“Happy Congratulations and Merry Christmas”
It’s not the latest version of an offence-free seasonal greeting… It’s department store Myer’s Chrissy campaign, and it has some wondering what a ‘happy congratulations’ is. Or maybe it’s designed to generate conversation and create a buzz about Myer in the lead up to Christmas? Dammit…
ANOTHER EROSION OF FREEDOMS IN HONG KONG
China took another step towards trashing Hong Kong’s autonomy yesterday with Beijing giving itself new powers to oust members of the territory’s Legislative Council (LegCo). That saw those deemed to be ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘dangerous to national security’ – aka pro-democracy campaigners and those who support an independent Hong Kong – kicked out as authorities punted 4 opposition councillors with immediate effect. Pro-democracy legislators have (or had…) 19 seats in the 70-seat LegCo, and last night the remaining 15 resigned en masse in protest. Most were banned by local authorities from running at the election that’s been delayed until next year.
WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
It follows big protests in Hong Kong last year when hundreds of thousands demonstrated for independence/the upholding of the democratic conventions of the territory. That resulted in a big crackdown on the territory’s freedoms by China with a new security law implemented in June and recent/unprecedented crackdowns on free speech. And what happened yesterday ends political opposition in the territory. Dissent within the territory’s elected government has been silenced, and the agreement that gave Hong Kong autonomy from China is in tatters. As ousted legislator Kwok Ka-Ki said: “Today, ‘one country, two systems’ no longer exists. Anyone who made this decision has to answer to history and every one of the Hong Kong people.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Well, China isn’t letting up. And it’s keen to ensure other countries don’t “interfere in the affairs of the region”. Which is why Hong Kongers’ call for the world to sanction those responsible for trashing their freedoms is getting them into trouble. And with China at odds with many Western countries over the coronavirus crisis, trade, and its widening strategic ambitions, what it’s doing in Hong Kong creates another difficult issue on a long list of difficult issues. The great hope to those desperately hoping for change: President-elect Joe Biden. He’s promised to “promote democracy around the world” – the WD-40 of Western diplomacy that Hong Kongers hope will get them out of a jam…
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VACCINE HERE WE COME
If you take your BBQ/camping/picnicking game seriously, chances are you’ll have a fancy esky. And by that, we mean one with wheels and a drain plug. But even that won’t cut the mustard to keep some precious medicine cold enough. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that test results have shown to be ‘effective’ against COVID-19 is made using mRNA technology, and it needs to be stored at -70C. So a little colder than the snags… And that’s why Aussie health officials are looking to develop “sophisticated eskies” to transport it to Australia and within the country when the time comes. When’s that? Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday predicted that a wide rollout of a vaccine could start in March.
PELL CASE INVESTIGATION A NON-STARTER
Allegations that a Vatican enemy of Australian Cardinal George Pell’s sought to interfere in his 2018 child abuse trial will not be investigated by Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog. Last month’s claims that Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu had wired $1.14 million to Australia to help secure evidence against Pell were published in the Italian media last month. Citing a lack of “evidence or intelligence”, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission yesterday said the threshold to start an investigation had not been met. Cardinal Becciu has denied the payoff claim, and his lawyers said he will act “to protect and defend his honour, so gravely damaged”. Pell was released from prison in April after the High Court overturned his convictions.
BRITNEY LOSES BID TO OUST HER FATHER
A court has quashed pop icon Britney Spears’ court challenge to stop her father from controlling her affairs as her sole conservator/guardian. After mental health issues surfaced in 2007, Spears’ dad Jamie Spears and a lawyer took control of the 38yo’s life, money and career until last year, when the lawyer stepped down, and Jamie temporarily stepped aside for health reasons. Britney, who has rarely spoken about the arrangement, then decided she wanted her father out of her affairs permanently. But yesterday, LA Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny refused to suspend her father from the role, but granted Britney’s request to have an external appointee serve as co-conservator. The singer’s lawyer said she was “afraid” of her father, and she hasn’t spoken to him in a “long while”. She will not perform if he stays in the position, he said.
A GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT...
Mary Wollstonecraft – widely considered to be the “mother of feminism” – was a writer and philosopher who died at 38yo during childbirth. And in the ensuing 200-plus years, her supporters say “her legacy was buried in a sustained misogynistic attack”. And after a drawn out battle to raise funds and find a site for a statue in her honour – this week the highly anticipated event came to pass… Problem is many think the statue is a stinker. “Catastrophically wrong” is one assessment. “Disrespectful” is another. And this one was too forthright to quote here… But the statue’s advocates said it represented “an idea of collaboration and the birth of feminism”. For ours, it kinda reminded us of this debacle. Each to their own… For extra points: the child Wollstonecraft died giving birth to was Mary Shelley. She wrote the Gothic novel classic Frankenstein.
...AND GREAT EXPECTATIONS
How good do you have to be for an established sport to think about changing the rules to respond to how you’re playing the game? It’s a question being asked about American golfer Bryson DeChambeau who goes into the imminent US Masters as the one to watch. Part of it is because he hits the ball funny. But he hits it far… And he putts with a lock-arm technique, which some say should be banned. But a lot of the comments go to his 2020 body transformation that’s seen him gain 9kg in muscle. All of which helped the 27yo win the US Open in September – his first major. Tiger Woods, who was sport’s comeback story of last year when he won the Masters, said what DeChambeau’s done to improve his game in a year is unprecedented. The Masters kicks off tonight and will conclude on Monday morning Oz time.
And doing better to meet early expectations were the NSW Blues… They beat the Queensland Maroons 34-10 in last night’s second State of Origin game after their shock loss in last week’s opener. “We focused tonight mostly on effort-based teamwork,” NSW halfback Nathan Cleary said. Which sounds like an excellent plan for getting through the rest of this week…
AND THAT DOESN’T LOOK RIGHT…
Geez, the artists are copping it today… One of our favourite news genres is good art restoration projects gone bad. And it’s happened again in Spain with a smiling figure carved into an ornate building turned into an abstract version of outgoing US President Donald Trump… If that’s not your bag, who can resist an opportunity to revisit the Monkey Christ?
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ABS Data Releases – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, September; Employment and Earnings in the Public Sector, 2019-20
World Quality Day, so make it a good one
Birthdays for musician Neil Young (1945), author Naomi Wolf (1962), figure skater Tonya Harding (1970), actor Anne Hathaway (1982) and actor Ryan Gosling (1980)
• the birthdays of artist Auguste Rodin (1840), founder of modern China Sun Yat-sen (1866) actress Grace Kelly (1929)
• Leon Trotsky being expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, paving the way for Joseph Stalin to consolidate complete power (1927)
• the first known photo of so-called Loch Ness Monster being taken by Hugh Gray (1933)
• Cyclone Bhola becoming the deadliest cyclone ever recorded after killing up to 500,000 in modern-day Bangladesh (1970)
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