Australia

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Cartoonist and production designer Ron Cobb dies aged 83

Ron Cobb has died of Lewy body dementia in Sydney at the age of 83, his wife Robin Love reports.

Cobb influenced the making of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and was a part in building the worlds of Back to the Future, Conan the Barbarian and Alien.

Politics • Oceanian
Rio Tinto CEO resigns after the destruction of ancient aboriginal caves
Jean-Sébastien Jacques
Jean-Sébastien Jacques Credit: Rio Tinto

Jean-Sébastien Jacques has resigned as the CEO of Rio Tinto after the company destroyed a 46,000-year-old sacred aboriginal site in Australia. Jacques will leave once his successor is chosen or at the end of March 2021, whichever comes first.

The company also announced the departure of the head of the iron ore business, Chris Salisbury, and the group expand for corporate relations, Simone Niven.

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson released a statement saying: "We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again at a Rio Tinto operation."

Politics • Oceanian
Melbourne lockdown extended by two weeks
Empty Swanston Street during Friday morning, Melbourne
Empty Swanston Street during Friday morning, Melbourne Credit: Philip Mallis from Melbourne / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Despite dropping daily numbers of COVID-19 infections, Melbourne will remain in a "Stage 4" lockdown until at least September 28.

“I apologise for the circumstances we find ourselves in; I apologise for the reality we find ourselves in,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday. “Pretending it’s over because we want it to be, that is not something I will do.”

Politics • American • US
Trump gives nod to Oracle takeover of TikTok
Trump gives nod to Oracle takeover of TikTok
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via TikTok (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The United States President Donald Trump stated tech giant Oracle would be "a great company" to take over TikTok's US operations.

The President reaction comes days after media reported that Oracle would be a possible buyer of the TikTok in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Trump ordered TikTok's owner ByteDance to sell their US business within 90 days or face being shut down by the government.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Oracle is working with Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, investors that already have stakes in ByteDance.

Health
Researchers invent technology to purify water with sunlight in less than 30 minutes
Researchers invent technology to purify water with sunlight in less than 30 minutes
Credit: unsplash.com / Clint McKoy

With the help of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight, a global team of researchers has been able to purify brackish water and seawater into clean drinking water that meets the suggested quality of the World Health Organization.

According to the announcement, the new technology is more energy-efficient than current desalination processes and only uses one kilogram of MOF per day to generate 139,5 liters of clean water.

Lead author Professor Huanting Wang from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University in Australia has stated that "desalination has been used to address escalating water shortages globally. Due to the availability of brackish water and seawater, and because desalination processes are reliable, treated water can be integrated within existing aquatic systems with minimal health risks".

Politics • Oceanian
Queensland bans gay conversion therapy
Queensland bans gay conversion therapy
Credit: unsplash.com / Yoav Hornung

State politicians in Queensland, Australia have voted to criminalize gay conversion therapy. People that attempt "to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity" can under the new legislation face up to 18 months in prison.

Queensland's health minister has stated that "Being LGBTIQ is not an affliction or disease that requires medical treatment".

Politics • Oceanian
Australia: Victoria reports 466 new Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths
Dan Andrews
Dan Andrews Credit: Video Reproduction

Victorian premier Andrews reported 466 new COVID cases in the state. The state's COVID death toll has risen to 278, among the 12 people who have died in the past 24 hours is also a man his 30s. According to Andrews, there are now an additional 130 cases with no known source and a total of 998 Victorian healthcare workers who have contracted the virus.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton reported that the state is experiencing "some stabilisation", averaging around 400-500 daily cases for a week. "If we hadn't stabilised these numbers, we would have seen thousands of cases per day, and there are estimates that we've averted 20,000 or more cases by virtue of the stage 3 restrictions [in July] - but that hasn't been enough," he added.

Technology • Internet & Web
Snapchat to test new TikTok-like music feature
Snapchat Logo Illustration
Snapchat Logo Illustration Credit: unsplash.com/Morning Brew

Multimedia messaging app Snapchat has announced a new feature that will let users add songs to their video posts, similar to TikTok. Snapchat has made a licensing deal with Warner Music, Universal Music Publishing Group and other music industry companies to offer a "robust and curated catalog of music."

"We’re always looking for new ways to give Snapchatters creative tools to express themselves. Music is a new dimension they can add to their Snaps that helps capture feelings and moments they want to share with their real friends," so a Snapchat spokesperson.

The new feature will launch first for users in Australia and New Zealand, and later this fall in Canada and the United States.

Technology • Internet & Web
Microsoft to continue discussions on potential TikTok purchase in the United States
Microsoft to continue discussions on potential TikTok purchase in the United States
Credit: Aaron Weiss

The discussions with ByteDance will build upon a notification made by Microsoft and ByteDance to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The two companies have provided notice of their intent to explore a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets. Microsoft may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.

Politics • Oceanian
State of disaster declared in Victoria, Australia over new Covid-19 infections
State of disaster declared in Victoria, Australia over new Covid-19 infections
Credit: unsplash.com / Shi Min Teh

After 671 new infections had been reported on Sunday, the Australian state Victoria has declared a state of emergency. The capital city Melbourne has imposed a nightly curfew and stay at home order which will last at least six weeks. The curfew will be active from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day and enable people to only leave the house for work or to receive care from others and provide care for others.

