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Mum pays tribute to ‘beloved daughter’ after two charged with murder

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The mother of a woman found dead in Sydney bushland last year has paid tribute to her “beloved daughter” after two men were charged with her murder.The body of Najma Carroll, 33, was found in dense scrub by a man walking his dog near Sandy Point Road off Heathcoate Road in Menai on July 29…

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The mother of a woman found dead in Sydney bushland last year has paid tribute to her “beloved daughter” after two men were charged with her murder.

The body of Najma Carroll, 33, was found in dense scrub by a man walking his dog near Sandy Point Road off Heathcoate Road in Menai on July 29 last year.

Police described Ms Carroll’s injuries as “horrific” and said she had suffered burns to her body.

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Woman's body found Menai bushland

A burnt-out Mercedes was also found nearby.

After a months-long investigation, detectives arrested a 57-year-old man at Silverwater jail about 8.30am yesterday and charged him with murder.

They returned to the prison this morning and arrested a 43-year-old man.

He too was charged with murder.

Both men were remanded in custody and are due to face Sutherland Local Court by video-link today.

Najma Carroll had been couch-surfing with friends before her death.

Ms Carroll’s mother said the former Sydney Girls High School student had “struggled with addiction”.

“I would like to thank the man that found Najma, the support from the Homicide Victim support group and the police investigating her death,” she said in a statement released by police.

“Najma was my beloved daughter who has a loving, generous and courageous spirit.

“Najma struggled with addiction from her teenage years, but she never resorted to crime to feed that addiction.

“We need to educate our sons and daughters that violence towards women is not acceptable and that culture needs to change.

“I thank everyone who has come forward and urge anyone with more information to contact police.”

Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty from the Homicide Squad said the last known sighting of Ms Carroll alive was when she left a hotel in Liverpool about 7.30pm on July 11 last year.

“This was over two weeks before her body was discovered 15km away at Menai with horrific injuries,” he said.

“Following investigations, two men have now been charged over their alleged roles in the death of Ms Carroll, who was in the prime of her life.

“While we have been able to deliver some justice for Namja and her family, detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death.”

Inquiries under Strike Force Dalcassia are continuing.


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Homes ‘smashed flat’ as ex-Cyclone Seroja continues destructive path

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The clean-up is beginning in the wake of ex-Cyclone Seroja, with homes damaged and destroyed as the storm made landfall overnight in Western Australia.Warnings remain in place across parts of the state, with Seroja downgraded to a tropical low this morning.Winds of up to 170km/hr were recorded at Karlbarri, north of Geraldton on the WA…

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The clean-up is beginning in the wake of ex-Cyclone Seroja, with homes damaged and destroyed as the storm made landfall overnight in Western Australia.

Warnings remain in place across parts of the state, with Seroja downgraded to a tropical low this morning.

Winds of up to 170km/hr were recorded at Karlbarri, north of Geraldton on the WA coast, overnight after the cyclone hit just after 7pm (AWST).

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More than 167mm of rain fell over the region in 12 hours, prompting warnings of flash flooding.

Nine reporter Darius Winterfield, in Karlbarri during the storm, detailed how the roof on his balcony was torn away, and that some residences had been “smashed flat”.

“Water is flooding in through the windows and the main roof is rattling very loudly … we’ve lost power and have little phone reception, we are considering options if the roof goes,” Winterfield said.

https://twitter.com/dwinterfield9/status/1381232540401295360?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

However, thankfully, there were this morning reports of only minor injuries.

The damage to the town was extensive, with the SES estimating at least one-fifth of homes had lost roofs.

Winterfield said the resort town looked like “a bomb had gone off”.

READ MORE: More than 20,000 without power as cyclone lashes WA

“The trail of destruction is widespread,” he said this morning.

“Almost everywhere you look, it seems as though no structure has been saved from the wrath of Tropical Cyclone Seroja.”

Seroja

There have been numerous reports of structural damage in areas near and to the north of Seroja’s landfall location.

“So scary hiding under mattresses with my wife n 2 (sic) boys” was how Joel McIntyre described his experience on the Kalbarri Info Noticeboard on Facebook.

“In Northampton and have some one’s roof against back shade house wall,” said another post by Helene Parker.

In Geraldton, tens of thousands of people remain without power, while powerlines and trees were blown over.

https://twitter.com/MiaEgerton/status/1381222119783034881?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

However, Nine reporter Mia Egerton-Warburton said the town had not been hit has hard as Karlbarri.

The system’s fast movement across Western Australia has allowed tropical cyclone impacts to extend well inland. Southern Cross had recorded a wind gust of 93km/hr by 4.30am (AWST) today.

Heavy rain and potentially damage winds will continue to spread over parts of the Wheatbelt and Goldfields into Monday morning. A severe weather warning is even in place down to the state’s South East Coastal and Eucla districts.

Cyclone Seroja

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has declared an all-clear for Geraldton, though red alerts remain in place for south of Carnarvon to Lancelin, including the Shires of Shark Bay, Northhampton, Chapman Valley, Morawa, Mingenew, Three Springs, Perenjori, Irwin and the townsites of Denham, Coorow, Carnamah, Moora, Paynes Find, Jurien Bay, Lancelin, Wongan Hills and Dalwallinu.

