Uber CEO apologises to London

Uber’s new boss apologised to Londoners for the taxi app’s mistakes and pledged to make changes as it tries to overturn a decision to strip it of its licence there.

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The British capital’s transport regulator on Friday deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and decided not to renew its licence to operate, which will end this week, citing the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

However London mayor Sadiq Khan has asked Transport for London (TfL) officials to “make themselves available” to meet the boss of Uber, after he apologised for issues they have faced.

“I welcome the apology from Dara Khosrowshahi, the Uber CEO. Obviously I am pleased that he has acknowledged the issues that Uber faces in London,” Khan said in a statement.

“Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him.”

Its 40,000 drivers, one third of the city’s total number of private hire vehicles, will continue to take passengers until an appeals process is exhausted, which is likely to take several months.

London police complained this year that Uber was either not disclosing, or taking too long to report, serious crimes including sexual assaults.

“It’s … true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter to Londoners.

“We will appeal the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change,” he said.

Uber’s UK head of cities, Fred Jones, said the firm was working with the police to work out how it can better report incidents. He also said Transport for London (TfL) had not been clear about its concerns.

“Once we understand them we can work with them to figure out what is it that they would like us to do and how can we move forward and I think that’s the important next step,” Jones told BBC radio.

The firm has until October 14 to formally appeal TfL’s decision.

A petition calling on London to overturn its decision not to renew Uber’s licence had gathered more than 750,000 signatures on Monday.

Number of female directors on ASX stalls

Progress in increasing the number of female directors at Australia’s biggest companies has plateaued, with concerns emerging that support for gender diversity in the nation’s boardrooms could dwindle as momentum slows.

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The Australian Institute of Company Directors’ quarterly gender diversity report found there were 25.4 per cent female directors across the ASX 200 by the end of August, only a 0.1 per cent increase compared to the 25.3 per cent reported at the end of 2016.

AICD chairman Elizabeth Proust said while the percentage has risen dramatically since 2009 – when it stood at just 8.3 per cent – the halt in progress is “concerning”.

“When progress stalls, or slows considerably, there is also the potential that the individual with the power to make change, in this case the chairs of ASX 200 boards, take their foot off the pedal or don’t bother engaging at all,” Ms Proust said in the report released on Tuesday.

She described the number of female appointments to ASX 200 boards as “disappointing”, and said it is difficult to get a positive response from chairs who have the power and ability to appoint female directors to their boards.

So far, 15 companies have signed up to the 30% Club’s target of women holding 30 per cent of directorships across the country’s top 200 firms by 2018.

Only 66 companies including iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group, health insurance provider Medibank Private, supermarket chain Woolworths, and broadcaster Nine Entertainment, have reached the target.

The AICD’s report showed that while the number of companies with no women on the board fell to 11, down from 13 in May and 22 a year ago, 64 boards have only one female director.

“One female director does not equal gender diversity,” Ms Proust said.

“Even if the current 11 companies with no female directors on their board appoint one female director in the next few months, this does not mean the target will be reached.

“Hopefully this report serves as a wake-up call to directors, investors and shareholders across the ASX 200.”

England selectors ponder Ashes top-order conundrum

England experienced a mixture of crushing victories and heavy losses this summer, eventually winning out because they bat so deep and, in Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, have two of their best-ever all-rounders.

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But the top order seldom convinced with only opener Alastair Cook and captain Joe Root certain to play in the first test against Australia in Brisbane starting on Nov. 23.

Surrey’s Mark Stoneman is Cook’s most likely opening partner after playing in three tests against West Indies but much of the discussion will revolve around which batsmen deserve another chance to prove themselves in Australia.

The days when England could ink in proven performers like Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen in the middle order have long gone.

England coach Trevor Bayliss has said the squad is likely to include only players who have featured in the past 18 months, opening the way for a recall for Hampshire’s James Vince as England seek to fill their problem number three slot.

Vince is a natural shot-maker but did not feature this season after notching 212 runs at an average of 19 in his seven tests last year. Like Essex’s Tom Westley and Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, who both batted at three this summer, Vince’s technique was questioned with concerns over his tendency to fence loosely at balls outside off-stump.

