Australian Open COVID-19
(Image: AP/Andy Wong)

FLY, FLY AGAIN

According to The Australian ($), the Victorian government is preparing to submit plans to national cabinet on February 5 to boost its number of overseas arrivals and create a separate entry quota for international students.

With Australia recording zero new locally-acquired cases yesterday, Dan Andrews announced that masks will no longer be compulsory in offices and more workers can return from next Monday. As The Age notes, Andrews also reiterated that Brisbane and Sydney remain “red zones”, even as the state prepares for the arrival of 1200 Australian Open tennis players and their entourages.

Additionally, the Defence Department reportedly told the Victorian government at the beginning of the pandemic that military bases would not be suitable for quarantine sites.

Other Australian COVID-19 news today includes:

  • An Adelaide couple returning from Cairns and attempting to avoid the NSW hard border spent two days in the outback with no food or water after their car got bogged in sand (The Guardian)
  • A key scientist behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Andrew Pollard has warned that pausing the planned rollout in Australia over herd immunity concerns could cost lives if we are hit by another wave of infections (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would bring a proposal to use mining camps for quarantine sites to national cabinet on January 22 (ABC).

PS: In Australian Open news, ABC reports Andy Murray is in doubt after testing positive to COVID-19, women’s world number 16 Madison Keys has pulled out after also testing positive, and Tennys Sandgren has boarded a flight to Melbourne despite a having a second positive test for COVID-19 on Monday. COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria released a statement after he was cleared for travel to Australia saying the evidence in Sandgren’s case “suggested he had recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection and is still shedding viral particles”.

HEDGING THEIR THREATS

Following Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment yesterday, CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear a trial won’t start until Joe Biden is sworn in and that, while he is still undecided in his vote, a rushed event would not be fair.

The news comes as Democrats call on Trump to de-escalate the threat of terorrism by admitting Biden won the election, and after an organiser of the instigating “Stop the Steal” rally, Ali Alexander, named Republicans Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar as helping him plan it.

As agencies prepare for more riots over the weekend, The Intercept reports that while the Pentagon has attempted to claim it was not privy to intelligence on violent protests, leaked US military intelligence suggested back on December 21 that conflict could emerge from the election conspiracy theories. The document, which came at least a few weeks before people straight up wrote about storming the Capitol on Trump forums, also designates QAnon a terrorist group.

PS: In analysis that should surprise roughly no one, data from non-profit database the US Crisis Monitor finds US police are three times more likely to use force against left-wing protesters than their right-wing equivalents.

PPS: And in a more lighthearted update, Trump was so upset over being impeached again he reportedly told staff not to pay Rudy Giuliani.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Freedom of speech does not equal freedom of responsibility. In a political environment shaped by COVID, the responsibility of every MP is to safeguard democracy by rejecting disinformation and fake news. We have a duty to our nation to follow the evidence and facts.

Fiona Martin

Days after acting PM Michael McCormack came out in defence of “contentious facts”, the MP for Reid remains the only federal Coalition member to even tepidly, indirectly push back on colleagues sharing Trump-style conspiracy theories. Kudos!

CRIKEY RECAP

Cancel platform Australia: Google seriously looks at pulling out its search engine

“Big tech is on a cancel binge. Now, the biggest of big tech, Google, seems to be seriously thinking of cancelling Australia through pulling all or part of its search engine from the country.

“It’s looking increasingly likely. The overnight news that Google is experimenting to see how its users behave when links to commercial news are buried deep in search results comes on top of a steady ramping up of the company’s rhetoric about the unworkability of the federal government’s proposed mandatory news bargaining code.”


The black market has been flooded with COVID-19 vaccines… but they’re not what you’d expect

“Illegal black markets on the dark web are being flooded with purported COVID-19 vaccines, with hundreds of listings found by Inq.

“Australia’s ties to these marketplaces on the dark web (often called the deep web or darknet) are extensive. On Tuesday the Australian operator of DarkMarket, which is being called the largest illegal marketplace on the dark web, was arrested in Germany and the site shut down. Australia also has one of the world’s highest concentrations of darknet drug vendors per capita, thanks to the high prices we’re willing to pay.”


Capitol mob’s storming of reality is mugged by power made visible — for now

“With the speed of the news cycle being what it is, the temptation is to move on quickly, lest one appear to be behind the curve. That urge needs to be absolutely resisted in the case of the US Capitol invasion.

“This is such a strange and significant event that its full import is difficult to assimilate. As with any moment in which capital-H History actually makes an appearance amid the trivia and detritus of history, the tendency is to shuffle the event into pre-existing categories and move on.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Just beautiful little kids’: Woman, three children found dead at Tullamarine home

Woman wins two-year battle with Centrelink after it demanded she pay back $27,000

Phage therapy offers hope in fight against antibiotic resistance and superbugs

Countries adapting too slowly to climate breakdown, UN warns

Nearly four in five Australians working from home suffered from burnout last year. Here’s why

Victorians urged to help scientists count ‘vulnerable’ platypuses

Australia to kill pigeon that crossed Pacific from Oregon

Polls close in Uganda’s tense presidential election: Live news

Navalny faces arrest on return, Russian prison service warns

Siegfried Fischbacher, of Siegfried & Roy, dies of cancer in Las Vegas aged 81

Biden to unveil plan to pump $1.5 trillion into pandemic-hit economy

THE COMMENTARIAT

Fly the Aboriginal flag at half mast on January 26Lidia Thorpe (The Sydney Morning Herald): “For First Nations people across this country, January is a hard month. The colonial flag-waving, the heightened racism, the collective amnesia, and the celebration of violent occupation. After more than 200 years of colonisation, too many Australians still think January 26 is a day of celebration.”

Kurt Campbell: China’s Dr Containment is Australia’s Dr Contentment ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “The news that US president-elect Joe Biden will appoint Kurt Campbell as Asia tsar in his White House is the best thing that has happened for Australia since the Democrat triumphed over Don­ald Trump in the presidential ­election. Campbell is smart, hawkish, tough, a superb operator, a deep thinker and Australia’s best friend in Washington.”

The giant corporate giant slush fund bankrolling the extremist GOPDavid Sirota, Andrew Perez, Walker Bragman, and Julia Rock (Jacobin): “Halting PAC donations while doing nothing to stop corporate titans’ bigger super PAC donations is a head fake: The manoeuvre lets companies clean their reputations by pretending they are taking decisive actions to punish insurrectionist Republicans, even though they will not stop corporate officials from recapitalizing the slush fund that those lawmakers will rely on for r-eelection. And the vast majority of these companies do not publicly disclose if and when they make donations to dark money groups that also spend on elections.”

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Peter Fray

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