US has entered uncharted waters as sheer anger sparks calls to remove Donald Trump from office immediately | US News


For the Speaker of the House of Representatives – the third in line of succession to power in the United States – to call for the immediate removal of the president was a breathtaking statement on the crisis of democracy in America.

In the congressional TV studio where Nancy Pelosi made her announcement, it was a stunning moment in 24 hours of unprecedented developments.

The veteran Democrat brushed aside questions of how realistic it would be to remove Donald Trump in the remaining days of his presidency.

“This is urgent,” she said.

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‘Trump committed unspeakable assault on our nation’

It is unlikely she will get the response she wants from Vice President Mike Pence – that he is ready to invoke the 25th amendment and drag Mr Trump from the Oval Office.

It is perhaps equally unlikely that Congress will be able to crank the machinery of impeachment into gear – for the second time in the case of Donald Trump – in the space of two weeks.

But it is sheer anger on the part of members of Congress that is driving these moves, because the violence this week came right to their own doorstep.

Senator Mark Warner was visibly shaken as he surveyed the damage inside the Capitol building. The smashed windows, defaced statues, ripped door frames and graffiti were, in his mind, squarely the responsibility of Mr Trump.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a man who has journeyed from a fierce critic of Mr Trump to his weekend golfing buddy, talked chillingly of the possibility that protesters “could have killed us all”.

That the debris of the rampage still littered the corridors a day on was an illustration of an institution that is still rattled by what happened. The beefed-up security and nervous officials were giving off the vibe of being extremely on-edge.

The president’s video message, released more than 24 hours after the violence subsided, did at least contain, finally, a concession of sorts – but the video edits suggest he said more than was released.

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The promise of a peaceful transition to Joe Biden will be welcomed in the midst of a worrying unease about everything connected to US politics.

Whether Mr Trump remains on message for the remainder of his presidency is something no one can take for granted.

When even John Kelly, the retired US Marine Corps general who served as Trump’s loyal chief of staff, says members of the cabinet should be gathering to discuss his removal – and that he would vote “Yes” if he were there – you know the country is in uncharted waters.

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NSW woman who entered Victoria after repeated attempts was on the run for 14 hours


Police claim the woman had earlier tried to enter Victoria and was directed to return to NSW and apply for a permit to enter.

About 5pm Wednesday, an off-duty police officer spotted the woman driving on the other side of Victoria, near Nhill, allegedly on the way to South Australia.

About an hour later, in a joint response by general duties police, highway patrol and detectives from Western Region, officers deployed a tyre-deflation device on the Western Highway.

Police say the woman was arrested without incident and will be assessed and interviewed at a later date for alleged offences, including conduct endangering life, failing to stop on police direction and contravening the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

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On Thursday, Health Minister Martin Foley said he was “extraordinarily upset ” to hear about the matter and that the woman had allegedly turned her car lights off to avoid detection.

“The person is now in quarantine and will be facing further police action. So I don’t want to prejudice any possible case, but anyone who is refused entry from NSW, particularly from a red zone, is refused entry on public health grounds,” he said.

“To then come back at 3am in the morning and drive at speed through a police checkpoint, and then put your lights off so as to avoid detection, is a degree of poor behaviour I’m sure every Victorian would condemn.”

He thanked the 700 police officers currently working on more than 30 border checkpoints.



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Parafield coronavirus cluster now officially ‘closed’ 28 days after last case entered isolation


Adelaide’s Parafield cluster has been officially declared “closed” by South Australian health authorities, with today marking four weeks since the last coronavirus case linked to the outbreak went into quarantine.

The cluster was discovered when an elderly woman at the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide’s north tested positive on November 14.

It was soon linked back to a cleaner and a security guard at the Peppers Waymouth medi-hotel, as well as the Woodville Pizza Bar.

Thirty-three people tested positive as a result of the outbreak, which temporarily sent the state into the nation’s strictest lockdown.

The last locally acquired case was announced by SA Health on November 26, while another two cases already in hotel quarantine were revealed on November 28.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the 28-day period dated back to when the last person was put into quarantine.

“We have officially signed off the Parafield cluster as closed,” Professor Spurrier said.

The cluster was linked back to an overseas-acquired case at the Peppers Waymouth Hotel.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Health Minister Stephen Wade this morning said the official end of the cluster was a “significant event”.

“It is a tribute to the public health team and to the people of South Australia and the hard work that’s been done that we are able today to celebrate the closure of the Parafield cluster,” he said.

“The threat has not gone. We now face, at a distance, the threat of the northern beaches.”

Rules relaxed for wearing masks

Earlier, Mr Wade told ABC Radio Adelaide it was a “salutary time” to “appreciate how it takes time and effort to close down a cluster”.

“It took us 39 days to close down the cluster at Parafield and that was 33 cases,” he said.

“Northern beaches is only seven days in, they’ve already got 90 cases, so this will take time.”

At its height, the Parafield cluster sent more than 5,000 people into quarantine and prompted South Australian authorities to call an intense but short-lived lockdown.

A review has found poor ventilation in the corridor at the Peppers medi-hotel was likely responsible for the outbreak.

