Morning mail: Florida under siege from Hurricane Irma

Morning mail: Florida under siege from Hurricane Irma


Good morning, this is Eleanor Ainge Roy bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 11 September.

Top stories

Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to a category three storm as it makes landfall with Florida, where 2 million people have lost power. On Sunday the storm lashed low-lying western regions with winds of more than 200km/h, threatening record storm surges and flooding in urban areas around Tampa Bay, where many people remained in their homes despite days of evacuation orders from officials. Many poorer residents were simply unable to evacuate, as Irma exposed yawning wealth gaps in Florida. Almost 650km wide, Irma initially moved at 13km/h, slower than forecast, adding to concern that its most destructive potential lay in the threat of flooding. “You can’t hide from the water,” Florida senator Mark Rubio said. “That’s our biggest fear.” In downtown Miami cranes snapped off and were threatening nearby homes, while in Hollywood, Florida, a mix of rain and seawater covered the roads.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, will visit the island of St Martin on Tuesday, where about 95% of the buildings on the French-administered side were destroyed. More than 1,100 military, healthcare and relief personnel have been sent to the island, along with tens of thousands of rations. France has also sent police, in response to reports of widespread looting. Follow today’s developments on Hurricane Irma with the Guardian’s live blog.

The fight over energy policy continues today in Canberra, as Malcolm Turnbull meets the head of AGL, Andy Vesey, to discuss the future of the Liddell power station. The National party MP Andrew Broad, chairman of parliament’s environment and energy committee, told Guardian Australia he believed the ageing plant was “about stuffed”. He urged a fresh approach, including a new federal loan mechanism to upgrade the coal fleet and a “lock in” mechanism for the clean energy target. Broad said that, rather than pursuing a piecemeal approach, the key to lower power prices for consumers was policy certainty.

The government’s decision to withdraw financial support and housing from a group of asylum seekers and refugees has drawn formal complaints to three senior rapporteurs at the United Nations. The joint submissions from the the Human Rights Law Centre and the Geneva-based Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights call on the rapporteurs to urge the government to abandon its final departure bridging visas, reinstate housing and income support, and allow those seeking asylum to apply for refugee status in Australia.

After Sunday’s huge march for marriage equality in Sydney, the Coalition and Labor appear close to a deal on legislation that would guarantee truth in advertising and provide protections against vilification during the campaign. Both major party leaders spoke in favour of a yes vote at the weekend – Bill Shorten at the Sydney rally and Malcolm Turnbull at the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals for Yes campaign launch. The acting special minister of state, Mathias Cormann, said on Sunday that discussions were continuing on the legislation and the Coalition wanted the campaign “to be fair to both sides of this argument”.

Defeated US democratic candidate Hilary Clinton has given a candid TV interview calling Donald Trump’s inauguration speech “a cry from the white nationalist gut”. Speaking two days before the release of her book What Happened, Clinton said sitting onstage as Trump was sworn in was “an out-of-body experience” but her appearance was nessasary to present a unified front following a bitter election campaign. Trump’s dark-hued inauguration speech focused on a vision of “American carnage”, a supposed crime-riddled post-industrial dystopia the new president said only he could fix. In the wide-ranging interview, Clinton addressed everything from her missteps as a candidate to the shock of realising she would not become the first female president: “He was quite successful in referencing a nostalgia that would give hope, comfort, settle grievances, for millions of people who were upset about gains that were made by others,” Clinton said.


Wallabies South Africa

Wallabies Israel Folau and Springbok Eben Etzebeth clash in Saturday’s match. Photograph: Stephen Blackberry/Action Plus via Getty Images

After the Wallabies’ draw with South Africa, Michael Cheika’s side appears to be progressing and regressing simultaneously, Bret Harris writes. But one fundamental flaw in their game is becoming alarmingly consistent – their inability to hold on to a lead.

Friday night’s AFL finals victory over Geelong put Richmond supporters on a journey from “gut-wrenching tension” and “uncertainty and fear” to “a release of joy and freedom”, writes Craig Little. Richmond fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief, after sustaining a love that for nearly 40 years has been an ill-fated romance, so deeply knit into the psyche that it has inspired a cottage industry of elegiac football tales.

Thinking time

“Endometriosis has taken part of my life,” writes Guardian Australia’s opinion editor, Gabrielle Jackson. However, the often misunderstood disease may be reaching a turning point, with two members of the Australian parliament to meet the peak endometriosis associations from around the country to hear a list of demands. The health profession is showing some positive signs that current average diagnosis time of eight years can be reduced, Jackson writes.

Audience involvement is required to stage everything from awkward first dates to a noodle-dough-pillow assault in the ludicrous and hilarious Chef: Come Dine With US at the Brisbane festival. Green Chef (Taemin Jung) and his moustachioed rival Red Chef (Seongmin Oh) are in a culinary showdown. After taking orders for various dishes from the audience – chicken noodle soup, pizza, bibimbap – the chefs compete with each other to concoct the tastiest and most impressive version of each dish. But the real star is the on-stage singing and dancing, puppetry and slapstick, which offers just enough utterly meaningless, totally absurd and thoroughly entertaining fun for one evening.

New Zealand rugby must change its outdated attitudes towards women and sexual orientation, and get over its culture of entitlement, an independent review into the country’s beloved national sport has found. The Respect and Responsibility Review was commissioned by New Zealand Rugby after a string of serious incidents last year, where players from the Chiefs were accused of groping, licking and throwing gravel at an erotic dancer they had hired for their end-of-season party, as well as making homophobic comments to a gay couple. The review found that NZ Rugby had investigated 36 incidents of misconduct in the past four years, including cases of violence, inappropriate sexual comments, homophobia and drug and alcohol breaches.

Media roundup

The Daily Telegraph splashes with an investigation into Australia’s “million dollar babies”, alleging some IVF doctors are being offered lucrative cash bonuses for the number of treatments they carry out. The Hobart Mercury says would-be politicians are being turned off the job by abusive online trolls, as Tasmania prepares for a “social media fuelled election campaign”. The ABC trails tonight’s Four Corners investigation into how North Korea funds its nuclear missile program, revealing the regime has global business interests that rake in billions of dollars and fund the lavish lifestyles of leader Kim Jong-un and those close to him.

Coming up

Malcolm Turnbull will be meeting electricity bosses (yes, again), this time those in charge of AGL about possible sale options for the Liddell power station, which the government wants to keep in service beyond its slated closure date.

Parliament sits again this week, with a cabinet meeting today. Our new politics live blogger, Amy Remeikis, will be on hand to bring all the day’s developments.

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