Dear Ireland, a second coronavirus lockdown will be tough but be brave and go on

Dear Ireland,

I’m writing to you from Melbourne, Victoria, in week 15 of our second lockdown, just as you enter yours.

I think we need to talk about sourdough.

And Netflix. And maybe even golf courses — but more on them later.

With the first one: forget about it. The bakers of Ireland, essential workers all, will need your support. So don’t worry about that “Lockdown Mark I bread-making” obsession. It just doesn’t feel as comforting and charming the second time around.

Bugger it. Get it home delivered.

About Netflix. Yep — just like the first time, you’ll be watching a lot of it now that you’re going back into a second COVID lockdown. I’m afraid it’s mostly the same stuff, but you’ll know you’re starting to feel like your pandemic strategy is working and things are getting better when you ditch the comedy and turn to the documentaries.

Forget about becoming a lockdown sourdough baker: get it home delivered because the bakers of Ireland, essential workers all, will need your support.(Supplied: John Farnan)

This is going to get worse

As I write, this Australian state has recorded one new infection and no new deaths.

That’s right, just one new infection.

The day our premier told us we were shutting down again after the worldwide lockdown most of us went through in March, there were 191 new cases. One month after that, with curfews and even further restrictions looming, the number had grown to 732.

I’m sorry Ireland, but just like your mum might have told you when you came down with the measles — this is going to get worse before it gets better.

Our state has a population not too much greater than yours, but your infection rate is higher than ours ever went. Back in our dark days, with infections rising by the hundreds, it was hard to avoid a sense of panic — but panic at what? At the fear that a shutdown would kill off the very life of a city and state that we were trying so hard to save?

You view rectilinear windows with red borders across three storeys on a modernist public housing tower.
Back in our dark days, with infections rising by the hundreds, it was hard to avoid a sense of panic.(Supplied: Chris McLay)

Or was it panic that we could not get this thing back in the bottle? That when community spread is this wide, it’s too late?

When Victoria’s stage 4 lockdown started on July 8, with its ban on travelling no more than 5km from home, and limit to one essential shopping trip a day, the idea of achieving the Government’s target of less than an average of five daily cases seemed absurd.

Today, we are three days away from the original next step out of lockdown — and the 14-day average is 5.8. No, we can’t quite believe it either.

I wish you good luck

So, I write to wish you good luck with your lockdown. Our strategies are very similar. Although, unlike ours, your kids will keep going to school, and just getting them out the door each morning will make life so much easier and help maintain a sense of rhythm and normality that has been impossible for tens of thousands of families here.

You have a pandemic unemployment payment too — that’s good. Fight to keep it for as long as you can.

As for golf courses: do you also have those high-profile loudmouths who feel that being denied 18-holes twice a week is the greatest infringement on their personal liberties since Julian Assange was taken away? I can’t advise you on what to do about those people. I know one of them, and he has the kind of job and lifestyle that when we finally re-opened the courses here, he took a week off and played golf seven days straight. They’re just a different kind of human, they are.

Beyond that, I think you know how this goes. You have to try to find some pattern within the monotony and take joy from the clever way your community will create enchantment.

A local pub will become an absolute hero for its home-delivered meals and emergency beer. Chain letters from the neighbourhood kids will appear in your letterbox. High holidays and Holy days will be commemorated from your front door. And it will feel strangely intimate, and very beautiful.

Be brave. Go on

Dear Ireland, ancestral homeland of so many of us Australians: if I was to distil all this to postcard-size, I’d say — it’s worth it. The sacrifice is worth it.

No, we don’t really know what the full economic impact will be: we can’t see the bottom yet, but some of our best-regarded economists predict a “beautiful” recovery — they say we’ll fairly roar out of it as we head into Christmas.

But even if recovery is slower and harder than that — and like you, we will recover, we are that kind of people — know that you are doing the right thing. You closed down so that when you open up again, you’ll have as many of your fellow citizens with you as a humane and careful society can hope to have. Be brave. Go on.

