Tropical cyclone warning issued for NQ



NORTH Queensland is officially on cyclone watch after a Tropical Cyclone warning was issued by the Bureau of Meteorology at 11.30am Sunday.

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Heavy rain and flood risk warning


Meteorologists are closely watching a low-pressure system stalking the North Queensland coast, having issued a flood warning with the potential for a tropical cyclone to “spin up quite rapidly”.

A flood watch warning is currently in place between Mission Beach and Rollingstone to the north of Townsville with an unpredictable weather system threatening to bring damaging wind and rain in the coming days, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

“In the northwest Coral Sea a tropical low that’s embedded in the monsoon trough is currently sitting pretty far offshore and to the north with the potential for cyclone development, particularly as we come through the early days of next week,” meteorologist Kimba Wong told NCA NewsWire on Saturday morning.

“Its proximity to land will very much be a determining factor in how quickly it might develop and exactly where it might be, so there’s uncertainty in the position and the movement.”

Ms Wong said the cyclone could develop by Tuesday and urged residents to keep an eye out for warnings in the coming days.

“Of course, we’re in cyclone season and once these tropical lows form they can spin up quite rapidly,” she said.

“So it’s a good idea to keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings.”

The unpredictability of the weather system creates an element of significant risk, but Ms Wong said the current trajectory suggested it would remain offshore above the Coral Sea.

“Modelling guidance suggests it may linger off the northeast coast of Queensland for a couple of days before moving off to the southeast,” the meteorologist said.

“If it does form up into a cyclone it looks like it will most likely stay offshore, but of course that may change because there is an element of uncertainty there.

“What that means for Townsville is if that system comes closer to the coast, it could bring quite significant rainfall to the region but if it does remain just a little bit further offshore it may lead to offshore winds and very much reduced rainfall.”

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Boeing 777 makes emergency landing in Moscow after engine warning


A Boeing 777 airliner was forced to make an emergency landing in Moscow on Friday, after reporting engine problems.

The emergency landing comes just days after another model showered engine debris on a flight path over the United States.

State-owned Rossiya airline said the crew had registered the “incorrect operation of the engine control sensor” on a cargo flight from Hong Kong to Madrid and “decided to make an emergency landing in Moscow.”

Online flight trackers confirmed the flight was carried out with a Boeing 777.

The airline said the unscheduled landing went ahead without incident and that no one was injured. The plane was due to continue its onward journey to Madrid after a delay of several hours, it added.

RELATED: Boeing 777s grounded after Denver engine failure

Rossiya told AFP later Friday that the Boeing 777 that made the emergency landing in Moscow was fitted with a different make of engine to the plane that shed engine parts in the United States last week.

General Electric, which manufactured the engine on the jet, said it was working with the carrier.

“At GE Aviation, safety is our first priority,” a company spokesperson told AFP.

“Our technical support teams are working closely with the airline, which has returned the aircraft to service.” Boeing referred questions to Rossiya.

The incident came just days after Boeing confirmed that dozens of its 777 aircraft were grounded globally resulting from the engine of a United Airlines plane catching fire and scattering debris over a suburb of Denver, Colorado.

No one was injured in the Denver incident.

However, the 777 planes removed from service were constructed with different engines made by Pratt & Whitney.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered inspections of all 777 planes made with similar Pratt & Whitney engines.

Malfunctions in engines are not uncommon and most airplanes are designed to be able to fly for several hours on one engine until crew identify and land at the nearest available airport.

Investigators have attributed the Denver incident to a fan blade that broke off soon after takeoff due to metal fatigue and apparently breached the engine cover, known as a cowling.

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Capitol riot risk warning never reached top security officials, they say


“None of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred,” Sund said, referring to scenes in which Trump supporters assaulted police, smashed windows and charged through the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

“We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence,” Sund said. “What we got was a military-style coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol Building.”

The January 6 riot at Capitol Hill has increased urgency to tackle the domestic terror threat in the US.Credit:Parler via ProPublica

The attack was an attempt to stop Congress, with former Vice President Pence present, from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Republican Trump, who falsely claimed the election had been marred by widespread fraud.

The former sergeants-at-arms of the House of Representatives and Senate, Paul Irving and Michael Stenger, also testified on Tuesday, saying they did not see the FBI warning.

All three resigned in the wake of the violence, which shook the world, threatened a peaceful transition of power and endangered the lives of lawmakers and Pence, prompting former president Trump’s second impeachment trial.

DC Police Chief Robert Contee.Credit:AP

The Capitol building, which hosts the 535 members of Congress, has long been open to visitors and guests in a way that the White House has not been in decades. Passersby could walk almost to the building’s steps and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic it was still open to tourists, who had to enter through a special visitors’ entrance.

