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Lawyers: Australia Wants to Deport Novak Djokovic, Fearing He May ‘Excite Anti-Vax Sentiment’

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Attorneys representing Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic revealed during a hearing Friday that Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke chose to revoke Djokovic’s visa out of fear that his presence in the country would “excite anti-vax sentiment.”

Hawke announced on Friday afternoon – leaving minimal time for a judicial rebuttal – that he would exercise his personal power to expel Djokovic from the country after a judge ruled on Monday that he could remain. Djokovic attempted to travel to Melbourne last week to participate in the Australian Open, one of four tennis Grand Slam tournaments. Prior to his departure, the tennis player posted an update on social media claiming he had overcome Australia’s coronavirus vaccine requirement by receiving a medical exemption, but upon arriving, Border Force detained him and invalidated his visa. Djokovic spent the weekend in a migrant detention facility before a judge invalidated his detention Monday and ruled that he could stay in the country.

Djokovic trained and posted updates online from the Australian Open during the three days that he was legally in Australia before Hawke moved to deport him. Australian Open administrators granted Djokovic the top ranking in the men’s singles tournament; he has won the Australian Open more than any other player and currently holds the top ranking in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

The Australian Open is scheduled to begin Monday:

I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened,I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen

I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans. 👇 pic.twitter.com/iJVbMfQ037

— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 10, 2022

Djokovic’s attorneys have moved to challenge the new deportation order, bringing the case back to the same judge. There, reporters on the scene relayed, defense attorney Nicholas Wood asserted that Hawke based his decision to deport Djokovic on the grounds that his presence in Australia after openly asserting that he had not consumed a Chinese coronavirus vaccine product would agitate “anti-vax” sentiments in the country.

Wood contended that deporting Djokovic may do more to agitate anti-vaccine mandate voices in Australia than letting him stay, making Hawke’s alleged logic “patently irrational.”

“He has no rational basis to say the decision he makes is up to generate a greater amount of anti-vax sentiment that he is seeking to minimise,” Australia’s the Age quoted Wood as saying.

Australia’s ABC News quoted Wood also contending that the allegation that Djokovic’s personal opinions were a threat to the country was also “in stark contrast to the reasons that the [Australian Border Force] delegate at the airport was saying.” Djokovic’s initial detention was a result, according to the government, of the tennis champion presenting insufficient legal paperwork to prove a legitimate medical exemption from the vaccine requirement:

Nick Wood says that’s not relevant because the Minister says he made his decision assuming that Djokovic ticked all the right boxes.

He says the minister took a “radically different” approach to the decision, basing it on the prospect Djokovic would “excite anti-vax sentiment”.

— Karen Sweeney (@karenlsweeney) January 14, 2022

In 2020, Djokovic made public statements declaring that he was “opposed to vaccination,” but he has not since repeated that opinion publicly. Instead, Djokovic has shifted towards calling vaccination a personal decision that governments do not have a right to force upon their citizens.

The official statement from Hawke did not mention any fears of what Djokovic’s presence in Australia could do to public opinion. Hawke simply stated that it “was in the public interest” for Djokovic not to be in Australia.

“This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on 10 January 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds. In making this decision,” Hawke stated, “I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.” He added, “The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, facing a difficult election this year, in part due to authoritarian coronavirus lockdown policies throughout his tenure, claimed in a statement Monday that the deportation order was made “on health and good order grounds.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during Question Time in the House of Representatives on September 16, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. Gladys Liu is under scrutiny over her association with bodies linked to the Chinese government. Liu confirmed on Wednesday that she was an honorary member of the Guangdong provincial chapter of the China Overseas Exchange Association between 2003 and 2015. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected,” Morrison asserted. “This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

Notably absent from the current proceedings are new developments that surfaced in the days after Djokovic won his right to stay in the country. Djokovic reportedly claimed to have tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus on December 16 but attended public events – including one with children – on the day he allegedly tested positive for the contagious disease. Reports also indicated that Djokovic had claimed in paperwork to the Australian government that he had not traveled to any third countries before his flight to Melbourne from Spain, but social media posts showed him in Belgrade, Serbia, in the interim.

