not just an open and shut case

The first was familiar, the second a mystery. Rod speculated that Sydney’s Anthony Hordern & Sons may be the etymology, the store a major hardware outlet of its time, but that case remains open. That said, Rod’s ute-hopping memoirs steeled me to find John Pickard’s Illustrated Glossary of Australian Rural Fence Terms, a NSW government publication of 2009.

There I discovered a dropper isn’t just for eyestrain, but “a vertical component in a post-and-wire fence that’s not embedded in the ground”. While Kurt Cobain wasn’t the only grunge kid in town, since grunge is also “a gate made by leaving a narrow gap partially blocked with a post, thus allowing a person to pass, but not stock”.

Australia is zigzagged by lift gates (a gizmo operated by a jib boom), spear-point gates and Cass tilts (a drop panel within electric fences). Meantime a cocky’s gate is no relation to a cockatoo fence – a barrier built of logs and branches, also dubbed a deadwood or brush fence, depending on your postcode.

By fluke, a second email alluded to the back of beyond, but no gate this time. Alison Norton felt stymied by the cryptic clue that plunks a random letter in its midst. Veteran journo Mungo MacCallum is a recidivist in this regard, his clues for The Saturday Paper fond of stuff like: “T – pretty bloody awful (5-4)”.

What’s the deal, asked Alison. The answer is THIRD-RATE, I explained, where T represents RATE’s third letter, just as rock bottom is K. In the same vein, H (the middle of nowhere) can be D (the back of beyond). To we crossword professionals, this genre is known as a semi-rebus.

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HDT Singapore to shut its taxi business due to COVID-19; 94 employees affected

SINGAPORE: HDT Singapore Holdings will shut its taxi business due to the “prolonged debilitating impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

HDT’s application to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to exit the taxi business has been accepted, the firm said in a joint media release with the National Taxi Association (NTA) on Friday (Nov 27). 

A total of 90 taxi drivers and four staff members will be affected, an HDT spokesperson told CNA.

“From the onset of COVID-19 in January 2020 and up till now, HDT Taxi has been wrestling with the slowing growth of its business due to the pandemic measures such as sustained periods of people working from home and restricted travel. The challenges posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented,” said the release. 

Revenue from the taxi business has dropped more than 50 per cent since the pandemic began, the spokesperson said.


Retrenchment benefits will be provided to all affected staff members, including drivers and the backend team that managed taxi operations, said the firm and NTA.

“HDT will be paying them one month of salary for every year of service, on a pro-rata basis,” said the release. 

All drivers will be given the Annual Wage Supplement and their Medisave will be topped up until the end of this year, the release added. 

Employed drivers and those on trial will also be given an additional one-off “retrenchment benefit”, and the company will renew all taxi drivers’ NTA memberships for 2021, the release said.

READ: COVID-19: Government sets aside additional S$112 million to help taxi, private-hire car drivers and operators

“Necessary assistance” is being provided to affected employees, such as linking them up with job support and employment opportunities with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute), said the release.

“The retrenchment exercise is conducted after close consultations with the NTA, in compliance with the tripartite advisory on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment to ensure a fair and responsible process,” said the release. 

“Together with NTA, all affected staff have been communicated to and their well-being has been a priority throughout the process.”


Managing director of HDT James Ng said the firm will be working closely with the NTA to help retrenched drivers find new jobs with other taxi operators or taxi companies. 

“Those who wish to become drivers of HDT’s private hire cars or private bus services will be most welcomed,” said Mr Ng. 

Ms Yeo Wan Ling, director at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said the NTA has “kept a close watch over our taxi drivers” since the start of the pandemic.

“We note that this period is tough on our drivers, especially with most people working from home,” she said.

“For affected drivers who would like to continue driving, NTA will link them up with other taxi operators to help them continue their driving profession.”

For those open to other employment opportunities, NTA and NTUC’s e2i will help them transit into new employment under the NTUC Job Security Council, she added.

Eligible NTA members will also continue to receive member benefits and financial assistance programmes, such as the enhanced NTUC Care Fund (COVID-19) until the end of 2021, with no break in membership, Ms Yeo added. 

READ: COVID-19 relief scheme has paid out S$1.1 billion to 190,000 self-employed people

“It is with a heavy heart that we have to shed the taxi business and let go some of our dedicated employees,” Mr Ng said.

“Regardless of how long they have served with us, I want to thank them sincerely for their professional contributions and having persevered with us during this crisis.”

