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What we know today, Thursday October 29


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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SA records one new virus case

SA Health has reported one new COVID-19 case: a woman in her 20s who recently returned from overseas.

She has been in hotel quarantine since her arrival and SA Health says there is no public health risk.

There are now 10 active cases in SA, with the new figures bringing the state’s overall COVID-19 case tally to 496.

Fire Danger Season dates announced for 2019/2020

The Country Fire Service has announced the Fire Danger Season dates for all but three of South Australia’s fire districts.

Fire Danger Season will commence this Sunday in the Eastern Eyre Peninsula, North East and West Pastoral districts, Flinders, and West Coast, while the Lower Eyre Peninsula, Mid North, Murraylands, Riverland, Upper South East and Yorke Peninsula will begin two weeks later on November 15.

The dates for Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Mount Lofty Rangers are yet to be released and will be announced soon.

Fire Danger Season makes fire restrictions legally enforceable in the districts where they are in place.

CFS Chief Officer Mark Jones said the recent rainfall has allowed restrictions to begin on a more traditional timeline compared to last year.

“A milder start to the season than in previous years means we will see the commencement of the Fire Danger Season for many areas at a time that residents were traditionally more used to,” Jones said.

“With no need for the starts to be brought in early, as in previous years, there should be no surprises for residents in these districts who have been preparing their properties.”

Driver involved in crash that killed sister of Socceroo avoids jail

A young street-racing learner driver has avoided an immediate jail term over an Adelaide road crash that killed the sister of Socceroos player Awer Mabil.

In the South Australian District Court on Thursday, Alakiir Kelei Deng was jailed for more than three years after pleading guilty to one aggravated count of causing death by dangerous driving. But Judge Michael Boylan suspended the sentence, placing the 20-year-old on a good behaviour bond.

The charge related to a crash on Australia Day last year which killed Bor Mabil.

She was a passenger in the car driven by Akol Akol which rolled during the race.

Akol, who was drunk and on drugs, has already been jailed on the same charge.

Deng was driving a second car, which did not crash, but Judge Boylan described her actions as “utterly selfish”.

He said she was among a group of people at a party who decided to head to a nearby park.

“You sped off down the road and Mr Akol followed you driving at high speed. He drove up behind you flashing his lights,” Judge Boylan said.

“You could have pulled over to let him pass but you accelerated and the race began.”

Soon after Akol’s car hit a kerb on a bend and rolled, sliding down the road, hitting a power pole and a tree.

Ms Mabil was not wearing a seatbelt and died from her injuries.

Cricket Australia announces $46 million deficit

Cricket Australia has posted a $45.9 million deficit in the last financial year while warning of more challenges to come.

The massive financial hit in the year ended June 30 comes despite CA axing 40 jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But CA’s board says the deficit was projected on a four-year cycle which relies heavily on money generated from international tours.

Only lower-profile New Zealand and Pakistan toured Australia in the financial year.

CA director Paul Green, who is chairman of the organisation’s risk and audit committee, says the deficit is “in line with our budget and the broader long-range plan for Cricket Australia”.

“I would remind you all that the financial results of Cricket Australia are subject to fluctuations over each four-year touring cycle, depending on the touring teams that visit each year and their respective commercial values,” Green told CA’s annual general meeting today.

“The FY20 year was always expect ed to be the low year in the current cycle for Australian cricket.

” … however while these results are in line with our expectations, I think you all will appreciate that there is a bit more to the story for FY20.

“As we came toward the back end of the cricket season, the potential ramifications of COVID began to manifest themselves.”

Green said COVID-19 had a direct impact on some revenue streams while warning of “the prospect of some more severe implications to come”.

“In some respects we were fortunate with the timing of the onset of COVD in regard to our FY20 results but that has not diminished the longer term implications for cricket,” he said.

“Not withstanding the FY20 financial results, we are clearly facing a range of challenges.”

SA Liberals slam federal colleague in open letter

SA Attorney General Vickie Chapman and moderate faction colleague Michelle Lensink have blasted Federal Liberal Senator Alex Antic in an open letter posted to Facebook last night.

The attack comes after the national senator wrote to all state Liberal MPs and MLCs asking them to vote against a newly proposed abortion law because “the Liberal Party which I know would reject the bill”.

“We are not the party of the radical left,” Antic’s letter read.

“Like many of our members, I am shocked to think that any Liberal Member of Parliament would endorsed a Bill which offends such basic principles of our Party’s ethos.”

In response, the two state legislators accused Antic of not understanding the history of the Liberal Party.

“You write of ‘the Liberal Party [you] know’ – it is unfortunate as a Liberal Party representative that you do not know the Party’s history and further that you believe the membership to be comprised solely of view that align with your own,” the letter read.

The response went on to list a series of Liberal Party achievements on same-sex relations and abortion, and then mocked Antic’s status as a junior party member.

