E-bike too pricey? Dance lets you subscribe to one instead


Dance, launched by SoundCloud founders Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung along with their friend Christian Springub, announced on October 22 that it raised 15 million euros ($17.8 million) in its Series A funding round to bring its e-bike subscription service to Berlin.

Dance founders (from left) Christian Springub, Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss, and Alexander Ljung

Dance’s vision of an e-bike subscription service differs from shared micromobility startups. “You get access to your own vehicle, so you’re not part of a shared pool,” says Quidenus-Wahlforss. “If it gets stolen, if it breaks down, if there’s any problems with it, then we’re there for you.” Through the accompanying app, users can schedule repairs, get their stolen e-bike replaced (for free), and manage their subscription, which costs 69 euros ($82) per month, though Dance is offering an introductory pilot price of 59 euros ($70). With SoundCloud, Quidenus-Wahlforss says, “we were part of the whole transition from owning music to renting music. . . . We think something similar could happen here.”

When you first sign up for Dance, your e-bike will be delivered to your door (in Berlin, that delivery will be via a cargo e-bike, not a truck), and you’ll get a three-day trial to test it out. Users can also cancel their subscriptions any time. The founders hope their price point makes e-bikes more accessible to everyone, without also clogging up streets with shared vehicles.

“We’ve seen an explosion of shared micromobility, where you have on-demand scooters and bikes available in many cities. And there is now some amount of chaos going on there, and there’s some consolidation,” he says. “One of the things we realized is that as a commuter, you still really want access to your own vehicle for a few reasons. It’s accessibility, that you have your vehicle whenever you need it, but also price, [where] using shared vehicles all the time is way too costly for people.” The average cost of an e-bike in Europe is about 2,000 euro ($2,374). Bike share prices range, with a Citi Bike membership in New York costing $179 a year, and Lime bikes and scooters charging a per-minute fee.

Dance first launched in Berlin in June and has since been running an email-only pilot program there with a “couple hundred” customers and bikes it has acquired from small e-bike companies, Quidenus-Wahlforss says. This funding, he says, will help them continue the research and development for their e-bike, software, and app. The startup is designing its own vehicle, which it hopes to launch some time next year. That bike will be equipped with a smart lock, and Quidenus-Wahlforss says they’re thinking a lot about anti-theft measures and the longevity of their e-bikes, since they will have to own and maintain their fleet.

While Dance is starting in Berlin, Quidenus-Wahlforss says the company has “global ambitions” and sees e-bikes as the future not only because of the pandemic but because of the climate crisis. “We think cities need to transform. The vision of the future we really believe in looks more like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, places where more than 50% of people commute regularly by bike,” he says. “We want to build a connected movement that is all about this transformation.”





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Is Donald Trump right that more Americans voting is bad for Republicans? Let’s take a look


The 2016 and 2018 US elections were historic for plenty of reasons — like the unlikely election of a businessman-turned-reality-TV star to the presidency, and the wave of diverse candidates who were elected in the backlash to it two years later.

The 2016 presidential election was also noteworthy for just how few eligible Americans actually voted — just 55 per cent. A 20-year-low for a presidential election.

The 2018 midterms were historic for the opposite reason: a nearly 100-year-high turnout, where still only 50.3 per cent of eligible Americans voted.

In both elections, roughly half of eligible Americans chose to have their say. So, what if the rest joined them?

How would future US elections change if every person who could vote, did?

A lot of money is spent trying to convince Americans to vote

From the beginning, it’s important to understand how federal elections are run in the US.

Rather than being administered by a single body like the Australian Election Commission, the US operates on a decentralised system, with each state responsible for its own elections.

The federal US government isn’t responsible for running elections.(AP: J Scott Applewhite)

It means the rules for a voter in Wisconsin can be wildly different to the rules for a voter in California.

But there is one common rule across all 50 states: Voting is optional.

“The American culture, by and large, does not like to be required to do anything,” Capri Cafaro, executive in residence at American University School of Public Affairs, said.

For American political parties, that means convincing someone to vote for you is only half the battle. The first step is convincing them to vote at all.

Every election, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by political parties, governments and corporate America on something known as Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Think television ads, flyers, doorknocking campaigns, emails, phone calls and more all trying to convince Americans to turn up to the polls.

