Finnish government to tackle night cafés, may turn to emergency powers


THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT is expected to introduce restrictions to the operations of so-called night cafés as soon as this week, reports YLE.

The public broadcasting company wrote yesterday that the government will today present a decree limiting the opening hours of night cafés and other restaurants to 5am to 11pm in response to concerns the new operating model has kindled especially in Uusimaa, the most populated region of Finland.

The decree is to enter into force at midnight on Thursday, 26 November, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Night cafés have sprouted across the country due to a clause in restrictions on the restaurant sector that enables an establishment to re-open its doors one hour after closing and staying open into the small hours of the night by taking alcoholic beverages off the menu.


Early reports from establishments that have taken advantage of the possibility indicate that the clause may not have had the desired impact.

YLE on Monday revealed the government is set to prohibit restaurants in the capital region from serving alcoholic beverages beyond 10pm. Establishments that primarily serve alcohol would also be obligated to limit their capacity to 50 per cent and those that primarily serve food to 75 per cent of their usual maximum capacity.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Monday said in Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa, that the government may have to resort to the emergency powers act if the epidemic continues to worsen. The current legislative instruments prevent it from, for example, locking down specific regions.

“We’re not yet at a point where we’d be able to make another decision on locking down Uusimaa, for example,” she said. “The state of emergency and emergency powers act are not in place, meaning we can’t use these kinds of measures under the normal legislation,” she commented to YLE.

If regions fail to bring the epidemic under control, however, the government may declare a state of emergency similarly to last spring, according to Marin.

“If regions can’t bring the situation under control and it worsens significantly, it’s possible that we find ourselves in a situation where we’ll again have to resort to a state of emergency and the emergency powers act. That’s why I’m imploring regions and municipalities in not only Uusimaa but also other parts of Finland to take action in time.”

YLE on Monday also reported that the government is presently investigating whether a state of emergency could be declared without invoking the emergency powers act. Declaring a state of emergency would enable the government to resort to a broader range of tools to steer the coronavirus responses of regional authorities.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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The awkward conversation about captaincy that helped turn the Melbourne Stars into a force


“I guess we have some other senior players as well which is crucial. You don’t want to leave it to one or two people. Elyse has been amazing for the group. She has been so positive and really brings that energy. I have really enjoyed playing with her again.”

So how awkward was it when it came to discussing demarcation?

“We have conversations all the time. Some are easier than others I guess. But I guess where we ended up, Elyse has done an excellent job in the last year,” Lanning said.

Woodhill said it had been tough to tell Villani that Lanning was to take over.

“Having to tell Elyse that she is not going to be captain and Meg is going to be captain but I have a plan for her [wasn’t easy] … but she has been brilliant,” Woodhill said.

That she has, but it was the conservation that has helped the Stars surge into Wednesday night’s prime-time semi-final against the Perth Scorchers at North Sydney Oval, and given the franchise another serious chance at a maiden title – WBBL or BBL – after a decade of heartache.

“I think it would be massive,” Lanning said of a possible championship, but she quickly acknowledged there was still much to do.

Lanning has been central to the Stars’ rise, punching 458 runs at 45.8 – her tally behind only Scorchers star Beth Mooney. Her strike rate has also been an excellent 128.65, buoying confidence against opponents that dismissed her only once in two games this season for a combined 108 runs off 77 balls.

Woodhill’s short but punishing net sessions have added more grunt to Lanning’s power game while a deep batting line-up, complete with opening partner Villani, busy South African Mignon du Preez, English all-rounder Nat Sciver and emerging star Annabel Sutherland have allowed Lanning to embrace a change of mindset. Villani is nursing a hamstring issue but the Stars are hopeful she can take on the Scorchers.

“I have tried to add a little bit more power especially when I sort of feel like I want to get the ball moving and get a few boundaries away, and work out what that looks like for me,” Lanning said.

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“I think a lot of it has been around mindset. Perhaps in the past I have felt like I needed to bat for nearly the full 20 overs for us to be in a good position but this year is definitely not the case.

“Once I have got a start I have had the mentality to keep going and keep taking risks and some games that works and some games it doesn’t. It’s just accepting that’s the way it’s going to be and it’s a really enjoyable way to play cricket, to keep chasing the game and move it forward.”

Woodhill made a declaration to Lanning through the winter months – and it’s one Lanning says he has kept.

“I promised Meg that when she came back, or if she came back, that I would take a lot of weight off her shoulders, that she wouldn’t be the face of the club day in, day out,” Woodhill said.

“She is enjoying opening the batting, going hard, attacking the bowling, moving the chess pieces around in the field, then after that she is allowed to be free just to be one of the girls, which is really important.”

