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What we know today, Thursday August 27


Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. Follow this post for live updates through the day.

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Victoria records another 23 virus deaths, 113 new cases

A further 23 deaths and 113 new cases have been recorded as Victoria’s mixed coronavirus news continues.

The latest fatalities take the state toll to 485 and the national figure to 572.

It’s also the third-highest daily toll for Australia after Wednesday’s 24 and the record 25 on August 5.

But the new cases are the lowest since 74 on July 5, also the last time that number was below 100.

This morning’s figures come after a daily protest in Melbourne’s outer southeast was been broken up as again rebelled against the city’s strict COVID-19 lockdown rules.

While Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews vies for a 12-month extension to state of emergency powers, online vision showed hundreds of people walking through Dandenong streets on Wednesday afternoon.

Officers dispersed the large crowds and at least one man was arrested.

The recurring protest has been taking place at Dandenong’s George Andrews Reserve each afternoon in a blatant breach of health directions, Victoria Police confirmed.

Andrews is being dragged to the negotiating table over a proposed extension to Victoria’s state of emergency legislation, allowing the retention of ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

He is pushing to extend the legislation for 12 months, but without the support of the state opposition, may have to compromise to satisfy at least four crossbench MPs who have said they only want a six-month deal.

The pandemic sparked a state of emergency declaration on March 16. It is due to expire on September 13 after a maximum six extensions.

Andrews stressed the proposed extension did not mean stage four restrictions would be in place for another year and rules would only remain “for so long as it is necessary”.

The political haggling came as Victoria suffered a sharp rise in coronavirus deaths with 24 new fatalities yesterday, taking the state toll to 462 and national figure to 549.

It was just shy of Australia’s worst daily figure of 25 on August 17.

Victoria registered 149 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, its third straight day of infections below 150.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 in South Australia today. There have been a total of 463 cases reported in SA with three still active.

Nine posts $575m loss

Nine Entertainment has reported a more than half a billion annual net loss after a challenging year when advertising earnings slumped and the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

The bottom line net loss of $574.9 million for 2019/20, compared to a profit of $233.9 million in the previous year.

This followed revenue of $2.2 billion which was down seven per cent on a continuing operations basis.

Nine, which operates Nine Network, streaming service Stan and capital city mastheads The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review, blamed the loss on impairment charges and goodwill writedowns totalling $655 million.

Most of that was due to writedowns on its investment in real estate digital platform Domain and metro free-to-air television operation.

Christchurch terrorist handed NZ’s first true life sentence

Christchurch mosques terrorist Brenton Tarrant has been sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole.

In a New Zealand legal first, the Australian man has been denied the possibility of ever seeking or gaining his freedom after killing 51 people in last year’s attack.

For three days at this week’s sentencing, Tarrant sat unmoved as a procession of his victims – 91 in all – made powerful and emotionally-charged statements of their loss.

This morning, his gaze was fixed on the Crown solicitors who argued for a life sentencing without parole, and Justice Cameron Mander, who agreed to lock him up and to throw away the key.

“If not here, then when?” Justice Mander asked.

“It is difficult to look past the wickedness of each murder … however, you are not only a murderer but a terrorist.”

As victims in the public gallery sobbed, Justice Mander took the time to make a verbal tribute to every murdered and wounded person in his sentence.

One widow described herself as “alive but not living”.

“Accountability, denouncement, deterrence, and protection of the community must be the court’s focus,” Justice Mander said.

“No matter how appalling the crime, the potential for rehabilitation must always give a court pause …  but I remain unmoved.”

Tarrant, 29, was sentenced to life without parole on each of the 51 counts of murder, for 12 years on each of the 40 attempted murder counts, to be served concurrently, and another life sentence for terrorism.

Adelaide Uni promises reform after shocking Rathjen finding

The University of Adelaide has vowed to improve its processes and culture after its former Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen was found guilty of serious misconduct towards two female staff members.

ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander issued a public statement yesterday afternoon following a three-month investigation into allegations of improper conduct by Rathjen, who resigned from the university in July citing “ill health”.

According to Lander, Rathjen engaged in conduct that was “entirely inappropriate” and treated the two unnamed female staff members with “egregious disrespect” by deliberately hugging and touching them in a sexual manner after a university function on April 11 last year.

In a statement issued by the university last night, new University of Adelaide Chancellor Catherine Branson said the university accepted and would adopt recommendations made by ICAC to improve its processes.

“We are already applying what we have learned to ensure that the university becomes a stronger, safer and more respectful place to work and study. We will use this very high-profile example to reinforce what is acceptable and what is not,” Branson said in the statement.

“We are committed to maintaining and strengthening a culture and environment which allows students and staff to thrive, an environment in which individuals feel respected, safe, valued and welcome.”

Branson said Rathjen’s behaviour should not be tolerated in a university, another workplace, or in the community.

“We are particularly distressed by and apologise for the impact that the former Vice-Chancellor’s behaviour has had on others.

“We acknowledge that it has reflected badly on our university.”

Lander described the behaviour as “unwanted and unwelcome” by the two women – named “Ms A” and “Ms B” in the statement – who claim their health has since been affected by the investigation.

During the function, Rathjen was found to have:

Lander said Rathjen’s conduct amounted to a clear breach of the university’s code of conduct and amounted to serious misconduct.

Rathjen did not answer calls yesterday but apologised to the two women in a statement sent via his lawyer Nick Iles.

“I deeply regret the distress and embarrassment that I caused two female staff members after a University function in Sydney in April 2019,” his statement reads.

“I also deeply regret the fact that, through no fault of their own, they became embroiled in a very public inquiry which they did not seek and did not wish to participate in.

“I apologise to both of them.

“There was no need for this investigation.”

He said the “fact is that the University knew about, investigated and dealt with the matter in May 2019”.

Fatal Anzac Highway crash

A man has died after the car he was driving slammed into a tree at Novar Gardens last night.

The black Ford XR6 sedan had crashed into a tree on the corner of Anzac Highway and Ferguson Street at Novar Gardens just before 6.30pm last night.

The driver, a 27-year-old man from Fulham Gardens, was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in a critical condition but later died from his injuries.

The passenger, a 29-year-old man from Underdale, was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

Anzac Highway was closed for several hours for eastbound traffic from Brighton Road but has since reopened.

Tributes for football champion and disability advocate Neil Sachse

Former South Australian footballer and disability advocate Neil Sachse has died, more than 45 years after an on-field injury while playing for Footscray in the VFL left him a quadriplegic.

SAHMRI director Professor Steve Wesselingh said Sachse died peacefully on Tuesday aged 69.

“Neil was a larger-than-life personality who many of us knew and loved,” Prof Wesselingh said.

“We’ve all seen and marvelled at his work ethic and determination to have a positive impact for society generally but in particular those who are living with spinal cord injury.”

During his football career, Sachse played for North Adelaide in the 1970s, before moving to Victoria where, in the second round of the 1975 VFL season, he was involved in an on-field collision with another player.

After his injury, Sachse established a foundation to advance spinal cord research which joined SAHMRI in 2017.

Since 1994, the Neil Sachse Centre has raised more than $8 million for spinal cord research and its current director Sarah Boucaut said he would be dearly missed.

“We are poorer for his loss, but spinal cord injury research is so much richer for what Neil has been able to achieve and his legacy continues,” she said.

US orders evacuations as Hurricane Laura looms

More than 500,000 people are under evacuation orders in parts of Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Laura tracks towards the US Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Laura is forecast to “rapidly strengthen” in the coming hours to reach an extremely dangerous category 4 level before making landfall and bringing ferocious winds.

The National Hurricane Center said Laura will cause an “unsurvivable storm surge and destructive waves” bringing “catastrophic damage” to more than 200 kilometres of coast from eastern Texas to central Louisiana

The surge of water, with some waves reaching over 4 metres, has the potential to penetrate nearly 50 kilometres in the coastal flatlands, causing major damage to urban areas.

