WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS
NSW has begun another week of lockdown after a bleak weekend in which two people died, more than 300 cases were recorded, and thousands of unmasked protesters marched. NSW’s lockdown, slated to end Friday, will almost certainly be extended. The Australian ($) reports that it could now extend as far as September 17, reportedly based on the government’s financial modelling. It’ll be particularly tough news for Sydneysiders who looked on with dismay at the violent and mask-less anti-lockdown protest in the city’s CBD at the weekend.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian told protesters they “should be ashamed” of themselves, while NSW Police have issued 510 fines and are wading their way through more than 5500 tip-offs, Guardian Australia says. Australia’s latest milkshake duck, TikTok creator Jon-Bernard Kairouz (who was the guy correctly guessing NSW’s daily case numbers) was amoing those fined for attending, news.com.au reports. While it is too soon to say whether the event will be a COVID super-spreader, as ABC says, NSW Health said another gathering of 50 people had already resulted in 28 cases of COVID. The state recorded 163 new cases on Saturday, a new record in the Delta outbreak in Australia, and 141 on Sunday.
A 38-year-old woman and a woman in her 70s died at the weekend. The first, Adriana Midori Takara, was a Brazilian national studying accounting and has become one of Australia’s youngest COVID deaths. Takara reportedly had no prior health conditions, but she deteriorated quickly after contracting the virus, the SMH reports. In the wake of the news, the ATAGI has changed its advice — originally it said Pfizer was the preferred jab for under 60s, but now it says anyone aged between 18-59 in Greater Sydney should get any available vaccine, including AstraZeneca.
There's more to Crikey than you think.
Get more and save 50%.
LOCKDOWN AND OUT IN SA AND VIC?
Victoria awaits news on whether lockdown will be lifted this week. Premier Dan Andrew said at the weekend that it was his “hope that we are able to ease some of the restrictions that we are living under”. How much things change could be down to a few things, ABC says: how many cases were walking around in the community while infectious, how many people affected in those big exposure sites (like Prahran Market and the LaCrosse building) have been tested, and whether the anti-lockdown rally becomes a super-spreader event. Of 11 new cases in Victoria yesterday, all were in home quarantine when infectious and linked back to known outbreaks, which is a sign authorities have a relative handle on chains of transmission.
In South Australia, the week-long lockdown looks to be coming to an end tomorrow evening, Premier Steven Marshall said, after the three cases recorded on Sunday were in home quarantine already. Late last night, SA Health tweeted that they’d added a new exposure site — Elizabeth Park. Marshall congratulated his state for its behaviour during the lockdown, SBS reports, saying “this disease thrives on indecision” and “we moved very quickly”. SA will cancel international flights due into Adelaide on Monday and Tuesday in the hope of keeping the state on track.
Queensland recorded five cases yesterday but, similarly, all were in home quarantine while infectious. Among them is a Queensland flight attendant who picked up an infected NSW man from Ballina. The man, who was told by NSW health authorities he didn’t have COVID (he did), was supposed to be isolating for two weeks no matter what the result of his test was. Police are investigating the breach, the Brisbane Times reports.
SITUATION WORSENS IN INDONESIA
Indonesia is fast becoming one of Asia’s worst COVID hotspots, Al Jazeera reports. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has had a daily death toll of above 1000 in the last 10 days — on Friday it jumped to 1566 lives lost. Hospitals are overwhelmed and oxygen supplies are low, particularly on the densely populated islands of Bali and Java.
Senior Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who is charged with the COVID response in Bali and Java, said deaths have risen “due to a number of factors: full hospitals, patients admitted with low saturation or dying unmonitored in self-isolation”. The government has confirmed it would add more intensive care units amid a rise in deaths — which are now three times higher than the global average, Our World in Data says.
Less than 7% of Indonesia’s population of 270 million has been fully vaccinated, Reuters says.
Amid the tense Senate run-offs in Georgia, dozens of failed election fraud lawsuits (at least 86!), and the many Trump officials and campaigners who are still being indicted on criminal charges, sometimes it can feel like the November 2020 US election has never ended.
But in one small county in Arizona, it actually hasn’t. ABC’s long read this morning is a fascinating insight into the effects this county’s recount could have on “policy, precedent and, maybe most of all, public opinion”. Maricopa County, a Republican electoral stronghold, is still laboriously checking, examining, and recounting their ballots more than eight months after the election was won. What does that mean? Well, Trump lost Arizona by a slim 10,457 votes, but he lost the county by 45,109 votes. Still, ABC’s Emily Olsen says, the audit can’t magically remove US President Joe Biden from office.
