“It’s a real snowstorm, a snow Armageddon, a snow apocalypse.“
And you know when a Muscovite says there’s a lot of snow, there’s really a lot of snow…
THE VACCINE EAGLE HAS LANDED
Australia’s first doses of the COVID vaccine touched down in Sydney yesterday – and the nation’s vaccination program will kick off on Monday following security and quality checks. There are 142,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first shipment from Europe. The states and territories will receive 50,000 doses to give to frontline quarantine and health workers next week, and another 30,000 are earmarked for aged care and disability care residents and workers. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said he expects 60,000 people to have their first jab of the 2-shot regime within a fortnight. The precious cargo requires cold storage of -60C to -80C, which is why experts have described the logistical challenge as the biggest the nation’s faced since WWII.
WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING THAT…
Sure, but it’s worth reflecting on its significance. Remember, this time a year ago a pandemic still hadn’t been declared. In Australia, we’d recorded a total of 15 cases of this new thing called coronavirus. We were still a couple of weeks away from emergency health orders and closing borders. Life might not be the same, but the speed at which vaccines have been developed – usually taking 5-10 years – is remarkable. The Pfizer vaccine is also one of the first to use mRNA technology – a medical advance in itself. The AstraZeneca vaccine, a more traditional medication not requiring cold storage, is expected to receive approval from our regulator this week.
GOOD-O. BUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN VICTORIA?
The Holiday Inn cluster is at 17 cases – another woman tested positive after attending a family function on Saturday, 6 February with an infected hotel quarantine worker. She may have been infectious when she worked in the psychiatric units of 2 Melbourne hospitals, which are now in lockdown. Those contacts and the people who attended the function in Coburg in Melbourne’s north are the focus of officials’ concerns. That led Premier Daniel Andrews to say it’s too early to make a call about relaxing the statewide 5-day lockdown that’s due to be lifted at the end of tomorrow. Discussion on the safety of hotel quarantine programs is ongoing with The Australian this morning reporting (paywall) that billionaires/airport owners Lindsay Fox and John Wagner have put proposals for remote quarantine camps to government.
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DARKNESS IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Allegations by a young female Liberal Party staffer that she was raped by a colleague were published yesterday by news.com.au. Brittany Higgins, who was 24yo when the alleged attack occurred in 2019, says it happened in senior minister Linda Reynolds’ Parliament House office. Because she and the accused man entered the office after hours on a Friday night, a security enquiry was triggered, and Higgins was asked for an explanation by her superiors. She says she felt she couldn’t make a formal complaint without sacrificing her “dream” job of working as a political staffer. Politicians from the major parties voiced their concern for Higgins yesterday, with PM Scott Morrison saying he “takes all such matters and all matters of workplace safety very, very seriously.” Labor Senator Kristina Keneally said Reynolds and the Coalition need to explain whether Higgins was properly supported. Reports say Higgins is considering re-engaging with police, who say the matter remains open.
‘WHOLE COMMUNITY’ FAIL LED TO PERTH FAMILY TRAGEDY
Western Australia’s Supreme Court has found a Perth man not guilty of murdering his 3 family members in 2018 due to ‘unsoundness of mind’. Chief Justice Peter Quinlan said he accepted that 21yo Teancum Petersen-Crofts is not criminally responsible for his mother and 2 siblings’ deaths in a horrendous attack that shocked the nation. Petersen-Crofts suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and multiple attempts to get mental health support were unsuccessful. The night before the murders, he was discharged from hospital despite hearing voices telling him to kill his family, the court heard. Quinlan condemned the shortcomings of the state’s mental health system. “We, the whole community, have failed you,” he said. Petersen-Crofts will continue to be treated in a secure mental health hospital.
CRACKDOWN IN MYANMAR ON THE CARDS
An increase in military presence across Myanmar’s cities is fuelling concerns of a crackdown on hundreds of thousands of protesters who are voicing their opposition to the 1 February coup. Over the last couple of days, armoured vehicles have been patrolling city streets while clashes between authorities and protesters have turned violent. Overnight, the military warned citizens that they face up to 20 years in prison if they are obstructed. United Nations official Tom Andrews said the military was “declaring war” on the people of Myanmar. It comes as the country’s leaders have extended the 2-week detention of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She is expected to face court via video tomorrow on charges of the illegal possession of walkie talkies. #SquizShortcut
HEAD OF CROWN RESIGNS
Crown Resorts CEO Ken Barton is the latest high profile departure after the NSW regulatory inquiry deemed the company unfit to operate its new Barangaroo casino in Sydney. In the report released last week, Commissioner Patricia Bergin called out Barton for failing to investigate money laundering allegations published in mid-2019. And she said he was “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee”. Barton follows 3 Crown directors – Andrew Demetriou, Michael Johnston and Guy Jalland – who cut their losses last week. Helen Coonan will stand in as executive chairman (which means she’ll run both the board and management team) until a new CEO is hired. She said the company is committed to improving its “governance, compliance and culture”, and would work with regulators in NSW, and in Western Oz and Victoria where it already operates casinos.
BARTY MARCHES INTO QUARTER-FINALS
Ipswich’s Ash Barty was in command last night cruising past American Shelby Rogers in straight sets to step into the quarter-finals of the Aussie Open. She joins quad singles superstar Dylan Alcott, who is on track to take out his 7th consecutive Aussie Open. Not even a loud phone call could derail him yesterday… For some other big names, watch out for Naomi Osaka v Aussie-trained Taiwanese player Hsieh Su-wei this arvo, and Serena Williams v Simona Halep tonight. After that, an injured Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev will battle it out for a semis spot. And a new couple of names to note: American buddies Jess Pegula (who comes from a family of cashed-up sports fans) and Jennifer Brady will face off on Wednesday after cheering each other on through the rounds.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
A royal baby announcement on Valentines Day – where have we seen that before? It was Prince Harry’s parents’ announcement that he was on the way 37 years ago. Another fun fact about the photo that accompanied news that Harry and Meghan are expecting: it was shot remotely via iPad by photographer Misan Harriman.
If you’ve ever moved house and had to lug heavy and large items long distances, you’ll have some sympathy for these prehistoric removalists. There’s evidence that stone boulders were shifted 200km from Wales to Wiltshire to reform a little known monument called Stonehenge.
We know you don’t come to us for tips on being cool. Heaven help you if that’s the case… But if you’re texting a Gen Z, lay off the crying laughing emoji and replace it with the skull emoji. Pop star Taylor Swift was onto this early…
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ABS Data Release – Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, July 2016 – June 2020
Shrove (Fat) Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. It’s the culmination of the Carnival season in many countries across the world
Birthdays for Cathy Freeman (1973) and The Weeknd (1990)
• Pope Gregory the Great decreeing “God bless You” as the correct response to a sneeze (600)
• he first known cheque written for £400 (1659)
• Howard Carter discovering Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb and sarcophagus (1923)
• former North Korean leader Kim Jon-il’s birthday (1941)
• Fidel Castro becomes the 16th Prime Minister of Cuba after overthrowing Fulgencio Batista (1959)
• the Kyoto Protocol coming into force following its ratification by Russia (2005)
Chin chin… If you read the email every day, you’ll go into the draw to win a $100 gift card from Dan Murphy’s.
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