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I Got Arrested With Jane Fonda While Protesting Climate Change. Here’s What It Taught Me.

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Growing up, I endured perpetual teasing for being a stickler for the rules. In high school, you would have never found me in a teacher’s classroom pleading for a confiscated phone or in the principal’s office profusely apologising for cheat…

Queen Announces She Is Also Leaving Royal Family

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Queen says she’s done, and will leave the Royal Family by the end of the week. In a post on her Instagram account, Queen Elizabeth said that after 50 years of reflection and internal discussion she can’t stand another week propping up this ridiculous institution. “Fuck it, I’m done. Absolutely, 100% done. I don’t […]

Princess Diana’s Former Personal Chef Loses It Over Meghan Markle

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Darren McGrady, a former personal chef for Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and Princes William and Harry, fired off a tweetstorm aimed at Meghan Markle after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced Wednesday that they were stepping back as “senior” members of the royal family. 

In the string of four tweets, McGrady ― who goes by “The Royal Chef” on his website and on social media ― said that Prince Harry was being “manipulated” and that Meghan “just wanted to be famous.” 

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“People saying Princess Diana would be proud don’t know Princess Diana. She would have been furious that Harry had been so manipulated,” he wrote, adding the hashtag “Sad Day.” 

In a follow-up, he wrote, “I remember Princess Diana in the kitchen at Kensington Palace talking about ‘her boys’ … ‘William is deep like his father. Harry is an airhead like me’ I guess she nailed it.” (Harry was 12 when his mother died in 1997.)

Meghan never wanted to be Royal. Meghan wanted to be famous. Meghan is famous! It’s all about Meghan! https://t.co/SNAij6yWz7

— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) January 8, 2020

People saying Princess Diana would be proud don’t know Princess Diana. She would have been furious that Harry had been so manipulated #SadDay

— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) January 8, 2020

I remember Princess Diana in the kitchen at Kensington Palace talking about “her boys” … “William is deep like his father. Harry is an airhead like me” I guess she nailed it.

— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) January 9, 2020

Even in her darkest hour Princess Diana respected The Queen. She would have been so mad with Harry right now.

— The Royal Chef (@DarrenMcGrady) January 9, 2020

HuffPost reached out to McGrady for additional comment. 

McGrady routinely gives interviews as a royal expert and offers up anecdotes about his time working for the royals for a reported 15 years. Just Wednesday, he was featured in an article about one of Kate Middleton’s favorite recipes. He has written two cookbooks called “Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen” and “The Royal Chef at Home: Easy Seasonal Entertaining.” 

According to the About page on his website, he has also cooked for four U.S. presidents. The former royal chef still works as a private chef. 

On Wednesday, Harry and Meghan shocked fans around the world as they announced that they would be stepping back from their current royal roles. 

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they said on their Sussex Royal Instagram account.

“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” adding that they would also be splitting time between the U.K. and North America. 

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A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Jan 8, 2020 at 10:33am PST

Giant 200-million-year-old Chinese paddlefish declared extinct

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Chinese paddlefish, one of the largest freshwater fish species which had survived for millions of years, has been declared extinct, according to new research by fisheries experts in China.

Justin Bieber Announces He Has Lyme Disease

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Justin Bieber revealed on Wednesday that he suffers from Lyme disease as well as a “serious case” of chronic infectious mononucleosis.

The singer shared his medical condition on Instagram and directly addressed derogatory comments about his appearance and health.

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“While a lot of people kept saying justin Bieber looks like shit, on meth etc. they failed to realize I’ve been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono which affected my, skin, brain function, energy, and overall health,” he wrote.

He added that he was “getting the right treatment” after a “rough couple years.”

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A post shared by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) on Jan 8, 2020 at 12:29pm PST

According to the Center for Disease Control, Lyme disease “is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks” and can usually be treated with antibiotics.

Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and skin rash. Left untreated, the disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

Bieber mentioned in the Instagram post that he will be discussing his health struggles in a new YouTube Originals docuseries, “Justin Bieber: Seasons.” 

Both the series and the announcement come on the heels of “Yummy,” his first solo single in four years, according to CNN.

Arson Misinformation Undermines Link Between Australia Fires And Climate Change

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Multiple Australian state police agencies have found limited evidence to suggest the major destructive bushfires in their states were ignited by arsonists, contradicting the international onslaught of misinformation suggesting otherwise.

A misleading figure shared by conservative media, apparent bots and trolls, and public figures ―including Donald Trump Jr. and veteran Fox News host Sean Hannity ― suggests that 183, or “nearly 200” arsonists have been arrested this bushfire season. 

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‘The Australian’ newspaper first reported 180 alleged arsonists were arrested “since the start of the bushfire season” in September but subsequently updated the story to reflect that these statistics were, in fact, covering the entirety of 2019. Trump Jr. and Hannity, among others, spread the initial inaccurate statistic.

Truly Disgusting that people would do this! God Bless Australia.
More than 180 alleged arsonists have been arrested since the start of the bushfire season, with 29 blazes deliberately lit in the Shoalhaven region of southeast NSW in just three months. https://t.co/xP0PtMQbuD

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 7, 2020

Though a handful of fires have been ignited by arsonists, authorities including the Victorian fire chief have confirmed that the majority of the largest blazes were ignited by dry lightning, not arson.

Dale Dominey-Howes, a professor of hazard and disaster risk sciences at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost there was a link between climate change and both the ignition and exacerbation of the bushfires.

“The majority of these bushfires have been generated by lightning strikes associated with weather and climate effects. Weather and climate are dominated by processes that are affected by climate change. So there is a link between climate change and the triggering or the starting of these fires,” Dominey-Howes said.

And even when a fire is ignited by human activity, climate still plays a major role in how much fuel is available for the fire and the conditions that worsen the blazes. 

“And then they’ve been much worse because we’re in a particularly bad period of drought,” said Dominey-Howes. “Very dry, hot weather, all of which are the conditions that favor the spread of bushfires.”

New South Wales firefighters drag their water hose after putting out a spot fire on the state's south coast.

Police in the states most affected by the fires ― New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia ― provided HuffPost with clarification on the misleading statistics that are making the rounds.

A South Australia police spokesperson said there is “nothing to immediately suggest that the significant recent fires in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island were deliberately lit.” Since September 2019, 10 people in the state have been arrested for intentionally or recklessly causing a bushfire.

In the state of Victoria, police confirmed in a statement that “there is currently no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and the North East regions have been caused by arson or any other suspicious behaviour.” One blaze, which started Saturday morning but was contained by that evening, is being treated as suspicious. Victoria Police have not yet released data on crime statistics from September to December 2019 and were unable to provide the number of arson-related arrests.

In the hardest-hit state of New South Wales, police released a statement saying that 183 people had been charged with “bushfire-related offences since late last year.” Of this number, only 24 people were charged with deliberately lighting a bushfire. Other offenses listed included failing to comply with a total fire ban or discarding a lighted cigarette on land ― offenses that may not necessarily result in a fire.

NSW Police clarified in a statement to HuffPost: “The breach of the total fire ban or discarding of a lit cigarette is not an arson offense as these actions may not result in a fire. A breach of the total fire ban may be as simple as having an open flamed BBQ in your backyard.”

Queensland Police provided a statement saying that of 1,068 reported bushfires, 114 were ignited through human involvement subject to police enforcement. Queensland ― which unlike other states has had a relatively normal fire season ― saw 109 people dealt with by police for offenses that included unauthorised lighting of fires. However, this figure included people who violated local fire bans and endangered property.

Though arson certainly does play a role in the fires, the misleading numbers first reported highly exaggerate its contribution, and the misinformation spread rapidly in Australia and the US. 

