Scott Morrison warns against drawing conclusions after blood clotting death in NSW



Prime Minister Scott Morrison says authorities are still investigating the death of a NSW woman who developed blood clots after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Scott Morrison has warned against rushing to conclusions after the death of a person in NSW who reportedly developed blood clots a day after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The 48-year-old woman was a diabetic, the ABC reports, and preliminary tests have not found a conclusive link to the vaccination.

The prime minister on Thursday night said the woman’s death was still being investigated by state and federal authorities.

“I think there is a lot more to understand and learn about that issue and I would caution others in making conclusions about this at this point as well,” he told reporters near Newman in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

“We’ve been very transparent, very transparent when it comes to information on these issues and people can expect us to do that.”

Mr Morrison said potential concerns around vaccine hesitancy meant it was important that the matter was fully investigated by medical experts.

“I think it’s important, because of the fact that people can have concerns, that we follow that important process, to inform ourselves properly,” he said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and NSW health authorities are probing the death.

“As part of this process, the TGA is seeking further clinical information including clinical test results from the New South Wales Health Department,” a statement on the federal health department’s website said on Thursday night.

When contacted about the reported death, a NSW Health spokesperson told SBS News the department would not speculate on individual cases, but “our condolences are with the family and loved ones of the person who has passed away”.

The TGA is responsible for regulating and monitoring the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia, the spokesperson said, but NSW Health is notified when a serious or unexpected adverse event occurs.

“Many conditions can arise during normal life, whether or not a vaccine is administered, but it remains important to report any new serious or unexpected events so that safety can be appropriately monitored,” they said.

It is not yet known which vaccine the woman received.

Australians under the age of 50 were last week warned off receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, after a link was confirmed between the jab and rare blood clots.

The prime minister received recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on April 8 that the Pfizer vaccine should now be adopted as the preferred vaccine for people aged under 50.

Two people have so far developed bloods clots likely linked to their AstraZeneca jab in Australia – a woman in Western Australia and a man in Victoria, both aged in the 40s.

TGA chief John Skerritt emphasised on Tuesday that blood clotting associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine was so rare, “your chances of winning the lotto are much higher”.

Additional reporting by SBS News.

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Brisbane will need at least four COVID-19 mass vaccination hubs, epidemiologist warns


Mary-Louise McLaws, a World Health Organization COVID-19 advisory panel member, said Australia would need to continue delivering about 40,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses per day and an additional 60,000 Pfizer doses daily from September.

Professor McLaws said this would have an estimated 85 per cent of the population vaccinated, which could then allow international borders to open by mid-2022.

“We shouldn’t be opening up our borders until everybody who wants to be vaccinated gets vaccinated because otherwise it would be highly unethical to place people at risk if they wanted that vaccine,” she said.

Professor McLaws told ABC Radio Brisbane at least three or four vaccination sites would be needed in Brisbane alone, with 24 around the country.

“When you’re doing thousands of injections a day, a mass vaccination site would have to do about 200 injections per day, per site … you would spread that out around Brisbane so you wouldn’t have traffic jams,” she said.

Professor McLaws said the general public could also be encouraged to work from home or catch public transport to lessen the traffic implications during the vaccination period.

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Unstaffed ambulance stations, patient survival rates at risk following changes in paramedic pay, Tasmanian health union warns


The health union says changes to travel allowance payments to paramedics are leaving some remote Tasmanian ambulance stations unable to respond to call-outs for hours at a time, prompting warnings people may die waiting for help.

The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) said paramedics used to be paid 46 cents a kilometre when they needed to work out of other stations to cover staffing shortages, but that would no longer be paid.

As a result, paramedics will travel to and from remote stations during their shift time, shaving hours off their shifts at either end and leaving stations with either reduced capacity or none at all.

Devonport-based paramedic James Watkins frequently travels to other stations and says people are not getting the ambulance services they deserve.

“Studies show that for every minute someone is in cardiac arrest, their chance of survival drops by 9 per cent,” he said.

