Australian Open ratings
(Image: AAP/Scott Barbour)

TENNIS RACKET

A third planeload of tennis players will be forced into two weeks of quarantine in Melbourne after a positive COVID-19 result was detected on a flight from Qatar, according to the ABC.

At least five passengers in total tested positive and at least 170 are isolating after being identified as close contacts. This includes 72 players who are now unable to train, and some of whom The New Daily reports have breached quarantine to speak to one another.

In other local COVID-19 news:

  • Victorian police officers who issued fines for restriction breaches have been “instructed to hand out cautions for unpaid infringements rather than proceed with charges” in a scheme The Age explains will allow for the avoidance of convictions and fines for all but the most egregious offenders
  • Children as young as nine returning unaccompanied to Sydney are being forced to quarantine alone for two weeks in facilities that also house adults sick with mutant strains of COVID-19 (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • NSW recorded six new locally-acquired cases linked to a Western Sydney man, with a health alert going out for Wentworthville and Auburn (ABC)
  • A new Deloitte business outlet report, titled We Got This, offers a positive economic forecast but calls for more flexible budget and policy responses, namely, according to one author, a higher, potentially above-poverty JobSeeker rate (The New Daily)
  • Australian authorities are seeking more information after the Norwegian Medicines Agency reported the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was associated with “adverse drug reactions in elderly people who are frail”. 29 deaths in this demographic have been reported as potentially being associated with the vaccine, with 13 of these cases having been assessed so far. NMA medical director Steinar Madsen notes that while new assessments will be developed for the elderly, “it is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients” (ABC).

BIDEN: HIS TIME

According to Politico, Joe Biden is planning to sign dozens of executive orders throughout his first days in office tackling COVID-19 and rolling back Donald Trump’s immigration and climate change policies, with undetailed items listed in an internal memo promising to:

  • Rescind the travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries
  • Re-join the UN Paris climate accords
  • Extend limits on student loan payments and evictions instituted during the pandemic
  • Issue a mask mandate on federal properties and for interstate travel
  • Support schools and businesses to “reopen safely”
  • Expand testing and establish clearer public health standards
  • Expand “Buy America provisions”
  • Take action to advance “equity and support communities of colour”
  • Expand access to healthcare
  • Work towards reuniting families separated at the border.

The news comes as security is boosted across the country for protests expected to ramp up today and, as CNN explains, extend at least until Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday (Thursday 3am AEST)

PS: As Forbes reports, Trump is on track to leave office this week with the lowest approval ratings of any modern president.

PAYING THE PRICE

In a Bizarro World vision of what could have happened in Australia were there any real repercussions for robodebt, Reuters reports that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire cabinet resigned over the weekend after accepting responsibility for wrongful accusations of tax fraud, which drove thousands of families to financial ruin in a system based in part on ethnic profiling.

WA ELECTION HEATS UP

Ahead of Western Australia’s election on March 13, ABC reports that Premier Mark McGowan has pledged to cut public transport fares to Perth’s outer suburbs if Labor is re-elected.

And according to The West Australian ($), WA Liberals have ruled out a deal with One Nation after their 2017 attempt blew up in their face.

PS: Ahead of a potential end-of-2021 federal election, The Australian ($) reports that senior CFMEU official Elizabeth Doidge has used a poll suggesting Labor could lose two Hunter Valley electorates to call on the party to dump Anthony Albanese (who, notably, is a factional enemy to Doidge’s ally John Setka).

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Hi [anti-fascist journalist] Molly! I hope you’re well 🙂 I work at [BLANK], the [BLANK] documentary program.

Our reporter, [BLANK] and our crew are heading to the US right now to cover everything that’s going at the moment leading up to the inauguration.

We’re looking to interview members of the far-right. I was hoping you’d be able to help out with a way to contact someone, or have anyone you could recommend who’d be willing to talk?

Thanks a million!

[BLANK]

Almost definitely an Australian journo

While we are currently only 99% sure this request to an anti-fascist journalist for a hook up with a white supremacist comes from an Australian news giant, is there really any country more willing to fly out journalists to both-sides a far-right riot?

CRIKEY RECAP

Will Trumpism rise in Australia? Yes, we’re already standing in it

“As Americans wince at the smouldering wreckage of the Trump presidency, many in Australia chuckle nervously. Surely, we tell ourselves, this couldn’t happen here?

“Conventional wisdom has always said no. A lack of open primaries and a compulsory voting system that pushes politics toward the centre makes the chances of a bombastic demagogue storming to the Lodge seem unlikely in the foreseeable future.”


Imperial America dies in parts as Washington surrenders to Trump’s chaos

Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration ceremony generated the largest crowds ever. Donald Trump’s 2016 ceremony generated a week of bizarre lying about the numbers at his much smaller event. And now there will be no public inauguration at all, with the National Mall, stretching from Congress to the Washington monument, to be closed to the public.

“It would be hard to overstate the symbolic significance of such a move. Washington, the city, was laid out in such a way as to emphasise the new federal/imperial republic arising from the motley collection of colony-states that had made a revolution.”


Et tu Donald? The president appears to drop his most loyal foot soldier

“Of all the grifters and cranks to attach themselves to outgoing President Donald Trump’s traveling circus, perhaps the one with the most to lose — apart from Ben Carson — is Rudy Giuliani.

“He could easily have gone down in history as an overzealous US attorney who took on the mafia and patented the ‘perp walk’, or as a fantastically overrated New York mayor, largely on account of the fact he happened to hold the office on September 11, 2001, and gave the public the hard-line response it wanted.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

RBA says low rates will push up house prices

Tropical cyclone forms in far-north Queensland as more storms forecast for state’s south-east

Bushfire warning downgraded for fire in Perth’s south

Philip Wilson, former Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, dies aged 70

Uni students heading back to COVID-safe campus ($)

Illinois will end cash bail — and limit use of high-tech incarceration

Corbyn to campaign against Murdoch’s News UK TV channel

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to fly home despite arrest threat

Scores killed in Sudan’s Darfur clashes

Fox News viewership plummets: First time behind CNN and MSNBC in two decades

THE COMMENTARIAT

Social media platforms are harming our healthDavid Shearman (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The insurrection against democracy in the US Capitol may have one positive outcome. It may bring home to all remaining democracies that Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms cannot continue to be allowed to peddle lies on COVID-19 that are detrimental to human health.”

We must not trade principles in stand against Beijing bully ($) — Innes Willox (The Australian): “Industry will need all the help it can get to expand and diversify to new markets. That pivot will not be easy. All the trade promotion in the world will be largely wasted if industry and government don’t work together. In the meantime, we must play with the cards we have been dealt. A lesson from the mid-1990s — when Australia held the economic upper hand with China but when there was a major falling-out over Taiwan — is that we didn’t blink, didn’t back down and didn’t forget who our friends were.”

Oil industry reconsiders donations to election deniers — but has its own big lie Alleen Brown (The Intercept): “Those who have spent years confronting fossil fuel industry-funded disinformation campaigns, raising alarms about the climate crisis, are unimpressed with the moves. The origin of the storming of the Capitol was a series of lies, and there is no indication that the fossil fuel industry is taking a meaningful stance against high-risk deceit.”

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