At 3am today, expect an unpleasantly warm and humid day, with a dew point of 22.3. It is likely to feel like 26.5 with a relative humidity of 82 per cent.
The highest expected temperature today is 32, the same as yesterday’s max.
Today’s maximum is the highest the mercury will climb over the next seven days, according to the forecast.
The chance of rain today is 5 per cent.
Showers are more likely tomorrow with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a slight (30 per cent) chance of rain.
The UV index is predicted to be 13. There is an extreme risk of harm from sun exposure. Unprotected skin can burn within minutes in today’s conditions. Experts suggest looking for shade and avoiding sun exposure around noon. General advice is to take all precautions such as using eye protection, sunscreen and covering up.
Winds will be south around 19 km/h in the morning shifting to east-southeast around 18 km/h in the afternoon.
Details for the next six days:
Saturday, March 6: Partly cloudy. Min – 22. Max – 31.
Sunday, March 7: Partly cloudy. Min – 24. Max – 30.
Monday, March 8: Partly cloudy. Min – 24. Max – 30.
Tuesday, March 9: Mostly sunny. Min – 24. Max – 31.
Wednesday, March 10: Sunny. Min – 23. Max – 30.
Thursday, March 11: Mostly sunny. Min – 23. Max – 31.
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In newly declassified detail, the world can now read why the CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dispatched the 15-man hit squad that killed and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. MBS, as the prince is known, “viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom,” the report asserts, and “broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him.” The plot, which saw Khashoggi lured to his death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, turned MBS from a figure many hoped would modernize Saudi Arabia into an international pariah.
But public shaming is where President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to hold MBS–who denies ordering Khashoggi’s murder–accountable appears to end. On Feb. 26, his Administration announced new sanctions and travel restrictions for dozens of MBS’s alleged henchmen, but punishment of the 35-year-old de facto ruler is limited to bruising his ego. U.S. officials say they won’t be inviting him to visit anytime soon, and Biden isn’t taking his calls, communicating instead with his father, 85-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. (MBS will have to make do with conversing with the Pentagon chief.)
The slap on the wrist sparked immediate criticism in Washington from lawmakers and human-rights activists who want to see MBS charged–or even, somehow, ousted from power–for the killing. But the Biden Administration has evidently calculated it has too much at stake to alienate Riyadh; State Department spokesman Ned Price described the diplomatic slights “not as a rupture, but as a recalibration.”
Saudi Arabia is central to ongoing U.S. efforts to offset Iran’s expansionist ambitions in the Middle East, to continue to strengthen ties between Israel and the Arab world, and to help Washington fight the violent extremism Riyadh’s fundamentalist clerics have been accused of helping foster. The nation hosts key U.S. military and intelligence posts, and buys billions in U.S. military equipment, even after a recent Biden ban on offensive weapons sales to the country to stop MBS’s increasingly bloody campaign in Yemen. “Militarily speaking, we have obligations there in Saudi Arabia, and we’re going to continue to meet those,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. Indeed, Saudi news agencies reported that Saudi and U.S. troops began a joint training exercise just two days after the Khashoggi report’s release.
Biden officials hope the diplomatic snubs are just enough to distinguish Biden from Donald Trump’s coddling of the kingdom–and to keep MBS from lashing out at other journalists and dissidents. Saudi analyst Ali Shihabi says the rising royal does feel insulted, and could turn to Beijing both to hedge his bets and to salve his battered pride if he continues to come under attack from Washington. “But if this is put behind us, he will forget about it,” Shihabi says. Biden’s team appears to have calculated that most Americans, coping with COVID-19’s chaos at home, have already done just that.
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Nifty futures on the Singapore Exchange traded 14 points, or 0.09 per cent, higher at 14,997 in signs that Dalal Street was headed for a positive start on Wednesday.
Tech View: Nifty hurdle at 20-DMA
Nifty50 on Tuesday climbed over 1 per cent and settled above the 14,900 mark. The index formed a bullish candle on the daily chart, with a long lower wick, suggesting that every intraday selling got bought into. Analysts said the 15,000 level will be a key hurdle for Nifty50 to watch out for.
Asian shares mixed in early trade
Asian shares were trading mostly mixed on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.18 per cent to 29,355.64.China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.42 per cent to 3,523.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.13 per cent to 29,425. Korea’s Kospi edged 0.3 per cent lower.
