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Israel Folau says he feels "vindicated" after getting a payout from Rugby Australia, & more news in 5.

With AAP.

1. Israel Folau says he feels “vindicated” after getting a payout from Rugby Australia.

Eight months after an Instagram post got Israel Folau sacked from the Wallabies, the rugby player and Rugby Australia wished each other well for the future after signing a confidential settlement.

In a joint statement yesterday, both parties apologised for any “hurt or harm” they caused each other.

This agreement came after mediation ordered by the Federal Circuit Court had gone for a marathon 12 hours on Monday, then wrapped up over the phone on Wednesday.

Here’s a snippet of Israel Folau’s new YouTube video. Post continues after video.

Video via Israel Folau

Folau, who also played for the Waratahs, had reportedly rejected in May a $1 million offer to walk away from his case.

He asked for $14 million in compensation for being sacked over his controversial social media posts, which read: “Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, Idolators: Hell Awaits You. Repent! Only Jesus Saves.”

The payout is believed to be $8 million, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Rugby Australia said it was within its rights to sack him.

RA and NSW Rugby said they “do not in any way” agree with the content of Folau’s post.

“Inclusiveness is one of Rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community,” the joint statement said.

“Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.”

With his wife Maria by his side, Folau later published a video statement on his website.

“With today’s acknowledgement and apology by Rugby Australia, we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family,” Folau said on Wednesday.

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“We now look forward to the federal government enacting the legislation necessary to further protect and strengthen these rights for all Australians.”

Despite the settlement, equality advocates raised diverse opinions on the matter.

“Folau should apologise to the LGBTI community for the harm he caused, he should say sorry to rugby community for the disruption he caused the sport, and he should refund the money raised for his defence in court,” Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said.

Equality Australia stated that in spite of the details being confidential, “it is clear that Rugby Australia did not back down on its support for the LGBTIQ+ community.”

2. Both victims of the London Bridge terror attack died from stab wounds to the chest.

London Bridge terror attack victims Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt both died after suffering a stab wound to the chest, an inquest has heard.

Cambridge University graduates Jones, 23, and Merritt, 25, were attacked during a prisoner rehabilitation event at Fishmongers’ Hall last Friday afternoon.

Convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, who was living in Stafford, was later identified as their killer.

London bridge attack 2019 victims
London Bridge terror attack victims. Image: Facebook.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, he was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

He died from "multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen" and "shock and haemorrhage", a separate inquest hearing was told.

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Yesterday, City of London senior coroner Alison Hewitt opened and adjourned inquests into the victims' deaths at the Old Bailey.

The court heard Jones had graduated from Cambridge University in the summer of 2018 with a master's in criminology and had applied to join West Midlands Police.

She was said to be "passionate about victim support" and planned to use her role in the police to further her PhD at Oxford University.

Merritt also had a master's degree in criminology at Cambridge, having already completed a law degree at Manchester University.

Both Jones and Merritt had been at the Fishmongers' Hall event when they were stabbed, the hearing was told.

Detective Superintendent Des McHugh said: "On Friday November 29 2019 an event was held at Fishmonger's Hall, London Bridge.

"At 1.58pm police were contacted with reports that a male was attacking delegates at the event within Fishmongers' Hall.

"Armed officers attended the scene. Upon their arrival the male had left the building and was being restrained on London Bridge by several members of the public. The male was subsequently shot by police."

Jones was pronounced dead at 2.25pm, the court heard.

Merritt was moved from the scene to nearby King William Street where he was pronounced dead at 3.14pm, despite efforts to save him.

Post-mortem examinations found Merritt and Jones died from "shock and haemorrhaging" and a "stab wound to the chest", the Metropolitan Police officer said.

3. Sydney expected to clock the longest period of air pollution on record for NSW.

The "longest period" of air pollution on record for NSW is set to continue with severe bushfire conditions across large chunks of the state.

The Bureau of Meteorology says heavy smoke billowing from bushfires surrounding Sydney will linger in the city basin until Saturday.

Poor air quality has again been forecast for Sydney after hazardous levels of pollution were recorded in the east and southwest of the city on Wednesday.

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Heavy smoke has been blowing into the city from a large fire near Warragamba Dam near the Blue Mountains, the NSW Rural Fire Service says.

"An overnight temperature inversion will trap the smoke in the Sydney basin. This means smoke will settle in many areas and be very heavy," the RFS said in a statement.

"Smoke is also affecting areas including the north coast, Central Coast, Hawkesbury, Wollondilly, Queanbeyan and Shoalhaven areas."

