Voter suppression allegations in Georgia, with 10 hour queues for polling stations – Channel 4 News


Early voting in the US state of Georgia started this week and immediately long queues formed, with some people having to wait more than 10 hours to cast their vote.

There have been allegations of voter suppression, which the Georgia Secretary of State denied.

He blamed broadband problems, social distancing and record turnout for the queues.



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Fair Work Ombudsman investigates case of backpacker ‘paid $2.50 an hour’ to pick fruit


The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is investigating the case of a backpacker who says she was paid as little as $2.50 an hour and offered incentives to recruit Asian workers while fruit picking in Queensland.

Earlier this week, the ABC revealed that the regulator overseeing workplace compliance was failing to stop the exploitation of backpackers working under the Federal Government’s visa scheme.

The story featured backpacker Elin*, who told the ABC that while working under a piece-rate agreement — meaning she was paid by the volume of fruit she picked or planted — she sometimes made as little as $2.50 an hour.

In two months, she said she saved just $70.

Elin said a subcontractor who arranged her employment told her he would pay her $100 for each Asian worker she could convince to work on the farm, but she rejected the proposal, saying it was “racist”.

She said the subcontractor also made sexual advances towards her, proposing she live on his property for $500 a week.

The owner of the recruitment company the subcontractor was working for rejected her allegations and said the business was regularly audited.

Elin told the ABC she had reported her employers to the FWO.

At a Senate Select Committee on Temporary Migration hearing on Thursday, the FWO said it had looked into the case and was working to track down the people Elin claimed exploited her.

Executive director of enforcement Steven Ronson said the FWO had checked its database and found reports made in May and June that aligned with Elin’s story.

“We are working with the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations, which is responsible for their labour hire licensing provisions,” he said.

“We’ve spoken with growers, we’ve spoken with landholders, we’ve spoken with various recruitment [companies] to try and track these persons of interest, and the investigations are ongoing.

“We are fairly confident we now know at least one of the persons that could be in that story.”

A woman's hands on her lap.
Elin worked on farms in regional Queensland.(ABC News: Colin Hertzog)

FWO defends reliance on education over enforcement

The ABC’s investigation revealed the FWO’s approach to stamping out the ongoing exploitation of backpackers on Australian farms favoured education over other enforcement tools.

Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws showed the FWO completed 1,412 formal disputes related to migrant workers last year, and just 14 per cent were dealt with via enforcement and compliance.

The rest — 86 per cent — were dealt with via education and dispute resolution.

Senator Raff Ciccone, who is chairing the Senate committee, asked the FWO whether the watchdog “had the right balance between education and enforcement”.

Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah defended the regulator’s reliance on education, saying they were “complementary tools”.

“As an approach, education, engagement and enforcement I think work very well for visa workers as a complete package. They do complement each other,” she said.

“We do also have a very strong enforcement response in the area of migrant workers as well.”

*Name has been changed



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Unions seize on 11th hour demands that Boris Johnson introduces facemasks in schools


Boris Johnson today appeared to lay the groundwork for a humiliating U-turn on pupils wearing face masks as he said ‘if we need to change the advice then of course we will’. 

Currently head teachers in England are being told that face coverings are not necessary as long as schools adhere to hygiene rules. 

But Nicola Sturgeon has said secondary school pupils in Scotland will be required to wear masks when in communal areas and when travelling between classes, piling the pressure on the PM.

That move was confirmed this morning by Scotland’a Education Secretary John Swinney who said secondary schools will be given ‘obligatory guidance’ that pupils should wear masks when outside the classroom from next Monday. 

Downing Street and senior ministers have insisted in recent days that there were no plans to to review the guidance in England.

But Mr Johnson has now signalled there could be an imminent change in approach as he said: ‘On the issue of whether or not to wear masks in some contexts – you know, we’ll look at the the changing medical evidence as we go on.

‘If we need to change the advice then of course we will.’ 

He added: ‘If there are things we have to do to vary the advice on medical grounds, we will, of course, do that.

‘But as the chief medical officer, all our scientific advisers, have said, schools are safe.’ 

His comments came as the Welsh government announced it will conduct a review into whether face masks should be worn in its schools. 

Teaching unions have seized on the issue, with the Association of School and College Leaders demanding Mr Johnson change tack and follow Ms Sturgeon’s lead ahead of schools in England reopening next week.  

