Hot News on 07/12/2022

GDP figures show rapid economic growth across the year as Covid lockdowns were lifted, but quarterly increase came in slightly below expectations

Australia’s GDP expanded at the fastest annual rate this century in the September quarter as the economy accelerated from Covid-related lockdowns a year earlier.

In the July-September period, GDP was 5.9% higher than a year ago when about half the economy was emerging from tight pandemic-linked disruptions, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Economists had tipped annual growth to be about 6%.

The Chinese government ordered officials to cut back on mass testing and hair-trigger regional lockdowns, in a pivot from stringent pandemic rules.

Number of species on red list in the country doubled in last 20 years

The number of bird species seriously threatened in Wales has doubled in the last 20 years, with the rook, swift and greenfinch added to the red list.

A report from a coalition of conservation groups places 60 species on the red list, accounting for a quarter of the species in Wales – more than ever before.

In an interview, Mr. Kerry said he would meet with the president next week to talk about “the road ahead.”

Move marks a significant shift away from strict zero-Covid policy that Beijing has pursued for almost three years

China’s national health authority said on Wednesday that asymptomatic Covid-19 cases and those with mild symptoms can self-treat while in quarantine at home, the strongest sign so far that China is preparing its people to live with the disease.

Most of the cases are asymptomatic infections and mild cases, with no special treatment required, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement.

RSV, Covid-19 and flu cases are exploding, but many health officials aren’t forcing masks or discouraging in-person gatherings

Dr Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at St Louis children’s hospital, is just waiting for his cold to start. “I can list off about 10 people right now that have had some sort of illness in the past five days,” Newland said.

That’s because the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza seasons started months earlier than usual, amid the continuing spread of Covid-19 and the common cold. The flu hospitalization rate is the highest it’s been in a decade, according to public health officials. Scientists have described the collision of viruses as a “tripledemic”.

Many of those detained had military training and were believed to belong to a recently formed group that operated on the conviction that the country was ruled by the so-called deep state.

Environmentalists call foul as pro-fossil-fuel senator Joe Manchin backs addition to defense act to fast-track energy projects

Joe Biden and the Democratic party’s climate credentials will be severely undermined if controversial legislation to fast-track energy projects is latched on to a must-pass defense bill, environmental leaders have warned.

Progressive lawmakers and hundreds of climate, public health and youth groups are urging the Democratic leadership to stop the latest attempt by Joe Manchin, the West Virginia fossil-fuel-friendly senator, to force through legislation that would weaken environmental protections and expedite permits and construction of pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure while restricting public input.

Discovery appears to confirm DoJ’s suspicions that former president possessed additional government records, sources say

Donald Trump’s lawyers found at least two more documents bearing classification markings inside boxes at a storage unit in Florida when they searched through items that were brought from the White House at the end of his administration, one source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The new discovery could exacerbate the former president’s legal exposure after the FBI seized 103 documents marked classified at his Mar-a-Lago resort in August as part of the justice department’s criminal investigation into the possible unauthorized retention of national security information and obstruction of justice.

  • Abdullah Ibhais raised concern at workers’ treatment
  • Activists call on UN to help release him from prison

A Qatari whistleblower who was jailed after raising concerns about the mistreatment of migrant workers at World Cup stadium sites was tortured on the eve of the tournament, human rights groups have claimed. Fair Square and Amnesty International also released a letter from the family of Abdullah Ibhais, a former media manager in Qatar’s Supreme Committee, who accused Fifa of “callous indifference” for ignoring his case.

They are now calling for the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention to intervene in the hope that Ibhais will be released from his three-year jail sentence.

Republican Herschel Walker concedes as Warnock celebrates bolstering the Democrat party’s Senate majority

Good morning.

The Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, has fended off a challenge from Republican Herschel Walker and won the Georgia Senate runoff, securing his first full term and delivering a 51st seat to bolster his party’s majority in the chamber.

How did Walker respond? Walker conceded, acknowledging that his campaign had fallen short and expressing gratitude to his team. The Republican explicitly thanked election officials who ensured the runoff was managed effectively, quelling concerns he might refuse to accept the result.

Is Walker’s loss a bad omen for Trumpism? In a normal political universe, David Smith writes, Walker’s defeat would be the final nail in Trump’s political coffin. The former American football star was the ultimate Trumpian candidate. Trump, however, arguably remains the favourite for the Republican nomination in 2024. The next election could spell the rebirth or the death of Trumpism.

