RUSH HOUR: Guy’s cocaine joke backfires
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Trump storms out of emergency meeting
Donald Trump has warned he could still declare a national emergency as the now 19-day government shutdown over border wall funding rips the US government apart.
The President called talks with Democrats on Wednesday afternoon local time a "total waste of time", the day after his Oval Office address did nothing to move the country towards a resolution.
Speaking to reporters about the tense meeting, Senator Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump stormed out following disagreements about the border wall.
"He said, 'If I open up the government you won't do what I want,'" said Mr Schumer. "That's cruel, that's callous, and that's using millions of innocent people as pawns.
"A few minutes later, he sort of slammed the table, and when Leader Pelosi said she didn't agree with the wall, he just walked out and said we have nothing to discuss. He said it was a waste of his time."
Vice President Mike Pence denied Mr Schumer's claims, saying Mr Trump never raised his voice or slammed his hand on the table.
In a national emergency, Mr Trump should be able to draft in defence department resources to build the wall, but this is likely to face a major court challenge.
-Emma Reynolds, read more.
Toddler drowns in backyard Sydney pool
A toddler has died after being pulled unconscious from a backyard pool in Sydney's west, while a young boy is in hospital after nearly drowning in a lagoon.
The two-year-old girl was pulled from the water just before 8pm on Wednesday at Werrington Downs and treated by paramedics but later died in hospital.
Police are investigating the circumstances around the incident.
A few hours earlier, two children were pulled from the water at Avoca Beach, on the NSW Central Coast.
A four-year-old boy and three-year-old girl were rescued by bystanders, who treated the pair until paramedics arrived.
The boy was flown to The Children's Hospital at Westmead in a serious condition, while the girl was taken to Gosford Hospital for observation.
Search to resume for missing swimmer
Police are set to resume their search for a man who went missing while swimming in the Murray River in Albury, on the NSW-Victoria border.
The 21-year-old failed to resurface while swimming at Noreuil Park on Wednesday night and police were called just after 7pm.
Police, ambulance workers and volunteers searched the river and shoreline until 9.30pm (AEDT) but the effort had to be suspended until the following day.
Crews are expected to return to the site this morning and continue the search.
Man's prank on group chat backfires
A man decided to play a prank on a group of strangers after he was accidentally added to a group chat of women planning a 50th birthday party, only his joke didn't quite go to plan.
Billy Rawlinson was surprised when he was added to the WhatsApp group titled "Sandra's 50th", with the other members mistakenly thinking he was their friend Lorraine.
As the group discussed party plans, the 23-year-old plumber decided to chime in with: "How many male strippers are we getting then?"
The women mostly overlooked the question, with one writing "none I hope" and another joking "Book Monday off, you're going to need it...trust me".
Mr Rawlinson decided to take his joke a step further, asking the group "Anyone able to sort any cocaine for it?"
That joke didn't go down quite as well as the other one, with one of the women asking if he was serious and when he said yes and asked "why not?" he got a very shocking answer.
"Because it's illegal I'm a police officer as well," the woman said.
Mr Rawlinson posted the hilarious exchange on Twitter where it has since gotten nearly 20,000 retweets and over 100,000 likes.
A Twitter user called Sandra claimed she was the birthday girl in question and told Mr Rawlinson that all the women got a laugh out of the situation.
"Wow all these retweets hope you all get me a present," she wrote.
"Anyway made us oldies chuckle all afternoon."
Very heavy traffic in Sydney's inner west
Motorists travelling in the inner west of Sydney this morning are being urged to allow for plenty of extra travel time with a truck break down causing major delays.
Traffic is very heavy in St Peters southbound on the Princes Highway due to the B-double breakdown at Canal Rd.
Drivers are being wared to take car when driving in the area and expect traffic build up.
Painful encounter on Qld beach
A man has been left with horrific injuries after he dived into the water at a Sunshine Coast beach and quickly realised something was very wrong.
Brendan Osborn was swimming at Twin Waters beach on Sunday afternoon when he experienced a searing pain on his back.
He surfaced to find a huge jellyfish sliding down his body, stinging him as it went.
Mr Osborn shared a picture of the horror injuries showing red sting marks all over his back, writing on Facebook:
"Be careful at the beach people. Jellyfish are about. And they hurt like a muthaf***er! Came up in the water and it was on my head and slid down my back."
He is not sure what species of jellyfish he was unfortunate enough to meet, but told his friends and family that it was "white coloured" and "fairly big".
Beaches across Queensland have been inundated with bluebottles, with stings more than tripling across the state this season.
More than 22,282 people have asked for treatment for stings between December 1 and January 7, compared to just 6831 in the same period last year.
Police examining packages left at consulates
Several foreign diplomatic missions were evacuated in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra on Wednesday after they received packages containing suspicious substances.
Police, fire crews and ambulances were seen at a number of foreign consulates in Melbourne, including those of India, Germany, Italy, Spain and South Korea.
Officials at the U.S. and Swiss missions in the city said they had also received packages.
The Vic Emergency website, the collective body of emergency agencies in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, noted at least 10 "hazardous material" incidents in the city, though by Wednesday night none of those incidents was listed as ongoing.
There were no reports of anyone being injured at the targeted missions in both cities.
Victoria Police said they believed the incidents were targeted and did not impact the general community.
Australian Federal Police said in a statement that "the circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated."
The ABC reported that a worker from the New Zealand consulate in Melbourne had said the packages in question were envelopes labelled "asbestos." Inside were plastic sandwich bags containing a fibrous material.
Suspicious packages were also found at the Melbourne diplomatic offices of Pakistan and possibly those of Greece, France and Hong Kong.
Search for Vic sex offender ends in NSW
A six week manhunt for a violent Victorian sex offender has finally come to an end after police arrested the man hiding out in a remote camping spot in the Snowy Mountains.
Christopher Empey, 46, will be extradited to Victoria after he was spotted by a member of the public on Wednesday at Tin Mine Huts in Kosciuszko National Park and was arrested about 5pm.
Empey is expected to appear in Cooma Local Court today, where detectives will apply for his extradition.
He was last spotted in December more than 380 kilometres away in Nowra on the NSW South Coast after fleeing Victoria to avoid the strict supervision conditions that come with being a registered sex offender.
He has been on the run since November 24 after authorities found his court-ordered GPS tracking bracelet smashed along the Hume Highway.
A day earlier he had skipped a court appearance to finalise a supervision order. He fled with $10,000 cash and his passport.
Empey was convicted of a violent rape in 2002, was released on parole in 2015 and was set to be placed on the Victorian sex offender register for 15 years.