

This situation, which Ms Wright said was exacerbated by pet owners returning to work and school after COVID restrictions ended, was one she felt she must address.

Rehoming rehabilitated rats

Most of the rats in the rescue project arrived after having been deemed “too old, ugly, unruly or disabled” to be kept by their previous owners, and rehabilitation was the primary purpose of the project.

Beyond addressing the rats’ physical needs, Ms Wright and Mr Godden also tend to their mental and emotional health.

Rats that go on to meet health and behavioural requirements set by Ms Wright then become candidates for rehoming.

Two baby rats, one without eyes open yet, being held by two hands
Baby rats for sale online are often bred at rodent mills, Ms Wright says.(

ABC Northern Tasmania: Sarah Abbott


Potential owners must complete a “lengthy questionnaire” and an interview with Ms Wright to establish their ability to provide a “healthy, happy” rat home.

“[Among other things], we try to ensure that people are not going to live-feed our rats [to reptiles],” she said.

“If that happened, I would be devastated.”

Ms Wright creates a detailed “surrender profile” for each adopted rat, which she gives to its new owners, along with the promise of around-the-clock availability for consultation.

“[Running the rescue project] is 24-7 … but I do plan on taking a little bit of time off … for my wedding,” Ms Wright said.

A white and pale tan rat with pink eyes sitting on a pink folder with plastic sleeves containing a typed document
Muffin the rescued rat investigates her surrender profile.(

ABC Northern Tasmania: Sarah Abbott


Rats are top priority

Even the wedding, Ms Wright admits, may take a backseat to the rats, just as many other things in her life with Mr Godden have.

Man wearing cap sitting on couch patting a pale grey pet rat on the head
Mr Godden says many people don’t give rats a chance.(

ABC Northern Tasmania: Sarah Abbott


Money that would otherwise be saved for the wedding was currently set aside for rat surgeries, including an operation to remove a tumour from a grey male rat named Pumbaa.

“We are saving up for that … so that he can live a longer life,” Ms Wright said.

Extra funds will also be required to double the size of the rat rescue project, which Ms Wright and Mr Godden plan to do down the track.

“Obviously, that will come when we can afford a bigger house to put them all in,” Ms Wright said.

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Human Teeth Hold the Secrets of Ancient Plagues

Zhang: This is what I find so fascinating. If the bacteria are largely the same, why don’t we have Black Death anymore or big outbreaks of bubonic plague?

Krause: First of all, we changed our lifestyle quite a bit. We are just living in much more hygienic conditions. Plague is actually not usually transmitted between people, but between animals and people, and usually the vector is a flea. We don’t live with mice and rats in the house as much.

Also, the type of rodents changed. In the medieval time, when the Black Death happened, we had a very large population of black rats—much, much bigger than today. And in fact, they were largely replaced by brown rats, Rattus norvegicus. Now, brown rats are very different in their behavior. They live in the sewage, and they live in the ground. They don’t live under the roof. The black rat was called the roof rat. They were living where people stored their grain, and when people still had the grain storage in the house, that’s where the rats were.

But people that do have exposure to animals, like people that live in the countryside, people that go hunting, they are usually the people that contract plague these days. There’s several cases in the U.S. every year. And there are warning signs if you go to the Grand Canyon: Don’t feed the squirrels, because you could get plague. It’s actually moving in the U.S. from the West Coast to the East Coast with rodent populations.

Zhang: I live in New York, so I guess we have that to look forward to at some point.

Krause: And you have a lot of rats in New York.

Zhang: Yes, but they’re brown rats!

Krause: Fortunately, yes.

Zhang: The spread of brown rats through global shipping routes is one of the big ecological stories of the past several centuries. Environmentally, it’s been devastating, especially for a lot of island ecosystems, so it’s really interesting to think about the role they might have played in spreading disease—or not spreading it.

