Morning mail: China's 'killer blow', Palfreeman wins appeal, Adam Liaw ranks iso food

Richard Parkin
Photograph: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 29 May.

Top stories

Hong Kong’s future autonomy has been dealt a “killer blow” after China’s governing legislature approved controversial national security laws aimed at stamping out protests that have racked the territory for the past year. Delegates in Beijing broke into applause after the legislation was passed, prompting a pro-democracy legislator in Hong Kong, Claudia Mo, to proclaim that: “Hong Kong as we knew it is finally dead.” The UK’s foreign secretary has said that it will extend visa rights for up to 300,000 British nations from Hong Kong – allowing them a pathway to UK citizenship – should China persist in imposing repressive laws over the territory.

Australia’s historic decline in jobs and incomes due to the coronavirus has steadied, new research from the Australian National University has determined. Average hours worked increased in May, with the percentage of Australians in work levelling out, after about 600,000 lost their jobs in April. More than half of those surveyed remain anxious about Covid-19, however, with nearly a third believing it very likely they will be infected in the next six months. In part four of our special investigation, Stimulus under scrutiny, we look at the supports provided for small and medium businesses, and the potential minefields awaiting once supports are turned off.

Four shortlisted purchasers, due to lodge bids for Virgin Australia on Friday, have expressed anxiety over a lack of governmental support, Guardian Australia has learned. The airline faces a four to six-week period without cash, between any mooted sale next month and a key creditors’ meeting due to be held in August. Further uncertainties over the sale process have fuelled fears it could collapse, which would send the airline into liquidation – leaving 10,000 people without jobs and handing Qantas a near monopoly over Australian air travel.


Australian Jock Palfreeman is a step closer to freedom after Bulgaria’s highest court dismissed an appeal against his release from jail. The Sydney man was released in October after serving nearly 12 years behind bars, but has been prevented from leaving the country by the Bulgarian government. He was found guilty of murder and attempted murder for stabbing two Bulgarian youths in 2007 and has always maintained he acted in self-defence.

Irrigators have illegally harvested unregulated and unmeasured water from floodplains for decades, water officials have admitted, a sum accounting for up to a third of all water used by operators in the northern part of the Murray-Darling Basin. The 2018 South Australian royal commission described floodplain harvesting as “one of the most significant threats to water security … to both licence holders and downstream states”.

The federal government has asked China to grant Australia the same reduction in bureaucratic trade barriers that Beijing has promised the United States, amid fears smaller trading nations might suffer “collateral damage” from a deal between the world’s two largest economies.

Lower power prices and more than 100,000 new jobs could be Australia’s rewards for a rapid shift to renewable energy, a new briefing paper suggests, with former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull describing Beyond Zero Emissions’ analysis as “compellingly right”. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped only marginally last year – down 0.9% – although this was largely driven by a shift towards investment in renewable energy.

The world

Police and protesters clash for a second night of protests in Minneapolis. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The US department of justice has made its investigation of police involvement in the death of George Floyd a “top priority” after a second evening of street clashes in Minneapolis. The FBI will investigate whether the officers involved also violated federal laws.

The US president, Donald Trump, has signed an executive order that could erode legal protections for social media companies, in an escalation of his ongoing spat after Twitter affixed fact-checking warnings to several of his tweets.

A French political power couple have been handed prison sentences for money laundering. Patrick Balkany and his wife, Isabelle, the former mayor and deputy mayor of a Parisian suburb, were convicted of hiding at least €13m from tax authorities.

Recommended reads

From Insta-worthy whipped coffees and ego-sourdough to recipes with their own hashtags, during lockdown food has gone as viral as coronavirus itself. But what is Dalgona coffee? And how do you actually make sourdough? Adam Liaw power-ranks the favourite food trends of iso. “When the world collapsed, we made sourdough. We made sourdough even though we couldn’t buy flour. We made sourdough even though all the stores were full of bread.”

The humble office can be a much-maligned place. But for perennial freelancer and itinerant wanderer Brigid Delaney there is so much to celebrate about the work space: “I went into the office each day for a whole range of reasons: structure, community, inspiration, the fellowship of my fellow underemployed freelancers, leads from them about work, to test pitches of my stories, to subedit copy (we passed our work around to be checked by one another) and the magic itself of the office building.” 

A year before isolation struck us all, acclaimed director Warwick Thornton turned solitude into an art-form – secluding himself in a beach shack in remote Western Australia, capturing it all in trademarked stunning cinematography. “It’s a romantic idea of self-isolation,” Thornton tells Luke Buckmaster, “with lots of hunting and gathering, some tears, and a bloke standing on a beach near a bush shack that looks like it’s from a beautiful novel. It’s kind of romantic fiction. It’s Mills and Boon for blokes!”


The killing of Ahmaud Arbery. A young black man was shot dead by a white father and son duo in Georgia, US, on 23 February. And yet it took the leaking of a video of the shooting to emerge in May before charges were laid. On this episode of Full Story, Anushka Asthana speaks to Guardian US reporters Sam Levine and Khushbu Shah, and lawyer Chris Stewart to find out why.

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


The Premier League is reportedly set to resume on 17 June with two games, including Arsenal’s visit to the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Rui Vieira/AP

The Premier League has a return date – with all 92 remaining games scheduled to be played from 17 June. On the opening night will be the rescheduled Arsenal v Manchester City match, delayed from 11 March when manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for Covid-19.

The F1 is due to confirm the opening eight European meetings of the season next week, with back-to-back races in the UK and Austria – the first on 5 July – with Hungary, Spain, Belgium and Italy also set to host meets.

Media roundup

Chinese-born Australian MP Gladys Liu has accused Beijing of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy, telling the Sydney Morning Herald the proposed security laws could end the principle of “one country, two systems”. The ABC reports that NSW clubs could welcome crowds of more than 500 patrons in some venues from Monday. And an Australian vet aboard the Covid-struck live export vessel, the Al Kuwait, has accused governments worldwide of “tyranny” in their response to the pandemic, writes the West Australian.

Coming up

Days after a once-in-a-decade storm brought widespread destruction to large parts of Western Australia, another big system is forecast for the state’s south.

It’s Alan Jones’ final day on air.

And if you’ve read this far …

An apex predator the size of your thumb has Canadian apiarists hugely concerned. Nicknamed the “murder hornet”, the orange and black Asian giant hornet is believed to have made the jump to North America, spreading deep into British Columbia. The hornets have an especially gruesome habit of destroying hives: “They just cut their heads off, cut their bodies in half, and you end up with a slaughter on the ground.”

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