Council scuttles two Brisbane River ferry services permanently


But on Friday afternoon, council public and active transport committee chairman Ryan Murphy announced all ferry services to Norman Street and Thornton Street terminals would be scrapped permanently.

“Today we are announcing two terminal upgrades and an interim timetable for the KittyCats that will operate at least until the new Howard Smith Wharves terminal comes into service in 2021,” Cr Murphy said.

“These changes mean we can recommence services as soon as possible using the modern KittyCats, until we have a better understanding of the repair time frames for the wooden ferry fleet.”

Upgrades will be brought forward on the Mowbray Park and Dockside terminals to accommodate the KittyCat fleet, doubling the docking capacity at Mowbray Park and increasing access to Dockside for Kangaroo Point residents.

However the Dockside terminal will be closed for upgrading in the interim, with the free shuttle bus between Kangaroo Point and the city continuing.

The Kangaroo Point cross-river ferry will also return on November 15, between Holman Steet and Riverside.

CityCats will no longer stop at Holman Street once that service returns, and Riverside terminal will be used as the city terminal, instead of Eagle Street.

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Thornton Street’s terminal will be shut down, with the council citing the future Kangaroo Point Green Bridge construction and its incompatibility with KittyCats.

Norman Park’s ferry terminal is “end-of-life” and will be shut down, with the council saying it had the lowest patronage by far of the ferry network.

The council said Norman Park to New Farm’s cross-river service carried on average less than one passenger a trip pre-COVID, averaging 133 passengers across 136 daily services.

But the announcement prompted a furious reaction from Morningside councillor Kara Cook, who said Norman Park residents “will not forget this betrayal”.

“Norman Park residents are outraged they have been treated so poorly by [lord mayor] Adrian Schrinner and the LNP through this whole process,” Cr Cook said.

“Cutting services is in the LNP’s DNA and here is another example of local needs being blatantly ignored.

“The Norman Park terminal and the wooden ferries have rotted on the lord mayor’s watch and now residents suffer and are left high and dry.”

Residents were directed onto existing bus services when ferry services were stopped in July.

Cr Schrinner in September said he wanted the wooden ferries, when fixed, to return to the Brisbane River, as an “icon of the city”.

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USPS watchdog finds operation changes negatively affected mail services during election year


The government watchdog for the United States Postal Service concluded in a report released this week, that modifications made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy “negatively” affected the efficiency of the U.S. mail system.

In response to congressional calls for an investigation into changes made following DeJoy’s June appointment, the USPS Office of Inspector General reviewed cost cutting measures, mail speed and reliability, along with management strategies, to analyze how the mail system has been affected during a pandemic and an election year.

DEM LAWMAKERS ACCUSE POSTAL SERVICE OF ILLEGALLY BLOCKING VISITS

Under DeJoy, 60 initiatives where implemented to achieve financial goals, including reduced work hours, the elimination of late or extra transport trips and the removal of collection boxes and processing equipment — all of which were found to have “negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery nationally,” according to the report.

On Aug. 18, DeJoy announced that he would cease the removal or relocation of collection boxes and processing equipment, in order to avoid appearing as if he was attempting to interfere with the Nov. 3 general election.

But the report found that due to a lack of proper communication and strategy on how to implement the new initiatives, operations during June and July resulted in “confusion and inconsistency” throughout the country, which had “significant negative service impacts.”

In a reversal of strategy, chief operations and logistics officers released a memo to USPS workers in September, which stated that starting Oct. 1, additional resources were being given to help with “increased demand and unforeseen circumstances.”

Election officials believed the U.S. would have an increase in the number of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.

States that largely conduct their electoral process through the U.S. Postal Service, have already seen an increase in returned ballots during early voting in October.

Colorado has had a significant rise in mail-in ballots during the 2020 election season compared to the 2016 General Election, where 93 percent of voters relied on the USPS to cast their vote, and only seven percent of Coloradans voted in person.

But during the 2020 primaries, which were held during the coronavirus pandemic, 99.3 percent of voters submitted their ballots through the mail, and just .7 percent of Coloradans voted in person, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Nearly 67 percent of voters are relying on voting by mail so far in the 2020 General Election, according to polling conducted by the Associated Press on Wednesday.  Of the more than 42 million votes cast so far, nearly 29 million of the votes have been returned through the mail. 

DeJoy, who was appointed by Trump, came under scrutiny this summer after the president announced that he was attempting to prevent mail-in voting and claimed the increase in mail-in ballots would lead to a fraudulent election although he provided scant data to support his concerns.

