Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins drive surge in calls to helplines and counselling, say experts


A Queensland sexual assault helpline has recorded a staggering increase in calls over two months amid the national conversation about sexual assault.

Domestic violence crisis counselling and support service DVConnect recorded a 36 per cent increase in calls between January 21 and February 21 and a 42 per cent surge in the month to March 21 on its statewide sexual assault helpline, which provides free and confidential counselling and support.

It comes after Converge International, a national workplace employee assistance program, recorded a 62 per cent increase in calls to a workplace counselling service on sexual discrimination and harassment in just two weeks last month.

Converge International director Cate Page said the service was still experiencing a higher level of calls for support. 

Sexual assault and harassment have dominated media coverage for weeks since survivor Grace Tame was named Australian of the Year and Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Parliament House. 

In February, former Sydney private school student Chanel Contos started a viral petition to improve sexual consent education, prompting thousands of students to anonymously reveal their own experiences online.

The federal government has since announced it will revamp sexual consent education in schools and the Queensland government is currently reviewing its sexual consent education curriculum.

DVConnect chief executive Beck O’Connor said, despite the fact one in five Australian women and one in 20 men experienced sexual assault since the age of 15, nine in 10 women did not contact police.

Ms O’Connor said many worried their experiences would not be taken seriously or that they would face repercussions either personally, professionally or from the perpetrator.

However, she said, victims were buoyed by large crowds protesting against gendered violence at March 4 Justice rallies across the country.

Ms Page said it was awful that sexual discrimination and assault were occurring in the workplace, but it was encouraging that women felt they could come forward.

“The cause of it is very much due to the conversations … starting with Brittany Higgins and some of the conversations we have heard, and it’s given women permission to speak about some of their experiences,” she said.

“Anecdotally, we’ve also seen quite a lot of older women calling through.

“And while they’ve been relieved and grateful that these conversations have been starting to happen … there’s a sense of grief that they were unable to tell their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault historically.”

Ms Page also said that the conversation could be triggering for some women due to their experiences.

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The UK’s economic surge has taken the world by surprise


Europe will rebound too, eventually. There is €500 billion ($771 billion) in pent-up household savings waiting to be spent. But vaccination paralysis in December and January is inflicting its long-tail damage today. April has turned into a lockdown wipe-out. Virologists in Germany, Italy, and France say politicians are fooling themselves in thinking they can reopen fully in May.

The erratic on-again, off-again treatment of the AstraZeneca jab probably delays final reopening by yet another month due to the slower rollout and damage to vaccine confidence. The EU is now trapped by its zero-tolerance policy on rare blood clots, as if it had the luxury of treating vaccines like a routine drug when 3000 Europeans a day are dying from COVID, many from blood clots caused by the disease itself.

The UK economy has roared back to life.Credit:Bloomberg

It has poisoned the well for Johnson and Johnson’s viral vector jab as well. Capital Economics says the 55 million doses of J&J scheduled for the second quarter amount to 25 per cent of the EU capacity to immunise (given the one shot effect).

The promise of 50 per cent adult herd immunity by July is slipping away, and so is the second summer season for Club Med, with all that this means for pent-up insolvencies and sovereign debt ratios already stretched to the limit.

France has nudged down its growth forecast for this year from 6 per cent to 5 per cent. It is still too high. Spain has signalled a coming downgrade as well. The sorpasso moment when eurozone output surpasses pre-COVID levels has probably been pushed into mid-2022.

What we confirmed from UK data this week is that the headline collapse in trade with the EU seen in January was meaningless. The February figures are unrecognisable. They do not yet offer a “steady state” picture of post-Brexit trade as teething problems fade, but they do refute catastrophist claims.

It will take a generation to reach a useful economic verdict on Brexit. What is clear already is that the incessant high-decibel negativism of the London opinion machine has been exposed as ill-informed and hysterical.

Exports worldwide were down just 2.2 per cent from a year earlier. If that trend were to continue it would imply an annual trade loss of £7 billion or around 0.07 per cent of GDP. It is macroeconomic noise.

Details are revealing. Exports to the EU were down 12 per cent (y-on-y) but over two-thirds of this was offset by a rise in exports to the rest of the world. There was a 20 per cent fall in exports to France but a 38 per cent rise in shipments to Belgium, some shipped from the Humber to Antwerp rather than clogging up the M25 en route to Dover.