Sund said he had requested National Guard troops be deployed at the Capitol in a conversation with Irving and Stenger two days before the riot, but that Irving had expressed concern about “optics” of using the troops.

Irving, however, said he did not remember the discussion as a request, and flatly denied he had been concerned about appearances.

“We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol. The collective judgment at that time was no – the intelligence did not warrant that,” Irving told the committees.

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Sund and Irving also gave conflicting accounts of their communication on the chaotic day of the attack. Sund said he had called Irving at 1.09pm to ask for National Guard troops as members of the mob were fighting with Capitol Police at the steel crowd control barriers outside the building. Irving said he had no record of a call then.

“There seems to be some confusion about the basic facts and who asked for what, when,” observed Republican Senator Josh Hawley. Senators asked for phone records.

Washington, DC, metropolitan police rushed to the scene after Sund requested their help at 12.58pm, the city’s acting police chief Robert Contee told senators.

His forces helped the Capitol Police control the mob and eventually clear the Capitol so that lawmakers could return to certify Biden’s victory.

But Contee said he was shocked by an inter-agency call about 2.22pm, when he heard Sund pleading with Pentagon officials for National Guard to be deployed.

The January 6 riot at Capitol Hill has increased urgency to tackle the domestic terror threat in the US.Credit:Parler via ProPublica

Army officials were reluctant, expressing concerns about how it would look, Contee said, adding, “I was stunned at that response.”

The first members of the National Guard did not appear on the Capitol grounds until 5.40pm, Sund said.

US media reports said that congressional leaders and security officials had not wanted to see the same militarised presence around the Capitol that was stationed about the White House during summer anti-racism protests.

Scores of police were assaulted in the melee, with over 140 Capitol Police and some 65 metropolitan police injured.

More than 200 people have been charged so far for their roles in the riot, including some with ties to far-right fringe groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Senators next week plan to call witnesses from the FBI, the Department of Defence and the Department of Homeland Security.

Democratic Senator Gary Peters said the incident revealed clear gaps in intelligence around domestic extremists: “The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously, to ensure they don’t cross into real-world violence.”

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Flesh-eating ulcer spreads to new Melbourne suburbs as warning is issued to doctors and residents


A flesh-eating ulcer outbreak has spread to new regions of Melbourne – the first time a non-coastal area in the state has been impacted.

Buruli ulcer had, until now, been contained to coastal regions in Melbourne’s south-west and south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula.

But on Tuesday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said new detections had been found in Melbourne’s inner north.

Cases were detected in Essendon, Moonee Ponds and Brunswick West, he said.

“This is the first non-coastal area in Victoria to be recognised as a potential area of risk, however, the risk of transmission in these areas is considered low,” Sutton said in a statement.

“All the identified cases had also travelled to known risk areas for buruli ulcer but genetic analysis of M. ulcerans isolated from them strongly supports a common link.

“The potential source of M. ulcerans in Melbourne’s inner north has not been established, although the bacteria were isolated from the faeces of a local possum.”

The once rare and exotic Buruli ulcer is an infectious disease that can cause gruesome, painful open wounds as bacteria chews through skin and tissue.

Anyone travelling to transmission areas is urged to avoid insect bites, protect cuts and to see a doctor if they have any persistent skin lesions.

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Prince of Arran’s future in doubt after trainer Charlie Fellowes sounds warning, jockey Hollie Doyle creates history in Saudi Arabia


The poor effort prompted Fellowes to take to Twitter, warning punters and those who are fans of his nine-year-old stable star to wait to hear on future plans.

“All plans on hold for PRINCE OF ARRAN for the time being after a 2nd very slow start in a row,” he tweeted. “He owes us absolutely nothing and we will take our time before making any further decisions on his future. He is safe and well after his race and flies back to England on Monday.”

Prince of Arran is an iron horse who has won nearly $2 million stake-money despite having won only six of his 47 starts.

He has always shown improved form when racing outside England, which is why this latest below par effort is causing some consternation.

A lot of his earnings have come from his efforts in Australia, where Newmarket-based Fellowes has often said he seems to grow an extra leg.

Last November he ran third, beaten less than a length by Twilight Payment, in the Melbourne Cup.
Prior to that he had been a close up fourth in the Caulfield Cup.

In 2019 he went down in a Melbourne Cup photo finish to Vow And Declare having won the Geelong Cup and run second in the Herbert Power Handicap in lead-up runs.

The year before he introduced himself to Australian racegoers by finishing third in the Herbert Power, winning the Lexus Stakes on Derby Day to get a place in the Cup field, and then finishing third in the Cup itself behind Cross Counter.

Bookmakers have installed Prince of Arran as favourite or second favourite in early long-range markets for this year’s Melbourne Cup.

