Crikey Worm: A guarded response

Table of Contents CALLING IN THE TROOPS MOZ AND GOLIATH BY THE GRACE OF GODWIN…

CALLING IN THE TROOPS

It’s Friday and you know what that means, folks: it’s national cabinet day. Leaders will be given targets for vaccination levels that will ensure lockdowns become a thing of the past, the ABC says. And it just got easier to get the jab if you’re in Sydney — The Australian ($) reports that walk-in clinics for AstraZeneca are now operating in lots of places in Sydney’s west and south-west.

Army troops will come knocking if you’ve tested positive or been a close contact of someone who has, SMH reports. It comes after NSW recorded — yet again — a record number of cases in the Delta outbreak (239). The tough response is in an effort to curb family transmission — more than 200 kids tested positive in the last two weeks. The stakes are high for the economy, too — Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned Australia could tumble into a recession at the end of the year if the Greater Sydney lockdown doesn’t work, The Age says. A recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth — and September’s quarter is already forecast to shrink by 2.5%.

Meanwhile, a man in Texas isn’t making it much easier on NSW people — he pleaded guilty after he tried to sell 50 million masks he did not have to the state government. The government was set to be billed $317.6m for the masks, which is five times the list price, Guardian Australia reports.

MOZ AND GOLIATH

Many found the mandatory two-week hotel quarantine stint gruelling and isolating. But one refugee was subjected to it for 15 months straight — and he’s suing the government over it, The Age reports.

Mostafa “Moz” Azimitabar, 35, left Papua New Guinea in November 2019 bound for Australia to get treatment for his chronic asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions. But he spent more than a year locked away in two Melbourne hotels — a “luxury torture cell”, he says — under the now-repealed medivac legislation. The Kurdish refugee was released with a visa in January, but he described to Guardian Australia how, for over a year, his only physical link with the outside world was a window he could open a few centimetres.

If Azimitabar is successful in his lawsuit, it could swing open the door for many more — at least 192 people were brought to Australia under medivac, but many were held in makeshift detention centres and — as former home affairs minister Peter Dutton told 2GB — many didn’t receive treatment.

BY THE GRACE OF GODWIN

There’s an old (internet) adage that when you use the Holocaust to make a point about something unrelated, you’ve lost the argument. In fact, the phenomenon is so enduring that Godwin’s Law was created. Godwin’s Law states that, the longer an online discussion grows, the higher the probability that someone will use the Nazis or Adolf Hitler to make their point.

Julian Burnside is the latest person in the frying pan for such a comparison. The Age reports the former Greens candidate and human rights barrister tweeted that Israel’s ‘‘treatment of the Palestinians looks horribly like the German treatment of the Jews’’ (it’s since been deleted). It was in reference to a report that found Israel may have committed war crimes in May, as The Washington Post reports, including three strikes on Gaza in which 62 civilians were killed. The comparison to the Nazi regime, however, sparked accusations of anti-Semitism, which the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance says is applicable in any “comparison of contemporary Israeli policies to that of the Nazis”.

Greens leader Adam Bandt drew a fairly neat line under the whole thing with his response that the Holocaust was ‘‘one of the darkest moments in human history’’ and was ‘‘without modern comparison’’, continuing that “the treatment of the Palestinian people can be condemned on its own facts”. No Reductio ad Hitlerum required.

TAKE YOUR OLYM-PICK

It’s going to be another cracking day of Olympic feats, folks.

World number one Ash Barty is back on our screens today in the mixed doubles alongside John Peers. Schedule your lunch break now: swim stars Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell will be in the women’s 100m freestyle today at 11:59am AEST. Today is also day one of the athletics program. In the football, the Matildas will face Great Britain after our nil-all draw against the US. The Opals, our basketball team, is playing for redemption against China after our loss to Belgium. And don’t miss the Rugby Sevens match between Australia and the US, after we walloped China and Japan. There’s loads more — check out ABC’s guide.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

New Zealand has been declared the best place to ride out a global societal collapse — whether it be climate change, a pandemic, a financial collapse, or other cataclysmic disruptions, reports The Brisbane Times. The study, conducted by Britain’s Anglia Ruskin University, considered land area per capita, distance from population centres and opportunities for agriculture and renewable energy.

