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What we know today, Sunday January 24

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Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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Bushfire out of control in Adelaide Hills

A bushfire is burning out of control in the Adelaide Hills after it started near Cherry Gardens late this afternoon on a day of extreme heat.

The CFS says the Cherry Gardens/Hicks Hill Road fire was burning in scrub in a north easterly direction towards Strathalbyn Road, Echunga, Strathalbyn Road, Mylor, and Biggs Flat.

People in the area have been told to take shelter.

The CFS expects the fire to burn in a north-easterly direction, although it says conditions are constantly changing. The “watch and act” zone includes Stirling, Aldgate and Bridgewater. The emergency warning area includes Mylor, Scott Creek, Longwood, Clarendon and Kangarilla.

More than 200 firefighters are battling the blaze.

SA Police have closed a large number of roads in the hills including:

Strathalbyn Rd and Echunga Road Echunga
Silverlake Rd and Strathalbyn Rd Mylor
River Road and South Eastern Freeway
Mt Bold Rd and Badbury Rd Bradbury
Berry Rd and Shepherds Rd Echunga
Battunga Rd and Meadows Rd Echunga
Strathalbyn Rd and Olman Rd Echunga
Stock Rd and Longwood Rd Bradbury
Formby Rd and Potter Rd Clarendon
Main Rd and Cherry Gardens Rd Cherry Gardens
Cherry Gardens Rd and Ormond Rd Cherry Gardens
Belair National Park Oval
Ackland Hill Road and Cherry Gardens Rd Cherry Gardens
High St Echunga

Listen to ABC Radio Adelaide or go to the CFS website for updates.

Call to expand South Australian travel vouchers

Data from the South Australian Tourism Commission shows a boom in local occupancy rates in the wake of the second round of the South Australian Government’s travel voucher scheme.

In the week following the second round of the Great State Vouchers on 5 January, there were almost triple the number of new bookings received by hotels compared to the previous week.

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said more than 18,000 bookings had been made with Great State Vouchers and nearly 5000 rooms already checked-in to their stay across the life of the initative.

“The response to the vouchers has been overwhelming with forward bookings strong right through to the end of March,” he said.

“I encourage everyone with a voucher who has not yet made a booking to get online, check out the great deals and book before 31 January.”

Labor leader Peter Malinauskas back the scheme but urged it be expanded as it currently excludes hospitality venues, travel agents, experiences, tours and attractions.

“We are calling on the Marshall Liberal Government to expand this scheme in the third round,” he said in a social media post.

He also wants to see the voucher increased to to $200 and allow use of the vouchers any day of the week (currently Saturdays are excluded).

The scheme currently offers $50 for regional accommodation bookings and $100 for city stays.

US man ‘threatened assassination’ of AOC

The US Justice Department has revealed charges against a Texas man who allegedly stormed the US Capitol on January 6 and threatened on social media to kill Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Prosecutors on Friday asked a judge to keep Garret Miller in jail ahead of a court appearance, according to court records.

They revealed five criminal charges in the US District Court of the District of Columbia against Miller, including for making death threats and trespassing offences.

Images of social media posts allegedly authored by Miller, which appear to announce his trip to the Capitol and threaten the life of Ocasio-Cortez as well as a Capitol Police officer, are cited in the court filing.

Prosecutors said Miller made numerous threatening remarks online, including one instance in which he commented “next time we bring the guns” on a Twitter video showing rioters exiting a Capitol building.

As rioters broke into the Capitol, Ocasio-Cortez worried that her colleagues in Congress might divulge her location to the mob, putting her at risk for kidnapping or worse, according to an Instagram Live video she recorded on January 12.

Ocasio-Cortez also said she experienced “a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die” on January 6, adding that she could not get into specifics for security reasons.

No new cases in SA

South Australia has recorded zero new cases on Sunday, as the state comes close to eliminating the virus.

The number of active cases left in the state has dropped from two down to one, according to SA Health.

South Australians undertook 3,278 new tests on Saturday.

Heatwave bakes South Australia

More than half of Australia’s population is expected to swelter through a heatwave sweeping across much of the southeast.

The most severe conditions are expected in parts of South Australia and western and northern Victoria on Sunday, with some regions preparing for temperatures about 40C.

Port Augusta, 300km north of Adelaide, will likely be the hottest place in the country, with a temperature of 45C.