“I congratulate you on receiving press attention. I concede it must be difficult as the junior member of the federal team,” it read.

“Next time – just for something different – perhaps it can be for something other than baselessly attacking Liberal Party women in the State Parliament.”

The newly proposed law, introduced to the upper house by Lensink, decriminalises abortion and allows it to be performed by one medical practitioner up until 22 weeks and six days gestation.

After that period, a medical practitioner can only perform an abortion if they consult with another practitioner and if both are of the view that the procedure is medically appropriate.

Premier Steven Marshall said the bill is “a conscience issue in the Liberal Party” and he is not too concerned about how that debate plays out.

“Look I’m not too fussed about that to be quite honest with you,” Marshall told reporters at a press conference this morning.

“It is an emotive issue, but it is also an important area, and it’s an area I think which I think is ripe for reform.”

Five new COVID-19 cases in NSW

NSW Health has reported five new cases of COVID-19, four of which are locally acquired.

The source of the four new local cases – who are all household or close contacts of each other – is unknown and currently being investigated by contact tracers.

Two of the new cases attended the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Hoxton Park, which will now be closed for deep cleaning.

The new figures bring the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 4222.

Three new COViD-19 cases in Victoria as hotel inquiry delayed

Victoria has recorded three new COVID-19 cases and no deaths overnight, as the state embarks on day two of its reopening.

The new cases bring Victoria’s total number of cases to 20,434, with 83 considered active.

Meanwhile, the Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry report – which was scheduled to be delivered on November 6 – has been delayed after extra material was submitted to the board after the September 28 submissions deadline.

An interim report will still be delivered on the originally scheduled date with recommendations for a quarantine program, while the full report detailing the “actions of, and communications between, relevant agencies in establishing the initial hotel quarantine program” will be delivered on December 21.

The inquiry was set up by Victorian Premier Dan Andrews on July 2 to examine the policies, protocols and procedures of the hotel quarantine program – the source of the state’s second wave.

Violent protests force Philadelphia into lockdown

Philadelphia has imposed a city-wide curfew to try to prevent a third night of looting and violence amid widespread protests over the police killing of a black man.

The lockdown will start at 9pm on Wednesday and run until 6am on Thursday, mayor Jim Kenney and other officials told a briefing.

Tension has gripped Philadelphia since Monday’s deadly police shooting of Walter Wallace, 27, who was armed with a knife and described by relatives as suffering a mental breakdown.

Police have made 172 arrests and 53 officers have been injured in two nights of protests marked by significant looting of big-box stores and other businesses, some still recovering from earlier unrest.

The violence erupted despite the pleading of the dead man’s father, Walter Wallace Sr, who on Tuesday urged people to “stop the violence” out of respect for his son and family.

City officials said as many as 1000 people were involved in looting in one corner of the city on Tuesday night, catching police off guard.

“These individuals are doing nothing but simply wasting our precious resources,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said, lamenting what she described as “widespread lawlessness” in Pennsylvania’s biggest city.

The unrest has turned Philadelphia into the latest flashpoint in the United States on issues of race and police use of force just days ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election.

Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term in office, has made policing a top campaign issue, calling for a tough “law and order” stance on the protests.

Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state in the race between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who has said he supports police but wants to address racial inequalities.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said on Wednesday his administration stood ready to help the city including to “avoid unnecessary harm to businesses that provide services to affected neighbourhoods”.

“We must address the systemic problems that cause tragedies against people of colour,” he said on Twitter.

Low virus cases spark fresh calls to open state borders

New Australian cases of COVID-19 have slowed to a trickle prompting fresh calls from business leaders to reopen all state borders.

National employer organisation the Australian Industry Group says the remaining state and territory border restrictions are becoming more unjustifiable as each day passes.

“State governments should wean themselves off the political attraction of border barriers or risk their economic recovery and the jobs of their community,” Ai Group chief Innes Willox said.

Willox said upbeat predictions about the recession being at an end did not reflect the “mixed picture” being reported by businesses themselves.

“From a labour market perspective, we are definitely not out of the woods with effective unemployment still at 1990s recession levels.”

There was one new case of COVID-19 reported in South Australia yesterday, lifting the total to 495 cases reported in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

Yesterday’s case is a woman in her 60’s who has recently returned from overseas and has been in a medi- hotel since her arrival. There is no public health risk.

There are 12 active cases in SA and 479 people have been cleared of COVID-19.

So far in October there have been 28 new infections in SA, the highest in a single month since the pandemic peaked in the state in April.

All of this month’s infections have been in returned overseas travellers quarantining in Adelaide medi-hotels.

Rudd ‘blindsided’ by Epstein link

US financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein donated $US650,000 ($A920,500) to the International Peace Institute between 2011 to 2019, a revelation the think-tank’s chair Kevin Rudd says is “deeply disturbing”.

