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Thank you for joining me on the blog this afternoon. I’m wrapping up now and wish you all a pleasant evening.
If you’re just catching up on the news, here are the key headlines:
Circling back to the COP27 climate talks, Tuvalu has announced plans to replicate itself in the metaverse, to ensure survival if the nation is lost to rising sea levels in the real world.
Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe said Tuvalu plans to build a digital version of itself, replicating islands and landmarks and preserving its history and culture as rising sea levels threaten to submerge the tiny Pacific island nation.
Tuvalu would become the first digitised nation in the metaverse – an online realm that uses augmented and virtual reality to help users interact.
The city of Seoul and the island nation of Barbados last year said they would enter the metaverse to provide administrative and consular services, respectively.
Kofe grabbed global attention at last year’s COP26 when he addressed the conference standing knee-deep in the sea to illustrate how Tuvalu was on the front line of climate change.
Read the full story.
Tuvalu Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Kofe addresses COP26 standing in seawater that threatens his island nation.Credit:AFP
Speaking of climate and extreme weather events, let’s turn briefly to the NSW floods. There is a separate blog on the floods if you want to follow more closely.
The Lachlan River at Condobolin measured at 7.41 metres this morning – higher than during the infamous 1952 flood often spoken about as a benchmark during this flood event.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted the river could reach as high as 7.60 metres at Condobolin Bridge on Saturday.
The 1952 flood levels have also been surpassed at Cottons Weir and Euabalong.
In Forbes, the major flood peak is expected to remain at about 10.70 metres at Forbes Iron Bridge into the weekend, as locals contend with deep water through their homes and are ferried about town in boats.
NSW Police are appealing to the public after a body was spotted in floodwaters at Eugowra on Monday morning.
A police officer was helping an elderly woman who was trapped in floodwaters when she saw the body of a man, which she described as being aged in his 20s, of Caucasian appearance, with a slim build and fair hair. The police officer was unable to leave the elderly woman and she lost sight of the body.
NSW Police are appealing to the public to let them know if anyone is missing and fits the description.
Police are also searching for missing 85-year-old Ljubisa ‘Les’ Vugec, who was last seen at his home in Eugowra about 9am Monday.
The body of missing 60-year-old Diane Smith was found yesterday, marking the first death of the current flood crisis.
In case you missed it, Nick O’Malley has a good story explaining the complex negotiations going on at COP27 over whether rich countries should pay poor countries to cut emissions and for the damage they’ve already done.
Australia is at the centre of all this, with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen being asked to co-chair discussions with his Indian counterpart.
This sees Bowen placed in the heart of the sprawling beast that the UN climate talks have become, just as he pursues a bid for Australia to host its own climate summit with Pacific island nations in 2026. And he is doing it aside one of Australia’s key international partners, India.
At the Glasgow talks, only coal was targeted for reduced use, but this week India called for oil and gas to be targeted for reductions along with coal in any COP27 deal eventually reached.
Staying on Ukraine for a moment, US President Joe Biden has disputed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s comment that missiles that landed in Poland were not of Ukrainian origin.
“That’s not the evidence,” Biden told reporters at the White House today, after returning from the G20 summit in Bali.
A Kherson woman sings the Ukrainian national anthem after Ukrainian forces retook the city.Credit:Paula Bronstein
NATO and Poland have concluded a missile that hit a Polish village and killed two people was probably a stray fired by Ukraine in self defence as it was under heavy fire from Russia at the time.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said it was probably an accident.
“From the information that we and our allies have, it was an S-300 rocket made in the Soviet Union, an old rocket [being used by both sides] and there is no evidence that it was launched by the Russian side,” Duda said. “It is highly probable that it was fired by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defence.”
Zelensky disputes this and called for a full investigation, with Ukrainian investigators included in the team, before any judgments were made.
Regardless, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia was still to blame because it was the aggressor in the war.
“This is not Ukraine’s fault,” he said. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
To international news, and Ukrainian investigators in the recently liberated southern Kherson region have uncovered 63 bodies with signs of torture after Russian forces left the area.
A report in the Interfax Ukraine news agency quotes comments made by the country’s interior minister Denys Monastyrsky on national television:
Now, 63 bodies have been discovered in Kherson region, but we must understand that the search has only just started so many more dungeons and burial places will be uncovered.
Monastyrsky said law enforcement bodies had uncovered 436 instances of war crimes during Russia’s occupation. Eleven places of detention had been discovered, including four where torture had been practiced.
Meanwhile, Eryk Bagshaw reports Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest will invest $740 million in Ukraine’s private sector to kick-start its post-war economy, marking the first tranche of a $US100 billion global fund that has been described as Ukraine’s “Marshall Plan”.
To the state memorial service for former Howard government minister Peter Reith in Melbourne today, we have this report from Chip Le Grand and photos by Eddie Jim.
Former prime minister John Howard gave a eulogy, remembering Reith as a wonderful friend and colleague and a reformer of Australian politics who dedicated his time in office to bringing about change.
Former prime minister John Howard delivered a eulogy for the late Peter Reith.Credit:Eddie Jim
He is best remembered by the public as the minister who took on the maritime union in the bitter wharf dispute.