During a FOX Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, Trump said he blocked Democrat’s request for additional funding for the USPS, because he wanted the deter “universal mail-in voting.”

“They want $25 billion for the post office,” Trump told Bartiromo. “Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

DeJoy had been reportedly brought on as the U.S. post master general in an attempt to address crippling financial problems, but the timing of DeJoy’s appointment coupled with reports of deteriorating mail efficiency amid the pandemic, concerned congressional Democrats. 

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The report calls for additional transparency from the U.S. Postal Service on the operational front, and recommended increased communication with Congress.

The report further concluded that operational changes should have been analyzed in order to anticipate the increase in packages sent during the pandemic and the expected rise in mail-in ballots.



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Merchantrade in Technology Partnership with Ant Group to Offer Inclusive Remittance Services to Consumers in Asia


Malaysia’s largest Money Services Business (MSB) operator, Merchantrade Asia Sdn Bhd (Merchantrade) has entered into a partnership with Ant Group, the leader in the development of open platforms for technology-driven inclusive financial services.

The collaboration allows customers of Merchantrade in Malaysia and Singapore to facilitate real-time remittances to Alipay users in China, with funds reaching bank accounts linked to their Alipay app. Alipay is operated by Ant Group and currently serves more than one billion users.

The service is now available at Merchantrade’s 81 branches and over 450 of its agent locations in Malaysia. It is also available on Merchantrade’s award-winning remittance mobile app, eRemit Malaysia and soon will be available on Merchantrade’s e-wallet, Merchantrade Money as well as at Merchantrade’s Singapore-based subsidiary, Kliq Pte Ltd, on its eRemit Singapore mobile app.

Merchantrade in Technology Partnership with Ant Group to Offer Inclusive Remittance Services to Consumers in AsiaThe partnership aims to bring more innovative and convenient financial services to Merchantrade’s customers in Malaysia and Singapore. It will also expand to allow Merchantrade customers to remit funds to persons in the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, through Ant Group’s partners in these markets.  

“As a leading MSB operator and international remittance hub provider, we continuously explore new ways to apply our technology and connect with partners to make financial services more inclusive, especially for the underserved globally, particularly in Asia, where we have a foothold in the remittance market through local partners,” said Ramasamy Veeran (pic), founder and managing director of Merchantrade Asia.

The company has built an ecosystem of relevant financial services through industry partnerships and collaborations and plans to continue forging future partnership opportunities for the convenience of its customers.



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Greg Hunt rejects Danila Dilba’s request for Medicare-funded health services in Don Dale


Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has formally rejected a request for inmates at a notorious Northern Territory youth detention centre to have comprehensive health services covered by Medicare.

Danila Dilba, an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation (ACCHO) based in Darwin, took over the provision of health care at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in July.

In the same month, the health service wrote to the Minister requesting Medicare benefits be made available to children and young people in detention.

It was specifically seeking a legislative exemption that applies to other ACCHOs.

The exemption allows the organisations to access Medicare even though they are federally funded, in recognition of the Indigenous population’s significant health disadvantages.

Some health services at the centre are funded by the NT Department of Health, but Medicare access would allow Danila Dilba to provide comprehensive coverage for a cohort with complex health needs, according to the organisation’s Andrew Webster.

It would also assist with assessment and support for conditions like foetal alcohol spectrum disorder or FASD, which are believed to be prevalent among youth inmates and children in care.

“We couldn’t have our staff, who provide those services, come in and deliver those services at Don Dale, simply because there’d be no way of funding their time to do that.

“Whereas if it’s done through Medicare, then that absolutely creates an avenue to do that.”

The detention centre was the subject of a 2016 Four Corners episode that exposed the shocking treatment of some detainees and prompted then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to call a royal commission into the issue.

Allowing the payment of Medicare benefits for health services provided to young people in detention in the NT was one of the recommendations made in the royal commission’s final report, handed down three years ago next month.

The Federal Health Minister did not support the recommendation in the Commonwealth response to the inquiry.

In a letter dated September 22, Mr Hunt formally rejected Danila Dilba’s request on the grounds that funding health services in prisons is a territory responsibility, and the centre already received public funding through the Northern Territory Government.

But Dr Webster said the Northern Territory Government lacked the resources to fund comprehensive services.

He queried why the exemption applied to federally funded ACCHOs could not be applied here.

