Florida woman reveals culture shocks of moving to Australia


An American woman living in Sydney has revealed her shock at being asked if she wanted a bag at the supermarket checkout – only to then be charged 15 cents for it.

Kaymie Wuerfel moved to Australia with her husband and has been sharing the biggest culture shocks she’s experienced on TikTok.

While buying food at a supermarket Ms Wuerfel said she was asked by an employee if she “would like a bag”.

RELATED: US teen reveals biggest shocks in Australia

“Of course I’d like a bag,” she replied, prompting the checkout worker to tell her it would be “15 cents per bag”.

“Fifteen cents … per bag?” was Ms Wuerfel’s baffled reply.

She said the woman working the checkout didn’t “understand why I’m acting surprised” and the expat instead tried to “act like this is normal for me”.

In response, Aussies who watched the video explained that the 15 cent charge was supposed to be a deterrent to using plastic and encourage people to bring their own bags.

“TIP: Leave bags in the car. You never know when you’re gonna pop in for some last-minute food shopping, so always have some on hand,” one person wrote.

RELATED: Woman uncovers weird Aussie shower habit

“I’ll take 15c bags in exchange for universal health care any day,” another person commented.

“If you came over a few years ago, bags were free. But we’re busy stopping climate change,” another commenter said.

Other culture shocks Ms Wuerfel said she experienced were realising you “don’t leave tips in Australia” after eating at a restaurant, which she said was the “most amazing thing I’ve every heard”.

Ms Wuerfel also recalled being asked if she wanted chicken salt for the first time but having “literally no idea what chicken salt is”.

One time her Aussie husband broke his arm and said he would need to go to hospital, prompting her to stress they have to “spend our life savings on hospital bills”.

She reacted with “disbelief” when her husband revealed Medicare would cover all the costs in stark contrast with the US healthcare system.



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Aussie troops warned that ​war with China highly likely, prepare for conflict


One of Australia’s top generals reportedly told troops there was a “high likelihood” of war with China in a leaked briefing last year.

Major-General Adam Findlay gave the candid and confidential briefing to Australia’s special forces soldiers last year, according to a report in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.

General Findlay, who has since stepped down but still advises the Australian Defence Force, reportedly said that China was already engaged in “grey zone” warfare and that Australia must prepare for the “high likelihood” it could spill over into actual conflict.

“Who do you reckon the main (regional) threat is?” General Findlay asked his troops and officers before answering: “China.”

He continued: “OK, so if China is a threat, how many special forces brigades in China? You should know there are 26,000 Chinese SOF (Special Operations Forces) personnel.”

It comes as Australia’s former chief of operations in Iraq says war with China is a genuine threat – and he warns Australia is not ready for what’s coming.

RELATED: What Australia’s role in a China war could look like

RELATED: China warns Australia to ‘avoid getting burned’

Writing in The Australian newspaper on Monday, Senator Jim Molan delivered a bleak assessment of Australia’s preparedness for a war that he says is “likely”.

It wouldn’t start as a direct war between Australia and China, but would more likely be a war that Australia could find itself fighting on behalf of its most powerful ally, Senator Molan said.

“Many ordinary Australians, not just those who have personally experienced global conflict, are awakening to the sombre reality that war is not just possible in our region, but likely,” he wrote.

“Armed to the teeth, adversaries are manoeuvring ships and planes around each other, intimidating and threatening, loaded with real weapons of war, forging alliances.”

He said Australia would be making a mistake if leaders do not act now to strengthen a military that is not capable of winning a war against “a peer opponent”.

War ‘should not be discounted’

The comments add to weeks of back of forth between Australia and China – two nations that are doing a lot of talking despite not talking directly.

If you missed it, things really kicked off when Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo, in an Anzac Day address to staff, said the “drums of war beat”. Those comments made headlines around the world.

Defence Minister Petter Dutton told the ABC the same day that war with China is a realistic prospect.

“I don’t think it should be discounted,” he said. “People need to be realistic.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison chimed in, telling Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that Australia will be prepared for whatever comes.