The German magazine Der Spiegel added to the controversy by revealing that attempts to pull up Djokovic’s alleged positive test in the Serbian government’s online database reportedly pulled up a negative test and that the numbers for Djokovic’s positive and negative tests – the latter used to prove to Australian officials Djokovic was no longer contagious – were inconsistent, suggesting the positive test was filed into the Serbian database before the negative one was.

Djokovic addressed the situation following the reports, admitting to false assertions in the Australian documents but blaming his agents for filling out a form incorrectly. Djokovic claimed he did not yet know the results of his PCR test before meeting with the children on December 16 but that he did know he tested positive for coronavirus before meeting with a French journalist from the magazine L’Equipe. He did not apologize for doing so.

Australian officials allowed at least three other professional tennis players into the country under the same medical exemption Djokovic received but has since deported them in light of the current scandal.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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Maher: Biden Should Be in ‘a More Ceremonial Role’ – After ‘Not Horrible’ First Year, ‘America Has Lost Its Faith’ in Him

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On Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher argued Democrats should move President Joe Biden “into a more ceremonial role.” Because while his first year was “Not horrible, certainly better than the alternative,” “for some reason, America has lost its faith in Joe.” And “even when Joe does something good,” like the economy, “he seems to get no credit.”

Maher began by saying, “Democrats must thank President Biden for his great service to America, and then move him into a more ceremonial role.”

He continued, “Joe Biden has been president now for a year and a day. The day was pretty good. But the year? Not horrible, certainly better than the alternative, but for some reason, America has lost its faith in Joe. Sometimes that just happens. A new CBS poll has just over a quarter of Americans saying the country is going in the right direction, and the Quinnipiac poll has Biden’s year one approval rating at 33%, the lowest for any president ever, even Trump. 33%. If he were a movie, he’d be listed as ‘certified rotten.’ Now, of course, he’s not, and what’s gone wrong is certainly not all Joe’s fault, but the hard fact is, even when Joe does something good, he seems to get no credit. Our economy is actually pretty awesome considering what we’ve just been through. Wages are up, workers have more leverage, we avoided a recession, stocks just had their best year since 1995. And yet, only 38% approve of his handling of the economy. This is what happens when you lack passionate defenders, as opposed to Trump, who every day shit the bed, and 90% of Republicans blamed the bed.”

Maher added, “And Biden may well have even further to fall. Because there’s no die-hard Biden base. His is a coalition of the unenthused. … When he first got into office, I told you that Biden was like non-dairy creamer: nobody’s first choice, but he got the job done. And he did get the job done, in 2020, when his nation needed him to beat Trump, and he did. But, fair or not, to most people now, it looks like Joe Biden’s get-up-and-go got up and went.”

Maher further argued that Biden should marry former President Barack Obama so he can be back in the White House and run the country.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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Truckers Required to Show Proof of Vaccination to Enter the Country

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The Biden administration will not allow foreign truckers from Mexico or Canada to enter the country unless they provide proof of vaccination against the coronavirus.

Beginning Saturday, all non-citizens must show proof of vaccination at all ports of entry and ferry terminals when trying to enter the country.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said:

Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination.

These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.

Before the new mandate, nonresident essential travelers have been allowed entry into the country regardless of their vaccination status. However, United States officials announced the vaccine mandate in October, hoping to incentivize more travelers to get vaccinated.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Covid-19 response and the vaccination program at the White House on August 23, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The mandate will likely hurt the ongoing supply chain crisis, as unvaccinated truckers traveling from Mexico and Canada will not be allowed entry into the country. The Canadian Trucker Alliance estimates at least 12,000 drivers will not be able to enter the United States due to the mandate.

Canada enforced a similar vaccine requirement for travelers entering its borders on January 15.

Brian Hitchcock, owner of MBH Trucking LLC and interim executive director of the Michigan Trucking Association, expects to lose two-fifths of his revenue due to the United States and Canada’s vaccine mandates. Hitchcock’s drivers travel back and forth from Michigan to Ontario, but only one-sixth of his employees are vaccinated.

“How do you force a mandate on a bunch of truck drivers who have been out there on the front line for 20 months and never asked for anything?” Hitchcock asked. “They were the ones that kept our economy moving and supplies (going), so you never ran out of food.”

