“I am just loving every single moment.”
Said Western Aussie/Tour de France cyclist Ben O’Connor who won stage 9 overnight, putting himself into 2nd position overall. And what’s not to love about battling cold/wet conditions as you ride a bike uphill for 144.9km if a yellow jersey’s at the end of it?
PHASING OUT THE COVID RECOVERY
Fifty-eight new local cases of COVID were added to Australia’s tally over the weekend taking the total number of active community-acquired cases nationwide to 320. NSW accounts for 250 of those after 35 new local cases were reported on Saturday – the state’s biggest daily rise in infections this year – and 16 more were added yesterday. With Greater Sydney and surrounds passing what’s hoped to be the halfway mark of its lockdown, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the next few days would be “absolutely critical” to what happens next. And she hasn’t let up on pushing her federal colleagues on the vaccination front…
WASN’T THAT SORTED OUT?
You mean at the National Cabinet meeting on Friday? It saw leaders agree on a 4-phase “pathway out of COVID-19” that lists what needs to be done to get to a point when there are no lockdowns, the international border opens, and COVID is treated as an infectious disease “like any other in our community,” PM Scott Morrison said. We’re still in phase one, and suppressing the virus is the name of the game. According to the plan, Australia can shift gears “once we reach a threshold of vaccination”. Those numbers are TBC and Berejiklian says a timeline and hard targets are essential. Morrison maintains that every Australian who wants a vaccine should be able to receive at least their first jab by the end of this year.
AND UNTIL THEN?
Our leaders and health officials will go on managing things as they currently are. One change: the number of international arrivals into Australia will be halved nationwide. That will see a maximum of 3,035 allowed into Oz each week by 14 July. And with 34,000 Australians registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wishing to return from overseas, the Federal Government will “ramp up” the number of people arriving on repatriation flights in the coming weeks. It’s in response to the Delta strain – the Meadow Lea of COVID (aka easily spread…). And there is some good news for the vaccination rollout with 500 GP clinics around the country starting to offer Pfizer vaccine doses from today. Under-40yos (unless they’re in a high-risk category) need not apply…
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PLANE CRASH KILLS AT LEAST 45
A Philippines Air Force plane crashed on the nation’s southern island of Jolo yesterday carrying 96 people – most were army personnel reporting for duty to combat Islamist militants in the region. Officials say there’s no indication the plane had been attacked, and an investigation into the crash is underway. Reports say the C-130 Hercules military plane missed the runway before crashing and exploding, and an official statement says some passengers were seen jumping out of the aircraft before it hit the ground. It is the country’s worst military air disaster for at least 3 decades and follows a Black Hawk helicopter crash a fortnight ago. Six people were killed when the military chopper crashed during a night flight just north of the capital Manila.
FLORIDA APARTMENT BLOCK TO COME DOWN
There are 24 people who have been confirmed dead, and 121 more are missing since part of the 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside, Florida collapsed in the early hours of the morning of 24 June. And yesterday, officials said search efforts will pause as preparations to demolish the building’s remaining units are made. A time to bring down the rest of the units hasn’t been set, but it has become urgent as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches. Experts are concerned the expected high winds could see the structure topple unsafely. More has been reported about flaws in the apartment block’s structure, including the observation that the building’s base doesn’t appear to have as much steel reinforcement as outlined in the project’s drawings.
EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGES FOR A BIG VATICAN NAME
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former close aide to Pope Francis, will stand trial with 9 others for alleged financial crimes. He becomes the highest-ranked cleric in the Vatican to be indicted over charges that include embezzlement and abuse of office. Becciu, who until last September had a key job in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, resigned after he was implicated in a financial scandal involving the Vatican’s investment in a London real estate deal that saw millions of euros paid in fees. Australia’s Cardinal George Pell clashed with Becciu when he was prefect of the Vatican’s economy ministry. Pell, who remains in Rome, congratulated Pope Francis when Becciu stepped down and hinted at other financial snafus. Speaking of il Papa, the 84yo is in hospital ahead of surgery for a colon problem.
A WHOPPING BIG RANSOMWARE ATTACK
Customers of software supplier Kaseya are victims of what experts believe to be one of the broadest ransomware attacks on record. The computer networks of thousands of businesses were hit by the “colossal” breach of the supply chain software provider when malicious auto-update dropped malware into their systems. Cybersecurity experts say the REvil gang from Russia appears to be behind the attack – the same mob is thought to be behind the recent attack on the world’s biggest meat processor, JBS Foods. Victims across 17 countries, including the US, UK, South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Kenya and Germany, were hit with ransom demands of US$45,000. Also hard hit was Sweden’s Coop supermarkets – more than half of its 800 stores had to close after their checkouts stopped working. One expert said “it’s reasonable to think that the timing was planned” by hackers for America’s 4 July holiday. #SquizShortcut
IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE AN EARLY BIRD/FOOTBALL FAN…
Outside of the World Cup, the Euros and Copa America are two of the biggest soccer tournaments on the planet. And over the weekend, the semi-final starters for both have been decided. In the Euros, Spain, Italy, Denmark and England have all progressed. If England gets through to the next stage, it would see them in their first major final since they won the World Cup in 1966. No pressure… Their campaign has been bolstered by a record-breaking effort from goalie Jordan Pickford. He’s the first to record ‘five clean sheets’ across the first five games of the Euros. That doesn’t mean he has an impeccable linen press – no side has scored a goal against him. And over in South America, it’s Brazil v Peru on Tuesday and Argentina v Colombia on Wednesday. In that tournament, it’s all about Argentina’s Lionel Messi, who’s had 4 man-of-the-match nods out of 5 games.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about fish kills and dire times for the Menindee Lakes. But the water’s back, as are the spectacular birds and other wildlife.
Also feeling lucky was the James family from Louisiana after discovering they had $50 billion in their bank account. Darren James reckons someone fell asleep on the keyboard – or “a Saudi Arabian prince who promised to give me $50 billion” finally coughed up.
And Prince Charles has given the world an incredible gift – a playlist of his favourite tracks. And you thought we had questionable taste in music…
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Venezuela’s National Day
Independence Day in Algeria
ABS Data Release – Retail Trade, May; Building Approvals, May
• the launch of famous luncheon meat Spam (1937)
• the launch of the modern bikini (1946)
• the premiere of Seinfield (originally titled The Seinfeld Chronicles) (1989)
• the founding of Amazon by Jeff Bezos (1994)
• the wedding of David and Victoria Beckham (1999)
• the WHO announcing the containment of SARS after affecting 26 countries and resulting in 774 deaths (2003)
• the release of Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye featuring Kimbra (2011)
• the release of an FBI report stating Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” handling classified emails, but doesn’t recommend prosecution (2016)
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