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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Morning mail: Russia invades Ukraine, Morrison flags more sanctions, NT police ‘breach of trust’ |

Good morning. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has continued with Russian forces seizing control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and Russia’s defence ministry claiming to have “neutralised” Ukraine’s airbases and air defences, destroying 74 military ground facilities, including 11 airfields.

Russian forces have attacked Ukraine on the orders of Vladimir Putin as world leaders warned that it could spark the biggest conflict in Europe since the second world war. Within minutes of Putin’s short televised address, at about 5am Ukrainian time, explosions were heard near major Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv. Ukraine’s interior ministry reported that the country was under attack from cruise and ballistic missiles, with Russia appearing to target infrastructure near major cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Dnipro. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians were fleeing or preparing to flee the country with videos and photos on social media showing lines of cars moving out of cities and heading west. Ukraine’s president has said Kyiv would issue weapons to anyone who wanted to use them to defend the country’s sovereignty.

Western leaders have pledged far-reaching sanctions but the EU is wavering on banning Russia from Swift payment system, which is key to the movement of funds to Russia’s oil and gas sector. Meanwhile, European stock markets continued to tumble as the crisis fuelled a near-40% rise in gas price and pushed oil to $105 per barrel. The Russian central bank has bought millions of roubles to prevent the collapse of the Moscow stock exchange and prop up the currency after it plunged to an all-time low of 89.60 against the dollar.

In Australia, Scott Morrison has promised “further waves of sanctions” against Russians, including hundreds of members of parliament, as he condemned Putin for the brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The conflict is also likely to reignite concerns about Australia’s energy security with petrol prices at the bowser already north of $1.80 and headed to $2 as the expected invasion has added to global oil price pressures. The prospect of sanctions is hurting one of Australia’s largest alumina refineries, Queensland Alumina Limited, part-owned by a Russian firm.

If you are struggling to get your head across the scale of the invasion, see this visual guide to the conflict.

Australia

Constructions workers at a Probuild site at Darling Harbour.
Construction workers at a Probuild site at Darling Harbour. Probuild confirmed its South African parent company, Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon Ltd, has placed the building company into administration. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

The collapse of construction giant Probuild could be just the start of financial trouble across the Covid-ravaged industry, the construction sector’s peak body warns. Probuild, which directly employed about 750 people and had annual revenues of more than $1.4bn, was placed into voluntary liquidation by its South African owners, Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), late on Wednesday. Contractors and other workers turned up at sites on Thursday in several Australian cities to collect equipment, including at CSL’s $750m proposed new headquarters in Melbourne.

The Northern Territory government has been condemned for a “breach of trust” after NT police confirmed that spithoods and restraint chairs remain in use, despite promises to phase out the “inhumane” devices. NT police data reported by the NT News showed spithoods have been used 27 times since 2018 and 21 of those applications having occurred since 2020.

The most disadvantaged areas of Melbourne have been hit hardest by Covid-19 deaths during Victoria’s Omicron wave, further underscoring the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on communities with lower employment and income levels, and poorer access to services.

An elderly man who sparked a police manhunt when, acting out of love, he kidnapped his “sweetheart” from a West Australian aged care home has died in a car crash just two days after his partner died.

The world

Former US President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.
Former US president Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida. Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters

One of the most aggressive criminal investigations against Donald Trump appears to be running into the sand after the two leading prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office investigating the former president’s finances resigned.

Prince Harry has launched a libel action days after the Mail on Sunday published claims about problems with his security arrangements.

A court in Islamabad has sentenced to death the tycoon’s son who raped and murdered Noor Mukadam, a case that sparked outrage in Pakistan. Mukadam, 27, the daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, was held captive, tortured and beheaded in July last year by Zahir Jaffer, a member of a well-known industrialist family.

A juror in Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial who might not have disclosed childhood sexual abuse during jury selection for the high-profile case will now be questioned publicly as Maxwell’s team seeks a retrial, court papers released on Thursday said.

The QAnon conspiracy myth movement continues to thrive in the US and has even strengthened more than a year after Trump left the White House, according to the largest ever study of its followers.

Recommended reads

Son of sins by Omar Sakr.
Son of sins by Omar Sakr. Composite: The Guardian, Affirm press

In Jamal Smith’s mind sits a tableau of family he’s never really known. From memories stretched by time, he grasps at fragments of an absent father, an abusive mother, cousins he knew as siblings, and a found family of friends he fears to lose. Jamal is the protagonist of Son of Sin, the debut novel from the prime minister’s literary prize-winning poet Omar Sakr. It begins in western Sydney, where Jamal is being raised by Lebanese aunties, uncles and grandparents – the extended family of his estranged mother, Hala. Guarded by religion and propriety, they keep the past hushed, and brand Jamal as different. But from whispers, the threads of their secrets unfurl, revealing the sprawling traumas that broke them apart.

The big, bold songs in Angel in Realtime, the third studio album from Gang of Youths, will get the airplay and crowds singing, but it is the stripped-back ones where the Aussie rockers truly shine.

More and more young people are enticed by the glittering promises of a career as an influencer – but it’s usually someone else getting rich.

Listen

A political wedge is a tactic usually used to stir up controversy and debate with an opposing party. Over the last few weeks, the Coalition has attempted to “wedge” Labor on various policies.

So why have we seen so much of it lately, and what are the risks involved in playing into this kind of cynical politics? Gabrielle Jackson speaks to editor-in-chief Lenore Taylor and deputy news editor Jo Tovey about how the media covers wedge politics.

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

Sport

The Broncos NRLW team train with the men’s team last week at Clive Berghofer Field in Red Hill, Brisbane. Photograph: Darren England/AAP
The Broncos NRLW team train with the men’s team last week at Clive Berghofer Field in Red Hill, Brisbane. Photograph: Darren England/AAP Photograph: Darren England/AAP

It could be argued that the NRL really understands how to build anticipation for its women’s game. That would, of course, be a very generous interpretation of the situation that has led to a 491-day break since the last time an NRLW game was played. The 2021 season, which was originally slated to take place in August and then pushed back to October, was moved to 2022 due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said at the time that the delay offered an opportunity to commit to the women’s game completely in 2022.

The former Australia wicketkeeper Rod Marsh is in a critical condition after suffering a heart attack.

Media roundup

A novel drug therapy which could potentially be used to treat ovarian cancer – among other types of cancer – is being developed by Queensland researchers, the ABC reports. Tennis pro Nick Kyrgios has spoken openly about his struggles with mental health and his past abuse of drugs and alcohol, the SMH reports.

Coming up

An inquest into the disappearance of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez in Byron Bay continues.

The disability royal commission continues.

And if you’ve read this far …

Tougher and chewier aren’t usually selling points for ice cream, but an Adelaide shop is treating Australians to a whole new world of the white stuff.

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