It is evidence of trade diversion away from French ports that can no longer be entirely trusted, the cost of Emmanuel Macron’s anglophobe antics. It implies a revenue loss for Calais.

On the import side, the UK is buying less from the EU and relatively more from elsewhere. China’s shipments jumped 71 per cent (partly due to PPE). Imports fell 27 per cent from France, 18 per cent from Holland, 14 per cent from Germany, and 13 per cent from Italy. A pattern is emerging: the EU has chosen to make goods trade with the UK needlessly complicated and is now losing market share to global competitors.

There are signs that UK exporters are adapting to Brexit red tape – because they have to – while EU exporters are more dispersed and less focused. This will get worse when the UK waives the current exemptions on customs controls and reciprocates EU curbs. Europe is likely to see a galloping loss of its once captive UK market. Korea, Japan, China, America, and Mexico will snatch it away

It is true that the UK’s fishing industry has suffered a body blow, but this is a political and community issue. The commercial sums are tiny. Live shellfish exports are worth just £15 million a year. Furthermore, the press narrative has degenerated into caricature. “I don’t think there ever really were piles of rotting seafood in the ports,” said Barrie Deas, head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.

Mr Deas says there are eager buyers of British fish in the vast Asian market, once the logistics are right. “Before COVID, the market for frozen crab was expanding dramatically in China,” he said.

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Nor is it beyond the wit of man to put more of Britain’s catch on British tables. “We’re being inundated with emails from people asking where they can buy fresh fish but the big supermarkets don’t give it prominence the way they do in Spain and France. We’re missing a trick,” he said.

It will take a generation to reach a useful economic verdict on Brexit. What is clear already is that the incessant high-decibel negativism of the London opinion machine has been exposed as ill-informed and hysterical. The British economy is doing just fine. Time to change the stuck record, my friends.

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Canada’s housing price surge increasing vulnerabilities: BoC



FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured outside the Bank of Canada building in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

April 9, 2021

By Julie Gordon

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s red-hot housing market has bolstered the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the market imbalances are escalating and driving up already-high household debt, the Bank of Canada said on Friday.

Housing prices in Canada have surged over the last year, with the Bank of Canada becoming increasingly concerned in recent months that gains are being driven by excessive exuberance, investor activity and a fear-of-missing-out.

“Strength in the housing market is contributing to Canada’s economic recovery from the pandemic. But it may also be intensifying housing market imbalances and household indebtedness,” the Bank of Canada analytical note said.

“The evidence presented here generally suggests these vulnerabilities have increased in recent months.”

The report, released Friday morning, shows that since the onset of the pandemic, outstanding household debt has risen by close to 3.5%, reflecting a surge in mortgage debt.

New mortgages to highly-indebted households are also rising sharply, the report shows.

Home price growth, meanwhile, has accelerated and is nearing the last peak in April 2017. The Bank also said some measures show rising exuberance in Toronto’s housing market.

Canada’s financial regulator said on Thursday it plans to tighten its mortgage stress test amid concerns about surging home prices, and to gird against risks when interest rates rise from record-low levels.

The average selling price of a Canadian home jumped 25% in February, hitting a record C$678,091 ($540,096), according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Governor Tiff Macklem said late last month that the central bank was seeing signs of household indebtedness worsening as housing prices soared.

($1 = 1.2555 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Mark Heinrich)



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Penrith Panthers continue unbeaten surge on nostalgic night with victory against Canberra Raiders


Winger Charlie Staines bagged a double while bench forwards Liam Martin and Spencer Leniu injected plenty of energy when they came on.

Penrith also showed plenty of mongrel and never backed away from the physicality nor push and shove that has now become a regular feature whenever these two heavyweights meet.

At one stage Joe Tapine was standing on the sideline with an interchange card and was inadvertently dragged into a melee with Stephen Crichton after Staines bagged his second.

Tempers flare between Joe Tapine (left) and Stephen Crichton.Credit:NRL Photos

There was also a moment when Hudson Young shoved Kikau, which led to a penalty and allowed the Panthers to march up field and cancel out Jack Wighton’s first four-pointer.

