Gladys Berejiklian NSW Sydney
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

JAB, ONE TWO

Sydney’s areas with the highest number of cases have some of the lowest levels of vaccinations in the state, the SMH reports. About 14.6% of people aged over 15 in Sydney’s south-west have received both doses, while in the inner south-west it’s 16.1%, and in Parramatta 17.7%. That’s compared to residents in North Sydney and Hornsby where it’s 26.9%, the eastern suburbs 23.9%, and the inner-west 22.8%. The problem basically boils down to three things: a lack of access, a complex booking system, and younger populations in the Harbour city’s south-west and west (who were, until recently, told to wait for Pfizer).

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws reckons the government should stop focusing on vaccinating those in their 40s and 50s, and immediately target young people in those hotspots instead. But Lieutenant-General John Frewen, commander of the national vaccine rollout, said yesterday that Australians aged 30-39 would become a key transmissibility group in September, and then the 16-29 age group in October, The Oz ($) says.

Vaccinations are making all the difference on the severity of Delta’s impact worldwide — as Yale Medicine put it, citing CDC advice: “The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates, and virtually all hospitalisations and deaths have been among the unvaccinated”.

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MODEL CITIZENS

Yesterday the federal government released the modelling that Friday’s four-phase roadmap was based on — but only the first two of the phases have been modelled, Guardian Australia reports. The Doherty Institute’s Jodie McVernon told Guardian Australia the centre had only considered the best strategy for the next six months — beyond that, she says, it’s too hard to say what life will look like.

Once we reach phase two (70% vaxxed) — which is expected as soon as November — the modelling showed a worst-case scenario of approximately 2000 deaths a year, as lockdowns become “less likely”. But that could be reduced to 16 fatalities if we have good contact tracing, testing, isolation, and quarantine in place, the AFR says. The third phase of the roadmap (80% vaxxed) makes vaccinated people exempt from restrictions, removes caps on returning vaccinated Australians, and allows people to travel overseas. The SMH reports outbound travellers will show their vaccinated status via a personalised QR code. The “vaccine certificate” will be linked in your MyGov online account and is set to roll out by October, the paper says. But SA Senator Rex Patrick says it’s an easily corruptible system — going so far as to forge his own vaccination certificate, ABC reports.

In a notable switch in rhetoric, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said life will eventually be like how we live with the flu, but an average number of flu deaths per year between 2016 and 2019 was 642, the paper adds. Not sure what to think? ABC spoke to Nobel Medicine Prize winner Peter Doherty about his take on the new roadmap and how Australia’s best place to make vaccines is Melbourne.

CALLS FOR IMPEACHMENT

Elsewhere, there are calls for the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to be impeached after the attorney general found he sexually harassed several women, and retaliated against at least one for making her complaints public. The New York Times reports the third-term Democrat cultivated a toxic work culture and improperly touched women — including a state trooper. Attorney General Letitia James found that he engaged in “unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and … inappropriate comments”.

In a pre-recorded message, Cuomo denied the findings, saying he had a tendency to hug or kiss people on the cheek as a warm gesture. Somewhat oddly, a slideshow of photographs of Cuomo doing so played behind him while he spoke. Whether or not impeachment could eventuate is hard to say — the State Legislature is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, but that’s not to imply party loyalty would stop them from hanging their own (as seemed to be the case in Trump’s impeachment). There’s rolling live coverage from The Guardian, CNN as well as the Times.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Reclusive author Cormac McCarthy, known for his barren writing style and searingly violent storytelling, has taken to Twitter to share his micro-thoughts on kombucha and TikTok. At least, that’s the conclusion Twitter came to when it verified a parody account of the 88-year-old author. One of America’s greatest contemporary writers had apparently started tweeting about Febreeze’s ability to quell noxious smells. Not exactly one’s magnum opus (then again, not wrong either).

Twitter, tail between its legs, admitted the error on Tuesday morning but declined to explain how it happened. Usually, Twitter verifies someone if they are a person of interest — politicians, Hollywood stars, even journalists. But they have to provide ID, or a website that links to the account, to prove they are who they say they are. This time, however, Twitter proactively verified the account after it tweeted “my publicist is on my case about my infrequent use of this infernal website. He says engagement is down and so are metrics and something something who cares. There I wrote a tweet, Are you happy now Terry”.

Incredibly, it’s actually the second time Twitter has fallen for the ruse. In 2012, billionaire Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey “welcomed” Cormac McCarthy to the platform, and verified the account. The only problem? The account actually belonged to an unpublished novelist. It’s a Coen brothers movie in the making.

Hope you can see the light side of life today.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I’m absolutely certain that whoever said it had no knowledge or expectation that it was going to be audible to you, so people are entitled to have their thoughts, and even mutter them under their breath at times, but I really don’t think there’s anything standing in the way of you proceeding.

Andrew Tinney

The Victorian judge patiently tried to pacify “appalled” barrister Richard Edney after someone audibly muttered the word “fuckwit” during a hearing in Victoria’s supreme court. Edney demanded the culprit identify themselves, saying it was unheard of to be called a “fuckwit” during cross-examination, though nobody did. Tinney encouraged the barrister not to take it personally.

