Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Manus Island guard takes own life

A former Manus Island detention centre security guard wrote a suicide note addressed to the Prime Minister and took her own life, ahead of a legal showdown with the Australian government and G4S Australia. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald report that Diane Parker, 53, was one of 18 former staff pursuing compensation for trauma suffered in the fatal detention centre riots of 2014, in a trial due to begin next week. Employed by G4S Australia, Parker was at Manus Island during the riots that left Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati dead. “Scott Morrison, My name is Diane Parker, I was working on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea in February 2014,” she wrote in a letter that her family have given permission to be published. “Do I need to go on? I have PTSD and have committed suicide. I am over the courts, over the delay, over people not caring.” Morrison is understood not to have received the letter. Lifeline 13 11 14

Coronavirus: A woman in her 50s has become the third locally acquired case of COVID-19 in Australia. Meanwhile, 40 staff from Ryde Hospital in Sydney have been put into quarantine after coming into contact with a doctor diagnosed with COVID-19. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday met with Coles and Woolworths executives to discuss the panic-buying sweeping the country, with both announcing plans to stockpile toilet paper, tissues, Panadol and long-life pantry products. Australia's largest toilet paper manufacturer is moving into 24-hour production to meet demand. The virus continues to spread globally, with more than 90,000 people across 73 countries and territories infected.

Three-day outage: Aboriginal residents in eight communities in the Groote archipelago were without phone service, internet access, eftpos, after a power outage that lasted from last Wednesday to Friday. The Anindilyakwa land council told Guardian Australia that the response of Telstra, government and police was “manifestly inadequate”. “No emergency procedures were put in place,” chief executive Mark Hewitt said. “Without access to food, fuel and information, there was a significant spike in community unrest.” Telstra said storms and flooding meant that technicians could not access the site.

Super Tuesday: The United States will today hold its second-biggest election day of the year, as “Super Tuesday” sees 14 state primaries and two caucuses held to pick a Democratic challenger to US President Donald Trump. Progressive senator Bernie Sanders was leading the pack, until a raft of moderates candidates dropped out at the last moment to support former vice-president Joe Biden. Senator Elizabeth Warren remains in the race but is lagging in the polls, while former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first time, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising.


“Assange’s conditions at Belmarsh prison, on the outskirts of London, are difficult. On day two of the trial, Edward Fitzgerald told Judge Baraitser that his client had been strip-searched twice, handcuffed 11 times and moved between five separate holding cells. He had his court documents – which included communication with his lawyers – removed at the end of the first day.”


“For the first time since the Ebola epidemic of 2014, we were dealing with the jargon of ‘donning’, ‘doffing’ and ‘PPE’ (personal protective equipment). We checked each other’s P2 respirators for the telltale rise and fall with inhalations and exhalations. Someone wryly noted that masks worn to ward off the poor air quality following the bushfires had found new purpose ... The atmosphere in the room became calm, but it was tempered by the knowledge that our service could be called on at any time, night or day.”


“While Portch says losing Lola began the worst week of her life, she notes that she was shown great kindness by the hospital staff. She was given a cold cot so she could spend time with her daughter, and a bereavement-trained photographer from the volunteer group Heartfelt came to take photos. Just 15 days later, Portch returned to work. ‘I was told that I’d exhausted my sick leave,’ she recalls.”


“Universities and the hospitality sector are already laying off staff and cutting hours. The impact will spread from there through the rest of the economy. Unless something is done, the unemployment rate will rise from its already uncomfortable level of 5.3 per cent and businesses will collapse … Morrison has been reluctant to spend more because he had invested so much political capital in delivering a budget surplus this year. Having spent the past decade attacking the ALP's cash splash during the global financial crisis, he would not even use the word ‘stimulus’.”


“Mr Morrison said Treasury and relevant government agencies were working to deliver ‘the boost that we believe will be necessary’ with a targeted plan, but stressed a health crisis was different from a global financial crisis. ‘This is a health crisis, which has had serious disruptive impacts on the travel movement of people and of goods around the world. And that obviously disrupts supply chains and has a suppressing impact on demand. And what we are focusing on is jobs, cash flow and investment,’ Mr Morrison said.”


“Berlin-based artist Niklas Roy isn’t just concerned about his privacy and protection online. To stop passersby from peeping into his workshop, he strung up a white, lace curtain stretching only partially across his window … Each outside movement triggers a motor to position the thin fabric in front of the person attempting to look inside. The resulting footage shows various strategies people use⁠—think rapid arm waving and hopping from one spot to another⁠—to try to trick the mechanism tracking their positions.”

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