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Amazon UK website defaced with racist abuse


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Amazon has blamed a “bad actor” for racist abuse that appeared on multiple listings on its UK website.

The abuse, now removed, appeared when users searched the online shop for Apple AirPods and similar products.

It was unclear how long the racist language remained on the site, but it sparked outrage on Twitter and the sharing of screenshots and video grabs.

Amazon told the BBC that it removed the images and took action against the “bad actor” as soon as the issue was raised.

The company did not elaborate on the “bad actor”, nor give details of how many products were defaced and how long the abuse was visible on the listings.

Nadine White, a journalist for the Huffington Post, tweeted that the abuse “needs to be acknowledged, removed, explained, apologised for asap. Being Black right now is hard enough; we don’t need to be called the N- word while shopping online, to boot”.

Another Twitter user said Amazon should have been able to remove the offending messages in minutes. “They’re still on Amazon UK. Extraordinarily poor site administration,” he said during early hours of Sunday.

Amazon also allows third-party retailers to sell goods through its website, with the company making about half its retail revenues from this.

But the Amazon Marketplace platform has come under scrutiny.

There has been concern about counterfeit goods appearing in the listings, and during the coronavirus pandemic Amazon was criticised for not doing enough to stop sellers inflating prices.

In April, five Amazon e-commerce websites, including the UK, were added to the US trade regulator’s “notorious markets” report on marketplaces known for counterfeiting and piracy concerns.

Amazon disagreed strongly with the move, saying in a statement that “this purely political act is another example of the administration using the US government to advance a personal vendetta against Amazon”.



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Remote working offers employers and employees lots of opportunities – and just as many headaches


The Office Is Over (and what that means) is
a collection of Post stories looking at how
the pandemic has changed the view of the workplace

Big Tech was the first to execute sweeping changes to the way its employees worked. Just days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, almost all the employees at Google LLC, Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Shopify Inc. were sent home, with no word on when they would be allowed to return to their perk-filled offices. 

Two months later, Google and Facebook extended their work-from-home policies until 2021. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey then dramatically shifted the yardstick, tweeting in mid-May that employees who can work remotely will be allowed to do so forever.

Canadian tech darling Shopify immediately jumped on the bandwagon, announcing a “digital by default” model that would continue post-pandemic, prompting a flurry of online commentary ranging from the death of office real estate to the tantalizing prospect of working from a beach in Jamaica. 

It seems the future of work is shaping up to be a remote one for a staggering number of white-collar workers. Anyone armed with sufficient internet speed and a working laptop could potentially set up in, say, balmy Barcelona for a month, and cool off in the Cotswolds for the next two months. Even small companies would suddenly have access to a global talent pool, no longer needing to demarcate their hiring boundaries by geography. 

A win for all, in theory. 

But the reality would be riddled with myriad legal, technical and security complications, ranging from data breaches and sorting out payroll taxes across global borders, to overhauling existing compensation structures and establishing a consistent corporate culture, say experts helping companies reshape their workforces.

Such a shift in the workplace would be complex, and one that could swing in favour of employers as easily as employees. 

“We’re seeing a different thought process taking shape around the world of work. Employers started this journey saying, ‘Let’s do this temporarily and get cubicle workers back first in a few months,’” said Jean McClellan, a partner at PWC Canada’s consulting practice. “Now they are saying, ‘What are the factors at play and what will it cost us to completely change the way we work?’” 

McClellan said one of her clients, a large financial institution, sought PWC’s services to figure out if it could procure asset management talent from around the world, instead of just locally.

“Their own asset management staff work on quite a global basis as it is, so they also wanted to know does that make them a target for another organization seeking global labour?” she said. “There are implications from an employment-law perspective and from a tax perspective in terms of where the worker resides. All of those things have to be considered before thinking about how to access a different labor pool.” 

