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Nashville man killed in shooting by at least nine police officers – The Guardian

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Family ‘in shock’ as police department says Landon Eastep was agitated and carrying a box cutter on interstate highway
Last modified on Fri 28 Jan 2022 22.33 GMT
At least nine police officers shot a man who was walking on an interstate highway in Nashville on Thursday, a use of deadly force that left the man’s family “in shock”.
Landon Eastep, 37, was agitated and carrying a box cutter in his left hand, said Don Aaron, a Metropolitan Nashville police spokesman.

Aaron said police tried for about half an hour to de-escalate the situation but nine officers from three agencies fired when Eastep quickly pulled an unknown “silver, shiny cylindrical object” from his right pocket.
Aaron said he did not know what the object was but said it was not a firearm.
“I wasn’t aware there was anything wrong,” Samantha McGill-Barge, Eastep’s sister-in-law, told the Daily Beast. “He loved my sister and my kids very much and, to my knowledge, was a good guy. It’s a very unfortunate situation. I’m in shock.”
In an online fundraiser for Eastep’s widow titled Help get Justice for Landon Eastep, McGill-Barge alleged he had been “murdered by several officers”.
“This man had only a box cutter and had already shown it to officers before they killed him in cold blood,” she said. “He was shot for no good reason at all and he did not deserve to die.”
The Nashville district attorney, Glenn Funk, promised to take “any appropriate action” once the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had finished its investigation. He also promised to release the TBI report in full.
The mayor of Nashville, John Cooper, said he was “disturbed”, adding: “We will learn from this awful event and continue to do everything we can to prevent similar incidents in the future.”
Video of the encounter obtained by WKRN-TV showed officers surrounding Eastep, who had his back to the berm between the northbound and southbound lanes. The footage showed officers opening fire after Eastep removed his right hand from his pocket.
Eastep was hit multiple times, Aaron said. No officers were injured.
Interstate 65 was closed in both directions for a time during the encounter and afterward as agencies remained on the scene including the TBI.
The agency said a highway patrol trooper first spotted Eastep at about 2pm on the northbound shoulder of the interstate at mile marker 76. An off-duty officer from another jurisdiction, then others, soon arrived.
“The trooper attempted to negotiate with Eastep and soon an off-duty Mount Juliet police department officer also stopped, along with back-up officers from the Metropolitan Nashville police department” and more highway patrol troopers, the statement said.
It said negotiations continued for about 30 minutes before at least nine officers fired. Eastep died at the scene.
Associated Press contributed to this report

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Amid attacks on democracy, newsrooms are rethinking approaches to the politics beat – Current

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Current (https://current.org/2022/01/amid-attacks-on-democracy-newsrooms-are-rethinking-approaches-to-the-politics-beat/)
Steve Caruso/Pennsylvania Capital Star
WITF Statehouse Bureau Chief Sam Dunklau, in mask, interviews Republican state Rep. Jim Gregory.
When rioters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, their “Stop the Steal” message reverberated in battleground states from Pennsylvania to Arizona where misinformation had festered during the November 2020 election.
For WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., the attacks also marked a turning point in the way the station approached political coverage and how its journalists should hold lawmakers accountable.
“January 6 crystallized this — this was not just something where a politician was throwing out spin,” said News Director Tim Lambert. “This goes beyond anything we have experienced. This was an attack on democracy.” 
The rampant and deadly spread of misinformation at state and local levels has prompted several public radio newsrooms to shift focus away from horse-race coverage of elections and toward civics beats that seek to demystify how government works. Both WITF and KPCC/LAist in Pasadena, Calif., have announced the creation of new civics and democracy beats within the last two months aimed at illuminating the barriers to voting and exposing elected officials who spread lies. Their postings not only advertise jobs but call attention to the plight of American democracy.
