Morning mail: Trump fires secretary of state Rex Tillerson

Morning mail: Trump fires secretary of state Rex Tillerson

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Good morning, this is Eleanor Ainge Roy bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Wednesday 14 March.

Top stories

Donald Trump has fired his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, announcing the sacking on Twitter before Tillerson had been told, and telling reporters the two hadn’t seen eye to eye for a long time. The CIA director Mike Pompeo will replace Tillerson, with Gina Haspel, Pompeo’s deputy, to become the CIA’s first female director. Tillerson’s departure had long been predicted after clashes over foreign policy, including how to deal with Iran and North Korea. But the announcement, made just four hours after the secretary of state landed in Washington after a tour of Africa, took Tillerson unawares. The under-secretary of state, Steve Goldstein, said: “The secretary did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling.” Goldstein was later fired.

“I actually got on well with Rex but it was a different mindset,” Trump told reporters as he boarded a helicopter en route to California to inspect prototypes for his wall. “When you look at the Iran deal: I think it’s terrible, I guess he thought it was OK … with Mike we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.”

Nikolai Glushkov, a Russian exile who was close friends with the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, has been found dead at his London home, with the counter-terrorism unit called in to investigate the death a week after the attempted murder of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Donald Trump has thrown his support behind the UK after speaking with Theresa May and telling her the US was “with the UK all the way”. This came as May prepared to set out a range of reprisals against the Russian state, including calls for fresh sanctions, visa bans and crackdowns on Russian money.

The environment movement has launched a last-ditch push in Batman, targeting Labor’s hedged position on the Adani coalmine via robocalls to tens of thousands of residents in the final week of campaigning. The activist group 350.org began the calls – aimed at 31,000 of the electorate’s 161,964 residents – late on Tuesday using a recorded message from Northcote resident and prominent Victorian feminist Mary Crooks, who says it is “disappointing that the Labor party and Bill Shorten have refused to stop the Adani mine despite two-thirds of Australians being opposed to it”.

Child abuse survivors will get just 90 days to decide whether to accept offers of compensation under the government’s redress scheme, a deadline described by the Law Council of Australia as “especially unrealistic”. The deadline is far less than the 12 months recommended by the royal commission. Taking an offer of redress “releases and forever discharges” the institution responsible for the abuse, meaning they cannot be sued, so choosing between the two options requires expert legal advice on complex issues.

The new Law Enforcement Crime Commission in NSW has said a severe funding shortage had forced the police watchdog to ignore more than 50 integrity complaints that “warranted investigation” in the past seven months. It said it had been forced to make “arbitrary” decisions about whether to investigate allegations of misconduct by police because of an “insufficient budget”, in a damning assessment of the state government’s overhaul of police oversight.

Sport

It’s not the first time the AFL has been involved in an AFLW grand final debacle, but the league’s preference to host this year’s championship decider at the 24,568-capacity Ikon Park shows a lack of imagination when it comes to appeal of the women’s competition, writes Kate O’Halloran.

Sound of silence: when will common sense prevail over music at sporting events events? Cricket, rugby and even NBA basketball games have been turning down the volume and, while some sports need it, others should know when to reach for the off button, writes Andy Bull.

Thinking time

A punter playing the poker machines in a Sydney club

What’s Australia’s pokies problem and are politicians willing to do anything about it? Adam Morton travels to the “ground zero” of Tasmania’s pokies industry, an old hotel transformed into a pokies zone open 20 hours a day. There, he talks to academics and experts about a gambling problem that sees Australians lose more per person than anywhere else in the world. Voices in Tasmania and elsewhere are calling for regulation or a ban – but they face a powerful, industry-backed lobbying campaign, arguing that changes will put jobs at risks and limit personal freedom.

The Guardian columnist George Monbiot has prostate cancer, but don’t worry – he’s happy. The principles that define a good life have protected him from despair as he embarks on a grisly operation and months of recovery. “It would be easy to curse my luck and start to ask “why me?”. I have never smoked and hardly drink; I have a ridiculously healthy diet and follow a severe fitness regime. And yet … I am happy. In fact, I’m happier than I was before my diagnosis. How can this be?”

As the #Rights4Riders campaign kicks off today, Labor’s deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, writes about why she’s supporting the campaign, and what Labor will do to support these workers if elected. “This week I met Patrick, a rider for Deliveroo. Patrick told me how hard it was getting by when he was barely making minimum wage and also paying for expenses. This is backed up by a recent survey conducted by the Transport Workers Union and Unions NSW which showed that three-quarters of food delivery riders are paid below the minimum award wage of around $24 an hour for a casual worker and almost half said either they or someone they know has been injured doing their job.”

Media roundup

Canberra Times front page

The Canberra Times splashes with the backpeddling by the ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, who says he regrets his leaked comments deriding the mainstream media and their journalists: “Hate is a strong word and I regret using it.” The Courier-Mail reports that the prime minister will announce a $5bn defence contract has been won by a Queensland-based company to build 211 combat reconnaissance vehicles at Ipswich. A taxpayer-funded three-week recruitment drive to entice UK nurses to work in Tasmania has failed, the ABC reports, with not a single recruitment resulting from the trip.

Coming up

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is releasing homelessness data arising from the 2016 census. It will be the most accurate national estimate since 2011.

The high court will hear the case of the Labor senator Katy Gallagher after the Senate referred her there regarding her British dual citizenship.

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