If you’re an American company hiring a data scientist in Estonia, then Estonian employment laws apply

Donald Dowling, partner, Littler Mendelson

Processing payroll taxes in a foreign jurisdiction is the biggest issue companies will encounter when hiring abroad, said Donald Dowling, a partner at U.S.-based law firm Littler Mendelson PC, who has extensive experience advising companies on international labor and employment law.

“If you’re an American company hiring a data scientist in Estonia, then Estonian employment laws apply,” he said. “You have to report their income to Estonian tax authorities; you can’t just put them on the U.S. payroll.”

Dowling said many companies won’t go through the logistical hassle of paying taxes in a foreign jurisdiction just for one recruit, even though they could use the services of payroll processing companies such as Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) and Ceridian HCM Inc. as intermediaries. 

“I’ve seen U.S. companies that pay their foreign recruits offshore, because they know that the local tax authorities would probably not come after an American company that has no roots in, say, Estonia, beyond that one worker,” he said. “But just to be clear, that’s a crime.”

Guatemala, the United Kingdom, Thailand and Ecuador are exceptions to this rule: a foreign company is exempted from local payroll taxes if it doesn’t have any assets or branches in any of those four countries. 

One added complication, according to Dowling, is that a company would also have to give foreign employees all the benefits that come with living in their jurisdiction since it would be subject to local employment laws. 

It is not simple to just let an employee work abroad if they wanted to, or hire a foreign recruit

“I’ve seen a number of cases of employees for American companies in France asking for maternity leave, paid sick days, vacation time and hours according to French employment law, which they are entitled to, but those companies would not have wanted to (give them that),” he said. 

“For all these reasons, it is not simple to just let an employee work abroad if they wanted to, or hire a foreign recruit unless the cost and logistical aspect made sense.” 

Data security is another issue since remote workers are easier targets for hackers because they are less likely to have the same kind of encryption protocols as employees back at the office.

In one example that has already reared its head, the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre and the U.S. Department of Home Security in early May warned that sophisticated hacking groups were looking to obtain information related to “national COVID-19 responses, health care research, and targeting organizations in sectors like health care, pharmaceuticals and academia” by exploiting remote workers.

McClellan said large employers would have to consider security implications when expanding their labour pool outside Canada. In particular, heightened security protocols exist when data travels between foreign and domestic servers, assuming a worker abroad is communicating with a domestic team on a daily basis.

It’s potentially expensive. You have to hire the right tech people to support these security protocols

Jean McClellan, PWC Canada

“It’s potentially expensive,” she said. “You have to hire the right tech people to support these security protocols.” 

Despite these complexities, Sara Sutton, the founder and chief executive of FlexJobs Corp., a job search company dedicated to remote work, said she’s seen an uptick in the number of companies offering increased flexibility in location when hiring. 

“The interest in remote work had already been on the rise over the last 15 years or so,” she said. “This pandemic has just exacerbated the openness that both job seekers and employers have towards this way of working.”

The majority of companies increasing their share of remote workers still tend to be from the tech sector, but Sutton said she’s seeing many roles within health care and education that are morphing into remote jobs. 

In a survey of the 54,000 companies listed on FlexJobs site, two e-learning companies, China-based VIPKid and Toronto-based EF Education First, were among the top 10 companies globally that went on a hiring spree for remote workers in 2019. 


Shared office space, such as this at WeWork in Toronto, could help maintain remote worker morale by allowing distanced work spaces among other people.

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

The data also show that Amazon.com Inc., American Express Co. and Anthem Inc., an insurance company, were the top three Fortune 500 companies hiring remote workers last year. 

Sutton said companies tend to become more flexible when hiring during a downturn, but revert to more full-time, on-site employees when things are good.

“A full-time employee comes with more costs, so what we’re seeing now is an increase in freelance, remote and part-time hiring,” she said. 

But as companies begin crafting a new way of working, they’ll also look at the elaborate perks they often use to attract employees.

For example, Google employees have access to free custom-made meals, nap rooms, a pantry filled with healthy snacks, kombucha and cold brew, game stations and bathroom shower stalls, not to mention rooms designed for “healthy working” (read: yoga balls). Similar perks exist at many other Big Tech firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Shopify. 

