Joe Biden’s call for unity may soon confront an ugly American reality


“But we have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare. The purpose of our politics, the work of the nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to improve the lives of our people.

“We may be opponents, but we’re not enemies. We’re Americans, no matter who you vote for.”

Biden’s words might be sincere, but he has been around in DC long enough to know that to many they will sound hollow.

Biden’s first run for the presidency was in 1988, the same year that the Republican New Gingrich was making a name for himself by stirring a revolution among young radical congressmen.

The problem with the Congress, Gingrich believed, was that there was too much compromise and collegiate effort. He urged a cadre of radical young congressmen to upend these traditions, at one point even drafting a memo on the use of political language for his young fans called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”.

It was not enough to describe Democrats as wrong, he explained. Better words for them included sick, pathetic, traitors, radical and corrupt.

Gingrich’s “Republican revolution” made him famous and powerful. He was one of the architects of a campaign that ended the Democratic Party’s 40-year majority in the House and he served as House Speaker from 1995 to 1999, cementing his vision of politics as bloodsport.

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On the night Biden became vice-president to Barack Obama in 2008 Gingrich was in DC too. As a party elder he had been invited to dinner in an expensive steakhouse called The Caucus Room. He was one of 15 Republicans gathered to work out a plan for how to tackle the new president and his politics of hope.

According to Robert Draper’s heavily-reported book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives, the group decided on a simple and effective strategy. They would wreck everything. Obama and Biden were not to be allowed a single legislative achievement. Despite the spiralling economic collapse, they would start by opposing Obama’s rescue package.

“You will remember this day,” Draper reports Gingrich as saying to his elected colleagues on the way out. “You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”

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Despite following the strategy the party failed to win the 2012 race, but their dogged obstructionism and fierce partisanship helped create an environment in which a man like Donald Trump could be elected president.

It is also a strategy ruthlessly employed by the current Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who has just won his seventh term in office with a thumping victory in Kentucky.

This is the man Biden will need to deal with should he win office without a solid Senate majority, as appears likely.

“The tallies aren’t just numbers,” said Biden in Delaware as the count dragged on.

“They represent votes and voters, men and women who exercise their fundamental right to have their voice heard.

“What is becoming clear each hour is that record numbers of Americans of all races, faiths and religions chose change over more of the same, and have given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism.

“They made it clear. They want the country to come together, not continue to pull apart.”

They are fine words, but the campaign just finished demonstrates that around half of Biden’s fellow citizens do not necessarily agree on his priorities.

Nor is there any evidence that the partisan rancour that has overwhelmed American governance since Biden first ran for the office he may win will soon lift, even in the absence of Donald Trump.

Trump Biden 2020

Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Timeshere and WAtoday‘s here

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The Good, Bad And Ugly From The Green Bay Packers’ Win Over The San Francisco 49ers


The Green Bay Packers had their wildest and wackiest stretch of the year this week.

Running back A.J. Dillon tested positive for COVID-19, while both running back Jamaal Williams and linebacker Kamal Martin were deemed “high-risk close contact” to Dillon and placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Packers drew the ire of their fan base after refusing to make a move at the NFL trading deadline. Then on a short week, Green Bay had to fly 2,200 miles west to meet a San Francisco team that was decimated by injury and COVID issues.

The Packers had a happy ending, though, dominating play on both sides of the ball and routing the host 49ers, 34-17.

Green Bay improved to 6-2, and for the time being, has the second-best record in the NFC behind only Seattle (6-1). San Francisco slipped to 4-5.

Here’s the good, bad and ugly from Green Bay’s victory.

THE GOOD

AARON RODGERS: Sure, Rodgers was playing against the 49ers’ JV team, one that was missing defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas and Ziggy Ansah, plus cornerback Richard Sherman.

That’s not his fault, though. Instead, Rodgers picked apart a San Francisco defense that’s been annihilated by injury.

