“The final memory in everyone’s mind was of that donut, and Phil’s sense of humour.”
No, not that Phil… Kiwi Debra McLean was talking about what went down at her husband’s funeral that featured a coffin in the shape of a big sweet treat. Created by Phil’s cousin Ross Hall, his customised caskets business is called Dying Art…
BACK TO NATIONAL CABINET THEY GO...
As the 2-way travel bubble with New Zealand forms today, PM Scott Morrison and state/territory leaders will meet to reset the coronavirus vaccination program. On the National Cabinet agenda: the program’s missed targets in the wake of supply problems and changed advice on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
THERE’S A FEW ISSUES, RIGHT?
Yup… And it’s the AstraZeneca vaccine’s link to rare blood clots (that led the government’s experts to recommend its use be limited to those aged over 50yo) that has knocked the program around significantly. Hence Morrison’s decision for twice-weekly National Cabinet meetings after conceding that change would see plans to get Aussies vaccinated fall behind schedule. Getting older Aussies vaccinated ASAP is a priority as states look to set up hubs to speed things up. As for international borders, Morrison says he’s “in no hurry,” but he remains optimistic for the 2nd half of the year when he says Aussies might be able to travel overseas for “essential” reasons with the possibility of quarantining at home on return. “We have to do a lot of work together with state and territories and the Commonwealth to make sure that works,” he said yesterday.
WHEN WILL IT BE OK TO TRAVEL FURTHER THAN NZ?
For non-essential reasons? There’s no update to the advice – the plan is early next year. But it’s a good time to be reminded that while life has largely gone back to normal in Oz, the virus continues to cut a deadly path with the global coronavirus death toll passing 3 million over the weekend. And while vaccine campaigns have hit their stride in the US and Britain, other countries lag behind. The world’s focus is currently on India, which is experiencing a devastating second wave of infections. Yesterday, it reported 261,500 new cases – its highest single-day figure so far – bringing total cases since the pandemic started to more than 14 million.
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CHINA, US CALL A TRUCE ON CLIMATE CRISIS
It’s not all bad news on the China-US front… The nations say they’ll work together on climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands”. After talks in Shanghai, America’s Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua said they’ll work on specific actions to reduce emissions – and they’ll provide funding for developing countries to switch to greener energy sources. China and the US pump out nearly half of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and there were worries that ongoing issues over human rights, trade, and China’s geopolitical ambitions would prohibit progress. “It’s very important for us to keep those other things away because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world,” Kerry said yesterday. The agreement comes before President Joe Biden will host world leaders – including Australia’s – in a virtual climate summit on 22 April.
PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADERS SENTENCED IN HK
Confirming worst fears, 9 pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong have been jailed for organising peaceful anti-government protests in 2019. Among them was Beijing critic and media tycoon Jimmy Lai – the 72yo was sentenced to 14 months in prison. And that might not be it for him with two additional charges that carry a maximum penalty of life in prison pending. Judge Amanda Woodcock said the defendants “deliberately defied the law” by posing a “direct challenge to the authority of the police and therefore law and order”. Several defendants avoided prison because of their age and records of public service, including the city’s ‘father of democracy’ Martin Lee (82yo) and lawyer Margaret Ng (73yo). #SquizShortcuts
SPACEX PICKED TO GET HUMANS BACK ON THE MOON
“NASA Rules!!” was SpaceX/Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk’s reaction to the news his mob has been chosen to build a lander that will return humans to the Moon during the 2020s. America’s space agency has been busy assessing bids from SpaceX, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and others for the US$2.89 billion contract under the Artemis program (named for the Greek goddess of the Moon). One of the program’s long-term goals is to set up a permanent base on the Moon, but in the short-term, the SpaceX Starship lander will take the next man and the first woman to the lunar surface. What put Musk’s crew in front of the other bids? It was the lowest cost, reports say. More space exploration may be in the future – but getting enough funding for NASA’s ambitions from Congress is very much an ongoing issue from the past…
VALE ANDREW PEACOCK - AND PRINCE PHILIP LAID TO REST
The ‘colt from Kooyong’, aka former federal Liberal leader Andrew Peacock died at his home in Texas on Friday, aged 82yo. He had a reputation for being a bit of a fancy-pants compared to the run-of-the-mill MP – Hollywood actress/former girlfriend Shirley MacLaine once said that he was the only politician she knew who owned a Gucci toothbrush… From the start of his time in parliament, Peacock had expectations to meet – he took former PM Robert Menzies’ seat when he retired in 1966. Rising rapidly into the ministry, Peacock became one of the highest-profile politicians of the 80s and 90s, leading the Liberals to federal election defeats in 1984 and 1990 against Bob Hawke’s Labor Party. His internal battles with John Howard were hard-fought, but Howard made him Australia’s ambassador to the US in 1997 – a role in which he thrived. Thrice married, his American wife Penne Korth will oversee his funeral in Texas, and his Australian-based family have accepted the offer of a State memorial.
LIONS WIN FIRST AFLW PREMIERSHIP
After two grand final losses, Brisbane Lions were 3rd time lucky, taking out their first AFLW premiership by beating the Adelaide Crows 38-20 on Saturday. Brisbane’s defensive line proved too much for the reigning premiers, who went into the game as favourites. Lion’s defender Kate Ludkins was awarded Best on Ground for her dominant efforts throughout the match, and Courtney Hodder, who earlier in the week won the Best First-Year Player Award, pulled off an impressive soccer-like goal. Captain Emma Zielke didn’t see the end of the game due to a hammy strain. The 32yo announced her retirement after the game, saying it was a “fairytale ending”. Speaking of recent retirees, former Collingwood vice-captain Sharni Norder yesterday called for the AFLW to establish a full season that pays players to be full-time athletes.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Breakups can be challenging. But drifting off to sea in a bid for social media attention before shattering into countless small fragments seems excessive…
Someone who knows how to shake it off is Taylor Swift. They say “write what you know”, and that seems to be working well for the music industry maverick who broke a long-standing Beatles record last week.
And speaking of art imitating life, after a year that’s been dominated by the pandemic, the judges couldn’t see past this compelling image for the winning World Press Photo of the Year. Hugs all around…
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11.00am (AEST) – Memorial service for former rugby league great Tommy Raudonikis – SCG, Sydney
5.30pm (AEST) – Fingers crossed for the first Mars flight of Ingenuity, a small robotic helicopter that hitched a ride on the Perseverance rover
National Cabinet meets
Birthdays for Tim Curry (1946), Kate Hudson (1979) and Maria Sharapova (1987)
• Captain James Cook’s first sighting of Australia (1770)
• the deaths of Lord Byron (1824) and Charles Darwin (1882)
• Charles Manson being sentenced to life in prison for the murder of actress Sharon Tate (1971)
• Advance Australia Fair being proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem, and green and gold becoming the national colours (1984)
• the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 (1995)
• Fidel Castro resigning from the Communist Party of Cuba’s central committee after 45 years (2011)
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