The river towns of Murray Bridge, Renmark, Mildura and Swan Hill are expected to reach the low 40s.

The Adelaide metropolitan area is expecting to hit 41C.

High to extreme fire danger is expected in parts of South Australia, with a total fire ban is in place for the Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Eastern Eyre Peninsula and the Mid North.

Parts of Victoria, Tasmania and western and southern parts of NSW will likely see the hottest temperatures on Monday, while the mercury will climb the highest on Tuesday for eastern NSW and parts of Sydney.

Given the fairly cool start to the summer, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Jonathan How said the high temperatures would feel especially uncomfortable.

“We’re not expecting it to be record-breaking at this stage but those really hot days and really warm nights will be quite a shock for many people, particularly because it’s been a fairly cool summer so far,” he said.

While winds are not expected to be as high as previous days of extreme fire danger, several districts are on high alert.

A change is expected to reach Adelaide late on Monday morning before moving through Victoria and reaching Melbourne and Hobart in the afternoon or evening.

More COVID-19 cases linked to Aust Open

Coronavirus infections linked to the Australian Open are continuing to emerge as the states and territories continue their run of no new locally acquired cases.

Victorian authorities on Saturday reported one new case linked to the Open, a man in his 20s who is not a player.

A further three non-players – two men in their 30s and one in his 50s – have meanwhile been confirmed to have the highly contagious UK strain of the virus.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria said all three had been in hard lockdown since they landed in Melbourne.

“The residents arrived in Melbourne on a dedicated Australian Open charter flight on 15 January and returned their first positive tests on 15, 17 and 18 January,” a spokesperson said.

There are 10 active cases linked to the Open and 970 people associated with the tournament in quarantine.

Australia records no new community transmission

South Australia recorded no new cases on Saturday, and no new locally acquired cases were reported across Australia.

Seven cases were recorded in hotel quarantine – three in Victoria, two in Western Australia and one each in NSW and the Northern Territory.

In NSW, residents of dozens of suburbs are being urged to monitor any possible coronavirus symptoms after viral fragments were detected at two wastewater plants.

NSW Health said its sewage surveillance program had recently detected fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 at the Liverpool and Glenfield plants in southwest Sydney.

The Liverpool plant takes in a catchment of almost 180,000 people, while the Glenfield plant has about 160,000 in its catchment.

Everyone living or working in the affected suburbs is urged to monitor for symptoms and isolate immediately and get tested if they appear.

An earlier detection of viral fragments at plants in Camellia and Auburn is likely to reflect known confirmed cases in the area, NSW Health said.

WA will reopen its borders to NSW and Queensland from Monday, although travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

South Australian boomerang sent into space

Australia’s Indigenous culture is being honoured in outer space, with astronauts carrying a special handcrafted boomerang aboard the International Space Station.

Carved out of Western Myall wood by Kaurna man Jack Buckskin, the boomerang has been received by the crew of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

It was commissioned by the South Australian Museum as an expression of modern Aboriginal culture and ingenuity and sent to US astronaut Shannon Walker after being presented to the state government at a ceremony last year.

“After the flight we plan to return it to South Australia for public display, where we hope it will inspire people young and old to remember that human exploration has a long and deep history within the earliest human culture,” Dr Walker said in a video recorded aboard the International Space Station.

Mr Buckskin, a cultural mentor known for spearheading a project aimed at reviving use of the Kaurna language, said it was a great honour.

“We talk about connections with Aboriginal people, we talk about land, sea and sky but I don’t think space is a part of that sky world that we’re talking about,” he said.

“It’s pretty crazy that something that has been handmade down here is up in the reality of the sky world with our Aboriginal ancestors from that part of our culture.”

Russian special police units officers detain a protester during an unauthorized protest in support of Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia. Image: EPA/Anatoly Maltsev

Navalny’s wife among thousands arrested

More than 2000 protesters have been arrested across Russia as massive protests erupted in dozens of cities calling for the release of Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent foe.

Among those arrested was Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya, who posted a picture of herself in a dark space on Instagram.

“Sorry for the poor quality. The light in the police van is very poor,” she wrote in the caption.

In Moscow, tens of thousands of demonstrators filled Pushkin Square, where clashes with police broke out.

Protesters were dragged off by helmeted riot officers to police buses and detention trucks, some hit with batons.

