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Star witness in the case against Chris Dawson revealed, & more in News in 5.

-With AAP

1. The star witness in the case against Chris Dawson has been revealed.


The former teenage lover and ex-wife of Chris Dawson will be the police’s star witness in his probable murder trial.

Joanne Curtis – who moved into the family home in Sydney’s northern beaches days after Chris’ wife Lynette Dawson disappeared – and an ex-student of the school he once taught in has been cooperating with homicide detectives reinvestigating the case, The Australian reported.

Fresh statements from at least two witnesses led to Chris’ arrest on the Gold Coast on Wednesday over the suspected murder of his wife in early 1982.

The Australian also reported another key witness as an unnamed woman – a former Northern Beaches schoolgirl who had a close relationship with Chris, his twin brother Paul Dawson and Joanne – who kept diaries from that time.

The new evidence helped police “tie pieces of the puzzle together”, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.

Some of the additional material surfaced as a result of The Australian‘s investigative podcast, The Teacher’s Pet.

Lyn was 33 when she went missing in January 1982 leaving behind two young daughters.

Her niece Renee Simms spoke to Mamamia following Chris’ arrest on Wednesday morning, saying she was “still in shock” after hearing the news of the arrest.

She said her family got a “heads up” before news broke.

“The police detective who’s in charge of the case called my Mum and Dad, and then they immediately hung up with them and called my brother and I to let us know,” she said.

Chris, a former schoolteacher and Newtown Jets rugby league player, has long denied involvement in his wife’s death after podcast The Teacher’s Pet thrust the case back into the public spotlight earlier this year.

The former school teacher appeared in Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday where his application for bail was refused.

He has left the Queensland watch-house where he was being held in custody overnight and is on his way to NSW where detectives will begin the lengthy process of charging him with murder before he is brought before a court.

The magistrate had described the police case as “circumstantial” given Lyn’s body has never been found.

But NSW Detective Superintendent Scott Cook insists investigators are confident in the strength of their case.

“There are other examples in policing history and history of the courts where people have been convicted of murder without a body,” he told reporters.

Chris’ family said in a statement they had no doubt he’d be found innocent.

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“We are disappointed at the decision of the DPP as there is clear and uncontested evidence that Lyn Dawson was alive long after she left Chris and his daughters,” brother Peter Dawson said, according to the Seven Network.

Mr Fuller said detectives spoke to Lyn’s family on Wednesday and they “were certainly relieved to hear this result”.

2. Greenland ice melting is ‘unprecedented’.

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at a faster rate than previously thought and continued global warming will accelerate thawing and contribute to rising sea levels, scientists say in a new paper.

In a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, scientists from the United States, Belgium and the Netherlands analysed melt layers in ice cores in western Greenland to develop a record spanning 350 years.

The magnitude of Greenland ice sheet melting is “exceptional” over at least the last 350 years, the study found.

Continued growth of the global average temperature will accelerate the melting and contribute to sea level rise, scientists said.

Ice sheet melting began to increase soon after the mid-1800s. Surface melting was the most extensive in 2012 than any time over the past 350 years and the period of 2004-2013 had more sustained and intense melting than any other 10-year period recorded.

“We are seeing levels of Greenland ice melt and runoff that are already unprecedented over recent centuries (and likely millennia) in direct response to warming global temperatures since the pre-Industrial era,” Sarah Das, co-author of the report and scientist at the US-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said in a statement.

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The study showed that although a minor warming event in the past might have had little or no impact on the melting, the same event in a warmer climate in the future could produce a larger melt effect.

“What this means for the future is that for every further degree of warming, we will lose much more ice, on the order of a doubling or more (leading to faster rates of sea level rise), than we did for the same degree of warming in the past,” Das said.

Low-lying tropical island states from the Maldives to Tuvalu view Greenland’s 3000-metre thick ice sheet with foreboding since it contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by around 7 metres if it all melted, over many centuries.

A UN report in October said that marine ice sheet instability in Antarctica and/or the irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could result in a multi-metre rise in the sea level over hundreds to thousands of years.

Around 190 countries are currently meeting in Poland to work out the details of the 2015 Paris Agreement which aims to limit temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

3. “The best father.” George HW Bush remembered at funeral service.

