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What we know today, Friday January 22


In today’s round-up of breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad, SA Police fear a missing snorkeller was a victim of a shark attack, the AOC denies reports the Tokyo Games will be cancelled, and much more.

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Missing snorkeller likely a shark attack victim: police

SA Police believe a missing snorkeller in the state’s southeast is “likely to have been a victim of a shark attack”.

The 32-year-old man from regional Victoria went missing just before 5 pm yesterday afternoon while snorkeling in waters off Surfers Way near Port MacDonnell.

The man went missing around 20 minutes after he entered the water.

“A short time ago PolAir and Police Water Operations members located a damaged wetsuit which followed the discovery of fins (flippers) last night that are also believed to belong to the missing man,” a police statement said.

“Tragically police suspect the Victorian man has been the victim of a shark attack, after PolAir spotted a shark in the area yesterday afternoon.”

SAPOL says the air and sea search has now been scaled back with police looking to prepare a report for the coroner.

Local fishers, fisheries SA, SES crews and local volunteers were involved in the search yesterday, along with a Challenger Aircraft from Victoria provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

No new COVID-19 cases in SA

South Australia has recorded no new COVID-19 cases today from a total of 4059 tests.

It follows yesterday’s case numbers which revealed two new cases in the state – both returned travellers who tested positive in a medi-hotel and are considered old infections.

There are still five active cases in the state, with the state’s total COVID-19 tally at 596.

Tokyo Games to be cancelled: report

Japan’s government has privately concluded the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Times reported, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition.

The government’s focus is now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032, the newspaper said.

Japan has been hit less severely by the pandemic than many other advanced economies, but a recent surge in cases has spurred it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.

About 80 per cent of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held this summer, recent opinion polls show, over fears the influx of athletes will spread the virus further.

Against this backdrop, the government is seeking a way to save face by announcing a cancellation that leaves the door open to Tokyo hosting at a later date, The Times report said.

“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” The Times quoted the source as saying. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Organisers and the Japanese government have previously vowed to press ahead with preparations for the Games, scheduled to open on July 23.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga this week said the showpiece event would “bring hope and courage to the world.”

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach reaffirmed his commitment to holding the Games this year in an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday.

“We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo.

The Australian Olympic Committee also strongly denied reports the games would be called off, issuing a statement

“Both Japanese Prime Minister Suga and IOC President Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year,” the AOC statement said.

“The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.”

With speculation mounting over whether Japan will rebid for the 2032 games, the AOC said this would not impact progress on Brisbane’s bid to host in the same year.

“The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 – and that process continues,” the AOC said.

Google reaches agreement with French news publishers

Google and a French publishers’ lobby have agreed to a copyright framework for the US tech giant to pay news publishers for content online, in a first for Europe.

The move paves the way for individual licensing agreements for French publications, some of which have seen revenues drop with the rise of the Internet and declines in print circulation.

The deal, which Google describes as a sustainable way to pay publishers, is likely to be closely watched by other platforms such as Facebook, a lawyer involved in the talks said.

It is also likely to attract attention in Australia, where Google is lobbying against a media bargaining code set out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC says the new code will ensure digital platforms, namely Google Search and Facebook NewsFeed, share the benefits they obtain from using Australian-sourced news content.

Like the French agreement, the ACCC code lays out a process for individual licensing agreements to be reached between publishers and digital platforms, however, Google today threatened to pull their search engine out of the Australian market if the new code was to become law.

Google and the Alliance de la presse d’information generale (APIG) said in a statement the new French copyright framework included criteria such as the daily volume of publications, monthly internet traffic and “contribution to political and general information”.

Google has so far only signed licensing agreements with a few publications in France, including national daily newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro. These take into account the framework agreed with APIG, a Google spokesman said.

Google’s vehicle for paying news publishers, called Google News Showcase, is so far only available in Brazil and Germany.

Google and APIG did not say how much money would be distributed to APIG’s members, who include most French national and local publishers. Details on how the remuneration would be calculated were not disclosed.

The deal follows months of bargaining between Google, French publishers and news agencies over how to apply revamped EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to demand a fee from online platforms showing extracts of their news.

Google, the world’s biggest search engine, initially fought against the idea of paying publishers for content, saying their websites benefited from the greater traffic it brought.

National cabinet: No relief for Australians stranded abroad

Australians trapped overseas will have to wait until at least mid-next month for arrival caps to be lifted as more entry restrictions come into force.

