Australia fires: bushfires menace homes and lives and firefighters warn winds will create new threats

Embers flare into an out-of-control blaze on another difficult day in NSW and in the country around Canberra

The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, says the Australian state has experienced another difficult day as multiple emergency fires burned across its south-east.

While five emergency warnings were in place on Saturday afternoon for blazes across the NSW south coast and south-east, at 9pm on Saturday evening just one remained at the highest level.

The Rural Fire Service warned there was an immediate threat to properties and lives from the Clear Range fire in the areas of Colinton, Michelago and Bredbo.

The out-of-control Clear Range blaze was created from embers that moved kilometres from the Australian Capital Territorys large Orroral Valley fire.

Snowy Monaro regional council asked residents in the tiny town of Bredbo which had a population of just 352 people in 2016 to reduce their water usage where possible to ensure theres enough water for emergency firefighting efforts.

Water is currently being used faster than it can replenished, the council posted on Facebook on Saturday evening.

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Australian firefighters battle multiple blazes – video

The RFS commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said there had been no reported damage to homes.

But structures such as horse stables, sheds and other outbuildings have been lost to fires in the region. An RFS spokeswoman on Saturday night said there had been unconfirmed reports of possibly five structures lost.

The Clear Range fire would continue to be a key focus for the RFS on Sunday, she said.

A southerly wind change is expected to push through very late on Saturday night and with any wind change comes added complexities and potential new threats, she said.

The type of vegetation on the fireground means the blaze can become quite erratic and spot ahead of itself, which can cause extremely difficult conditions for firefighters to manage.

We do urge people in the communities in the entire perimeter of that fire to have a plan in place and to continue to monitor conditions because things are very likely to change, with the wind changing over the next 24 hours, she said.

Keeping in mind tomorrow is still going to be a very hot day with those winds whilst its [forecast to be] better than today, its going to be a key focus for us.

Fire-generated thunderstorms also developed over the Big Jack Mountain, Border Fire and Postmans Trail blazes on the states south coast.

The pyrocumulonimbus clouds are very dangerous for anyone nearby, including firefighters, the RFS posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

Berejiklian posted on Twitter on Saturday that it had been another difficult day in NSW particularly in the southeast of the state.

Very high fire danger is forecast on Sunday for the north coast, greater Hunter, greater Sydney, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, central ranges, northern slopes and north-western fire regions.

In the ACT, residents in the south were warned that the Orroral Valley bushfire could pose a threat to lives as the alert level was increased to emergency, but later downgraded to watch and act.

Fire activity has eased across the fire ground, the Emergency Services Agency said on Saturday evening.

People in the areas of Apollo, Boboyan, Naas and Top Naas roads were warned to remain vigilant.

Temperatures in the nations capital topped 40C for a second consecutive day. Just before 3pm Canberra reached 42.7C.

In Victoria fire warnings have been issued for blazes across the state, with the highest alert level activated for an out-of-control bushfire west of Bonang, in East Gippsland.

Several other watch and act warnings are also in place across the east and north-east, including for Bendoc, Bendoc Upper, Bendoc North, Marlo and Tabbara.

Residents are urged to remain vigilant and monitor the weather conditions.

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Zac Efron falls ill while filming reality show Killing Zac Efron

US actor hit by suspected typhoid while filming survival TV series in Papua New Guinea

The American actor Zac Efron has confirmed he recently fell ill while filming a survival reality TV show in Papua New Guinea.

Australian media had reported that Efron, 32, was flown by helicopter for treatment in Australia after contracting a bacterial infection, possibly typhoid, while shooting the Killing Zac Efron series.

In a post on Monday on his official Twitter account, accompanied by a photograph of him in Papua New Guinea, Efron said he was back home for the holidays with my friends and family.

Very thankful to everyone who has reached out, his post said. I did get sick in Papua New Guinea but I bounced back quick and finished an amazing 3 weeks in PNG

Glenn McKay, a doctor with the Medical Rescue Group, told the Daily Telegraph on Sunday he could not discuss confidential patient information, but could confirm that Medical Rescue retrieved a US citizen in his 30s from PNG to Brisbane recently for medical attention.

The newspaper reported that doctors allowed Efron to fly home to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.

Typhoid fever is transmitted by contaminated food and water, and kills 216,000 to 600,000 people worldwide each year.

Killing Zac Efron is billed as an adventure series in which the star ventures deep into the jungles of a remote, dangerous island to carve his own name in expedition history.

The series was commissioned by the short content platform Quibi, which is scheduled to launch in April.

Efron had previously posted images on social media showing him in a canoe on PNGs Sepik River and travelling to Yanchan Village to see a traditional skin-cutting ceremony.

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Australia says yes to same-sex marriage in historic postal survey

Marriage equality could be legal by Christmas after 61.6% of participants in the voluntary survey approve a change to the law

Australia has taken a decisive step towards legislating marriage equality by Christmas after 61.6% of voters in an unprecedented national postal survey approved a change to the law to allow couples of the same sex to marry.