“Our focus is on pursuing peace, stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific, with a world order that favours freedom,” Mr Morrison said.

“Working with the United States, our allies and Indo-Pacific neighbours, we will continue advance Australia’s interests by investing in the Australian Defence Force, particularly across Northern Australia.”

Just this morning, Foreign Minister Marise Payne warned Australia would not take a backwards step to China.

“We do not try to buy influence to advantage our individual countries; rather, we know that a stable, secure neighbourhood of sovereign states, in which we have networks of familiarity and trust, are good, safe places for our people to live and thrive,” she said.

China attacked Australia’s leaders, labelling them “troublemakers” with a “Cold War mentality”. An official newspaper warned of “severe countermeasures” if Canberra resorts to “provocative actions”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao responded to Mr Pezzullo’s comments with provocative remarks of his own.

Mr Zhao – the diplomat who last year sparked a furious reaction from Prime Minister Scott Morrison after he posted a doctored photo on Twitter depicting an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child – said “individual politicians in Australia” were making trouble.

“(They are), out of their selfish interests, keen to make statements that incite confrontation and hype up threat of war, which is extremely irresponsible and will find no audience,” Mr Zhao told reporters on Wednesday.

“These people are the real troublemakers. I have noticed that many people in Australia have expressed disapproval on social media, saying that such inflammatory language are outrageous and extremely crazy.”

Mr Zhao added China “has been a promoter of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order”.

“As a country long benefited from co-operation with China, Australia is being untruthful and immoral with its false allegation of ‘China threat theory’. This will only end up hurting its own interests. We urge certain individuals in Australia to shake off the Cold War mentality, stop making irresponsible remarks and act in ways that are conducive to regional peace and stability rather than the opposite.”

Opinion piece could inflame situation further

Mr Molan’s op-ed in The Australian is likely to inflame things further. In it, he writes that China “wants to overtake the most powerful nation (the US)” and that Australia should “start planning” for an attempt.

Not to do so, he says, would be a grave mistake.

“To acknowledge a threat generically then return to routine business is, in the great tradition of the 20th century, culpable ignorance,” he said.

“When China acts, it will act decisively, mainly against US bases in the region, as the Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command has indicated, with allies as collateral, at least in the initial stage. If we thought a national vaccination effort was difficult, try mobilising an entire nation.”

China is, right now, poised in the “grey zone”. As news.com.au wrote last week, that is “the space between peace and war”, a place where “coercion, intimidation, propaganda and manipulation are at play.”

Australia’s chief of defence, General Angus Campbell, told a recent gathering he hopes it stays that way.

“Conflict over the island of Taiwan would be a disastrous experience for the peoples of the region, and it’s something that we should all work to avoid,” he said.

“There is a pathway to a future through peaceful dialogue, but it’s a hard path, and it needs to be worked.”

with Frank Chung



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Graph shows spike in Australia’s hotel quarantine cases as experts slam India ban


Data shows that Australia’s hotel quarantine system is under serious pressure with an “enhanced” risk of a leak as positive cases spike.

Data analyst Anthony Macali, founder of COVID Live, said numbers of positive cases in quarantine in NSW in particular were putting the state at a higher risk of a breach.

Mr Macali has looked at hotel quarantine in each state and found that leaks often occurred in NSW when positive cases reached a seven-day average of around six cases a day.

“If there are only one or two positive cases then quarantine seems easy to manage and there’s less chance of a leak,” he told news.com.au.

“But if there are six or seven, this tests the system then there is an enhanced risk of breach.

“Today we are hitting nine or 10 a day, we’ve never hit that level before.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a breach but you should obviously be on high alert and it’s testing the limits because we have never taken this many positive cases from overseas before.”

It’s a similar story in the Northern Territory. Its Howard Springs quarantine facility hasn’t had any breaches in six months since it opened, but Mr Macali said it was previously only dealing with one or two positive cases a day.

