Most Australians believe there’s a lot of racism these days, but experts say recognising discrimination is just the beginning

Mohammad Al-Khafaji came to Australia as a refugee when he was 13 after his family fled Iraq seeking political asylum.

He has spent the majority of his life in this country, so was left frustrated and outraged when a complete stranger followed him out of the terminal at Adelaide airport recently, and yelled: “Go back to where you came from.”

“For someone to tell me to go back to where I come from, it’s very insulting but it also puts into question my existence in Australia — it might seem something very basic but it hits hard, it hits to you core.”

The Australia Talks National Survey 2021 found around three in four Australians with non-European ancestry say they have been discriminated against because of their ethnicity.

It has also revealed the majority of us — across all demographics and political persuasions — believe there is a lot of racism these days, with the only exception being One Nation voters.

For Mr Al-Khafaji, who is also the chief executive of the nation’s peak multicultural body, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, the statistics are consistent with his experience.

“It doesn’t surprise me, it’s really important for us to talk about these issues and talk about what racism looks like, it doesn’t have to be physical violence on the streets, it can be a throwaway comment,” he said.

Racism has also affected Sydney bakery owner Mohammad Makki.

When civil war erupted in Lebanon in the 1970s, his parents escaped to Sydney for a better life.

But being born in Australia has not been enough to shield him from the vilification that comes with being a Muslim man of Middle Eastern descent.

“We grew up in the St George area — if you spend a day in the Shire, people look at you a little different,” he said.

Mr Makki said that experience got worse after September 11.

“It’s nearly 20 years ago, September 11 — Muslims all around the world got persecuted and picked on,” he said.

“Any box of fruit can have one bad apple, doesn’t mean the whole box is bad. “

The Australia Talks survey also found 64 per cent of us believe most Australians are prejudiced against Indigenous peoples, whether or not they realise it.

Munanjahli woman and University of Queensland academic Chelsea Watego said she was surprised to see recognition of racism is prevalent.

But she said recognising racism was only the first move in the journey to equality.

“The next step is to work out what are we going to do about it, and unfortunately there’s a resistance to tending to racism explicitly in this country still.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already serious racism problem in Australia, according to former race discrimination commissioner and academic Tim Soutphommasane.

He said while members of Australia’s Asian community bore the brunt of the vilification, other groups have also been targeted.

“We know there can be spill-over effects whenever racial hostility is directed at one particular group,” he said.

“When racism and xenophobia are unleashed they can be directed from one group to another very quickly and very easily, because once it’s out there people feel they have the licence and permission to vent hostility and intolerance towards others.”

Professor Soutphommasane wants the federal government to do more to combat racism.

There has not been a national anti-racism strategy since 2015, and he said Australia was lagging behind other countries in adopting one.

The Human Rights Commission put forward a proposal for a new national anti-racism framework in March, which includes improving data collection on racism, and reviewing the country’s laws to ensure they are properly protecting people.

In a statement, the Attorney-General’s department said the government welcomed the proposal and was working closely with the race discrimination commissioner on developing a strategy.

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L.A. Fire Dept. Battles Blaze Using Lot Considered for Temporary Homeless Housing

The Los Angeles Fire Department is using the Will Rogers State Beach parking lot as a staging area as it battles a wildfire above the Pacific Palisades neighborhood — the same lot L.A. City Council member Mike Bonin wants to use for homeless shelters.

As Breitbart News has reported, Bonin has proposed building temporary homeless housing facilities at local beaches, using the existing parking lots. The goal, he says, is to ease the transition into permanent housing, and relieve pressure on the city’s parks and recreation facilities over the long term. But residents are furious, and some are already campaigning for Bonin’s recall.

Over the weekend, several fires broke out above the Pacific Palisades and Topanga communities. Locals suspect arson, as the fires broke out in several areas in succession. As of Sunday afternoon, over 1300 acres were burning, with 0% contained.

The Palisades fire burns in the distance behind the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, May 15, 2021. (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

On Sunday, the local fire department used the parking lot at Will Rogers as a staging area for the media and emergency vehicles.

Will Rogers staging area (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

Los Angeles Fire Department vehicles assemble at the Will Rogers State Beach parking lot near Pacific Palisades, California, May 16, 2021. (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)

Last week, a committee on the city council voted 4-1 to study Bonin’s proposals, despite strenuous objections by residents.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new e-book, The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it). His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Will double headcount; lot of headroom for growing user base: Koo

Homegrown microblogging platform Koo is planning to double its headcount in the next one year as it significantly scales up its user base on the platform, especially vernacular subscribers, its co-founder said.