Krause: Some people speculate that the brown rat saved us from the plague. One of the mysteries is that the plague disappeared in the beginning of the 18th century, when you still have rats, when you still have hygienic conditions which are not great. What happens in Europe is that the new rat gets introduced. The brown rat arrives—there’s some historical documentation around the 1720s—and then it starts spreading. Actually, wherever the brown rat moves, the black rat is getting replaced, because they are really aggressive toward black rats. The black rats disappear. It’s ironic, almost, that people, when they see rats today, they think about the plague and How horrible. But maybe that rat that you see today, like in New York in the subway, is actually the one that saved us from the plague.

Zhang: I think this really speaks to how disease is contingent on human behavior. We might think of diseases as things that just exist in nature—they’re out there and they’re trying to kill us. But what’s happening is that these pathogens are only successful if they find and exploit the seams in human behavior. We created the conditions for the plague because we started living in cities, because we started living with rats, because we have fleas.

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Key injuries mount as the Bulldogs hold off GWS

Despite the hype of the rivalry between GWS and the Western Bulldogs, the two teams have not delivered a classic contest in quite a while.

That cold streak, literally, continued in Canberra on Friday night as the Dogs held off the Giants in a dour affair in freezing conditions.

The once mighty GWS midfield was dominated by the Bulldogs, who did enough in the last quarter to push out to a 39-point win.

Here’s everything you need to know!

The Difference: Bulldogs engine room too good

Much has been made of the Bulldogs midfield this year and their dominance was on full display in Canberra.

They won the centre clearances 16-6 in a game where field position was vital, given the slow pace of play and the numbers behind the ball.

It was devastating in the last quarter, with the Dogs setting up four goals directly from centre bounces.

Jack Macrae was his prolific best, finishing with 38 disposals, while Adam Treloar picked up 34.

The Medical Room: Early hamstrings for both teams, late worries for the Dogs

Western Bulldogs midfielder Lin Jong’s run of awful luck continues, suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter of his return game.

Jong has been hampered by knee, shoulder and even appendix injuries in recent years and looks set for another stint on the sidelines.

Ruckman Tim English was knocked out in a marking contest, with Aaron Naughton’s knee collecting him in the head.

Star Bulldog Josh Dunkley also came from the ground late in the fourth quarter with a dislocated shoulder. He returned to the game before the shoulder popped out a second time.

The Giants also lost a player early, with All-Australian defender Nick Haynes also going off with a hamstring injury.

How GWS replaces him, with Phil Davis already on the sidelines, will be a point of interest through the week.

What’s next?

The Giants travel to take on Adelaide next Saturday afternoon, while the Bulldogs stay on the Friday night stage, facing Richmond on the MCG.


GWS Giants: 1.1, 4.5, 6.8, 9.11. (65)

Western Bulldogs: 2.3, 5.7, 6.11, 15.14. (102)


GWS Giants: Greene 4, Taranto, Stone, Himmelberg, Hopper, Ward

Western Bulldogs: Dale 2, Liberatore 2, Bruce 2, McNeil 2, Naughton 2, Hunter, Treloar, Bontempelli, Johannisen, Macrae


GWS Giants: Greene, Ash, Taranto, Hopper, Taylor, Cumming

Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Dunkley, Bontempelli, Hunter, Treloar, Liberatore, Dale


GWS Giants: Haynes (hamstring), O’Halloran (shoulder)

Western Bulldogs: Jong (hamstring), Dunkley (shoulder), English (head)
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Japan to hold 1st large-scale military drills with US and France amid South China Sea tensions — RT World News

The exercise will start in the south of Japan from May 11, marking the first time the three nations will have held a drill with ground troops, as tensions simmer with Beijing over activity in the East and South China Seas.

The announcement of the joint exercise was made by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and the defense minister on Friday, as the nation aims to strengthen its military cooperation with allies in the region.

“By strengthening cooperation between Japan, the United States and France, we’d like to further improve the tactics and skills of the Self-Defense Forces in defending remote island territories,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, in an apparent jab at China’s claim over islands in the East and South China Seas.

