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COVID AUSTRALIA: NSW will open up on November 1 for Freedom Day 2

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Hotel quarantine will be scrapped in NSW and new freedoms will be restored next week as the state prepares to open up to the world on November 1.

NSW is the first state in the country to announce it will open to travellers from overseas and scrap quarantine rules for the fully-vaccinated. 

‘Sydney (and) NSW is open for business,’ Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Friday.

‘We want people back… Hotel quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and NSW to the world – and that date will come on November 1.

‘We will work closely with the Commonwealth to ensure protections are in place so we keep people safe but re-join the world. This is a significant day for our state.’

‘Hotel quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and New South Wales to the world, and that date will come in on November 1st,’ NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Friday

WHAT’S ALLOWED FROM NOVEMBER 1 

– From November 1 rules will relax further to allow travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW.

– NSW will also welcome international tourists and workers from all countries with no quarantine at all if they are fully vaccinated. 

– Cap of 210 unvaccinated arrivals per week with 14-day hotel quarantine still enforced for them.

– The 20 person cap on bookings at bars will also be removed on this day. 

Deputy Liberal leader Stuart Ayres said fully vaccinated people would be able to return to Australia without any form of quarantine.  

‘That is not hotel quarantine, that is not home quarantine, you will be able to return home. If you are a person from another country who wants to visit or work in Australia, and you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to come to Australia and not have to quarantine,’ Mr Ayres said.  

Unvaccinated people will still be required to hotel quarantine. 

‘People coming into NSW, if they are transiting on to another state, they’ll have to abide by restrictions in that state so if that state requires quarantining people coming from NSW, they will still have to abide by that,’ Mr Ayres said. 

‘This will create a chance for people to come to NSW through Sydney and will also present a huge opportunity for Australians who haven’t been able to access flights because of the caps that we put in place to protect our local health systems.’

Mr Ayres said the NSW would not discriminate on who the state allowed in based on nationality.

‘There is no delineation between Australian citizens and other citizens of countries around the world.

‘The focal point here is a delineation between vaccination status so vaccinated and unvaccinated.’  

But he flagged the Federal Government will let people from some countries in before others because it will be quicker to set up systems to test the vaccination status of arrivals from certain countries. 

There were suggestions the Federal government was unaware the NSW announcement would apply to international travellers as well and that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been blindsided by the news. 

The national re-opening plan agreed by all states and territories in August states that once 80 per cent of over 16s are vaccinated then there will be a ‘gradual opening of inward and outward travel with safe countries’. 

Mr Morrison is yet to comment on the changes announced by NSW. 

Meanwhile, Mr Perrottet said from Monday house visitation limits will double from 10 to 20 and outdoor gatherings from 30 to 50. 

‘Standing up in pubs will be back. There will be no limits on weddings and funerals,’ he said.  

Major recreation facilities will be allowed to host 5,000 spectators while entertainment facilities can return to 75 per cent capacity.

Weddings and funerals will no longer have a cap on the number of guests.

NSW is quickly closing in on its 80 per cent of adults double vaccinated target as the state reports 399 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday

NSW is quickly closing in on its 80 per cent of adults double vaccinated target as the state reports 399 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday

The 20-person cap on bookings at restaurants and other hospitality venues will also be scrapped from November 1. 

‘We have only been able to do this because of the significant effort of the people across New South Wales have made in getting us to this point,’ Mr Perrottet said. 

NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole confirmed the decision to delay travel to the regions until November 1 had been taken because of the risk to communities where vaccination rates lag behind the cities.

Delaying regional travel was necessary to protect communities from a virus outbreak because only 36 per cent of regional local government areas have populations where 80 per cent are double vaccinated.

‘We have to make sure that there is a balance between protecting communities and opening up,’ Mr Toole said.

Some 77.4 per cent of adults have now received two doses of the vaccine with 80 per cent expected to be double-jabbed by Saturday

Some 77.4 per cent of adults have now received two doses of the vaccine with 80 per cent expected to be double-jabbed by Saturday

Extra support for businesses in regional NSW affected by the delay in opening up the rest of the state would be provided, Mr Perrottet said.

‘The Job Centre payment which we are tapering off – we will extend that for regional New South Wales at 30 per cent of payroll until November 1,’ he said.  

Some 77.4 per cent of adults have now received two doses of the vaccine with 80 per cent expected to be double-jabbed by Saturday.  