The Government is desperately trying to persuade parents to send their children back to school amid lingering safety fears and the face masks issue risks undermining the efforts of ministers. 

There is now growing speculation that Ms Sturgeon’s decision to act first on face masks in schools will ultimately force Number 10 to change its approach. 

It would not be the first time that the SNP leader has humiliated Mr Johnson during the pandemic. 

She has repeatedly gazumped the PM throughout the crisis, taking action before the UK Government on things including announcing a ban on large social gatherings, closing schools and saying that the original three week lockdown would be extended.     

Ms Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament on August 20

Boris Johnson says face masks are not necessary in schools, but Nicola Sturgeon has signalled secondary school pupils in Scotland will be asked to wear them when travelling between classes 

There is growing speculation that Mr Johnson, pictured during a visit to a shipyard in Devon today, will ultimately be forced into a U-turn on the masks in schools issue

There is growing speculation that Mr Johnson, pictured during a visit to a shipyard in Devon today, will ultimately be forced into a U-turn on the masks in schools issue

Business Secretary Alok Sharma today said there are 'no current plans to review the guidance on face coverings in schools'

Business Secretary Alok Sharma today said there are ‘no current plans to review the guidance on face coverings in schools’

Unions tell ministers head teachers will not fine parents who keep children at home

Headteachers won’t fine parents who decide to keep their children home from school next week, unions have signalled to Downing Street.

Number 10 insisted compulsory fines should be used as a ‘last resort’ to force parents into bringing their children into the classroom when schools reopen.

But unions, who have opposed the return to the classroom because of the danger coronavirus poses to teachers, told The Telegraph fines were ‘counterproductive’.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Talking about fines now is unhelpful. Members cannot say don’t use them but they are more motivated by co-operation rather than coercion.’ 

Nick Gibbs, the schools minister, said strict attendance was ‘not optional’ but parents could raise any concerns they might have directly with schools. 

Headteachers have the power to impose fines of £120 per parent, which is halved if paid within 21 days.

If the fine goes unpaid and the case makes it to court some parents could be left with a £2,500 fine and a three-month prison sentence. 

Fines are usually brought in after five days of non-attendance.  

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NAS/UWT, the second biggest teaching union, said schools needed to work with parents ‘constructively’.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and children’s charity Unicef issued guidance at the weekend that children aged 12 and over should wear face coverings like adults, particularly if they cannot stay six feet apart from others. 

Ms Sturgeon immediately launched a review of their use in Scottish schools, which have now been reopen for two weeks, and said they would probably have to be worn in areas such as ‘corridors and communal areas’.

In response, the Association of School and College Leaders called on Mr Johnson to conduct his own review, in a move that will frustrate the Government as it tries to assuage parent and pupil safety concerns. 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, told the BBC this morning: ‘The guidance which had come from Westminster, it wasn’t just that it said “young people don’t need to wear face masks”, it was also saying that actually they shouldn’t be wearing it because it increases hygiene risks because they are fiddling around with their masks all the time.’

He added: ‘If we are going to have a screeching U-turn from the Government could we have that now so that at least we can plan for the start of term?’ 

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said advice from the WHO ‘ought to be listened to’.

‘We have to stay abreast of the science, so when the World Health Organisation says that children over 12 should wear masks in communal areas at school, that ought to be listened to,’ he said. 

Mr Johnson has said it is ‘vital’ for pupils to go back to school next week, with the PM insisting that the risk of children catching the disease is ‘very, very, very small’ and the risk of them suffering badly from it is ‘very, very, very, very, very small indeed’.   

Mr Sharma today signalled the UK Government is intending to stand firm on the masks issue as he said the advice had been ‘consistent’ for months.    

He told LBC Radio: ‘Public Health England does not recommend face coverings in school and the reason for this is because pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups and we have provided additional guidance, together with Public Health England, in terms of how you can keep schools safe.

‘As I said, there are no current plans to review the guidance on face coverings in schools.’

He later told Sky news that ‘there is no current plan to review that particular guidance’ as he rejected suggestions that the Government could simply make wearing masks in schools voluntary. 

Gavin Williamson promises all schools will get stock of Covid home tests ahead of next week’s reopening 

Under-fire Gavin Williamson today broke cover to guarantee every school in England will be supplied with coronavirus home tests to hand out to parents when they reopen next week.

The Education Secretary used an interview to pledge that teachers would be able to send ill children home with a kit so that a family member can use it to quickly determine whether they have Covid-19.

