news

Former Australian swimmer Kenneth To dies suddenly, aged just 26, & more in News in 5.

-With AAP.

1. Elite Australian swimmer Kenneth To, 26, dies suddenly during training.


Former Australian world silver medal-winning swimmer Kenneth To has died aged 26 after becoming ill during training in Florida.

Hong Kong-born To moved to Sydney when he was two and won silver as part of the 400 metre medley relay squad at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona.

He also claimed six medals at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore and in 2009 broke Ian Thorpe’s decade-old Australian record in the 200m individual medley.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky gets you up to speed on what you need to know today…


To transferred his nationality to Hong Kong in 2016 and was training to compete at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

“(To) felt unwell at a training session and was taken to hospital where sadly, he passed away,” the Hong Kong Sports Institute said.

“Kenneth was known as a truly exceptional person, warm, funny and kind.”

His cause of death was not immediately clear.

To was in Florida for a three-month training camp with the Gator Swim Club at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

In December he competed at the world short-course championships in China and placed sixth in the 100-meter medley – his first individual final at a major championships in six years, he wrote on Twitter .

Swimming Australia national coach Jacco Verhaeren paid tribute to To, describing him as an exceptional teammate and versatile athlete.

“We are all very shocked and saddened by Kenny’s passing and wish his family and friends strength at this incredibly difficult time,” Verhaeren said.

“He was a much-loved team member with a determined spirit and wonderful personality, so he will be missed by all his peers, coaches and staff.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Swimming NSW has expressed its shock at To’s death on its Twitter account.

“Our love and deepest sympathy are with Kenneth’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time. We will miss you Kenny,” it read.

The Hong Kong Sports Institute said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by To’s death.

“He was extremely popular and loved by his teammates and competitors. Kenneth was known as a truly exceptional person, warm, funny and kind. His sudden passing is a huge loss.”

Australian three-time world championship gold medallist James Magnussen said To was one of the swimmers he’d raced against.

“Shocking news to hear of the passing of my competitor but most of all, friend – @kennethkhto,” Magnussen wrote on Instagram.

“We’ve been racing each other and making teams together since we were 16. He will remain one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever stood on the blocks next to. I firmly believe that for a long period he was pound for pound, the best swimmer in the world.

“RIP little guy, you won’t be forgotten.”

2. Coles and Aldi vow to support Australian dairy farmers by raising milk prices.

Supermarket giants Coles and Aldi are raising the prices of their two and three litre bottles of milk, vowing to pass the extra money onto Australian dairy farmers.

ADVERTISEMENT

From Wednesday, the two supermarkets will add 10 cents per litre to each bottle, making their two-litre bottles $2.20 and three-litre bottles $3.30.

The companies each announced the step in respective statements on Tuesday evening.

They have both stressed the price spike is a short-term solution to an issue that demands structural reform, led by the federal government.

Coles Group chief executive officer Steven Cain said his company is endeavouring to help make the dairy industry more sustainable, alongside government and industry stakeholders.

But he said farmers can’t wait for such long-term changes to be made.

“We are moving to provide relief right now,” he said.

Aldi’s Managing Director of Buying Oliver Bongardt said the decision recognises the “significant issues” currently facing the diary industry.

“This solution is a short-term measure and will allow our processors to immediately pass additional funds to their dairy farmers outside of normal seasonal adjustments,” he said.

3. ‘Egg Boy’ won’t pursue any legal action against Fraser Anning.

The “brave” Melbourne teenager dubbed ‘Egg Boy’ won’t pursue legal action against Senator Fraser Anning or the politician’s supporters who put him in a headlock, his lawyer says.

Will Connolly will also donate the money from an online crowdfunding campaign to the victims of the Christchurch mosque shooting.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 17-year-old was whacked in the face by Senator Anning and taken to the ground after he slapped an egg on the independent’s head on Saturday.

Will’s action came after the ultra-conservative Queensland senator said Muslim immigration contributed to the 50 deaths in the Christchurch massacres.

“Our client has no intention of making a complaint or taking any action against Senator Anning,” Will’s lawyer Peter Gordon told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Police confirmed the teen had been interviewed and released on Tuesday afternoon, pending further investigation.

When asked if it appeared Victoria Police would lay charges against Will, Mr Gordon said he had received “no indication” that would happen.

“But obviously police have got a job to do,” he said.

“To use Will’s own words, the police have been awesome.”

Will won the hearts of many Australians and became a global sensation for cracking the egg on Senator Anning’s head.

‘Egg Boy’ was labelled “the hero we deserve” and nominated for Australian of the Year by some members of the public, while others called him a brat.

Senator Anning said the boy’s mother should have slapped him long ago.

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for Will’s legal expenses and buy “more eggs” has raised more than $50,000.

But his lawyers are acting pro bono, and Will wants to give the money away.

