Politics

Novak, no vax, some worries

IN OR OUT?

Tennis anti-hero Novak Djokovic’s Serbian isolation breach, false statements on his landing card, and suspicious COVID-19 test date are all under investigation by the Department of Home Affairs — that’s the latest revelation from the SMH, who added that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is still separately deciding on whether to kick him out of the country for trying to use a past COVID-19 infection as a quarantine exemption. Hawke’s decision was reportedly delayed yesterday after Djokovic’s lawyers submitted journal articles that support his case for excusal, but a report in the Herald Sun ($) last night reckons Djokovic’s deportation is already in the works.

Yesterday, the world number one rather sensationally admitted on Instagram he went to a media interview and photoshoot while knowing he was COVID-positive, and that his landing form (filled in by his “support team”) did omit his trip to Spain on the way here. Djokovic also revealed that he got his result on December 17, which is different to his court affidavit which stated that date as December 16. The Guardian continues that Djokovic has been silent on a report from Der Spiegel, which raised questions over whether a negative test later that month that was supposed to prove Djokovic had recovered from COVID had actually taken place weeks earlier.

OMICRONIC HEADACHE

Approximately three-quarters of a million Australians have COVID right now, but they’re almost 48 times less likely to be on ventilators than they were at the height of the Delta wave, The Australian ($) reports. The official case figure — 750,000 — is likely much higher, however, considering RATs are in short supply and PCR testing results are taking so long to come back. At the moment there are 348 people in intensive care units countrywide, and 102 of those are on ventilators — compare that to October when we had just 27,500 cases, and there were 182 on ventilators and you end up with a far lower percentage of seriously ill people.

But Omicron is hitting business harder than any other pandemic wave, particularly in hospitality and retail sectors, the AFR reports. There are renewed calls to throw the doors open wider for international workers as staff shortages strangle the supply chain in what some are calling our Clayton’s lockdown. It’s on the agenda of today’s national cabinet, the SMH says, where leaders will talk about increasing the cap on hours international students can work — at the moment they can only clock on for 40 hours a fortnight. In Melbourne, business owners are crying out for more government support — the founder of burger chain Burgatory, for instance, told Guardian Australia that so far 260 of his 400 staff have had COVID, and he’s been forced to close three of his restaurants.

A TEXT ISSUE

Perth tycoon Zhenya Tsvetnenko is set to plead guilty in a sensational case about the biggest-ever scam of its kind in the United States, in which Tsvetnenko allegedly pocketed up to $27.5 million, The West ($) reports. He will reportedly admit he was the architect in the $150 million phone text scam, which allegedly funded his crazy rich lifestyle of fast cars, mansions, a record and fashion label, and parties with Snoop Dogg, as news.com.au tells it.

Tsvetnenko was arrested here in Australia in 2018, and was battling extradition to the US until last year when he abandoned efforts, as ABC reports. Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has reportedly granted his extradition to the US, The West adds, but Tsvetnenko also must hand over “the forfeiture amount in the Plea Agreement”, which could be in the millions. So what was the scam? Well, it’s called auto-subscribing over there, or third-party billing here in Australia, as ABC reports — basically mobile phone customers copped a $14 monthly fee for text messages like horoscopes and celebrity gossip, but they didn’t sign up for it. Fellow WA businessman Darcy Wedd has already been extradited and jailed for 10 years, while another Australian Michael Pearse got a nine-year sentence.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Eating the frog, putting butter in coffee, buying a planner, dividing a day into 45-minute blocks — author Madeleine Dore has tried every routine in the book to be a more consistent, more disciplined, and more productive version of herself. She writes for Guardian Australia that the obsession with finding a routine to soothe inner turmoil can sometimes cause more of it. “Failing to perfectly adhere to a perfect routine is yet another reason to feel overwhelmed, burnt out, and inadequate”, she says.

In her search for the perfect routine, Dore found something else: the pleasure of “inevitable variances”. When she stopped trying to schedule over the normal ebb and flow of an average day, she actually found herself better prepared to take on problems. And although Dore says tight schedules do work — and work well — for some people, there are other options. Like bookending a day with a morning and an evening activity of your choosing, stuff that helps you warm up and warm down. Or, consider a “portable routine”, where you might aim to cook, read and walk in a day, but not in any particular order. Or, Dore concludes, why not just have a lighter grasp on our do-to list, and let interruptions wash in? It can keep things interesting.