St. Patrick's Day punters in Sydney
Ireland is the ancestral home of so many Australians.(AAP: Tracey Nearmy)

Back here, you can consider the US President’s weird email blitz or life on an all-meat diet. Hayley Gleeson’s excellent investigation of family violence by serving police officers, and this explainer by Matilda Marozzi, are the stories you cannot look away from.

Have a safe and happy weekend and let your microwave do the cooking tonight as we all settle in for an AFL grand final like no other — Saturday night football! A box of 24 frozen party pies should do it. Yes, I’m serious.

The reviews of Netflix’s remake of the Daphne du Maurier classic Rebecca are in — and I’m afraid they are not good.

This is devastating as it’s one of my touchstone books, and a novel I return to again and again. I recently sat down with author Tegan Bennett Daylight to discuss why I can’t shake this story.

If Rebecca — smart, beautiful, wilful and occasionally cruel — was a song I think she’d be this.


Go well.

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Coronavirus live news: Wales ‘firebreak’ lockdown begins; Spanish PM says cases closer to 3m | World news







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Appeal for information after child approach – Medowie – 16 News

Police are appealing for information after reports of a child approach in the Hunter region yesterday.

About 5.40pm (Thursday 23 October 2020), a seven-year-old boy was walking in Willow Close, Medowie, when a man riding an orange and black motorbike pulled up beside him.

Police have been told the male rider asked the boy to get on the bike. He refused and walked away. The man then conducted a U-turn and drove out of Willow Close in an unknown direction.

The incident was reported to officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District who commenced an investigation.

As inquiries continue, police would like to speak to a man who may be able to assist with their inquiries.

The man is only described as having greyish coloured hair and wearing a khaki-coloured back-pack.

Police are appealing to anyone who might have been in the Medowie area yesterday and either saw the motorbike or has dash-cam footage, to come forward.

Inquiries are continuing.

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Brisbane weather: Fraser Island fire, northerly winds causing strong smoke haze

A bushfire on Fraser Island and winds from the north are the reasons why suburbs across Brisbane are blanketed with smoke this morning.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said while there were standard hazard reductions taking place, there were no active bushfires or big burns in the immediate Brisbane area.

The spokesperson said calls had been coming in since 1am about the strong smell of smoke across the city.

A ‘stay informed’ notice was issued by the QFES yesterday about the Fraser Island fire, which was burning along the Wathumba track and to the west of Orchid Beach township.

People in the area were warned they would be affected by smoke, with reduced visibility and air quality.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Shane Kennedy said reasonable northerly winds were the reason people in Brisbane were now waking to the smell of smoke.

He said heavy conditions could be helping to cap the smoke in over the city, but that showers forecast for today could help clear the air.

He said rain was unlikely to cause major disruption to tonight’s AFL Grand Final, with falls of 1 to 6mm expected.

Mr Kennedy said there was a greater chance for showers and storms on the Darling Downs and further inland, with the chance of 10-30mm of rain, with isolated falls of 60mm.

Originally published as Why it smells like smoke across Brisbane

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Finns spent more time talking on the phone during the first half of the year than in years

The 4G mobile network’s 100 Mbps service coverage extended to 18% of Finland’s land area by the end of June 2020. As such, coverage had increased by two percentage points in the last six months. In ideal conditions, download speeds of 100 Mbps were available to slightly over 93% of all households. In contrast, no significant changes occurred in 30 Mbps and 300 Mbps service coverage during the first six months of the year.* 

100 Mbps mobile service coverage extended to 57% of Finnish main roads and highways, with the total coverage of all road classes being 41%. Rail network coverage was 58%. 

The speed-category-specific coverages of the mobile network represent availability in ideal conditions. They do not account for network congestion or structural and geographical obstacles.

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Brodie Morgan dead, suicide, equestrian, inquest, hanging, horse riding

A promising 16-year-old equestrian from Wales who had the “world at her feet” killed herself near her stable after a minor spat with her mother about riding too fast on her pony, according to an inquest.

Brodie Morgan, who also was upset by the deaths of her grandfather and a close pal, took her life in March after her mother, Emma Webb, told her to slow down in the saddle, the Telegraph reported.

