The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Hundreds arrested, tonnes of drugs seized as police intercept crime gang messages

DutchNews, July 2, 2020

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Police have arrested over a hundred suspects in the Netherlands as a result of messages intercepted on encrypted service provider EncroChat, Dutch police and Europol said on Thursday. 

Some 20 million exchanges by criminals on the network were read by police before they could be encrypted in what police call ‘an earthquake for organised crime’. EncroChat has around 50,000 users worldwide, 12,000 of whom live in the Netherlands. 

The investigation has so far led to the arrest of more than 100 suspects in the Netherlands and the seizure of eight tonnes of cocaine and 1.2 tonnes of crystal meth.  In total, 19 synthetic drugs labs have been dismantled and police have confiscated dozens of (automatic) fire weapons, expensive watches and 25 cars, and almost €20m in cash. 

In addition, a large number of suspects have also been arrested in several countries which were not participating in the investigation, including in the UK, Sweden and Norway. Many of these investigations were connected with international drug trafficking and violent criminal activities, Europol said. 

According to the Daily Mail, in Britain, 746 people have been arrested. London’s Met force has detained 132 people – including in the most serious organised crime network in the capital – and seized more than £13.3m in cash as well as machine guns and narcotics. 

More arrests are very likely to follow in the coming period, Europol said. 

2017 

The investigation was set up in 2017 with French police when it came across an increasing number of EncroChat phones, and assisted by European crime fighting agencies Europol and Eurojust. France has not yet gone public with the results of the investigation on its territory. 

The operation came to an abrupt end two weeks ago when EncroChat became aware of the software used by police to infiltrate the site. It then told its users to get rid of the phones.‘It was like sitting in on a meeting of criminals’, Dutch police chief Jannine van den Berg said. 

It is the fourth time a network used by criminals is infiltrated by police. In 2016 the server of network provider Ennetcom yielded millions of messages whose content is used to get the group surrounding notorious criminal Ridouan Ta

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Dutch government invests €20m in Eindhoven photonic chip maker

DutchNews, June 30, 2020

Inside a Smart Photonics lab. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke / Hollandse Hoogte

The Dutch government has invested €20m into Eindhoven company Smart Photonics to make sure the technology stays in the Netherlands, junior economic affairs minister Mona Keijzer has confirmed to MPs. 

The company produces chips which work on the basis of light rather than electricity, which means they can process data more quickly and use less energy. The investment will allow the company to scale up production, the company said in a statement

Smart Photonics had been looking for investment since last year and that there was interest from Asia, the Financieele Dagblad reported earlier. 

Keijzer told MPs she had been made aware of the foreign interest at the end of last year and decided to invest directly in the company to make sure it, and its suppliers, remain in the Netherlands. 

The action also fits in with European Commission call on member states to act against ‘undesirable developments’ in certain markets. Phototonic chips are considered a strategic key industry by Brussels. 

In total, Smart Photonic has raised €35m to €40m, some of which has also come from KPN. 

‘There is a need for a new generation of photonic integrated circuits that can transport data faster, be cost-effective and more sustainable, in order to keep up with the immense amount of data generated at a very high speed by advancing technologies like IoT, AI, augmented reality and autonomous driving,’ said Samir Ahmad, head of investment at KPN Ventures.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Unilever to stop advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in US

Yahoo – AFP, June 26, 2020


Consumer products giant Unilever said it would pause ads on Facebook,
Instagram and Twitter through 2020 (AFP Photo/LEX VAN LIESHOUT)

The Hague (AFP) - Consumer giant Unilever, home to brands including Ben and Jerry's and Marmite, said Friday it will stop advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the US until the end of 2020 due to the "polarized election period" there.

The Anglo-Dutch firm joined a growing list of brands set to stop buying ads on Facebook over the social media titan's perceived failure to crack down on hate speech and incitements to violence.

"We have taken the decision to stop advertising on @Facebook , @Instagram & @Twitter in the US," Unilever said in a post on Twitter.

"The polarized atmosphere places an increased responsibility on brands to build a trusted & safe digital ecosystem. Our action starts now until the end of 2020."