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South Korea agency says North Korea executed people, shut capital

North Korea has also banned fishing and salt production at sea to prevent seawater from being infected with the virus, the NIS told politicians.

There are few ways to independently confirm the reported fishing ban and other information given by the NIS to the politicians. Ha didn’t say whether the ban applied to all North Korean waters or whether it was still in effect.

North Korea recently placed Pyongyang and northern Jagang province under lockdown over virus concerns. Earlier this month, it imposed lockdown measures in other areas where officials found unauthorised goods and foreign currencies that were brought in, Ha cited the NIS as saying.

North Korea also made an unsuccessful hacking attempt on at least one South Korean pharmaceutical company that was trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, the NIS said.

The agency has a mixed record in confirming developments in North Korea, one of the world’s most secretive nations. The NIS said it couldn’t immediately confirm the politicians’ accounts.

North Korea has maintained that it hasn’t found a single coronavirus case on its soil, a claim disputed by outside experts, although it says it is making all-out efforts to prevent the virus’ spread. A major outbreak could have dire consequences because the North’s health care system remains crippled and suffers from a chronic lack of medical supplies.

The pandemic forced North Korea to seal its border with China, its biggest trading partner and aid benefactor, in January. The closure, along with a series of natural disasters over the summer, dealt a heavy blow to the North’s economy, which has been under punishing US-led sanctions.

North Korea’s trade with China in the first 10 months of this year totaled $US530 million ($717 million), about 25 per cent of the corresponding figure last year. The price of sugar and seasoning has shot up four times, Ha quoted the NIS as saying.

North Korea monitoring groups in Seoul said the North Korean won-to-dollar exchange rate has recently fallen significantly because people found few places to use foreign currency after smuggling was largely cut off following the closure of the China border.

According to the NIS briefing, North Korea ordered overseas diplomatic missions not to provoke the United States, warning their ambassadors of consequences if their comments or acts related to the US cause any trouble in ties with Washington.

North Korea’s government has remained silent over Biden’s election victory over President Donald Trump, with whom Kim held three summits in 2018-19 over the North’s nuclear arsenal. While the diplomacy eventually stalled, the meetings helped Kim and Trump build up personal ties and stop the crude insults and threats of destruction they had previously exchanged.

Politician Kim Byung-kee cited the NIS as saying that North Korea is displaying anxiety as its friendly ties with Trump become useless and it has to start from scratch in dealing with the incoming Biden administration.


Experts have been debating whether North Korea will resume major missile tests soon to try to get Biden’s attention. During past government changes in the US, North Korea often conducted big weapons launches in an attempt to increase its leverage in negotiations with a new US administration.

The NIS expects North Korea will hold a military parade ahead of a ruling party congress in January in a show of force timed with Biden’s inauguration. North Korea is also likely to use the Workers’ Party congress to lay out its basic policies toward the US, Kim Byung-kee cited the NIS as saying.

Kim Jong-un has said the congress, the first of its kind in four years, will set new state objectives for the next five years. In a highly unusual admission of its policy failure in August, the Workers’ Party said North Korea’s economy had not improved due to severe internal and external barriers and that its previous developmental goals had been seriously delayed.


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European Stocks Subdued With Wall Street Shut For Thanksgiving

European equities mostly fell Thursday as dealers nervously eyed coronavirus restrictions in subdued trade, with Wall Street shut for Thanksgiving holiday celebrations, dealers said.

London’s stock market declined as investors digested news on the latest Covid-19 restrictions that will be imposed after England’s current four-week partial lockdown ends next week.

In the eurozone, Paris sagged while Frankfurt flatlined, shrugging off a broadly positive session in Asia that followed this month’s vaccine-fuelled markets rally.

Oil prices stepped lower, while the dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.

“There is always a certain weariness about European markets on Thanksgiving Day, knowing that they are almost certainly condemned to a directionless session with little volume and not much movement,” said analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading firm IG.

“Even when there is (movement) it is likely to be quickly unwound once the Americans get fully back in the saddle from Monday.”

Most Asian stocks rose but traders moved cautiously, with an eye on rising virus infections that are forcing governments to impose containment measures across the globe.

With at least three breakthrough Covid-19 vaccines in the pipeline and possibly rolled out within weeks, the general mood on trading floors is upbeat for 2021.

However, a fresh batch of US data underlined the immediate impact of the disease and the long road ahead for economies.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting warned that the country’s recovery would be tougher without a new stimulus package.

