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Sydney student Martins Keyen said he is traumatised after stabbing policeman in Marsfield

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sydney student martins keyen said he is traumatised after stabbing policeman in marsfield

A foreign student on his way home to Nigeria was dragging his suitcase into oncoming traffic when he stabbed a policeman who asked him to move to the side of the road.

Martins Noel Keyen who is studying a Masters degree at Macquarie University, said he suffered a mental health episode during the incident in Marsfield in Sydney’s north-west in August.

The 25-year-old said he has been traumatised by the stabbing which he linked to his bipolar disorder.

He stabbed one of the policemen in the shoulder while officers tasered him in their attempts to remove the knife.

Keyen had asked the officer are you ‘coming at me’ before lashing out with the weapon.

He has pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting an officer on duty and one charge of having a knife in a public place. 

Martins Noel Keyen, 25, was caught in a scuffle with two police officers while suffering a mental health episode in Marsfield in Sydney's north-west last August

Martins Noel Keyen, 25, was caught in a scuffle with two police officers while suffering a mental health episode in Marsfield in Sydney's north-west last August

Martins Noel Keyen, 25, was caught in a scuffle with two police officers while suffering a mental health episode in Marsfield in Sydney’s north-west last August

The court heard that on August 21, Keyen was walking towards oncoming traffic when Constable Flynn (first name withheld) approached him to steer him back on to the footpath.

Keyen refused to get off the road and struck the officer in the chest, the statement of facts read, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

He was then tackled by a second officer, Constable Rankin (first name withheld), before they noticed Keyen was carrying a 20-centimetre long knife.

He was repeatedly told to drop the knife but began walking towards Constable Flynn waving the weapon around.

The student was then tasered three times and arrested by a third officer as Constable Rankin discovered deep cuts to his shoulder.

The injured policeman and Keyen were taken to hospital for treatment.

Keyen said during a police interview in September he didn’t remember holding the knife due to a ‘mental health episode which has been escalating for a number of weeks’. 

The 25-year-old said he was 'terribly sorry' for injuring the police officer and asked them to forgive him

The 25-year-old said he was 'terribly sorry' for injuring the police officer and asked them to forgive him

The 25-year-old said he was ‘terribly sorry’ for injuring the police officer and asked them to forgive him

Constable Rankin was taken to hospital after suffering deep cuts to his shoulder following the incident with the knife

Constable Rankin was taken to hospital after suffering deep cuts to his shoulder following the incident with the knife

Constable Rankin was taken to hospital after suffering deep cuts to his shoulder following the incident with the knife

He also brought in a letter of apology asking police to forgive him. 

‘I’m not in the business of making excuses for my actions but I want to tell you one simple thing. I am terribly sorry,’ he wrote.

‘It is truly not a reflection of my thought process towards you or people like you,’ the letter continued. 

‘I’ve been watching the news lately and I notice people in your line of duty progressively keep getting exposed to danger.’

Appearing at the Downing Centre District Court on Monday, Keyen’s lawyer said he ‘carries trauma’ from the incident and doesn’t intend to ‘portray himself as the victim’.

Keyen was due to fly home to Nigeria on the day he was arrested in August last year

Keyen was due to fly home to Nigeria on the day he was arrested in August last year

Keyen was due to fly home to Nigeria on the day he was arrested in August last year

His lawyer also said reports from two medical specialists indicated there was a link between his bipolar disorder and the offences.

The crown prosecutor said Keyen had posed a serious risk to officers and was not immature but a ‘well travelled’ man.

Keyen’s support person, Megan Guenther, who he now lives with said he was facing jail if she didn’t take him in.

Ms Guenther hadn’t met him before the incident but said he was ‘bewildered’ while visiting him in hospital.

‘I felt he was a young man away from home and anyone he knew… it all affected him a lot,’ she told the court, The Daily Telegraph reported. 

‘I thought this is the opportunity for us to help somebody. It was either us or jail.’

She also said Keyen has become part of the family and helps out with chores around the house.

‘I wouldn’t have him in my house if I thought he was a danger,’ Ms Guenther said.

Keyen is due to appear in court again on July 24 for sentencing. 