A roll call of current and former Liberal figures gathered at St Andrew’s church in the bayside suburb of Brighton, near where Reith went to school and lived out his final days.
Howard told Reith’s state memorial service that shortly before Reith died at the age of 72 the pair shared their views on the recent federal election loss. When Howard remarked that the party had a big job ahead of them to rebuild, Reith interjected: “You have got to be joking. We have a huge task ahead!”
Howard described Reith as the great all-rounder of his parliamentary teams and someone who was held in “extraordinary affection” by those who worked for him.
The memorial service was told that aside from leading the push to break the union stranglehold on the docks, Reith was a strong supporter of a direct election republic, and one of the principal architects of John Hewson’s Fightback electoral platform, which foreshadowed Howard introducing the GST.
Attendees included former prime minister Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, former treasurers Peter Costello and Josh Frydenberg, former governors-general Peter Cosgrove and Peter Hollingworth and current Liberal senators Sarah Henderson, Jane Hume and James Paterson.
Circling back to COVID-19, researchers at the University of Tasmania and Deakin University have attempted to model how many people will have long COVID symptoms by early December.
Long COVID refers to cases where symptoms persist for longer than three months, but a proportion within that can have very severe effects including extreme fatigue.
The World Health Organisation estimates 10-20 per cent of people with the virus will experience long COVID. Others such as Professor Peter Collignon believe it’s closer to 1-2 per cent, which could still add up to hundreds of thousands of people if the whole population is eventually infected.
The researchers used three different models, while calling for the federal government to increase data gathering and surveillance.
Jackie O is taking a break from her top-rating breakfast radio show on KIIS to recover from long COVID.
The study’s models suggest at least 160,000 Australians will likely be experiencing long COVID symptoms in early December and, for more than 35,000 people, their symptoms will significantly limit their activities and make them unable to work.
The estimates increased to more than 500,000 with long COVID including more than 110,000 severe cases when researchers made adjustments based on work by the Australian National University.
Jacqueline Last, better known as the Jackie O of the Sydney radio duo Kyle and Jackie O, announced earlier this week she would take time off from work to recover from long COVID.
The researchers said Australia was an outlier among similar countries in not having instituted large-scale national surveys about long COVID.
The study made several recommendations, including for greater surveillance of long COVID via regular Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare surveys.
Health Minister Mark Butler said the Department of Health was leading the development of a national approach to long COVID.
The federal government has invested $130 million in COVID-19 research through the Medical Research Future Fund.
There is a parliamentary inquiry into long COVID that is still collecting evidence.
In Alice Springs, an inquest for the death of an Indigenous teenager has heard calls for a payback ceremony that would involve spearing a police officer.
In 2019, North Territory police officer, Constable Zachary Rolfe, shot Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker three times in the back and torso during a bungled arrest in Yuendumu, northwest of Alice Springs.
Zachary Rolfe (right) was acquitted of all charges over the death of Kumanjayi Walker, whose photo is used courtesy of his family.
The inquest heard today that traditional payback within customary or tribal law was often misunderstood by non-Indigenous Australians as revenge but was actually more about peacemaking.
NT police officer and Arrernte man Senior Constable Brad Wallace told the inquest: “There is great misinterpretation across the NT when it comes to the concept of payback.
“The concept of payback is interpreted more from a contemporary Westernised side as being revenge or punishment.
“The knowledge I’ve gained in my life it’s based more around peacemaking and bringing balance back to the community.”
Wallace said he had witnessed a payback ceremony in his youth and “it was a process of peacemaking between two clan groups” that stopped the situation from further developing.
Wallace also told the coroner he had previously worked in the Solomon Islands, where “customary law is embedded into the legal system”, unlike in Australia.
Counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer agreed that Australian law did not accommodate this, saying “this court can’t condone grievous bodily harm”.
Rolfe, 31, was charged with murder four days after the man died and found not guilty in March after a five-week jury trial that divided opinion across the NT.
The inquest heard police officers in Yuendumu decided to withhold information from Walker’s family and deliberately mislead them over his death in the hours after Rolfe killed him.
The verdict left the grieving Warlpiri community angry and calling for justice. That frustration and outrage was further exacerbated during the inquest by some police officers’ evidence that demonstrated a misunderstanding of what payback was.
Elder Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves told reporters visiting the remote community earlier this week that payback needed to happen so it could heal.
Yesterday Rolfe claimed legal privilege and refused to answer some questions when he appeared as a witness at the inquest.
The inquest continues.
Sean Turnell, the Australian economist jailed in military-ruled Myanmar, has been released after 21 months in detention.
Sean Turnell and wife Ha Vu before his imprisonment in February 2021.
Turnell’s name was included on a list of prisoners granted amnesty by the regime that was announced on state television today, which is Myanmar National Day.
An economic advisor to overthrown civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and an expert on the financial system of the South-east Asian nation, Turnell was arrested soon after the military seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021.
Our South-East Asia correspondent Chris Barrett has the full story.
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As it happened: NSW Health recommends masks on public transport as state’s COVID cases grow; PM to strike global trade pacts – Sydney Morning Herald
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