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‘Burn you alive’: Man’s chilling threat as woman begged not to be shot in terrifying home invasion, sex assault

Camera IconA man made a chilling threat to burn a woman alive with petrol before raping her in a horror home invasion, a court has been told. Credit: Supplied ‘Burn you alive’: Man’s chilling threat as woman begged not to be shot in terrifying home invasion, sex assault Blake AntrobusNCA NewsWireMarch 21, 2024 1:00PM Topics Originally published as ‘Burn you alive’: Man’s chilling threat as woman begged not to be shot in terrifying home invasion, sex assault Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail UsCopy the Link

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Mona: Australian art museum sued over women’s-only exhibit

Inside Tasmania’s famous Museum of Old and New Art lies a large, emerald-draped cube. The walls are thick silk curtains. Within them, a cascading chandelier hangs over a phallus-shaped velvet couch and a chequered marble floor. Opulent gold accents everything – from the framed art on the walls to the furniture. Women are ushered in and offered champagne by male butlers “who live to serve” them. But men are otherwise noticeably absent, turned away at the entrance. This “Ladies Lounge” takes the concept of an old Australian pub and turns it on its head. It was only in 1965 that women won the right to drink in the nation’s bars. Previously, they were relegated to dingy side rooms, if admitted at all, and often charged exorbitant prices for their tipple. And so, the exhibit – which contains some of the museum’s most-acclaimed works, from Picasso to Sidney Nolan – was designed as a piece of interactive art, intended to provide a safe place for women to enjoy each other’s company, while also highlighting the exclusion they faced for decades. Artist Kirsha Kaechele calls it an “essential space for perspective and reset from this strange and disjointed world of male domination”. And it’s one which could now be taken away by a man. New South Wales resident Jason Lau has complained that the museum, known as Mona, is engaging in illegal discrimination. This week, the accusation culminated in a high-stakes court hearing – rife with drama and theatrics. Tuesday started with a large group of women dressed in navy power suits, clad in pearls and wearing red lipstick marching into the hearing to support Ms Kaechele. Mr Lau, by contrast, dialled in without a fuss via a video link. He had visited Mona – long known for its provocative art – while on a trip to Tasmania in April last year, he said, and bought the $35 (£18; $23) ticket expecting access to the whole museum. “I was quite surprised when I was told that I would not be able to see one exhibition, the Ladies Lounge,” he said. Representing himself, Mr Lau argued it breaches the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act. “Anyone who buys a ticket would expect a fair provision of goods and services in line with the law.” The museum agrees the exhibit does indeed discriminate. But it argued that Mr Lau hasn’t missed out on anything – he experienced the artwork exactly as intended. “Part of the experience is being denied something that is desired,” said Mona’s counsel, Catherine Scott, according to local paper The Mercury. Women have often been side-lined from places of power or prestige, and the exhibit was inspired to correct an imbalance which existed at Mona, says Ms Kaechele, whose husband owns the museum. “It excludes men, and I would be lying if I were to say I didn’t find it titillating,” she told the hearing, according to The Mercury. As the parties sparred, the museum’s supporters were somewhat stealing the spotlight. They had periods of complete stillness and silence, before moving in some kind of subtle, synchronised dance – crossing their legs and resting their heads on their fists, clutching their hearts, or peering down their spectacles. One even sat there pointedly flipping through feminist texts and making notes. Apparently unperturbed, the parties continued arguing. Ultimately, Ms Scott said Mona has a legal defence. The law – as written – allows for discrimination if “designed to promote equal opportunity for a group of people who are disadvantaged or have a special need because of a prescribed attribute”. According to Nine, when asked by tribunal deputy president Richard Grueber to explain how the artwork does that, Ms Kaechele said: “I have taken something that was used to keep women down and I have repurposed it into a triumphant space for [them].” But Mr Lau argued that section of the law was designed to permit “positive discrimination” and not “negative discrimination”. He wants the lounge to either be closed or for it to admit men. Alternatively, he says men should have to pay less for a ticket than women – something the museum says it will not consider. After Mr Grueber reserved his decision for a later date, which is yet to be determined, the museum’s posse left as conspicuously as it came in – dancing out of the building in a conga line as one woman played ‘Simply Irresistible’ by Robert Palmer off her iPhone. Art imitates life Speaking to the BBC the day after the hearing, Ms Kaechele says the case has felt like the art coming to life. The exhibit was supposed to spark debate, yes, but has the spirit of a harmless practical joke, she argues. “It brings up very serious and interesting conversations, but there’s also something light hearted about it. Women delight in it and most men, I think, enjoy it. They find it funny.” Ms Kaechele says she is amused – but not surprised – by the men who are genuinely upset, though she hastens to add that Mr Lau has been pleasant and impressive. “I think people might want to villainise him, but he’s actually really lovely.” What does his case say about the themes the Ladies Lounge invokes, like male entitlement and the patriarchy, though? “Well, I think it speaks for itself,” she says. Ms Kaechele has indicated she’ll fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court if needed, but she says – ironically – that perhaps nothing could drive the point of the artwork home more than having to shut it down. “If you were just looking at it from an aesthetic standpoint, being forced to close would be pretty powerful.”