Police eventually pushed demonstrators out of the square but they regrouped along a boulevard, many throwing snowballs at police before dispersing.

The protests stretched across Russia’s vast territory and were held in frigid temperatures as cold as -50C.

Navalny had called on his supporters to protest after he was arrested earlier this month as he returned to Moscow for the first time since being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

He had spent five months in Germany recovering from the poisoning, which he blames on the Kremlin.

Authorities say Navalny’s stay in Germany violated terms of a suspended sentence in a 2014 criminal conviction, but Navalny says the conviction was for made-up charges.

US broadcast legend Larry King dies at 87

Larry King, the suspender-wearing broadcaster whose interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary people helped define American conversation for decades, has died aged 87.

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with no cause of death given but King had been hospitalised earlier in January after contracting COVID-19.

Former US president Bill Clinton said he enjoyed more than 20 interviews with King, who had a “great sense of humour and a genuine interest in people”.

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews with presidents, world leaders, Hollywood celebrities and sports stars during his radio and TV career that spanned more than 60 years.

He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, and Bill Gates to Lady Gaga.

King boasted of never over-preparing for an interview, and his relaxed style helped his guests feel at east and made him relatable to his audience.

“I don’t pretend to know it all,” he said in a 1995 Associated Press interview.

US to reverse Trump’s immigration policies

The US plans to reverse the Trump administration’s “draconian” immigration approach while working on policies addressing the causes of migration, President Joe Biden has told his Mexican counterpart.

In a call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Biden outlined his plan to create new legal pathways for immigration and improve the process for people requesting asylum, the White House says.

Priorities include “reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies,” the White House said on Saturday.

The two leaders agreed to work together towards reducing “irregular migration”.

Mexico has a major role to play in Biden’s plans for immigration reform. Earlier this month, Mexico helped coordinate efforts in Central America to contain a large caravan of migrants heading for the United States.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry also said it had begun talks with Washington about a COVID-19-related order signed by Biden to establish firmer health protocols for people entering US territory.

The call was “pleasant and respectful”, López Obrador said in a brief Twitter post.

“Everything indicates relations will be good and for the benefit of our people and nations,” López Obrador said.

Glass Animals top Triple J’s Hottest 100

Glass Animals have taken out Triple J’s Hottest 100 with the track Heat Waves.

Saturday’s countdown finished with the song from the British group’s third album, 2020’s Dreamland.

The Hottest 100 top three were rounded out by Booster Seat by Spacey Jane and The Difference by Flume.

Glass Animals were favourite for No.1 and took out two other spots on the list, with their track Tangerine at 18 and Your Love (Deja Vu) at 51.

Australian acts made up two-thirds of this year’s list, according to Triple J.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also made his Hottest 100 debut and almost cracked the top 10.

Brisbane duo Mashd N Kutcher’s viral hit Get on the Beers, which sampled quotes from the premier’s pandemic news conferences, came in at No.12.

Mr Andrews congratulated the group in a message during the broadcast.

“I’m pleased to be in great company among other Hottest 100 novelty artists like Denis Leary, Adam Sandler, and Pauline Pantsdown,” he said.

Robbie Kruse of the Victory and Mohamed Toure of United during the A-League match between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory at Coopers Stadium on Saturday. Image: AAP/David Mariuz

Adelaide edge Victory in baking A-League clash

A second half strike from teenage sensation Mohamed Toure helped Adelaide United grind out a 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory at Coopers.

The sides endured sweltering conditions with the temperature in Adelaide still in the mid-thirties before kick-off.

The Reds raced out of the blocks and could have opened the scoring inside two minutes.

Mohamed Toure flew past Ryan Shotton on the wing and carried the ball 20 metres to find himself with just Max Crocombe to beat in the Victory goal, but only managed a tame shot that was easily saved.

Adelaide started the second half in much the same fashion it wasn’t long before Toure broke the deadlock.

Superbly put through by debutant Javi Lopez, who had replaced Strain at the break, Toure outmuscled Dylan Ryan, took the ball inside the area and picked out the far bottom corner with a finessed left-footed strike.

United had bounced back from their 5-3 loss to Perth Glory three days earlier, impressing Adelaide coach Carl Veart with their resolute response.

– with AAP and Reuters

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