Archives - July, 2019

13 Jul 19

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has spoken out against Trump’s immigration policy. Photo: Trevor CollensThe impact of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban is already being felt by n entrepreneurs and small business owners.
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Trump took to Twitter today to proclaim his support for small business, tweeting “The American dream is back. We’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades!” The American dream is back. We’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades! pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/ZuJNaN6z8b— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017

However the travel ban raises difficult questions for n small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a deal with the White House on Tuesday enabling n dual-citizens to continue to travel to the United States but Council of Small Business chief Peter Strong says small businesses with employees who need to travel to the United States will still be hit by the ban.

“If I’m hiring someone today and I need them to go to America tomorrow what do you do?,” Strong says.

He says small businesses are not allowed to enquire about race and religion when hiring employees however under the Trump ban this may impact the ability of employees to work in the United States.

“I’d like the Human Rights Commissioner to provide some guidance about that,” Strong says. “The government needs to brief industry. Big business will be ok but what do small businesses do?”

Entrepreneur group TechSydney says a number of members have been impacted by the Trump ruling.

HotelsCombined chief executive Hichame Assi has been in since 2008 and is a British-Syrian dual national but is concerned about the impact of the ban.

Prior to the Prime Minister’s deal with the White House Assi was told he was not allowed to go to the US for the next 90 days, even though he has a valid visa in his British passport.

“These developments in the US are not only disruptive to our business and our people, they’re very troubling and are creating more tensions at a time when empathy is required,” Assi says

Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Atlassian, is also concerned at the ban.

“At Atlassian, our core values are built on openness and inclusion,” he says. “We believe in creating equal opportunity and access for everyone and I stand against any action that does not support these. I am shocked and saddened by the impact these restrictions could have on, not only Atlassian employees and their families, but all citizens whose dignity is being trampled.”

Follow MySmallBusiness on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

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13 Jul 19

What is this all about? An Iranian missile, similar to the type used in the test. Photo: Fars NewsThe Trump immigration ban saga continues today with the British public flocking to sign a petition against the controversial president’s visit.
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In less than 24 hours almost a million and a half people have signed an official petition to the government saying Mr Trump “should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen”, writes Europecorrespondent Nick Miller.

Miller also reports on Myron Ebell, the man who led the Trump team’s environmental action plan, who said the environmental movement is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”.

Ebell said the United States was about to change course on climate policy, including withdrawal from the Paris agreement.

Such a dramatic break from previous policy is sure to raise eyebrows in the US, where resistance to Trump’s legal moves on refugees from Muslim countries could be seen on a few fronts.

Alluding to the widespread demonstrations taking place in major airports and cities in response to the new immigration policy, Mr Obama’s spokesman said Mr Obama was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.”

Crucially, the acting US attorney general Sally Yates has said the US Justice Department would not defend the ban.

The situation has created uncertainly in Indonesia, as well, for Hazara refugees who are waiting to be resettled in the US, writes Indonesia correspondent Jewel Topsfield.

“Friday I could not sleep,” said one. “I did not even tell my family these things were happening because I wanted to see them happy. Only me knew this news.”

In yet another sign that what we thought was settled last year may in fact not be: the US has accused Iran has tested a ballistic missile.

The act raises the question about whether Iran is in violation of the nuclear deal hammered out in 2015.

“It was not immediately clear whether the test launch violates a United Nations Security Council resolution,” the story says.

Which is all to say the world is in a moment of dramatic flux.

But the confusion evident these days isn’t limited to Trump assuming the presidency or Iran’s missile tests.

Russia’s skilful use of propaganda on social media has helped sow disorder through Western democracies, as Foreign Editor Chris Zappone reported.

“This propaganda skews toward extremes, seeking to corrode the broad middle area of agreement needed for the functioning of liberal democracies, wherever they are found.”

On a day like today, it looks like such spin has been effective.

Keep reading Fairfax Foreign for all the latest stories and insights into what they mean.

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13 Jul 19

Two NSW patients have contracted M Chimaera from a contaminated heater-cooler unit during open heart surgery. Photo: suppliedA second patient has contracted a rare infection after being exposed to contaminated equipment during open heart surgery at a major Sydney hospital
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The patients both contracted Mycobacterium chimaera (M. Chimaera) from a surgical heater-cooler units at Prince of Wales Hospital.

The particular brand of units, manufactured overseas by Sorin, have linked to over 70 cases of the infection internationally.

NSW Health issued several alerts – the first in August – advising open heart surgery patients to see their doctor if they had undergone the procedure in the past five years.

The second NSW case is a man in his 40s. A woman in her 80s also contracted the infection, NSW Health said. The woman is now recovering. There is no risk of affected patients passing on the infection to their families, friends or the general public.