Official figures showed new jobless applications rose for a second straight week as businesses were hit by a sharp increase in new infections and deaths that have led several major cities including New York and Los Angeles to close bars and restaurants.

The readings gave traders a dose of reality following weeks of fervent buying in reaction to vaccine successes and Joe Biden’s election victory.

“The US data on Wednesday highlighted the economic fragility as the country battles an even more severe wave of Covid-19 than it was faced with earlier this year which is likely to continue to weigh in the coming weeks,” said OANDA Europe analyst Craig Erlam.

“The Fed minutes did not directly hint at more bond buying in December but given the Covid-19 spike and lack of a fiscal response, it is still looking very likely.”

Ahead of the Thanksgiving break, the Dow and S&P 500 ended lower Wednesday after hitting records the day before, while the Nasdaq hit a new all-time high as tech firms surged.

“It’s going to be a very quiet end to the week with the US Thanksgiving bank holiday — and extended weekend for many — leaving a massive void in the markets,” Erlam said.

As the US prepares for Thanksgiving, several cities around the world including New York have been forced to impose containment measures
 AFP / Angela Weiss

“The economic calendar was front loaded this week as a result of the holiday leaving just a few low impact releases over the next couple of days and no major central bank decisions.”

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 6,356.23 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: FLAT at 13,291.17

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,566.06

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,513.50

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 26,537.31 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 26,819.45 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,369.73 (close)

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 29,872.47 (close Wednesday)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1911 from $1.1917 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3363 from $1.3380

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 104.25 yen from 104.46 yen

Euro/pound: UP at 90.89 pence from 90.82 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.2 percent at $45.15 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.1 percent at $48.06 per barrel

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Malaysia’s Top Glove shares tumble after govt says factories to be shut

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KUALA LUMPUR — Shares in Malaysia’s Top Glove slumped 7.5% on Tuesday, after the government said some of its factories would be closed in stages for COVID-19 screening and quarantine, as more than 2,000 of its workers tested positive for the disease.

The Health Ministry reported a sharp rise in cases in the area where Top Glove factories and dormitories are located, with 2,453 workers testing positive for the virus, out of 5,767 screened.

The government said 28 factory buildings will be shut in phases but did not provide a timetable.

This new development has not affected the company’s orders, MIDF Research analyst Ng Bei Shan said in a note, adding she was maintaining her earnings estimates for fiscal 2021.

“The development of the temporary closure of its facilities in stages is still fluid. As such, the actual impact to Top Glove’s full-year earnings may be hard to ascertain at this point,” she said.

In a stock exchange filing on Monday, Top Glove said it had temporarily stopped production at 16 facilities since last Wednesday, with the balance of 12 facilities operating at much reduced capacities.

The world’s largest maker of latex gloves has racked up record profits this year on sky-rocketing demand for its products and protective gear, thanks to the pandemic.

Last week, the government ordered 14-day curbs through Nov. 30 in parts of a district about 40 kms (24.8 miles) west of the capital Kuala Lumpur, where Top Glove factories and dormitories are located. (Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Tom Hogue and Neil Fullick)

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Marcus Rashford and the rise of athletes refusing to ‘shut up and dribble’

At 23 years of age, Marcus Rashford has the world at his feet, quite literally. He stars for Manchester United, one of the biggest football clubs and sports brands in the world. But it’s what he’s doing off the field that is getting the attention, admiration and support of millions beyond the sporting world.

Nearly two million school-age children in the UK, who qualify for government-subsidized school meals, were facing hunger due to schools closing during pandemic lockdowns. The Boris Johnson-led government refused to continue funding the program.

Rashford took the government to task, speaking about his struggles growing up, a similar situation that an untold number of families find themselves in now. He teamed up with a charity, local food banks and businesses to help feed children around the UK. With mounting public pressure, the British government relented and reversed its policies twice, to continue funding the food programs.

“I always said that if I was ever in a position to make a difference, then I would,” Rashford said.

Shireen Ahmed, writer, sports activist and co-host of the ‘Burn It All Down’ podcast joins Adrian Cheung to talk about Rashford, how he represents a new generation of athletes refusing to ‘shut up and dribble’ and who are using their voices to drive social and political change.

Listen to this episode and more at This Matters or subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.