“I don’t see it as being any different, particularly in a setting like Don Dale, where essentially 100 per cent of the detainees over a year are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids,” he said.

“It’s a curious situation, and one that seems incredibly unjust.”

He also said the cost of covering the Don Dale inmates would be “a tiny amount of money in the whole Medicare budget”.

There was a daily average of 24 young people in NT detention centres in the most recent financial year.

The Department of Health did not answer further questions about its decision.



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| Improving Access to Mental Health Services in Underserved AreasTalking About Men’s Health™


There is a health crisis in America, one that existed long before COVID-19. I’m talking about our country’s mental health crisis. Each year, we lose thousands of lives to suicide, the tenth-leading cause of death in this country according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide rates are three to four times higher for men than for women. It’s clear we need to find more effective ways to engage people in mental health treatment.

There is a significant stigma associated with mental health, especially for men. Call it a greater expectation of independence or rugged individualism, but men find it a bit more challenging and demonstrate a bit more reluctance than women to ask for help when they may start to feel the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

And with the onset of the pandemic, the risk of mental health issues is much greater. You have people dealing with known stressors such as the loss of a job or a loved one, as well as general economic uncertainty, including here in West Virginia. This is compounded by the added COVID-19 safety concerns that go along with adult children caring for aging parents, or grandparents caring for potentially asymptomatic grandchildren. We’re also experiencing a breakdown of social supports due to isolation.

All of this is why I’m leading a team to look at ways to improve access to mental health services in areas that are critically underserved. Our project, funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), looks at types of remote cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating depression. We’re looking at usual care, which can consist of therapy with or without medication, as well as remote therapy sessions either guided by a coach, or that the patient goes through by themselves.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the idea that the brain can train itself to respond to certain actions. A person learns to recognize triggers that lead to unhealthy behaviors and develop habits to respond more positively to those triggers.

The benefits of this kind of remote therapy for mental health is that it is readily deployable, and people are able to do it at their own pace. Most of the drawbacks are due to technical issues. The digital divide in this country is getting better but relying on connectivity for mental health treatment can often be an issue in rural areas of a state like West Virginia.

We began this project over a year ago, but with the pandemic, limiting social outings created an even greater barrier for in-person care services, in an area that already has a deficit in mental health services. That’s where PCORI came into play once again—they made additional funding available for projects to adjust to the conditions created by COVID-19.

We’ve been able to reach out to people who have no history of psychiatric disorders but have been experiencing depression or anxiety. We give them a website link so they can learn about the study and sign up if they’re interested. For participants in areas with poor connectivity, we prepared resource guides listing publicly available WiFi access points near their homes. Progress is tracked through an app and regular surveys, which allow us to see which method of care works best and for whom.

The added benefit is the ability to compare whether the treatments we’re looking at provide benefits for people experiencing recent onset of depression and anxiety with people who have been managing depression for a while.

One of the great frustrations with mental health services is someone who does all the right things, they recognize the problem, they ask for help, they follow doctor’s orders, and they still don’t feel better. We’re trying to find the answer to that underlying problem of identifying what works best for whom and being able to provide the help that’s needed.





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Remembrance Day services to go ahead | Goulburn Post



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Groups of up to 100 people will be able to gather for Remembrance Day services in the Goulburn electorate after the approval of a one-off exemption from COVID-19 restrictions. “Remembrance Day is a major event for both veterans and the broader community to pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman said. “The easing of restrictions to public gatherings for Remembrance Day means wreath laying ceremonies and other memorial services can take place with up to 100 people present, to pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.” Read also: Looking for work? See who’s hiring for the Christmas period Are you a part of a sporting group? Apply for a defibrillator grant Comedian Tim Minchin snaps up million-dollar getaway home in Kangaroo Valley The one-off exemption to the Public Health Order increases the current restrictions from 20 people to 100 people, to gather at community war memorials, provided they adhere to social distancing measures and have a COVID-19 safety plan in place. Acting Minister for Veterans Geoff Lee said while some of our larger commemorations won’t look the same as in past years, this exemption meant smaller services could be held in all communities across NSW. “Australians have paused to reflect and pay tribute on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month since 1918, so this is welcome news for our veterans community,” Mr Lee said. The exemption is in place for Remembrance Day Services held before November 12. RSL NSW Acting President Ray James OAM thanked the NSW Government for lifting the restrictions to ensure services could go ahead safely. “With this year’s Anzac Day commemorations cancelled due to the pandemic, it is particularly meaningful for the veteran community to see Remembrance Day gatherings taking place,” Mr James said. “Local Remembrance Day services have a significant role in regional and rural communities where the incidence of COVID-19 has been low in recent months.”

