CANBERRA: Australia set a new target of vaccinating all willing adults by the end of 2021 on Tuesday, hoping to speed a glacial vaccine roll-out that threatens the country’s pandemic success story. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg — unveiling a free-spending, crisis-tinged budget — said the continuation of the country’s “roaring” economic recovery depended on “effective suppression of the virus”. To that end, he said, the conservative government expected Australia’s borders to remain closed well into 2022 and for all adults “who seek to have that vaccine” to have received two doses by the end of the year. Australia has ridden out the coronavirus pandemic by effectively sealing itself off from the rest of the world, and with a series of snap local lockdowns. It remains one of the few places where there is no widespread community transmission and daily life is relatively normal. But very few Australians are immunised and there have been repeated outbreaks linked to quarantine facilities, raising fears success could be fleeting. “We don’t know what is around the corner with respect to the virus,” Frydenberg said. “The assumption is that there will be new cases.” So far Australia has delivered just 2.5 million vaccine shots, versus the roughly 50 million jabs needed to vaccinate the entire population — lagging other rich countries, and the government’s own targets. After a series of problems with vaccine delivery and the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those under 50, the government is now in talks to manufacture promising mRNA vaccines domestically. Frydenberg also unveiled a new round of tax cuts and stimulus spending that could set the stage for an election as soon as this year. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seeking reelection and a fourth consecutive victory for his conservative Liberal-led coalition. Jettisoning the party’s traditional talk of belt-tightening and fiscal prudence, Frydenberg said “unavoidable” spending would see the deficit swell to Aus$161 (US$125) billion this year, almost eight percent of GDP. The government has committed Aus$291 billion to virus-related stimulus, including a swathe of tax cuts and income support that is equivalent to almost 15 percent of gross domestic product. The deficit explosion was limited only by increased tax revenue — as people go back to work more quickly than expected — and surging iron ore prices. “We’re giving a very big thanks to Western Australia and the iron ore industry,” Frydenberg said. Amid fierce criticism of the government’s handling of a series of rape allegations by officials, the budget for the next year also sets aside Aus$2 billion for women’s safety, the bulk of which will go to childcare subsidies. Defence spending is expected to rise about 10 percent in the next three years, as relations with China sour and American security guarantees look less ironclad.
What is happening in Israel and Palestine?Jerusalem has experienced its worst unrest in years, with hundreds of Palestinian protesters wounded in clashes with Israeli police. More than 20 people have been killed in Gaza following fighting between militants and Israel, violence has surged into the occupied West Bank and Arab communities inside Israel have held demonstrations.What has caused the increase in violence?It all relates to Israel’s half-century military occupation and its ever-deepening grip over Palestinian life. Long-building anger has exploded because a series of events have all converged at once, reaching a crescendo on Monday.What is the background to those events?In the wake of steps taken by the Trump administration and Israel to cement the county’s control over the Palestinian territories, hope for a resolution to the decades-old crisis is at a nadir.A decision by Mahmoud Abbas, the 85-year-old leader of the unpopular semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority, to postpone planned elections has added frustration for Palestinians, whose last parliamentary ballot was in 2006.Meanwhile, an Israeli election in March further emboldened Israel’s far right, bringing a party of Jewish ultranationalists allied with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, into parliament.What has happened since then?A month ago, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, and Palestinians have complained of what they say are unnecessarily severe restrictions by Israeli police, who prevented them from gathering on steps outside the Old City – an unofficial tradition after evening prayers.Amid rising tensions, there was an increase in communal violence, with videos shared online of street harassment and several attacks between Jews and Palestinians. Events came to a head in late April when hundreds of far-right Israelis marched down city streets chanting “death to Arabs” and confronted Palestinians.How did it escalate over the past week?Anger built ahead of an Israeli court ruling, which was due on Monday, on whether authorities would evict dozens of Palestinians from the majority-Arab East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and give their homes to Jewish settlers.On the same day, thousands of flag-waving Israeli nationalists were due to march through Muslim neighbourhoods in the Old City in a provocative parade that celebrated Israel’s capture of the city in 1967.By Monday, the court date had been delayed and the march was rerouted, but by that point, the situation has already spiralled.What is the history?Jewish families claim they lost land in Sheikh Jarrah during a war that accompanied Israel’s creation in 1948, a conflict in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were also displaced.Two decades later, Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian forces in the 1967 war and later annexed it. Under Israeli law, Jews who can prove pre-1948 title can claim back their Jerusalem properties. No similar law exists for Palestinians who lost homes in West Jerusalem.Why is Jerusalem such a flashpoint?Jerusalem has always been the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with its holy sites revered by Jews and Muslims. The Old City’s Western Wall forms part of the holiest site in Judaism – the Temple Mount. It is equally part of the al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, with the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site in Islam – above it.How does the current violence compare historically?There has never been a time when there is complete calm in Israel and Palestine, so it is hard to compare episodes of violence. However, the last similar event being pointed to occurred in 2017, when anger over moves by Israel to install metal detectors outside the al-Aqsa mosque compound triggered weeks of bloodshed.