A roll of "I Voted!" stickers
Stickers are part of the GOTV effort in America. They aren’t exactly a democracy sausage.(AP: Wilfredo Lee)

Some states also try to make voting easier by allowing things like mail-in voting, early voting, absentee voting, same-day registration, automatic registration and online registration.

Generations of GOTV efforts mean just about every trick in the book has been tried.

Short of rolling out the humble Australian democracy sausage, it still hasn’t convinced almost half of eligible Americans — somewhere in the ballpark of 100 million people — that voting is worth it.

Sausages and onion cooking on a barbecue.
The traditional Australian method of luring voters to the polls.(ABC News: Isabel Dayman)

So why doesn’t the US Government make them do it?

First, the US Federal Government can’t without a hell of a fight.

“I think one of the reasons that the Federal Government would not do that is because there would be massive pushback from a number of states and their representatives in Congress, individuals that feel very strongly about states’ rights,” Cafaro said.

And remember how Americans don’t like being told what to do by the Government?

“I don’t think that the American public, by and large, would want to be forced to vote. Because I think part of the view is that part of your right to vote is not doing it,” Cafaro said.

Another hurdle is the perception that compulsory voting would advantage one party over another.

Anthony Fowler, a professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, said that was a “critical” obstacle to any future of compulsory voting in the US.

“There would be lots of politicians who think that this is bad for them and may be bad for their own personal re-election chances. It may be bad for their party,” Fowler said.

“And that’s going to be a natural deterrent to doing anything.”

Yard signs supporting U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden
Politicians themselves are an obstacle to compulsory voting in the US.(Reuters: Al Drago)

It’s not as simple as ‘if more people voted, Trump would lose’

But it’s an entrenched idea.

Forget a massive change like compulsory voting for a second. Even simple efforts just to try to increase the number of Americans who vote often meet resistance because of the perception that more voting is bad news for Republicans.

Speaking about a Democratic Party effort to make voting easier amid the pandemic, US President Donald Trump told Fox News earlier this year:

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We can examine the President’s scenario of high levels of voting.

Let’s say US governments gave up asking nicely and did something extreme, like, copying Australia’s system of compulsory voting. Would a Republican ever be elected again?

Voting booth at Bondi beach
You can vote pretty much anywhere in Australia, wearing pretty much anything.(Fairfax Media: Edwina Pickles)

“Lots of things would change,” Fowler said.

How does he know? Because Fowler studied what happened when Australia introduced compulsory voting.

“I think the [same] logic essentially would also apply to the United States, where poor, working-class people are much less likely to vote under voluntary voting. They become more likely to vote under compulsory voting, and that does change elections and changes policy as a result,” Fowler said.

Senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Karlyn Bowman, agreed the average American voter had a higher level of education and income. But would introducing compulsory voting turn every election afterwards into a landslide for one party?

So it’s not the end of one of the United States’ major political parties as the President suggests. Here’s Fowler to explain why:

Basically, if compulsory voting suddenly dumped 130 million votes onto the American electoral map, the Republican and Democratic parties wouldn’t think twice about shifting their platforms to appeal to them.

COVID-19 made voting in 2020 even more complicated. It’s not stopping Americans

Only a few primary elections escaped the chaos coronavirus wrought on elections in the US in 2020.

But despite shifting deadlines, significant changes to methods of voting and very real concerns about the safety of casting a ballot in person, plenty of Americans still did their civic duty.

Voting stations are set up in the South Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center
Voting hasn’t been the same for Americans in 2020.(AP: Timothy D. Easley)

In the Democratic primary process, 34 million voters cast their ballots, up from 31 million in 2016 according to the New York Times.

And despite Trump running essentially unopposed in the Republican primary, 14 million voters still turned out.

After the record turnout at the 2018 midterms, the buzz about more Americans than ever voting in 2020 is growing.

But it might be too early to say what will happen.

“Either people are so disgusted, they all sit at home because they’re defeated, or everybody shows up because they feel that they’re sort of on the line.”

Voters line up outside polling boohts in Georgia
Long lines at polling booths don’t necessarily mean more Americans are turning out to vote in 2020.(Reuters: Dustin Chambers)

Bowman said reading the turnout tea leaves as a boon for one party over the other could be misguided.

Sure, voting against Trump might be a motivating factor for Democrats. But they’re also far more likely to be fearful of the pandemic (which in turn could be an excuse not to vote).

Don’t hold your breath for a future where every American votes. But change could happen

Fowler said there was a time (the late 1800s to be precise) when the records show a huge majority of Americans chose to vote.

