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Biden battles on – Trump Turmoil deepens

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As Washington prepares to take its summer break, President Biden continues to battle on the policy and program fronts he has led since Inauguration Day

On his agenda?

  • Ending the pandemic
  • Restoring the economy
  • Pursuing voting rights
  • Social equity
  • Racial justice
  • Gun control
  • Confronting climate change
  • And restoring America’s leadership in the world

In each area, there is progress – and challenges

With 70% of Americans now vaccinated, the Delta strain is hurting, with infections accelerating to significant levels – but the vaccines work. 

This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated

of the 164 million Americans who are inoculated, 99.9% have not tested positive for Covid

Fewer people still are hospitalized or dead.

The renewed push to get as many as possible protected is now being augmented by mandates from governments and businesses that their employees are to get the jabs as a condition of employment.  (This may prove ultimately to be the key for the last mile of protection here in Australia.)

What about the economy?

Employment is up, the economy is growing at over 6%, and wages are increasing, with $15 per hour the new norm in many businesses.

Child poverty is being cut in half, but employment is still not back at pre-Covid levels. Millions who are behind in their rent face possible eviction in the coming weeks.

While Biden has campaigned strongly on protecting voting rights, ending police violence, gun control, greater access to education and tackling global warming, no legislation on those fronts has yet been enacted. 

On a foreign front – under Biden’s leadership, America is absolutely back with US alliances strong across Europe and Asia

U.S President Joe Biden, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, talk during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Mikhail Metzel/Pool Photo via AP)

However, there is turmoil in Afghanistan, prospects have dimmed for a renewed nuclear agreement with Iran, relations with Russia are testy, tensions with China are as intense as ever, and there is no dialogue with North Korea.

In Washington, the toughest tests of Biden’s legislative program are pending right now 

He is applying all the lessons learned from his and President Obama’s first term in working his Democrats and those Republicans who are willing to win his policies on infrastructure, education, climate, and health care. 

Biden knows that his presidency is in the balance.

As Biden battles on, the man he defeated, Donald Trump, continues to spread turmoil and division.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

Trump will not countenance any blame or responsibility for the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 – an attack intended to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral victory. 

Trump’s hold over the Republican Party, and especially the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, upended the formation of a bipartisan independent commission to examine the threat to democracy posed by Trump.  

Trump is determined to remain a potent force in the party, and the decider of its future. 

He has raised more money this year than anyone else – over $100 million – and supplicants journey to his homes to pay tribute and seek favour.  

Trump is hardly invincible. There are chinks in his cladding.  His preferred candidate for a House seat in Texas lost to another Republican Trump declined to endorse. 

Damning notes from the Justice Department show Trump’s intense pressure on the Acting Attorney General to declare the election corrupt; he refused.

The Biden Justice Department has ruled that Trump’s tax returns have to be turned over to Congress.  Trump attacked the Republicans supporting the bipartisan infrastructure deal with Biden – but the agreement is holding.

In this Washington summer, Biden is steady at the helm, but the waters are choppy.  And Trump keeps making waves whenever he plunges into the pool.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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POV: Fully vaxxed Melbourne reporter in the centre of chaos | ticker VIEWS

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Sunglasses to protect my eyes from pepper spray, trench coat to hide my microphone, and a helmet to protect my head from flares.

A face mask isn’t the only covering I need as a news reporter in Melbourne, Australia

Isn’t it funny how Melbourne was voted top 10 safest city in the world on Sunday.

Two days later, I’ve never felt more scared to be at work.

On scene

I could feel thousands of eyes glare towards me as I pulled my microphone out, to show our global audience what it feels like to be in the city experiencing the longest lockdown in the world.

To my left, hundreds of the Victoria’s top authorities. Riot police were sent to control the protesters, who first gathered outside the CFMEU—Australia’s main trade union headquarters.

To my right, hundreds of protesters shouting anti-vaccination messages.

And I was standing in the centre—fuelled by adrenalin, waiting for movement from either side.

I was scared of the unknown, standing in the middle of passionate Melburnians who were chanting for their freedom from months of stay at home orders

Thousands of construction workers in metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria were stood down after the state government shutdown was announced last night.

Some held a banner reading “freedom”, while others chanted “f*** the jab”.