“Brodie was her usual happy self when I told her she was galloping too fast. I said she wouldn’t go to a show at the weekend if she didn’t slow down,” Morgan told the coroner at the inquest in Gwent.

But the teen, who had been featured in Horse and Hound magazine, told her mom it would be the last time she went riding on her pony, Archie.

After finding the pony still saddled up in the stable later, Webb notified police about her missing daughter, her only child.

Family friend Jemma Ellison told the hearing that she found Brodie near the stables in Llantrisant, according to Wales Online. She flagged down two truck drivers who tried CPR, but the girl was declared dead shortly afterwards.

The inquest heard that Brodie, who also had a falling out with friends, sent out a message on Snapchat saying, “I love you all so much. I want you all to know how much you mean to me.”

The teen, who was described as a “happy and bubbly” student at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School in Newport, had been having some problems with her friends.

“One girl said they no longer wanted to be friends — there was no malice. They were having issues, I told Mrs. Webb I would keep an eye on Brodie,” teacher Laura Floodwater told the hearing in a statement.

Naomi Rees, the assistant coroner, said: “While riding her beloved horse she had words with her mother, nothing more than a lot of close relationships encounter.

“Brodie’s death is a tragic end to a short life which was full of promise, whatever she had chosen to do I’m sure she would have succeeded,” Rees added.

“It is clear from her mother’s statement the joy and pride she felt in her daughter. The tragedy is that she had the world at her feet, horses and ponies were her passion and would have been throughout her life.”

– New York Post

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Footy in Queensland reaping the benefits of a season as the AFL’s home

The sight of hundreds of schoolchildren in the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens would not normally be cause for celebration.

After all, it is a beautifully landscaped garden setting with plenty of open space ideal for children to run around in.

But for the AFL, the yelling, screaming and laughing mass was evidence of just how far Australian football has come in its northern outpost.

As part of AFL grand final week, the Botanic Gardens has hosted a Footy Festival site featuring multiple Auskick clinics.

The Festival runs for three days and registration numbers have been so strong, three more clinics have been added to meet demand on Saturday.

It only gets better for Australian football.

AFL Queensland (AFLQ) has reported participants at Auskick centres across the state are up 10-15 per cent, and that is with a significant number of the more than 900 centres unable to operate in the early part of the season because of COVID restrictions.

The growth in junior numbers has defied the bleak outlook when the coronavirus pandemic first hit in early autumn.

AFLQ kids from Alexandra Hills Bombers and Morningside Panthers chase the ball.(Highflyer Images: Deion Menzies)

“We now have 13,000 juniors, and that’s the biggest competition in the country,” AFLQ state manager of game development Mark Ensor said.

“And across the state we’re up 3 per cent on female numbers.”

He cited two contributing factors to the overall rise in playing stocks.

Firstly, the success of the Brisbane Lions in 2020 — the Lions only dropped out of the premiership race with a preliminary final loss to Geelong.

Secondly, of course, was the COVID-enforced relocation of Victorian clubs to the Sunshine State.

A back view of a modern flood light at a sports stadium on a dark night.
The Gabba will host the 2020 AFL grand final.(ABC News: Christopher Gillette)

“Playing 140-odd AFL matches in Queensland has made us incredibly happy with the year,” Ensor said.

“We’re expecting a 7-10 per cent increase in participation next year if we don’t have any COVID problems.”

Female participation on the up

Former SANFL player David Sanders has witnessed the game’s growth in Queensland from close quarters.

Sanders, who played 305 SANFL games for North Adelaide, has lived in Brisbane for 25 years and his son Van,13, plays for Wilston-Grange.

“As a parent, it’s hard to quantify the increase given it’s been such a different year with COVID,” Sanders said.

The Gorillas are a small club in an inner suburb but have about 400 junior players, around 25 per cent of whom are female.

“There’s no doubt the AFL being largely resident in Queensland has increased the interest for kids,” Sanders observed.

“One thing the AFL has done is show a lot of parents what the game is about and get them thinking it’s not bad for kids.”

