Daily News Roundup

November 9, 2021


TUESDAY,  November 9

The Queensland mask mandate could come to an end today, with the state set to pass the 80 per cent vaccination level for first doses.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted the announcement this morning.

“Masks will no longer be required when 80 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” she wrote.

“That means no masks indoors including schools, cafés, pubs, clubs, hairdressers and workplaces.”

As of yesterday, 79.5 per cent of Queenslanders had received at least one jab.

A total of 67.1 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

The border reopening had been set for December 17, in line with predictions of when the state would reach 80 per cent full vaccination.

However, new modelling from this morning shows that if current rates are maintained, Queensland could hit that mark up to 10 days earlier, on December 7.

Ms Palaszczuk has said if the crucial goal is reached early, she won’t hesitate to re-open the border.

Any kind of reprieve would come as welcome news to thousands of people currently trapped on the wrong side of the border in New South Wales.

*Victoria has recorded 1,069 new local COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths.

There are now 15,607 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 376 people have died during the state’s current Delta outbreak.

There are 579 people in hospital with COVID-19, of whom 90 are in intensive care and 55 are on a ventilator.

The new cases were detected from 47,794 test results received yesterday.

There were 11,269 doses of vaccine given at state-run sites yesterday, and more vaccinations at GP clinics and other venues.

*Tributes have flowed for a healthy unvaccinated Sydney father who died with Covid.

Mohammed Khaldoun Obeid, who is in his 30s, was named in reports as one of seven Covid-19 positive people reported dead on Monday.

NSW Health said the southwestern Sydney man was unvaccinated and had no major health conditions.


Eight years after killing his girlfriend, South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius is eligible for parole, but he must meet with Reeva Steenkamp’s parents before he has a chance of being freed, reports newsagency AP.

Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

Pistorius was convicted of her murder in 2015 and was ultimately sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison.

He became eligible for parole in July after serving half his sentence.

A parole hearing for Pistorius was scheduled for last month and then cancelled partly because a meeting between Pistorius and Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, had not been arranged, lawyers for both parties said on Monday.

Julian Knight, a lawyer for Pistorius, said another hearing was scheduled for October but was called off because a full report on Pistorius’s time in prison was not available.

Mr Knight said another hearing date had not been set.

The Steenkamps want a face-to-face meeting with Pistorius before he is considered for early release from prison, as is their right under South Africa’s victim-offender dialogue policy.

The pair have previously said they want to challenge Pistorius on why he shot their daughter.

“They [Barry and June Steenkamp] feel that Reeva has got a voice,” their lawyer Tania Koen said.

“They are Reeva’s voice and they owe it to their beloved daughter.”

Mr Knight said he was hopeful the meeting between Pistorius and the Steenkamps, which must happen before a parole hearing, could take place by the end of the year.

Ms Koen said it was a “huge surprise” for the Steenkamps when corrections officials contacted them last month to say Pistorius was eligible for parole.

They believed he would first be eligible in 2023.

“[It] opens a lot of wounds, or rips off the plasters they had put on those wounds,” she said.

The confusion over when he would be eligible emanated from Pistorius’s long and protracted murder trial and two subsequent appeals by prosecutors.

Pistorius went on trial in 2014 but his case was only finalised in 2018.

He was initially found guilty of culpable homicide — an offence comparable to manslaughter — for shooting Reeva Steenkamp with his licensed 9mm pistol.

He argued at his trial it was a tragic accident and he mistook his girlfriend for a dangerous intruder.

Prosecutors appealed against the manslaughter finding and secured a murder conviction.

Pistorius was sentenced to six years in jail for murder, but prosecutors again appealed against what they called a shockingly light punishment for murder.

The Supreme Court of Appeal then more than doubled his sentence in 2017.

The time Pistorius had served since he was convicted for culpable homicide counted towards his parole eligibility.


Australian parents have been given a terrifying warning ahead of the summer months, with new research revealing just how common childhood drowning truly is reports news.com.

According to the Royal Life Saving findings, 532 children aged under four drowned in Australia over the last 19 years.

Of that number, 40 per cent were just one year old, with the organisation revealing the risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl, with the risk peaking soon after a child’s first birthday.

And on top of those tragic fatalities, Royal Life Saving also found that for every drowning death among under-fours, eight children will be admitted to hospital as a result of a non-fatal drowning, with the average stay totalling 1.5 days.

Sadly, some will be left with lifelong brain injuries.

More than half of all deaths – 52 per cent – occurred in swimming pools, with 77 per cent of fatalities caused by a child accidentally falling into water.