Staff will also be allowed to use the swab kits under guidance that says they should be handed out by teachers ‘where they think providing one will significantly increase the likelihood of them (the ill person) getting tested.’

Under guidance issued by the Department for Education, if the child tests negative either using a home kit or after visiting a testing centre they can return to school with the minimum of disruption.

If they test positive they quarantine at home while the school takes steps to limit the spread.

But many have questioned whether every school getting Covid-19 home testing kits before September is an achievable feat in the first place – with sceptical parents vowing to hold the Education Secretary to his word.

General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union Dr Patrick Roach said: ‘We wait with interest to see more detail about the Education Secretary’s promise of home testing kits for use by schools.

‘It is important that this latest announcement from Ministers delivers on substance and that there is an adequate supply of testing kits to help keep schools safe not just on the first day back at school but throughout the term and beyond.’

The Business Secretary also claimed pupils are actually at lower risk of catching coronavirus in school than they are outside school.  

He said: ‘I think you have to look also at the science of this and you will have seen the messaging that has come from the chief medical officers, the deputy chief medical officers, saying very clearly that the chances of being infected from Covid in a school is very, very small.

‘If you look at the statistics from Public Health England, in June we had on average around one million children in pre-school and primary settings and there were 70 incidents of infection.

‘The chances of being infected in school are incredibly low. In fact the chances of being infected are higher outside a school setting so we have to go on the basis of the scientific and medical advice that we get and that is very clear at this stage which is that there is not a recommendation for wearing face coverings in schools.’  

Meanwhile, sources suggested that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is now ‘moving towards’ a position that teenagers in the capital should wear masks in schools where they cannot socially distance. 

It is understood that Mr Khan has asked his team to consult with colleagues in Scotland where schools have been back for two weeks.

Dr Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation, said face masks in school could help lower the risk of spreading infection. 

She told Times Radio: ‘The idea is that you limit the amount of virus that comes from a person’s mouth or nose while talking loudly, especially when you can’t physically distance.

‘In schools there are a lot of places where it is difficult to physically distance.

‘The wearing of a mask increases the other things you do – washing hands, social distancing and ensuring that you don’t touch your hands nose, eyes with unwashed hands.

‘A mask is an extra thing, it is not the only thing. It is not an obligatory thing, it is something that needs to be negotiated.’

The Government is under growing pressure to change its approach after a YouGov survey found a majority of people  – 52 per cent – believe secondary school children should wear masks.   

On widening the use of masks in English schools, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday: ‘We are not in a position where we are suggesting that, because we believe there is a system of controls that are there in place for all schools for children to be able to return safely and for staff to be able to operate safely within those schools.’

Some experts have questioned the wisdom of asking children to wear masks amid fears it could actually spread the virus.  

Professor Russel Viner, the president of the Royal College of Pediatricians and a member of the government’s SAGE advisory committee, told Radio 4: ‘There are a lot of concerns for mask wearing for children, particularly younger children. 

‘They touch their face because they are constantly worried about the mask, so it could potentially spread the virus more. 

‘There is very little evidence for the use of masks in schools.’  

Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said yesterday the evidence on whether children over 12 should wear masks in schools was ‘not strong’.   

The WHO says children aged 12 and over ‘should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular where they cannot guarantee at least a one metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area’.

But the Department for Education has said head teachers must not force pupils or staff to wear them.

Its guidance states the benefits from wearing masks on public transport or in shops do not apply to the school environment, and misuse could increase the risk of transmissions. 

Pupils wear face masks at a school in Belfast yesterday after returning to school for the first time since March

Pupils wear face masks at a school in Belfast yesterday after returning to school for the first time since March 

And there are also worries about the impact of masks on teaching and communication, especially for children with learning difficulties.

Instead, ‘changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measure for controlling the spread of the virus’, according to the guidance.

Exceptions are where children require intimate care, or if they become unwell with coronavirus symptoms and teachers are unable to maintain a two-metre distance.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries says pupils are more likely to be hit by a bus than catch Covid 

Pupils are more likely to be hit by a bus on their way to school than catch coronavirus in the classroom, the deputy chief medical officer claimed yesterday.

Dr Jenny Harries said the risk of children being involved in a traffic accident or of catching the flu are ‘probably higher than the current risk’ posed by the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Nick Gibb this morning insisted parents will be fined if they refuse to send their children back to school next week.