The former Australian prime minister, who became vice-chair of the UN-affiliated organisation in 2014 and chair in 2018, has convened an extraordinary board meeting after reports IPI president Terje Rod-Larsen borrowed $US130,000 from convicted pedophile Epstein in 2013.

“I first learned of contributions from Epstein’s foundations to the IPI in November 2019 through reporting by the Norwegian press. I was blindsided by this,” Mr Rudd said in a statement to Norwegian business newspaper DN on Wednesday.

“These revelations were deeply disturbing to me and to other members of the board. IPI’s work includes combating human trafficking and sexual violence.”

Rudd said the recently reported financial links between Norwegian diplomat Rod-Larsen and Epstein were also concerning.

“As a consequence of this latest development, I took action last week to convene an extraordinary board meeting and requested that Mr Rod-Larsen provide a report to the board on all these matters,” Rudd said.

“I will be recommending to the board that an immediate and comprehensive probity review be conducted into the matters raised.”

Rudd said he had been on a teleconference call with nine other people, including Epstein, in January 2014.

“Any significant engagement with someone as odious as Epstein must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. I have no recollection whatsoever of ever meeting Epstein,” Rudd said.

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of procuring an underage girl for prostitution.

In July last year, he was arrested on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York but was found dead in his US prison cell a month later.

More than two-thirds of Aussie men are overweight

Middle-aged Australian men are among the fattest in the world with more than 70 per cent overweight, new research has found.

The federal government’s Ten to Men longitudinal study on male health has revealed a grim picture, finding that once overweight men generally remain so two years later.

It also put the combined cost of obesity in Australia at $8.6 billion annually, factoring in health care, absenteeism from work, disability payments, unemployment and the loss of productivity because of illness, or premature death.

“The findings presented here suggest that experiencing ongoing or persistent overweight and obesity is associated with a much higher likelihood of a range of other chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, diabetes and arthritis,” the study said.

“This suggests that initiatives to help Australian males achieve and maintain a healthy weight could be highly beneficial.”

In its key findings, the study revealed 71 per cent of men aged 35 to 57 were either overweight or obese.

Globally, that put Australia behind just the US and Chile at 74 per cent.

That level dropped to 60 per cent for those aged 25-34 and to just 20 per cent for boys aged 10-14.

It also revealed that as people aged they were less likely to stay in a healthy weight range.

US, European stocks slump amid global virus surge

Wall Street has slumped overnight as a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe dash hopes of a quick global economic recovery.

European stock markets also struggled and hit their lowest levels since June on Wednesday while the euro fell against the US dollar.

Shares of hotels, airlines and other companies sensitive to COVID-19-related curbs dropped with Wynn Resorts down 2.0 per cent and the S&P 1500 airlines index declining 3.0 per cent.

The energy index lost about 3.0 per cent as oil prices fell on fears of lower fuel demand.

New cases and hospitalisations set records in the US mid-west while concerns over a lockdown in France and tighter restrictions in Germany sapped investor appetite for risk.

“Whether you call it a continuation of the pandemic or a third wave of new case discovery – it is the largest concern,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“Unless and until we get through this pandemic, it is hard for investors to imagine a better economic time.”

A spiralling pandemic and a failure to reach a deal on a fresh round of US fiscal stimulus before November 3 elections have wiped off all of blue-chip Dow’s gains for October and pushed the benchmark S&P 500 to near four-week lows.

Wall Street’s fear gauge jumped to its highest level in nearly two-months, also on concerns over a delay in counting the huge volume of mail-in ballots, meaning a winner might not be declared the night of November 3 when polls close.

Democratic challenger Biden leads President Donald Trump by 10 percentage points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, but the competition is tighter in swing states which will decide the victor.

“The uncertainty of not knowing the direction we are heading is making investors step on the sidelines and wait for the election results,” Hogan said.

France, Germany enforce lockdowns to slow COVID-19 spread

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have ordered their countries back into lockdown in a bid to stop the accelerating spread of COVID-19

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Macron said in a televised address on Wednesday.

“Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”

“We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”

Under the new French measures which come into force on Friday, people will be required to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or exercise for up to one hour a day.

They will be permitted to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home.

Schools will stay open.

Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from November 2-30 under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments.

Schools will stay open and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.

“We need to take action now,” Merkel said.

“Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

While leaders have been desperate to avoid the crippling cost of lockdowns, the new measures reflect mounting alarm at the galloping pace of the pandemic from Spain, France and Germany to Russia, Poland and Bulgaria.

Hopes that new treatments might curb the spread were dented when the head of Britain’s vaccine procurement task force said that a fully effective vaccine may never be developed and that early versions were likely to be imperfect.

The latest figures from the World Health Organisation on Tuesday showed Europe reported 1.3 million new cases in the past seven days, nearly half the 2.9 million reported worldwide, with about 11,700 deaths, a 37 per cent jump over the previous week.

– with AAP and Reuters
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