McClellan believes that such perks might attract individuals to a certain company, but her data show that office perks are ranked as “one of the lower incentive items” when compared to better working hours and a meaningful work environment.

“What we are hearing from employers, based on feedback from their employees, is that (employees) want a connection to purpose and meaningful work and that’s what drives retention,” she said. “If you can provide a job with meaning, is that maybe better than all of the bells and whistles?” 

But some perks can also help develop a particular corporate culture, which is more difficult to do if people are in far-flung locales and don’t often meet in person. Sutton’s company, FlexJobs, has adjusted to the work-from-home situation by offering employees online perks.

“We organize online trivia game nights. For Halloween, we are going to send out different packages of treats to our employees’ homes,” she said. “You can do a big variety of things to cultivate a strong remote work culture, and, to be honest, most organizations don’t offer the perks that Google and other big tech companies do.”


Companies are creating positions to assist remote workers with tech and workflow issues, as well as to maintain a corporate cohesiveness.

GitLab, a Silicon Valley-based startup with more than 1,200 employees distributed across 65 countries, created a “Head of Remote” position months prior to the pandemic.

The company said its first Head of Remote, Darren Murph, is in charge of guiding and managing GitLab’s clients and partners through any kind of remote workflow issues, as well as building an “all-remote culture.”

Almost four in 10 Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, have the technical ability to work remotely if their workforces implemented it permanently, which could end up being both good and bad for employees, said Eddy Ng, a professor of management and organizational behavior at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. 

“Many employers have not yet touched the compensation structure, because they are not sure how long this pandemic is going to last,” he said. “But one of the key things to know is that jobs that are advertised as ‘telecommute’ do pay less.”

One of the key things to know is that jobs that are advertised as ‘telecommute’ do pay less

Eddy Ng, Bucknell University

Facebook noted that its salary structure could change based on geography when it announced earlier this month that it was moving towards a model where up to 50 per cent of employees could work from home permanently if they chose to. 

“If you’re out in the Prairies, and you’re no longer paying for commuting and living in downtown Toronto, of course, your employer is going to start arguing that your own costs have gone down, and, therefore, your compensation could come down,” Ng said. 

Geoffrey Leonardelli, a professor of organizational behavior at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, said there’s some evidence suggesting that people higher up in an organization have an easier time transitioning to remote work, because they are more likely to have a home office.

“They may not be aware of the challenges that come with getting work done in a small space,” he said. “How do you address that problem?”

Leonardelli’s research, however, indicates that employees mostly benefit from a remote work scenario, although his research didn’t factor in working remotely during a pandemic.

“Employers may also benefit, but perhaps employees more so,” he said.

There is also the question of how much employers save when employees work from home, given that workers pay their own electricity and internet bills.

“The argument is, should employers be paying for Wi-Fi? If they reduce salaries, what are the costs that employees have to still bear given that they need access to good technology, encryption and strong internet?” Leonardelli said. 

Last week, the German-language paper Tages-Anzeiger reported that Switzerland’s top court ruled that employers were required to pay employees’ rent if they are expected to work from home. The court decision, which has yet to be made public, resulted from a dispute between an accounting firm and an employee who was working from home. The employee said he had to rent a bigger apartment in order to comfortably work remotely.


When it comes to paying income taxes for 2020, it will be necessary to know whether it’s possible to deduct the costs of working from home.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many big Canadian companies, including the big banks, insurance firms and accountants, already provide a small stipend for employees to set up work-from-home offices. Canadians working from home can also claim a portion of some of their home expenses when filing their taxes. 

Ng said companies, for the most part, are not going to want to run two sets of costs when it comes to making a cost-benefit analysis of remote working.

“You’re not going to see many companies wanting to maintain their downtown Toronto offices spaces at high rents, and yet providing technology, upgrades and stipends to their workers at home,” he said. 

