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New Zealand records four new cases of COVID-19

New Zealand has recorded four new cases of COVID-19 as the country wakes up to its first day of a snap three-day lockdown. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the country would move to alert level four yesterday, with only essential contact between people allowed, after just one case. Ms Ardern said the country needed to "go hard and go early" to defeat the Delta variant, after one case was detected. READ MORE: New Zealand enters snap lockdown after one new COVID-19 case found New Zealand's Ministry of Health confirmed this morning one of the four new cases is a workmate of the case announced yesterday. The other three are contacts of this workmate. The Ministry said it received the results last night of the genome sequencing for case A. "It is the Delta variant," they said. READ MORE: Body of newborn found at NZ recycling centre came in on rubbish truck "We are undertaking further analysis to see how it could be connected to cases we know about. "These developments strongly r..

Wet spring predicted for parts of Australia

With spring just over a fortnight away, meteorologists are predicting a wet season for eastern parts of Australia. From September to November, rainfall for spring is likely to be above median for the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and eastern Tasmania. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology predicts western WA and western Tasmania are likely to have below-median rainfall. LIVE UPDATES: Additional troops to arrive in western NSW to boost vaccine rollout as cases soar A negative Indian Ocean dipole, the state of sea surface temperatures across the tropical Indian Ocean, will underpin the predicted wet spring. According to Weatherzone, there are also signs a weak La Niña-like pattern may further enhance rainfall across Australia in spring. READ MORE: ACT Senator Katy Gallagher in isolation after daughter diagnosed with COVID-19 However, meteorologists predict a full-blown La Niña is unlikely at this stage. Some parts of Australia will get an early..

US ready to help Australia evacuate citizens from Kabul

The Biden Administration said the United States will help Australia evacuate its citizens, former embassy guards and interpreters from Afghanistan. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told 9News at a White House briefing that the US took some responsibility for the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport as thousands of people attempted to flee the Taliban's seizure of power. He said the Biden Administration was willing to work with Australia and other western countries to evacuate citizens and vulnerable Afghans facing persecution by the Taliban. READ MORE: Taliban vow to honour women's rights but within Islamic law "We do take some responsibility for our allies and partners in Afghanistan," Mr Sullivan said. "We will be eager to work with Australia to help get out Australian citizens and other individuals who the Australians would like to see get out." Kabul airport has reopened with nine US military evacuation flight arriving over the past few hours. https://twitter.com/Amelia..

NSW Deputy Premier blames slow vaccine rollout on Federal Government

The New South Wales Deputy Premier has blamed the Federal Government for the slow roll out of the coronavirus vaccine to Indigenous communities as regional areas of the state fall victim to a "concerning" Delta outbreak. John Barilaro said lockdowns in regional NSW was the only way to contain the outbreak given the number of unvaccinated people in the area, as defence troops are deployed in the west to bolster the rollout. About 60 per cent of the 116 cases recorded in the region are Indigenous, with just nine per cent of Indigenous residents there fully vaccinated. READ MORE: Why NSW Health is no longer listing every COVID-19 exposure site Mr Barilaro said vaccinating vulnerable Australians had been a priority at the start of the year, but Indigenous populations and those in aged care had missed out. "Vulnerable communities were part of the 1A roll-out which was the responsibility of the Federal Government," Mr Barilaro told Today. "That didn't occur. We know their responsibili..

The Taliban knocked on her door three times. The fourth, they killed her

Najia was at home with her three young sons and daughter in a small village in northern Afghanistan when Taliban fighters knocked on their door. Najia's daughter Manizha, 25, knew they were coming — her mother had told her they'd done the same thing the previous three days, demanding that she cook food for up to 15 fighters. "My mother told them, 'I am poor, how can I cook for you?'" Manizha said. "(The Taliban) started beating her. My mother collapsed and they hit her with their guns — AK47s." READ MORE: Taliban urge women to join government as thousands seek to flee Manizha said she yelled at the fighters to stop. They paused for a moment before throwing a grenade into the next room and fleeing as the flames spread, she said. The mother-of-four died from the beating. The deadly July 12 attack on Najia's home in Faryab province was a chilling preview of the threat now facing women across Afghanistan after the Taliban's takeover of the capital Kabul. CNN..

