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THE HERALD SUN, NHMRC, AAP, THE AUSTRALIAN (Australia)

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MELBOURNE – Australia is officially the meanest country EVER!

New hygiene rules mean that Australian children will be banned from blowing out birthday candles at school parties.

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Yes, you read it correctly. No this is not a cruel joke. According to the latest National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, children at Australia's child-care centers will be banned from blowing out candles on communal birthday cakes, reports the Herald Sun.

The motivation behind the new rules: to avoid blowing germs on the cake.

"Children love to blow out their candles while their friends are singing "Happy birthday"," says the NHMRC document. "To prevent the spread of germs when the child blows out the candles, parents should either provide a separate cupcake, with a candle if they wish, for the birthday child and (either) enough cupcakes for all the other children ... (or) a large cake that can be cut and shared.”

So just how will these new rules be enforced? Will the fun police be patrolling every daycare and preschool in Australia?

According to the AAP, Health Minister Tanya told reporters: "We're not going to have the cupcake police out, but childcare centers know that whatever they can do to reduce infections in childcare centers is going to be good for the kids, good for the families they support and good for childcare workers."

The Australian Medical Association warned the clean-freak regulations place "kids in a bubble," reports the Australian. “If somebody sneezes on a cake, I probably don't want to eat it either - but if you're blowing out candles, how many organisms are transferred to a communal cake, for goodness' sake?" asks AMA president Steve Hambleton.

He added: “"If you live in a plastic bubble you're going to get infections (later in life) that you can't handle."

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Society

Journalism In A Zero-Trust World: Maria Ressa Speaks After Rappler Shut Down Again

The Rappler CEO and Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke with The Wire's Arfa Khanum Sherwani about how journalists everywhere need to prepare themselves for the worst-case scenario of government-ordered closure and what they should do to face up to such a challenge.

Maria Ressa, Filipino journalist, author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

Arfa Khanum Sherwani

HONOLULU — For someone who’s just been ordered to shut down the news website she runs, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is remarkably cheerful about what may happen next.

In a speech she gave to a conference at the East-West Center here on challenges the media face in a “zero trust world”, Ressa said that she and her colleagues were prepared for this escalation in the Philippines government’s war on independent media and will carry on doing the work they do. “If you live in a country where the rule of law is bent to the point it’s broken, anything is possible…. So you have to be prepared.”

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