“That means for every minute a station’s not covered, or that an ambulance is further away than it should be, the chance of survival drops very significantly.

‘People will leave the force’

Mr Watkins said changes to the travel allowance would be “terrible” for the state’s West Coast as there was no longer any financial incentive for paramedics to work away from home.

“The West Coast is normally filled by people working away from home for a week at a time,” he said.

“Decisions are being made without consultation and people are becoming so demoralised they leave the force and go interstate … the workforce is feeling really undervalued.”

Robbie Moore standing in front of ambulances.
HACSU’s Robbie Moore says the health of Tasmanians will suffer under the new rules.(

ABC News: David Hudspeth

)

HACSU acting state secretary Robbie Moore said stations would now be unstaffed for hours.

“I’m aware of somebody in the Devonport station that had a shift in Smithton,” he said.

“That’s a long distance that you’d have to drive, and drive both ways, so it means for four or five hours the station doesn’t have a permanently based paramedic that’s able to respond to call-outs.

Payments ‘in line with award’

An Ambulance Tasmania spokesperson said there had been no changes to the award under which paramedics were paid.

“Ambulance Tasmania continues to pay paramedics in accordance with the relevant award, which includes allowances for travel in certain circumstances,” the spokesperson said.

“Ambulance Tasmania has a legal requirement as a government agency to ensure all payments comply with award conditions.

“We will be working with unions to ensure that claims for travel meet these conditions.”

Mr Moore rejected the idea that travel allowance payments were not part of the award.

“The best they’ll say is that it’s not an award entitlement, which is ridiculous because it’s been paid for many years,” he said.

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North Korea: Kim Jong-un warns of ‘difficult’ crisis



North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has urged citizens to prepare for a “difficult” crisis, following human rights groups’ warnings that the country faces dire food shortages and economic instability.

Speaking at a party conference, Mr Kim appeared to compare the situation to an infamous deadly famine in the 1990s.

North Korea has shut its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has brought trade with China, its economic lifeline, to a standstill.

This is also on top of existing international economic sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

In a rare admission of looming hardship, the authoritarian leader on Thursday called on party cadres to “wage another more difficult ‘Arduous March’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little”.

The Arduous March is a term used by North Korea officials to refer to the country’s struggle during a devastating famine during the 1990s, when the fall of the Soviet Union left North Korea without crucial aid. Around 3 million people are estimated to have died during that period.

Earlier this week, Mr Kim had warned the country faced the “worst-ever situation” and “unprecedentedly numerous challenges”.

There have been warnings for months that the people of North Korea are struggling.

Reports of hardship appear to be coming especially from towns near the Chinese border, where smuggling would have been a huge earner for many.

The price of corn, the staple diet for most of rural North Korea, has reportedly fluctuated enormously and at times a kilogram of corn has cost more than a month’s wages.

Lina Yoon, a researcher from Human Rights Watch, said in a recent report citing unnamed contacts in the country that “there is barely any food going into the country from China for almost two months now”.

“There are so many more beggars, some people died from hunger in the border area, and there’s no soap, toothpaste, or batteries.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, warned last month in a report of a “serious food crisis” already leading to malnourishment and starvation.

“Deaths by starvation have been reported, as has an increase in the number of children and elderly people who have resorted to begging as families are unable to support them.”

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CDC head warns of ‘impending doom’ in US


Head of the US public health agency Dr Rochelle Walensky said she is “scared” right now of rising cases

A senior scientist has warned that the US faces “impending doom” as coronavirus cases and hospital admissions rise across the country.

On Monday President Joe Biden urged state politicians once again to make mask-wearing obligatory in public places.

He also promised that by mid-April 90% of American adults would be able to receive a vaccine.

The US has recorded around 60,000 new cases daily for the past week.

The director of the US public health agency, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was speaking at a White House briefing when she said she was going to go “off script”.

“I’m going to reflect on the reoccurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Dr Rochelle Walensky said, adding “we have so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared”.

New Covid cases have reached around 60,000 a day in the past week, a rise of around 7%, according to the CDC.

