Morning mail: Australia’s first gold, meteor over Norway, lockdown cooking

Good morning. Australia has taken its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Gladys Berejikilian has shamed anti-lockdown protesters for “disregard for their fellow citizens” as Covid case numbers continue to climb in New South Wales. And we have a list of recipes, which are not sourdough, for you to try during lockdown.

Australia’s women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team have smashed their own world record to take the country’s the first gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. On Sunday, Emma McKeon, Meg Harris, Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell shaved three-tenths of a second off their previous best to break the 3:30 mark for the first time in history, stopping the clock at 3:29.69. Canada and the United States rounded out the podium, a full three seconds back. Today, in a highly anticipated battle, Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus will face off with defending champion Katie Ledecky in the women’s 400 metres freestyle final. The showdown has been eagerly anticipated ever since Titmus dethroned Ledecky at the last world championships in 2019.

The NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Sunday that two people had died overnight from Covid-19, one woman in her 70s, and a woman in her 30s with no pre-existing health conditions as the state reported 141 new coronavirus cases. The premier told anti-lockdown protesters who rallied on Saturday they “should be ashamed” of themselves. Police said on Sunday they had issued 510 fines in the past 24 hours, with the “vast majority” coming from Saturday’s anti-lockdown protest. At least 57 people have been charged over the unrest, including two for allegedly striking a police horse.

Increasing numbers of young people with coronavirus are being admitted to hospital and intensive care wards in the UK, doctors have said, as they urged people to get vaccinated. While young people are generally at a much lower risk of dying from Covid, doctors say they are increasingly witnessing them become severely unwell. Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, a senior intensive care registrar, said the patients they were seeing were “getting younger and younger”. “The vast majority of those requiring intensive care are unvaccinated: some of them will die. It is heartbreaking for us as NHS staff to watch people suffer unnecessarily knowing that this almost certainly could have been prevented by the vaccine,” she said.


Pills and plastic pill bottle on wooden table
Some experts warn the actual rate of harm of supplement-induced liver injuries in Australia is likely much higher as the study only examined severe cases admitted to hospital. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The number of patients being admitted to Australian hospitals with severe liver injuries caused by herbal and dietary supplements claiming to promote muscle growth or weight loss is increasing, with some people requiring a liver transplant. Researchers say more rigorous regulatory oversight for supplements and other alternative and natural therapies is needed.

Australia’s arts and cultural sector needs a reconstruction program if it is to survive let alone “snap back” after the Covid shutdown. A new report by Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work said it was time for nothing less than a “total public-led reboot” of the ways in which government thinks of and funds the arts.

Australia is among four G20 states with “disastrous” climate targets, scientists have warned. They say that emission pledges of China, Russia, Brazil and Australia – which remain reliant on continued fossil-fuel burning – would trigger temperature rises of 5C if followed by the rest of the world. A heating hike that would bring devastation to much of the planet.

Scott Morrison has sought to defend government MP George Christensen for anti-lockdown activism in Queensland, stating Australians have “free speech” and can attend rallies where public health orders allow, while condemning rally-goers in Sydney as “selfish”.

The world

Sky turns orange with smoke haze from the Dixie Fire in Greenvillein Quincy
The Dixie fire continues to burn in California on Saturday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

As California’s biggest wildfire destroyed multiple homes, and as numerous other blazes battered the American west, the governor of Oregon spoke out about the climate crisis. “The harsh reality is that we’re going to see more of these wildfires,” Kate Brown said, adding that they are a sign of the changing climate impacts. “We have to take action,” she said.

A video of a man confronting Fox News host Tucker Carlson and telling him “You are the worst human being” in an Instagram video has gone viral. Fox News’s most-watched host has recently come under fire for questioning vaccines against Covid-19 while refusing to say if he has had one, and for stoking racial division.

An “unusually large meteor” briefly lit up southern Norway on Sunday, creating a spectacular sound and light display as it rumbled across the sky. And a part of it may have hit Earth, possibly not far from the capital, Oslo, experts said. A web camera captured a fireball falling from the sky and erupting into a bright flash that lit up a marina.

French president Emmanuel Macron reportedly spoke to the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to ensure that the Israeli government is “properly investigating” the allegation that his phone and those of most of his cabinet could have been infected with the Israeli-made spyware Pegasus.

Recommended reads

A dish of ramen
Chicken laksa by Mandy Yin. Photograph: Martin Poole/The Observer

With many parts of Australia in some form of lockdown, home cooking projects are back on the agenda. Whether you find cooking from scratch an escape from the world, a way to entertain the kids, or a place to unleash your inner mad scientist, we’ve rounded up a few options that aren’t sourdough, because sourdough is so very 2020.

“Drawing a line around the island, keeping the virus out – it’s tempting to believe it will work forever.” Australia’s early success in containing Covid-19 should have bought time for a world-class vaccination campaign. Instead, the country has senselessly squandered its advantage. Now wealth is deciding who makes it home, writes Jennifer Mills, one of thousands of Australians stranded abroad.

Canberra couple Dan and Bec McConnell don’t need to go on holidays together. Instead, they go to the Olympics every four (or five) years, plus annual trips to world championships at exotic locations around the globe. This week the married pair will represent Australia in the mountain bike cross-country races. “It’s going to take a big change, a big result, to put mountain bike on the map in Australia, to get the sport the support it needs,” says Bec.


In March 2017, a 38-year-old freelance reporter named Cecilio Pineda Birto was shot dead in Altamirano, a town in the southern Mexican region of Tierra Caliente – a battleground for organised crime factions. His phone vanished from the crime scene. A few weeks earlier, a number connected to that phone had been selected as a possible surveillance target by a client of the spyware company NSO Group. Nina Lakhani, one of several reporters at the Guardian who worked on the Pegasus project, tells how 15,000 Mexicans, including journalists and politicians, appeared on a list of possible targets for surveillance.

Full Story

Surveillance and cyber-weapons on the ground in Mexico

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


Australian golfer Minjee Lee won her first major title in the Evian Championship, beating South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee.

The Olyroos, Australia’s under-23s, lost to Spain 1-0 on Sunday and now must at least draw Egypt on Wednesday to make the knockout stages of the Olympic football tournament they were never supposed to contest in the first place.

Media roundup

The Sydney Morning Herald traces the organisation of the weekend’s anti-lockdown protests among fringe online communities. Organisers discussed their plans on Telegram messenger and spread them via Facebook and Instagram. Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman has resigned from the Liberal National party and is understood to be considering making a return to politics at the federal level, the Courier Mail reported.

Coming up

The trial resumes in the defamation case of Ben Roberts-Smith, the ex-SAS soldier who is alleged to have murdered an unarmed civilian in Afghanistan in 2012 and who denies the allegation.

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