With Dawid Malan just doing enough to keep his place after averaging 23.62 in his five matches batting at number five, Ballance and Vince could both travel, with Keaton Jennings, Lancashire’s Haseeb Hameed, who broke his finger this month, and one-day specialist Alex Hales likely to miss out.

READY REPLACEMENTS

All three could feature for England’s second-string Lions squad, who will be in Australia this winter and supply ready-made replacements in the event of injury.

England’s middle order is settled, with Stokes, keeper Jonny Bairstow and Moeen regularly taking turns to bat England out of trouble against South Africa and West Indies.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who recently took his 500th test wicket, will again spearhead the attack although neither is naturally suited to the extra pace and bounce of Australian pitches.

That could open the way for Mark Wood if he can stay fit, with Liam Plunkett, Craig Overton and Jake Ball all meriting discussion for a place alongside Chris Woakes.

Toby Roland-Jones, a surprising success this summer, will almost certainly miss out after injuring his back while his Middlesex team mate Steve Finn is an outsider, particularly after his struggles in Australia on England’s last tour in 2013.

Leg-spinner Mason Crane numbers great Australian Shane Warne among his admirers and, having gained experience of Australian conditions with New South Wales this year, looks likely to claim the second spinner spot behind Moeen.

Surrey’s Ben Foakes is the favourite to travel as back-up keeper to Bairstow, setting up the possibility of England picking Stokes, Woakes and Foakes in the same team.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

Same-sex marriage: All survey forms have been posted – so what happens now?

Enrolled Australians have until October 20 to request a replacement form on the ABS website.

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You can also go to a number of pick-up locations in capital cities and regional areas, or phone the ABS’s info line.

Ordering a new form will render your original form invalid.

How long will this campaign last?

The ABS wants everyone to post their forms back by October 27, with a hard deadline of November 7.

Both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns are expected to run advertising right through to the end of the survey.

RELATED READINGWhen will we know the result?

The ABS will publish the results on its website on November 15.

The Chief Statistician will also give an analysis of the survey’s integrity.

What happens next?

The postal vote itself cannot legalise same-sex marriage.

In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, the government says it will allow a private member’s bill to be introduced to the House of Representatives in the final parliamentary sitting fortnight of 2017 (which begins in the last week of November).

Members of parliament would then be given a free vote.

The bill is widely expected to pass in this case. Parliamentarians will not be bound by the results of the postal survey, but many, including some conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage, have promised to respect the decision of the people even if it goes against their personal beliefs.

If the people vote “No” in the postal ballot, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said no bill would proceed.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has promised to introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in his first 100 days as prime minister if he wins the next election. 

RELATED READING

Most workers don’t fear robots: Microsoft

Most employees don’t feel threatened by robots and artificial intelligence and want to be included in the “digital transformation” of their workplace, according to research commissioned by Microsoft.

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But the Microsoft survey of nearly 1,400 workers in health, retail, financial services and manufacturing also shows that few of those workers feel that management engages them in the transformation process.

Microsoft Australia’s digital workplace and collaboration manager, Ian Heard, says digital transformation can simply be viewed as taking the inputs and outputs of a business and using technology to reduce the time between the two.

He says most workers are already used to the digital world through their use of smartphones and a multitude of digital devices at home.

They also understand that automation and artificial intelligence-enabled systems are needed to make their workplace more efficient and the business more competitive.

The survey, conducted in September, says there is scant evidence that workers in “first line” customer-facing or production roles such as nurses, retail assistants and production workers feel that they will be replaced by a robot or a machine.

Sixty-two per cent of first-line workers want to work with intelligent automated systems.

“First-line workers absolutely see a great opportunity to work side by side with technology,” Mr Heard told AAP.

“For example, 85 per cent of first-line healthcare workers believe that technology can streamline processes, freeing them up for more direct patient care.”

“It’s not a case of scaling down the workforce – it’s more a case of elevating the workforce to be more customer-relevant.”

