1. Trump acquitted??!!
Trump is back in town having been exonerated from impeachment by the Senate.
The ABC has a detailed account of what went down and why. It seems the Republican Party is cowed by Trump with only a few willing to show dissent. The article ends with this:
Finally, Mr Trump claimed exoneration from a “witch-hunt”, maintaining his reputation as the Teflon president.
“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” Mr Trump said in a statement issued just moments after the Senate vote.
“In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.”
He may launch a rival political party, or start his own social media network, or get his own show on Fox News.
But as his old ally Mitch McConnell warned on the floor of the Senate, real courtrooms are now probably waiting for him.
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he’s in office,” he said.
“He didn’t get away with anything yet.”
2. Trump criminal probe in Georgia
Meanwhile down in Georgia Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will probe whether Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham violated state law in the course of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election results in Georgia following the 2020 presidential election.
A letter by Willis:
- indicates that her investigation will take a broad look at possible criminal violations involving the Georgia election, including “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office, and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”
Neither Trump nor Graham are mentioned by name in the letter, but Willis has signaled that prosecutors will look into actions by both men. According to the New York Times, the investigation will also encompass election fraud conspiracies spread by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as well as the ouster of Byung J. Pak, then the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
The penalty if convicted would be between one and three years in the slammer.
In addition, as told on npr there is legal action concerning possible bank, insurance or tax fraud in New York, and:
- the District of Columbia AG is looking into whether Trump’s inaugural committee violated charities laws when it paid hefty sums to Trump’s hotel. And there are multiple civil suits, so there’s a lot of litigation.
3. Our vaccine strategy is bound to fail
Zoë Hyde, Epidemiologist at the University of Western Australia, in Herd immunity is the end game for the pandemic, but the AstraZeneca vaccine won’t get us there says that we should be aiming for herd immunity, but our strategy can’t get us there.
We are using three vaccines – AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Novavax.
For herd immunity we’d need to vaccinate almost everyone, including children, using the AstraZeneca vaccine alone.
With Pfizer/BioNTech we’d perhaps only need to vaccinate 63% of the population, or with Novavax around 67%. This is achievable, but we are not going to do it.
- The federal government plans to begin vaccinating groups at high risk with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, then use the AstraZeneca vaccine for the remainder of the population.
The Novavax vaccine may be used at a later date.
Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said most Australians would receive the AstraZeneca drug as part of the Government’s strategy because “we are making it here”.
Also, the Pfizer vaccine requires storage at below minus 70 degrees Celsius, so will only be available from hubs.
The roll-out will have five phases. It looks as though only Phase 1a will get Pfizer, which madkes up of 678,000 people, including quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, and aged care and disability staff and residents.
To meet the aim of getting all adults vaccinated by October will require about 200,000 jabs a day.
The I expect we’ll have an election, if not before.
On virus variants, AstraZeneca’s efficacy dropped to 22% in South Africa. We are told that Pfizer and Novovax are likely to be better, but we don’t know.
In these circumstances border control and internationally trusted Covid vax passports are going to be critical.
4. Quarantine agony
When the UK strain infected a cleaner at the Chancellor Hotel in Brisbane and her partner in early January, the Queensland Government suggested unnamed mining camps, which turned out to be in Calliope, a four-star facility with 1,392 air-conditioned rooms with balconies and facilities include a swimming pool, tennis court and gym. I suspect it was set up to house skilled workers who built the LNG gas facilities in Gladstone and reshaped the harbour.
Gladstone is a city of over 33,000 souls, about an hour from Brisbane by plane and I believe has an 83-bed hospital.
Calliope is about 20 minutes drive SW of Gladstone, an hour an 20 minutes from Rockhampton. If someone really gets sick Queensland has an excellent medevac system, whereby as soon as you are in the plane you are in an ICU.
It’s not dongas in woop-woop.
Nor is the proposal to build a 1300-bed facility at privately-owned Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba woop-woop – 1000 rooms for travellers, and 300 rooms for staff within city boundaries. The Wagner Family were approached and responded positively, seeing a longer term opportunity to house or quarantine foreign students.
John Wagner said the could do the whole thing using the quarantine fees paid by returning travellers.
A lot of pointless, uninformed words were spoken by ‘experts’ and pollies, mostly south of the Tweed. There are pros and cons, but probably both will fail because there is a NIMBY feeling and the PM most likely doesn’t want to upset anyone in the regions.
Yet Howard Springs where “life is like a holiday” near Darwin is a big success.
Part of the original reason was to make the quarantine experience less claustrophobic.
5. JobKeeper ends
The Morrison Government generally won plaudits for JobKeeper, deserved if you overlook the fact that at least 2.1 million people missed out. Now Josh Morrison says JobKeeper will not be required after March 31. Here he is saying it:
JobKeeper number fell as the year progressed:
The latest information is:
- New Tax Office figures showed 1.54 million workers remained on JobKeeper at the end of 2020 – down from 3.6 million in September 2020 – while about 520,000 companies have stopped receiving the payments as their trade recovers.
That’s a lot of people, Josh.
He says that the budget will address sectors of special need including tourism. That’s a long time to hold your breath – like waiting for bushfire relief money. Many companies ware unlikely to survive.
The Greens and others are accusing the Government of “plain cruelty” in delaying an announcement of an upgraded JobSeeker rate. The $40 per day rate would have to be doubled to reach the poverty line.
It seems our government policy favours having poverty in Australia.
Frydenberg actually got a bit nasty over Premier Palaszczuk’s request for help. He quoted Alan Joyce from Qantas saying 200,000 people cancelled their bookings to Queensland when Palaszuzuk closed the borders for three days in early January.
If Frydenberg and his mates were running the show, and we had open borders all the way, chances are they never would have made the bookings.
A planning expert says popular regions are facing impacts akin to a mining boom as a remote-worker influx pushes up house prices and rents, potentially forcing out locals.
But, unlike the traditional mining boom, this period was unlikely to be followed by a slowdown or bust.
Urban planner and Griffith University lecturer Tony Matthews said the new arrivals were able to work remotely, bringing with them highly-paid roles from major centres.
Matthews said communities would benefit from the sort of economic growth seen during the mining boom 10 years ago — but there would be consequences.
“Locals were horribly priced out of the areas they grew up in,” he said.
“They were suddenly competing with people who were earning mining wages.
Houses are being bought unseen here in Qld by southern buyers.
One Sunshine Coast home attracted 50 buyers.
One buyer offered $770,000 for a home listed at $720,000, but was not successful.
And still the poor are desperate for affordable housing.