“We truly live in the weirdest of times.”
Tweeted one observer of NSW Health’s patching of an internal leak that saw the ‘TikTok Guy’ in possession of new COVID case numbers well ahead of time. Which is a sentence that would have made no sense to anyone 2 years ago…
RAMPING UP THE ROLLOUT
The COVID climb continues in NSW with 98 new cases recorded yesterday. Another death was also reported taking the outbreak’s toll to 5. And Victoria’s lockdown will be extended past tonight’s deadline until a date to be named as 16 more local cases were identified. As for South Oz, yesterday saw the return of hard restrictions, but it didn’t go the lockdown route after 3 local cases were reported yesterday. With all that happening and the Delta variant continuing to spread, experts say lockdowns could remain in place until many more people are vaccinated.
HOW’S THAT GOING?
As of yesterday, 13.7% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated and 35.3% have received one dose. And the pace is expected to pick up in the coming weeks after a million Pfizer doses arrived yesterday – the first expedited delivery with 4.5 million more to come in August. The precious cargo is already being distributed nationwide with Sydney’s southwest – the centre of the city’s outbreak – getting a large number of doses. Supply delays and changes to the expert advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine have seen leaders, officials and many Aussies don their cranky dacks in recent weeks. Asked about it yesterday, the head of the COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce Lieutenant General John Frewen said things were on track for every Aussie who wanted a vaccine to get one by year’s end.
SO, WHEN WILL WE BE ABLE TO OPEN UP?
Dunno. And the government hasn’t provided its targets or timelines to get the job done. Frewen says modelling on vaccination rates and what’s required to reach herd immunity will be presented to the government in the coming weeks. But the Delta strain has changed the game, officials say. Yesterday, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said “a rethink about the level of vaccination” was happening thanks to the highly contagious strain. She also said consideration needs to be given to vaccinating children in order to reach the goal of keeping communities safe from COVID. Ah Delta, she’s a problem…
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CHINA BLAMED FOR MAJOR HACK
And when we say blamed, the US, UK, European Union and nations including Australia have banded together to point the finger at China for a major cyber-attack that targeted Microsoft Exchange servers earlier this year. At least 30,000 organisations globally were affected, including defence contractors, think tanks and universities. And the hack, which Western nations believe was overseen by the Chinese Ministry of State Security, was designed to enable large-scale espionage, including the harvesting of personal information and intellectual property. Initially, one Chinese group was involved, but as Microsoft prepared to patch the vulnerability, more piled on for a ‘smash-and-grab’ for data. The UK says the Chinese Government “ignored repeated calls to end its reckless campaign, instead allowing state-backed actors to increase the scale of their attacks and act recklessly when caught”. China has previously denied claims it was involved.
WOMEN HAVE MORE TO SAY ON PARLIAMENT HOUSE CULTURE
An interim report into what sort of place Parliament House is to work that’s being led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins was released yesterday. The review, which was launched after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins spoke out about an alleged rape, is not looking any specific claims of misconduct, bullying or assault. Instead, it will recommend ways to make it a safer place to work. Out of the 345 people who have been interviewed or made a submission so far, 72% were women. Getting the pollies to engage with the review looks like a challenge with 16 current or former MPs and senators contributing so far, and 12 more booked in for a chat in the coming months. Jenkins yesterday said it’s a “once-in-a generation opportunity for change”. The final report is due in November.
As home prices surge, rental prices follow… Across the country, the biggest jump in 12 years has seen the national median rental price of houses and units rise to $476/week in June – a 6.6% increase over the year. That’s a leap not seen since January 2009, according to CoreLogic’s latest data. Canberra is the most expensive city for renters at $620 a week, and Melbourne was the only capital to record a decline, dropping 1.4% to $444 thanks to last year’s lockdown. And if you thought it was tough in the city, regional rent jumped up by a record 11.3% over the past year to $441 per week thanks to COVID tree/sea-changers. Wait until they get the wave of folks inspired by Clarkson’s Farm…
COUNTDOWN TO BEZOS BLAST OFF
Amazon founder/billionaire Jeff Bezos is preparing for his minutes-long journey to space just days after some other rich bloke beat him to the punch. Bezos’ Blue Origin is one of the new space players that plan on taking paying customers on space rides. To test it out, Bezos, his brother Mark, a recent high school grad, and the gloriously named Wally Funk (an 82yo former pilot) will fly to the edge of space on the New Shepard rocket tonight. Compared to Virgin Galactic’s recent flight, the New Shepard’s journey will be shorter on time but faster on speed. And Bezos is taking a bit of a risk – Blue Origin has made automated flights before, but this will be its first with people on board. Liftoff is at 11pm tonight, and you can watch it on Blue Origin’s livestream.
KIDS JUST WANNA BE PEPPA
Non-stop kids TV has been a lockdown must for parents around the world. The result: a new phenomenon called the ‘Peppa Pig effect’. British accents and words like “telly”, “water closet”, “lovely” and “Father Christmas” are being adopted by little person-shaped sponges across the US as they soak up lines from the porcine pre-schooler. “I was like, ‘Where did she learn that from? Was she on the Titanic in a past life?’” said one mum. And while it’s forced many to question their parenting style, others have sung the plucky pig’s praises for broadening language skills. Just wait until they get onto Bluey…
APROPOS OF NOTHING - UNDER THE SEA EDITION
World freediving records have been broken at a competition in the Bahamas. One to call out is Slovenian superstar Alenka Artnik who went down 120 metres and was back up in 3 minutes and 28 seconds. Mind (and lung) blowing…
While in the water, there’s one encounter you’d hold your breath for… But according to experts, that sort of reaction to sharks is fed by a negative narrative. Think ‘shark accident’, not ‘shark attack’…
Also wreaking havoc underwater and throwing another spanner in the Tokyo Olympics’ works are some oysters. It’s one thing to have to pay $1.7 million to repair the damage, but not being able to eat the popular delicacy worth tens of thousands of dollars? That’s just cruel…
SQUIZ THE DAY
11.00pm (AEST) – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is shot into space with three others aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket – Texas
Company Earning Release – Netflix – April-June quarter
Colombia’s national day
International Cake Day
Birthdays for Terri Irwin (1964), Sandra Oh (1971) and Aussie basketball star Ben Simmons (1996)
• Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first men to walk on the moon (1969)
• the CIA releasing documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing it had engaged in mind control experiments (1977)
• death of Bruce Lee (1973)
4.30am (AEST) – Men’s ODI Cricket – Australia v West Indies – Barbados
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