“In the last two weeks this has jumped from an average of under one, to almost six cases a day, which is huge. It’s a 600 per cent increase,” he said.

Interestingly, Mr Macali said the number of positive cases in Western Australia’s quarantine system had not changed much.

“Western Australia has always had about two or three cases a day and that hasn’t changed the entire time even though (WA Premier) Mark McGowan is saying there are more cases from India, positive cases in WA haven’t deviated too much, unlike other states.”

RELATED: India’s latest grim coronavirus milestone

India flight ban ‘not ethical’

The Morrison government is facing criticism for suspending flights from India for two weeks amid a devastating coronavirus outbreak in the country. Australians who return from India illegally could be sentenced to five years in jail, a $66,000 fine or both.

Mr McGowan was prominent in calling for a suspension in flights and said 40 per cent of cases in WA quarantine had been in India in the past month, up from 11 per cent the previous month.

Unlike New Zealand, which published data about the origin of its cases when it banned flights from India on April 11, Australian authorities have not published a breakdown of where cases are coming from and Mr Macali said it was difficult to know how many of the cases were from India.

However, NSW authorities have noted an increase in the number of positive cases in travellers returning from India in a weekly report, although figures will not be available for at least a week.

University of NSW Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, a World Health Organisation adviser, agreed the figures show a spike in coronavirus cases in hotel quarantine in April but she believes the India ban was unethical and “very sad”.

“I despair at what we’ve become. When are we going to realise that every single Australian life is important, not just those on our soil?” she said.

“If we congratulate ourselves on being multicultural, when people go home to deal with important family issues or find themselves stranded, why is their safety less important than those in Australia?

“Australia has to make every Australian feel loved and cared for, not just those who are here, isn’t that why we have embassies?”

RELATED: Scott Morrison defends India flight ban

Sky News host Andrew Bolt has said the India ban “stinks of racism” and Australian Medical Association WA President, Dr Andrew Miller told Today it was “absolutely unacceptable and outrageous”.

On Monday, Nationals MP Matt Canavan became the first government MP to slam the ban.

“We should be helping Aussies in India return not jailing them. Let’s fix our quarantine system rather than leave our fellow Australians stranded,” he tweeted.

About 9000 Australians are registered as being in India at the moment with 650 registered as vulnerable.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended the India ban and said the decision was made based on advice from chief medical officer Paul Kelly.

Prof Kelly told the ABC today the government had set a limit of 2 per cent positivity rates for overseas arrivals, and that Australia had been well below that for a year except for two occasions – the arrivals from India and previously those returning from Papua New Guinea.

He has also noted criminal punishment was a separate part of Australia’s Biosecurity Act and health authorities had not been asked to advise on that section.

“Let’s be very clear, we were asked for public health advice on the nature of threat, how long (a measure) was needed, that was the advice given,” he told Sky News.

“We weren’t asked about penalties.

“I’m an adviser, I don’t make decisions for the government.”

But Prof McLaws rejected Prof Kelly’s comments that he was not responsible for setting the penalty.

“I know that Professor Paul Kelly is using public health law to say that he’s not responsible for the penalty but when you make decisions, you are basically accepting the penalty,” she said.

She also questioned why authorities had set a cap on positive cases in overseas arrivals given the second wave in Europe last year.

“England was out of control and so was the US, so I’m not sure why they thought they had to put a cap on it – given what they are doing is leaving Australians stranded in a dangerous position.

“Would we do this in wartime and leave combatants stranded in a dangerous position?”.

Hotel quarantine should be improved

Prof McLaws said she understood the Morrison government was trying to keep the country safe but was doing this using a “blunt instrument” by just banning anyone from coming in.

“There are other ways around it and better ways of quarantine,” she said.

Prof McLaws said governments had 12 months to plan for this, and rather than stopping people from coming into the country, improvements to hotel quarantine should be made.

She believes people in hotel quarantine should be separated into low and high risk groups, tested every second day and anyone found to be positive should be moved to a “proxy hospital”. All hotels should also have high air flow change and good air pressure to make it less likely the virus would spread.

