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What is causing Australia’s flood crisis?

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Twenty Australians have lost their lives in floods this year, as authorities continue their search and rescue efforts

For the third time this year, floods have battered Australia’s largest city.

Some areas have received eight months of rain in just four days.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says some parts of New South Wales have seen 800mm alone. For perspective, Greater London receives this type of rainfall over the course of a year.

There are more than 100 evacuation orders across Greater Sydney for the current emergency.

It’s the typical narrative for disasters like these, where a cesspit of data floods headlines.

It comes as the BOM confirms this season’s La Niña has ended, so what is causing these floods?

Divulging the data

The Indian Ocean Dipole is a technical term for the differences in sea surface temperatures between the eastern and western parts of the Indian Ocean.

This phenomenon is likely to shift ‘negative’ over the coming months.

This means “warmer waters concentrate near Australia, leading to above average winter–spring rainfall as more moisture is available to weather systems crossing the continent,” according to the BOM.

“We have seen some of these impacted communities being hit by floods for a third and fourth time in 18 months, which is extremely distressing to the residents of these communities.”

Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt

Meanwhile, the SAM refers to the Southern Annular Mode. This is a term used for the non-seasonal, north-south movement of the strong westerly winds.

When the SAM is in the ‘positive’ phase, it directs more moisture-filled air into eastern Australia.

The BOM says this is “driving above average rainfall and more east coast lows”.

This has forced a cargo ship to remain at anchor by the ferocious conditions off the coast of Sydney.

In fact, this happened 15 years ago when storms grounded the Pasha Bulker—a 40,000 tonne bulk carrier ship.

The Pasha Bulker stranded off the coast of Newcastle.

Is this climate change in action?

It is difficult to link any single flood to climate change. But many climate models suggest Australia will repeatedly fall victim to climate change.

Critically, these areas have been battered by heavy rains in recent months. The La Niña has also saturated the ground and filled dams. These are some of the crucial factors that lead to flash flooding.

“Similarly, we’re now working hard together to make sure that impacted communities get the financial and other assistance they need as soon as possible,” Senator Murray Watt says.

Sydney’s bustling population has pushed development into low-lying areas, which also places residents at an increased risk.

A boat passes under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge as heavy rain batters the city.

Greg Mullins is the leader of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group, who recently met with Australia’s new government.

“There is absolutely no doubt extreme weather events are being intensified because of climate change.”

“The science is very clear that we’re seeing wild fluctuations between periods of flood and fire, because of warming. On the East Coast of Australia in the last 18 months we’ve now had four major floods,” he says.

Senator Watt says he is committed to learning from past natural hazards, which turn into disasters when they intersect with vulnerable communities, devastate infrastructure, and lead to economic consequences.

This occurred when over 400 people were killed when deluge swept through South Africa in April.

“It’s time for the world to wake up and take real action on climate change. Communities having to deal with flood event after flood event is absolutely affecting our response and recovery,” Mullins says.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Big tech caught in political drama

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Nine Google employees were escorted out of company offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, following a sit-in protest against a cloud contract with Israel’s government.

The protest in Sunnyvale targeted Thomas Kurian’s office, CEO of Google’s cloud division, while in New York, it occupied a common area on the tenth floor.

Videos showed Google security staff and local police involved in the removal. Four workers in New York and five in Sunnyvale were reportedly detained, but details of any charges remain unverified.

 

The protest aimed to pressure Google to drop a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract known as Project Nimbus, citing concerns about its involvement with the Israel Defense Forces.

The protesters included software engineers and activists from groups opposing tech contracts with Israel. This incident reflects ongoing activism within tech companies regarding political issues, such as Israel’s actions in Gaza.

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Antitrust concerns arise for streaming sports venture

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U.S. lawmakers Jerry Nadler and Joaquin Castro expressed competition concerns regarding the planned sports streaming joint venture involving Walt Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros Discovery.

They addressed these concerns in a letter to the CEOs of the media companies, questioning the impact on access, competition, and choice in the sports streaming market.

Voicing apprehension about potential consumer price hikes and unfair licensing terms for sports leagues and distributors, they requested responses by April 30, urging the companies to also send their replies to the Department of Justice.

Despite the companies’ announcement in February of launching a joint sports streaming service in the autumn to attract younger viewers, the deal faces DOJ scrutiny and an antitrust lawsuit from FuboTV. While Disney and Warner Bros remained silent on the matter, Fox declined to comment.

The joint venture encompasses a broad range of professional and collegiate sports rights, including NFL, NBA, MLB, FIFA World Cup, and college competitions, offering non-exclusive access to sports networks such as ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and TNT via a new streaming app.

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Trump trial: will the jury selection impact the trial’s outcome?

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The Trump hush money trial has progressed with the selection of the first seven jurors, marking a significant step in the legal proceedings.

  • Seven jurors were selected

  • Defense and prosecution lawyers questioned potential jurors for impartiality

  • The judge warned lawyers he would not tolerate disruptions after he said Former US President Donald Trump audibly muttered during a prospective juror’s questioning

The selection of jurors is a crucial step in ensuring a fair trial, as they will ultimately decide Formers US President Donald Trump’s fate in this legal battle, as reported by Reuters.

The process of jury selection involves careful vetting of potential jurors to ensure impartiality and fairness.

Each juror’s background, beliefs, and potential biases are scrutinised to ensure they can render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence presented in court.

With seven jurors already chosen, the selection process is expected to continue as both the prosecution and defence seek individuals who can objectively weigh the evidence.

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