Two symbiotic marine lifeforms who somehow evaded the prying eyes of human scientists and ‘disappeared’ from the fossil record over a quarter of a billion years ago have been found thriving offshore of Japan.
The creatures in question are non-skeletal corals and crinoids, or sea lilies, who were found proliferating on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 100 meters (330 feet) below the surface, off the coasts of Honshu and Shikoku in Japan. They managed to survive undetected, having gone AWOL from the fossil record for longer than modern humans are thought to have existed (200,000-300,000 years ago).Morska symbioza sprzed 270 milionów lat? Dr hab. Mikołaj Zapalski z #UW razem z naukowcami z 🇵🇱 i 🇯🇵 opisali ekologiczną „żywą skamieniałość”. O lilowcach (zwierzętach przypominających kwiaty) i koralowcach można przeczytać w artykule 👇https://t.co/eJI5IETGBY— Uniwersytet Warszawski (@UniWarszawski) May 5, 2021“These specimens represent the first detailed records and examinations of a recent syn vivo association of a crinoid (host) and a hexacoral (epibiont),” the researchers wrote. Crinoids and corals shared a long, symbiotic relationship together millions of years ago, in which the corals would use the crinoids to climb higher off the seafloor to gain access to more food found in passing ocean currents.The joint Polish-Japanese research team, led by paleontologist Mikolaj Zapalski of the University of Warsaw in Poland, used stereoscopic microscopy to conduct a ‘hands-off’ examination of the Paleozoic-era pals before scanning them using microtomography to gain a look at their interior structures.
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They completed their non-invasive investigation using DNA barcoding to identify the exact species.The researchers found that these newly rediscovered specimens did not modify the structure of the crinoids’ skeletons, providing a possible clue as to why they disappeared from the fossil record for so long; fossils of soft-bodied organisms are vanishingly rare.Like this story? Share it with a friend!
US television network NBC has announced it would drop its broadcast of the Golden Globes ceremony in 2022 after a Hollywood backlash over the ethics of the group that hands out the annual awards for film and television and its lack of diversity.
Actor Tom Cruise joined a revolt led by streaming platforms and studios, returning the three Golden Globes he won for his roles in Jerry Maguire, Magnolia and Born on the Fourth of July, industry media outlets Variety and Deadline Hollywood reported.
NBC’s announcement of its decision on Monday came even after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which hands out the awards, agreed to recruit more Black members and make other changes over the next 18 months. The network had initially welcomed the plan but later said it would wait to see if the reforms worked.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been under fire for months following widespread allegations of racism, sexism, bullying and corruption among its ranks.
HFPA members have also been accused of soliciting favours from celebrities and studios.
“Change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” NBC said in a statement.
“Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023,” the network added.