“Democracy in America is at its greatest risk of failure since the Civil War,” KPCC’s post states. “As we approach the midterm elections, readers and listeners will need reliable information on the state of our democracy and how they can be active in keeping our political system from collapsing.”
The new role is part of the station’s commitment to cover the “Big Lie” locally in an effort to make the existential threat to democracy relevant to its audience. KPCC CCO Kristen Muller described those plans in a Nieman Lab “prediction,” outlining the need for voter registration guides for school board elections, lists of lawmakers who supported Trump’s false claims and detailed explainers on how votes are counted.
“One thing you have to remember is that misinformation bubbles up from local sources,” KPCC/LAist Managing Editor Tony Marcano told Current. “A lot of this starts locally, and we want to pay attention to who’s putting out misinformation in Southern California.”
Marcano emphasized that the new reporter will get outside of City Hall and won’t cater to political junkies. He plans to help the KPCC/LAist audience keep officials accountable by helping to connect residents with councilmembers and providing more information about the records of candidates who often receive less coverage, such as judges. 
“We’re resetting it from the perspective of voters,” Marcano said. “We don’t want politicians and local officials to drive the narrative. … [We’re] flipping the lens on where these stories are grounded.”
At WITF, the new democracy beat is the latest step the station has taken to counter politicians’ election-fraud lies. In a post on WITF’s website last year, Lambert and Senior Editor Scott Blanchard promised to use “language in our reporting to show how elected officials’ actions are connected to the election-fraud lie and the insurrection.” That strict commitment to accountability applied to lawmakers who signed onto a Texas lawsuit targeting Pennsylvania’s election, signed a state House or state Senate letter encouraging congressional representatives to object or delay certification of the election, or voted against certifying. 
In online articles, WITF includes a breakout box that details elected officials’ connections to the insurrection and explains their participation. After a radio story including such a lawmaker ends, a host reads a tagline.
“As part of our 2020 election accountability policy, we note Representative [Seth] Grove is one of several dozen lawmakers who signed a letter asking Congress to object to Pennsylvania’s electoral college vote — despite no evidence that would call those results into question,” read one on-air tag.
Instituting these practices has created some friction with lawmakers. Since last January, some politicians have declined to appear on WITF’s programs or have complained privately about the policy to the station’s state capitol reporter. Republican Rep. Scott Perry, who is under scrutiny for his ties to the “Stop the Steal” movement, has turned down 37 interview requests since last spring, Lambert said. Lawmakers have also argued that WITF’s language appears to target only Republicans, which Lambert points out is a result of Republicans signing many of the letters.
“We don’t care if they’re Republicans or Democrats. If a Democrat would have signed that letter, we would have mentioned that Democrat,” he said. “This goes back to standing with the facts and standing by democracy. So it’s not partisan.”
WITF has provided some leeway for lawmakers. In their post last year, Blanchard and Lambert wrote that journalists would “consider whether the lawmaker has admitted their mistake” and how the details of their actions fit into a story. Last February, WITF contacted state 76 lawmakers to ask why they supported actions that could have disenfranchised Pennsylvania voters. Two responded to WITF’s query. Only one lawmaker, Rep. Paul Schemel, mulled whether his concerns over procedural issues with the election were conflated with President Trump’s claims that the state’s results should have been overturned.
Schemel was one of several Republican state lawmakers who signed a letter urging members of Congress to object to his state’s electoral votes going to Joe Biden. Schemel did not disavow those claims but later said that voters should trust the state’s electoral system. WITF adjusted its language to reflect Schemel’s comments.
Blanchard said he’s surprised that no lawmakers have admitted they were wrong to push the election-fraud lie. He had hoped that by highlighting their deeds, “at least some of these lawmakers would understand what they had done, and they would say, ‘I was wrong.’”
At the Texas Newsroom, a collaboration of four stations across the state that are part of NPR’s effort to boost reporting in underserved regions, statewide managing editor Corrie MacLaggan is shifting the focus of political reporting, starting with a fresh look at the Texas Capitol reporter position. MacLaggan is looking for a journalist who is comfortable navigating the halls of the statehouse but can also cover the diverse communities affected by legislation.
