Morning mail: Impeachment vote, Adani payment delay, Richard Flanagan on the joy of birds

Richard Parkin
Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 1 November.

Top stories

The US House of Representatives has voted to formalise impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, just the third time since 1868 the chamber has done so, with the vote being upheld largely along party lines, 232-196. The move could prompt televised hearings within two weeks and a potential impeachment vote before the year’s end. Until now, congressional investigators have conducted interviews behind closed doors, but these could be thrust into the spotlight. The president continues to deny any wrongdoing, calling the vote “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!” on Twitter. If impeached, a two-thirds majority vote within the Senate will be required to remove him from office.

Australia’s six biggest coal producers cause greater greenhouse gas emissions than the entire domestic economy. That’s the startling finding from researchers at the University of NSW, with BHP Billiton, Glencore, Yancoal, Peabody, Anglo American and Whitehaven linked to 551m tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018. Australia’s 10 biggest carbon producers have also been linked to emissions equivalent to those from 75% of global air traffic. The study’s lead author said fossil fuel companies had a moral responsibility to rapidly phase out their operations if global emissions are to meet IPCC targets of 45% below 2010 levels by 2030.

Adani has asked to delay an outstanding payment of $18.5m to the Queensland government by two years, raising concerns about the Indian company’s available finances. Guardian Australia can reveal Adani was granted a reissued water licence to take up to 12.5bn litres a year from the Suttor River by the Queensland government on 29 May. The deadline for the $18.5m payment has now been pushed back until mid-2021. Adani remains adamant that it’s on track to deliver its first coal that year but satellite images suggest little physical progress has occurred since June.

Australia

An Australian writer incarcerated in Beijing since January on charges of espionage is suffering deteriorating health, with no court date set for accusations that could potentially include the death penalty. Dr Yang Hengjun, a former diplomat, has not had access to a lawyer or his family, and is allowed only one shower a week and two hours of natural light and fresh air a day.

The minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, has criticised an Institute for Public Affairs campaign video, saying: “Bigotry has no place in Australia.” The IPA video attacks any proposal for an Indigenous voice to parliament, but Wyatt condemned what he called a “selective” use of race.

Two NSW police officers have been found to have racially abused two Afghan women in Sydney’s west, with video footage showing the interaction. The complainants allege that further offensive comments were made by the officers after body-worn cameras were switched off.

Two new Labor MPs have proposed a ban on mobile phones during question time and an end to “Dorothy Dixers”, after finding themselves “disheartened” by “a display of behaviour that would not be tolerated in any other workplace”.

The world

Workers wearing protective suits and corral pigs to be killed at a farm in South Korea where African swine fever was identified. Photograph: Yelim Lee/AFP/Getty Images

A quarter of the world’s pig population is expected to die from an epidemic of African swine fever that disease control experts fear has taken policymakers by surprise. As many as 100 million pigs have been killed by the disease in China.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage could form an “unstoppable force” if they teamed up, according to Donald Trump, but the US president ruled out any possible US-UK trade deals.

Five men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in north-east Spain have escaped the most serious charges after the court found the girl’s drunken state mitigated the need for “violence or intimidation”. The men nevertheless received 10- to 12-year terms.

A high school principal in Florida has been fired after telling a parent in an email that he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual event”. A local county school board voted 5-2 to dismiss William Latson on grounds of “ethical misconduct”.

Recommended reads

For the award-winning novelist Richard Flanagan, birds are a source of inspiration as well as profound sadness. “I adore birds. Their freedom and joy move me. Something in their play and way suggest minds far different than ours,” he writes for Guardian Australia. Whether it’s the “loud yabber” of eastern rosellas, or the “wild whiplash call” of the grey shrike-thrush, listening to birds induces “volts of happiness” for the Booker prize winner. But year on year fewer birds return to Flanagan’s home in south-eastern Tasmania.

“What do you call a boy who doesn’t play sport?,” Catch Tilly would ask schoolchildren. The answer was always the same: “loser” or “hopeless”. With approximately one-third of Australian schoolchildren experiencing bullying, the onus is on parents and teachers to acknowledge the issue, Tilly writes, not play it down as former school principal and author John Marsden did this year. “I read about a boy who was held down and punched 17 times in the head. About a girl who was brutally attacked while onlookers laughed and filmed her pain. About a school that had set up a fight club. Bullying isn’t about providing “feedback”. It’s about power.”

Whether it’s an inflammatory Trump tweet, a vote in the British parliament or a dispute between two Wags, the world comes rushing to us through our smartphones. This seeming “great leap forward” makes the world seem “smaller, closer, and flatter” but it also drives a desire to escape into the other, to a world untainted by the internet, writes Brigid Delaney.

Listen

Bicarbonate soda as a cure for cancer and advising sick mothers not to take antibiotics – this is the advice given by Barbara O’Neill, a banned health practitioner who once described herself as a qualified naturopath and nutritionist. On this episode of Full Story, host Laura Murphy-Oates and reporter Melissa Davey explore an extraordinary case and discuss the dangerous lack of regulation of the booming wellness industry.

Sport

Sonny Bill Williams has divided opinion like no other All Black player. Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

One of the most gifted athletes to appear as an All Black, or injury-prone and entitled? Sonny Bill Williams’ legacy is far from secure, writes Matt McILwraith.

Ash Barty appears set to continue her astonishing 2019 after securing a semi-final berth at the WTA finals. Bouncing back from a shock loss to Kiki Bertens, the World No 1 beat a flat-looking Petra Kvitova to book a showdown with either Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova.

Media roundup

The new commissioner of the Australian federal police has vowed unprecedented transparency as part of a 100-day restructure of the organisation, the Age reports. Queensland’s opposition leader has promised to “drought-proof” the state, increasing dam capacity and creating a new food bowl, writes the Courier-Mail. And bookies are claiming they will lose money during next week’s Melbourne Cup owing to an increase in government regulations and taxes, says the Australian.

Coming up

Scott Morrison is travelling to Thailand for the East Asia summit, where he hopes to progress talks for a 15-nation regional trade pact.

New Zealand and Wales are set to face off in the Rugby World Cup bronze medal match in Tokyo.

And if you’ve read this far …

It’s Friday – which means David Squires is up to his old tricks … here’s his weekly A-League cartoon on the Sydney derby bragging rights and a special crime scene investigation.

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