Here we go again.
1. Tony Abbott is in Iraq. 2015 is not yet a week old and our PM is out pledging allegiances in the fight against ISIS. He met with Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi yesterday and offered to help train and equip Iraqi troops to prepare for battle with “the Daesh death cult”. He originally had the visit chalked in for just before Christmas, but the tragedy of the Sydney siege kept him home for the break. Australia will spend $260 million on the 600 troops it has stationed in Iraq, most of which form the Air Task Group running six F/A-18F Super Hornets in bombing raids.
2. South Australia’s bushfire threat is far from over. Temperatures are forecast to surge toward 38C tomorrow, ensuring a busy day for firefighters today as they try to contain the Sampson Flat blaze. So far, 12 homes have been destroyed, 20 more are threatened, and 23 people have been injured. While the CFA has downgraded the threat level to “Watch and Act”, SA Premier Jay Weatherill said crews wanted the fire contained within its general perimeter before tomorrow’s hot weather arrived. Looking at these maps of how quickly the blaze spread on Saturday afternoon, that’s not surprising.
3. Parking fines story. Having your wheels chalked doesn’t mean you can just shift to another bay, apparently. At least, not in Canberra, where FOI documents show a running battle for five spots in Staverton Place, Lyons. This sample officer’s note says it all:
“The offender moved the car but the chalk mark was still clear. An elderly lady from one of the apartments across the road witnessed a male move vehicle forward one bay at around 1.03pm.”
Another note clarifies that just moving bays is a contravention of Rule 205 of the Australian Road Rules. The chalk mark means leave the area, citizen, not the bay.
4. KFC wants to offer beer to help wash down that Double Down. Or cider, if it gets an application for a liquor licence past the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) to add it to the menu at a proposed store in Church St, Parramatta. It’s good enough for Nando’s, Mad Mex and Grill’d, but KFC first have to prove there won’t be any negative impact on the community. Public health campaigner Mike Daube, from Curtin University, says it’s an “absurd” proposal for a product that is “massively marketed to kids”. “We don’t need more normalisation of alcohol for kids,” he told the ABC.
5. Want a couple of million for your startup? Just ask for it, says Ilya Semin, the 29-year-old CEO of metrics software provider, Datanyze. More specifically, ask for advice. When Semin created his software, he sent it to a few dozen sales executives and asked them what they thought of it. Half responded, one asked to meet for coffee and then became a cofounder. Another “definite interest” came from Mark Cuban himself and soon he was on board with IDG Ventures, Google and $2 million in seed funding. “The biggest lesson I learned was: If you want advice, ask for money,” Semin told Business Insider. “But if you want money, ask for advice.”
6. Sydney nightclub kingpin John Ibrahim’s brother was shot last night, just a couple of blocks away from our office in Sydney’s CBD. Police confirmed this morning that Michael Ibrahim was shot on a footpath around midnight by a man aged in his 30s. Ibrahim is in a stable condition, undergoing surgery. He left jail in August last year, after serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence for killing Robin Nassour, on the proviso he didn’t associate with co-offenders, bikie gang members and Nassour’s family.
7. The latest information on downed AirAsia flight QZ8501 suggests icing was responsible for the engine failure that saw the plane ditch into the ocean on December 28. A 14-page report found that turbulence was probably not as much a factor as tiny ice crystals sucked into the engine and accumulating into chunks. There are also new reports that Indonesian recovery crews have found parts of the wreckage just 29 metres underwater. So far, 30 bodies have been recovered.
8. Tiny violins time for the residents of one of the most exclusive high-rise dwellings in the country. If you’ve been to Luna Park Sydney, you’ve no doubt wondered whether the view from the apartments behind the park is worth suffering the lights, music and screaming for. It’s been a running battle since Luna Park opened some 80 years ago, but a new ride – the Hair Raiser – is apparently a step too far for the neighbours. Its height makes it “visually offensive”, they say. The bright strobe lights are “quite unnerving”. And, well, it’s just “hoony”. But they may have a friend in planning authorities, who want a retrospective development application lodged. Let the battle begin.
9. A bad start to 2015 for a Queensland croc handler. Or a good start, if you consider he was lucky to lose just a thumb when the saltie he was baiting at the Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo near Childers went for the hand not holding the dead chicken. The 58-year-old man also suffered head injuries when he was pulled into the water, but got out alive, thankfully. And yes, there was a crowd watching.
10. The final farewell for Phillip Hughes begins tomorrow, when Australia faces India in the Fourth Test of the series they secured with a draw in Melbourne last week. It’s going to be impossible to put the awful incident behind the Aussie bats when they’re out in the middle at the SCG. Just a couple of steps away on the next wicket over is the spot where Hughes was felled by the freak bouncer. “Every time I’ve got nothing on my mind I’m going to be thinking about it,” David Warner admitted to the SMH. Among the tributes, 63 specially printed bats will be affixed to the railing of the Members Pavilion.
BONUS ITEM: If you’re heading back to work today and have the blues about it, at least you’re not this guy, changing a light bulb:
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