The billion-dollar question, of course, is: Will remote work stay at current levels in a post-pandemic world?

Ng is not particularly convinced that the majority of companies will go down the remote work path forever.

“I don’t see a mass migration to telework after we find a vaccine unless employers can reach a critical mass with the number of workers who want to work remotely, in order to realize savings,”  she said.

Sutton, however, who has been involved in the remote work sector for 13 years, is confident the trend will continue, because remote working offers an “emergency preparedness insurance” for employers. 

“It helps employers to have an option for their employees to work from remote locations in case of snowstorms, shootings, massive events that we might not be able to predict,” she said. “I don’t think we are ever going to go back to the naive time where organizations were putting their head in the sand about remote work.”

[email protected]





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Brazil virus death toll hits 28,834, surpassing hard-hit France


Brasília (AFP) – Brazil on Saturday reached 28,834 coronavirus fatalities, authorities said, surpassing hard-hit France and becoming the country with the world’s fourth-highest death toll.

At the epicenter of South America’s coronavirus outbreak, Brazil also saw an increase of 33,274 cases in the past 24 hours — a new daily record, the Health Ministry said.

That number brings Brazil’s total caseload to 498,444, the second-highest in the world, lagging only behind the United States.

Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro remain the hardest-hit states in Brazil in terms of sheer numbers, while per capita rates are higher in the country’s impoverished north and northeast, where health facilities are reaching capacity.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health has indicated “there is no way to foresee” when the country’s outbreak will peak, and experts say the number of cases could be 15 times higher than the confirmed figure because there has been no widespread testing.

The pandemic is spreading across Brazil under a cloud of confrontation, as governors and mayors implement restrictive measures while President Jair Bolsonaro, who has pinned his hopes of re-election on a booming economy, has berated them for imposing what he calls “the tyranny of total quarantine.”

The US death toll now stands at 103,685. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, has a toll of 38,376 and Italy stands at 33,340, according to a latest count by AFP.



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Trump praises Secret Service and threatens protesters with ‘vicious dogs’ | US news


Donald Trump has praised the US Secret Service for confronting protesters who massed outside the White House on Friday night, tweeting that had any of the crowd breached the fence, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”.

It was the president’s latest potentially inflammatory response to protests which have erupted across the US over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis.

A white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was charged with murder but violent protests have prompted national guard deployments, raising tensions everywhere.

On Friday, Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a phrase with racist origins which was censored by Twitter.

Trump then claimed he hadn’t known the inflammatory nature of the phrase, let alone had intended to call for violence against his own citizens. He also expressed his “deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd”.

Those words were more in keeping with those of Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive opponent in the presidential election in November. The former vice-president spoke to Floyd’s family and issued a video address in which he said: “This is no time for incendiary tweets. This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now.”

On Friday night, as protests reached the White House gates, Trump turned back to incendiary tweeting, electioneering on the back of protests, riots and looting in cities across the US.

Outside the White House, people hurled bricks, bottles and other objects at Secret Service and US park police officers in riot gear behind barricades.

The crowd of hundreds chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name: George Floyd”. The protest went on for several hours before police declared it “unlawful” and ordered everyone to leave. Dozens of officers pushed forward with their shields and fired off streams of pepper spray at protesters.

In a statement on Saturday, the Secret Service said it made six arrests and “multiple” officers and agents were injured.

Trump said he watched the events from the White House and that the Secret Service did a “great job”.

The president added: “They let the ‘protesters’ scream and rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them.”

Without evidence, the president claimed the protesters were “professionally” organized but had failed to breach the White House perimeter.

“If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least,” Trump tweeted.

Trump rounded off the flurry of tweets by attacking Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, for not sending DC police to help.

This followed a theme, in which the president has responded to the turmoil by blaming riots on Democratic mayors and state governors and lamenting the damage caused to businesses during the unrest.