CRIKEY RECAP

It’s time to straighten out our fetishisation of experts, and how much power we give them

“Political leaders have clung to the mantra of ‘following the health advice’ right throughout the pandemic, with almost obsessive intensity. Chief health officers have been dragged out of obscurity to become media stars in their own right, almost used as human shields by politicians desperate to justify their decisions — whether to go hard and early in lockdowns, or, in what was until too recently the NSW and federal thinking, take their sweet time …

“In other areas, however, politicians brook no interference and bridle at the suggestion they should follow the experts. Global warming is one such issue: Scott Morrison, who ostentatiously parades his adherence to health expert advice — even scolding journalists who might suggest he does not — rejects and ignores the most basic science around climate change, and seeks to undermine international efforts to address the crisis.”


Did COVID cause the final disconnect between politics and reality, or did it reveal what was already broken?

“The acceptance of pre-vaccine lockdowns was simple, rational stoicism. One could question specific measures (was an 8pm curfew really necessary, or just policing?) while committing to the whole. The lockdowns now — one can feel their pure superfluity, in absolute terms. There is a clear cause and effect relationship between the government’s failure and our plight. Politics involves the mass act of connecting cause to effect and taking action accordingly. Why isn’t it happening?

“The abstract separation of cause and effect could be one explanation offered. This isn’t like being locked out of a workplace or seeing the cops beat someone up. There’s vaccines, there’s not vaccines; there’s lockdowns, they all happen separately. But then, classes and parties have always been able to make that connection.”


Actions speak louder than words: Murdoch buys into renewables, biofuels data

“So renewables, electric vehicles, solar, hydrogen, carbon credits are seen as a money-making opportunity for News and the Murdochs to enable them to ‘leverage the global transition to renewables and the growth opportunities’ from the emerging energy technologies.

“And yet in Australia its media outlets, from The Australian through to Sky News, plus the various tabloids, are cluttered with climate deniers (and COVID deniers) and have been instrumental in sabotaging repeated attempts from Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison to give Australia a credible and cohesive energy policy to tackle the fallout from global warming.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Simone Biles, in a comeback, takes bronze on the balance beam (The New York Times)

How Afterpay went from zero to $39b thanks to loyal millennials, powerful lobbyists and the COVID-19 pandemic (ABC)

Victorian regional city [Geelong] leading the vaccine race (Herald Sun) ($)

Evidence points to secret Indian navy base on Mauritian island (Al Jazeera)

Missing Belarus activist found dead in park (BBC)

NYC to require vaccination for many indoor activities such as restaurants and gyms (The Wall Street Journal)

ASX pulls back after stellar record run (The Australian) ($)

Indonesia celebrates Olympic gold offering the winners five cows, a meatball restaurant and a new house (ABC)

Australia thrashed by Bangladesh in match not broadcast on TV (The SMH)

Iraq says US will return more than 17,000 ancient artefacts (The New Daily)

David Sedaris: happy-go-lucky (The New Yorker)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Porter’s elevation betrays PM’s chilling apathy towards survivorsGrace Tame (The Age): “In light of my own experience, it’s hard to process how an accused rapist — albeit one who will never face prosecution — could be offered one of the highest positions of power in the country by none other than our nation’s leader himself. Christian Porter has been accused of raping a woman in 1988. Last year, his alleged victim suicided. He has denied the accusation.

“But it isn’t just Porter’s character that’s in question here, it’s the morality of our current leadership. Outside of Parliament, positions of public trust are governed by codes of conduct that stipulate one must be a ‘fit and proper’ person in order to occupy them, such as in the case of doctors who are bound by the Hippocratic oath. Furthermore, their adequacy — in terms of both knowledge and ethics — is repeatedly challenged and updated through mandated continuing professional development. In Parliament, however, no such requirements exist. It is the prime minister who sets the standards and maintains them by appointing cabinet ministers at his or her discretion.”

Five years on, Bill Leak’s cartoon remains spot-onAnthony Dillon (The Australian) ($): “Early on the morning of Bill’s cartoon I emailed a copy of it to my father, Col Dillon, stating: ‘Dad, half of me was crying and the other half was laughing. Bill has an incredible talent that enables him to blend humour and tragedy without losing the seriousness of the situation.’ My father, Australia’s first Aboriginal police officer, who admired Bill, said he agreed with my sentiments and offered Bill his full support in a conversation later that day, after Twitter went into meltdown with claims Bill was racist …

“I can’t help but notice the failure to stem the continuing high rates of child abuse and neglect in the Aboriginal population is matched by a rise in what I call the deadly three: political correctness, identity politics and cancel culture. Fear of speaking out keeps us silent. This paper gave Bill a platform to speak out using his cartoons. We still miss you, Bill.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Indigenous representatives from Australia and the South Pacific will discuss the impact of climate change on their areas in a webinar held by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and coordinated by (Waskam) Emelda Davis, Anne Poelina, and Marie Geissler.

  • To celebrate National Science Week, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is hosting a panel with Dow Chemicals CEO Andrew Liveris, former Australian chief scientist Ian Chubb, former WA Chief Scientist Lyn Beazley, and anthropologist Genevieve Bell.

  • US foreign policy practitioner and veteran diplomat Richard Haass will discuss President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, China, Russia, and the implications of the coronavirus pandemic in a webinar for the Lowy Institute.

Canberra

  • It’s day two of Extinction Rebellion’s protest, with climate activists meeting at the Agriculture, Water and Environment Department with an aim to compel political action on climate change.

  • National Archives of Australia director-general David Fricker addresses the National Press Club to discuss the Archives’ information systems and digital transformation.

Melbourne

  • The 2021 Poetry Ambassador and Australian of the Year, Grace Tame debuts her new poem at the Poetry Month Gala, hosted by the Wheeler Centre. First Nations poetry will also be shared as part of Fair Trade, an international Indigenous poetic exchange.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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