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Morning mail: Novichok attack 'not a rogue operation'

Posted by On 4:42 PM

Morning mail: Novichok attack 'not a rogue operation'

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 6 September.

Top stories

Theresa May has informed the British parliament that two men named and charged over the Salisbury poison attack are Russian military intelligence agents. The UK prime minister confirmed that after an extensive investigation it had been found that the attack was “not a rogue operation”. “It was almost certainly also approved outside the [Main Intelligence Directorate] at a senior level of the Russian state,” May said.

It has subsequently been revealed that Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree two days before May’s address making information about freelance agents working for Russia’s foreign intelligence agencies a state secret. A foreign ministry spokeswoman has denied Russian involvement, urging Britain to “move away from pu blic accusations”. The UK has charged the two men with conspiracy to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal, as well as Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, and of the use and possession of novichok, contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act.

Queensland police taped over CCTV footage showing a violent offender confronting his former partner in a courthouse, Guardian Australia can reveal. The victim has been an outspoken critic of the force’s handling of what was considered a “petty domestic violence matter” by an officer this week, and follows an incident in which a separate officer passed on her address to her former partner. “I have no faith left that the Queensland police can protect me,” the woman said, adding: “I know there are women out there who are at high risk who have nowhere they can go.”

Australian employees working in the immigration centre on Nauru say their jobs have been threatened if they speak to journalists. A leaked recording has revealed that the Brisbane-based PR agent Lyall Mercer informed staff that information pertaining to the centre being passed to journalists “will jeopardise your employment contract”. Nauru is now hosting the Pacific Islands Forum, which has led to draconian restrictions on journalists travelling to and around Nauru. A New Zealand journalist had her accreditation stripped after speaking independently to refugees. Guardian Australia applied to attend the forum but was refused a visa by Nauru’s government, citing a lack of space on the island.

Integrity experts have accused the Victorian government of an abuse of parliamentary power after the release of 80,000 pages of unredacted confidential documents pertaining to the opposition leader, Matthew Guy. Guy faces pressure over a $2.5m confidential legal settlement he signed off on, despite it being three times higher than a figure approved by cabinet, and wit h legal advisers suggesting the case was winnable. On Wednesday the lower house passed a censure measure demanding Guy’s resignation but the decision to table documents “appears to be a government abuse of parliamentary privilege to publicly attack its opponents”, according to the governance expert Prof AJ Brown.

A plane has been quarantined in New York after as many as 100 passengers and crew reported sick, authorities have confirmed. With those affected reporting symptoms including cough and fever, all 521 passengers on Emirates flight 203 from Dubai are being evaluated by health workers, with the plane stranded on the tarmac of JFK international airport. Passengers who have been found to not be ill have been allowed to continue with their travel plans.

Sport

Japan’s Naomi Osaka has progressed to the US Open semi-finals courtesy of a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win over Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko; with the 14th seed Madison Keys the highest-ranked player remaining. Follow the latest from day 10 on our live blog, as Australia’s John Millman takes on Novak Djokovic.

The NRL finals are here, and picking a winner is nigh-on impossible, writes Matt Cleary. “Never in the 111-year history of the (Sydney/NSW/national) premiership have four teams finished on top with the same points … The Warriors ran eighth, just one win behind minor premiers the Roosters.”

Thinking time

Jason Ball

As the first openly gay Aussie rules player, Jason Ball has already made a huge impact on the field but, as Martin Flanagan writes, the 30-year-old has his sights set firmly on politics now, as the Greens look to target the b lue-ribbon Liberal seat of Higgins in Melbourne. The seat is presently held by the frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer, the minister for jobs, industrial relations and women. In a wide-ranging interview Ball speaks about his fear of coming out to his teammates, life on exchange in evolution-questioning Kansas and the inspiration of America’s anti-Trump resistance movement.

“It has been a mixed bag this winter, with struggles and achievements, highs and lows and a few health dramas added in for the extra bonus round of setbacks,” writes Tara Rose, a 43-year-old from Western Australia, in the latest installment from Guardian Australia’s Life on the Breadline series. “However, resilience takes charge and I’m still going, still here putting one foot in front of the other, still trudging forward despite the odds … The legacy I want to pass down to my children is the knowledge that despite the struggles, there are some ways to make do in some areas.”

< p>Brisbane’s music scene has always been synonymous with dudes and guitars, says the writer Benjamin Law, but occasionally a pop monster will come out of nowhere. For him, that was Megan Washington and her single Sunday Best. For Nick Earls, who lives in the Toowong region, it’s hard to go past former Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning’s Departures (Blue Toowong Skies) which, Earls says, “keeps being one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard”. Hear more from Brisbane writers about their favourite songs and vote in our poll for best song out of or about the Queensland capital.

What’s he done now?

Donald Trump has fired a barrage of tweets condemning Bob Woodward’s less-than-flattering insider account of his administration, retweeting statements by John Kelly and James Mattis denying the veteran reporter’s claims, as well as weighing in on Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ads.

Media roundup

Front page of    the Daily Telegraph

Westpac is contemplating the sale of its financial planning arm as it joins the other big-four banks in preparing for fallout from the banking royal commission, reports the Financial Review. Tax from the top fifth of Australian households are supporting the bottom 60%, writes the Australian, citing research from the conservative thinktank the Centre for Independent Studies. And players from the Canterbury Bulldogs could face up to $40,000 in fines after boisterous Mad Monday celebrations, with the Daily Telegraph claiming the club will formally ban future events.

Coming up

Larissa Waters will become the first senator to leave over dual citizenship to return to the upper house when she is formally confirmed by the Queensland parliament today.

The Catholic Bishops of Australia will call on governments and the community to address growing rates of homelessness in Australia.

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Source: Google Australia | Netizen 24 Australia

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