The Panthers will be short odds to make it six straight when they head to Suncorp Stadium next Thursday to face the Broncos.

The only letdown was a few handling errors by the big men early in the game, and a couple of forgettable moments at the back by Crichton.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has got used to his players showing plenty of heart when out on their feet, and it was the same again out west.

The Raiders lost Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to a HIA and Josh Hodgson late to a leg injury.

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Even when everything appeared to be going against them midway through the second half, they had more points via Jarrod Croker who received a lovely ball from Elliott Whitehead after an excellent break down field by Young.

Canberra could come under scrutiny from the NRL for their handling of Nicoll-Klokstad, who remained on the field about seven minutes after being concussed. The Raiders No.1 fell over after being tackled by Isaah Yeo, then stumbled a second time in back play. He was also taken high by Kikau a few minutes later. He failed his HIA.

The Raiders host Parramatta next week and will be there when it counts at the end of the year. They have too many good players not to be there.

The Panthers, however, can do nothing wrong and deserve to be talked up as title favourites this far out from the grand final. Time will tell if they will soon be wheeled out for their own premiership lap of honour.

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Luxury mancave, she-shed sales surge off cashed-up ‘toy’ owners


Among Potter Projects previous developments was the ‘Miami Man Caves’, located within a fully gated secure complex of seven units with 24 hour CCTV surveillance. Picture: Potter Projects

Cashed-up apartment dwellers looking for somewhere to park the boat, helicopter, collector cars, jetskis and bikes are driving millions in sales of new-age luxury industrial ‘mancaves’ and ‘she-sheds’ on the coast.

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The Southport upmarket warehouse product Central on Case is now 100 per cent sold for $13m.

Owner occupiers were the driving force behind the $13m sellout of 22 units at one site alone in Southport by Potter Projects – spearheaded by director Zac Potter, son of Gold Coast veteran developer John Potter.

The Central on Case development, which is due for construction completion in July, has self-storage units, showrooms, warehouses, office space and a cafe, ranging in size from 70sqm up to 180sqm.

LUXURY MAN CAVES

Lisa Brown inside her highend storage unit in a file picture from one of the earlier developments. Picture: Jerad Williams

Demand is so “overwhelming, Mr Potter has multiple projects on the go to meet it. There are 14 more such upscale units on the drawing board in the $10.5m redevelopment plan for the Gold Coast’s iconic ‘Iceland’ Skating Rink at 15 Strathaird Rd, Bundall. He bought the site for $2.8m late last year. He also has 22 low impact, strata-titled industrial warehouses in Burleigh Heads due for completion this month.

Mr Potter has put in excess of 50 mancaves and showrooms on the market in the past year across the Gold Coast and Byron Bay.

An artist impression of man caves plans for a development led by Zac Potter.

Professionals in multimillion-dollar apartment towers were among the most keen, looking for upmarket units where bulky luxury items like boats, cars and motorbikes could be safely stored and easily accessed.

The 2 Case Street commercial development saw “unprecedented demand”, Mr Potter said.

“The response was particularly strong from owner occupiers looking for a prime location to operate their business headquarters from or storage options,’’ Mr Potter said.

Potter Projects director Zac Potter.

Darren Mealing of Potter Projects who marketed the project said enquiry levels continued even after the Southport site sold out.

“I put the success of this project down to the prime location, quality of the product delivered and our past success in this space” Mr Mealing said.

The sales see the Gold Coast reputation as a haven for the millionaire set continuing to be cemented despite strong competition from the likes of Byron Bay and Noosa in recent years.

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Biden spokeswoman calls record migrant surge a ‘cyclical issue,’ denies it’s worse than prior years


White House communications director Kate Bedingfield sparred with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Sunday over a surge in unaccompanied minors trying to cross the U.S. southern border as Bedingfield insisted the numbers “are the same kinds of surges that we’ve seen.”

“What we see from the data is that these surges are cyclical, they’re cyclical, they’re not the result of one administration’s policies or another administration’s policies, the result of, for example, weather disasters in the region. They’re the result of people fleeing poverty and violence,” Bedingfield said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” 

BIDEN STAFFER BLOCKS TED CRUZ FROM TAKING VIDEO AT MIGRANT FACILITY

“We saw spikes in 2014. We saw them in 2019 when the Trump administration had perhaps the cruelest imaginable policies in place, family separation, to try to deter people from coming, and they still came. So this is a cyclical issue. It’s one that President Biden has said is unacceptable to him and he’s working very quickly to address it,” she continued.

