Kamala Harris on Capitol Hill Tuesday in Washington DC.
Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Good morning, this is Imogen Dewey bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 16 October.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris has canceled forthcoming travel after two people linked to the Democratic campaign tested positive for coronavirus. Meanwhile Twitter briefly locked the official Trump re-election campaign account over a tweet suggesting that Joe Biden is a liar over the New York Post Hunter Biden story, according to the campaign’s director of communications Tim Murtaugh. Millions of Americans have already cast their vote in America’s presidential election, and that unprecedented enthusiasm that could lead to record-shattering turnout. And top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell says he has the votes to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s hotly debated pick for the supreme court (who refused to tell Harris if she believes in climate change).
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, is facing mounting pressure on her leadership after Labor accused her of being used as a “sounding board for corruption” – a claim she called “extremely offensive” while daring the opposition to repeat it outside of parliament. The exchange during question time on Thursday following evidence by Berejiklian’s former lover, Daryl Maguire, the disgraced MP for Wagga Wagga. In his second day in the witness box at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac), Maguire said he sought “guidance” on “what I was doing … to solve some issues” in relation to his debts in his calls to Berejiklian. Later on Thursday, despite the commission’s concerns about “personal privacy”, an unredacted transcript of the morning’s proceedings was accidentally published online, including parts of the hearing that were closed to the media and the public.
Questions are being asked about whether Shepparton’s most vulnerable residents are getting enough support during its mini Covid-19 crisis, and why the town is proving to be so vulnerable to outbreak. The large hub is ranked among some of the most disadvantaged local government areas in Victoria. But one health expert notes that the town, like many regional communities, has something on its side: “The stories of people helping other people are quite remarkable.”
The NSW government has been accused of undermining the state’s new greyhound regulator by forcing it to rely on industry funding. It was established following 2015 revelations of live baiting and large volumes of attrition and “wastage” – dogs being killed when they could no longer race or weren’t useful for racing. It prompted a ban of the industry in 2016, only for that ban to be aborted within three months after a fierce backlash. The industry was reinstated with promises of greater oversight, but observers warn funding cuts and a political inquiry threaten the new watchdog.
A national cabinet meeting due to discuss a plan to bring back Australians stranded overseas has been postponed, after the prime minister himself became stranded in Queensland with “technical problems” grounding his RAAF plane.
A conservative Australian senator has refused to apologise after he caused a storm of outrage by demanding three Chinese-Australians publicly and unconditionally condemn “the Chinese Communist party dictatorship”.
Héritier Lumumba has reportedly launched a lawsuit against Collingwood Football Club and the AFL over alleged racist abuse he received at the club when he was a player.
Australia’s domestic spy agency is reviewing the language it uses to refer to terrorism after some conservative government senators argued warnings about the increasing threat posed by the “extreme right wing” caused “unnecessary anxiety”.
Jair Bolsonaro’s efforts to portray himself as an anti-corruption crusader have suffered another blow after police reportedly seized a wad of banknotes from between the clenched buttocks of one of his allies.
EU leader at a Brussels summit have sent an uncompromising message to Boris Johnson: the UK – in turmoil amid new lockdown rules – must swallow the bloc’s conditions or expect a no-deal outcome in ongoing trade negotiations.
Sweden will increase military spending by about 40% in the next five years and double the number of people conscripted into its armed forces as it aims to strengthen its defence amid growing tensions with Russia, the government has said.
Nigeria’s army has warned it could step in against “subversive elements and troublemakers” as the protests against police brutality that have erupted throughout the country over the past week continue.
“The Living Sea of Waking Dreams combines the moral righteousness of a fable, the wounded grief of a eulogy, and the fury of someone who still reads the news,” writes Beejay Silcox. Richard Flanagan’s eighth novel traces a dying parent and a doom-scrolling heroine through a world drowning in opinion, jargon, small-talk and noise. “Writers the world over are grappling with a version of this question: in the face of so much devastation, so much terror, what can fiction possibly achieve? This book is his emphatic, wrenching answer.”
“On the face of it, Beatrice Laus’s success looks like the plot of a far-fetched movie, the kind of thing knocked together by Netflix,” Alexis Petridis writes of Beabadoobee. “Seventeen-year-old misfit learns to play secondhand guitar after being expelled from school; writes first song, then watches astonished as it becomes a viral sensation (49m plays on Spotify and counting), sparks a record deal, and forms the basis for a Canadian hip-hop single that racks up 10 billion plays on TikTok in three months.”
How will we tackle the pandemic of loneliness after Covid? With technology increasingly driving us away from real life encounters deliberate steps must be made to bring us back to each other, writes Brigid Delaney. “Right now we exist in a space filled with tension – we’re desperate to connect but prevented from doing so for our own good, and the good of others.”
What if Donald Trump refuses to concede? The US president has repeatedly stated that he may refuse to accept defeat in the coming election. Legal scholar Lawrence Douglas has written the book, literally, on what would happen next. And as he explains on this episode of Full Story, things could get very messy if the result is close.
The general consensus was that Australian rugby has been saved, yet the Bledisloe Cup has not yet been regained after 18 long years, points out Bret Harris. With the second Test to be played at the Eden Park “graveyard” in Auckland on Sunday, the Wallabies cannot afford to get caught up in any hyperbole.
“To grow up in a Geelong family in the 1990s was to be taught to expect two things – eternal disappointment, and the legend of Gary Ablett,” writes Dean Sherr. “But by the time I was old enough to enjoy the footy, there was a new Gary Ablett on the field – Gary Junior. Now, on the eve of what could be his final game, his name needs no suffix … we will never see a player like him again.”
The evidence of Victoria’s chief health officer is under renewed scrutiny in the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry, reports the Age. Germany is worried about our deteriorating relationship with China, says the Sydney Morning Herald. Politicians might be due some tougher rules on their phones after a major 2019 cyber attack, warns the Brisbane Times. And according to the Australian, Clive Palmer’s Queensland election spending has raised a few questions.
The ICAC hearing into former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire continues after his public evidence was cut short on Thursday.
Rio Tinto will face the Juukan Gorge Senate inquiry, following “quite damning” evidence from traditional owners earlier this week.
And if you’ve read this far …
The author Hilary Mantel has called for the Royal College of Surgeons to repatriate the skeleton of an Irish “giant” whose bones remain in storage in London two centuries after he asked to be buried at sea. Charles Byrne’s 2.31 metre-stature made him an 18th century celebrity. Though he went to great lengths to ensure he was not put on display after his death – a fate usually reserved for executed criminals – his remains were acquired by a pioneering surgeon and anatomist, who may have bribed an undertaker to switch corpses.
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