Australia deploys police, army to enforce border closure amid COVID-19 outbreak

first_imgTopics : “There will be a significant military and police operation going on to monitor all cross-border activity,” NSW Police Minister David Elliott warned. “There’s serious fines and indeed, a jail sentence, to anyone that wants to push the envelope.”People caught crossing the border without permission via any of the 55 roads that are heavily used by commuters, school children and road freight, or several river and wilderness crossings, will face penalties including a fine of A$11,000 ($7,700) and six months imprisonment.Daily travel permits will be granted to people who live in border towns and cities but with the closure just hours away, the application system was still being developed.Kevin Mack, the mayor of Albury, a border town on the NSW side, said with an estimated 50,000 car movements across the state line every day “it will be a nightmare for everyone.” The border closure was announced on Monday in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, the Victorian capital, which prompted authorities this week to reinstate strict social-distancing orders in more than 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.Victoria was responsible for 191 of the 199 new cases reported nationally on Tuesday, the biggest one-day rise since early April, excluding last week’s addition of historical data from cruise ships.Australia has now recorded almost 8,800 cases and 106 deaths, far below many other countries, but the Melbourne outbreak has worried officials. Some Australian media reported on Tuesday that Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews was considering reimposing some broader lockdown measures across the state.The closure of the border is a blow to Australia’s hopes of cushioning the fall as the country heads into its first recession in nearly three decades, thanks to social distancing restrictions that were imposed in March and have been largely lifted.Border chaosFor businesses on the border, which last closed during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919, it also poses an immediate logistics headache.”About a quarter of my staff like me live in NSW, and cross that border every day to come to work,” said Paul Armstrong, who runs a petrol station in Wodonga, a border town on the Victorian side. “I don’t know if they are going to be able to get in.”The closure also comes during school holidays in both states, a peak travel time for many families.Ray Bell, owner of the Twofold Bay Motor Inn in Eden, a coastal town on the NSW side of the border, said he received 37 cancellations overnight, including five guests who were forced to leave early to make it back home.Outside of the border towns, Victoria residents will be able to apply for a permit, but will need to prove a special need for their travel. Freight transporters will be free to cross the border without a permit, but will be subjected to random stops.Meanwhile, Football Federation Australia (FFA) will be forced to request exemptions to allow Melbourne’s three A-League clubs into New South Wales after their plans to exit Victoria by plane on Monday night were scuppered by fog that closed the airport.center_img Hundreds of police officers and army troops are being deployed to enforce the closure of the busy border between Australia’s two most populous states as officials grapple to contain a fresh coronavirus outbreak.The state line between New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, which is highly porous and stretches hundreds of kilometers, is scheduled to close at 11.59 p.m. on Tuesday for the first time in 100 years.Underscoring the need for decisive action, Victoria state reported a record number of new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, taking the national tally to a three-month high.last_img read more

Keeping Crime Out of Gaming Industry Major Focus of BGLC

first_img Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, the Director said that persons wanting to become owners and operators of gaming machines will need to obtain a gaming licence from the BGLC. Story Highlights Keeping crime out of the gaming industry is a major focus of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), says Director of Enforcement at the BGLC, Noel Bacquie. Keeping crime out of the gaming industry is a major focus of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), says Director of Enforcement at the BGLC, Noel Bacquie.Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, the Director said that persons wanting to become owners and operators of gaming machines will need to obtain a gaming licence from the BGLC.However, prior to receiving a licence there has to be a ‘fit and proper’ assessment to ensure that people entering the industry are not criminals.Therefore, Mr. Bacquie pointed out that there is a three-tiered process for covering the various categories of licences.“For the licences, the BGLC would require individuals to give detailed information about themselves – two references; a criminal certificate from the police; as well as to undergo an interview,” Mr. Bacquie said.He highlighted that as the risk level rises, so does the level of investigation, explaining that there is an even higher level of investigation for betting and lottery agents.This level of investigation would take into account education, employment history, credit information and legal standing.He said that an even higher tier is the multi-jurisdictional level, where the applicant has financial interest outside of Jamaica; then a third party would be engaged to conduct those investigations. However, prior to receiving a licence there has to be a ‘fit and proper’ assessment to ensure that people entering the industry are not criminals.last_img read more

