“We have seen that the member was in very good shape, but I think that this member should be reminded of what is appropriate and to control his camera.”
Said Canadian MP Claude DeBellefeuille dobbing in a male colleague who made an accidental naked appearance during a virtual session of Question Time. Kudos to her for the brave use of ‘member’…
THE SUN SETS ON ONE CONFLICT AS ANOTHER THREAT RISES
Australia’s remaining 80 troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn in line with America’s plans to have their 2,500 soldiers home later this year. US President Joe Biden yesterday confirmed the 11 September withdrawal deadline – the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks launched by al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. In total, 3,500 coalition troops have died during the war, including 41 Australians. It’s estimated more than 110,000 Afghans also died, including 31,000 civilians.
WHAT WAS THE COST?
Those lives lost, most importantly. And PM Scott Morrison became emotional yesterday as he read the Aussie soldiers’ names who lost their lives during the conflict as he talked of the impact on their families. The son of one of the men, Sergeant Brett Till, was in the same class as one of his daughters, he said. For those who came home, “we’ll be dealing with the scars, both mental and physical, of their service, for many, many years,” he said. More than 39,000 Australians were deployed to support efforts to end Islamic terrorism emanating from Afghanistan – and that came at a cost to taxpayers of more than $10 billion. There are also investigations based on “credible information” that a small number of elite soldiers participated in war crimes while in Afghanistan that are ongoing. So, was it all worth it? “Freedom is always worth it,” Morrison said.
MOVING ON… WHERE’S THE NEXT THREAT COMING FROM?
It’s China, American officials say. US intelligence agencies put out their annual threat assessment this week, and it’s not an armed conflict they’re worried about… It’s the so-called ‘gray-zone battles’ for power fought by Chinese state spies via cyber-attacks and political interference that are the biggest risk. That will give Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Biden plenty to talk about during their summit in Washington DC on Friday local time – the newish US President’s first face-to meeting with a world leader since his inauguration. Behind China, there’s Russia. It’s considered a diminishing power, but it’s got skillz in the hacking/political interference department – which is why Biden’s administration announced further sanctions against high-placed Russian officials overnight. Analysts said this all means non-state terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are down the list when it comes to threats to Western democracies.
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WORKING ON OUR CONFIDENCE
Australia’s unemployment rate fell 0.2% to 5.6% in March with an additional 70,700 people finding work in the month. That’s taken the number of people with a job to a record 13.08 million. But there’s one caveat: yesterday’s figures didn’t take into account the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy, which wrapped up at the end of March. That’s expected to result in significant job losses that will start to be reflected in April’s numbers. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia’s economic recovery was gaining momentum with consumer confidence at an 11-year high. And the business sector yesterday hailed our “miraculous” jobs recovery given the COVID shock. Virgin Australia is one that said it is hiring again and expects to be at 80% of its domestic capacity by mid-June. Also on a hiring spree is pizza giant Domino’s after the pandemic saw its home delivery service spike. Mmm pizza…
CYCLONE SEROJA LEAVES A HEFTY BILL
As Western Australia’s mid-west coastal region picks up the pieces after Cyclone Seroja trashed the joint, a clearer picture is emerging of the damage caused by the once-in-50-years storm. The devastation inflicted on Kalbarri and the surrounding area is yet to be fully assessed, but authorities have so far confirmed at least 170 properties had been destroyed or severely damaged, with 491 more affected. The disaster is an “insurance catastrophe”, and yesterday Premier Mark McGowan confirmed disaster recovery funding is flowing. Hundreds of emergency services personnel, Army Reserves and volunteers have been sent to the region to assist in the massive cleanup effort, which is expected to take months. This photo gallery shows just some of what locals are facing up to.
STOMPIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD
It’s a plunge from previous estimates, but a new study suggests that 3% of the world remains untouched by humans. While former research used satellite imagery to predict that 20-40% of the Earth remains intact, the new study used ecological mapping of habitats and species to come to its conclusion. Excluding Antarctica, the last untouched corners of Earth include parts of the Amazon and Congo forests, Siberia, northern Canada, and the Sahara Desert. No parts of Oz remain ecologically intact thanks to the impact of introduced species like cats, rabbits and camels. But there’s a silver lining – researchers say that reintroducing species like elephants and wolves to some damaged areas could restore up to 20% of the environment. Bring on the Tassie Devils in NSW…
READYING FOR PRINCE PHILIP’S SEND-OFF
Prince Philip’s funeral won’t be what some might have expected – his instructions for something low-key and COVID mean just 30 mourners (who were named overnight) will attend. And what the blokes will wear has been a thing this week, with the Queen ending it by advising them to wear suits. That’s a gracious sparing of Prince Harry who lost his military titles when he stepped down as a senior royal. And there was an issue with Prince Andrew wanting to play dress-ups… Fun fact: the Duke’s coffin will be driven to the ceremonial royal funeral at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in a customised Land Rover hearse that he helped design. The service will start at 3pm local time (Sunday midnight AEST), and it will be televised live on several free-to-air channels. #SquizShortcut
ADELAIDE AND BRISSIE AT IT AGAIN
Adelaide and Brisbane played off for AFLW supremacy in its inaugural season 2017, and tomorrow they face off in the 2021 grand final in Adelaide at 1:30 pm local time (aka 2pm AEST). The teams go into the decider on an equal 8-2 win-loss record for the season. And they pack some firepower with Adelaide’s Erin Phillips, who has two grand final best-on-ground medals under her belt, and Brisbane’s Courtney Hodder won the Best First-Year Player Award earlier in the week. But the Crows are down their captain – Chelsea Randall has been ruled out after she took a head knock last week. The Lions say they’re hungry for the win, with Ally Anderson confessing “there is that personal history” with the Crows. May the best team win…
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
For a solid belly laugh, this list of the best of Yahoo Answers delivered for us this week.
Everything in moderation, right? Because since a neighbour dropped off some carrot cake muffins, we haven’t stopped thinking about them… Big call, but it’s quite possibly the best carrot cake we’ve had – and we’ve had a lot…
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US President Joe Biden has his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader during a summit with his Japan’s Yoshihide Suga – Washington, DC
Birthdays for former Pope Benedict XVI (1927), Akon (1973), Claire Foy (1984), Chance the Rapper (1993) and Tayla Harris (1997)
• the birthdays of Charlie Chaplin (1889), Spike Milligan (1918), Henry Mancini (1924), Dusty Springfield (1939)
• the Virginia Tech massacre (2007)
1.30pm (ACST) – AFLW Grand Final – Adelaide Crows v Brisbane Lions – Adelaide Oval
Syria’s National Day
World Circus Day
Birthdays for Jennifer Garner (1972) and Victoria Beckham (1974)
• the invention of modern snooker by Sir Neville Chamberlain (aka not the former UK PM…) (1875)
• the premiere of Game of Thrones on HBO (2011)
• the deaths Linda McCartney (1998), Gabriel García Márquez (2014) and Barbara Bush (2018)
12.00am (AEST) – Prince Philip’s funeral service – St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. It will be broadcast live on Channel 9, 10 and the ABC
Independence Day – Zimbabwe
Birthdays for James Woods (1947), Conan O’Brien (1963), David Tennant (1971) and Kourtney Kardashian (1979)
• the first crossword puzzle book published by Simon & Schuster (1924)
• the death of Albert Einstein (1955)
• the marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1956)
• Wham becoming the first western pop act to release an album in China (1985)
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