I feel their anger, I too want to live a life free of government mandated restrictions and emerge from lockdown in Melbourne—a grim reality we’ve lived for too long.

I understand that I’m extremely privileged to be classified as an essential worker. I attend my shifts at the newsroom and can rely on a steady income.

For many, we don’t know what it’s like to be at breaking point. There were protestors in the CBD today who have been out of work for months, struggling to put food on the table and just want their voices heard—because that’s all they have left.

In a shared sense of frustration and anger, some protestors turned violent, with some participants throwing objects, including bottles, at police.

It’s my job to inform people. Rolling coverage on the scene is authenticity

Yet I was shoved and screamed at by angry protestors for standing outside Queen Victoria Market with a microphone.

This is a similar experience for many who work in media.

For giving protestors a voice. For reporting fairly and accurately.

Some argue it’s media who “paint a bad picture” or “write a bad narrative” – but how can you make up the narrative of journalists getting attacked whilst on the job – who are there on scene to hear, report and share their opinions, feelings, and actions.

One identified and unmasked woman approached me so close to the point of touching noses.

“You are FAKE NEWS” she spat into my face. I felt like a targeted villain in a sea of vigilantes

Standing alongside other Australian media outlets, I experienced the first hand hate and disgust towards reporters.

My heart was pounding a million miles a second. I gripped my umbrella tight, in case a protestor launched on me.

I was glad I was wearing a long sleeve jacket, shielding my microphone when off camera to avoid being a target.

A fellow reporter told me to keep sunglasses on my head to use for eye protection from pepper spray and flares.

Many female reporters stayed close to cameramen, as another layer of protection.

We stayed close behind police, who were getting many more profanities sprayed at them. I’m sure they were just as anxious to the unfolding events playing out before our eyes as we were.

Running to keep up with protestors barging through the streets of the City of Melbourne, I witnessed Channel 7 reporter Paul Dowsley get physically attacked.

A protestor approached his camerman and shook him to the ground.

Shortly later, Dowsley had a can of drink thrown at the back of his head while he was presenting live on camera.

“I’ve been grabbed around the neck today, I’ve had urine tipped on me, and now I’ve had a can of energy drink thrown on me,” he said.

Dowsley’s bleeding head was shown on camera. This shakes me. It actually makes me sick to my stomach.

If you can protest against a jab, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re privileged

I’m a fully vaccinated young adult, but it was stressful being amongst unmasked anti-vaxxers parading their hatred towards the Covid-19 vaccination.

Several protesters identified themselves as construction workers and CFMEU members who opposed mandatory vaccinations.

I understand the hesitation towards receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, but it’s an answer to being at work safe and having a ‘normal’ life beyond these life shattering lockdowns.

Just metres down the road from protestors chanting against the effectiveness of COVID vaccines, frontline health workers are treating Covid-19 patients on ventilators in the intensive care unit at the state’s best hospitals.

My dad is frequently in and out of Royal Melbourne Hospital, and visitors are currently banned.

My dad and I receiving a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from Royal Exhibition Centre in August.

He has a rare airways disease as a result of cancer, and I’m vaccinated to protect him.

It’s one thing seeing images of people the government calls “[people of] appalling behaviour on site and on our streets” but being in the centre of them, I see the pain in their eyes.

They’ve simply had enough, and it’s not just tradespeople. People of all professions joined the protest to support construction workers today and these scenes will only continue to make headlines.

Their emotions were raw. Their message was clear.

And as I write my own headlines and tell their stories. I just wish to be safe and respected.

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Climate

Australian Energy Ministers set to clash over ‘CoalKeeper’ within hours | ticker VIEWS

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State and Federal Energy Ministers in Australia are gearing up to meet on Friday 24 September to discuss the energy market

As the rest of the world moves away from coal, Australian energy ministers are preparing for a potentially fractious meeting this week, to discuss keeping coal-fired plants open. This is to ensure the country’s power system remains reliable during a transition to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposal, known is known as the capacity market, will provide a strategic reserve for significant events in the National Electricity Market (NEM). The NEM accounts for more than 80pc of Australia’s total electricity demand, and coal-fired plants are its largest fuel source.

But the proposal has proved to be contentious, as some state ministers have announced that they will not support it.