“We have an obligation to keep people safe in quarantine,” Prof McLaws said.

There are also people who work in the quarantine system, such as cleaners and security, who have not received both doses of the vaccine yet.

“I keep hearing about quarantine staff who have still only had one dose, we are in week nine or 10 of the rollout, and the second does of the Pfizer vaccine can be given after three weeks, so why haven’t these staff been protected? That’s truly unethical.”

Prof McLaws said she understood the statistics but “outbreak control is not just about statistics”.

“We make really difficult decisions, such as on restrictions for everyone to stay inside, but we don’t do unethical things, we treat everybody the same and this is not treating everyone the same,” she said.

“While numbers may have spiked dramatically in April we still have an ethical obligation of receiving Australians and it has to be done in a way that is safe.”

charis.chang@news.com.au | @charischang2





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Chief medical officer Paul Kelly warns of Aussie deaths in India travel ban


The country’s chief medical officer has warned of the “consequences” of Australia’s travel ban on India.

Professor Paul Kelly addressed his concerns in a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt, highlighting the risk the ban would have on Australian citizens and permanent residents in COVID-ravaged India as a result of our pause on flights and entry into Australia.

“These include the risk of serious illness without access to healthcare, the potential for Australians to be stranded in a transit country, and in a worst-case scenario, deaths,” he wrote in a letter to Mr Hunt tabled in parliament today.

“I consider that these serious implications can be mitigated through having the restriction only temporarily in place, ie a pause, and by ensuring there are categories of exemptions.”

Professor Kelly provided his advice ahead of Friday’s late announcement that all flights would be halted until May 15.

RELATED: Horror of world’s worst COVID outbreak

He said there remained a “significant risk” of spread from Australia’s hotel quarantine system, particularly from arrivals from India.

“Each new case identified in quarantine increases the risk of leakage into the Australian community through transmission to quarantine workers or other quarantined returnees and subsequently into the Australian community more broadly,” he wrote.

“Australia’s quarantine and health resources needed to prevent and control COVID-19 introduced into Australia from international arrivals are limited.

“Due to the high proportion of positive cases arising from arrivals from India, I consider a pause until 15 May 2021 on arrivals from India to be an effective and proportionate measure to maintain the integrity of Australia’s quarantine system. This measure will likely allow the system to recover capacity, which is a critical intervention in preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19 in Australia.”

Professor Kelly noted such a move would be the first time that such a determination had been used to prevent Australian citizens and permanent residents entering Australia.

He also asked for it to become an offence under the Biosecurity Act for anyone who had been in India in the last 14 days to come back to Australia.

RELATED: Top doctor’s fury over ‘hopeless system’

People who have been in India within the previous fortnight before their intended arrival in Australia will face a $66,600 fine as well as five years’ imprisonment for entering the country.

But Professor Kelly today told Sky News the jail threat was not ordered by him. He said the criminal punishment was a separate part of Australia’s Biosecurity Act, but health authorities had not been asked to advise on that section of the government act.

“Let’s be very clear, we were asked for public health advice on the nature of threat, how long (a measure) was needed, that was the advice given,” he told Sky News.

“We weren’t asked about penalties. I’m an adviser, I don’t make decisions for the government.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also defended the government’s move today, slamming any suggestion it was racist and saying he was making the “hard calls” that have helped save 30,000 Australian lives.

Mr Morrison attacked Labor leader Anthony Albanese for “politicising” the flight ban this morning, arguing it was “heartbreaking” but necessary to pause the repatriation flights.

RELATED: The devastating plight facing COVID hot zones

“We are deeply, deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in India. But the best way I can get them safely home is by doing what I am doing right now,’’ the Prime Minister told 2GB radio.

Critics including former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane have argued there’s “an inconsistency” in the Indian flight ban given Australia didn’t ban US flights when daily cases were even higher.

That’s prompted Labor to hint the real motivation is racism.

“I have clear advice from the chief medical officer that this is a decision that is supported,” Mr Morrison said.

