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Morning mail: Meghan and Harry tell all, jobseeker pleas, Brazilian butt lift

Tamara Howie
·7-min read

Good morning! If you haven’t been refreshing your news feed all night for the latest Harry and Meghan revelations – never fear, we’ve got you covered. There are more pressing concerns for many Australians though, including cuts to welfare payments and concern about the handling of rape allegations in Canberra, with Julie Bishop now weighing in. But it’s not all doom, gloom and threats to the monarchy, there’s been quite the sluggish discovery worth a look.

Top stories

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made several startling revelations in their in-depth interview with Oprah, ranging from Meghan’s suicidal thoughts to racism pushing the couple out of the UK. Meghan said when she was pregnant with their son, Archie, there were “conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”. The couple did not name the person behind the comments, but they stressed it was not the Queen or Prince Phillip. In happier news, the couple also revealed they’re expecting a baby girl. If you’re just after the fast facts, here are the 12 things we’ve learned from the interview.

Julie Bishop has criticised how ministers handled the sexual assault allegation raised by Brittany Higgins and the rape allegation against Christian Porter. Appearing on ABC’s 7.30, Bishop questioned why Scott Morrison and the attorney general had failed to read a letter and statement from a woman accusing Porter of raping her in 1988 – an accusation Porter denies. Bishop described the potential for the South Australian coroner to start an inquest into the allegations against Porter as the “next logical step” as it was “within the criminal justice system”.

A Senate inquiry into the jobseeker bill has received more than 500 submissions, including pleas from welfare recipients warning that the end of Covid-boosted welfare payments will plunge Australians further into poverty. Many warned the cut would leave them unable to afford food, medication and even housing. The government plans to lift the base rate of some payments by $50 a fortnight but the $150 Covid supplement will be scrapped at the end of March.

Guardian Australia is taking a look into our mental health care system and wants to hear from readers about your experiences. Have you encountered significant barriers to getting the help you, or someone close to you, needed? Or do you work in mental health and have ideas about what is needed to make the system stronger? Get in touch and share your story.

Australia

Mathias Cormann
Former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

The UK has been warned not to send a dreadful message to the rest of the world by backing Mathias Cormann to run the OECD. Critics say it is imperative that the organisation is led by someone who grasps the urgency of the climate crisis.

The Morrison government’s claim that national cabinet deliberations are exempt from freedom of information laws will be challenged in the administrative appeals tribunal, setting up a test over the new body’s immunity from scrutiny.

The Liberal backbencher Dave Sharma has come under fire after giving away pink flowers to women to mark International Women’s Day. Some pointed out that unsolicited advances from strange men are the opposite of what women want.

The NSW Coalition has agreed to new rules to protect koala habitat but will effectively exempt most rural land. Conservation groups have argued “excising farming and forestry zones is a catastrophic setback for the species”.

The world

Scientists in Japan have discovered a species of sea slug that can decapitate itself and then regrow an entirely new body, complete with a beating heart and other vital organs.

The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd delayed the start of jury selection for at least a day while an appeal proceeds over the possible reinstatement of an additional charge.

Myanmar security forces have raided media headquarters as the ruling junta widens its efforts to suppress opposition.

A Harvard University professor has sparked outrage after claiming that women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military had chosen to work in wartime brothels.

Recommended reads

“In the early stages, I would read it and I would cry, have tears streaming down my face,” Chinese-Australian cook and food writer Hetty Lui McKinnon says of her latest cookbook, To Asia, With Love. “They’re not sad tears … it’s me feeling this happiness of reaching this point where I’m able to tell this story.” To Asia, With Love is part of a boom this past year of cookbooks telling more personal stories. McKinnon pitched the book to her publishers as a more traditional recipe collection about the Chinese food she grew up eating. “But as I started writing it, it morphed into a book that was more personal to my experience. I was Chinese at home and had to somehow be Australian when I left the front door.”

There’s one piece of information every child knows about daddy longlegs, writes Helen Sullivan, who learned this fact the same way most children do – from the older kids. “[They] told us a secret: ‘The daddy longlegs (deep breath) is the most poisonous spider on Earth.’ As we sat on the wall at lunch, eating Marie biscuits and drinking orange squash, we passed it on. Those of us with younger siblings told them, too, to see their eyes grow large. Maybe we let the listener sit with this information for a few hours before adding: ‘But it can’t kill you, because its fangs are too small’.” But, is it just a myth?

From plague puns to isolation creation: what does Shakespeare teaches us about pandemic life? After 60 years with the Bard, John Bell reflects on how the playwright turned home quarantine into a source of productivity. Theatre in the time of pandemic is at the forefront of Bell’s mind as he prepares for his solo work, One Man in His Time, a deep dive into the wit, incisiveness and enduring beauty of Shakespeare’s writing.

Listen

Why has the Brazilian butt lift become so popular? It has become the world’s fastest growing cosmetic surgery, despite mounting concerns about the growing number of deaths from the procedure. In today’s Full Story Rachel Humphreys talks to Guardian writer Sophie Elmhirst to get to the bottom of what’s driving its popularity.

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

Sport

In the run-up to this year’s International Women’s Day, Fox Sports announced a pop-up channel, FoxW, which will be dedicated to broadcasting and celebrating women’s sport. It will air for the month of April, after which it will disappear. It’s an improvement on the one week provided last year but, given Fox Sports have been provided with $40m in government funding since 2017 to boost women’s sport on television, public scrutiny is inevitable.

After celebrating milestones in the same game at the weekend, veterans Michelle Heyman and Clare Polkinghorne stand proud as monuments to W-League’s enduring persistence, writes Samantha Lewis.

Media roundup

In South Australia, the Advertiser is reporting that a man has been charged with the murder of a female aged-care worker, whose body was discovered buried in a shallow outback grave, but homicide investigators are on the hunt for the person responsible for a separate targeted attack. The Sydney Morning Herald say $1.2bn will be given to employers to hire 70,000 apprentices. A savings war chest of more than $120bn accumulated during the pandemic is driving resurgent property and retail markets and increasing confidence among economists that the end of jobkeeper this month will not spark a significant downturn, reports the Australian.

Coming up

Scott Morrison will deliver the opening keynote address at the AFR business summit

An inquiry into the Juukan Gorge debacle will hear from the Minerals Council, Indigenous groups and lawyers.

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