Daily News Roundup

November 3, 2021


Four-year-old Cleo Smith has been found “alive and well” in Western Australia, 18 days after she disappeared.

Detectives found Cleo in the early hours of this morning after breaking into a house in Carnarvon, about 70km from the campsite where the four-year-old went missing.

“It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith,” Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said in a statement.

“Cleo is alive and well.

“A Police team broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon about 1am. They found little Cleo in one of the rooms.

“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’ She said – ‘My name is Cleo’.”

Cleo was reunited with her parents a short time later.

Cleo’s mum, Ellie Smith shared a short message to Instagram this morning, writing: “Our family is whole again”.

Deputy Commissioner Blanch said a man from Carnarvon is now is custody and is being questioned by police.

He thanked investigators, Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers who helped in the search for the missing girl.

“This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for. It’s the outcome we’ve achieved because of some incredible police work,” he said.

Cleo Smith has been found alive in Western Australia.

Police said Cleo was reunited with her family shortly after being rescued. Picture: Facebook.

 Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the day would go down in history in Western Australia.

“To find a little girl, a vulnerable little girl, after 18 days. Obviously, people think the worst. But importantly, hope was never lost,” he said.

“I think Australia is rejoicing. It is such a wonderful outcome.”

Commissioner Dawson said that while police never gave up hope of finding Cleo, the longer the search went on the tougher it became.

“Having been around the block a bit, we obviously were very, very concerned [after] so many days passed,” he said.

“That does not mean you give up. You can’t for the family, can’t for the child.

“I’m so pleased the team kept going, they were not going to leave any stone unturned. They didn’t and it’s just a wonderful outcome as a consequence.”

Commissioner Dawson said there was very little he could say about the man taken into custody.

“There is no family connection,” he said.

Commissioner Dawson said he could only confirm that a 36-year-old man had been taken into custody and that police were still questioning him.

“There was some information we followed up on. We had been following a lot of the forensic leads and it led us to a particular house,” he said.

“I’ve seen the vision, I can’t release it yet, of the police entering the house. She [Cleo] was in the house, the house was locked. We had to break down the door to get in. We’ve taken a man into custody as well.”

Cleo Smith was abducted at the Blowholes campsite, about 75 kilometres north of Carnarvon in Western Australia.

Commissioner Dawson said in the vision, Cleo is seen smiling.

Commissioner Dawson said the effort to find Cleo had involved every resource at the disposal of the Western Australia Police.

“We put everything we had at it. Our homicide squad — trained, experienced investigators and detectives, our analysts, our technical people, drone pilots, air-wing, the whole lot,” he said.

Cleo disappeared from the family tent at the Quobba Blowholes campground, in Macleod near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16.

Investigators believed the girl was abducted in the early hours of the morning, after ruling out that she would have been able to wander out of the tent on her own.

Her mum, Ellie Smith, said her daughter woke up at 1.30am asking for water before going back to bed.

Ms Smith then woke up at about 6am to find the tent unzipped and Cleo missing. The Police were called just before 6.30am.

For weeks officers have been questioning people who were at the campsite, mapping CCTV cameras, using drones to help with the search and even shifting through tonnes of rubbish for any clues to her whereabouts

A major focus of the police investigation has been centred on a mystery vehicle which was spotted by two people.

They said it was seen turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.


Victoria has recorded 941 new local COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

It is the second day in a row the state has recorded fewer than 1,000 new cases.

There are now 18,361 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 326 people have died during the state’s current Delta outbreak.

The new cases were detected from 63,278 test results received yesterday.

There are 657 people in hospital with COVID-19, of whom 117 are in intensive care and 69 are on a ventilator.

There were 9,440 doses of vaccine administered at state-run sites yesterday, and more vaccinations at GP clinics and other venues.


THE stretch of sunny days for much of Australia over the Melbourne Cup long weekend is about to come to a very soggy end.

It is predicted to be so wet in Australia’s eastern states that many parts will cop as much as eight straight days of rain, with severe storms forecast to bring heavy downpours, flooding and thunderstorms right through the weekend and into next week, reports news.com..

The widespread storm threat begins today as a cold front and rain band sweeps the southeast of the nation.

A spokeswoman for Sky News Weather said the cold front will be fed by tropical moisture from the north.

“That rain band by tomorrow (Thursday) will march through parts NSW and then extend into Queensland,” she said.

However, it is Victoria and Tasmania that will cop the worst drenching, and it all begins today.

Heavy rain is set to hit large parts of the nation.

Today, Melbourne is forecast to be hit with up to 25mm of persistent and heavy rain, while there is likely to be thunderstorms in the afternoon and severe storms in Victoria’s west.

“It will be steady, soaking rain,” the Sky News Weather spokeswoman said. “This could lead to some place being under flood watch or minor flood warnings.”

Victoria has copped a battering lately, with more than 100,000 homes losing power when wild storms damaged power lines and homes less than a week ago.

Thursday and Monday look to be the only days Victoria could see the sun for the next week – and only in occasional patches.

