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Tuesday, 20 April 2021
“He’s lost a couple of feathers as he’s gone down the road.”
Said circus director Keith Brown of the Big Bird costume that was stolen from a circus in Adelaide. Worth $160,000, it stands 213cm tall, is made of yellow ostrich feathers and has a relentlessly optimistic attitude – just in case you need help identifying it…
CAMPAIGNERS SECURE ROYAL COMMISSION
PM Scott Morrison yesterday announced a Royal Commission into veteran and serving defence personnel suicide after a long-running campaign from the defence community, affected families, and pressure from MPs and Senators. He said he’s listened to the calls and will recommend the inquiry focuses on “the systemic issues faced by Australian Defence Force members and veterans that too often results in their loss of life to suicide.” While Labor’s Veterans’ spokesman Brendan O’Connor welcomed the inquiry’s launch, he said it had been done “begrudgingly, belatedly and because of the pressure”.
WHAT’S BROUGHT THIS ON?
In short, the number of serving and ex-servicemen and women taking their own lives is climbing. From 2001-18, 465 suicide deaths among serving, reserve and ex-serving personnel were recorded, and reports say numbers have soared over the past year. Many campaigners point out that 41 Australian defence personnel died during the almost 20-year-long conflict in Afghanistan, and say there are serious issues going unaddressed to help those who serve overseas when they come home. Last year, Morrison proposed an independent commissioner to investigate the suicides, but the legislation failed to receive support in the Senate where crossbenchers, including former soldier Jacqui Lambie, demanded a Royal Commission. So here we go.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the inquiry will help to understand the issues further and to build “trust and hope” for current and future veterans and their families that they will be supported. That includes assistance with transitioning out of service, mental health support and securing housing and employment. “As a government, we have committed to help them with any mental or physical issues that are a result of that service,” Chester said. Consultations and the process to appoint 3 commissioners to lead the inquiry are underway. The inquiry could take between 18 months to 2 years to be completed.
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JURY MULLS OVER CHAUVIN VERDICT
Closing arguments are being made in the criminal trial against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, and the jury will soon retire to consider its verdict. The trial has taken 3 weeks, heard evidence from 45 witnesses, and focused on 2 things: what caused Floyd’s death and whether Chauvin’s actions were justified and lawful. In summing up, the prosecution urged jurors to “believe your own eyes” – a reference to the shocking video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. The defence says that’s not a “proper analysis” of the case that ignores Floyd’s history with drugs, his preexisting health conditions and behaviour on the day. In May last year, the 46yo black man’s death sparked civil rights protests across America, the scale of which had not been seen since the 1960s. And the city in Minnesota is braced for what might come next.
PUTIN CRITIC MOVED TO PRISON HOSPITAL
After almost 3 weeks of a hunger strike and alarming assessments that he was close to death, imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has been shifted to a prison hospital, Russian officials said overnight. He’s been moved to a facility in a town called Vladimir, which seems like a cruel taunt… Protesting against inadequate medical treatment since he’s been behind bars, Navalny hadn’t eaten since 31 March. The US, UK and European nations warned Russia that it would be “held accountable by the international community” if he dies as his doctor predicted he would do if he didn’t receive attention. Several Russian politicians signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin calling for Navalny to receive urgent medical attention and threatening widespread protest action. An outspoken Putin critic, Navalny was poisoned last year in an attack US intelligence says was ordered by Putin. The Kremlin has denied any involvement. He was jailed in February for old embezzlement charges, which he claims are politically motivated.
FOOTBALL WAR OVER BREAKAWAY LEAGUE
A dozen of the world’s biggest football clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona have agreed to join a new 20-club super competition called the Super League. In recent years, the big clubs have used the threat of breaking away as a bargaining chip in negotiations to make their paths to the Champions League (aka the tournament that pits the best European clubs against each other) easier. But yesterday’s announcement blows the romantic notion that only the best clubs get through to the top comp sky high… If it gets off the ground, it could start as soon as August. And by showcasing the biggest ‘glamour’ clubs of Europe, there’s potentially more broadcast dollars and signup payments worth billions – but smaller/good performing clubs will be left out. Europe’s governing football body (which said the move is about the “greediness, selfishness and narcissism” of the big clubs), swathes of fans, and national leaders including UK PM Boris Johnson and French President Emmanual Macron are very much against it. Even Prince William tweeted about it… Watch this space.
INGENUITY TAKES FLIGHT
For the first time, Earthlings have guided a powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another planet. That happened last night when NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter lifted off on Mars for about 40 seconds. And it means there are many drone adventures in NASA’s future with the mini-chopper able to explore the Red Planet’s surface from above. It’s an achievement up there with the Wright Brothers’ inaugural flight 117 years ago – and a tiny piece of the original flyer’s wing has been attached to the helicopter to mark its significance. NASA hopes to conduct a series of longer flights in the coming weeks, but last night’s success doesn’t guarantee smooth flying in the future… There are many factors at play – a bad landing from a gust of wind or from the planet’s lack of gravity could bring an end to the Ingenuity in a moment.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Charles Geschke died yesterday at 81yo. He’s notable because he was an accidental computer scientist who went on to be a co-founder of Adobe, and he was behind the PDF. Store it in that part of the brain you reserve for obscure pub trivia…
One living Tyrannosaurus rex is scary – 2.5 billion is next level. That’s how many roamed the earth over 2 million years, according to experts. Yikes…
And in ‘celebrities are just like us’, Lizzo revealed she slid into actor Chris Evans’ DMs after a few too many beverages last weekend… Unlike regular people, she received not only a reply but also a new follower.
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7.00pm (AEST) – AFLW Awards – broadcast live on Fox Sports
Volunteer Recognition Day
Birthdays for Jessica Lange (1949), Carmen Electra (1972) and Miranda Kerr (1983)
• Captain James Cook arriving in what is now New South Wales (1770)
• Marie and Pierre Curie isolating the radioactive compound radium chloride (1902)
• the Columbine High School massacre (1999)
• the death of musician Avicii (2018)
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