TGA warns against cattle dewormer ‘cure’

Regulators have warned against using ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment, after a surge in purchases of the livestock dewormer sparked a national shortage in Australia.

What we know:

  • A buying spree sparked shortages of ivermectin and a 10-fold increase in imports to Australia in August (The Guardian); 
  • Australian anti-vaccination groups on encrypted messaging sites are sharing links to online stores where people can import the drug;
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration warned against using the livestock dewormer as a treatment for Covid-19;
  • “The TGA strongly discourages self-medication and self-dosing with ivermectin for Covid-19 as it may be dangerous to your health,” the agency said;
  • The National Covid-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce this month issued an explainer counselling against use of the drug; 
  • The US has seen an increased call to poison hotlines from people who had taken ivermectin, with at least one hospitalisation;
  • “You are not a horse,” the US Food and Drug Administration said in a tweet (NBC); 
  • Side-effects include “skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, neurologic adverse events … sudden drop in blood pressure, severe skin rash ... and liver injury”.
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Civilian deaths mark US retreat

US troops are working under rocket fire to complete the evacuation from Kabul ahead of the deadline for the Afghanistan withdrawal today, as the White House investigates a fatal drone strike that killed civilians.

What we know:

  • Several rockets were fired at Kabul’s international airport on Monday, with Islamic State claiming responsibility for the attack (Al Jazeera); 
  • Some of the rockets were intercepted by a missile defence system, the US claims;
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there is an investigation to “determine what happened” in the US drone attack that reportedly killed 10 Afghan civilians including seven children in Kabul;
  • The US claims the drone strike targeted a vehicle believed to pose an “imminent ISIS-K threat” to Kabul’s airport;
  • “We take efforts, take steps from the United States to avoid civilian casualties in every scenario and probably more than almost any country in the world,” Psaki said;
  • Between 2016-2020, at least 2122 civilians including 785 children were killed in airstrikes largely conducted by the US in Afghanistan (ReliefWeb); 
  • Australia wrapped up its evacuation effort last week, extracting 4100 people (Reuters);
  • Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has joined the criticism of Australia’s handling of its exit, questioning the decision to close the embassy in May before getting Australians and vulnerable Afghans out (The Age); 
  • Afghan-Australians who fled the Taliban are being targeted by scammers in Australia exploiting their desperation to evacuate loved ones (ABC). 
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Higgins inquiry paused again

An inquiry into who knew what and when in the Prime Minister’s office over the alleged rape of Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has been suspended.

The head of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, said the inquiry had been put on hold as the ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions feared it could “prejudice the criminal proceedings now on foot” (news.com.au). 

Earlier this month a Queensland man was served with a summons to appear in the ACT Magistrates Court on September 16 on a single charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

The man’s lawyers have indicated he will plead not guilty to the charge.

“I have suspended my inquiry until the conclusion of the criminal trial,” said Gaetjens.

“This is to ensure that the inquiry can have no adverse impact on the criminal prosecution.”

The latest pause of the inquiry, which has already been suspended once before, means there is a growing chance the findings may remain secret until after the 2022 federal election.

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Renewables match grid demands

No electricity supply shortfalls are expected for the next five years thanks to renewables, battery storage and transmission investment, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator.

The Electricity Statement of Opportunities report found that by 2025 there would be periods when all demand could be met by renewable generation.

“Significant renewable energy investments, and well-progressed dispatchable generation projects, including gas plants, pumped hydro and battery storage, will all help replace retiring coal and gas plants,” said AMEO chief Daniel Westerman.

It comes as Energy Minister Angus Taylor argues for a “CoalKeeper” proposal to keep fossil fuel plants online in a move he says will shore up reliability (Crikey). 

The proposed tax on electricity bills has been estimated to cost up to $6.9bn, equating to an increase in average household energy bills of up to $430 a year.

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Pandemic extends gender pay gap

Our Watch, a gender equality group, has marked “equal pay day” today by urging employers to prevent women from being left behind in Australia’s pandemic recovery, with the gender pay gap having grown to $261.50 a week.

Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows that the gender pay gap in Australia has increased by 0.8% in the last six months alone (The Mandarin). 

Caring professions have been the hardest hit, with early childhood education, healthcare and aged care sectors experiencing cut hours and job losses.

Lockdowns have also imposed greater unpaid carer demands on women and mothers across all work sectors.

“We need governments to apply a gendered approach to all policies, for example ensuring that economic stimulus packages do not disproportionately benefit male-dominated industries,” said Our Watch chief Patty Kinnersly.

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COVIDsafe has resulted in high transaction costs for state contact tracing teams and produced few benefits and efficiencies.

A leaked secret report finds that the federal government’s COVIDsafe app has been such a dud that it is actually worse than no app at all (InnovationAus).

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Postscript: I self-published erotica to make ends meet. Could I follow in Anaïs Nin’s footsteps or was I doomed to churn out filth?

The pack: that’s what they called it. A secret guide, discreetly passed to literary authors in need of money to sustain their “real” art. Compiled by such an author, happy to share their experience of publishing erotica on Amazon, it offered advice to avant-garde writers keen to turn their hand to this lucrative genre (Aeon).

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