Prince of Wales Hospital is one of four public hospitals that use the heater-cooler units.

The contaminated equipment was removed from Prince of Wales and St George Hospitals, as well as Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead as a precaution in August when NSW Health learnt of the risk from international authorities.

The units were also used in a number of private NSW hospitals and hospitals in other states and territories, including Queensland where the first M. Chimaera case in was detected.

The units, which control the temperature of the blood during the procedure, transmit the infection to the formerly sterile surgical area and the heart’s new implanted valve and graft. Investigators suspect the units were contaminated during their manufacture.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health was watching for further cases at the Prince of Wales Hospital, after international clusters of M. Chimaera infection suggested that there was an increased risk to other heart surgery patients at facilities where an M. Chimaera case had been detected.

A total of 70 confirmed cases worldwide have been identified in patients who had  undergone open heart surgery in which the contaminated equipment was used. The infections were identified between three months and five years after surgery.

The first case was in detected in Switzerland in 2012.The first n case was detected in Queensland in 2016.

Several independent studies reported open heart surgery patients had developed post-operative prosthetic-valve endocarditis caused by the mycobacteria.

Symptoms of the infection could include fever lasting more than a week, pain, redness, heat, pus around a surgical incision, night sweats, joint and muscle pain, loss of energy and failure to gain weight, or failure to grow in children.

Dr Chant said NSW Health sent letters to patients who underwent open heart surgery between January 2012 and August 2016 informing them of the risk, symptoms and what to do if concerned.

“We also contacted private hospitals in NSW and have been advised that private hospitals in NSW that used affected equipment have also sent letters to their patients, informing them of the risk,” Dr CHant said.

“Patients have been asked to watch for M. chimaera symptoms – persistent fevers, increasing or unusual shortness of breath, and unexplained weight loss,” she said.

NSW Health has set up helplines for patients seeking further information.

Dr Chant also urged GPs and relevant specialists to go to the NSW Health website for the latest information.

In August NSW Health assured the public that the infection was rare and risk to patients was very low and there was no ongoing risk in NSW public hospitals.

Infectious disease specialist at the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission, Dr Kate Clezy said “the risk of infections to an individual patient is very small, but it’s important that we’ve alerted clinicians to the risk and put systems in place to reduce the risk further.”

NSW Health formed an expert panel of clinicians and representatives from the Clinical Excellence Commission, chief executives of Local Health Districts and Health Protection NSW once it was alerted to the potential infection risk.

The contaminated units were either cleaned and verified as clear of contamination or have been replaced with new units, NSW Health said.

A safety notice was issued to public and private health facilities on July 8, and updated on August 4, to notify clinicians of the very low risk of infection, the department said.

NSW Health and other jurisdictions are working with the n Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care to develop a national infection control guideline on minimising the risk of infection relating to the use of heater-cooler units.

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13 Jul 19

Michael McGurk, who was allegedly murdered by property developer Ron Medich. Photo: Supplied Ron Medich arrives for day two of his murder trial. Photo: Peter Rae
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The Crown’s principal witness against accused murder mastermind Ron Medich was recently charged with attempting to extort “many, many millions of dollars” from the property developer.

Mr Medich’s barrister Winston Terracini, SC, told a Supreme Court jury that this was the second time Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari had tried to get money from Mr Medich, the first occasion being shortly after Gattellari’s arrest in October 2010.

Gattellari is serving a jail term for his role in the murder of Michael McGurk.

The 45-year-old wheeler-dealer was shot outside his Cremorne home in September 2009.

Mr Terracini said the defence case would be that Mr Medich, a 68-year-old property developer, had no involvement in the murder of his former business partner, Michael McGurk.

“The accused’s case will centre around criticism of the reliability and the honesty and, in some cases, the deliberate attempt to mislead you by the witnesses Gattellari and (Senad) Kaminic,” he said.

Mr Medich’s position, said Mr Terracini, was that he had never attempted to influence anyone to give wrong evidence and that he had never wanted Mr McGurk dead or his widow harmed.

The Crown alleges Mr Medich paid $500,000 to his then close associate Gattellari to organise the murder of McGurk, with whom Mr Medich had fallen out, and to later intimidate his wife Kimberley.

Haissam Safetli, an associate of Gattellari’s, pleaded guilty to both murder and intimidation.

When Mrs McGurk failed to settle the legal cases in which her husband and Mr Medich had been embroiled, Mr Medich is alleged to have instructed Gattellari to find someone to intimidate her.

The jury heard Mr Medich said of Mrs McGurk: “The bitch must’ve been part of this from the start. She is as tough as he was.”