Washington State GOP gubernatorial candidate pic.twitter.com/9ovXUnsKiu

— Jason Wilson (@jason_a_w) January 7, 2020

Some outlets are reporting this responsibly but the distorted version is all over garbage-tier rightwing media. pic.twitter.com/U9XxmzuKHl

— Jason Wilson (@jason_a_w) January 7, 2020

Timothy Graham, a senior lecturer on social network analysis at the Queensland University of Technology, conducted preliminary research that found what he believes to be an orchestrated “disinformation campaign” led by bot-like and troll-like accounts spreading the hashtag #ArsonEmergency in an attempt to shift blame for the wildfires away from climate change.

Many accounts using this hashtag also latched on to the misleading “nearly 200” figure.

“The conspiracy theories going around (including arson as the main cause of the fires) reflect an increased distrust in scientific expertise, skepticism of the media, and rejection of liberal democratic authority,” Graham told The Guardian.

Other misinformation about the fires includes theories about “greenies” preventing hazard reduction burns that led to a build-up of fuel for bushfires, a claim pushed by Barnaby Joyce, a former federal leader of the Nationals Party, and was splashed across social media. 

Shane Fitzsimmons, commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, bluntly addressed these claims on an Australian Broadcasting Corp. account, saying that longer and hotter fire seasons ― contributed to by climate change ― left a shrinking window of opportunity to complete these prophylactic burns. The Greens party issued a statement clarifying that they, in fact, support hazard reduction burns.

“We are not environmental bastards.”@NSWRFS Commissioner @RFSCommissioner on hazard reduction burning, which he stresses is not the panacea for stopping fires spreading.#nswfires#AustraliaFirespic.twitter.com/Jcm803vBx9

— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) January 7, 2020

New scam targets Aussies seeking tax claims

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A new scam email is impersonating the Australian Government’s myGov website.

‘The cheque is cut’: PM announces $1m each for bushfire-hit councils

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Dozens of local councils across four states are set to receive $1 million apiece in immediate bushfire relief from the federal government to help the recovery effort from the deadly Australian bushfires.

Emergency warning issued for Kangaroo Island amid extreme fire conditions

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Multiple breakouts along the region’s fire perimeter have prompted urgent evacuations, SA CFS warning “heat from the fire will kill you”.

Billionaire gives away millions to Twitter followers

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

One of the world’s richest men is giving away $AUD13m to his Twitter followers.

Australian Bushfires: Here’s How You Can Donate And Help

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

As Australia’s worst bushfire crisis continues, so does the generosity of many across the globe to assist people who have lost their homes or loved ones over the past few months. 

While many celebrities have forked out big sums to support firefighting services and wildlife shelters, charities assure the public that any amount of money, big or small, can make a difference during this time of national devastation. 

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Here are some ways you can donate and make a difference.

 A sign shows the public where to unload donated goods at the Food Bank Distribution Centre bound for areas impacted by bushfires on January 07, 2020 in the Glendenning suburb of Sydney, Australia.

Firefighting Services 

New South Wales Rural Fire Service 

Donations made to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) will benefit volunteer firefighters who are on the ground. You can support the local brigade by donating here.

The NSW RFS has also set up a separate page with specific accounts, where contributions can be made to assist the families of the volunteer firefighters Samuel McPaul, Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, who tragically lost their lives while on the frontline this bushfire season. Donate here.

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority 

People interested in helping firefighters in Victoria can make a contribution through the state’s Country Fire Authority. There are two funds set up – CFA Brigades Donation Fund which allows you to choose which brigade to donate to, or the Country Fire Authority Public Fund, which funds volunteer leadership and development training. Donations link here.

Celeste Barber’s Facebook Fundraiser

Australian comedian Celeste Barber has also made headlines in the past week, with her Facebook fundraiser already attracting over $45 million in donations. After initially being dedicated to The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund, she announced the money would be distributed across all states of Australia. Here is the link.