Relations have become strained between China and Japan over activity around disputed land in the region, known by Tokyo as the Senkaku Islands, and Beijing as the Diaoyu Islands, which both sides claim as their own territory.

Chinese ships have entered the territorial waters around the islands in recent weeks and America recently held a sole military drill around the island, although no US troops landed on the territory and Japan didn’t participate.

Also on
‘Not anti-China’: EU defends plan to step up activity in Indo-Pacific region amid South China Sea tension

The three-nation military drills come as the Philippines has protested directly to China for failing to remove its ships from the South China Sea. Manilla argues that hundreds of Chinese military vessels are encroaching on disputed sections of the South China Sea, while Beijing claims that no soldiers are present and that they are only fishing ships.

Beijing has defended its right to claim territory in the East and South China Seas, using a line of demarcation known as the ‘nine-dash line’ to claim it has historic rights to control of the area. China has rejected allegations of military aggression to secure control of the region, claiming it is simply protecting an area that already belongs to them, upholding their “sovereignty, rights and interests.”

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Police hold ‘significant concerns’ for missing Melbourne woman Maryam Hamka

Police in Melbourne have “significant concerns” for a Melbourne woman who disappeared more than a week ago.

Maryam Hamka , 36, of Brunswick, was last seen on April 10 as she was leaving a Woolworths store on Albert Street, Brunswick at 5:30pm.

Ms Hamka told her family she was going to visit a friend in Brighton.

She left her home in Barkly Street, Brunswick, with a bag of clothes and was picked up by a male companion. Police are still trying to confirm who that was.

Ms Hamka was not reported missing by her family for five days after she was last seen.

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper from the Missing Persons Squad at Victoria Police said Ms Hamka has had a “problematic” relationship with her family.  

“It wasn’t unusual for her to be away and not be in contact for several days,” Inspector Stamper said.

“But as the days mounted, is my understanding, their concerns were raised and linked with the lack of presence on her phone, social media, that’s why the family have finally come to police.

Police executed a search warrant at an address in Well Street, Brighton on Friday night and arrested a 45-year-old man, who is understood to be a former partner.

He was charged with offences unrelated to Ms Hamka’s disappearance on Saturday night, police confirmed.

He has been remanded to appear in court on April 30.

Residents in Well Street would recognise Ms Hamka, Inspector Stamper said on Saturday.

“If they saw or heard anything suspicious, particularly around Saturday evening, the 10th of April into the Sunday morning [we urge them to]  contact Crime Stoppers.”

Inspector Stamper said some items had been removed from the house.  

He said officers were reviewing CCTV taken from the supermarket to ascertain if she was with anyone.

Ms Hamka is described as 165 centimetres tall, with a thin build, long black hair and an olive complexion. She was last seen wearing a black dress.

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Carlton Blues’ Jack Silvagni to have shoulder surgery; Geelong Cats to hold back Jeremy Cameron

The Blues’ forward Zac Fisher will also require an operation to remove a bone spur in his ankle, with the 22-year-old expected to miss another six weeks.

The Blues also will be without luckless Caleb Marchbank for the rest of 2021 after the tall defender tore an anterior cruciate ligament. Marchbank is contracted for next year and thus assured of retaining his position on the list.

Meanwhile, Geelong are leaning towards holding back Jeremy Cameron for another week, with the star recruit unlikely to play against North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday.

The spearhead, who arrived at the Cats from Greater Western Sydney via a trade last season, is yet to make an appearance for the Cats in the home and away season after suffering his second hamstring injury for the year during the week leading into the round one clash against Adelaide.

Geelong fans are likely to have to wait at least another week for star recruit Jeremy Cameron to make his Cats debut.Credit:Getty Images

Although he has been progressing well as he builds towards making his return, the Cats are likely to opt for a conservative approach with the long-term picture in mind.

Geelong coach Chris Scott referenced at a media conference last week the injury Eagles star Luke Shuey suffered when he returned from a hamstring injury in round three against Port Adelaide, saying the Cats wanted to do everything possible to mitigate the chances of a similar event befalling Cameron.