Restaurants will be able to continue with takeaway and delivery services and supermarkets will stay open.

Health
Modified cannabis could potentially kill cancer cells according to research at University of Newcastle
Modified cannabis could potentially kill cancer cells according to research at University of Newcastle
Credit: unsplash.com / Christina Winter

The University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Insitute in Australia have tested a modified strain of cannabis for its abilities to kill or inhibit cancer cells.

Dr Matt Dun researched for three years on the potential treatment of cancer with cannabis containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of the plant. The research was in collaboration with the Australian biotech company ANTG (Australian Natural Therapeutics Group).

Dr Dun has states that they "initially used leukaemia cells and were surprised by how sensitive they were" while the substance speared normal bone marrow cells and healthy white blood cells.

Comparing THC and CBD strains Dr Dun stated that "the CBD variety looks to have greater efficacy, low toxicity and fewer side-effects, which potentially makes it an ideal complementary therapy to combine with other anti-cancer compounds".

Politics • Oceanian
100+ schools & early childhood services close in Victoria, Australia reports highest daily COVID case count
100+ schools & early childhood services close in Victoria, Australia reports highest daily COVID case count
Credit: unsplash.com/Kate Trifo

As Victoria sees a record daily COVID number of 484 cases, the state has closed over 100 schools and early childhood services. New South Wales reported 16 cases, while Queensland and South Australia only saw one case each, bringing the total cases in Australia to 502 – making it the country's highest daily COVID case count since March 28.

Climate & Environment
Australia: Sydney switches to 100% renewable electricity
Australia: Sydney switches to 100% renewable electricity
Credit: Azri (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The city of Sydney has announced that it has begun switching 100% of the electricity for the city to energy from renewable sources. According to the official announcement on the cities website they struck a deal to purchase energy from three different generators in New South Wales that is equivalent to 100% of the city's usage. The electricity comes in 3/4 from wind generation and 1/4 from solar generation and will be added to the electricity grid of the city.

Since the 1st of July, the city has started getting electricity from these generators with the aim of completing the switch to getting 100% of the cities electricity from these sources in 2021.

Politics • Oceanian
Australia suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty
Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison Credit: G20 Argentina (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In response to the new security law imposed by China Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia will halt its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and visas will be extended by five years for Hong Kongers already in Australia.

This announcement comes right after Canada's suspension of their treaty with Hong Kong and Britain considering a similar move.

Technology • Internet & Web
Tinder starts testing video dates
Tinder Face to Face screenshots
Tinder Face to Face screenshots Credit: Tinder

Tinder announced Wednesday that it has begun testing the ‘Face to Face’ chat feature in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Peru and Chile.

In a press release, Tinder says: "We recently surveyed our members in the US, and half of them have had video dates with a match off Tinder in the past month. Not only that, but 40 percent of Gen Z members wanted to continue using video as a way to decide whether to meet IRL in the future - even once their favorite date spot is open again"

The new feature was promised as a way Tinder evolves its business in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Politics • Oceanian
Melbourne supermarkets impose buying limits as people return to panic-buying
Empty shelves in a supermarket
Empty shelves in a supermarket Credit: unsplash.com/John Cameron

As Melbourne goes into its second lockdown of the year, panic-buyers are returning to the supermarkets to empty shelves. In response, Australian supermarkets chains Coles and Woolworths have imposed a buying limit on essential products such as milk, hand sanitisers and pasta.

Politics • Oceanian
Melbourne orders new 6-week-lockdown
Dan Andrews
Dan Andrews Credit: Video Reproduction

Melbourne is re-entering a 6-week-lockdown. The lockdown has been imposed on the Victorian capital and other Victorian towns as the Australian state sees a rising number of Covid-19 infections. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews ordered people to stay at home except for work, medical treatment or school purposes. Essential businesses will remain open but are subjected to a density limit. Bars, cafés and restaurants have to return to delivery and takeaway. Private home visits are forbidden and public outings are limited to two people.

Politics • Oceanian
Australia closes border for indefinite period to contain spread of Covid-19
Australia closes border for indefinite period to contain spread of Covid-19
Credit: unsplash.com/Nicolas Weldingh

In order to contain the further spread of Covid-19, Australian officials have closed the state border between Victoria and New South Wales – the first time since the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic. Melbourne has seen a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, putting 30 suburbs on strict social-distancing orders. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters that the decision was "a smart call [...] given the significant challenges."

Politics • American • South America
Uruguay is the only Latin American country in EU's Covid-19 'safe list'
Munich International Airport passport control
Munich International Airport passport control Credit: Vasyatka1 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Union has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from July 1, and the only Latin American country is Uruguay.

As infection rates in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are still high, their nationals will face travel restrictions.

The current list is formed by Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Sports • Soccer
Australia and New Zealand to host FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Australia playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
Australia playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Credit: Liondartois (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be held in Australia and New Zealand, with 32 teams. The decision was announced on Thursday after a vote taken by the FIFA Council during its meeting held via online conference.

The joint bid from Australia and New Zealand had 22 votes against 13 votes to the submission from Colombia.