A Unilever spokeswoman said that the company had committed to engage with internet companies "but there is much more to be done, especially in the areas of divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S."

"Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary," the spokeswoman told AFP.

US Telecoms giant Verizon announced on Thursday that it was "pausing" its advertising on Facebook, the latest company to do so after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called for the boycott as part of the "Stop the Hate for Profit" campaign.

The Unilever move however goes beyond Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram to take in Twitter.

Related Article:


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Wrongful arrest based on face recognition system, complaint says

Yahoo – AFP, Rob Lever, June 24, 2020

Amid rising concerns over facial recognition technology used by law enforcement,
a black man in Detroit alleges he was wrongfully arrested on the basis of a flawed
algorithm (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Washington (AFP) - A flawed facial recognition algorithm led to the wrongful arrest of an African-American man in Detroit, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in a case highlighting concerns over the technology which critics say reinforces racial bias.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Robert Williams, said Wednesday it was the first known case of an unlawful arrest based on face recognition technology, which according to critics is often inaccurate in distinguishing faces of black people.

"Though Robert Williams may be the first known case, he is likely not the first person who was wrongfully arrested and interrogated based off a bogus face recognition hit," the ACLU said on Twitter.

"There are likely many people who just don't know that it was flawed technology that made them a target."

Williams wrote in the Washington Post that he was arrested in January outside his home and held for 30 hours, later learning he was wrongly identified based on surveillance footage from a robbery at a watch store.

"I never thought I'd have to explain to my daughters why daddy got arrested," Williams wrote. "How does one explain to two little girls that a computer got it wrong, but the police listened to it anyway?"

The news comes amid rising tensions over police misconduct following the deaths of several African Americans at the hands of law enforcement, and concerns that some technologies such as facial recognition may exacerbate discrimination.

Various studies show facial recognition systems used in the United States may be wildly inaccurate in attempting to identify blacks.

Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, an activist group, said the Williams case highlights how artificial intelligence technology can be abused to reinforce discrimination.

"This example cannot be reduced to a case of one bad algorithm," she said. "Instead what we are seeing is just a glimpse of how systemic racism can be encoded and reflected in AI systems."

Amid the recent unrest, some firms including IBM, Amazon and Microsoft said they would not be selling facial recognition technology to police departments until regulations are passed to ensure against misuse. But many other systems are widely used.

Seeking apology

In a formal complaint to the police department, ACLU attorney Phil Mayor asked for a dismissal of the charges, an expungement of the arrest record, and a public apology to Williams.

The lawyer said Williams has not waived his right to pursue further action in court.

The ACLU also said the police should stop using facial recognition technology as an investigatory tool, and that any photos of Williams should be removed from the agency's database.

Williams wrote of the harrowing experience of being handcuffed in front of his family and spending the night "on the floor of a filthy, overcrowded cell."

"As any other person would be, I was angry that this was happening to me," he said. "As any other black man would be, I had to consider what could happen if I asked too many questions or displayed my anger openly -- even though I knew I had done nothing wrong."

In a related move Wednesday, Boston's city council voted to ban the use of face recognition technology by law enforcement.

"This is a crucial victory for our privacy rights and for people like Robert Williams, who have been arrested for crimes they didn't commit because of a technology law enforcement shouldn't be using," said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

As doctors go virtual, pandemic turbocharges telemedicine

Yahoo – AFP, Kelly MACNAMARA, June 2, 2020

Governments and private firms have set up telemedicine clinics for patients who
suspect they have the new coronavirus (AFP Photo/Alexander NEMENOV)

Will visiting the doctor ever be the same again?

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic sparked a technological revolution in healthcare systems across the world that might otherwise have taken years.

Spurred on by fears of contagion in wards and waiting rooms, many health practitioners are replacing the face-to-face meetings that have always underpinned general practice, with patient consultations by telephone and online video apps.

Some of the most radical changes have been in primary healthcare, where doctors have often faced shortages of protective equipment, but specialists in everything from mental health to eye care have also turned to technology to treat patients at a distance.