Koo co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna said the platform with its current user base of 6 million has a lot of headroom for growth.

“When folks join Koo, they bring their followers as well, we don’t have too many Bollywood folks yet, we don’t have too many cricketers yet. There are lots of politicians, writers…who will find their unique reasons to be on Koo because we are enabling local languages,” he said.

Radhakrishna said Koo is growing exponentially as people are looking for ways to converse online in local languages with community members, and that the platform is helping people express themselves in their local language.

“We want to hit 100 million downloads in the next year or so. It is plausible, a 20X growth is very much possible, it depends on what all events lead to it. There are a lot of people who are yet to join Koo,” he said.

Koo, which was launched last year, has seen a massive surge in its user base over the past few months after Union ministers and government departments endorsed the homegrown microblogging platform following a spat with Twitter.

Koo has about 60 lakh users on its platform. Twitter, on the other hand, has 1.75 crore users in India.

India remains a critical market for Internet companies like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter with its large population base and burgeoning Internet adoption. The country is the world’s second-largest telecom market and the biggest consumer of data.

To keep pace with rapid growth in both users and usage, Koo is looking to at least double its headcount from about 75 professionals currently over the next 12 months, he added.

“We are aggressively hiring, especially for the engineering team because every idea, everything we want to do on product, boils down to engineering efforts. We want the best of engineers in India to work with us,” Radhakrishna added.

He said the company is recruiting talent across different capabilities including Android, iOS, machine learning, and quality assurance and testing among others.

The Twitter rival is also undertaking a slew of initiatives amid the deadly second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, to make it easier for people to find leads for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and other resources.

It will soon allow potential plasma donors to sport “badges” on their profile pictures for increased visibility, and a new feature is also in the offing that would notify users about vaccine availability.

Asked how Koo is cracking down on misinformation around Covid-19, Radhakrishna said the platform has a robust reporting system in place to deal with such content.

He added that users can flag content that they think is incorrect or inappropriate, and Koo deploys automated tools as well as manual intervention to handle such content.

“Our job is to make sure that people talking about Covid and those looking for information around Covid can find each other. It is not our job to push down content to anyone, but giving options helpful around the Covid period. Our goal is to get people who use Koo to access the right information,” he said.

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‘He proved that one man can do a lot’. Dozens of people have gone on hunger strike in solidarity with Alexey Navalny. Here are some of their stories.

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny has been on a prison hunger strike since March 31, demanding access to trusted doctors. During this time, his health has seriously deteriorated and his doctors fear he may die. On April 19, Russian prison officials announced that Navalny was being transferred to prisoners’ hospital located inside another notorious prison facility in the Vladimir region. At the time of this writing, more than 100 people have declared their own hunger strikes in support of Navalny, according to a Facebook page dedicated to the campaign. This solidarity protest was organized by biologist Nikolai Formozov, a former professor at the Higher School of Economics and Moscow State University, who has been on hunger strike since April 10. Meduza spoke to Nikolai Formozov and other people who have joined the hunger strike in solidarity with Navalny. Here are their stories.

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How treating FX with the same importance as taxes will save you a lot of money

As the engine room of our nation’s economy, the middle market employs a quarter of Australia’s workforce, produces almost a quarter of our country’s revenue and contributes a fifth of the national net tax take.

But more and more, I am noticing that one of the biggest risks for a lot of clients operating globally is not having an efficient FX strategy in place. This can have a huge impact on profit and loss, and ultimately disrupt overall business performance.

all comes down to managing cashflow effectively. And FX, just as much as tax,
plays a major role in keeping cashflow in check and healthy.

businesses were incredibly nimble in their COVID-19 response, we often see that
implementing the right financial foundations can often get overlooked due to
competing business priorities. This becomes even more challenging when
unforeseen circumstances arise.

For example, a business that manufactured glass products with imported materials from Taiwan were severely impacted by COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, imported products sat on the docks in quarantine, adding a $4,000 weekly headache. Ultimately, the business pivoted and engaged with local suppliers.

down on core financial strategies, like FX risk management, can help to weather
the storm and put you on the front foot. Understanding fixed costs can give
greater cashflow certainty, so it’s time for SMEs to rejig their accounting
essentials toolkit and add FX strategies to reduce any blows to hard-earned

Start with the

We are all familiar with this story: when one person,
typically the founder, is to wear all hats across the business. FX usually gets
ignored or put in the, ‘We’ll just go with the exchange rate on the day and not
give too much thought to it’ basket.

