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China moves to ban Aussie cotton as trade sanctions boil over

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china moves to ban aussie cotton as trade sanctions boil over

Australian cotton growers could be the latest victims of increasingly bitter trade tensions with China.

Chinese spinning mills have been told to stop buying Australian cotton and the industry could soon face tariffs of up to 40 per cent.

Cotton millers in China are given an import quota each year, but have been told they may not receive the allowance if they buy from Australia.

Every year, 64 per cent of Australian cotton is exported to China, in deals worth $611million. 

Now the Australian commodity could be the latest import to be slapped with a trade sanction since May, when a trade war between the two nations flared up.

China placed sanctions on barley and beef imports after prime minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.  

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the reports about the cotton sanction were a significant concern for the industry.

Australian cotton growers could be the latest victims of increasingly bitter trade tensions with China (pictured, a farmer near Dalby on the Darling Downs in Queensland)

Australian cotton growers could be the latest victims of increasingly bitter trade tensions with China (pictured, a farmer near Dalby on the Darling Downs in Queensland)

Australian cotton growers could be the latest victims of increasingly bitter trade tensions with China (pictured, a farmer near Dalby on the Darling Downs in Queensland)

China placed sanctions on barley and beef imports after prime minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 (pictured, sunset on a WA farm)

China placed sanctions on barley and beef imports after prime minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 (pictured, sunset on a WA farm)

China placed sanctions on barley and beef imports after prime minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 (pictured, sunset on a WA farm)

‘We are working as quickly as we can with the industry to get an appreciation of the scale and the veracity of this,’ he said in Canberra.

‘We’re not going to jump the gun but we think it’s important that Chinese officials give us clarity with respect to this.’

He called on China to respect international trade rules and engage with Australia.

‘We’re playing under a fair marketplace. We expect everyone that trades with us to do the same,’ he added.

Australia sells about $800million worth of cotton to China each year and industry groups are disappointed by the deterioration in export conditions.

Cotton Australia and the Cotton Shippers Association are working with the federal government to investigate what is going on.

Australia has been accused of going too hard on china as tensions between the two countries continues to rise (pictured, Scott Morrison shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping)

Australia has been accused of going too hard on china as tensions between the two countries continues to rise (pictured, Scott Morrison shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping)

Australia has been accused of going too hard on china as tensions between the two countries continues to rise (pictured, Scott Morrison shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping)

Value of Australian agriculture exports to China: 

Beef: $2.8billion or 25 per cent

Wool: $1.9billion or 77 per cent

Lamb: $1.2billion or 30 per cent

Fruit and nuts: $1billion or 40 per cent

Seafood: $770million or 58 per cent

Dairy: $661million or 26 percent 

Cotton: $611million or 64 per cent

Wheat: $568million or 15 percent

Barley: $550million or 54 per cent

Hides and skins: $420million or 85 per cent

Oilseeds: $374million or 16 per cent

Live animals: $356million or 16 per cent

Sugar: $46million or 3 per cent

Vegetables: $39million or 3 per cent   

Total: $12.6billion or 32 percent

Source: RaboBank

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‘The Australian cotton industry will continue having meaningful conversations with stakeholders to fully understand this situation,’ they said in a joint statement on Friday.

‘We will continue working with the Australian government to respectfully and meaningfully engage with China to find a resolution.’

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is seeking clarity from Chinese officials.

‘Our cotton exporters have worked hard to win contracts and establish themselves as reliable suppliers of high quality cotton in the Chinese market, which is an important input for many Chinese businesses,’ he said.

‘China should rule out any use of discriminatory actions against Australian cotton producers.

Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye in April threatened that China consumers may boycott Australian red meat and wine over the coronavirus inquiry.

The totalitarian nation followed through on their intimidation tactics by launching an inquiry into allegations that Australia was dumping wine in China, the practice of selling wine below the cost of production.

The move follows huge tariffs on Australian barley and the banning of four of Australia’s largest red meat producers in May.

Barley tariffs are now at 80 per cent, with the $550million Chinese market representing 54 per cent of all Australian barley exports.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied the allegations of dumping and said there was no evidence to support them.