Earlier Mr Toole said the decision to delay regional travel was ‘frustrating’. 

‘I know it’s a very difficult time because I know that people are wanting to pack their bags,’ he told 2GB on Friday morning.

‘They’re wanting to go to regional NSW, they want to go on a holiday, they want to go and catch up with family and their loved ones.’ 

Regional travel, which was expected to restart once the milestone was hit, has now been delayed until November 1

Regional travel, which was expected to restart once the milestone was hit, has now been delayed until November 1

‘I know it’s not an easy decision that’s been made. We have a responsibility here to make sure we keep our regional community safe.’    

The eased restrictions will come after NSW quietly launched the vaccine passport overnight.

For those who have received both jabs and have the updated Service NSW app on their phones, their vaccine status will pop up when they check into a venue using the standard QR code process.

Sydneysiders earlier had to scroll through their Medicare app or carry a paper certificate to prove to staff they’d been jabbed but now a green tick will appear whenever they sign into a business.

NSW is quickly closing in on its 80 per cent of adults double vaccinated target as the state reports 399 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday

NSW is quickly closing in on its 80 per cent of adults double vaccinated target as the state reports 399 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday

For those wanting to take advantage of the new ‘VaxPass’ they will need to ensure their MyGov account account has been linked to Medicare.

Then either through the online MyGov site or the Express Plus Medicare app users are instructed to click ‘Proof of vaccinations’ and then ‘View history’.

They will then be given the option to choose their Covid vaccine digital certificate and link this with the Service NSW app.

Customer Service minister Victor Dominello tweeted a photo of his vaccine passport while checking into a cafe on Friday morning.

The system had earlier attracted criticism for not being ready when Sydney was finally freed from its gruelling four-month lockdown on Monday.

With the launch overnight, the vaccine passport was up and running three days earlier than Mr Dominello had planned, making it a whole lot easier for pub goers heading out for Friday night drinks.

Several security measures will be in place including a hologram of the NSW Waratah logo to help businesses ensure their customers are complying with the rules. 

Trials of the app had been carried out in clubs and aged care facilities in Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Lismore.  

Freedoms at 80 per cent jab rate 

Masks and QR codes:

Masks required for all staff and customers in all indoor settings including on public transport, planes and in airports (except children under the age of 12).

Masks no longer required in office buildings (unvaccinated people must still wear a mask in the office).

Masks no longer required in outdoor settings (except for front-of-house hospitality staff).

COVID Safe check-ins and proof of vaccination required for staff and customers.

Visiting family and friends:

Up to 20 visitors allowed in your home at any one time (visitor limits do not apply for children under the age of 12).

Small outdoor gatherings and recreation permitted for up to 50 people (2-person limit for people not fully vaccinated).

Visitors to residents in aged care facilities and disability homes permitted in line with their policies.

Exercise and recreation:

Gyms, indoor recreation and sporting facilities open with density limits and up to 20 people in classes.

No distance limits apply for exercise or recreation.

Indoor swimming pools open for swimming lessons, training and rehab activities.

Community sports permitted for fully vaccinated staff, spectators and participants.

Shopping and personal services: 

Non-critical retail open with density limits (people who are not fully vaccinated can only access non-critical retail via Click & Collect).

No customer limit for personal services (including hairdressers, spas, beauty and nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours), density limits apply.

Sex services premises reopen.

Restaurants and hospitality: 

Hospitality open with density limit for up to 20 people per booking (takeaway only for people who are not fully vaccinated).

No singing indoors (except for performers).

Dancing is permitted indoors and outdoors (except at nightclubs).

Drinking indoors and outdoors may be seated or standing.

Working from home:

Employers allow staff to continue to work from home, if reasonably practicable.

Employers require staff who are not fully vaccinated to work from home, if reasonably practicable.

Events and entertainment:

Major recreation facilities (including stadiums, theme parks, and race courses) open with density limits for up to 5000 people, or by exemption.

Entertainment facilities (including cinemas and theatres) reopen with density limit or 75% fixed seated capacity.

Information and education facilities (including art galleries, museums and libraries) reopen with density limits.

COVID safe outdoor gatherings permitted for up to 200 people.

Controlled outdoor public gatherings (for example – fenced, seated ticketed) permitted for up to 3000 people with density limit.

Nightclubs and strip clubs reopen with seated drinking and no dancing.