Say you buy from a supplier in USD and have a US$20,000 spend. In the last 12 months you would have been managing market rates as low as 0.57 in March 2020 and highs of 0.78 in Jan 2021. The cost in this example of being unprepared for extreme volatility could be as high as AU$9447 on a single transaction, which can be the difference between black or red ledgers.

It can feel daunting to know where to build FX knowledge
and a financial plan that incorporates hedging solutions, such as Forward
Contracts and Target Rate Transfers. However, doing so could save your business
on FX payments and give some much-needed currency certainty.

Upskill when you upscale

Part of FX upskilling involves tapping into your
existing network. As financial advisors, we help our clients build a
foundational understanding of currency volatility and the benefits of hedging
more strategically.

As your needs grow, accountants can connect you with trusted partners to help define FX strategies to suit the current needs of your business. The benefit of working with specialists such as OFX is having a dedicated expert to offer real insights on minimising risks and leveraging your global trading.

SMEs adapt to a post-COVID environment, it is important to seize opportunities
to safeguard newfound growth and wealth. Taking a proactive approach to FX is
integral to minimising the financial risks to your business. I encourage all business
leaders to keep informed and have the confidence to leverage the expertise of
financial partners and specialists to establish strong financial foundations to
facilitate business success.

Raelene Berryman, Partner, Pitcher Partners Sydney

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Harvard Health Ad Watch: Mitochondria do a lot for you — what can you do for them?

Ever see an ad for a product that sounds awesome and wondered if it was really that good? That happened to me recently. “How are you taking care of your mitochondria?” an announcer asked. Well, there’s a question I’m not asked every day. And it’s one for which I had no answer.

Your cells are aging: Can supplements keep them young?

This ad and an accompanying website describe their products this way:

  • “a breakthrough range of nutritional solutions”
  • supplements that “work in harmony with your body’s natural processes to rewrite the rules of cell aging”
  • “helps activate the renewal of mitochondria in muscles”
  • “targets age-related changes occurring inside cells”
  • “renews cells’ natural ability to produce daily energy”
  • “features cellular nutrients studied in more than 20 clinical trials in humans”

And just what is this miracle product? It’s food! Just kidding. These statements come from ads for Celltrient supplements made by Nestlé Health Science. Yes, from the makers of famed candy bars come supplements to improve your health and slow aging!

The buzz about mitochondria and cell health

The claims focus on two main areas of health that have been the subject of extensive research at the cellular level in recent years: aging and energy production.

You may remember from high school biology that nearly all human cells have a nucleus that contains our genetic blueprint (DNA). But do you remember much about the mitochondria? These so-called power stations of the cell convert nutrients into energy. They’re essential to the health of each cell — and to the health of the tissues and organs of the person in whom those cells reside.

When mitochondria aren’t working normally, debilitating, sometimes life-threatening conditions may occur, such as mitochondrial myopathies and a number of eye diseases.

An enormous amount of research in recent years suggests that mitochondria

  • play a key role in the aging process and most age-related diseases
  • are vital to cell health, including by regulating how nutrients get into individual cells
  • contain DNA that is easily damaged with age, is prone to mutation, and has limited ability to repair
  • play a key role in immune function.

These findings have led to speculation that treatments to maintain or improve mitochondrial and cellular health could lead to ways to slow aging.

What the ads gets right — and the rest of the story

It’s true, as noted above, that mitochondria are essential for the vital process of cellular energy production. And an increasing body of evidence suggests mitochondria are key players in aging and the development of chronic disease.

But the rest of the claims made by the makers of Celltrient should be taken with a hefty dose of skepticism. The evidence behind them is scant. Like all over-the-counter, unproven supplements and remedies, Celltrient carries this FDA-required disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

What about the 20 human studies mentioned? Well, this refers to research on one or more of the ingredients found in these products, but not the products themselves. These studies can’t demonstrate that the claims made in the ad are true in humans.

For example, one study shows that one ingredient in Celltrient — niacin, a form of vitamin B3 — gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, it increases blood levels of a substance that mitochondria need to function properly, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD).

Sound impressive? Keep in mind that taking a specific vitamin supplement may be useless if you already have enough of that vitamin in your body. So it’s not clear from the study that Celltrient actually “renewed” or “replenished” mitochondria in the cells of study participants. More importantly, there’s no proof that these supplements make people healthier or feel better, slow aging, or provide any other specific health benefit.

