“A plague worse than COVID.”
Is what Pope Francis thinks of gossip. Which makes us wonder what people have been saying…
VICTORIA’S PLAN TO REACH ‘COVID NORMAL’
The ground was prepared yesterday morning with the release of modelling showing the chance of a third wave of COVID-19 in Victoria if restrictions were lifted “too early, too fast”. And so there were few surprises later in the day when Premier Daniel Andrews outlined the ‘roadmap’ to lifting harsh restrictions, revealing they are here to stay for a while yet. The end goal: Andrews said he hoped residents will be able to spend Christmas with their families.
SO WHAT’S THE PLAN?
For Melbourne, it’s a 4 step approach.
• That sigh of disappointment you could hear mid-yesterday was confirmation that things stay unchanged for now. The biggest shift is that from 13 September, singles will be able to nominate one person for visits. And exercise/outdoor time will be extended to 2 hours.
• The current Stage 4 restrictions are now set to ease from 28 September – but only if the city reaches an average daily case rate of 30-50 cases from the middle of the month.
• And then, if there’s an average of fewer than 5 new daily cases over 2 weeks by 26 October, things will open up quite a bit.
• And a month later, if there are no new cases across the state for 2 weeks, Melbourne will open up a lot from 23 November as they hit ‘COVID Normal’.
As for regional Victoria, it’s on a fast track for the easing of Stage 3 restrictions as far as schools, gatherings and work is concerned from next weekend.
WHAT A BUMMER…
Andrews said he knew things are “really, really tough”, adding that between the fires over summer and then the coronavirus crisis, he hasn’t seen his own mother since Christmas. But business representatives aren’t happy with the plan. And the Morrison Government didn’t give it a glowing review either. It’s “hard and crushing news for the people of Victoria,” PM Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a joint statement. Acknowledging the health issues the state is trying to counter, “it is also true that the continued restrictions will have further impact on the Victorian and national economy, in further job losses and loss of livelihoods, as well as impacting on mental health,” they said.
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HONG KONG PROTESTS SEE ALMOST 300 ARRESTED
Some reports say thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong overnight, others say hundreds. But what is known is that it was an unauthorised demonstration – something that carries serious consequences for the detained given the new security law. Demonstrators were riled up over the delay of the local election that was meant to take place this month. Pro-democracy candidates had hoped to make headway given China’s recent moves in the territory, but territory chief exec Carrie Lam has put it off for a year citing the coronavirus crisis. Also protesting overnight were tens of thousands of people in the Belarus capital of Minsk. They are continuing their fight against the reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko. And thousands turned out over the weekend for ongoing anti-PM Benjamin Netanyahu protests in Israel.
ASSANGE BACK IN COURT
After coronavirus delays and ill-health, 49yo Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is facing extradition to America, is due back in a London court today. He faces 17 counts of violating the US Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents in 2010 and 2011, and one charge for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. If convicted on all counts, he could face a sentence of up to 175 years in jail. Assange’s team says he is unfit to travel to the US to face trial. But if America wins, his team says it would establish an extraordinary precedent as the first time the US has prosecuted a publisher under its Espionage Act. Which takes us back to the central argument about whether he’s a publisher or a just very naughty leaker… Meanwhile, his partner/mother of his two young sons Stella Moris has been talking him up. This latest round of hearings is expected to take 3 weeks.
PRESIDENTIAL FURY AFTER REPORTS OF WAR DEAD SLIGHT
If you have a good memory for news events, you’ll recall that US President Donald Trump was roundly criticised for cancelling a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery outside Paris in November 2018. It was part of the commemorations to mark 100 years since the end of WWI. Almost 2 years later, The Atlantic mag says he canned it because it was raining heavily and he worried about his hair. And, the article says, Trump didn’t believe it was necessary to honour America’s war dead, calling them “losers” and “suckers”. Trump responded furiously calling the journalist a “slimeball reporter” who has made up “such a horrible charge”. And he also called for the sacking of a Fox News reporter who said she’d verified the report. There are just a few weeks left until the election, and pundits say convention dictates criticising the military plays badly with voters – but Trump is far from a conventional president. Next stop: The Princess Bride is launching an attack on Trump’s reelection…
BACK ON BREXIT
You know what 2020 hasn’t had enough of? Brexit drama… Well, there’s another deadline looming that could see some EU-UK sparks fly. Having left the European Union on 30 January and well into an 11-month transition period, the UK has until the end of December to finalise a trade deal with its former partner. But it’s not going particularly well with the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost yesterday saying the government is not “scared” of walking away from talks without a trade deal. And in a familiar refrain, the EU says it’s “worried and disappointed” about a lack of concessions from the UK. The eighth round of formal negotiations begins on Tuesday – no word on whether former PM Tony Abbott is lending a hand…
“It must be the ‘stache” tweeted the Tennis Channel of the hairy-lipped Alex de Minaur after his fighting win yesterday to head into the pointy end of the US Open. Jordan Thompson is through too and takes to the court at 7am (AEST) this morning. It’s the first time Australia’s had 2 players in week 2 of the Grand Slam since Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt did it in 2001. Not faring so well – the Aussie men’s cricket team. They’ve lost the T20 series with England in the UK overnight. They now head into the one-dayer part of the program.
SLOW IT DOWN
Organ music – it’s not everyone’s cup of drowsy-time tea. A piece of organ music that’s not scheduled to end until 2640? We’re not unhappy to say we probably won’t be around to see it…
SQUIZ THE DAY
7.00am (AEST) – US Open – Jordan Thompson v Borna Ćorić – New York
PM Scott Morrison to announce details of the government’s progress to secure COVID-19 vaccinations
Brazil’s Independence Day
Start of Women’s Health Week (on until 11 September)
• Australia observing a ‘day of humiliation’ and praying for rain during a bad drought. Rain started falling 3 days later… (1902)
• the death of the last Tassie Tiger Benjamin at the Hobart Zoo (1936)
• the start of the Blitz, where the German Luftwaffe bomb London for 57 nights as the Nazis prepare to invade Britain (1940)
• the shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur (1996)
• Tony Abbott becoming PM with the Coalition defeating the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor Government (2013)
• the death of rapper Mac Miller (2018)
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