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Australia’s Victoria extends Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown for 2nd week



The Australian state of Victoria on Wednesday extended an immediate coronavirus lockdown in its capital, Melbourne, for a second week as it scrambles to contain a highly contagious variant that was first spotted in India but will facilitate some containment elsewhere.

Last Thursday’s lockdown in Australia’s second largest state was expected to last until Thursday after the first locally acquired cases were discovered in three months, but infections rose and the number of close contacts hit several thousand.

“If we let this thing take its course, it will explode,” the state’s incumbent Prime Minister James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne. “This type of concern will become uncontrollable and people will die.”

“Nobody … wants to repeat last winter,” he added, referring to one of the strictest and longest lockdowns in the world imposed by the southeastern state in 2020 to start a second wave of infections.

More than 800 people died in the outbreak, accounting for about 90% of all deaths in Australia since the pandemic began.

Rapid lockdowns, regional border restrictions and strict social distancing rules have largely helped Australia suppress previous outbreaks and keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low, with just over 30,100 cases and 910 deaths.

Although Victoria’s daily cases have been in the single digits since the lockdown was imposed, officials fear that even minimal contact could help spread the variant involved in the latest outbreak.

Six new locally acquired cases were reported on Wednesday, up from nine the day before, bringing the number of infections to 60 in the most recent outbreak.

A woman walks past a “Stay Safe Melbourne” sign on a largely empty downtown street on the first day of a seven-day lockdown as the state of Victoria tries to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). in Melbourne, Australia, May 28, 2021. REUTERS / Sandra Sanders / File Photo

Health officials have said that person-to-person transmission could only take a day, as opposed to the five or six days of contact that were required for transmission of previous variants.

For now, the five million inhabitants of Melbourne only have to leave their homes for a second week for important work, health care, grocery shopping, sports or a vaccination.

However, this restriction is likely to be relaxed for people in other parts of the state, subject to a local broadcast in the next 24 hours, while other measures such as masking requirements remain in place.

The latest outbreak has been traced back to a traveler who has returned from abroad, authorities said. The person exited hotel quarantine in the state of South Australia after testing negative but subsequently tested positive in Melbourne.

Casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd (CWN.AX), Victoria’s largest single-site employer with 11,500 employees, announced at the start of the lockdown that it would hire employees but pay them wages for roster hours.

However, following the extension on Wednesday, Crown announced that it would only make a “one-time discretionary” payment.

Since the early days of the pandemic, Australian employers have relied on federal subsidies to pay employees during the lockdown, but the government ended that program in March.

Merlino, the incumbent Prime Minister of Victoria, called on the federal government to reintroduce the subsidies in the face of the lockdown. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government was open to new support measures but would speak to officials in Victoria before getting into details.

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Europe Keeps Aiding Companies to Avoid Surge of Covid-19 Insolvencies



Rousselle Industrie SA. a maker of machinery for paint manufacturers in northern France that nearly collapsed in 2020 after the pandemic disrupted supplies and business to its customers.

The 10-person company was bailed out by $ 360,000 worth of loans under a government program that guaranteed debt and deferred interest payments for 12 months.

A year later, the company is still facing repeated delivery and payment delays, making the prospect of debt servicing difficult. Aware of the problems facing Rousselle Industrie and hundreds of thousands of other companies, the French government delayed loan repayments for another year.

Eric Plaisant, CEO of Rousselle Industrie, said the company would not have survived without government help.

“Without the help of the government, we would not have made it through this complicated phase,” said Eric Plaisant, the company’s chief executive officer. “There is still a lot of uncertainty.”

Economies like the US and China are recovering quickly. But in Europe, where vaccination programs have lagged behind other regions and the economy has slowed to adapt, companies continue to struggle. To prevent a bankruptcy avalanche and a new financial crisis on the continent, governments are extending support measures.

“We do not want to abruptly cut support and trigger dozens of bankruptcies,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

In addition to delaying loan repayments, the French government extended the program by six months to the end of the year. So far, it has guaranteed around 675,000 companies loans worth the equivalent of 166 billion US dollars.

In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi extended a moratorium on loan repayment by six months until December. In Spain, Madrid provides some state-guaranteed loans.

Some of the measures will weigh more heavily on governments, whose debt has risen to levels above the 2011 sovereign debt crisis since last year.