Mr Heard said that as automation replaces rote work, the role of workers who used to perform such work will evolve and require more human interaction and knowledge-based expertise.

For example, in the retail environment, technology can free staff to provide a better shopping experience for customers, which bricks-and-mortar shops have to do to compete against online.

And as digital organisations become increasingly data-dependent, a person whose job used to be collecting data may become an analyst of that data.

However, 61 per cent of workers don’t feel that management is consulting them about how they can be involved in the digital transformation.

“Digital transformation is powerful, but everyone needs access,” Mr Heard said.

Trump announces revised travel ban on North Korea, Venezuela and Chad

Travellers from eight countries, including North Korea, will face restrictions on entry to the US under the latest ban.

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“We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” the US president tweeted along with his signed proclamation. 

The new rules, which will also affect citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, will go into effect on October 18.

Officials stress that valid visas would not be revoked as a result of the proclamation.

Some countries will face full bans, others are more tailored.

North Korea, Venezuela and Chad were added due to poor security and lack of cooperation with American authorities.

North Korea, locked in a dangerous face-off with Washington over its nuclear weapons program, was added, the order said, because Pyongyang “does not cooperate with the United States government in any respect.”

Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.南京桑拿,南京SPA,/KJ886okyfC

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Restrictions on Venezuela will only apply to certain government officials and their families.

Mr Trump’s controversial ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries expired on Sunday, 90 days after it went into effect.

The new restrictions replace the existing ban which the White House claims was a measure to protect the US from terror attacks. 

Sudan, one of six majority-Muslim countries on the original travel ban, has been removed from the list, leaving eight nations with complete or partial blocks on travel to the US.

The US has praised Sudan’s efforts in fighting terrorism.

In a proclamation released by the White House on September 24, President Trump said he “must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people”.

“I am committed to our ongoing efforts to engage those countries willing to cooperate, improve information-sharing and identity-management protocols and procedures, and address both terrorism-related and public-safety risks.

“Some of the countries with remaining inadequacies face significant challenges. Others have made strides to improve their protocols and procedures, and I commend them for these efforts.  

The president said the travel restrictions and limitations would be in place until the named countries “satisfactorily address the identified inadequacies”. 

0:00 Venezuela denounces US sanctions, calls Trump ‘supremacist, racist’ Share Venezuela denounces US sanctions, calls Trump ‘supremacist, racist’

Why does the US want a travel ban?  

Trump ordered the new restrictions to replace an expiring measure that had locked him into political and legal battles over what critics alleged was an effort to block Muslims from entry into the country since he took office in January.

“Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump said in a tweet.

In a presidential order, Trump said the action was needed to press the countries to improve procedures for identifying their nationals and sharing information with the United States.

In addition, he said, the list was created to “advance foreign policy, national security and counterterrorism objectives.”

“These restrictions are both vital to national security and conditions-based, not time-based,” a senior administration official said, noting that countries can be removed from the list if they can rise to US traveller vetting standards.

Officials stressed that while Iraq was not included on the new list, it was deeply deficient in security vetting of immigrants and travellers to the United States. 

But Baghdad is a close ally and supports the presence of large numbers of US troops and civilian officials. 

‘Not a Muslim ban’

“Religion, or the religious origin of individuals or nations, was not a factor,” a senior US government official told reporters.

“The inclusion of those countries, Venezuela and North Korea, was about the fact that those governments are simply not compliant with our basic security requirements.”

Chad was added to the list even though Trump’s order called it “an important and valuable counterterrorism partner.”

But the order noted the presence in Chad of several designated terror groups like the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

Nevertheless, “Chad does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information,” it said. And, the order added, the country failed on one “key” but unspecified criterion used in a broad review of countries for the ban. 

Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, said that of the three countries added: “Chad is majority Muslim, travel from North Korea is already basically frozen and the restrictions on Venezuela only affect government officials on certain visas. You can’t get any more transparent than that.”

On the decision to remove Sudan, she said: “Last week, the government ended Temporary Protected Status for Sudan, suggesting that the government of Sudan was pressured into agreeing to accept massive numbers of deported Sudanese nationals from the US in exchange for being dropped from the travel ban.”