In almost all cases, the child wasn’t properly supervised at the time.

With 38 per cent of drownings occurring in summer, Royal Life Saving has kicked off its Keep Watch campaign, reminding parents that drowning is often quick and silent, but usually preventable.

CEO Justin Scarr said the campaign aimed to raise awareness of four easy safety tips – Supervise, Restrict, Teach and Respond.

“We know that the risk of drowning triples once a child turns one and they become more mobile,” Mr Scarr said.

“Children are curious about their surroundings, which means parents and carers cannot afford to be complacent around the water. We are reminding parents that ‘Kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to’.

“Children who suffer a non-fatal drowning may experience long-term health complications or life-changing injuries. This is devastating for families.”


A 16-year-old girl who police say was held captive by a 61-year-old man was rescued after performing a hand gesture she saw online, alerting people she was in distress.

Police in the US state of Kentucky arrested James Herbert Brick after calls were made by drivers who saw the teenage girl perform the distress signal while in the car with him.

The signal, facing the palm outwards and closing the fingers around the tucked thumb, has been demonstrated by users and non-profit organisations on TikTok as a way for a person being abused to tell someone they are in trouble without alerting the abuser.

The girl’s parents reported their daughter missing from Asheville, North Carolina, last week before she was rescued two days later.

Police say the girl was in the front passenger seat with Mr Brick and made the signals from inside the car.

A driver recognised the sign and called police who were dispatched and intercepted the vehicle.

“That hand gesture was everything. Had that not been … transmitted by the young lady, had there not been someone out there that knew how to interpret what she was doing, then who knows,” Deputy Gilbert Acciardo from the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said.

“We might not have had a good resolution on this.

“We think that motorists and law enforcement agencies nationwide should be aware of this and know what the signal means, and I think it can be quite useful in the future.”


You’re standing between your boyfriend, who happens to be the second-richest man to ever walk the planet, and one of the most successful movie stars of the past 30 years.

Who do you swoon over?

For Lauren Sanchez, the girlfriend of Amazon founder and centibillionaire Jeff Bezos, the answer — at least according to the internet — is hit on Leonardo DiCaprio, reports the ABC.

A context-free, six-second clip uploaded to Twitter shows Ms Sanchez engaged in what appears to be a very interesting conversation with DiCaprio, while Mr Bezos stands by.

The body language (again, we stress this is an out-of-context clip) strongly suggests who the third wheel is.

The clip quickly went viral, with many suggesting Ms Sanchez was flirting with DiCaprio.

Mr Bezos, whose net worth is more than $270 billion, responded to the clip by (jokingly, we hope) threatening his potential love rival.

“Leo, come over here, I want to show you something …” he posted on Twitter, next to an image of a shirtless (and surprisingly ripped) Mr Bezos and a sign warning “Danger! Steep cliff. Fatal Drop”.

The threat of a date with gravity doesn’t appear to have phased DiCaprio, who hasn’t responded to Mr Bezos.

Mr Bezos has been romantically linked to Ms Sanchez since 2019, when he divorced his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie Scott.

As part of the divorce, Ms Scott was granted 25 per cent of the couple’s shared Amazon stock (without voting rights), which at the time was worth $49 billion, making her one of the richest women in the world.


Houston’s police chief says he expressed safety concerns to Travis Scott before the rapper performed at a sold-out music festival where eight people died and hundreds more were injured in a crush.

Chief Troy Finner did not elaborate on his specific safety concerns voiced on Friday at the Astroworld Festival, an event founded by Scott that was attended by about 50,000 people.

His department has launched a criminal investigation into what went wrong.

“I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with HPD (Houston Police Department) for all events over the weekend and to be mindful of his team’s social media messaging on any scheduled events,” Mr Finner said in a statement.

“The meeting was brief and respectful, and a chance for me to share my public safety concerns as Chief of Police.”

Representatives of Scott, who has said he was “absolutely devastated by what took place,” did not respond to an email from The Associated Press on Monday.

Houston police and fire department investigators said they would review video taken by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips from people at the show.

The victims were aged between 14 and 27 and included high school students, an aspiring Border Patrol agent and a computer science student.

Medical examiners have not released the causes of death, the investigation of which could take several weeks, according to Michele Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

More than 300 people were treated at a field hospital on site and at least 13 people remained hospitalised on Sunday.

More than a dozen lawsuits had been filed as of Monday, and Live Nation announced it was delaying ticket sales for a Billy Joel concert at a different venue in Houston.

On a video posted to social media, Scott is seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for aid for someone in the audience: “Security, somebody help real quick.”

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