“That means talking to voters, but if there’s a big education bill, we need to be talking to parents, teachers and students,” she said.
The newsroom has already oriented its coverage with an eye on voting rights. A recent story by health and politics reporter Ashley Lopez examined how supply-chain issues are limiting the number of voter registration forms the Texas Secretary of State’s office can distribute. MacLaggan also noted that the newsroom has added reporters to underserved areas, with two journalists in the Rio Grande Valley and plans to expand coverage into parts of North Texas.
“The Texas Newsroom is shifting how public radio reports on politics because we’re making political reporting more accessible to communities who don’t have access to reporting,” she said.
KCUR Director of Content C.J. Janovy reached out to WITF’s Lambert in December to discuss the Pennsylvania station’s accountability policy. Since then, she has started contemplating her newsroom’s political coverage ahead of several key races this fall, including the battle for Missouri’s open Senate seat.
The Jan. 6 riots fueled a sense of urgency and hypervigilance at KCUR, where reporters have covered how Sen. Josh Hawley has prospered from his support of insurrectionists. Journalists also held private citizens accountable, listing the names of both Kansas and Missouri residents charged in the attacks. While KCUR has no current plans to create a civics and democracy beat like KPCC or WITF has done, the newsroom has focused on the spread of disinformation. Over the summer, lies surrounding public health fueled the spread of the delta COVID variant across Missouri.
“We’re in a part of the country where public health has been extremely politicized,” Janovy said. “There’s a danger of amplifying messages that could be characterized as anti–public health.”
While Janovy has seen fissures develop in American democracy for the last 40 years, she notes that the need for incisive reporting feels more immediate now.
“It feels as if we’re facing existential threats in our country, and that has to inform the work that we do in more urgent ways,” she said.
Through a partnership with the company Epilogg, the station is offering a platform for shareable video obituaries.
“Blanchard said he’s surprised that no lawmakers have admitted they were wrong to push the election-fraud lie. He had hoped that by highlighting their deeds, “at least some of these lawmakers would understand what they had done, and they would say, ‘I was wrong.’””
Hey I applaud WITF’s efforts here, full stop. But absent any changes in who gets voted into office, wouldn’t this seem to indicate that WITF’s approach…noble as it may be….simply isn’t working? Grand noble efforts mean little if they don’t result in objective change.
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Improved investor sentiment spurs the stocks and currency markets ahead of repo rate decision – IOL

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By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Jan 27, 2022
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THE STOCKS and currency markets firmed yesterday on improved investor sentiment ahead of the crucial interest rates decision, but the global oil prices could put a damper on momentum.
The rand strengthened by 0.7 percent to R15.15 against the US dollar by 3pm yesterday, its highest level in five days, on expectations that the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) will lift its repo rate to 4 percent at its first monetary policy decision of the year today. By 5pm the rand was bid at 15.19 to the dollar.
The domestic currency also lifted as investors waited in anticipation of the Federal Open Market Committee outcome in which the Federal Reserve was expected to maintain a hawkish tone and confirm that interest rates in the US will start to rise in March.
FXTM’s senior research analyst Lukman Otunuga said the rand appreciated against most G10 currencies yesterday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision.
“Although US interest rates are widely expected to remain unchanged this month, the meeting will be closely scrutinised for fresh insight into the Fed’s aggressive monetary policy path for 2022,” Otunuga said.
“Looking at the rand, it has appreciated against every single G10 currency in the year to date.
“The local currency may be injected with fresh volatility from this evening onwards due to the upcoming central bank meetings.”
The SARB is expected to hike interest rates by 25 basis points in this meeting, and add three or more hikes in 2022 to reach a policy rate of 4.75 percent or above by year end.
