St Arnaud fire destroys $1M of hay bales and Victoria’s arson squad investigating


A huge fire has destroyed thousands of bales of hay and storage sheds in a Victorian town and the arson squad are investigating.

Emergency services were called to Charlton-St Arnaud Road in St Arnaud about 7.30am on Sunday, April 11.

They found the blaze had taken hold of the hay and surrounding sheds.

About 8500 bales were destroyed, which are valued at around $1 million.

In total, the fire caused $2 million worth of damage including the sheds.

It is expected to continue to smoulder for several days.

Arson chemists and detectives are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire.

On Friday, they released CCTV and images of the fire in a hope someone can assist.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

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Two passengers sue United Airlines after Boeing 777 engine catches fire in mid-air | US News


Two passengers are suing United Airlines after the engine of the plane they were on caught fire in mid-air.

Joseph McGinley and Jonathan Strawn say they have suffered personally, emotionally and financially as a result of the incident on 20 February.

They have filed separate lawsuits in Chicago, where the airline is based, and are seeking damages of more than $500,000 (£361,000) each.

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Part of the engine narrowly missed a house in Broomfield. Pic: Broomfield Police

The pair were on board the United flight from Denver to Honolulu when its engine blew up and sent debris raining down on the city of Broomfield, 25 miles away from where it took off in Colorado.

Passengers said they feared the Boeing 777 would crash and they would die after seeing the explosion and a flash of light.

Videos posted on Twitter at the time showed the plane flying low over Broomfield with pieces of the aircraft falling to the ground.

Pictures show the casing of the plane's engine completely fallen away. Pic: @speedbird5280 via Reuters
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Pictures show the casing of the plane’s engine completely fallen away. Pic: @speedbird5280 via Reuters

Announcing the lawsuits on Friday, Chicago attorney Robert A Clifford said: “Imagine as a passenger looking out the window of a plane and helplessly watching the engine on fire. The terror you experience lasts a lifetime.”

Mr Clifford’s firm is also representing the families of 72 of the passengers who died when a Boeing 737 MAX crashed in Ethiopia in 2019.

The UK has temporarily banned any Boeing 777s that use the same engine as the one that caught fire in Colorado.

Pic: Broomfield Police
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Fallen debris is pictured on the ground 25 miles from Denver. Pic: Broomfield Police
Pic: Broomfield Police
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More debris is pictured strewn in a residential area. Pic: Broomfield Police

No one on board the plane or on the ground was injured, despite the debris crushing a truck and narrowly missing a house.

All 231 passengers and 10 members of crew were safely returned to Denver airport after an emergency landing.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the engine failure but has said that a microscopic examination supports early suspicions that wear and tear caused a fan blade to snap inside it.

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‘This is just bad public health policy’: New Ontario measures to curb COVID-19 draw fire


Sweeping new provincial measures designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 — including allowing police and bylaw enforcement officers to stop and question people in their cars and on the street — were met with widespread criticism on Friday.

“Blanket powers for police to stop vehicles like this bends our constitutional freedoms too far, and will cause a rash of racial profiling,” said Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

The new provincial measures, which included closing parks and playgrounds, were announced Friday afternoon by Ontario Premier Doug Ford as COVID-19 infections soared to new highs in Toronto and provincially.

The one-day total of new COVID-19 cases reported in Toronto on Friday was 1,527, a record. Provincially, the number of new cases was 4,812, also a record.

The number of weekly cases in Toronto is now 302 per 100,000 people — also a record high, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb, who has been tracking transmission data since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

The number of daily new cases in Ontario could hit 30,000 by the end of May unless drastic steps are taken, the province’s COVID-19 advisory panel of medical and scientific experts said Friday. It is currently approaching 5,000 a day, forcing local hospitals to set up tents to treat patients.

Ford said that beginning Saturday, police and bylaw officers will have the authority to stop people and ask them for their address and ask them why they’re not complying with the provincial stay-at-home order. Those who refuse to comply could face a $750 ticket.

People may still leave home to shop for groceries, to go the pharmacy or access health care.

“I am very concerned about arbitrary stops of people by police at any time and I will be reviewing the regulations extremely carefully and discussing them with the Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Police Chief,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a statement.

Both the provincial declaration of emergency and stay-at-home order have been extended for two more weeks.

“We are in the midst of an absolutely brutal third wave,” said Coun. Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina Fort-York), who heads the city’s Board of Health, in a statement. “The coming weeks will test us like never before.”