A junior Aussie rules player gets a kick off as another player gives chase in the rain.
A Morningside Panthers junior Aussie rules player kicks a ball while being chased by an Alexandra Hills Bombers kid.(Highflyer Images: Deion Menzies)

Television ratings firmly indicate the attraction of the game with free-to-air numbers up 25 per cent this year.

Despite finishing outside the top eight, the Gold Coast Suns television audience grew 84 per cent and club membership jumped 16 per cent.

Matthew Argus, the football operations coordinator for the Aspley Hornets, a club on the northside of Brisbane, said his AFL 9s program was a good indicator of how the sport has grown.

AFL 9s is a non-contact hybrid version of the sport, similar to the relationship between touch football and rugby league.

“We’ve gone from 12 teams to 18 signed up to play across the summer and the openings filled up within a week of registrations being opened,” Argus said.

Women’s football is also on the move, aided by the establishment of the AFLW competition as well as the presence of so many AFL clubs in the south-east corner of the state across the past few months.

“The growth in girls playing juniors has been excellent in the last three or four years and now girls make up 25 per cent of our players,” Argus said.

A young Brisbane Lions fan waves a flag as he smiles in the stands at the Gabba next to two adults.
Brisbane has been treated to more AFL footy this year than ever.(AAP: Darren England)

He said he was confident the club’s presence in schools would grow once the coronavirus crisis ended.

“It would’ve been great if you could have the AFL here and you could go helter-skelter with schoolkids,” he said.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, who championed the establishment of the AFL and has been an important part of driving the competition’s expansion north of the Murray River, was clearly happy to talk about the progression of the code in Queensland when he launched grand final week.

“I’m not saying we’re the number one sport now in Queensland but it’s certainly nice to be in the conversation,” McLachlan commented with a smile.

When the AFL caravan closes down after the grand final and moves back to Melbourne, it will leave a legacy and it is increasingly likely it will be a large and growing one.

No wonder it is celebrating.

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An AFL boundary umpire’s tale of life in a hub, grand final nerves and a footy year like no other

My partner and I left Melbourne early in the morning of the first Monday in July.

It felt a bit like a mystery flight because it was only a short time before we left that we actually knew where we were going.

We were off for what I thought was going to be a few weeks of umpiring AFL footy in one of the interstate hubs before matches would return to Melbourne.

Now 111 days, 25 coronavirus tests, six hotels and 1,000 kilometres of running later, I’m almost ready to head home.

But not before one last mission — today’s grand final.

It’s been an extraordinary journey of ups and downs as I played my small part in trying to keep this game loved by so many Australians going.

Charter flights, COVID tests and round and round ovals

Myself and my partner were both “working from home” in the various hotels we stayed in.(Supplied)

My first task back in early July was trying to organise “working from home” from an interstate hotel at very short notice.

My daytime job is as a journalist in the ABC’s Asia Pacific Newsroom and, fortunately enough, my boss was very accommodating.

One of the early bizarre experiences came as we boarded the charter flight from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport.

Instead of going through the main part of the airport, we waited with hundreds of other AFL players, umpires and staff at a private terminal before wandering straight across the tarmac and onto the plane.

In these COVID times, there’s no food on planes and people are spread out as much as possible.

We checked into our first hotel in Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast with dozens of other umpires and their families.

With us all sharing the same floor in the hotel and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together, it was very quickly starting to feel like Year 8 camp with all your mates.

There was no leaving the grounds of the hotel under the strict 14-day quarantine rules.

As a boundary umpire, a high level of running fitness is key to the job.

But with limited space, it meant endless laps of the hotel oval.

My boundary colleague Michael Marantelli — who is also umpiring the grand final today — set the record with 21.1 continuous kilometres around the oval during one of his runs.

After one week in quarantine, my first match day had finally arrived.

I was preparing for a Saturday afternoon game at the Gold Coast stadium between Fremantle and St Kilda.

But just before leaving for the match, my spot was suddenly in doubt — the result of my COVID test hadn’t arrived and under no circumstances was any player or official involved in matches allowed to participate without recording a negative result in the lead-up.