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That’s a yes! Australia celebrates result of same-sex marriage survey video

The result, announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, will lead to consideration of a same-sex marriage bill in parliament with the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, promising marriage equality should be law by Christmas.

With a turnout of 79.5%the result in the voluntary survey is considered a highly credible reflection of Australian opinion and gives marriage equality advocates enormous momentum to achieve the historic social reform. Australias chief statistician, David Kalisch, announced the results at a press conference in Canberra at 10am on Wednesday, revealing 7,817,247 people voted in favour and 4,873,987 voted against.

At a press conference in Canberra, Turnbull said that Australians had spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality.

Turnbull said the result was unequivocal and overwhelming, implicitly warning conservatives including in his own government that the public are our masters and the parliament must now deliver on the result.

They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people asked us to do and get this done, he said, stressing the law should change before Christmas.

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Turnbull pledges same-sex marriage will be law by Christmas video

At a rally in Melbourne, the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, said: What a fabulous day to be an Australian because in this survey the Australian people have declared overwhelmingly Australia is ready for marriage equality.

And I just want to make one promise: today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate, he said.

Bill Shorten celebrates the results of the same-sex marriage postal survey in Melbourne. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Turnbull, same-sex marriage supporters in Australias ruling Liberal-National party Coalition, the Labor opposition, Greens and other cross-bench parties have reached a consensus around a cross-party bill that makes minimalist changes to protect religious freedom without legalising discrimination by commercial service providers, such as cake makers, as some conservatives in the Coalition government have demanded.

Appearing alongside Turnbull, the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, said the cross-party bill was a good starting point but he believed there is a need for some additional religious protections, signalling amendments could still be contentious within the government.

The bill will be introduced in to the Senate on Wednesday for debate on Thursday and Shorten has offered the oppositions support to help stare down the conservatives seeking to delay marriage equality.

A bill is expected to pass, with many opponents of marriage equality in parliament promising to respect the result, although parliament may consider amendments. Coalition parliamentarians, who were previously required to vote against marriage equality will now be given a free vote, Labor MPs are almost universally in favour and a majority of crossbenchers will also support the bill.

On Tuesday Turnbull said the government would not countenance legalising discrimination against same-sex weddings by commercial service providers and warned a rival conservative bill to do so would have virtually no prospect of passing parliament.

In a speech after the result Equality Campaign spokesman, Alex Greenwich, said: Today love has had a landslide victory.

Together we have achieved something truly remarkable, a win for fairness and equality, not only for the LGBTI community and our families, but for all Australians, he said.

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Australia says yes to same-sex marriage video

Greenwich said the campaign had made more than 1m phone calls and knocked 100,000 doors, an unprecedented level of support that had exceeded any campaign in our history.

In doing so it has delivered an unequivocal mandate to federal parliament to vote this through by the end of the year.

With the positive result, Turnbull, a supporter of same-sex marriage leading a party that straddles both liberal and conservative traditions, looks to have finally achieved a win against reactionaries in his party that oppose the social reform.

How Australia voted on same-sex marriage

Some conservatives have suggested they will put forward their marriage bill in the Coalition party room in two weeks, but senior ministers including Cormann have protected the prime ministers position by insisting the parliament will choose which bill and amendments to allow.

Same-sex marriage has been banned in Australia since 2004 when the Howard government changed the Marriage Act to define marriage as between a man and a woman. As many comparable countries such as the US and Britain allowed or legislated for same-sex marriage, Australia looked increasingly out of step. After the successful marriage equality referendum in Ireland in May 2015, pressure grew on the Australian government to legislate but the Coalition party room agreed on a national plebiscite instead, although there was no legal requirement to do so.

A crowd celebrates the results of the postal survey in front of the State Library of Victoria Wednesday. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

When Turnbull took the prime ministership from conservative predecessor Tony Abbott in September 2015, he retained the Coalitions commitment to hold a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage before changing the law.

Labor, the Greens and other opposition parties blocked the proposed plebiscite in the Senate in November 2016 and August 2017, leading the Turnbull government to launch a $122m voluntary national postal survey to fulfil its election commitment to give Australians a say.

In a bruising three-month campaign, opponents of marriage equality including the Australian Christian Lobby, and the Catholic and Anglican churches in Sydney, claimed same-sex marriage would have far-reaching negative consequences for gender education. Former prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard warned that religious freedom and freedom of speech were at risk.

The yes camps Equality Campaign combined with moderate Liberals, Labor, the Greens, unions and progressive campaign organisation Get Up to argue that same-sex marriage was a matter of equality and fairness.

The campaign featured everyday Australians, their friends and families, emphasising that the only question was whether LGBTI Australians should be able to marry the one they love.

Despite assertions from Turnbull that the survey would be overwhelmingly respectful, the campaign has been marred by homophobic incidents and campaign material which continued largely unabated despite a special law passed to apply electoral law safeguards to the survey, such as authorisation requirements for campaign materials.

