Avenue Range farmer Hugh Bainger describes entering bunker to escape Lucindale fire’s flames


When an out-of-control bushfire took off in South Australia’s south-east on Monday afternoon, farmer Hugh Bainger decided to stay and protect his property.

But as the fire rapidly travelled from Blackford towards Mr Bainger’s property at Avenue Range, west of Lucindale, he knew there was no escaping it.

“I realised there was no chance of it not coming to the homestead,” he said.

Using a garden hose to extinguish some vines that had caught alight on his house, Mr Bainger soon realised he could no longer withstand the heat.

“I thought the safest thing was to come here and get in the bunker. I did that for quarter of an hour, 20 minutes,” he said.

While he bunkered down, the fire raged outside.

“There were a few explosions in the sheds when they all caught fire, the gas bottles and a tyre,” Mr Bainger said.

“It made me think of what it must be like in a war when people are getting shot at and they’ve got to stay inside, or bombs are coming down.”

Mr Bainger eventually heard a truck overhead and emerged from the bunker to assess the damage.

Miraculously, his house had survived, but he estimated about a third of his 6,000-hectare property had been destroyed, and with that, hundreds of livestock.

“I don’t know how many livestock we’ve lost yet but it’s really cruel, it’s awful.”

SA Police earlier said there were “significant losses” to livestock and fencing.

The CFS estimates there have been ‘significant’ livestock losses in the bushfire.(ABC: Lincoln Rothall)

Couple loses ‘all worldly possessions’

Neil Watts, 70, and his wife Chris were holidaying at nearby Boatswain Point when their son called to say their family home of 40 years was alight.

A man with white hair kneels in front of his destroyed house.
Neil Watts lost his home of 40 years at Avenue Range when the bushfire swept through.(ABC: Lincoln Rothall)

“We got a phone call about 4 o’clock, saying that somebody had driven past and they’d seen the house was smouldering,” Mr Watts said.

“So we left Boatswain Point and came straight here, and that’s when we found the place on fire, just about flames everywhere … couldn’t do much about it.”

The home was completely destroyed by the blaze, leaving the family with just the clothes they took on their trip.

“For me, it’s a bit of a numb feeling, what can you do when your whole house is on fire?” Mr Watts said.

“It might take a bit longer to sink in, to realise you’ve lost everything that you’ve had for 40 years … all your worldly possessions.”

A house completely blackened by fire, with collapsed roof and blown windows.
Neil Watts and his wife, Chris, lost everything in the bushfire.(ABC: Sarah Mullins)

Mr Watts said he and his wife would stay in their holiday shack at Boatswain Point until they “figured out” where to live.

The CFS has confirmed at least three other homes in Lucindale were lost, with several more structures impacted.

Thousands still without power

SA Power Networks said the fire had potentially destroyed up to 80 kilometres of electricity lines, and was working as quickly as possible to check on its infrastructure and restore power to more than 3,000 affected customers.

By midday, the electricity distributor had installed a generator at Kingston, restoring power to about 400 customers, including the local hospital.

SA Power’s manager of corporate affairs, Paul Roberts, warned that high levels of solar generation in the region could hinder the restoration of power.

“We do have a problem there when we get to the middle of the day on a day like today, we’re going to get a lot of solar, so we’re asking people in Kingston to turn their invertors off,” Mr Roberts said.

“That will assist us in keeping supply to the hospital and getting supply to the service station.”

A service station appears scorched by fire.
A service station in Lucindale was damaged by the bushfire.(ABC: Lincoln Rothall)

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Trump Bars Pence’s Chief of Staff From Entering White House, Reports Say



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On Wednesday, supporters of the current US President Donald Trump, who’d gathered in Washington, stormed the US Capitol building, and interrupted a Congressional meeting, which was supposed to approve the results of the presidential election.

US President Donald Trump has barred a key aide to Vice President Mike Pence from entering the White House after the latter refused to challenge the results of the country’s presidential elections, NBC reports, citing a source close to Pence.

