Misha’s return? – An exiled ex-president plans a comeback in Georgia | Europe


IN THE GARISH style of a video game, the former Soviet republic of Georgia’s richest man is running around in a suit, knocking out golden coins with his head, when a rotund figure pops out of a chimney, destroying the oligarch and triggering “game over”. The victor—in the mock game—is Mikheil Saakashvili, independent Georgia’s best-known ex-president. He hopes to become Georgia’s prime minister in an election on October 31st.

Mr Saakashvili led the “Rose revolution” of 2003 that propelled Georgians from post-Soviet dourness to pro-European modern governance, cracking down on petty corruption and setting up reputable state institutions. But he then spectacularly plummeted from grace. Now he is conducting a re-election campaign from exile in Ukraine, through his United National Movement (UNM). Stripped of his Georgian citizenship, he has been indicted on several criminal charges by the current government, dominated by the Georgian Dream party led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the country’s richest oligarch, who lives in an emerald-green glass palace overlooking Tbilisi, the capital. Mr Saakashvili, who has been sentenced to nine years in jail in absentia, would doubtless return if UNM were to win, though the odds are against it.

The election is getting nasty. On October 11th Mr Saakashvili was attacked during a rally for Georgian émigrés in Athens. Back in Tbilisi, the government ordered the arrest of two cartographers on charges of mismanaging negotiations to define the border with Azerbaijan 14 years ago, a dig at Mr Saakashvili, who was president at the time. Worse for Mr Saakashvili, he has riled Georgians by expressing support for Azerbaijan in its recent quest to recapture Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave controlled by Armenia. Georgia, bordering both countries, has hefty Armenian and Azeri populations, and has been trying to mediate. Many young Georgians heartily wish it were game over for both men.

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Misha’s return?”

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AFL grand final teams in contrasting plans


AFL grand final combatants Richmond and Geelong will take different approaches to the night before the historic Gabba season decider.

Both teams are based in hubs on the Gold Coast, and the Cats have made the call to stay there and travel an hour up the road to Brisbane on game day.

But the Tigers will drive up on Friday evening, stay in a hotel and treat the grand final as an away match.

They will gather for a team meeting in the morning before leaving players to their own devices for a few hours before the bounce down.

Several factors, including the possibility of heavy traffic, have played a role in Richmond’s decision to head up early.

“The last time we drove was an hour and a half up there and some of our performances at the Gabba haven’t been our best – Sydney, Gold Coast, even the Brisbane game,” Tigers assistant coach Justin Leppitsch said.

“We feel maybe there’s some things in our preparation that we can do a little better.

“It was a combination of factors and our leaders really bought into it and wanted to drive it.

“We’re in an away bed anyway, whether it’s here on the Gold Coast or up in Brisbane, and we just felt that’s our best preparation going into the game.”

For Geelong, it won’t be much different to making their regular one-hour drive to Melbourne on game day under normal circumstances.

“We’ll be staying here (on the Gold Coast) and from what I understand we’ll keep it pretty much the same,” Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins said.

In contrast to Richmond, Geelong have played some of their best football at the Gabba this season and appear to have taken to the ground well.

The Tigers opted to play a ‘home’ final at Metricon Stadium a fortnight ago but Leppitsch doesn’t see any disadvantage being at the Gabba.

“One thing I noticed from watching all Geelong’s games there is they’ve been able to get the game on their own terms, which you can do at any venue,” he said.

“It just so happens they’ve done it really well, particularly the last couple of times, on that ground.

“More than just the venue itself, it’s a matter of making sure we get the game on our terms and I’m sure they’ll want it on theirs.

“That’s going to be the real arm wrestle.”





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Well-known Airlie Beach venue outlines plans to expand


A NEW bottle shop spearheaded by one of the region’s biggest names is in the pipeline for Cannonvale.

Airlie Beach Hotel Operations Queensland Pty Ltd has submitted a development application for a new bottle shop in Cannonvale.

The subject site is a vacant building in the Mountain Valley Shopping Centre on Shute Harbour Rd near the Airlie Beach Vinnies.

Airlie Beach Hotel Operations Queensland Pty Ltd has submitted a development application for a new bottle shop in Cannonvale. Picture: Supplied

The detached bottle shop will take up a 150sq m portion of the existing building with hopes it will “service and cater for the local residents in this area”.

The proposed bottle shop will have three wine shelves and two beer shelves as well as a cold room and ice freezer.