Wishing you a productive day, whatever that looks like for you.

SAY WHAT?

Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaking asshole.

Rebecca Maddern

You’ve got a bullshit fucking excuse and then he fell over his own fucking lies, which is what happens right? That’s what’s happened.

Mike Amor

The Channel Seven presenters were recorded having an off-air tête-à-tête about tennis star Novak Djokovic and the footage has gone around the world. The station was livid, launching an investigation into what they called an “illegal leak”. But some people piped up on social media to applaud the gaffe, saying it’s what a lot of people are thinking about the world number one.

Cruelty is part of Border Force’s agenda. Competence isn’t

“We spent several days trying to get Border Force, Home Affairs or the Australian Government Solicitor to answer our urgent calls, to not do this awful punitive thing to our innocent client. No response.

“So we filed an urgent application in the Federal Court and, would you believe it, miraculously the AGS turned up for the hearing a few hours later with a barrister fully briefed and clear instructions from the minister that our client would not be moved to Alice Springs without giving us 48 hours’ notice.”

Murdochs’ Australian radio empire widens, using friends Here, There and Everywhere

“If you’re worried about powerful billionaire oligarchs further extending their reach into the already concentrated Australian media scene, then two deals completed in recent weeks should be cause for concern.

Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media finally got on top of its debt burden to take out its regional affiliate Prime Media in a $132 million purchase that completed on December 31, sparking triumphant claims from its CEO James Warburton that the deal was ‘a real game changer for Seven and the Australian media’ because the combined group will be able to reach more than 90% of the population.”

Truth stranger than fiction? What the serious media is saying about Novakgate

The Betoota Advocate: ‘Sky News oddly quiet about latest attempt to mix sport with politics’ [reads] As the Novak Djokovic debacle continues to unfold in Melbourne, it’s been revealed that Sky News and its Murdoch counterparts have been particularly silent on a particular issue in the saga.

“Nearly a week after Djokovic was detained in Melbourne, the network that serves as a news bible for conservative parents has somehow forgotten to attack Scott Morrison for mixing politics with sport.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

The people of Afghanistan are starving; to turn our backs on them is morally wrongGordon Brown (The Guardian): “On Tuesday, Martin Griffiths and Filippo Grandi, UN humanitarian and refugee coordinators, once again begged countries to send food and urgent supplies. They announced the biggest humanitarian appeal mounted since 1945 for a single country, a $4.5b request to help more than 23 million Afghans on the edge of starvation …

“This is the new world order revealed at its most selfish and morally defective: countries are locked into the narrow nationalism of ‘America first’, ‘Britain first’, ‘China first’, ‘Russia first’, ‘my tribe first’, and trapped in a geopolitics that puts military and economic sanctions before food for the hungry. Even after America’s $308m contribution on January 12, the 35-country, US-led coalition that ruled Afghanistan for 20 years under the banner of helping the Afghan people has still put up only a quarter of the money that would allow UN humanitarians to stop children dying this winter.”

Let’s have right-royal look at a republicDavid Alexander (The Australian) ($): “Fixing this ‘crony G-G’ loophole would be very simple: introduce a requirement that the appointee be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote in a joint sitting of the parliament. This parliament-ratified process is the ne plus ultra of safe models for choosing a country’s chief: zero risk of the cronyism that can occur under personal appointment, zero risk of the hereditary failures that occur under monarchies and zero risk of hucksters like Donald Trump that can occur under direct-election systems.

“The real-world effect of such a change would see prime ministers invariably choosing candidates for governor-general who could be assured of receiving bipartisan support. People, that is, who are respected across the community … This brings us to step two in the process: hold a constitutional referendum on becoming a republic. With the model of appointment already operational, the referendum debate would be enormously simplified.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Boris Johnson apologises after admitting to being at ‘BYO’ party at Downing Street during lockdown (ABC)

‘Thou shall not kill’: Death penalty to be abolished in Papua New Guinea (SBS)

Syrian victims brace for verdict in landmark torture trial (Al Jazeera)

Cancer mortality rates continue to decline amid ‘major progress’ in lung cancer early detection and treatment (CNN)

Prince Andrew to face civil sex assault case after US ruling (BBC)

The army of millions who enforce China’s zero-COVID policy, at all costs (The New York Times)

Turks pile into Bitcoin and Tether to escape plunging Lira (The Wall Street Journal)

Biden administration approves 5 more Guantánamo releases (The New York Times)

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