The bank began tightening its monetary policy in November as upside risks materialised on inflation mainly driven by rising prices of administered prices, especially fuel and electricity.
The price of Brent crude oil rose to a seven-year high of $89.52 (R1 367.64) per barrel yesterday as geopolitical risks fuelled supply constraints again.
“Higher oil, electricity and food prices continue to put pressure on consumer inflation,” the Bank of America Global Research report noted yesterday.
Headline inflation has quickened to 5.9 percent in December 2021, closer to the top range of the SARB’s 3 to 6 percent target range.
BNP Paribas South Africa senior economist Jeff Schultz said they expected a 4:1 or an unanimous decision in favour of the rates rise following the 3:2 split among the five-person committee in favour of raising rates by 25 basis points in November.
“In particular, we expect the SARB to revise up its assumptions on rents, electricity, fuel and food prices,” Schultz said.
“We expect the bank to warn the markets that food inflation could prove stickier than previously forecast given recent flooding in parts of the country which has damaged up to 25 percent of some crop yields.”
Meanwhile, the JSE All Share Index rose more than 2 percent to 73 803 index points by 4pm yesterday, extending gains for a second consecutive session, led by miners and recovery in tech stocks.
By 4pm MTN rose by 5.9 percent to R169.92 per share while Sibanye and Sasol both gained 5.5 percent and 5.3 percent to R59.02 and R320.25 per share, respectively.
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Video shows Fort Edward police sergeant shooting handcuffed man with Taser – WNYT

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Mark Mulholland
Created: January 28, 2022 05:52 PM

NewsChannel 13 has uncovered startling new information and video related to the Fort Edward police sergeant who is suspended on an unrelated matter.
Sergeant Dean Watkins is the subject of a criminal investigation related to a man who was handcuffed at the wrists and ankles being shot with a Taser.
It happened inside the Fort Edward Police Station.
Robert Murat-Hinton had been arrested in connection with a fight at a bar on July 8. He was handcuffed at the wrists and ankles. As police were doing the paperwork in the adjacent room, Murat-Hinton was kicking the wall and damaging it.
An officer comes out of the office and apparently tells him to stop and he does. However, Sgt. Watkins comes rushing in with his Taser drawn.
Watkins deployed the Taser twice, driving Murat-Hinton to the floor as he was still cuffed to the wall.
Watkins can be heard telling Murat-Hinton he had no choice, and had to shoot him with the Taser to stop him from kicking the wall.
However, it appears the tasing took place after the kicking had stopped. The officers then also shackled Murat-Hinton's feet to the wall in a position his court appointed defense attorney called “hog-tied.”
Public Defender Dustin Bruhns say Murat-Hinton suffered Taser burns and injuries to his shoulders and wrists.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan says because there are potential criminal charges, he asked for a special prosecutor.
The Schenectady County District Attorney is handling it.
Watkins is suspended from the job, completely unrelated to this incident. He's accused of falsifying documents, claiming that he trained other officers at a time when he wasn't on duty.
Police Chief Justin Derway is also suspended related to the training documents.
NewsChannel 13 reached out to Sgt. Watkins to see if he wanted to comment. He didn't reply.

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Ipswich: 20 cars broken into in Capel St Mary, Suffolk – Ipswich Star

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Johnny Griffith
17 cars have been broken into in a single day in Capel St Mary – Credit: Archant
More than 20 cars have been broken into in Capel St Mary in little over a day, with officers linking the incidents. 
Police were already investigating after a laptop, wallet and a satnav were stolen from cars in the village overnight between Wednesday, January 26, and Thursday, January 27. 
Now officers from Suffolk police say they have received reports of a further 17 vehicles being broken into on Thursday, January 27. 
The break-ins happened in various locations around the village including Fryth Close, Coombers, Thorney Road, The Street, Elm Lane, Great Tufts, Little Gulls and Boundary Oaks. 