The catch?

“That was the period where there was probably a lot of fraud, a lot of double voting, a lot of vote buying and things that we actually don’t think of as being very desirable for democracy,” he said.

In modern American history, the highest turnout in a presidential election was 62 per cent in 1960. That year featured the nail-biting contest between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy right as televisions became a fixture in US households.

Fowler said it was hard to ever see something like 70 per of Americans voting under the systems in place now.

People wait in a socially distant line at an early voting site at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfa
Americans are already voting in the 2020 election.(Reuters: Al Drago)

But there’s a way a small step towards compulsory voting could have a big impact on the outcome of a presidential election.

“Because we have the electoral college, it does mean that there’s those few critical states and what they do essentially determines who wins the presidency,” he said.

Say a small but influential state such as Pennsylvania chooses to implement compulsory voting on its own.

“It would arise somewhat organically. You know, maybe one city does it first. And then other cities in the same state are doing it because they want to make sure that they’re equally represented. And then eventually maybe have a state doing it and so on.”

So slowly … town by town, city by city, state by state … the US might find a way to a future of compulsory voting.

And they might not even need a democracy sausage to do it.



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Let’s put Mr. Rogers in charge


After Vice President Joe Biden’s demeanor at last night’s televised town hall was compared to Mr. Rogers, some folks wondered—would that be so bad? The candidate promised to restore protections for transgender people; also in the news, mixed messages in the art world.

But first, here’s your good neighbor week in review, in Haiku.

Would it be so bad
If Mr. Rogers were in
charge? To start every

day with a cheery
hello to the neighbors we
love as ourselves? To

accept all others
exactly as they are? Right
here and right now? To

say true things with care?
To stand up for what’s right and
fair by sitting down

for a friend? Love is
hard work, struggle: The sacred
job of all neighbors.

Wishing you a lovely and neighborly weekend.

Ellen McGirt
@ellmcgirt
Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com

raceAhead is edited by Aric Jenkins.





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Real estate fintech offers guaranteed price floor that lets home shoppers buy first and sell later


Article content continued

CIBC is providing advice to Properly’s clients through referrals. Peter J. Thompson/National Post files

Ruparell, who worked in private equity at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and was involved in a number of startups before co-founding Properly in 2018, said the company’s pitch has attracted some clients specifically due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. He said a couple that moved from a condominium in Toronto to a bigger home in Niagara, for example, didn’t want to let anyone into the condo because the wife was pregnant.

But he said the business model, which has drawn more than $15 million in venture capital and a dedicated pool of capital “many times larger” to fund home purchases, isn’t dependent on the pandemic.

Another enticement Properly offers sellers is the firm will cover any mortgage payments due on the old home once the seller assumes a mortgage on their new home. Ruparell says this money would come out of Properly’s five per cent commission, rather than the portion of the ultimate sale price of the home that goes to the seller.

“We are comfortable covering this cost, which … wouldn’t be done in a traditional transaction,” he said, noting the average Toronto home is selling within 17 days of listing.

If a home doesn’t sell in 90 days, the seller and Properly split any proceeds above the startup’s guaranteed price on an eventual sale on the market, with the client getting 90 per cent of the difference, Ruparell said, adding the majority of clients sell on the open market.

His partners in the Toronto-based startup that also has operations in Calgary include Research In Motion veteran Craig Dunk and Sheldon McCormick, who helped Uber expand in Canada.

Financial Post

• Email: bshecter@nationalpost.com | Twitter:





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COVID-19 has spurred rapid transformation in health care. Let’s make sure it stays that way


There is no doubt that the year 2020 has evolved in ways none of us could have imagined. The uncertainty of living with COVID-19 has called everything into question—how we work, seek health care, learn, shop, travel, and connect with each other. 

During a crisis, it’s natural to look at the past with nostalgia and focus on the short term. However, the situation the world now faces requires cross-sector, future-focused innovation and provides opportunities to make transformation happen much more quickly.

Until there is a definitive therapy or vaccine for COVID-19, we must adapt to the virus—it won’t adapt to us. Therefore, industry leaders must empower creative problem-solving among staff to develop innovative methods of doing business that truly meet the new needs of customers today. Here are three ways we’re using the pandemic as a springboard to reshape health care.

Leaving the past behind

The pandemic highlighted many longstanding systemic flaws in the health care system, including fragmentation, inaccessibility, high costs, and health outcome disparities. We should not pine for a past that was so far from perfect, let alone plan a return trip. 

