As Biden's $4 trillion economic growth plan faces political obstacles, prices and wages are already on the rise.
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Defence minister Peter Dutton insists the quarantine system will be able to cope when the travel ban lifts and flights from India resume.
The first plane load of Australians from India will land on Saturday morning after flights were suspended for several weeks to allow the Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin to deal with positive Covid-19 cases before more potentially infectious people arrived.
Dutton said the commonwealth had been working closely with the Northern Territory government since the India travel ban was imposed.
“We will continue to work particularly with vulnerable groups to help them back into our country as quickly as possible,” he told Nine on Friday.
“We have put in other measures around pre-flight testing and making sure if we’re bringing people out of a zone like India at the moment we can do it safely so we don’t undo what is a magnificent story here in Australia.”
Indira Gandhi airport in the Indian capital of New Delhi. Photograph: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images
Complicating that story is mixed messages about the timetable for the vaccine rollout.
Dutton insists everyone willing to be vaccinated will receive two shots by the end of this year.
“Now some people will make a decision that they don’t want the vaccine, and the government is not going to force them to have the vaccine, so let’s be realistic in terms of some parts of society,” he said.
This end of year deadline puts Dutton directly at odds with the prime minister, who has spent the week walking back an end date for the rollout’s completion.
The treasurer and health minister have also clashed on the rollout timeline.
Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles leapt on the mixed messaging.
“You’ve got complete confusion, even with Peter today, as to whether or not there’s going to be two jabs by the end of the year,” Marles said.
“They can’t give you a straight answer in relation to that question and we all know properly vaccinating the country is how we actually more forward and past this in an economic sense.”
The government has ordered 25m doses of Moderna vaccines, giving its rollout a shot in the arm.
Marles said the vaccine deal should have been secured last year.
“The reason why we are now back on the queue is because the work they’re doing now they didn’t do last year when it mattered,” he said.
“This time last year we knew vaccines were in the pipeline. It was then the government should have been actually spreading the country’s risk.
“Instead they bet the house on the idea AstraZeneca being manufactured in Australia would be able to do the whole job.”
Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters
The first 10m doses of Moderna are due to arrive this year while the rest – booster jabs for different variants – are slated to be delivered next year.
The Moderna jab has not yet been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration but the company is expected to apply for that soon.
People under 50 are set to receive the Moderna vaccine.
CSL is already making the AstraZeneca vaccine in Melbourne; the Pfizer vaccine is fully imported.
A clear flow of supply will be needed as GPs begin the rollout to all Australians aged over 50 next week.
More than a dozen influential infectious disease and vaccine experts say the first round of jabs may offer enough protection against Covid-19, refuting Big Pharma’s claims that regular shots will “likely” be needed.
In a report on Thursday, Reuters quotes top infectious disease and vaccine-development experts as saying that the first round of inoculation with vaccines against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants may be adequate to offer enduring protection.The scientists also expressed concern that it’s the pharmaceutical executives rather than health specialists who are shaping public expectations around booster shots.Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in April that people would “likely” need a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated, adding that yearly vaccinations would possibly be necessary.
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The CEO of American vaccine manufacturer Moderna, Stephane Bancel, also said this week that a booster shot might be needed as early as this autumn.“There is zero, and I mean zero, evidence to suggest that that is the case,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters. Frieden now leads the global public health initiative Resolve to Save Lives. He went on to say that it was “completely inappropriate” to state that people would need an annual booster, “because we have no idea what the likelihood of that is.”The World Health Organization has expressed a similar view. Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, told the outlet that there was no data yet available “that would inform a decision about whether or not booster doses are needed.” She added that the WHO was forming a panel of experts to assess vaccine efficacy data and to recommend changes to vaccination programs if necessary.Pfizer responded to the criticism, saying it expected that the boosters would be necessary “while the virus was still circulating widely” – a situation that could change once the pandemic is brought under control.