The Head of Pence’s staff, Marc Short, who advised the US vice president on issues related to the counting of electoral college votes, according to reports, was “banned from entering the White House”.

Earlier in the day, pro-Trump protesters stormed the US Capitol building, destroying property and seizing the rotunda room, as Congress was trying to certify the results of Biden’s presidential victory. As of now, the Capitol building has been cleared of protesters.

The mass riot erupted after Trump in a speech to thousands of supporters near the White House vowed to never concede and called on the crowd to make their voices heard.

Democrat Joe Biden is considered the president-elect, according to the results of the elections, but Trump has refused to admit defeat.



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Sydney Northern Beaches coronavirus cluster grows to 17; Tasmania stops NSW travellers from entering; WA imposes new border rules; French President Macron tests positive


French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19.

The news was confirmed by the presidential palace.

The brief statement did not say what symptoms Macron experienced, but that he “took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared.

It said he would isolate himself for seven days.

“He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance,” it added.

It was not immediately clear what contact tracing efforts were in progress. Macron attended a European Union summit at the end of last week, and he met Wednesday with the prime minister of Portugal.

There was no immediate comment from Portuguese officials.



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Steps debate the merits of entering Eurovision


After the band’s first album sold 1.2 million copies 1998, Steps were living off just £50 a week each.

Claire told FHM the most lavish thing she’d been able to buy from her earnings was “half a bed”. Her parents had to pay for the other half.



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Russia bars 25 Britons from entering country in retaliation for UK government sanctions | World News


Russia has barred 25 British citizens from entering the country in a tit-for-tat move after London sanctioned 25 Russians, including a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman accused the UK of interfering in Russia’s internal affairs by issuing the July sanctions against individuals thought to be involved in the mistreatment and death of a Russian lawyer called Sergei Magnitsky.

“In response to the unfriendly actions of the British authorities and on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, the Russian side made a decision to impose personal sanctions against 25 British representatives who are barred from entering the Russian Federation,” Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

“We once again call on the British leadership to abandon an unfounded confrontational line with regard to our country.

Image:
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has accused the UK government of interference. File pic

“Any unfriendly steps will not be left without an inevitable proportionate response.”

The statement did not reveal the identities of the 25 Britons.

In July, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, announced a total of 47 people, including the 25 Russians, had been included on a UK sanctions list.

This group were the first to have been designated for sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes.

Mr Raab said at the time: “Those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, the henchman of dictators, will not be free to waltz into this country to buy up property on the King’s Road, to do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or other financial institutions.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Lancaster House on July 21, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Image:
The move is in response to sanctions on 25 Russians imposed by Mr Raab in July. File pic

He also warned that organised criminals will “not be able to launder your blood money in this country”.

The biggest Russian name on the list is Alexander Bastrykin, whose Investigative Committee reports directly to Mr Putin.

He has already been blacklisted by the United States and Canada over the death of Mr Magnitsky, who uncovered large-scale tax fraud in Russia but died in prison in 2009 after giving evidence against corrupt officials.

He lends his name to the US “Magnitsky Act”, which imposes sanctions on human rights abusers.



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Police ban rival Sydney crime families from entering certain suburbs after shooting murder of Mejid Hamzy


NSW Police have banned two rival Sydney crime families, and some of their associates, from moving between certain suburbs after the shooting murder of Mejid Hamzy last week.

The younger brother of Brothers 4 Life leader Bassam Hamzy — who is serving time in jail for murder — was killed near his car at Condell Park last week.

The father, 44, stumbled for about 200 metres before he collapsed and died in a pool of blood near the front door of his Simmat Avenue home.

Two men have been on the run for more than a week after setting fire to their getaway car only streets away from the crime scene.

Investigators have issued Public Safety Orders, banning 22 people — mainly friends or members of the Alameddine and Hamzy families — from moving across parts of Sydney.