Instead, we must seize the disruptive force of the pandemic to do the transformational work necessary to address these chronic issues and create a future that’s better for our patients. COVID-19 has given us an unexpected jump-start toward this goal.

Regulatory changes at the onset of the pandemic—many of which need to be made permanent—provided new opportunities for delivering virtual care. With this enabler, we accelerated our digital plans several-fold while ensuring safety, privacy, and optimal outcomes. 

For example, our critical care specialists in Minnesota used eICU remote monitoring technology to support staff and patients at a New York City hospital during the height of the city’s surge, doing virtual rounds with the New York City medical staff, helping manage patient medications and ventilators, and freeing up doctors in the hospital to care for more patients. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the power we have to transform—not simply evolve—and we must seize opportunities to streamline regulatory processes and decision-making before the crisis abates.  

Building barriers to maintain gains

Every organization wants to remove barriers when it seeks to execute a new direction or strategic plan. But that’s not enough. We actually need to create barriers to regression to the status quo. Most organizations are like stretched rubber bands, snapping back immediately back to normal once the tension is gone. It’s a leader’s job to stop that from happening—to reinforce the new state and purposely make it harder to go back.

Mayo Clinic is deliberately countering backsliding into a mostly in-person care model by establishing a minimum number of virtual patient visits for each department every week. At the same time, we’re carefully resisting the rush to eradicate traditional care models outright. That would overstretch and break the rubber band.

Instead, we’re merging the old and the new into a spectrum of options, allowing them to collide and coexist as long as they meet the needs of patients and allow us to advance toward an optimal state of functioning.

Seeking partners with different, yet complementary, skills

While the pandemic has had a significant impact on revenue, retreating from innovation is not an option. In fact, we have to double down on investment in research and development and empower people to innovate through nontraditional collaboration. In an increasingly complex and interdependent world, much more can be accomplished by working with partners who have different, yet complementary, skills.  

The coronavirus pandemic has confirmed this for us. Partners with whom we were not aligned simply stopped collaborating with us. Partners with skills that significantly overlapped with ours turned inward to manage the same issues we faced. However, partners with similar values, but different skill sets, markedly accelerated their work with us. 

Response times shortened vastly as Mayo Clinic and these partners focused on an immediate shared goal. We cooperated to solve complex problems simultaneously rather than one at a time.

Our partnership with Google, for instance, has given us the technology and data security expertise that have formed the cornerstone of our digital transformation efforts. Our collaboration with nference, an augmented intelligence company, has shown that prior influenza and measles immunization provides partial protection against COVID-19, and we’re working with the company over the long term to identify new cures for patients with rare diseases. Our alliance with Medically Home has powered our new advanced home care model, which launched 14 months earlier than planned and allows some patients to receive hospital-level care at home in the middle of a pandemic. Collaborations with government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration also have flourished, confirming the idea that having partners with shared values and different skills trumps traditional relationships in times of crisis. 

The pandemic’s disruptive force has spurred transformational change in our organization, as well as in many others. We must actively resist a return to the old way of doing things, maintain the improvements we’ve made, and continue to invest in research and strategic collaborations that will produce a health care system that serves everyone better.

Gianrico Farrugia is president and CEO of Mayo Clinic.

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Let’s be leaders not followers: Di Bain


I’m sure many of us have watched in disbelief at the COVID-19 situation unfolding in Melbourne, and are very grateful to be living and working here in the west. Few people would disagree that not only is Perth one of the safest places in the world to be right now, but also to do business.

So it’s perhaps somewhat of a surprise that city workers aren’t back at their desks in city offices en-masse. In the new normal of the COVID world, the WA workforce has largely adapted to working from home, and it seems they’re not in a hurry to return to the CBD.

Some examples include a major accounting firm, which has only 6% of its 600 person workforce coming in, and a large mining company which has red teams and blue teams alternating weeks, but only a quarter of its 4,000 staff opting to show up in person. Overall, Perth has about 135,000 workers and it’s estimated that only 40% have returned post-COVID. Traffic data also shows workers are exiting the CBD early, around 3pm, making the city a ghost town come nightfall.

The impact all of this is having on the small businesses in the city that rely on foot traffic is bordering on catastrophic.