In 2018, the council rezoned the current complex from low medium residential zone to local centre zone, meaning the site is suitable for business usage.

The proposed bottle shop will be located in a vacant building in the Mountain Valley Shopping Centre on Shute Harbour Rd near the Airlie Beach Vinnies.

The proposed bottle shop will be located in a vacant building in the Mountain Valley Shopping Centre on Shute Harbour Rd near the Airlie Beach Vinnies.

There are no proposed changes to the exterior of the building with car parks already in place.

The loading and unloading of stock will occur in the same area as previous uses at the rear of the building and trolleys will be used to transport the deliveries along the pathway to enter the store.

Plans for the Mountain Valley Shopping Centre dating back to 1997 show include a bottle shop as well as retail areas.

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The proposed bottle shop comes just 10 months after the company opened a liquor store just off Airlie Beach Main St.

The current store boasts more than 70 varieties of craft beer, 300 types of white wine, 300 types of red wine, more than 200 different spirits and 80 types of sparkling wine.





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Big Labor’s Big Senate Plans


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in February.



Photo:

Michael Brochstein/Zuma Press

With Joe Biden now favored to take the White House, how much of his agenda becomes law will depend on who runs the Senate. Democrats are close in enough races to win a majority, so the public should understand the radical change they’d be voting for. A good place to start is the pro-union agenda that would repeal much of the landmark Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and impose union dominance in the workplace.

***

Start with Mr. Biden’s endorsement of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which Nancy Pelosi’s House passed in February. The Pro Act would nullify all state right-to-work laws, which protect individuals from having to join a union or pay dues. Some 27 states have right-to-work laws, passed democratically, which have allowed them to attract employers such as auto makers that want more labor flexibility. Unions can still organize workers, but individuals can opt out if they choose. Mr. Biden would reverse 27 state laws in a single strike and force workers to join and pay.

The Pro Act also expands the universe of workers subject to unionism by adopting California’s so-called “ABC” test. That law narrows the definition of an “independent contractor” who is free from union coercion. A nationwide ABC test would destroy the growth and flexibility of the gig economy, dragging everyone from tech workers to freelance reporters to Uber drivers into union hands.

The Pro Act also tilts labor law against business targets. The bill requires employers to share their workers’ personal information (including emails and cell numbers) with union organizers, even without a worker’s consent. This opens workers to union harassment.

Mr. Biden wants to codify Barack Obama’s “ambush” election rule, shortening the notice for snap union elections and giving companies little time to tell workers what they might lose when a union organizes a workplace.

He’d also codify the Obama-era “joint-employer” and “micro-unit” standards, which make it easier for unions to organize subcontractors or portions of workforces. The Trump Labor Department and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reined in these union-first standards.

The Pro Act would prohibit arbitration agreements, opening corporations to labor class-action lawsuits. It would forbid companies from permanently replacing striking employees, holding employers hostage to strikers’ demands. It would allow “secondary boycotts,” which are union actions against neutral companies that do business with a company targeted by union strikes. And it would allow the NLRB to levy huge civil penalties on companies found to violate provisions.

Collective bargaining is a time-honored principle, and workers should be able to freely choose to join a union. But the point of the Pro Act is putting coercive state power on the side of unions against individual workers and private employers. Thus Mr. Biden has also endorsed “card check,” which would eliminate secret ballots in union elections. Organizers could publicly bully workers into signing a union authorization card and, when enough cards are signed, the union is certified.

Some 30 states now require monopoly bargaining for state and local government workers—making unions the exclusive representative in deciding pay, benefits and work rules. Mr. Biden would mandate this monopoly bargaining regime for state and local government workers in all 50 states.

These new rules are also aimed at organizing hundreds of thousands of new “home- and community-based” care givers. Mr. Biden is proposing to spend $775 billion over 10 years to create these jobs. The Supreme Court in 2014 gave home workers the right to opt out of paying for union representation they don’t want, and the Trump Administration last year issued a rule barring states from “skimming” union dues from Medicaid money that flows to these workers. Mr. Biden would reverse all this and allow state governments to help unions organize these workers.

Also expect Mr. Biden to bow to pressure to bail out struggling multi-employer union pensions, as well as blue-state public-union pensions hit by the virus lockdowns. Mr. Biden has endorsed Speaker Pelosi’s latest virus relief bill, which contains the state pension bailout.