The Alameddine family and some of their associates are prevented from going to Condell Park and other nearby suburbs, including Bankstown and Silverwater, as well as Bronte and Clovelly in the city’s east, as well as Sans Souci and Dolls Point in the city’s south.

The Hamzy family and some of their associates are banned from going to parts of Western Sydney, including Mount Druitt, Doonside, Rooty Hill, Parramatta, Westmead and Merrylands.

The orders were enforced at the weekend amid police fears of revenge attacks.

“I am sure the community are sick of these crime groups using our streets and our homes as shooting ranges,” Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow said.

“We have people dying in the street, we are sick of it.”

Mejid Hamzy was shot dead near his car in Condell Park last week.

Public Service Orders last only 72 hours so investigators are taking their fight to court to apply for Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO) which last up to five years.

“It will prevent them from associating with other criminals, it will prevent them from utilising weapons of crime, it will prevent them from having encrypted communications,” Detective Superintendent Critchlow said.

“We can control what telephones they use, we can control who they bank with, we can stop their movements overseas.”

SCPOs are rare, but Strike Force Raptor detectives did use them amid escalating tensions between the Finks and Rebels bikie gangs in Newcastle several years ago.

Aerial view of a burnt out car
A burnt-out car was found in nearby streets after Hamzy was shot dead.(ABC News)

Investigators are trying to work out whether a brawl between the Hamzy and Alameddine families may have led to the murder of Mejid Hamzy.

They are also looking at a brawl in which his cousin, Mohammed Hamzy, was stabbed with a metal shiv by another inmate at John Morony Correctional Centre near Windsor.

Police are hoping the new orders will put pressure on associates of the rival families to provide them with information that could crack the case.

“We will not stop in our pursuit of these reckless and careless individuals who continue to put the community at risk and if you are involved, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, it is best to assume we are watching your every move,” Mr Critchlow said.

Individuals who break either of the orders could face five years in jail or a fine of more than $165,000.



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NSW man sentenced for entering SA after lying about ‘terminally ill relative’


A NSW man lied about a terminally ill relative in order to enter South Australia on compassionate grounds after a family dispute, court hears.

Adam Pumpa, 32, was released from custody on Wednesday after spending a month behind bars over the border breach.

The Adelaide Magistrates Court heard he and his partner landed at Adelaide Airport on September 7.

Border restrictions requiring people entering South Australia from NSW to quarantine for 14 days were lifted on September 24.

Pumpa, of Mudgee, had used an alias to submit an online cross-border application, which said the couple was entering on compassionate grounds and would travel to Whyalla Norrie to visit his partner’s terminally ill relative.

He told police they intended to quarantine at that address but officers who went to the home were told Pumpa was not welcome and no one living there was sick.

Camera IconAdam Pumpa was sentenced in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday. Credit: AAP

A prosecutor told the court the pair was arrested the next day at a bus depot in the Adelaide CBD, and Pumpa has been in custody since then.

While he declined to answer questions in a police interview, his partner told officers they left NSW to escape a family dispute.

In sentencing, Magistrate Koula Kossiavelos said he had flouted important guidelines by giving false information about his quarantine address and grounds for entry.

“We are going to see a spike in South Australia if those guidelines are not met,” she said.

“You have defied those rules and the penalties reflect the seriousness.”

Pumpa pleaded guilty to one count of failing to comply with a direction.

He was sentenced one month and 24 days behind bars but the final 24 days was suspended, allowing for his release from custody on Wednesday.



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Researchers identify ‘nanobodies’ that can block the novel coronavirus from entering human cells


Researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden have identified a small neutralizing antibody, ‘nanobody’ of sorts that can block the novel coronavirus from entering human cells.

The nanobodies have the capacity to block SARS-CoV-2, the virus that has caused the COvid-19 pandemic, from entering human cells. The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

The nanobodies occur naturally in camelids and can be adapted for humans. Researchers injected an alpaca with the coronavirus spike protein to identify the small antibodies.

