Growing colony of fruit bats causing more power outages in Adelaide


A growing colony of grey-headed flying foxes are causing increasing numbers of power outages in Adelaide.

The number of flying foxes has declined in recent years amid searing heatwaves, but SA Power Networks spokesman Paul Roberts said numbers have rebounded to about 20,000.

Mr Robert said the animals had caused about 25 power outages in the northern and eastern suburbs in recent weeks.

“It looks like some of the bats are following the Torrens River valley, so to speak, and we’ve had about 25 hour or two-hour long outages,” Mr Roberts said.

He said in the latest outage, nearly 2,000 homes at Klemzig were without power after one became entangled in powerlines.

“We’ve also had a number of momentary outages where the lights flicker, because of bats flying into lines, or getting hooked up across lines or hitting other infrastructure and sadly either getting badly injured or electrocuted,” he said.

“We’re trying to deal with the issue but there’s no real magic solution because these bats have a very random pattern of foraging across the metropolitan area to look for their food.”

Fauna Rescue SA volunteers help SA Power Networks care for the animals when they get injured by powerlines.(ABC News: Brittany Evins)

He said that bats had a unique physiology which puts them at greater risk than birds on powerlines.

“These bats have a wingspan of up to 1.5 metres — the typical spacing between our powerlines are either half a metre or a metre.

He said animal guards were installed when there was evidence of repeat outages caused by the bats in certain locations.

The removal of older surge arresters which can ensnare bat wings was also an ongoing project.

“We have millions of them out there on the network and it will take years to replace those,” he said.

SA Power Networks has been in discussions with Adelaide University researchers and the Department for Environment and Water about a permanent solution.

Mr Roberts said that was still a long way off, with no schemes known to fix the issue.

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The South Africa, UK COVID strains causing headaches for vaccine manufacturers


Early stage clinical trial data from coronavirus vaccine manufacturer’s Johnson & Johnson and Novavax released late last week showed a decreased efficacy against the emerging South African variant of the virus.

The trials showed the vaccines provided between 49 and 57 per cent protection against the strain.

Australia will begin distributing vaccines at the end of this month from Pfizer, who is still awaiting fresh data on its ability to combat this new variant of COVID-19.

As the virus continues to mutate and new strains are being discovered, experts say scientists will need to chase the virus by changing the vaccine.

Thanks for checking this news release about current national news named “The South Africa, UK COVID strains causing headaches for vaccine manufacturers”. This story was posted by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our national news services.

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Driver charged with causing death of cyclist hit by car at Henley Beach


A cyclist has become the first person to die on South Australia’s roads this year after he was hit by a car in Adelaide’s western suburbs early this morning.

The 60-year-old Brighton man was struck by the car on Seaview Road at Henley Beach and died at the scene, with police called to the area just before 7:30am.

The driver of the car — a 51-year-old Grange man — has been charged.

SA Police said the circumstances were still being investigated.

“Unfortunately the cyclist has died and that’s the first fatality for 2021,” Acting Assistant Commissioner John Venditto said.

“It happened just after 7:00am.

“As to the facts and circumstances — that will come out later once the investigators have had a chance to do their job.”

The driver has been arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving and aggravated driving without due care.

He was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for a health assessment, and then to the City Watch House.

Details surrounding the crash are still being investigated.(ABC News: Simon Christie)

Debris from the bike was strewn across Seaview Road, which was closed between Marlborough Road and Reedie Street.

Police are expecting roads to be busier this holiday season, and have again reminded people to take care on the roads.

“I would anticipate that there would be more traffic on the roads because people can’t go interstate, they’re going to be travelling more [within SA],” the acting assistant commissioner said.

Last year there were 95 deaths and 695 serious injuries on South Australia’s roads, compared with 114 deaths in 2019.



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Coronavirus is causing a rare inflammatory syndrome in some US children but pushing case for mask wearing remains difficult


Kale Wuthrich watched doctors surround his son Cooper in the emergency room, giving him fluids through IV tubes, running a battery of tests and trying to stabilise him.

He was enveloped by the confusion and fear that had been building since his 12-year-old suddenly fell ill weeks after a mild bout with the coronavirus.

“He was very close at that point to not making it, and basically they told me to sit in the corner and pray,” Mr Wuthrich said.

“And that’s what I did.”

By the end of November, the boy from a secluded valley in the US state Idaho became one of hundreds of children in the United States who have been diagnosed with a rare, extreme immune response to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.

Cooper is back home after days in hospital battling a fever, infection and severe pain.(AP: Rick Bowmer)

Cooper Wuthrich’s fever spiked as his joints and organs became inflamed, including his heart, putting his life at risk, his father said.