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Through life in a bio-secure bubble, Lanning has continued her business-degree studies and gone for walks to clear her mind. It’s then back to cricketing business, where she and Villani have embraced Woodhill’s new way of thinking.

“I wanted to leave the team by the end of it at being strong and empowered and independent women who are confident to back themselves,” Woodhill said.

“If they err, it’s not the end of the world. So at any time there is stress, I want them to be aggressive and be happy with the decisions that they have made, knowing they won’t always get it right but I am not going to be worried if they don’t.

“What we are finding is that young players like Annabel Sutherland can back themselves without fear of failure. Even if we lost the semi-final on Wednesday night, it’s not the end of the world because I feel their careers are going to be better for this experience because they are controlling their own destiny without being policed, which I think is important in women’s sport.”

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World’s most premature twins to turn 2 in Iowa: Guinness World Records


DES MOINES, Iowa — Shorter than a Barbie doll and lighter than a football, Kambry Ewoldt entered the world fighting to survive.

Kambry and her identical twin sister, Keeley, were born Nov. 24, 2018, around the 22-week mark of the pregnancy of their mother, Jade Ewoldt. They weighed 15.8 ounces and 1 pound 1.3 ounces, respectively, and spent the first four months of their lives in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital before they could go home. 

Guinness World Records has recognized them as the world’s most premature twins. 

Today, the girls love singing “Baby Shark,” doing the Chicken Dance and painting pictures. They have their own personalities — Kambry is more of a tomboy and Keeley is very girly, Ewoldt said — and are excited to celebrate their second birthdays.

It’s a milestone they weren’t guaranteed.

‘Survival mode’

Ewoldt, already a mother of two, knew having twins meant it would be a high-risk pregnancy. 



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Noble on AFL deadline to turn North around


North Melbourne’s hierarchy is adamant a three-year deadline placed on David Noble to lift the AFL club back into premiership contention is realistic.

The Kangaroos are coming off a horror 2020 season that yielded just three wins and ended with Rhyce Shaw stepping down as coach for personal reasons.

But they are seeking a swift turnaround under former Brisbane Lions football manager Noble, who was appointed as Shaw’s successor last week.

On Monday, chairman Ben Buckley revealed North’s high expectations of Noble, which include turning the struggling team into a flag contender within “two to three years”.

“If a club is not ambitious then it’s really not serving its members properly,” Buckley said.

“Every club in the competition ultimately wants to win a premiership and the best way to do that is to be a consistent performer in the top four.

“Time frames are always difficult things to nail down but I think it’s realistic that within that time period we should be competing at that level.

“We’re not going to get there immediately; there’s still parts of the puzzle to put together and there’s foundations to build on.

“But ultimately that’s our goal and I don’t think we should apologise for it.”

Noble, 53, said the optimistic target was in line with what the North board had outlined to him before his appointment to his first senior AFL coaching position.

“We’ve got to have ambition, there’s no problem with that,” Noble said.

“The chairman made it really clear that we’ve got to get ourselves organised, we’ve got to build a plan and it’s got to be long-term, but there’s no ceiling on our group.

“Therefore that’s absolutely in alignment with what we’ve already talked about.”

Noble has been signed on a rolling contract that North chief executive Ben Amarfio said was an economic decision based around reducing the amount of fixed costs at the club.

In effect, it means it will likely cost less for the Kangaroos to sack Noble if the relationship turns sour than if he was on a fixed-term contract.

AFL premiership coach Paul Roos was an integral figure on the North selection panel that hired Noble – his former Fitzroy teammate – and will be installed in a wide-ranging advisory role at the Kangaroos next season.

He will work closely with Noble and the football department, as well as Amarfio and chairman Ben Buckley.

Noble will have John Blakey as a senior assistant coach and still has forward and midfield coaches to appoint before the pre-season program ramps up in January.

Noble promised an attack-first game-style that will set the club up for long-term success and help drag supporters back through the turnstiles.

“We need to build a platform of capacity to play finals long-term; that’s the avenue that we need to go down,” Noble said.

“I’d like to be attacking but we need to have a pretty ruthless defensive side to our game as well.

“There’s some elements that we’ve got to address with the group when we get back in, but I’d like to attack and then defend … and then win.”





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Noble on deadline to turn North around


New coach David Noble has been given up to three years to lift struggling North Melbourne into the AFL top four and start challenging for a premiership.

The 53-year-old was formally appointed on Friday as the Kangaroos’ third coach in as many years and will begin work immediately.

He takes over from Rhyce Shaw, who stood down for personal reasons in October.