Friday’s national cabinet meeting failed to deliver any concrete outcomes with ongoing anxiety about new strains of coronavirus potentially escaping hotel quarantine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said leaders were sticking to the plan to keep halved international arrival caps in place until February 15.

“We have to put the public health and safety within our borders first,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

There are 38,000 Australians seeking to return home with the list steadily growing as the virus tears through large parts of the world.

Morrison said the government had exceeded its own expectations with 79,000 people returning to the country since September.

He welcomed Emirates’ decision to resume flights to Australia from next week after a snap cancellation left hundreds in limbo.

“These flights also carry important supplies. There’s freight involved in these air services and they’re going into our major capital cities,” Morrison said.

National cabinet was briefed on new travel protocols that mandate tests and masks on all flights entering Australia.

Passengers will need to display evidence of a negative result from a coronavirus test taken within three days of their scheduled departure.

Queensland was due to make a proposal at national cabinet about shifting quarantine from capital city hotels to remote mining camps.

But the issue was only briefly referred to, with the prime minister and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk set to discuss it at a one-on-one meeting in Brisbane later on Friday.

Morrison cooled on the idea during the week after meeting locals from Gladstone, the central Queensland hub near the mooted quarantine facility.

“The hotel quarantine system remains incredibly important to getting Australians home,” he said.

“Where there are other facilities we’ve been able to put in place, like particularly the Northern Territory, that’s proven to be quite effective.”

He echoed local concerns about the potential impact on the mining industry with a vast amount of maintenance work scheduled for the next 12 months.

“The prospect of that being impacted in a community like that needs to be carefully considered.”

Executive orders, COVID response mark Biden’s second day

US President Joe Biden has moved swiftly on his first full day in the White House to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to bring a coordinated federal response to the 10-month pandemic focused on boosting vaccines, increasing testing, reopening schools and addressing inequalities thrown up by the disease.

His predecessor Donald Trump, who frequently sought to play down the severity of the virus which has killed more than 405,000 Americans, left much of the pandemic planning to individual states, which has resulted in a patchwork of policies across the country.

“We can and will beat COVID-19,” the White House said in a statement.

“America deserves a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is driven by science, data, and public health – not politics.”

Biden will sign 10 executive orders related to the pandemic later today, following the 17 he signed yesterday just hours after he was inaugurated.

The new orders require mask-wearing in airports and on certain public transportation, including many trains, airplanes and intercity buses.

The new president is also setting up a COVID-19 testing board to ramp up testing, address supply shortfalls, establish protocols for international travellers and direct resources to hard-hit minority communities.

Biden has pledged to provide 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine during his first 100 days in office.

His plan aims to increase vaccinations by opening up eligibility for more people such as teachers and grocery clerks, while also expanding vaccine manufacturing and the federal government’s vaccine purchasing power by “fully leveraging contract authorities, including the Defense Production Act”, according to the plan.

Additionally, he will issue a directive including the intent to join the COVAX vaccine facility that aims to deliver vaccines to poor countries, Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, told the World Health Organisation’s executive board on Thursday.

Trump had halted funding to the WHO and planned to withdraw from the group in July.

Meanwhile, Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray will stay on in his position after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president has “confidence in the job [Wray] is doing”.

Australian Open player tests positive for COVID

Spanish tennis player Paula Badosa is the first Australian Open player to test positive for COVID-19.

The 23-year-old was on day seven of her hotel quarantine in Melbourne, after arriving on a tournament-chartered flight from Abu Dhabi on which two co-passengers also subsequently tested positive.

The world number 67 confirmed the positive test result on social media late last night.

“I’m feeling unwell and have some symptoms, but I’ll try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors,” Badosa said on Twitter.

“I’ve been taken to a health hotel to self-isolate and be monitored. Thanks for your support. We’ll be back stronger.”

A total of 72 competitors have been confined to their hotel rooms before the tournament starts on February 8.

Victorian health authorities reported yesterday that 10 people who travelled to Australia for the tournament had tested positive, although some have been classified as viral shedding.

Yet the New York-born Badosa is still the only competitor to be named as an active coronavirus case.

She has precious little time to recover and to be fit for the event after looking forward to making it the starting point for another rise up the rankings in 2021.