He also said the Government is sticking by its advice to teachers that they do not need to wear masks despite a growing row with unions over staff safety.

Public Health England data has shown that teachers are more likely to be infected than their pupils, after one in 23,000 students tested positive during the partial reopening of schools before the summer holidays.

 

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘If a school puts in place the measures that are in the guidance that we issued in early July… then masks are not necessary for staff or pupils.’

The Department for Education said: ‘We have consistently followed Public Health England advice, which does not recommend the use of face coverings in schools because there are a range of protective measures in place, including children staying in consistent groups.

‘We have set out the system of controls schools should use, including cleaning and hygiene measures, to substantially reduce the risk of transmission of the virus when they open to all children in the coming weeks.’ 

An under-fire Mr Williamson yesterday broke cover to guarantee every school in England will be supplied with coronavirus home tests to hand out to parents when they reopen next week.

The Education Secretary used an interview to pledge that teachers would be able to send ill children home with a kit so that a family member can use it to quickly determine whether they have Covid-19.

Staff will also be allowed to use the swab kits under guidance that says they should be handed out by teachers ‘where they think providing one will significantly increase the likelihood of them (the ill person) getting tested.’

Under guidance issued by the Department for Education, if the child tests negative either using a home kit or after visiting a testing centre they can return to school with the minimum of disruption.

If they test positive they must quarantine at home while the school takes steps to limit the spread.

But many have questioned whether every school getting Covid-19 home testing kits before September is an achievable feat in the first place – with sceptical parents vowing to hold the Education Secretary to his word.

General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union Dr Patrick Roach said: ‘We wait with interest to see more detail about the Education Secretary’s promise of home testing kits for use by schools.

‘It is important that this latest announcement from Ministers delivers on substance and that there is an adequate supply of testing kits to help keep schools safe not just on the first day back at school but throughout the term and beyond.’

Ministers have said that it will be compulsory for pupils to attend classes, with the risk of fines for parents who did not comply – although Mr Williamson said they would only be used as a last resort.

Local authorities can fine parents £120 – cut to £60 if paid within 21 days – over a child’s absence from school, with the threat of prosecution if they fail to pay.

Mr Williamson said: ‘In terms of fining, we would ask all schools to work with those parents, encourage them to bring their children back, deal with concerns that they have and fining would be very much the last resort, as it has always been.’

Public Health England data showed the partial reopening of schools before the summer holidays resulted in just one in 23,000 children catching coronavirus.

Some 70 children tested positive out of more than 1.6 million who were in class, with many confirmed as having the disease actually being asymptomatic.

But some 128 staff members tested positive, with most transmission believed to have taken place between adults.

Public Health England data has shown that teachers are more likely to be infected than their pupils, after one in 23,000 students tested positive during the partial reopening of schools before the summer holidays.

Yesterday, 17 staff and two pupils have tested positive for coronavirus at a school in Dundee just two weeks after schools in Scotland reopened following lockdown.  



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Wayne Bennett makes 11th hour pitch to Joseph Suaalii as D-day nears for star teen


“One thing I know about all of it is that if he comes to this club, there is no one more experienced than I am at bringing young players through the NRL,” Bennett said.

“I’ve brought that many young players through from my 33 years of coaching. They need good people around them and they need good clubs to come to and I think South Sydney know that.

“I don’t think that, I know South Sydney provides all of that.”

Joseph Suaalii is a young man in demand.

Joseph Suaalii is a young man in demand.Credit:Paul Seiser/SPA Images

The ARL Commission will consider bending rules for Suaalii that state players must not make their NRL debut until they turn 18.

Bennett was happy to hear that when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

“Players mature a lot earlier these days,” Bennett said. “They physically don’t mature earlier, but they certainly do mentally because of all that is happening around them. At 17 or 18, there’s not much difference. He will turn 18 in that year as well.”

South Sydney’s senior management has long believed Suaalii could be the club’s long-term fullback, but with Latrell Mitchell now entrenched in the famous No.1 jersey, the star teen may be forced to bide his time on the wing.

Bennett has traditionally erred on the side of easing players with considerable talent at such a young age through the grades and he intends on treating Suaalii the same way.

“Talent is the beginning for all these young men and he has lots of talent,” Bennett said. “There is a lot of work in front of them all, but he came into the pre-season with us and he certainly looked like he was prepared to pay the price you have to pay to have all of that talent come to the forefront.