Health secretary Dr Brendan Murphy told a Senate estimates committee today that the temporary ban was needed to take the pressure off quarantine systems. He said the Howard Springs quarantine centre is at capacity.

“We’ve had more than 50 cases, positive cases nearly all from India and the Territory health system is very concerned about that,” he said.

“So just for a period of time, this is an unprecedented number of positives from one country, it’s just a matter of resetting.”



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Man amputates own leg with ride on lawnmower


A man has been airlifted to hospital by helicopter from a rural town outside of Sydney after accidentally amputating his own leg in a lawnmower accident.

A 56-year-old man was using an industrial lawnmower on a tractor at Wilberforce on Monday when he suffered a mishap that saw him cut off his lower leg.

Wilberforce is located 40km northwest of Sydney on the Hawkesbury River.

NSW Ambulance called in CareFlight’s Rapid Response Helicopter at 4:25pm and the chopper arrived at the scene just after 4.45pm.

Ambulance paramedics were treating the man at the scene.

Images from the scene show a John Deere tractor with a mowing attachment on the back of the vehicle at a rural property.

A CareFlight specialist doctor and a NSW Ambulance critical care paramedic then performed a clinical assessment on the patient.

The crews used an ultrasound and provided further treatment for the wound.

The clinical team then intubated the patient and placed him in an induced coma to stabilise his condition.

The man was airlifted to Westmead Hospital in a stable condition.



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Dr Karan Rajan says couples should sleep in separate beds


A British doctor has gone viral after suggesting couples get a “sleep divorce” if they want to get better quality shut-eye.

Dr Karan Raj is an NHS surgeon who has more than 3.4 million followers on TikTok where he shares health and medical tips.

In a video posted over the weekend that has been viewed more than 559,000 times Dr Raj said that sharing a bed with your partner could be doing more harm than good.

“You should always sleep alone, if the other person moves in their sleep or snores that will stop you getting into the deep stages of sleep your body needs to recharge, affecting sleep quality,” he said.

RELATED: How much sleep do you need?

Dr Raj said that most couples had different sleep cycles, meaning that “forcing two people to share a bedtime” could leave one person or even both of you “chronically sleep-deprived”.

You also run the risk of overheating when you share a bed with someone, he said.

“One of the triggers you need to fall asleep is a drop in core body temperature. Sharing a bed with someone increases body heat so it’s going to take longer to fall asleep,” he said.

His video got hundreds of comments with plenty of people happy to see sleeping alone “normalised”.

“Finally! A positive healthy side effect to being forever single,” one person joked.

“I love my husband but I HATE sharing a bed with him. He thinks I’m horrible for thinking this,” another said.

“Finally moved in to the spare room after 18 year of sharing with a partner that snores. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” one person commented.

RELATED: Best time to go to bed to get a good night’s sleep

But not everyone was convinced, with one commenter writing that the “cuddles are worth the sleep deprivation”.

While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that people sleep better solo, research published by the University of British Columbia in Canada last year suggests your significant other’s scent could help you sleep.

In a study of 155 people, researchers asked them to sleep with a shirt their partner had been wearing on their pillow and then with a clean unworn shirt.

Sleep quality was then tracked over four days, with those who slept with their partner’s shirt reporting more sleep – even when they didn’t know the shirt had been worn by their significant other.

RELATED: How often you should change your pillow

Women slept slightly better than men with the T-shirt worn by their partner, which researchers suggested could be down to a greater “need for security”.

“The scent of another person is emotionally evocative,” the study said, according to Psychology Today.

“We found that the exposure to the scent of a romantic partner overnight leads to improved sleep efficiency.

“Participants in our study experienced an average of more than nine minutes of additional sleep per night when exposed to the scent of their partner.”



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Girl mauled to death by dog in backyard in Texas


A four-year-old girl has been mauled to death by a family dog at a home in the United States.

Officers were called to a property on Oak Grove road in southeast Fort Worth, Texas, just after 5pm on Friday evening.

