Home » Morning Mail: Laming Staffer’s Rittenhouse Costume, ‘stealth’ Omicron Variant, Australia’s Top Google Searches

Morning Mail: Laming Staffer’s Rittenhouse Costume, ‘stealth’ Omicron Variant, Australia’s Top Google Searches

Good morning. Before you Google Covid news, which was Australia’s top search in 2021, we have the latest on the Omicron variant in your morning mail today. Plus the details of a questionable Halloween outfit choice by an Andrew Lamming staffer and word on new music from former Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns.

A staffer for federal MP Andrew Laming, Barclay McGain, has posed with a paintball-style toy assault rifle dressed as Kyle Rittenhouse for a delayed Halloween party. McGain posted the photo, in which he was dressed as the teenager who shot dead two Black Lives Matter protesters and was acquitted of all criminal charges, to social media with the caption: “Kyle Rittenhouse on neighbourhood watch duties in Brisbane’s south tonight.” McGain was sacked from his electorate officer position by Laming 18 months ago over a controversial schoolies video that denigrated Indigenous Australians. Six months later he was rehired by Laming.

A Sydney GP who was left tens of millions of dollars by a patient has denied striking a deal with the man to keep him out of hospital if the doctor was included in his will, during civil proceedings in the New South Wales supreme court. The court heard Raymond McClure altered his will twice in the five months before he died with Dr Peter Alexakis eventually left 90% of his estate worth more than $30m. Previous wills made the Salvation Army and other individuals the benefactors of McClure’s estate. The Salvation Army’s legal secretary, Gary Masters, is challenging the validity of the final will, arguing that it was executed in suspicious circumstances and that Alexakis had undue influence over McClure. Alexakis says he had no knowledge McClure included him in the will and that he never discussed the extent of his estate with his former patient.

Scientists say they have identified a “stealth” version of Omicron that cannot be distinguished from other variants using PCR tests. Researchers say it is too early to know whether the new form of Omicron will spread in the same way as the standard Omicron variant, but the WHO says the variant is “already everywhere” and travel bans will not stop its spread, as 43 countries in the European region impose bans.

Australia

Covid pandemic news dominated Australia’s most popular Google search terms for 2021. Photograph: David Crosling/EPA

Covid news dominated Australia’s Google searches over the past 12 months, but sports weren’t far from mind as the nation’s favoured non-pandemic internet search, according to Google data.

Consumers using cryptocurrency exchanges and buy now, pay later services could be protected under the largest reform to Australia’s payments system in 25 years. The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is promising a “comprehensive payments and crypto-asset reform plan” that could result in better regulation.

New South Wales police have sought to confiscate and auction a station wagon belonging to a climate activist under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Blockade Australia says the 26-year-old had been living in the car when she was arrested in Newcastle.

Anthony Albanese is prepared to override local branches to determine who will run in the key marginal electorate of Parramatta, amid allegations of unresolved branch-stacking in the seat.

Two dozen Iraqi interpreters who helped Australian soldiers say they have been abandoned in their homeland by the Australian government. They say their applications to Australia have stalled and they have not heard from the Australian government for more than a year.

The world

Khalid Aedh al-Otaibi was among 17 individuals sanctioned by the US for their suspected role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, pictured, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Photograph: Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images

French police have arrested a former member of the Saudi royal guard, Khalid Aedh al-Otaibi, for his suspected involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Donald Trump’s plan to launch “Truth Social” early next year may have hit a roadblock. The US regulators issued a request for information on the deal for the social media company that plans to challenge Twitter and Facebook.

A swift reprisal package against Russia must be prepared now in case it invades Ukraine, the Latvian foreign minister has said. An estimated 100,000 Russian troops have gathered within striking distance of the borders.

The “disastrous” way in which plastic is used in farming across the world is threatening food safety and potentially human health, according the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

A German court has convicted a 67-year-old electrician of assault for removing the testicles of several men at their request, causing one person to die. The defendant had initially also been charged with murder by omission but prosecutors later dropped that charge.

Recommended reads

FutureNever will be Daniel Johns’ first album in seven years. Photograph: EMI Music

“I know I have a tendency to go missing but I’m back now,” writes Daniel Johns in a letter to his fans announcing a new album after seven years. He described the upcoming album, FutureNever, set for release on 1 April 2022, as “a place where your past, present and future collide” and where “the quantum of your past experiences become your superpower”. Johns says the success of his tell-all Spotify podcast, Who Is Daniel Johns?, “helped me make peace with my past and I’m ready to tackle this new world bravely.”

The Proposition is a grisly, sweat-stained tale of outback violence and colonial oppression that has lost none of its power in the 16 years since its release, writes Adam Fleet. The second feature film written by the musician Nick Cave “presents a compelling dilemma for our antihero and a nuanced view of characters who don’t fit into pigeonholes of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In so doing, The Proposition is able to make a much bigger point about the realities of life during colonial rule in the 1880s.”

Listen

When they work, environmental offsets are supposed to prevent new roads, buildings and other major infrastructure from impacting negatively on the environment. But Guardian Australia has exposed serious concerns about the NSW offsets system, triggering multiple inquiries. In this episode of Full Story, environment reporter Lisa Cox explains to Jane Lee how Australia’s environmental offsets policy, which was designed to protect Australian wildlife, ended up failing it.

Full Story

Are environmental offsets doing more harm than good?

Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp3

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

The Q-League is a far cry from the refugee camps where some of its players learned to play football using scrunched up plastic bags. Guardian Australia’s sport editor, Mike Hytner, introduces this story about the inclusiveness of sport and a player’s memory of holding a real football for the first time for today’s Australia Reads.

Guardian Australia Reads

Rohingya United: the football team bringing together refugees

Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp3

00:00:00

00:11:55

Listen to the best of Guardian Australia’s journalism on Australia Reads podcast on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Subscribe for free onApple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.

Sport

Novak Djokovic has been named in the Serbian team for January’s season-opening ATP Cup in Sydney, significantly increasing the likelihood he will play in the Australian Open.

Media roundup

A federal government scheme to entice doctors and nurses to the bush would see their university debts wiped if they meet certain criteria, the Daily Telegraph reports. An administrative error means the Northern Territory will not appoint a permanent treaty commissioner to replace Mick Dodson before the commission hands down its final report next year, reports the NT News.

Coming up

The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, will address the National Press Club.

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