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‘It is apartheid’: Activists blast pharma firms in protest at AstraZeneca’s UK HQ over fairer access to Covid-19 jabs
The group of experts has also expressed concern that wealthy nations rushing to get booster shots as early as this year would push poorer nations farther back along the queue, as they are already struggling to buy doses for their first round of jabs. The UN reported in April that low-income countries had received just 0.2% of all Covid-19 shots given to date. Global spending on Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots could total $157 billion through 2025, says the US health-data firm IQVIA Holdings. Moderna, for example, has set a goal to produce three billion doses of vaccine by next year.Ultimately, decisions on whether booster shots will be necessary “will best be made by public health experts, rather than CEOs of a company who may benefit financially,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of California, San Francisco.Like this story? Share it with a friend!
After a blowout quarterly report, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told CNBC he expects to see even more exits from companies in the Vision Fund’s portfolio.”I want to create an ecosystem … where we would have multiple companies going for IPOs,” Son said in the interview with “Squawk Box” co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin, recorded Wednesday night. He said 14 of SoftBank’s Vision Fund companies had an IPO or other exit during the last 12 months, up from eight exits the year before.SoftBank on Wednesday reported $45.88 billion in net profit for the last quarter, largely thanks to the IPO of one of the crown jewels in its Vision Fund portfolio, the South Korean e-commerce company Coupang.SoftBank also benefitted from the rising stock price of Uber, in which it had invested billions before the ride-hailing company had its IPO. DoorDash, another Vision Fund portfolio company, also had a successful IPO last year.SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a $100 billion fund for placing big bets on technology start-ups, has investments in companies like the online grocer GoPuff, self-driving car company Aurora and fitness tech company Whoop. SoftBank is invested in about 200 companies through its two Vision Funds.The huge quarter comes after a remarkable slump for companies SoftBank made huge bets on, especially WeWork. WeWork botched its high-profile IPO in 2019, nuking billions in value from the buzzy start-up and ultimately leading to the ouster of its co-founder and CEO, Adam Neumann.Still, Son seemed optimistic about WeWork when asked if he had any regrets about his investments.”WeWork is turning around now,” Son said, adding that he expects the company to be profitable “sometime in the next several quarters.”But beyond the WeWork debacle, Son said he has bigger regrets for the investments he passed on, such as Airbnb and software company Snowflake. He said he didn’t invest in Airbnb because he thought it was too expensive at the time. Shares of Airbnb are down about 4% year to date, but it still maintains an $85 billion market cap.”I saw they’re a pretty good company, a great business model, great talent an so on,” Son said of Airbnb. “I thought the price was a little too expensive. We were discussing to invest, but I was not smart enough to accept the price tag that they had a couple of years ago.”Son said most investments he missed happened because of the price to get in on an investment. He also said that even though the Vision Fund tends to invest in high-growth, money-losing companies, he still looks for a positive outcome in the long term.”So you have to have a pretty long view … and you have to imagine and so on,” Son said. “Sometimes you may imagine the result would be a bad result, as we have experienced, but sometimes you have to be brave enough to imagine, you know, more on the positive side.”
An ANZ economist warned on Wednesday that China’s aging population will have a big impact on the world as the global supply chain is highly reliant on the world’s second-largest economy.China’s once-a-decade census released on Tuesday showed the population of the mainland grew to 1.41 billion people as of Nov. 1, 2020. That was the slowest growth rate since the 1950s.”The trend of the old age dependency is going to rise … This is a warning not only for China, but also across the whole world, as China is the core of the supply chain,” Raymond Yeung, Greater China chief economist at ANZ, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” “Over the next few years, China will be losing 70 million (of its) workforce … so this is a big shock to the global supply chain.”Two elderly women sit on a roadside bench in China. By 2050, one third of the Chinese population will be above 60 years old.Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty ImagesHe added that another possible impact would be on financial markets, as China’s high savings rate has been supporting global markets. China has one of the world’s highest savings rates among individuals, and many retail investors are investing their extra cash, or the money is being held in pension funds.The census also showed that births continued to fall, dropping 15% in 2020 — a fourth straight year of decline.Experts have said that China’s aging problem goes beyond its one-child policy and that other changes are needed to boost growth as births fall and its population ages. Similar to other major economies, high housing and educational costs in China have deterred people from having children in recent years.I think this is a very pressing issue, that China really needs to tame this grey rhino, as everybody knows the problem is there, everybody knows they need to do something.Raymond YeungGreater China chief economist, ANZYeung told CNBC that the country needs to boost its labor productivity instead.He said that the country’s falling birth rate is unlikely to reverse, even if it relaxes its one-child policy.”More importantly, China (should) continue to sustain growth through technological development, go for high tech, go for high value-add, go for transformation of the whole supply chain, in order to support the economic growth on a sustainable basis,” he said, adding that this is a “more realistic” approach than focusing on its population numbers. China’s economy has relied heavily on industries such as manufacturing that require large amounts of cheap labor. But rising wages are making Chinese factories less attractive, while workers will need higher skills to help the country become more innovative.”I think this is a very pressing issue, that China really needs to tame this grey rhino, as everybody knows the problem is there, everybody knows they need to do something,” he said.The term “grey rhino” refers to highly obvious, yet ignored threats.— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.