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South Australian parliamentarians return to Canberra to avoid being shut out | The Canberra Times

news, federal-politics, south australia covid, act south australia border, south australia mps, south australia parliament sitting, south australia senators, rex patrick

Some South Australian parliamentarians have returned to Canberra ahead of schedule to ensure they can attend the next sitting period beginning on November 30. With South Australia entering a lockdown from midnight on Thursday and ACT Health officials screening returning travellers, some parliamentarians opted to return early and not risk being blocked from the ACT. Independent Senator Rex Patrick returned to South Australia on Sunday but on Monday morning received a phone call from the Senate president advising him to consider returning to Canberra due to the outbreak. Senator Patrick said he returned to Canberra on Monday afternoon to eliminate the risk of not being able to attend the parliamentary sitting. He said he understood all senators received the same phone call and knew of other parliamentarians who had similarly returned. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham remained in South Australia on Wednesday afternoon and his office said no decision had been made about returning to Canberra. Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong was in Adelaide on Wednesday and had also not reached a decision about returning pending health advice. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was already in Canberra for a parliamentary hearing and to ensure she would be able to attend the sitting period. Senator Patrick said he believed it was a good decision to return as it meant he would not be excluded from the sitting period and he could more easily complete his work from his Canberra office rather than in locked-down South Australia. The ACT has not shut its borders to South Australia and there is not yet an obligation to isolate unless travellers are unwell or get tested. However, non-essential travel between the ACT and South Australia is discouraged.


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Remote APY Lands residents in limbo as borders shut after SA records new coronavirus cases

Anne Marie Miller drove from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia to Alice Springs for a funeral on the weekend. Now she’s stuck.

“It makes me feel sad and worried, because I left my family, and my father,” she said.

Ms Miller has been caught by snap border closures triggered by the coronavirus cluster that emerged in Adelaide over the weekend.

On Monday, the NT Government announced the immediate closure of its borders with South Australia, prompting leaders in the APY Lands — an Aboriginal local government area in the far northwest of South Australia — to announce a lockdown, closing off to anyone trying to enter the remote communities.

Ms Miller’s community of Fregon sits just over the border, about 90 kilometres into South Australia.

“There’s a lot of us in the town at the moment from the APY Lands, now we are all stranded, can’t get back home,” Ms Miller said.

“Some people came for the hospital appointment and now they are all stuck, stranded to go back home.”

The APY Lands is an Aboriginal local government area in the far northwest of South Australia.(Supplied: Caddie Brain)

‘Movement will be restricted’

The APY Lands management board met on Monday afternoon, deciding on a three-week lockdown starting from Tuesday evening.

“Movement will be restricted to everyone coming in,” APY Lands general manager Richard King told ABC Radio Alice Springs.

“People can still leave the lands if they need to go, but coming back in we need to be very cautious and make sure they’re not importing the disease in.”

The APY lands were previously closed between March and July this year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Australia.

Similar to the last lockdown, the only people allowed into the communities over the next three weeks will be essential workers with approved exemptions and COVID-safe plans.

Management said around 200 residents of the APY lands were visiting Adelaide to receive healthcare at any one time, which meant the lockdown could leave vulnerable people stranded.

Grant Jaine, operator of the Bush Bee bus service, sits with his hands on the bus wheel and looks back at the camera
The Bush Bee bus service, helmed by Grant Jaine, is regularly used by government staff, health workers and domestic violence victims.(ABC News: Oliver Gordon)

Mr King said they would monitor the outbreak in Adelaide and review the length of the lockdown if necessary.

“The last time we locked down there was a mechanism put in place by Nganampa Health and Territory Health to manage the risks,” he said.

“We’ll still work with health in the NT to make sure that anyone that’s stranded, we can repatriate them safely.”

On Monday, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said health authorities would be monitoring the situation in SA closely, and could narrow the hotspot declaration to Adelaide “once we know more”.

Stranded across the border

The owner of the bus service that ferries people between the APY Lands and Alice Springs was hopeful a solution would be found quickly, after the route was forced to shut down.

“There [were] a lot of people brought from the lands to Alice Springs on Sunday who cannot return home, there’s also passengers who were taken from Alice Springs to the lands who are now stuck there,” said Grant Jaine, who operates the Bush Bee service.

“They’re not very happy, they all want to go home.”

A white bus with 'bush bee' written on the side of it is parked in front of a small hill.
The last time the Bush Bee bus attempted to get an exemption to cross the South Australian border, it took two months.(ABC News: Oliver Gordon)

While South Australia’s borders are open to the Northern Territory, the Bush Bee bus is unable to enter the APY Lands to return passengers home.

Drivers would also then be forced to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to the Northern Territory.

“We cannot send a driver down there and have him need to be quarantined when he gets back,” said Mr Jaine.