The pandemic crisis is different from previous recessions. Expecting a sharp decline in economic activity followed by a quick recovery once the virus outbreak was under control, governments in Europe tossed the equivalent of $ 1.8 trillion in moratorium loans, government guarantees and corporate grants to keep them afloat. They kept people in work by paying the payslips. Countries like Germany have even suspended rules that oblige companies that have run out of money to file for bankruptcy locally.

As a result, unemployment remained low on the continent. Bankruptcies even went down. And the banks saw little reason to take large losses on their loan portfolios.

However, this relative stability is due to the loan programs.

Rousselle Industrie is still faced with repeated delivery and payment delays.

“If the current measures are phased out too quickly, companies could be marginalized,” said Martin Oehmke, professor of finance at the London School of Economics and Political Science and co-chaired a report by Europe’s top financial stability regulators on it Theme.

In the document, the European Systemic Risk Board said in a worst-case scenario in which the funding programs only postponed problems instead of fixing them: “The current low bankruptcy rate would then be comparable to the retreat of the sea before a tsunami. ”

If there is a tsunami, the supervisory authorities fear that the banks are not prepared. Andrea Enria, the head of banking supervision at the European Central Bank, warned that around 40% of banks in the euro area have not properly recognized loans that are unlikely to be repaid. Many have even lowered the probability of default on new loans, despite the obvious risks.

“This is something of a mystery to us,” said Mr Enria recently.

The biggest worries are in the economically weaker south of Europe, where the banks are weaker and the countries are more dependent on the heavily affected tourism.

In Italy, CNA, an association of small and medium-sized enterprises, found that over a third of the companies surveyed said they were unable to repay their loans on a regular basis. In the tourism sector, less than 2% said they could survive after the end of June without the moratoria.

“The extension of the moratorium is of vital importance to me,” said Cristina Vincenzi, owner of a lingerie shop in northeast Roncade. Ms. Vincenzi posted a loss last year after the pandemic forced her to close her shop for months. As part of the moratorium, she did not pay the monthly installments of EUR 575 for her EUR 10,000 loan, the equivalent of around EUR 12,000.

In Portugal, around a third of all bank loans to businesses are currently on payment leave, which expires in September. In the restaurant and accommodation sector, the proportion rises to almost 60%, according to the Portuguese central bank.

Cristóvão Lopes owns a 170-room hotel in the southern region of the Algarve, which attracts sun-seekers arriving on cheap flights from northern Europe. When business plunged 85% last year, a government vacation program covered part of his workers’ salaries while receiving a small grant and pay vacation for more than half of his outstanding debt.


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In June, as activity picked up again, the UK – its largest source of customers – put Portugal back on a list of countries from which travelers must be quarantined on return. Refusals followed. Mr Lopes estimates that his business will not return to normal until 2023.

The moratorium on his debt ends in September when hotels enter the off-season.

“Until then, we just can’t generate enough liquidity,” said Lopes. “You can’t expect companies to go from zero to 100% overnight.”

Portugal’s government has presented a plan to intervene after the moratorium is lifted and to guarantee part of the loans in return for the banks to grant further repayment breaks. That carries its own risk: unpaid loans would become a national debt in a country where the national debt – at more than 130% of the gross domestic product – equals the level of the last decade.

France has guaranteed loans worth $ 166 billion for around 675,000 companies such as Rousselle Industrie.

Write to Patricia Kowsmann at, Giovanni Legorano at and Noemie Bisserbe at

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Experts fear COVID-19 pandemic could cause human trafficking crisis



ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Human trafficking is the second fastest growing crime in the world after drug trafficking.

The statistics are terrifying. Most women are raped 6,000 times and each woman is worth $ 100,000 a year, making them very valuable and making their chances of escape almost impossible. It doesn’t just happen in big cities or poor neighborhoods, but in almost every community in our country and experts fear that COVID-19 will trigger a human trafficking crisis.

“I had a very difficult divorce from a very wealthy husband. He actually let me be trafficked so I wouldn’t get custody of my five children, ”trafficked survivor Kimberly Lansford told Ivanhoe.

Kimberly Lansford was 27 when traffickers drugged her and took her from Denver to Mexico City.

“You’re being broken into by terror, a lot of physical abuse, a lot of sexual abuse,” said Kimberly Lansford.


Kimberly’s nightmare lasted 19 years until …

“The Samaritan Village found me,” said Kimberly Lansford.

For more than a decade, Samaritan Village has been helping women rebuild their lives.

“Young women who feel ugly, unwanted and unseen can visit these traffickers and fill that void,” said Dionne Coleman, executive director of Samaritan Village.