A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Many thefts from cars are opportunist and officers have established that in some cases the vehicles were left unlocked or with valuables left in the vehicle.
“Police are reminding people to remove valuables from vehicles and ensure when left they are locked and secure.
“Enquiries are on-going and officers are linking the incidents. Police will be on hand at the Co-Op store in Capel St Mary on The Street today, Friday, January 28 from 1.30pm to about 2.30pm to provide crime prevention advice and to take details of any suspicious behaviour people may have seen.”
Police are issuing the following advice to help reduce the chance of cars being broken into:
Anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour is being asked to contact Ipswich police, quoting the crime reference number 37/5497/22.
Join our Suffolk Crime Watch Facebook group for all the latest crime news in the county. 
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‘OPB Politics Now’: Kristof’s campaign waits on the Oregon Supreme Court – OPB News

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Nick Kristof says he’s been a resident of Oregon his entire life. State election officials say: No he hasn’t. Now it’s up to the Oregon Supreme Court to decide whether he can run for governor. I’m Dirk VanderHart. On this week’s “OPB Politics Now,” we’ll break down the legal arguments for and against Kristof’s candidacy. And we’ll tell you what happens next. Find the show wherever you get your podcasts.
The former New York Times columnists, and critics of his gubernatorial candidacy, have made their final legal arguments to Oregon Supreme Court justices.
Oregon’s Secretary of State Shemia Fagan says allowing Nick Kristof to appear on the May ballot for governor would set a dangerous precedent that benefits well connected political candidates.
Lawyers for former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof plan to make the case that not only does Kristof meet the state’s residency requirements to run for Oregon governor, but denying him the chance to run could lead to voter suppression in future Oregon elections.
It’s been a week of seismic change in Oregon politics, with two state legislative leaders announcing their departures and a leading Democratic candidate for governor losing his spot on the ballot.
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Your Energy Is Like Currency. Invest It Wisely to See the Greatest Rewards. – Entrepreneur

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Signing out of account, Standby…
Finding a balance between removing yourself from a business while remaining present enough to ensure smooth function can be crucial to its success.
A common problem company owners encounter is how and when to remove themselves from its daily processes. After all, heroic efforts have been made by these individuals to build a corporate backbone, develop a client base and perfect the technicalities of efficiently serving customers, while also planning for the long term. That said, it’s critical for an enterprise to be able to survive the departure (either in part or entirely) of its founder if the aim is durable success. Such a transition could take anywhere from six months to a year, but once you have an internal infrastructure with a proper chain of command in place — it will free up time for a chief executive to, among other things, focus on growing the company in entirely new ways. Simply put, if the founder were to leave tomorrow, and the company falls apart as a result, there might be something wrong with the equation. 
Your energy is like currency: Knowing where to invest it is a skill that takes time to develop. Periodically, you need to ask yourself, “How much of my mental capital is being used to keep this process going?” Because the more time you can free to innovate, create, network and otherwise grow, the greater your success will be. 
As a company grows, systems and structures often don’t just need to be optimized: Rather, they need to be torn down and rebuilt. In order for yours to stay ahead of the curve, it needs to be primed to adapt to rapidly changing environments. The lesson is to never become complacent in services or infrastructure, and to not to be married to a single work model. Constantly returning to the drawing board can be frustrating, and it’s always easier to rework something that’s already half built rather than completely tearing it down, but this hard work can make for peaceful and profitable transitions later on.
Related: Visualization Is Essential for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
At one point in a career that has included founding various tech and media startups, I spent more than a week debating whether I should use ClickUp or Notion for team management software, and wound up going with the former. After three months, however, it was clear to me that it was not a perfect fit. I then spent two more weeks moving everything over to Notion, a switch that tuned out to be crucial for our growth.