The Cats play West Coast at GMHBA Stadium in round six in what would be a searching initiation for Cameron, with the Eagles’ tall timber among the best in the competition.

The Cats’ season is yet to reach any great heights as they sit in the middle of the ladder with two wins and two losses, however they will benefit from the return of star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield and handy forward Gary Rohan, who have both been out through suspension.

Dangerfield used the three-week ban he received for his bump on Adelaide’s Jake Kelly, which led to a head clash with Kelly left concussed and with a broken nose, to build his fitness after an injury interrupted pre-season.

He was also allowed, under AFL rules, to play two VFL practice matches despite being suspended.

The injury-hit Kangaroos will have midfielder Ben Cunnington available after the veteran successfully appealed a one-match suspension at the tribunal on Tuesday night.

The Kangaroos are without their reigning best and fairest winner Luke McDonald after he suffered a pectoral injury that requires surgery. The 26-year-old is set to miss up to 12 weeks.

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Red Hill hold on for thriller win


IN a split round to kick off the 2021 season, Red Hill have held off Dromana for a one point win.

Red Hill were 20 points up at three quarter time, but Dromana made a last quarter charge and nearly clinched it.

Dromana kicked four goals to one in the last to fall just short.

Sam Fowler slotted three goals for Dromana, while Jonathon Ross and Christopher Irving scored two each for Red Hill.

It was a bad day for Edithvale-Aspendale as they were smashed by Bonbeach by over 100 points.

Playing away from home, they were only nine points down at quarter time, but it was all downhill from there.

The fourth quarter was pure humiliation, as Edithvale-Aspendale put on just one point against Bonbeach’s 51 points.

Trent Dennis-Lane was the best for Bonbeach, slotting seven goals for the day. Jack Sullivan booted four, and David Armitage, Michael Turville, Justin Bennett and Tyson Murray slotted two each.

Michael Meehan was the best for Edithvale-Aspendale with three majors.

It was a worrying start to the season for Sorrento, being beaten soundly by  Rosebud.

After a strong first quarter where Rosebud kicked four goals to one, Sorrento were never in it, and went down by 55 points in the end.

Straight kicking was an issue for the Sharks with only two majors for the day (James Hallahan and Nick Corp) and nine minor scores.

The best kicking of the day for Rosebud was Jai Nanscawen with four goals.

The round completes on the weekend with Frankston YCW taking on Pines and Frankston Bombers up against Mt Eliza.

First published in the Frankston Times – 6 April 2021

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Despite no EU regulatory approval of Sputnik V, Germany to hold bilateral talks with Russia to plan purchase of Covid-19 vaccine

Germany has made plans for bilateral talks with Moscow over possible deliveries of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, should the European Union opt to verify the Russian jab, with a view to Berlin receiving doses as fast as possible.

Germany’s intent to enter negotiations with Russia was announced on Thursday by Health Minister Jens Spahn, confirming a previous report by British news agency Reuters and based on unnamed sources.

“I explained on behalf of Germany to the Council of Health Ministers of the EU, that we would discuss bilaterally with Russia, first of all, to know when and what quantities could be delivered,” the minister told WDR.

Also on
Italian politician, tired of waiting for his turn at home amid slow EU rollout, comes to Moscow to get Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

The EU’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is yet to approve Sputnik V. Despite it not being registered by the bloc, two EU countries, Hungary and Slovakia, have already unilaterally imported and started using the vaccine. Austria has also signaled that it will purchase doses.

Sputnik V has received praise in Germany from figures in the medical field, with the country’s vaccines agency chief Thomas Mertens calling it “cleverly built.”

Also on
‘I would be vaccinated with Sputnik V’: German pharma CEO praises Russia’s vaccine & ‘outstanding scientists’

Earlier this week, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that, despite deals with many other nations, the country’s domestic need for doses supersedes any plans to export abroad. For this reason, many Sputnik V doses used in other countries are produced abroad.

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