US stocks settled lower
Stocks closed lower on Wall Street after a wobbly day, giving back some of their big gains from a day earlier. The S&P 500 fell 31.53 points to 3,870.29. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 143.99 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 31,391.52. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite dropped 230.04 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 13,358.79.
MTAR IPO to hit market today
The Rs 596 crore IPO by a precision engineering company MTAR Technologies hit the market today. On Tuesday, the company raised Rs 178.92 crore from 15 anchor investors at Rs. 575 per share including Nomura Funds Ireland, Jupiter South Asia Investment, White Oak Capital and Goldman Sachs India.
Net-net, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were buyers of domestic stocks to the tune of Rs 2,223 crore, data available with NSE suggested. DIIs were net sellers to the tune of Rs 854 crore, data suggests.
Rupee: The rupee rose by 18 paise to close at 73.37 against the US dollar on Tuesday, ending its three-day losing streak on the back of gains in domestic equities amid improving risk appetite.
Call rates: The overnight call money rate weighted average stood at 3.21 per cent, according to RBI data. It moved in a range of 1.90-3.50 per cent.
Data/events to watch
India Markit Services PMI Feb (10:30 am)
US Total Vehicle Sales Feb (05:30 am)
Japan Jibun Bank Services PMI Final Feb (06:00 am)
China Caixin Services PMI Feb (07:15 am)
Euro Area Markit Services PMI Final Feb (02:30 pm)
UK Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI Final Feb (03:00 pm)
UK Budget 2021 (06:00 pm)
RBI intervenes to arrest rupee slide… RBI is said to have intervened lately in the currency market to arrest the rupee’s slide that, many believe, owes more to speculative trade than the business fundamentals of a fast-reviving economy. The central bank is reportedly selling dollars on a large scale after nearly three quarters to stem the local unit’s value erosion, dealers said. The rupee ended a three-day losing streak, climbing 18 paise to 73.37 to a dollar. Since February 25, the day before the US Treasury benchmark hit a recent high of 1.62%, the rupee has lost nearly 1.5% to the dollar.
NBFCs, HFCs told to check money laundering… RBI has asked several NBFCs, housing finance companies and co-operative banks to get their house in order over the anti-money laundering monitoring mechanism and risk-based assessment, two people with knowledge of the matter said. The central bank has raised concerns around these mechanisms for at least 50 entities, and asked them to complete these tasks by the end of March.
S&P red-flags Covid spike… Global ratings agency S&P is closely monitoring the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in India and the reimposition of restrictions on movement and behaviour, Andrew Wood, its director of sovereign and international public finance ratings, said. The agency raised concerns over the potential cooling impact the resurgence in cases could have on India’s economic recovery if it turned into a more broad-based trend.
India’s exports dipped in Feb… India’s exports dipped 0.3% to $27.7 billion, largely due to lower global oil prices, while imports rose 7% to $40.6 billion, resulting in a higher trade deficit. Preliminary numbers released by the commerce department on Tuesday estimated trade deficit at $12.9 billion, compared to $9.9 billion in the corresponding period last year, but a tad lower than January 2021 level of $14.5 billion.
Spectrum sale fetches govt Rs 78K cr… India’s first spectrum auction in five years ended on day two, with the government mopping up ₹77,814 crore. The government will get ₹19,000-20,000 crore in upfront payment this month, and around ₹10,000 crore in the next fiscal. Reliance Jio, which faced a mustbuy situation in18 circles to ensure continued service, bid for 488.35 MHz of bandwidth worth ₹57,122.65 crore, and accounted for 73% of the total auction proceeds. Bharti Airtel bought 355.45 MHz of spectrum for ₹18,698.75 crore, and Vodafone Idea, financially the weakest of the three private telcos, paid ₹1,993.40 crore to buy 11.8 MHz of airwaves across five circles.
FMCG firms eye online-only brands… Large, traditional fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies such as Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser, Wipro Consumer Care, Marico and Tata Consumer said they are intensifying focus on online-only brands and businesses. They are either setting up dedicated venture funds or investing in smaller startups that sell through online channels to consumers in response to ecommerce sales doubling and niche, evolving categories that emerged amid the pandemic.
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Monty Hui has long dreamed about swimming in his school swimming carnival.
But for an eight-year-old boy living with pontocerebellar hypoplasia, a rare disease that affects the development of the brain, it was no easy task.
“He had to have speech therapy to learn to close his mouth and to blow bubbles,” his mother Jess Hui told SBS News. “That was before he even went in the pool. But he was so committed to that goal.”