Existing lockdown measures have not yet slowed the spread of COVID-19, driven now by the more contagious U.K. variant, B.1.1.7.

Hospitalization rates in Toronto are the highest on record and are expected to increase, according to a press release from the city. Without strengthened public health measures, projections indicate it will take until late this summer to reduce new case counts.

Ford blamed the current problems on lack of vaccine supply from the federal government.

But epidemiologist Dr. Andrew Morris, who has been critical of the province’s handling of the crisis, said Friday that Ford and his government are to blame for the current crisis.

“We are not much further behind than other countries vis-a-vis vaccine supply,” said Morris, medical director of the Sinai Health System-University Health Network’s antimicrobial stewardship program.

“Challenges with vaccine supply should have been expected. Only Israel, the U.K., the U.S. and a few small countries have had enough. This is just bad public health policy.”

Morris said the province also needs to provide workers with paid sick leave to encourage them to stay home if they feel ill, so they don’t transmit COVID-19 to colleagues. He said the province should also focus on getting essential workers vaccinated, restricting regional travel and keeping the outdoors open for recreation. He believes non-essential businesses and places of worship should also be closed.

He said police shouldn’t be involved except for egregious flouting of public health measures, and that allowing police and bylaw officers to stop people will target the most vulnerable.

“Have them police indoor parties. Or non-essential workplaces,” said Morris.

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Dr. Martha Fulford, infectious disease specialist and associate professor at McMaster University, said the province should be taking a more targeted approach, legislating paid sick leave and ensuring essential workers and people working in factories and plants are vaccinated.

She said the last thing the province should be closing is playgrounds, especially in light of the lack of evidence to support the idea that COVID can be spread outdoors.

“It feels to me extraordinary that a year into this, we’re incapable of having targeted interventions to try to decrease the risk of COVID and not cause even more harm to the fabric of our society, because of course COVID isn’t the only thing we’re dealing with anymore — we’re dealing with mental health, we’re dealing with despair, we’re dealing with broken lives, we’re dealing with overdoses, we’re dealing with domestic abuse, we’re dealing with child abuse,” said Fulford, who has been critical of school closures because of the damage they do to children.



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Apollo Bay shop owners devastated after fire destroys businesses after COVID lockdown


A popular Victorian tourist town has been left devastated after a huge fire destroyed a shopping strip, just as it tried to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Fire crews were called after the blaze broke out on Collingwood Street in Apollo Bay about 3.17am on Wednesday after it started in a restaurant and rapidly spread to neighbouring businesses.

45 people were evacuated from the motel and firefighters were ducking for cover as gas bottles exploded.

The owner of the Chinese restaurant where the fire started is heavily invested in her businesses catering for tourists in Apollo Bay.

“I feel really sad and shocked,” Michelle Chen told 7NEWS.

The restaurant shutdown in March 2020 with the COVID pandemic stopping tourists from going to the town.

She said she had plans to reopen in the coming months.

Flames also spread to the Bluebird shops next door and hardware shop, destroying both.

“We’ve been through enough and to have this happen is quite devastating,” former owner of Bluebird, Lyn Munro, said.

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Nature documentaries including David Attenborough’s Dynasties come under fire for presenting animals’ lives as ‘soap operas’ and not reality



Nature documentaries including the BBC series Dynasties show animals’ lives as ‘soap operas’, a new study claims. 

UK researchers argue that the portrayal of animals in nature shows, while entertaining, risks spreading ‘misconceptions’ about species in the wild.

In their research paper, they’re largely critical of Dynasties, which was broadcast in 2018 and narrated by the legendary British and naturalist Sir David Attenborough. 

The study authors claim Dynasties – which is returning for a second series in 2022 – was pieced together with footage to form a dramatic, scripted narrative, just like a drama starring human actors. 

They believe nature documentaries may have become a little too focused on drama and tension, rather than giving an accurate depiction of life in the wild. 

Portraying wild animals as ‘soap opera-style characters’ in this way is ‘neither honest nor helpful’, they say in their paper, and can distort public understanding of matters like conservation. 

The paper has been authored by experts at Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, as well as University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) and the University of Gloucestershire. 

‘Natural history documentaries are the closest many will get to seeing featured animals and their behaviour in the wild,’ said study author Professor Keith Somerville at DICE.

‘They are a significant source of information to highlight wildlife, conservation, and environmental issues. 

‘Therefore, it is critical that rather than framing “stories” as soap operas to gain emotive impact, more focus is given to showing the true problems that exist in the natural world today.’ 