The tests results

The blood samples of the alpaca showed a strong immune response against the virus within sixty days. Researchers then studied the animal’s blood samples to identify and isolate the nanobody that can prevent infection. They identified a small antibody called ‘Ty1’, named after the alpaca Tyson, that “efficiently neutralizes the virus by attaching itself to the part of the spike protein that binds to the receptor ACE2, which is used by SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells.”

“Using cryo-electron microscopy, we were able to see how the nanobody binds to the viral spike at an epitope which overlaps with the cellular receptor ACE2-binding site, providing a structural understanding for the potent neutralisation activity,” said Leo Hanke, a postdoc in the McInerney group and first author of the study.

These antibodies are easier to produce cost-effectively at scale according to the researchers. The team will now conduct more animal studies to better understand the efficacy and use of these antibodies in therapeutics for Covid-19 treatment.

Ben Murrell, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology and co-senior author of the publication said, “We are now embarking on preclinical animal studies to investigate the neutralizing activity and therapeutic potential of Ty1 in vivo.”





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Belarus crisis: Vilnius looks at ban on Lukashenko entering Lithuania


Lithuania is considering banning Belarus” long-time president Alexander Lukashenko from entering its country.

He’s on a list of Belarus officials that Vilnius is looking at punishing for alleged vote-rigging and violence against protesters.

The list, drawn up by Lithuania’s foreign ministry, will now be reviewed by interior minister Rita Tamasuniene, who has the final say on such matters.

Thirty of the 118-strong list are accused of voter fraud. Those sanctioned will be banned from entering Lithuania.

Lukashenko, dubbed Europe’s last dictator, was announced as the winner of Belarus’ president elections earlier this month.

But critics say the vote was rigged in his favour.

Opposition forces, activists, the European Union and international observers have all raised concerns about the legitimacy of the vote.

Lithuania has been a vocal critic of the Belarusian government since violence erupted after the vote and is currently hosting self-exiled opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers plan to discuss sanctions on Belarus during an informal two-day meeting in Berlin starting on Thursday.

A decision is expected in September at the earliest. If sanctioned, the Belarusian officials would be barred from entering the bloc and will have their assets frozen.

Protests are continuing on an almost daily basis in Belarus.

Around 200,000 took to the streets of capital Minsk on August 25, the country’s independence day, to demand the resignation of Lukashenko.

The 65-year-old leader has refused to stand down, branded his opponents “Western puppets” and vowed to defend the integrity of the country against foreign powers.



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Federal Court says hard border best at stopping coronavirus from entering WA in Clive Palmer case


The Western Australian Government is claiming a “comprehensive victory” in a key legal battle with mining billionaire Clive Palmer, after the Federal Court ruled the state’s border closure was more effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 than any other measure.

The legal stoush over WA’s hard border began in May, when the billionaire businessman launched a High Court challenge after he was denied a travel exemption to enter the state.

The matter was sent to the Federal Court to determine key facts of the case, including the health risk posed by COVID-19 and whether border closures were the most effective measure to contain its spread.

In a summary of his judgement, Justice Darryl Rangiah ruled the border closure did not eliminate the potential of importation of COVID-19 from other states and territories, because “exempt travellers” were still allowed to enter WA.

Justice Darryl Rangiah ruled the border was “very effective” at reducing the risk of COVID-19 being brought in from interstate.(Supplied: Federal Court of Australia)

However, he said the border restrictions had reduced the number of people entering the state to about 470 people a day, down from 5,000 a day in 2019.

“The border restrictions have been effective to a very substantial extent to reduce the probability of COVID-19 being imported into Western Australia from interstate,” he said.

Police at a road block.
Justice Rangiah said if the border was replaced by hotel quarantine, WA could not safely accommodate the number of people affected.(ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

He said WA had not had a case of community transmission of the virus since April 12.