Rodgers finished the night 25-of-31 for 305 yards, had a 147.2 quarterback rating and had three completions of 35 yards, or more. He also finished with almost as many touchdown passes (four) as incomplete passes (six).

Rodgers grew up a 49ers fan and longed to be drafted by San Francisco in 2005 when it held the No. 1 pick in the draft. Instead, the 49ers went with Alex Smith and Rodgers slipped to 24th overall before Green Bay broke his fall.

The 49ers have gotten the best of Rodgers through the years, too. Rodgers entered Thursday with a 4-6 career record against San Francisco and an 0-3 mark in the postseason.

For one night, though, Rodgers got the better of San Francisco.

THE DEFENSE: San Francisco was missing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo running back Raheem Mostert, tight end George Kittle, wide receivers Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne and left tackle Trent Williams. So take this performance with a grain of salt.

Still, the Packers had to be encouraged that their defense played fast, had multiple players around the ball all night, and tackled extremely well. Green Bay held San Francisco to 55 rushing yards and just three points through the first 55 minutes.

Safety Raven Greene had a second quarter interception, which was Green Bay’s first pick since Week 2. Za’Darius Smith had a strip sack and recovered the fumble in the third quarter.

Ty Summers and Rashan Gary stopped 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens for no gain on a fourth-and-1 from Green Bay’s 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

“When you have more hats to the ball, there’s less missed tackles,” safety Adrian Amos said earlier this week. “It’s a lot harder to tackle when it’s one-on-one in the open field. We need more guys getting off of blocks and more guys running to the ball. We’ll see that in film study. But I think more hats to the ball makes tackling a lot easier.”

For one of the few times all year, the Packers had that.

WIDE RECEIVER(S): Yes, plural.

Green Bay’s Davante Adams has been a one-man show since Allen Lazard (core muscle) went down after Week 3. Adams was brilliant again with 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. Adams now leads the NFL with eight receiving touchdowns.

For the first time in what had to feel like forever, though, Adams got some help. Inconsistent third-year man Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught just two passes, but both went for touchdowns.

MVS got behind San Francisco’s defense late in the first half and hauled in a 52-yard TD to give Green Bay a 21-3 lead. Then midway through the third quarter, Valdes-Scantling made a nifty route adjustment against standout cornerback Jason Verrett for a 1-yard TD to make it 28-3.

MVS entered the game with a drop percentage of 11.8% according to ESPN Stats & Information. Valdes-Scantling had a costly drop early in the game, but made up for it later on.

FAST STARTERS: Green Bay’s offense has been terrific at the start of football games. On the Packers’ eight opening possessions this year, they’ve scored all eight times — four touchdowns and four field goals.

On Thursday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Davante Adams with a 36-yard touchdown on Green Bay’s opening drive. Green Bay joined the 2007 New England Patriots as the only NFL teams since 2000 to score on their opening drive in each of the first eight games of the year.

“There’s a lot of time that goes in throughout the course of a week in everything we do,” LaFleur said of opening drives. “Putting the openers together is a tedious process. It’s really a credit to our players because it doesn’t really matter what you call, it’s their ability to go out there and execute the play that was called. Not everything happens the way you draw it up. We’re lucky and fortunate that we have a lot of great players that are able to make plays when they present themselves.”

THE BAD

INJURIES?: Green Bay entered the game banged up and left in much worse shape.

No. 1 cornerback Jaire Alexander suffered a second quarter concussion and didn’t return. Right tackle Rick Wagner (knee), inside linebacker Krys Barnes (calf) and running back Dexter Williams (knee) were also lost for the game.

With Wagner out, Elgton Jenkins moved from left guard to left tackle, Billy Turner went to right tackle and rookie Jon Runyan stepped in at left guard. Slot corner Chandon Sullivan replaced Alexander on the outside, while Oren Burks and Ty Summers stepped in at inside linebacker.

THE UGLY

ODD DECISION: Green Bay running back Aaron Jones returned from a calf injury and was outstanding. Jones finished with 15 carries for 58 yards and caught five passes for 21 yards.

