Vendors relieved to border restrictions lift

Some of Australia’s leading breeders are optimistic Annastacia Palaszczuk’s green light to opening southern borders has come in the nick of time to salvage January’s Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale.

Magic Millions officials breathed a sigh of relief after the announcement, as did some of the company’s biggest vendors.

MM still had a productive June sale under border restrictions, even setting a new record mark for a horse sold on the Gold Coast, but there’s little doubt welcoming New South Wales and Victorian buyers is going to be a huge factor in January’s outcome.

John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud and the Mitchell family’s Yarraman Park sold almost $30 million worth of yearlings in Book 1 of the sale this year and have similarly strong drafts for 2021.

Both admitted to having concerns about when the announcement might come, but are now hopeful it can be a successful sale.

“It will help the sale enormously having freedom of movement,” Messara said.

“Opening the borders means customers who couldn’t have come to inspect the horses will inspect them. It’s never the same inspecting the horses on video.

“Being able to have someone down there looking at the horses several times in the week leading up gives them more confidence.”

Arthur Mitchell of Yarraman Park, which sold 28 yearlings at an average of almost $500,000 this year, says even if the sale does not match the record figures of last year, the opening of borders gives vendors a good deal more confidence.

“It means people will be keen to travel to your beautiful state and I’m sure they will be mad keen to get up there,” Mitchell said.

“I would have been slightly worried if the Victorians couldn’t get there.

“It’s a bigger sale this year with increased numbers, so it’s going to be interesting, but if it goes anywhere near last year or even down a bit, it will still be a great result.”

Messara did suggest the announcement was on the cusp of being too late and he expects the tourist spend associated with the sale to be down as a result.

“The atmosphere will be far better, which is a very positive things for the sale, but I just wish the decision had been made a month before,” he said.

“We cut the team we have travelling to the Gold Coast down because we just didn’t know if this was going to happen.

“As it turns out we are going there with enough people, but it’s fairly skeleton and I think what it’s done is taken the edge off the (leisure) expenditure you might have made.”

The Magic Millions Polo Day, which has in more recent years kicked off the festivities, has been shelved for this year as a result of Covid, but will be back in 2022.

The week now begins with the traditional Surfers Paradise Beach barrier draw on Tuesday January 12, to be followed by seven consecutive days of selling.


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Scientists relieved as Joe Biden wins tight US presidential election

Joe Biden is set to become the 46th president of the United States.Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

Joe Biden will soon be president of the United States, and scientists the world over are breathing a collective sigh of relief. But concerns remain: nearly half the country voted for President Donald Trump, whose actions have repeatedly undermined science and scientific institutions. Biden will have his work cut out for him in January as he takes the helm of a politically polarized nation.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” says Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin Law School, quoting president Gerald Ford’s famous 1974 remarks about his predecessor Richard Nixon’s scandal-ridden term. “I couldn’t say it any better than that.”

Despite votes still being counted and legal challenges from Trump and his team in some states, major media outlets in the United States declared Biden the victor on 7 November, after confirming that he won Pennsylvania and captured enough electoral college votes to claim victory. Once Biden takes office on 20 January, he will have an opportunity to reverse many policies introduced by the Trump administration that were damaging to science and public health. This includes actions on climate change, immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic, which could claim more than a quarter of a million lives in the United States before Trump leaves office in January.

Researchers are hopeful that much of the damage can be repaired. With Trump out of the picture, says Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physicist and nuclear-proliferation specialist based in Islamabad, “instead of dog-eat-dog, maybe we will have a modicum of international cooperation, greater adherence to laws and treaties, more civility in politics across the globe, less ‘fake news’, more smiles and less anger”.

Biden, a Democrat who served as vice-president under former president Barack Obama, has promised to ramp up US test-and-trace programmes to help bring the coronavirus under control, to rejoin the Paris climate agreement to fight global warming, and to reverse travel bans and visa restrictions that have made the United States a less desirable destination for foreign researchers. Biden’s vice-president elect, Kamala Harris, an attorney and US senator from California, will be the first woman to achieve one of the top two offices in the country. She is also the first Black woman and the first Asian-American to be elected vice-president, in a country that has been riven by racial tensions.

“It is testament to the strengths and resilience of US science that it has weathered the past four years,” says James Wilsdon, a social scientist at the University of Sheffield in the UK. “It can look forward now to a period of much-needed stability and support from [Biden’s] administration.”