He said that if an infected person entered the state, there would be “a high probability that the virus would be transmitted into the Western Australian population; and at least a moderate probability that there would be uncontrolled outbreaks.”

“If there were uncontrolled outbreaks in Western Australia, the consequences would include the risk of death and hospitalisation, particularly for vulnerable groups, such as elderly and Indigenous people.

“In the worst-case scenario, the health consequences could be catastrophic.”

Border better than hotel quarantine, face masks and screening

Justice Rangiah said if the border restrictions were replaced by mandatory hotel quarantining, WA could not safely manage the number of people affected.

He said if the border closure was replaced by other measures like exit and entry screening, mandatory face masks, and a “hotspot” regime, they would be less effective in preventing the importation of COVID-19.

Justice Rangiah noted there was a “degree of artificiality” to the court’s findings because the court could not take into account any factual developments since the hearing in July, and the extent of COVID-19 outbreaks was “changing day-by-day”.

He said the court’s findings were only concerned with “the health risks posed by COVID-19 to the Western Australian community” and the court could not “take into account any economic, social or other consequences of COVID-19 or the border restrictions.”

Premier: WA ‘vindicated’ by ruling

Speaking in Port Hedland after the judgement, Premier Mark McGowan said it was a “vindication” of the stand WA had taken on its hard border.

“All I would say to Mr Palmer now is ‘back off, end your action, stop the selfishness, stay in Queensland and leave us alone’.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan smiling.
WA Premier Mark McGowan is claiming a “comprehensive victory” in the government’s border stoush with Clive Palmer.(ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)

Mr McGowan said he was confident in the strength of the state’s case heading into the High Court.

“We are very confident because the facts show that the borders have saved people’s lives, that there could have been catastrophic outbreaks here in Western Australia but for the border.”

Ruling follows Commonwealth withdrawal

During a four-day hearing in late July, the court heard testimony from a range of epidemiological experts.

As is usual for constitutional matters, the Commonwealth was initially a party to the case, with its Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue arguing against the border closure in the court hearings.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison even went so far as to say it was “highly likely” WA would lose the case with its “all-or-nothing approach” to the border closure.

But after the Federal Court hearings concluded, the Commonwealth changed its mind and withdrew from the case.

This led the WA Government to file an urgent application to the Federal Court to try to have the whole matter re-heard from scratch, without the testimony from experts called by the Commonwealth.

At the time, Justice Rangiah was highly critical of the Federal Government for telling the media it was withdrawing from the case before informing him.

He described the actions as “extremely discourteous”.

A group of lawyers posing in front of a bookshelf
WA Attorney General John Quigley (top, right) with the government’s legal team in the Palmer case.(Supplied: WA Government, Facebook)

Why did the court rule against a re-trial?

The WA Government applied for a fresh hearing when the Commonwealth withdrew from the case, claiming it had been prejudiced by the move because submissions had already been made in support of Mr Palmer’s case.

The state argued the Commonwealth required permission from the court to withdraw, and should only be allowed to do so on conditions including that there should be a new hearing.

Dark, moody lighting, Porter has some side-eye, looking off to the left of frame.
The court ordered the Commonwealth Attorney General, Christian Porter, pay part of the state’s legal costs.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

However Justice Rangiah determined there should not be a new hearing because the Commonwealth was “entitled to withdraw from the proceedings without permission”.

“Second, the prejudice to Western Australia has not been caused by the withdrawal, but by the Commonwealth having intervened in support of the Palmer parties’ case in the first place.”

“Third, as the Palmer parties indicated that at any new hearing they would adopt the Commonwealth’s submissions and call the witnesses already called by the Commonwealth, there would be no point in having a new hearing.”

The court ordered the Commonwealth Attorney-General pay the costs relating to the hearing which considered WA’s application for a fresh trial.

The matter will head to the High Court later this year, as early as October.

Mr Palmer has been contacted for comment.



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