The Federal Government has announced its #CoalKeeper program to support the coal industry. However, experts are urging the Government to consider the opportunities in other industries to transition away from coal.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio is urging the Government to incentivise sectors like renewable energy. D’ambrosio will meet with Angus Taylor on Friday to go head to head about the end of coal in Australia.

“Victoria won’t support Coal-Keeper payments”

“Vicotria remains committed to clean energy investment and jobs.”

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Energy Minister

Who will prevail?

The Victorian Government has been criticised for opposing “Coal-Keeper” subsidies to extend the life of coal plants. A new “capacity mechanism” aims to offer financial incentives to encourage the construction of power sources and prevent the premature closure of coal generators.

Victoria’s stance on coal is setting up a clash at the national cabinet meeting of energy ministers. It will be D’ambrosio versus Taylor. Who will prevail?

This all comes after Victorian government provided secret financial backing in March to ensure EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn plant stays in the state’s power system until 2028.

The Victorian Government refuses to release further details on this, but D’ambrosio is standing strong on her views.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, an outspoken critic of the Morrison government’s climate change ambition, has given his preliminary backing to the plan but did caution he was worried about the costs.

The capacity mechanism has been endorsed by the Australian Workers’ Union and the CFMEU.

Renewable energy companies and investors including the powerful Clean Energy Investor Group say the move will kill investment in new supplies and drive up costs for consumers by subsidising old coal plants.

“There’s been no leadership from a national level”

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Energy Minister

“You can’t transition tomorrow, what you can do is have a proper plan.”

“Sending a clear message to the market this energy will no longer be there, invest in new technology, invest in replacement energy.”

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Energy Minister

“This coal keeper program, this is a carbon tax- but it’s going to give money to the coal-fired power stations.”

Scott Hamilton, Ticker Climate co-host 

 

 

You can watch the full episode of ticker climate here

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‘I thought the roof was caving in’- Anchoring through an earthquake | ticker VIEWS

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I was anchoring the morning news, when the cameras, walls, and ceiling began to shake- I thought the building was about to collapse

In my lifetime, I have never experienced, heard, or felt an earthquake. So, it was fair to say I didn’t consider the possibility of an earthquake when the studio began to shake around me.

It was 9:15 AM on Wednesday morning, we had just completed the first half of our news bulletin. As I observed the studio shuttering and thudding, I heard our producer’s muffled voice scream out, “What is happening, the building’s moving.”

With adrenalin rushing through my veins and high heels not made for running on, we dropped everything and ran for the exit. At that fleeting moment, the only plausible explanation I could think of was the infrastructure of our building has faults- get out!

A moment of panic

I’ve always been that person who said in a moment of emergency I would grab my possessions and think rationally. I was wrong. In a moment of sheer panic, I left my phone and possessions behind and ran for the door.

With the floor shaking beneath our feet, our morning newsroom team huddled together and sprinted to find the closest exit. I know it might sound dramatic, but I was immediately mapping out potential outcomes of the roof caving on top of us or the floor beneath us.

After about 30 seconds, our entire team was outside, trying to fathom what had just happened. In hindsight, I should have taken my phone, I should have taken a camera and I should have kept the rolling coverage going.

However, hindsight is a wonderful thing, because you never know what you will do when you experience a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in a three-story building. In a moment of panic, I had no idea we were living through the biggest earthquake to hit Australia since British settlement, 200 years ago.

How long did it last?

  • The 5.8 magnitude quake hit near Mansfield, 180km northeast of Melbourne, about 9.15 AM today.
  • The earthquake was initially recorded at a 6.0 magnitude but later revised down, with tremors lasting for about 30 seconds.
  • Another 4.0 aftershock was recorded 18 minutes after the first tremor.
  • Tremors were felt as far afield as Sydney, Dubbo, and Launceston — all about 700km away.

How much damage did it cause? Has there been any extensive damage?

  • Images of minor damage to buildings have flooded social media
  • So far there have been just 46 reports of damage across the state. About 35,000 homes lost power but must are back up now
  • Building’s on the popular Chapel Street shopping precinct has collapsed

Tim McDonagh, the managing director of Betty’s Burgers, said seeing the damage was surreal and that it was a “catastrophe” in already unusual circumstances.

  • there were reports of damage to brickwork and cracked pavement across the city.

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