ACT senator in isolation after daughter diagnosed with COVID-19

Australian Capital Territory Senator Katy Gallagher and her family are in isolation after her daughter tested positive for COVID-19 amid a growing outbreak in the state's capital. The federal Labor senator said her daughter Evie — one of the ACT's 17 cases on Tuesday — was "feeling pretty unwell and understandably worried about what this means for her and for the rest of her family". Ms Gallagher said she and her family, the rest of whom had tested negative, would remain in "strict lockdown" until ACT Health advised otherwise. READ MORE: Gladys Berejiklian provides glimmer of hope for NSW's long lockdown "I am lucky as I am fully vaccinated. Unfortunately too many Australians have not had that opportunity," she said, in a post to Facebook late on Tuesday. "My focus right now is on my little girl and getting her through this - but these events bring a sharp personal focus to the consequences of our government's failure to ensure a prompt, efficient national rollout ..

Body of newborn found at NZ recycling centre came in on rubbish truck

The body of a newborn baby found at an Auckland recycling facility was brought to the centre in a truckload of waste, police have confirmed. Officers were called to Visy Recycling in Onehunga on Monday night and were carrying out a scene examination. Auckland City Police Detective Inspector Scott Beard said numerous inquiries were under way, and the priority was to identify and locate the mother. READ MORE: New Zealand enters snap lockdown after new community COVID-19 case detected Police were "extremely concerned" for the wellbeing of the baby's mother, who might need urgent medical attention, he said. "At this stage we don't know who the mother is; we don't know at what point around Tāmaki Makaurau the recycling was picked up," Inspector Beard said. The cause of death was unknown and an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday, he said. The detective would not give further details about the baby's age, sex or ethnicity, saying those would be released following the ..

Shock merger to create Australia’s biggest energy company

Woodside Petroleum and BHP's oil business will merge to become Australia's largest publicly-listed energy company and one of the top 10 energy companies in the world. As part of the deal, BHP's oil and gas business would merge with Woodside, and Woodside would issue new shares to BHP shareholders. The new expanded Woodside would be 52 per cent owned by Woodside shareholders and 48 per cent owner by existing BHP shareholders. READ MORE: Decathlon to pay $1.5 million for breaching safety label standards As part of the plan, BHP will sell its 26.5 per cent interest in the Scarborough Joint Venture to Woodside and its 50 per cent interest in the Thebe and Jupiter joint ventures to Woodside. Woodside CEO and Managing Director Meg O'Neill said the merger would provide considerable "financial strength" as the business marches towards reducing carbon emission to net zero by 2050. "Merging Woodside with BHP's oil and gas business delivers a stronger balance sheet, incre..

The ‘Godfather of Sudoku’ is dead after changing puzzles forever

Maki Kaji, the creator of the popular numbers puzzle Sudoku, whose life's work was spreading the joy of puzzles, has died, his Japanese company has said. He was 69 and had bile duct cancer. Known as the "Godfather of Sudoku," Mr Kaji created the puzzle to be easy for children and others who didn't want to think too hard. Its name is made up of the Japanese characters for "number" and "single," and players place the numbers one through nine in rows, columns and blocks without repeating them. READ MORE: Hands on with Atari's first console in 20 years Ironically, it wasn't until 2004 when Sudoku became a global hit, after a fan from New Zealand pitched it and got it published in the British newspaper The Times. Two years later, Japan rediscovered its own puzzle as a "gyakuyunyu," or "reimport." Mr Kaji was chief executive at his puzzle company, Nikoli Co, until July and died on August 10 at his home in Mitaka, a city in the Tokyo metro area. Mr Kaji traveled to more th..