Monday, October 05, 2020

Mystery surrounds Trump’s health

Doctors have admitted they misled the media about the progression of Donald Trump’s Covid-19 infection to foster an “upbeat attitude”, as confusion reigns over the US President’s health. On Sunday Trump’s physician, Navy Commander Dr Sean Conley, conceded that the US President received supplemental oxygen on Friday and the steroid dexamethasone, after previously indicating that oxygen had not been administered. Dexamethasone is typically used for serious cases, and is not recommended in the first week of the illness. Trump started feeling unwell on Thursday, according to his doctors. Conley claimed that although Trump had at least two concerning drops in oxygen levels, he could be discharged as early as tomorrow from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. A growing cluster of coronavirus cases among Republican politicians likely began at Trump’s White House event announcing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, potentially complicating the confirmation process.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s upcoming budget assumes a Covid-19 vaccine will be widely available next year, despite warnings that any approved drug may not be widespread or effective by then, reports The Australian. Infectious diseases expert Peter Collignon said he would not make the same assumptions the budget would make about the availability of a vaccine. The budget will also see the nation’s official debt ceiling lifted beyond $1.1 trillion, with a deficit for this year of just over $210 billion. The new debt cap, to be contained in the budget papers, would take the gross debt to GDP ratio to about 55 per cent, remaining among the lowest debt levels of developed countries.

The Chinese company that won the $2.3 billion contract to build Melbourne's new train fleet has been identified as a beneficiary of Uighur labour, reports The Age. CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, which beat local bids in 2016 to win the contract to build new high-capacity metro trains, is a subsidiary of major Chinese state-owned manufacturer CRRC, identified by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute as benefiting from the use of Uighur workers through potentially abusive labour programs. The Victorian government has sought assurances from the company that it was not benefiting from exploited labour. There are also concerns about the quality of the trains, the offshoring of jobs promises for Victorians, and the company’s link to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

A majority of voters in New Caledonia have voted to remain part of France instead of backing independence for the Pacific archipelago French territory. Official results show 53.3 per cent of the voters who participated in the referendum on Sunday have chosen to maintain ties with France, while 46.7 per cent supported independence. More than 85 per cent of enrolled voters had cast ballots one hour before poll stations closed. The result led French President Emmanuel Macron to call for dialogue, as the referendum marked a key step in a three-decade long decolonisation effort. The president of the pro-independence Caledonian Union party, Daniel Goa, called all on residents to “not let themselves be overwhelmed by emotions and welcome the result in a pacifist atmosphere”.

Helen Garner’s lockdown diaries
Helen Garner is one of Australia’s most celebrated authors, and today on 7am she talks to host Ruby Jones about the diary she kept during lockdown in Melbourne and what she experienced during her months of isolation.

“The problem was the same one as four months ago – poor infection control. And the reflexive response of the spinners was also the same: deny, obfuscate and – let’s be blunt – lie. But why do it?”

“It’s all working for the prime minister – he’s a ­self-styled practical dad, an optimist taking care of business. If there are objections or uncomfortable revelations, he doesn’t accept the premise of your question. Next, please. And tomorrow he’ll have another announcement.”

“‘The first thing Josh Frydenberg should do in next Tuesday night’s budget speech is say sorry,’ says Wayne Swan, the man whom the Liberals cut no slack after he failed as treasurer to deliver Labor’s promised budget surpluses. Neither a global financial crisis nor a massive collapse in export revenues were acceptable excuses to the Coalition back then.”

“Think about this: despite a rocketing budget deficit, Scott Morrison is planning to press on with, and even bring forward, highly expensive tax cuts for high income-earners at just the time we’re realising that the 40-year pursuit of Smaller Government has been a disastrous failure.”

“Income tax cuts worth billions are set to be backdated to July 1 this year in Tuesday's federal budget, in a move aimed at providing immediate economic stimulus and putting Labor under pressure to support it ... the stage two and stage three tax cuts, both of which were legislated last year, will be brought forward from their respective start dates of July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2024.”

“And it’s the teachers who will have to do most of the cleaning and sanitising once public schools reopen – because there simply isn’t anyone else to do it. One public school teacher told me their personal protective equipment amounted to nine rain ponchos, six bars of soap, three tiny bars of hotel soap and 20 rolls of toilet paper – for a school of 900 students.”

“Before the advent of phones and electricity, rural dwellers used these sounds to greet one another, send messages, or communicate danger over long distances. One can find examples of hollerin’ in communities around the world, but one region where the cultural importance of hollerin’ has endured into the modern era is the American South.”

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