Dr Walensky said she did not want the US to face another spike in cases and deaths as has happened in many European countries.

Cases have risen particularly quickly in Michigan and the country’s north-east, including Connecticut and New York, according to the New York Times.

Speaking in a TV address from the White House President Biden issued a plea to state governors to re-introduce laws that require citizens to wear masks.

Coronavirus rules in the US vary state-by-state, with some governors ordering much stricter restrictions than others.

“If we let our guard down now, we can see the virus getting worse, not better,” Mr Biden said.

He also spoke about the US success in its national vaccination programme and suggested it was ahead of schedule.

By 19 April, 90% of American adults will be eligible for a vaccine and will have access to a vaccination centre five miles from their homes, he promised.

Mr Biden has said all American adults will be able to register for a dose by 1 May.

More than one in five adults and nearly all Americans aged over-65 are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The rules on who is eligible vary by state, but in most places health care workers have long been able to get a jab, followed by the over-65s. In some states, including Georgia and Arizona, the over-16s are now able to get a jab, according to the New York Times.

Mr Biden urged Americans in the meantime to adhere to guidelines on social distancing and face coverings.

“Fight to the finish,” he said. “Don’t let up now.”

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Major contact tracing effort continues across Brisbane as immunologist warns unknown source of COVID infection is ‘definitely a concern’


A major contact tracing effort will continue in south-east Queensland today as authorities work to determine if a new locally acquired case of COVID-19 in a Brisbane landscaper has spread further in the community.

Genomic testing on Friday linked the 26-year-old Stafford man’s infection to another cluster in early March, which involved a doctor at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and two returned travellers in hotel quarantine in the city.

He visited numerous locations across Brisbane and the Moreton Bay region before testing positive on Thursday at the Nundah Respiratory Clinic, sparking a major contact tracing investigation.

Authorities said the man was highly infectious, and released a list of locations he had visited, saying anyone who had been to them at the same time should get tested immediately.

The man had the UK strain of the virus and was active in the community for several days before developing symptoms and getting tested.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the source of his infection remained unknown, but said an unidentified intermediary was probably the link between the first cluster and the new infection.

University of Queensland immunologist Dr Larisa Labzin said the new case showed there could be transmission within the community.

“It’s entirely possible that some people have caught it and they haven’t known that they’ve had it, because it doesn’t necessarily give you symptoms.

“That makes it a bit tricky for testing.”

Health authorities have reimposed restrictions on visitors at residential aged care facilities, disability accommodation centres, correctional facilities and hospitals across Brisbane and Moreton Bay, to be reviewed on Monday.

Dr Labzin said the extent of the spread from the Stafford man would likely depend on how active he was in the community and how strictly people were following COVID-safe measures.

“It’s really a question of whether distancing practices were still being met, including good hygiene, because we know that that plays a huge part in limiting the spread,” she said.

“We’re lucky at the moment, it’s quite warm, so we’re spending a lot of time outside and that definitely helps us prevent transmission.

“Even while things appear to be pretty normal with not many cases around, it can very easily change … so, it’s always worth making sure you wash your hands and you’re still maintaining that distance — you’re still being COVID safe.”

Dr Young has urged the community to be vigilant with their COVID safety in response to the new case.

The use of masks hasn’t been mandated but people have been asked to wear them in crowded situations this weekend.

Dr Labzin said the level of response from the government was appropriate, but people could take further action on their own accord.

“Even if masks haven’t been mandated, if it’s something small that you can do, that will make it safer for you, and for everyone else, like maintaining good hygiene, maintaining that distance, those things are really important.”

“We have to stay vigilant.”

On Friday evening Queensland Health updated the list of locations visited by the man while infectious.

Mamma’s Italian Waterfront Restaurant at Redcliffe has been listed as a close contact venue.

Anyone who attended the restaurant between 12:30pm and 3:10pm on Sunday March 21 is being told to quarantine themselves at home immediately and call 13HEALTH.