“Cooper had it in every organ, in his joints; his feet were swelled up the size of mine, his poor eyes were red, bugged out of his head and very lethargic, very scared,” Mr Wuthrich said.

After days in the hospital, Cooper is back home.

But the child who loved sledding and skiing spent much of the following days on the couch.

A short walk left him with a bloody nose, and he’s still on medications that require twice-daily injections.

Protests over COVID restrictions

Demonstrators hold signs as they gather in opposition to Virginia's stay-at-home order.
People have protested COVID restrictions throughout the US.(Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)

For Cooper’s parents, his illness deepened their commitment to wearing masks and urging others to do so, though pushback can be intense in the conservative state.

Hundreds of people have protested mask requirements for months, even forcing one health official to rush home this month in fear for her child as protesters blasted a sound clip of gunfire outside her front door.

Opposition to restrictions is strong even as coronavirus patients fill Idaho hospitals.

Idaho Governor Brad Little warned that car crash victims could need to be treated in hospital conference rooms if beds run out.

He’s encouraged people to wear masks but is among about a dozen governors who haven’t issued a statewide mandate.

Cooper caught the virus in late October, likely at school, which is open for in-person classes without a mask requirement, said his mother, Dani Wuthrich.

“He had got himself grounded, and so he hadn’t been allowed to go anywhere except for to school,” she said.

He recovered in a few days and was back to playing basketball after a two-week quarantine.

But as December started approaching, Cooper called to come home from practice, unusual for a kid with bottomless energy.

His fever spiked above 39 degrees Celsius, and the medicine his parents gave him didn’t help. He was throwing up; he tossed and turned at night.

As the days wore on and Cooper’s fever refused to break, his parents rushed him to a local hospital, where doctors ran tests to try to figure out what was wrong.

Not seeing improvement and suspecting appendicitis, they loaded him into an ambulance for a three-hour drive through the mountains to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Inflammatory syndrome

Cooper Wuthrich rests on a couch with his head on a pillow as he wears a mask.
Cooper is one of hundreds of children in the US diagnosed with a rare COVID-19 complication.(AP: Rick Bowmer)

Cooper is one of about 40 kids treated for the inflammatory syndrome at Primary Children’s, said Dongngan Truong, a paediatric cardiologist who is helping with a study on the illness.

“Luckily, it is a rare complication, but it’s a complication that can get kids pretty sick pretty quickly,” Dr Truong said.

An August report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many children with the condition had severe complications, including inflammation of the heart and kidney damage.

In nearly two-thirds of cases, children went to intensive care units, and the average ICU stay was five days.

The report also found Hispanic and black children made up three-quarters of those with the syndrome.

The root seems to be a dysfunction of the immune system, which kicks into overdrive when exposed to the virus, releasing chemicals that can damage organs.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal or neck pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, bloodshot eyes and fatigue.

It can be tricky to identify because some kids have such mild COVID-19 symptoms that parents didn’t know they had the virus until the inflammatory syndrome appears, Dr Truong said.

Cooper Wuthrich sits on a couch in front of his mother Dani and father Kale.
Cooper’s parents said he nearly died and their terrifying experience shows why people should wear masks.(AP: Rick Bowmer)

It’s unclear why some children get the syndrome and others don’t, so the only way to prevent it is to stop kids from getting the virus, with steps like masks and social distancing, she said.

Back home in Idaho, the Wuthriches are trying to persuade friends and family to take precautions.

To a hunting buddy, Kale Wuthrich made his case for mask-wearing by comparing it to the camouflage he puts on his face while staking out deer.

They require masks for employees at their truck stop and restaurant, where they worked their way up from dishwashing and serving to part owners.

But they can’t always get customers to wear masks at the outpost.

Recently, plenty of people without face coverings passed by a cowboy mannequin with an American flag-patterned mask set up at the entrance to the restaurant.

“But I don’t think that will ever happen.”

AP



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Early wallop of snow causing pandemic-related woes in Northeastern U.S.


A major snowstorm rolled into the U.S. Northeast on Wednesday at a key moment in the coronavirus pandemic: days after the start of the U.S. vaccination campaign and in the thick of a virus surge that has throngs of people seeking tests every day.

Snow was falling from northern Virginia to points north of New York City by late afternoon. The storm was poised to drop more than 60 centimetres of snow in some places by Thursday. And the pandemic added new complexities to officials’ preparations — deciding whether to close testing sites, figuring out how to handle plowing amid outdoor dining platforms in New York City streets, redefining school snow days to mean another day of learning from home, and more.

“Our theme today ought to be, ‘If it’s not one thing, it’s another,’ ” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said as he gave residents storm guidance that’s new this year: mask up if you help your neighbours shovel.