***

Taft-Hartley restored business-union balance after the pro-union excesses of the 1935 Wagner Act. U.S. labor law has since maintained a rough equilibrium, tilting here or there depending on the election. But the Senate’s filibuster rule has prevented a sharp change in either direction. If Democrats take the Senate, and eliminate the filibuster as they say they will, the Pro Act is likely to pass. Union power over workers, and leverage over employers, will expand more than it has in 85 years.

Wonder Land: Joe Biden’s campaign depends on enough people hating Trump to transfer national power to the Democratic left. Images: Getty Images/NY Post Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the October 22, 2020, print edition.



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Cox Plate: Victorian government backflips on plans to allow large crowds


Victorian Government plans to allow a crowd of up to 1250 people to attend this weekend’s running of the 100th Cox Plate at Moonee Valley have been scrapped after they generated outrage given Melbourne’s harsh lockdown.

Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula said plans to hold the event were a “mistake, given that other restrictions remain in place, and we’ve heard the community feedback..”

“Tonight I’ve spoken to the Moonee Valley Racing Club and the decision’s been reversed. Owners won’t return to the race track until we reach the next stage of the easing of restrictions. I apologise for any upset that has been caused,” he tweeted on Tuesday night.





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‘We ask for honesty’: Angst over community centre plans


NINE community groups on the Plateau have written an open letter to Ballina Shire’s mayor and councillors, demanding to be heard on the future of the Alstonville Cultural Centre.

The council recently agreed to lease the centre to Byron Studios.

It will bring a new industry to the shire, with Byron Studios expected to firm up plans for a $16 million production now that it has a venue.

The company is also progressing with plans for a permanent home in the Innovation Precinct in Ballina.

But the decision to hand over the keys to the Alstonville Cultural Centre has taken many people in the community by surprise.

Nine community groups Alstonville Community Basketball, Alstonville Lions Club, Alstonville Plateau Historical Society, Alstonville Plateau Physical Culture, Alstonville Social Justice Group, Alstonville Wollongbar Chamber of Commerce, Quota Alstonville, Wollongbar Progress Association and the Wollongbar Garden Club have written to the councillors to express their concerns.

“This council decision has been taken quietly, without any community consultation, resulting in angst within the community, and causing division, as local people try to clarify the possible repercussions of council’s decision,” the letter states.

“Many sporting, cultural and service organisations will be unable to continue their community activities, or will be forced to relocate to alternative, less appropriate, sites.

 

The Alstonville Cultural Centre was, until recently, known as the Alstonville Leisure and Entertainment Centre.

 

“This, at a time when community groups and organisations are already suffering the financial impacts of COVID-19.

“As a result, the community calls upon Ballina Shire Council for improved communication between Council and the Plateau community.”

The groups have specific expectations of going forward, which are outlined in the letter, and they want the council to commit to their requests “in writing” at an ordinary council meeting.

These include:

No extension of the currently approved lease time frame (two years)

Alternative appropriate accommodation on the Plateau for community users of the centre, without those users incurring any additional out of pocket expenses

If appropriate alternative accommodation cannot be found, those groups are to be compensated for their loss

A guarantee the community will get the centre back by January 2024 (this allows for the two-year lease and one year to redevelop the building)

A guarantee that any future council proposals be referred to the community through a proper consultative process.

“We ask for openness and honesty in all council deliberations that impact the Alstonville Plateau community, and informed community consultation before decisions are made,” the letter states.

“As citizens and ratepayers, we are required to consult and make application to council for any changes that impact on our community.

“We expect the same from our elected representatives.”





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American plans flights with Boeing 737 Max by year-end


The Boeing 737 Max might be flying over the East Coast before year end

FORT WORTH, Texas — Before long, American Airlines might find out how many travelers are reluctant to fly on the Boeing 737 Max.

American plans to put the plane back in its schedule by the end of the year, assuming that federal regulators soon approve changes Boeing made after two crashes of Max jets killed 346 people.

A spokeswoman for American said Monday that the airline plans to operate a single daily Max flight from Dec. 29 through Jan. 4 between Miami and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, and American is reviewing its plans beyond that. American will begin taking bookings for the flights on Friday.

“We remain in contact with the (Federal Aviation Administration) and Boeing on the certification process, and we’ll continue to update our plans based on when the aircraft is certified,” spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said in a statement.

Customers can see on American’s website the type of plane for any flight if they know where to click. The airline said customers won’t be automatically rebooked on a Max if their original flight plan changes.