"General practice has undergone significant changes in the way GPs and our teams have delivered patient care during the pandemic -- and the speed in which these changes were implemented has been remarkable," Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of Britain's Royal College of GPs told AFP.

As the virus spread, health authorities in the UK, Europe and elsewhere updated guidance on everything from data protection to how to build trust remotely.

The United States rolled back restrictions on access to telemedicine, and eased privacy regulations to allow people to use platforms like Skype and FaceTime.

"People are now seeing this model, which we thought would take years and years to develop. And it's probably been accelerated by a decade," Chris Jennings, US policy consultant and former White House health care adviser told STAT news recently.

Globally, 58 percent of surveyed countries are now using telemedicine, the World Health Organization said Monday, adding the figure was 42 percent among low income nations.

Layla McCay, a director at the NHS Confederation representing British healthcare services, told AFP that most of the UK's 1.2 million daily face-to-face primary care consultations were done remotely "in the space of weeks".

But there were challenges.

"My first video consultation was a mess. Builders were drilling, the microphone failed, a colleague walked in, and lockdown was imminent," Camille Gajria, a doctor and clinical teaching fellow at Imperial College London, told the British Medical Journal.

She said teleconsultations can be efficient but warned of "cognitive bias" -- a doctor, for example, might assume that a child playing in the background is the one being discussed.

Hospitals like this one in Mexico have used online video platforms to let COVID-19 
patients communicate remotely with their families (AFP Photo/ULISES RUIZ)

There are also concerns that vulnerable patients might find it difficult to talk about mistreatment at home, while elderly people could struggle to navigate unfamiliar technology.

Remote medicine

Telemedicine may seem like a product of the internet age, but it has been around for decades, developing alongside communication technology.

One big leap came during the space race of the 1960s, when scientists worried about the effect of zero gravity on the human body. Would it impede blood circulation or breathing?

To find out, both the US and Soviet Union conducted test flights with animals hooked up to medical monitoring systems that transmitted biometric data back to scientists on Earth. Later, longer missions meant astronauts needed systems that could diagnose and help treat medical emergencies.

NASA went on to develop terrestrial telemedicine, including a project to provide healthcare to the isolated Tohono O'odham reservation in Arizona, as well as disaster response in the 1985 Mexico City and 1988 Armenia earthquakes.

While the coronavirus pandemic has driven sweeping changes in the way many people see their local doctor, it has also highlighted the role telemedicine can play in connecting clinicians with remote communities.

In India, which has just 8.6 medical workers per 10,000 people according to 2018 WHO figures, the majority of doctors are concentrated in urban centres, while some 70 percent of people live in rural areas.

Ayush Mishra, founder of the telehealth provider Tattvan, said this means people outside bigger towns are often forced to seek medical advice from overstretched or ill-qualified practitioners.

His business, one of a growing number of telehealth providers in India, operates 18 clinics, mostly ATM-style booths that are manned by a medical assistant who can take vital measurements and linked with doctors in private hospitals in larger towns.

The firm languished in a legal grey zone for years until the coronavirus crisis spurred the government into broadening regulatory approval for virtual consultations. Now he hopes to open hundreds of clinics around the country.

Mishra traces his enthusiasm for telemedicine to a horrific motorbike accident when he was a biomedical engineering student in the northern city of Jaipur.

Governments and private firms have set up telemedicine clinics for patients 
who suspect they have the new coronavirus (AFP Photo/Alexander NEMENOV)

Severely injured, he was driven ten hours to his hometown in Uttar Pradesh, before falling into a coma as a local doctor performed surgery.

His family was overwhelmed by "panic" until his father spoke by telephone to a surgeon at a hospital in Delhi, enabling them to arrange treatment in the city.

Mishra lost his leg, but told AFP the experience inspired him to want to equalise medical access for people in smaller towns.

"You need to be able to offer this access -- it's a human right," he said.

Not going back?

Internet-connected thermometers, pulse oximeters to measure oxygen levels, and smart devices that monitor vital signs are all widening the scope of what is possible in remote medicine.