North are coming off a horror 2020 season in which they won only three games and lost their last eight in succession.

Only percentage separated them from wooden spooners Adelaide.

But Kangaroos chairman Ben Buckley has high expectations of Noble and expects him to turn the team’s fortunes around quickly.

“These things are always hard to put an exact time frame on but there’s no doubt that we are in a transition phase,” Buckley told SEN.

“We’ve changed the age profile of the list dramatically in the last six months; we’ve got a young group and an exciting group coming through, but a core group that should take us through the next 5-10 years.

“So I think that, realistically, David’s got 2-3 years to really get us into a position where we’re competing regularly in the top four and ultimately looking to win a premiership.

“That’s our ultimate goal.”

Noble will speak publicly for the first time as North coach at a press conference on Monday.





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With holidays on the horizon, families turn to private testing for COVID-19


Hindsight makes it look like a canny bit of entrepreneurial genius, but the truth is, it never occurred to Montreal-based nurse Melanie Jade Boulerice that a pandemic might be coming when she started her small, private nursing service.

“It was not part of the business plan,” she said.

But a year-and-a-half after launching Nomadic Nurse Agency, she spends much of her time driving from client to client with a trunkful of testing swabs, masks and hand sanitizer.

Boulerice, who also works as an emergency room nurse, said she’s seen a steady increase in demand this fall from people who want a quick COVID-19 test result, even if they don’t meet the criteria for a test through the public system.

The reasons can vary: people about to get elective surgery through the private system require a negative test. Travellers, in some cases, also need a negative result before leaving, depending on the airline and destination.

She uses a Health Canada-approved PCR swab test, the same one that’s used in the public system, and the results are reported to federal and provincial public health agencies.

In Quebec, as well as in many other provinces, public testing is only available to those who exhibit symptoms, or who have been in contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19.

In Ontario people who are planning international travel can also get tested.

Several clinics in Montreal and beyond offer the service, for about $200 per test. Serological tests that measure COVID-19 antibodies are also available.

With the holidays approaching, Boulerice is getting more calls from people who want to see their relatives. Some are asking to book a test in advance — although she cautions clients a negative result isn’t a sure thing and won’t replace following public health measures.

The rise of private testing has raised concerns about the risks of relying on a negative test to gather with loved ones. For advocates of a public health-care system, it has become another example of the inequities brought about by pandemic.

Quebec is the first province to release visiting guidelines for the Christmas holiday. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

A negative result no guarantee

This week, Quebec became the first province to issue guidelines for how people can gather, in limited numbers, over the holiday season.

People are allowed to visit with family over four days, from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27. However, they have to avoid contact with others in the week before and after that period.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the public testing capacity will be ramped up over the holidays, given that more people will likely get infected, but he stressed the public “can’t just get tested to ensure you don’t have COVID.”

To be eligible for a test, you need to either have symptoms, have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, or have received a call from contact tracers.

WATCH | Don’t rely on a negative test, Dr. Horacio Arruda warns

With the holidays approaching, some people are considering private COVID-19 tests before their travel or gatherings. 0:33

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s public health director, added that it was “extremely dangerous” to rely solely on a negative COVID test because it’s possible to be infected and not have a viral load sufficient to be detected.

He urged people to follow the guidelines and avoid contacts before and after the designated four-day period.

“The thing to do is to be isolated and if you have symptoms, get tested,” he said. “Don’t rely only on the testing.”

Still, even those who are taking the precaution of isolating prior to seeing family or friends are considering a private test.

Maegan Timmins, a structural engineer, and her wife, a healthcare worker, are considering paying for a private COVID-19 test before they meet with her Timmins’s parents.

“I’m willing to pay for it personally,” she said. “I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so.”

Timmins is aware the test results aren’t “100 per cent guaranteed,” but considers it a gift to herself and her family to have a little extra assurance.

“For me, it’s tradition to spend Christmas with my mom and my dad,” she said. “It’s just going to mean the world to be close to them. I haven’t hugged my mom since March before the lockdown, so it’s going to be a special time.”

WATCH | Maegan Timmins plans to get a test for extra reassurance

It’s dangerous to rely on a negative test to then go to a gathering, Quebec public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda warned at a press conference Thursday. 0:28

Public testing still needs improvement

Andrew Boozary, executive director of health and social policy at Toronto’s University Health Network, said the rise of private testing speaks to the failures of the public system in developing a more efficient, well-resourced system of testing and contact tracing.

While he doesn’t fault individuals for trying to protect themselves, he worries the trend risks eroding the public system.

“If we allow the private aspect to take a real hold, we’re going to see more and more inequities,” he said.

“I think if we don’t double down on our public testing and tracing system, we are not going to get through the pandemic.”