In subsequent tweets, the president again claimed without evidence the protest was “professionally managed” and involved “organised groups”. The protesters, he said, “had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble … Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”

It was not immediately clear if the president was calling for a counter-protest by his supporters, an event which would be likely to enflame tensions already running high.

Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, were due on Saturday to fly to Florida for the rescheduled launch of a manned SpaceX mission, their public schedule bringing them back to the White House at 8.15pm.





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Man and woman arrested and €30k worth of drugs seized in Co Dublin


A man and woman have been arrested and €30,000 worth of drugs have been seized following a search of a house by gardaí in Loughlinstown, Co Dublin on Friday.

Cannabis worth €20,000 and cocaine worth €10,000 were discovered in a vehicle at the property in the Loughlinstown Drive area of Loughlinstown. Knives, batons and pepper spray were also seized.

The man and woman, both in their 30s, were arrested at the scene.

They are being detained under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act 1996 at Dún Laoghaire Garda Station.

Investigations are ongoing.



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California, L.A., sports betting, cycling, Uber, Forbes: Fri news


CLOSE

Los Angeles County gets the go-ahead to reopen restaurants, barbershops and hair salons, even as it remains the center of the state’s coronavirus deaths and cases. And to help ease the state’s budget woes, two lawmakers offer a help in two words: sports betting. Plus, bike riding is having a moment.

Arlene Martinez here. Let’s end this week off right. 

But first, we got robbed when California made surfing our state sport, a point I make as often as I can (just ask my coworkers). So I hope you enjoy this rad video about what it’s been like to skate (our true sport) the empty streets of beautiful NYC. 

They’re living out a fantasy I just realized I had. 

In Calfornia brings you top news from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Sign up for free delivery right to your inbox. 

Well, L.A. County, let’s see how this goes

Los Angeles County gets the go-ahead to reopen restaurants, hair salons and barbershops. (Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK)

As this newsletter goes out, restaurants in Los Angeles County have started seating diners for the first time since mid-March. They, along with barbershops and hair salons were given a variance by the governor’s office to open on Friday.

The move comes even as Los Angeles remains the epicenter of the pandemic in the state. More than half of the state’s deaths have occurred here (2,241 of 4,068), along with nearly half the total number of cases (49,861 of 103,886). But L.A. county only makes up about a quarter of the state’s population.

See stats from your county here. 

Experts have expressed concern places are reopening too soon, particularly since people can spread the disease without knowing they have it or showing any symptoms.

Across the state and beyond, faith leaders weigh the risk to hold in-person services heading into the first weekend they’re allowed to.

ALSO: Will the extra $600 per week in unemployment be extended? Expect the debate to intensify. 

Changes to airports, STVRs, hotels and hospitals

The Palm Springs International Airport, December 20, 2019.  (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Palm Springs and Santa Barbara are among the airports that could see their services cut as airlines scramble to make up lost revenue.

Riverside County will once again allow short-term rentals, officials announce.

Hotels are promising new levels of sanitation, but how do you know your room is really clean?

Anxiety over what a trip to the hospital has led to people delaying emergency treatment for problems not related to coronavirus, and for some, it may have proved fatal.

Sports betting — a longshot or odds-on favorite? 

 (Photo: Getty Images)

Two state lawmakers say adding legal sports betting could eventually bring in up to $700 million per year, money that could be used to infuse a struggling economy. 

State Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa and Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced want to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow horse racetracks and the Las Vegas-style casinos run by American Indian tribes to also offer sports wagering, both at their locations and through mobile devices. 

Two-thirds of the legislature would need to agree to put the measure on the ballot, which a majority of voters would need to approve.

The proposal immediately drew criticism from powerful gambling interests.

Nearly two dozen states allow sports betting. See a state-by-state list here.

Worm gold, the catch of the day, Samberg’s latest and Kylie Jenner is poor (not really)

Red wrigglers work well in vermicomposting. (Photo: Courtesy photo / Andrea Ikeda)

Turn kitchen waste to garden gold and create lasting memories: How to vermicompost in your home.

