“Please scream inside your heart.” Is it a coronavirus containment strategy for Japanese roller coaster enthusiasts or a theme for 2020? It’s too hard to tell at this point…
CORONAVIRUS TOWERS OVER VICTORIA
As new coronavirus cases increased by 165 in Victoria yesterday, health officials completed their look into the spread of the coronavirus amongst the residents of several public housing towers. That led to residents from eight towers emerging from the hard lockdown measures they’d been living under since Saturday. They will now be subject to the same stay-at-home restrictions that came into force in metro Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire yesterday, masks and all. The ninth tower, located in North Melbourne, will remain in hard lockdown for a further nine days after 11% of its residents were found to have COVID-19. With six weeks of restrictions in front of the city, Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday said he understood it would be tough, but they had to “get the numbers down to control the virus.”
HOW ARE OTHER STATES FEELING ABOUT IT?
Nervous… NSW is keeping a close eye out for new cases spread from Melbourne. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday said she’s not changing any of the public health settings at this stage, but “all of us have to be on high alert.” Queensland will completely close its borders to Victorians from mid-today as it opens up to travellers from other parts of the country. And reports say there was a rush of travellers from Melbourne looking to get over the South Oz border before it closed yesterday. Tassie, Western Oz and the ACT have extended their state of emergency declarations in response to the Victorian spike, and the NT isn’t welcoming Victorians right now either…
AND HOW’S THE WORLD GOING?
Well, the world has clocked 12 million coronavirus cases, so there’s that unenviable milestone… It took 149 days to hit six million after the first case was reported in China in early January – and it’s taken just 39 days to double to 12 million cases. Yikes… More than 550,000 people from across the world have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Overnight, World Health Organisation boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cried angry tears over nations’ inability to work together to fight the coronavirus. “Are we unable to distinguish or identify the common enemy?” he asked in frustration. He was announcing the WHO’s inquiry into the coronavirus response will be co-headed by former Kiwi PM Helen Clark.
SQUIZ THE REST
CHINA ACCUSES OZ OF MEDDLING ON HONG KONG
PM Scott Morrison’s announcement yesterday that the government is suspending our extradition arrangement with Hong Kong and will offer a path to permanent residency for up to 10,000 Hong Kong students and workers already in Australia wasn’t received well by China… Its embassy here responded saying Australia has “blatantly interfered in China’s internal affairs by making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong-related issues.” Likening the move to “lifting a rock only to hit its own feet,” officials said China would hit back. Morrison stopped short of offering Hongkongers fearing persecution safe haven in Australia with a special humanitarian intake. Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong said what the PM announced is “far short of what he has promised.”
AFP WANTS MORE POWER TO QUESTION KIDS
The Federal Police are backing a proposed bill that would reduce to 14yo the age at which children suspected of having connections to terrorism can be interrogated. The current minimum age is 16yo. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry reviewing the bill, the AFP sais the changes are needed due to an “emerging issue” of kids being influenced by extremist groups. However, critics say the proposed legislation breaches Australia’s obligations to protect the rights of children. The bill would also see ASIO given similar powers to the AFP, allowing it to use tracking devices on vehicles without a warrant.
MILLS STEPS UP AGAINST RACISM
Aussie basketball star Patty Mills has put in more than his two cents’ worth on the Black Lives Matter movement, saying he will donate nearly $1.5 million to causes committed to ending racial injustice in Oz. The San Antonio Spurs player will give “every cent” from his upcoming NBA season, saying he was inspired by the reaction to the recent unrest across the US. “For the first time in my career, I have white people – teammates, old teammates, old coaches – telling me they never knew the level of racism that exists in sport, especially in Australia,” he said. Mills is not a newcomer to the activism space – last year he helped get drinking water to drought-stricken Indigenous communities. And he recently launched his own foundation that has some big goals…
IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE
The Paris Climate Agreement target of capping temperature increases to 1.5C on pre-industrial levels by the end of the century could be broken soon, the World Meteorological Organisation says. It has found there’s a 70% chance we’ll experience that sort of increase for one or two months between now and 2024, and there’s a 20% chance temps will run 1.5C higher than desired for a full year during that timeframe. Researchers say the Earth’s average annual temperature is already more than 1C higher than it was in the 1850s. In better news, there’s growing hope Australia’s years-long drought will come to an end after our weather bureau said there is a 50% chance of a ‘La Nina’ climate pattern developing this year. That means there’s a higher chance that the rains are ere’, Marge – particularly across our central, northern and eastern regions. Yeehaw…
OVER THE SEAS AND FAR AWAY
A longstanding theory that Polynesians and Native Americans mingled back in the day has been supported by new evidence. A study published in Nature found traces of Native American ancestry in the DNA of modern inhabitants of some Polynesian islands. That suggests one of the two groups – most likely the Polynesians, due to their superior seafaring abilities – crossed the vast stretch of the ocean about 800 years ago, researchers reckon. Until now, the strongest evidence for the theory was the establishment of the sweet potato, which is native to the Americas, on some Polynesian islands before European contact. Even for us, that’s a long way to go for a potato…
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
If you need some smooth moves to get into the Friday groove, go no further than these sisters.
And something to cook, yes? We’re going in for Cottage Pie…