Morning mail: vaccine rollout ‘too slow’, Facebook abuses loophole, autumn recipes |

Good morning. The slow Covid vaccination program has left many Australians unimpressed, judging by the latest Guardian Essential Poll.

More than half of Australians think the Covid vaccine rollout is too slow, according to the latest Guardian essential poll. The latest survey suggests the government is in a vulnerable political position as it attempts to recalibrate the vaccination program. Scott Morrison’s approval rating hit its lowest level in 12 months, dropping to 54% in this fortnight’s survey from 65% in February. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the delay in the vaccine rollout “is not expected to derail” economic recovery, despite the December mid-year economic forecast assuming the rollout would be fully in place by late 2021. Morrison admitted that all Australians may not be vaccinated by year’s end and has offered no new timetable to replace the previous October target. The government has ruled out buying the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying it was not interested in purchasing any more adenovirus vaccines, which is the same technology as the AstraZeneca jab.

Facebook has repeatedly allowed world leaders and politicians to use its platform to deceive the public or harass opponents despite being alerted to evidence of the wrongdoing, a Guardian investigation has found. The investigation shows how Facebook has allowed major abuses of its platform in poor, small and non-western countries in order to prioritise addressing abuses that attract media attention or affect the US and other wealthy countries. “There is a lot of harm being done on Facebook that is not being responded to because it is not considered enough of a PR risk to Facebook,” said whistleblower and former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang. “I’ve … found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse [Facebook] on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions.”

Police in Minneapolis said an officer mistakenly drew a handgun instead of a taser when he shot and killed Daunte Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old Black man on Sunday. Police said the shooting appeared to be an “accidental discharge”. The incident plunged the suburb of Brooklyn Center into a night of unrest as Minneapolis remains on edge during the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. At the trail today, cardiologist Dr Jonathan Rich has told jurors that Floyd’s death was “was absolutely preventable”.

Australia

In Myanmar more than 600 civilians now estimated to have been killed by security forces since the 1 February military coup.
People rally outside Parliament House in Canberra against the Myanmar military coup. More than 600 civilians in Myanmar are estimated to have been killed by security forces since 1 February. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

The Morrison government has faced fresh calls to allow more than 3,000 Myanmarese citizens to stay in Australia once their visas expire, amid fears about the dangers they face if forced to return home.

The Liberal National party in Queensland has blocked Andrew Laming from recontesting his seat at the next federal election after he backflipped on his decision to quit parliament.

Rupert Murdoch “acknowledged” that his media outlets were running a “crazy agenda” against the Malcolm Turnbull-led government so they could install Tony Abbott as leader again, Turnbull has told a Senate inquiry.

The ABC received more than 400 complaints over its coverage of Prince Philip’s death after the breaking news interrupted an episode of the much-loved TV show Vera.

The world

The UK government will launch an independent investigation into former prime minister David Cameron’s lobbying for the now-collapsed Greensill and the role of the scandal-hit financier Lex Greensill in government, with the inquiry to look at “how contracts were secured and how business representatives engaged with government”.

Residents on St Vincent have been urged to evacuate immediately as La Soufrière volcano eruptions continue for the fourth day.

The cyber-attack on the heavily guarded Natanz plant in Iran will set back Tehran’s nuclear program by nine months. Iran’s foreign ministry has blamed Israel for sabotaging the main uranium enrichment facility.

Airborne plastic pollution is now “spiralling around the globe”, resulting is the “plastification” of the planet, according to researchers.

Recommended reads

Daphne Marks Yalka Tjukurrpa – Bush Onion Dreaming Grounded at Parrtjima 2021.
Yalka Tjukurrpa (Bush Onion Dreaming Grounded) by Daphne Marks, showing at the Parrtjima light festival in Alice Springs. Photograph: Che Chorley

To bring the world’s oldest living continuous culture to a mainstream audience by mixing ancient storytelling with modern technology for the Parrtjima light festival is an enormous undertaking, curator Rhoda Roberts admits. But she hopes the Alice Springs event encourages Australians to truly connect with the land. This year’s festival theme is Future Kultcha: a celebration of knowledge passing from one generation to the next. The festival features high-tech installations based on work by Indigenous Australian artists from across the Central Desert, and a program of films, talks, workshops and shows.

If there is one guarantee in economic debate, it is that as soon as any sign of economic strength occurs, conservative commentators and politicians will start worrying about inflation, says Greg Jericho. “Over the next few months we will see some pretty extraordinary inflation, which the Reserve Bank and the government should ignore as a false sign of a strong economy. They should remain clear that more stimulus is needed. It is not the inflation genie being let out of the bottle; it is just that last year prices actually fell – so by comparison anything is going to look like a surge.”

From meat-free takes on meatballs and meatloaf to sweet potato with tofu cream, these vegetarian autumn dishes from Justine Schofield are a comforting transition to colder weather. “Meatless meatballs? Yes, they can be done and they work a treat! I tried these in the south of Italy a few years ago and have since recreated them at home. Initially you’ll think it’s not possible for fennel to form polpette but, after blending with the breadcrumbs, parmesan and ricotta, they hold their shape well. They are truly delicious and great served simply with toasted sourdough.”

Listen

For the past six years, Andrew Denton has spoken to dozens of people around the world about the arguments for and against voluntary assisted dying. The new season of Denton’s podcast, Better Off Dead, examines how assisted dying laws are working in Victoria – currently the only Australian state with such legislation in effect. In this episode of Full Story, Denton explains what he discovered, and we hear from one Victorian family as they go through the difficult process.

Full Story

Andrew Denton on the fight for voluntary assisted dying laws

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

Sport

When the nation’s top swimmers converge on the Gold Coast this week for the Australian swimming championships, the competition timings will feel rather unusual. Finals will run in the mornings on the Gold Coast to prepare athletes for a major Olympics format change.

Luke Brattan dominated Sydney FC’s high-quality draw with Melbourne City on Saturday evening. The Sydney FC midfielder has long been a regista in training and is now maximising his particular set of skills.

Media roundup

Qantas’ plan to restart international flights later this year has been thrown into doubt by Australia’s delayed vaccination program, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian reports that the Morrison government has created a senior position to co­ordinate the government’s climate strategy and provide advice about emissions reductions. The former defence minister Christopher Pyne says chances of a war in the Indo-Pacific region involving China are rising sharply, telling graduating students at the University of Adelaide “the strategic posture of the People’s Republic of China is not as benign as it was”, reports the ABC.

Coming up

The Australia Post Senate inquiry hearing is on today.

The federal parliamentary hearing on Myanmar is on today.

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