The campaign also featured two unsuccessful high court challenges against the expenditure of $122m for the survey, as marriage equality advocates fought to prevent the poll seen as an affront because it determined LGBTI peoples equality before the law by a majoritarian vote.

Public polling throughout the campaign showed consistent support for marriage equality and weekly estimates showed the survey was on-track for a record turnout.

The no campaign took increasingly bizarre turns, with Abbott using an assault that even his attacker said had nothing to do with marriage to rally Australians to his cause, and conservatives attempting to use US rapper Macklemores performance of his hit Same Love at the rugby league grand final to claim the national campaign they called for had inappropriately politicised Australian institutions.

The cross-party bill will be debated in the Senate on Thursday and the parliamentary sitting week beginning 27 November, with supporters of marriage equality aiming to pass a bill through both houses of parliament before they rise on 7 December.

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Philippines president says US, Australia have ‘toned down’ human rights criticism

Rodrigo Duterte claims issue of thousands of drug war deaths was mentioned only in passing in meetings with Rex Tillerson and Julie Bishop

The US and Australia have considerably toned down criticism of a drug war in the Philippines in which thousands have been killed, according to the countrys president, Rodrigo Duterte.

During meetings at the presidential palace in Manila, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop raised the issue of human rights only in passing, Duterte said.

Mostly they have considerably toned down in human rights, he was quoted as saying by the state news agency.

A bloody drug war in which Duterte has said he is happy to slaughter millions of addicts and dismissed the deaths of children as collateral damage has become the most high-profile rights issue in southeast Asia since his inauguration a year ago.

The Philippine state news agency said both diplomats were welcomed back-to-back at the presidential palace on Monday on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting.

Duterte, nicknamed the Punisher by his supporters for his lethal approach to policing, said his discussion with the officials focused mainly on terrorism, without providing details.

The former prosecutor known for his profanity-laced diatribes in response to criticism has labelled the United Nations stupid and called former US president Barack Obama a son of a whore.

Donald Trump, however, has forged a friendlier relationship, praising Duterte for an unbelievable job in his anti-narcotics campaign.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop met Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte at Malacanang Palace in Manila. Photograph: Bullit Marquez/AP

The Australian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The US department of state referred the Guardian to Tillersons remarks before the meeting in which he told journalists that the US had human rights concerns with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities.

At Dutertes meeting with Tillerson, the highest-level audience to date with a member of Trumps administration, the two ignored shouted questions from reporters on human rights.

The Philippine president later said North Koreas nuclear programme was high on the agenda but reacted angrily when a journalist asked if rights concerns had come up.

Human rights, son of a bitch, Duterte said, switching the topic to the southern city of Marawi, where militants who claim allegiance to Isis have taken over neighbourhoods. Policemen and soldiers have died on me. The war now in Marawi, what caused it but drugs? So human rights, dont go there.

The US has provided Philippine forces with surveillance, training, planes and drones to help it fight the militants, gangs who have long fought the state and raised funds through kidnap for ransom. The government also accuses them of selling drugs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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From suburban housewife to porn star at 52: the emancipation of Morgana

Suffering from depression at the end of an unhappy marriage, Morgana Muses found a new lease on life by making body-positive, anti-ageist BDSM films

A turquoise-haired woman takes the stage at Berlins Porn Film Festival in stiletto boots and an evening dress split high up the thigh. The snigger from a couple in the audience is barely audible, but then, the woman is attuned to it. She stiffens for a second, and takes the microphone. You can laugh if you like, she says, but darling, I was a young, gorgeous creature once and youre going to be my age one day.


At 52, Morgana Muses is a regular at adult festivals, but with her body-positive, anti-ageist BDSM films, shes not your regular adult star. In Having My Cake, she devours sweet treats off the body of cross-dressing performance artist Bishop Black. In Its My Birthday And Ill Fly If I Want To, shes trussed up into a scarlet web by Sydney rope artist Garth Knight. At the more extreme end, theres Breathtaking, in which she is choked by a female partner and submerged under bathwater.

While sadomasochism can seem like an aggressive concept, Muses insists the BDSM community revolves around care, trust and inclusivity, which were all elements that had been missing from her previous life. Each session of play is a micro-moment of deep connection, Muses says. I just fall into this magical space and disappear. Someone asked me recently, have I found my boundaries? I said no, Im still searching.

Her films often have an off-kilter humour, so its not surprising to hear that Muses is the instigator of red carpet hijinks. At New Yorks CineKink, she persuaded pornographic actress Stoya and other stars to assume positions in a cheerleader stack or a porn pyramid, as she puts it for the assembled photographers.

Typical Australian twat, she snorts self-deprecatingly now.

