Daily News Roundup

May 4, 2021

 

MONDAY, MAY 4

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit back at Michael Slater after the Australian cricket great unloaded on him following the Australian government’s decision to block citizens from returning home from India.

Having served as a commentator for the Indian Premier League, Slater escaped from India earlier this week as the country’s coronavirus situation worsened.

There were nearly 400,000 new cases registered across India on Sunday in the world’s fastest-growing outbreak.

According to The Australian, the former Test opening batter found his way to the Maldives, where he will wait until he can legally return home.

On Saturday, Morrison’s government introduced fines of up to $66,600 or five years in prison for anyone defying the travel ban preventing Australians returning home from India. The temporary measure is designed to allow for hotel quarantine upgrades in Australia before an influx of citizens fleeing COVID-ravaged India.

Slater tweeted on Monday evening: “If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!

“Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system.

“I had government permission to work on the IPL but I now have government neglect.”

Two hours later, the 51-year-old posted: “And for those who think this is a money exercise. Well forget it. This is what I do for a living and I have not made a penny having left early. So please stop the abuse and think of the thousands dying in India each day. It’s called empathy. If only our government had some!”

Morrison responded on Tuesday, saying it was “absurd” for Slater to accuse him of having “blood on your hands”.

“I’m not going to fail Australia,” Morrison added.

Slater played 74 Tests and 42 one-day internationals for Australia, scoring 6299 runs and 14 centuries.

On Monday, Mr Morrison slammed claims that the ban is racist, warning he’s making the “hard calls” that have helped save 30,000 Australian lives.

“We are deeply, deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in India. But the best way I can get them safely home is by doing what I am doing right now,’’ the Prime Minister told 2GB radio.

Australian cricketers Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson returned home last week before the travel restrictions were introduced.

There are currently more than 30 Australian players, commentators, umpires and coaching staff participating in the glamorous T20 tournament — including Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner and Ricky Ponting.

Last week, Morrison said Australian cricket talent in India would not be given any preferential treatment.

“They’ve travelled there privately under their own arrangements. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour,” Morrison said.

“And they’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with our own arrangements.”

A huge international effort is underway to deliver much-needed oxygen to cities around India where coronavirus cases have skyrocketed to the point where people infected, including babies, have died while waiting for treatment outside hospitals.

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Prince Harry delivered a passionate speech in his first appearance since Prince Philip’s funeral at the Vax Live concert in California — but pregnant wife Meghan was notably absent.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are campaign chairs for Global Citizen’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign and had been billed to take the stage together to “deliver an important global message for vaccine equity during the event”.

Instead, Harry went solo, receiving a rock-star welcome as he addressed the crowd of thousands of vaccinated frontline workers during the taping of the star-studding concert SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

“We are at a defining moment in the global fight against COVID-19,” said the 36-year-old, who was given a standing ovation as he appeared alongside Jennifer Lopez, Foo Fighters and Sean Penn at the “concert to reunite the world”.

He said the concert, which will be broadcast next weekend, was a celebration of the “frontline heroes” in the crowd and around the world.

“You spent the last year battling courageously and selflessly to protect us all,” he said, before referencing the “service” that is so often referenced by the royals.

“You served and sacrificed, put yourselves in harm’s way and with bravery knowing the costs. We owe you an incredible depth of gratitude, thank you.”

The Duke of Sussex said the virus “does not respect borders” and that “access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography”, as he made his first appearance at a public event since moving to California last year.

“Tonight, we stand in solidarity with the millions of families across India, who are battling a devastating second wave,” he added.

“We’re also coming together because this pandemic cannot end unless we act collectively with an unprecedented commitment to our shared humanity.”

He called for the vaccine to be distributed “to everyone, everywhere”, adding that “we cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world.”

Dressed in a blue shirt and dark pants, the prince also called vaccine disinformation a “humanitarian crisis” that is “getting worse”.

Host Selena Gomez said the concert was “the best award show of the year” and said she “geeked out” when she saw the line-up of celebrity guests and performers.

The singer called for “doses and dollars” for the world’s poorest countries, as the United States and many Western countries emerge from lockdown as their vaccination programs roll out at speed.

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates have announced their plans to divorce in a joint post on Twitter, but say they plan to continue working together. 

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” their statement said. 

“Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives. 

“We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue to work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

The financial details of the decision were not immediately clear.

According to its website, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $US53.8 billion on philanthropic projects since 2000.

Last year, Mr Gates, formerly the world’s richest person, said he was stepping down from Microsoft’s board to focus on philanthropy.

Mr Gates was Microsoft’s CEO until 2000 and since then has gradually scaled back his involvement in the company he started with Paul Allen in 1975.

He transitioned out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft in 2008 and stepped down as chairman of the board in 2014.

Ms Gates, who has degrees in computer science and economics as well as an MBA, spent the first 10 years of her career at Microsoft.

She left the company to “focus on her family and philanthropic work”, according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website.

Ms Gates has since launched Pivotal Ventures, an investment company that backs social progress projects, and wrote a book called The Moment of Lift about the inspirational women she met through her charity work.

The couple launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. (AP: Elaine Thompson)

The couple met at a work dinner, with Ms Gates beating Mr Gates at a maths game, and were married in Hawaii in 1994.

They will be the second high-profile Seattle-area billionaire tech couple to end their marriage in recent years. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos finalised their divorce in 2019.

MacKenzie Scott has since remarried and now focuses on her own philanthropy, having received a 4 per cent stake in Amazon worth more than $US36 billion.