“President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list,” added Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union.

File image of the Supreme Court Building in Washington which has heard travel ban challenges in the past. AAP

The ban’s past: Hawaii’s battle for families

When President Trump’s initial travel ban came into effect earlier this year, it became the subject of a legal challenge and was widely criticised by refugee and immigrant advocates.

The 90-day ban took effect in June and also included a 120-day ban on all refugees.

At the time, the state of Hawaii asked a federal judge in Honolulu to clarify the Supreme Court ruling.

Hawaii said the US government intended to violate the Supreme Court’s instructions by improperly excluding from the United States people who had a close family relationship with US citizens.

The Supreme Court exempted from the ban travellers and refugees with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the US.

As an example, the court said those with a “close familial relationship” with someone in the US would be covered.

The Trump administration decided on the basis of its interpretation of the court’s language that grandparents, grandchildren and fiancés travelling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in effect.

Hawaii called the refusal to recognise grandparents, fiancés and other relatives as an acceptable family relationship “a plain violation of the Supreme Court’s command.”

Trump’s Travel Ban: How it unfolded

Greater awareness of breast density needed

New research reveals Aussie women remain in the dark on a common risk factor for breast cancer and are urged to become ‘breast dense’ aware.

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Dense breasts is linked to a significant increased risk of breast cancer yet a new national survey shows more than three quarters of women, 78 per cent, don’t know if they’re among the two million women with the known risk factor.

The survey, commissioned by health organisation Pink Hope, also shows two-thirds of women had no idea density can obscure a lesion or lump on a mammogram.

Professor Mary Theresa Rickard, Chief Radiologist at Sydney Breast Clinic says the risks associated with density fall second only to those due to known gene mutations.

Women can not tell if they have dense breast by the look or feel, it’s only the mammogram that can show the density, Prof Rickard said.

“When we talk about density we talk about how white is the breast on the mammogram.The whiter the mammogram the greater your risk of getting breast cancer,” explained Prof Rickard.

“Our chances of finding a cancer on a dense breast are not as good as they are on finding it on a fatty breast, so greater chance that your cancer will be missed if you have a dense breast,” Prof Rickard said.

The radiologist says women need to be their “best breast advocate” and ask the question at their next mammogram.

“If you know that your density is high then you can make sure that your breast cancer screening is personalised and tailored to your risk,” said Prof Rickard.

Currently, women everywhere, except in Western Australia, have to ask the radiologist at the time of a mammogram if they have dense breasts, says Cancer Council Australia CEO Professor Sanchia Arnada.

“There’s a bit controversy in Australia at the moment whether BreastScreen should provide that information to women, currently they do only in WA and not in the other programs and partly this is because we don’t actually know what the evidence-based advice would be,” Prof Aranda told AAP.

Because of this, Pink Hope is calling on the federal government to better-equip the healthcare community with the the necessary tools, information and guidelines to ensure a unified and consistent approach to breast density diagnosis and treatment.

“We know that women are being referred to their GP, but that GPs – as a result of Australia’s lack of consistency on breast density – currently lack the established guidelines on breast density needed to best-support them,” Kyrstal Barter, Pink Hope CEO said.

“In many states in America, women during a mammogram, they have to by law be told they have dense breast tissue, there are systems in place overseas and they may not be exactly what we need here but at least they are doing something proactive,” said Ms Barter.

“For one of the biggest breast cancer risk factors there is no system in place for personalised management, we are just a bit behind the eight-ball on that one,” she said.

Venezuela slams ‘world’s emperor’ Trump

Venezuela has accused US President Donald Trump of conducting “political terrorism” through travel restrictions on eight countries including the socialist-run South American nation, which is already at loggerheads with Washington.

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Trump on Sunday announced the restrictions on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding earlier travel bans that Trump says are necessary to fight terrorism but have been derided by critics and courts.

“It is worth pointing out that these types of lists are incompatible with international law, and constitute a form of psychological and political terrorism,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Our people are being sanctioned because of their pacifist nature as well as their tolerance and respect for different religions and beliefs,” it added.

