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What we know today, Monday November 9


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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Trump refuses to concede as Biden works on plan to unite America

Joe Biden and his advisers are working on plans to tackle the crises facing a divided America, first and foremost the raging coronavirus pandemic, a day after the Democrat won enough states to clinch the US presidency.

Republican Donald Trump, the first president to lose a re-election bid in 28 years, gave no sign of conceding, instead pressing ahead with legal fights challenging the outcome.

Top Republicans in Congress likewise had not acknowledged Biden’s victory, in a sign of the charged partisan atmosphere he will face when he takes office on January 20

However, some members of Trump’s party and a bipartisan group focused on the transition urged the president to cooperate.

Biden delivered a message of unity and conciliation in a speech in his home state of Delaware on Saturday, saying it was “time to heal” the nation.

“The work starts right away,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Wearing his trademark red Make America Great Again baseball cap, Trump played golf at his course in Sterling, Virginia, for the second day in a row.

His motorcade was met by a smattering of admirers and detractors holding signs, including one that read: “Trumpty Dumpty Had A Great Fall.”

Unlike previous defeated presidential candidates, Trump has not made a concession statement or reached out to Biden.

“Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be?” Trump wrote on Twitter after golfing.

Republican former President George W Bush said in a statement that he spoke with Biden and congratulated him on his victory.

“Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Bush said.

“The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”

After attending church in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden and his family visited the church’s cemetery, where his son Beau and other relatives are buried – as he did on the morning of Election Day on Tuesday.

According to an adviser, Biden plans to repeal a ban on travellers from several Muslim-majority nations, rejoin an international climate accord, reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organisation and buttress a program protecting from deportation “Dreamers” brought to the United States illegally as children.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will extend an invitation for Biden to visit Australia after congratulating him on his success in clinching the election, calling him a great friend of Australia.

The prime minister also offered his congratulations to Kamala Harris on her election as Vice President of the United States.

He plans to send a letter to Biden inviting him to visit Australia for the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty next year.

“I look forward to forging a great partnership in the spirit of the relationship that has always existed between prime ministers of Australia and presidents of the United States,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney at Kirribilli House on Sunday.

“The Australia-US alliance is enduring and built on shared democratic values such as the international rule of law, respect for human rights and equality, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression and diversity of opinion.”

Australia’s locally acquired COVID-19 cases hit zero again

Australia has gone a second day without recording a local coronavirus transmission but authorities still don’t know how the virus made it to the Southern Highlands of NSW.

NSW Health said this morning that seven cases – all in hotel quarantine – were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, following five new locally-acquired cases in the Moss Vale region on Friday and Saturday, prompting the closures of a school and a childcare centre.

The original source of the infections remains unknown.

However, the lack of new infections on Sunday and Monday, coupled with Victoria’s 10th straight day of zero infections or deaths makes it consecutive days with no new locally acquired cases across Australia.

South Australia recorded two new cases of COVID-19 today, in people returning from overseas.

A teenager and a woman in her 40s tested positive. They’ve been in hotel quarantine since their arrival.

There have now been a total of 517 cases reported in South Australia, including 16 in the past week, but all of the latest infections are in hotel quarantine and SA Health says there is no public health risk.

There are now 18 active cases in SA and 495 people have been cleared of COVID-19. There have been four reported deaths from COVID-19. More than 574,000 tests have been undertaken. There are just four active cases in Victoria.

NSW is the only state with an ongoing issue with locally transmitted COVID-19 cases with five new infections in the past three days. The state is also reporting several new cases in hotel quarantine each day.

SA Health says anyone who has recently arrived in South Australia from NSW and has been to any locations of concern identified by NSW Health, should seek testing and self-isolate immediately.

Building approvals on up as stimulus kicks in

September’s house building approvals in South Australia reached the highest level in almost five years, according to ABS figures released this morning.

The seasonally adjusted number of houses approved in the state during September reached 803 in September, the highest level since 814 were approved in April 2016.

The figure is up from 651 in August and reflects the impact the Federal Government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder scheme

Nationally, the number of dwellings approved in Australia rose 15.4 per cent in September, in seasonally adjusted terms.

The rise was driven by private sector dwellings excluding houses, which increased by 23.4 per cent in September but remains 12.1 per cent lower than at the same time last year.

Private sector houses rose 9.7 per cent, driven by strength across all states and territories, to be 20.7 per cent higher than at the same time last year.

“The September results indicate continued demand for detached housing following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in most states and territories. A range of Federal and state-based incentives are also providing support for the housing sector,” ABS director of construction statistics Daniel Rossi said.

Across the states and territories, dwelling approvals rose in Western Australia (42.6 per cent), South Australia (28.3 per cent), Queensland (19.3 per cent), Tasmania (18.8 per cent), Victoria (12.4 per cent) and New South Wales (4.6 per cent).

Approvals for private sector houses rose in South Australia (19.9 per cent), Western Australia (15.1 per cent), Victoria (9.7 per cent), New South Wales (7.3 per cent) and Queensland (3.6 per cent).

Cathy Foley appointed Australia’s next chief scientist

Physicist Cathy Foley has been appointed Australia’s next chief scientist, taking over from Alan Finkel when his five-year tenure ends in December.

Foley, who has spent the past two years as the CSIRO’s chief scientist, is the second woman appointed to the role.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as Australia recovered from the coronavirus, the role of chief scientist had never been more important.

“Dr Foley has a big task ahead to drive collaboration between industry and the science and research community, as we look to create jobs for the COVID-19 recovery and for the future,” Morrison said.

Foley, whose work has focused on the physics behind superconductors, is an outspoken advocate of attracting more women to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Her three-year term begins in January.