Chloe Zhao won Best Director at this year’s Golden Globes, the first Asian woman to win the award [File: Peter Kramer/NBC via Reuters]After NBC’s announcement, the HFPA said implementing “transformational change” remained an urgent priority “regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes”.
In a statement, the HFPA reiterated its planned reforms and gave a detailed timetable.
It said that by August 2021, it would hire a new chief executive, add 20 new members, approve a new code of conduct and provide diversity and sexual harassment training among other steps.
Last week, the group approved a raft of reforms to become “more inclusive and diverse” by an “overwhelming” margin, hoping to draw a line under months of negative publicity.
But critics, including stars Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, said the changes did not go far enough and failed to address some of the industry’s most fundamental grievances.
Potentially fatal blow
The annual Golden Globes ceremony, attended by A-list stars and industry executives, has become one of the biggest Hollywood awards shows in the run-up to the Oscars.
But it has been under close scrutiny following an investigation published in February by the Los Angeles Times newspaper that showed the group of 87 journalists, which includes bona fide reporters at big international publications as well as semi-retired and obscure individuals who rarely work for any mainstream media, had no Black members.
NBC’s cancellation is a potentially fatal blow to the awards and the organisation itself, which relies heavily on the Globes’ television rights for its funding, and comes days after Netflix and Amazon Studios said they would not work with the HFPA until more “meaningful” and “significant” changes were made.
Johansson, star of Lost in Translation and the Marvel superhero franchise, said over the weekend she had “refused to participate” in HFPA press conferences for years due to “sexist questions and remarks” that “bordered on sexual harassment”.
The Globes has been under pressure after a Los Angeles Times investigation into the HFPA found it had no Black members [File: Valerie Macon/ AFP]Ruffalo recently said he “cannot feel proud or happy” about winning a recent Golden Globe from a group with a “culture of secrecy and exclusion” that continues to “resist the change that is being asked from them”.
The National Association of Black Journalists, a group of more than 100 Hollywood publicists, multiple movie industry unions, Time’s Up, and the LGBTQ charity GLAAD have also condemned the group.
WarnerMedia, which includes cable channel HBO and movie studio Warner Bros, said in a letter to the HFPA that it was concerned about “racially insensitive, sexist and homophobic questions” at press conferences and events during the Golden Globe nominations and awards process.
“For far too long, demands for perks, special favors and unprofessional requests have been made to our teams and to others across the industry,” the WarnerMedia letter said.
Composite of pictures of Yoweri MuseveniUgandans under the age of 35 – and that is more than three-quarters of the population – have only known one president.Yoweri Museveni, who came to power on the back of an armed uprising in 1986, has defied the political laws of gravity which have felled other long-serving leaders in the region.The 76-year-old’s time at the top has been accompanied by a long period of peace and big developmental changes for which many are grateful. But he has managed to maintain his grip on power through a mixture of encouraging a personality cult, employing patronage, compromising independent institutions and sidelining opponents.During the last election five years ago when he addressed the issue of him stepping down, he asked: “How can I go out of a banana plantation I have planted that has started bearing fruits?”For this revolutionary the harvest is still not over.My introduction to the president came in the 1990s in the form of a school play in which the turbulence of the Milton Obote and Idi Amin years was acted out.The piece climaxed on 26 January 1986, with Mr Museveni’s National Resistance Army liberating the country, bringing an end to wars and senseless killings.It is this image of the man as liberator and peace-bringer that many Ugandans have been raised on, and are reminded of at every opportunity.Presidential press-upsHe is also a fatherly and grandfatherly figure.Many young Ugandans refer to the president by the nickname “Sevo”, and he fondly calls them Bazukulu (meaning grandchildren in the Luganda language).But the family man does not see himself as a typical ageing patriarch, reclining in his favourite chair with his children and grandchildren fussing around.In his campaign for his sixth elected term in office, which feels like it started straight after the last election, he has been traversing the country, launching factories, opening