If you’d prefer to stay more local during the tormenting end of our days, no problemo — Tasmania got a nod in the study too. Considering Tassie is Australia’s best economy, amply stocked with oysters, fast becoming the country’s gin capital, and will pay you to explore if you live there, at least the apocalypse contingency plan looks good. And considering Tasmania is routinely left off maps worldwide, it might fly under the radar while the world folds in on itself in a horrible chaos of fire and brimstone — for a little while, at least!

Have a restful weekend folks — it’s all going to be okay.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

If you weren’t so young, I’d come up there and rip your head off and shit down your throat.

Joshua Massoud

The former Channel Seven journalist has lost his defamation case in rather spectacular fashion, brought against media outlets who quoted him as saying he would slit an 18-year-old colleague’s throat, when he had, in fact, threatened to defecate down his decapitated body. The judge called it a “distinction without a difference”. Massoud had been upset that details of his story had been tweeted ahead of its broadcast.

Just so you know, there are already plenty of decrees directing your daily life

“Mandates exist everywhere in our lives. You wake up in your house built in line with a mandated code, perhaps paid for with rent and a mandated bond submitted to an independent authority. You might drive a car with your mandated insurance, using your mandated driver’s license, and drop your kid off at public day care, where it’s mandated they’re vaccinated under a ‘no jab, no play’ policy, or at school, which follows a mandated curriculum. You go to work in your mandated dress code, eat food from a store that adheres to mandated health codes and cross the road at the mandated pedestrian crossing.

“Maybe after work you go to a pub or a concert, where you have to adhere to mandated behaviour codes — dress correctly, don’t be abusive to staff, don’t get too drunk.  Refusing to adhere to these mandates can result in you being refused entry or kicked out, being fired from your workplace or even being thrown in jail. But when it comes to medical mandates, like those being pushed for COVID-19 vaccines, many balk at the idea of being told what to put in their body. Why is the reaction to mandated medicines so visceral — and are they fair?”

Life’s a box of chocolates for the Nationals — what flavour of scandal will we get next?

“On a bigger canvas, the blurring of lines between public duty and private interest endemic to the Nationals has produced a party where almost no behaviour has a consequence — just look at Queensland LNP member George Christensen’s public support for an anti-mask rally, and Matt Canavan going on the radio program of leading US alt-right figure Steve Bannon. It’s the kind of breakdown of respect for democratic processes and transparency that had many in the party hoping former party leader and deputy prime minister John Anderson might return to the fray as the party’s Senate nomination.

“Anderson had said he was gravely concerned for the nation’s future and wanted to act as an adviser and mentor to the party’s leadership. However, he lost out to one-time director of the NSW Nationals Ross Cadell, who, in an exquisite closing of the circle, was the man appointed by the NSW state executive to investigate sexual harassment claims against Joyce.”

Sniffin’ glue: Labor gives itself a break on tax and class unity

“For a time, at the start of the Albanese reign, one hoped that this manoeuvre was to buy breathing space in which a new joined-up social democratic policy could be made — one which proposed a modified progressive tax system, together with a real crackdown on corporate overshoring, and which, crucially, told us what specifically they wanted to do with the money.”

“Faint hope. Instead we have had relentless low-level factional wars, or manoeuvres, and this tax policy itself appears to be an expression of a left-right stability pact, in which whatever side isn’t in power gets to pick the policies, a la Bill Shorten’s sudden ‘enthusiasm’ for renewables targets last go-around. What a great way to draft a party program … There is no longer a ‘natural fit’ between progressive social policies and social democratic political economics. The ‘low prospect’ groups locked out of power are unrepresented as themselves within Labor because so many actual left unions — construction, admin — have members drawn from the upper strata.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Ariarne Titmus books showdown with Katie Ledecky in Tokyo Olympics 800m freestyle final (ABC)

Study finds all-girls schools create ‘stronger’ women (The Herald Sun) ($)

Lucinda Price, AKA Froomes: the funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) (Guardian Australia)

The moves that gave Sunisa Lee Olympic gold (The New York Times)