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List of industries not opening including gyms, retail and beauty services


He said gyms are a “high-risk environment,” and won’t even reopen in regional Victoria.

The Muscle City Gym in Mount Waverley is seen empty following the forced closure of Gyms at 12pm (Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

He said it was “very difficult”.

“When something by its very nature – no disrespect or any reflection on the owner or the person who operates it – but when something is by its very nature is unsafe, like in the context of this virus, it is hard to make it safe and you cannot,” he said.

“There will be a time when they can and we’re looking at it closely.

“But I cannot give them the news they want now because it would not be safe to do that.”

Outdoor pools can reopen to 30 people, from midnight tonight.

Indoor pools are open for under 18s with a maximum of 20 swimmers, and one-on-one hydrotherapy is allowed

When will beauty salons reopen in Victoria?

Victorians can get a haircut from tomorrow morning- as long as it’s within 25km from home – with hair salons allowed to reopen. But beauty treatments won’t be allowed to open for another two weeks.

They’ll have to wait until November 1 to start services again.

A very quiet Bourke Street is seen on August 11, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.
A very quiet Bourke Street is seen on August 11, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. ( Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

When will shops open in Melbourne?

Non-essential retailers in Melbourne will also have to wait another two weeks to welcome customers again.

However, Mr Andrews said if numbers track well, that date could be brought forward.

Andrews said he was “following public health advice” by not opening shops yet, despite retailers being crippled.

“We will get you open when it is safe to reopen,” he said.

The boss of Melbourne’s Chapel Street Precinct shopping area called the further delay, an “unjust joke.”

“There’s a cloud of anger from Chapel Street Precinct businesses today as this is no longer acceptable or sustainable for our businesses,” general manager, Chrissie Maus, said.

“We must learn to live with the virus and open our businesses up now. The mental health impact on our business owners and staff is now doing more damage than some realise.”

There are also no updates on when indoor entertainment, such as theatres, can reopen.

From November 1, outdoor seated entertainment can host a maximum of 50 people or 25 per cent of the venue’s fixed seat capacity.

Can I go fishing in Victoria?

No updates have been announced for fishing, however Melbournians have been warned they still cannot go to regional Victoria.

They can now spend as much time as they like outside, however, with the two-hour limit lifted from midnight.



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Streaming services spell opportunity for Bollywood’s women


Take a few popular shows in India today: “Mentalhood,” about multitasking mothers; “Baarish,” a love story; and “Four More Shots Please,” often described as an Indian “Sex and the City.” What do they have in common? At least two things: All are produced by streaming platforms, and all are directed by women.

Many female filmmakers say they’ve struggled to break into Bollywood. But here, as elsewhere, streaming services are opening up opportunities. And that means not just more women behind the camera, but more women in front of it – and more complex female characters.

Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar are transforming the scope and variety of stories being told. Liberated from the usual pressures of box office results, exhibition, and distribution, filmmakers are finding new possibilities. 

Sooni Taraporevala’s real life-inspired film “Yeh Ballet,” released this year, follows two Mumbai boys pursuing their dancing dreams.

“If it had been financed by conventional producers for theatrical release, I would have got two rupees to make it,” says Ms. Taraporevala. “It’s gratifying for me as a filmmaker to be able to tell stories that are real, without stars, on niche subjects, get the budget the film needs, and have it be promoted well.”

Mumbai

“Guilty,” a Netflix original film, bears little resemblance to commercial Bollywood cinema. Set on an Indian college campus, it tackles the often-taboo topic of sexual assault. The cast boasts no major male stars, nor dance numbers. And unlike most theatrical releases, it was directed by a woman. 

The film was released in March, and was frequently on Netflix India’s “Top 10” panel. But director Ruchi Narain, best known for writing a critically acclaimed drama in 2003, often faced a question: “Why has it taken you so long [between films]? Where did you go?”

“I’m like, nowhere!” she says, chuckling. “I was right here. I was flogging my scripts, meeting actors, doing everything any filmmaker does.”

For Ms. Narain, a streaming platform offered opportunities the rest of the film industry had not. In Bollywood, “money rides on male stars, and male stars have their own concerns. They may or may not want to take instructions from a woman, whether they say that or not,” she says. 