China has targeted Australian beef, barley and wine in recent months and has reportedly enforced a go-slow on importing coking and thermal coal

China has targeted Australian beef, barley and wine in recent months and has reportedly enforced a go-slow on importing coking and thermal coal

China has targeted Australian beef, barley and wine in recent months and has reportedly enforced a go-slow on importing coking and thermal coal

The trade sanction has already led to a 38 per cent plunge in cereal and grain exports, official trade data revealed. 

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman previously said China’s economic trade sanctions against Australia were beginning to show.

‘Could the escalating political spat between Australia and China be starting to bite?,’ he said. 

‘Not good news for our farmers hit by bushfires, drought and COVID-19 restrictions.’ 

Mr Littleproud refused to say if the government was concerned about other agricultural commodities.

‘To speculate on any particular industry won’t advance agriculture in this country,’ he said.

He said exporters should look at other markets to avoid concentration.

‘The government doesn’t tell our exporters to go and export to China. That is a commercial decision they make themselves.’ 

The graph shows that China scoops up one third of all Australian food and agriculture exports

The graph shows that China scoops up one third of all Australian food and agriculture exports

The graph shows that China scoops up one third of all Australian food and agriculture exports

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Australia

Victoria records seven new COVID-19 cases on the day Dan Andrews predicted lockdown would end

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victoria records seven new covid 19 cases on the day dan andrews predicted lockdown would end

Victoria recorded seven new cases of coronavirus on Sunday – the same day Premier Daniel Andrews predicted lockdown would finally come to an end. 

The all-important two-week rolling case average is at 4.6 for Melbourne, below the 5 that Victorian authorities have long wanted to trigger the next step out of lockdown.

The regional average is at 0.2 while there are nine cases with an unknown source in Melbourne.

But Mr Andrews on Saturday warned that the outbreak in Melbourne’s north may present an obstacle to easing restrictions.

‘I just want to caution people from banking that tomorrow I’ll be making a whole series of detailed announcements about opening up,’ he told reporters.

The premier said tens of thousands of tests needed to be processed and the results taken into account before any decisions were made.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday warned that the outbreak in Melbourne's north may present an obstacle to easing restrictions

Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday warned that the outbreak in Melbourne's north may present an obstacle to easing restrictions

Premier Daniel Andrews on Saturday warned that the outbreak in Melbourne’s north may present an obstacle to easing restrictions

Women take photos on the beach shore of St. Kilda, observing the social distance rule by staying inside the circle that is specially drawn on October 17, as the city continues lockdown

Women take photos on the beach shore of St. Kilda, observing the social distance rule by staying inside the circle that is specially drawn on October 17, as the city continues lockdown

Women take photos on the beach shore of St. Kilda, observing the social distance rule by staying inside the circle that is specially drawn on October 17, as the city continues lockdown

He is expected to announce any changes to restrictions later today.

The surge in cases comes after just one new case was recorded on Friday, helping to drive the rolling average down. 

The state’s death toll remains at 817 and the national figure 905, with only one death in the past week. 

The premier warned against businesses and staff getting ahead of themselves before any official announcements are made.

‘I have been abundantly clear, when I stand appear and make the announcement, that is when people can start planning for it,’ he explained.

‘Beyond that, think there is a risk of preempting whatever it is we are doing. 

‘No-one should be assuming I’m making announcements and what the nature of those announcements are until they are in fact made.’  

Healthcare workers are seen at the Goulburn Valley Health-Mcintosh Covid19 testing facility in Shepparton, Victoria, Thursday, October 15

Healthcare workers are seen at the Goulburn Valley Health-Mcintosh Covid19 testing facility in Shepparton, Victoria, Thursday, October 15

Healthcare workers are seen at the Goulburn Valley Health-Mcintosh Covid19 testing facility in Shepparton, Victoria, Thursday, October 15

Mr Andrews stressed it was important for health authorities to wait for the thousands of test results to see if there are any connections to current outbreaks. 

‘It also speaks directly to the fact that if that is the case, then opening up can see case numbers explode,’ he said. 

