“We’ve got a polarising election that’s going to boost liquor sales.”
Said IBM retail expert Karl Haller of the intersection where vexed American voters become consumers…
BUMP IN THE VACCINE ROAD
A frontrunner in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine stumbled yesterday when a participant in a UK trial suffered “a suspected serious adverse reaction”. The AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine trial is now on a “routine” pause, and the affected person is expected to recover, reports say. Just this week, PM Scott Morrison said the government had secured 33.8 million doses of the vaccine for local manufacturing if it proves to be a successful candidate.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Maybe everything and maybe nothing… It’s too soon to know. Reports yesterday said it wasn’t clear that the participant’s illness was caused by the vaccine. But there are strict protocols for these trials, and the research team will need to get clearance from the UK regulator before starting up again. This Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine flew through the first 2 testing phases and moved onto the late-stage Phase 3 testing in July. That’s involved about 30,000 people in the US, UK, Brazil and South Africa. Phase 3 trials can last several years, but this is on the fast-track.
HMM, IS THE TRACK TOO FAST?
You’re not the first to ask that… There are concerns that a growing number of people are at risk of ‘vaccine hesitancy’ over fears a COVID vaccine’s safety could be compromised because of the fast pace of its development. US President Donald Trump has said he wants to see one cleared before November’s election. There are also doubts over Russian and Chinese early efforts. So this week, 9 of the big US and European coronavirus vaccine developers made a “historic pledge” to uphold scientific and ethical standards in their trials, including AstraZeneca. But it could all be a lot of cart before the horse with no candidate yet proven to work safely and effectively. Yet…
Want to know more about the process/challenges to find a coronavirus vaccine? There’s a Squiz Shortcut for that…
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AUSTRALIA ACCUSED OF HYPOCRISY OVER JOURNALISTS
Anything you can do, we can do better? Our government might say (if they were feeling chatty…) that it had legitimate national security reasons to investigate Chinese academics and journalists, unlike China. What are we talking about? The ABC yesterday revealed that in June, there were AFP/ASIO raids on two academics (who have had their visas revoked) and four journalists (who left after speaking to Australian agents) – all Chinese citizens who were residing here. The ‘foreign interference’ investigation relates to an alleged Chinese Government plot to infiltrate the NSW Parliament. With foreign correspondents Bill Birtles and Michael Smith pulled out of China this week, Birtles yesterday said it was like “pieces of the puzzle all fitting together”. Overnight, a Chinese Government spokesman said “we ask Australia to immediately stop such blatant irrational behaviours”.
TRUMP TO PULL MORE TROOPS FROM IRAQ
As the November US presidential election looms ever closer, the Trump administration is taking another step towards fulfilling its 2016 promise to disentangle America from “endless wars”. General Kenneth McKenzie, America’s top Middle East commander, has told reporters that US troop presence would be reduced from about 5,200 to 3,000 this month. He said that’s possible because the Iraqi Security Forces can now operate independently and deal with the continuing threat of Islamic State. It adds to commitments to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Germany. Maybe it could count towards President Trump’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize?
MORRISON DEMANDS PLATFORMS STEP UP
There’s a video going around on TikTok of an American man taking his own life* that’s been embedded in cute posts featuring puppies and kittens. Schools and parents were alerted to it this week as the social media platform struggles to get the videos removed. But experts said TikTok’s unique algorithm allows posts to spread more easily than other apps. And given TikTok’s youthful audience, unsavoury/graphic content has the potential to easily reach a massive number of kids and teens. PM Scott Morrison unironically took to Facebook yesterday to deliver social media platforms – and particularly TikTok – a message. “You need to be accountable. You need to be responsible.” TikTok is under pressure around the world for its data collection with questions over what the Chinese Government has access to. Australia’s said it’s not looking to ban the app as others have.
MY WHAT BIG TEETH YOU HAVE…
A 45mm long tooth embedded in a surfboard most likely belonged to a 3.5-metre great white shark, Queensland’s Fisheries Department said yesterday. That’s what it believes attacked 46yo surfer Nick Slater on Tuesday on the Gold Coast’s Greenmount Beach. Beaches along the southern end of the Goldie were closed yesterday with authorities checking the shark had moved on. And talk in the government turned to the adequacy of shark nets and drumlines with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying she believed the shark control program “has been saving lives for generations” but “if improvements can be made then, of course, they should be.”
REPRESENTATION FROM DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS…
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – aka the mob behind the Oscars – has announced eligibility reforms to the best picture category to encourage diversity on screen – and off. And there are specific standards to be eligible for the award. For example:
• A film must either have at least one lead character or a significant supporting character be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group;
• At least 30% of secondary roles must be from 2 underrepresented groups (and that’s “women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, or people with disabilities”);
• Or the main storyline, theme or narrative must be focused on an underrepresented group.
The new regime comes into place at the 96th Academy Awards in 2024. There’s been little in the way of critical reaction, except for Kirstie Alley who said “You people have lost your minds.” Safe to say she’s not a fan…
KARDASHIANS GIVE FANS A GLOSSY KISS-OFF
Love ‘em, violently dislike ‘em, or can’t give 2 hoots, it’s hard to deny that the Kardashians are a phenomenon. Like, literally… And it will come to an end next year with one of the most famous families in the world calling time on their TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians. If you’re a fan, or if you want to wrap your head around why they’re a thing, this gallery is for you.
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10.15am (AEST) – US Open Quarter-Final – Aussie Alex de Minaur v Austria’s Dominic Thiem – New York
Birthdays for actor Colin Firth (1960), Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, ballerina Misty Copeland (1982) and Matildas captain Sam Kerr (1993)
• the birthdays of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (1933), poet Mary Oliver (1935)
• the founding of OPEC aka the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (1960)
• the release of Nirvana’s single Smells like Teen Spirit (1991)
• the debut of The X-Files (1993)
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