The big one that didn’t get away: An angler caught one of the largest rainbow trout in the state in recent years just below the Oroville Dam. 

Andy Samberg’s newest film, “Palm Springs,”is set to premiere July 10 on Hulu and at drive-in theaters. Samberg has an encounter with the maid of honor (Cristin Milioti); in the morning, the two find they can’t leave the venue or each other.

Forbes takes away Kylie Jenner’s billionaire status, saying the family provided misleading information about her true net worth.

No, a Bay Area hospital has not seen ‘a year’s worth’ of suicides from coronavirus

About 10.6 million people seriously thought about suicide. (Photo: Teresa Lo/USA TODAY)

The Bay Area doctor said he’d seen a year’s worth of suicides since shelter-in-place orders went into effect. But that was “more of a figure of speech,” a representative for his workplace said.

In reality, John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek Medical Center has not seen many more attempted or completed suicides since the stay-at-home order took effect in March, the Redding Record Searchlight has learned.

While many experts agree the pandemic could leave long-lingering economic, mental, emotional and other impacts, it’s just too soon whether that’s translated into more people ending their lives. 

Considering suicide? There are resources for you here and people to talk to: 800-273-TALK (8255). Please reach out. 

What else we’re talking about

Protesters enraged by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeblocked lanes on Highway 101 in San Jose on Friday afternoon. 

Medicare scams are already common. Now add the coronavirus to the mix.

Twitter’s CEO explains why the company fact-checked President Trump’s erroneous claims about California’s vote-by-mail processes. 

When it comes to maps, how can you tell what’s real and what’s a distortion?

San Francisco-based Uber angered a lot of people when news got out it destroyed hundreds of e-bikes rather than donating them.

And speaking of bikes, their popularity has soared in recent weeks, reminding shop owners of the “original bike boom” of the ’70s and ’80s.

See you next week.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, ESPN, TechCrunch, New York Times, California Health Report, CityLab, San Francisco Chronicle, Grist. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/29/california-l-a-sports-betting-cycling-uber-forbes-fri-news/5283344002/





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Ontario will target hot spots and vulnerable workers in next round of COVID-19 testing


A new testing strategy for COVID-19 will see “targeted campaigns” to check workers in Ontario communities with hot spots and key sectors where the virus spreads easily, including auto manufacturing, food suppliers and major retailers.

Officials unveiled the new blueprint Friday, with elements echoing what Premier Doug Ford has been saying for more than a week — and what epidemiologists have been pushing for much longer — to get a better picture of the illness as the economy reopens.

“It’s really to be proactive and understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, who was instrumental in cobbling together a network of provincial, hospital and private labs to expand testing capacity.

For example, workers at LCBO stores were offered testing in the last few days along with Toronto police, said Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, who was brought in to lead the testing strategy. Several liquor store workers have tested positive in the last few months.

If there are concerns about the virus in a particular business, mobile teams will be sent in to test, he added.

There are also plans to support “enhanced testing” for hospital workers and their families, residents and staff in retirement homes, and more testing in nursing homes, where a first testing blitz of all residents and staff was completed two weeks ago after the new coronavirus raced through hundreds of facilities. About 30 per cent of retirement home testing has been completed.

That testing will continue next week in addition to testing open to the public at Ontario’s 131 assessment centres, which changed their criteria two weeks ago to allow anyone with one symptom of COVID-19 to be swabbed, along with people with no symptoms but occupational risk of exposure, such as health-care workers, their families and grocery-store workers.

Previously, people with mild or moderate symptoms were turned away from testing centres and told to self-isolate at home. Confusion over eligibility prompted Ford to issue a plea for people to get checked under the new criteria.

The goal going forward is to “identify, contain and monitor” new cases and spread of COVID-19, officials said, releasing figures showing 55 per cent of test results are available the next day and 82 per cent within two days.

Aside from communities with a higher number of cases, officials will also focus on “high-risk” individuals, such as hospital patients and cross-border workers.