“Will is committed that every cent of the money raised from the GoFundMe page go to support victims of the tragedy in Christchurch,” Mr Gordon said.

Mr Gordon said it was a privilege to work with Will, describing him as brave and compassionate.

“He really strikes you as a remarkably smart, compassionate and brave young man,’ Mr Gordon said.

Meanwhile, the Australian Greens have said they will try to suspend Senator Anning from parliament until the election.

Only two sitting days are scheduled in the upper house before the May poll but Greens leader Richard Di Natale believes the independent senator Anning shouldn’t be allowed before he faces the voters.

Senator Di Natale said a censure motion supported by the major parties doesn’t go far enough against the Queenslander.

4. Prime Minister Theresa May seeks Brexit delay after vote stymied.

ADVERTISEMENT

Prime Minister Theresa May will ask the European Union to delay Brexit by at least three months after her plans for another vote on her twice-defeated divorce deal were thrown into crisis by a surprise intervention by the Speaker of parliament.

Nearly three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, its departure is uncertain. Possible outcomes still range from a long postponement, leaving with May’s deal, a disruptive exit without a deal, or even another referendum.

Just 10 days before the March 29 exit date that May set two years ago by submitting a formal “Article 50” request to leave – and two days before a crucial EU summit – she was on Tuesday writing to European Council president Donald Tusk to ask for a delay, her spokesman said.

It was not immediately clear how long a delay she would seek. She had warned parliament that if it did not ratify her deal, she would ask to delay Brexit beyond June 30, a step that Brexit’s advocates fear would endanger the entire divorce.

Other EU member states were discussing two main options: a delay of two to three months, if May persuades them she can clinch a deal at home, or much longer if May accepts that radical reworking is needed.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said May would ask for an extension until June 30 – which could give her another chance to get parliament to bless her deal – with the option of a delay of up to two years.

In a move that added to the sense of crisis in London, Speaker John Bercow ruled on Monday that May’s Brexit deal had to be substantially different to be voted on again by parliament.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said a vote this week on the deal was now less likely. But ministers were studying options, and he indicated the government still planned a third vote.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This is a moment of crisis for our country,” he said.

The EU’s most powerful leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said: “I will fight until the last minute of the time to March 29 for an orderly exit. We haven’t got a lot of time for that.”

Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said: “If more time is needed, it’s always better to do another round than a no-deal Brexit.”

But France was blunter, saying a no-deal exit was possible.

“Grant an extension – what for? Time is not a solution, it’s a method,” said EU Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau. “If there is an objective and a strategy, it has to come from London.”

However, senior EU figures, while exasperated by Britain’s Brexit dithering, have no appetite for pushing it out on schedule without a deal.

The pressure to come up with legal or procedural changes means May is likely to get only one more chance to put the deal to a vote.

Brexit Secretary Barclay, who last week said Britain should not fear a no-deal exit, said a change in context might be sufficient to meet Bercow’s test.

5. Scott Morrison calls for crackdown on social media companies after the Christchurch attack videos.

If social media giants can build algorithms to sell ads, Scott Morrison says they can find ways to stop terrorists spreading horrifically violent videos.

The prime minister wants G20 nations to consider practical ways to force companies like Facebook and Google to stop broadcasting atrocities and violent crimes.

ADVERTISEMENT

NSW man Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which killed 50 people and left another 50 injured.

The attack was live-streamed on Facebook, but none of the 200 people who watched it live reported it using the company’s content reporting tools.

“If you can write an algorithm to make sure that the ads they want you to see can appear on your mobile phone, then I’m quite confident they can write an algorithm to screen out hate content on these social media platforms,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten agreed.

“I do not believe it is beyond the technological capacity of some of the richest, largest, most powerful, cleverest, most sophisticated businesses in the world, not to be able to better monitor the material before they publish it,” he told reporters in Western Australia.

Facebook vice president Chris Sonderby confirmed the company has to wait for users to report horrific content, but once it has been reported the company can automatically block people from uploading it again.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said social media companies must take responsibility for what they publish.

“They are the publisher. Not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit no responsibility,” she told parliament.

Mr Morrison wrote to G20 2019 president, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling for agreement on “clear consequences” for social media companies.

Tarrant, 28, was not on any security watchlist in Australia or New Zealand, despite online profiles linked to him containing material promoting white supremacist views.

Facebook took down 1.5 million copies of the footage and authorities were last week left scrambling to stop its spread across the internet on Twitter, Google and elsewhere.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have blocked a number of websites for continuing to host the massacre video.

Social media expert Damien Spry, who lectures at the University of South Australia, said Facebook had struggled to cope with the popularity of its live broadcasts.

“Once it is uploaded then it’s almost impossible to take it down before it at least gets spread to a few other users,” he told ABC Radio National.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said debate about social media should not be used to absolve politicians and mainstream media from their responsibility not to fuel hate speech.

00:00 / ???