Wednesday, February 10, 2021

US Senate begins Trump trial

Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial has opened in the United States Senate, with Democrats arguing that the former president should be convicted for inciting a violent mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol. Senators sitting as jurors watched footage of Trump whipping his supporters into a frenzy before they stormed the Capitol in the January 6 attack that forced the senators themselves to flee. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” said Jamie Raskin, one of nine Democratic members of Congress prosecuting the case, in his opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there’s no such thing.” Trump’s defence team plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches, arguing that Trump’s order to his supporters to “fight like hell” was just a turn of phrase. They will also contest the constitutionality of the trial given Trump is no longer president. 

Anthony Albanese will today unveil a plan to give gig economy, casual and contract workers more pay and basic conditions in a major overhaul of Australia’s industrial relations system. In a key IR speech in Brisbane, Albanese will pledge a Labor government to make long service leave “portable” for insecure workers, reform the Fair Work Commission to have the umpire consider job security when making orders, and abolish union-busting bodies such as the Registered Organisations Commission. Labor’s proposal would see the Fair Work Commission investigate gig economy workers, potentially extending “basic rights” like award benefits, superannuation, collective bargaining power and access to unfair dismissal rules.

Several locations in Sunbury have been listed by Victorian health authorities as potential exposure sites, after another quarantine worker tested positive at the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn on Tuesday afternoon. The worker was the third person associated with the hotel to test positive. A returned traveller also tested positive on Tuesday after completing her 14 days quarantine at the Holiday Inn. Another worker from the same hotel tested positive on Sunday. 

The World Health Organization has wrapped up its investigation in the Chinese city of Wuhan without finding direct evidence of animal-to-human transmission of Covid-19. Investigators said work to identify the origins of the coronavirus points to a natural reservoir in bats, but that pangolins, horses and minks were possible alternatives. Early cases in 2020 were linked to Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market, but it was not possible to determine how the virus was introduced to the wet market. WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said the coronavirus was unlikely to have leaked from a Wuhan lab.

The Liberal MP who wants to empty your super
The Coalition’s surprise win at the last federal election is largely attributed to a relentless campaign targeting Labor’s key economic policies, led by Liberal MP Tim Wilson. Now Wilson has launched a new campaign to reshape the four-trillion-dollar superannuation industry.

“The variants have quickly become bogeymen of sorts. When reports of cases now come through, including the hotel worker who tested positive in Melbourne on Wednesday, one question has become the common refrain: Is it ‘regular’ Covid-19, or is it one of the new mutations? And, as the world begins the project of mass vaccination, could these mutations undo all the work?”

“Not content with preaching to his own audience, Kelly has even appeared on the podcast of Pete Evans, celebrity chef turned 5G truther. Evans took time out from posting Nazi memes on Instagram to describe Kelly as a ‘beautiful and beyond courageous man’, which suggests a misunderstanding of the meaning of both those adjectives. Kelly – who has the face of the mayor in a Stephen King story about demons taking over a small town, only for the residents to discover the real demon was the mayor all along – shrugged off criticism about his appearance on the podcast.”

“Confession: a pile of nylon has touched my heart. The revelation came on a cold Saturday morning when a huge brown-and-grey patchwork of fabric was unrolled on a suburban school oval in the nation’s capital ... A hot blast to the nether folds wafted the material off the grass and, while I watched it billow and fill, we were both transformed. It became a giant inflated creature, a massive ephemeral whimsy, mesmerising in its gentle weirdness, with a strangely calming smile and 10 absolutely enormous, drooping boobs.”

“Casino giant Crown Resorts is not fit to run its $2.2 billion Sydney casino because it facilitated money laundering and has other ‘deep’ problems, a report has found. Commissioner Patricia Bergin has recommended a number of dramatic changes that Crown would have to make before it could run the casino. In Ms Bergin's report to the NSW gaming authority, published on Tuesday afternoon, she finds that Crown subsidiaries were used to launder money and that the company's conduct facilitated money laundering for at least five years.”

“It is difficult to imagine how regulators in Victoria and Western Australia can ignore the findings of the NSW commission of inquiry. More likely the report will set off a regulatory domino movement. Once digested the report will place enormous pressure on these regulators to justify how they have allowed Crown to operate with such light oversight.”

“The PJCIS excludes any members of the parliamentary crossbench, so the Greens pushed successfully to set up a parallel inquiry by the senate’s environment and communications references committee. The inquiry is chaired by the party’s South Australian senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, who this week told The Saturday Paper the PJCIS was tantamount to ‘the government inquiring into itself’ ... She suspects the inquiry is running late as part of a deliberate delaying tactic: ‘The longer it is since people were shocked at the raids on the ABC, the less people will care. I think that’s part of the government’s strategy.’”

“What kind of example does it set, that we must be held accountable to the despicable ideas and lies we used to publicly promote and endorse many hours and minutes ago in the past? Are we as people not allowed to change for the better, in just the last few days, once it’s our very last resort to keep a job we shouldn’t have?”

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