The 25-year-old has since been taken in by support person, Megan Guenther, who said he has found a place in her family

The 25-year-old has since been taken in by support person, Megan Guenther, who said he has found a place in her family

The 25-year-old has since been taken in by support person, Megan Guenther, who said he has found a place in her family

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Victoria records 16 new coronavirus cases and two deaths before lockdown easing

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victoria records 16 new coronavirus cases and two deaths before lockdown easing

Victoria has just 16 new cases of coronavirus amid hopes lockdown will be eased as case numbers fall fasted than expected.

The state’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown announced in early September is expected to be tweaked on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of the virus.

Many will, once more, be hanging on Premier Daniel Andrews’ words at what has become a sombre tradition of weighty Sunday press conferences.

Victoria also suffered another two deaths in the 24 hours to Sunday morning, taking its total to 784.

The number of new cases and deaths is up from Saturday’s total of 14 cases and one death.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to tweak lockdown restrictions on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of coronavirus

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to tweak lockdown restrictions on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of coronavirus

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to tweak lockdown restrictions on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of coronavirus

The two-week rolling daily case average of 23.6 is well under the 30-50 case average health authorities were aiming for.

Under the original plans to take effect from Monday, the 9pm curfew would remain, as well as the 5km travel limit and takeaway-only for restaurants and cafes.

Restrictions around public gatherings would ease to allow up to five people from a maximum of two households to meet outside for social interaction.

Childcare and kindergarten would reopen and some school students would return to classrooms in term 4.

The Victorian opposition is calling for rules to be loosened well beyond this, saying the curfew should go, all school students should return and restaurants, retail and offices should re-open.

It has been a dramatic few days in Victorian politics culminating in the resignation of Jenny Mikakos as health minister on Saturday morning.

Police outnumber citizens in Melbourne as they are still only allowed outside for two hours of exercise and the curfew remains in place

Police outnumber citizens in Melbourne as they are still only allowed outside for two hours of exercise and the curfew remains in place

Police outnumber citizens in Melbourne as they are still only allowed outside for two hours of exercise and the curfew remains in place

By the afternoon, Daniel Andrews had announced mental health minister Martin Foley as her replacement and he was sworn in.

Ms Mikakos’ resignation came a day after she heard her boss tell the hotel quarantine inquiry board she was responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services, which was ultimately responsible for running the quarantine scheme.

The hotel quarantine program in Victoria failed because private security guards breached infection control, causing the spread of the virus into the community and a devastating second wave.

To date, 782 Victorians have died of the virus and the entire state has been subject to strict lockdowns, workforce and school closures and prolonged social isolation.

‘I have never wanted to leave a job unfinished but in light of the premier’s statement… and the fact there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with… I cannot continue to serve in his cabinet,’ Ms Mikakos wrote.

‘I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined. I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in.

‘In good conscience, I do not believe that my action led to them.’

Ms Mikakos will also be resigning from the Victorian parliament.

The premier, like all leaders who came before the $3 million inquiry, told the board on Friday he did not know who made the decision to use private security guards.

He pushed back on suggestions from reporters on Saturday that he should also resign, saying he would not run from a challenge and remained focused on fighting the pandemic and repairing the state’s economy.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Teachers are told to stop pushing tomboys to change their gender

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teachers are told to stop pushing tomboys to change their gender

Tomboys must not be encouraged to think they should change sex just because of the way they like to dress or play, schools have been told.

The guidelines come in new Government instructions for teachers talking to children about transgender issues. The move has led to calls for controversial transgender charities such as Mermaids to be barred from any role in education.

It comes after Equalities Minister Liz Truss announced that the Government has rejected calls from trans-rights campaigners to allow adults to change their legal gender at will.

Ministers have now followed up by telling schools to reject teaching materials that encourage children to question their gender if they like clothes and toys usually associated with the opposite sex.

The guidelines come in new Government instructions for teachers talking to children about transgender issues (file image)

The guidelines come in new Government instructions for teachers talking to children about transgender issues (file image)

The guidelines come in new Government instructions for teachers talking to children about transgender issues (file image)

NHS figures show the number of girls seeking to change gender and become boys has risen sharply in recent years. Some experts believe it is because tomboys who do not feel comfortable with stereotypically female clothing and activities are being pushed to believe they are ‘born in the wrong body’.

The new schools guidance has been hailed as a major breakthrough by parents who fear that trans groups are encouraging children to change gender because of the clothes they choose to wear or the toys they play with.