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Town vending committee members not ‘frontline Covid-19 warriors’: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court recently held that members of a town vending committee cannot be declared as frontline Covid-19 warriors in the absence of any material to show that they had been deployed for Covid-19 duties. The high court was hearing a man’s plea seeking a direction to the Delhi government to provide compensation of Rs 25 lakh to his family for the death of his father, a member of a town vending committee in the city, who succumbed to Covid-19 in May 2021. He had also sought a direction to the government to declare members of the town vending committee as frontline COVID-19 warriors in Delhi. A single-judge bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad in its March 12 order said, “The petitioner’s father was part of the town vending committee. There is nothing on record to show that the father of the petitioner had been deployed for COVID-19 duties by the Government of NCT of Delhi. In the absence of any material to show that the father of the petitioner had been deployed for COVID-19 duties by the Government of NCT of Delhi, the petitioner is not entitled to benefit of decision taken by the Respondent/GNCTD vide Cabinet Decision dated 13.05.2020.” The high court further observed that matters related to the grant of benefits under a scheme are purely a policy decision and writ courts under Article 226 of the Constitution of India do not interfere with the policy. “In the absence of any material to show that the petitioner’s father had been deployed for COVID-19 duties by the Government of NCT of Delhi, this court is not inclined to direct that the members of the town vending committee should be declared as frontline COVID-19 warriors or that they are entitled to the compensation of Rs 25 lakhs. The writ petition is completely devoid of merits,” Justice Prasad said while dismissing the plea. The petitioner had said that his father had been participating in meetings of the town vending committee of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Civil Lines Area wherein he died after contracting Covid-19. Meanwhile, the government argued that the grant of compensation is a matter of policy and that the petitioner’s mother has already been considered under the ‘Mukhyamantri Covid-19 Parivar Aarthik Sahayta Yojana Scheme’ and a one-time payment of Rs 50,000 has been paid to her, and therefore, no other claim of compensation is made out. The high court noted that the government had through its cabinet decision of May 13, 2020, said that if any person, including a doctor, nurse, paramedical staff security/sanitation staff or any other government officer/official, including police officer/official, whether temporary or permanent employee or contractual, in government or private sector, deployed for Covid-19 duties by the Delhi government, expires by contracting the disease during discharge of his/her duty, his/her family shall be paid an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 crore, posthumously.

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BPSC TRE 3.0 exam cancelled due to paper leak

BPSC TRE: The Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) has cancelled the teacher recruitment exam (TRE 3.0) exam due to alleged paper leak. This announcement was made through an official notice at the BPSC website – bpsc.bih.nic.in. However, the revised exam dates have not bee announced yet. As per the official notice, BPSC TRE 3.0 has been ” canceled due to it being leaked before the examination. The date of re-conduct of TRE- 3.0 examinations will be announced later”. The exam for both shifts has been cancelled. BPSC TRE 3.0 was conducted on March 15 in two shifts. Originally, the exam was scheduled to be on two days – March 15 and 16. March 15 exam was to be conducted in two shifts – first shift from 9:30 am to 12 noon and the second shift between 2:30 pm and 5 pm. On March 16, the exam was to be held in a single shift – from 12 noon to 2:30 pm. However, the March 16 exam was cancelled due to “unavoidable” circumstances. The teacher recruitment drive was being conducted to fill up around 87,709 vacancies through this government exam. As many as 5,81,305 candidates have applied for the recruitment exam.

