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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.

Climate Change

Australia set to bid for COP29, despite lack of climate action

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Australia is set to bid for the opportunity to host the COP29 climate conference, despite its lack of climate action recently

Australia’s opposition Labor party says it will bid to host the 2024 COP29 climate conference if they win the upcoming Federal Election.

They say it will be in partnership with the Pacific and Soloman Island Nations ‘if they want to.’

Australia has never hosted a United Nations climate conference but it could set them on the global stage as a leader in climate change action. 

However, Australia has been dubbed a laggard on its climate change action and may not be equipped to host such a significant event.

 

“This is a real shift in Australia’s policy…For 30 years in the history of the United Nations Climate negotiations Australia hasn’t hosted a meeting… Instead it usually shys away from them”

richie merzian, the australia institute
Richie merzian, australia institute

Australia’s rocky relationship with the Solomon Islands will make the deal even more uncertain.

A recent security pact between China and the Solomon Islands has been finalised, meaning China will build a military base just Kilometres from Australia’s borders.

Australia has recently cristicised the Solomon Islands for its friendly ties to China and how that will negatively impact Australia’s national security.

Now the biggest question is do the Pacific, and the Solomon Islands, even want to partner with Australia at COP29?

“It’s a real opportunity for Australia to gear up it’s diplomacy, to demonstrate leadership of the global stage and hopefully shake of its reputation as a laggard on climate action”

richie merzian, the australia institute
richie merzian, the australia institute

Deadly heatwave

Climate change has reared its head more frequently over recent years, including wildfires, ravaging floods, and extreme weather events.

This comes as millions of people in India and Pakistan experience a brutal heat wave that has left hundreds dead.

The high temperatures have been surfacing for the last two months, with the Government unprepared to handle it.

The heatwave is causing wide sweeping water shortages, heat stroke, and power outages.

The region has reached its highest April temperatures in 122 years.

Photo credit: New York Times

“Global warming means more extreme heatwaves, and longer heatwaves… It’s a sign of things to come.”

richie merzian, australia institute
richie merzian, australia institute

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Ticker Views

Why it’s important to keep Putin weak and humiliated

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Three months in and Russia has intensified its offensive in the eastern part of the nation, but its gains have been slow

America’s Defence Intelligence Agency head also says between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed as a result of the combat.

But all Moscow has gained is a small piece of Ukrainian territory in the east.

Vladimir Putin remained tight-lipped about any plans to escalate the war during his Victory Day speech.

Some fear that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine didn’t live up to his expectations, which could force him to resort to desperate measures.

However, Ticker News spoke with Eastern Europe expert Sergej Sumlenny who says it’s important to keep Putin weak and humiliated.

How does this war end?

Sumlenny says there’s no “good exit” in sight while Putin remains in power.

“He has not entered into this war to believe he’ll finish Ukraine in one to three days, or one week top,” he says.

The Eastern European expert says the Russian army has already suffered double as much losses as the Soviet Army within 10 years in Afghanistan.

“The Russian army could not achieve any significant victory. Russian President Putin on the ninth of May on Victory Day in Russia could not present any victory. And that was a huge revelation for him and he understands it,

“So I don’t see any exit strategy for him. He clearly tries to push further without any success. Like Russia delivers war criminals to The Hague, the International Criminal Court pulls out its army out of Ukraine and establish over 300 kilometre demilitarised zone on Russian territory working into Ukraine. That would be a great end,” Sumlenny proposed.

However, he acknowledges an end could take months.

“As long as this will not be provided, Ukrainian army will continue to fight back, destroying Russian military equipment killing Russian soldiers unfortunately for Russia, until Ukrainians will push Russians out of their country, it can take months, but it will be inevitable.”

Putin is dangerous, with power or without power

The West holds talks to Putin during eight years of his war on Ukraine.

The West Hall talks to Putin after he has attacked Georgia in 2000, after he annexed Crimea in 2014, after he guessed a Syria, like since 2012, and further, and it didn’t help.

Russia was invited to every international international ground like conventional platform like g20 but Russia conceals everything. And it didn’t help.

According to Sumlenny, when Putin feels to be strong, he strikes and he kills.

“He felt very strong in February this year. That’s why he attacked Ukraine, he felt desperate or threatened by all sides. And that’s not true. But he felt very strong. That’s why he attacked, so now he feels weak,” he says.