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris will be the first woman to ever ascend to vice presidency in the United States.Credit: Mark Makela/Getty

Top priorities

One of Biden’s first orders of business will be to put a more aggressive pandemic response plan in place. On 6 November, the United States saw more than 130,000 new coronavirus infections recorded in a single day — the highest number reported anywhere across the globe since the outbreak began.

Trump has sought to downplay COVID-19 while opposing state and local efforts to contain the coronavirus as too costly. By contrast, Biden’s team has committed to ramping up COVID-19 test-and-trace programmes, working with state- and local-level officials to implement mask mandates nationwide and strengthening public-health facilities.

Biden’s team has also promised to “listen to science”. The Trump administration has repeatedly sidelined government scientists at public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration throughout the pandemic. With Biden in charge, says Charo, “there’s a wide range of government agencies that now are going to finally get a chance to do their jobs properly”.

Biden’s administration will also re-open lines of communication with other countries and international organizations in its fight against the coronavirus. Trump pulled the United States out of the World Health Organization earlier this year, criticizing the international agency for supporting China, where the outbreak began. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand that no country can face our current challenges alone and hopefully will re-engage and help re-form key science-based multilateral institutions,” says Marga Gual Soler, an expert in science diplomacy and policy adviser to the European Union.

Another top priority for Biden will be to reverse many of the policies impacting climate, the environment and public health put into place under Trump.

At the top of the docket is the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The United States formally withdrew from this accord on 4 November, but Biden has said he will rejoin the pact after taking office in January. Biden and Harris also campaigned on a US$2-trillion plan to boost clean energy, modernize infrastructure and curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Biden’s election holds particular significance for scientists at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has suffered under Trump’s efforts to roll back regulations, bolster industry influence and undermine the way science is used to craft rules to curb pollution and protect public health.

“The Trump administration tried to mutate the DNA of the organization,” says Dan Costa, a toxicologist who headed the agency’s air, climate and energy research programme until January 2018 and is one of numerous veteran scientists at EPA who ultimately elected to depart during Trump’s tenure. It will take a while for the agency to recover, but a cloud has lifted, says Costa. “I’m sure people working at the EPA are breathing a sigh of relief.”

A tense election

Although Trump has filed lawsuits in multiple states questioning vote counts, Biden amassed enough electoral college votes to claim victory after more than four days of counting in several swing states.

The record election turnout shows that “democracy beats deep in the heart of America”, Biden said in a statement. “It’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said. “It’s time for American to unite. And to heal.” Trump has not conceded the election and has said it is “far from over”.

“I’m still nervous,” says Ali Nouri, a molecular biologist and president of the Federation of American Scientists. “It’s still not clear to what extent the president is going to contest the election. I think unfortunately, he has undermined some core democratic principles that we’ve always adhered to in this country.”

This fear runs deep. During his tenure in the White House, in addition to censoring and sidelining government researchers, Trump regularly attacked political opponents as well as the media, the courts, the electoral system and other Democratic institutions. These actions spurred some 4,000 people to sign a statement drafted by scientists that raises concerns about the state of American democracy in the run-up to the election.

The closer-than-expected vote hardly served as the rebuke of Trump that many scientists were hoping for, nor did it provide a ‘blue wave’ across Congress that would make it easier for Biden to advance his science agenda. Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives, although they will continue to hold a majority. And they might not wrest control of the Republican-led Senate, where the final roster will not be decided until Georgia holds a pair of run-off elections in January.

Although Biden’s election represents an imminent end to a presidency that often disregarded truth, science and evidence, many scientists fear that the movement launched by Trump will continue to haunt the United States well after he has left office.

“The political defeat of Trump is enormously important. But this is not a repudiation of this larger assault on democratic civility in the United States,” says Zia Mian, a physicist and co-director of the Program in Science and Global Security at Princeton University in New Jersey. Trump has undermined core values of truth and equality, Mian says, and without those, “democratic debate is not possible”.

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Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary relieved of duty following Daniel Prude’s death

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Mayor Lovely Warren on Monday announced she is relieving Police Chief La’Ron Singletary of his command and requested a federal investigations into the death of Daniel Prude and of the Police Department.

The announcement came in the wake of protests over the death of Daniel Prude, the resignation of the entire RPD command staff, and calls for the mayor to resign as well. Warren took no questions.

She also did not say who would immediately replace Singletary, leaving the police department without a public leader.