Adopting the right tools for your company’s daily processes can be stressful and tricky. Even with weeks of careful research, it’s hard to get it perfectly right, and that’s what you need: perfectly right. Similar to riding a bike, you only really learn how the tool will fit after testing it out. Finding the perfect cocktail (which might include Notion, Freshdesk, Quickbooks, Google Drive, etc.) takes time, and the truth is that there is never an absolute answer, it’s all dependent on the internal mechanics of your enterprise. So, coming back to my earlier point, as a company grows it is inevitable that you will outgrow tools, and so should never get too comfortable with any one (or more), but be completely open to throwing them away and starting fresh.
Not being able to easily see what people are working on or what tasks have been accomplished can easily increase tension and stress within a system. Setting up reporting protocols reduces the need for follow-ups, allowing professionals to focus on their skill sets and managers to keep track of the workflow. They also make the transfer of data from different departments and time zones more robust, which is essential for scaling. (You don’t want to wait 12 hours for a contractor to clock back in when a client is waiting on an update.)
Related: 3 New Productivity Tools That Can Automate Your Workday
Now that we’ve established some strategies for better managing the micro processes of an enterprise, let’s turn to a macro process: scaling.
The goal as a founder should be to spend the majority of time making the most out of your unique skills; as the face of your company, focus will be on bringing in quality clients, expanding your network and making new connections that can translate into new services. I’ve found that a winning time-oscillation is a back-and-forth between infrastructure/systems-building and bringing in growth. Sometimes the former gets 80% of your energy, letting growth take up the rest, followed by a pivot to growth emphasis, letting infrastructure take the back seat for a bit…then back and forth again. Your most important task, of course, is to optimize growth, whether that’s through spending more time honing the hiring process or building new service outlets.
Related: 40 Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets to Staying Focused
There might be trepidation involved in letting go of tasks you’re used to performing, especially if you’re accustomed to things being done a certain way, but as a company grows, you have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t run in every direction without losing focus, which is why you have to prioritize where you allocate time.
It might be helpful to reframe your thinking from “letting go” to “building great teams that make up a superb company.” The higher the quality of your services, after all, the more competitive your business will become. Also keep in mind that it can be quite a rewarding process to help others excel in their roles and careers. Employees’ successes can reflect the success of the company itself, and scaling properly simply cannot be done without spending the time to build a foundation, which means people.
Removing oneself can be an emotional process, but it’s necessary in order to take on more important roles and grow a company to its maximum potential. Your hunger for entrepreneurship will never cease, and it’s important to effectively turn ideas into value products or services while having the free mental space to identify and capitalize on the next great idea.
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Let’s Talk Tennis, and Politics – The New York Times

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This year’s Australian Open was controversial even before it started. How’s it going now?

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The drama of the Australian Open began early this year, before the first match, with the saga of whether or not the top men’s player, Novak Djokovic, would be allowed to stay and play despite being unvaccinated.
His deportation was followed by another off-court dispute, when a Melbourne-based artist wore a T-shirt to the tournament that read, “Where is Peng Shuai?”
It was a reference to the Chinese tennis star who, in November, disappeared from public view for weeks after accusing a top Chinese leader of sexual assault. At first, Australian Open security guards told the artist, who’d also brought a sign bearing the slogan, that the items were not permitted, citing a policy that bars fans from making political statements. But then Open organizers relented and agreed to let fans express their concern.
Along the way, of course, there has also been some tennis.
To put all the back-and-forth into perspective, I reached out to Christopher Clarey, a global sportswriter for The New York Times and the author of “The Master: The Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer.”
He’s in Melbourne covering the action (and writing into the wee hours of the morning). Our conversation has been slightly edited for clarity and space.
We’re not even at the finals yet, but it seems like this is the most disputatious Australian Open in a long time, with Djokovic and the protests on behalf of Peng Shuai. Is that a fair assessment and does it actually feel like that on the ground with players and fans?
I think the Djokovic furor made this the most controversial lead-in to an Australian Open ever, and there have been a few contenders, including reports of widespread match-fixing in tennis in 2016 and last year’s quarantining controversies.