Officials are aiming to increase Ontario’s lab capacity to get ready for the fall, when more respiratory symptoms will pop up and create “a need for greater testing,” Allen said.

Ontario’s testing for COVID-19 has ramped up this week and is close to peaks rarely reached as the number of cases since the illness arrived four months ago approached 29,000 with almost 2,300 deaths.

Ministry of Health figures released Friday show 18,525 nasal swabs were processed at a network of provincial, hospital and commercial labs across the province the previous day.

The provincial daily lab capacity is just over 20,000.

Results were in progress on another 13,351 samples and there have now been 680,687 tests processed in the province of 14.5 million, or 4.7 per cent of the population.

There were another 391 confirmed and probable cases as of 11 a.m. Friday, according to a Star compilation of data from health units in the previous 24 hours.

That raised the total number of cases to 28,544 and 2,272 deaths.

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About 66 per cent of cases have been in the Greater Toronto Area.

To date, at least 1,625 nursing-home residents have died, and there are outbreaks in 123 homes, down six from the previous day. But 1,476 nursing-home residents and 1,113 staff members are still fighting active cases of the highly contagious virus that spreads easily in close quarters.

The Ministry of Health said there were 826 Ontarians in hospital for COVID-19, with 129 in intensive care and 100 on ventilators. While the first two numbers were down from the previous day, there were six more patients who had to be put on ventilators to breathe.

Just under 21,000 Ontarians have recovered from the virus.

Rob Ferguson





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Practice Social Distancing, Wear Masks



Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) requested on Thursday that “protesters” in the City of Lakes practice social distancing and wear masks to reduce coronavirus transmission. The municipal government claimed to provide hundreds of masks to the public for this purpose.

Frey’s comments came during ongoing protests and riots in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, a man who died after a municipal police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck while handcuffed.

The city government issued a statement on Thursday via its website with the mayor’s request.

“The City encourages everyone to exercise caution to stay safe while participating in demonstrations, including wearing masks and physical distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the statement reads. “The City has made hundreds of masks available to protesters this week.”

Frey linked the unrest to slavery during remarks he made on Thursday:

What we’ve seen over the last two days and the emotion-ridden conflict over last night is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness, anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years. If you’re feeling that sadness and that anger, it’s not only understandable, it’s right.

It’s a reflection of the truth that our black community has lived. While not from lived experience, that sadness must also be understood by our non-black communities. To ignore it, to toss it out, would be to ignore the values we all claim to have. That are all the more important during a time of crisis.

“This could be the marker,” added Frey. “This could be a point in time, when several years from now we can look back to know that we rose to right the wrongs of the past. Not just with words, but with action.”

Frey, who wore a mask for his Twitter profile photo, framed Lloyd’s death in racial terms.

Breitbart News Daily broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.





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Question Time: Fiona Bruce in fiery row with health minister over track and trace ‘loopholes’


Health and Social Care Minister Helen Whately was drawn into a fiery row with Question Time host Fiona Bruce over the ‘loopholes’ in the Government’s new track and trace system.

The low-tech test, track and trace system launched on Thursday and could see healthy Brits forced to self-isolate for two weeks at home if they have been in contact with a confirmed case.

Call handlers will interview those in England who have tested positive and ask for details of anyone they have recently been near.

However, the app is not yet ready and a number of issues surround the scheme including what people will do about work and child care.

This sparked a heated exchange during which Ms Whately began tripping over her words as Ms Bruce said: “Follow the guidance, unless you can’t?” in relation to looking after a child if you have to suddenly self-isolate.

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Fiona Bruce brought up a number of inconsistencies in the new guidance

The panelists and the 12 virtual audience members from Glasgow – taking part via video link – had been debating the lack of clarity in the latest proposals and whether Brits will continue to be so compliant in light of the Dominic Cummings scandal.

The test and track system is reliant on people being honest about who they have been in contact with, for example – which some on the show felt the Government can no longer necessarily expect.