The statement said Venezuela will “consider all necessary measures to protect national interests and sovereignty,” without providing details on how it would respond.

The restrictions relating to Venezuela focus on officials who have been determined to have done an inadequate job verifying whether citizens pose national security or public safety threats.

Washington this year has issued several rounds of sanctions against Venezuelan officials, partly in response to the creation of a legislative superbody called the Constituent Assembly that critics call the consolidation of a dictatorship.

President Nicolas Maduro has called those sanctions a financial blockade against the country, which is grappling with triple-digit inflation and chronic product shortages as its economy unravels.

The claims come on the same day that Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza said Trump acted like “the world’s emperor” at the UN General Assembly.

Last week, Trump told the assembly Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was running a “corrupt regime.” Maduro responded from Caracas by calling Trump “the new Hitler” of international politics.

South Africa to stick with Ruhle after error-strewn display

The Ghana-born winger missed nine tackles in the record 57-0 thrashing by the All Blacks but Coetzee will keep faith with Ruhle for Saturday’s penultimate match in this year’s Rugby Championship against Australia in Bloemfontein.

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“Don’t forget how good Raymond was against Australia. I’m not a coach who will look at one poor performance and chuck someone away. He was outstanding against the Wallabies,” Coetzee told a news conference.

“There were a few areas where the All Blacks targeted us, but we will work on that and get better. In the seven tests Raymond has played, he has gained a lot of experience, so now do I just throw him out and start all over again with a new player?”

Rhule had admitted his mistakes, added Coetzee of the performance in Auckland where the world champions emphatically ended a recent Springbok revival after their disastrous 2016.

“He was the first guy to text me and say ‘I watched the game again and I could have been better here or there’. The big thing is about owning up and taking responsibility, which is what I enjoy about this group of players,” Coetzee added.

Coetzee is not expected to make drastic changes when he names his team on Thursday.

“We’ve buried the Albany game, we have a turnaround strategy. We got together last night and we spoke about the Albany game as a management team,” he said.

“That was the first meeting. The second one was with the team leaders and the coaches have been together. We are disappointed and we want to turn it around and get it right.”

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

London mayor savages UK PM May in speech

Theresa May should be “utterly ashamed” of her record on law and order, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said as he hit out at cuts to emergency services.

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In his Labour conference speech, Mr Khan led a standing ovation for the emergency services for their response through “one of the darkest times in London’s recent history”.

The mayor – who was initially denied a speech at the gathering in Brighton before a late change of plan – also used his address to praise Jeremy Corbyn after clashing with the Labour leader in the past.

But Mr Corbyn was not in the audience to hear Mr Khan pay tribute to him as the man who “mobilised our movement … motivated our activists and reached voters we hadn’t reached before”.

The mayor backed Owen Smith’s leadership challenge in 2016 but said that at the general election “we made huge progress and credit must go to one person, the leader of our party, Jeremy Corbyn”.

The mayor used his speech to highlight the funding cuts faced by the police and the public sector pay restraint which has seen the wages of emergency workers squeezed.

“It’s been one of the darkest times in London’s recent history. We’ve been through too much suffering, too much horror, and too much loss,” khan said.

“The terrorist attack on Westminster – the heart of our democracy.

“The attack on innocent people, enjoying a night out in London Bridge and Borough Market. The horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. The attack on innocent people near Finsbury Park Mosque during Ramadan.

“And the attack at Parsons Green station on Londoners, as they travelled into work and school.

“Nobody expects such tragedy. And no one should tolerate it.”

Mr Khan highlighted AGBP1 billion of real-terms cuts to Scotland Yard between 2010 and 2021 and the 7 per cent fall in police funding for counter-terrorism over the next three years, demanding that the government commits to a real-terms increase in November’s budget.

He accused the Tory government of overseeing a rise in crime after seven years of cuts to the emergency services, including the police, fire service, NHS and transport network.

“The Tories used to describe themselves as the party of law and order … well that sounds like a sick joke today. And frankly, as a former home secretary, Theresa May should be utterly ashamed of her record,” he said.