Looking ahead, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has set an election to replace Liz Cheney as conference chair for this Friday, per PBS NewsHour.
McCarthy has set this Friday for the election to replace Cheney, per two sources
May 12, 2021
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who is widely expected to replace Cheney, has formally announced her candidacy for the position. She has already received Donald Trump’s endorsement as well.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to conduct a voice vote on removing Liz Cheney as conference chair surprised many people, including some members of the Republican caucus.
Speaking to reporters after the conference meeting, Adam Kinzinger, a Cheney ally, said members were not given the chance to deliver speeches on the issue, aside from Cheney’s short remarks at the top of the meeting.
“It was definitely not what I expected,” Kinzinger said.
But the lack of a secret vote on removing Cheney will allow McCarthy to dodge questions about how many members still supported the anti-Trump congresswoman and whether his caucus remains divided over the former president.
Trump belittles Cheney as ‘a bitter, horrible human being’ after vote to remove her
Donald Trump has released a statement celebrating the removal of Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chair.
“Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being. I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party,” the former president said in the statement released by his political action committee.
“She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy.”
Trump closed the statement by predicting that Cheney would soon become a “Paid Contributor on CNN or MSDNC”.
Shortly after she was removed as conference chair, Cheney told reporters that she remained committed to pushing back against Trump’s hold over the Republican party.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” Cheney told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Liz Cheney delivered a short speech to fellow House Republicans before the vote to remove her as conference chair, and she was booed for her critical comments about Donald Trump, according to Politico.
Sources tell me Cheney received a few boos at the beginning when she started to speak. But ppl quieted down and let her talk. And she also received a round of applause and standing ovations after the voice vote with members recognizing her service.
May 12, 2021
A veteran journalist who covered the fall of the Soviet Union said Cheney’s ouster reminded him of how Joseph Stalin would conduct purges of his opponents.
The way Republicans booted Cheney out with a lot of boos and without a secret vote reminded me of the way purges were conducted in the Soviet Union. Yeltsin was ousted in exactly the same way, along with numerous Stalin opponents.
May 12, 2021
Stefanik formally announces she is running to replace Cheney
Elise Stefanik has released a letter formally announcing she is running to replace Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chair.
Stefanik, a fierce defender of Donald Trump, said she would dedicate herself to providing a “disciplined, unified message from our leadership team” as the party works to take back control of Congress.
“Our Members believe that the stakes are far too high for us to be divided,” Stefanik said.
READ: Why I’m running for House Republican Conference Chair A letter to my colleagues on my vision to unify our GOP Conference, win the Majority, and fight on behalf of the American people to save our country👇🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/JGE5IqhNJo
May 12, 2021
After being voted out from her role as House Republican conference chair, Liz Cheney said she plans to “lead the fight” to create a stronger party in the future without.
The congresswoman added that she is dedicated to preventing Donald Trump from becoming president again.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” Cheney told reporters.
Rep. Liz Cheney: “We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution…I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.” pic.twitter.com/jrIwLTdP6t
May 12, 2021
at 2.42pm BST
Cheney confirms she was removed from conference chair post
Liz Cheney came out to talk to reporters after she was removed from her role as conference chair in this morning’s House Republican caucus meeting.
The congresswoman said she was committed to pushing back against “the very dangerous lies of a former president”.
Adam Kinzinger, one of Cheney’s few defenders in the Republican caucus, said “Liz has committed the only sin of being consistent and telling the truth.” He added, “I stand with Liz. I’m proud of her.”
