Thursday, February 06, 2020

Mining camp option for virus evacuees

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says remote area mining camps and hotels are being identified to potentially quarantine more evacuees from the coronavirus outbreak in China. Dutton said he worried “whether we face the prospect of trying to assist people to depart literally in the thousands” from China, ­exceeding the capacity at the Christmas Island detention centre. There are 35 more evacuees en route to Christmas Island via New Zealand, where they were taken on a charter flight from Wuhan. They will join 238 Australians already at the facility. 

Australian cases: Australia’s 14th case of coronavirus was identified in Queensland, with a 37-year-old man from Wuhan currently isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital. He is from the same tour group as three other people in the state who have tested positive to the virus. Two Australian citizens on board a quarantined cruise liner in Japan were flown to a hospital after contracting coronavirus, with more than 200 Australians still on board the ship. A newborn baby in Wuhan was confirmed to have the virus, raising fears it can be passed from mother to child. The response to the virus is having a growing impact on the global economy.

Burns ineffective: Hazard reduction burns had little to no effect in slowing the unprecedented fires that burned more than 5 million hectares across New South Wales this summer, according to a University of Melbourne analysis. Patrick Baker, a professor of silviculture and forest ecology, told Guardian Australia the practice did not “seem to have done much at all” when faced with such large, aggressive fires, and is better used as part of a risk-based system designed to help protect chosen assets rather than mandated by arbitrary targets that could lead to useless burns. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested he may introduce national standards for states to carry out a specific amount of hazard reduction per year.

US politics: The Iowa Democratic Party has released results from 71 per cent of precincts in the state’s caucus to choose the Democratic nominee for the US presidential election, after an apparent technical problem that led to no results being available on the day of the election. The results show Pete Buttigieg with a narrow lead over Bernie Sanders in state delegates but Sanders ahead in the popular vote. The Republican-majority Senate is expected to vote to acquit United States President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial today. The chamber's 47 Democrats will fall far short of the 67 votes needed for a guilty verdict, with just one Republican senator, the former Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney, expected to vote in favour of convicting the president for withholding aid from Ukraine so the country would investigate his political opponent.


“Into a national debate riven with shock, sadness, hurt and anger, independent MP Zali Steggall will next month put forward a private member’s bill – full title: the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Action) Bill 2020 – that could make a lasting difference were it to achieve majority support in the federal parliament. Steggall’s bill copies the framework of the United Kingdom’s climate legislation, which locks in a 2050 zero-emissions target and a credible pathway to get there, and has depoliticised the country’s response to global warming.”


Dark Emu rests on a foundational truth: that the European explorers saw things (and, from within their own worldview, wrote them down) that the first settlers (and the institutions that supported them) didn’t want known (because they were busy expanding the colonial frontier, which necessarily meant acting illegally), and that subsequent settlers couldn’t see (because those things were no longer in evidence). Had Dark Emu merely made this point by quoting explorers’ journals, the right’s attack would have no force.”


“At some point in any interview with the prime minister one is liable to be reminded of a dung beetle: he starts with nothing much at all and by unstoppable single­minded exertion he pushes it through every interrogative thicket and every hurdle of logic and evidence until he’s created a ball of bullshit several times his own size.”


“Fox Sports is set to walk away from rugby union, ending a 25-year broadcasting partnership that began when the game turned professional. Months of talks between Fox Sports and Rugby Australia came to a halt on Wednesday, and the struggling code will likely have to make a deal with Optus.’”


“Super League has voted unanimously to have ‘greater authority’ to stop future ‘controversial signings’ such as Israel Folau's move to Catalans Dragons. The clubs held crisis talks over the signing of Folau, 30, at a Super League board meeting on Wednesday. Folau, the sacked Australia rugby union international, has not played a match of any kind for 10 months since writing a homophobic post on social media. Several clubs have backed Hull KR's threat of legal action over the deal.”


“Russian priests should refrain from the practice of blessing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that can inflict indiscriminate loss of life, according to new guidelines being discussed by the Russian Orthodox Church ... Russian priests have long appeared in images sprinkling holy water on submarines, ballistic missiles, Soyuz space rockets and other pieces of hardware as part of rituals to bless them.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.