Before she was Morgana Muses, the porn performer was a conventional housewife. Photograph: Morgana documentary team

If the interest in Muses starts with a snigger, perhaps its because seeing a middle-aged woman naked on screen is such an alien experience. The mainstream industry caricatures women of a certain age, Muses says, complaining of the video tags such as Milf, Gilf and Granny on sites such as PornHub. And those Milfs are usually in their late 20s. People see my work as pioneering because they dont want their own sexuality to have an expiration date.

Despite her confidence on film, Muses confesses to naivety and nerves. When we meet in a Melbourne food court, she is flanked protectively by the two women making a documentary, Morgana, about her life. One of them is Josie Hess, her partner in production company Permission4pleasure. Isabel Peppard, who recently made the acclaimed animation Butterflies, had been recruited to direct Its My Birthday, but quickly saw the value in the real-life story of a stifled housewife turned pornographer. I left our first meeting with a tingling feeling of destiny, Peppard says.

Muses had been trapped in an unhappy marriage, suffering depression and psychotic breaks after both her pregnancies, and dealing with being a mother while having a mental illness that no one will acknowledge. Upon getting divorced, she realised society expected her to discreetly fade to black.

During the filming of Morgana, the trio travelled to Muses former hometown of Albury, where, as Hess observes, the clouds had descended and there were crows on all the wires. Muses took them to a bleak stretch of highway in which she would drive at crazy speeds in the middle of the night, listening to Tom Joness Sometimes We Cry. To the two younger women, well-versed in horror movies, suburban living was existentially chilling.

Theres a creepy gothic thing going on where youre raised for your role of Stepford Wives mother in a patriarchal society, almost on an assembly line, Peppard says. Being a model-maker, Peppard set to work representing this in the documentary by creating the faade of a dolls house in which to imprison her star, as well as miniature sets of suburbs, to be torched. Theres a big character trajectory: ego death and loss of identity; being cast out of your community and almost stateless; then rising, phoenix-like. Theres almost a mythology to it.

Muses life pivoted when she decided she would hire a male escort for a last hurrah before ending it all. Lengthy research unearthed John, a 39-year-old university graduate, articulate, with refined good looks. We talked for months, then I booked him for my 47th birthday. Im not a picking-up-in-a-bar type person, she says. Its not in my nature. I need to get to know people before I can allow myself to let go.

She booked a suite at Sydneys Shangri La, and planned an evening of fine dining followed by a performance of Richard III, starring Kevin Spacey. It was beautiful. And the sex was great, too dont get me wrong.

A friendship with John developed, and through their conversations, Muses started to consider her unrealised desires. She booked him for company at events such as the Xplore Festival (now called The Sydney Festival of Really Good Sex), and sampled the workshops on offer. Having found her people, she became further absorbed into the kink community, flying to Berlin to attend gatherings.

The next step, she decided, was to make a film. But it was just for myself, a bit like getting your own personal sexy photos taken. After reading about a competition hosted by German feminist filmmaker Petra Joy, on the topic of female fantasy, Muses recruited John and his partner to help as a co-star and camera operator respectively. I fantasised about the things I wanted to do on my first date with him, she says, things that Id always been curious about.

Morgana Muses: In the middle of the night Ill have these twitches of shame and self-doubt … The important thing is it no longer imprisons me. Photograph: Supplied: Morgana documentary team

The result was Duty Bound, a short film about a 47-year-old woman regaining her self-worth through sex. I thought, no ones going to see it, Muses laughs, but then the film won the Petra Joy award for first-time filmmakers, and Joy encouraged Muses to keep going. A few collaborations with respected adult director Anna Brownfield followed, with barely time to consider the consequences. Yet the more Muses became immersed in kink, the more supported she felt.

Muses teenage children know about their mothers new career, but the family and older friends of Muses will not make an appearance in the documentary. Peppard says: For once, we wanted to grant the woman her perspective. But Muses admits she still struggles with shame: There are times when I think: fuck society, Im going to do my thing. Then in the middle of the night Ill have these twitches of shame and self-doubt. I think that keeps me grounded. The important thing is it no longer imprisons me.

Now that shes promoting a Kickstarter campaign to fund the post-production of Morgana (with producer Karina Astrup on board), Muses is facing her fears, wondering how people will react to what Peppard jokingly calls the Shirley Valentine for the new millennium. Peppard and Hess reassure her that people will engage with the theme of rebirth. A lot of women will see themselves in you, Peppard tells her. And men, too, who fear that their time has come and gone.

The launch party for the Kickstarter campaign was certainly celebratory, with wrestlers dressed as mother-daughter tag teams: Little Edie and Big Edie from Grey Gardens taking on Carrie White and her religious fanatic mother Margaret from Brian de Palmas Carrie. Faces from the adult and burlesque communities turned up in support or took their turns on stage.

Despite the judgment her lifestyle will receive, Muses hopes the documentary may be a lifeline to men and women who feel starved of intimacy. I see myself as an ordinary woman who has had extraordinary experiences.