Kinzinger confirmed Cheney was removed by a voice vote and there were no speeches given in defense or in opposition to her leadership. “It was definitely not what I expected,” Kinzinger said.
Cheney removed from leadership role by voice vote
Liz Cheney has been removed from her role as conference chair by a voice vote in the House Republican caucus meeting this morning.
NEWS: CHENEY removed from her post by voice vote
May 12, 2021
at 2.23pm BST
After Liz Cheney’s remarks, congresswoman Virginia Foxx formally introduced a resolution to remove Cheney from her post as conference chair.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who signaled last week that he was open to replacing Cheney, then said he supported Foxx’s motion, per CBS News.
Per multiple sources inside the GOP conference meeting, @Liz_Cheney gave a similar speech to what she said on the floor last night in her defense. @virginiafoxx motioned to remove her from her position, and @GOPLeader said he would support it.
May 12, 2021
According to Politico, Liz Cheney spoke to the House Republican caucus before the vote, and she warned that Donald Trump will “drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy”.
CHENEY just addressed the House GOP conference, as a meeting gets underway to decide her fate in leadership. “We cannot let the former president drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy,” she said, per source familiar.
May 12, 2021
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:
The daughter of the former vice-president Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has become a symbol of a dwindling band of Republicans largely opposed to Donald Trump’s vice-like grip on the party. Even though she is a staunch conservative, she has faced implacable hostility from Trump and his loyalists.
Cheney had faced the threat of removal from her leading role before, but she survived that handily, in part, thanks to support from other members of Republican leadership. This time is different though. Cheney has lost support from Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, and Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House minority whip.
The main driver behind the attack on Cheney, though, has been Trump, who has fumed about Cheney’s criticism and her decision to vote to impeach the president, alongside almost a dozen other House Republicans. Cheney has been the highest-ranking outspoken anti-Trump Republican in Congress. That stance looks to be felt back home where multiple candidates have jumped into the Republican primary to oust Cheney from her congressional seat.
Trump and his allies are assessing who to support in that primary. The former president’s political operation is watching the primary field closely, looking to see who might emerge as the strongest challenger to Cheney.
Cheney’s troubles are the latest sign that Trump’s influence is still hugely powerful within the Republican party, more so than any of the other recent Republicans who were elected president or were nominated to be president.
Liz Cheney has arrived at the Capitol for this morning’s vote on removing her as House Republican conference chair.
Asked by the New York Times about what this vote means for the GOP, Cheney said, “The party is going to come back stronger, and I’m going to lead the effort to do it.”
Cheney has entered the Capitol. Asked by @jmartNYT what today says about the GOP, she responds: “The party is going to come back stronger and I’m going to lead the effort to do it.”
May 12, 2021
Minutes before House Republicans meet to vote Liz Cheney out of her role as conference chair, Donald Trump issued a statement encouraging them to do so.
“The Republicans in the House of Representatives have a great opportunity today to rid themselves of a poor leader, a major Democrat talking point, a warmonger, and a person with absolutely no personality or heart,” the former president said in a statement released by his political action committee.
“As a representative of the Great State of Wyoming, Liz Cheney is bad for our Country and bad for herself. Almost everyone in the Republican Party, including 90% of Wyoming, looks forward to her ouster—and that includes me!”
Trump and Cheney have repeatedly clashed since January, when the congresswoman issued a fiery statement explaining why she was voting in favor of impeaching the then-president for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
Some Republicans called for Cheney to be removed from her leadership role shortly after the impeachment vote, but House minority leader Kevin McCarthy stood by her. Now McCarthy argues that Cheney has become a distraction from Republican efforts to win control of Congress in next year’s midterms.
Cheney warns of unprecedented ‘threat’ to America as she faces likely ouster
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
House Republicans will vote this morning on whether to remove Liz Cheney from her role as conference chairwoman over her criticism of Donald Trump and his lies about widespread fraud in the presidential election.
Cheney is widely expected to be ousted from her leadership role and replaced with Elise Stefanik, who has become a fierce defender of the former president.
Rep. Liz Cheney: “A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.” pic.twitter.com/hsk0xTPzsN
May 12, 2021
Delivering a defiant speech on the House floor last night, Cheney warned that the country is experiencing a moment of crisis right now.
“Today we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this capital in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence,” Cheney said.