Kelly Busch Residential school students say theyve been hurt by law firm

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe single mother of two young children needed a job. A non-Aboriginal woman, she was educated at First Nations University of Canada. Her two young children are of Anishnabe heritage and she deeply cares about First Nation people. She saw the chance to work as a form filler as an opportunity to do a job she could be proud of.But after working for Honour Walk in Saskatoon for a while, she started to see things that disturbed her.“I was asked to leave the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre in Oct. 2009 by a tall Native man who introduced himself as the head health support worker for Saskatoon. I was sitting with a prospective applicant inside the friendship centre,” she said.Busch said the man accused her of exploiting former students.Months later, she received a call from Peter McCallum, an Indian Residential Schools Coordinator with Health Canada’s Community Programs Division. He echoed the comments of the health support worker.That shook Busch up. But when she asked her supervisor, Doug Christmas, why these people were so angry with the company, he told her it was nothing to worry about.But she wondered. And she started watching closely, keeping copies of all her emails and trying to decide for herself if her dream job was really a nightmare.A woman who sincerely wanted to help, Busch was devastated by all this. She was worried that she was involved in something that was morally questionable, unethical and perhaps even illegal.Then she started hearing complaints from Honour Walk clients.“People I had never helped but who had my toll free number,” she said.The Honour Walk clients complained that their phone calls to their lawyer were never returned, that months, even years, had gone by and they’d never heard from their lawyer, that survivors had arrived at their IAP hearings and met their lawyer for the first time and the lawyer was not familiar with their case.She started talking to co-workers at Honour Walk and heard complaints that people were having claims dismissed or compensation amounts drastically reduced because the story they told the adjudicator did not match the version recorded by the form filler and that made it look like they were not telling the truth.Busch also had questions about her own relationship with Honour Walk. She was told she was not an employee, but a contractor. But she felt that she fit the description of an employee and should be eligible for the benefits and protections that employees receive from their employers.So she applied for a ruling from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in February of this year. Before that ruling arrived, in April, she decided she could no longer be associated with Honour Walk and quit.After she quit, she got the ruling from the CRA.“The CRA deemed me an employee on May 9,” she said.She said she quit because she was disturbed by the many complaints she heard.“I worked in Saskatoon, but I worked with people from all over the province and Alberta and one in the US. I moved my family to the Muscowequan reserve for six weeks last fall and worked in the surrounding area,” Busch said. “That’s when people started coming up to me saying they hadn’t heard from the lawyers in years. Due to meeting so many people, my toll free number was widely distributed. So people were calling me as well. Up to that point I had not heard a bad thing about Honour Walk or Blott other than what the Health Canada people had said.”Then, she re-read an email from Thom Denomme that was sent to her on July 12, 2010 addressed to managers at the various Honour Walk offices:From: [Thom Denomme]To: [Honour Walk managers]Subject: FW: Most Popular Aggravating FactorsDate: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 13:46:50 -0500Hi GuysStarting as soon as you can, these are the only aggravating factors Iwant marked. Let all your people knowHave a great day!Thom DenommeResidential School Healing SocietyFrom: [David Blott]To: [Thom Denomme]Subject: Most Popular Aggravating FactorsDate: Sun, 4 Jul 2010 21:01:56 -0600Here are the most popular:Particular vulnerabilityHumiliationDegredation (sic)Inability to ComplainFailure to Provide Care and SupportWhat that email meant to Busch was that the lawyer in charge of the only law firm that Honour Walk signed up clients for was telling the form fillers to tailor the forms in a certain way.last_img read more