roads and new markets.And with an eye on his relatively youthful challenger, 38-year-old former pop star Bobi Wine, Mr Museveni has been keen to show his vitality. Last April, to encourage exercise during lockdown he was filmed doing press-ups, and then repeated the trick several times including in front of cheering students in November.Story continues”If your father loves you, he has to empower you. In the next five years, ‘Sevo’ will make sure that when we finish school, we are able to get jobs,” 25-year-old Angela Kirabo says, touching on the issue of youth unemployment, which is a major source of concern.The economics graduate is a proud Muzukulu (grandchild), having grown up in a family supporting the governing National Resistance Movement (NRM). She also served as vice-chairperson of the party’s chapter at university and thinks the president still has a lot to offer after 35 years in power.Presidential age limits overturnedOne of his closest friends and advisors, John Nagenda, says Mr Museveni’s selflessness is one reason for his ability to inspire loyalty.”He was prepared to die for Uganda. I would say that we are very lucky to have him,” the 82-year-old says.”Most of the other people that I know who have been presidents, they wanted to do it for themselves; they wanted the glory. But Museveni wants to do [it] for the country and continent… he is an Africanist.”Nevertheless under the original clauses of the 1995 constitution the president should not have run for office again after 2005.Indeed, before then it was widely understood that he was against staying on in power, brushing off queries about the idea, saying that he would rather go back to his farm.Journalist William Pike, who at one time was seen as very close to the president and the NRA, described in his memoir how the president was genuinely upset when asked at a dinner in the early 1990s whether he wanted to stay in power for the rest of his life.”Museveni said: ‘Of course not’, but he was clearly furious at what he considered a real insult. He was not faking it. At that stage he really was not intending to stay on in power,” Mr Pike wrote.But something changed his mind in 2004, though it has never been clear what exactly that was, and his MPs endorsed the idea that the constitution should be amended to remove presidential term limits.He had the green light to stand until he reached 75 years of age.And then in December 2017, the constitutional obstacle of an age limit for a presidential candidate was also removed – an issue which led to brawls on the floor of parliament and a police raid on the building.Many saw this as the NRM’s way to allow Mr Museveni to become president for life.It is not for nothing that parliament felt compelled to reward the long-serving leader. The willingness of MPs to go along with the changes has a lot to do with the fact that they felt they owed their positions to the president.Fewer challenges to authorityThe significance of patronage extends right through society.It sometimes manifests as development programmes for women, market vendors and government jobs. In a country where 15% of young people are unemployed and over 21% of the population live in poverty, aligning with the right party can save an entire village from destitution.But his supporters point to the transformation of Uganda as a positive reason to give Mr Museveni five more years.”If you come from the north and east you will understand that a big achievement of peace has been brought. For 20 years those regions were engulfed in war,” says 28-year-old Jacob Eyeru, who leads the government’s National Youth Council.While acknowledging that joblessness is a worry, he adds that the NRM has “transformed the economy to make it not just regionally competitive but also globally competitive”.Mr Museveni’s supporters believe he still has a lot to offerDespite these changes he has also weakened the independence of some of the country’s key institutions to ensure fewer challenges to his authority.The judiciary has not been spared, and in recent years has been accused of recruiting so-called “cadre judges”, who are loyal to the government.When judges have taken independent decisions, they have sometimes found themselves at loggerheads with the authorities.For example, on 16 December 2005, highly trained armed security personnel raided the High Court in the capital, Kampala, and re-arrested members of the suspected rebel People’s Redemption Army, who had just been acquitted of treason charges.”They turned the Temple of Serenity into a theatre of war,” Justice James Ogoola wrote in a poem about the incident entitled Rape of the Temple.When it comes to challenging election results, the outcome of every presidential race, except the 2011 one, has been contested in court. In all cases, the courts ruled that the irregularities were not serious enough to warrant an annulment.The media has also had its independence