Daily News Round-up

February 16, 2022


Tennis fans and pundits have ripped into world No. 1 Novak Djokovic for claiming he is not anti-vax, despite admitting he is willing to miss grand slam tournaments to avoid getting the jab.

Djokovic found himself in a world of controversy when he landed in Melbourne ahead of January’s Australian Open. The 20-time grand slam champion claimed he had an exemption due to having tested positive to Covid-19 in December, but the Serbian was denied entry.

What followed was an 11-day circus in which Immigration Minister Alex Hawke cancelled Djokovic’s visa on the Friday before the start of the Australian Open.

The 34-year-old ultimately did not take part in the Melbourne-based grand slam tournament, where rival Rafael Nadal secured his 21st major title.

Djokovic finally broke his silence in a BBC interview this week, claiming that if his involvement in future tournaments was contingent on being vaccinated, then “that is the price I’m willing to pay”.


“I understand and fully support the freedom to choose whether you want to get vaccinated or not,” he said. “I have not spoken about this before and I have not disclosed my medical record and my vaccination status because I had the right to keep that private and discreet. But as I see, there are a lot of wrong conclusions and assumptions out there and I think it’s important to speak up about that and justify certain things.


“I was never against vaccination. I understand globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing an end soon hopefully to this virus. And vaccination was probably the biggest effort that was made, probably half of the planet was vaccinated. And I fully respect that.

“But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body. For me, that is essential. It is really the principle of understanding what is right and what is wrong for you, and me as an elite professional athlete, I have always carefully reviewed, assessed everything that comes in, from supplements, food, the water that I drink, sports drinks, anything that comes into my body as fuel. Based on all the information I got, I decided not to take the vaccine as of today.

“The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”

Inevitably, Djokovic’s remarks did not sit well with large portions of the tennis community, who blasted his controversial views as “wildly anti-scientific”.

The tennis superstar’s claim that he is not anti-vax also raised plenty of eyebrows.

During the BBC interview, Djokovic also bizarrely said: “No one in that entire process of the Australian saga has asked me on my stance or my opinion on vaccination. No one. So I could not really express what I feel and where my stance is, neither in the legal process, neither outside.

“It’s really unfortunate that there has been this misconceptions and wrong conclusions made around the world based on something I completely disagree with.”

Djokovic seems to have forgotten that not once did he organise a press conference during the Australian visa saga.

He also seems oblivious to the fact he has nine million Twitter followers and 10.3 million Instagram followers.

And more importantly, the French journalist who interviewed Djokovic in December without knowing he had tested positive for Covid-19 was told specifically not to ask him about his vaccination status for the virus.


Gun company Remington Arms has been ordered to pay compensation to the families of five adults and four children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

It is the first time a gun maker has been held responsible for a mass shooting in the United States.

Twenty students and six adults were killed on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, by an attacker who used a Remington rifle to shoot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing his mother at home.

Remington Arms will pay $US73 million ($102 million) to the families and release all the discovery and disposition material to the public.

The settlement will be paid through insurance policies, lawyers for the families said.

“Today marks an inflection point when our duty of care to our children as a society finally supersedes the bottom line of an industry that made such an atrocity like Sandy Hook possible,” said Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah was killed in the shooting.

Veronique De La Rosa’s six-year-old Noah Pozner was one of the youngest victims.(Supplied by Lenny Pozner)

The nine families sued in 2014 and spent years in the courts trying to hold Remington liable, despite a US law that protects gun makers and dealers from most civil litigation and two bankruptcy filings by Remington.

The Sandy Hook families found a way around that legal protection for gun makers by claiming that Remington’s marketing of firearms contributed to the massacre.

“These families would do everything to give it all back for just one more minute. That would be true justice,” said lawyer Josh Koskoff.

Mr Koskoff said the case focused on the marketing of the gun, the AR-15, which was originally made for combat and for decades only appealed to a small civilian market.

After the Cerberus private equity firm bought Remington in 2007, it launched aggressive campaigns that pushed sales of AR-15s through product placement in first-person shooter video games and by touting the AR-15 as an effective killing machine, Mr Koskoff said.

Lawyers argued Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games. (AP: Seth Wenig)

Sales rose from 100,000 AR-15 in 2005 to 2 million in 2012.


High school students will soon be recruited to gather koala poo in the name of science.

Griffith University has begun a research and education program to build a long-term DNA dataset from koala poo and will ask citizen scientists to collect droppings or scats for the project.

Associate Professor Carney Matheson, the university’s forensic science program director, said koala DNA datasets already exist but the “passive collection” of new samples would come at it “from a different angle”.

“Rather than going out for two years on a research project and collecting all of the scats from that region and not going back again,” he said.

“This is starting as a citizen science project and the data will build to a point where we can use it for research and we’re hoping that will complement some of the datasets that researchers already have.”

Dr Matheson’s research centres on pulling information from molecules that break down, fragment or become chemically modified over time.

“When you look at the modifications over time, you start to lose information,” he said.

“My research is to regain that information from those degraded molecules.”

The work has taken him to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he analysed human remains recovered from the ocean after the Titanic sank in 1912.

“We were able to excavate some of those burials and apply some of my techniques of ancient DNA, degraded DNA, to identify who those individuals may be,” Dr Matheson said.

“We’ve also worked on tombs in Jerusalem to identify family relationships.

“One of the tombs had the oldest burial shroud in the world which was around the time of Jesus Christ”.

While he said these were all “really exciting projects”, ultimately “they’re all just degraded molecules”.

“Most of the molecules I analyse include protein, DNA, lipids or fatty acids, and a whole range of things.”

Far from ancient tombs in Jerusalem, Griffith University’s research project will begin at Toohey Forest in south-east Queensland, where high school students will be taught how to collect droppings ahead of analysis.


A settlement has been reached in the civil case brought by Virginia Giuffre against Prince Andrew.

In a letter to the New York court handling the case, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies said both parties had reached a settlement and expected to file for the case to be dismissed within 30 days.

The deal avoids a trial that would have brought further embarrassment to the monarchy.

Ms Giuffre, who lives in Australia, alleged she was trafficked for sex to the Duke of York by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein on several occasions when she was a teenager. 

The duke repeatedly denied those allegations.

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre and Andrew said the duke intended to make a substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.

It was not clear whether Ms Giuffre would personally receive any money as part of the settlement.

“Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks,” their statement said.

“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years.

“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others.”

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on news of the settlement.

Sources close to Prince Andrew said there would be no further statements on the matter at this time.

Ms Giuffre asserted that she met the duke while she travelled frequently with Epstein between 2000 and 2002, when her lawyers maintain she was “on call for Epstein for sexual purposes” and was “lent out to other powerful men,” including the prince.

The tentative settlement comes just over a month after a US judge rejected the prince’s attempt to win an early dismissal of the lawsuit, meaning depositions and other evidence-gathering could commence.

After the ruling, the duke — who had already stepped back from royal duties — was stripped of his honorary military titles and roles and leadership of various charities, known as royal patronages.

He also can no longer use the title “his royal highness″ in official settings.

Andrew served in the Royal Navy for two decades, including as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War.

The honorary military roles he lost included several overseas ones, such as his title as colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.

More than 150 veterans and serving members of the armed forces asked the Queen to strip her second son of his military titles, saying he had failed to live up to the “very highest standards of probity, honesty and honourable conduct” expected of British officers.

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