Singletary was not informed ahead of time but rather found out when one of the RPD commanders saw it on Twitter, he said via text message to a reporter. He had just left a virtual briefing with the mayor and City Council.

“We have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge,” the mayor said, adding: “The culture of policing in Rochester must change.”

Rochester Police Chief LaRon Singletary talks about how his department is dealing with Officer Manny Ortiz’s death.

Prude died in March from injuries sustained while being restrained by police. The death did not become public knowledge until this month, however, when the Prude family held a news conference and released video obtained from police body-worn cameras.

Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj have been suspended for 30 days without pay. The mayor’s announcement came during a hastily called news conference at City Hall moments after concluding the City Council briefing in which she sat alongside Curtin.

There was no mention of either during the briefing.

Singletary and his command staff announced last week that they were retiring or resigning their command positions. The resignations were to be effective Sept. 29.

That announcement was delivered in similar stunning fashion, at the start of a similar briefing as was held on Monday. Warren appeared late to that session, having just learned of the chief’s decision.

Warren outlined a series of measures Monday, saying that a preliminary review by Deputy Mayor James Smith had provided the groundwork for the measures.

She said the city’s Office of Public Integrity would “determine if any employees — including herself — violated city or departmental policies or ethical standards.” And that the city would bring in an outside agency to assess police training manuals, general orders and regulations, as well as the city’s open records process.

The Prude family lawyer requested video in the case back in April but the city did not fulfill the demand until August.

Warren previously announced that seven officers connected to Prude’s case had been suspended with pay.

New York state Attorney General Letitia James is investigating and has said she will impanel a grand jury. Warren on Monday added requests for the U.S. Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice top get involved.

“Frankly, the public should have been informed of Mr. Prude’s death and the circumstances that led to his death in March,” Warren said, adding that she should have initiated this move after she saw the video last month.

She promised a “robust” and public-driven process to reform RPD and City Hall.

In a statement Roj posted on twitter, the city spokesman said he accepted the discipline.

“I personally believe that Mr. Prude would be alive today if the responding officers recogized his humanity, and acted with compassion and restraint,” he continued.

Follow reporter Brian Sharp on Twitter: @sharproc.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Daniel Prude: Rochester police chief Singletary relieved of duty

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Alleged abuse victims of Malka Leifer ‘hugely relieved’ after winning right to be publicly named

Three Melbourne sisters who allege a Jewish school principal sexually abused them in the early 2000s say they are “hugely relieved” to have won back the right to be named publicly.

Elly Sapper, Nicole Meyer and Dassi Erlich sought permission from the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to be identified, after laws which came into place earlier this year prevented the publication of their names.

“Our choice to speak has been restored!!” the sisters said in a statement.

The former principal of Melbourne’s Adass Israel Girls School, Malka Leifer, faces extradition proceedings from Israel to face 74 charges of sexual assault.

State laws usually prevent media publication of the names of sexual assault victims, to protect them.

Amendments to the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act which came into force this year, were designed to allow victims to seek a formal exemption via a court application.

Today’s application was the first test of the provision and Magistrate Johanna Metcalf has granted the woman the right to be identified as victims of alleged sexual assault.

The Victorian Government is developing “urgent” amendments to the law after pressure from victims’ rights groups who demanded complainants be able to choose if they are publicly identified without the need for a court application.

In a statement, the sisters said the ruling would “set a precedent and hopefully pave the way for other survivors to own and share their story”.

“There should not be any burden on a survivor other than their choice,” they said.

The women have featured in many media articles and television programs — including ABC’s Australian Story — as strong advocates for the rights of those who’ve allegedly been sexually abused.

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DACA Recipients Shocked And Relieved After Supreme Court Rules Against Trump

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Roberto Martinez, a DACA recipient, chants and cheers following the Supreme Court’s decision.

For weeks, Juan Plascencia has kept a routine: He wakes up and checks the Supreme Court’s website to see if a decision has been made on whether he will continue to receive protection from deportation.

In those moments, Plascencia, a 29-year-old history teacher in Las Vegas, was anxious and nervous, but more than anything he just wanted to know.

Handout / Juan Plascencia

Juan Plascencia, 29, of Las Vegas Nevada.

On Thursday, the decision finally came, and Plascencia scrolled through the entire opinion before realizing the Supreme Court had found that the Trump administration violated federal law when it rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that shields immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. A flurry of emotions followed, including shock and amazement.