While audience member Ginette, a cleaning firm owner, said the new system “could close me down every single week” because her self-employed staff may have to isolate repeatedly or look after children during working hours.

Cleaning firm owner Ginette said track and trace will ruin her business

“Who’s going to pick up the pieces?” she added, with it also being pointed out the Government’s furlough support for the self employed runs out in a matter of days.

Ms Whatley said: “What we’ve seen so far is people consciously following the guidance and in fact the guidance has included recognising some situations will be more difficult, for instance, if you are looking after someone who is particularly vulnerable or a childcare situation.”

Ms Bruce said: “Just to be clear, if you have a childcare situation then, Helen, since you mentioned it – if you have a problem with childcare and you have to be identified as one of the people who has to stay at home for two weeks, you may not necessarily have to stay home?”

Health and Social Care Minister Helen Whately was drawn into a row

The minister responded: “You clearly have to ensure your child is safe as any parent should do so…”

But Ms Bruce cut in: “So if you have to leave home to do that, even if you have been told to self isolate, you can do that?”

Ms Whatley said: “If you are contacted because you are a contact of somebody who’s got symptoms and told to isolate at home, you should be able to do so with your child. Everyone will have their scenarios.”

Ms Bruce said: “But just to be clear, because it’s important, because we’re all going to have to adjust to this now, this new system – if you are told to self-isolate at home for two weeks either because you have symptoms or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has symptoms but you have problems with that – you find that difficult because of child care issues – you can behave otherwise?”

Ms Bruce said the minister must be clear because “it’s important”

Ms Whately responded: “You should follow the guidance – I don’t think anyone is suggesting you should have a child in an unsafe situation…”

“So follow the guidance, unless you can’t?” Ms Bruce cut in.

The minister, who had began tripping over her words, said: “No, that’s not what I’m saying, actually, at all.

“You should absolutely follow the guidance and that’s been the case all the way through.”

“But you’re saying unless…” the host began to say.

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Coronavirus outbreak

But Ms Whately composed herself to add: “The guidance has always said that safety would be a factor, and you should clearly be a responsible parent.

“But I think what’s really important is that people follow the guidance.

“And through doing that, that’s how we manage to keep the infection rate under control and so life can get back to normal or closer to normal – which would be so much better for everybody.”

As part of the new scheme, call handlers will interview those in England who have tested positive and ask for details of anyone they have recently been near.

Recent contacts who do not have symptoms will be called and asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Close contact is defined as being closer than 2metres to someone with symptoms for more than 15 minutes.

Data will be analysed to decide whether workplaces, schools, housing estates or blocks of flats need to be locked down to quell local outbreaks.

As the NHS test and trace app is not ready yet, all tracing will be performed manually.

During Thursday’s Question Time, Ms Bruce also brought up the apparent absurdity in the guidelines surrounding No10 allowing Brits to have BBQs with members of a different household.

Those in attendance must remain two metres apart and outside – leading the host to poke fun at the idea only people with huge gardens could comply – while those in England can have six attendees but Scots can have eight.





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Coronavirus: City of Peterborough to reopen public washrooms at parks on June 1 – Peterborough



The City of Peterborough has announced it will reopen public washrooms at its city parks beginning June 1.

The city announced Thursday that bathrooms at parks, including at Beavermead Park and Millennium Park, will open with enhanced cleaning procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.


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‘Simply unacceptable’ — Peterborough Public Health calls out human waste in public

The washrooms will be open from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Exact opening and closing times may vary depending on the availability of staff, the city stated.

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The washrooms will be cleaned twice daily with attention to commonly touched surfaces, including doorknobs, handles, faucets and light switches.

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People are reminded to wash their hands before and after use and to be aware of high-touch surfaces. They should practise physical distancing of at least two metres apart from others when they go out and stay home if they’re sick.






Lack of public washrooms in Peterborough are hampering efforts to flatten the curve


Lack of public washrooms in Peterborough are hampering efforts to flatten the curve



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