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MH370 search maps shed light on remote depths of Indian Ocean

Australian team failed to find missing Malaysia Airlines plane but images show ocean floors mountains, rift valleys and shipwrecks in unprecedented detail

Detailed ocean-floor maps made during the unsuccessful search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, released by Australia on Wednesday, could help increase the knowledge of rich fisheries and the prehistoric movement of the earths southern continents.

The Indian Ocean search ended in January after covering a lonely stretch of open water where undersea mountains larger than Mount Everest rise and a rift valley dotted with subsea volcanoes runs hundreds of kilometres long.

The whereabouts of the plane, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, remains one of the worlds greatest aviation mysteries.

However, information gathered during painstaking surveys of some 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq miles) of the remote waters west of Australia should provide fishermen, oceanographers and geologists with insight into the region in unprecedented detail, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia.

A shipwreck in the Indian Ocean captured by search teams investigating the disappearance of MH370. Photograph: Geoscience Australia

There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep-sea fishermen to the area, Pattiaratchi told Reuters.

High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents in the inhospitable waters.

Pattiaratchi said the location of seamounts would also help model the impact of tsunamis in the region, given undersea mountains help dissipate their destructive energy, and potentially change our understanding of the break-up of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana.

The data consists of three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information. It was published online by Geoscience Australia on Wednesday, with a further tranche due to be published next year.

It is estimated that only 10% to 15% of the worlds oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370, making this remote part of the Indian Ocean among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet, said Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australias environmental geoscience division.

Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for the Boeing 777 airliner but has said that would depend on finding credible new evidence about the planes whereabouts.

No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended, Australian transport minister Darren Chester said in a statement on Wednesday.

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It was a gnarly ride: Australian Eamon Farren on his surprise Twin Peaks role

Jump on a plane and come to this forest, David Lynch said. Farren had no idea his character would become one of Lynchs most terrifying creations

As one of the most memorable new cast members in one of the most acclaimed television series of the year, Australian actor Eamon Farren has good reason to sound as excited as he does down the line from Los Angeles.

Last week, critic Matt Zoller Seitz claimed Twin Peaks: The Return which is only eight episodes into its 18-part season as the best TV series of 2017, even if the ten remaining episodes of this show consisted of a black screen with a timecode at the bottom. And no new character in the show has generated as much discussion as Farrens Richard Horne, who quickly became one of the most powerful embodiments of evil in the shows history. Its certainly a long way from his last on-screen outing, as a French lounge singer in Australian indie film Girl Asleep.

In December 2015 I was doing a play at the Sydney Theatre Company with Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh called The Present, Farren says. Id just finished a matinee show, I went outside, and there was a message on my phone from my agent saying that David [Lynch, director] had got in touch, and if I wanted to do it there was a role in the new Twin Peaks for me. And I was like, Uhhh I think yes, we will do that!

Farren never asked why he was cast in the series, he says. But I did a film with [Lynchs] daughter Jennifer called Chained, and I assume that he saw that.

As fans of the show know, Lynch is reticent to provide easy answers. Later, I had a quick chat with David, and he said, Do you have any questions? and I said, I have a million questions. First of all, can you tell me who Im playing? He said, No buddy. Just jump on a plane and come to this forest and make a cool thing with some cool people.

With secrecy surrounding the project from the very beginning, Farren was unable to share this news with anyone else for 18 months, until Lynch released the 217-long cast list.

Farren had little conversation about his character with Lynch or the shows co-writer Mark Frost and to this day has no idea which episodes he will be appearing in until they air. Richard Horne was written as a throwback to 50s noir, with no discussions about backstory or motivation. The tight timeframe meant Farrens research was limited to binge-watching the first two seasons before arriving on set.

It was a pretty gnarly ride, he laughs. But I wouldnt have it any other way. I closed the show on a Saturday night and arrived in Seattle on the next Sunday and we started shooting. I went into it really super-fresh and that was the perfect way to do it.

Its no exaggeration to say Farrens character, Richard Horne, has been blessed with one of the most chilling introductions in TV history. Within hours of his first scene being aired, his transition from ice-cool rebel to menacing sexual predator and later to an out-of-his-depth drug dealer was being likened to another of Lynchs most terrifying creations: Dennis Hoppers iconic Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.

In my first episode there was some pretty horrific stuff, says Farren. In the second ep, yeah he gets thrown into a whole different context. I think thats the beauty of what Lynch does with character: he really lets you have a bit of carrot, and then he subverts the whole thing. Thats why his characters endure because they pivot, theyre surprising, theyre like humans. Thats whats fun to play about those people.

To prepare, Farren binge-watched the first two seasons of Twin Peaks. I went into it really super-fresh, and that was the perfect way to do it. Photograph: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

David creates a really great culture on set, Farren says. Everyone really wants to be there, and there is this sense of shared ownership. The difference between David and a lot of other artistic people is that hes completely attuned to his vision, and because hes so committed he can welcome everyone into the making process. As an actor, to walk in there and feel that kind of trust from him, but also have the trust in him that he knows absolutely where everything is going, thats a really cool experience.