Samaritan Village offers hope and provides housing free of charge for 18 months. Survivors receive mental, physical and dental care, access to professional training and, most importantly, support. Money from donors and from their thrift store is helping to cover the costs, but now organizations like these fear the consequences of the pandemic.

“We call it the calm before the storm, so to speak. I know there will be a lot of people who will need help when we all get back to normal, ”said Dionne Coleman.

Some women could not get any help during the lockdown.


“It doesn’t just happen to the underclass or to drug addicts, it’s not true. It happens to people like me every day, ”announced Kimberly Lansford.

“When you see something, copy someone who feels, or there’s a pairing of people who doesn’t feel right, call this human trafficking hotline,” said Dionne Coleman.

The biggest misconception about human trafficking is that the victims are runaways or addicts. Family Members Selling Family members, as in Kimberly’s case, is common.

Also, traffickers often target high school girls and threaten to ruin their reputations. Samaritan Village works with local colleges for scholarships. To learn more, visit



Contributors to this news report are: Marsha Lewis, producer; Matt Goldschmidt, videographer; Roque Correa, editor. To receive a free weekly email on Ivanhoe’s Smart Living, sign up at:

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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Reuters, New York Times win Pulitzers for coverage of racial injustice, COVID-19



Reuters and the Minneapolis Star Tribune each won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism on Racial Inequality in U.S. Police Work on Friday, while the New York Times and the Atlantic were honored for Chronicle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the two topics that the Last year’s headlines dominated.

The Star Tribune won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage for its “urgent, authoritative and nuanced” coverage of the police murder of George Floyd last May, while Reuters and Atlantic shared the award in explanatory coverage.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been presented since 1917, when newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer bequeathed them to Columbia University in New York.

In 2020, “the country’s news organizations are faced with the complexities of covering a global pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a bitterly competitive presidential election, one at a time,” said Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Board of Directors, at the announcement ceremony, which broadcast online has been .

The board cited Reuters reporters Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts for the “groundbreaking data analysis” of their “Shielded” series, which showed how an obscure legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” shielded police officers make excessive use of the force of law enforcement.

Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement that the series shaped the debate over American police reform.

“In a year of stormy protests against the police killings of black Americans, ‘Shielded’ was a work of tremendous moral force on the persistent problem facing the world’s most powerful democracy, the legacy of racial injustice,” the statement said.

The Pulitzer Prize for Reuters, an entity of Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO), was the ninth since 2008 and the sixth in the past four years.

The Reuters team shared the explanatory coverage award with Ed Yong of The Atlantic, who was recognized by the board for “a series of clear, definitive contributions to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Mary Stewart holds an obituary for her son Luke Stewart on November 12, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. REUTERS / Megan Jelinger

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Reuters’ series of police stories were triggered by a single case – and required lengthy, complex data analysis.

In April 2017, the US Supreme Court declined to reopen an unarmed suspect alleging unconstitutional excessive violence against a Houston police officer for shooting him in the back. Reuters Supreme Court reporters Chung and Hurley have teamed up with data reporters Januta, Dowdell and Botts. They analyzed hundreds of cases and found that since 2005 the courts have shown an increasing tendency to grant immunity in cases of excessive violence. They then detailed the cases of a number of victims of police violence who were denied justice, even after courts found the officers were too violent.

The first Reuters story came out just weeks before the murder of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in handcuffs when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. The coverage had a broad influence on the national discussion of US police problems.

“The data we produced was quoted in almost every major news organization immediately after the George Floyd murder,” Hurley said, adding that it was also quoted in court records and informally by judges.


Many of the 2021 Pulitzer Awards went to coverage of policing and the global protest movement that broke out after Floyd’s assassination: the Associated Press won the Breaking News Photography Award for pictures of the protests, while Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times for editorial contributions won for his work on bail reform and prisons.

The board also said it gave Darnella Frazier, the teenage viewer who recorded a video of Floyd’s murder on her cell phone, a “special quote” highlighting “the vital role of citizens in helping journalists find truth and justice” .

The New York Times won the Public Service Journalism Award, often considered the most coveted of the 22 awards, for its “predictive and comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.” The Boston Globe won for investigative coverage for exposing a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road.

The announcement of the prices on Friday, each worth $ 15,000, had been postponed to April amid the pandemic. The awards dinner, which usually takes place shortly after at Columbia University, has been postponed until the fall.

The Pulitzer Board of Directors also recognizes achievements in seven categories in the arts and awarded Louise Erdrich its Fiction Prize for her novel “The Night Watchman” about attempting to evict Indian tribes in the 1950s.

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