“It’s the ultimate whale watching during lockdown.”
Said Macquarie University’s Dr Vanessa Pirotta of a southern right whale that has made its way into Wallis Lake near NSW’s coastal haven of Forster-Tuncurry. If we can’t get to the whales, it’s nice that they’re willing to come to us…
COMMUNISM IN CHINA HITS THE TON
It was 100 years ago today that Mao Zedong and 12 others gathered in secret in a small brick house in Shanghai to form the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To mark the occasion, Monday’s spectacular show in Beijing kicked things off, and “grand celebrations” are planned today in Tiananmen Square where President Xi Jinping is expected to take centre stage. What won’t be highlighted – China’s military might. Organisers are said to understand how that would look given recent argy-bargy with the US and others. Which isn’t the only bit of stage management being done…
WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
Organisers are presenting a glorified version of the party’s early struggles and recent achievements to shore up President Xi’s agenda and his legitimacy as a long-term leader, observers say. “By linking the party to all of China’s accomplishments of the past century, and none of its failures, Xi is trying to bolster support for his vision, his right to lead the party and the party’s right to govern the country,” says Stanford Uni’s Elizabeth Economy. And that’s essential because China is a massive country that’s been under the firm and unrelenting grip of one party for more than 70 years through some tough and terrible times. That means its citizens need regular reinforcement that their system of government is the right one. And clearly, many think that’s the case – the CCP has 95 million members, which is almost 7% of China’s entire population.
AND THERE’S ANOTHER MILESTONE TO NOTE…
The National Security Law that bans Hongkongers from any shows of opposition towards China has been in place for a year. After massive anti-China protests, the law was imposed on the territory criminalising secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces. Those found guilty of any of those things face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Beijing says the law has brought stability, but critics say it violates the ‘one country, two systems’ principle that was to keep China out of its civic affairs when the UK handed it back to China in 1997. Since the law was enacted, 117 people have been arrested, and 60 charged – mostly pro-democracy activists, politicians, journalists and students.
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COSBY’S CONVICTION OVERTURNED
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has quashed comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction after finding there was a “process violation” because Cosby had made an agreement with a previous state prosecutor. Sentenced to a 3 to 10-year prison sentence, he was convicted in 2018 of drugging and molesting ex-basketball player/coach Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. Dozens of women have publicly accused him of similar drug-laced assaults, and some testified at Cosby’s trial. Overnight, the judges also found that testimony from those accusers unrelated to Constand’s case had tainted the trial. Cosby has already been released from prison, and the family’s spokesperson thanked the judges “who saw the light and saw the truth.” Constand has not made a statement yet.
CIVIL WAR CONCERNS IN AFGHANISTAN
The US is said to be “days away” from withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan after almost 20 years, and a top US military commander has warned the vacuum could see the country head towards a civil war. General Scott Miller said Afghanistan could face “very hard times” if its government cannot contain the threat of a Taliban insurgency. “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualised if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now,” he said. While US President Joe Biden has stood by his predecessor’s decision to get out, he said the US will continue to provide financial aid to Afghanistan. Reports this morning say all of Australia’s troops in Afghanistan have left ahead of America’s September deadline.
FLYING CARS A REALITY BY 2030
At least that’s what Michael Cole, the boss of car manufacturer Hyundai’s European arm reckons. Cole said flying cars will be “part of our future”, and they will reduce congestion and cut vehicle emissions. For now, prototypes look less like a DeLorean and more like a plane and a car had a dirty affair and produced offspring. Take the imaginatively named AirCar, which successfully completed a 35-minute flight in Slovakia yesterday. Kitted out with a BMW engine, it takes just 2 minutes to transform from a car into a plane, and its creators say it can fly for 1,000km at speeds of up to 170km/hour. However, unlike drone-taxi prototypes, the AirCar can’t take off and land vertically and needs a runway. Holy Jetsons…
ON THE SURFACE...
The safety of Wimbledon’s grass courts has come into question after tennis superstar Serena Williams and France’s Adrian Mannarino were forced to withdraw from the tournament after suffering injuries. Some big names, including Roger Federer, say the courts are a “tad more slippery” than in recent years, but the slippery grass courts aren’t unusual and take a few matches for the players to wear the grass down, others say. The All England Club said maintenance of the courts hadn’t changed this year, but there have been wetter-than-usual conditions leading up to Wimbledon. Nick Kyrgios is another to dramatically fall as he finished off his match with 21st-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert. The Aussie won in 5 sets – “not too bad for a part-time player,” he said.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
US First Lady Dr Jill Biden is rocking the cover of the latest edition of American Vogue. She’s the “driven, tireless, effortlessly popular” wife of Joe Biden, who is a “goddess” and “a joy multiplier”, the deeply probing article says. And look, it might have been mentioned that Michelle Obama was also afforded the honour while Melania Trump was not…
The Ford Escort given to Princess Diana by her soon-to-be-husband Prince Charles has been sold at auction for $96,000. We do not believe it will feature in her soon-to-be-unveiled statue on the anniversary of her 60th birthday.
Also getting due recognition: puppers. Aussies might soon be able to take their beloved dogs into the cabins of commercial flights if the pilot says it’s ok. Which is just one step away from finding Australia’s version of Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt…
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Happy new financial year…
It’s the first day PM Scott Morrison can call a ‘normal’ general election
A statue in honour of Princess Diana will be unveiled to mark the 60th anniversary of her birthday. Her sons and a small group of family will attend – Kensington Palace, London
Superannuation guarantee payments increase to 10% from today
Territory Day, marking the anniversary of the NT becoming self-governing (1978)
Canada Day, marking the anniversary of the foundation of Canada (1867)
Independence Day – Rwanda
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, marking the anniversary of the United Kingdom returning Hong Kong and the New Territories to the People’s Republic of China (1997)
100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (1921)
ABS Data Release – International Trade in Goods and Services, May; Job Vacancies, May
Birthdays for Debbie Harry (1945), John Farnham (1949) and Daniel Ricciardo (1989)
• the “SOS” morse code signal becoming the worldwide standard for help (1908)
• the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, one of the biggest battles of WWI (1916)
• the release of the Sony Walkman (1979)
• the establishment of The International Criminal Court (2002)
• the death of Marlon Brando (2004)
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