Canada Home Doctors, another Montreal-based service, has been offering COVID-19 tests since September.

David Ohayon, the company’s manager, rejected the idea that private testing is taking away from public resources. He said the service uses a private lab.

“If people are doing private testing, it means that they are not doing public testing. It means that they are actually freeing up space in clinics.”

He said the bulk of those asking for a test are travellers and it wouldn’t make sense for taxpayers to foot the bill for “a trip to the Caribbean.”

Last month, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said she was looking into whether for-profit clinics that offer COVID-19 tests are violating the Canada Health Act.

In a statement Friday, Health Canada said Canadians who “meet the public health testing and screening criteria” have access free of charge, while “private payment for other COVID-19 testing may be appropriate, provided private pay testing does not adversely impact public health testing capacity.”

A spokesperson for Quebec’s Health Ministry, meanwhile, said the government is “doing everything it can” to make public testing accessible, but that testing for travel would require going through a private clinic.



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Wallabies hope free-to-air TV exposure will see league fans ‘turn codes’


Stan has not announced how much extra subscribers will have to pay for Stan Sport, but reports have suggested it will be an extra $5 to $10 a month on top of the $10 to $19 subscription customers already pay.

Reds and Wallabies back-rower Harry Wilson understands the reach that free-to-air television will give next year’s Super Rugby AU competition, which kicks off on February 19.

“To be playing on Channel Nine is honestly nearly a dream in a way because I grew up in the country,” Wilson said. “We got Foxtel when I was about 11 or 12 and that was when I started watching Super Rugby. Before that we’d watch the international games and I don’t really have much memory before that of Super games because I didn’t have Foxtel.

“So many people can’t afford Foxtel, so the ability to be on free-to-air weekly is going to be so huge for the game. I definitely know it’s going to inspire so many young rugby players due to the fact they can watch their heroes week in, week out, rather than having to pay for it.”

Harry Wilson and Tom Wright celebrate a stunning victory over the All Blacks in Brisbane.Credit:Getty

The question is how many rusted-on rugby fans will cancel their Foxtel subscriptions, either to join Stan Sport, or because one game a week outside the paywall – before the Test season – is enough to satisfy their appetite.

Many are intrigued to see how many of Nine’s dedicated rugby league viewers will also tune in on Saturday nights to watch the likes of the Reds, Waratahs, Rebels, Brumbies and Force do battle.

Wallabies second-rower Matt Philip, who is leaving the Melbourne Rebels to take up a short-term contract in France, but is a chance of returning to Australia, believes there could be some league converts.

“I’m sure there will be some people who definitely will turn codes,” Philip said. “There is a lot to like about union. There’s that potential crossover I think from traditional league fans to come across and experience some of the union stuff.

“If we keep building around this Wallabies group and start winning some games, that’s going to attract heaps of people. The more people that see us win more often, the better.”

However, details of the new deal haven’t filtered down to every member of the playing ranks just yet.

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Reds and Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou, who was named Super Rugby AU player of the tournament, was pleasantly surprised when informed that a game would be beamed on the Nine Network every Saturday.

“Oh, awesome; that’s good news,” he said. “Happy that people can watch us play.

“I guess some people who can’t afford Fox Sports can now watch the sport. It’ll be good for young fellas coming up. People get to know them. Good for us.”

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Schumpeter – Can one of the architects of AT&T’s woes turn it around? | Business


JOHN STANKEY is an American chief executive from central casting. The 58-year-old has a square jaw, a lanky frame and, as one friend put it, “the world’s deepest voice”. During his 35 years as a telecoms executive, he has been a voracious dealmaker. He helped set Southwestern Bell Corp, one of the Baby Bells spawned by the break-up in 1984 of American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), on an M&A blitzkrieg that eventually consumed the original Ma Bell herself. He then helped orchestrate its $176bn push into entertainment, buying DirecTV, America’s largest cable provider, in 2015, and Time Warner, a media colossus, three years later. In July he took over as AT&T’s boss. A self-confessed “Bell-head”, he doesn’t flinch when confronting media moguls. Yet before one constituency he practically cowers: widows, orphans and other investors that depend on AT&T as the world’s second-biggest dividend-payer after Microsoft.

That is a problem not because AT&T cannot afford this year’s anticipated $15bn payout. Despite the travails of covid-19, it easily can. The rub is that it has become a treadmill. This year is the 36th since AT&T was broken up in which it has increased the dividend. Such a legacy may not be strange for a stolid telecoms firm. But with a flighty media business on the side, it is a foolish promise. Moreover, AT&T’s acquisition spree has saddled it with almost $150bn of net debt, even as its two core businesses, mobile telecoms and entertainment, are in the throes of upheaval that requires immense financial flexibility. Instead of revitalising each of them, AT&T has so far done what many “dividend aristocrats” do—try to sell the family silver to make ends meet.