But on the ground, the tournament seemed to move on quickly this year.
When Djokovic boarded that plane on the eve of the Open, it was as if one mini-series was ending and another beginning. I think many Australians had had their fill of the wall-to-wall coverage by then, and though many things have changed in this pandemic, Australians still love their sport. They also have had some excellent national stories to follow, with Nick Kyrgios in singles in the first week and doubles in the second week, and with Ash Barty aiming to become the first Australian in 44 years to win her home singles title.
How has Djokovic’s absence changed the dynamics of competition?
Djokovic is the most successful men’s singles player in the history of the Australian Open with nine titles, including the last three. He is ranked No. 1 and still the leading hardcourt player and came within one match of the Grand Slam record last year before losing the U.S. Open final. So of course his absence has impacted the competitive balance, particularly because he withdrew after the draw was made, which left a power vacuum in the top section of the draw.
Matteo Berrettini of Italy came out of that section to reach the semifinals. But the final four men are all stars or superstars and all ranked in the top eight. Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas have both reached Grand Slam finals. Daniil Medvedev won the U.S. Open last year, and Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest players in the sport’s long history and equal with Djokovic at 20 Grand Slam singles titles. So I think the men’s tournament has retained its legitimacy and interest, even if no one can ever say it was a full-strength event with Djokovic missing.
I’m curious what you make of how the Peng Shuai case has been handled by the tennis world. Do you think Australia’s response fit with the general consensus or diverged?
Like too many things in tennis, the response has been far from unified. Power and governance is fragmented in the sport, with the WTA, ATP, International Tennis Federation and each of the four Grand Slam tournaments making their own moves and decisions. Though all those entities have expressed concern for Peng’s safety, the only one to commit to action is the WTA, the women’s tour, which has suspended its tournaments in China and called for a full Chinese investigation into Peng’s allegations of sexual assault and for an open line of communication with her.
Seen through that prism, Tennis Australia, which runs the Australian Open, is not an outlier. But it does have more at stake with China than the other Grand Slam tournaments. It has a major Chinese sponsor, which has its name on one of the show courts at the Australian Open. Tennis Australia also has offices in China and has promoted Chinese tourism to the tournament. It also wants TV coverage in China, because the time difference with Europe and North America is not ideal for those broadcast windows.
The Australian Open promotes itself as the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific, in part because it wants to block the emergence of any potential rivals for its Grand Slam status in the fast-growing region. But Tennis Australia, like the sport, is at something of a crossroads with China. Australia-Chinese relations have deteriorated. Peng’s predicament and the censoring of her allegations in China highlight the nature of the Chinese regime.
For now, unlike the WTA, Tennis Australia is playing a game of wait and see.
Let’s switch back to the game. What’s been your favorite match up to this point?
There have been a few that will stick with me. Matteo Berrettini holding off, just barely, dynamic Spanish 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Alizé Cornet of France feeling all the emotion of reaching her first Grand Slam quarterfinal on her 63rd attempt with a grueling victory over Simona Halep. Rafael Nadal hanging on at age 35 in the heat to defeat young Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who did not go quietly, accusing chair umpires of being “corrupt” for favoring Nadal and the biggest stars.
But I think the memory-bank match so far has been Medvedev’s five-setter with another young, rising Canadian: Felix Auger-Aliassime. With Djokovic out, Medvedev is the top seed remaining in the men’s event, and FAA, as Auger-Aliassime is nicknamed for obvious reasons, came within one point of knocking him out in the quarterfinals. Medvedev rose up just in time and found his A game with help from a closed roof and a devil-may-care attitude on the biggest points.
This match had so much: long acrobatic rallies, big swings in momentum and huge risks rewarded. Fortune favored the bravest, which is not always the way it turns out, and Medvedev dodged the coming-of-age upset, just barely. He then gave the absent Djokovic some of the credit, saying he channeled him as he came back.
