“There’s nothing like it, actually getting away from everything – social media, bad news, from literally everything.”
Said 21yo Jasmine Harrison who yesterday became the world’s youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Taking 70 days to complete the journey, her drive for silence could be explained by her choice of day job – she’s a kids swim teacher…
HISTORY MADE AS AUSTRALIA GETS JABBIN’
Jane Malysiak yesterday received the first shot of the nation’s COVID vaccination program. Lining up with 11 others including PM Scott Morrison, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, and Chief Nursing Officer Alison McMillan, the 84yo World War II survivor/aged care resident said it was too important not to get vaccinated. And then she inadvertently flipped the bird… Morrison said he got his jab to show Australia the vaccination program is “good to go” from today.
THAT’S A LOT OF SIGNALING…
Because building confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines that will be administered to Australians will be crucial to the program’s success. And the government’s campaign that “it’s safe, it’s important” got a bit harder this week because of the stoush with Facebook. More on that in a sec… Anti-vaxx protests on Saturday underline concerns about forces pushing against the COVID immunisation program. And with an official survey released last week finding that 27% of Australians are unsure about getting a jab – efforts to boost confidence will be a thing in the coming weeks and months.
BUT VACCINATION IS GETTING UNDERWAY TODAY, SO CAN WE RELAX?
Insomuch as anyone can relax during a pandemic – but probably not if you’re an infectious diseases expert in Russia and the World Health Organisation. The nation has reported the first cases of animal-to-human transmission of the H5N8 strain of bird flu. It came to light yesterday that 7 workers were infected at a Russian poultry plant in December. They are well now, and no cases of human-to-human transmission have been detected. The H5N8 strain has been detected in birds across the world since 1983, and that’s led to widespread culling to stop the spread. But this is the first time it’s been found in humans – a development officials say they have under control.
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HIGGINS TO MAKE IT FORMAL
Almost 2 years after she was allegedly attacked by a colleague in Parliament House, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins is expected to make a formal complaint to police on Wednesday, reports say. Last week Higgins said she’d held off because she felt pressured to choose between going to the police or her dream job. Meanwhile, this morning’s Australian (paywall) reports that a third woman claims she’d been sexually assaulted by the man in question. An unnamed second woman told the publication “If this had been properly dealt with by the government in 2019, this would not have happened to me.” PM Morrison – who has launched 4 separate reviews stemming from the allegations – said on Saturday that the report of a second woman “sickened” him. Labor, which smells a coverup, continues to ask questions about who knew what about Higgins’ alleged attack.
MEDIA CODE SET TO LAND TODAY
On the Senate’s agenda today – the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2021 – aka the thing that saw Facebook crack it last week and block Aussie users from posting or sharing news on the platform. Discussions were ongoing over the weekend with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg back in touch with the czar of all that he surveys Mark Zuckerberg. “Constructive” was the theme, Frydenberg said. Not feeling so generous was Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who has instructed his office and department to post information about the vaccination program on the platform – but not to pay for those messages to be boosted. On Friday, Facebook’s veep of public policy for Asia-Pacific Simon Milner apologised for the glitches and wouldn’t rule out a return of news for Aussie users, but he said the onus was on the government to resolve the standoff over the code.
MYANMAR VIOLENCE ESCALATES
The worst violence of the protests since de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was seized by Myanmar’s military leaders in a coup on 1 February has unfolded over the weekend. Reports say protestors threw projectiles at police who responded with live fire and tear gas in the nation’s 2nd biggest city of Mandalay on Saturday, leaving 2 demonstrators dead (including a teenage boy) and 20 injured. Three protestors have now died after a 19yo woman succumbed to her injuries on Friday after being shot by police on 9 January. Big crowds turned out yesterday for her funeral. Authorities say a policeman has also been killed this month. Myanmar’s military joined Aussie news outlets in being wiped by Facebook – its page was deleted yesterday for inciting violence.
LINE DRAWN FOR HARRY AND MEGHAN
If the Sussexes’ deals with Netflix and Spotify weren’t enough of a hint, they’re not returning to life as senior royals, it was announced on Saturday. With their 12-month performance review completed, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth has decided it’s “not possible” for the LA branch of the House of Windsor to “continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service”. That will see Prince Harry and Meghan return their honorary military appointments and Royal patronages. “While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family,” the statement said. In response, Prince Harry and Meghan said “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.” Ouch… Reports say Prince William is royally ticked off by his little brother’s response. Geez Oprah’s interview with the couple is going to be something… Meanwhile, 99yo Prince Philip remains in hospital in London and is said to be in good spirits despite the fuss over a visit from son Charles on the weekend…
ANOTHER AUSSIE OPEN GRAND SLAMMED
Novak Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev in last night’s Australian Open men’s singles final. After a contested first set, the men’s #1 player steamrolled the Russian to take the win 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. It saw Djokovic take his 9th Aussie Open title and 18th major singles title. Not faring so well last night was Tennis Australia chair/Virgin boss Jayne Hrdlicka who was booed by the crowd when she mentioned COVID vaccinations and thanked the Victorian Government… On the women’s side of the draw, Saturday night’s final was won by Naomi Osaka. She took out American Jennifer (‘call me Jenny’…) Brady in straight sets. Post-match, Osaka said her career ambition is to “play long enough to play a girl that said that I was once her favourite player”. And there was some Aussie flavour to the weekend’s finals, but tournament wildcards Sam Stosur and Matt Ebden tasted defeat against Czech Barbora Krejčíková and American Rajeev Ram in the mixed doubles.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Christchurch today marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people and wreaked destruction on the city’s buildings and landmarks. An ongoing impediment to efforts to rebuild: black-billed gulls. Classed as “near threatened”, 300 of them have decided central Christchurch is a great place to nest.
Still in Kiwiland and bet your job isn’t as exciting as working as a locksmith in Auckland… Between alien encounters and, umm, offers of alternative payment methods, it’s a thrill a minute.
And as you pull out your cereal this morning, you might want to check they’re not the type that will give you an extra pep in your step…
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Frontline workers and aged care/disability care residents start receiving the first doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine
Senate to consider the mandatory media bargaining code
ABS Data Release – Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, January
Cat Day – Japan
10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake (2011)
Birthdays for James Blunt (1974) and Drew Barrymore (1975)
• the British House of Lords ruling that authors do not have perpetual copyright (1774)
• Wildlife Warrior Steve Irwin’s birthday (1962)
• Scottish scientists announcing they have cloned an adult mammal, producing a lamb named “Dolly” (1997)
Read the email every day this week and you’ll go into this week’s draw for a $100 gift card to spend with Country Road. Nice. Unusual. Different.
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