How has Trump responded? In a statement yesterday, the Trump Organization denounced the verdict, which could carry a fine of up to $1.6m, a relatively negligible sum for such a large company though it could affect future business dealings. A lawyer for the Trump Organization vowed to appeal.

Chinese president’s three-day trip to Riyadh will lead to a ‘strategic agreement’ between the authoritarian powers

Xi Jinping will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday on a long awaited visit to a regional ally that has readied full state pageantry and a round of agreements likely to cement ties between China and Saudi Arabia – and deepen alarm in Washington.

China’s president will meet more than 30 heads of state and business leaders during his three-day visit to the Saudi capital, which is set to lead to a “strategic agreement” between the authoritarian powers. The trip is the culmination of decades of cooperation once based on oil sales, which has grown into bilateral trade of close to $90bn a year.

Gas company Cadent distributed electric heaters, but residents were told to stop using them after grid breach

Sheffield residents say their entire households are sleeping in the same room with a single electric heater or have moved out altogether as they face a fifth day without gas as temperatures plummet.

A major incident was declared and 2,000 homes affected in Stannington, a suburb of Sheffield, after 600,000 litres of water entered a gas main on Friday evening. Nearby Hillsborough is also affected. Olivia Blake, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, has called on the government to provide emergency support on the ground.

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Jonathan Fadugba, and John Brewin were up working late last night in the pod to discuss the concluding games of the World Cup round of 16 after Portugal thrashed Switzerland and Morocco shocked Spain. You can get that directly into your ears here …

First the bad news. It is the first day where there is no actual football at the World Cup since 20 November, and like me, I am sure you are going to miss settling down for the action come 3pm GMT.

US secretary of state says it ‘neither encouraged nor enabled’ Ukraine to mount drone strikes deep inside Russia that damaged long-range bombers

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill in 2020 to create a statewide panel to study reparations for Black Californians.

Good mornings, US politics blog readers. If you are a Republican, you are probably sad about the loss of the party’s candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate election last night – but not as sad as Donald Trump. Walker’s downfall at the hands of Democratic senator Raphael Warnock was the latest flop by one of the many candidates the former president had handpicked for a party that’s still apparently in his thrall.

Yet the GOP must be wondering what Trump’s influence is good for. They barely retook the House of Representatives and failed in winning the single Senate seat necessary to create a majority in that chamber in the midterms. Trump’s mounting legal troubles are seen as one of his major liabilities as he pursues another White House run – but his lackluster endorsement record could also cost him.

The supreme court is hearing a case on North Carolina’s congressional maps that could have big implications for voting rights.

Congress’s end-of-the-year lawmaking sprint continues, with lawmakers trying to broker an elusive immigration reform deal.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs the press at 2pm eastern time.

'Multinational corporations are filling their bank accounts while emptying our world of its natural gifts,' says the UN secretary general António Guterres, as he opens the Cop15 biodiversity conference. 'This conference is our chance to end this orgy of destruction.' 

 Governments will begin formal negotiations for this decade’s UN biodiversity targets at the conference. At the Montreal opening ceremony, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, urged countries to agree on a target to conserve 30% of Earth for nature in the final agreement


The justices will consider whether to adopt the “independent state legislature theory,” which would give state lawmakers nearly unchecked power over federal elections.

Mandy Walker became the first female to win best cinematographer for Elvis, which beat out the Drover’s Wife and the Stranger in most film categories

Baz Luhrmann’s $127m biopic extravaganza Elvis has scooped the 12th annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (Aacta) awards, collecting a total of 11 gongs including best film, best director, best lead actor for Austin Butler in the title role and best supporting actress for Olivia DeJonge, for her role as Priscilla Presley.

The film also made history, with Mandy Walker winning for cinematography earlier this week: a first for female cinematographers in the. No woman has ever won for cinematography at the Oscars or the Baftas.

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By pretending that ‘market forces’ were responsible for procurement at the start of the pandemic, the Tories aim to deny responsibility

On Tuesday, the Conservative peer Michelle Mone announced she was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords, to “clear her name”, after she became the centre of a growing scandal over PPE procurement. Leaked documents suggest Mone and her family secretly received £29m from the firm PPE Medpro after she recommended the company to ministers, and helped it secure access to the government’s “VIP lane” procurement stream. It was later revealed that she also lobbied aggressively for a second firm with links to her husband’s family office. Mone didn’t disclose her financial interest in PPE Medpro in the House of Lords register, but it certainly looks as if she benefited financially.