Meanwhile, there was much brighter news for Melbourne-based Terry Henderson, boss of the OTI syndication group, whose game mare True Self picked up close to $1 million winning the Neom Turf Cup over 2100-metres at Riyadh.

True Self is trained by Irish maestro Willie Mullins and contributed to a first for Saudi Arabia as she was ridden by Britain’s top female rider, Hollie Doyle, who became the first woman to win a race at the Saudi Cup meeting.

Hollie Doyle with True Self in Saudi Arabia. Credit:Getty Images

“That was quite exciting,” Henderson quipped when contacted on Sunday.

“She’s such an enigma really. She’s one of those horses, she was bought to go jumping and she has won over the sticks but she is pretty good on the flat too.

“We wondered if that distance might be a bit short but we also knew they would go a fast pace and that might make it more like a 2400m race.

“Hollie rode her well, I have been communicating with her via text during the lead-up.”

Plans for True Self are fluid but Henderson says that the long-range target will be a tilt at the Melbourne Cup, a race for which she has failed to make the field previously.

Her record at Flemington is terrific, however, as she has won the last two runnings of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a group 3 handicap over 2500m, and earlier in her life ran a close second to Prince of Arran in the Geelong Cup.

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COVID warning for Melbourne suburbs after fragments of the virus found in wastewater


Coronavirus fragments have been located in wastewater samples from six suburbs across Melbourne.

Residents or visitors to the suburbs, in Melbourne’s east and south-east, are being urged to remain vigilant for symptoms of the virus.

Fragments of the virus can mean undetected cases in the area or ongoing shedding of the virus.

People who live in, or have visited the areas during the timeframe where the virus was found should seek testing as soon as any symptoms present.

They are Wantirna South and Boronia, including parts of Bayswater, Ferntree Gully, Knoxfield and Tremont, between February 13-15.

Carrum Downs and Langwarrin, including parts of Skye, between Feburary 13-16.

And St Kilda East and Caulfield North, including parts of Balaclava, Caulfield and Esternwick, between February 13-16.

The warning comes on the back of no new locally acquired cases for a second consecutive day.

Victoria concluded a five-day snap lockdown at midnight on Wednesday after an outbreak linked to the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport.

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Townsville car thefts, home invasion, spark police warning to vigilantes


Police are warning against vigilante action in Townsville yet again following a spate of car thefts in the city.

Four cars were stolen – one of which was set on fire – in the early hours of this morning.

Two teenagers have been arrested and police are looking for another six people suspected to have been involved.

At about 3:00am authorities were called to Girraween Avenue in Douglas, where they found a stolen car engulfed in flames.

In a separate incident less than an hour later, police deployed a tyre-deflation device on a stolen vehicle in Condon.

It was found abandoned a short time later on Ridley Drive in Kirwan.

Police allege two people in the vehicle were picked up by another stolen car that later crashed into a fence a short distance away.

The driver and passengers fled, police said.

An 18-year-old male and 17-year-old female taken into custody at the scene are assisting police with their enquiries.

Officers were then called to Riverwalk Way, in Douglas, after a man allegedly forced his way into a house.

The occupant, who police said challenged the alleged intruder, was assaulted.

His car was stolen but later found nearby.

The resident sustained minor injuries and was transported to the Townsville University Hospital for treatment.

‘Don’t put yourself at risk’

Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon said more arrests over the car thefts were imminent.

This morning he warned residents not to take the law into their own hands.

“We’ve said it plenty of times — we do not believe vigilantism is the way to go,” Chief Superintendent Hanlon said.

“When we investigate an incident we’ll investigate the actions of everyone involved, regardless of whether they were initial or came in as part of it.

“Once we get sufficient evidence, people will be charged … we understand people want to try and defend their property, but do not put yourself at risk.

“I know it’s serious, but it’s only a car.

“You can get another car, you cannot get another life.”

Motorcyclist 22-year-old Jennifer Board was killed on February 2, 2021 by a sedan allegedly chasing a stolen car in Townsville in North Queensland.(Supplied: Siana Board)

Taskforce nabs dozens

Chief Superintendent Hanlon said officers were also searching for a person alleged to have been inside the stolen car involved in the multiple vehicle crash that killed 22-year-old motorcyclist Jennifer Board.

“There is one person still outstanding,” he said.

“We don’t think that they will harm someone, but we do think they will commit further property offences.”

In the days after Ms Board’s death, police launched a youth justice taskforce to target high-risk recidivist offenders in the state.

Chief Superintendent Hanlon said 45 people were arrested – 23 of whom were juveniles – on 161 criminal offences during the taskforce’s first week of operation.

He said most of the those arrested were known to police.