Officials said they didn’t expect the winter blast to disrupt vaccine distribution, which began Monday for front-line health-care workers, the first group of Americans to get the shots. The first three million shots are being strictly limited to those workers and nursing home residents.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday that the government is tracking the vaccine shipments precisely, has staffers already in place to receive them and believes the companies transporting the doses can navigate the storm.

“This is FedEx, this is UPS express shipping. They know how to deal with snow and bad weather. But we are on it and following it,” he told Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends.

A front loader works at a large pile of road salt, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Chelsea, Mass., as preparation continues for a winter storm expected to dump a foot or more of snow throughout the Northeast. (Elise Amendola/The Associated Press)

‘Overabundance of hazards’

With 35 vaccine deliveries to New Jersey hospitals expected over the next day or two, Murphy said his administration was focused on making sure they continued, including by exempting vaccine delivery trucks from a storm-related prohibition on commercial traffic on some highways.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s first-round vaccine shipment had already been distributed to some 90 hospitals, with the next delivery not due until roughly Tuesday, well after the storm.

The National Weather Service said the storm was “set to bring an overabundance of hazards from the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast,” including freezing rain and ice in the mid-Atlantic, heavy snow in the New York City area and southern New England, strong winds and coastal flooding, and possibly even severe thunderstorms and some tornadoes in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

In Virginia, the combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain knocked out power to several thousand homes and businesses by Wednesday afternoon. The state police said that as of 3 p.m. ET, troopers had responded to approximately 200 crashes, including a wreck on Interstate 81 that killed a North Carolina man.

A man shovels snow on the Villanova University campus during a winter storm, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Villanova, Pa. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)

‘Take this seriously,’ NYC mayor warns

The heaviest snowfall was expected in central Pennsylvania, where forecasters in the state capital of Harrisburg said a six-decade-old record for a December snowfall could potentially be broken.

But some areas from West Virginia to Maine could get 30 centimetres of snow — for some, that’s more than they saw all last winter. In New York City, officials braced for the biggest storm in about three years.

“Take this seriously,” Mayor Bill de Blasio warned residents.

In addition to the usual rolling out of plows and salt spreaders, the nation’s most populous city was adding some pandemic-era preparations to its list, such as closing city-run testing sites Wednesday afternoon and suspending outdoor dining in the sometimes elaborate spaces that now occupy parking spaces outside some restaurants.

Restaurants weren’t being required to break down their wooden enclosures and other structures for outdoor dining, currently the only form of restaurant table service allowed in the city, but they were told to secure outdoor furniture, remove heaters and take other steps to make way for plows.

The city’s snow-removal chief, acting sanitation commissioner Ed Grayson, said the agency had been planning and training since summer to manoeuvre around the structures.

Cars move along the roads as snow starts to fall Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)

De Blasio also announced that Thursday would be a snow day — 2020-style — for the nation’s largest school district. School buildings will be closed, but students will be expected to go to class online (many would anyway, as middle and high schools are currently all online, and many families have chosen remote learning).

“I know we all grew up with the excitement of snow days, but this year is different,” the mayor tweeted.

Rhode Island, meanwhile, closed state-run coronavirus testing sites for Thursday.



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Paramedic found not guilty of causing patient’s death in ambulance rollover


A District Court judge has found a South Australian paramedic not guilty of causing a patient’s death by dangerous driving.

Matthew James McLean, 42, was transporting Karen Biddell, 48, from Port Pirie to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2016 when he crashed on Port Wakefield Road.

During the trial, the prosecution blamed fatigue, with Mr McLean having worked 11 shifts in 12 days after volunteering to work overtime. 

But Mr McLean’s lawyers argued he was suffering from an undiagnosed sleep disorder at the time of the crash. 

He had pleaded not guilty.

The District Court had heard that the bariatric patient was being transported from her home in Port Pirie to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for treatment when the accident occurred.

‘Justice has been done’

Ambulance Employees Association general secretary Phil Palmer expressed his condolences to Ms Biddel’s family and friends.

He said the long-awaited verdict brought four years “of hell” to end for Mr McLean and his family.

“Mr McLean specifically asked me to pass on to the family of the deceased that he thinks of them every day and he goes through anguish.

“From our perspective justice has been served, this gives us faith in the justice system.”

Ambulance Employees Association general secretary Phil Palmer told reporters justice had been done after the District Court found Matthew James McLean not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.(ABC News: Mahalia Carter)

He said paramedics in South Australia often struggled with fatigue on the job and did not get enough support from their employer or the government.

“We’re all worried about fatigue but in this case, at this time, we’re just relishing the moment that Mr McLean can walk free and know he’s not facing jail, go home and tell his kids that daddy’s going to be home from now on,” Mr Palmer said.

