“We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit.”
Said SpaceX engineer John Insprucker of yesterday’s fiery landing of the company’s 2nd Starship test flight. Everything looked good with the rocket they hope will one day take people to Mars – until it crashed like GameStop’s share price…
MELBOURNE ON EDGE - AGAIN
After going 28 days without a case of community transmission, COVID restrictions in Victoria have been reintroduced following the infection of a hallway monitor working in an Australian Open quarantine hotel. Doing his last shift at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne on 29 January, the 26yo developed symptoms and got tested yesterday. It will see up to 600 tennis players and officials go into isolation until they receive a negative test result. For the rest of the state, masks must now be worn in public indoor spaces, private indoor gatherings have been reduced to 15 people, and the lift in office worker numbers paused.
WHY THE BIG REACTION?
In a late-night press conference, Premier Daniel Andrews said that they were treating it like the man has the UK variant or another highly contagious strain of COVID – even though that has not been confirmed. With the big tennis tournament starting on Monday, it’s bad timing for those preparing to play. “I must say that is important to us, but the issues are much broader, and that is about public health and public safety,” Andrews said. It comes on top of another issue reported in Victoria yesterday – it looks like the highly contagious UK strain was transmitted between quarantine guests via the opening of a door. So, yes – the hotel quarantine system continues to vex officials as this pandemic rolls on.
LIKE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA?
Yeah, and the plot thickened in that case yesterday. The Perth quarantine hotel security guard who has the UK variant (you know, the case that plunged 2 million residents into lockdown this week) didn’t deliver medication to the room of an infected guest, WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed. But he was sitting about 3 metres away from the door of the person from whom authorities believe he contracted the virus. The case has prompted questions about why the guard wasn’t wearing a mask – something not required until this week. In good news: Western Oz had no new cases recorded again yesterday, so it’s on track to lift the lockdown tomorrow night.
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SPEAKING OF STRAINS…
PM Scott Morrison cracked it with Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly yesterday. Kelly has consistently advocated for unproven coronavirus therapies, raised doubts about masks’ effectiveness, and expressed concerns about vaccinations. Just this week he joined coronavirus-sceptic/celebrity chef Pete Evans for a backslapping podcast session. Kelly’s Coalition colleagues have refrained from condemning his views – until yesterday. After a hallway confrontation with senior Labor MP Tanya Plibersek in the Press Gallery of Parliament House went viral, the MP was hauled into the headmaster’s office. Shortly after he chatted with Morrison, Kelly released a statement declaring he’ll support the vaccine rollout. “I hope that today sees an end to the information – or disinformation – from the Member for Hughes,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.
ANOTHER DIFFICULT DAY FOR PERTH FIREFIGHTERS
Authorities are bracing for more property losses as the still out-of-control bushfire in the Perth Hills continues to burn. While the damage is still being assessed, at least 71 homes have been destroyed since Monday with the fire burning through more than 11,000 hectares of land amid soaring temperatures and 70km/hour winds. Reports overnight say things are at a critical point with strong winds pushing the fire towards houses on the northern edge of the city. Widespread emergency warnings are still in place for the city’s northeast, including areas within the Perth city limits.
MICROSOFT EYES AN OPPORTUNITY
Could ‘Binging’ become the new ‘Googling’? Microsoft certainly hopes so, after the company publicly backed the Morrison Government’s proposed media bargaining code that would see Facebook and Google forced to pay for Aussie news content. While the tech giants have warned they might remove or limit our access to their services, Microsoft reckons its search engine Bing could fill in the very large gap left by Google, which currently claims a 94% share of all internet searches in Oz. Bing has just 3.7%. Side note: a new study from Monash Uni revealed Google’s search engine can be beaten by its competitors when it comes to news. It found alternative search engines (including Bing) provide substantially more ‘high quality’ news results (which we assume is code for content from The Squiz…) than Google.
BEZOS STEPS DOWN
But he’s far from out… Amazon CEO/founder Jeff Bezos is vacating the CEO’s office to become the company’s executive chairman. The company characterised the move as “more of a restructuring of who’s doing what,” meaning the e-commerce giant founder is far from clocking off. Bezos will continue to put his stamp on the sprawling company and any new ventures, his colleagues say. But he wants to free up time to focus on his space-travel business Blue Origin – “the most important work I’m doing,” he recently said. And as the world’s second-wealthiest person with US$188 billion (a mere $2 billion behind Tesla founder Elon Musk…), it’s expected he will step up on the philanthropy front. Taking his place as CEO is longtime company man Andy Jassy. He’s been leading Amazon’s cloud computing arm AWS. Analysts have taken his appointment as a hint that the company’s future could lie outside online retailing.
AND THE NOMINEES ARE...
Netflix-made period dramas topped the Golden Globe nominations announced overnight. On the TV side of the ledger, The Crown scored 6 nominations including best series, drama, and leads for Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor. Schitt’s Creek’s final series scooped up 5 nominations, while Ozark (4 noms) and The Queen’s Gambit (2 noms) rounded out Netflix’s top performers. For movies, Mank (about Citizen Kane co-writer Herman Mankiewicz) led with 6 nominations including best film, drama, and best actor for Gary Oldman. Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 was next cab off the rank with 5 nominations. In a year that so many cinemas were closed, the streamer’s success makes sense… The winners will be announced in a (most probably virtual) ceremony hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on 28 February. A full list of nominees is here.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Japanese animators are renowned as leaders in their craft. So imagine the horror when the country’s favourite pencil manufacturer announced it was discontinuing some colours…
A sign that Potts Point in Sydney isn’t doing it too hard during this once-in-100-years economic downturn? A new pizza joint has opened, and its menu includes a range to cater for doggie dining-out. The pooch favourite – a $12 pizza named Skippy’s Nightmare. Mmm…
If your partner starts using words like ‘me’ and ‘I’ more than ‘we’ and ‘us’, you’re probably heading to Splitsville, a new study says. The unconscious mind, eh?
SQUIZ THE DAY
ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods and Services, December
A birthday for Facebook (2004)
• the first US electoral college chooses George Washington as President and John Adams as Vice-President (1789)
• Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) declaring independence from UK (1948)
• the release of Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album Rumours (1977)
• the deaths of Liberace (1987) and Betty Friedan (2006)
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