Friday, February 21, 2020

Two killed in ‘horrific’ train derailment

Two people have been killed and a dozen injured after a train came off the tracks in the town of Wallan, 45 kilometres north of Melbourne. Investigators are picking through the wreckage to determine the cause of the derailment, which killed the driver and co-driver. Acting Inspector Fusinato said it was a “miracle” that the injuries among the 153 passengers on board were mostly minor. “It would have been looking like a horrific scene,” he said. Passengers said the train was accelerating at the time of the accident after a delay due to a signalling issue. The Border Mail reported ($) on Thursday that passengers were being warned of delays after a signal hut at Wallan was destroyed by fire earlier this month. All Seymour and Shepparton V/Line services have been suspended until further notice.

Labor emissions pledge: Labor leader Anthony Albanese will use a speech to a progressive thinktank on Friday to commit to a net-zero emissions target by 2050 if it wins the next federal election. Albanese will pledge to adopt “a real target, with none of the absurd nonsense of so-called carryover credits that the prime minister has cooked up to give the impression he’s doing something when he isn’t”. Albanese will also oppose taxpayer funding of new coal-fired power plants, reports Guardian Australia, although he recently backed the jobs created by the Adani coal mine.

Coronavirus solution: Melbourne-based biotech firm Firebrick Pharma has developed a "disinfectant for your nose" that could reduce the amount of detectable COVID-19 coronavirus by almost 100 per cent. The remaining coronavirus is rendered non-infectious, reports The Australian Financial Review ($). The news comes as the Morrison government extends its coronavirus travel ban for another week, until Saturday, February 29.

Xenophobic shooting spree: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described racism as “a poison” to society, in the wake of a shooting spree across two shisha bars in the city of Hanau that left nine dead, most of Kurdish background. The suspected attacker, who authorities say had “xenophobic motives”, was later found dead in his home next to his mother's corpse. Meanwhile, a man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a stabbing inside a London mosque, although police at this stage are not treating the attack as terror-related.


“Greg spent December 30 watching for alerts from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. Evacuation seemed inevitable, but leaving the house was always going to be a difficult process for the Franklins ... On the morning of December 31, the threat escalated dramatically. ‘We could see the fire coming down the ridge,’ Greg says. ‘I said to Fiona, “Get the kids and go.” But even though we’d prepared them as best we could, Joshua went into meltdown.’”


“Neither conflict between the United States and China nor American retreat is in Australia’s interest. A war of any significant length and intensity would cause China’s trade, consumption and income from investment to plummet. This would likely prompt an Australian economic recession, because China is by far our largest trading partner. Should America withdraw, no Asian power or combination thereof would be able to check China.”


“Riddles and riddle poems have been around a long, long time in human history. One of the most famous riddles, referred to in Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles in the 5th century BCE, is posed by the Sphinx to Oedipus as he’s on his way to Thebes: ‘What goes on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening?’”


“A tearful and angry Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has demanded that ‘good men say enough is enough’, after cops were called to a staggering 100,000 domestic violence cases across Queensland last year … Ms Carroll urged Queenslanders not to turn a blind eye to domestic violence, and to use the Camp Hill carnage of Wednesday morning to open conversations about respectful relationships.”


“But in comments that drew an immediate and angry response from domestic violence advocates, Thompson also said police would keep an ‘open mind’ about Baxter’s motives and wanted to speak to people who knew both families. ‘Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband, or is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?’”


“Amager Bakke might look, at least through severely fogged goggles, like any other ski slope. Near the top, helmeted skiers slalom down steep black-diamond runs, while at the bottom, headphone-wearing snowboarders hit jumps and rails ... Wipe the goggles, and a whole other reality emerges.”

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