Some good work by our hub manager meant he was able to get onto the lab and confirm the result was negative.

AFL umpire Ian Burrows getting a coronavirus test.
The last of about 25 coronavirus tests I had across the 2020 season.(Supplied)

COVID tests had become one of the defining features of season 2020.

We were tested before every match and, if lucky enough, sometimes even a couple of times a week.

By my count, I’d racked up about 25 tests over the last few months — some less enjoyable than others.

The occasional one drew some blood, while my favourites were with one particular guy who was quick and would say “now just a short one up the nostril”.

Often there would be a little bit of jostling in the lines to try and position yourself to get one of the “friendly” testers.

A few weeks turns to a few months

Ian Burrows and partner Sofie.
The 2020 season has been like no other, requiring us to spend much of it in hotels as part of AFL “hubs”.(Supplied)

After one week at Southport, logistical reasons meant it was time to move onto another hotel just down the road.

As with the previous hotel, we shared our accommodation with a couple of footy clubs and families and partners of players and officials.

With coronavirus cases in Melbourne continuing to soar, people gathered around TVs on Wednesday that week as AFL boss Gillon McLachlan announced there would be no more footy in Melbourne for the foreseeable future.

Suddenly, what I thought was going to be a few weeks away was looking more like a few months.

By the start of the next week, we’d arrived at our third hotel, this time in Broadbeach, where we would be pretty settled for the next few months.

Hub life meant limiting your interaction with the public, no sitting down in cafes, restaurants or the like, always social distancing and following strict rules on which umpire colleagues you could hang out with.

In fact, the AFL’s hub rule book ran 17 pages long. And for good reason.

A lot had gone into working with governments and other stakeholders to make sure the season could continue safely.

While being away from home for such a long time and following such tight rules wasn’t always easy, we were fully aware of the hard times so many other Australians were going through, particularly those in Melbourne.

But if we could help keep footy on TV and in the stadiums for the fans, we were happy.

Three matches in just over a week, and a snake encounter

Boundary umpire Ian Burrows, left, is presented with the match ball by umpire Brett Rosebury.
Before moving to Queensland I was presented with the match ball after my 300th AFL game earlier this year — one of the last games in Melbourne for the season.(Supplied)

The next three months of hub life, like 2020 in general, were full of twists and turns and unexpected moments.

Never before had I umpired three matches in just over a week but that’s what came with the “footy frenzy” periods of the season where games were played every day.

Training in this COVID world was a whole different story as well.

No more big group sessions on the track and meetings in theatrettes, but instead running by yourself and coaching over Zoom.

There was one running session I did along a gravel path in a bushy area near Surfers Paradise that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Moving along at just over 3-minute-kilometre pace, I was puffing hard and keeping a close eye on my watch.

Turns out I should have been keeping an even closer eye on the path, because I was centimetres away from stomping on a snake.

I noticed it at the very last second, as it did me. I jumped and it jumped.

Luckily we both escaped unscathed — other than a soaring heart rate that I struggled to bring back down.

A night grand final, outside Victoria

By mid-October, I’d umpired all 18 home and away rounds, with trips to Adelaide and Cairns in between, and three finals.

But the most nervous wait of all was still to come.

The last Sunday before grand final day is always an anxious day for umpires — we’re waiting to find out who has been selected for the biggest match of all.

As soon as I saw the coach’s name pop up on my phone late in the afternoon, my heart rate was again going through the roof.

And as soon as I answered I was immediately listening for hints in his voice of good or bad news to come.

Fortunately for me, it was good news this time.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in a few epic grand finals before, including the 2010 draw.

But never has the finale been played outside of Victoria. And never before at night.

This one is going to be special. And I reckon it might just be another classic.

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Hydrogen tech specialist ITM Power raises £165m with share issue and European buy-in

The technology partner behind Gigastack, the Humber’s pioneering green hydrogen project, has raised £165 million in a major share issue and company buy-in.

ITM Power placed more than 55 million shares at 235p, while Italian gas pipeline specialist Snam has also taken a £30 million minority holding.