Police say Elayah Brown was attacked by the dog in the backyard and was rushed to Cook’s Children’s hospital where she died of her injuries just over an hour later, the Star-Telegram reports.

Two dogs were walked into an animal control unit but it remains unknown whether both were involved in the attack. One dog was not taken away by animal control, Fox4News reports.

Cops have since confirmed that the dog responsible was taken into the custody of the city’s animal shelter and was “humanely euthanised” on Saturday.

It’s not known who made the decision to put the dog to sleep or how the procedure was carried out.

Chief Neil Noakes said: “Anytime there is a loss of life, it’s a tragic incident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and all first responders that responded to this call.”

City spokeswoman Diane Covey branded the attack a “horrible tragedy”.

RELATED: Dog kills one-year-old baby who got too close to food bowl

RELATED: Toddler mauled to death as mum desperately tried to save him

An autopsy result is pending and investigations into the child’s death continue.

No charges have currently been filed, a police spokesman confirmed on Saturday.

Elayah’s uncle Reginald Arberry has created a GoFundMe page, seeking donations to cover the cost of the four-year-old’s funeral service.

In a moving post, he said: “Our beloved Elayah recently passed on April 30, 2021. Elayah was a wonderful daughter, niece, granddaughter, and cousin who touched the lives of those around her.

“She was a bright, beautiful and inspiring person.

“We are all devastated by Elayah’s loss and were not prepared for the high cost of a funeral service.

“We want to give Elayah the memorial she deserves, to honour her memory and say our last goodbyes.”

The family has exceeded their initial goal of raising $8500.

The story appeared on the US Sun and has been republished with permission



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Oversight Board reaches decision, will announce it on Wednesday


Facebook’s independent oversight board has reached a decision on Donald Trump’s suspension from the company’s platforms, and will reveal his fate later this week.

In a brief statement this morning, the board said it would announce its decision at about 9am EDT on Wednesday, May 5. That’s 11pm on Wednesday night AEST.

The former US president has been barred from publishing on both Facebook and Instagram since January 7, the day after his supporters attacked the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. in an attempt to stop President Joe Biden’s election win from being certified.

At the time, Facebook concluded Mr Trump had used its platforms to spread misinformation and incite violence against the US government.

RELATED: How Trump’s Facebook ban is being reviewed

Initially, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the ban would last until the end of Mr Trump’s term on January 20.

“The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

“Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labelling his posts when they violated our policies. We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech.

“But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

Later in January the ban became indefinite, pending a ruling from the oversight board, an independent panel of experts tasked with reviewing Facebook’s more contentious content moderation decisions.

The board was established last October, and since then it has overturned Facebook’s decisions half a dozen times.

Its rulings are binding and final. If the board decides Mr Trump’s suspension was unjust, Facebook will have seven days to unlock the former president’s accounts.

If it rules against him, however, Mr Trump will have no way to appeal, and his ban will become permanent.

Facebook asked the board to come up with general recommendations on how to deal with world leaders on its platforms, so expect Wednesday’s announcement to include something on that subject as well.

RELATED: Lara Trump fumes over removed post

Mr Trump has already been permanently banned from Twitter, and is indefinitely barred from posting new videos on his YouTube account.

“Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that people have a right to hold power to account in the open,” Twitter said in January, justifying its decision.

“However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things.”

In the wake of his defeat to Mr Biden in last year’s election, Mr Trump refused to accept the result. He spent the final months of his term spreading false claims that widespread fraud had robbed him of victory.

The then-president and his allies repeatedly challenged the results in court, and got nowhere. Judges at both state and federal level, including conservative judges appointed by Mr Trump himself, berated his legal team for offering no credible evidence to support its claims.

Mr Trump then set his sights on January 6, when a joint session of Congress would meet to formally count the electoral votes – the last step in confirming Mr Biden’s win.

He told his supporters that vice president Mike Pence, who would preside over the joint session, had the power to unilaterally reject the results.

“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All he has to do. He has the absolute right to do it,” Mr Trump said at a rally on the morning of January 6.

