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Morning mail: Maradona dies aged 60, Kylie Moore-Gilbert released, how to refuse gifts

Richard Parkin
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Carlo Fumagalli/AP</span>
Photograph: Carlo Fumagalli/AP

Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 26 November.

Top stories

One of the undisputed kings of world football, Diego Maradona, has died, aged 60 from a heart attack. Almost as famous for his off-field indiscretions as his on-field brilliance, the mercurial Argentinian led his nation to World Cup triumph in 1986. His two goals against England in the semi-final – one regarded “the greatest goal of all time” and the other going down in infamy as the “hand of god” – were a stark illustration of Maradona’s best and worst instincts. To honour a sublimely skilled player and flawed but loved character, Argentina has announced three days of national mourning for the five-time South American Footballer of the Year and Fifa Player of the Century.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, the Australian-British academic detained by Iran since 2018 on espionage charges, has been released in a prisoner exchange. State media sources released video of Moore-Gilbert at liberty, with three Iranians held in Australia for sanctions breaches being returned to Iran. The Melbourne University scholar was convicted at a secret trial and sentenced to 10 years for espionage, with Iran claiming Moore-Gilbert was linked to MI6 as well as several Jewish universities. Amnesty International UK has expressed “enormous relief” at news of the Islamic studies expert’s release.

A proposed tax on electric vehicles by the Victorian government could reduce uptake by up to 25%, research suggests, with one analyst calling the move “completely incongruent” with the state’s clean energy targets. From July, the Andrews government is looking to bring in a 2.5c/km charge on electric vehicles and a 2c/km charge on plug-in hybrids, something Dr Jake Whitehead says could lead to 4.9m fewer low-emission vehicles being sold if applied nationally. “It is very easy to claim net zero targets, but there needs to be commitments to back it up and this is running in the wrong direction,” he said.

Australia

An anti-Santos coal seam gas mine protest in Narrabri
Community members opposed to the Narrabri gas project say it has been approved despite continuing uncertainty about its effect on the environment. Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP

The federal government has been accused of “dropp[ing] the ball” in approving Santos’s $3.6bn Narrabri gas project without the company first producing a thorough biodiversity plan.

The NSW attorney general has called on federal counterparts to enshrine 10 days of paid domestic violence leave, with supporters echoing the move, saying “relying on piecemeal, ad hoc arrangements is inadequate”.

There’s been a “troubling” decline in the number of workplaces taking action to address gender pay gaps, leading advocates have warned. A survey indicates the total remuneration gender pay gap is 20.1%.

The world

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier
Michel Barnier arrives for a meeting in London this month. He is due back in the capital on Friday. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has threatened to pull out of Brexit talks in London, accusing the UK of intransigence and saying there needs to be a major shift within the next 48 hours.

Barack Obama has accused the Trump presidency of portraying white men as “victims” in a cynical bid for re-election. Speaking on breakfast radio, Obama admonished the outgoing president for “break[ing] laws and disregard[ing] the constitution”.

Sicily has appealed to Cuba to send 60 expert health workers as Italy battles an acute shortage of medical staff in the face of Europe’s Covid surge. Sicily was designated an “orange zone” – high risk – by the national government in Rome.

Danish police have encountered macabre scenes as the corpses of decomposing mink culled due to Covid fears have expanded out of mass graves. Authorities now face criticism over whether the bungled burials have also contaminated local water reserves.

Recommended reads

Fleeing Iran was like something out of the movies, armed only with an old family pocket watch – the sole memento Elaheh could lay her hands on as she left in a hurry – she arrived in Australia eager to start her new life. But for seven years she went without clear legal status: an “illegal” despite international law affording her legal protection, as she tells Guardian Australia in a special eight-part podcast series, Temporary.

Amid the debate over the incremental superannuation guarantee increase, Australia has lost sight of the most important part of a retirement income policy, writes Greg Jericho – retirement income. “Retirement policy should be geared towards people’s life in retirement, not about what they may be able to leave for their children or grandchildren to inherit.”

Ever since Marie Kondo swept the airwaves the concept of “decluttering” keeps popping into vogue, inevitably ahead of Christmas. But how do you politely decline the mountain of unwanted goodies from seasonal well-wishers? Advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith has the answer and there’s no space for half-measures. “There isn’t a polite way. You just have to be clear. You can treat it like a personality quirk, so people will do your PR for you and start saying, ‘You know how she feels about things.’”

“The internet. There is so much of it and most of it is awful and even the good bits are still the internet.” This week Guardian Australia’s cartoonist, First Dog on the Moon, takes a swing at the 10 funniest things on the internet. From a very sulky goose to Rudy Giuliani making a total goose of himself, there’s plenty of goose and non-goose flavoured comedy.

Listen

One of 30,000 people thrust into limbo by Australia’s “temporary” protection visas, Zaki fled a Taliban death warrant only to find himself trapped in a new life of stasis. On this episode of Full Story, Sisonke Msimang and Ben Doherty unpack Zaki’s, and many others’, circuitous journeys.

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

Sport

Aaron Finch and Virat Kohli
India captain Virat Kohli will lead his side out at the SCG on Friday for the first of six limited overs matches and four Tests against Australia. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

The start to the summer of cricket may have crept up on many but in Virat Kohli India have a talisman even the Murdoch newspapers have rushed to embrace, writes Geoff Lemon. And his explosive game might just help wash away some of the humdrum of a Covid-ravaged 2020.

As a teenager Sammy-Jo Johnson watched a once-proud family man slowly decline under the weight of bipolar disoorder and schizophrenia. After her father Robert’s death the keen hockey player found her escape in sport. She talks frankly with Emma Kemp on the eve of the WBBL semi-finals.

Media roundup

Some $700m worth of Australian coal stranded for months off the coast of China is being held up due to “environmental quality”, the Chinese government has claimed, according to the ABC. Coal is reportedly one of seven key Australian commodities China has banned amid rising trade tensions. Police and government security officers will take over the guarding of quarantine hotels in South Australia, the Advertiser writes, after bungles by private companies. And Crown continues to employ an executive handpicked by James Packer, despite accusations of bullying, the Age reports. Six former staff members have confirmed the allegations to the newspaper, calling on Crown to stop protecting the executive.

Coming up

The disability royal commission’s report on the impact of Covid-19 on people with disability is expected to be tabled in federal parliament.

Queensland’s new parliament will sit for new members’ maiden speeches and the first question time since the state election.

And if you’ve read this far …

Remorse after reflection upon the folly of young love is not uncommon. But for staff at the National Roman Museum the most unusual of packages arrived from a young woman called Jess, asking forgiveness “for being such an American asshole”. Contained in the package? A fragment of ancient marble, possibly hewn from the Roman Forum and scrawled with a dedication to her then sweetheart.

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