Safetli was paid $100,000 to intimidate Mrs McGurk. He subcontracted the matter to an associate who happened to be a police informant.

On 8 August, 2010, with police watching, the subcontractor went to Mrs McGurk’s house to threaten her.

The first police officer to arrive at the murder scene told the court that McGurk was lying on his back, surrounded by hot chips.

Senior Constable Rebecca Pope said blood had pooled around his head due to a gunshot wound on the right sight of his head.

The jury heard that Mrs McGurk and several others had been trying, unsuccessfully to resuscitate McGurk.

According to the subsequent autopsy report, McGurk suffered lethal brain damage caused by a .22 calibre bullet.

The trial continues.

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13 Jul 19

Nicole Kidman at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles this week. Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Nicole Kidman with Sunny Pawar, who plays the young Saroo, in Lion.
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Nicole Kidman with Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Nicole Kidman as author Virginia Wolf in The Hours Photo: Clive Coote, Paramount Pictures

It’s a strange conversation but I must have had it 10 times in the past month. Work colleagues, friends and just people you meet saying “yeah, I’d like to see Lion but I don’t like Nicole Kidman”.

The grievances are many. She’s too cold, she can’t act, she isn’t real. She’s over-rated. She’s only ever done a couple of good things. Maybe Dead Calm all those years ago. And To Die For.

And don’t get me started on The Hours, with all that glumness and the nose. And Moulin Rouge. And .

She’s only famous because of Tom Cruise. All that Scientology stuff is freaky. She must be getting so much work done. She’s too rich. She’s always in the magazines.

And I don’t even understand how she gets so many movies. What do all these famous directors see in her? She wasn’t even good in BMX Bandits. What was with that Eyes Wide Shut?

I’ve told the sceptics – every single one – to see Lion. Not just because it’s a really good film but it shows they are wrong: Kidman really can act.

Yes, it’s time for the haters – and there seem to be many as Lion has emerged as a Hollywood awards contender – to reassess.

Sometimes you get lucky with an Oscar nomination. You nail one powerful performance in a role that’s close to your heart and never get another opportunity like that again.

But Kidman now has a fourth Oscar nomination – best supporting actress for Lion – following best actress nominations for Moulin Rouge, a win for The Hours then Rabbit Hole. The same record as universally beloved Helen Mirren. Exactly the same as universally admired Geoffrey Rush.

People without talent – who weren’t even good in BMX Bandits – don’t jag all those Oscar nominations.

What we see on Lion is an intense, wrenching performance by Kidman as an adoptive mother dealing with one son torn being apart by an obsession about tracking down his lost birth mother and another one struggling with alcohol and drugs.

It’s definitely a supporting role in a film full of strong performances – including tiny Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel as Saroo Brierley at different ages – but who else could have played Sue Brierley as well? Only a top-tier actress.

No doubt all Kidman’s personal connections to the story contributed to the depth of the performance: both are n women who knew early on they wanted to adopt, did so then years later faced a test of the bond between mother and child – in Kidman’s case, thanks to the niceties of Scientolology’s break-up counselling.

The scenes between Kidman and Patel elevate Lion to the point where the second half of the story is as affecting as the first half when young Saroo gets lost in India. There’s a touching humanity – a realness – in both performances.

Cate Blanchett deserves her standing as the country’s greatest contemporary actress; her work in films, stage and television shows she is a blazing, brilliant artist. With seven Oscar nominations for two wins, she’s up in the pantheon among the all-time greats.

But, gee, Kidman now has to be recognised as not just a star but a great actress in her own right. If you want to measure these things, second only to Blanchett in a country that has produced so many terrific actresses over the years.

Many Hollywood stars keep playing familiar roles, breaking out every now and then into an extreme transformation that will attract awards attention. They might follow the old “one for the money, one for artistic credibility” formula.

But the best ones push in different directions all the time, choosing challenging roles. Blanchett does that. Kidman does too.

Since 2010’s Rabbit Hole, she has had hits with the family charmer Paddington and, in this country, the drama The Railway Man. She has also acted in more adventurous films for notable directors in different parts of the world, including Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, Olivier Dahan’s​ Grace Of Monaco and Chan-wook Park’s Stoker. And it’s fair to say they didn’t all work.

Just lately, as well as acting in the television series Big Little Lies and Top of the Lake, she has worked with such leading art-house directors as Sofia Coppola​ on the western The Beguiled and Yorgos Lanthimos on the drama The Killing of a Sacred Deer. They might not be hits either but they show Kidman is willing to roll the dice. Try something bold. Explore new territory.

So as she approaches 50 this year, let’s recognise Kidman’s talent and stop the hate.

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