Weddings and religious services:

Wedding ceremonies permitted with no person limit (5-person limit for people who are not fully vaccinated), density limit still applies.

Wedding receptions permitted with no person limits (not permitted for people who are not fully vaccinated), eating and drinking while standing, and dancing is permitted, density limit still apply.

Funerals permitted with no person limit (10-person limit for people who are not fully vaccinated) and eating and drinking allowed while standing, density limits still apply.

Places of worship reopen for people who are not fully vaccinated with density limits.

Up to 10 fully vaccinated singers may perform in places of worship and at religious services.    

Source: NSW Government   

Nation

Iron Rods Distributors Lament Substandard Steel Production In Nigeria, Regulatory Agency, SON's Refusal To Clamp Down On Offenders

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Some of the distributors of Iron rods in Nigeria, under the aegis of Iron Rod Distributors Association of Nigeria (IRDAN), have lamented the rate at which substandard steel products have taken over the Nigerian market. 
They described it as a major threat to the lives of the end consumers. 


IRDAN lamented that officials of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), who have the mandate to ensure commodity production is of standard quality have, in recent times been foot-dragging in clamping down on companies producing substandard steel products.
This was contained in a statement issued by the National President of IRDAN, Chief Gbenga Awoyale. 
According to Awoyale, in June 2021, IRDAN gave an intelligence report to the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), which led to the sealing of some steel production factories found culpable of manufacturing substandard steel products. 
It also said three months ago, the association gave the Director-General of SON some information about a company manufacturing substandard steel products and the DG promised to direct his men to take action accordingly. “But to our dismay, nothing is done over the matter to date. The substandard iron rods are in circulation at various Nigeria markets,” Awoyale noted. 
He added: “Just a few days ago, we contacted SON to alert them of continuing production of substandard products by a particular company, giving them full details and address of the company. They took no action and instead, we started receiving threat calls from unknown numbers.
“Because lives of Nigerians matter to us, we sacrificed our money to purchase some of the substandard steel products and invited SON to come to arrest the steel products we purchased and consequently apprehend the company (officials), surprisingly, SON paid turned a deaf ear to our calls.”
He stated that the increasing rate of building collapse, which has claimed the lives of many Nigerians may not be unconnected to the circulation of substandard steel products and should be checked if the country must ensure structural integrity.  
Awoyale further bemoaned the recent indolence of SON officials in handling cases of substandard production while alleging that such officials must be responsible for leaking the intelligence given to them to the producers of substandard steel products, who have now resorted to threatening some members of IRDAN.  
“While the association is unperturbed by the threat calls from substandard products cabals, we shall continue to hold it as a point of duty to our country and its people, advocacy and support for standard products to ensure the safety of lives and properties of Nigerians,” Awoyale said. 
The association further called on the Director-General of SON, Farouq Salim to sustain his tempo of uprightness and high performance by checking his subordinates
It also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the alleged sabotage by SON officials. 

Read Full Story at Sahara Reporters

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Steve Bannon’s Jan. 6 Legal Strategy: ‘Blowing Up the Whole System’

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The Paradise Breaking News

Steve Bannon—the right-wing media personality turned adviser to Donald Trump turned right-wing media personality again—became the first person in nearly 40 years to be indicted on a charge of criminal contempt of Congress last month after he refused to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. Now, Bannon appears to be using his criminal case to go after the committee that went after him.

Bannon is attempting to force investigators to potentially expose who they’ve talked to and what they’ve said, peek into secret communications on the committee, and create a playbook for other resistant witnesses, according to several legal experts.

“There’s no cost to opposing Congress if you can give Congress a black eye for even daring to ask you questions,” said Kel McClanahan, an attorney who specializes in national security matters.

As Bannon faces criminal charges, he’s entitled to the evidence against him. And in a typical galaxy-brain, Bannon countergambit, Trump’s former senior adviser is trying to make some of that evidence public.

According to a Sunday night court filing by federal prosecutors, that includes secret witness interviews by law enforcement and internal communications between House committee staff members. The Justice Department claims this material that, were it exposed to the public, would cause “specific harms” like “witness tampering” or making it impossible to find impartial jurors at a future trial.

In a court filing on Tuesday, Bannon’s lawyers said the government’s argument was “festooned with hyperbole… perhaps designed to score points with the media.” That same day, a “press coalition” of 15 news organizations—including Buzzfeed, CNN, and The Washington Post—sided with Bannon and asked the judge overseeing the case to make documents available and reject what it called “this broad gag order.”

