The Loop: Biden calls Putin a ‘war criminal’, Japanese encephalitis ‘here to stay’, an epic 10-hour cricket innings

Good morning, it’s Thursday, March 17. Here’s what you need to get going today.

One thing to know right now: Ukraine latest – Putin a ‘war criminal’, theater sheltering civilians bombed

Here’s what you need to know from overnight:

  • Joe Biden has directly called Vladimir Putin to “war criminal” when speaking to reporters in the US in the last hour
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the characterization is “unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric “, according to Tass news agency
  • The remark came after Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked Pearl Harbor and the September 11 attacks as he appealed to US Congress for more help late last night.
Mr Zelenskyy’s address was accompanied by an emotional video showing the destruction and devastation his country has suffered in the war.(Reuters: Sarahbeth Maney)
  • Russian forces dropped a powerful bomb on a theater in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians were shelteringUkraine’s foreign ministry said.
  • The ministry said many people were trapped in the theater and accused Russia of committing a war crime. It said the number of casualties was not yet known. Reuters said it could not independently verify the information
  • The US Embassy in Kyiv said Russian forces had shot and killed 10 people waiting in line for bread in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv. Russia denied any troop presence in the city and said the report was a hoax.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • There’s growing frustration within the New South Wales government that Scott Morrison hasn’t yet signed off on further flood disaster assistance for the state
  • So what’s happening? A funding package worth up to $ 1.4 billion has been developed by the New South Wales government, and the details were set to be announced on Wednesday
  • However, no official announcement was made because Mr Morrisonwho is on a three-day trip to Western Australia, has not yet signed off on the package
  • The delay has prompted concern within the ranks of the NSW government and its bureaucracy that Mr Morrison’s campaigning in Perth has slowed the rollout of disaster recovery funding.
ADF personnel assist with the clean-up after the floods in Lismore's CBD.
Thousands of defense force personnel are currently helping with the clean-up effort after devastating floods.(AAP: Jason O’Brien)

News while you snoozed

Let’s get you up to speed.

  • Police are yet to retrieve the body of the third victim of a Sydney boarding house fire, because the building is unstable. Two bodies have already been recovered from the burnt-out Newtown property – and 45-year-old former resident Richard Hotoran has been charged with murder
  • Australian cricket legend Rod Marsh will be farewelled in a funeral service at Adelaide Oval this morning. More than 500 people are expected to attend
  • And NSW’s Premier has announced his seventh child was born last night. Celeste Grace Perrottet joins five other girls and brother William:


The news Australia is searching for


  • Pakistan Australia: That’ll be this one – A 10-hour epic innings from Pakistan captain Babar Azam, scoring 196 runs, guided his side to an unlikely draw in the Second Test against Australian in Karachi. Set 506 to winthe side held on to notch up 7 for 443, with Mohammad Rizwan unbeaten on 104, while Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon took 4 wickets
  • AFL Melbourne Bulldogs: In a grand final rematch, the Demons took out a 26-point win over their rivals, the Western Bulldogs, at the MCG, 14.13 (97) to 11.5 (71)


Are you in the militant “no shoes in the house” camp? Or are you more of a live-and-let-live person?

Well it might be time to get a shoe rack and enforce those rules – environmental scientists say the science suggests a very strong connection between the lead inside your home and that in your yard soil.

Scientists Mark Patrick Taylor and Gabriel Filippelli say studies inside homes across 35 nations (including Australia) involved the measurement and assessment of exposure to a range of harmful substances found inside homes including:

  • antibiotic-resistant genes – genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics
  • disinfectant chemicals in the home environment
  • microplastics
  • the perfluorinated chemicals – also known as PFAS or “forever chemicals” because of their tendency to remain in the body and not break down – used ubiquitously in a multitude of industrial, domestic and food packaging products
  • radioactive elements.

As they say, it’s best to leave your filth outside the house.

That’s it for now

We’ll be back later on with more.


ABC / wires

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