For some reason, though, Jones was still in the game deep into the fourth quarter with the Packers up four scores.

Yes, Green Bay was short running backs. But exposing their No. 1 running back to several hits with the game already well in hand was a curious coaching decision, to say the least.



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The Third Wave and an ugly election has Wall Street nervous


As the market tumbled there was a flood of cash out of equities and into short term Treasury bills amid a spike in volatility.

The VIX Index that measures volatility – often described as the “fear index” — was above 38 on Friday, its highest level since June.

While elections – particularly elections won by the Democrats, who historically have entered office with bigger spending plans than the Republicans – tend to be good for the stock market, this time might be different.

While that’s not even remotely near the peak of 82.69 during the COVID panic in March, it’s actually higher than the market peaks in any previous year since 2015. Any reading of the index above 20 is regarded as high, so the index’s level highlights the level of investor uncertainty and concern.

The gold price has eased about 2.5 per cent, the oil price has tumbled 12 per cent and the copper price – widely regarded as the commodity that best tracks expectations of the outlook for the global – was down nearly five per cent in just over a week.

Riskier US corporate debt yields have also jumped even as the value of companies credit agencies believe are likely to be down-graded into “junk” status has reached record levels. Even investment grade bond yield were trading higher.

What those falls signal is intense investor nervousness. It would be wrong, however, to attribute it entirely to the election even though that is clearly an influence.

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It’s been a unique and uniquely ugly campaign and Donald Trump’s questioning of early and postal voting and the prospect of contested outcomes, litigation, anarchy in the streets in the event of a disputed outcome – in New York shop windows are being boarded up for fear of violence and looting – and prolonged uncertainty until the post-election future becomes clear are obvious causes for investor anxiety.

The bigger influence, however, is almost certainly the coronavirus.

From mid-September the US has experienced a third wave of coronavirus infections, with the rate accelerating from the second week of October. In the past fortnight cases have soared more than 40 per cent to an average of more than 80,000 a day, with deaths attributed to the pandemic now above 230,000 and rising at a rate of between 800 and 1000 a day.

While Trump keeps claiming that the US has turned a corner in its management of the pandemic the daily evidence contradicts him. US investors only need to look at – and they are looking at – what’s now unfolding in Europe as it experiences a massive new wave of infections and hard lockdowns to realise the grim implications of their own numbers.

Sharemarkets have woken up to the damage been done by the coronavirus. Credit:AP

The blind optimism that the US economy would simply shrug off the virus and be back to business-as-usual before the end of this year has dissipated and a market that was by any measure valued at extremely bullish levels has deflated.

While elections – particularly elections won by the Democrats, who historically have entered office with bigger spending plans than the Republicans – tend to be good for the stock market, this time might be different.

The market is, even after last week’s sell-off, valued at extreme levels. It is still trading at more than 33 times historical earnings. The long term average is about 16 times. It is trading at about 25 times expected earnings against a long term average of just above 15 times.

Higher multiples can be rationalised because of the dominance of the big capital-light, high-returning technology stocks with their steep growth trajectories but the stretched valuations still make the market appear vulnerable even after last week’s falls.

That vulnerability appears even more acute when the flood of new money into the market from novice Millennials drawn by the new fee-less trading apps like Robinhood is factored in. That money could become very flighty if the market continues to fall.

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If the US dodges the bullet of a contested election outcome and enormous uncertainty until the outcome is settled – probably in Trump’s revamped US Supreme Court – and the Democrats were to prevail, it would still be months before a new administration could respond to the new phase of the pandemic.

If Trump were to remain president and the Republicans hold onto control of the Senate there’ll be no corporate tax hikes – Trump has foreshadowed more tax cuts – more deregulation, probably no meaningful COVID relief bill and a continuation of Trump’s assaults on his perceived enemies, at home (including within his own administration) and abroad.

