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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Morning mail: Russia’s ‘humanitarian corridors’ unacceptable, Shane Warne autopsy results, Byron Baes to air |

Good morning. The Amazon is approaching a tipping point, data shows, which would have “profound” global implications. International Women’s Day today takes a focus on gender equality in the face of the climate crisis, which feels also pertinent on home shores today. Heavy rains and strong winds are expected to continue to batter the east coast again.

Heavy Russian shelling was preventing civilian evacuations from six cities, Ukraine’s foreign ministry has said, just hours after Moscow announced the opening of “humanitarian corridors” that Kyiv dismissed as immoral and unacceptable after it emerged only two led to elsewhere in Ukraine, with all others heading straight to Russia or pro-Russian Belarus. Meanwhile, Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak faces a lengthy ban for wearing a “Z” on his uniform, a symbol in support of the invasion of Ukraine, on the medal podium of a World Cup event.

Scott Morrison has declared the Coalition the “proven choice” of voters when it comes to managing Australia’s national security interests, but the latest Guardian Essential poll suggests respondents do not believe his government would handle the war between Russia and Ukraine any better than Labor. Despite a lack of unanimity over which party would best handle the conflict, a majority of respondents supported the Morrison government’s decision to provide military support to Ukraine and to supply aid and take in refugees fleeing the conflict.

Volunteers in New South Wales flood zones estimate they have cooked a staggering 60,000 meals for flood victims, but frustration is growing at the lack of official government services available to take over. While the presence of government services and defence support is growing, there is a perception that not enough help is on hand. However, the Australian defence force has defended the speed of its response to flooded communities in northern NSW. “I think we have done all that we can within the conditions we have been faced with,” Maj Gen David Thomae said. Meanwhile, residents of Pitt Town on the flood-prone Hawkesbury-Nepean River are “screaming for something to be done” about a safer evacuation plan, after their designated evacuation route was cut by rising water, forcing authorities to locate a gate key to open the only backup path.


The mayors of Newcastle and Wollongong are uneasy about the Morrison government naming their cities as a potential base for nuclear-powered submarines, with one describing the Aukus plans as a “fantasy”. The Coalition’s shortlist for potential bases were not in the top five identified by Defence in a 2011 review.

The mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) has been discovered in more than 40 piggeries across Australia within the past month and human cases have also emerged. While 99% of cases have no symptoms, the virus can be deadly. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself.

Labor will today unveil a new $77m commitment to train teachers how to talk to students about sexual consent and respectful relationships in an age-appropriate way and also aims to help school students seek support if they have experienced violence.

AGL Energy says it is not sure whether an unsolicited takeover bid by billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Canadian fund manager Brookfield is really over – or if the consortium has just hit the “pause button”.

Australia’s mushrooms season is off to an early start thanks to wet weather along the east coast, but experts are warning fungi enthusiasts not to be tempted by edible-looking mushrooms.

The world

Novel statistical analysis shows that more than 75% of the untouched forest has lost stability since the early 2000s.
Novel statistical analysis shows that more than 75% of the untouched forest has lost stability since the early 2000s. Photograph: Morley Read/Alamy

The Amazon is approaching a tipping point after which the rainforest would be lost, with “profound” implications for the global climate and biodiversity.

Georgia has applied for EU membership just days after declaring it would not accelerate its application, as fears grow among the Georgian public that the Russian invasion might not stop with Ukraine.

A rare brown bear who became famous after breaking into a bakery and feasting on biscuits has been captured in central Italy, sparking criticism from animal activists.

Recommended reads

Australian star Tina Arena (left) took inspiration from American-born Greek opera singer Maria Callas (pictured here in 1962), whose giant poster adorned the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens.
Australian star Tina Arena (left) took inspiration from American-born Greek opera singer Maria Callas (pictured here in 1962), whose giant poster adorned the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens. Composite: Bernard Gueit/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

“It was the most exquisite venue I have ever had the privilege to play,” said Tina Arena of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Greece, where she performed with George Perris and Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis. “We all did a closing number in Greek, which was an experience because it was my first time singing Greek. Beforehand, the boys put me through my paces and were like: ‘Oh yeah yeah yeah, you can sing in Greek, come on,’ and I’m like, ‘God almighty!’ I kept thinking to myself: ‘This is extraordinary, don’t drop the ball.’”

When Netflix announced Byron Baes, a new Australian reality show about wealthy young influencers, there was immediate backlash from locals. After months of controversy, the show is set to start on Netflix this week, and both the cast and crew hope the final product will ease the doubts about its intentions. Netflix wants the show to explore the tension between how we present ourselves online and who we really are underneath.

The key feature of elastic is its ability to stretch and retract to its original size and shape repeatedly. When elastic is damaged or aged this ability lessens. Fixing elastic that has lost its stretch can be relatively straightforward for some garments – or it can be a chance to completely refashion a piece. This week we got some expert advice on both prevention and the cure.


As the clean up continues in flood-affected communities across the east coast we examine what scientific research can tell us about this rain event and if it’s likely to happen again. In today’s Full Story, Guardian Australia’s Graham Readfearn and PhD researcher Kimberley Reid speak to Laura Murphy-Oates about the weather systems that caused the record-breaking event, and how to prepare for the future of natural disasters in the face of the climate crisis.

Full Story

The science behind Australia’s east coast floods

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


Screenshot of unidentified German woman who climbed into ambulance holding Australian cricket legend Shane Warne’s body after his death in the Thai resort island of Koi Samui.
A German woman who climbed into the ambulance holding Shane Warne’s body after his death in the Thai resort island of Koi Samui. Photograph: ABC News

Shane Warne’s autopsy shows the cricket great died of natural causes, Thai police say. His family said they would accept the offer of a state memorial in Melbourne. Meanwhile a German woman was questioned by Thai police after she had entered the back of the ambulance transporting Warne’s body off Koh Samui island. The woman was not charged because police determined she was “just a cricket fan”, not a threat.

Australia’s first Test in Pakistan in almost 24 years is destined to end in a draw. On a day shortened by a wet outfield that cost the game 27 overs, Australia were 449 for seven when bad light stopped play on Monday’s penultimate day in reply to the hosts’ 476 for four declared.

Media roundup

Experts in the Northern Territory have raised concerns that it is only a matter of time until a child dies by suicide in the Don Dale youth detention centre after increased rates of self-harm and at-risk incidents, reports the NT News. Almost 70% of nurses say they are fatigued or burnt out and more than a quarter are dealing with mental health issues, with conditions exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, according to the Australian.

Coming up

Scott Morrison will speak at the Australian Financial Review business summit.

An urgent bill will come before Victorian parliament to paper over a mistake that led to 1,000 police officers being unlawfully sworn in.

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