This was false. Mr Pence had no such power.

Thousands of Mr Trump’s supporters proceeded to storm the Capitol, clashing violently with law enforcement.

That night, once the building was back under control, members of Congress returned and completed the electoral vote count.

For the record, Mr Biden won the count 306-232, the same margin as Mr Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton four years earlier. He also won the popular vote, by a margin of about seven million.

Mr Trump never conceded to Mr Biden, and broke with tradition by choosing not to attend his successor’s inauguration on January 20. He was the first outgoing president to skip the inauguration since 1869.

Nearly four months later, and six months after the election, he is still spreading the same misinformation about the election.

“The fraudulent presidential election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” Mr Trump said in a statement just this morning, co-opting the term his political opponents and media critics have used to refer to his false fraud claims.

RELATED: Why Trump’s final two tweets went too far

Since Mr Trump left office, videos have occasionally popped up on social media showing him venting about the election to audiences at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

In late March, for example, the former president gave a speech at a wedding where he alluded to his claims of fraud.

“We did get 75 million votes. Nobody’s ever gotten that,” Mr Trump told the wedding guests, who were there to celebrate the union of John Arrigo and Megan Noderer.

“They said, ‘Get 66 million votes, sir, and the election’s over. Well I got 75 million and they said – well you saw what happened.

“Ten-thirty in the evening, all of a sudden they said, ‘That’s a strange thing. Why are they closing up certain places?’ Right? Yeah, a lot of things happening right now.”

Mr Trump’s tally of 74 million votes was the second-highest in US history behind Mr Biden, who got 81 million.

More recent footage from last week showed Mr Trump telling patrons at Mar-a-Lago to “watch Arizona”, where state Republicans have hired private companies to audit the election results from Maricopa County.

“Some very interesting things are happening in Arizona,” said Mr Trump.

“Let’s see what they find. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands of votes.

“We’re going to watch that very quickly, and after that, we’ll (watch) Pennsylvania, we’ll watch Georgia, and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

“They found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now.”

New Hampshire was not even among the toss-up states in November, incidentally. Mr Trump lost it by more than 7 per cent.

“This was a rigged election, everybody knows it, and we’re going to be watching it very closely,” he concluded.





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Chief medical officer Paul Kelly warns of Aussie deaths in India travel ban


The country’s chief medical officer has warned of the “consequences” of Australia’s travel ban on India.

Professor Paul Kelly addressed his concerns in a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt, highlighting the risk the ban would have on Australian citizens and permanent residents in COVID-ravaged India as a result of our pause on flights and entry into Australia.

“These include the risk of serious illness without access to healthcare, the potential for Australians to be stranded in a transit country, and in a worst-case scenario, deaths,” he wrote in a letter to Mr Hunt tabled in parliament today.

“I consider that these serious implications can be mitigated through having the restriction only temporarily in place, ie a pause, and by ensuring there are categories of exemptions.”

Professor Kelly provided his advice ahead of Friday’s late announcement that all flights would be halted until May 15.

RELATED: Horror of world’s worst COVID outbreak

He said there remained a “significant risk” of spread from Australia’s hotel quarantine system, particularly from arrivals from India.

“Each new case identified in quarantine increases the risk of leakage into the Australian community through transmission to quarantine workers or other quarantined returnees and subsequently into the Australian community more broadly,” he wrote.

“Australia’s quarantine and health resources needed to prevent and control COVID-19 introduced into Australia from international arrivals are limited.

“Due to the high proportion of positive cases arising from arrivals from India, I consider a pause until 15 May 2021 on arrivals from India to be an effective and proportionate measure to maintain the integrity of Australia’s quarantine system. This measure will likely allow the system to recover capacity, which is a critical intervention in preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19 in Australia.”

Professor Kelly noted such a move would be the first time that such a determination had been used to prevent Australian citizens and permanent residents entering Australia.

He also asked for it to become an offence under the Biosecurity Act for anyone who had been in India in the last 14 days to come back to Australia.