But while most press coverage of this fight has hinged on the accusation that Bannon is trying to turn this into a media circus or spectacle, some legal scholars say the real intention is to harm the investigation itself. One called it “graymail,” a legal defense tactic that’s tantamount to blackmail and has since been outlawed.

“It’s not about trying the case in the media. It’s about making it costly for the committee to go after him,” McClanahan told The Daily Beast. “It is graymail, pure and simple: You can’t touch me, because if you do then I’ll spill your secrets.”

In that sense, Bannon is severely raising the cost of coming after him—making good on his promise to turn this into the “misdemeanor from hell for Merrick Garland, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden.”

Bannon’s attorneys on this case did not respond to repeated inquiries from The Daily Beast. However, in court documents, they strongly pushed back against the idea that Bannon’s strategy is to improperly use the evidence.

“This is a misdemeanor case,” they wrote in Tuesday’s filing. “It is not a case where witnesses have been intimidated. In the absence of any specific, particularized showing of actual harm, the Government conjures up a bogeyman.”

Instead, Bannon’s lawyers said, “being able to use discovery materials to identify and question witnesses is not an improper purpose.”

There’s no indication Bannon’s team wants to spill everything. His lawyers have drafted a proposed order for the judge which would still keep secret the documents produced during the grand jury that indicted him on Nov. 12.

Bannon is being represented by two attorneys in his criminal contempt case. One is M. Evan Corcoran, a former federal prosecutor who almost took a high-ranking job at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington during Trump’s final year in office, according to The National Law Journal. The other is David I. Schoen, one of the lawyers who represented Trump during his second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

Bannon’s spokeswoman, Alexandra Preate, did not comment, pointing to the legal filings in the case.

But other attorneys say the overall tactic of prying open the safe this early in a court case is unprecedented, a prelude to a nasty fight ahead.

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“WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 15: Former Trump Administration White House advisor Steve Bannon speaks to the press on his way out of federal court on November 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. Bannon was charged on Friday with two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)”

Drew Angerer

“Normally this doesn’t come up. His whole thing is about blowing up the whole system. He’s almost an anarchist,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who now teaches at Columbia University.

“It might not really be about the contents of any particular document. It might be about the process,” she said.

There’s a general sentiment by lawyers monitoring the case that exposing the committee’s work while its investigation is still underway could open it up to public criticism and potentially hamper its work. But the real damage might simply come from throwing a wrench in any future prosecutions of others who are refusing to answer the committee’s questions, like former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has been threatened with contempt charges by the committee for not cooperating. The same goes for Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who allegedly tried to have the DOJ help Trump overturn the 2020 election, who refused to answer questions and was voted “in contempt” by the committee on Wednesday evening.

Given that most congressional contempt cases would be nearly identical, exposing witnesses in Bannon’s case would give other resisters a long heads-up about what’s coming.

“That’s one of his goals: to try to make it more difficult for the committee to enforce its subpoenas in the future,” said Jonathan David Shaub, a University of Kentucky law professor who previously worked at the Justice Department.

“It’s a chilling effect,” Shaub added. “If you know you’re going to have to disclose a ton of information, you probably won’t bring that first prosecution until you have the other ones.”

The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, led by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, did not provide comment on the matter.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols, who was appointed to the bench by Trump in 2019, has yet to rule on whether the documents in question will be made public.

At this point, all eyes are actually on the District of Columbia appellate court’s upcoming decision on Trump’s legal battle against the committee, which will determine whether the former president has any legitimate argument of residual executive privilege now that he’s left the White House. That case could embolden or eviscerate the claims currently being made by Bannon, Clark and others—that they can’t talk because Trump says so.

But Trump’s fickle loyalties to his underlings could have a more immediate impact—as evidenced in the way he was so quick to turn his back on his longtime former attorney Michael Cohen, who later became a thorn in his side.

Case in point: the way Trump has turned on Meadows this week.

After writing a largely sycophantic book about his time as Trump’s chief of staff, Trump rejected one story on Wednesday that Meadows wrote in his soon-to-be released book.

Meadows wrote that Trump had tested positive for COVID before his first debate with Joe Biden, days before Trump or the White House ever disclosed that he had coronavirus.

Trump immediately threw Meadows under the bus and issued a statement calling the report “Fake News.”