But who is to say for sure? Who holds the people “who count” accountable? Not Rishi Sunak or his government, if they can help it. To condemn Mone is to condemn their own cronyism, so they’d rather turn a blind eye. The revelations about procurement profiteering keep piling up, and yet the government has weathered it by studiously ignoring the problem. And so far, it has worked.

Linsey McGoey is professor of sociology at the University of Essex and director of the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation

University of Copenhagen study shows more comprehension of domestic than wild animals

It might not be animal communication Dr Dolittle-style, but researchers have found humans are able to glean insights into the feelings of creatures including pigs, horses and goats based on their vocalisations.

The team say the findings suggest certain information within sounds, such as how intense an animal’s emotions are, appears to be conveyed in a similar way across species.

State and territory ministers are expected to sign off on giant battery plan to aid decarbonisation of the grid; and Plibersek will respond to the Samuel review of national environment laws. Follow all the day’s news

Good morning and welcome to our live blog. Natasha May will be along soon to take you through the day but before then here are a couple of stories making news overnight.

The Australian Medical Association has blasted “weak political leadership” for what it sees as the premature relaxation of anti-Covid measures, saying that the health system is “not prepared” to deal with long-term issues stemming from the pandemic. The peak doctors’ body is so concerned about the lingering impact of long Covid on the population and the health system that it thinks governments should reconsider mask mandates to address the problem. One expert thinks long Covid could affect as many as 1 million Australians by next year.

High court case represents landmark test of use of unregulated experts in family justice proceedings

A mother whose children were removed from her care against their wishes after an unregulated psychologist said she had “alienated” them from their father has lost a high court appeal to have her case reopened.

The landmark test case came before the president of the family division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, who has said he will reinforce the need for the courts to follow guidance on appointing experts in his forthcoming judgment.

Christian Walker sent a series of celebratory tweets that recalled the candidate’s alleged history of mistreatment of his family

Among the many detractors celebrating Herschel Walker’s defeat in the Georgia Senate runoff was one closer to home: son Christian, who expressed his delight on Twitter that the state had rejected his controversial father.

“Don’t beat women, hold guns to peoples [sic] heads, fund abortions then pretend your [sic] pro-life, stalk cheerleaders, leave your multiple minor children alone to chase more fame, lie, lie, lie, say stupid crap, and make a fool of your family,” the younger Walker said in the first of a flurry of tweets posted on Tuesday night as the Democrat Raphael Warnock was projected to be the winner.

Beijing’s costly policy of lockdowns has pummeled the world’s second-largest economy and set off mass public protests that were a rare challenge to China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

Clough Group placed itself into voluntary administration after a takeover plan for the company by Italy’s Webuild fell through

Snowy Hydro has told the federal government the collapse of a major construction firm won’t disrupt progress on its multibillion-dollar pumped hydro project.

Clough Group placed itself into voluntary administration on Monday after a takeover plan for the century-old Perth based company by Italy’s Webuild fell through. The failure potentially affects at least six other big projects from a power plant to a navy base.

Public unrest erupted across the country after years of disruptive restrictions. These photographs give a glimpse of life under those measures.

Leaders announce partnership to reduce global dependence on Russian energy

Joe Biden has agreed a deal to ramp up gas exports from the US to the UK as part of a joint effort to cut bills and limit Russia’s impact on western energy supplies.

Sunak and Biden announced an “energy security and affordability partnership” and set up a joint action group, led by Westminster and White House officials, with the aim of reducing global dependence on Russian energy.

Committee on Climate Change says nation is highly likely to miss 2030 carbon reduction goals because of lack of plans to reach them

Nicola Sturgeon has been warned Scotland’s highly ambitious climate targets are “in danger of being meaningless” because her government still has no clear plan to meet them.

The UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an official advisory body, said the Scottish government would almost certainly miss its world-leading carbon reduction targets for 2030 by a substantial margin, despite Sturgeon’s repeated promises of radical action on the climate.

Despite pledging to stop the sales of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, sales of electric cars in Scotland had fallen behind England.

Scotland’s plans to rapidly decarbonise heating in buildings “were still wholly inadequate” despite recent funding increases.

Scottish ministers were failing to tackle high levels of meat and dairy consumption, key causes of CO2 emissions from farming.

Scotland was meeting only half its target to restore 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of peatland a year.

Scottish ministers were failing to work collaboratively with other UK governments on shared climate strategies.

