Morning mail: ACT lockdown, Kandahar captured, a ‘sexy Miss Marple’

Good morning. The ACT is in lockdown. The US and UK are sending troops to help with emergency evacuations as the Taliban advance towards Kabul. And a leaked IPCC report warns that global greenhouse emissions must peak in the next four years.

Canberra entered a snap week-long lockdown late yesterday with four Covid cases – the territory’s first locally transmitted cases in more than a year. As the outbreak threatens to spread into their accommodation, students at the Australian National University have been told to isolate. And the ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, suggested federal parliament’s next scheduled sittings may need to be postponed.

Hospitals across Sydney are under “significant strain”, unions warn. Newly retired nurses and students, as well as cancer screening workers, were now being called in to bolster a workforce facing an “enormous task”. As NSW announced 345 new locally acquired Covid cases yesterday, there were 374 coronavirus patients in hospitals. Of the 62 in intensive care, 29 required ventilation. A Sydney school for autistic children is now linked to 18 cases, including seven infected students.

NSW has requested more Australian defence force personnel to help set up vaccination centres as the Delta outbreak continues to spread across Sydney and in the regions. Aboriginal communities of western NSW have accused the authorities of slow vaccine rollout, saying it leaves them exposed to a major outbreak. Less than 20% of the Aboriginal population aged 16 and over in western NSW had received one dose of any vaccine, and only 8% were fully vaccinated, according to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

The Taliban have claimed the capture of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, as the third-largest city of Herat, in the country’s west, fell to the militants. The US will send 3,000 additional troops and the UK will send 600 troops to aid embassy evacuations, amid fears that Kabul could be overrun in 30 to 90 days. US and German citizens have been told to leave the country immediately.

Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years, coal and gas-fired power plants must close in the next decade, and lifestyle and behavioural changes will be needed to avoid climate breakdown, according to the leaked draft of the forthcoming third part of the landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the first part of which was published on Monday.


Facebook Twitter Journalist Cheng Lei has been detained in China for a year on charges that ‘lack all credibility’, and allowed no contact with her two children in Australia

Friday marks the first anniversary of Cheng Lei’s detention. The Australian journalist has been held in China on “suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas” but no further details about the accusations or any potential court dates have been released. Cheng’s former colleagues and prominent Australian journalists say they stand with her and call for her “to be reunited with her children”.

New political parties in Australia would require 1,500 members to be registered and would be blocked from using names similar to existing parties, under changes proposed by the Coalition. Four electoral bills introduced on Thursday have prompted backlash from environmental campaign groups and the New Liberals.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has issued fresh advice for employers considering making the Covid vaccine mandatory for workers and outlined a four-tier system to determine when such an order would be reasonable. The update came as a number of Coalition MPs spoke out against requiring workers to be vaccinated.

A pensioner slugged $1,000 by Centrelink over jobkeeper payments has accused the government of double standards for its failure to clamp down on businesses who got the subsidy and then turned a profit. Jan Raabe, 70, said she did not realise that the payment she was receiving through her employment as a primary school teacher would cause her to be overpaid for her part-age pension.

An Aboriginal man who says he was seriously injured when a jujitsu-trained police officer threw him to the ground has settled his lawsuit against NSW. Brett Armstrong was claiming damages for injuries including incomplete quadriplegia and lower limb spasticity with impaired balance and gait. The matter was settled on confidential terms.

The world

A California man, who has been charged with killing his two young children, said in an interview with the FBI that “he was enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories”. He said “he was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife, AC, possessed serpent DNA and had passed it on to his children”.

Russia has reportedly detained the head of a hypersonic technology research facility on suspicion of treason in the latest high-profile arrest targeting a senior scientist for allegedly selling state secrets.

Neighbours say they knew little of David Smith, a security guard at the British embassy in Berlin who has been arrested on suspicion of passing state secrets to Russia, but photographs of his flat showed Russian flags inside.

Recommended reads

Facebook Twitter Miss Fisher: ‘Even though the series is set almost 100 years ago, watching it in 2021 she still feels like a character pushing against the seams of society.’ Photograph: AP

“You’ll want to watch this – it’s like a sexy Miss Marple.” The Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is a collection of addictive whodunnits solved by a delightfully “challenging” woman detective who brings together confidence, competence and a liberated attitude to gender roles and relationships.

A piece of 40-year-old frozen cake has been auctioned off in England for £1,850 (A$3,483). The reason people wanted this frozen cake is because it came from one of Prince Charles and Diana’s 23 wedding cakes in 1981. Sinéad Stubbins also froze some cupcakes that were meant for the launch party for her new book, which was cancelled because of lockdown. “I have no idea when I’ll look at them or what I’ll do with them,” she writes. “They function as a sort of proof of life – this thing did happen and don’t let your brain trick you into thinking otherwise.”

Sourdough starter show and tell was a thing well before collective lockdowns. There’s a lockdown impulse to Instagram bubbling or overflowing jars of starter from which perfectly shaped, scored and coloured loaves are birthed; their home bakers cooing about the perfect crumb. But for top cooks dried yeast is a quick win, not a cheat. (Bonus: a grissini recipe from Stephanie Alexander.)


The IPCC was unequivocal in its report this week: human activity is causing rapid, and potentially catastrophic, changes to the climate. Guardian Australia’s editor, Lenore Taylor, and head of news, Mike Ticher, unpick the climate rhetoric of Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce in response.

Full Story The science is clear on the climate crisis but is the PM? – with Lenore Taylor Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen 00:00:00 00:26:52

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


Chijindu Ujah, the British sprinter who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics as part of Team GB’s men’s 4x100m relay team, has been suspended for a doping violation and faces the prospect of being stripped of his medal. Three other athletes have been suspended – from Morocco, Georgia, and Kenya.

Conceding three tries in the final 15 minutes at Eden Park was bitterly disappointing for the All Blacks and they will be expected to bounce back at the Bledisloe Cup’s second Test on Saturday, writes Bret Harris.

Media roundup

South Australian Olympians have spoken of the emotional drain of double quarantine which their home state forced them into after returning from Tokyo. Sixteen fully vaccinated athletes were told they would have to isolate for 28 days in total, the Adelaide Advertiser reports. Taiwan has called on Australia and Britain to back its admission to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trading club, saying it should be invited after China’s shutdown of Hong Kong democracy, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Coming up

The federal court judgment is due in NSW deputy premier John Barilaro’s defamation case against the YouTube comedian Friendlyjordies.

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