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Court adjusts IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s trial date

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1638449661 Nnamdi Kanu

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, slightly adjusted the date earlier scheduled for the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Mr Kanu, who is being prosecuted on a seven-count charge bordering on terrorism and treasonable felony, had had his trial adjourned till January 19, 2022, after his defence team staged a walk-out on Binta Nyako, the trial judge, on November 10.

Court adjourns Nnamdi Kanu’s trial as defence lawyers walk out on judge

Ifeanyi Ejiofor, who led other defence lawyers on the walk-out on the judge in the previous proceedings, applied for an abridgement of time in the trial for an urgent hearing of his pending applications. One of such applications challenges the competence of the charges instituted against his client.

But, the prosecuting lawyer, Shuaibu Labaran, opposed the request for abridgement of time, informing the judge he had filed a counter-application.

“Two days ago, we received a call from the court registry informing us that following an application for abridgement of time by the defendant, today (Thursday) was fixed for hearing.

“However, we have filed a counter-application to the defendant’s motion,” Mr Labaran said.

With the prosecution’s objection to the hearing of Mr Kanu’s application, Mr Ejiofor made spirited efforts to sway the court in granting his request.

Judge explains decision

However, the judge said the court’s diary was already congested due to her busy schedule.

“I don’t have a free date to abridge the time for your pending applications,” Mrs Nyako told Mr Kanu’s defence team, reminding them of their “walk-out” on November 10.

“Your case truncated other cases and congests the court. I will take the pending applications at the appropriate time,” the judge said.

Mrs Nyako, who held out her potable diary to demonstrate the court’s crowded engagements, reeled out a number of activities that have taken over judicial time.

“On Friday (tomorrow) alone, I have three judgements to deliver. Then, we have a moot court trial for virtual court sitting. Also in this month, we have the new Legal Year activities as well as a valedictory court session for one of my former colleagues (the late former Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Abdu Kafarati),” the judge explained why Mr Kanu’s trial could not be heard this year.

‘Nnamdi Kanu is being subjected to psychological torture’

After the court grudgingly brought the case forward by one day, January 18, instead of January 19 earlier fixed for it, Mr Ejiofor drew the court’s attention to his client’s “squalid condition” in the SSS detention.

He said his client was being subjected to “psychological torture.”

“The defendant is being kept in a tiny cell and has not been eating well,” Mr Ejiofor told the court.

Mr Kanu’s lead counsel further said since his client’s “abduction” by the Nigerian government and subsequent “extraordinary rendition to Nigeria in June,” the defendant had been wearing the same clothes.

TEXEM

Addressing Mr Ejiofor’s complaints, the judge directed the prosecuting lawyer to impress it on the State Security Service (SSS), the agency keeping Mr Kanu in custody “to give the defendant possible maximum comfort.”

In a bid to de-escalate the visibly charged atmosphere in the courtroom, the judge said the spy agency should prepare “Ofe-Owerri,” a special delicacy in South-eastern Nigeria for Mr Kanu, a comment that elicited laughter from both legal teams.

Following a complaint by Mr Kanu’s lawyer, Mrs Nyako also advised the SSS to allow the IPOB leader to practise his Jewish faith.

Unlike previous sittings where journalists were either barred or had restricted access to the courtroom, Thursday’s proceedings were slightly different, probably due to the absence of Mr Kanu.

The IPOB leader was not brought to court because the application for abridgement of time was filed out of the court’s schedule.

Background

It will be recalled that the SSS barred journalists and lawyers from the court on November 10, when the last trial was held.

Mr Kanu is being tried on charges of treasonable felony regarding his separatist activities. The trial was scheduled to resume before Mrs Nyako, for arguments on an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case.

The separatist, who was granted bail in April 2017, fled the country after the invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the military in September that year, a situation one of Mr Kanu’s lawyers, Alloy Ejimakor, described as the “rule of self-preservation.”

Mrs Nyako subsequently revoked his bail for ditching his trial, and ordered his trial to be separated from the rest of the co-defendants’.

While the trial of the rest of the defendants has made some progress, Mr Kanu’s has been stalled since 2017.

On June 29, 2021, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, announced that Mr Kanu had been rearrested and brought back to Nigeria to continue facing his trial.

He said the IPOB leader was “intercepted” days earlier but did not give details.

Although there has been no official disclosure about where and how Mr Kanu was arrested, relatives and lawyers to the IPOB leader, have described how he was “kidnapped” in Kenya under controversial circumstances.

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