In an April article for JAMA Neurology, experts from the Netherlands and US said telemedicine could be a useful tool for in-home training, such as activities for survivors of stroke. Patients, they noted, could be monitored via sensors in watches or phones.

"We hope that this current COVID-19 crisis will soon be resolved. However, it is as the old saying goes: 'never waste a good crisis'," they said.

"Telemedicine for chronic neurological disorders should become part of the new normal rather than the exception."

Marshall said there are still many routine procedures -- vaccinations, blood tests and physical examinations -- that cannot be done remotely.

"Those living with multiple conditions and other complex health needs really benefit from seeing their doctor in person -- and this is helpful for the GP, as well," he said.

But he added that research supports the use of remote consultations for patients with simple conditions, or who have "transactional" needs like a repeat prescription.

Many say they want at least some of the changes to stay.

"It has certainly turbocharged the digital transition nationally," said McCay of the NHS Confederation.

"Lots of feedback from our members shows the culture has fundamentally changed, and clinicians who were perhaps previously resistant to digitisation are now realising its benefits."

"We can't go backwards," she added.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Pandemic gives fresh momentum to digital voice technology

Yahoo – AFP, Rob Lever, May 10, 2020

Voice-activated digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and rivals from Google,
Apple and others may become more important in light of the virus pandemic (AFP
Photo/JUSTIN SULLIVAN)

Washington (AFP) - In a world suddenly fearful of touch, voice technology is getting a fresh look.

Voice-activated systems such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple's Siri have seen strong growth in recent years, and the virus pandemic could accelerate that, analysts say.

Voice assistants are not only answering queries and shopping, but also being used for smart home control and for a range of business and medical applications which could see increased interest as people seek to limit personal contact.

"Voice has already made significant inroads into the smart home space and voice control can mean avoiding commonly touched surfaces around the home from smartphones, to TV remotes, light switches, thermostats, door handles and more," said analyst Jonathan Collins of ABI Research.

The pandemic is likely to provide "additional motivation and incentive for voice control in the home that will help drive awareness and adoption for a range of additional smart home devices and applications," Collins said.

ABI estimates that voice control device shipments for smart home devices hit 141 million last year, and in 2020 will grow globally by close to 30 percent.

For the broader market of voice assistants, Juniper Research estimates 4.2 billion devices in use this year, growing to 8.4 billion by 2024, with much of the interactions on smartphones.

More people are using voice-activated technologies like Google Assistant during
the virus lockdowns (AFP Photo/Ethan Miller)

Smart locks, doorbells

Collins said he expected to see growing interest in smart locks and doorbells, along with other smart home systems, to eliminate the need for personal contact and face-to-face interaction as a result of the pandemic.

Avi Greengart, a technology analyst and consultant with Techsponential, said data is not yet available but that "anecdotally, voice assistant usage is way up" as a result of lockdowns.

Greengart said he expects a wider range of business applications for voice technologies in response to health and safety concerns.

"Looking forward, office spaces will need move towards more touch-free controls; voice can be a solution, although motion triggers for lighting is often easier and more friction-free," he said.

"However, I do expect smart speakers -- along with an emailed list of commands -- to be a common feature at hotels and other rental properties. The fewer touch points, the better."

Post-pandemic outlook

Julian Issa of Futuresource Consulting said there appears to be "an uptick in the use of voice assistants since the virus outbreak" during the pandemic.

Robots are already being deployed in medical situations
in the pandemic, but researchers say improved voice
technologies could enable them to play an even 
greater role (AFP Photo/
Manjunath Kiran)

"Whilst avoiding touching surfaces may play a small part in this, it is mainly due to consumers spending far more time at home with their devices," Issa said.

Chris Pennell, another Futuresource analyst, said he expects adoption of digital assistants is likely to accelerate, "especially in client facing areas such as healthcare, retail and entertainment."

One example of this already in use is a Mayo Clinic tool using Amazon Alexa which allows people to assess their symptoms and access information on the virus.

Other medical applications are also in the works for voice technologies.