Considerable cost and key information lacking

The promotions also don’t mention cost. Prices on the product website range from about $60 to $130 per month. And there’s no mention of possible side effects, interactions with other drugs, or whether certain people are more likely to benefit from them than others.

Finally, these ads don’t tell you what your other options are for mitochondrial heath, assuming you’re concerned about this. For example, regular exercise may be the best treatment for mitochondrial aging.

The bottom line

Ads like the ones for Celltrient products are rampant. You’ll see supplements promoted for heart health, joint pain, memory loss, and a host of other conditions. Some have more scientific support than others. But beware of ads for drugs or supplements that promise vague and sweeping health benefits without actual proof that the product works. A statement that it’s “backed by science” — without explanation — is not enough.

For cell and mitochondrial health, you could accept the unproven claims in these ads and spend thousands of dollars each year on Celltrient products. Perhaps future studies will even prove these supplements work. Or you could take a chance on a more conventional source of nutrients needed by mitochondria: food. I guess I wasn’t kidding after all.

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling

The post Harvard Health Ad Watch: Mitochondria do a lot for you — what can you do for them? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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Sunnybrook setting up temporary 84-bed field hospital in parking lot, ahead of potential third COVID-19 wave

A temporary field hospital able to treat up to 100 patients is being set up outside Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, expected to be completed next month.

Crews were at work Wednesday in the parking lot on Sunnybrook’s Bayview campus, amid fears from some infectious disease specialists that a third wave of COVID-19 infections is coming.

While the field hospital is currently built to hold 84 beds, a spokesperson said it could be expanded to handle up to 100 patients.

The facility will be split into pods of eight to 10 beds, each equipped with “the necessary medical support system” and washrooms, the spokesperson told the Star.

The unit will help keep the health-care system “flexible,” ensuring that “specialized resources, such as intensive care, are available in hospitals for those who need it most.”

“Sunnybrook will be working with the province and our partners in the system to staff the facility,” the hospital said in a statement.

“In the event of an increase in the demand for beds, we expect the facility will most likely be used to provide space for patients who are awaiting placement in other facilities, and low acuity recovering patients which will free up acute and critical care beds in the hospital.”

The facility will also be supported by the Bayview Wellspring house adjacent to the parking lot.

The unit is being built by B.C.-based shelter construction company Weatherhaven Global Resources. In an earlier release, the company confirmed it is constructing two mobile health units in the GTA, both able to handle up to 100 patients.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the two units to hard-hit health units on Jan. 22.

Once erected, these mobile health units will each be the size of a football field and “provide much of the same sophisticated medical equipment and services as a normal hospital,” the company said in its release.



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Bank debt – The government’s loan programme may create a lot of zombie companies | Britain

ON FEBRUARY 24th Lloyds reported its results for 2020, completing the set of big high-street lenders. As with Barclays, HSBC and NatWest, Lloyds’ profits dropped sharply last year, but its hopes for this year are higher. That is partly because it reckons losses on loans will be smaller than it had been expecting. All the big banks have cut their provisions for losses arising from bad loans in the coming year. Lloyds took an impairment charge (a reduction in the value of its loan book to account for the chance of defaults) of £4.2bn ($5.9bn) in 2020 compared with £1.3bn in 2019. It expects the charge to drop back to pre-pandemic levels this year.

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Although GDP dropped by a tenth last year, the number of firms going bust was down by a fifth. The fall in bankruptcies in Britain has been one of the largest in a big economy. That is why the IMF has warned of “pent up” insolvencies. Yet the banks do not see a wave of bankruptcies heading towards them. That is because of the way the government has designed its corporate-loans programme.

In March last year, soon after the first national lockdown began, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, pledged to support up to £330bn-worth (around 15% of GDP) of loans to firms hit by the pandemic. The loans were to be made by the banks; the government would guarantee 80% of them. But even though they were on the hook only for a fifth of any losses, banks were reluctant to extend credit to firms that might fail. Take-up was therefore slow. So, in April, the Treasury turbocharged the lending by offering to absorb 100% of the losses on loans of up to £50,000 to small firms. Since then around £45bn has been lent to almost 1.5m small businesses.

Some bankers suspect that many of the firms that have received funding under the scheme would have struggled to get a loan even before the pandemic. But with a 100% government guarantee, applications were waved through with little due diligence. A small-business adviser ruefully notes that many one-man-band firms he advises used the cash to buy a flash new car. Many of those loans will never be fully repaid. The Office for Budget Responsibility, the government’s fiscal watchdog, expects around a third of the total to be written off eventually.