No wonder the combination of the tide of rising COVID infections and the likely messy outcome of the elections makes investors anxious.

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The good, the bad and the ugly of season 2020


Richmond’s grand final triumph capped off an extraordinary year of football, both on-field and off.

Greats of the game were farewelled, players, coaches and club officials adjusted to the demands of hub life with varying degrees of success, and AFL fans up north were gifted the opportunity to watch the biggest game of the year up close.

Illustration: Jim PavlidisCredit:

All-in-all it’s been a big year in footy, as captured by artist Jim Pavlidis in his 2020 poster special.

Click here for a full-sized PDF download.



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Ugly fruit, roaming bears, and halting wildfires: meet the EU LIFE Award 2020 winners


Beautiful people eat ugly fruit” – that’s the catchy slogan of the Fruta Freia cooperative in Portugal, which claims to have already saved almost 2500 tonnes of mis-shapen food from being wasted, and this week claimed two of the EU’s LIFE Awards prizes.

Their project, Flaw4Life won both the Environment and public-vote Citizens Awards.

An overjoyed Isabel Soares from the Fruta Freia cooperative told Euronews: “The awards prove that our model works, a sustainable model that is based on consumer commitment”.

With the LIFE grant she was able to create eight new jobs, launch eight new delivery points, and is now working with 250 farmers to sell weird-looking fruit and vegetables to around 6,000 consumers.

So, what’s the profile of her customers? “There’s no typical buyer, they range from 18 to 80 years old, from all social classes, lots of people want to fight food waste,” she says. “It’s a simple idea that consumers want to support.”

Food is wasted for many reasons, but one of the most unjust is perhaps when it’s based on appearance, rather than quality or taste. In launching and succeeding in this ‘ugly fruit’ initiative, Soares has shown that consumers are happy to love a two-legged carrot or pear-shaped apple and embrace the strangely-sized produce that farmers had previously been forced by picky supermarkets to throw away.

Making room for bears to roam

‘I’m really happy, we were working hard for 5 years, it somehow got noticed’, smiles Rok Černe, after his LIFE DINALP BEAR project scooped the LIFE Awards Nature prize.

The Slovenian forest manager’s project aims to coordinate action to help sustain the population of bears across the Dinaric and southern Alps in an important effort to maintain the genetic diversity of a population which is so vital for biodiversity.

The initial project involved actors in Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Italy working together to agree a new strategy to better manage their bear populations. With the success of their cooperation Černe found he was contacted by colleagues in Switzerland, Germany and France eager to learn more.

The challenges he faced were very diverse, but Černe admitted to Euronews that the biggest issue was navigating government administration: “You have to find the right person in the ministry if you want to decide something,” he says.

The bear population in Slovenia is growing, and male bears in particular can roam hundreds of kilometres from their place of birth in a quest for mates. Ensuring landscape connectivity that allows the bears to get from one habitat to another without bothering humans is one of the key challenges.

Černe worked with local farmers, and through the LIFE project he was able to offer fencing to those whose livestock had been threatened by bears. The project also engaged with local people, showing them how to have ‘bear-proof’ rubbish and compost bins. “You need to explain to people how to coexist,” he says.

Fresh tactics against forest fires

“The problem in Hungary increased in the last two decades, and we realised the fires are bigger and bigger, and we didn’t have enough resources,” says Daniel Nagy, whose FIRELIFE project was given the LIFE Climate Award.

The project funding allowed Nagy to address the emerging fire problem in central Europe, as prolonged droughts become more frequent and the risk of larger fires becomes more widespread.

His strategy followed two key lines of attack: communication and training. The former saw him producing a film about forest fire risk which was shown on Hungarian television, sharing awareness leaflets in outdoor stores, and even buying a bouncy castle to get kids and families engaged with the issue.

The training side of the project was equally challenging. “We can’t copy what we see on TV,” Nagy tells Euronews. “We have to learn best practice, learn more about prevention, and do so on a lower budget.”

