Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sydney stabbing victim identified

The 24-year-old woman killed in a Sydney CBD apartment on Tuesday has been formally identified as Michaela Dunn. Friends said she was a "true delight" who spent her last few months travelling the world. Mert Ney, 21, is accused of killing her with a kitchen knife before exiting to the street and attacking others, before being accosted by members of the public and arrested. Dunn had been working as a sex worker from the apartment, and police said initial inquiries indicated Ney had attended the unit for an appointment. In a joint statement Sex Worker Out Reach Program and the Scarlett Alliance said they were “devastated” by the violence, and added that “sex workers regularly face barriers to accessing justice and reporting crimes against us, because so often the violence is attributed to our work”. Ney had been checked into a hospital after a domestic dispute with one of his sisters last week. The NSW government has launched a review into all aspects of Ney's care in the state's health system.

A Queensland government-backed program to help the sugar industry reduce pollution flowing into water catchments near the Great Barrier Reef is promoting a speaking tour of a scientist who argues farm runoff poses no threat. Peter Ridd is touring regional Queensland to argue against proposed regulations on chemical runoff into reef catchments. The events are hosted by regional branches of the sugar cane growers peak body, Canegrowers, and a charity set up by the Institute of Public Affairs. Farmers have been invited to attend the Ridd lectures by facilitators working for Smartcane BMP, a training and certification program supported by Queensland government grants, which promotes sustainable land management practices. The Queensland environment minister, Leeanne Enoch, told Guardian Australia: “There is a clear expectation that the organisation uses that taxpayer funding for its stated purpose.” Enoch said science had “come under attack for political purposes”, pointing to a Liberal National party suggestion that the state establish a “scientific review office” to interrogate studies conducted on the reef. The debate comes as Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley returns from a Cairns snorkelling trip ($) to what she described as a “reef teeming with life”.

Australian theatre is mourning the loss of one of its “greatest treasures”, with Indigenous actor Ningali Lawford-Wolf dying at the age of 52 (this link includes an image of the deceased), while touring with the stage production of The Secret River at the Edinburgh Festival. In a joint statement with Lawford-Wolf's family, the Sydney Theatre Company said the award-winning actor passed away on Sunday, August 11. She was best known for her roles in the films Rabbit-Proof Fence, Bran Nue Dae, and Last Cab to Darwin.

The sports world is also honouring an Indigenous great, with AFL ruck legend Graham “Polly” Farmer dying aged 84 (this link includes an image of the deceased). In cricket, the second Ashes Test will be a four-day affair after the opening day was rained out at Lord’s. The forecast suggests Thursday should be clear but there is more wet weather forecast for London later in the week. Australia coach Justin Langer confirmed the selection of fast bowler Josh Hazlewood to replace the rested James Pattinson. 

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“The Trump presidency has been a wild ride for its ally Australia, and is becoming dangerously more bizarre by the day. Canberra is being railroaded into a confrontation with Beijing, which is clearly not in its economic or strategic interests. The Morrison government knows as much and is struggling to deal with America’s ambition in a way that assures Australia’s prosperity and security.” 


“‘I don’t really engage in social media,’ Quentin Tarantino tells me, his pointed face clouded with a flash of disdain. ‘I’m not on Facebook. I’ve never had a Twitter account, Snapchat or any of that crap. I don’t know anything about it,’ he continues, staring angrily at a bottle of mineral water gently effervescing in front of him, as a fresh-faced Margot Robbie smiles by his side. ‘I don’t look at my news online or anything like that. If you just don’t engage in it then it doesn’t mean anything to you,’ he says, before adopting a mock-pompous voice: ‘“Oh, Twitter’s blowing up about you!”’ he says with an empty laugh. ‘So what? If I don’t read it or engage in it, it causes me no heartache.’”


“Alex Kelly is 34 weeks pregnant, reclining on a small stage the shape of a four-poster bed. As we speak, the lights dim and glare, and she directs ambient mist that surrounds us in sound and smoke. She’s in pre-production for a new show she’s created, The Things We Did Next, a play set in 2029, when ‘climate impacts are a daily reality’. Through the play’s format of a chat show, in which writers and thinkers ‘[improvise] a future version of themselves’, she hopes to ‘move beyond the binary of dystopia and utopia’.”


“New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has found herself caught in the middle of the Pacific island nations, who are calling for a tougher stance, and Australia, her country's greatest ally. Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum, she has urged for greater action on climate change and made a thinly veiled criticism of Australia's defence of its rising greenhouse gas emissions.”


“On white-crested swells under leaden skies, the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has set sail from Plymouth on arguably her most daunting challenge yet. A two-week crossing of the Atlantic during hurricane season in a solar-powered yacht is the first obstacle, but it is unlikely to be the toughest ... this will be both the ultimate gap year and a journey into the heart of climate darkness: first to the United States of president Donald Trump, who has promised to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, and then down to South America, possibly including Brazil where president Jair Bolsonaro is overseeing a surge of Amazon deforestation.”


“Dubbed Rekognition, the software offers a comprehensive range of tools for face detection, analysis, and recognition in images and videos. It’s one among several services it offers to developers as part of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure. ‘We have improved accuracy for emotion detection — for all seven emotions: “Happy,” “Sad,” “Angry,” “Surprised,” “Disgusted,” “Calm,” and “Confused” — and added a new emotion: “Fear,”’ the company said.”


Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.