The former US president George HW Bush has been hailed at his state funeral as a World War II hero, Cold War veteran and architect of a US victory against Iraq, who went on to represent a bygone era of civility in American politics.

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Amid an unusual bipartisan spirit at the Washington National Cathedral service, both Republican and Democratic politicians have honoured a president who called for a “kinder, gentler” nation.

Bush, the 41st US president, died last week in Texas aged 94.

He occupied the White House from 1989 to 1993, navigated the collapse of the Soviet Union and expelled former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces from oil-rich Kuwait.

“George HW Bush was America’s last great soldier-statesman,” presidential biographer Jon Meacham said in eulogy.

“He stood in the breach in the Cold War against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship,” Meacham said.

George W Bush said his father “valued character over pedigree, and he was no cynic”.

“He’d look for the good in each person, and he usually found it,” Bush Jr said in his eulogy.

“The best father a son or daughter could ever have,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Washington’s current political feuds were briefly set aside in honour of the late president, a naval aviator who survived being shot down by Japanese forces over the Pacific Ocean in World War II, and former head of the CIA.

President Donald Trump shook hands with his predecessor Barack Obama, who he has often sharply criticised, as he took his seat at the cathedral.

Democratic former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 election opponent, and her husband Bill Clinton shared the front pew with Obama, Trump and their spouses.

Bush was remembered as a patrician figure who represented an earlier era of civility in American politics.

Canadian former prime minister Brian Mulroney lauded Bush’s role in handling the end of the Cold War and helping the tricky reunification of Germany.

“When George Bush was president of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman, a genuine leader, one who was distinguished, resolute and brave,” Mulroney said in his eulogy.

All surviving former US presidents were at the cathedral along with their wives.

The guest list included Britain’s Prince Charles, Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, and leaders of Germany, Jordan and Poland.

Also in attendance were a host of former world leaders, such as former British prime minister John Major, who was in office during Bush’s term.

Hundreds of people lined Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington to watch a hearse drive Bush’s coffin from Capitol Hill, where he had lain in state since Monday night, toward the cathedral on Wednesday morning.

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Thousands had filed past Bush’s body to pay their respects in the Capitol Rotunda, some getting a chance to see Sully, a service dog who was Bush’s friendly companion.

4. LGBTI student protections hang in limbo.

Faith-based schools could still have the right to discriminate against gay and transgender students into 2019 after the coalition and Labor failed to reach a deal on law changes.

But Labor Senator Kristina Keneally says her party is still open to negotiations with the government, as the final federal parliament sitting week for the year draws to a close.

“We have another day of parliament,” Senator Keneally told ABC Radio on Wednesday evening.

“If the prime minister and the attorney-general are willing to have a constructive conversation, our door is always open to that.”

Even though the government and opposition both agree the largely redundant legal right for religious schools to discriminate should be removed, they have not been able to agree on the wording of legislation.

Labor objects to the government’s inclusion of a clause allowing schools to teach in accordance with their religious beliefs, believing it broadens the ground for discrimination.

But the government says the bill “looks after kids”, while preserving religious freedom.

There is no evidence gay children are discriminated against by religious schools which have indicated they don’t use the right to do so.

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But the issue arose following a leaked religious freedom review report which raised fears about potential discrimination and Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to have it resolved by the end of the year.

The prime minister on Wednesday called on Labor to support his bill aimed at dealing with the issue, and said he was willing to have all MPs vote according to their conscience.

But Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said the government had complicated every effort from the opposition for progress, just as it did with marriage equality.

5. High temperatures spark Vic health risk.


A health alert has been issued for parts of Victoria where the temperature is set to climb on Thursday.

Melbourne is due to reach 35C while some centres in the state’s northwest could surpass 40C according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The state government’s warning covers districts including the Mallee and Wimmera.

“The chief health officer has issued a heat health alert to notify you of forecast extreme heat conditions at or above heat health temperature thresholds,” the statement read.

The hazard continues on Friday when temperatures are expected to increase further, with Melbourne stretching to 38C and inland regional centres including Mildura, due to record 40C.

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