Daily News Roundup

September 5, 2019

THURSDAY,  September 5 

The heat is on in South East Queensland with the Rural Fire Service pointing to a catastrophic fire danger rating for parts of the Darling Downs and Maranoa tomorrow. 

It would only be the second time a catastrophic fire warning has been issued — the first was in November last year when fierce bushfires ravaged central Queensland.

A catastrophic fire danger rating is as bad as it gets and while some homes may survive a severe or extreme fire if they are well prepared, the Country Fire Authority says no homes are designed to withstand catastrophic conditions.

Acting regional manager Clinton Newman has urged people to prepare now and heed any warnings from emergency services.

“We’re looking at fires that will be fast moving and difficult to control, so people who do not have well-prepared properties or who haven’t got a plan, we’re in the phase where it might be too late so their plan might be to leave early,” he said.

“We’ll see fire bans from midnight Thursday night or Friday morning, through to midnight Friday night or Saturday morning … so pretty much all of Friday.

“So … make preparations today.”

The areas facing a significant fire threat include Toowoomba, Southern Downs, Western Downs, Goondiwindi, Maranoa and the Balonne Shire council areas.

Meanwhile, residents at Sarabah, south of Canungra, in the Gold Coast hinterland are now being told to prepare to leave their homes, as conditions could get worse.

The regional fire manager for Brisbane, Wayne Waltisbuhl, told ABC Radio Brisbane crews were struggling to bring the fire under control.

“That fire’s not contained at the moment … it’s in really rugged terrain, which makes it hard for firefighters to get access,” he said.

If a fire starts and takes hold during catastrophic fire conditions, the weather bureau says it will be “extremely difficult to control” and take “significant firefighting resources”

When these warnings are issued, your only safe option is to leave the area early

The catastrophic category was added following the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria

Forecaster Michael Knepp said strong and gusty winds would contribute to the extreme conditions forecast for Friday.

“We’re going to have a cold front moving to the far-south-west of the state late tonight and then sweeping across southern Queensland tomorrow,” he said.

He said ahead of the cold front, winds from the north-west would increase.

“It’s going to be quite windy … especially towards the western Darling Downs … the Maranoa towards Roma, St George, Bollon — very windy out there, and it’s going to be very warm too, very dry.”

“Those three things combined are going to lead to severe to extreme fire dangers for tomorrow.”

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A young American woman who made world headlines when she read a powerful and emotional statement at the “light” sentencing of a college swimmer who sexually assaulted her at prestigious Stanford University in 2015 has revealed her identity.

Chanel Miller, previously known only to the public as Emily Doe, has released her name to the public ahead of publishing a memoir titled Know My Name.

The 27-year-old’s impact statement, read at the sentencing of Brock Turner, a Stanford University “star swimmer” from the US state of Ohio, went viral in 2016, sparking a conversation about the way sexual assault is discussed.

The public outcry that followed the light sentence given to Turner, which saw him  serve just three months in jail, led to the judge losing his job.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside of me,” the statement began, directly addressing Turner.

The trial found Turner attacked her while she lay unconscious outside an on-campus fraternity house party before two cyclists intervened.

Turner, who was then 20 years old, was convicted of three chargesintent to rape an intoxicated and unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.

He was sentenced to six months in jail — a penalty heavily criticised as a “slap on the wrist” — and served three months of the sentence, which included three years of probation.

He was also required to register as a sex offender.

Many people were enraged by his lenient conviction for felony sexual assault, more than a year before the #MeToo movement took off.

Judge Aaron Persky, who imposed the sentence, was removed from office in 2018 following an online petition that gained more than 400,000 signatures.

To critics, Mr Persky embodied an outdated US judicial system that treated sexual assault too lightly and seemed overly concerned with the male attacker, who in this case had a budding sporting career.

He was the first judge to be recalled in California since 1932.

In Ms Miller’s impact statement, she detailed how the assault and the aftermath affected her life.

“My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition,” Ms Miller wrote.

“I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty.”

Ms Miller started writing a book in 2017, finding out more details of her assault during the process by gaining access to court documents and witness statements she had not seen during the trial.

Her book will be released later this month.

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The UK is in political chaos today after MPs voted to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal, and followed up by stopping his attempt to hold a snap election.

Mr Johnson had called for a national election on October 15, saying it was the only way out of Britain’s Brexit impasse after opposition MPs moved to block his plan to leave the European Union next month without a divorce deal.

After MPs in the House of Commons approved a bill designed to halt a no-deal Brexit, delivering the second setback to Johnson in as many days, he said: “There is only one way forward for the country.”

Mr Johnson insists Britain must leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal, and he accused the opposition of trying to “overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history”, referring to the outcome of the 2016 referendum to leave the EU.

Opposition parties said they would not back a poll until the Brexit bill becomes law. Mr Johnson needs the support of two-thirds of the 650 MPs in the House of Commons to trigger an election.

MPs hope to have the Bexit Bill passed into law by the end of the week, but pro-Brexit members of the House of Lords are threatening to try to stop it by filibustering — talking so much that time runs out.

Mr Johnson had argued that he needed the threat of leaving without a deal to force the EU into making concessions on the divorce agreement that would satisfy Parliament.

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