The beating heart of Perth‘s CBD is the hundreds of small businesses which create the smells, noises and city buzz – the cafes, restaurants, retail stores, the key-cutters, gem stores, hairdressers, and shoe shiners. Typically owner-operated, their cashflow comes from visitors and local workers. But despite Perth being so safe, the COVID cloud is still bearing down. Implementing social distancing protocols, investing in hand sanitiser and staff training hasn’t brought workers back to the city. Our major corporates are clearly not convinced, and our small operators are being pushed to the brink.

It’s worth noting that many of the HR practices and risk decisions for the big firms are being set by head offices either overseas or on the east coast. They fail to recognise that the situation in WA is vastly different, and I think there’s an opportunity for local area managers to lead the way and demonstrate how to return large volumes of workers back to a CBD office in a COVID-safe manner. The learnings from Perth can be distributed to offices in other Australian cities when they’re in an equally safe position. Let’s be leaders not followers.

But anyone who lives or works in Perth knows that the city’s problems didn’t start with COVID. For the past decade Perth’s economy has been in decline. Our Gross Regional Product in 2009 valued the city economy at $50 billion, and last year GRP was $45 billion. We’ve had the highest commercial vacancy rates of any other Australian state city for half a decade now.

As a candidate for Lord Mayor, the main question for me is: how do we make the city a place where people want to be? In my view, the council should be supporting businesses by ensuring the city is a place where workers want to come, not just to work, but to stay. A place where they can benefit from the creativity, excitement and energy that comes from working in a vibrant capital city. A place where they have diverse options for where they spend their lunch break, and where they want to remain after work to unwind by having a drink or a meal.

One of the biggest priorities in making the city more attractive is addressing the homelessness problem. The council should be investigating which city buildings can be used to create safe places to sleep, funding a trial of a shuttle bus service to transport homeless people to service providers, and re-directing funding to non-profit homeless support agencies to upgrade current accommodation. There should also be more cleaning of priority areas to make our city streets more pleasant to walk down.

Perth city council should also be doing everything it can to revitalise the CBD and Northbridge by cutting the red tape that strangles local businesses to encourage laneway activation, micro-breweries, redevelopments and more local community events to breathe life into our streets. The council needs to make use of its quirky heritage spaces to provide fun places for city workers to have lunch. It needs to develop a coherent, year-round program of events that gives people something to hang around for after work. I think the council should consider paying performers to entertain people, so they’ll want to invite their families into the city for an evening out, and I think we should offer free parking after 6pm so they can stay for a while.

Basically, the City needs to convince workers that the CBD and Northbridge are safe, fun, exciting, vibrant places to be, full of things they’re not going to get by working from home. And in doing so, they might save dozens of small businesses from going to the wall.





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‘Let’s get going’: Government steps up Brexit preparation with details on travel and immigration | UK News


The government is to set out the UK’s future immigration and border policies today, as it aims to prepare the country for the end of the Brexit transition period.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will say the country will be able to “welcome the best and brightest global talent” as she publishes a 130-page document detailing how the new points-based immigration system will operate.

The announcement is expected to include a visa for foreign health professionals, but Labour says the proposals have been “rushed” and could cause “major problems” for the NHS and care sector.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson in front of the Take Back Control slogan
Image:
Michael Gove says next year will be a ‘new start’. File pic

The new policies will take effect from 1 January 2021, when the UK leaves the EU customs union and single market.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has launched a public information campaign to tell individuals and businesses how to prepare for the changes.

A new website will use the “Check, Change, Go” strapline and will provide a questionnaire tool to identify specific steps to take.



Land in Kent for a new 'border control centre'



Govt announces £705m to secure UK borders

UK nationals intending to travel to Europe next year will be advised to purchase comprehensive travel insurance and check with their mobile phone provider about additional data roaming charges.

Those wishing to travel with pets will also be advised to seek the required documentation from a vet at least four months before travelling to the EU.

In a statement Mr Gove said: “At the end of this year we are leaving the single market and customs union regardless of the type of agreement we reach with the EU. This will bring changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.

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“While we have already made great progress in getting ready for this moment, there are actions that businesses and citizens must take now to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running as a fully independent United Kingdom.

“This is a new start for everyone in the UK – British and European citizens alike – so let’s get going.”

The campaign will use television, radio and online advertising, as well as sending information via text message.







Brexit: PM calls for ‘oomph’ in trade talks

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey said: “Businesses right across the United Kingdom have struggled to survive financially over the past few months as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“The fact that the government is now trying to force them to gear up and prepare for the end of the transition period will fill them with utter horror.”