Although the authors mention the TV shows Meerkat Manor and Big Cat Diary, most of their study dissects Dynasties, which is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer. 

Dynasties aimed to tell the ‘true stories’ of the featured species – chimpanzees, emperor penguin, lion, African wild dog and tiger – each of which had their own hour-long episode that made up the series. 

A common theme seen throughout the analysis of Dynasties was the portrayal of animals and their behaviour as though they have similar minds, motivations and personalities as people – known as anthropomorphism.

For example, the first episode shows the life of a dominant male chimpanzee – christened by the BBC ‘David’ – leading a troop in a Senegalese forest.

The life of a male within such a troop is all about ‘power, politics and the fight for survival’ – which arguably more accurately describes human behavioural traits. 

Viewers are told that as the dry season begins, David’s potential competitors are gathering, that he’s alone and that he’s ‘never been more vulnerable’. 

‘Anthropomorphism may in some circumstances enable people to relate more easily to wildlife and conservation issues,’ the team write.

‘[But] film‐makers and scientists who may contribute to documentaries do need to ensure that excessive anthropomorphism that may mislead or distort reality is avoided.’

Also, false jeopardy, where normal situations in animals’ lives are presented as though they are unusual and far more dangerous than they really are, was commonly used to create suspense.

In a later scene, a fight between David and a group of young males is shown – at the end of which the screen fades to black with melodramatic music, implying death.

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Apollo Bay fire rips through restaurant on Collingwood Street


Dozens of people were evacuated as a huge fire ripped through a restaurant and neighbouring businesses in a Victorian holiday town.

Fire crews were called after the blaze broke out on Collingwood Street in Apollo Bay about 3.17am on Wednesday.

The restaurant was fully alight and it rapidly spread to neighbouring businesses.

A motel next door to the buildings was evacuated, along with nearby residents.

Two shops have been completely destroyed and four buildings gutted.

A hazmat vehicle also attended due to chemicals at the scene and an advice message has been put out for anyone who is sensitive to smoke.

Collingwood Street remains closed.

The CFA declared the scene under control by 6.30am.

Police said the cause of the fire is unknown at this stage and a crime scene has been established.

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Massive fire rages across industrial park in Spain



A massive blaze burned inside an industrial park near Sesena, Spain on Tuesday (April 13), causing thick plumes of smoke to be visible even hundreds of miles away in the capital, Madrid.

According to Madrid Region Emergency Services, at least four industrial buildings covering an area of 52,000 square meters (172,600 square feet) were affected by collapsed decks and burned down walls.

No injuries or fatalities have been reported and the cause of the fire is not yet known, authorities said.

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Man dead after fire in disability share home


A man has died after a fire erupted at a disability share home in Sydney’s south-west this morning.

The victim, aged in his 40s, was pulled unresponsive from the single-level villa on River Avenue in Carramar after fire crews were alerted just after 7.15am.

He was carried out by a carer and another resident before paramedics arrived and conducted CPR.

A man has died after a fire erupted at a disability share home on River Avenue in Carramar. (9News)

Paramedics were unable to revive him and he died at the scene.

“NSW Fire and Rescue did a great job securing the site so that we could treat our patient in a safe environment,” Inspector Phil Sweet from NSW Ambulance said.

“Despite the best efforts of paramedics and other emergency services, the patient couldn’t be resuscitated.”

The man was pulled from the unit by another resident and a carer before being given CPR. (9News)
A second person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. (9News)

Another person was found outside the home suffering from smoke inhalation.

The fire has since been extinguished, however parts of River Avenue remain closed to traffic and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Fire investigators and detectives will begin their examination of the scene once it is declared safe to enter.

It is understood the fire began in the bedroom of the home which was fitted with smoke alarms.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison under fire on Q+A for comments relating to women’s march and democracy



Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire on Q+A from youth influencer Yasmin Poole for refusing to attend the women’s March4Justice in Canberra this week and for his labelling of the event as a “triumph” for democracy.

Mr Morrison made the comments on Monday in Parliament, and also drew a comparison between the demonstrations in Australia and those in Myanmar, where hundreds of people have now been killed by the junta, by saying it was a triumph that the Australian protesters could march without being “met by bullets”.

Ms Poole said she was “furious” at the comments and that the PM lacked “backbone” for not attending the march.

“I think it’s a fundamental flaw in our democracy if young women can’t go to Parliament and not be raped,” Ms Poole said, alluding to an allegation made by Brittany Higgins.

“I am angry that any young woman that desires or aspires to go into politics now will have to think twice.

