Good morning, this is Stephen Smiley bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 1 October.

Top stories

Donald Trump encouraged Scott Morrison to work with William Barr in an investigation meant to discredit Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia findings, according to a report in the New York Times. Officials said the White House restricted access to the phone call’s transcript to a small group of presidential aides in a move similar to the handling of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president that is central to the impeachment inquiry. Trump has lashed out at the whistleblower at the centre of the inquiry, while also suggesting the chair of the House intelligence committee should be arrested for treason. Lawyers acting for the whistleblower have warned that their client’s personal safety is in danger. Meanwhile, the Democratic chairmen of three House committees have subpoenaed documents from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Queensland researchers have called for better sex education after a study of school leavers found two-thirds did not know they could access emergency contraception without a prescription. The study was conducted at the wristband distribution centre on the first day of schoolies week on the Gold Coast in 2017, and was published today in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research. Its authors have also called for a name change campaign, arguing that the colloquial term “morning-after pill” was the reason that 50% of the 498 teenagers who responded to the survey incorrectly believed that emergency contraception was only effective for 12 to 24 hours after sex.

The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, says Labor has learned “all the wrong lessons” from its election defeat, warning that a retreat from action on climate change would see it lose the next election. Before a new parliamentary inquiry into future employment for regional areas, Di Natale said neither major party had been prepared to have an “honest conversation” with workers in the coal industry. “If Labor MPs think that their weak position on climate change cost them the election result,” Di Natale said, “they better be prepared to lose the next election, and the next one after that.”


UK prime minister Boris Johnson

Mark Francois, the deputy chair of the hardline European Research Group, has opened the door to a potential Brexit deal, even if it included a version of the controversial Irish border backstop to which the ERG was once implacably opposed. Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

Signs have emerged in Britain that the hardline position of the most Eurosceptic backbenchers in the ruling Conservative party has softened, just days before members of Boris Johnson’s team are due to enter a “tunnel” of secret negotiations with Brussels. The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU is the end of this month.

Greek authorities are scrambling to deal with unrest at a heavily overcrowded migrant camp on Lesbos, after a fire left at least one person dead. More than 13,000 people are crammed into tents and shipping containers at the camp, which was built to accommodate 3,000.

More than 100 people have died in flooding in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where vast areas have been inundated by delayed monsoon rains.

The Chinese state broadcaster has released videos of foreign nationals praising the country, on the eve of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. In one clip foreigners including Canadians, Germans and Americans sing, “I love you China … I love your homegrown sugar cane, that quenches my heart like milk.”

And Jamie Oliver paid himself $9.5m last year, despite a dive in profits as he pumped millions into his UK restaurant chain. The chain collapsed this year, with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

Opinion and analysis

A sheet of $50 bills

The Coalition’s tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the rich, Greg Jericho writes. Photograph: RBA

The Government sold its tax cuts as a counter to bracket creep. But if you earn less than $90,000, they’re a big lie, writes Greg Jericho: “The tax cuts were not really about removing bracket creep – even using the prime minister’s narrow definition of preventing people going into a higher tax bracket. They were about delivering tax cuts to wealthy people. And an analysis from the parliamentary budget office reveals that the tax cuts legislated by the government overwhelmingly benefit higher income earners.”

Western governments could have joined the battle against China’s repression in Hong Kong. Instead, they offered spineless servitude, writes Simon Tisdall: “If Hong Kong’s battle for democracy – meaning universal suffrage, direct elections, civil rights, free speech and observance of the rule of law – has not already been lost, it is teetering on the brink. This is not because the hundreds of thousands who backed the protests have suddenly changed their view on Beijing’s devious efforts to deepen its control. Rather, in Washington, London and other capitals, it’s plain that money and power speak louder than democratic ideals, broken umbrellas and bloodied heads. If Hong Kong is permanently, definitively lost to democracy, it will be, at least in part, because the west failed to fight for it.”


The Australian team on a bus in Yorkshire

Guardian Australia was granted exclusive access to Australia’s male riders during the Road World Championships, which Michael Matthews aims to win. Photograph: Kieran Pender/The Guardian

A decade ago, Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the UCI Road World Championships road race. Last week, Canberra’s Michael Matthews travelled to Yorkshire hoping to replicate that feat, and Guardian Australia was there with him.

The lack of competitiveness of many pool games is one of the Rugby World Cup’s ongoing weaknesses. The All Blacks in particular are unlikely to be too severely tested in their remaining three group stage outings. So, Matt McILraith asks, what can the defending world champions hope to gain?

Thinking time: tracking Melbourne’s peregrine falcon chicks

Peregrine falcons

One of the nesting falcons. Photograph: @367collinsfalcons

The peregrine falcons at 367 Collins Street in Melbourne’s city centre have hatched a new brood of chicks. One of their eggs hatched on Sunday, with another cracking open early Monday, developments tracked on an almost minute-by-minute basis by the 4,000 members of the 367 Collins Falcon Watchers Facebook group, which monitors the birds via a live stream video feed. “Amazing passage of play there,” wrote one appreciative member on Monday morning. “Mum got up and went away for about 90 secs, coming back with fresh pigeon for morning tea.” The post neatly captures the experience of the live stream, which rather resembles Test match cricket, with long periods of meditative tedium interspersed with bursts of frantic excitement.

Still, in 2018, many falcon fans were traumatised when only one of the chicks survived. The others slowly sickened and eventually died. In drought conditions, the birds become susceptible to a protozoa they contract from eating the brains of starlings and pigeons, explains Dr Victor Hurley, the volunteer leader of the Victorian Peregrine Project. And that’s why he avoids naming particular chicks: because personalising them makes their deaths even more distressing.

Media roundup

Kurdish authorities are requesting that the Australian government repatriate dozens of citizens who lived under Islamic State and who are now held in camps and jails in Syria, the ABC reports. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Berejiklian government in NSW is expected to scrap Sydney’s CBD lockout laws by the end of the year. And the Australian reports that China’s ambassador, Cheng Jingye, has said that Australia should remember that it depends on China for its economic success.

Coming up

The Reserve Bank will hold its monthly board meeting to decide on the cash rate, with implications for borrowers, savers and the overall economy. The market has priced in a strong chance of a 0.25 percentage point cut to 0.75%.

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