Tech Startups Are Prodding the Dinosaur That Is the Insurance Industry

first_img Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. October 21, 2015 Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Here’s a sentence you don’t read every day: Insurance is so hot right now.Entrepreneurs and investors have finally woken up to the opportunity in the insurance industry. At $831.5 million, investment in insurance tech this year is already up nearly 10 times what it was in 2010.The opportunity has been staring entrepreneurs and investors in the face for years. The first insurance companies in the U.S. were started in the 1700s, and that cottage industry has grown into one of the biggest markets and sources of capital in the world. Premiums in the U.S. insurance industry total around $1 trillion, or approximately 7 percent of gross domestic product. On top of that, insurance companies invest nearly $7 trillion in assets.And here’s the kicker about all that insurance money — it’s generated by millions of agents, with lots of paper, in processes that look much the same way they did 30 years ago.Related: Investors Are Poised to Disrupt the Tech-Averse Insurance IndustryIn my previous life as a McKinsey consultant, I advised the top insurance companies on projects that were, at their core, incremental. They were always about increasing the productivity of the agent-based sales force, or improving the efficiency of paper-based claims operations. In other words, what I was doing was putting the dinosaur on a diet and prodding it with a stick. What needed to be done was bring a whole new breed of animal into the insurance game.So I left McKinsey in 2013 to do just that and started a digital consumer insurance company, PolicyGenius. At PolicyGenius, we want to do for consumer insurance what TurboTax did for taxes: Make a complex and intimidating financial task easy enough to do it yourself online.While raising seed capital for my insurance tech company last year, the most common question I got from prospective investors was, “Why is now the right time for tech to disrupt insurance?” The obvious answer for those unfamiliar with the insurance industry is the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010. The law created exactly the kind of macro shakeup that attracts entrepreneurs. Indeed, since 2010, 56 percent of all insurance tech startups are focused on health insurance, either delivering new employer brokerage models (Liazon, Zenefits, Benefitter), new consumer brokerage models (Gravie, Stride Health) or even new health insurance (Oscar). These startups are pushing the brick-and-mortar incumbents to deliver better services and providing much-needed options to consumers.Beyond the Affordable Care Act, there are other forces at work that have opened the floodgates, allowing creative entrepreneurs to reshape the insurance industry more broadly. These are the market disruptions I see:1. The end of an eraAmericans used to rely on their employers for retirement security. After 20 years of service, you’d get a gold watch and a pension to fund your sunset years. Then, in the 1980s, growing pension costs and a legislative change replaced the corporate pension with the 401(k) and gave rise to the modern retail investment and retirement industry.That shift — from employer to consumer responsibility — is exactly what’s about to happen to insurance. Employer-sponsored insurance is the legacy of an IRS ruling after World War II that allowed employers to deduct employee health insurance as a business expense and employees to receive that benefit as nontaxable income. Sixty years later, we have a sprawling and bloated system, where the extra employer layer adds billions of dollars of cost and empowers employers to make intrusive decisions about their employees’ healthcare. Add to that, the cost of health insurance premiums growing at four times inflation and workers changing employers far more often than they did 60 years ago, and you have a system that’s going to break.The cracks are already showing. The number of workers at small and medium-sized companies who get employer-sponsored health insurance has steadily declined since 2000. The CEO of Aetna has called for the creative destruction of healthcare and taking the employer out of the health insurance equation. Startups that can effectively step into that employer insurance void, the same way companies like Fidelity and Schwab stepped into the employer pension void, will enjoy a massive opportunity.Related: 3 Benefits of the Affordable Care Act Every Business Leader Needs to Know About2. A changing workforceIt’s no secret that the workforce is rapidly changing. The average worker changes employers every 4.6 years. And, more disruptively for insurance, more workers are finding themselves outside the typical employer relationship. Spurred by on-demand services like Uber and countless “Uber for X” startups, freelancers and independent contractors are projected to grow from 42 million people to 65 million in the next 5 years.These workers need individual insurance (like health, disability and life) and business insurance (liability and property). Insurance companies, and the traditional insurance agent model, are ill-suited to serve the self-employed and provide them with the advice and products they need to financially protect themselves and their families.Ask 100 freelancers how they navigate the insurance maze and they’ll all say same thing — with tremendous difficulty. Easing that difficulty for them represents a tremendous opportunity.3. An aging sales forceMost insurance in the U.S. is still sold by human agents, same as it’s always been. But it won’t be for long. The average age of an insurance agent in the U.S. is 59, and one-fourth of the industry’s workforce is expected to retire by 2018. In other words, insurance companies are standing on a burning platform. And they’re already starting to feel the heat.For example, life insurance ownership is at a 50-year low, not because the need has changed — in fact there’s a $20 trillion life insurance gap, but because the agent sales channel can’t reach the modern financial consumer. To their credit, insurance companies realize this reality, but the fact of the matter is that they can’t move as fast as startups can. So they’re investing in startups.  Insurance companies have dramatically increased their direct investments in tech startups to the tune of $1.8 billion since 2010. Much of this investment has gone to the first waves of financial technology: lending (Prosper) and wealth management (Learnvest, Betterment). But talk to any insurance company directly investing in startups, and you’ll learn that they’re hammers in search of nails, that is, smart entrepreneurs tackling the fundamental problems in insurance.4. Unmet needFinally, and most importantly for a mission-driven company, there is a tremendous unmet need for insurance in the U.S. According to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve, 47 percent of households couldn’t cover an emergency expense of $400. Insurance is intended to fill in this savings void for unpredictable emergencies. However, too many Americans have low savings and inadequate insurance, which leads to financial disaster. For example, health problems and disability contributed to half of all home foreclosure filings and over 60 percent of all personal bankruptcy filings. It’s not easy or sexy to sell insurance to middle America, but it’s an important problem to solve — and the first company to do it will be huge.These are the tailwinds that made me excited about insurance tech two years ago and which continue to drive my company forward. We recently closed a $5.3 million Series A round, which included the participation of insurance companies’ venture arms, including AXA Strategic Ventures and Transamerica Ventures. We, and our insurance partners, are excited to make insurance the next big thing in tech.Related: The 25 Best Companies for Employee Compensation and Benefits Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Register Now » 7 min readlast_img read more

