Morning mail: Harvey Weinstein guilty, Iran coronavirus outbreak, poll support for net zero

Helen Sullivan
Photograph: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 25 February.

Top stories

A New York jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty. The jury of seven men and five women at the New York supreme court found Weinstein guilty of a criminal sex act in the first degree for forcing oral sex on the former Project Runway production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006. The count carries a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of up to 25 years. The jury also convicted Weinstein of rape in the third degree. This relates to him raping a woman in a New York hotel in 2013. Weinstein was acquitted of three further charges, including the count of predatory sexual assault, which carried a possible life sentence. The guilty verdict could have a profound impact on the way sex crimes are prosecuted. The New York district attorney’s office took an enormous gamble in how they set up the trial. Prosecutors chose as main accusers two women, both of whom continued to have close – and at times sexual – contact with Weinstein after they were attacked. ’

Evangelical churches with strong links to Western Australian Liberals have won almost $40,000 in grants in the past four months through a federal scheme. The churches won funding through the Stronger Communities program, which allocates grants only to organisations that have been formally invited by the local federal MP. The True North church in Perth’s northern suburbs was awarded $11,000 in November to upgrade its kitchen. The church sits in the federal division of Moore, held for the Liberals by Ian Goodenough. A grant for $5,500 went to the evangelical One church, also in Perth’s outer northern suburbs, for new carpets. One of the church’s founding pastors is Trish Botha, who worked in Goodenough’s office until she left to run as a Senate candidate for the Liberals at last year’s federal election.

The Iranian government has denied trying to cover up the full extent of an outbreak of the coronavirus, as Italy reported six deaths and officials across the Middle East and Europe scrambled to limit its spread. On Monday, an Iranian lawmaker from Qom – a Shia holy city 120km south of the capital, Tehran – accused the health minister of lying about the scale of the outbreak. According to the semi-official Ilna news agency, which is close to reformists, the lawmaker, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, said there had been 50 deaths from the coronavirus in Qom alone. The country’s deputy health minister rejected the report.

Australia

Charred trees in a patch of forest burnt during the recent bushfires near Batemans Bay, NSW. Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters

More than 20% of Australia’s forests burned during the summer’s bushfire catastrophe, a proportion scientists believe is unprecedented globally, according to new research.

China’s number two diplomat in Australia made an appearance on last night’s Q&A program on the ABC, where he described China’s Uighur detention camps as “training centres” whose residents are “mostly” there voluntarily, and defended footage showing people suspected of having coronavirus being forcibly pushed into vans as justified.

A growing majority of Coalition voters support the Morrison government adopting a net zero target for 2050, with support for that proposition climbing 12 points in a month, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.

Being Aboriginal with a disability is a “double whammy”, the royal disability commission has heard. One witness said the system should be accountable for institutional prejudice “in which highly qualified healthcare practitioners can just pass people off with need as being drunk or faking it”.

Online flight booking company Fly365 has left travellers thousands of dollars out of pocket after it entered voluntary administration just days after customers say they handed over money to the firm. Fly365 has links to collapsed budget airfare company Bestjet.

The world

People react after a car ploughed into a carnival parade, injuring several people in Volkmarsen, Germany. Photograph: Elmar Schulten/Reuters

Dozens of people have been injured in Germany, some of them children, after a local man appeared to deliberately drive a car into a carnival parade procession in the central German town of Volkmarsen, police have said. The driver was arrested but police could not immediately provide details about the man’s motives.

The US Democratic party is grappling with Bernie Sanders being its likely nominee for president. In the aftermath of Sanders’ victory in Nevada, and as the South Carolina primary looms, the party establishment continues to contend with the increasing possibility that the Vermont senator, a self-proclaimed socialist, will win the nomination.

Informants named in WikiLeaks files disappeared, the Julian Assange hearing has heard. Secret sources who had supplied information to the US government allegedly “disappeared” after they were put at risk of death or torture by WikiLeaks’s release of classified documents.

Lesotho’s prime minister has requested immunity from the charge of murdering his wife. Thomas Thabane made a surprise appearance in court, where his lawyer argued that his office grant him immunity from prosecution for allegedly murdering his estranged wife shortly before he took power.

Recommended reads

Cruise ship coronavirus evacuees arrive in Darwin. Photograph: Helen Orr/EPA

How will Australia respond if the coronavirus outbreak becomes a pandemic? As cases of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus rise outside of China, health experts in Australia argue a global coronavirus pandemic “is very likely, if not inevitable”. The “initial action” response, when cases are first identified in Australia, is focused on “minimising transmission” and “managing initial cases”. It involves border measures such as health screenings at airports and ports, escalating to travel bans, which are currently in place for travellers from mainland China. If it escalates, next comes surge staffing and “fever clinics”.

In the past year underemployment has risen, destroying any hope of improved wages growth, writes Greg Jericho. “But while the overall rate of underemployment remains a major concern, the experience for older workers highlights how the problem has changed and has gone from one mostly applied to younger workers to one that those nearing retirement are dealing with more than ever before … Workers entering the final stage of their employment life are not only having to deal with a higher retirement age than they assumed they would have when they began work, they are now much more likely to be struggling to get as much work as they desire.”

Listen

Manchester City’s fortunes changed dramatically with the takeover by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi. But after years of success, Europe’s governing body has banned the club from its most prestigious tournament, the Champions League. David Conn explains why. Plus: Alok Jha on the ethics of gene editing.

Sport

Kavisha Dilhari of Sri Lanka unsuccessfully appeals for the wicket of Rachael Haynes of Australia during the Women’s T20 World Cup cricket match between Australia and Sri Lanka at the Waca in Perth on Monday. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Rachael Haynes has rescued Australia after huge Women’s World T20 scare against Sri Lanka.It was nervous, it was unconvincing, and it was a victory that Australia desperately needed after falling to India three days earlier. The five-wicket win over Sri Lanka at the Waca Ground kept the host nation’s hopes alive, but there promises to be some soul-searching within the Australian camp as they prepare for their match against Bangladesh later this week,” writes Megan Maurice.

Consistency has been key to Melbourne City’s success – the newly crowned premiers are the most successful W-League club of the past half decade.

Media roundup

The Australian splash this morning is that Asio has uncovered a “‘sleeper agent’ running a major spy ring”. The Australian Financial Review reports that Australian shares are once again “set to plunge” amid coronavirus fears. “School cleaners have been warned against accepting a job promoted as a ‘great opportunity to earn some good money’ to clean a quarantine centre for the crew of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan,” the Sydney Morning Herald reveals.

Coming up

The hearing continues in the federal court case of a Tamil family from Biloela facing deportation.

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