NOT QUITE A TRUMP CARD
Donald Trump will today close out his last full day as president with at least 60, and possibly more than 100 pardons or commutations, with The New York Times’ live blog noting names under consideration include disgraced former New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and rapper Lil Wayne.
According to CNN sources, other names could come from a list of several proposed by criminal justice reform groups.
NBC also reports Trump has indicated a push to resume international travel with Europe and Brazil, a move incoming Democrats have panned.
And in his final day as secretary of state — and just a day after Martin Luther King Jr Day, Mike Pompeo dubbed multiculturalism, along with “woke-ism” and “all the -isms”, to not be “who America is”. As Business Insider reports, the openly racist tweet claimed these traits, “distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about”, and follows previous denunciations of multiculturalism.
Finally, according to AP, two National Guard members have been removed from Joe Biden’s inauguration due to their connections to far-right militia groups.
According to CNN, Joe Biden will unveil a multi-year pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in his first day of office, and, separately, will introduce new ethics guidelines for the public service that would ban new political appointments from receiving payments from former employers.
ABC reports Biden will also make history by nominating transgender doctor and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary, while, ahead of inauguration on Wednesday (Thursday 3am AEST), the Senate is currently holding confirmation hearings for five cabinet nominees.
Senate Democrats have also confirmed the first bill of the new Congress will be the reintroduction of the For The People Act, which the House passed in 2019 and Daily Kos explains would remove barriers to expanding voting access, establish public financing in House elections to “level the playing field”, and ban congressional gerrymandering — which is a state responsibility — by requiring every state create a nonpartisan redistricting commission subject to nonpartisan criteria.
According to The Age, National Australia Bank has told mortgage brokers it will not accept any applications after today for mortgage payment pauses, months after the big four banks agreed to the emergency scheme set to close in March.
Simultaneously, The Australian ($) is lauding “obtained” Treasury data suggesting a tripling in the number of $25,000 HomeBuilder grants — provided, for clarity, on projects worth a minimum of $150,000 — in December has taken the expected number of new builds from 27,000 to beyond 75,000.
Elsewhere, The New Daily reports Scott Morrison has appeared to rebuff calls for a JobKeeper-style assistance package for the tourism sector, while The Oz ($) also reports that Restaurant and Catering Australia has proposed a six-month “HospoKeeper” replacement for JobKeeper to Josh Frydenberg.
Finally, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has called on the government to extend JobKeeper to new employees to help businesses faced with replacing outgoing staff.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Today we honour Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s message of hope, justice and equality.
America’s equivalent of Border Force honours the legacy of an anti-racist, anti-military and anti-capitalist icon the best way it knows how: taking a 9-year-old’s visa, separating him from his older brother, and indefinitely detaining him in a Texas refugee camp.
“According to polling published in the Guardian Australia, 76% of Australians want Prime Minister Scott Morrison to tell Craig Kelly to shut up.
“His refusal to do so is a defining failure of leadership and morality. That’s obvious. My question is whether it may also have legal consequences: could his government become liable for the resulting public harm?”
“A Queensland father has sat in an over-populated foreign jail for more than seven years without his case coming to trial. And you probably haven’t even heard his name.
“Troy Russell Birthisel was detained at an airport in the Philippines in 2013 and arrested on suspicion of human trafficking from the Philippines to Singapore. Those charges were later dropped and replaced with an accusation of illegal recruitment.”
“If Scott Morrison’s snippy and dismissive responses to fair questions didn’t tip you off, his government has proven itself time and time again even more averse to scrutiny than most.
“Beyond its commitment to defund or undermine regulators, it habitually sits on unflattering reports. And when it does release them, it’s often after an inordinate delay.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Australian billionaires must repay JobKeeper, not pocket millions in bonuses — Andrew Leigh (The Age): “When the pandemic hit, billionaire Solomon Lew was quick to plead for government assistance. In one telephone call, he reportedly cried when asking Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to establish the JobKeeper program. Lew’s firm, Premier Investments, temporarily shut down many of its stores, including Smiggle, Dotti, Portmans and Just Jeans. The company applied for JobKeeper and ultimately received more than $40 million in taxpayer assistance.”
Coronavirus: PM plays to home crowd over ‘pariah’ expats ($) — Janet Albrechtsen (The Australian): “Tennis Australia has shown that where there is a will, there is a way. In the past few weeks, it has arranged 17 flights for 1200 elite tennis players and officials, all foreigners, to enter Australia, and found them additional hotel quarantine spots. Notice that none is being housed in remote miners’ camps in outback Australia. Meanwhile, Scott Morrison continues to outsource decision-making about Australians who are stranded overseas to Australians at home. And, over the past 10 months, we have discovered that many don’t appear to have much compassion for expats trying to return home.”
There are no more chances — Ketan Joshi (Ketan Joshi): “Though complaints were made to the Australian Press Council, no action was taken to remove the article or punish the media outlet. The reason this article prompted little outcry among the employees of News Corp is because white supremacy, racism and the deadly ideology of the ‘Great Replacement’ belief system are viewed as harmless thought experiments — rather than things that lead to children being murdered by Australians with shotguns.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Just Peace Queensland convenor Annette Brownlie, investigative journalist Peter Cronau and former public servant Paul Barratt will launch A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés, a collection featuring Crikey’s Guy Rundle, in an Avid Reader Zoom event.