Police assaulted in Parkside attack

Two police officers were taken to hospital for treatment after being allegedly assaulted by a man in Parkside late yesterday.

Police were called to Robsart Street just before 5pm following reports a man was seen acting erratically in the street, allegedly kicking a number of cars.

When the two-person police patrol arrived and attempted to speak to the man he allegedly assaulted the officers before fleeing on foot into a nearby block of units. Further patrols, including Dog Operations and STAR Operations were called in and cordoned the unit block.

About 8pm STAR officers arrested the man without incident. The 34-year-old man from Hindmarsh was expected to be charged with a range of offences including two counts of assault emergency services worker.

Protestors rally against Basham’s GM-free snub

About 50 protestors gathered outside Primary Industries Minister David Basham’s Victor Harbor office on Saturday to rally against a State Government decision to reject all council applications this month to keep a swathe of SA free of genetically modified crops.

Saturday’s ‘Vigil for Democracy’ protest was organised by the ‘Keep SA GM-free Coalition’ and was attended by former Labor Primary Industries Minister Leon Bignell.

It was in response to Basham’s rejection of applications from 11 councils, mostly in an arc from the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula to the Barossa Valley, to be declared GM Crop Free Zones.

Adelaide Hills, Alexandrina, Barossa, Berri Barmera Council, Onkaparinga, Playford, Yankalilla, Mount Barker, Tea Tree Gully, Gawler and City of Victor Harbor councils applied to have local GM moratoriums extended.

However, Basham announced a week ago that there was not enough evidence to justify any council area outside of Kangaroo Island remain GM-free, which had its moratorium preserved under a separate deal last year.

This was despite the McLaren Vale wine region alone showing in its submission that it risked losing up to $20.1 million annually in crop value and an additional $5.1 million each year in export value should GM crops be grown in the area.

GeneEthics Network’s Bob Phelps said the 11 councils acted in good faith and the state government should have respected their applications, which included months of community consultation.

“Many fruit, vegetable and grape growers want their regions to remain GM-free but the Minister listened only to the GM Crops Advisory Committee, whose report denigrated the Councils’ evidence that GM-free grains, wine grapes, and the food industry would continue to be big marketing winners,” he said.

Victoria removes ring of steel as cases ease

The “ring of steel” dividing Melbourne from Victoria’s regions has been torn down overnight as the state’s active coronavirus cases plummets to just four.

Regional areas had been off-limits to Melburnians for months as the city lagged behind in its second wave fight with COVID-19.

Fresh from nine consecutive days without a new case, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the state would be thrown open from 11.59pm on Sunday.

“We know that so many people have missed those that they love the most, those who they need to see, been desperately keen to see, for such a long period of time,” he told reporters.

The 25km travel limit is also on the scrap heap and was among a raft of rule changes that went beyond those previously announced.

Hospitality venues can now host up to 70 patrons outdoors and 40 indoors, while a maximum of 20 people will be allowed in gyms, libraries, community centres, galleries, museums and cinemas.

Aged care residents are able to have visitors from one household per day for two hours, and partners can visit maternity wards indefinitely.

Worker caps on meat, poultry and seafood industries are also gone, but anyone who is able to work from home must continue to do so and masks remain mandatory outdoors.

Looking ahead, Andrews flagged statewide rules would next ease on November 22.

Victoria’s peak tourism and police groups welcomed the end of the regional divide but the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said a plan is still needed for the return of functions, events and office workers.

Global coronavirus cases surpass 50 million as US infections near 10 million

The United States is today expected to surpass 10 million COVID-19 infections as the rampant spread of the virus in Europe helps take global cases surge past 50 million.

The worst impacted country in the world, the United States is experiencing a third wave of the pandemic with new daily cases in the past fortnight reaching record levels.

The US recorded 127,399 new infections on Saturday and is expected to tick over the 10 million mark when its Sunday results are released in the coming hours. According to Johns Hopkins University, its current total cases sits at 9,900,788. The US has recorded more than 237,000 deaths.

The latest US surge coincided with the final weeks of election campaigning in which President Donald Trump minimised the severity of the pandemic and his successful challenger, Joe Biden, urged a more science-based approach.

Trump’s rallies, some open-air and with few masks and little social distancing, led to 30,000 additional confirmed cases and likely led to more than 700 deaths, Stanford University economists estimated in a research paper.

Global coronavirus infections exceeded 50 million globally overnight with a second wave of the virus in the past 30 days accounting for a quarter of the total.

October was the worst month for the pandemic so far, with the United States becoming the first country to report more than 100,000 daily cases.

A surge in Europe also contributed to the rise.

The latest seven-day average shows global daily infections are rising by more than 540,000.

More than 1.25 million people have died from the respiratory disease that emerged in China late last year.

The pandemic’s recent acceleration has been ferocious. It took 32 days for the number of cases to rise from 30 million to 40 million. It took just 21 days to add another 10 million.

Europe, with about 12 million cases, is the worst-affected region, overtaking Latin America. Europe accounts for 24 per cent of COVID-19 deaths.

The region is logging about 1 million new infections every three days or so, according to a Reuters analysis. That is 51 per cent of the global total.

France is recording 54,440 cases a day on the latest seven-day average, a higher rate than India with a far bigger population.

The global second wave is testing healthcare systems across Europe, prompting Germany, France and Britain to order many citizens back to their homes again.

Denmark, which imposed a new lockdown on its population in several northern areas, ordered the culling of its 17 million minks after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans.

In Asia, India has the world’s second-highest caseload but has seen a steady slowdown since September, despite the start of the Hindu festival season. Total cases exceeded 8.5 million cases on Friday and the daily average is 46,200, according to Reuters data.

– with AAP and Reuters
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