“Are we still in the first set? I’m completely lost. Oh my God!”
Said Russian tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after losing her bearings in the first match of the new season. But she could be talking for all of us…
A DARK DAY FOR AMERICA
The US Congress has certified the results of November’s presidential election – but the votes had to be rescued as the Capitol (their version of Parliament House) was breached for the first time since the British attacked in 1814. The result’s approval brought an end to a dramatic and deadly day that has stained America’s proud democratic history.
WHAT A DISASTER…
You can say that again. A timeline of what went down yesterday as thousands of Trump supporters stormed the building is here. But some of the lowlights are:
• Fingers are pointed at Trump for inciting the violence. Addressing an earlier rally of supporters, he said “this is a time for strength.” And as the mob ran amok, he did not condemn their actions. “We love you. You’re very special,” he said in a video.
• But critics say it wasn’t just Trump’s words yesterday – he has been whipping up his supporters with false allegations of voter fraud for weeks. Others say his whole presidency seeded this crisis.
• Vice President Mike Pence split with Trump as he rejected pressure to disrupt the election result’s certification (aka the demand he act unconstitutionally…). Top staffers and administration figures have resigned. Other senior loyalists have distanced themselves from Trump. And world leaders, including PM Scott Morrison, are urging a “peaceful transfer of power”. In America. Yep.
• Yesterday marked “a moment of great dishonour and shame,” former President Barack Obama said, summing up what America’s living former leaders thought of events.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
There’s talk about what measures can be taken by lawmakers to stop Trump from using his final 13 days in office to create more havoc. But the political sums have to add up to proceed – including that any action won’t make things worse. Meanwhile, Facebook has suspended Trump’s accounts for at least the remainder of his presidency because the risk he will use the platforms to incite more mob violence is too high, it says. From here, Team Biden has a lot of work in front of them to start healing divisions. At least they have a friendly Senate and House to work with… The next stop on this bumpy ride is Biden’s inauguration on 20 January, and Trump has committed to an “orderly transition”. “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again,” he said in a statement overnight.
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COVID JABS TO START IN FEBRUARY
Vulnerable and frontline Aussies could receive COVID vaccines as soon as mid-February, PM Morrison confirmed yesterday. While the first vaccinations were scheduled for March, the new timetable could see 4 million people vaccinated by the end of that month, and half the population covered off by mid-year. Today, leaders will hold a National Cabinet meeting to discuss new measures for international travellers given new hyper-contagious strains of the virus. That could include masking up for flights, and pre-flight testing. Health officials in Queensland are concerned the mutant UK strain has spread in the community after a quarantine hotel worker was confirmed yesterday to have contracted it. It’s the state’s first case of community transmission for 113 days.
FIRES AND FLOODS
Firefighters are bracing to continue to battle a fire burning north of Perth into the weekend with +40C heat and windy conditions tomorrow. They managed to contain but not control the blaze yesterday, but strong winds are threatening containment lines. “There’s potential for fires in any location when you have weather like we’ve got,” Department of Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent Craig Garrett said asking locals to be prepared. Meanwhile in Far North Queensland, heavy rain in the wake of ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen is expected to continue into next week, particularly between Mackay and the Cassowary Coast. That means little respite to the flooding in the region which has already seen a couple of croc sightings…
JACK IN A BOX?
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba co-founder and former boss Jack Ma hasn’t been seen in public since he attended a conference last October, leading to concerns for his wellbeing. But it’s thought the billionaire could be lying low after he criticised Beijing for stifling innovation at the conference in October last year. Not long after, the Chinese Government cancelled the launch of the Ma-founded financial services giant Ant Group on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. It was set to become the world’s largest initial public offering. Ant has since been forced to restructure to reduce its market power, and Alibaba is now under an antitrust investigation. Ma’s disappearing act during all this is unusual, and while he may have been arrested by Chinese authorities, reports say it’s more likely he’s quietly eating humble pie.
HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
An animated series about a man’s… manhood. It can perform rescue operations and take ice cream from children. And the show has just been launched on Denmark’s public broadcaster for the country’s 4-8yos to enjoy… Critics are horrified. But the broadcaster says it’s appropriate for kids because it’s about the main character, John Dillermand, overcoming challenges and hardships. And it shows he listens – like when a woman tells him to keep it in his pants. “Which is nice. He is accountable,” said a supporter. Great Dane…
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKE THIS WEEK
Some time off allows you to search some weird and wonderful corners of the internet. And this riveting game of guessing the paint colour had us hooked. Hooked, we tell you… It’s the most weirdly exciting 20 minutes of procrastination you’ll find.
Want 48 days off for just 20 days of your annual leave? Here’s how. Unless you’re a member of Team Squiz and you’ve been blocked from accessing the link…
This weekend, we’re looking for the fresh flavours of a salad and some carbolicious vibes. This recipe for lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime poached chicken with rice noodles is on the menu. Yum.
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National Cabinet meeting – virtual
Radical Islamist cleric and alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings Abu Bakar Bashir to be released from prison – Indonesia
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday (1983)
• the birthdays of Elvis Presley (1935) Stephen Hawking (1942), David Bowie (1947)
• Tonya Harding winning gold at the US Figure Skating Championships. She was stripped of the title following the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan (1994)
A birthday for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (1982)
• Steve Jobs introducing iTunes (2001) and the first iPhone (2007)
• the Sussexes making a shock announcement that they will “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family” (2020)
Elections in Kazakhstan
Australian Open Men’s and Women’s qualifying matches begin (on until 13 Jan) – Doha, Qatar
Margaret Thatcher Day (Falkland Islands)
Birthdays for singer Rod Stewart (1945) and Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser (1981)
• the establishment of the frontrunner to the United Nations, the League of Nations, as the Treaty of Versailles took effect (1920)
• the deaths of Coco Chanel (1971) and David Bowie (2016)
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