Coronavirus latest: Covid stalks UK pub groups and retailers as lockdowns bite


President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans to forgo their traditional Thanksgiving customs during the pandemic, warning of the dangers of coronavirus “fatigue”. “This is the moment where we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to the fight,” Mr Biden said in a Thanksgiving speech.

ExxonMobil said it will sack up to 300 workers at its Canadian affiliates, including oil sands producer Imperial Oil, as it continues to reduce costs in the wake of the coronavirus-led crash this year. “The impact of Covid-19 on the demand for ExxonMobil’s products has increased the urgency of the efficiency work,” the company said.

Turkey is in the midst of a severe resurgence of coronavirus, the country’s health minister has confirmed as he announced a full figure for confirmed new daily cases after months of opacity. Health minister Fahrettin Koca said in a press conference that authorities had identified 28,351 confirmed cases of the virus in the past 24 hours.

The UK pub industry has outlined the desperate straits they face over the Christmas period in a letter to the prime minister that calls for the immediate publication of evidence of the virus spreading in pubs. The letter was signed by the British Beer and Pub Association alongside the majority of the UK’s large pub groups.

New York on Wednesday reported more than 6,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time in seven months. A further 6,265 people tested positive over 24 hours, Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed at a press conference, up from 4,881 on Tuesday.

The US goods trade deficit swelled last month as a recovery in domestic demand has driven imports back above pre-crisis levels. The trade gap, which US president Donald Trump had vowed to slash during his four years in office, widened to $80.3bn in October, from $79.4bn in September, the Department of Commerce said.

More than £56m has been set aside to support an additional 1,000 loans for entrepreneurs under the start-up loans scheme administered by the state-owned British Business Bank. The government has said that £519m would be allocated for the broader Covid-19 loans schemes through 2021.

Global trade rose for the fourth consecutive month in September, narrowing the gap with last year’s level as China’s economic rebound fuelled global imports and exports. The volume of international goods trade rose 2.1 per cent in September compared with August, according to a widely watched world trade monitor published by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

Large minorities in “frugal” EU countries are concerned about the misuse of the bloc’s €750bn pandemic recovery fund. The EU sealed a deal on the recovery fund in July after resistance from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, which were opposed to the idea of permitting the union to borrow money and hand it out as budgetary expenditure for member states.



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Sexism stalks our top-college corridors


Sexism and classism are systemic problems in Australia, with roots buried deep in our prestigious institutions, writes Emma Goldrick.

LAST WEEK documents were leaked from the prestigious Shore School in North Sydney detailing a range of illegal and misogynistic activities Year 12 students had planned to undertake as part of their end-of-year muck-up day, known as theTriwizard Shorenament.

While the acts and attitudes exhibited throughout the document were alarming in their own right, they speak to a broader problem of sexism, classism and racism that permeates Australia’s prestigious institutions and corporations.

The ‘Triwizard Shorenament’ – which encouraged other students to “run it straight with a random and deck them”; spit on a homeless man; kiss a girl under the age of 15; kiss “an Asian chick” and have sex with a woman over 80 kilograms – offers a glimpse into the embedded culture of our prestigious educational institutions. The acts detailed throughout the ‘Triwizard Shorenament’ are all too similar to the reports of sexual violence and other “rites of passage” exhibited through The Red Zone Report in 2018.

‘The Red Zone Report’ published by End Rape on Campus (EROC) Australia, is a 200-page document including graphic photos, screenshots and police reports related to the culture of rape and sexual assault prevalent on Australian university campuses.

The report analysed sexual violence and hazing rituals taken place at Australian university residential colleges. The list included practices known as “fresher grooming” in which older male students solicit and sexually rank younger female students, in a series of events including the “fresher five” and “the bone room”.

The report’s name coincides with the increase of sexual assault and rape cases reported during the orientation and Welcome Week at the University of Sydney, with assault services coining the period the “red zone”.