During the last border closure, Mr Jaine said getting an exemption for his business took so long to be approved, restrictions were lifted by the time it came through.

He wants the NT Government to speed up an exemption process for what he sees as his essential service.

For Ms Miller and other APY Lands residents stuck in Alice Springs, the next few weeks look uncertain.

“We just came for the funeral and now we’re stuck … there’s no way to get home, I’m a bit stranded,” Ms Miller said.

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Borders slam shut on South Australia

Welcome to our live coverage of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The NT and Tasmania have imposed immediate quarantine and border restrictions on SA as a
COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia rises to 17 cases. Passengers on a Sunday flight from Adelaide to Perth were shocked to be told they had to go into two weeks’ quarantine on ­arrival, despite the West Australian government only hours earlier assuring South Australians they could enter the state without having to isolate.

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Bids to buy U.K. firms to get harder as ministers shut out ‘back door’ takeovers

U.K. business secretary Alok Sharma said the new bill will mean shutting out bidders “who could threaten the safety of the British people.”

tolga akmen/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The U.K. government plans to introduce sweeping new powers to prevent overseas companies from buying the country’s sensitive assets, amid growing concern about the impact of China’s growing economic power.

Under the National Security and Investment Bill, published on Wednesday, companies will have to notify the government about proposed deals in 17 sectors deemed of strategic importance. These include civil nuclear, communications, defense, energy, transport, and artificial intelligence.

Ministers will also have the power to scrutinize the acquisition of assets and intellectual property, as well as companies themselves.

Directors of
overseas companies that fail to alert the government could face personal fines
of up to £10 million, or their businesses could pay penalties worth up to 5% of
their annual turnover.

The new measures, which mark the biggest shake-up of U.K. takeover law in two decades, will also allow ministers to retrospectively stop acquisitions any time in the five years after the deal was concluded.

“Hostile actors should be in no doubt — there is no back door into the U.K.,” said Alok Sharma, business secretary, in a statement.

“This bill will mean that we can continue to welcome job-creating investment to our shores, while shutting out those who could threaten the safety of the British people,” he added.

Read: Terminating Takeovers: Governments Should Think Twice Before Pulling Up the Hatches

The government expects that around 1,000 deals will be flagged up each year. Of these, 70 to 95 are expected to be subject to a national security evaluation, with around 10 requiring “remedies.”

Kevin Ellis, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that while the U.K.’s attractiveness for investment shouldn’t be underestimated, competition for foreign direct investment is getting “much fiercer.”

“Across all industries and markets the bar is being raised and we can’t rely on existing skills, historical relationships or legacy perceptions to drive future success,” Ellis said.

Read: Pressure grows for U.K. to intervene in Nvidia’s $40 billion Arm takeover

The proposals come amid escalating political concern over Chinese ownership of key sectors of the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has also heightened fears that hard-hit companies could be easy prey to foreign investors looking to gain access to cutting-edge technology or firms linked to crucial infrastructure.

The U.K. government is currently assessing the impact of Nvidia
$40 billion takeover of Arm, amid a growing backlash against the deal, as shareholders, politicians and industry experts raise concerns over national security, the loss of crucial homegrown technology, and key roles to a foreign buyer.

Read: U.K. plans to ban Huawei from 5G technology by 2027

In July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed previous plans to allow Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei to supply kit for the country’s 5G mobile phone networks, following pressure from the Trump administration.

Ministers argue that the new powers would place the U.K. more in line with countries like the U.S., Australia and Italy that have all tightened their takeover rules in recent years, amid increasing concerns over the threat to national security from China and Russia.

The French government said in May also has plans to tighten restrictions on non-European investments in French companies, to limit foreign control over strategic sectors and technologies. The same month, Germany approved legislation to lower the threshold for reviewing and blocking foreign takeovers of strategically important companies.

Read: Wall Street banks net $64 billion in fees in bumper year for M&A and IPOs

Under the new U.K. measures, ministers will have 30 days to decide whether they want to “call in” a takeover or any other significant transaction, subjecting it to a national security review.

That could result in takeovers being blocked or a range of conditions being placed on deals.

Read: 2 significant times the U.K. government intervened in takeovers

The new legislation replaces the national security element of the 2002 Enterprise Act, which allows ministers to intervene in deals on competition grounds or if a deal has implications for national security, media plurality or financial stability. This applies only if a target company has a turnover of £70 million or where the merged business would have a market share of 25%.

The new bill has no minimum threshold for turnover or shares. 

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