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Morning mail: Djokovic’s day in court; Queensland floods; tutu debate

Jan 10, 2022

Good morning. A bid to delay Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing has been rejected. Federal and state governments scramble as Covid cases spike. A momentous week of diplomacy gets under way in Europe as Ukraine’s fate hangs in the balance.

A bid by the Morrison government to delay Novak Djokovic’s visa hearing by two days has been rejected by the federal circuit court. In an order, published on Sunday, judge Anthony Kelly rejected the move which would have delayed the hearing until Wednesday – after Tennis Australia’s stated deadline to include the world No 1 in the Australian Open draw. But legal experts have warned even with the hearing proceeding on Monday, there is no guarantee Djokovic could secure a court order restoring his visa in time to play. The Serbian star could also face his visa being revoked again on fresh grounds.

Omicron cases are spiking across Australia. On Sunday, New South Wales reported its deadliest day since the start of the pandemic with 16 deaths in the preceding 24 hours – eclipsing the highest daily totals of the Delta wave. Eight men and eight women in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s died. Federal and state governments are taking dramatic measures to cope. In both Queensland and NSW, new rules allow people with Covid-19 to leave isolation to work if their job is critical for food supply or emergency services. In Queensland, the start of the school year has been delayed by two weeks, the state government has announced. Meanwhile, federal health officials revealed isolation rules may soon change nationwide due to case numbers spiking.

A momentous week of diplomacy is about to get under way in Europe, with the fate of Ukraine, hemmed in by 100,000 Russian troops, hanging in the balance. Senior diplomats from the United States and Russia will meet in Geneva to discuss Moscow’s demands, set out last month in two draft treaties, one with the US and one with Nato. Much of their content is unacceptable to Washington and the alliance, most importantly a pledge that Ukraine will never be a Nato member.

Australia

A 14-year-old girl remains missing as parts of Queensland continue to be affected by major flooding. The aftermath of ex-tropical Cyclone Seth has caused “unexpected” heavy rains and storms across parts of the state, with further cyclone activity expected this week.

Liberal state governments have voiced concern over the federal government’s religious discrimination bill. NSW and Tasmania fear the bill will override their anti-discrimination laws.

Rough waters couldn’t slow long-distance swimmer Lynton Mortensen’s unprecedented attempt to swim around Lord Howe Island. But things became interesting when inquisitive Galápagos whaler sharks showed up.

The world

Authorities in Kazakhstan have said 164 people were killed in the unrest that rocked the country in the past week, including three children. The health ministry said 103 of the deaths were in Almaty, the country’s largest city and the centre of the violence.

Donald Trump cannot hide behind immunity from criminal prosecution and faces the possibility of being debarred from running for public office over his role in the Capitol attack, several members of Congress said on Sunday.

About 30% of former Guantánamo detainees who were resettled in third countries have not been granted legal status, according to new analysis shared exclusively with the Guardian, leaving them vulnerable to deportation and restricting their ability to rebuild their lives.

At least 200 people are believed to have been killed in villages in the north-western Nigerian state of Zamfara, in some of the deadliest attacks by armed bandits at large in the region.

More and more people around the world are suffering with autoimmune diseases, where their immune systems can no longer tell the difference between healthy cells and invading micro-organisms. Researchers blame western diets as a potential cause.

Boris Johnson’s former Brexit minister who quit last month has warned him to commit to low taxes and the free market or risk losing the next election, as the prime minister comes under continuing pressure from the Conservative right.

Recommended reads

The ballerina’s tutu remains a traditional object of desire for many young girls: an enduring emblem of diaphanous femininity, as well as the twirling centrepiece of many a childhood music box. But is its longstanding link with the world of professional dance now out of date? Leading dancers and directors now say they find the classic costume both physically and artistically restrictive.

The challenges of parenting a teenager can leave one powerless and alone. Accepting these challenges is the only way to get to the other side, writes Andie Fox. “I do not know if the world is getting more complex to raise teenagers in or if it has long been this fraught. I don’t know, because like I said, no one talks about this part of parenting with much real honesty.”

Is the US really heading for a second civil war? With the country polarised and Republicans embracing authoritarianism, some experts fear a Northern Ireland-style insurgency could occur but others say armed conflict remains improbable.

Listen

In this standout 2021 episode of the Full Story podcast reflecting on the 20-year anniversary of the Tampa affair, Afghan refugee Abbas Nazari, then a seven-year-old child on the MV Tampa, and Guardian journalist David Marr remember the humanitarian and political crisis that shaped Australia’s policies on asylum seekers and their claims to this day.

Full Story

Revisited: How the Tampa affair changed Australia’s stance on asylum seekers

Sorry your browser does not support audio - but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2021/12/17-01387-BO_Tampa.mp3

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

Sport

Josh Cavallo says he has “no words” to describe his disappointment at being targeted by homophobic abuse during an A-League Men game over the weekend. Cavallo, who last year became the only openly gay professional top flight men’s footballer in the world, came on as a second-half substitute during the Reds’ away game at Melbourne Victory on Saturday night and said afterwards that he had received abuse from the crowd at AAMI Park.

Teenager Genevieve Beacom has made history as the first female pitcher for an Australian professional baseball team, debuting for the Melbourne Aces in the Melbourne Challenge Series on Saturday.

Media roundup

Three men have been arrested over an alleged plot to smuggle almost $100m worth of methamphetamine into Western Australia, according to the Western Australian. Leaked letters show confusion over whether it was the federal or state government responsibility to give an exemption for Novak Djokovic from Australia’s double-vaccination rule, the Sydney Morning Herald exclusively reports.

Coming up

Five-to-11-year-olds can now be vaccinated in Australia.

And if you’ve read this far …

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