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Patanjali tenders unconditional apology for ad after Supreme Court issues notice

Patanjali Ayurved has tendered an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court in response to a notice asking it to show cause why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated for allegedly flouting an undertaking given to the top court on November 21, 2023. Hearing a plea by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) accusing the company of allegedly violating provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, and making statements critical of allopathy, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah had on March 19 sought the personal presence of company Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna and Baba Ramdev before it. The court was upset about an advertisement issued by the company on December 4, 2023, after it had assured the court on November 21, 2023, that it would not make any “casual statements claiming medicinal efficacy or against any system of medicine”. In the affidavit filed in response to the notice, Acharya Balkrishna said he “regrets that the advertisement in question which was meant to contain only general statements inadvertently included the offending sentences”. “The same was bona-fide and added in routine course by the media department of the…Company”, he said adding “the personnel of the media department of the…Company were not cognizant of the order dated 21.11.2023.” “The Deponent on behalf of Respondent No. 5 (Patanjali Ayurved) submits an unqualified apology before this Hon’ble Court for the breach of the statement recorded in Para 3 of the order dated 21.11.2023,” the affidavit said. Balkrishna also sought to assure the court that he “will ensure that such advertisements are not issued in the future”. The affidavit added, “By way of clarification, not as a defense, the Deponent begs to submit that its intention is only to exhort the citizens of this country to lead a healthier life by consuming products of the Respondent No. 5 including products for lifestyle ailments through the use age old literature and materials supplementing and backed by ayurvedic research.” Notably, the affidavit also said that “the Schedule J of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 read with Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1955 is in an archaic state and the last changes were introduced in 1996…” by the Centre. It said that the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940, “was passed when scientific evidence in Ayurveda research were lacking. Respondent No. 5 Company now possess evidence-based scientific data with clinical research conducted in Ayurveda, which would demonstrate the advances made through scientific research in the context of diseases mentioned in the said schedule”. Acharya Balkrishna said his “only quest is for a better and healthier life for each and every citizen and to reduce the burden on the countries healthcare infrastructure by providing holistic, evidence based solutions for lifestyle related medical complications through the usage of age old traditional approach of Ayurveda and Yoga”. “In fact, the idea was to promote the ayurvedic products which are based on age old literature/material backed by scientific research,” the affidavit added.

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George and Harden lead Clippers past Trail Blazers 116-103

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Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. More than half the world’s population sees AP journalism every day. twitter instagram facebook The Associated Press ap.org Careers Advertise with us Contact Us Accessibility Statement Cookie Settings Terms of Use Privacy Policy More From AP News About AP News Values and Principles AP’s Role in Elections AP Leads AP Definitive Source Blog AP Images Spotlight Blog AP Stylebook Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. Israel-Hamas war ‘Goon Squad’ sentencing Reddit IPO Idaho: Escaped inmate search March Madness Sports George and Harden lead Clippers past Trail Blazers 116-103 1 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, dribbles the ball around Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 2 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden shoots next to Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 3 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots from between Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons, left, and forward Toumani Camara during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 4 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey goes to the basket in front of Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 5 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 6 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, drives toward Portland Trail Blazers forward Toumani Camara during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 7 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey, bottom, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons dive for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 8 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers center Duop Reath, left, and forward Kris Murray during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 9 of 11 | Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups talks to forward Jabari Walker during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 10 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey, right, shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 11 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More George and Harden lead Clippers past Trail Blazers 116-103 1 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, dribbles the ball around Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 1 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, dribbles the ball around Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 2 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden shoots next to Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 2 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden shoots next to Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 3 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots from between Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons, left, and forward Toumani Camara during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 3 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots from between Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons, left, and forward Toumani Camara during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 4 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey goes to the basket in front of Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 4 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey goes to the basket in front of Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 5 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 5 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 6 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, drives toward Portland Trail Blazers forward Toumani Camara during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 6 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, left, drives toward Portland Trail Blazers forward Toumani Camara during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 7 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey, bottom, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons dive for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 7 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey, bottom, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons dive for the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 8 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers center Duop Reath, left, and forward Kris Murray during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 8 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers center Duop Reath, left, and forward Kris Murray during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 9 of 11 | Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups talks to forward Jabari Walker during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 9 of 11 Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups talks to forward Jabari Walker during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 10 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey, right, shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 10 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey, right, shoots in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More 11 of 11 | Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Read More 11 of 11 Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer) Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print Read More By ERIK GARCÍA GUNDERSEN Updated [hour]:[minute] [AMPM] [timezone], [monthFull] [day], [year] Share Share Copy Link copied Email Facebook X Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Flipboard Print PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Paul George scored 27 points, James Harden had 19 points and 14 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-103 on Wednesday night. The victory gave the Clippers a one-game lead over the New Orleans Pelicans for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. Scoot Henderson had 18 points and five assists for Portland and fellow rookie Kris Murray had a season-high 17 points. The teams meet again Friday night in Portland to complete a two-game set. The Clippers used a 34-point third quarter, which included 17 of Kawhi Leonard’s 24 points, to put the game out of reach. After leading 60-50 at halftime, the Clippers took things into overdrive. Portland cut the Clippers’ lead to eight multiple times early in the third quarter before Los Angeles pushed the lead to 72-58, forcing a Blazers timeout. Portland turned the ball over after the timeout on back-to-back possessions, including a 3-point play from Leonard, pushing the lead to 77-58. Amir Coffey’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to 84-60, forcing another Portland timeout. The Clippers, whose largest lead was 27, outscored the Trail Blazers 34-20 in the third quarter. Los Angeles jumped out to a 47-35 lead midway through the second quarter. Harden hit back-to-back 3-pointers to force a Blazers timeout with 6:04 left in the half. — AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. More than half the world’s population sees AP journalism every day. The Associated Press ap.org Careers Advertise with us Contact Us Accessibility Statement Cookie Settings Terms of Use Privacy Policy More From AP News About AP News Values and Principles AP’s Role in Elections AP Leads AP Definitive Source Blog AP Images Spotlight Blog AP Stylebook Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. twitter instagram facebook