He trained incident commanders, field managers, and different stakeholders in forest fire management, with the focus very much on prevention. Hungary has even developed a new English-language checklist for neighbouring countries which may also now find that due to the effects of climate change the risk of forest fire has risen in the past few decades.

The LIFE programme funds environmental and climate-related projects across the European continent, with a budget of 3.4 billion euros across six years.



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The ‘ugly sandal’ phenomenon proves fashion’s cyclical nature


A decade or so ago, Crocs were a punchline.

The domed-shaped foam clogs became a kind of stereotypical fashion no-no, a shoe W Magazine noted is usually reserved for “gardeners, nurses, Mario Batali, and families vacationing at Disney World”.

Time Magazine named them on a list of the 50 worst inventions. A Facebook group from 2009 called I Don’t Care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass has more than 1 million followers.

But the fortunes of Crocs have reversed.

Now, the brand famous for being ugly is signing up celebrities like Justin Bieber and Post Malone to collaboration deals and you’ll find them on the feet of many influential Australian fashion identities.

The pandemic has helped — who needs fancy shoes when you never leave home?

But it’s more than that.

The story of not just Crocs but Tevas, Birkenstocks, UGGs and other types of once-unfashionable shoes is really about the cyclical, subversive nature of fashion.

The evolution of ‘ugly’ shoes

When they were first imported from Germany to the US in the 1960s, Birkenstocks were oddities.

They made their transition to trendy over the decades, first among Californian counter-culture types and later at 2013 Paris Fashion Week, when Celine creative director Phoebe Philo put them on her models.

Pretty soon, they were common in the offices of Vogue.

Birkenstocks became a must-have summer sandal in the past few years.(Reuters: Ina Fassbender)

This reclamation of “ugliness” has helped many brands.

You can see it in the recently cool-again Tevas — “some of the ugliest sandals known to mankind” but also one of the “hottest products” of last year.

And it’s behind the normcore trend, which celebrates basic, poorly fitting denim and the kind of gratuitously white sneakers Jerry Seinfeld wore in the 90s.

Nicole Adolphe, head of style at The Iconic, says these kinds of brands have transitioned from “something you’d associate with your dad or for around the house to a footwear choice of style-driven consumers”.

“Core to this style evolution has been the rise of the ugly-is-cool trend,” she said, which encompasses “oversized sneakers, mom-fit denim [and] flat forms, as consumers rebel against traditional fashion constructs.”

Our insatiable appetite for different, new and interesting — a frame of mind accelerated by the internet — means that what was even recently considered weird can quickly become embraced, says Icaro Ibanez-Arricivita, a fashion lecturer and researcher at Queensland University of Technology.

Two pairs of feet wearing matching colourful sandals
Teva sandals were named by fashion insights firm Lyst as one of 2019’s “hottest products”.(Instagram: Tevas)

Part of the appeal is ironic — liking something that’s unlikeable seems subversive and cool — and part of it is generational.

“It is something that older people don’t get,” Mr Ibanez-Arricivita says.

This is partly a clever marketing trick

Crocs’ president Michelle Poole told The New York Times recently the company collaborated with Post Malone because his brand was also “marmite”, a reference to the British condiment people tend to hate or passionately defend.

In this way, it has revelled in and profited from its outsider status.

Last week, when Bieber — another controversial pop star — teased news about his collaboration with Crocs on social media, the company’s share price rose 12 per cent.

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Mr Ibanez-Arricivita links this back to Karl Lagerfeld’s idea at Chanel in 2002 to collaborate with main-street chain H&M.

“It is the tension between the comfortable and fashionable, the uncool and cool … that fine line, messaged the right way, can mean cultural influence [and] that equals lots of money.”

This happened with UGGs, too.

A model stands on a runway in a dress and UGG boots as attendees watch on and photograph her
UGGs on the runway in Berlin in 2009.(Reuters: Tobias Schwarz)

While it has always had a comfortably daggy image in Australia, and been popular among surfers in the US, it was reimagined in the 2000s after being bought by US company Deckers.