Much of NSW looks set to receive repeated showers in coming days, with a total of up to 50mm forecast for wide areas between Wednesday and next Tuesday.

Forecasters say western NSW will be hardest hit, with a month’s rainfall in 24 hours possible on Wednesday.

Flash flooding and severe thunderstorms are also predicted in western NSW on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.

Southern NSW will see heavy showers on Sunday and Monday.

Sydney is most likely to see heavy rain Friday and Sunday as the storms move east later in the week.

South east Queensland looks set to see showers and thunderstorms on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.


Australia, (minus Ash Barty), has recorded a stunning upset victory over Belgium to kick start its Billie Jean King Cup campaign in Prague.

Missing world number one Barty — who led Australia to the final of the competition then known as the Fed Cup in 2019 but ended her season early to recuperate ahead of the 2022 Australian Open — and forced to deal with the late withdrawal of world number 39 Ajla Tomljanović due to a non-COVD-related illness — Australia were serious underdogs in the tie.

However, Storm Sanders, the world number 131, pulled off the biggest win of her career, beating world number 18 Elise Mertens 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-0 to give Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Earlier, Daria Gavrilova marked her return from a long-term injury to beat world number 70 Greet Minnen 6-4 1-6 6-4.

Another victory, against Belarus on Thursday, will earn them a place in the last four.

Gavrilova and Sanders faced a higher-ranked Belgian duo that had already defeated Belarus in the group’s opening tie, but got off to a perfect start when Gavrilova stunned 24-year-old Minnen in three sets.

“I’m exhausted but I’m really excited,” the 27-year-old said.

“I was a bit scrappy at times but my fighting spirit never went away so I’m really happy.”

Gavrilova hadn’t played since exiting the Australian Open in a loss to Barty, subsequently having Achilles surgery earlier this year, sending her world ranking below 400.

After winning the first set, Gavrilova needed a medical time out after surrendering the second, but returned with heavy strapping on her left thigh and, crucially, more zip in her service game.

At 5-4 she broke Minnen to take the match and put Australia 1-0 up.

Sanders’ match with Mertens looked to be going as anticipated when she lost the first set 6-3.

But the second, after a flurry of breaks mid-set, went to a tie-break in which Sanders snatched a convincing 5-1 lead.

That became 5-4 but she recovered to force two set points. After double-faulting on the first Sanders won the second against serve to seal the breaker.


Facebook will shut down its facial recognition system and delete the face prints of more than 1 billion people amid growing concerns about the technology and its misuse. 

“This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history,” Jerome Pesenti, vice-president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company, Meta, wrote in a blog post.

“Its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates.”

Mr Pesenti said the company was trying to weigh the positive use cases for the technology “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules”.

The removal of face recognition by the world’s largest social media platform came after the industry faced a reckoning in recent years over the ethics of using the technology.

Critics say facial recognition technology, which is popular among retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes, could compromise privacy, target marginalised groups and normalise intrusive surveillance.

IBM has permanently ended facial recognition product sales, while Microsoft and Amazon have suspended sales to police indefinitely.

Facebook’s face-recognition system was introduced more than a decade ago and more than a third of the social network’s daily active users have opted to have their faces recognised by the software.

But the system has long been the subject of scrutiny. 

In 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission included it among its concerns when it fined Facebook $US5 billion ($6.75 billion) to settle privacy complaints.

The company subsequently ended its practice of using the software to identify users’ friends in uploaded photos and automatically suggest they ‘tag’ them.

A US judge this year approved Facebook’s $US650 million ($875 million) settlement of a class action in Illinois over allegations it collected and stored biometric data of users without proper consent.

The decision to scrap the software comes as the social media giant faces both a public relations crisis and heightened legislative and regulatory scrutiny over leaked documents dubbed the Facebook Papers.

The documents support claims the social network has prioritised financial success over user safety.

The company last week renamed itself Meta to focus on building technology for what it envisions as the next iteration of the internet, the ‘metaverse’.

Privacy advocates and digital rights groups have welcomed the announcement. 

The decision was “a good example of trying to make product decisions that are good for the user and the company”, said Kristen Martin, a professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame.

She said the move also demonstrates the power of regulatory pressure, since the face recognition system had been the subject of harsh criticism for over a decade.

Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said “for far too long Internet users have suffered personal data abuses at the whims of Facebook and other platforms”. 

Adam Schwartz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation said although Facebook’s action came after moves from other tech companies, it could mark a “notable moment in the national turning away from face recognition”.

But Meta Platforms Inc, Facebook’s parent company, appears to be looking at new forms of identifying people.

Mr Pesenti said Tuesday’s announcement involved a “company-wide move away from this kind of broad identification, and toward narrower forms of personal authentication”.

The company did not rule out using facial recognition technology in other products, saying it still saw it as a “powerful tool”, for identity verification for example.

“Facial recognition can be particularly valuable when the technology operates privately on a person’s own devices,” he wrote.

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