RELATED: Top doctor’s fury over ‘hopeless system’

People who have been in India within the previous fortnight before their intended arrival in Australia will face a $66,600 fine as well as five years’ imprisonment for entering the country.

But Professor Kelly today told Sky News the jail threat was not ordered by him. He said the criminal punishment was a separate part of Australia’s Biosecurity Act, but health authorities had not been asked to advise on that section of the government act.

“Let’s be very clear, we were asked for public health advice on the nature of threat, how long (a measure) was needed, that was the advice given,” he told Sky News.

“We weren’t asked about penalties. I’m an adviser, I don’t make decisions for the government.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also defended the government’s move today, slamming any suggestion it was racist and saying he was making the “hard calls” that have helped save 30,000 Australian lives.

Mr Morrison attacked Labor leader Anthony Albanese for “politicising” the flight ban this morning, arguing it was “heartbreaking” but necessary to pause the repatriation flights.

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“We are deeply, deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in India. But the best way I can get them safely home is by doing what I am doing right now,’’ the Prime Minister told 2GB radio.

Critics including former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane have argued there’s “an inconsistency” in the Indian flight ban given Australia didn’t ban US flights when daily cases were even higher.

That’s prompted Labor to hint the real motivation is racism.

“I have clear advice from the chief medical officer that this is a decision that is supported,” Mr Morrison said.

Health secretary Dr Brendan Murphy told a Senate estimates committee today that the temporary ban was needed to take the pressure off quarantine systems. He said the Howard Springs quarantine centre is at capacity.

“We’ve had more than 50 cases, positive cases nearly all from India and the Territory health system is very concerned about that,” he said.

“So just for a period of time, this is an unprecedented number of positives from one country, it’s just a matter of resetting.”



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Marise Payne to visit Europe, US to discuss Indo-Pacific ahead of June G7 meeting


Australia’s chief diplomat will discuss the intensifying threat in the Indo-Pacific and international vaccine supply with European and American leaders this fortnight.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne will embark on a two-week tour of Europe and Washington on Monday, beginning with a “major strategic” international discussion ahead of the G7 summit in June.

The trip comes amid growing international concern over China’s posture in the Indo-Pacific, and after Australian politicians and diplomats raised the prospect of war in the region.

“We will discuss critical issues on advancing open societies and promoting global democratic values. Our talks will also address how to ensure equitable vaccine access availability and the promotion of prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific,” Ms Payne said.

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The meeting will take place in London, and will be attended by representatives of the G7, along with India, the Republic of Korea, South Africa.

The Indo-Pacific has been a fraught topic as China takes an increasingly assertive stance in the region.

US President Joe Biden used his first speech to Congress to declare China intended to become the “most significant, consequential nation in the world”, warning the two countries were locked in battle to “win the 21st century”.

After Europe, Ms Payne will travel to Washington to meet representatives of Mr Biden’s administration, which in December said it would “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Australia during rising tensions with China.

She will discuss the intensifying situation in the Indo-Pacific in the 70th year of the ANZUS Treaty.

“My discussions will focus on the work of Australia and the United States individually and together to support the resilience of the Indo-Pacific region, as we address the COVID-19 induced health and economic crises, and intensifying strategic competition,” she said.

Beijing and Canberra have been embroiled in an escalating trade stoush over the past twelve months, seemingly sparked by Australia’s push for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

China has also accused Australian politicians of “colluding with terrorists” over their support for the Muslim Uyghur minority, which human rights groups warn face horrific abuses in Xinjiang.

The discussions in Europe will also focus on vaccine supply issues in the European Union (EU), which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said explained Australia’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

Vaccine supply has been a vexed issue between Canberra and Brussels, with the EU in April denying accusations it had blocked 3.1m vaccine doses from being sent to Australia.

A month earlier, Italy stopped 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine destined for Australia from being shipped.

Ms Payne will also meet with British representatives over a “deepening relationship” with the post-Brexit UK.



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