threatened.On the surface, Uganda has a lively media industry which has grown to hundreds of private radio and TV stations, print outlets, and internet-based services under Mr Museveni.”In the early days, before cynicism and rot set in, there was a strand of intellectualism within the regime that tolerated dissenting views and was able to debate and disagree with them,” says Daniel Kalinaki, the Nation Media Group’s General Manager for Editorial, in Kampala.But outlets have been raided and journalists detained, as the leading lights in the government have become “increasingly thin-skinned”, Mr Kalinaki adds.But perhaps the most significant factor in Mr Museveni’s longevity is the way that any potential opposition force has been neutered.Opposition supporters shot deadAs it became clear 20 years ago that he was going to stay in power, some of his former associates started to break away. As they did, the security forces, touted as a people’s police and army, turned their guns on these political opponents.Kizza Besigye of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change, once Mr Museveni’s physician, first ran against him in the 2001 election. He has been detained and prosecuted on numerous charges, including rape and treason, but has never been convicted.Presidential candidate Bobi Wine has proved a popular draw for many young votersWhen it became clear that Bobi Wine, a singer whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was mounting a serious challenge to the president’s rule, he became the latest politician to face the wrath of the men in uniform.The MP, whose star power draws huge crowds of young people, was brutally arrested during a colleague’s by-election campaign in the north-western town of Arua in 2018. He then faced treason charges which were later dropped.On the campaign trail for the 2021 election, the police arrested, tear-gassed and shot at him and his supporters for defying coronavirus restrictions on the gathering of large groups.During two days of protests in November 2020 following Bobi Wine’s arrest, 54 people were killed, many of them believed to have been shot by the security forces.Sticking your head above the parapet in Uganda is a brave choice and anyone who seeks to challenge Mr Museveni should be in no doubt about the level of harassment that they are likely to face.Through his 35 years in charge, he has come to sit at the apex of power where he is in total control. He has also managed to reinvent himself.Whereas he was once the political upstart in his early 40s, anyone taking on that role now risks incurring his considerable wrath.
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The famously gruesome site, which has hosted the most offensive content online – and refused to budge in response to complaints about it – has finally given up the ghost. A tamer incarnation called ItemFix is replacing it.
Hayden Hewitt, co-founder of LiveLeak and now ItemFix, did not directly confirm in any of his statements that the site was being dropped because of censorship, or that it was bowing and scraping before the deadly monolith of deplatforming, or any of the other grim fates that befall sites like it. Such bullying has plagued most alternative media outlets in the past several years.However, in one response on Twitter Hewitt mentioned that “the very pressures of doing what were a large part of the reason for moving on. It wasn’t exactly a WordPress blog on $2.99 hosting.”In a video posted on YouTube channel Trigger Warning, he also described the new normal in no uncertain terms: “I don’t f**king like it. I liked it much better when it was the Wild West.”Sometimes it’s just the right time to chart a new path.Given the site’s boilerplate insistence that their new outlet would be named ItemFix and would be about “something completely different, completely fresh, and something we feel energized about tackling,” users may have a reason to feel threatened. Then again, they have just as many reasons not to.
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LiveLeak was always the site one could turn to if one was desperately searching for footage of a car crash, forklift fails, and ill-advised street-fights. ItemFix seems to follow in largely the same vein, except with a clearer delineation of “good guys” and “bad guys.” Hewitt declared LiveLeak had “achieved all that it could and it was time for us to try something new and exciting.”There has been a long internet tradition of handing over the baton to a younger, fresher site once one’s own platform reaches meme-saturation. The co-founders of LiveLeak predecessor Ogrish recognized that, moving on to create the new site after Ogrish committed the internet equivalent of seppuku.Responding to a suggestion the people would be leaving LiveLeak’s new incarnation, Hewitt wrote: “Of course they will. As they should if that’s what they’re after. ItemFix isn’t a replacement.”