Farren is unable to share what little he knows about the future of the series, and is reluctant to offer theories about his character or the show. I wouldnt touch that with a ten-foot pole. I just sit down on Sunday night and I wonder if Ill be in this episode thats just the selfish actor, he says, laughing.

But then I start watching it and I get absorbed by this crazy, beautiful artistic piece of art. I love it. I like the fact that David crafts something, gives you little slices and then says, You have to experience this, but also engage with it as opposed to letting it wash over you.

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Australian convict pirates in Japan: evidence of 1830 voyage unearthed

Exclusive: Fresh translations of samurai accounts of barbarian ship arriving at the height of Japans feudal isolation corroborate story long dismissed as fantasy

An amateur historian has unearthed compelling evidence that the first Australian maritime foray into Japanese waters was by convict pirates on an audacious escape from Tasmania almost two centuries ago.

Fresh translations of samurai accounts of a barbarian ship in 1830 give startling corroboration to a story modern scholars had long dismissed as convict fantasy: that a ragtag crew of criminals encountered a forbidden Japan at the height of its feudal isolation.

The brig Cyprus was hijacked by convicts bound for Hobart in 1829, in a mutiny that took them all the way to China.

Its maverick skipper was William Swallows, a onetime British cargo ship apprentice and naval conscript in the Napoleonic wars, who in a piracy trial in London the following year told of a samurai cannonball in Japan knocking a telescope from his hand.

Swallows fellow mutineers, two of whom were the last men hanged for piracy in Britain, backed his account of have been to Japan.

Western researchers, citing the lack of any Japanese record of the Cyprus, had since ruled the convicts story a fabrication.

But that conclusion has been shattered by Nick Russell, a Japan-based English teacher and history buff, in a remarkable piece of sleuthing that has won the endorsement of Australian diplomatic officials and Japanese and Australian archival experts.

Russell, after almost three years of puzzling over an obscure but meticulous record of an early samurai encounter with western interlopers, finally joined the dots with the Cyprus through a speculative Google search last month.

The British expatriate all but solved what was for the Japanese a 187-year mystery, while likely uncovering vivid new detail of an epic chapter of colonial Australian history.

If youd said I was going to go hunt and find a new pirate ship, Id have gone, youre crazy, Russell told Guardian Australia. I just stumbled on it. Boom. There it was on the screen in front of me.

I immediately knew and as soon as I started checking, everything just fitted so perfectly.

The ship anchored on 16 January 1830 off the town of Mugi, on Shikoku island, where Makita Hamaguchi, a samurai sent disguised as a fisherman to check the ship for weapons, noted an unbearable stench in the vicinity of the ship.

The site is about 900m from where Russells holiday house now stands.

It was Hamaguchis watercolour sketch of an unnamed ship with a British flag that first intrigued Russell when he saw it on the website of the Tokushima prefectural archive in 2014.

With the help of a local volunteer manuscript reading group, Russell has since worked at translating written accounts of the ships arrival by Hamaguchi and another samurai, Hirota, now held by the Tokushima prefectural archive. Hamaguchis is called Illustrated Account of the Arrival of a Foreign Ship, while Hirotas is A Foreign Ship Arrives Off Mugi Cove.

Russell first thought it may be a whaling ship, but the manuscript readers were skeptical. Having learned mutinies were common among whalers, Russell last month Googled the words mutiny 1829.

This stumbling upon a link between a samurai record and the story of the Cyprus was the research equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack, according to Warwick Hirst, the former curator of manuscripts at the State Library of New South Wales.

It was a fantastic find, Hirst, author of The Man Who Stole the Cyprus, told Guardian Australia. I have no doubt that the Japanese account describes the visit of the Cyprus.

What emerges is a picture of a desperate band of travellers, low on water and firewood, who provoked curiosity and suspicion among local warlords vexed by their appearance.

Bound to violently repel them by order of Japans ruling shogun, the samurai commanders showed some restraint, giving the foreigners advice on wind direction after raining down cannon balls and musket shot on their ship.

Hamaguchi wrote of sailors with long pointed noses who were not hostile, but asked in sign language for water and firewood. One had burst into tears and begun praying when an official rejected an earlier plea.

A skipper who looked 25 or 26 placed tobacco in a suspicious looking object, sucked and then breathed out smoke.

He had a scarlet woollen coat with cuffs embroidered with gold thread and the buttons were silver-plated, which was a thing of great beauty, but as clothing it was gaudy.

Hamaguchis watercolour sketch of the coat has what Russell said may be a telling detail on the sleeve: a bird that could be a swallow, the skippers own stamp on a British military officers jacket taken as a souvenir in the mutiny.

A watercolour by samurai Makita Hamaguchi showing one of the sailors with a dog from the ship that did not look like food. It looked like a pet. Photograph: Tokushima prefectural archive

The skipper gave instructions to a crew that in accordance with what appeared to be some mark of respect followed orders to remove their hats to the man, most of them revealing balding heads.