Film industries in India – of which the Hindi-language Bollywood is the biggest – churn out more than 1,500 films a year. But Bollywood’s closed-in, clubby nature and risk aversion have historically sidelined women-led films, many industry experts say.  

But here, as in other countries, that is changing. Platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, and ALTBalaji are transforming the scope, scale, and variety of stories being told. A PWC India-Assocham report in 2018 estimated the industry would more than double in value from 2017 to 2022, reaching almost 54 billion rupees (then around $820 million). Liberated from the usual pressures of box office results, exhibition, and distribution, filmmakers in general are finding new opportunities in the digital space.

“The transition from single-screen theaters to multiplexes made a huge difference for women and the kinds of stories” that get told, says Ms. Narain. “Like that, the transition to digital is going to bring a sea change.”

Alankrita Shrivastava is one of the writers and directors behind Amazon’s acclaimed web series “Made in Heaven,” a drama about two wedding planners and their personal and professional lives. It was praised for its canny depiction of urban India, and its deft treatment of themes of sexuality, class, and marriage. She describes roadblocks in the industry as a complex set of interlocking factors. Women may be less interested in the hero-focused films favored by studios, for example; may not find recognizable actors to cast; and then struggle to market their films, affecting earnings. This leads to a cycle, reinforcing the notion that movies made by or led by women are less bankable. 

“Definitely streaming platforms are more democratic. There’s more space for diverse voices and women,” says Ms. Shrivastava. “A lot of the network executives are women and open to different kinds of content.” 

Streaming shift

There is no reliable national data on the proportion of Indian programming that is women-helmed, but the increase in the number of women behind the camera appears to line up with worldwide trends.

Across U.S. platforms, women jumped from 12% of directors in 2014-15 to 30% in 2019-20, according to the latest “Boxed In” study by Martha M. Lauzen, founder and executive director at the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. When just streaming platforms were considered, the figure went from 10% in 2017-18 to 32% in 2019-20. This year, the study notes, streaming services “featured substantially more female protagonists” than cable or broadcast programs: 42%, 27%, and 24%, respectively.

“For film there can be only one director. For episodic [formats] you can have a female director for every episode,” says Madeline Di Nonno, chief executive officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. “So, with the proliferation of streaming platforms – Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, HBOMax, Peacock, Quibi – you have many more new and global distribution outlets that have to fill their pipeline with content.” However, she also points out that “Boxed In” found 76% of programs studied across platforms had no women directors, and 73% had no women creators.

Courtesy of Weber Shandwick

From left, Sayani Gupta, Gurbani Judge, Kirti Kulhari and Maanvi Gagroo in ‘Four More Shots Please!’, one of Amazon India’s most talked-about shows.

Some platforms say they are actively committed to rectifying imbalances.

“We have always encouraged women, be it within the organization, in our shows, or behind the camera,” says Ekta Kapoor. As joint managing director of Balaji Telefilms, one of India’s biggest entertainment companies, and managing director of ALTBalaji, its streaming platform, Ms. Kapoor has often been described as one of the most powerful women in television. “As they say, content is reflective of the thought process of the creators; we at ALTBalaji have always strived to break the existing stereotypes.” 

Among ALTBalaji’s most popular shows are two directed by women: “Mentalhood,” about multitasking mothers; and “Baarish,” a love story. One of Amazon Prime’s most talked about shows here is “Four More Shots Please” – often described as an Indian “Sex and the City” – and Netflix is this year working with 30 women producers and directors. In 2020, in addition to “Guilty,” the platform released Ms. Shrivastava’s film “Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare,” about two women cousins in North India finding themselves, and Sooni Taraporevala’s real life-inspired film about two Mumbai boys pursuing their ballet dancing dreams. 

“If it had been financed by conventional producers for theatrical release, I would have got two rupees to make it,” says Ms. Taraporevala, of “Yeh Ballet.” “It’s gratifying for me as a filmmaker to be able to tell stories that are real, without stars, on niche subjects, get the budget the film needs, and have it be promoted well.” 

More stories on screen

More women behind the camera also has a ripple effect for women in front of it. “We have found from our previous research that when there is a female writer-director it directly impacts the percentage of female characters on screen,” says Ms. Di Nonno, of the Geena Davis Institute. “Women are 51% of the population, and as such need to see their stories told authentically onscreen.” 