Biden’s vaccine mandate will likely hit the automobile manufacturing industry the hardest. Auto Care Association Bill Hanvey warned the vaccination requirement could further strain the supply chain.

In a statement to NBC News, Hanvey said:

Due to the current supply chain issues and chip shortages that the American automotive manufacturers are facing … we believe any additional strains placed on the supply chain have the potential to exacerbate this situation and could cause the demands on both the automotive manufacturers and the aftermarket to rise even further

Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s global automotive division, made a similar warning.

By the time you map out the supply chain, it’s just a spider web going everywhere. I would be surprised if there are any (U.S.) cars that don’t have at least one Canadian-based part. Canada is a pretty important part of auto manufacturing. Any part that doesn’t arrive or if there’s something wrong with it, you can’t build it. There’s more points of failure.

Charles Sox, a supply chain expert and University of Cincinnati professor, mirrored Betts’s point. “Automobiles are very complex machines, they have thousands of component parts. It only takes one missing part to stop you from being able to complete that vehicle and sell it,” Sox said.

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Report: Detroit Man Accused of Setting Fire to Girlfriend Pregnant with Twins Bonds Out for $5,000

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A 41-year-old Detroit man accused of setting fire to his girlfriend, who is pregnant with twins, has bonded out of a Wayne County jail for just $5,000 after posting ten percent of his $50,000 bond, according to a report.

“Police said Devonne Marsh got into an argument with his girlfriend at their Detroit home off Packard and Outer Drive last Friday, Jan. 14, and he doused her with lighter fluid before setting her on fire,” WJBK reports.

According to the latest reporting from the outlet:

Devonne Marsh was released from the Wayne County Jail Friday morning. According to documents with the jail, he was released from custody just before 11:20 a.m. on Friday. He’s now out on bond with multiple conditions including no weapons, no drug use, and is ordered not to go to their shared apartment.

However, FOX 2 has learned that Marsh has a hold in Macomb County for other charges so while he’s posted bail in Wayne County, he is not currently free.

A man charged with setting his girlfriend – who was 6 months pregnant with twins – on fire, there was shock that his bond was set as low as $50,000 with 10%. Now, for just $5,000, he’s made bail. https://t.co/8PHFtDRtEY

— FOX 2 Detroit (@FOX2News) January 21, 2022

At about 10:40 on January 14, Detroit Police received a tip “that a woman was being held against her will and tortured,” according to WDIZ. At the scene, officers said they found the 26-year-old pregnant woman, with severe burns to her legs and stomach, lying on a bed in the basement of the home. Officers said she could hardly move.

The 26-year-old is in critical condition with burns to 60 percent of her body, and “It’s not yet known if her babies will survive,” WJBK reports. She is six and a half months pregnant.

“How do you do this to another human being? I can’t – it’s unimaginable,” Commander Michael McGinnis of the Detroit Police Department told WJBK. 

“Just incredibly traumatic injuries, I did see pictures and I mean the pain that she must be suffering – I can’t imagine,” he said. 

 Marsh, 41, was arrested and is charged with “kidnapping/abduction, aggravated/felonious assault and violation of the controlled substance act,” according to WDIZ.

He is a parole absconder with a lengthy rap sheet according to WJBK, including previous charges for guns, assault, and drugs.

“Marsh pleaded guilty in Macomb County Circuit Court to four counts of delivering more than 50 grams of cocaine in 2019 and was sentenced to two years probation,” Macomb Daily reports.

The victim had been too scared to report the abuse she was enduring, and Heaven of Oakland County CEO Aimee Nimeh told WJBK that victims often fear retaliation from their abusers when speaking up.

“Fear is part of the relationship and so absolutely there is fear of retaliation,” Nimeh explained.

She added that victims are often frightened by low bonds.

“The court system can be very overwhelming; the process can be complicated,” she said. “It’s not just that court is a little scary, it’s also that what happens next with that assailant that might be coming out, that might be walking free. How do you stay safe in that situation?”

McGinnis previously said he had hoped Marsh, who ended up making bond, remained in custody.

“We just hope that he remains in custody through the trial process so that the victim can heal without the fear of any kind of retribution from him,” McGinnis said.

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