They exchanged words amongst themselves like birds twittering.

A dog on the ship did not look like food. It looked like a pet.

Another samurai chronicler called Hirota noted the crew offered gifts including an object he later drew, which looks like a boomerang.

One sailor bared his chest to the disguised samurai to reveal a tattoo of the upper body of a beautiful woman, Hamaguchi wrote.

Another produced a big glass of what appeared to be an alcoholic beverage and indicated that we should drink.

We declined by waving our hands, upon which they passed the glass around themselves, one by one tapping their heads as they drank to indicate the good feeling it brought them, and finished the lot.

Onshore, the samurai commanders were anxious to follow an 1825 edict by the shogun bolstering Japans isolationist policy.

It stated: All foreign vessels should be fired upon. Any foreigner who landed should be arrested or killed. Every interaction should be reported in the utmost detail.

Hamaguchi quoted Mima, a local commander, saying he had been suspicious of that ship since it arrived.

The men on the ship do not look hungry at all and in fact they seem to be mocking us by diving off the stern and climbing back onto the ship again, Mima said. It is very strange that everyone who goes out for a closer look returns feeling very sorry for them.

I think they are pirates. We should crush them!

Mima stayed up till dawn discussing what to do with his superior Yamanouchi, who decided: We should take out a large lead ball and tell them that if they dont leave immediately, we will fire on them and reduce them to matchwood.

Yamauchi later told an underling to give some water and firewood if the sailors agreed to leave.

The barbarians in sign language told the samurai go-betweens they needed five days to mend sails and paint the ship, one making a fist with one hand and put it under his cocked head indicating sleep.

When Yamauchi refused, the skipper asked for three days, then gave the samurai messengers a letter to pass on.

Commander Yamauchi was not happy. What did you accept a letter from them for? Take it back at once! Hamaguchi wrote.

When the ship did not raise its anchor, a cannon fired on the ship like a thunder clap followed by an eerie screeching noise as the old deeply pitted ball flew between the two masts of the barbarian ship.

Irritatingly, without sign of haste or panic, the crew leisurely spread one sail, Hamaguchi said.

The ship spread another sail but did not move, prompting an infuriated Yamauchi to order more cannon fire.

With little wind but an onshore breeze, the ship could not sail out to sea and instead, ignoring the hail of cannon and musketoon balls sailed west between two samurai firing positions.

Hamaguchi wrote that at about this time the feudal overseer realised it was a British ship and became extremely angry, ordering fire on the ships waterline.

Two cannon balls hit and shook the ship badly. The foreigners were standing and yelling.

Another cannon ball smashed into the ships hull, and one or two crew lay on the deck appearing killed or injured.

The watercolour picture of a British-flagged ship that arrived off the coast of Mugi, in Shikoku, Japan, by the samurai Hamaguchi. Photograph: Tokushima prefectural archive

The others turned towards commander Yamauchis boat, all removed their hats and appeared to be praying, Hamaguchi wrote.

Yamauchi asked an underling when the wind would improve, then was good enough to share this knowledge with the barbarians through sign language and they swiftly turned the brig across the wind.

The smaller samurai boats surrounded the foreigners and a foul stench was coming from the ship.

When a samurai musketeer showed his courage by brandishing his big gun in their faces, the barbarians looked worried, cried out and trembled with fear, Hamaguchi wrote.

A sketch of details of a British-flagged ship that arrived off the coast of Mugi, in Shikoku. Photograph: Hamaguchi Makita/Tokushima prefectural archive

Some of them even pointed to their sides and fell down praying. We took this to mean that one of Nishizawas musketoon balls had reached its mark and taken a life.

The crew bailed water and showed the samurai, who saw it appeared to be full of our shot.

The ship moved on and after dusk a strange pipe and singing could be heard before it sailed away.

The sound was like that made by a childs pennywhistle, nothing like a real flute. It was eerie, Hamaguchi said.

David Lawson, the Australian consul general in Osaka, said his office agreed there was strong evidence that the ship depicted in this account, as recorded by the people of Tokushima, was the brig Cyprus, which had been pirated by convicts escaping from the British penal colony which is now known as Hobart, Tasmania.

Takashi Tokuno, the chief curator at the Tokushima prefectural archive, has said there is a high probability the ship was the Cyprus.

Hirst said there were too many coincidences for it not to be true, given Swallows own written account of reaching Japan, held in the National Archives in London.

These included the date range, the search for water and firewood, the letter to the samurai commander, and the struggle to sail without wind while under cannon fire.

Even the dimensions of the ship given by the Japanese tallied with those in a bill of sale for the Cyprus held in the NSW State Library, Hirst said.

The other thing is I couldnt think of any reason why Swallow would have made up the visit to Japan. It didnt help his cause in any way in terms of the trial.

Theres clear evidence he got to Macau and Hong Kong, so why fabricate the Japanese visit?