Veton Kepuska, a Florida Tech computer engineering professor who specializes in speech recognition technologies, is seeking to develop voice-activated medical robots that can help limit physical contact and contagion.

"If we had this infrastructure in place, we would have been better off today," said Kepuska, who was spurred by the COVID-19 outbreak to seek funding for the research effort.

Kepuska said this effort could lead to a "humanoid" medical robot which can take over many tasks from doctors or nurses with voice interaction.

"The pandemic has created a situation where we need to think about how to deliver services to people who need our help without putting ourselves in danger," he said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Anti-5G activists go to court to stop ‘gamble with public health’

DutchNews, May 5, 2020 

A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman

A group of anti-5G activists went to court on Monday in an effort to stop the nationwide roll-out of the faster telecommunications system. 

The group, Stop5GNL, argues that the government is taking a gamble by sanctioning the roll-out even though it has not been established that the technology does not form any risk to public health. 

‘This is unethical. You do not gamble with the health of the public,’ lawyer Thom Beukers said during Monday’s hearing in The Hague. 

According to the foundation, ‘thousands’ of academic publications and research projects raise at least doubts about whether the electromagnetic radiation used by 5G services could lead to a risk to health. 

The foundation has also stressed it has no connection to the recent wave of arson attacks on telecom masts. 

Although the public health institute RIVM and the national health council have both said that 5G will not expose people to higher than permitted levels of electromagnetic radiation, the council is working on a new report, ordered by parliament, the Volkskrant has reported. 

The results of that report are due in July. 

And in January, Telecoms supervisory body Agenschap Telecom and the RIVM said that while radiation from 5G mobile networks testing sites in the Netherlands is within European limits, it does need to monitored as telecoms providers prepare to activate the new mobile core networks. 

Some 15 licences for testing sites have been granted in the Netherlands and random testing of five sites has not produced worrying levels of radiation, the report published by both organisations said. It is important, however, to ‘keep a finger on the pulse’. 

The court will rule on the case on May 25.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

France refuses coronavirus funds to Amazon in labour dispute

Rfi.fr – Yahoo, 4 May 2020

Following last month's court ruling, Amazon shut down its sites in France AFP/File

Paris (AFP) -France's labour ministry said Monday that it denied a request by Amazon for emergency funds to pay employees during the coronavirus crisis, after the US giant shut its warehouses over a court order to sell only essential items.

The ministry said Amazon France asked last Thursday to benefit from coronavirus crisis funds that cover about 84 percent of net pay for workers facing temporary layoffs because of a drop in business.

Amazon France confirmed it sought the funds to cover salaries for some 10,000 employees at its six main distribution sites in the country.

The online retailer has been locked in a battle with labour unions which say not enough was done to mitigate contagion risk for staff working in close proximity to process a flood of orders amid the nationwide lockdown, which saw traditional shops shuttered.

Last month, an appeals court upheld a ruling that sharply curtailed Amazon's operations and ordered management to review safety measures. The court said only digital products, office equipment, groceries, medical and personal care products could be delivered in the meantime.

But Amazon said it was impossible to comply with the order, and completely shut down the six sites from mid-April until May 5, though it maintained full pay for employees.

"The recent decision by the Court of Versailles has obviously had an impact on our French operations... As a result, we filed for the help that other companies in France have benefited from," the company said in a statement.

"Our logistics operations are technically complex and the court's fine of 100,000 euros ($109,000) for any infraction means that even accidental shipping of non-authorised products, on the order of 0.1 percent of the total, could lead to over one billion euros of fines per week," it said.

Unions called Amazon's request for employment aid "absolutely scandalous," and accused the firm of getting around the court order by fulfilling French orders from its other warehouses in Europe.

Dozens of employees had staged walkouts at several sites before the ruling to demand better workplace protection during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Amazon reported last week that despite a surge in orders worldwide because of virus lockdowns, its profit dropped 29 percent in the first quarter of this year, to $2.5 billion, because of COVID-19 expenses, including measures for "keeping employees safe".

