Source: The Guardian
Hello, and welcome to the week. It’s Monday 15 March, and this is Imogen Dewey bringing you news about today’s March4Justice rallies, the new Covid cases in New South Wales and Queensland, and this week’s agenda for federal parliament.
Parliament will be suspended between midday and 1.30pm today so MPs who wish to can join thousands attending March4Justice rallies. The demonstrations, demanding more action be taken in response to allegations of workplace abuse and lack of respect for women, kicked off yesterday in Perth. Greens, Labor and crossbench MPs have committed to attend alongside those marching on Parliament House, but Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer is the only Liberal MP to say she will attend. (Scott Morrison said he was open to receiving a “private” delegation.) Former and current female Labor staffers have come forward with tales of sexual harassment and abuse at work in a closed social media group, with one former staffer saying it was time some men in the Labor party were “held to account”. Female Labor MPs posted in support of the women, saying they believed them, and inviting them to attend the march.
Thousands also marched on the other side of the world this weekend following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard – for which a serving police officer has been charged. London police are facing scrutiny after a Saturday vigil descended into chaos and a photo of a young woman pinned to the ground by officers was shared thousands of times on social media. The organiser of another vigil, in Nottingham, called it “a pivotal moment for the women’s movement”.
In Louisville, crowds gathered to call for justice on the anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police in her apartment.
Queensland is investigating three Covid cases – with Brisbane residents anxiously awaiting test results of more than 100 contacts of a doctor at Princess Alexandra hospital, who contracted the virus after treating a returned traveller with the UK strain. Three close contacts of the female doctor have all tested negative. A Sydney hotel quarantine worker whose positive test result was reported on Sunday (breaking the state’s 55-day virus-free streak) had received his first dose of the vaccine. As British Airways pushes for travel to reopen for those who’ve been fully vaccinated, Australia is still trying to ramp up the pace of the rollout – with the PM telling states to use up their doses to get more stock. Ireland has suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as a precautionary measure following further reports of blood clots, this time from Norway … and a third wave of Covid sweeping the EU is forcing new restrictions, with new variants blamed as Italy, France, Germany and Poland see infection rates surge.
Advocates are warning that welfare payment cuts could tip marginal Coalition seats at the next election, as they launch a last ditch lobbying effort for a bigger boost to jobseeker payments. The Morrison government hopes to pass a $50-a-fortnight increase to the base rate of jobseeker, student and parenting payments this week, despite widespread criticism of the “meagre” boost. Labor is pushing the government to extend the disability royal commission, and provide stronger privacy protections for potential witnesses.
The Liberal party in Western Australia could face up to 12 years in opposition after a once-in-a-century wipeout that delivered Labor the biggest majority and the strongest two-party preferred result of any modern Australian government.
At least four species of shark and skates unique to Australia are at an extreme risk of extinction unless urgent protections are put in place, according to a new report from conservationists. A further six deep-sea sharks are also considered to be declining, with a need for protection.
Osama al-Hasani has been extradited to Saudi Arabia just days after a Moroccan court approved the transfer request, and without allowing his lawyers, who say the Australian citizen faces a “credible risk” of torture, time to appeal the decision.
At least 18 people have been killed in one of the deadliest days since Myanmar was thrust back under military rule, as a group of ousted MPs urged citizens to defend themselves during the nation’s “darkest moment”.
A former Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, has been elected leader of the centre-left Democratic party (PD), the second largest party in Mario Draghi’s government, as another former prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, is in talks to become leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S), which is its largest.
Kosovo has officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem after becoming the first Muslim-majority territory to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.
A proposed dam near the head of Papua New Guinea’s longest river risks wiping out entire villages if a natural disaster hits, critics say. Chiefs from 28 haus tambarans – “spirit houses” – representing nearly 80,000 people along the Sepik River are calling for “a total ban on the Frieda River mine”.
Boris Johnson has accused the Scottish National party of seeking to promote division and conflict by pursuing an independence referendum, saying the country should be solely focused on recovering from the pandemic.
“Do they even know they did this to us?”: Chanel Contos explains why she launched the school sexual assault petition. “It was interesting to me how almost every girl knew someone who had experienced sexual assault or had themselves, but so few boys claimed to know anyone who’d ever been a victim or perpetrator … It’s been three weeks now, and with over 30,000 signatures, and almost 5,000 testimonies, Australia has been confronted with the harsh reality that we live in a rape culture.”
After nine years, the inaugural head of First Nations programming at the Sydney Opera House has left her post – and a significant legacy. “I think in any institution across Australia today, First Nations people still face systemic behaviours,” says Rhoda Roberts. “We have quite a bit of work to do to switch that thinking. Slowly, slowly, things have changed, but not perhaps as quickly as we had assumed they would.”
Trump’s Washington hotel was once the hub of Trump World in the US capital, but with the former president gone it is in danger of becoming a white elephant. “For four years its opulent lobby thronged with diplomats, lobbyists and Trump family members. It was one of the few places in the US capital where ‘Make America great again’ hats were bountiful,” writes David Smith. “But one recent afternoon it seemed more reminiscent of the haunted hotel in The Shining.”
Over the past few months a technological craze has swept the internet: the buying and selling of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. This process uses blockchain technology to sell things like digital art, memes, tweets and videos, with NFTs from big name artists and entrepreneurs selling for millions of dollars. Today on Full Story, Laura Murphy-Oates speaks to Patrick Lum about how NFTs work, and the hidden costs that have environmentalists concerned.
Sam Kerr and Ellie Carpenter could yet become the first Australian women to face each other in the final of Europe’s top club tournament. Even if The Matildas duo don’t make it to the Champions League final, writes Samantha Lewis, “there’s little question that their moves abroad have been vindicated by the opportunity”.
Before the ARL Commission’s announcement of new rules for the 2021 NRL season, very few (if any) pundits, administrators or fans of any stripe had offered the assessment that what rugby league really needs is two-point field goals from outside 40m. But the changes are here – and according to Matt Cleary, none really appeared to affect games.
A leading barrister says lawyers should be forced to report suspected misbehaviour by colleagues, according to the Sydney Morning Herald ($), including sexual harassment and misconduct, and bullying. The Age reports Victorian state school parents spent more than $400m last year – a statistic that has many concerned they are propping up a chronically underfunded system. And the Australian says the pandemic is prompting a “sector-wide reset” of salaries for top executives at universities.
#March4Justice rallies are taking place across the country as federal parliament sits.
The Academy Awards nominations will be announced.
… and you’re still trying to decide what to make of last week’s Harry and Meghan interview, Tim Adams has a tip from the British Secret Service.
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