Meanwhile, tickets for the “Day at the Drive” tennis exhibition in Adelaide sold out within half an hour going on sale yesterday morning, with a crowd of 8000 now set to attend the two-session event on January 29.

The sell-out follows yesterday’s announcement that Australian world number one Ash Barty would join tennis superstars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep for the hit out in Adelaide.

Some fans who missed out on tickets took to social media to vent their frustration, saying they were unaware Ticketmaster had set up a queuing system for tickets before they went on sale at 11:30 am.

ANZAC Highway riskiest road for cyclists: RAA survey

An RAA survey of more than 900 cyclists has revealed ANZAC Highway to be the riskiest road for those travelling on two wheels in SA.

The inaugural “Risky Rides” survey asked local cyclists to nominate ten on-road or off-road cycle paths they believed posed a risk to riders.

ANZAC Highway came out on top, with Marion and Greenhill roads rounding out the top three.

In the off-road category, the River Torrens Linear Park Trail was the most often mentioned, while the Little Para Trail, Coast to Vines Rail Trail, Crafers Bikeway and Lynton Belair Urban Trail made the top five.

The RAA says cyclists identified unsafe road surfaces as one of their top issues, and the findings of the survey have been shared with the Transport Department and state and local governments.

RAA senior manager of safety and infrastructure Charles Mountain said the findings emphasise the need for infrastructure investment.

“It’s vitally important to ensure the road network is maintained to a good standard so all road users can travel safely,” Mountain said.

“RAA welcomes the recent State Government’s budget announcement to spend millions of dollars more on road maintenance, including resealing, and it’s important this work includes sections used by cyclists, such as bike lanes.”

Mountain also said the survey revealed the “lack of continuous cycling infrastructure” in Adelaide to be a “major issue”, and pointed to the section of Greenhill Road between Glen Osmond and Fullarton Road which currently does not have a bike lane. 

Twenty-six cyclists have died on South Australia’s roads between from 2015 to 2019, and a further 2518 have been injured according to the latest SAPOL figures.

One in five survey respondents said they were riding more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RAA’s top 10 riskiest roads for cyclists:

  1. ANZAC Highway
  2. Marion Road
  3. Greenhill Road
  4. Payneham
  5. Port Road
  6. Portrush Road
  7. Cross Road
  8. Frome Road
  9. Unley Road
  10. Fullarton Road

Calls for Australia to join UN weapons treaty

The UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons will come into force today, and protesters are planning to march on SA Parliament to call on the Australian government to join the international agreement

The treaty, which makes “a comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities”, has been ratified by more than 50 nations.

The Australian government boycotted negotiations over the treaty in 2017, with the Department of Foreign Affairs stating the agreement “[did] not offer a practical path to effective disarmament or enhanced security”.

While Australia does not possess nuclear weapons, DFAT has long supported the UN Non-Proliferation Treaty which prohibits states with nuclear weapons from transferring them to non-nuclear states.

Protest organiser Dr Amanda Ruler from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War said the government’s “empty words” on disarmament are not good enough.

“It’s high time the government listened to the Australian people and signed this treaty,” Ruler said.

“We know these are the worst of all weapons of mass destruction. They can kill millions of civilians indiscriminately in an instant, be it by accident, hacking or erratic leadership.

“These weapons are now on the same legal footing as chemical and biological weapons. We signed those treaties and we must sign this one.”

Greens MLC Mark Parnell, who will be speaking at the protest alongside Ruler and federal Labor MP Steve Georganas, said Australia’s absence from the treaty made it an “outlier” in international affairs.

“The fact that 50 nations have now ratified the treaty means that it’s now part of international law, and unless Australia signs … we are part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Parnell said.

“Australia doesn’t have any nuclear weapons … so it’s not an issue that affects us in terms of there’s an industry here that people want to protect.

“We can approach this absolutely from a position of morality and a position of what is right, and what is right is to remove every one of these horrid weapons from the face of the planet.”

Parnell also said he believed Australia’s relationship with the US is a key factor in preventing the government from joining the agreement.

The Greens, ALP, 88 Federal MPs and 13 South Australian MPs have signed a pledge to work towards Australia signing the agreement.

There are currently more than 13,000 nuclear weapons around the world, with around 1800 deployed on high alert.

New evidence delays Marinoff decision

The appeal of star Adelaide midfielder Ebony Marinoff against the longest suspension in AFLW history has been adjourned, after the Crows presented new evidence showing injured GWS player Brid Stack colliding with an advertising board moments before her clash with Marinoff.