Co-author of the report and EROC ambassador Anna Hush told the University of Sydney’s student newspaper Honi Soit the report took“an intersectional approach at looking at college culture”.

Anna Hush further explained:

“The general privilege that college students and communities have, plays out in so many different ways. The issue of wealth and power is something we definitely need to understand if we want to get a grasp on what’s happening in the colleges.”

Shadow Minister for Education Tanya Plibersek expressed on Twitter, her disappointment over the Shore School student plans for muck-up day activities, stating:

‘How depressing that sexual assault and the assault of homeless people is seen by some as a rite of passage into manhood. It’s illegal and it’s cowardly. What kind of culture breeds this?’

These lists and practices conflate entering “manhood” with a rite of passage that capitalises on privilege and the safeguard that brings. The evident interlinkages between the attitudes and predatory nature exhibited in the ‘Triwizard Shorenament’ and ‘The Red Zone Report’ then permeate into leading corporations and politics.

Socking it to shock jock Alan Jones

This toxicity continues to be called out by women working in fields predominantly dominated by men that have received their formal education through these very institutions. NSW MP Jenny Leong has consistently brought light to the “bear pit” of politics and the culture that has come to accompany many higher positions of power.

In reference to past sexual assault allegations against Greens member Jeremy Buckingham, Ms Leong stated:

“I have spent many days in this bear pit and I know that politics can be an intense place, but, as too many women know, you can feel the difference… when a man is in control and when he is not.”

Ms Leong and Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi (former NSW upper house MP) issued a joint statement regarding the sexual misconduct of their former colleagues and of politicians in general stating:

‘The culture of sexism, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances in society in general and in politics, in particular, must change.’

However, as exhibited by the broader handling of sexual assault allegations within politics – by the Greens, Labor and the Coalition – victims may feel as though the reputation of these political parties continues to be prioritised over justice and welfare.

In a bid to protect the reputation of these institutions, information and internal processes are kept discrete as to not draw attention and scrutiny to the party and process. The same degree of secrecy has also been exhibited by St Paul’s College (University of Sydney) after the college refused to take part in a misogyny inquest, instead choosing to conduct an internal review with confidential results.

Sexist Michael Kroger's put down of Cathy McGowan and Independents

The safety net provided to these perpetrators and institutions by public figures, media outlets and parents, becomes the enabler in accepting such behaviour as a “one-off” or “just surging hormones”, rather than the deeply embedded problem that it is.  

The #ProudShoreMums and other voices of sympathy continue to act as a safeguard of an excuse to a problem that has permeated our educational institutions and transcends into business and politics.

The culture recently exhibited by Shore School speaks to a broader issue of sexism and classism built into the framework of our prestigious institutions.

Emma Goldrick is a Political Science Honours Student at the University of Sydney.

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Instability stalks Nepal as calls for Oli’s resignation grow


NEW DELHI: Nepal on Thursday seemed to be headed for instability as calls for PM K P Oli’s resignation mounted from his own ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) even as he looked to dig in his heels as he met President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to get her to prorogue the ongoing budget session of parliament after a recommendation from his cabinet.
The move is being read in Kathmandu as a desperate attempt by the beleaguered PM to avoid a floor test. Reports from Nepal suggested that he was also buying time to split his party and survive in office.
The latest trigger point was his remarks that India was plotting against him, a claim that saw senior party members demand that he produce evidence. The Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda-led faction in the ruling NCP has demanded the resignation of Oli from the post of PM and also co-chair of the party. The prorogation of parliament will also allow Oli to introduce an ordinance, a report in the Kathmandu Post said.
“In April, Oli had introduced a controversial ordinance that was aimed at making it easier for parties to split. The ordinance was withdrawn after vociferous criticism. Many believe that Oli could reintroduce the ordinance and split the party,” it said. Senior members asked Oli to step down for his failure to handle a host of issues including the Covid-19 situation in Nepal.



