Trigger warning: this story includes references to sexual assault and child abuse.
Is anyone else reeling from the fact that we’ve hit August? I feel like I’m still in total denial that it’s 2023, and now we’re nearing the end of it. But then again, looking at the news cycle, a lot has happened so far. And we’re keeping you in the loop of everything with our weekly news rundown.
This week, a heartbreaking case has been revealed by the Australian federal police, where a former childcare worker has been charged with over 1,600 child abuse offences. Be mindful that this story is really confronting, so please read it at your discretion.
Justin Trudeau has announced that he’s separating from his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau after 18 years of marriage, joining a string of high-profile separations this year. Two beloved actors, Euphoria’s Angus Cloud and Pee-Wee Herman star Paul Reubens, have passed away, triggering heartfelt tributes across the internet.
From the Matilda’s scoring big, to Paul McCartney’s Aussie tour announcement, to a military coup in Niger – we’re catching you up on it all. Not to mention this week’s WTF story that suspects a sun bear in Hangzhou Zoo of being a human in disguise. It’s crazy stuff.
Former childcare worker charged with 1,623 offences of child abuse
Trigger warning: this story includes references to sexual assault and child abuse.
The Australian federal police (the AFP) have announced the arrest of a former childcare worker from the Gold Coast who’s being charged with over 1,600 child abuse offences. The offending happened against 91 prepubescent girls at a dozen early learning centres in Brisbane, Sydney and overseas across a 15-year period.
These charges include 136 counts of rape and 110 counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10, all between 2007 and 2022.
Police are confident all 87 Australian girls recorded in the child abuse material have been identified, and their parents have informed. Some victims are now over the age of 18. The AFP are still working to identify four overseas children. .
The first traces of this case were unearthed in 2014, when detectives from a specialist Queensland police unit encountered content on the dark web depicting the abuse of two young girls. The Australian federal police began an international search for the victims, but the trail died out with very few clues in the videos. Then, in 2022, a breakthrough cracked the case open when re-examining the footage led to identifying bed sheets in the background. They were traced to a specific manufacturer who supplied to childcare centres in Queensland. Police were then pointed to a childcare centre in Brisbane, and soon discovered the man now accused of being Australia’s worst serial paedophile.
The 45-year old was arrested on August 21 last year, with police then executing warrants at his home and discovering a hard drive with nearly 4,000 images and videos of child abuse. Since then, police have been working endlessly to identify all the victims.
The Australian federal police assistant commissioner Justine Gough described the offending as “deeply distressing and unfathomable.”
The man’s case is scheduled for Brisbane magistrates court on 21 August, and if found guilty of some charges, faces life in prison.
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Justin Trudeau splits from wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau
After 18 years of marriage, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his separation from Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.
In an Instagram statement, they wrote “As always, we remain a close family with deep love and respect for each other and for everything we have built and continue to build.” The couple have three children together, and insist they remain a close family as they raise their kids “in a safe, loving and collaborative environment.”
It’s one of many high-profile marriage separations that have happened this year, joining the separation of Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Ricky Martin and Jwan Yosef, Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner, Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth, and Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez.
The passing of Angus Cloud and Paul Reubens
Last week, we brought the news of Sinead O’Connor’s death. Tragically, this week saw the passing of two beloved TV stars.
Angus Cloud, the 25 year-old actor who played ‘Fez’ in HBO’s Euphoria, has passed away according to a statement from his family. They shared that, “last week he buried his father and intensely struggled with his loss.” His co-stars, including Zendaya and Sydney Sweeney, have made heartfelt tributes to the rising star who’s remembered for his “humour, laughter and love for everyone.” Euphoria was Cloud’s first time acting, after being scouted while walking down the street in New York. But nonetheless, he put his heart and soul into authentically depicting the charming drug dealer Fezco.
Sam Levinson, director of Euphoria, has said, “There was no one quite like Angus. He was too special, too talented and way too young to leave us so soon. He also struggled, like many of us, with addiction and depression. I hope he knew how many hearts he touched. I loved him. I always will.”
On Sunday, Pee-wee Herman actor Paul Reubens died at age 70, after an unpublicised 6-year cancer journey. He wrote in a statement released after his death, “please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years…I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.” The actor and comedian shaped a cultural phenomenon with his portrayal of the iconic children’s movie character, who enchanted generations with his whimsical positivity and fun.
Tributes to the icon include that of Tim Burton, who made his feature directorial debut with “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” Burton wrote on Instagram, “Shocked and saddened. I’ll never forget how Paul helped me at the beginning of my career. It would not have happened without his support. He was a great artist. I’ll miss him.”
Interest rates paused for another month
The RBA has announced back-to-back relief for homeowners as it extends the cash rate pause for a second month (sticking to 4.1%). Economists are taking heart from signs that inflation is cooling as the economy rapidly slows, and hopefully, we’ve seen the last rate increase from this cycle. It’s the first time the RBA has paused the rate for two months straight since the first wallet-splitting cycle began in May last year.
RBA governor Philip Lowe did warn, as usual, that “some further tightening of monetary policy may be required to ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable timeframe.”
Always got to be the buzz-kill.
But it is worth noting that Australians are still in the thick of the country’s highest cash rate since 2011, and the RBA’s 2-3% goal is forecasted to take until the end of 2025.
Donald Trump gets indicted on four charges
If you thought you were done hearing about the president-who-shall-not-be-named, we’re sorry to say those days aren’t over yet.