Business groups have warned many firms will not be ready to implement changes by the end of the year.

Ground markings are seen at the mock border of the United Kingdom and the European Union during the reopening of the 'Mini-Europe' theme park of small-scale models of European capitals and their landmarks, in Brussels on May 20, 2020
Image:
The UK leaves the EU customs union and single market next year

Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “With so much going on, many directors feel that preparing for Brexit proper is like trying to hit a moving target. Jumping immediately into whatever comes next would be a nightmare for many businesses.

“A commitment to some form of reciprocal phasing-in of changes once clear is a long-standing ask from our members, and the benefits would be significant.

“At a time when government is rightly straining every sinew to help firms deal with widespread disruption, it would be counterproductive not to seek to minimise it at the end of the year”.



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Let’s see Alan Jones talk his way out of his falling Sky ratings


Sky Information will issue to the footy for Alan Jones’ lousy viewer turnout, but it has nobody to blame but alone.

Alan Jones (Graphic: Sky News Australia)

7 days one particular of Alan Jones’ new lifestyle as a Sky following dim conversing head. So how did he go? Well, it wasn’t encouraging — from the powerful opening night time viewers of 109,000 on Monday it was a slide to just 57,000 on Thursday.

Now some may argue that was small since the AFL and NRL video games have been underway on Fox Footy and Fox League. Paul Murray’s viewers (right after Jones) also fell sharply — to 66,000 on Thursday evening from 94,000 on Monday. Sky will blame the footy for slide, but the channel’s management programmed Jones up in opposition to the start of the soccer, realizing that individuals codes and Jones share equivalent demographics — middle aged to elderly white men and the occasional females who are offended. If Jones and Murray had really rusted-on viewers (as we have been led to feel), the falls would not have been so massive.

Meanwhile in the authentic planet, the AFL simply outpointed the NRL online games very last night, meaning Seven had a big get on the evening from Nine. The Geelong-Brisbane video game averaged 772,000 on Seven (and 216,000 on Foxtel) for a overall of 988,000. The NRL sport — Easts v North Queensland — drew 522,000 on 9 and 203,000 on Foxtel for a full of 725,000 viewers. Recreation established and you know what to the AFL.





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Coronavirus: Variant mutation lets it copy itself more efficiently


Senior health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned that a new mutation of coronavirus could spread easily across America. 

It comes as infections soar across eight states, with more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 671 deaths, bringing the confirmed total to 2.74 million cases and 128,742 deaths. 

A small change to a variant of the novel coronavirus has helped it better copy itself but not make it more deadly, a new study suggests.

Researchers found there were two strains of the virus circulating when it reached the US: the original D614 and a mutation, G614. 

This mutation is not a deadlier version of the coronavirus but it does help the virus copy itself better, which results in a higher viral load in patients. 

Senior health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci (pictured) has warned that a new mutation of coronavirus could spread easily across America. This mutation is not a deadlier version of the coronavirus but it does help the virus copy itself better, which results in a higher viral load in patients

Researchers found the most dominant strain of the virus by mid-March was a mutation of the original variant called G614 (right, in blue), not the original virus D614 (left, in green)

Researchers found the most dominant strain of the virus by mid-March was a mutation of the original variant called G614 (right, in blue), not the original virus D614 (left, in green)

Dr Erica Ollmann Saphire, a professor of at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology in California, says viruses often mutate to ‘escape’ antibodies created by our immune systems.

This phenomenon of viruses making enough changes to ‘drift’ away from the original virus is known as antigenic drift.

It’s one reason why new flu shots are needed every fall, because the dominant strain is often so different from the one the year before.  

Health experts say coronavirus mutates at a slower rate than several other respiratory viruses, particularly the the flu. 

The lab-based research, published in the journal Cell, suggests this current mutation is more transmissible between people in the real world compared to the previous iteration, but this hasn’t yet been proven. 

‘I think the data is showing that there is a single mutation that actually makes the virus be able to replicate better, and maybe have high viral loads,’ Anthony Fauci, the United States’s top infectious disease specialist, who wasn’t involved in the research, commented to Journal of the American Medical Association.

‘We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not. It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible, but this is still at the stage of trying to confirm that,’ he added. 

‘But some very good viral phylogeneticists are working on that right now, and it does look like a particular mutation may make the virus more transmissible.’ 