“This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that.”
The vote will get underway soon, so stay tuned.
British singer Dua Lipa is calling for a “fair” pay raise for British health workers after being named a double winner at the Brit Awards in London
FAANG stocks displayed at the Nasdaq.Adam Jeffery | CNBCFutures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes slipped at the start of the overnight session Monday evening after investors punished Big Tech equities during the regular session.S&P 500 futures shed 0.1%, while those tied to the Dow were little changed. Nasdaq 100 futures came under the most pressure and retreated 0.25%.Big Tech got clobbered on Monday as investors exited stocks like Apple and Microsoft, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 off their record highs. Both of those stocks lost at least 2% to start the week.The Nasdaq Composite suffered the worse of the selling and fell 2.5%, finishing the day at its session low. Facebook lost more than 4%, while Amazon and Netflix both dropped over 3%. Alphabet dipped more than 2% after a downgrade by Citigroup. Cathie Wood’s Ark Innovation ETF fell 5% to its lowest level since November as Tesla, its top holding, shed more than 6%.Gasoline futures whipsawed in volatile trading on Monday after a ransomware attack forced Colonial Pipeline to close the largest U.S. fuel pipeline over the weekend. The company, which operates a 5,500-mile system, said Monday afternoon that parts of its system are being brought back online, and it hopes to restore service by the end of the week.Gasoline futures ended the day 0.31% higher at $2.1334 per gallon. At one point in the overnight session, gasoline futures jumped as high as $2.217, levels not seen since May 2018.Several stocks made moves in extended trading on Monday following earnings results.Simon Property Group saw its stock retreat about 1% after the bell despite better-than-expected numbers. The real estate property manager reported first-quarter earnings of $1.36 per share on revenues of $1.15 billion.Callaway Golf, meanwhile, said it’s seeing robust demand for its equipment and apparel, pushing shares up 5% after regular trading ended in New York. Electronic Arts, Chesapeake Energy, Hanesbrands, and Palantir Technologies will all deliver earnings results on Tuesday.The Labor Department will on Tuesday publish the latest results of its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Several high-ranking Federal Reserve officials, including Governor Lael Brainard and New York Fed President John Williams, are also scheduled to deliver remarks.Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro. Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV. Sign up to start a free trial today
Hello, and happy Monday. Sydney is on Covid standby, China’s rocket (or parts of it) landed, and the federal budget comes out tomorrow (which people already have plenty to say about). It’s Imogen Dewey with the main stories for you this morning, plus a podcast about those plummeting sperm counts.The Morrison government will allocate more than $4bn to infrastructure projects in Tuesday night’s budget as part of efforts to lock in economic recovery after the pandemic and drive down unemployment. While such investments improve the productive capacity of the Australian economy, the program will also help lay the groundwork for an election contest either late in 2021 or early next year. New analysis meanwhile shows the government last year spent just 16 cents out of every $100 addressing the climate crisis, and that spending on the environment and climate programs has fallen by nearly a third since the Coalition was elected eight years ago. (The Australian Conservation Foundation is calling for policy reform matched by investment.) The government preannounced a number of measures on Sunday, including $353.9m in spending for women’s health initiatives, and signalled that more than $10bn will be committed to aged care. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday told the ABC the royal commission had confirmed the sector was “in dire need of reform”.Frydenberg also confirmed the budget is based on the assumption that Australia’s international borders will remain shut until 2022. As the Morrison government continues to cop flack for its delayed vaccine rollout, the prime minister agreed that the borders will stay closed for the foreseeable future. At home, New South Wales is extending most of its Covid-19 restrictions for another week. There were no new cases yesterday, but authorities are still struggling to identify the missing link between a quarantine case and the recent, small outbreak.In other news, the federal government is eyeing a Canadian model of community sponsorship of refugees after a review of Australia’s support program. Guardian Australia understands the government is looking favourably at some elements of the Canadian scheme where private groups or community organisations cover the financial costs and settlement support for humanitarian entrants. Canada has welcomed more than 300,000 refugees since the community sponsorship program has been in place since the 1970s.AustraliaGrey mangrove in the estuarine wetland in the Moreton Bay marine park and Ramsar wetland. Walker Corporation