Monty recently achieved this goal, and says next year he hopes to swim again without a noodle.
For Ms Hui and her husband, Danny, the uncertainty of having a child living with a rare disease wasn’t eased by the diagnosis.
“It was a scary time. At the time they were trying to rule out a lot of things that it might be. Even having a diagnosis of pontocerebellar hypoplasia – it helped in some ways to have a name for it, but that uncertainty of what will come next,” Ms Hui said.
The Hui family.
Approximately eight per cent of Australians live with a rare disease – around two million people in the country.
But they can often go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and are unable to get treatment due to a lack of awareness about the conditions.
This Rare Disease Day, Nicole Millis CEO of Rare Voices Australia, an advocacy group, is calling for more awareness among governments, policy makers and the broader community.
“Our health system isn’t geared for rare diseases,” she told SBS News. “It works really well for diseases that are common. But for rare diseases it can be quite tricky and overwhelming.”
“I think one of the hardest things about rare disease is you are constantly living with uncertainty. Often when you are diagnosed you haven’t heard of it, and your doctors haven’t heard of it as well.
“It’s really quite overwhelming. You don’t know who to go and see, you don’t know what to do.”
Ms Millis, who herself is a parent of a child with a rare disease, says finding and building a sense of community among those with rare diseases is a hugely important step.
“It’s common for people to go years and years without a diagnosis. It’s really important to get a diagnosis. It’s important to get treatment, but also so you can connect with other people who have similar or the same disease to get a sense of community, because living with a rare disease can be really isolating,” she said.
There are around 7,000 different diseases commonly called rare diseases. Ms Millis says while the symptoms often vary greatly, many of the experiences of those living with rare diseases – such as misdiagnosis and having to explain your condition all the time – are the same.
“When you live with a rare disease you are learning all the time, but also educating others all the time,” she said.
Associate Professor Kim Hemsley is a research scientist at Flinders University looking at Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes fatal brain damage and is a type of childhood dementia.
Professor Hemsley said while the condition is rare childhood dementia affects around one in 2,800 babies. Those with Sanfilippo syndrome, which is currently untreatable, rarely live to adulthood.
“Given the devastating nature of the disorders, it’s absolutely imperative that the research on these conditions is better funded and there is greater awareness of the impact of rare conditions on families and society,” she said.
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At 10pm today, expect an unpleasantly warm and humid day, with a dew point of 22.2. It is likely to feel like 24.9 with a relative humidity of 95 per cent.
The highest expected temperature today is 28, the same as yesterday’s max.
Today’s maximum is the highest the mercury will climb over the next seven days, according to the forecast.
The chance of rain today is 90 per cent.
Showers are less likely tomorrow with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a high (80 per cent) chance of rain.
The UV index is predicted to be 10. There is a very high risk of harm from sun exposure. Skin can be damaged and burn quickly in today’s conditions. Experts suggest avoiding sun exposure around noon and keeping to the shade. General advice is to use eye protection, sunscreen and cover up.
Winds will be west-southwest around 13 km/h in the morning shifting to south-southwest around 24 km/h in the afternoon.
Details for the next six days:
Tuesday, February 23: Shower or two. Min – 19. Max – 22.
Wednesday, February 24: Shower or two. Min – 18. Max – 24.
Thursday, February 25: Shower or two. Min – 19. Max – 27.
Friday, February 26: Shower or two. Min – 19. Max – 28.
Saturday, February 27: Shower or two. Min – 19. Max – 26.
Sunday, February 28: Shower or two. Min – 19. Max – 25.
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In South Australia, Steven Marshall’s first-term Liberal Government has been plunged into minority after backbench MP Fraser Ellis was charged with 23 deception offences, relating to allegedly fraudulent claims of a parliamentary allowance.
It all began with an ABC investigation.
Here’s how the dramatic turn of events unfolded, and what it means for the State Government.
What has happened?
It was a big night for the South Australian Parliament.
The House of Assembly sat into the early hours this morning to reach agreements on a significant piece of legislation — a bill to decriminalise abortion.
After a marathon debate and conscience vote, the bill passed.
But at 2:13am, as tired MPs prepared to adjourn for some sleep, Liberal MP Fraser Ellis rose to his feet, and sought the indulgence of a weary house to deliver a bombshell.
“Yesterday I was charged with alleged offences arising from the recent ICAC investigation into the Country Members’ Accommodation Allowance,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, I am completely innocent and I will be vigorously defending these allegations to the full extent of my resources and the law. I repeat now what I’ve said previously and my position has not changed.”