“Every ambo in South Australia was behind him, we’ve been getting messages all day — ambos from all over Australia will be relieved by this.

Paramedic told court he tried to shield patient’s daughter

Mr McLean broke down in the witness box as he gave evidence in his own defence last month, recounting how he rolled the ambulance and tried to shield a girl from witnessing her mother’s death.

“I put the daughter in the front seat to try and shield her from seeing her mother in that position and then I was physically trying to pull the stretcher up because I needed to get her up and out of that position,” he said.

Ambulance rollover
The bariatric ambulance rolled in August 2016.(ABC News)

He told the court he did not feel fatigued and would have asked to swap positions with his colleague if he felt “at risk” of falling asleep.

“I felt as normal as I was driving at any other time,” he told the jury during the trial.



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Kilburn plastic recycling factory goes up in smoke, causing $1 million damage


Residents living near a large plastics recycling factory in Adelaide’s inner north, where a fire broke out last night, say they are worried about the health impacts of fumes being emitted from the facility.

The fire broke out at the Kilburn factory and caused toxic smoke to drift across the area — which is also home to residential streets, including many with new housing developments.

The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) estimated the damage bill to be more than $1 million.

It took 17 firefighters over an hour to contain the blaze, and investigators were yet to determine the cause of the fire.

MFS assistant chief fire officer Peter Button said fire crews responded to a blaze at the same $100 million facility a decade ago, destroying recycled plastics outside the premises.

“This time, we narrowly avoided a significant fire by the quick actions [of firefighters] and controlling it down to just the machinery involved,” he said.

He said a machine called a “hopper” caught fire first, before spreading to a “small part of the structure”.

Local resident Mehbuba Mehzabin said she came outside about 7:00pm on Thursday and witnessed “lots of smoke”.

Ms Mehzabin and her husband, Robiul Islam, have told ABC News that they bought their house in 2016 but were thinking of moving because of the noise and chemical smells emitted from the factory.

Mehbuba Mehzabin and Robiul Islam with their children outside their Kilburn home following the fire.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

“It is a residential area and it [the factory] shouldn’t be here,” she said.

“This is our permanent home so it is very upsetting for us and we are really worried about this.”

Neighbours have made complaints

Mr Islam said he believed they had purchased in an area that was earmarked for development, but the factories had not relocated.

“We’ve got these new houses, and we thought, ‘OK, it’s growing’ and it’s a good area to live in but we’ve still got this type of industry. It’s conflicting,” he said.

He said he and his neighbours had made complaints about the factory.

“This is a residential area and we get a bit of noise during the night and they use chemicals so we get bad smells.”



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Who are the Olympic stars causing a splash in our pools?



AN ELITE pool of aqua athletes including Olympic medallists have caused a splash with the news they are currently training on the Northern Rivers.

The squad which includes Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmers are powering through the water under the watchful eye of coaches at the Alstonville Aquatic Centre and the Ballina War Memorial Pool.

 

The visiting team includes swimming siblings, Bronte and Cate Campbell, renowned for being the first sisters to compete in the same swimming event at the Olympics.

It’s not the first time Alstonville has hosted elite swimmers.

The arrival of such talented and inspiring athletes has also brought an enthusiastic response from local swimmers.

On Wednesday, the Alstonville Swimming Club posted on social media: “So excited to meet the Campbell sisters this morning.”

In January 2019, high performance swimming coaches Damien Jones and Richard Scarce were in residence training Olympic Games hopefuls during an eight-day camp at Alstonville.

Scarce brought his Bond University team from the Gold Coast while Jones had his Rackley swimming team from Brisbane.





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Hurricane Eta Lashes Nicaragua With Severe Rain, Causing Deadly Landslides



At least two people have died in Nicaragua after Hurricane Eta battered Central America on November 3, local media reported. Confidencial said two miners died due to a landslide caused by the heavy rain in the municipality of Bonanza. The storm also killed at least one person in Honduras, local media reported. Eta made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. Video filmed by Puerto Cabezas resident Rocky Maybeth Castillo shows trees moving in the strong winds, accompanied by heavy rain, after Eta made landfall in Nicaragua. A second video shows damage to the city as conditions remained severe. Credit: Rocky Maybeth Castillo via Storyful



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#SavePornhub: Thailand bans porn and gambling sites, causing outrage, protests




Thailand’s government said on Tuesday it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship and a protest against the decision.Digital minister Puttipong Punnakanta said the block was part of efforts to restrict access to porn and gambling websites, which were illegal under the country’s cybercrime law.But many Thai users trended the #SavePornhub hashtag on Twitter and criticised the decision. Thailand, which has a globally-known sex…



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