For the study, the team tracked the spread of both the G and D viruses. 

The G strain is not a deadlier version, but it allows the virus to copy itself more easily and create higher viral loads in patients. Pictured: Paula Johnson, a nurse, administers a deep suction tube into the lungs of a coronavirus patient, in the ICU of Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, April 22

The G strain is not a deadlier version, but it allows the virus to copy itself more easily and create higher viral loads in patients. Pictured: Paula Johnson, a nurse, administers a deep suction tube into the lungs of a coronavirus patient, in the ICU of Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, April 22

They found that while both the D virus and the G virus spread widely around the world, the G strain was more dominant by mid-March. 

Next, researchers analyzed at antibody samples from six San Diego residents who had previously been infected with COVID-19.

They wanted to see if which variant would be harder to neutralize.

Results showed the new G virus was just as well neutralized – and sometimes even better – as the original D virus. 

This means the immune system doesn’t need to produce more or better-acting antibodies against the G virus, despite it being better at spreading. 

‘These findings suggest that the newer form of the virus may be even more readily transmitted than the original form,’ said senior author Dr Bette Korber, a fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory.     

‘Whether or not that conclusion is ultimately confirmed, it highlights the value of what were already good ideas: to wear masks and to maintain social distancing.’ 

Saphire says the virus ‘wants’ to be transmissible, which is why many get a mild cases, or have no symptoms at all.

‘A virus that kills its host rapidly doesn’t go as far–think of cases of Ebola,’ she said.

‘A virus that lets its host go about their business will disseminate better – like with the common cold.’ 



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Bernd Leno injured, lets out horrifying scream as Brighton beat Arsenal


Brighton star Neal Maupay has apologised for his part in Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s injury but says Gunners players need to “learn humility”.

Maupay scored deep into injury-time to complete a remarkable comeback and seal a 2-1 win for relegation-threatened Brighton — their first victory of 2020.

However, he had earlier fouled Leno during an aerial challenge, with the German keeper stretchered off after 36 minutes with what looked to be a bad knee injury.

Leno let out a scream in agony as he crumpled to the turf, as medics rushed to treat him — leading to a five-minute delay in action. British broadcaster BT Sport refused to show the injury because it was so bad.

On his way off the pitch, Leno pointed his finger at Maupay and aimed some choice words at the Brighton forward.

And the bad feeling towards Maupay resurfaced late on in the match after he struck Brighton’s second in the 95th minute.

Maupay went down softly when Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi nudged him as he ran past following the restart, and there were then clashes after the final whistle, with Guendouzi appearing to grab Maupay by the throat.

Speaking after the match, Maupay said he didn’t intend to hurt Leno but was critical of Arsenal players for “talking a lot” when they were leading through Nicolas Pepe’s opener.

“At halftime I went to Mikel Arteta, their manager, to apologise because I never meant to injure their keeper,” Maupay told BT Sport.

“I just jumped to get the ball maybe and when he landed he just twisted his knee, so I apologise to their team and to him as well.

“I’ve been through a bad injury so I know it’s hard but I never meant to hurt him.

“But some of the Arsenal players need to learn humility maybe sometimes. They’ve been talking a lot first half, second half when they were 1-0 up – they got what they deserved.”

Maupay also wished Leno a quick recovery.

“Until the keeper gets the ball you never know what could happen,” he said. “I just went to get the ball really. I think it was shoulder against shoulder and when he landed he twists his knee, you know it’s football, there’s contact.

“I never meant to injure him so I’m really sorry. I apologise again and wish him a speedy recovery.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta responded to those comments from Maupay in his post-match press conference. Arteta explained he was still unclear on how bad Leno’s injury was but insisted his players don’t lack humility.

“I think no player has the intention to hurt anyone, I think it’s the same here, it’s unfortunate,” said Arteta. “Bernd’s injury doesn’t look good, it can happen, we’ll analyse it tomorrow. We think he had a hyperextension of the knee and we’ll have to assess the damage.

“We don’t know, he was in a lot of pain and he’s still in some pain, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow at least to see how bad the damage is.

“I haven’t seen the action, I’ve seen a lot of players just talking about getting together, but I didn’t know what happened.

It’s the frustration because we threw the game away, and that’s a reaction that can happen. I always believe that a player has no intention to get someone else injured.

“He can say whatever he wants, I know my players and I know one thing they don’t lack is humility.”

This article first appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission



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