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Greengrocer doubles prices for customers that snap stalks off broccoli


For vegetable growers, greengrocers and supermarkets alike, it’s one of the most frustrating habits of shoppers.

They claim by doing it, it not only deprives them of income but also deprives the shopper of delicious and longer lasting food.

One store is so frustrated its owners have gone beyond simply shaking their heads when customers are out of view; they’ll now charge customers double if they do this dastardly deed.

So, what is it that some shoppers are doing that causes so much consternation?

Snapping off the stalks of broccoli and dumping them before they head to the cash register.

Some customers reckon the severing of the stalk saves them a few cents on the cost of the dinner; but grocers are aghast.

This week a sign was spotted at a greengrocers in Sydney’s inner west. It was blunt.

“Do not remove broccoli stalks,” it read. “Otherwise be charged double”.

The sneaky crack of the stem is so widespread that grocers are finding legions of them abandoned at the bottom of broccoli crates.

“I always break it off and leave it,” one stalk snapper told news.com.au said, despite acknowledging the amount saved was not huge.

“It’s not about the cost, it’s the principle of being forced to pay for a stalk that won’t be used. Similarly, at the butcher I always ask that any excess fat is trimmed off.”

Another was equally unrepentant: “You get charged by weight so everyone breaks off the bits they don’t eat to get more bang for their buck.”

But a Sydneysider on team stalk said the practice “did her head in”.

“Almost all fresh produce has a certain amount of waste – peel, core, seeds – that isn’t used but you still have to pay for it,” she said.

“You don’t go around leaving banana peels behind or the seed of an avocado. It’s just life.”

One shopper pointed out that supermarkets used to have bins in the fresh produce section where you could dump cauliflower leaves and other unnecessary veg accessories before paying for them. And pineapples have long been sold shorn of their spiky leaves – so why not sell broccoli with its stem detached?

BROCCOLI STEM’S SECRET BENEFIT

The humble broccoli, a member for the brassica family along with cabbage, kale and turnips, is Australia’s 10th most devoured vegetable with half of the crop grown in Victoria.

Farmers are bemused by all the skulduggery of shoppers.

They say there are two very good reasons why the stems should be left intact. The first is because it’s edible – so you’re throwing away perfectly good food.

“Broccoli stalks can be a tasty and healthy addition to any meal,” Shaun Lindhe, spokesman for AUSVEG, the industry group representing vegetable growers, told news.com.au.

“The stalk contains as much nutritional benefit as the florets, and can be used and cooked in many different ways, including for stocks and soups, cut up for stir-fries or salads, cut and eaten raw to accompany dips or as a stand-alone snack, or cooked and added to a meal like you would the florets.”

Broccoli is also high in fibre, potassium and vitamins C and K.

But there was another, hidden, benefit of the stalk – it can actually keep the vegetable fresher for longer.

“Just like a cut flower and its stem, removing a broccoli’s stalk could reduce the vegetable’s life, as the carbohydrates and energy stored in the stalk are important to extending broccoli’s shelf life,” Mr Lindhe said.

Indeed a recent paper from Chinese researchers, and published in the journal Scientia Horticulturae, has found the ideal stem length. Looking at lengths of 1, 3, 6 and 9cm the analysis found too little or too much stalk could degrade the florets over time with a 9cm stalk actually sucking away nutrients from the broccoli head. However, a 6cm stalk was just the right length to keep the florets fresher during an average storage period.

“I would encourage everyone to include plenty of broccoli – florets, leaves and stalks – as part of their diets,” Mr Lindhe said.

So, the sneaky stalk slicers may save but they will also lose out on good food and may see their veggie wilt that bit quicker.

And if this is going on with broccoli, why not other fruit and veg? Supermarkets staff have long tut-tutted at customers who buy the vine ripened tomatoes but then detach the fruit from the vine.

Why don’t we also chop of the ends of leeks and spring onions too while we’re at?

Except be warned, you could be charged double.



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