“This is a story about what happens when a small group of people lose all trust in basic democratic institutions,” Olsen writes. “And then those institutions, struggling to get the people back, try giving them legitimate power.”
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Cheers were heard around the country yesterday after Australia won its first gold of the Tokyo games.
But it’s business-as-usual for our record-smashing women’s relay team, Emma McKeon, Meg Harris, Cate Campbell, and Bronte Campbell, Guardian Australia says. The award-winning time (which shaved three-tenths of a second off their previous best), broke the 3:30 mark for the first time in history. It’s actually the fourth world record the women have set: they smashed three others as they won Olympic gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016, along with gold medals at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games. Huzzah!
If you’ve got swimming fever after the elation of the weekend’s gold, there’s loads more on today, the SMH says. McKeon will swim the women’s 100m butterfly final, Ariane Titmus will swim the women’s 400m freestyle final, and the men will swim the 4x100m freestyle relay final.
And don’t miss Australia’s tennis darling Ash Barty battling it out in the second round of the women’s doubles — Barty and Storm Sanders will face China’s Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan. Barty was knocked out of singles yesterday, describing it as a “tough” and “disappointing” day, Guardian Australia reports. But she’ll play alongside her childhood friend — Sanders — today, which must be a good feeling.
Hoping your Monday is full of cheer.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Remember when the authorities and fake news media gave BLM protests in Australia a free pass because they couldn’t have possibly spread COVID-19 outdoors?
The Nationals MP made the comment while defending the weekend’s violent anti-lockdown protests. At Sydney’s peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) march, six people were arrested by authorities. The march — while deemed unlawful because of the pandemic — was socially distanced and attended by people wearing masks. Police riot squad and dogs thwarted the BLM march before it could properly begin, but it was widely covered at the time, and not always favourably.
“The other problem has been the failure to remove, or even stop promoting, poor performers. Peter Dutton — to whom Turnbull rightly has expressed regret about handing the Home Affairs portfolio — has moved to a bigger playground for bungling contracts at Defence. Michaelia Cash — in any average ministry of the last 30 years, a junior minister at best — has found herself attorney-general, replacing Christian Porter, meaning that portfolio now suffers from both inexperience and partisan vindictiveness. Climate denialist and scandal magnet Angus Taylor remains in energy; Greg Hunt has demonstrated his 10-point font competence in the disastrous rollout.
“Worst of all, in a major blow to the average IQ of the ministry, this year the incompetent rorter Barnaby Joyce, like Mungo MacCallum’s famous unflushable turd, returned to cabinet and the deputy prime ministership, along the way expelling Chester from the frontbench along with his predecessor Michael McCormack, who as a minister was no more incompetent than most of his Nationals colleagues, while rorter Bridget McKenzie returned.”
“In fact, federal Labor’s messaging has unsurprisingly focused on Morrison’s (frankly appalling) failure to shore up enough different vaccine deals. But that’s meant it has often framed AZ as the “wrong” vaccine, a dud we’re stuck with because of Morrison’s incompetence. Asked to rehabilitate the vaccine on RN Breakfast this week, Labor Senator Kristina Keneally accused Morrison of “freelancing” on AstraZeneca. Which is true, but people should be aggressively encouraged to take it. Labor’s health spokesman Chris Bowen tweeted that Australia’s problem was vaccine scarcity. But there’s an oversupply of AZ.
“When we asked Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese last month whether his MPs were contributing to vaccine hesitancy he bristled, and slammed the Morrison government’s failure to secure enough other vaccines. But Labor’s incentives — to point out government failure — make this language unsurprising. It’s the supposedly objective fourth estate that has been most villainous. There’s the ABC’s Norman Swan, rightly or wrongly a well-trusted authority, who now openly admits he caused some vaccine hesitancy for casting doubts about AZ’s efficacy.”
“Whatever the rule, it all comes down to reducing mobility and limiting the number of people in contact with one another. But Sydney residents have not been sticking to the rules: last week, modelling by the University of Sydney estimated just 40% of residents were staying home. If 80% of people complied with public health orders, lockdown would be over in a month, researchers said. But if that number dropped to 70% it would take two months.