Stack left the field with a fractured neck, with the Irish recruit taking to Twitter yesterday to say she is “devastated but counting my blessings”.

Marinoff went to the AFL Appeals Board last night to challenge the tribunal’s three-match ban for engaging in forceful front-on contact.

The dual Crows premiership player’s ban is the lengthiest since the competition’s inception and would rule her out of a third of the looming nine-game season – equivalent to eight games in the men’s competition.

Her appeal was adjourned until next Thursday after the Crows tried to present fresh video evidence to support her challenge.

Marinoff’s counsel Sam Abbott wanted the appeals board to view a collision between Stack and an advertising hoarding from earlier in Sunday’s match.

That clip wasn’t presented to the initial tribunal hearing, as Marinoff only discovered the incident while reviewing the match footage after her suspension was handed down.

Abbott, appearing via video call, also wanted to present the appeals board with GPS data and a video of a bio-mechanist talking through the Marinoff-Stack collision, but technical difficulties prevented this evidence from being shown.

Appeals board chairman David Jones adjourned the appeal to give the board and the AFL’s counsel Nick Pane time to review the evidence.

Adelaide Crows head of women’s football Phil Harper yesterday labelled the three-match ban “grossly disproportionate”, and said the club needed to “support our player in this instance as we feel Ebony acted in an appropriate manner given the circumstances of this incident”.

Crows AFLW head coach Matthew Clarke also labelled the original decision “unjust”, as he saw the collision as an “unavoidable incident”.

“Ebony plays the game in the manner we want all players to play, and in my opinion, she made every effort to minimise the impact of what was an unavoidable footy collision,” Clarke said.

“We believe it’s important to not only support our players, but to question an outcome which we see as placing an unreasonable expectation on all players to avoid contact in circumstances where the ball is in dispute.”

Carey ton leads Strikers to crucial win

Alex Carey has cracked a superb century as the Adelaide Strikers jump into BBL finals reckoning with an 82-run trouncing of Brisbane Heat.

Carey’s elegant 101 from 62 balls underpinned the Strikers’ 5-197 at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.

In reply, Brisbane were all out for 115 in 17.3 overs.

The Heat suffered a horror top-order collapse of 4-6 in 13 balls – three of them falling to Adelaide quick Wes Agar.

Agar finished with 4-27 to join Perth’s Jhye Richardson as leading wicket-taker in the competition, with 21 victims each.

The Strikers also banked a bonus point as they climb from seventh spot to fourth with two games remaining before finals.

Brisbane’s playoff hopes are remote: they slip from sixth to seventh place.

Carey struck the first ton of the tournament, reaching the milestone from just 60 balls featuring 10 fours and three sixes.

The lefthander is just the sixth batsman in BBL history to score two centuries, following Craig Simmons, Usman Khawaja, Luke Wright, D’Arcy Short and Aaron Finch.

“It was an important innings, we knew that tonight and the next two games are really important,” Carey said.

“It’s a really tight tournament so it’s really pleasing to help the team get that victory that we were craving.”

Carey was unfortunate not to carry his bat through Adelaide’s innings – he was given out caught-behind from the second-last delivery when the ball struck his right forearm.

But the damage had been after featuring in brisk half-century partnerships with fellow opener Jake Weatherald (36 from 18 balls) and Phil Salt (26 from 17).

Brisbane’s Test recall Marnus Labuschagne (2-20) was the only multiple wicket-taker – on consecutive deliveries across his two overs.

Labuschagne opened the batting in the Heat’s run chase but quickly lost his partner Chris Lynn.

Lynn (17 from nine balls) cracked two fours and a six before being caught on the square-leg boundary from Agar’s bowling.

Labuschagne made 28 from 25 balls before being trapped lbw by Agar and two balls later the paceman dismissed Joe Denly (15 from 16).

Agar’s double-strike left the Heat wobbling at 3-64 in the ninth over.

And Brisbane’s proverbial wheels came off completely two overs later when Adelaide’s Peter Siddle (3-13) took wickets in consecutive balls.

Siddle dismissed Joe Burns (one from six balls) and Lewis Gregory (three from six) as Brisbane’s chase ended in a crash.

The Strikers will play their last two games against the Sydney Thunder in successive days (January 24 and 25) at Adelaide Oval.

– with AAP and Reuters

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