In keeping with fellow MPs Troy Bell and Sam Duluk, who are facing criminal charges over separate matters, Mr Ellis revealed he was suspending his membership of the Liberal Party, and moving to the crossbench.
What are the charges?
By mid-morning, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Ann Vanstone had issued a public statement, adding detail to Fraser Ellis’s statement in Parliament.
It revealed that the Director of Public Prosecutions had charged Mr Ellis on Wednesday afternoon with 23 counts of deception.
“It will be alleged that between 13 May 2018, and 12 June 2020, Mr Ellis made 78 fraudulent claims for the Country Member’s Accommodation Allowance, totalling more than $18,000,” the statement read.
“It will be alleged that Mr Ellis claimed the allowance for nights he did not spend in Adelaide.”
The Country Members’ Accommodation Allowance is a nightly payment made available for country MPs who live more than 75 kilometres from Adelaide, and are required to stay in the capital city overnight to attend to parliamentary or other official duties.
What does it mean for the State Government?
Mr Ellis moving to the crossbench is a big deal, because it means Premier Steven Marshall no longer has a majority in the 47 seat House of Assembly.
He started his term with 25 members. He’s now down to 23.
That means the Liberal Party can no longer pass legislation without the support of others.
However, things are not quite as bad for Mr Marshall as they look.
The Premier said Fraser Ellis has provided him written confirmation that the now crossbencher would continue to support the government in matters of confidence and supply — meaning he won’t vote with Labor to unseat the government or block its budgets.
In addition, Fraser Ellis is not Robinson Crusoe on the crossbench.
There are two other former Liberals, Troy Bell and Sam Duluk, who are facing criminal charges on separate matters.
The State Government would usually be able to rely on at least one of these three to provide it a majority.
Former Labor premiers Jay Weatherill and Mike Rann both led minority governments, but had the benefit of duchessing crossbenchers by offering them seats in cabinet — a gift that Mr Marshall cannot realistically bestow on any of the three men facing charges.
The challenge is, at this stage all three MPs intend to face the March 2022 election.
The Liberal Party will have to decide whether to run candidates against them.
If they do, the three crossbenchers have already voted against their Liberal colleagues on some matters. If they band together and start looking for ways to differentiate themselves from brand Liberal, some chaos could ensue.
How did this happen?
Few people had ever heard of the Country Members’ Accommodation Allowance until June last year.
That’s when the ABC published a series of exclusive stories raising questions over the eligibility of allowance claims by one of Parliament’s most senior office holders, Legislative Council President and veteran Liberal Terry Stephens.
Mr Stephens had claimed the allowance while living in Victor Harbor, but the ABC observed him spending significant time at his second home in suburban Norwood.
Further stories also revealed he was paying no land tax on that suburban property.
It also emerged that Fraser Ellis had been regularly staying rent-free at Mr Stephens’s Norwood townhouse during parliamentary sitting weeks.
Both MPs have steadfastly denied any deliberate wrongdoing.
The ABC’s stories also forced the Parliament to release a decade’s worth of previously unreleased allowance claims.
It proved to be a political pandora’s box for the Marshall Government.
Before the claims were published, Fraser Ellis committed to repaying $42,130 in claims made since he was elected.
Two senior cabinet ministers, Tim Whetstone and Stephan Knoll also paid back thousands of dollars in either incorrect or doubtful claims.
All denied wrongdoing, and all were supported by the Premier — until the damage proved too much to take.
On the same day, Mr Knoll, Mr Whetstone and Mr Stephens all announced they would resign from their positions of power, and move to the crossbench.
Within days, another Liberal, Adrian Pederick was also resigning after questions about his eligibility to claim the allowance.
In the background, the state’s ICAC swung into action, launching investigations into Fraser Ellis, Terry Stephens and Adrian Pederick, with all three MPs publicly outing themselves as targets.
In addition to those formal investigations, the ICAC’s public shopfront, the Office of Public Integrity, also looked over claims made by several regional MPs, including Stephan Knoll, Tim Whetstone and Adrian Pederick.
The Commissioner later issued a public statement saying that because there was no evidence of misconduct, those inquiries would not be widened.
There’s another thing, there’s no sign the allowances scandal is behind the State Government, and there’s no clear indication yet what voters will make of it all.
In her public statement today, Commissioner Ann Vanstone issued this perhaps ominous warning:
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