wants to build more than 3,000 units on top of about 40ha of the protected site. Photograph: Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesA property developer has been accused of not being honest about its plans in the Toondah harbour wetlands, after new documents reveal it assured an international environment group it would do no harm to the protected site while lobbying the Coalition with plans to build on it.Alleged Isis recruiter Mohamed Zuhbi was arrested and charged with terrorism offences on his return to Australia on Saturday. The Sydney man allegedly travelled to Turkey in 2013 and on to Syria, where police say he recruited foreign fighters.Volleyball on Sydney’s Bondi and Tamarama beaches is under review after complaints of risk to beachgoers. Waverley Council is reconsidering the popular practice, which could lead to new restrictions, a reduction in nets or a ban on the sport.The worldIsrael has faced mounting international criticism of its heavy police response and the planned evictions. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty ImagesIsrael’s supreme court delayed a deeply contentious decision on whether Palestinians can be evicted by force to make way for Jewish settlers, after hundreds of Palestinians were wounded in some of Jerusalem’s worst unrest in years.Remnants of China’s biggest rocket have landed in the Indian Ocean, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit and drawing US criticism over a lack of transparency and “failing to meet responsible standards”.Dozens of girls were buried on Sunday at a desolate hilltop cemetery in Kabul, a day after a secondary school was targeted in the bloodiest attack in Afghanistan in over a year.Nicola Sturgeon has told Boris Johnson that a second independence referendum is “a matter of when, not if” after the Scottish National party secured a historic fourth term on Saturday.Recommended reads‘New investment in the coal industry will leave investors, including taxpayers, with vast stranded assets.’ Photograph: David Gray/Reuters“Wherever you are on the planet, the last 12 months have been very difficult. In seeking the strongest economic recovery from the pandemic, it is understandable that many on the centre-right in particular want to focus on boosting existing industries.” But as Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman and UK Tory MP Philip Dunne write in this joint piece: “When it comes to the energy sources of the future, investing in coal power would be an expensive mistake, not just for the environment but for the economy too.”“Are we progressive? My oath we are!” In Albany, on the wild southern coast of Western Australia, granite peaks and bushland studded with wildflowers have sheltered the Menang Noongar people for up to 80,000 years. And alongside the area’s ancient Indigenous heritage and a wealth of more recent historic sites, the cafes aren’t bad either. Carolyn Beasley gets to know the locals.ListenThe reproductive crisis is serious, Dr Shanna Swan says. Unless we try to limit our exposure to certain chemicals, human survival could be threatened. Photograph: Burazin/Getty ImagesOver the past 40 years, average sperm counts among western men have more than halved. On today’s episode of Full Story, Dr Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, talks to Rachel Humphreys about why.Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.Sport“Doing nothing with a deal of skill,” is how the 18th-century poet William Cowper expressed the concept of masterly inactivity. It’s commonplace in healthcare and parenting, where outcomes can be negatively affected by unnecessary interference. But in sport, writes Jonathan Howcroft, doing nothing skilfully is more challenging than it sounds – especially if your name isn’t Lionel Messi.Hundreds of athletes participated in a test event at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium yesterday as organisers fine-tuned operations and Covid countermeasures with less than three months to go before the Games. No spectators were present, as Tokyo remains under a state of emergency because of a rise in coronavirus cases.Media roundupCasino operator The Star Entertainment Group has proposed a $12bn merger with James Packer’s Crown Resorts, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Facebook is investing $15m in regional Australian newsrooms, reports the Australian Financial Review. According to the Advertiser, 841 workplace harassment claims by SA public servants – close to $40m – have been paid out over the past five years. Experts have told the ABC NSW police needs to urgently overhaul the way it deals with perpetrators of domestic violence in its ranks, as victims face ongoing issues getting help. Meanwhile this weekend in the Saturday Paper, Hugh White warned that a conflict with China would be likely to go nuclear – and that the Morrison government’s nonchalance is “disconcerting”.Coming upThe federal budget is out tomorrow, and parliament will meet in Canberra.And if you’ve read this far …How private is your Gmail, and should you switch? You might be surprised how much Google’s email service – and others – know about you. Kate O’Flaherty has some tips on how to set some boundaries.Sign upIf you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.
