Good morning. Another setback to the federal government’s already challenged vaccine rollout, Sydney’s Covid-19 cluster is causing concern, and the world is still getting hotter. It’s Friday 18 June, and this is Imogen Dewey with the main stories to see out your week – plus a soothing recommendation for baths.
In a blow to the country’s Covid vaccine rollout, AstraZeneca is now only recommended for Australians aged 60 and over. It has emerged the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, raised concerns in April, during a national cabinet deliberation, about giving AstraZeneca to people in their 50s. And speaking of national virus strategy, experts have accused the federal government of “revising history” by describing the current national Covid aged care plan as the “7th edition” when no prior editions of the document exist.
New South Wales yesterday recorded a third Covid case connected to the eastern suburbs cluster, as the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, told residents to be on “high alert” but did not announce any new restrictions. A fourth case in another part of Sydney, believed to be unconnected and possibly a false positive, was also announced. Annastacia Palaszczuk meanwhile announced the reintroduction of travel declarations for anyone entering the state ahead of the school holidays and asked residents to reconsider travel to greater Sydney.
A Liberal-led committee has told the Morrison government Angus Taylor’s plan to change the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) so it can fund a broader range of technologies including some using fossil fuels could be illegal. Senate committee chair Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has said the agency is designed to foster renewables and any change made by regulation could be disallowed in the Senate.
Farmers who the Morrison government says were “acting in good faith” when they underestimated their income will have $51m in income support debts waived – a reprieve analysts have noted differs from the more hardline approach to debt recovery for those on other social security payments.
A former NSW top prosecutor has questioned the use of the fixated persons unit in arresting and charging Friendlyjordies producer Kristo Langker with stalking deputy premier John Barilaro.
Amid much secrecy and after extraordinary delay, Witness K yesterday spoke for the first time in open court as he pleaded guilty to breaching secrecy laws. The former spy has been charged over his role in exposing Australia’s 2004 bugging of impoverished ally Timor-Leste.
Endangered Australian songbirds are being taught to sing in captivity. Researchers have found “song tutoring” gives the regent honeyeater a better chance of survival in the wild.
The Earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005, according to new research. One scientist involved in this research described this as an “unprecedented” increase, amid the climate crisis.
In a rambling phone interview, Donald Trump told Fox News he “didn’t win” the 2020 presidential election and wishes Joe Biden well – but did not drop his lie that the Democrat won thanks to electoral fraud.
Hong Kong’s national security police have arrested the editor-in-chief and four other directors of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, a significant escalation in the government’s moves to stifle Hong Kong’s press.
Boris Johnson has been accused of putting trade before torture after he met senior Bahraini officials in Downing Street to discuss a free trade deal with the Gulf states.
Rome politician Marco Doria has blamed vengeful gardeners for a bomb scare, saying he believed a bomb planted on his car was a response to him reporting wrongdoing.
“There are people who don’t understand the allure of a good bath,” writes Brittney Rigby. “They say it’s boring. That it doesn’t leave you properly clean. Or that the sensation and pressure of a shower is superior. Too bad I can’t hear them. I’m submerged, an hour-and-a-half into a long and leisurely soak, my body pruned but pain-free.” There’s something special about a wintertime bath, and for some, especially those who deal with pain, it can be more necessity than luxury.
Jacqueline Bublitz’s ambitious debut novel is more than just a crime thriller, writes Zoya Patel. “Before You Knew My Name deftly highlights how society’s power imbalances shape the lives of women. And the men aren’t stereotypes either: there are good men, complicated men, inconsistent men and bad men. Bublitz explores what drives their violence with attention to its complexity.”
“My microwave door got stuck with food inside – and then it started to develop a malevolent vibe,” writes Brigid Delaney. “Like many smallish household problems (how to change a lightbulb? Fix a broken toilet seat? Repel mice?) the issue seemed depressingly insurmountable. How to get the door off? And when I got the door off, what do I do with the busted microwave?” Weeks later, the machine was finally cracked open – and a metaphor awaited.
A group of senior American politicians have warned that UFOs pose “national security concerns” after a confidential briefing on a highly anticipated report set to be released later this month. Today on Full Story, the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt and former UK Ministry of Defence employee Nick Pope ask if the truth really is out there.
Australia’s swimmers are on pace in their bid to knock the US off its Olympic perch. A 35-strong powerhouse squad has been named following a week of trials that suggest the Americans will not have it all their own way in Tokyo.
An electric flying race car yesterday took flight for the first time in Australia, ahead of a proposed series of remotely piloted Formula One-style races later in the year.
A German emergency doctor has described how he dashed from the stands to help Christian Eriksen after the Denmark midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest on Saturday at the Euros. “I asked him, in English: ‘Are you back again?’ He said: ‘Yes, I am here’. And then he said: ‘Oh shit, I’ve only just turned 29 years old.’”
And Virat Kohli has played down the importance of the India v New Zealand World Test final.
Gangland figure Bilal Hamze was shot dead last night in the Sydney CBD, the Daily Telegraph reports. The ABC asks if there’ll be a mad dash for Pfizer now everyone under 60 has been advised to get it. According to the Financial Review, a storm of protest is growing over coal firm chief Mark Vaile’s appointment as chancellor of the University of Newcastle. NSW is trialling changes to the 9am to 3pm school day, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
NT traditional owner Jack Green will give evidence to federal parliament’s Juukan Gorge joint standing committee.
A parliamentary committee will hear from ASIC and other regulators.
And if you’ve read this far …
It turns out the ageing process is unstoppable. Sorry. An unprecedented (but possibly unsurprising) study may finally end the debate about whether we can live forever. Research suggests humans cannot slow the rate at which they get older because of biological constraints.
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