First Impressions Count Just as Much Online

first_img Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now September 9, 2016 This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Enroll Now for Free There’s a lot of analysis and science that goes into wowing a digital audience. But despite the numerable studies indicating best practices, most website owners just tend to wing it. Not following best practices leads to a loss of traffic and conversion because the harsh truth is that, on average, more than half of your visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your website. Let’s break down the things that can be done to compel them to stay a little longer.Be visual. Rich, evocative, beautiful, and professional-quality images are the cornerstone of the modern web. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that businesses can increase sales by increasing product image size. Video also has a massive impact on visitors. Adding a video to a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80 percent.Related: 7 Sources of Free High Quality Stock ImagesBe usable.While visual content like images and video are critical, none of these tactics work without a fluid web design. Visitors should find it easy to navigate across multiple pages. It should require almost no effort for them to identify and locate what they need. Be human. The copy used on a website can have an immediate effect on a visitors’ perception. Writing that is clinical, stoic, or “salesy” will tune readers out. In the book Web Copy That Sells, author Maria Veloso described research done on 20,000 pieces of copy that concluded that “editorial-style web copy outpulled sales letter-style web copy every single time.” Copy that appeals to users’ needs, emotions, and sensibilities will be significantly more effective in captivating them. Instead of riddling a site with jargon, corporate speak and pitches, it’s best just to be human. Showcase value proposition by being personable. As an example, Crowdsourcia’s website introduces itself to visitors by using the pictures and names of their team members. This complements copy that is natural, welcoming and friendly.Be valuable.Exciting, valuable and helpful content can keep visitors engaged. Using best practices such as having engaging calls-to-action, encouraging social sharing and facilitating discourse can rapidly convert a stranger on the information superhighway into a brand advocate.Be technical. Digital entrepreneurs put up websites and casually forget that their entire business is being facilitated by technology. They focus on great images, perfect SEO and killer content, but their sites are not secure. They’re also not cross-browser compatible or optimized for mobile, and loading a page takes a million years to complete.Related: 7 Tips for Feeding Your Website’s Need for SpeedBe mobile.Impressing visitors isn’t just about what’s on the page, it’s also how much care is put into its delivery. Back in 2014, it was estimated that 60 percent of all online traffic came from mobile devices. Half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. With mobile continuing to charge past desktop website access, it’s critical to design a site that is perfect for the small screen.Be secure. If a website sells merchandise or requires visitors to share sensitive information, much care should be taken to protect their data. Professional grade sites with expired certificates, security warnings when posting data to a server, and lack of password complexity rules, all can quickly turn a prospective buyer into a ghost. Ensuring a website has undergone a thorough security audit and reinforced its walls can help solidify its professionalism to visitors. Be compatible. Cross-browser compatibility is the bane of most web designer’s existence. That’s because every browser implements a web page slightly differently. There is a standard protocol but small variations in implementation can mean the difference between a stellar layout in Chrome and what looks like stitched tiles in Internet Explorer.Related: How Chrome Won the War of the BrowsersChrome has the largest global market share of all browsers, but the second largest, Internet Explorer, implements an identical website differently. At the very least, these two differing browsers should be fully supported.Be fast.Forty percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. That’s not a lot of time. Speed ensures a smooth experience. The key is that the technical frameworks that enable websites should be nearly unnoticeable, allowing visitors to focus on an organization’s story, value proposition, and content. 4 min readlast_img read more