‘You should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear,’ the Department for Education advice tells schools. ‘Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence-based.

‘Materials which suggest that non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity should not be used and you should not work with external agencies or organisations that produce such material.’

That has focused attention on the work of Mermaids, a prominent trans-rights charity that provides training for public sector bodies.

It comes after Equalities Minister Liz Truss (pictured) announced that the Government has rejected calls from trans-rights campaigners to allow adults to change their legal gender at will

It comes after Equalities Minister Liz Truss (pictured) announced that the Government has rejected calls from trans-rights campaigners to allow adults to change their legal gender at will

It comes after Equalities Minister Liz Truss (pictured) announced that the Government has rejected calls from trans-rights campaigners to allow adults to change their legal gender at will

One Mermaids training course last year involved a 12-point ‘gender spectrum’, ranging from a Barbie doll in a pink dress at the ‘female’ side to a GI Joe in military fatigues at the opposite, ‘male’ end.

The new guidance has been issued following a lengthy campaign by groups that question the medical transition of children.

Stephanie Davies-Arai, of Transgender Trend, said: ‘This is what we have been calling for. We are very glad to see this guidance.’

The Safe Schools Alliance said the guidance should mean Mermaids is now blocked from any role in training teachers or advising schools.

It said: ‘This guidance makes clear that Mermaids are not suitable to train teachers and schools. All policies that they or organisations partnered with them have consulted on, must now be reviewed.’

Mermaids told The Mail on Sunday that while the charity offers training for teachers, it does not offer classroom talks and lesson materials for pupils in England and Wales, and so would be unaffected by the rule changes that were announced last week.

A spokesman said: ‘Contrary to a great deal of speculation online, we do not suggest that toy and clothing choices are a sole or primary signifier of a child’s gender identity.

‘However, like any child, trans children will sometimes express part of who they are by choosing particular toys and clothes.

‘We accept this point requires careful and subtle expression and we’re working hard to improve the clarity of our messaging.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Belarus: The death rate appears lower than the UK’s, writes IAN BIRRELL

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belarus the death rate appears lower than the uks writes ian birrell

As the sun slid from the evening sky over Minsk, clusters of people thronged the imposing entrance of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus clutching their tickets for the ballet.

Many had dressed up to attend one of the city’s landmark buildings, a legacy of the Stalin era that was inspired by Roman amphitheatres.

‘We don’t want our theatres closed,’ said Darya, an elegant 25-year-old heading in to enjoy the performance of The Creation Of The World with friends Igor and Nadia. 

‘You need art to live a full life, despite anything else that is happening in the world.’

Minutes later, I watched in the imposing auditorium as the large orchestra struck up, five dancers appeared and 800 people sat back to enjoy the show.

Darya is right about the ability of art and culture to lift spirits in dark times. Yet in Britain, as in other parts of the world, theatre doors remain shut with live entertainment among the sectors hit hardest by pandemic.

Medical volunteers from the 'Street medicine' initiative wearing protective gear help sick homeless people during a charity event in Minsk, Belarus, on May 2

Medical volunteers from the 'Street medicine' initiative wearing protective gear help sick homeless people during a charity event in Minsk, Belarus, on May 2

Medical volunteers from the ‘Street medicine’ initiative wearing protective gear help sick homeless people during a charity event in Minsk, Belarus, on May 2

But things are rather different in Belarus.

Alexander Lukashenko, the last dictator in Europe who has ruled the country for 26 years, swept aside fears over the disease and scoffed at the concept of lockdowns.

He claimed the planet was being swept by ‘psychosis’, suggested his people drink vodka to ‘poison the virus’ and poked fun at the idea of protective measures.

The nation’s professional football league played on through the pandemic’s peak as all Europe’s other leagues closed down and countries went into lockdown.

Yet this maverick despot’s bizarre stance means this little-known land – a strange hangover from Soviet times, with huge state-run factories and KGB agents prowling the streets – offers an intriguing glimpse of what happens if a state leaves Covid unchecked.

For the country has ignored dire warnings of doom from some experts but, curiously, death rates from the virus do not seem all that different from places that imposed strict lockdowns.

Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) has ruled the country for 26 years

Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) has ruled the country for 26 years

Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) has ruled the country for 26 years

‘The measures in Belarus, like in Sweden, were diametrically opposed to your country but the numbers seem similar, which is weird,’ said one senior epidemiologist.

Their fatality figures may actually be significantly better than in the UK – whether through good luck or the measures taken by alarmed citizens on their own.

At the very least, Belarus offers an unusual perspective on the pandemic, and although this secretive nation currently in political turmoil could not be more different from a serene Scandinavian democracy, it has shared Sweden’s avoidance of a lockdown. Lukashenko’s daft actions included denying the existence of viruses as death numbers began to mount from the disease. ‘Do you see any of them flying around?’ he asked in March. ‘I don’t see them either.’

The strongman disdained border controls, predicted the pandemic would pass by Easter, said the first victim was responsible for their own death and refused to cancel a presidential election or events involving elderly veterans to mark the end of the Second World War.

‘It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees,’ he said at one point.

Later, having caught the disease himself, he claimed it was planted on him and carried on ignoring suggestions adopted elsewhere to slow the spread, apart from urging social distancing. ‘In no case stay at home,’ he said last month. ‘Move more in the air, run, jump, play sport.’

Lukashenko’s refusal to accept medical reality fuelled furious protests that followed his blatant theft of last month’s presidential election. Big demonstrations have led to thousands of arrests, brutal beatings and horrifying torture by his security squads.

Darya, Igor and Nadia going to The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus

Darya, Igor and Nadia going to The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus

Darya, Igor and Nadia going to The National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus

Dimitri Ivanovich, a data analyst whose mother is recovering from Covid in hospital after two weeks of intensive care, said people had died due to misinformation. ‘There were no public health measures, no help for businesses. People were left alone with the virus.’

Several people I met told me the dictator’s stance starkly exposed his contempt for citizens. ‘Society is more solid than ever before and it started with Covid,’ said Victoria Fedorova, chairwoman of a leading human rights group.

She believes this defiance began with people joining forces to raise funds to buy protective gear for frontline staff. One medical insider told me that 30 doctors have died from the disease; another said all those in his large hospital near Minsk caught the virus.

Officially, there have been just 813 Covid deaths and 77,289 cases in this country of 9.5 million people – among the lowest rates in Europe. State-controlled media bragged of success in contrast with ‘sadder’ data from nations such as Britain with fatality levels about seven times higher.

A far more reliable figure emerged after the government supplied data to the United Nations that revealed 5,605 excess deaths between April and June, when the pandemic peaked, compared to the previous year.

Doctors confirmed such figures. Mikita Salavei, associate professor in the infectious diseases department at Belarusian State Medical University, estimated there have been 8,000 deaths from the virus as the second wave emerges. ‘We are very similar to Sweden in terms of cases and fatalities,’ he said. ‘Our results are not any worse than several other countries.’

Indeed, they may be significantly better than the UK. England and Wales recorded 55,529 excess deaths between April and June, almost two-thirds higher per head of population than the figures from Belarus.

Supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko staged a protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy in Minsk earlier this week

Supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko staged a protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy in Minsk earlier this week

Supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko staged a protest outside the Lithuanian Embassy in Minsk earlier this week

International comparisons are tricky with this disease. There are differences in data collation. Britain is one of the world’s most globalised nations whereas Belarus is more isolated and has much lower population density, despite Minsk’s crowded suburbs .

The two countries have similar proportions of elderly but Belarus has few care homes and far more hospital beds per head of population – a legacy of its Soviet heritage. Yet estimates based on the infamous Imperial College, London, modelling in March that panicked the British Government into lockdown warned of a total of 66,800 Covid deaths in Belarus by the end of next month without any preventative measures.

It predicted a possible 32,000 deaths by October if only mild actions were taken to slow the spread of infection, and 15,000 fatalities if there was strong suppression of social contacts. But the current death toll is actually only about half that.

Officials have found it hard to act independently in this autocratic state, yet some preventative tactics were imposed by local leaders. ‘No one called it “quarantine” but measures were taken,’ said one epidemiologist.

Dzmitry Markelau, a Minsk surgeon, put it more bluntly. ‘The president was stupid in what he was saying. So everything was left to us. Hospitals were repurposed to focus on Covid and people around the elderly started wearing masks.’

