CAMP OUT, CAMP IN
According to The Australian ($), the Queensland government is considering flying international travellers into remote workers camps after an outbreak of the UK COVID-19 strain at a Brisbane hotel led to hundreds of people being forced to repeat quarantine.
The plan, which could be rolled out nationally and was originally backed by police last year before being dropped following a fall in community transmissions, will be discussed today by Queensland Health, police, and managers of proposed facilities.
In other domestic COVID-19 news:
- Residents of 14 Sydney suburbs have been warned to check for symptoms after virus fragments were found at a West Hornsby treatment plant: Glenorie, Wahroonga, Thornleigh, Pennant Hills, Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Galston, Dural, Westleigh, Glenhaven, Waitara, Hornsby, Normanhurst and West Pennant Hills (7News)
- Gladys Berejiklian has announced the NSW government will require travellers to quarantine for 14 days from the start of their symptoms if they test positive for the UK strain of COVID-19 (AFR $)
- Chief medical officer Paul Kelly attempted to calm debate over the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by declaring the drug is effective, locally-manufactured, and therefore “available to give the maximum rollout” to “save lives” (ABC)
- Unlike members of the Morrison government, Kelly also hosed down Craig Kelly’s false claims over ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatments (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- A foreign military official and the partner of another have tested positive in a Darwin quarantine hotel, while the Department of Defence says they have not come into contact with any locals (ABC)
- Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has announced that masks are now mandatory in every airport across the state, with failure to comply carrying fines of up to $50,000 (7News).
REPUBLICANS FLEE SINKING SHIP
Several US House Republicans have flagged their intention to vote for Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment today, ahead of a vote that CNN’s live-blog reports should pass the Democrat-controlled House sometime between 3-4 pm ET (7-8am AEDT). GOP sources suggest that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports impeachment.
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The vote will uniquely take place at a point in time in which Trump is both banned from Twitter and has no public schedule, and comes as the FBI announces more than 170 investigations into last week’s attack — which it says it warned other law enforcement agencies of ahead of time; see Business Insider for a guide to those ignored online warnings — and begins arrests of armed far-right extremists making online threats ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday, January 20.
PS: According to the Associated Press, Kansas woman Lisa Montgomery has become the first female inmate to be executed in nearly seven decades, with two more federal prisoners set to be killed before Biden’s presidency promises to again end federal executions.
PPS: Looking ahead to that presidency, The New York Times reports that incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee Bernie Sanders is planning to include funding for $1400 cheques, vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, and an emergency universal health care program in the next stimulus package.
IS THERE A DEBTOR WAY?
In industrial news, The Age reports that Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell has called for a HECS-style loan system for small businesses after JobKeeper ends in March.
The Australian ($) meanwhile cites new Treasury figures showing households and businesses have saved more than $200 billion throughout the pandemic, which, for some, will come in handy as the government puts JobSeeker back below poverty rates.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
We’re currently running a few experiments that will each reach about 1% of Google Search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other.
In admitting to intermittently blocking Australian news websites from some users, the search engine offers the country trying to force it to pay for that content a chilling reminder that, at the end of the day, it’s their world wide web, baby, we’re just living on it.
“January is always the silly season for news when they bring in the B-teams both on and off air, but with actual news happening this year the pollies look worse than usual.
“Forget the fact that all politicians should not be seen or heard at this time of year — the pandemic and US political chaos means anyone with ‘acting’ in front of their title is not going to miss their 15 minutes in the spotlight.”
“As we’ve written before, Coalition backbencher Craig Kelly — presumably annoyed that deaths caused by his relentlessly spruiked coal industry are taking too long — has dived headlong into spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
“He spent a great deal of 2020 endorsing the drug hydroxychloroquine over the protests of Australia’s chief medical officer, and now he’s going after masks. Yesterday he shared a (non-peer-reviewed) paper looking at the side effects of mask wearing, which led him to the conclusion that forcing adolescents to wear masks was child abuse.”
“In the dying days of the Trump presidency, the ABC got a huge scoop: the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy — which among other things spells out a blueprint for getting tougher on China. The document was released today after Aunty got exclusive early access.
“There’s a lot of eyebrow-raising stuff going on here.
“First, the document isn’t meant to be declassified for another 30 years — national security sources never get released this early. Second, there’s the question of why it was given to the ABC. Is there some method behind the Trump administration’s madness? And, more worryingly, has the ABC been played?”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Victoria’s treatment of its own residents is not proportionate, fair or reasonable — Editorial (The Age): “There is a legitimate objective behind the government’s hard-line approach, namely curbing local transmission of the virus. But indefinitely barring residents from their home state is an unnecessarily harsh, punitive and unreasonable way to achieve that goal. The Andrews government should take the evidence of the first and second lockdowns that we are responsible, that we can be trusted, and do as other states do: allow our citizens to return, quarantine at home and then get on with their lives. The Premier owes us that.”
Scott Morrison can act swiftly to help shape US policy ($) — Peter Jennings (The Australian): “Morrison should visit Washington soon after the inauguration to help shape Biden’s thinking about America’s role in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. If Biden is to develop a strategic approach that also serves Australia’s interests, we need to craft our place in that coalition effort. There is no more urgent Australian policy development task. Key elements of this strategy should be to: shape a common response against Chinese economic coercion; a formalising of Quadrilateral defence co-operation which involves Japan and India; a shared condemnation of China’s dismantling of Hong Kong’s autonomy; an agreement to develop supply chains that shun Chinese forced labour; and combined planning to strengthen the defence of Taiwan.”
The West won’t let go of neoliberalism and white supremacy, and it’s destroying us — Jim Malo (Junkee): “The West is tearing itself apart before our eyes. The storming of the US Capitol building felt like a shocking, senseless act of violence against the ideals Americans claim to believe in. But it wasn’t sudden — the writing has been on the wall for years. The insurrectionists didn’t wake up on January 6 and simply decided to walk into the seat of power of the republic.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Psychologist Phil Slade will launch his book Going Ape S*!t — Mastering Reactivity in a Highly Reactive World in an Avid Reader Zoom event.