Morning mail: Taliban speak to media, aged care threat, Pompeii discovery

Good morning. The Taliban have held their first press conference since taking power as Afghan Australians continue to fear for the safety of loved ones in the region. NSW Health is investigating what could be the first instance of Covid leaking into hotel quarantine. And if you need some lighter reads for your morning, Wil Anderson tells us about his “knob of the year award” and we take a look back at the classic flick Chopper, 20 years on.

Western forces have secured Kabul’s international airport, allowing mass airlifts out of the region as the Taliban say they seek no “revenge” on opponents and that everyone will be “forgiven” during their first press conference since taking power in Kabul on Sunday. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has said they do not seek “internal or external enemies” and has encouraged people who fled to the airport with their families to return. The Taliban’s efforts to project a milder version of themselves may be aimed at ensuring that international aid money continues.

The Afghan vice-president, Amrullah Saleh, said on Twitter he was in Afghanistan as the “legitimate caretaker president” and was reaching out to all leaders. Nato warned on Tuesday that the alliance retained the military power to strike from a distance should the Taliban host terrorist groups. In Australia, members of the Hazara community, a persecuted ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan, have said the capture of Kabul has re-traumatised them and left many terrified for their families still there.

NSW health authorities are investigating concerns that the virus has infiltrated hotel quarantine rooms and infected otherwise healthy returning travellers after a toddler who returned to Australia in late July tested positive 36 hours after leaving quarantine. The 18-month-old girl had tested negative five times previously. NSW Health officials are now interviewing medical staff and studying CCTV footage. Covid outbreaks are threatening 34 aged care facilities in the state as health department data shows 24 are experiencing outbreaks and 10 are under “enhanced surveillance”. The resurgence of the virus has highlighted low vaccination rates among aged care workers, who the government once promised would receive the jab by Easter.


Australian Twitter users will be allowed to report potentially misleading content from Wednesday as part of a new experiment in monitoring misinformation on the platform. The month-long trial, also in the US and South Korea, will allow Twitter to gather data and assess whether user reporting can be used to identify and curb misinformation in real time.

A new book by the ABC investigative journalist Mark Willacy reveals new accounts of alleged war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan and alleged efforts to cover them up. The book has pieced together witness accounts, including the allegation a soldier shot and killed a young disabled Afghan man as he limped away from a patrol group in March 2012.

The global miner BHP is planning a major overhaul, simplifying its structure and dumping its oil and gas assets into Woodside Petroleum, creating one of the biggest energy producers in the world.

The world

Facebook Twitter A boy sits in the debris of his house while the rain falls during the passage of Tropical Storm Grace in Camp Perrin, Haiti. Photograph: Orlando Barría/EPA

Tropical Storm Grace has lashed southern Haiti with drenching rains, and flash floods and landslides have complicated relief efforts after Sunday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

New Zealand has gone into a national lockdown after detecting one case of Covid-19.

The partially mummified remains, including hair and bones, of a former slave are the best-preserved human remains discovered so far in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

China has launched live-fire air and sea exercises near Taiwan in response to what it called “external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces”.

Recommended reads

Facebook Twitter Wil Anderson: ‘Being a standup comedian and living out of a suitcase, you get used to going without the more-than-basic life items.’ Photograph: James Demitri/ABC

Wil Anderson wants to talk about fake news. For his latest TV gig, the longtime media personality is putting scams, false claims and dubious reporting under the microscope – all in the name of entertainment. Question Everything, an eight-part series with a rotating cast of comedians, premieres tonight on the ABC. Anderson tells us the stories of three important belongings, including his knob of the year award and the time he copped some cheek from a cop.

Few would be unfamiliar with Chopper – both the criminal and the movie. The former is Mark Brandon Read, the notorious Australian gangster. The latter is the 2000 drama, supercharged by an astonishing performance from Eric Bana. The film returns to (some) Australian cinemas in a pandemic-delayed celebration of its 20th birthday. Luke Buckmaster reflects on the classic flick with its writer-director, Andrew Dominik: “When I suggest it would have been disastrous for Dominik to have made a film that was truly pro-Chopper Read, he won’t have it: ‘I’m telling you, as the director, that it is pro-Chopper Read. Having said that, it’s not pro his behaviour. The truth is the truth and ethics have nothing to do with it, in a way.’”

There’s an art to getting children to chip in with the chores. Veronica Heritage-Gorrie shares some of her top tips to get the kids helping around the house from when they’re little tackers to moody teens. “When they became teenagers the tactics I once employed were no longer effective, so I opted for a diplomatic approach. For example, I would give them an option of two chores: washing dishes or hanging the washing on the line. This provided them with empowerment and important decision-making skills, even if they were unaware of my tactic.”


NSW continues to enforce stricter lockdown measures and launched Operation Stay at Home this week, which increases police and F numbers and imposes larger fines of $5,000 for breaching public health orders. But some residents question whether tougher enforcement is the answer. In today’s Full Story, Laura Murphy-Oates speaks to the Guardian Australia reporter Mostafa Rachwani and the NSW Labor MP Jihad Dib about policing, financial support and how this lockdown has left some residents on the verge of a breakdown.

Full Story Sydney’s suburbs hardest hit by Covid now at breaking point Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen 00:00:00 00:25:24

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


Eddie Betts believes the AFL is not a safe environment for Indigenous players and has pledged to continue fighting racism beyond his retirement. Betts has announced he will retire after playing his 350th game.

Afghanistan will not compete at this month’s Paralympics in Tokyo after the team were unable to leave Kabul as a result of the Taliban’s conquest of the country.

Media roundup

Construction will start on Western Australia’s purpose-built quarantine facility in October and it is likely to be operational by March, after Scott Morrison and Mark McGowan signed a memorandum of understanding for the Jandakot airport hub, reports the West Australian. The Australian reports that NSW intensive care doctors are concerned about the pressure of rising Covid cases as three-quarters of the state’s ICU beds are full.

Coming up

The federal education minister, Alan Tudge, will address the National Press Club.

And if you’ve read this far …

United Airlines has asked its employees to not use duct tape to restrain unruly passengers and reminded them that “there are designated items onboard that may be used in difficult situations”.

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