Alarmed citizens also started taking their own action. This is a nation with a thriving digital community plus well-grounded suspicions over state duplicity after suffering dreadfully from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Many stories I heard in Belarus were similar to elsewhere in Europe: shortages of protective gear, concerns over surging cancer cases after hospitals were retooled to focus on Covid, and economic carnage.

Bars, beauty salons, cafes and shops all told me that although they stayed open, their takings crashed as people stayed away when infections started soaring in April, and they have not fully recovered. ‘People stopped going on the streets and eating out,’ said Artsiom, a manager in a small chain of pizza restaurants that had to dismiss some staff. His lunchtime sales still struggle as people work from home.

The nation’s footballers may have played on after being told to wash their hands, but fans stayed away. Dynamo Brest filled its stands with mannequins in club colours after attendances plummeted from 10,000 to just 800.

Yet there seem few signs of fear about the disease, especially with mass protests each weekend and most people not wearing masks – as shown by the Bolshoi Theatre’s reopening earlier this month. It closed in April after many performers, returning from events abroad, caught the disease, although they continued rehearsals while halving salaries. ‘We are like happy kids to be open again,’ said Tatiana Alexandrova, head of marketing.

Berlin, a leading music venue in a dingy Minsk basement, was shut down briefly by officials. ‘They closed us because of coronavirus but after a week they did not seem to care so we reopened,’ said director Pavel Yurtsevich. His venue has been hurt by the lack of foreign bands on tour but was preparing for a heavy metal festival on Friday night.

‘We see the UK with its lockdown but it did not seem to solve anything,’ he said. ‘It is all about individual responsibility, and as employers we have responsibility for our staff.’

Belarus is a society filled with mistrust for its ruler, in contrast to Sweden, which has high levels of faith in its officials, yet I found some similarities in their response to pandemic since it ultimately relied on the actions of citizens rather than state diktat.

Last month I reported for The Mail on Sunday from Sweden on its brave approach. I was impressed – despite the shocking failures in care homes that exposed systemic problems, as in Britain, and drove up their Covid death rates.

Instead of constant flip-flopping, Swedish officials sought a sustainable response to the crisis with a wider perspective on public health rather than simply focusing on the virus.

They imposed limited restraints, kept advice clear and consistent, and, crucially, allowed businesses and schools for children under 16 to stay open.

This approach – which sees big lockdowns as a blunt instrument that needlessly harm many people – is based on the belief that you cannot contain a global pandemic and must trust citizens. Despite some clusters of cases, Sweden seems to have comparatively low infection levels even as a second wave escalates across Europe.

‘Lockdowns are not a sustainable approach,’ said Anna Mia Ekstrom, a professor of global infectious disease epidemiology at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute. ‘There must be a more balanced approach that targets protection of those most at risk without the colossal collateral damage we are seeing from interventions such as school closures, business shutdowns and interruptions in health services.’

She said Sweden, like other European countries, was now seeing lower death rates than previous years following the deaths of so many vulnerable old people in March and April.

Meanwhile, greater testing was exposing more cases in younger age groups. ‘Do not believe that a vaccine is a magic bullet,’ she said. ‘We are going to have to find ways to live with this disease. For interventions to be sustainable, they must be widely supported. Otherwise we cannot expect people to take responsibility and change their normal ways of life, maybe for ever, and we can’t lock down the planet in perpetuity.’

Interestingly, Belgium, with death and current infection levels higher than in Britain, seems to be shifting towards a loosening of measures after local curfews, mandatory masks and a ‘rule of five’ failed to stop infections spreading.

One Belarusian respiratory doctor at a hospital specialising in Covid told me he was surprised Britain had suddenly abandoned the Swedish model when switching to lockdown in March. ‘It would have been better to continue on that path,’ he said.

Certainly, no sane expert would recommend emulating Belarus’s approach – with outright denial of Covid’s existence from the country’s leader, dismal failure to inform citizens properly of the dangers and disturbing distortion of key data. Yet this troubled state may still offer fascinating insights into dealing with this mysterious new disease.

‘We have seen the same effect as Britain with fewer restrictions,’ said one regional epidemiologist. ‘The laws of epidemiology show that if there are infections, you must try to stop the spread of disease. But you cannot put people’s lives on hold forever.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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