People in red alert areas are asked to stay in their homes until the all-clear comes from the DFES.

Wind gusts of up to 110km/hr and heavy rains are still predicted for the state’s south-west, around Esperance and Kalgoorlie, with damage and flash flooding a possibility.

A severe weather warning is in place for these regions.


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Ben Roberts-Smith responds to new 60 Minutes allegations

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The Seven Network is standing by its Queensland managing director Ben Roberts-Smith after the former soldier and Victoria Cross-winner was accused of burying evidence relevant to war crimes investigations.A report by 60 Minutes, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last night accused Mr Roberts-Smith of allegedly burying in his backyard a pink children’s lunchbox…

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The Seven Network is standing by its Queensland managing director Ben Roberts-Smith after the former soldier and Victoria Cross-winner was accused of burying evidence relevant to war crimes investigations.

A report by 60 Minutes, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last night accused Mr Roberts-Smith of allegedly burying in his backyard a pink children’s lunchbox containing a USB drive with photos and documents on it.

The report said the contents of the USB, including photos of a fellow soldier dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member at a fancy-dress party at a coalition base in Afghanistan and evidence of the alleged desecration of an enemy soldier’s body, had since been obtained by military and police investigators.

Mr Roberts-Smith has emphatically denied any wrongdoing, repeatedly saying he has nothing to hide about his time in Afghanistan.

He says new allegations are “baseless”.

The Seven Network has said Mr Roberts-Smith will remain in his position in the wake of the allegations.

“Seven Network notes the denial by its Seven Queensland Managing Director Ben Roberts-Smith VC of the allegations aired by Nine on 60 Minutes last night and as further published in the Nine newspapers,” the network said in a statement.

“Insofar as most of the material aired is old, Seven notes that it is before the Federal Court and the court process should be respected.

“Insofar as new allegations are made they do not appear to be supported by evidence.

“In the circumstances Seven does not need to reconsider its position concerning Mr Roberts-Smith and him continuing in his position.”

Benjamin Roberts-Smith is awarded his Victoria Cross by then-Governor-General Quentin Bryce on January 23, 2011.

Mr Roberts-Smith is running a defamation case against Nick McKenzie and Nine newspapers over a series of stories, claiming they suggest war crimes were committed by the decorated former soldier.

The 60 Minutes episode and stories in Nine newspapers also aired secret recordings of Mr Roberts-Smith lauding the network’s owner Kerry Stokes for funding his legal battles and being critical of the broadcaster’s operations.

Nine is the publisher of this website.


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Chinese vaccines ‘don’t have very high protection rates’

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In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to get a boost.Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centres for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference…

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In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to get a boost.

Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centres for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses abroad while trying to promote doubt about the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine made using the previously experimental messenger RNA, or mRNA, process.

READ MORE: Pfizer vaccine rollout will be made easier as vials ‘very stable’ at -20C

“It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunisation process,” Mr Gao said.

Officials at a news conference Sunday didn’t respond directly to questions about Mr Gao’s comment or possible changes in official plans. But another CDC official said developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines.

Mr Gao did not respond to a phone call requesting further comment.

READ MORE: Morrison refuses to put ‘target’ on when all Australians will receive first vaccine dose

“The mRNA vaccines developed in our country have also entered the clinical trial stage,” said the official, Wang Huaqing. He gave no timeline for possible use.

Experts say mixing vaccines, or sequential immunisation, might boost effectiveness. Researchers in Britain are studying a possible combination of Pfizer-BioNTech and the traditional AstraZeneca vaccine.

The coronavirus pandemic, which began in central China in late 2019, marks the first time the Chinese drug industry has played a role in responding to a global health emergency.

Vaccines made by Sinovac, a private company, and Sinopharm, a state-owned firm, have made up the majority of Chinese vaccines distributed to several dozen countries including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil and Turkey.

The effectiveness of a Sinovac vaccine at preventing symptomatic infections was found to be as low as 50.4 per cent by researchers in Brazil, near the 50 per cent threshold at which health experts say a vaccine is useful. By comparison, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been found to be 97 per cent effective.

Health experts say Chinese vaccines are unlikely to be sold to the United States, western Europe and Japan due to the complexity of the approval process.

A Sinovac spokesman, Liu Peicheng, acknowledged varying levels of effectiveness have been found but said that can be due to the age of people in a study, the strain of virus and other factors.

Beijing has yet to approve any foreign vaccines for use in China.

Mr Gao gave no details of possible changes in strategy but cited mRNA as a possibility.

“Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity,” Mr Gao said. “We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already.”

Mr Gao previously questioned the safety of mRNA vaccines. He was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying in December he couldn’t rule out negative side effects because they were being used for the first time on healthy people.

Chinese state media and popular health and science blogs also have questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

As of April 2, some 34 million people in China have received both of the two doses required for Chinese vaccines and about 65 million received one, according to Mr Gao.

The Sinovac spokesman, Mr Liu, said studies find protection “may be better” if time between vaccinations is longer than the current 14 days but gave no indication that might be made standard practice.


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