Nor are the gains just for women. With digital services, every film or show does not need to cater to every viewer, opening up more opportunities for different stories. Audience diversification and fragmentation “means women get more opportunities because now you are telling all kinds of stories,” says Ruchi Joshi, who co-directed one web show and is in talks for another. “We are making shows for people across classes, across genders.” 

Supriya Kantak/Courtesy of Netflix India

Sooni Taraporevala is the screenwriter and director of ‘Yeh Ballet,’ a real life-inspired film about two Mumbai boys pursuing their dance dream.

As yet, India’s digital shows have been relatively untouched by censorship, allowing greater freedom in portraying women’s lives. Filmmakers and executives believe it has also allowed flawed and more complex women characters to take shape. “With more female creative helms – be it writers, directors, producers – comes more female characters, with more agency, better representation and more engaging plots and themes – something that has never been portrayed before,” says Aparna Purohit, head of India Originals at Amazon Prime Video. 

With theaters shut until now, amid the pandemic, even more people have turned online for entertainment. Films meant for theatrical release have opted to go digital, including Ms. Shrivastava’s latest.

But she highlights the charm of watching big screen films, while warning against treating digital platforms as a panacea for gender gaps. “Just because streaming platforms are relatively more democratic shouldn’t be a reason to edge women out of the commercial theatrical space,” she says. “I think there should be equality in all mediums.”



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Maternity services and the pandemic – Covid-19 is limiting access to maternity services for British fathers | Britain


WHEN JAMES returned from the hospital after the birth of his son, he was surprised to find a bottle of whisky and some cans of lager on his doorstep. The mystery was soon solved. Under covid-19 rules, James was allowed into the hospital where his partner Annie was due to give birth only once active labour had begun. Thirty-six hours after being admitted for an induction, Annie found herself on a delivery ward in the early hours of the morning desperately trying to rouse her sleeping husband by phone. When that failed, she resorted to ordering a delivery from a local off-licence in the hope that the doorbell would prove more effective. In the event, he woke before the booze arrived.

James made it to the hospital on time and all went well. Others have not been so lucky. “I’ve heard real horror stories of what women have had to face alone, whether it’s awful news at a scan or going through a difficult birth without your partner there,” says Joeli Brearley of Pregnant Then Screwed, a campaign group. As Britain locked down in March, hospitals limited the number of visitors allowed on their premises. Pregnant women had to attend 12- and 20-week scans, and go through much of the process of labour, alone. Non-essential retail reopened in June, followed by pubs and restaurants in July, but tight restrictions have remained in place limiting access to maternity services and post-birth visits by new fathers. A petition calling for the rules to be loosened across Britain has received over 440,000 signatures and the backing of 60 MPs.

The Royal College of Midwives, a trade union and professional body, acknowledges that “the support of a partner during scans and labour is important”, but argues that restricting access to some services means that “maternity teams can continue to deliver good-quality, safe care, protecting pregnant women and the midwives who care for them.” Others are less convinced. “It’s important to remember that the vast majority of birth partners live with the woman giving birth,” says Jeremy Davies of the Fatherhood Institute, a think-tank. “We haven’t had a sudden spike in virgin conceptions.” Evidence suggests the presence of partners leads to better medical outcomes, partly because it reduces stress and anxiety during birth.

In response to rising discontent the NHS issued new guidance for maternity services on September 8th. But campaigners say that interpretations of the guidelines vary widely across the country and most services remain closed to partners. The concept of “active labour” is especially slippery. “It’s not like this stuff runs on a timetable,” says a midwife. As of late September, fewer than one in four hospital trusts were allowing partners to be present for the whole of labour and half were still banning women from being accompanied to their 12-week scan. As Ms Brearley says, “No one should have to find out they have miscarried alone.”

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Hard labour”

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Eesti Energia to establish separate free market network services company | The Budapest Business Journal on the web


 Energy Today

 Thursday, October 15, 2020, 16:30

On Jan. 1, 2021, a new service company Enefit Connect will start operating, as part of the Eesti Energia Group, to manage electricity networks and a major portion of the street lighting network in Estonia, build internet network, develop the charging network for electric cars and offer its clients new energy solutions based on contemporary technology, according to a report by Baltic-course. 

The current network company of the group, Elektrilevi, will in the future only offer the electricity distribution network service regulated by the state.

The aim of the change is to allow the provision of regulated distribution network services to focus on its strength, and for services based on free-market logic to bring new value based on modern technology to the customer, Eesti Energia said in a press release on Tuesday.

 

 





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