People who have been at any of the casual contact venues listed below are being told to get tested and isolate themselves at home until they receive a negative result.

Saturday March 20

Sunday March 21

Monday March 22

Thursday March 25

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BOM warns more wild weather to come as tropical cloud band collides with east coast trough


“Absolutely incredible” totals are set to continue as weather systems collide, bringing a peak to the rain overnight and into tomorrow morning.

Every state and territory, except Western Australia, is expected to be under some sort of heavy rain warning by this evening.

Very dangerous conditions continue for flood-affected areas as another 50 to 100 millimetres is expected to fall on already swollen catchments today.

“We’ve got major flooding across the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo Rivers and moderate flood warnings to the mid-north, but we’re expecting another peak today,” said Jonathan How, senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

“So pretty treacherous conditions right along the coast.”

Today another 50 to 100mm is expected across parts of Western Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Hunter and into the Mid-North Coast extending up to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, with high isolated falls again.

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The highest rainfall overnight was on the Gold Coast hinterland at North Tambourine recording 263mm. Brisbane CBD picked up 125mm.

In New South Wales, the highest was 245mm at Nambucca Heads on the Mid-North coast.

In the Blue Mountains the gauge at Kurrajong Heights recorded 174mm, 116mm at Springwood, 95mm at North Richmond, 93mm at Warragamba and 88mm at Penrith.

Sydney CBD only picked up 28mm in the end.

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‘Absolutely incredible’ totals so far

The overnight totals were impressive but the totals since 9am Thursday were even more extreme.

Comboyn, just to the south of Port Macquarie, has recorded 889mm of rain between 9am Thursday and 9am Monday.

According to Mr How they were likely to approach 1 metre of rain over the next day or so.

The highest falls in the Sydney area over the same period was at Blackheath with 465mm.

In Western Sydney they recorded 353mm at Warragamba, 290mm at Penrith Lakes and 263mm at Richmond.

“So we’re basically talking three to four months worth of rain over three to four days,” Mr How said.

Map of Australia with greens and blues extending from the Top End to the east coast
It has been a week of heavy and widespread rainfall for much of the continent and it is not over yet.(

Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology

)

The rain has not been restricted to just the last few days — Yarras, also known as Mount Seaview on the Mid-North Coast, is up to 911mm for March so far and, according to Mr How,

“They could get to a metre over the next day or so, which is absolutely incredible.”

Weather systems set to collide

From this evening it is about to get even wetter as a tropical cloud band swings in from the west, colliding with the coastal trough which has brought the rain so far.

“We’ve had days of torrential rain and now this tropical system coming through,” Mr How said.

Overnight there have already been falls of 120mm across Central Australia.

Series of synoptic charts showing the progression of tropical trough and rain moving across Monday - Thursday
Synoptic charts show the tropical cloud band extending across Australia, with low pressure system embedding in Tuesday before moving off on Wednesday. Resulting in clearer conditions by Thursday.(

Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology

)

Into Monday night, those heavy falls will push further east to places like Dubbo and in through the Northern Tablelands.

The resulting peak of the combined deluge is expected to be late tonight and into Tuesday morning.

“By tonight, we’re likely to have every state and territory in Australia, except WA, under some sort of heavy rain warning,” Mr How said.

Warnings are likely to extend to cover parts of the NT, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, eastern Victoria, and most likely north-eastern parts of Tasmania.

How unusual is this?

Weather systems colliding like this are not particularly unusual, but having this much rain in the lead-up is rare.

Mr How said that ironically for Sydney, the rainfall totals across the Hawkesbury and Nepean so far have not been more than what we saw in February last year.

“We did see a pretty similar event, in some regards, in February 2020, but the main difference was that coming off the drought, the soils were much drier and so had a much bigger capacity to absorb water,” he said.

“This time around, unfortunately because of a wetter La Niña summer, runoff is much greater.”

Current analysis suggests that flood levels for this event will fall short of the 1867 flood event for the Hawkesbury and Nepean, but are likely to exceed the 1961 flood event.