The NSW environment department says this season's bushfire emergency has caused "some of the highest air pollution ever seen in NSW".

"Recently NSW has experienced elevated levels of pollutants as a result of smoke from the bushfire emergency, and dust caused by the severe drought," a spokesman said.

"NSW has experienced other periods of poor air quality that lasted several weeks, including the 1994 Sydney bushfires and the Black Christmas bushfires of December 2001 to January 2002.

"This event, however, is the longest and the most widespread in our records."

The NSW Rural Fire service has issued widespread total fire bans for Thursday, with hot and windy conditions expected to worsen across the state.

4. "She had her arms crossed." The Claremont killings trial has heard about the last known sighting of Sarah Spiers.

The Claremont serial killings trial has heard evidence from a man who may have been one of the last people to see Sarah Spiers alive, as well as the taxi driver who says she was gone by the time he arrived to pick her up.

Ex-Telstra technician Bradley Robert Edwards, 50, is on trial in the Western Australia Supreme Court, charged with murdering Ms Spiers, 18, Jane Rimmer, 23, and Ciara Glennon, 27, in the mid-1990s.

Ms Spiers vanished just after 2am on January 27, 1996, and the secretary's body has never been found.

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Alec Pannell, 47, testified on Wednesday via video link from the UK and said he was in a car that night with two friends when they saw a slim, young woman leaning against a telecommunications inspection post.

"She had her arms crossed and was looking around as if expecting someone," he said.

They were looking at her while they waited at a red light, then drove off when it changed to green.

Retired Swan Taxis driver Jaroslav Krupnik, 70, was called to pick up Ms Spiers and take her to Mosman Park.

He testified it took him about two minutes to arrive, but when he got there and took a "glance" towards the telephone box, no one was around.

Mr Krupnik continued to Club Bayview where he picked up three other people within minutes and took them to Mosman Park.

He said "there was always (the) possibility of (a) job there because it was a nightclub".

Ms Spiers had called for a taxi after being at the same venue.

Mr Krupnik agreed under cross-examination that he did not look long for Ms Spiers, saying it was very dark.

The court has also heard from women who mistook a Telstra vehicle for a taxi in the mid-1990s, including some who actually got into the car.

A hitchhiker, Annabelle Bushell, said she seized an opportunity at a red light to pull her friend out of the vehicle after a short time inside.

"I just had a strong instinct to get out of the car and I wasn't in a good spot," she testified.

Edwards was convicted of an assault at Hollywood Hospital in 1990, while on the job for Telstra, but the company did not have a record of the crime in its archives, it was revealed in court.

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5. Instagram doing its bit to help improve body image.

More than 50 per cent of Australians between 19 and 30 compare themselves to others on social media, a new survey has found.

The Butterfly Foundation, which supports people with eating disorders, released the results as it announced a new partnership to address body image issues with social media platform Instagram.

The joint campaign has been dubbed #TheWholeMe.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Today, in partnership with @InstagramAus, we officially launch #TheWholeMe, a campaign to celebrate positive body image in young Australians and empower them to use social media more mindfully and authentically.???? For many of us there are so many pressures; online and offline. Pressure to look a certain way, pressure to act a certain way, pressure to live life a certain way. Essentially, there is an overwhelming pressure to be ‘perfect’ that can hinder us from being our authentic selves. This holiday season, with Instagram, we want to challenge this perception and encourage everyone to embrace #TheWholeMe (linkinbio). As part of this campaign we will release a video series, new research as well as a Parent’s and Teen’s Guide for staying body confident on Instagram, so be sure to watch this space! So what can you do to be part of #TheWholeMe? DONATE (linkinbio!) The holiday period can be an especially challenging time for those experiencing eating disorders or body image concerns as well as for their families, so make a contribution to help ensure they are all able to access the support they need. We would also love for you to SHARE your own #TheWholeMe video via your Insta story. Be sure to tag us & tell us about your experiences of body image, social media and the importance of being your authentic self. ????

A post shared by The Butterfly Foundation (@thebutterflyfoundation) on

Butterfly Foundation chief executive Kevin Barrow says social media plays a crucial role influencing how young people see themselves.

"We know that when young people are dissatisfied with their bodies and constantly comparing themselves, they can turn to 'quick fixes' that could potentially develop into an eating disorder," he said.

Instagram spokesman Philip Chua says the social media platform wants its users to feel safe.

"We're honoured to work with the Butterfly Foundation, one of Australia's leading organisations in the fight for positive body image," he said.

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