“Of course, he’s dangerous like any dictator, but it’s better to have in him desperate and weak than strong and aggressive.”

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Ticker Views

Senate set to kill abortion rights this week

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The aftershocks of the earthquake triggered in Washington last week, with the explosive leak of the first draft of an opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and backed in by four other Justices, including the three radical conservatives appointed by former president Donald Trump, continue to shake the foundations of the capital and the landscape across the country

USSC Bruce Wolpe joins U.S correspondent Veronica Dudo, and ticker’s Holly Stearnes join a panel on U.S. abortion rights

The magnitude of the impact of the draft opinion is simply enormous. 

What has been accepted by well over 60% of the American people as a constitutional right – the ability of women to have access to abortion services – is about to be removed. 

There is no good that comes from going down that road of taking rights away from people. In 1856, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that former slaves did not have standing in federal courts because they lacked U.S. citizenship, even after they were freed.

PROTESTORS IN U.S.

That decision, so outrageous, contributed to the Civil War.  In 1954, in Brown v Board of Education, the Court ruled that segregated “separate but equal” schools for Black students recognised by the Supreme Court 50 years earlier was unconstitutional as this did not afford equal protection under law – a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment enacted after President Lincoln and the North won the civil war and ended slavery. 

The arc of justice in other words, is best when the law advances rights – not takes them away.

33 million American women between the ages of 15 and 44 living in over two dozen states across the country will be denied access to abortion services if this draft opinion is ultimately adopted. 

But nothing in the Constitution prevents Congress from enacting a law to legally establish and protect a woman’s right to have access to abortion services. 

U.S WOMAN PROTESTS

This is the basis of the Women’s Health Protection Act which passed the House last September. 

The Democratic leadership of the House recognised that what everyone is facing this week was coming, and that the best protection against overturning the precedent of Roe v Wade is through legislation. 

The bill provides that, “Congress finds abortion services are essential to health care. A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services.”

This is the bill that the Democratic leadership will bring to the Senate this week.  It will fail.

No Republicans in the House voted for this bill, which passed on a party-line vote of 218-211.  There are only two Republicans in the Senate– both women, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – who support abortion rights.

All but one or two of the 50 Democrats will support it. Bu the Senate is not a democratic institution.  A simple majority vote is insufficient to pass legislation. 

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 21: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

A bill needs a supermajority of 60 votes to pass the Senate.  That is completely out of reach today for abortion rights.

The Senate could change its rules and allow the abortion rights bill to pass in this one instance by a simple majority.  But that will not happen either.

At least two Democrats oppose upending this Senate tradition, and no Republican will vote against their leadership to alter the Senate to pass a Democratic bill on abortion.

This ugly hyper-partisanship will have several ramifications. 

If this Senate cannot protect these rights, perhaps more Democrats in the Senate can.   Democrats will use this vote to target Senate seats held by Republicans that are up in the November midterm elections in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin. 

This could well energise not only Democrats but also key swing independent voters who do support, in significant numbers, abortion rights.

But the human impact on women is frightening. 

The journalist who obtained the draft opinion in the leak from the Supreme Court, and broke the story, Josh Gerstein of Politico, said this last Friday:

“And if Justice Alito’s draft opinion that we reported and made public on Monday becomes the Supreme Court’s final word on this issue, you’d have really a situation of abortion haves and have-nots across the country, where you would have many states where abortion was relatively available and probably about 26 states where abortion is banned or very, very sharply restricted. You would then have women trying to get medication abortions in those states or possibly travel through what might develop as a kind of Underground Railroad to get them out of those states and into other states where they could get legal abortions. It would be a pretty dramatic change in the availability of abortion across the country.”

Gerstein is right. This is the world we are in. 

WOMEN ACROSS THE U.S RALLY IN PROTEST

160 years after the Civil War, another Underground Railroad – this time to take women away from states with restrictive medical laws. 

A Handmaid’s Tale come to life, as Canada pledges to open its borders to American women seeking reproductive health services.

Engraved on the pediment of the Supreme Court building in Washington are the words, “Equal Justice Under Law.”

The Supreme Court’s imminent decision and the failure of Congress to enact legislation to overturn it betrays a US political system failing to protect all women equally under law.

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