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“A lot of young guys lose their way who do have talent because they won’t make the sacrifices that are necessary. But he’s certainly got the talent and I’m sure he will make the most of it.”

Mitchell will make his return from a two-game suspension on Thursday night and will proudly pull on Souths’ Indigenous jersey.

“It means so much to the players here so you have to buy into it and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Bennett said. “South Sydney has a rich history here with Indigenous people and I’m just privileged to be a part of this game. I know how much it means to the players and the club.”



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Auditions – One Crowded Hour


The Tasmanian Theatre Company are inviting interested performers – no experience necessary – to submit self tests for an upcoming production. The pre-filmed multimedia roles will be utilised in Terence O’Connell’s One Crowded Hour: Neil Davis, Combat Cameraman.

Neil Davis was a daring Tasmanian filmmaker and news cameraman, immortalised in Tim Bowden’s 1987 biography. He was best known for his coverage of various conflicts in Southeast Asia. “A cool, utterly dedicated professional, a legendary gambler who often relied on his intuitive sixth sense to stay alive, and a man who was equally at home with presidents and street beggars,” is how Booktopia describes him.

Dates

Filming will take place between 11 and 14 August. Actors will only be called for a maximum of four hours but must have reasonable and/or flexible availability during business hours of this week.

Remuneration

Remuneration is dependent on the size of the role and time required. All rates are slightly above MEAA Equity minimums.

Should the production go on to tour, residuals will be payable.

The Roles

FILMED CHARACTERS

Neil Davis.

o   AUNT LILLIAN: Caucasian woman. Age range: 60-70. Ex WW1 Army Nurse. Warm, wise, adventurous.
o   CHOU PING (‘JULIE’) YEN/DAVIS: Taiwanese woman. Age range: 25-35. Preferably able to speak/sing Taiwanese Mandarin.
o   PRINCE OF UBUD: Balinese man. Age range: 40-50. Preferably able to speak a small amount of Bahasa Indonesia or Balinese.
o   GENERAL DUONG VAN MINH: Vietnamese male. Age range 50-60. Final President, for a matter of days, before the fall of Saigon.
o   DANG VAN: North Vietnamese Male. Age range: Early teens.
o   TRAN THAI SA: South Vietnamese girl. Small, Age range: 10-12. A child street hawker who sells cigarettes to soldiers in Saigon.
o   U.S. TV NEWSREADER: Caucasian Male. Age range: Middle aged.
o   AUSTRALIAN TV NEWSREADER: Caucasian Male. Age range: Middle aged.
o   COMMUNIST SOLDIER: Vietnamese Male. Age Range: 20’s. Preferably able to speak Vietnamese.
o   MR. MINH: Vietnamese Male. Age Range: 60’s. Tailor who made Neil Davis’ correspondent’s suits.
o   PALACE BUREAUCRAT: Vietnamese Male. Age Range: 20’s.

PORTRAIT CHARACTER MODELS

o   ADAM FEATHERSTONE: Caucasian Male. Age Range: 50-60. Haunted looking small town eccentric.
o   TROOPER CHILCOTT: Caucasian Male. Age Range: 40-50. Small town policeman.
o   GREAT GRANDFATHER DAVIS: Caucasian Male. Age Range: 50-60. Newspaper Editor.
o   MARJORIE DAVIS: Neil Davis’ mother. Caucasian Female. Age Range: Middle Aged. Farmer.
o   GEOFF DAVIS: Neil Davis’ father. Caucasian Male. Age Range: Middle Aged. Farmer.
o   JIMMY DAVIS: Neil Davis’ brother. Caucasian Male. Age Range: Early teens.
o   JOHNNY WRIGHT: Neil Davis’ mate. Caucasian Male. Age Range: Late 20’s. Cameraman, larrikin.
o   VINCE TUCKER: Caucasian Male. Age Range: 50-60. Tradesman, tool sharpener.
o   VIOLIN TEACHER: Caucasian Female. Age Range 50’s-60’s.
o   NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOURS: Chinese Family, at least two parents (one male one female) and two children, older generations also welcome.