“That is appalling and that is a shame on our democracy.

“So to think that the Prime Minister couldn’t have the backbone to even get out there and speak to all the protesters, dozens of women wearing black in mourning, to think he could hide away in his office and make those kind of statements, is something that sits so wrong with me because my work, the majority of my work, has been encouraging young women to put their hands up and run [for office], and I had to think will they be safe.”

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Ms Poole attended the rally in Canberra and said it was laying down a marker against “violent misogyny” in Australia.

“Mourning the stories of Brittany [Higgins], the stories of the women that stepped forward, some that even are not around to tell their story now,” she said.

She then questioned why no parliamentarian had been removed from their job over Ms Higgins’s rape allegation. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has apologised for calling Ms Higgins a “lying cow”, saying she “she did not mean it in the sense it may have been understood”.

“The one person that no longer works in parliament is Brittany Higgins,” Ms Poole said.

“Why on earth has no politician that was involved in this been fired or had to leave?

“That’s an example of one brave woman stepping forward and you see how those in power close ranks

“The lying cow comment, the looking to the background of her partner, even the comment of trial by media.

“These are all putting the onus back on survivors and punishing survivors.”

Former NRL player turned mental health advocate Joe Williams said he was not surprised that this was an issue, and also called for change.

He cited historical abuse of Indigenous women as his reasoning.

“We need to start to listen and collectively as a country do better.

“We need to stop men raping women.”

Legal process leaves sexual assault victims broken

While Mr Morrison’s comments drew ire, the episode was dedicated to the issue of consent and sexual assault.

Saxon Mullins opened the show by speaking about the issue of consent.

Her own five-year case against defendant Luke Lazarus saw a jury and a series of judges find that Ms Mullins did not consent to sex, but the legal sticking point was whether Mr Lazarus knew she was not consenting.

She featured during the show in a segment also involving Vince Hurley, a police officer with 30 years’ experience.

Mr Hurley spoke of how difficult the criminal justice system could be for those who make complaints of sexual assault.

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“It’s a brutal process,” Mr Hurley said, adding that he felt during his years of service that several victims were “failed”.

“People might not agree, but there are excellent police officers,” he said.

“But the reality is, as Saxon well knows, you’re sitting in that witness box alone and your reputation is being carved up and I hate to say it, there’s only two types of justice, those that can afford it and those that can’t.

“The victim will have to get in the witness box and give them evidence and you can prepare that victim, take them into the court beforehand, explain the process and explain the legal jargon, once they’re in their witness box they’re on their own and there’s nothing you can do sitting back at the court going, ‘This poor individual is being carved up’.”

Asked if she felt reporting sexual assault to the police was worthwhile, Ms Mullins said it was tough to do so and a personal decision.

“It’s really personal to every survivor what they see as justice,” she said.

“Some people might not even consider going to the police or going through the court system.

“It’s about judging what each survivor feels is justice. But if someone asks me is it worth going through the police in process, the court process, I don’t know that I can be a massive advocate for it because like you said it’s a brutal system.”

NSW Police Commissioner’s app a ‘terrible’ idea

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The panel also turned its attention to the consent app suggested on Thursday by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.

School principal Briony Scott said the app might have the opposite effect to the one desired, and could see offenders coerce victims to give consent via a swipe.

“My fear is it might protect men,” she said.

“Can you imagine the barriers that are already facing young women in establishing sexual assault and rape, let alone if you were coerced into agreeing with the app? It might produce the counter effect.”

Broadcaster Yumi Stynes said the Commissioner’s idea “stinks”.

“It’s a terrible idea. Anybody who has ever been assaulted or even been sort of edged and pushed into something knows it’s a bad idea,” she said.

“If you can be coerced into sex, you can easily be coerced into ticking a box or swiping on an app.

“By kind of intimating you can swipe and then that’s solved and you can go ahead and it’s a free for all, that’s a pretty dangerous idea.”

Watch the full episode of Q+A on iview.

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Fire crews rescue cat from Sydney high-rise


Abito the cat became stuck in a precarious position when he found himself on the outside of the 18th floor of a high-rise building in Olympic Park.

Specialist firefighters arrived at the Boomerang Apartments around 12.30pm to find Abito on an external ledge of the building.

Ropes were used to lower a firefighter down the outside of the building to collect the cat.

Despite windy conditions, rescue crews were able to reach out and secure Abito before placing him in a bag to be carried back to safety.

Abito was unharmed and reunited with its owners.

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