‘We have been in some respects in this position before and we have to do everything we can to avoid that. 

‘With so many test results in the labs and others that will be done today, it’s really important that we be guided by the data and the evidence and the science.’ 

Of the seven cases reported on Saturday, one is a student who attends East Preston Islamic College

Of the seven cases reported on Saturday, one is a student who attends East Preston Islamic College

Of the seven cases reported on Saturday, one is a student who attends East Preston Islamic College

Students and their family members, including staff from nearby Croxton School (pictured) are also being urged to get tested

Students and their family members, including staff from nearby Croxton School (pictured) are also being urged to get tested

Students and their family members, including staff from nearby Croxton School (pictured) are also being urged to get tested

Of the seven cases reported on the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, one is a student who attends East Preston Islamic College.

The health department has urged families and staff to get tested, including those at nearby Croxton School, even if they do not have any symptoms. 

Both schools will be closed for two weeks to undergo deep cleaning while all members get tested. 

Victoria’s Commander of Testing and Community Engagement Jeroen Weimar said they were working with faith leaders to send the message across to get tested.

‘I am so grateful to our community leaders for working with us to keep people safe,’ he said.

‘I have held several sessions over the last two days to listen and act on the advice from leading community members.

‘We are all Victorians working together to keep this virus away from our families.’ 

Health teams went around the suburbs where the cluster continues to grow and knocked on 90 homes to offer tested. About a third of people accepted being tested for COVID-19. 

Just two people walk on a near-deserted street in Melbourne's normally busy CBD. The business executives called for a 'safe and staged' return to work in the city

Just two people walk on a near-deserted street in Melbourne's normally busy CBD. The business executives called for a 'safe and staged' return to work in the city

Just two people walk on a near-deserted street in Melbourne’s normally busy CBD. The business executives called for a ‘safe and staged’ return to work in the city

A woman gets a hair cut at Joey Scandizzo Salon in South Yarra on Monday. Hairdressers have reopened, outdoor pools can host 30 swimmers, while real estate auctions can take place outdoors with up to 10 bidders

A woman gets a hair cut at Joey Scandizzo Salon in South Yarra on Monday. Hairdressers have reopened, outdoor pools can host 30 swimmers, while real estate auctions can take place outdoors with up to 10 bidders

A woman gets a hair cut at Joey Scandizzo Salon in South Yarra on Monday. Hairdressers have reopened, outdoor pools can host 30 swimmers, while real estate auctions can take place outdoors with up to 10 bidders

Mr Andrews eased some restrictions last Sunday, permitting hairdressers to reopen (pictured, a man visiting a barber on Monday after some lockdown measures were lifted)

Mr Andrews eased some restrictions last Sunday, permitting hairdressers to reopen (pictured, a man visiting a barber on Monday after some lockdown measures were lifted)

Mr Andrews eased some restrictions last Sunday, permitting hairdressers to reopen (pictured, a man visiting a barber on Monday after some lockdown measures were lifted)

Retail and hospitality businesses were to remain closed until November 1, but it appears that may be brought forward by a week. 

Residents of Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire have been trapped at home since the second lockdown began on July 9.

The city’s second lockdown is currently in its 15th week, although Mr Andrews eased some restrictions last Sunday.

Under the new rules, groups of up to 10 people from two households can gather outdoors and tennis courts, skate parks and golf courses have started up.

Hairdressers have reopened, outdoor pools can host 30 swimmers, while real estate auctions can take place outdoors with up to 10 bidders.

VICTORIA’S PATHWAY OUT OF LOCKDOWN 

The state government has mapped a new pathway out of lockdown for metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria that depends on stamping out COVID-19 cases in the community which have an unknown source.