With the help of fishers in Madagascar and Tanzania, scientists discovered two new species of rare sixgill sawsharks

Swimming through the ocean are sharks that look as if they have a hedge trimmer fixed to their heads and a dangling moustache part way along it. These are sawsharks and they use their formidable headgear to slash through shoals of fish. The moustache is a sensory device that helps the sharks detect prey.

“Sawsharks are something extraordinary,” says Simon Weigmann from the Elasmobranch Research Laboratory in Hamburg, Germany.

The searches, conducted after a federal judge directed the former president’s lawyers to look for any documents still in his possession, are said to have found no additional sensitive material.
The newly reinstalled Disney chief was honored at a dinner attended by Eric Adams, Karlie Kloss and various power players.
The board of Gavi, the international vaccine agency, meets Wednesday to debate shutting down the program, known as Covax, amid swiftly waning demand for the shots.

Democrat Warnock looks to fend off challenge from Republican challenger in Senate runoff election

Polls closed at 7pm on Tuesday in Georgia, where the Democratic senator Raphael Warnock is attempting to win his first full term in a runoff election against the Republican challenger, Herschel Walker.

Neither candidate secured enough support in the general election last month to win outright, thus requiring the runoff race.

Man accused of stabbing another to death in 2017 was executed by his father before senior Taliban officials

The Taliban put to death a man accused of murder in western Afghanistan, its spokesperson said on Wednesday, in the first officially confirmed public execution since the group took over the country last year.

The execution in western Farah province was of a man accused of stabbing another man to death in 2017, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said, and was attended by senior officials of the group.

Peak medical body says mask mandates should be considered and calls for ‘plan that relies on more than vaccination’

The Australian Medical Association has blasted “weak political leadership” in the current response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying governments should reconsider mask mandates to address a feared rise in long Covid cases.

The peak doctor’s body has called for more funding into research and treatment of the long-term lingering symptoms of Covid, claiming the nation’s health system is not equipped to manage chronic conditions on a large scale. One expert warned 1 million Australians could experience long Covid by 2023.

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Pedro Castillo announced the dissolution of congress hours before he was due to face an impeachment vote

Peru’s president has reportedly been detained and accused of sedition after he announced the dissolution of congress and the installation of a “government of exception” to rule by decree – just hours before he was due to face an impeachment vote.

The country’s national police tweeted on Wednesday that “former president” Pedro Castillo had been detained, shortly after the country’s congress voted to remove him from office on Wednesday and replace him with the vice president.

Poor river management and invasive species have driven the bivalve out of a former stronghold

The depressed mussel, Pseudanodonta complanata, has every reason to feel dejected. This endangered species has disappeared from the River Thames at Reading, once considered to be a stronghold of its kind. Poor river management and invasive species such as zebra mussel are pushing it to extinction, along with two of its other British cousins, the duck and painter’s mussels.

These two species have declined by 95% in this stretch of the Thames, according to a study by academics at the University of Cambridge. Only empty shells were found of the depressed mussel.

Joseph Wu backs Chinese protesters but says Beijing ‘might try to create external crisis to divert domestic attention’

Taiwan’s foreign minister has backed China’s anti-Covid protesters but also expressed concerns that Beijing could seek to scapegoat Taiwan if demonstrations restarted.

Joseph Wu said Taiwan stood alongside other democracies in calling for China to “respect basic human rights” regarding the extraordinary protests that spread across China last week and the swift police response to close in on those involved.

Laura Hand-Ross says party’s opposition to constitutional recognition is an ‘insult’ that has caused disquiet in the community

The National party’s decision to oppose to an Indigenous voice to parliament has been condemned by a prominent Deniliquin Aboriginal leader as “a slap in the face to black people”.

Laura Hand-Ross, a Wamba Wamba and Muthi Muthi woman and the chair of the Deniliquin Local Aboriginal Land Council, said the Nationals’ stance was an insult and had caused disquiet in the local community.

Although it had been arranged by the British Veterinary Centre one died and two were seriously ill

When we moved from the United Arab Emirates to Germany, I arranged for the British Veterinary Centre (BVC) in Abu Dhabi to organise the transport of my three bulldogs, Butch, Brutus and Biggie. The vet pronounced them in good health and they were booked on to the same Etihad flight as me. The BVC dropped them at the airport at 9.30pm, and they were kept in an air-conditioned animal lounge for three hours before being transferred to the aircraft. It seems they were then left without air conditioning. Butch was found to have died and Biggie and Brutus were seriously ill and had to be removed from the plane and taken back to the BVC for urgent treatment.