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Tom Brady’s diet should come with a warning, say experts


But there is no scientific research confirming this claim. (Some studies have even suggested that certain nightshades, like tomatoes, might have anti-inflammatory properties and that anatabine, an alkaloid compound found in peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant has anti-inflammatory effects for people who suffer from joint pain and stiffness.)

“Restricting vegetables, oh my God, we don’t even eat nearly enough,” says CSIRO nutrition and research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie of Brady’s diet, adding that 95 per cent of Australians don’t eat the recommended five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit per day, and that vegetables, being nutrient-rich and kilojoule-poor, are a crucial part of maintaining a healthy weight. “We can’t have any message that says ‘Further restrict them’, because it’s just another barrier for people.

“It [also] doesn’t tell the full story. He’s an elite athlete, he trains; his body and his physique are his career, so he puts a lot of energy and effort into it, and people are linking this one concept of avoidance of these particular foods to how amazing and successful he is. There’s a lot of missing pieces that they’re not discussing. If one of us goes and just tries that one strategy in isolation we’re not going to become the next superstar in the Super Bowl. But, that’s kind of what the public want to believe.”

Indeed, Brady reportedly practises transcendental meditation, surfs off-season, and has, for many years, been given regular “deep force” massages (targeting specific muscle groups) and other treatments in a private resort in the Bahamas by trainer Alex Guerrero, who Brady has called his “body engineer”.

Could this finally put a halt to the public being unwitting, and often vulnerable recipients of celebrity dietary strategies that are frequently devoid of scientific backing? There have been countless over the years from basketball star LeBron James’ sugar, dairy and carb-free diet, to Kate Moss’ notorious statement that, when she and her friends reach for biscuits, they’d say to each other, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” (Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, follows a similar regime to him eating a largely plant-based diet and intermittently fasts two days of the week).

“A celebrity is usually good at acting, or singing or whatever they’re doing – that’s great,” says Simone Austin, who was the Hawthorn Football Club’s dietitian from 2008 until last year. “A mechanic is good at fixing your car, a dentist is good at fixing your teeth, a dietitian or medical health professional is good at looking at your diet. You wouldn’t ask a celebrity to fix your car or your teeth, so why are you asking them about your health? They’re not qualified for that.”

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Austin, past president of Sports Dietitians Australia and author of the book, Eat Like An Athlete, says she would never recommend an athlete, or anyone, to eliminate nightshades from their diet, nor any other particular nutrient-rich food group unless there was a “medical need” to do so. (Brady’s diet also includes cutting out dairy, and refraining from mixing fruit with other foods.) ”There’s great folate, B-group vitamins, good complex carbs in potatoes; in tomatoes, there’s great vitamin C, A, and lutein,” says Austin, the last component a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to protect eyes against light-induced damage. ”Eating lots of plant foods, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables; we know that that is good for our health,” she says. “Maybe [we should] stop focusing on what you should be cutting out, and [be] focusing on what you should be putting in.”

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China’s warning over Olympic boycott plan


China has shot a clear warning at human rights groups rallying for countries to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics over human rights complaints.

Editor of China’s propaganda mouthpiece The Global Times Hu Xijin warned that the government would “seriously sanction any country” that makes a statement against the superpower by refusing to send athletes to Beijing.

“Boycotting 2022 Beijing Winter Games, an unpopular idea, won’t receive wide support,” Hu Xijin wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

“IOC and athletes will both oppose it, and China will seriously sanction any country that follows such a call.”

The development came after a coalition of 180 human rights organisations banded together in an open letter to world governments, urging they boycott the 2022 Games to “ensure they are not used to embolden the Chinese government’s appalling rights abuses and crackdowns on dissent”.

“The IOC foolishly decided on having the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing (so) we are forced to speak out,” Kalden Obara, president of the Tibetan Community in Japan, said at a Tokyo news conference last week.

“If China doesn’t stop human rights violations in Tibet and the neighbouring regions, then China should not be allowed to host this 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.”

China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim population in the Western Xinjian region is at the forefront of the international disagreement. The government has been accused of holding over a million Uyghurs and other minorities in camps, collecting large amounts of international backlash.

US President Joe Biden’s administration refused to comment on whether the United States supported moving or boycotting the games in the current climate.

“We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday, before referring to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee for further comment.

The USOPC holds the belief any boycotts of an international sporting event would only hurt the athletes and believes issues of human rights should be dealt with in the political theatre, not on the ski slopes.

“We oppose Games boycotts because they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues,” the USOPC said in a statement.

“We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and political issues,” it said.

Last month Australia joined Canada, the UK and US in condemning what was the largest crackdown yet under Hong Kong’s controversial national security law, which has been used to stifle political protests by students.

The joint statement alleged the laws were being used to “eliminate dissent and opposing political views” and called on authorities to respect the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents.

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