METROPOLITAN MELBOURNE

STEP ONE: From 11:59pm Sunday October 18

* Two-hour outdoor time limit scrapped

* 5km travel restriction extended to 25km

* Outdoor gatherings up from five to 10

* Face-to-face allied health appointments to resume

* Tennis courts, golf courses and skate parks will reopen

* Outdoor swimming pools open to a maximum of 30 swimmers

* Hairdressers can reopen

* Outdoor real estate auctions permitted with up to 10 people, plus staff

STEP TWO: From 11:59pm on November 1:

* Up to two people, plus dependents, allowed to visit a home per day

* All retail shops can open

* Hospitality: maximum of 20 indoor seated customers (subject to one per four sqm), maximum of 50 outdoor patrons (subject to one per two sqm)

* Beauty and personal care services open

* Wedding groups of up to 10 permitted

* Up to 20 mourners allowed at funerals

* Outdoor religious gatherings and ceremonies capped at 20 people

MAJOR RESTRICTIONS REMAIN:

* Approved face masks must be worn at all times outside home

* Work from home if possible

* All businesses must have a COVID-safe plan    

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Australia

HEALTH NOTES: Video games can give teenagers a blast of joy

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health notes video games can give teenagers a blast of joy

Zapping away for hours on video games has long been demonised for destroying teenagers’ mental health, but it can actually make them happy, according to a survey.

Despite warnings of associations with depression, less than ten per cent of players said it had a negative effect on their mood, and more than a third said it gave them a boost. 

Those who played less than ten hours a week were the happiest, the survey by WePC found.

An analysis earlier this year of 21,000 young people concluded that playing video games – including shooting ones – did not increase the risk of aggressive behaviour.

Zapping away for hours on video games has long been demonised for destroying teenagers' mental health, but it can actually make them happy, according to a survey. Pictured: Stock image

Zapping away for hours on video games has long been demonised for destroying teenagers' mental health, but it can actually make them happy, according to a survey. Pictured: Stock image

Zapping away for hours on video games has long been demonised for destroying teenagers’ mental health, but it can actually make them happy, according to a survey. Pictured: Stock image

Thousands of Scottish children have been spared life-threatening asthma attacks – thanks to their parents stepping outside to smoke.

The number of young children hospitalised because of the debilitating respiratory condition has dropped by a quarter since 2014, researchers at the Universities of Aberdeen, Stirling and Glasgow have found.

The scientists say that the dramatic change is directly related to a 2014 Scottish media campaign – Take It Right Outside – which encouraged smokers to only light up when outdoors.

Past studies have shown that young children exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased likelihood of developing asthma. 

Professor Steve Turner, a consultant paediatrician at the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian, said parents were now creating ‘smoke-free bubbles’ around their children.

Sweaty workouts cloud your brain 

Don’t sign a contract after exercising as you’re more likely to make a decision you’ll later regret, a study has suggested.

Researchers at University College London gave gym-goers a series of choices with an immediate or delayed reward, such as whether to take £10 now or £50 six months later. 

Those who had just finished vigorous exercise were more likely to make an impulsive choice. 

Scans showed reduced activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex part of their brain, which aids cognitive control.

Dr Bastien Blain, author of the study, advises a period of rest before making life-altering decisions – giving brain activity a chance to return to normal.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Australia

New ‘sponge on a string’ test can pick up early signs of oesophageal cancer

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new sponge on a string test can pick up early signs of oesophageal cancer

Patients at risk of oesophageal cancer are being offered a new ‘sponge on a string’ test to help pick up the earliest signs of the disease – allowing doctors to take steps to prevent it.

The one-minute procedure, which can be carried out by a GP or a nurse, involves swallowing a pill containing a sponge-like material attached to a piece of thread. 

Once in the stomach, the pill dissolves and the sponge inside expands.

When it is drawn out, it gently scrapes away cells that line the oesophagus. The cells are then tested for pre-cancerous changes.

Called the Cytosponge, it offers an alternative to an endoscopy, in which a tube and camera are passed down the throat under local anaesthetic. 

Pictured: How the one-minute procedure, which can be carried out by a GP or a nurse, works

Pictured: How the one-minute procedure, which can be carried out by a GP or a nurse, works

Pictured: How the one-minute procedure, which can be carried out by a GP or a nurse, works

Endoscopies have to be done in a hospital or specialist unit and the procedures are notoriously uncomfortable.