The company is in the process of recruiting some 175,000 more employees to cope with surging demand.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid-19: Nearly two million Australians download coronavirus tracker app

The Star – AFP, Monday, 27 Apr 2020

The new COVIDSafe app by the Australian government as seen on a smartphone
in Sydney. More than one million Australians have downloaded a new government
smartphone app designed to make coronavirus contact tracing easier, as the country
moves to ease stay-at-home restrictions. — AFP

SYDNEY: Nearly two million Australians rushed to download a new smartphone app designed to make coronavirus contact tracing easier, the government said Monday, overlooking privacy concerns in the hope of speeding up the end of social-distancing lockdowns.

Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed take-up since the app was released Sunday evening as "extraordinary", saying 1.9 million people had downloaded the program in less than 24 hours.

The nation of 25 million people has uncovered just over 6,700 instances of coronavirus, with the rate of new cases falling to 10-20 per day despite widespread testing.

Like governments around the world, Australian authorities are under growing pressure to ease restrictions on travel and public gatherings imposed to halt the spread of the virus, but which have devastated the economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said many of the restrictions, which include a ban on travel to Australia by non-residents, will last until at least September.

But he has said some easing could begin sooner if authorities can expand testing for the virus and improve tracing to catch new outbreaks quickly.

Experts heralded the new COVIDSafe app as a key way to implement the contact tracing.

The app works by using smartphones' Bluetooth function to detect other users nearby.

If a user tests positive, anyone who has been in close proximity can then be notified, making rapid tracking of the disease much easier.

The system is seen as a key stepping stone to removing social distancing restrictions that have shuttered bars, restaurants, offices and most classrooms for the last month.

There has been widespread concern about what Morrison's conservative government – which has a record of pushing the boundaries of civil rights protections – would do with the data.

But Hunt and other officials were at pains Monday to stress the app is not a location tracker and that only state health authorities will use the data.

"This is simply about helping us find and alert anybody who may have been exposed to the virus," Hunt said.

"It means that they can be diagnosed and protected earlier, and it can protect our nurses and our doctors, our seniors and our vulnerable Australians."

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has said a "good take-up" of the app would be just over 50% of the population.

Release of the app was welcomed by Australia's Rugby Union authority, which like other professional sports is in dire economic straits after having to suspend all competitions.

Rugby Australia chief Paul McLean said the app would "provide the best opportunity for us, as a community, to move more quickly to reduce restrictions... and allow our Rugby clubs to get back to training and playing".

In parallel with the app's release, Australian authorities have significantly ramped up testing for the coronavirus, making the tests available to anyone with flu-like symptoms.

Some Australian states with zero new coronavirus cases have already announced an easing of stay-at-home restrictions.

In the country's most populous state of New South Wales, most restrictions are set to remain in place until least mid-May, although Sydney's famed Bondi Beach will reopen Tuesday for surfing and swimming.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Online sales explode but markets for holidays and high fashion collapse

DutchNews, April 28, 2020  

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Online shopping has exploded since the corona crisis but shops selling holidays and luxury goods have seen a huge drop in revenue, new figures show. 

Market researcher GfK, which only looked at the non-food sector, found that Easter week was particularly busy ,with with peak growth of 72%, representing tens of millions of euros in extra earnings compared to the same week last year. 

‘Before coronavirus many online shops saw growth of 16% to 18%, now it’s 60% to 70%,’ Wijnand Jongen, director of Thuiswinkel.org, told broadcaster NOS

Most of the purchases have to do with the fact that consumers are living and working at home. ‘Everything to do with entertainment, DIY, the garden and exercising is doing really well,’Jongen said. Working from home has increased the sale of computer mice, printers, chairs, laptops and headphones. ‘Some online shops can’t source the stuff quickly enough,’ Jongen said. 

By contrast, online outlets for holidays and tourism in general have seen their businesses collapse. Expensive fashion items have had to make way for comfortable clothes, like pajamas and jogging trousers, underwear and comfortable shoes, GfK found. 

Among the shops profiting most are highstreet staple Hema and cosmetics chain Rituals, which saw their online sales triple. Hema has been grappling with a 30% fall in physical sales.