To meet investor demand the issue was increased by £15 million, with a further open offer to be made with an additional £7 million eyed.

ITM said the funds will be used to “further accelerate the maximisation of manufacturing capacity” and to invest in the group’s operational capabilities. It is in the process of launching a huge new manufacturing facility in Sheffield as it scales up electrolyser capability to 100MW, with a vision for 1GW production capacity by 2024.

It comes less than 24 hours after Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, told of strong demand for green investment.

Dr Graham Cooley, chief executive, said: “The growth of global markets for green hydrogen is accelerating fast. As a result of this successful fundraise, ITM Power is well positioned to build on its existing leadership and capitalise on this rapidly developing market. We are delighted with the results of the fundraise and thank our existing shareholders for their support and welcome our new investors.”

ITM Power’s new factory in Sheffield.

The South Yorkshire team is working with Danish offshore wind giant Orsted and US oil giant Phillips 66 to bring forward green hydrogen fuel switching at the Humber Refinery.

The government-backed scheme will tap into the power brought ashore close by from  Hornsea Two – set to take the title as the world’s largest offshore wind farm when it is built.  The issue came just minutes before Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng referenced Gigastack in a major Humber summit address.

It is anticipated the shares will be admitted to the London Stock Exhange on November 12, with Investec Bank acting as sole bookrunner.

On the deal, Snam chief executive Marco Alverà, said: “The agreement with one of the main global producers of electrolysers is Snam’s first external investment in the hydrogen sector and stands alongside those we are already advancing to make our infrastructure ready for the transport of this new clean energy carrier.

“The partnership with ITM Power allows us to build on our know-how in technologies for the production of green hydrogen in a way that is functional to business development and to become a player along the value chain.

“We want to develop new projects and contribute to enabling the supply chain, both internationally and in particular in Italy, which has the opportunity to become a green hydrogen hub between Europe and North Africa.

“Our goal is to help establish hydrogen and renewable gases, together with renewable electricity, as decisive solutions to achieve the international climate neutrality goals.”

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Polls show President Trump won debate against Biden

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 8:22 AM PT – Friday, October 23, 2020

Following Thursday’s final presidential debate, President Trump shared multiple polls on Twitter that showed as much as 96 percent of participants claimed he won.

Experts have said the President’s performance was measured, controlled and on message. In the meantime, analysts noted Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden often struggled to present coherent ideas and made several gaffes throughout the 96 minute event.

Election experts have predicted President Trump’s performance could have even been good enough to win over undecided voters.

The two candidates went head-to-head in Nashville, Tenn. and debated on a number of issues currently pressing the American people. The President opened up the debate and touted his administration’s response to the coronavirus. He highlighted the great strides American companies have made to bring a swift end to the pandemic.

“We have a vaccine that’s coming, it’s ready, it’s going to be announced within weeks and it’s going to be delivered,” said President Trump. “We have Operation Warp Speed.”

When he spoke about healthcare, Biden said he would replace the ‘Affordable Care Act’ with his own personal plan and argued his policy would drive insurance competition. President Trump pushed back against his opponent’s idea and noted his healthcare plan is a political ploy to attempt to bring socialism to the U.S.

“When he talks about a public option he’s talking about destroying medicare… and destroying your social security,” the President noted. “And this whole country will come down.” Additionally, President Trump slammed Biden for being a puppet for “the left” and warned voters that his opponent wants to close up the country. The President added that this threatens to destroy the national economy.

“We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does,” said the President. “We can’t close up our nation…or you’re not going to have a nation.”

Throughout the debate, President Trump hammered down on the Biden family and accused his opponent of accepting bribes from foreign entities. He stated that the Democrat owes an explanation to the American people in regard to the Hunter Biden email scandal.

The President wrapped up by reminding voters that he originally ran for president back in 2016 in order to fix “America from the control of the radical left.”

“You know, Joe, I ran because of you,” the President stated. “Because you did a poor job. If I thought you did a good job, I would have never run.”

MORE NEWS: Senate Panel Advances Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett


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