Former president Donald Trump has been indicted on four charges regarding attempts to overturn the 2020 US presidential election. This is his third indictment in a matter of months.
The new charges include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against voter rights. Trump’s accused of spreading lies about the presidential election, pressuring US officials with claims of voting fraud and fuelling the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Federal prosecutors say Trump was “determined to remain in power,” and then for months after his election loss, spread lies to mould an “intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger” and “erode public faith in the administration of the election.” For instance, Donald Trump claimed more than 10,000 dead people voted in four days.
The former president has gone on about “un-American witch hunts” in response, so just his usual spiel.
It’s not definitive when the case will go to trial, but it’ll be hard to squeeze into the calendar next to his March 2024 criminal trial (see: hush money payments to Stormy Daniels) and another criminal trial in May 2024 for retaining national security documents and obstructing efforts from officials to retrieve them.
Paul McCartney announces Aussie tour, and it’s hitting regional cities
It is our total pleasure to let you know that iconic musician Paul McCartney is bringing his Got Back tour down under.
The Beatles singer-songwriter will be kicking off the tour in Adelaide on October 18, before travelling to Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast.
That’s right, he’s going to Newcastle and the Gold Coast for the first time ever. Frontier Touring CEO Dion Brant said Paul McCartney wanted “at least a few places different” to his 2017 tour, and they were stoked to suggest these regional cities.
The show is jam-packed with hit after hit, from the Beatles days (where there’s a virtual duet with John Lennon), through to his solo songs. The tour comes six years since the legendary musician last played in Australia, and sixty years since the Beatles first toured Australia and were greeted in Adelaide with 350,000 people lining the streets.
Presale hits on the 9th of August and general sales launch on the 11th, so get those ticket-booking fingers ready!
(And here’s to hoping there’s no Taylor Swift fiasco.)
Matilda’s score record-win against Olympic champs
The Women’s World Cup has already had its fair share of ups and downs, especially for our true-blue Matildas. But this week, the team stunned Canada’s Olympic winning team with a 4-0 win. It’s Australia’s biggest win at a World Cup, and puts the team in the top of their group for the first time in World Cup history.
Having had a narrow win against Ireland and recent loss to Nigeria, plus captain Sam Kerr was still on the bench for her calf injury, the game felt cast in doom. But the pressure only cracked open a fighting spirit. In the end, the match was a searing success for the Matildas with a crowd roar that scaled Melbourne city.
It’s a win that tipped them into the knockout stages, and made Aussies real proud. Especially since Canada’s team is no small feat to beat – the Olympic champs are some of the best in the world.
Speaking after the win, head coach Tony Hustavsson said, “We know we might not have the best team on paper. We know we might not have the top players in the top clubs in the top leagues. But we have something else that no one can take away from this team, and that’s the identity and DNA and belief that lives in it.”
Having now finished first in Group B, the Matildas are set to take on Denmark in Sydney next Monday night.
A military coup in Niger stirs up global tension
There’s been a global fallout after Niger’s military staged a coup that involved removing the President from power and declaring the commander of the guard to be the leader of the country. President Mohamed Bazoum has been shut in the palace. He was elected in office in April 2021 in Niger’s first peaceful democratic transfer of power.
There are a few factors that have been associated with the coup. The country has become increasingly fragile after a rise in insecurity and economic stagnation, and there’s been debate over Bazoum’s legitimacy. Bazoum is from Niger’s ethnic Arab minority and has been labelled as having “foreign origins.” The military has also been agitated by the large number of foreign military troops and bases in the country, believing it undermines them and jeopordises their safety.
Niger has been a strong ally of western nations, particularly France, the US, and the European Union. It’s been considered the West’s most stable ally in the fight against a fast-growing Islamist insurgency.
But the coup has grown tensions with France, Niger’s former colonial power, and protesters in Niger attacked the French embassy and paraded the streets with Russian flags. France has started evacuating its citizens and other Europeans and joined the EU in suspending financial aid. The US, a major donor of humanitarian and security aid to Niger, has also ordered a partial evacuation of its embassy. All UN operations in Niger have been suspended.
West African countries have promised sanctions and even the use of force if the President isn’t reinstated in seven days.
Chad’s leader, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, has met with both Mohamed Bazoum and the coup leaders in mediation efforts. Mr Déby has said that he’s determined to find “a peaceful solution to the crisis which is shaking,” Niger, which borders Chad. A photo has been released of him sitting next to a smiling Mohamed Nazoum.
A Chinese zoo rejects claims that its sunbears are humans in costumes
You’ve officially hit our WTF story of this week, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint.
A viral video of a Malayan Sun bear at Hangzhou Zoo, named Angela, has prompted speculation that she’s actually just a staff member in a bear suit.
And honestly, if you see the video, you might see why.
The animal’s standing on its hind legs, waving and begging for treats, and its backside does kind of look like some guy called Kevin chucked on a last-minute, ill-fitting costume.
Needing to squash this strange rumour mill, the zoo posted to social media a statement from the bear’s perspective, “Some people think I stand like a person. It seems you don’t understand me very well.” Poor bear. It goes on to say, “When it comes to bears, the first thing that comes to mind is a huge figure and amazing power … But not all bears are behemoths and danger personified. We Malayan bears are petite, the smallest bear in the world.”
All this conspiracy has meant good business for the zoo, where visitor numbers have boosted by 30% since the video. Visits have also been arranged for reporters to see the bears.
And as the internet started circling other footage of Malayan Sun bears, it became obvious that, actually, that’s just what they look like.
Huh, go figure.