2021-02-25 19:54:05 | Morning mail: 19 ecosystems ‘collapsing’, jobseeker v political perks, Gaga’s dogs stolen |


Story by: Imogen Dewey The Guardian

Hello, it’s Friday 26 February and this is Imogen Dewey, with stories about Australia’s vaccine rollout, the shockwaves still rolling through parliament and some sobering environmental news to see out your week.

First off, it looks like news is back on Facebook in Australia (or a fair chunk of it, anyway).

Scientists have warned urgent action is needed to save 19 ecosystems “collapsing” due to human impact: from coral reefs, mangroves and Murray-Darling waterways to moss beds in the east Antarctic. It comes as new data shows Atlantic Ocean circulation at its weakest in a millennium – a decline that could lead to more extreme weather in Europe and higher sea levels on the US east coast. And while Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions may have dropped, fiercer, more frequent fires may reduce carbon capture by forests.

Renewable energy zones and dispatchable energy storage have been listed as “high priority initiatives” by Infrastructure Australia for the first time, as conservation groups say a new environmental assurance commissioner proposed by the Morrison government would effectively be “toothless”.

As Scott Morrison looks at setting new standards for MPs, he has stepped around a question about whether he agrees with Peter Dutton’s characterisation of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation as “she said, he said”, as the home affairs minister defended his decision not to alert the prime minister to the potential reopening of the police investigation. A survey found sexual harassment and bullying are rife in federal political offices, and the allegations have prompted a surge of women to report their own allegations of sexual assault to police in the capital.

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Victorians are waiting to hear about changes to Covid restrictions today – and for Google Maps to show them how crowded trains are in Melbourne (part of the state government’s push to maintain social distancing). Australia’s vaccine rollout across the aged care system began this week, and was soon marred by a serious error and slower-than-anticipated distribution in some states. Angela Merkel has admitted there’s a vaccine “acceptance problem” in Europe, with four in five Oxford Covid shots delivered to the EU not yet used – even as leaders pledge faster provision.

Some might argue the middle of the pandemic is … too soon to be seeing Kenneth Branagh playing Boris Johnson in a series about the first wave.


Frank Zumbo
Teachers wrote to education authorities concerned that Frank Zumbo had posted photos and video of school visits to his Facebook page 18 times between August 2019 and May 2020. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP

Teachers raised concerns over Craig Kelly aide Frank Zumbo’s school visits, the New South Wales department of education has confirmed, with claims the MP’s staffer took photos of himself with students and teachers and posted them on his personal Facebook page.

The state’s transport minister, Andrew Constance, has confirmed he ordered the now sacked head of his department to create an 80-metre “clearance zone” around highways after the 2019-20 bushfires, which Labor says could have resulted in countless trees being felled.

As the sector explodes and debt soars, Australia is struggling to regulate buy now, pay later firms. Consumer groups want them subjected to the same laws as other credit.

Welfare organisations, economists and even some business groups were dismayed this week when the government announced a $50-a-fortnight increase to the base rate of the jobseeker payment – here’s how that stacks up against a federal politician’s perks.

New research from Australia has found lyrebirds in the throes of sexual union will mimic the sound of a distressed mob of other birds to fool their mate and stop her from escaping.

The world

Nikol Pashinyan
Tensions between Nikol Pashinyan and the military erupted into open conflict on Thursday as the chief of the armed forces general staff, Onik Gasparyan, and other senior commanders accused the prime minister of bringing Armenia to ‘the brink of collapse’. Photograph: Tigran Mehrabyan/Armenian Government/AFP/Getty Images

The Armenian prime minister has accused the armed forces of an attempted coup after top officers signed a letter calling on him to resign, escalating the political crisis sparked by Armenia’s defeat in the war in Nagorno-Karabakh last year.

Supporters of Myanmar’s military armed with iron rods, catapults and knives have attacked anti-coup protesters in Yangon after weeks of rallies calling for the return of democracy in the country.

The number of black victims of homicide in England and Wales has climbed to its highest level in nearly two decades, official figures have revealed.

More than a hundred Al Jazeera staff have objected to its launch of a rightwing digital platform, in an open letter to management saying it betrays the network’s journalism and will “irreparably tarnish [it’s] brand and work”.

A man walking Lady Gaga’s dogs for her was shot in Los Angeles on Wednesday night and two of her dogs were stolen, prompting the pop star to offer a $500,000 reward for their return.

Recommended reads

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of coronavirus walks past the Sondheim Theatre in central London
‘An enormous chasm has appeared between those living a relatively normal life in places like Australia and those that are in countries devastated by the virus.’ Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

“Most mornings, as soon I wake, I retrieve some voice messages left overnight on WhatsApp. Sent from friends in the Northern hemisphere, they are missives from the pandemic, a granular account of what daily life is like in lockdown over there,” writes Brigid Delaney. “Australia is once again the lucky country – but if we can’t feel the virus pain beyond our shores we are simply cruel.”

For the short two years of their reign, Sylvia and the Synthetics burned brightly and chaotically. Australia’s audacious drag provocateurs and underground LGBTQ pioneers hung themselves from meat hooks, splattered crowds with blood, whipped cream and dead fish – and left an impact that still reverberates. Lo Carmen looks at a new exhibition honouring one of their key members.

Losing a parent, most commonly a mother, to domestic homicide is a deeply confusing and traumatic experience for a child, says Dr Joe Tucci, a psychologist and chief of the Australian Childhood Foundation. But specialist services available to children who experience this in Australia are limited and there is no national protocol to provide immediate or ongoing support. Else Kennedy reports.


Australia’s vaccination program has officially begun: what do we know, and what don’t we? Does the government’s promise to vaccinate the adult population by October seem a little too optimistic? Guardian Australia’s news editors talk through the burning questions today on Full Story.

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


The International Olympic Committee has named Brisbane as the “preferred partner” to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. What does this mean 11 years before the event begins? Should you book your hotel room now? How much will this cost Australian taxpayers? Guardian Australia has the answers.

“One of the more bizarre days of cricket in modern memory and it didn’t reach the sixth hour.” India thrashed England by 10 wickets overnight – here’s how it happened.

Media roundup

The head prefect at a private boys’ school has called on fellow students to seriously rethink their attitudes towards girls and women in the Sydney Morning Herald. A “transphobic” website has put Melbourne University academics at odds: the Age explains. The ABC reports that China is celebrating “complete victory” in its campaign against rural poverty. But its trade dispute with Australia might be about to reignite, says the Age, with tens of thousands of litres of Australian wine revealed to have been blocked from entry last month. It’s gotten as serious as Chinese students now being told not to study here, adds the AFR. (Though some experts hope 27-year-old fashion darling Margaret Zhang’s new gig at the helm of Vogue China might “keep the good ties rolling”.)

Coming up

A federal parliament inquiry looks into developing Australia’s space industry.

Budget estimates continue in NSW parliament.

And if you’ve read this far …

A plate of pasta carbonara
The Italian farmers’ association said pasta carbonara was one of the most ‘betrayed’ Italian recipes abroad. Photograph: Alamy

“Stop this madness.” Italy’s top chefs and passionate foodies are coming for the New York Times for daring to tinker with pasta carbonara. A recently published recipe adds tomatoes to the classic dish, replaces guanciale with bacon, and pecorino with parmesan; one gobsmacked Roman chef (“the carbonara king”) thought it was a fake. “It would be like putting salami in a cappuccino or mortadella in sushi,” he said.

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Source References: The Guardian

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