When Donald Trump’s ban from Facebook was upheld this week, the howls of bias could be heard from Republicans far and wide. Those shrieks, ironically, came mostly on social media.Republicans have spent recent years criticizing Facebook and Twitter, demonizing them as biased against the right. But they, not Democrats, have been the most enthusiastic embracers of social media, and the most successful in harnessing its potential.Between 1 January and 15 December last year, right-leaning Facebook pages accounted for 45% of all interactions on Facebook, according to a study by Media Matters for America, a progressive non-profit which monitors US media.Rightwing pages earned nearly 9bn likes or comments, MMFA found, compared to 5bn interactions on left-leaning pages. Conservative pages account for six of the top 10 Facebook pages that post about US political news.The years-long dominance on Facebook has translated to notable successes – most memorably in 2016, when Donald Trump’s win was propelled by his social media reach. “Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing,” Brad Parscale, the digital director of the 2016 Trump campaign, said in the aftermath of the election.“Twitter for Mr Trump. And Facebook for fundraising.”Those successes appeared to have been forgotten in the last week, when prominent Republicans, including Texas senator Ted Cruz and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, condemned Facebook in particular. The platform angered the right with its decision to uphold Trump’s post-insurrection suspension, even though a long-term decision has been punted down the road.“If the big tech oligarchs can muzzle the former president, what’s to stop them from silencing you?” Cruz said.“If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next. A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech,” was McCarthy’s take.Cruz and other Republicans have been accusing Facebook of bias for years – even as the platform was propelling Trump to victory, while being criticized on the left for being slow to remove rightwing lies or conspiracy theories.“Because Republicans have such a disproportionate amount of influence on these platforms and engagement, the real effect is that by constantly crying bias, it works the refs in such that they don’t enforce the rules against them in a consistent way,” Angelo Carusone, the president of MMFA, said.“Or they’re less likely to take action against cheaters and bad actors, because they don’t want to deal with the blowback of what happens when I take off one of these accounts.”Carusone pointed to how Facebook dealt with groups promoting QAnon, a conspiracy movement that alleges a group of global elites are involved in paedophilia, human trafficking and the harvesting of a supposedly life-extending chemical from the blood of abused children. It took until October last year for the network to finally ban groups, pages or Instagram pages which “represent” QAnon, despite the theory having been promulgated for years.Joe Romm, author of How To Go Viral and Reach Millions and editor-in-chief of Front Page Live, a news site “dedicated to elevating fact-based stories” said that for Republicans, claiming that they are oppressed by media is a consistent narrative.“It’s part of the overall strategy of playing the victim,” Romm said. “Donald Trump showed that it’s part of the overall strategy of: accuse your opponents of doing what you’re doing before they can accuse you.“And so it just makes it so much harder, because if you accuse them first, then when progressives then accurately say: ‘Oh, we’re being disadvantaged on social media,’ no one is going to believe it, because they bought into this big lie that the conservatives are being punished on social media.”As Republicans have cried foul, several rightwing politicians have even written books about such perceived bias – the most recent by Missouri senator Josh Hawley, a millionaire Yale law school graduate turned earthy, blue collar, man of the people.Hawley wrote The Tyranny of Big Tech after claiming he had been censored and canceled by social media. The hypocrisy of the book’s claim that big tech is suppressing conservative thought was exposed by Hawley himself this week, however, when he used Twitter, one of the companies he rails against, to giddily proclaim that his book had been “a bestseller all week” on Amazon – another company he opposes.The claims of conservative bias are only like to continue as the 2022 midterms approach, but experts sayany bias is actually against the other side.“I would say that, in fact, big tech right now is biased against liberals – the thumb is on the scale for those who put out the rightwing lies,” Romm said.“The thing that the social media apps want to do is keep you on their site. That’s what they care about. They don’t care about the truth, they care about keeping you on their site.“So the way things are set up, if you can stir up anger, and get people to comment, and engage and send out shares and say: ‘This is outrageous’, then you’ve got a big advantage in the algorithm. So what the social media sites have done is create a system that favors the most outrageous statements.”Ironically, some of those most outrageous statements are set to come against the leaders of the Republican party railing against the social media giants.“I think the right will leverage this moment to make big tech the new Hillary,” Carusone said. “And that’s going to be a galvanizing force for them leading into 2022 and then again in 2024.”