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GM plans investments to expand electric vehicle production


October 19, 2020

By Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co <GM.N> is expected to announce on Tuesday significant investments to expand production of electric vehicles at a factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee and potentially other sites.

GM said in a statement Monday that it planned to make a “major U.S. manufacturing investment announcement” on Tuesday. The Detroit News reported that the automaker planned to begin building the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV at its Spring Hill, Tenn. plant. AutoForecast Solutions, which tracks industry production plans, said it expects the Lyriq to go into production in late 2022.

GM could move production of vehicles to other plants, resulting in new investments in other locations. AutoForecast Solutions said it expects some electric vehicle production will also be announced for a factory in Mexico.

The automaker’s plans for investing in U.S. factories comes with two weeks left in the U.S. presidential election campaign. U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are competing for support from auto workers in Midwestern swing states.

(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Sam Holmes)





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NASA plans first cellular network on the moon


Nokia has been chosen by NASA to build the first ever cellular network on the moon.

The Finnish telecommunications firm said on Monday that the partnership will create a path toward “sustainable human presence on the lunar surface,” and will result in the first LTE/4G communications system in space.

Nokia’s Bell Labs unit is planning to build what it describes as an “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution” that will be available on the moon by late 2022.

The idea is to provide the kind of technology that makes it possible to remotely control lunar rovers, or allow real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video, Nokia said.

“The solution has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space,” it said.

The company said the technology it’s using — the precursor to 5G — is “ideally suited” for providing the kind of wireless connection “that astronauts need.”

Nokia is working with Intuitive Machines to integrate the network into a lunar lander and deliver it to the surface of the moon, where it will self-configure, it said.

More must-read tech coverage from Fortune:



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Premier labels 15-year delay for South Road tunnel outlined in leaked plans as ‘fake news’


Labor says it has been given leaked documents which show the design to turn Adelaide’s South Road into a non-stop motorway and also reveal the project’s end date will be delayed by more than a decade.

Opposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said the document prepared by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport also identified a tunnel as the preferred option for the section of the road from Tonsley to near Anzac Highway.

It would take four and a half years to complete, and the second stage — between Anzac Highway and the River Torrens — would not begin until after that work was finished.

“What we know now is the Government was planning to announce in the budget a tunnel from the Gallipoli Underpass towards Tonsley,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

The incomplete part of the project is shown in green.(Department for Infrastructure and Transport)

“It also shows South Road now won’t be completed until 2035.

In 2013, then prime minister Tony Abbott pledged to upgrade South Road within a decade.

The State Government wants to turn the route into a 78-kilometre non-stop motorway from Old Noarlunga to Gawler.

Mr Koutsantonis said the “extraordinary leak” showed an open motorway would be the cheapest option, have the highest cost-benefit ratio and would be the cheapest to maintain.

Heritage and acquisition difficulties

The last part of the project, through inner-western suburbs such as Edwardstown and Mile End, is among the trickiest because of the heritage and commercial buildings that straddle the road, including the Thebarton Theatre.

The report said it would be $800 million cheaper to not build exits at Sir Donald Bradman Drive for airport access, a move which would also save up to 100 properties from acquisition.

The Thebarton Theatre
The Thebarton Theatre in Tom Koutsantonis’s West Torrens electorate.(ABC Open: Mickw78)

A further $300 million could be saved by building the motorway over the River Torrens instead of a tunnel under it.

If the State Government proceeds with this plan, the project is expected to cost $8.9 billion.

Only $5.5 billion has been budgeted for it at this stage.

The RAA first suggested tunnels for the project in 2009 under the former Labor government, but enquiries into the possibility only started under the Liberals in 2018.

‘Fake news’, says Premier

Premier Steven Marshall said any suggestion Adelaide’s north-south road corridor project would take until 2035 to complete was “fake news”.

Mr Marshall said the leaked papers looked to him like an old document.

A graphic showing cars in a tunnel.
A proposal for a South Road tunnel released by the RAA in 2009.(Supplied: RAA)

He said he would reveal more details about the project and its expected duration in coming weeks, but he insisted a 2035 completion date was wrong.

“That’s definitely not correct; that is absolute fake news,” he said.

“As the Treasurer said two or three weeks ago that we would be completing this project in 10 years — it’s a very important project.

“There are real complexities to this project. Part of it is making sure we get the balance right in terms of the cost, in terms of the timeframe, also in terms of the inconvenience of the build and also the property acquisition.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas is due to hand down the State Budget on November 10.



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