Yet there are indications that Mr Stankey may be prepared to challenge the old ways of thinking. He ought to—even for the sake of those widows and orphans.

He started the job with the odds stacked against him. Not only has the covid-19 pandemic clobbered WarnerMedia, the renamed Time Warner, by disrupting film releases, accelerating the decline of cable TV and reducing advertising spending. He also had to overcome doubts about his leadership abilities first aired last year by Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund, when it took a stake in AT&T. When his former boss, Randall Stephenson, announced his retirement in the midst of the pandemic, it was hard to imagine that an outsider could run a company with a market value of $200bn and a phone book’s worth of problems by Zoom. So Mr Stankey won the contest, despite his role as Mr Stephenson’s lieutenant during years of value destruction. Since then, he has soothed some nerves, taking further acquisitions off the table, promising to repair the balance-sheet and lengthening debt maturities. Yet the share price languishes, as investors wonder if he can sustain the dividend while competing against two fierce rivals, T-Mobile in telecoms and Disney in entertainment.

One big test of his mettle will be an auction next month of wireless spectrum. Mobile, after all, is AT&T’s mainstay, generating as much core earnings, or EBITDA, in a week in the third quarter as WarnerMedia did in a month. Yet T-Mobile, once a distant third in wireless subscriptions, is now running neck-and-neck with AT&T and has its sights on Verizon, the leader. After its merger with Sprint, T-Mobile has also surged ahead of both rivals in the coverage and speed of its fifth-generation (5G) network, adding to its appeal. In order to catch up, AT&T and Verizon will take part in an auction of mid-band 5G spectrum starting on December 8th. Verizon’s balance-sheet is robust enough to bid what some expect to be at least $15bn. AT&T may feel more constrained. Yet those who keep a careful eye on its credit rating think it should splurge, both on spectrum and the fibre networks it lays across America. Davis Hebert of CreditSights, a research firm, calls them the “core tenets” of its business. (How quickly it can sell long-in-the-tooth assets like DirecTV to ease the financial strain is another matter.)

On November 18th Mr Stankey may have shown promising signs of audacity, though, when WarnerMedia announced an unexpected move in support of HBO Max, AT&T’s streaming platform that competes with Disney+, not to mention Netflix. It said it would release “Wonder Woman 1984”, a potential Christmas blockbuster, simultaneously on HBO Max and in American cinemas on December 25th (it will hit cinemas in other countries earlier). That will break a long tradition of releasing films in theatres first to recoup production costs at the box-office, and to support the cinema business. It shows the company may be prepared to cannibalise revenues in one part of the firm—Warner Bros, the film studio—for the greater goal of driving subscribers to its streaming service, which is potentially a bigger long-term source of value. If going all-in on streaming attracts hordes of subscribers, it could reward Mr Stankey’s dogged faith in the marriage of phone and film.

From Wonder Woman to Superman

It is time for more of such hard choices. Yet the risk is that Mr Stankey feels he has time on his side. He now appears to enjoy Elliott’s support (reports that the asset manager had sold its equity stake do not mean it has thrown in the towel; it may still have a large derivatives position). The rating agencies are patient. Neil Begley of Moody’s says that because of coronavirus and other reasons, it has put big investment-grade firms like AT&T on a “longer leash”. Many remain convinced the dividend is a sacred cow.

That breeds complacency, however. The payout saps AT&T’s financial flexibility just when it needs all the leeway it can find. It encourages defensiveness, when T-Mobile and Disney are, as Roger Entner, a telecoms analyst, puts it, “surrounding it like wolves”. Come what may, one day it will have to cut the dividend—preferably to be complemented with more flexible share buy-backs. If Mr Stankey does that to make the company more nimble, he might emerge a corporate superhero. If it is forced upon him by weak earnings, it will be kryptonite that could cost him his job.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Wring out those Bells”

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Coronavirus: India’s wrestling pits turn into gyms in pandemic


Fitness buffs are turning to India’s open-air wrestling pits for safe workout options during the pandemic.

Gyms have reopened and are taking precautions – such as regularly sanitising, maintaining social distancing and making masks compulsory for staff. But customers are yet to return in large numbers.

Case numbers continue to climb in India and especially in the capital Delhi, which in recent days has been recording its highest daily tallies so far.

So traditional open-air wrestling pits, which are a a feature of many cities, have grown in popularity.

Video by Anshul Verma



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