Swallow, a cunning figure who convinced a jury hed been forced to sail the Cyprus as the only experienced seafarer, escape a piracy conviction that cost two of his crew their lives.

But he was sent back to Tasmania on a life sentence for his illegal escape, and died at Port Arthur just four years after his pioneering feat of seafaring.

He was recognised in the Australian folk ballad, The Cyprus Brig: For navigating smartly, Bill Swallow was the man, who laid a course out neatly to take us to Japan.

Hirst said the Cyprus in my opinion, must have been the first Australian ship to reach Japan.

I havent been able to find any other records of ships arriving in Japan and its not surprising because the Japanese actively discouraged all western shipping from coming to their country, he said.

This would have been well-known in seafaring circles and there would have been no point for ships to go to Japan.

Swallows landed there because they were absolutely desperate for wood and water and supplies, and the ship needed repairing as well.

I think we can say with a fair degree of certainty it was the first Australian ship.

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Peter Dutton’s office tells Canadian-Australian: ‘go back to US and deal with Trump’

Doug Stetner, who has represented Australia in underwater rugby, called Duttons office to voice support for asylum seekers

A Canadian-born Australian citizen who called Peter Duttons Brisbane office to voice opposition to treatment of asylum seekers says an electorate officer told him to go back to the United States then and deal with Trump.

Doug Stetner, an Australian citizen for 21 years, who represented the national mens team at the 2015 underwater rugby world cup in Colombia, said the response from the immigration ministers staffer was both offensive and comical.

Basically, go back to where you come from. I felt like I was talking to Pauline Hansons party. It was very disappointing, Stetner said.

The Brisbane resident, who has been eligible to vote in the last eight federal elections, said he decided to contact his local MP Ross Vasta after reading of revelations of the strategic worsening of conditions for Nauru and Manus Island detainees.

But Vastas office did not pick up, so Stetner decided to contact the immigration ministers electorate office in Strathpine. He said a male staffer fielded the call.

Stetner, 55, a university computer systems administrator, said he was polite but firm. Basically I said I disagreed with the way they were handling things over there [on Nauru and Manus Island] and they should bring all of these people back to Australia until they can determine whats going to go on with them.

Douglas Stetner (front, left) and his colleagues in the Australian underwater rugby team. Photograph: Douglas Stetner

He said the staffer told him he did not know what it was like in the detention centres as reporters are not telling you whats real.

I said, If you let the reporters in there, we might get whats real, but theyre blocking the media so you just get to a point where you dont trust the government on anything theyre saying, Stetner said.

Stetner told the electorate officer it made him embarrassed or ashamed to be an Australian to see this going on in Australian-run detention centres. And then he came out with, Well, why dont you just go back to the US then and deal with Trump?

I was a bit surprised by that. I said I was an Australian citizen and Canadian, not American. Anyway, they represent us and all I can do is call them and tell them this is what Im thinking.

Guardian Australia twice contacted Duttons electorate office to seek the staffers account of the conversation. Two male staffers who answered calls denied having a conversation with Stetner.

Neither the office, nor Duttons ministerial media spokesman, also contacted by Guardian Australia, provided a response.

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Mike Pence reaffirms ‘historical alliance’ between US and Australia in Turnbull meeting

US vice president is expected to smooth relations between Washington and Canberra after Januarys strained phone call between Trump and Turnbull

North Korea, the war in Syria and trade are all expected to be discussed during US vice president Mike Pences whirlwind weekend visit to Australia.

Americas second most powerful man met Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney and will meet senior government officials and business leaders later on Saturday.

Pence thanked Turnbull for his warm welcome to Australia and said he brought greetings from President Trump.

I spoke to him first thing and he wanted me to pass along his very best regards to you, and the President wanted me to, early in this administration, to re-affirm the strong and historical alliance between the United States and Australia, he said.

My presence here today at the Presidents direction it is about a reaffirmation of the strong ties in both our security and our prosperity.

Observers say Pence will use his time in Sydney to smooth relations between Washington and Canberra following Trumps opposition to Australias planned asylum-seeker deal during his infamous phone call with Turnbull in January.

Trump labelled the refugee resettlement deal, in which the US agreed to take an unspecified number of refugees from Australias offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, a dumb deal and described the refugees as illegal immigrants.

The vice presidents visit to Australia is part of a 10-day tour of the Asia Pacific, during which he has visited South Korea, Japan and Indonesia.

During his first official tour to the region, Pence has been keen to emphasise the commitment by the US to its alliances and partnerships in the region.

The truth is President Trumps election has created a need to reassure allies about Mr Trumps intentions, Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove said.

Mr Pence is a traditional conservative Republican who has an alliance-centric view of the world and I think the purpose of his mission is to telegraph continuity to Japan and Korea, Australia and Indonesia.

The reason to do that is we have a president who for three decades has held to a very different world view, who has basically decried the global liberal order, whos shown himself to be hostile to free trade, someone who is sceptical of alliances and suspicious of institutions like the United Nations.

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