“As a history teacher, I teach about days like this. DACA is here to stay and our humanity is validated,” Plascencia told BuzzFeed News. “We are humans. We don’t owe people a sob story to validate our humanity.”

There were 649,070 active DACA recipients as of Dec. 31, 2019, the most recent data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. At the time, there were 25,980 people with pending DACA renewals.

Angel Fajardo, 25, was caught off guard when the Supreme Court issued its opinion. She had been bracing for a ruling against DACA. However, the limbo she and other DACA recipients have been in isn’t quite over. Thursday’s ruling only found that the manner in which Trump tried to rescind DACA was incorrect, meaning he can still end the program if he follows the proper steps in the future.

“It’s a relief that we know,” Fajardo told BuzzFeed News. “But I’m still not in an absolute happy state because I know that no matter what, if the administration wants to continue with their agenda, they’re going to move ahead no matter what and we need to be prepared for that.”

Fajardo, who is director of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, has two young children and is worried about her family’s future in the US. Still, she said this time around isn’t as bad as 2017 when she was pregnant with her son and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration’s plans to end DACA.

“I was having nightmares thinking about my baby. I was scared about the possibility of being removed,” Fajardo said. “Having been through that first moment, I was able to recollect myself a bit more this time.”

Handout / Vanessa Meraz

Vanessa Meraz outside the Supreme Court.

Vanessa Meraz, 23, of Washington, DC, said that while the anxiety of a potential DACA decision was constant over the past few months, the first-generation college graduate had a feeling today would be the day. She hit refresh on the Supreme Court’s website at 10 a.m. and moments later released all the feelings she had been bottling up.

“The rush of relief I felt in that moment is indescribable and all I could do was cry to my parents. We didn’t expect this decision at all,” she said.

Marez immigrated to the US from Mexico with her parents when she was 3 years old.

“The decision today was an enormous win for nearly 700,000 DACA recipients like me and our families,” Marez said. “But there is still much work to do to ensure permanent protections for all undocumented folks in this country.

Cinthia Padilla, a DACA recipient who is preparing to take the bar exam this summer in Louisiana, also woke up on Thursday and kept refreshing the Supreme Court’s site to see if there had been a ruling on the future of a program that has protected thousands like her and given them work permits.

The 29-year-old who was brought to the US from Mexico when she was 1, graduated from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in May, and said she felt revived, thankful, and optimistic when she read the ruling.

“It’s a beautiful moment,” Padilla told BuzzFeed News. “We beat Trump and I get to study for the bar in peace without checking every week to see whether a decision had been made.”

Padilla said she doesn’t know what Trump’s next plans are for DACA, but hopes that undocumented people like her will own the moment and tell their representatives how important the program is.

“Trump is just one person in his party,” Padilla said. “Hopefully this decision has signaled to him, yet again, that he will not be able to wield executive power without it being challenged.”

Ivon Cardoza, a 24-year-old dental assistant in Dallas, was a junior in high school when she first heard about DACA. In the next few weeks, she expects to open her own boutique and graduate with a business degree in the fall.

“My DACA was set to expire this year, and without this, I would have lost it all by September,” Cardoza said. “I teared up hearing the news today.”

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Brady relieved to be facing Peyton, not Eli, in golf match

FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks at a press conference ahead of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

May 12, 2020

Tom Brady traditionally got the better of fellow quarterback Peyton Manning during their encounters on the gridiron, however the latter’s family holds a 2-0 edge in head-to-head Super Bowl tilts.

Perhaps it was with that in mind that Brady offered the following response when asked if he was sick of defeating Peyton Manning ahead of “The Match: Champions for Charity” golf event on May 24:

“No, you kidding me? Eli’s the one that I’m actually happy I’m not playing,” Brady said on the Stupodity podcast.

While Brady posted an 11-6 record against Peyton Manning in head-to-head encounters, Eli Manning captured Super Bowl MVP honors on two occasions after thwarting Brady in the final game of the playoffs.

Eli Manning led the New York Giants to a 17-14 victory over Brady’s former team, the New England Patriots, in Super Bowl XLII during the 2007 season. He also guided the Giants to a 21-17 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI to finish the 2011 campaign.

Peyton Manning will team with Tiger Woods against Brady and Phil Mickelson at “The Match: Champions for Charity,” which will tee off at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. The event will raise $10 million for COVID-19 relief and will be played without fans in attendance.

–Field Level Media

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