NSW COVID-19 vaccine
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

A SHOT IN THE ARM

One million doses of Pfizer arrived in Australia last night from Poland, The Conversation says, and people aged 20-39 are first in line. The government is sending 530,000 doses straight to 12 Sydney hotspots where cases remain high, and the rest around the country on a per capita basis. The New Daily says Australia is benefiting from growing vaccine hesitancy in Poland — a vaccine facility in Zamość was actually set on fire last week.

It comes as the state government locked down all of NSW on Saturday (via a tweet from deputy John Barilaro, as the Daily Mail grumbled about), and reported four deaths and 415 cases yesterday. Those who died were a female in her 50s (unvaccinated), a female in her 70s (who had received one dose), a man in his 80s (unvaccinated) and a female in her 80s (vaccinated with chronic conditions), The Australian ($) reports.

Two sisters are among dozens of people who are camping in a “safe zone” on the Victorian border for 14 days so they are able to cross over from NSW, the Herald Sun ($) reports. They’ve been living in a campervan, waiting to be bedside to their terminally ill brother. They’re among an increasingly small cohort given the green light after Victoria’s Martin Foley warned about the “deteriorating” situation in NSW.

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TALIBAN ENTER KABUL

The Afghanistan Government has collapsed. President Ashraf Ghani has left the country as the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, completing their seizure of the country, Al Jazeera reports. The government confirmed they would peacefully transfer power to the Taliban, who they referred to somewhat chillingly as “the transitional government”. The Guardian reports the Taliban will rename the country the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” — the same name the regime gave itself prior to 2001.

It comes after the Taliban captured more than a dozen provinces in two weeks, and just months after US and Australian troops left the country after two decades in Afghanistan. So why has it come to this — and so quickly? Analysis from The New York Times suggests it’s a combination of two things: a gross underestimation of the Taliban’s “wily” strategy, and the Afghan military’s crisis of confidence — despite the US spending $83 billion to train and equip Afghanistan’s security forces.

NPR reports this Taliban is not much different to the Taliban pre-9/11 — a former Pakistani ambassador to the US said in the last two weeks they’ve been “executing people summarily, they have been lashing women, they have been shutting down schools. They have been blowing up hospitals and infrastructure”. But a Taliban spokesperson said Afghanis have nothing to fear as they take control of Kabul.

TOTALLY RIGGED

A gas company will drill for gas near Victoria’s 12 Apostles after the state government green-lit the project, Guardian Australia said. Beach Energy got permission to explore for gas in the area in 2019 and in February they applied to start extracting. The Energy and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said yes, as long as they didn’t go directly under the park. But the Greens said it was “bonkers” to surround the 12 Apostles with gas drilling rigs.

It comes as a new tax on electric vehicles (EV) will almost certainly turn consumers off buying one. Victoria introduced a road user charge in July, while SA, the home of the big battery, is looking to introduce one next year The New Daily says. It works like this: drivers get a 2.5% charge of each 1km travelled, putting the yearly tax at about $500 (if you drove 20,000km in a year). The tax only just passed Victorian parliament — even though 25 car manufacturers like Hyundai and Volkswagen, along with Uber and environmental groups, begged MPs to reconsider.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied he said electric vehicles would “ruin the weekend” in 2019 (he split hairs, saying he actually said Bill Shorten’s policy on electric vehicles would) as Guardian Australia delved into. Last week’s landmark IPCC report found the world’s transition to electric vehicles is inevitable and crucial — it found transport emissions have doubled since 1970, and 80% of this is down to road vehicles. As SMH asks this morning: “How many other normal activities are we partaking in day to day which will be the source of shock for our unborn descendants?”

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Memory can be a funny thing. Did I take the garbage out this week, or was that last week? Didn’t we buy bread during our last food shop? Did someone break in last night specifically to steal my charging cable with the bolognese stains on it because I put it *right* *here*! Krystyna Glowacki, 24, may not be one for asking herself such maddening questions.

Glowacki, from the NSW central coast, has a photographic memory and calendar recall skills. Basically she remembers almost everything she sees and reads. Guardian Australia’s Gary Nunn asked her what day of the week April 17, 2001 was. “Tuesday”, she replies. Ok fine, he says, name Oman’s hottest-ever temperature. Glowacki replies “50.8 degrees” — and it was. Glowacki’s superpower is extremely rare — there are less than 100 official cases worldwide of HSAM, or photographic memories, though she hasn’t been tested yet.

But anyone can train their memory, experts say — just ask Anastasia Woolmer. She’s training to beat the Australian record for reciting pi — a total of 10,533 numbers. Woolmer said she associates each number with a dance move to remember them. That’s one long boogie.

Hoping your Monday is memorable, folks.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Let’s get among it. Are you ready Australia? Deputy prime minister — I’m back with my bongos — you utter Cockwomble. #freeaustralia

Katie Hopkins

The British troll claimed she arrived back in Australia yesterday after she was booted from the country last month for boasting about answering the door of her quarantine hotel room naked. But, in not the most convincing or intelligent of ruses, the photograph she posted shows a non-Australian electrical outlet, while her luggage cart has Spanish printed on it.