Karl interjected.

“There is something different here, and that is the unaccompanied minors, and we already have a record number of unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody. And in just a single day last week there were 1,000 additional minors who were brought into U.S. custody coming across the border,” he said. “The seasonal surge you’re talking about is only just beginning. … This is not the same as it’s been. This is worse, is it not?”

A photo of a CBP overflow facility for migrants in Donna, Texas. (Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas)

Bedingfield disagreed.

“It is the same. These are the same kinds of surges that we’ve seen,” she said.

BIDEN’S BORDER CRISIS: 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

“It’s also important to be clear that our policy hasn’t changed. The vast majority of people who arrive at our border, we’re turning away under Title 42, under a health code that requires us to, or allows us to, turn people away in this period of Covid. So people should understand that the vast majority of people who show up at our border, we’re turning away,” Bedingfield continued.

She said the administration wants to address the root causes of such migration including a lack of places like Boys & Girls Clubs in northern triangle countries that allow children to have somewhere safe to go.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki spoke to “Fox News Sunday” about the administration’s response to the surge.

“Just last week we had a pool camera providing footage to Fox News just last week into the shelters. We want to provide access into the Border Patrol facilities. We are mindful of the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep these kids safe,” Psaki said. “We are absolutely committed to transparency and providing access to media … and we’re working to get that done as soon as we can.”

“At this point, in allowing access to border patrol facilities for reporters, you are being less transparent than the Trump administration,” host Chris Wallace said.

“The Trump administration was turning away kids at the border and sending them back on the treacherous journey, or they were ripping kids from the arms of their parents. We’re not doing that. We are committed to allowing cameras into the border patrol facilities, absolutely,” Psaki said.

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Biden on Thursday appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead his administration’s efforts to address a record surge in migrants, including unaccompanied minors, that has strained capacity at immigration facilities at the southern border in recent weeks.

“When she speaks, she speaks for me,” Biden said Thursday. 

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and FOX Business’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.

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Indian economy’s revival seen ‘unabated’ despite infection surge: RBI governor



 “Our preliminary analysis shows that the growth rate next year, that is, at 10.5%, which we had given, would not require a downward revision,” Das told. (PTI file photo)

NEW DELHI: India’s revival of economic activity is expected to be “unabated”, despite a rise in coronavirus infections in many areas and 2022 growth projections might not need to be cut, the central bank chief on Thursday.

Though the surge is a matter of concern, vaccines are available, lockdowns are less stringent and preparations are better than when the pandemic began last year, said Shaktikanta Das, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

 

“Our preliminary analysis shows that the growth rate next year, that is, at 10.5%, which we had given, would not require a downward revision,” Das told an economics meeting in New Delhi.

India added 53,476 infections on Wednesday, in its highest daily rise since Oct. 23, health ministry data showed. It tally of 11.8 million infections ranks third worldwide, after Brazil and the United States.

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Merkel Drops Easter Shutdown as Germany Flails Against Virus Surge


BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel scrapped an unpopular plan on Wednesday to shut down the German economy for two extra days over the Easter holidays, reversing her own policy as her government faces widespread anger over its chaotic moves to combat a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Her about-face came less than 36 hours after she had proposed declaring April 1 and 3 “off days,” to effectively extend the country’s Easter vacation to five consecutive days in hopes of halting a recent spike in infections

The suggestion — made after nearly 12 hours of deliberations between Ms. Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states that dragged into the early hours of Tuesday — was met with an almost immediate backlash, including sharp criticism from opposition politicians and a flood of complaints from a public worn out by a seemingly endless roller coaster of lockdowns and reopenings.

“It was a mistake,” the chancellor said, adding that the suggestion had been made with the best of intentions, aimed at slowing the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in Britain, which has been spreading through Germany. That spread has been aided by a sluggish vaccine rollout: Barely 10 percent of German adults have received their first shot, nearly three months after a vaccine developed by a German start-up, BioNTech, became the first in the world to receive approval.