Wildlife 

The number of wildlife estimated to have died in the bushfire catastrophe has skyrocketed to more than 1 billion, according to ecologists at the University of Sydney and WWF Australia.

WIRES and RSPCA

Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) has a donations page here, while RSPCA has also launched appeals across various states including NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Money raised will help rescue animals affected by the flames to take them to safety.

Australia Zoo

The Irwin family also has an Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Bushfire Appeal that you can donate to here. Steve Irwin’s daughter Bindi, son Robert, and wife Terri have been actively promoting the Wildlife Warriors fundraising initiative.

“With these funds we are treating immediate patients in need, sending care packs to the front lines of the fire and are building the infrastructure to handle the influx of wildlife to come,” reads a statement on the Australia Zoo Instagram account. 

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A post shared by Australia Zoo (@australiazoo) on Jan 8, 2020 at 5:18pm PST

People Affected 

Salvation Army

With teams on standby to attend to emergency situations across the country, Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) relies on donations from the public. 

“Our teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders, and will continue to provide whatever support is needed as the situation develops,” said Major Topher Holland, General Manager Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management. 

Here is the link to make a donation to the Salvos. If you are donating from outside Australia, this is the best link. The website states $125 “can help reach isolated families in an emergency” and $250 “can help provide urgent immediate assistance, like food and shelter”.

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A post shared by The Salvation Army Australia (@salvosau) on Jan 7, 2020 at 11:05pm PST

Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross’ Disaster Relief and Recovery initiative supports the teams that are responding to emergencies across the country, as well as its evacuation centres for people who are fleeing fire-affected areas. You can donate here.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Australian Red Cross (@redcrossau) on Jan 6, 2020 at 3:48am PST

Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities

This GoFundMe account set up by Yorta Yorta, First Nations man, Neil Morris, has exceeded its initial $500,000 target since its launch six days ago. Morris said the money will help Indigenous communities that have lost their homes or been affected otherwise by the bushfires. 

The money raised will be spent covering critical costs for Indigenous communities including temporary relocation costs (hotel expenses, fuel, rent, medical needs), refurbishment of damaged property, resettling expenses, rental support and replacement of vital items such as clothing and toiletries. 

Ellen DeGeneres’ Australia Bushfire Relief Fund

On Tuesday the 61-year-old announced she had launched a GoFundMe page with a US$5 million target to raise money for firefighting services, wildlife shelters and people affected by the disaster.

“Australia is in an emergency like nothing anyone on earth has seen before,” she wrote on Twitter. 

“Please help. Donate if you can. The loss of homes, and the lives of people and animals is catastrophic.”

Australia is in an emergency like nothing anyone on earth has seen before. Please help. Donate if you can. The loss of homes, and the lives of people and animals is catastrophic. https://t.co/vn6Qky3BbXpic.twitter.com/MeOZJDIsRX

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 7, 2020

Foodbank 

Foodbank is raising money to provide food to those who have lost their homes or had to evacuate as a result of the bushfires. You can donate to Foodbank here.

US musician Lizzo spent time volunteering at Melbourne’s Foodbank on Wednesday, helping package food hampers for those who’ve been affected by the devastating fires.

We had the one and only Lizzo helping us sort and pack hampers in the warehouse today! If you’d like to join Lizzo in supporting the bushfire crisis, visit https://t.co/aDyjFTSsLE 💜 pic.twitter.com/J5Nn0oyyod

— Foodbank Victoria (@FoodbankVic) January 8, 2020

On Thursday the NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed 1,870 homes had been destroyed, with a further 753 damaged. 

The death toll stands at 26, 10.3 million hectares of land has been burnt, and a billion animals are feared to have perished, thousands of people have been evacuated from holiday beaches.

‘Never had a fire ground as big as this’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Thousands are being told to get out of Victoria’s east ahead of fears the Alpine and East Gippsland fires could merge tomorrow, creating a devastating blaze.

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