A junior doctor at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, Dr Dharminy Thurairatnam, has been credited with identifying the outbreak by ordering a test for a woman in her 80s, who had a slight cough and later tested positive.

Dr Dharminy Thurairatnam has been credited with identifying SA's coronavirus cluster.
Dr Dharminy Thurairatnam ordered the COVID test that led to the cluster being identified.(ABC News)

From today, masks will no longer be mandatory for health workers, including those in aged care, and people working in personal care services such as hairdressers, beauty salons and tattoo parlours.

“The mandatory mask use in some of our particularly high-risk locations needed to remain until today,” she said.

“Many of those places will continue to have mask use for their staff, but what it will mean is that they’ll have a little bit more flexibility, particularly for clients coming in.

“But if you go in to see your hairdresser or beautician and they’d like you to wear a mask, I’d urge you to follow their instructions because it’s for the safety of you as well as for the safety of them.”

Ex gratia payments for bungle

Meanwhile, the fallout from Sunday night’s border bungle, in which contradictory advice led to some incoming travellers from NSW incorrectly being turned away, is continuing.

Mr Wade said SA Health had so far received 18 submissions from people claiming expenses.

He said he could not say when payments would be made, or whether any had been made already.

The Government is not accepting any legal liability for the bungle, but said the payments were “ex gratia” and were paid out of courtesy.

“There is a whole range of factors that will need to be considered.

“It’s a multifaceted response to try and remedy the impact of the miscommunication.”

Mr Wade said more than 1 million mobile phones in South Australia were now registered for QR code check-ins at businesses across the state.

“New South Wales is demonstrating how important that QR code data is,” he said.

Professor Nicola Spurrier addresses the media.
Professor Nicola Spurrier praised the collective action to contain the cluster.(ABC News)

Professor Spurrier said “a number of people” were being released from quarantine today.

“That happens to be [from] the first of the international flights that started coming back,” she said.



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Captain Starlight’s ‘infamous’ cattle heist: 150 years since ‘Harry’ Readford entered outback Queensland folklore


It was the biggest cattle theft in the world but 150 years later outback Queensland locals fear its anniversary has slipped under the radar.

In 1870, bushman Henry ‘Harry’ Readford pulled off an elaborate heist.

He stole 1,000 head of cattle from Bowen Downs Station and drove them from near Longreach down into South Australia to sell.

Outback Pioneers director Richard Kinnon runs tours of Nogo Station where Readford rebranded the herd.

“In a sense he’s probably an infamous hero,” he said.

“He was pretty good at borrowing stock.”

Readford and his men blazed a trail across the rugged western Queensland outback and down what became known as the Strezlecki Track.

Richard Kinnon says nothing beats standing where Harry Readford did 150 years ago.(ABC Western Qld: Craig Fitzsimmons)

“It was only nine years prior that Burke and Wills died coming up through this country with camels and horse,” Mr Kinnon said.

Readford learned to navigate by the stars from local Indigenous groups, earning him the nickname Captain Starlight.

His story partly inspired a character in the classic novel Robbery Under Arms and still draws much-needed tourist dollars today.

But this year’s Qantas centenary and the ongoing pandemic have curbed anniversary celebrations.

“Under the circumstances it’s been drowned out a bit with all the noise,” Mr Kinnon said.

Harry Readford's story still draws a crowd to Nogo Station, outside Longreach
Readford’s campsite at Nogo Station outside Longreach is still popular with tourists to the region.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins)

Honouring the legend

Starlight’s Lookout, an hour north of Longreach, is a rocky outcrop named after the bushman from where you can see the vast, flat surrounds almost to the horizon.

It was not surprising that Readford stopped there on his journey, to ensure they were not being followed.

Starlights Lookout outside Longreach in western Queensland was part of Harry Readford's epic cattle heist
Visiting Starlight’s Lookout outside Longreach almost feels like standing beside Harry Readford himself.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins)

The tiny outback Queensland town of Aramac has also embraced its links to the tale.

The streets are dotted with statues of the distinctive white bull that saw Readford caught and put on trial in Roma.

Outback Queensland historian Aaron Skinn says the town of Aramac embraces its links with Harry Readford
Aaron Skinn says the outback Queensland town’s white bull statues honour its links to Readford’s tale.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins)

“They actually paid out of their own pocket to put some of them outside of their houses and businesses.”

The jury were so impressed with his exploits that they found Readford not guilty.

But in 1872 the Brands Act was brought in which made it harder for anyone else to copy him.

A 150th anniversary re-enactment of the cattle drive was cancelled earlier this year due to the pandemic.

Mr Skinn said it was a shame Readford’s story and his impact were not more widely known.

“On a Queensland and national level I think there should be a lot more recognition.”

A white bull statute sits outside the Aramac Post Office in western Queensland
Readford was charged with the theft of a distinctive white bull, but the impressed jury found him not guilty.(ABC Western Qld: Damien Larkins)

Mr Kinnon said it was a significant part of outback Queensland’s folklore.

“It’s a sleeping giant,” he said.

“People love it, people are wanting to immerse themselves in the stuff.”

He has got big plans to mark the 151st anniversary of the heist in 2021.



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