The Cytosponge could help catch oesophageal cancer at its earliest stages or before it even begins, dramatically improving survival odds.

During initial trials, the test picked up an early-stage cancer in Liz Chipchase, 72, who said: ‘It saved my life.’

At present, about 9,200 Britons a year are diagnosed with the disease, and just 12 per cent survive more than a decade from diagnosis.

The cancer kills more than 7,000 people each year. Although age is the main risk factor, many cases are said to be preventable because they are linked to smoking, alcohol and obesity.

A condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus – pre-cancerous changes to the cells that line the lower part of the gullet – also increases the risk.

It is thought that about four million Britons suffer from Barrett’s, although many are unaware of it, and up to one in ten could go on to develop oesophageal cancer.

It is thought to be caused by acid reflux, where acid ‘leaks’ back up into the oesophagus from the stomach. Over time, this can change the cells that line the oesophagus.

While the cell changes of Barrett’s itself do not cause symptoms, acid reflux does – primarily heartburn or chest pain, but also an unpleasant taste in the mouth, a persistent cough, particularly at night, problems swallowing, nausea and vomiting. Oesophageal cancer causes similar problems.

These symptoms should warrant a referral for further investigations which, previously, would have involved an endoscopy.

Scientists stumble on a new organ in the brain 

A new organ buried deep inside the head has been discovered by Dutch scientists.

When cancer specialists were using a new CT scanner earlier this year, which meant injecting patients with a radioactive glucose to highlight organs, they were confused when an unfamiliar zone tucked in behind the nose lit up. 

After carrying out the scan on more than 100 patients, they concluded that it wasn’t an anomaly but a pair of glands that help produce saliva.

They have since been named ‘tubarial glands’.  

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The Cytosponge offers a simpler and less obtrusive alternative, say experts. There has also been concern about whether endoscopies can be carried out safely. 

The device blows air into the stomach to inflate it, but this can mean tiny moisture particles known as aerosols can be propelled out of the patient’s mouth and into the air. These particles may contain the Covid virus, putting doctors at risk.

In contrast, the Cytosponge procedure is ‘aerosol-free’, and it has already been fast-tracked in some hospitals to deal with the mounting diagnostic delays brought on by the pandemic. 

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government pledged £500,000 to help roll out the test.

Developed by researchers at Cambridge University and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, the Cytosponge may be able identify ten times more people with Barrett’s oesophagus than the current route, according to a study earlier this year.

This is because the procedure is much quicker than an endoscopy and can be carried out by GPs, meaning that more people will be able to access it.

If Barrett’s is diagnosed, patients may be offered medication to control stomach acid and offered lifestyle advice. In more advanced cases, they will be offered surgery to help reduce the risk of cancer developing.

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, who helped to develop the test, said the sponge could be a game-changer in the fight against oesophageal cancer.

She added: ‘Compared with endoscopies performed in hospital, the Cytosponge causes minimal discomfort and is a quick, simple test that can be done by a GP.

‘Our test is already being piloted around the country, so we hope more people across the UK could benefit from it.’ 

Addenbrooke’s Hospital recently fast-tracked the Cytosponge into use in order to help identify patients with suspected cancer who need further tests urgently.

This, along with its launch in Scotland, came in response to the major drop-off in cancer diagnosis during the coronavirus crisis.

According to Cancer Research UK, 2,700 fewer people a week have been diagnosed with cancer compared with last year.

Prof Fitzgerald hopes it will soon be available to GPs across the UK.

Ms Chipchase, who had suffered from acid reflux for years, took part in a Cytosponge trial programme in 2017. She said: ‘If I hadn’t been invited and gone on the trial, I would have had no idea that I needed treatment.’

She visited her GP for the test and received her results 12 days later.

The test indicated the retired scientist had Barrett’s oesophagus and, because of this, she was sent for an endoscopy to see if the cells were cancerous.

That procedure showed she had early-stage oesophageal cancer, and she was quickly started on treatment. 

She said: ‘I feel so lucky thinking about the chain of events that led to the cancer being caught when it was. The experience has changed me. I smile a lot more.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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