LiveLeak is far from being the only internet resource that has been publishing gore. A BBC article dated back to June 2007 bemoans the state of Britain where children can fight in the streets, savagely having at each other with fists, legs, and whatever sharp and heavy objects the kids might have at hand. But trying to quell internet violence by cutting off one of the heads of the many-heard hydra has never worked yet, and given the problems continuing to plague small-scale social networks like Parler and Gab, it’s not likely to end anytime soon.Even 4chan, the once-beloved crew of meme sculptors blamed for swaying political outcomes and a even winning political election result, will not last forever. When parts of its political arm /pol/ was forced out into 8chan and then 8kun, it became clear that 4chan was not about free speech anymore – at least, not if that speech has anything to do with politics.As with everything in the world, if you want something right, you’d best learn to do it yourself. But with 15 years of driving censors mad, today’s social media platforms might be able to learn something from LiveLeak.If you like this story, share it with a friend!
Policemen aim their weapons during an operation against drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro.Rio De Janeiro: At least 25 people were killed in a shootout between suspected drug traffickers and police in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, one of the state’s deadliest police raids, police said.People targeted in the raid in the poor Jacarezinho neighborhood tried to escape across rooftops as police arrived in armored vehicles and helicopters flew overhead, television images showed. The firefight forced residents to shelter in their homes.The victims included one police officer, and the remainder were suspected members of the drug-trafficking gang that dominated life in the slum, including some of its leaders, police said.It was the deadliest single police operation in 16 years for Rio state which has suffered for decades from drug-related violence in its numerous favelas.The bloodbath prompted criticism from human rights groups including Amnesty International, who lambasted the police for the “reprehensible and unjustifiable” loss of life in a neighborhood mostly populated by Black and poor people.”The number of people killed in this police operation is reprehensible, as is the fact that, once again, this massacre took place in a favela,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, referring to the informally organized neighborhood with few public services.A 2005 raid in the Baixada Fluminense in Rio’s violent northern outskirts killed 29 people.”This is one of the largest death tolls in a police operation in Rio, surpassing 19 at Complexo do Alemao slum in 2007, except we did not lose one of ours then,” police chief Ronaldo Oliveira told Reuters.Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Rio de Janeiro prosecutors have a constitutional obligation to oversee the police and pursue criminal investigations of police abuses. It called for a thorough and independent investigation into the deaths.According to HRW, Rio police killed 453 people and at least four police officers died in police actions during the first three months of the year, despite a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting operations in communities during the COVID-19 pandemic except in “absolutely exceptional cases.”Police said in addition to drug trafficking, the gang robbed trucks of cargo and held up commuter trains to steal from passengers.Police displayed an arsenal of seized weapons at a news conference: six assault rifles, 15 handguns, a machine gun, 14 grenades and a round of artillery ammunition.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Trade talks between the two sides were halted in 2013. (Representational)Brussels: The European Union and India will agree to restart long-stalled trade talks at a leaders’ summit on Saturday, an EU official said, as tensions with China spur closer cooperation.”After almost eight years of the suspension of the free trade talks, we will agree to resume these,” a senior EU official told journalists on Thursday in a briefing ahead of the summit.”This opens up the way to a possible free trade agreement between us.”Momentum has been growing for closer ties between Europe’s 27-nation bloc and the world’s largest democracy in the face of the rising might of Beijing.Trade talks between the two sides were halted in 2013 after getting stuck on issues including cutting tariffs and access for Indian workers to Europe.The EU official said Brussels was hoping to reach “an ambitious, comprehensive and also mutually beneficial agreement” with India — but it remains to be seen if New Delhi will ease up on its traditionally protectionist approach.”We believe that this is one of the areas of cooperation between EU and India where the potential gain, both economically but also strategically, is the greatest,” the EU official said.The bloc’s push to resume negotiations comes at a time former EU member Britain is also making a play to bolster its trade ties with India, as London seeks to carve out its new role.The British government said Tuesday it would start formal free talks with India late this year after the two sides agreed an initial package to boost bilateral trade and investment.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)