“These numbers are unimaginable, to think that there will be a wall of water over two storeys high coming on shore, is very difficult for most to conceive,” Benjamin Schott, the chief meteorologist for New Orleans, Louisiana, said during a press conference overnight.

The mayor of Louisianna city Lake Charles Nic Hunter said a last-ditch effort was being made to get people out of his town ahead of the storm front.

“We are very concerned that not enough people are evacuating,” Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles, a city in Louisiana, told public radio on Wednesday.

Two shot dead on third night of Wisconsin protests

A third night of street protests over the police shooting of a black man has erupted into gun violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two people and wounding one, police say.

Social media videos showed chaotic scenes of people running and screaming amid a volley of gunfire and others tending to gunshot wounds.

The bloodshed followed a night of skirmishes that had appeared to turn calm, settling down after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who defied a curfew.

The shooting that broke out shortly before midnight killed two people and wounded a third who was expected to survive, the Kenosha Police Department said in a statement.

Crowds chased a man running down the street with a rifle after they believed he had shot another man. One pursuer took a flying kick at him after he fell to the ground, and another tried to grab his weapon. He appeared to be shot at close range and fell to the ground.

Another video showed a man who appeared to be shot in the head as people nearby tried to treat him, and another showed a man with a severe arm wound.

A teenager has been arrested and charged with murder.

Kenosha has been rocked by protests since Sunday, when police shot Jacob Blake in the back at close range as he walked away from two officers and opened his car door, according to a bystander video that went viral. Three of his young sons were in the car, witnesses said.

Blake, 29, was hit by four of the seven shots fired and left paralysed and “fighting for his life,” his family and lawyers said on Tuesday, hours before the latest round of civil unrest broke out in the lakefront town between Milwaukee and Chicago

India becomes world’s biggest virus hot spot

India has overtaken the United States and Brazil to become the world’s biggest hot spot for new COVID-19 cases, adding more than 1.5 million new infections so far in August.

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people reported more than 67,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising the country’s number of reported infections to 3.2 million with 1.5 million reported infections coming this month alone.

The Health Ministry yesterday reported 1059 deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking total fatalities from the pandemic to 59,449.

India has been recording more than 60,000 new infections per day for the last two weeks, reaching a peak of 69,652 cases on August 19.

As cases in the sub-continent continue to rise, the weekly average for daily cases in the United States have dropped from more than 60,000 new infections to just over 40,000 since the start of August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The US – with a death toll that is approaching 180,000 people – still leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases at nearly 5.8 million.

Meanwhile, European Union countries have detected a rise in cases, with France, Italy and Germany all reporting their highest case totals in months and Spain battling a widespread outbreak.

More than 23.98 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 819,684​ have died.

Tszyu ready to take on world after downing Horn

Tim Tszyu has emerged from his father’s shadow and, confident he can challenge for a world title, now wants to do something even Kostya never managed by fighting in Russia.

The 25-year-old was emphatic in stopping former world champion Jeff Horn after eight rounds at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Wednesday night.

He soaked up the arena’s atmosphere, matched Horn’s power and countering it with superior fitness, speed and precision in a classy, comprehensive victory that answered all the pre-fight queries about his readiness to step up.

His 16th straight win was one co-promoter Matt Rose dubbed the arrival of the “new face of Australian boxing”, Tszyu stressing that it wasn’t his surname that had earned him the victory.

“People will always compare me to my dad, and what he did was truly out of this world,” Tszyu said.

“He was an undisputed world champion for 10 years; for someone to do that is beyond crazy.

“I will always float around as the son of Kostya, but I wanted to say this is Tim Tszyu who beat Jeff Horn and it wasn’t the son, it wasn’t because of my last name.

Horn, 32, is a former world champion in his own right but is considering retirement after being knocked down in the third and sixth rounds.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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