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Hong Kong SMEs eager to adopt AI, robotics and other technologies despite costs and skills gap: HSBC survey

Hong Kong’s small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are tapping into new technologies like AI to help run their businesses, as the growing availability of such tools – some of which are cheap or even free – helps them save time and money, according to an HSBC survey. Nearly three-quarters of the city’s businesses feel ready to incorporate such new technologies within the next year, rising to 90 per cent by the next decade, according to the survey, released on Wednesday. Blockchain, machine learning and robotic hardware are the top three new technologies SMEs said they are considering investing in, each cited by around 60 per cent of respondents. “Small businesses want technology that will make them more efficient, that requires the lowest resources but delivers maximum impact,” said Ronson Chau, the head of growth at digital payments start-up Wonder, who cited productivity-focused tasks, like automating processes and drawing insights from data, as common objectives. SMEs in Hong Kong number 340,000, accounting for 98 per cent of the city’s businesses and employing 45 per cent of its private-sector workforce, according to the government, which defines an SME as a non-manufacturing firm with fewer than 50 employees or a manufacturing firm with fewer than 100 employees. HSBC’s survey of nearly 3,000 business leaders from around the world, including 534 from Hong Kong, found that 26 per cent believe leveraging technology can help cut costs. Around a quarter also cited improved cybersecurity protections, greater competitive advantage and enhancing customer experience as potential benefits. “Emerging technologies are levelling the playing field for SMEs by democratising access to tools and capabilities previously exclusive to larger businesses,” said Christina Ong, the head of business banking for HSBC Hong Kong. Despite eagerness among SMEs to harness technological advancements, many also flagged barriers to accessing them, with 31 per cent identifying the cost of investing in such systems and boosting employees’ skills as the biggest challenges they face. “The key to unlocking these benefits is recognising and understanding what technology can do, and how it can be integrated effectively into SMEs’ strategies and operations,” Ong said. The survey also found that SMEs’ understanding of new tech lags in some areas, with 88 per cent of businesses surveyed saying they believe generative AI will create opportunities, but only 35 per cent saying they are familiar with it. Depending on their needs, SMEs can find ways to access some new technologies on a budget, said Arthur Chan Chi-yuen, the founder of local tech company SagaDigits. “The cost of accessing some tools and models is getting lower,” he said, adding that SagaDigits has used open-source, or freely available, AI tools and models sourced from mainland China or East Asia for some of its work. The company uses location tracking and movement data to deliver services for clients in the private and public sectors. Asia’s SMEs, education and technology sectors in private credit’s cross hairs “If your needs are simple, things like building a PowerPoint or generating document templates, you can do this for free,” said Chan. “But building hardware that needs a lot of computing power can be very expensive.” Similarly, Wonder’s Chau said that his company uses off-the-shelf tools like WhatsApp chatbots, which can be acquired cheaply, to help manage replies to clients. “With so many of these available, all competing on price, the costs aren’t a major concern unless something needs to be customised or is very specific,” he said. In Wonder’s case, the company spent a seven-figure sum to develop a bespoke platform to automate its know-your-client process, one of the most time-consuming aspects of its work. “It’s a huge investment not just because of the cost, but also the time taken to develop it and be sure it works,” said Chau. But the platform has more than proved its worth, he said, by saving the business not only time but also labour costs in the long run. Alibaba-backed Moonshot AI expands Chinese-character prompt for Kimi chatbot Since 2016, Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Commission has run a voucher scheme to help businesses access technological products and solutions. In last month’s budget, the government announced HK$3 billion would be allocated to the Cyberport technology park for a three-year AI subsidy scheme, aimed at helping local businesses and universities tap into computing power at the park, which is developing an AI supercomputing centre. A large majority of respondents to HSBC’s survey are examining the readiness of their teams: 88 per cent said they are emphasising hiring candidates with data analytics skills, while 89 per cent said their finance teams will need to hire or train employees for a wider range of skill sets in the future. Both Chan and Chau said measures to help small firms be more competitive in attracting talent would also be useful. “The cost of hiring top talent in the AI field in Hong Kong is very, very expensive,” Chan said.