The Show

“Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife,

Throughout the sensual world proclaim,

One crowded hour of glorious life

Is worth an age without a name”

The legendary combat cameraman Neil Davis wrote the last two lines of Mordaunt’s verse in the flyleaf of every work diary he kept in Southeast Asia. It was his motto and summed up his philosophy. One Crowded Hour, adapted from Tim Bowden’s bestselling biography, evokes the ‘glorious life’ of the boy from Tasmania who brought enduring reports of modern warfare direct from the battlefront to the world’s television screens.

Seen through the lenses of Davis’ Sorell boyhood Box Brownie, the 35 millimetre camera he used at the Tasmanian Government Film Unit and the 16 millimetre Bell & Howell he used to capture the fall of Saigon, One Crowded Hour uses monologue, historical footage, created imagery and an atmospheric soundtrack to explore the ‘crowded hour’ of the likeable larrikin, the student of Asian cultures, the confidant of major political figures and the seemingly fearless war correspondent who was Neil Davis.

APPLY NOW!

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent=”no” parentcategory=”writers” show = “category” hyperlink=”yes”]



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Australia plans pop-up carparks to prevent rush hour virus crush



Increased traffic is seen in the city centre following the easing of restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

May 18, 2020

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian officials planned to open pop-up parking lots and extra bicycle lanes in Sydney and other cities as the country’s most populous state began its first full week on Monday of loosened lockdown measures.

New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people to avoid peak-hour trains and buses as they return to work to ensure that social distancing between commuters is maintained.

Australia’s states and territories are beginning to allow more public activity under a three-step government plan after two months of shutdowns that officials have credited with keeping the country’s exposure to the pandemic relatively low.

NSW, which accounts for around half of Australia’s 7,045 COVID-19 cases, reported just one new infection in the previous 24 hours. The state also reported one additional death, the first nationally in almost a week, taking the nationwide toll to 99.

“We normally encourage people to catch public transport but given the constraints in the peak and the fact we are exercising social distancing, we want people to consider different ways to get to work,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

“Places in and around the CBD, but also in employment hubs, will be investigated and more pop-up parking stations will be made available,” she added.

For people still catching trains and buses, the government is ordering “intense and ongoing cleaning” across the public transport network, she said.

Neighbouring Victoria state, which along with NSW accounts for more than half Australia’s 25 million population, reported six new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours to Monday.

Twelve McDonald’s Australia restaurants in Victoria were closed after a delivery driver tested positive to the illness, local media reported. McDonald’s Australia is a separate corporate entity to McDonald’s Corp <MCD.N>.

“It is a difficult decision, but it is the right one to make,” McDonald’s Australia CEO Andrew Gregory was quoted telling Nine Entertainment.

The driver was not symptomatic and no McDonald’s diners were at risk of contracting the illness from the driver, Gregory added, according to the network.

The northern state of Queensland reported two new cases over the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Australia is joining dozens of countries pushing for an investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus when the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation, meets in Switzerland on Monday for its first annual meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Renju Jose; editing by Jane Wardell)





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France gives online firms one hour to pull ‘terrorist’ content


The law was passed in France’s National Assembly

Social media and other websites will have just one hour to delete offending content under a new law passed by France’s parliament.

The one-hour deadline applies to content that French authorities consider to be related to terrorism or child sexual abuse.

Failing to act could result in fines of up to 4% of global revenue – billions of euros for the largest online firms.

But critics say the new law could restrict freedom of expression.

The new rules apply to all websites, whether large or small. But there are concerns that only internet giants such as Facebook and Google actually have the resources to remove content as quickly as required.

Digital rights group La Quadrature du Net said the requirement to take down content that the police considered “terrorism” in just one hour was impractical.

“If the site does not censor the content, for example because the report is sent on a weekend or overnight, the police can require [the whole site] to be blocked everywhere in France by internet service providers,” it said.

It said the power to decide what should be removed should not lie with the police but with judges.

Incitement to hatred

France’s new law reflects one proposed at the European Union level, where law-makers last year suggested a one-hour deadline for the removal of content.

But that proposal proved controversial and is currently in limbo.

France pushed ahead with its own version of the law despite the concerns in Europe.

Under the new French law, content judged to be illegal – but not relating to terrorism or child sexual abuse – will have to be taken down within 24 hours of notification.

That includes posts inciting hatred, violence, racism, and sexual harassment.

Failure to remove content could attract a fine of up to €1.25m (£1.1m).

France’s regulator, the Superior Council of the Audiovisual (CSA), will have the power to impose heftier fines of up to 4% of global turnover for continuous and repeated violations.