The crowd in Laver Arena did not like that, but you had to like this match, even if it meant writing until 4 a.m. for our deadlines!
Grand Slams of course are big business and pretty tied up national image as well. Do you think the Sturm und Drang this year will affect the Australian Open after the tournament ends?
I do think the tournament has taken a hit. However you feel about Novak Djokovic being unvaccinated, the situation with his visa and deportation got far messier than it should have and reflects a lack of communication between the Australian Open organizers and the government.
The players certainly took note of the confusion: some feel Djokovic became a pawn in an inter-Aussie dispute. So there has been some lost faith on the player side, and in the Grand Slam game, image is a cumulative thing. The Australian Open was once clearly the fourth of the four Grand Slam tournaments in prestige, prize money, facilities and player field (some of the game’s biggest stars routinely skipped the event in the 1970s and 1980s).
The Aussie Open has made quite a comeback and has done so, in part, by making life particularly pleasant for players and their teams. But Australia has been closer to hardship duty for the players of late, with the bush fire smoke during the tournament in 2020, the quarantines of 2021 and L’Affaire Djokovic in 2022.
That all adds up. The tournament is definitely bigger than one star player, even nine-time champion Djokovic, but its future prestige will depend on its continued ability to attract all the stars year in and year out.
Thanks, Chris!
Now here are our stories of the week.
Australian Government Buys Copyright to Indigenous Flag. The flag had been at the center of a dispute, but the move allows anyone to reproduce its design without seeking permission or paying a fee.
An Australian aid ship with a coronavirus outbreak docks in Tonga. Twenty-three people aboard the ship have tested positive for the virus, prompting concerns that it could spread to Tonga. The volcano-stricken island has reported only one case during the pandemic.
Rafael Nadal Prevails After Five Sets and Charge of Favoritism. Nadal beat Denis Shapovalov to reach the semifinals, then rejected his opponent’s complaints about unfairness, saying, “I think he’s wrong.”
How Australia’s Leader Lost Control of His Chinese Social Media Account. A Chinese electronics company said it had bought the WeChat account legitimately, but some Australian officials said it was hijacked, and urged a boycott.
Three Tiny Islands Have Borne the Brunt of Tonga’s Tsunami. The sparsely populated islets of Nomuka, Mango and Fonoifua were hit by waves almost 50 feet high, a Red Cross official said.
When Rules Aren’t Just Rules. What the Djokovic affair reveals about global border policing.
Tongan Man Swept Away by Tsunami Survived After 26 Hours Afloat. Lisala Folau, a retired carpenter, spent a night and day at sea after an undersea volcanic eruption sent waves crashing through his home on the island of Atata.
Heard, Felt but Barely Seen: How a Volcano Severed Tonga From the World. The disaster caused by the largest eruption in decades has been defined so far by the nation’s near-complete disconnection in an ever-connected age.
Naomi Osaka Is Out at Australian Open, but Looking Ahead. The unseeded American Amanda Anisimova eliminated the four-time Grand Slam champion, who expressed pride in her effort and said, “I can’t be sad about that.”
What the “Djokovic Affair” Revealed About Australia. On the surface, it looked like a controversy over athletes and vaccines. But for Australians, the decision to deport Novak Djokovic became about something different.
New Research Hints at 4 Factors That May Increase Chances of Long Covid. If further study confirms the findings, they could lead to ways to prevent and treat the complex condition.
Covid-Stunted Educations Dim Prospects for India’s Economy and Its Youth. A large proportion of working-age people, once seen as a demographic advantage, could turn into a burden if many of them are undereducated and underemployed.
Russia’s Military, Once Creaky, Is Modern and Lethal. A significantly upgraded military has emerged as a key tool of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, as he flexes his might around the globe and, most ominously, on the Ukraine border.
The Hot New Thing in Dating? Actually Going on Dates. Long, aimless conversations on apps have led fatigued singles back to the basics: meeting IRL.
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