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Coach Kiss deflects as Reds’ penalty woes evaporate

Camera IconLes Kiss isn’t taking all the credit for the Reds becoming the most disciplined team in the league. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP Coach Kiss deflects as Reds’ penalty woes evaporate Murray WenzelAAPMarch 21, 2024 1:00PM Topics Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail UsCopy the Link

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Gender-diverse choice for police body searches

Camera IconThe LGBTQI community is set to get the right to choose the gender of a police officer for searches. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP Gender-diverse choice for police body searches Savannah MeachamAAPMarch 21, 2024 1:01PM Topics Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail UsCopy the Link

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NHS will need £8.5bn extra a year over next four years to tackle waiting lists

The NHS needs an immediate cash injection of around £8.5bn a year over the next four years to tackle waiting lists, according to new research. Leading experts said the cash was needed to make up a £32bn shortfall in funding in England and would help tackle problems such as high waiting lists, access to GPs, and worker shortages. Researchers also warned doctors’ pay has fallen 25 per cent since 2008 when corrected for inflation. The warning comes as junior doctors have voted for a further six months of strike action with 98 per cent voting yes in a ballot by the British Medical Association. In the second report of the BMJ Commission on the Future of the NHS, economist at the Nuffield Trust John Appleby said that while the government’s recent spring budget funding pledges are a start, they do not go far enough. The research said: “In the recent spring budget, the government has pledged a further £2.5bn for the NHS in England in 2024-25 to keep up day-to-day funding of the health service, with a further £3.4bn investment over three years to improve productivity through digital transformation. “These figures, although a start, certainly will not make up the significant shortfall that the NHS now faces. But a start could be made with a real increase of 4 per cent for 2024/25, equivalent to around £8.5bn at 2022-23 prices.” His team said annual spending on the NHS has previously increased on average by around 3.4 per cent in real terms, but budgets have not increased smoothly from year to year. “Annual increases averaged 6.2 per cent over the decade from 2000 to 2010 but just 1.2 per cent between 2010 and 2020,” they said. “This represents a significant financial gap in funding that has had a direct impact on the performance of the NHS and the quality of care it has been able to deliver. Taking inflation into account, things look worse, the research said. “Prospects for the financial year 2024-25 look bleak, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis of planned day-to-day spending in England suggesting a real cut in funding of 1.2 per cent – equivalent to £2bn – plus a 0.75 per cent real cut for the Scottish NHS and only a modest real rise in Wales of 0.7 per cent.” The team said worsening trends were “clearly evident” before the 2020 Covid pandemic, which also had its own impact. It comes as a separate report on doctors’ pay in England shows it has declined by 25 per cent since 2008. Analysis by the Office of Health Economics (OHE) for the BMJ found doctors’ salaries were falling behind those of other workers, including executives. It said: “This fall, combined with a 25 per cent increase in the cost of living in the UK over the same period, is disproportionately affecting the purchasing power of lower-grade doctors.” Researchers said the findings match what the British Medical Association (BMA) has been saying during doctor strikes over pay. It added: “UK average earnings have dropped by 10 per cent in real terms across all work sectors, and by 18 per cent for executive roles, but the percentage decrease for doctors is much higher: 23 per cent for foundation year 1 doctors (FY1s), 32 per cent for FY2s, 27 per cent for registrars, and 23 per cent for consultants.” Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, said of the findings: “Both the private and public sectors experienced a fall in pay in real terms after the financial crash in 2008. “But in the private sector, which makes up 80 per cent of the UK workforce, we saw pay levels rebound relatively quickly, while the public sector bore the brunt of austerity.” A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are providing the NHS with record funding of nearly £165bn a year by the end of this Parliament, an increase of 13 per cent in real terms compared to 2019. “We announced in the Budget that the NHS in England will receive a £2.5bn day-to-day funding boost this year and a further £3.4 billion investment in the latest technology from 2025, allowing doctors and nurses to focus on patients rather than admin, leading to £35bn in savings. “We have also set out the first ever Long Term Workforce Plan for the NHS, backed by more than £2.4bn, to ensure that the health service can train, recruit and retain the staff it will need in the years to come.”

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