The loan scheme may prove both costly to the taxpayer and a drag on the economy. The generous terms—not just a total guarantee to lenders, but also a 2.5% interest rate with no payments due for the first year—may have created an incentive for banks to keep zombie firms on their books. The process for resolving debt problems at over-leveraged small firms usually starts when banks, as the largest creditors, initiate insolvency proceedings. But with the government carrying all the risk they will never have to make provisions for the loans going bad, and instead will be tempted to keep firms alive for as long as possible to collect interest payments for them. Good news for banks is not necessarily good news for the economy.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “A scary scenario”

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I Care a Lot: Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike opens up on toughest two days of her acting career

Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike has opened up on The West Live about the toughest two days of her acting career, which came on the set of her latest film, I Care a Lot, a black comedy that dropped on Amazon yesterday.

In the film, the Academy Award-nominated British actor plays Marla Grayson, an unscrupulous woman who exploits a legal loophole in America that allows so-called “professional guardians” to assume power-of- attorney control over the assets of people deemed unfit by the courts, usually the elderly, often against the wishes of their families.

After years of successfully running her guardianship agency, Marla comes unstuck when one of the oldies she commandeers, Jennifer (Dianne Wiest), turns out to be the mother of a kingpin in the Russian mafia, who is played rather well by Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage.

Peter Dinklage in I Care A Lot.
Camera IconPeter Dinklage in I Care A Lot. Credit: Seacia Pavao/AP

Marla’s refusal to back down and release Jennifer from her “care” draws Marla into a dangerous game of “who will blink first”.

For the woman playing Marla, this turn of events results in a variety of scenes where Pike is set upon by gangsters, including, but not limited to, being asphyxiated by a plastic bag and sunk to the bottom of a lake in a car.

“You’ve gotta trust the people you’re working with, and it bloody well is about trust, I can tell you,” Pike laughs.

Even with an implicit trust of the director, crew and stunt co-ordinators, filming in a completely submerged car is, unsurprisingly, a harrowing experience.

“It was the most challenging two days of filming I’ve ever done,” she admits.

“Even though your brain knows you’re acting, your sympathetic nervous system does not know you’re acting when you’re struggling and you’re against the clock and you’re trying to get the head rest out of a car, and you’re completely underwater.

“There would be times after about three or four takes, when I called for my oxygen, I needed to hold the hand of my diving buddy, like I needed her to kind of regulate my panic.”

Read the full interview in the Today section on Monday in The West Australian.

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Trudeau says he still has ‘a lot to do,’ and wants to serve for ‘number of more years’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, giving a rare insight into his future plans, said he wanted to serve Canadians for a number of years to come, and shied away from saying who he thought should succeed him.

Trudeau, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, also said he was opposed to the idea of obliging people to carry digital proof that they had been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Trudeau’s ruling Liberals, now in their second term, only have a minority in the House of Commons, which means he relies on the opposition to govern and can be brought down at any time.

Trudeau, 49, has three school-age children. He first took over as prime minister in November 2015 and has at times appeared tired amid the relentless COVID-19 crisis. He admitted dealing with the pandemic had been hard, but made clear he had no plans to quit soon.

“I’ve still got a lot to do in terms of serving this country, so I’m looking forward to a number of more years of serving Canadians,” he said in an interview aired on Thursday.

The comments were the clearest signal he has given that his political ambitions are far from exhausted.

Trudeau came to power promising to focus on causes such as feminism and the environment. But he quickly found himself having to deal with issues such as how to handle U.S. President Donald Trump and then the pandemic.

He has come to rely heavily on Chrystia Freeland, a close ally, who now occupies the positions of both finance minister and deputy prime minister. Liberal insiders say this would give her an advantage in a future leadership race.

Asked whether Freeland might one day become Liberal leader, Trudeau replied: “My responsibility is to bring around me the best possible team I can to serve Canadians … I won’t speculate on what could happen years down the road.”

Vaccine passports

The Liberal government has spent more than $200 billion in direct aid to help people and businesses survive the pandemic. Trudeau reiterated Ottawa planned to spend another $100 billion over the next few years to kickstart an economic recovery.

But he made clear he opposed a vaccine passport for people who had received inoculations, an idea already being developed in Denmark, saying it was fraught with challenges.

“I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to be vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” he said.


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