Chilling new satellite images expose China’s rapidly expanding nuclear weapons arsenal (news.com.au)

Albert Einstein was right (again): Astronomers have detected light from behind a supermassive black hole (ABC)

Three die as wildfire rages in southern Turkey (The New Daily)

Tunisia: Turmoil continues as president sacks more officials (Al Jazeera)

‘Disgraceful’: Money advice only for rich (The Australian) ($)

Israel to offer COVID booster shots for over 60s: PM (Al Jazeera)

Why cannabis is still a banned Olympics substance (BBC)

‘I made a mistake’: Wayne Rooney apologises after pictures surface (The New Daily)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Politics is now just a show about the virusPhillip Coorey (AFR): “Unlike previous governments, which used Parliament to maximise the power of incumbency by legislating changes or at least arguing for them, and thus be seen to be doing something, the current administration, whenever Parliament sits, tries to keep its head down. Even the Gillard/Rudd governments, in their darkest days of dysfunction and civil war, forged ahead with an agenda, be it on climate change or implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Ditto the warring Abbott/Turnbull governments by, for example, arguing for company and income tax reforms.

“This government had a small-target agenda before the pandemic came along and gave it a purpose. When the pandemic subsided at the start of this year, it again exposed the lack of an agenda other than the Prime Minister’s stated – and far from insignificant — no. 1 priority of rolling out the vaccine. With that not going so well at the moment, the government faces the prospect of spending almost all of August being belted around the ears by Labor during Question Time with nothing to distract from any of it.”

Blaming individuals for spreading COVID lets government off the hookAnnika Smethurst (The SMH): “Earlier in the outbreak, Queensland authorities pinpointed a tradie, who also worked as a male entertainer and was infected with COVID-19 while performing at a hen’s party, as spreading the virus across the border into NSW. It was easier for us to issue a collective “tut tut” than to probe deeper and ask how the healthcare worker he caught it from wasn’t better protected while treating returned travellers. Mobilising citizens around a common enemy, even innocent ones, unites us in anger. These scapegoats may bring us together but it does little to address structural problems or government inaction that allow this virus to spread.

“Abroad, governments are increasingly laying blame on the unvaccinated for spreading the virus. In the US, Republican governor Kay Ivey from Alabama recently told her fellow Americans it was “time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks” for rising cases of COVID-19 in the US. Such a narrative implies an individual’s hesitancy, laziness or selfishness is to blame if they get sick, freeing the government of responsibility when it comes to equitable vaccine access or a better communications strategy.”

The US will lose credibility over its Afghan withdrawalDave Sharma (The Australian) ($): “Biden concedes that the Taliban is at its strongest militarily since 2001. His most senior general, Mark Milley, has been reduced to saying a Taliban takeover is ‘not a foregone conclusion’. If the Taliban were to prevail in Afghanistan, it would be an immense tragedy for the people of that country and a terrifying prospect for the many thousands of Afghans who have helped coalition forces during the past two decades.

“But its strategic reverberations will be felt much more widely. Russia and China are already moving in, investing in their relationships with the Taliban and positioning themselves for a takeover. The message it sends to US allies and security partners is chilling. If the US can tear up a two-decade security partnership overnight and coldly abandon an ally of two decades to its fate, then US security assurances begin to trade at a discount.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with state and territory leaders in national cabinet, held online.

  • The National Portrait Gallery will announce the winner of its photographic prize, with this year’s theme to reflect the impact of the pandemic.

  • History researchers Jessie Mathieson, Jimmy Yan and Anton Donohoe-Marques present via webinar their PhD completion seminars on rural womanhood in Australia, the “Irish Question” and World War II memories and identities, respectively.

Perth

  • Premier Mark McGowan will host a skills summit with WA’s industry leaders to strengthen the state’s workforce.

  • Perth Children’s Hospital will host a research skills seminar about the importance of consumer and community involvement, presented by Anne McKenzie from the Telethon Kids Institute.

Canberra

Darwin

  • Daminmin Art and Culture Festival kicks off, with workshops, bushwalks, buggy tours, short films, music and more, held at Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours.

Melbourne

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Peter Fray

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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