But unlike a year ago, when the chancellor and the governors swiftly agreed to shutter the economy as the pandemic spread across Europe, the proposal to make the Thursday and Saturday before Easter into public holidays met with criticism from business leaders angry at the prospect of losing more revenue and German citizens angry at the idea they have to spend their spring holiday at home for the second year in a row.

“We have to succeed in slowing the spread of the third wave of the coronavirus,” the chancellor said, thanking all Germans who are following social distancing and masking rules.

This was the latest in a series of abrupt turns by Ms. Merkel’s government, after her health minister abruptly announced the country was halting vaccinations with AstraZeneca last week, only to reinstate them after the European drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, cleared it for use.

Yet despite the confusion created by the suggestion of extending the holidays, some acknowledged that simply going back on the plan would do little to help the country slow the spread of the coronavirus. Germany saw 15,813 new infections on Wednesday, continuing a sharp rise over recent weeks.

“Instead of more protection against the third wave, we now have less!” said Janosch Dahmen, a medical doctor who serves as a lawmaker for the Greens, said on Twitter. “The extended break over Easter is now off the table. Even if it was half-baked, today’s decision made fight against the virus worse, even though it tried to make it better.”



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Port Moresby hospital warns of COVID patients dying in car parks as PNG suffers coronavirus surge


The number of daily COVID-19 infections in Papua New Guinea has reached a record high, with 295 cases recorded in a 24-hour period.

The number of COVID-19 cases across the country has tripled over the past month, with the country’s major hospital reporting seven out of every 10 symptomatic patients are testing positive to coronavirus.

The surge is putting pressure on PNG’s already vulnerable health system, with the Port Moresby General Hospital warning that the spike in COVID-19 cases will lead to an increase in unexpected deaths.

PNG parliamentarian Richard Mendani died after contracting the virus, with pandemic controller David Manning announcing the death over the weekend.

Mr Manning said the MP was the latest victim of the “invisible killer that spreads through the air”.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

“Sadly his passing comes one year to the day after the first COVID-19 infection was detected in our country,” Mr Manning said.

“The threat of death from COVID-19 is real, and sadly the Late Honourable Member paid the ultimate price and lost his life because of this terrible virus.”

Australia has pledged to provide 8,000 vaccines to immunise frontline health workers in Papua New Guinea.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea John Philp said he expected them to arrive this week.

A Papua New Guinean woman in a bright dress and tropical print face mask
PNG is making masks compulsory as it battles to control the outbreak.(

ABC News: Natalie Whiting

)

Mr Philp said PNG’s health system was enormously stressed, with 90 per cent of beds at the Port Moresby intensive care unit full.

“Just in terms of numbers, the Port Moresby Hospital and the capital is really one of the major centres of the COVID-19 surge here,” Mr Philp said.

Photo of dying woman highlights hospital in crisis

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 11 seconds

COVID-19 cases at a ‘tipping point’ in PNG

A photo of a woman who died outside the Port Moresby General Hospital while receiving treatment for asthma has been widely shared on social media, putting a spotlight on the capital’s stretched health facilities.

The hospital’s chief executive officer Paki Molumi said investigations were underway into the death of the woman, and urged the public to view the photo as the “true situation” of the hospital’s “overstressed and limited health workforce”.

“As the number of COVID cases increase in the coming weeks, the limited staff at PMGH [Port Moresby General Hospital] will not be able to take care of everyone,” he said in a statement.

More than 40 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in the Port Moresby hospital, with some moved to the general ward as the isolation ward is full.

The hospital in Papua New Guinea’s second main city of Lae has been forced to suspend services due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Alfred Mel, who works at the Angau Hospital in Lae, said an increase in patients admitted to the hospital might lead to a “health system collapse”. 

“Even before COVID we were struggling, and COVID is only exposing all the weaknesses that are inherent due to neglect,” Dr Mel said.

“You really have to be concerned about what’s happening with all the other areas of health in this country. COVID is only making it worse.”

New restrictions, including closing provincial borders and making masks mandatory, will be enforced across the country from today.

A team of Australian medical workers is expected to land in PNG tomorrow to provide assistance and assess the need for further deployments.

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Streaming surge could spell end for mainstream cinema, expert says




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