Laetitia Avia, the MP from President Macron’s LREM party who proposed the bill, said the law would protect victims, while reaffirming the country’s commitment to freedom of expression.

However, France’s Republicans party voted against the measure.

Member Constance Le Grip told the National Assembly that fighting online hatred could not come at the expense of freedom of expression.

Her colleague in the Senate Bruno Retailleau tweeted that the new law was “incompatible with respect for public freedoms”.

Facebook said it was working closely with French regulator CSA and others “on the implementation of this law”.

YouTube said it already tackled illegal content and welcomed any new partnership with governments.

Twitter’s head of public affairs in France, Audrey Herblin-Stoop, told Reuters that the company would continue to work with the government to fight illegal content and hate speech.



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Coronavirus test website slots booked up within hour of site reopening


Image copyright
PA Media

Coronavirus tests for UK key workers were booked up through the government website within an hour of it reopening, apart from some in Scotland.

The site had to close to new applicants within hours of launching on Friday, after 46,000 people tried to access it. Some 16,000 bookings were made.

Home testing kits became unavailable less than 15 minutes after bookings reopened on Saturday morning.

Tests at drive-through sites in England were booked up within an hour.

Requests for drive-through tests in Scotland are still currently available on the site.

No 10 has said appointments for tests at drive-through centres and home testing kits would become available each day from 08:00 BST, with their release staggered throughout the day.

Dr Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer at NHS Digital, said an “amazing team” had worked “all night” to enable the site to reopen on Saturday.

After home testing kits were booked up, he wrote on Twitter: “I know it’s frustrating but we’re developing more lab, supply and logistics capacity every day.

“If we’d waited until we had the full 100k, to launch, no-one would have had a test today.”

Prof Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, urged key workers showing Covid-19 symptoms to book a test on the government website.

He told BBC Breakfast there was now capacity for more than 50,000 daily tests – and that reaching 100,000 a day by Thursday remained “the aim”.

“The NHS has committed to capacity of 25,000 within NHS laboratories and we are on trajectory for that capacity to be in place,” he said.

Prof Powis added the test people can book online is a swab test to determine whether people currently have the virus – rather than whether they have had it in the past.

“I would urge people who fit in that criteria, key workers, to go back onto the website as more appointments become available,” he said.

Can I get a test?

Anyone classified as an “essential worker” who is showing symptoms can request a test in England.

The list includes NHS and social care staff, teachers, police officers and transport workers.

They and their family can also request a test if someone in their household shows symptoms.

How will I be tested?

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat.

There are two ways to get a test: at a testing site, or with a home testing kit.

Home kits will initially be limited but are being sent to NHS staff.

Most people will get their test results by text within two days.

When can I go back to work?

Provided you and/or those in your household have not tested positive, you can go back to work.

That is so long as you are well enough and have not had a high temperature for 48 hours.


Are you one of the key workers? Share your experiences by emailing .

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Karnataka Wants People In Coronavirus Quarantine To Send Them Selfies Every Hour


The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

A state in southern India has come up with a controversial solution to make sure that people quarantined at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus stay at home: It wants them to send a selfie to the government every waking hour.

According to the minister of Medical Education of the state of Karnataka, quarantined people will be required to download an app on their phones, through which they must take and send a selfie every hour to government officials from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The app will also send the person’s GPS coordinates, so that officials can verify the person’s location.

If a quarantined person doesn’t send a selfie, they might be transferred to one of the Indian government’s quarantine centers, which have become notorious for unsanitary conditions.

“Every selfie sent by Home Quarantine [sic] person is seen by Government Photo Verification team,” a press release from the ministry said. “So if wrong photos are sent then also defaulter will be shifted to Mass Quarantine.”

K. Sudhakar, Karnataka’s minister of Medical Education, did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News. Three other officials at the Karnataka Health Department did not respond to requests for comment.

On Twitter, Indians slammed the order, saying that it violated their privacy.

Earlier this month, the Indian state of Maharashtra started stamping the hands of people flying into the country with indelible ink stating the date until which they must remain in their houses.

As of Monday, India had just over a thousand reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 29 deaths. Last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi put the country’s 1.3 billion people under lockdown and canceled all flights, trains, and buses to slow the spread of the virus.

The move, which was announced hours before the lockdown came into effect, sparked panic buying of food and other essentials across the country, and left millions of migrant laborers stranded at state borders, rendering them homeless and jobless.



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