Australia

Regional News • Oceania
Australia hits a week with no local COVID-19 cases
Australia hits a week with no local COVID-19 cases
Credit: unsplash.com / Dan Freeman

It has been seven days since Australia last recorded a local coronavirus case.

With the last recorded case originating in New South Wales a week ago, the country is on track to open most borders by Christmas.

Comparatively, it has been 224 days since the Northern Territory last had an active local case.

Science • Nature
Scientists discover new mammals in Australia
Scientists discover new mammals in Australia
Credit: Mark Gillow, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Australian scientists have discovered two new mammal species. They belong to the marsupials and are assigned to the type of the Great Gliders. The marsupials are different in their size, fur color, distribution and physiology, which is why research teams of the James Cook University and the University of Canberra examined DNA-samples of Flugbeutler from 5 populations and found considerable differences in the genetic material.

Regional News • Oceania
Expert evaluation: Australia could be COVID-free in weeks
Expert evaluation: Australia could be COVID-free in weeks
Credit: unsplash.com / Kate Trifo

Coronavirus could "die out" in Australia in weeks if New South Wales and Victoria continue with low infection numbers, experts believe.

Victoria has recorded eight days straight with no new cases, and all of New South Wales' recent infections have been tracked from known sources.

However, Australia had also managed to flatten the curve in May, before cases escalated again.

Science • Space
NASA has managed to contact Voyager 2 after repairs and upgrades to radio antenna
NASA has managed to contact Voyager 2 after repairs and upgrades to radio antenna
Credit: CSIRO / via Wikimedia Commons

NASA has successfully contacted the Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time since March. The Deep Space Station 43 in Canberra, Australia, is the only radio antenna that is able to contact and command the Voyager 2, which is now 43 years old, and has been under maintenance to receive repairs and upgrades since March. Now it has successfully re-contacted the spacecraft and Voyager 2 has confirmed the signal and executed the commands that had been sent.

Work on the radio antenna is expected to wrap up in February.

Science • Nature
Coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia discovered
Coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia discovered
Credit: Great Barrier Reef Encounter / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

In the famous Great Barrier Reef in Australia, researchers of the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) have discovered a new coral reef. It is the first new discovery after 120 years. The reef is 500 meters deep - and thus larger than the Empire State Building in New York City. The research team came across the reef by chance when they were making a 3D map of the seabed with the help of the underwater robot SuBastian.

Regional News • Oceania
13-year-old attacked by shark off East Australian coast
13-year-old attacked by shark off East Australian coast
Credit: unsplash.com / Jack Bassingthwaighte

A 13-year-old boy has been bitten by a shark at Town Beach in Port Macquarie, off the New South Wales coast in Australia.

He was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital where he is currently in a stable condition.

Town Beach has been closed, after the fourth shark attack on the Mid North Coast since April.

Regional News • Oceania
Annastacia Palaszczuk retains leadership in Queensland election
Annastacia Palaszczuk
Annastacia Palaszczuk Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

Labour will retain a majority government in Queensland after Annastacia Palaszczuk claimed victory in the state election.

With votes currently counted, Labor will take at least 47 of the state's 93 seats. The party may claim as many as 51.

With the Greens taking 2 seats, the Liberal National Party may be left with as few as 35 seats, 3 fewer than it went into the election with.

Regional News • Oceania
Australia records zero local Coronavirus cases for the first time since June
Australia records zero local Coronavirus cases for the first time since June
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

With Victoria recording zero cases today, and the rest of the country reporting only cases from returned travellers, Australia has recorded no locally transmitted COVID-19 infections for the first time since the 9th of June 2020.

Health Minister Greg Hunt shared the good news at a press conference today.

Mr Hunt said the country was on track to open its international borders in time for Christmas.

Science • Space
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
Credit: NASA

Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have signed on as founding member nations to NASA's Artemis Accords, an international agreement that "will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions."

"Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition," so NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "With today's signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy."

Business • Media & Advertising
Netflix removes free test month in some countries
Netflix removes free test month in some countries
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via Netflix (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Netflix, the largest video streaming provider, has cancelled the free trial period in many countries without notice.

Markets, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Japan have switched over to a model where the second month is free.

The 30-day trial subscription is no longer available in Germany and France either. In some other countries, nothing has changed yet.

Climate & Environment
Research suggests Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its corals within three decades
Research suggests Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its corals within three decades
Credit: Robert Linsdell (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

According to findings by researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the "number of small, medium and large corals on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by more than 50% since the 1990s".

Science • Animals
Tasmanian devils are reintroduced to Australia after 3,000-year-absence
Tasmanian devils are reintroduced to Australia after 3,000-year-absence
Credit: Mathias Appel / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Tasmanian devils are returning back to Australia after a 3,000-year-absence. Eleven of the carnivorous marsupials have been released into a 400-hectare wildlife sanctuary north of Sydney, New South Wales, Australian, the conservation group Aussie Ark that aided in the reintroduction program said in a statement.

"In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country. Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia's beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators," so Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner.

Science • Animals
Tasmanian devil returns to mainland Australia
Tasmanian devil returns to mainland Australia
Credit: unsplash.com / David Clode

For the first time in 50 years Tasmanian devils live on the Australian mainland again through a reintroduction action. Since Tasmanian devils play a crucial role in the ecosystem as scavengers, science has made great efforts to re-establish them in the mainland ecosystem. The 26 released animals now live in a 400 hectare fenced area of Wildlife Sanctuary north of Barrington Tops National Park.

Regional News • Europe • France
Overseas territory New Caledonia decides to stay with France in independence referendum
Overseas territory New Caledonia decides to stay with France in independence referendum
Credit: TUBS / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The inhabitants of the French overseas territory New Caledonia spoke out on Sunday for the second time after 2018 against a separation from France. In the referendum in the South Pacific archipelago east of Australia, 53.3 percent of voters voted to stay, according to official figures, while 46.7 percent were in favor of independence. In 2018, 56.4 percent were still opposed to secession.

Voter turnout was again very high, at around 85 percent. About 180,000 New Caledonians were allowed to participate.

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.

Regional News • Oceania
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."

Regional News • Oceania
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.”

Regional News • Americas • United States
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".

Regional News • Oceania
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".