“The next few days are crucial as the impact of restrictions implemented last week will be known. [Professor of biostatistics at the University of South Australia Adrian] Esterman is critical of the government’s response, saying NSW should have gone into lockdown a week before it did and is unlikely to curb the outbreak until September. But he says NSW is likely to have hit its peak COIVD-19 cases — as long as people follow the rules.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The Star abandons $12b Crown merger (AFR) ($)
Naomi Osaka returns to the stage, on her terms (The New York Times)
World cringes at Tokyo Olympics’ most awkward moment (news.com.au)
Meet Julie K Brown, the woman who brought down Jeffrey Epstein (Guardian Australia)
New COVID vaccines bound for Australia and when I can get them (Herald Sun) ($)
Astronomers see moons forming in disk around distant exoplanet (The New York Times)
Tunisians protest as COVID surges, economy suffers (Al Jazeera)
Honesty, not abuse, only way to calm protesters — Andrew Bolt (Herald Sun) ($): “But to those who marched in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, defying pepper spray and $1000 fines — and to sympathisers who didn’t dare join them — this abuse would confirm they were right. Our virus masters are dangerously drunk on their new powers, and would rather bully than listen. Fair call. How does it help anyone when police, politicians and journalists treat scared and desperate Australians as scum, and stretch the truth to make them seem even scummier? They’re just ‘halfwits’? True, some protesters think the virus is a hoax and vaccines a conspiracy. That’s a worry.
“But many there were panicked at losing their jobs, businesses and freedoms under restrictions that at times make no sense, certainly not to them. ‘No more lockdowns, my kids need school, I need to work,’ one protester wrote on the windscreen of a family SUV parked near the crowd. And is it just ‘ratbaggery’ if some said they were frightened by the push for vaccine passports, forcing them and their children to get injected with new vaccines they do not trust?”
Divided city reaches boiling point with anti-lockdown protest — Mark Mordue (The SMH): “Like many people, I wished the very worst upon the anti-lockdown protesters in Sydney. I wished they would catch the disease they seemed to think was little more than an illusion. A mask-less rabble in their thousands, they marched down Broadway: new-age anti-vaxxers, angry gym junkies, Christians fixated on the apocalypse, rednecks waving their flags for liberty, whole swathes of people who have lost all faith in the media and politicians. Placards on display declared the ABC to be controlled by Zionists, while others talked of not wanting to be part of a vaccine Holocaust.
“It was hard to know who was freedom-loving or freedom-threatening, who was pagan or religious, lost in conspiracies or enraged by their inability to believe in anything at all. But a mob does not channel thought; only ill will. The story of a nurse on her way to work being abused by the crowd for wearing a mask and a photo of large, muscular man seeming to strike a police horse summed it up. The man’s singlet said ‘Free Speech — more important than your feelings’. Later we learnt the horse was OK and that his name, appropriately enough, was Tobruk.
Corporate activism is too often cynical. In Ben & Jerry’s case, it offers hope — Nesrine Malik (The Guardian): “There is possibly only one thing worse for social justice movements than getting no recognition, and that is getting too much. Over the past few years, the subversive energy of popular movements for equality, whether #MeToo or Black Lives Matter, has regularly been appropriated by corporations.
“Big businesses tend to have a good nose for trends that could affect their bottom lines, and so move early to show support for whatever fashionable cause has broken through. There is little actual activism going on here. These solidarity shout-outs are a safe, low-cost way both to get ahead of any internal issues that might end up being exposed, and to win over the sorts of customers who make political change part of their consumer habits. But the appearance of change, rather than any seismic shift, is what these corporates seem to prefer. The year since the Black Lives Matter protests has exposed the gap between internal practices and pledges of support for racial equality in many companies, with employees coming out to protest against what they see as tokenistic gestures.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Barrister and refugee advocate Julian Burnside and academic and founder of the Sydney Peace Foundation Stuart Rees discuss via webinar how human rights questions have shifted during the pandemic.
Writer Mirandi Riwoe is in conversation via webinar with author Mark Brandi for the launch of his new crime novel, The Others.
It’s day three of the Liberal party’s annual convention at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, where attendees will today hear from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese visits the Ningi doctors clinic with the Labor candidate for Longman, Rebecca Fanning.
Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler will speak about the vaccine rollout and lockdowns at Black Diamond Square.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan tours the project site of Fremantle’s High Street upgrade with Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.