While this event will be record breaking, especially for parts of NSW, it was not likely to provide much competition to the widespread rainfall totals set in 2010 and 2011 for Australia as a whole, according to Mr How.

While this rain will have been welcomed by some still needing rain, others, especially places north of Brisbane like Rockhampton, have again missed out.

When is it going to end?

The silver lining of the tropical cloud band is that it will push this coastal trough off into the Tasman Sea.

Despite a low pressure system embedding within the combined rainband rainfall is expected to clear up by Wednesday morning for most of NSW and Queensland.

Wet weather is likely to continue for Tasmania and Victoria through Wednesday but the system should be completely clear of the continent by Thursday, according to Mr How.

But because there has been so much rain, we are likely to see the rivers continue to fill well beyond Wednesday and continue to run high until the weekend.

“Even though the rain will stop and it will be mostly sunny in Sydney by Wednesday, the flooding risk will persist for some time to come,” Mr How said.

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Port Moresby hospital warns of COVID patients dying in car parks as PNG suffers coronavirus surge


The number of daily COVID-19 infections in Papua New Guinea has reached a record high, with 295 cases recorded in a 24-hour period.

The number of COVID-19 cases across the country has tripled over the past month, with the country’s major hospital reporting seven out of every 10 symptomatic patients are testing positive to coronavirus.

The surge is putting pressure on PNG’s already vulnerable health system, with the Port Moresby General Hospital warning that the spike in COVID-19 cases will lead to an increase in unexpected deaths.

PNG parliamentarian Richard Mendani died after contracting the virus, with pandemic controller David Manning announcing the death over the weekend.

Mr Manning said the MP was the latest victim of the “invisible killer that spreads through the air”.

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“Sadly his passing comes one year to the day after the first COVID-19 infection was detected in our country,” Mr Manning said.

“The threat of death from COVID-19 is real, and sadly the Late Honourable Member paid the ultimate price and lost his life because of this terrible virus.”

Australia has pledged to provide 8,000 vaccines to immunise frontline health workers in Papua New Guinea.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea John Philp said he expected them to arrive this week.

A Papua New Guinean woman in a bright dress and tropical print face mask
PNG is making masks compulsory as it battles to control the outbreak.(

ABC News: Natalie Whiting

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Mr Philp said PNG’s health system was enormously stressed, with 90 per cent of beds at the Port Moresby intensive care unit full.

“Just in terms of numbers, the Port Moresby Hospital and the capital is really one of the major centres of the COVID-19 surge here,” Mr Philp said.

Photo of dying woman highlights hospital in crisis

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COVID-19 cases at a ‘tipping point’ in PNG

A photo of a woman who died outside the Port Moresby General Hospital while receiving treatment for asthma has been widely shared on social media, putting a spotlight on the capital’s stretched health facilities.

The hospital’s chief executive officer Paki Molumi said investigations were underway into the death of the woman, and urged the public to view the photo as the “true situation” of the hospital’s “overstressed and limited health workforce”.

“As the number of COVID cases increase in the coming weeks, the limited staff at PMGH [Port Moresby General Hospital] will not be able to take care of everyone,” he said in a statement.

More than 40 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in the Port Moresby hospital, with some moved to the general ward as the isolation ward is full.

The hospital in Papua New Guinea’s second main city of Lae has been forced to suspend services due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Alfred Mel, who works at the Angau Hospital in Lae, said an increase in patients admitted to the hospital might lead to a “health system collapse”. 

“Even before COVID we were struggling, and COVID is only exposing all the weaknesses that are inherent due to neglect,” Dr Mel said.

“You really have to be concerned about what’s happening with all the other areas of health in this country. COVID is only making it worse.”

New restrictions, including closing provincial borders and making masks mandatory, will be enforced across the country from today.

A team of Australian medical workers is expected to land in PNG tomorrow to provide assistance and assess the need for further deployments.

