WINDING THE LOCKDOWN CLOCK DOWN?
Residents of Greater Brisbane will today find out whether the snap three day lockdown, brought in over fears of the UK strain of COVID-19, will be extended. The ABC reports that while it’s still early days since the January 2-5 exposure period, no community transmission has been detected among either the broader population, or the 122 of 147 close contacts to have received results.
The Queensland government has renewed calls for even asymptomatic potential contacts to be tested, and has updated a list of potential exposure sites after a Victorian woman tested positive for the UK variant in Maleny, the Sunshine Coast on Friday.
Other Australian COVID-19 updates today include:
- NSW has added several new venues to its list of exposure sites, including the Costco Wholesale Casula on Saturday January 2, while the discovery of one new case linked to the Avalon cluster has not stopped the Northern Beaches emerging from a three week lockdown (The Guardian)
- Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley has hit back at Gladys Berejiklian’s comments that states need to “talk to us in NSW before you close the border because we can explain to you the situation that’s going on”, citing daily phone calls, preliminary warnings and an alert at the time Victoria’s hard border was decided on (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- A 37-year-old man who sparked a COVID-19 alert — but ultimately tested negative — after allegedly jumping off a bulk carrier ship in Albany on Western Australia’s south coast has been arrested in a local backpackers hostel and charged with breaching quarantine orders (ABC)
- New data compiled by the Australian Taxation Office shows a total of $5.9 billion went back to 7.8 million workers through the low- and middle-income tax offset in the six months to January (The Sydney Morning Herald), although efforts to spin the average $760 as a plan to encourage spending are somewhat undercut by the government again slashing the JobSeeker boost this month
- Chief medical officer Paul Kelly has announced that, while the (imported) Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will likely be the first to get approved in Australia, most in the country will end up receiving the domestically-manufactured, more-easily storable and slightly-less effective Oxford-AstraZeneca shot (ABC).
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UNITED STATES OF UNREST
The New York Times reports that momentum for impeaching Donald Trump a second time has grown over the weekend, with Democrat Ted Lieu announcing on Saturday that the article of impeachment drafted by him and other House Democrats had drawn more than 190 co-sponsors and two Republicans voicing support.
However most GOP politicians have stayed silent on the issue and seven House Republicans have even called on Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi to stop the process, with the group arguing that impeaching a president who inspired a takeover of Congress over made-up election claims would be divisive and overly hasty.
Elsewhere, CNN reports that sources claim Mike Pence has not ruled out invoking Amendment 25, white supremacists and far-right extremists are intensifying their calls for violence ahead of Inauguration Day, and that Trump advisers are reportedly pushing the president to spin his Twitter ban as a way to shift media narrative away from the Capitol Hill siege.
PS: Looks like some of those advisers’ work is being done for them here in Australia, with The Sydney Morning Herald reporting that Coalition MPs and regulators are calling for new social media regulation following Trump’s ban.
A DECADE OF RACIAL ABUSE
Finally, The Guardian reports that India cricket veteran Ravichandran Ashwin claims he has been the victim of abuse from Sydney crowds for almost a decade now, as Cricket Australia and NSW police launch investigations into allegations of a racial slurs during both days three and four at the SCG.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[On Twitter banning Donald Trump over “the risk of further incitement of violence”]: Right decision on the facts.
But deeply uncomfortable w precedent of big tech making decisions about whose speech, and which remarks, are censored and suppressed.
Such decisions should be taken by a publicly accountable body, on basis of transparent reasoning & principles.
At a time when Sky News continues to host white supremacists and election conspiracy theorists, the Liberal MP proposes a new public authority to tackle the real danger: Twitter unilaterally banning someone who inspired a deadly siege.
“Talk about rats fleeing a sinking ship.
“Actually, the exodus in Washington after the storming of the Capitol yesterday is more reminiscent of the heady days of the French Revolution or the fall of the Nazis, where collaborators switched sides just as their necks looked vulnerable.”
“Democrats, and a few Republicans, have seen enough. Even though Trump has one foot out of the Oval Office, they want him gone even sooner.
“There are two ways Trump can be removed. Firstly, section four of the 25th amendment to the constitution provides a process where the vice-president and cabinet can declare a president ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’.”
“On July 1 2019, several hundred activists stormed Hong Kong’s legislative council complex. It was a group that had broken off from an earlier peaceful protest, one of the many that had been taking place over the months prior.
“Pictures started flooding out of graffiti and damage done to the government building, of banners being hung in the building, of smashed glass.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
‘A story about decadence’: One reason why we’re so absorbed by what’s happening in Washington DC — Tim Soutphommasane (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The real decadence here is societal. Had recent events in the US — the mob insurrection, the country’s disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — occurred elsewhere, we’d likely be talking about the country as a failed state. What kind of society, what kind of culture, makes it possible for the world’s greatest power to break down like this?”
Trump apologists discover their inner conviction ($) — Peter Van Onselen (The Australian): “The callow collective of reactionary Australian commentators who regularly attempt to out-do one another in their support for Trump should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, enablers of dangerous political intolerance one and all. To be sure, they won’t show a shred of contrition, courtesy of a mixture of stubbornness and ignorance.”
The enablers of insurrection should be ostracized — Jeet Heer (The Nation): “The shunning that [Josh] Hawley is now receiving offers a solution to one of the major problems of the Trump era: the impunity enjoyed by Trump’s accomplices, sidekicks, and enablers. The legal system has proved an imperfect mechanism for going after Trump’s cronies, since he’s been able to use his presidential powers to shield many of them from investigation — and to pardon those who did run afoul of the law, such as Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.”
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