CRIKEY RECAP

A man who committed alleged hate crimes in western Sydney becomes a hero in India

Vishal Jood’s victims say he brought terror and hate to Harris Park. The 24-year-old Indian student allegedly committed three violent assaults during a rampage in the western Sydney suburb between September and February. In the first incident, a group of five men allegedly attacked a man with a baseball bat, and kicked him.

“Then on Valentine’s Day, Jood and four others are alleged to have set upon a man in a Range Rover. And two weeks after that a 10-person armed mob allegedly attacked a man in a car, causing about $10,000 in damage to the vehicle and chasing the victim down the street. Jood is a Hindu. His alleged victims are Sikhs who believe the attacks were hate crimes inspired by bitter divisions over farm protests which surged through India from last year. “


COVID-19 and the normalisation of abject and unmitigated failure

“The point is, if you’re a literalist, evangelical Christian, you have to do this sort of thing. It’s your duty. The kingdom of God overrides the kingdom of men, which is why evangelicals stayed out of all politics for decades. Sooner or later that contradiction will be tested. Was that what happened in this case, this disaster that condemns us to months, maybe years, of disruptions that might have been avoidable?

“Both the first wave of the virus, and the Delta variant, were precursors, rehearsals, dry runs… Call them what you will. They were a chance to develop a response and a mindset ahead of the possibility of something far more lethal 10, 30, 50 years from now. Or two. Our national government failed its own people totally. We need to know more about why it did — and to keep that failure at the front of our minds, as we deal with the consequences.”


Bigger vaccine mandate issues are coming to get a tightly wedged and vulnerable PM

“But the issues will soon go beyond whether employers can lawfully require staff to be vaccinated. The next issue will be anti-discrimination law: can employers require job applicants to provide details of vaccination status (including medical or religious exemptions), and then decline to employ them on the basis they’re not vaccinated without a legitimate reason?

“Polling indicates there’s a hard core of about 10% of the population who are vaccine refuseniks. Whether this stolid refusal remains once life starts becoming more difficult for the unvaccinated remains to be seen, but you can bet some diehards will be itching to take to court any employer who refuses to hire an unvaccinated person. And the issue is a live one — not merely for business but for the country’s biggest employer, governments.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Statement to the world’: Design competition opened for Sydney Harbour Bridge cycleway (The SMH)

Trudeau calls federal election, voters to go to the polls September 20 (CTV News)

Haitians scramble to rescue survivors from ruins of major quake (Al Jazeera)

The greatest businesses in the world are hiding in plain sight (AFR)

Germany ‘set for biggest rise in greenhouse gases for 30 years’ (The Guardian)

Lights! Camera! Action on New York’s streets again! (The New York Times)

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin set to resign after losing majority (ABC)

Aussie Moloney claims bantamweight title (The New Daily)

The Helios Airlines ‘ghost flight’ tragedy that claimed 121 lives (news.com.au)

A comedian walks into a pandemic, it knocks her life around (The Age)

From cattle and crops to Tokyo, farmer Drew Chislett is an official Paralympic Games photographer (ABC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

The COVID news from Dubbo: our First Nations kids are terrifiedTeela Reid (The SMH): “I am hearing stories of local young First Nations children who’ve tested positive at school. Not knowing how they contracted the virus, they are bearing the burden of potentially infecting their families. As their classmates await test results, they have no option but to isolate in often overcrowded homes — so they too fear for their extended families. Likewise for the many more families who’ve received emails from schools listing their children as ‘close contacts’ or ‘casual contacts’.

“The sheer desperation of young First Nations people trying to find vaccines is another frustration. Mob are missing out while people travel from town to town, taking already limited supplies from locals. It’s a free-for-all: farmers, teachers and non-Indigenous groups competing with First Nations people for a jab. Elders at pop-up vaccination hubs have been told to join the queue. First Nations, including elders, have received no apparent priority.”

Australia not joining panicky world’s rush over climate cliffNick Cater (The Australian) ($): “Australia looks like the odd country out, not because of a lack of achievement or ambition. It looks different because we have a government that tries to answer the question of how we get to zero emissions rather than merely trying to frighten us into believing that we should. Unlike so many of their international counterparts, Morrison and his Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, have not walked past two inescapable facts.

“First, we don’t yet have scalable technology to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, but we will have if we commit to find them and don’t get distracted, just as we have done in developing a coronavirus vaccine. Second, bringing our economy to a shuddering halt won’t help. The OECD’s share of global emissions is down to a third and shrinking further every year. If China and other industrialising countries refuse to do the heavy lifting in the next round we might as well give up.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Author Sophie Green will launch her book Thursdays at Orange Blossom House in a webinar for Avid Reader.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

  • Perth Asian Professionals will host a networking event called “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling” in partnership with Murdoch University, with keynote speaker Pierre Shuai Yang MLC.

  • Telethon Kids Institute’s Jonathan Carapetis will speak at the opening event of the WA Health Hackathon Week, which explores health innovation.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute will host a photographic exhibition showcasing a day in the life of neuroscientist Cedric Bardy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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