Morning mail: Trump demands protest crackdown, Facebook staff rebel, 'fan in the stand' furore

Emilie Gramenz
Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Good morning, this is Emilie Gramenz bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 2 June.

Top stories

Donald Trump has called US state governors “weak” and encouraged them to crack down on crowds protesting the death of George Floyd. New York City is the latest to introduce a curfew as a growing number of cities are convulsed by mass protests. Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white police officer pinned his knee into Floyd’s neck. The chief of Minneapolis police has said “all four officers” involved in Floyd’s death were “complicit”, though only one has been charged with murder. A private autopsy the family arranged has found Floyd died of asphyxiation. There is growing pressure for the other three officers to face charges. The president of the Minneapolis police union has written to its members calling George Floyd a “violent criminal”, while elsewhere, the Houston police chief joined protestors to march. Barack Obama has shared advice on making the protests a “turning point”, while Floyd’s family called for protests to be peaceful.

The Australian federal government will not rule out using new laws to allow a future reboot of the botched robodebt scheme. Guardian Australia can reveal an opinion from the solicitor general – referred to in a ministerial submission that has formed the basis for the government’s response to an ongoing class action – was received in September. The government is refunding 460,000 unlawful debts, worth $720m.

Queensland man Nathan Turner, thought to be Australia’s youngest Covid-19 fatality, has proved to be negative to the virus. His death last week in the central Queensland town of Blackwater prompted an emergency health response after an initial coronavirus test following his death returned a positive result. Queensland Health has now confirmed a second test came back negative. Meanwhile, polling shows Scott Morrison’s handling of Covid-19 continues to win approval, Spain is reporting no deaths in a 24-hour period for the first time since March, and a rapid rise in cases in Iran stokes fears of a second wave.


Matt Canavan has been grilled over his criticism of action against climate change during an episode of Q+A where he was also asked to clarify his family’s links to the coal industry. “I hardly started talking about the coal industry yesterday … I have been elected on that platform, to develop our country and keep our jobs here,” the Nationals senator said when pushed by host Hamish Macdonald about his coal industry “interests”.

Australia’s track record on deaths in custody is again under scrutiny, as Aboriginal people whose family members died in similar circumstances to George Floyd express solidarity with US protestors. There have been at least five deaths since Guardian Australia updated its Deaths Inside project in August 2019, two of which have resulted in murder charges being laid.

Australia’s drug regulator has launched court action against a “healing church” touting bleach as a Covid-19 cure. The Therapeutic Goods Administration fined the Australian chapter of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing more than $150,000 for breaching advertising laws.

Anti-Discrimination NSW has recorded a surge in anti-Asian racism during the coronavirus pandemic. The state’s anti-discrimination body received 241 official complaints between January and April this year, 62 on the grounds of race – an average of four a week.

Labor has said the government-owned national broadband network should consider buying fibre networks from Telstra and other fibre operators across Australia covering up to 300,000 homes. Last month, NBN Co announced it had raised an extra $4.1bn, which could be used for “strategic” investments after the NBN rollout is completed at the end of this month.

The world

The sixth mass extinction of wildlife on Earth is accelerating, according to an analysis by scientists who warn it may be a tipping point for the collapse of civilisation. More than 500 species of land animals were found to be on the brink of extinction and likely to be lost within 20 years.

Hong Kong police have formally banned this week’s vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre, citing Covid-19 measures. The move had been expected, but the announcement confirms there will be no commemorative event for the first time since the Chinese military killed untold numbers of protestors on 4 June 1989.

Facebook employees are staging a rebellion. Employees say Mark Zuckerberg has refused to act against Donald Trump, expressing their dissatisfaction with their boss on social media in a rare display of dissent.

Recommended reads

Australian artist Imants Tillers was among more than 100 volunteers who helped wrap 90,000 square metres of plastic fabric around a Sydney coastline in 1969. The work was the project of Bulgarian-born, New York-based artist Christo – who died on Sunday – and his French partner and artistic collaborator Jeanne-Claude. It transformed Little Bay into what was then the largest single artwork ever made. Read about the history of Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet which profoundly influenced the course of contemporary art in Australia.

Yes, Australia’s carbon emissions are falling – but it’s a hollow boast, writes Greg Jericho. The latest greenhouse gas emissions data released on Friday contained some good news, but comes with a couple of caveats.

Brodie Lancaster has watched every single episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in lockdown. That’s 206 episodes. On paper, this show shouldn’t appeal to anyone with a heart or a brain, but Lancaster says it’s just about the most fun you can have in your own living room.


On Full Story, is Hong Kong is nearing the end of one country, two systems? Protesters have taken to the streets again, this time over a national security law that is set to be imposed by Beijing. Verna Yu and Lily Kuo look at how the standoff compares with those of Hong Kong’s recent history.

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


Cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands for the round 3 NRL match between the Sea Eagles and the Bulldogs in Gosford. Photograph: Brendon Thorne/AAP

The NRL’s Fan in the Stand scheme to put cardboard cutouts of fans in stadiums has turned sour. A photo of mass murderer Harold Shipman appeared in the stands over the weekend, then the broadcaster and show’s host apologised after a TV sketch featuring an image of Adolf Hitler was shown. The NRL says it will review its screening process.

“I’ve got three joyous words for you: snooker is back,” declared the commentator Phil Yates as the sport resumed in Milton Keynes, England. A game in which competitors are habitually seated far apart and take individual turns at the table, snooker is perhaps the pandemic poster boy of the sporting world.

Media roundup

The Australian Financial Review has a story about the government working on packages for the housing and arts sectors as it moves away from economy-wide assistance measures. Paramedics in NSW will refuse to bill patients in an industrial action over the state government’s wage freeze, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Tensions over border closures are reaching fever pitch on the Gold Coast, according to the Courier Mail. In the West Australian, traditional owners of Rottnest Island have started consultations about how to commemorate hundreds of Aboriginal boys and men who were incarcerated and died on the island when it was used as a jail.

Coming up

The RBA board will meet in Sydney today, with official cash rates on the agenda.

The bushfires royal commission is set to resume, focusing on aerial firefighting and the federal government’s responsibilities.

A federal court judgment is due in the class action against the commonwealth and Senator Joe Ludwig over the 2011 live export ban.

And if you’ve read this far …

Scientists have used the technique of kirigami, the Japanese art of paper cutting and folding, to develop non-slip shoes. The sole features tiny spikes that pop up from its surface as the shoe is bent during walking. The team of developers found the spikes enhance grip which could prevent potentially fatal falls.

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