news

The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday November 26.

Australian academic freed after 804 days detained in Iran.

A British-Australian academic who had been detained in the country for more than two years has been freed, in exchange for three Iranians held abroad, Iran state TV says.

The television report was scant on detail, saying only that the three Iranians freed in the swap had been imprisoned for trying to bypass sanctions on Iran.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was picked up at a Tehran airport while trying to leave the country after attending an academic conference in 2018. 

She was sent to Tehran's Evin prison, convicted of spying and sentenced to 10 years behind bars. 

Moore-Gilbert had vehemently denied the charges and maintained her innocence, and has spent 804 days imprisoned.

She was one of several Westerners held in Iran on widely criticised espionage charges that activists and UN investigators believed was a systematic effort to leverage their imprisonments for money or influence in negotiations with the West, which Tehran denied.

Listen: The Australian abandoned in an Iranian prison.

 

Duchess of Sussex reveals July miscarriage.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has described how she and Prince Harry were left "heartbroken" after she suffered a miscarriage while pregnant with their second baby.

The Duchess revealed in an essay for the New York Times that she "felt a sharp cramp" while getting her son Archie ready one morning in July and soon afterwards she was admitted to hospital, where it was confirmed she had lost her second child.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meghan, who married Prince Harry in 2018, did not say how far along she was in her pregnancy.

In the piece she wrote: "Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband's hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we'd heal."

"Sitting in (the) hospital bed, watching my husband's heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realised that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'"

At the end of the piece, where she also addressed the tragedies that others have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, she urged people to ask how their family and friends are feeling as "we are more connected than ever" this year.

According to PA news agency, a source said there was "understandable sadness" within the royal family at the disclosure.

Hayne accuser breaks down in court while giving evidence. 

The complainant in the Jarryd Hayne rape case has apologised for swearing at him in court after she broke down in tears while giving evidence for a second day.

The 28-year-old woman was being cross-examined on Wednesday in the Newcastle District Court when she burst into tears.

She said barrister Phillip Boulten SC on Wednesday had been trying to make her sound stupid when going through Snapchat messages she exchanged with a friend before Hayne went to her house and allegedly sexually assaulted her.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's just irrelevant," the woman said. "No, means f***ing no."

The woman was asked to step down and take a break. As she walked past the former NRL star she called him a "f***ing piece of s***".

When she returned to the witness box she apologised and Judge Peter Whitford said he understood she was tired and it was a stressful situation for anyone.

Hayne, 32, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of aggravated sexual assault inflicting actual bodily harm.

The trial continues on Thursday.

36,000 stranded Australians race to return home.

Australians stranded overseas are facing a race against time to be home for Christmas, with the list of those wanting to return growing as coronavirus ravages the world.

The issue will be in the spotlight on Thursday when the Senate's coronavirus response inquiry hears from citizens and permanent residents stuck abroad.

About 36,000 Australians want to come home, a steady increase on the 24,000 that were registered with the government in September.

ADVERTISEMENT

At the time, Scott Morrison said he was keen to get as many as possible - if not all - of the stranded travellers home in time for Christmas.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the numbers had gone in the wrong direction since the Prime Minister's announcement.

During the course of the pandemic more than 400,000 people have returned, with 30,000 of those on government-facilitated flights.

Test fail 'a lesson to all': Berejiklian.

The NSW premier admits she failed to adhere to her own government's COVID-19 guidelines by not isolating after being tested, and says her experience should be "a lesson to everybody" to avoid carelessness.

Gladys Berejiklian took a COVID-19 test in her parliament house office on NSW budget day last Tuesday because she was losing her voice.

She says she was tested about 4pm on November 17 and received her negative result two hours later, but did not isolate in the meantime. Ms Berejiklian continued working and meeting with colleagues and staff.

ADVERTISEMENT

She also entered the NSW lower house to vote at 5:40pm.

NSW Health guidelines state anyone who has undergone a virus test must immediately self-isolate until their test result is received.

Ms Berejiklian admitted she had been careless, saying she had taken the COVID-19 test out of an abundance of caution.

Adelaide school closed over COVID case.

An Adelaide high school has been closed after a female student tested positive for COVID-19.

The positive test was confirmed late on Wednesday with SA Health issuing a directive for anyone who attended Woodville High School on Monday to isolate immediately along with every member of their household.

There was no immediate word on whether the case was linked to Adelaide's recent cluster of infections which has sparked widespread changes to SA's hotel quarantine system.

The so-called Parafield cluster stood at 29 cases on Wednesday.

Yesterday the only other states to record new cases of coronavirus were New South Wales, recording three in hotel quarantine, and WA recording two in hotel quarantine.

Queensland and SA will reopen their borders to Victoria on December 1 with the state now recording 26 days of no new cases, while the NSW-Victoria border reopened at midnight on Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Australia braces for weekend heatwave and winds.

A week before summer officially arrives, southern and eastern Australia is about to experience a severe heatwave of temperatures in the mid-40s in some regions and hot winds creating a significant fire risk.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the mercury will start to rise into the high 30s on Thursday and Friday and hit 40-plus degrees in some areas on the weekend.

Temperatures will be up to 10 to 16 degrees above the average across the state for this time of year with little relief overnight.

"NSW will not be spared with temperatures climbing easily into the mid 40s for vast swathes of the western part of the state and even into the low 40s for some coastal areas," meteorologist Helen Reid said on Wednesday.

The heatwave would likely continue into Monday in some parts of the state with extremely hot daytime temperatures.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gender pay gap remains above 20 per cent.

Men take home $25,534 a year more than women on average despite a slight decrease in the gender pay gap.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency's annual scorecard shows the difference in pay remains above 20 per cent after falling 0.7 points in 2019/20.

The gap continues to trend down from 23.1 per cent in 2015/16.

The agency's director Libby Lyons said there had been a worrying 6.1 percentage point drop in employers taking action on closing pay gaps.

Just over half of all employers who completed a gender pay gap analysis took action.

Biden to finally receive first US presidential briefing.

Joe Biden will receive his first classified briefing as US president-elect and announce his economic team next week.

Biden transition adviser Jen Psaki said Biden on Monday will receive his first presidential daily briefing, the regular briefing on the most sensitive intelligence offered to top US officials.

Biden had previously been blocked from receiving intelligence briefings as the General Services Administration did not ascertain that Biden had won the election while legal challenges from President Donald Trump's campaign against the vote continued.

ADVERTISEMENT

That ascertainment came on Monday, lifting those roadblocks to cooperation.

Transition adviser Kate Bedingfield said the Biden team will begin briefings with the Trump administration on vaccine distribution, testing and the personal protective equipment supply chain on Wednesday.

Around the world. 

- 97 pilot whales and three dolphins have died in a mass stranding on an island about 800km off New Zealand's east coast.

- US President Donald Trump plans to pardon his former national security advisor Michael Flynn who admitted to lying to the FBI during its Russian interference probe.

- Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein who is accused of grooming and abusing underage girls, is woken up every 15 minutes to see if she's alive, according to a letter filed by her attorney.

- With AAP

Feature image: AAP/Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty/Bureau of Meterology .

Want to have your voice heard? Plus have the chance to win $100? Take our survey now. 

MMSurvey

00:00 / ???