Exgoogler who quit Google on moral grounds writes to Senate about companys

first_img“I am part of a growing movement in the tech industry advocating for more transparency, oversight and accountability for the systems we build.”– Jack Poulson, former Google Scientist Project Dragonfly is making its rounds on the internet yet again. Jack Poulson, a former Google scientist who quit Google in September 2018, over its plan to build a censored search engine in China, has written a letter to the U.S. senators revealing new details of this project. The letter lists several details of Google’s work on the Chinese search engine that had been reported but never officially confirmed by the company. He affirms that some company employees may have “actively subverted” an internal privacy review of the system. Poulson was strictly opposed to the idea of Google supporting China’s censorship on subjects by blacklisting keywords such as human rights, democracy, peaceful protest, and religion in its search engine. In protest to this project more than 1,000 employees had signed an open letter asking the company to be transparent. Many employees, including Poulson, took the drastic step of resigning from the company altogether. Now, in fear of Google’s role in violating human rights in China, Poulson has sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The letter stated that there has been “a pattern of unethical and unaccountable decision making from company leadership” at Google. He has requested Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy officer, to respond to concerns raised by 14 leading human rights groups, who said in late August that Dragonfly could result in Google “directly contributing to, or [becoming] complicit in, human rights violations.” The letter highlights a major flaw in the process of developing the Chinese search platform. He says there was “a catastrophic failure of the internal privacy review process, which one of the reviewers characterized as [having been] actively subverted.” Citing anonymous sources familiar to the project, the Intercept affirms that the “catastrophic failure” Poulson mentioned, relates to an internal dispute between Google employees- those who work on privacy issues and engineers who developed the censored search system. The privacy reviewers were led to believe that the code used for developing the engine did not involve user data. After The Intercept exposed the project in early August, the privacy reviewers reviewed the code and felt that their colleagues working on Dragonfly had seriously and purposely misled them. The engine did involve user data and was designed to link users’ search queries to their personal phone number, track their internet movements, IP addresses, and information about the devices they use and the links they clicked on. Poulson told the senators that he could “directly verify“ that a prototype of Dragonfly would allow a Chinese partner company to “search for a given user’s search queries based on their phone number.” The code incorporates an extensive censorship blacklist developed in accordance with the Chinese government. It censors words like the English term “human rights”, the Mandarin terms for ‘student protest’ and ‘Nobel prize’, and very large numbers of phrases involving ‘Xi Jinping’ and other members of the CCP. The engine is explicitly coded to ensure only Chinese government-approved air quality data would be returned in response to Chinese users’ search. This incident takes us back to August 2018, when in an Open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the US Senator for Florida Marco Rubio led by a bipartisan group of senators, expressed his concerns over the project being  “deeply troubling” and risks making “Google complicit in human rights abuses related to China’s rigorous censorship regime”. If Google does go ahead with this project, other non-democratic nations can follow suit to demand customization of the search engine as per their rules, even if they may violate human rights. Citizens will have to think twice before leaving any internet footprint that could be traced by the government. To gain deeper insights on this news, you can head over to The Intercept. Read Next 1k+ Google employees frustrated with continued betrayal, protest against Censored Search engine project for China Skepticism welcomes Germany’s DARPA-like cybersecurity agency – The federal agency tasked with creating cutting-edge defense technology Google’s ‘mistakenly deployed experiment’ covertly activated battery saving mode on multiple phones todaylast_img read more