As Deckers claimed in a lawsuit against another shoemaker, it “repositioned the brand as a luxury line of sheepskin products”. It did so thanks in part to celebrity endorsements from Leonardo DiCaprio and Sex And The City’s Sarah Jessica Parker.

For Birkenstocks, the Celine show in 2013 led to celebrities like Miley Cyrus embracing the brand, helping to redefine that shoe’s image (though a company executive said in 2015 they were “not calculating what the next fashion trend is”).

There is an element of lockdown comfort here

Ms Adolphe said Australians had shifted their purchases this year to account for more time spent at home.

“We’ve seen them gravitate towards comfort-driven footwear from brands such as Birkenstocks, UGGS and the like,” she said.

But while lockdown plays a part, this pivot is mostly just fashion doing what fashion does.

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Jessie Webb, 27, from Melbourne, is one of those Millennials who went for Crocs in 2020.

“I kind of like that they were ill-favoured in the past, so as much as I wear them for comfort and practicality, I also think they are worn as a bit of a statement.”

Mr Ibanez-Arricivita says that beauty and ugliness are perceived; they are not innate qualities of an object.

“Something that is not cool will eventually be cool. It is just about when and how.”



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The good the bad and the ugly habits of the Covid era


There is no doubt the the covid pandemic will remain in history mostly for other reasons that the infections, mortality and morbidity statistics. At least so far, these stats fade out easily when compared to historical plagues such as the outbreaks of typhoid, cholera and the infamous Spanish flue – which by the way started in Kansas, Texas, and by Trump’s logic should be called USA virus, instead of Spanish.

Corona outbreak will be remembered in history for how it changed our behaviours and attitudes towards many aspects of our personal and social lives.

Here are some examples

 

Extinction of the “Office” and the demise of the “Rush Hour” 

The herd-like communing movement of people from home to work and back has been both an amusing, and a disturbing habit of the human society. The concept of the “Rush Hour” by itself reveals how the 9 to 5 concept of work – life sea-saw has become an integrated and essential part of the human culture; approaching a religious discipline. We all have had to rush to work in the morning and rush back in the evening, stopping for grocery shopping on the way home. 

Lines of cars in the traffic jam did not annoy us enough to say, wait a minute, why the hell do we ALL have to move back and forth at the same time? Why can’t I do the same office work at home and at the time when I am most productive?

Well, it took a virus to reveal the absurdity of the mutually compulsive habit, wasting two hours of our lives per day, sandpapering our nerves and polluting the air we breath. Seems like working from home can be even more productive and lots more relaxing for most employees. Major corporations like Google, Microsoft and Facebook are cutting down their office spaces and will continue letting employees work from home even after the pandemic.

Another fabulous consequence: All that expensive central real estate that have been mostly empty after 4 pm, can now be transformed into homes for the same people to live and work at.

 

Personal hygiene 

One of the reasons that the human life span has expanded from 50, to up to 100 years in a century has been the education and implementation of hygiene. Majority of slow and fast causes of death have had their root causes go back to infection. New research, increasingly and surprisingly finds out that many of the diseases thought to be idiopathic are associated with infection. Bacteria from sub-clinically infected teeth and mouth for example are now proven to cause heart attacks, arrhythmia, and even Alzheimer or dementia. Some tumours  such as cervical and prostate cancer are also associated with viruses.

The flue has traveled around the globe for over a hundred years, because we have coughed in our palms, touched surfaces and inoculated ourselves by transferring viruses to our face and eyes. How lasting the effects of increased attention to hygiene in our personal habits will be and how will it affect seasonal and other transferable diseases in the future; remains to be seen.


Meet, date, shop and play online

Who would have thought that Zoom and Tinder will find common ground. Dating and hookup apps had not even thought of including a video call in their options. Covid has now turned many first dates virtual, for good and for bad, bringing less disappointment, but also less excitement and surprise to the process. 

