Midday News Roundup

Sydney has had its average monthly rainfall in just two hours on Wednesday, according to meteorologists.

Authorities said at least 11 people have so far been rescued from vehicles trapped in flood waters and one man has reportedly died in a car accident linked to the extreme weather. The floods have massively interrupted the morning commute in Australia’s biggest city, with many transport services cancelled or delayed including more than 50 flights.

Elsewhere in the country, thousands of Australians have been told to evacuate their homes as powerful bushfires threaten homes in Queensland. The fire danger warning has been raised to “catastrophic” which is at it’s the highest level for the first time in the states history. More than 130 bushfires are burning across Queensland, fuelled by strong winds, a heatwave and dry vegetation.

Ferries cancelled, rail services disrupted and tourist destinations closed as Storm Diana hits.

Warnings for “very high winds” have been issued for large parts of Wales and areas in the UK. The Met Office has yellow warnings in place from 09:00 GMT and warned of flying debris, power cuts and large waves along coastal areas.

Two Swedish mums have persuaded 10,000 people to commit to not taking any flights in 2019.

Their social media initiative, No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019), is aiming for 100,000 pledges, and has been asking participants to post their reasons for signing up to show politicians what needs to be done to halt climate change. Direct emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the European Commission. It says if global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.

‘Period poverty’ sanitary products ‘improve school attendance’

A scheme to give girls free menstrual products has been seen to help improve their attendance. The Red Box project was set up with an aim to help solve the problem known as “period poverty”. Castle View Academy in Portsmouth said since the scheme was introduced it had helped increase attendance levels by nearly a third. It is estimated about 137,000 girls will miss school in the UK each year because of a lack of access to sanitary products.

Tributes paid to SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg following his death at 57.

David Hasselhoff, who played a lifeguard in 2004’s SpongeBob SquarePants movie, who has been involved in the tributes has said it was a “shocking loss”. His cause of death was ALS, which Hillenburg revealed he had been diagnosed with in March of last year and had been battling ever since. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND), or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a specific disease which causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. As more people wake up to the news, outpourings of tweets and tributes from all over the globe, one of which states, “You left this world – the entire world – happier, kinder and full of joy”.

Netflix to adapt Roald Dahl stories including Matilda and The BFG.

Netflix is set to create a Roald Dahl story universe as part of a deal with the late author’s estate. The streaming giant has announced it will bring a slate of new animated stories to the small screen based on works including Matilda and The BFG. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Twits will also be among the “animated event series”. The company said the programmes would “remain faithful to the quintessential spirit and tone of Dahl”. The author remains incredibly popular with children – it’s estimated he has sold more than 200 million books worldwide, with his stories available in 58 languages.

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