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Sen. McConnell warns Dems about eliminating filibuster


WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 02: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a press conference following the Senate GOP policy luncheon in the Rayburn Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 2, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 4:47 PM PT – Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Senate’s top Republican outlined the potential ramifications if Democrats scrap the filibuster. Left-wing lawmakers have frothed at the opportunity to eradicate the procedure in order to impose a far-left agenda on America.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke on the Senate floor and said nobody serving in the chamber could even begin to imagine what a “completely scorched Earth Senate would look like.” He pointed out how the Senate operates by unanimous consent on a day-to-day basis and indicated he would seek to slow down Democrats by utilizing the rules of the chamber.

“So this is not a trade-off between trampling etiquette, but then getting to quickly transform the country,” McConnell noted. “That’s a false choice. Even the most basic aspects of our colleagues’ agenda, the most mundane task of the Biden presidency, would actually be harder — not easier — for Democrats in a post-nuclear Senate that is 50-50. Dead even. If the Democrats break the rules to kill Rule 22 on a 50-50 basis, then we will use every other rule to make tens of millions of Americans’ voices heard.”

McConnell also warned Democrats if they scrapped the procedure, Republicans would pass conservative policies with “zero input” from the left if they were to take back the chamber in 2022. The Kentucky senator vowed to take action on several issues including abortion, illegal immigration and gun rights.

McConnell noted the Senate is evenly split and despite what leftist activists want, the American people did not give them a mandate to radically transform the nation. He then reminded his Democrat colleagues that Republicans did not scrap the filibuster when they were in the majority.

The Republican lawmaker stressed how eradicating the filibuster in order to advance a partisan liberal agenda would destroy the fabric of the chamber and go against the duties the American people have entrusted senators to keep and uphold.

“I said to the president at that time: No,” McConnell stated of removing the filibuster. “I said no repeatedly because becoming a U.S. senator comes with higher duties than steamrolling any obstacle to short-term power. I meant it. Republicans meant it. Less than two months ago, two of our [Democrat] colleagues said they meant it, too. If they keep their word, we have a bipartisan majority that can put principle first and keep the Senate.”

Meanwhile, some Democrats in the upper chamber have considered a way to alter the procedure, hoping it would prevent Republicans from stalling long enough to stop a vote on measures like H.R.1.

Moderate Senate Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.) have both pledged to protect the filibuster. In early March, Manchin suggested it could be reformed instead.

“The Senate is the most unique body of government in the world,” Manchin said. “It’s basically designed…to make sure the minority has input. I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority. I’ve been in the minority [and] I’ve been in the majority. And I can tell you the respect I have on both sides when I’ve been there should be: “I’ve got something to say. Listen to me,’ and I want that to happen.”

In the meantime, the White House does not appear to be on board with completely eradicating the filibuster either. In a recent interview, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Joe Biden thinks the filibuster should remain and is an important part of the Senate rules. Klain also said Biden hopes the Senate will change the bill instead of killing the long-standing procedure outright.

Despite the administration’s stance, Biden will likely continue to face pressure from the far-left to back their efforts, regardless of the damage it could do to the Senate as an institution and nation as a whole.

RELATED: Fla. Sen. Rick Scott Blasts Dems Over Push To Abolish Filibuster



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NSW premier warns of ‘deep-seated, extreme weather event’ as hundreds are rescued from floodwaters


Riverbanks have burst, dams are spilling over, roads are cut and residents are on alert for evacuation as NSW faces its worst rain event in about three decades.

Vision of entire homes adrift in floodwater, cars inundated and people forced to evacuate their homes in tinnies were circulating on social media on Saturday, when major flooding hit parts of the state.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told residents to be ready to leave their homes on the mid-north coast, the Hunter, the Central Coast, metropolitan Sydney and the Warragamba Dam catchment area.

“This will be a deep-seated, extreme weather event … It’s not going to be an easy week for us,” she told reporters on Saturday.

“None of us are out of the woods while the storm front is moving south. The rain may not stop until Thursday or Friday. I hope those predictions are wrong.”

Parramatta ferry wharf overflows and floods due to continuous and heavy rain on Saturday, 20 March.