Shutdowns also made online gaming and gambling much more popular than before. Gaming companies and Pay N Play casinos have become popular in Finland and around the world. Many online enterprises find their revenue coffers overflowing. Apple’s App Store performed exceptionally well for the same reasons. Bored and isolated, people look for entertainment and excitement online. 

Impulse shopping and online games release endorphins and are addictive. Betting, with real money, additionally does come with financial risks. Regulators in Finland have sought to address potential troubles by imposing a “loss limit” on online gambling and forcing registration.

A new directive imposed by Finland’s Interior Ministry limits gamblers to losses of €500, a significant reduction from the previous €2,000 cap.


The death of the cinema as we know it?

Streaming services have already put the existence of the Television in question. If it wasn’t for the delay in the release of new titles for digital sale or rent, the increase in affordability and the rapid improvement in image quality of  home cinemas had already killed the movie theatre. Who wants to queue to get cramped with 200 strangers with two of them breathing or coughing on your neck to watch a movie if you could do the same in the comfort of your home with the pause button under your finger? If and when studios realise that by releasing new titles for home viewing with a higher price, they can reach the same revenue as the box office, that would be the last nail in the movie theatre’s concept as we know it. 

Covid has already affected the habit of movie going, and cinema chains are now campaigning to get beck the audience after withdrawal due to shut-downs. There were also already rising trends of alternative concepts, such as dine-and-watch or lounge theatres where you have the extra comfort in a smaller venue. There is also the Imax, which of course offers an experience you can’t have at home. Otherwise the cinema business looks increasingly like a sunset industry and can move to history as fast as video rentals did.

We needed a shake up and we got it in the form of a virus.

 

Paul Kostner – Helsinki Times



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Ugly aftermath of Novak Djokovic, death threats to lineswoman


Twenty-four hours ago she was Laura Clark, an anonymous American lineswoman who enjoyed watching tennis and drinking wine.

Today she is public enemy number one in Serbia and — while taking a day off from her duties at the US Open after accidentally being hit in the throat by a stray ball hit in anger by world number one Novak Djokovic — having the death of her son mocked by angry tennis fans.

The ugly aftermath of the unfortunate incident which left Clark struggling to breathe and Djokovic’s attempt to win an 18th grand slam in tatters has been revealed in a disgusting look for the sport.

In his Instagram apology on Monday, Djokovic said he was “extremely sorry to have caused her such distress” but was not revealing Clark’s name “to respect her privacy”.

The US Open was also reluctant to name her, but a Serbian tabloid reportedly shared her Instagram handle with sickening consequences.

On a post dedicated to her late son Josh, who died aged 25 in a bicycle accident in 2008, a user with a photograph of Djokovic as his profile wrote: “Don’t worry you’ll join him soon.”

Another added: “hahahahahahahaha YEEEEES, YEEEEEEEES.”

Almost every single one of Clark’s posts have been bombarded with shameful messages, calling her “sick” and an “alcoholic”.

The New York post reports Clark is resting comfortably at a hotel and is under observation by the tournament doctor. She will return to work when she and the doctor deem it appropriate, a source told the newspaper.

The Kentucky-based official previously spoke about the pressures of her role in an interview with Owensboro Living in 2014.

“You have to have really good eyes, stamina, be able to stand on your feet a lot and you have to have really thick skin — not only thick skin, but a lot of confidence in yourself,” Clark said. “Without that, you’re going to be eaten alive.”

“The only times we are seen by the people are during our mess-ups. Period,” she added.

“The first time you are on a big court it is terrifying, and it is the coolest, most terrifying experience in the whole world. You are shaking so hard and you’re sure they can see you shaking.”

She revealed she’d been hit before by a 210km/h serve that busted open her lip.

“I had never learned the technique of move, and it busted my lip totally. That’s probably the most memorable because I was brand new.”

Not anymore.



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