We were on the plane unaware. It wasn’t until we landed in Germany that we found messages from the BVC informing us of what had happened. Etihad never said a word to us, and has never apologised. In the end it offered to fly out Biggie and Brutus for free two weeks later, but no one offered to pay for the costs of their medical treatment or Butch’s cremation. Those dogs are my children and I don’t think I will ever recover.
AJ, Germany

Five patients of Eric Salata have filed 11 reports accusing physician of sexually assaulting them or attempting to during procedures

A doctor in Florida who recently died by suicide after being arrested on allegations that he drugged and raped two patients is now accused of similarly attacking at least three other women under his care.

As of Tuesday, five patients of Eric Salata’s Pura Vida cosmetic surgery clinic in Naples had gone to police there and reported that the physician had either sexually assaulted them or attempted to during medical procedures, Adam Horowitz, an attorney for one of the women, said on Tuesday.

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 and online chat is also available. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counselor. A list of prevention resources can be found here.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Australia’s foreign affairs minister to give speech in hope ‘nationalistic domestic posturing won’t sink efforts to build safeguards’

Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has urged China to take up a US offer to put in place “guardrails” to prevent growing tensions from spiralling into war.

Wong will use a speech in Washington DC on Thursday to hit back at claims that Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under Aukus is driving a regional arms race.

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Some illnesses and injuries directly linked to temperature, while other risks include carbon monoxide and depression

With weather forecasters warning of low temperatures and potentially severe overnight frosts across the UK from Wednesday, the UK Health Security Agency is urging people to keep warm and look out for others most at risk from the cold. But what are the dangers that cold weather poses?

Despite description of alleged plotters by prosecutors as a ‘motley crew’, the threat was considered very real

At 6am on Wednesday, German special forces stormed a house in the Berlin lakeside villa quarter of Wannsee and arrested a former MP of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Birgit Malsack-Winkemann. Three minutes later, they entered the Waidmannsheil hunting lodge in Bad Lobenstein in Thuringia. Simultaneous raids took place in 30 other locations, including a car repair shop and a carpenters’ studio, as well as in the Austrian ski resort of Kitzbühel and the Italian city of Perugia.

Twenty-five people were arrested, and by lunchtime eight of them were in police custody, among them a serving soldier of the elite KSK unit, a lawyer, a pilot, a gourmet chef and a prince, the alleged ringleader who had led the plans to overthrow the German state and replace it with a “monarchistic order”.

People with Covid who have mild or no symptoms can now quarantine at home, but PCR tests are still required to enter many places

In the strongest sign so far that China is rolling back on its long-running zero-Covid policy, the national health commission said on that people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms can quarantine at home. The directive also instructed officials to halt temporary lockdowns and ended testing and health code requirements for people entering Beijing.

Family ‘heartbroken’ and angry by decision not to search landfill after four women were believed to have been killed by serial killer

Police in Canada have said they don’t have the resources to search a landfill to recover the bodies of two Indigenous women murdered by an alleged serial killer – a decision that has left the daughters of one victim “heartbroken” and angry.

Last week, police in Winnipeg announced that four Indigenous women – Marcedes Myran, Morgan Harris, Rebecca Contois and a fourth woman who they had not identified – were believed to have been killed by an alleged serial killer. Winnipeg police have charged Jeremy Skibicki in their deaths.

Gathering of state and federal officials in Brisbane on Thursday not expected to result in consensus on proposed price caps on coal and gas

Australia’s energy ministers are expected to sign off on a scheme to accelerate the take-up of giant batteries to support the decarbonisation of the grid when they gather in Brisbane on Thursday.

However, the ministers are unlikely to hold lengthy discussions over any Albanese government proposal to impose price caps on coal and gas.

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President says potential of nuclear war more likely but that Russia has ‘not gone crazy’ and will not use nuclear weapons first

Vladimir Putin has admitted that Russia’s war in Ukraine could turn into a “long-term process” as he sought to defend an invasion in which Russian troops have been forced to retreat and even airbases deep inside Russia have come under attack.

Speaking to members of his personal human rights council on Wednesday, Putin claimed that Russia would not use nuclear weapons first in any conflict, denied that Russian troops were deserting in mass from the field of battle, and claimed that the Russian military would not need to mobilise more troops, a process that has caused considerable upheaval in Russia.