Monday, January 18, 2021

Australian Open smashed by Covid

The Australian Open has suffered another blow with a further 25 players moved into quarantine, after a passenger aboard a third flight into Melbourne tested positive to Covid-19. Players aboard a Qatar Airways flight that arrived on Saturday morning from Doha will be confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks, the third planeload of players to be moved into quarantine after a positive test. It brings the total number of competitors confined to their hotel rooms to 72. Players are devising novel ways to train inside their rooms, such as Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, who has been hitting balls against an upright mattress. Victorian and Australian Open authorities dismissed claims from some players that they were not told of the need for all passengers to isolate if a positive case on board a flight was detected. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian criticised the Victorian government for allowing international players to arrive in the state but not travellers from Greater Sydney, where a further six locally transmitted cases were recorded on Sunday, all now linked to a source.

Victoria Police officers who issued Covid-19 breach fines have been instructed to hand out cautions for unpaid infringements rather than proceed with charges, reports The Age. The decision has sparked criticism from Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt, who said it could encourage civil disobedience. According to the most recent data from Fines Victoria, more than 19,000 penalty notices were issued by October, of which 18 per cent had reached a “notice of final demand” stage and a further 3455 had been registered for enforcement action.

Australian workers could be waiting up to five years for wage growth to return to 2 per cent, according to a Deloitte Access Economics quarterly business outlook. Guardian Australia said the wage growth had yet to recover to rates of over 4 per cent a year experienced prior to the global financial crisis in 2008. “Those days are gone, and wage growth weakness has been a longlasting phenomenon both globally and locally,” the Deloitte report said. Labor said the report showed why the Morrison government “should not and cannot declare victory while more than 2 million Australians are either without a job or don’t have enough hours and wages are stagnant”.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detained after flying back to Moscow on Sunday, months after he was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent. Navalny boarded a plane in Berlin, Germany, where he was evacuated for treatment in August from a hospital in Siberia.  The plane, which was originally headed for Moscow's Vnukovo Airport, was diverted to the capital's Sheremetyevo Airport shortly before landing. Moscow's prison service had promised to  arrest Navalny once he returned, accusing him of flouting a suspended prison sentence for embezzlement.

Climate change will kill you, part two: flood
In 2011 the Queensland town of Grantham was inundated with rain, causing flash flooding. It had a devastating impact on the town’s residents. But events like this are predicted to become more common, as the planet warms leading to more extreme weather events.

“The public will also be watching closely how Morrison manages the biggest challenges waiting for him in 2021, which Stears says are vaccine distribution, figuring out how and when to reopen external borders and addressing big structural challenges, including climate change and the instability of work.”

“Over little more than a week, we saw an opera in which a woman is offered as a prize in a singing contest (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg); an opera in which a free-spirited woman is murdered (Carmen); an opera in which an Ethiopian princess suffocates in a vault for love (Aida); and an opera in which a young woman loses her virtue, takes her own life, and is conveyed to the river in a body bag (Rigoletto). Naturally, each of these women was somebody’s daughter or lover. Usually she had to die because of sex.”



“In the evening, I stand in the backyard holding the hose, churning up the soil with jets of water, watching it pool on moisture-resistant soil, and soak in where the compost has done its job and the earth welcomes water. I swat at the mosquitoes as the smell of hamburgers cooking wafts over from the McDonald’s drive-through on the other side of the laneway at my back fence. But time is short and life is busy, and keeping the garden alive is much easier with an automatic system made of poly pipe and those little micro-irrigation gizmos that allow you to just turn on the tap and leave it.”

“Speaking through defense lawyers or in interviews, the alleged rioters argued they did nothing illegal. They couldn’t have been trespassing, they say, because they entered the Capitol at the ‘invitation’ of President Trump, following his direct orders. Capitol police also held the doors open for them, they assert, basically ushering them into the building’s hallowed halls. Even so, knowing that time is running out on Trump’s presidency, they are also making a last-minute case for clemency to avert prosecution, appealing to the man who allegedly incited them to act.”

“As President Trump prepares to leave office in days, a lucrative market for pardons is coming to a head, with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers.”

“Fitzsimmons was everywhere during these devastating months. On television, he appeared calm and steadfast, frustrated on only one occasion, and a few times teary. Blazes continued to burn until the end of February ... Then, without a breath, came the Covid-19 pandemic. The RFS headquarters at Homebush was repurposed into a new control centre, bringing together key agencies to map the risk and spread of the virus – and Fitzsimmons found himself at the centre of another crisis.”

“Victorians complaining about being stranded in New South Wales due to the hard border closure have only themselves to blame, Daniel Andrews says, pointing out they have had weeks to qualify for the Australian Open. ‘Victorians have known for a long time now that the quickest way into the state is via a top 150 ATP tour ranking. It’s a bit rich now to say that you haven’t been hitting enough balls or playing enough satellite tournaments to get your ranking up. What have you been doing with your time?’”

Your chance to win a double pass to Flickerfest

The Saturday Paper invites readers in New South Wales to enter the draw for a chance to win one of 10 double passes to Flickerfest.

Flickerfest will celebrate its 30th birthday under the stars from January 22–31. Take a journey around the world in Flickerfest’s Academy® Qualifying International and Documentary competition programs featuring films from Estonia, Egypt, Japan and French Guiana and everywhere in between, all from the comfort of Flickerfest’s bespoke pop-up Covid-safe Festival Garden on Bondi Beach.

Find out more here. Entries close at 11.59pm AEDT on Wednesday, January 20, and the winners will be notified on Thursday, January 21 via email.

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