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For NSW residents not in immediate danger, the premier urged them to restrict their movements and heed all warnings.

Nine evacuation centres are open in NSW – seven on the mid-north coast and two in the Hunter region.

Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said it was “unacceptable” that the State Emergency Service (SES) had conducted 500 flood rescues so far.

“That’s 500 crews that have put their lives at risk because people have not heeded the warnings,” he said.

Warragamba Dam, the Sydney’s main reservoir, began overflowing mid-afternoon on Saturday and the spill was expected to increase into Sunday, Water NSW said.

Ms Berejiklian said she had been briefed on the dam situation “in relation to a potential for a one and five year, one in 10 year, or one in 20 year event”.

“All three scenarios are being planned for,” she told reporters on Saturday.

Other dams such as the Nepean, Cataract, Cordeaux and Avon were also expected to reach capacity and begin spilling on Saturday.

The lower Blue Mountains was forecast to see the worst of the rain on Saturday and into Sunday.

The Nepean River, the Colo River and the Hawkesbury were breaking their banks on Saturday.

The SES said major flooding was possible at North Richmond, Windsor and Sackville, from late Saturday, with the Hawkesbury River to reach a moderate flood level of 7.9m.

Concerns were focused on communities along the Georges River, an urban river in the city’s south, and on the Hawkesbury/Nepean river system to the north and west of Sydney.

“It’s a very dynamic and evolving flood situation and we could see some very deep and rapidly responding rivers with very high levels,” BOM national flood services manager Justin Robinson told reporters.

“We’ve got multiple flood warnings impacting coastal rivers all the way from the top of the mid-north coast … all the way down into the Sydney region.”

River systems on the mid-north coast that had already flooded communities were expected to cop more rain on Saturday night and on Sunday, as Sydney’s river systems swelled dramatically.

Senior BOM climatologist Agata Imielska on Saturday said greater Sydney could expect about 100mm of rain during the next 24 hours, but the lower Blue Mountains is expected to get 200-300mm.

The band is moving down from the Kimberley and will reach eastern NSW from Monday night, when it will “link up” with the slow-moving coastal trough that is causing the flooding in NSW.

“That’s when we’ll see a very large burst of rain, across eastern NSW, dipping into northeastern Victoria and southeast Queensland from Monday night into Tuesday,” meteorologist Jonathan How told AAP.

Parts of Port Macquarie, and several nearby towns, have flooded. Evacuation orders are in place in many locations including Port Macquarie and Kempsey.

Further south, Taree is in the grip of a flood rivalling its worst event on record, 92 years ago.

The Manning River at Taree was expected to peak at 5.8 metres later on Saturday, higher than the 1978 and 2011 floods and close to the record flood level of six metres in 1929.

One house on the river was swept away on Saturday, with Lyle Edge saying in a GoFundMe appeal that his brother had lived in the home with his partner. 

They should have been getting married on Saturday, but instead they’ve been left homeless and their pets have died. 

At Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast, a record 405mm has fallen. At Kindee Bridge, inland from Port Macquarie, 160mm fell in just three hours.

In western Sydney, a “mini tornado” ripped through the suburb of Chester Hill, tossing trees, ripping off roof tiles and spearing a trampoline into the side of a house. 

A supplied image obtained on Saturday, 20 March, shows a trampoline stuck against the side of a house in Chester Hill, Sydney.

A supplied image obtained on Saturday, 20 March, shows a trampoline stuck against the side of a house in Chester Hill, Sydney.

FIRE AND RESCUE NSW

NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said the tornado had affected three streets when it hit at 9am, and left 1000 properties without power.

“I hope it won’t happen again, it is an unusual event but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. It is very difficult to prepare for such a spontaneous, significant weather event,” she told reporters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has received a briefing from Emergency Management Australia on the situation and said the scenes across NSW were “absolutely heart-breaking”.

“The federal government stands ready to provide whatever assistance is needed, including from the ADF,” he said on Facebook.

The Public Information and Inquiry Centre provides information about the severe weather at any time of day on 1800 227 228.



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