Good morning, this is Emilie Gramenz bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 29 September.
Donald Trump is heading into the first US presidential debate against Joe Biden against the backdrop of dramatic newspaper revelations detailing his chronic financial losses and years of tax avoidance. Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he ran for and won election, the New York Times reported. In 2017, he paid only $750 again. And he paid no federal income tax at all in 10 out of the previous 15 years. Evidence that Trump is paying much less than many of his working-class supporters is likely to be seized upon by Joe Biden when the two men go head to head for the first debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
The broad outline of systemic failures in Victoria’s hotel quarantine have been summed up in the closing address from counsel assisting a judicial inquiry. The hotel quarantine scandal has revealed deeper problems with the public service and the culture of the government. Meanwhile, a World Health Organization official has said the official global toll of deaths from Covid-19 probably underestimates the true total – suggesting it could be over a million already. Tests for Covid-19 that show on-the-spot results in 15 to 30 minutes are about to be rolled out across the world, potentially slowing the pandemic in both poor and rich countries. The Netherlands is considering restricting travel to and from its biggest cities as part of a raft of measures to counter a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Cardinal George Pell is returning to Rome five months after a damning report was delivered by Australia’s child sexual abuse royal commission finding he was aware of children being sexually abused within the church but failed to adequately act. The Catholic News Agency reported Pell would fly to Rome on Tuesday where he formerly held the role as prefect of the Vatican’s secretariat for the economy, effectively making him the financial controller of the church. Pell has been living at the Archdiocese of Sydney since his acquittal by Australia’s high court in April on historical charges of sexual abuse.
The Morrison government has said it refused to sign a global pledge endorsed by 64 countries committing them to reverse biodiversity loss because it was inconsistent with Australia’s policies. Apart from Australia, other countries that didn’t sign the pledge include the United States, Brazil, China, Russia and India.
Researchers have found major tobacco companies are giving Australian retailers cash payments and taking staff on all-expenses-paid international trips, in return for the promotion of their products directly to customers and more prominent cabinet space.
An inquiry into whether Crown remains suitable to hold a casino licence has heard that its largest shareholder, James Packer, insisted on a $1.7bn deal with Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts to buy 19.9%, even though a key executive had flown to Los Angeles to discuss other options with the billionaire.
Up to two-thirds of children denied bail in Victoria were in custody unnecessarily, the state’s children’s commissioner has said, after a report found two-thirds of those on remand did not go on to receive a custodial sentence.
A curfew has been lifted in Louisville, where many people have been charged with refusing to stop their nighttime protests after a grand jury’s decision not to charge officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was shot multiple times on 13 March after her boyfriend opened fire as officers entered her home during a narcotics raid, authorities said.
A super-enzyme that degrades plastic bottles six times faster than before has been created by scientists and could be used for recycling within a year or two. Scientists believe combining it with enzymes that break down cotton could also allow mixed-fabric clothing to be recycled.
Syrian rebel fighters have signed up to work for a private Turkish security company as border guards in Azerbaijan, several volunteers in Syria’s last rebel stronghold have said, at a time when the long-running conflict between Baku and neighbouring Armenia is showing dangerous signs of escalation.
The fashion brand Fred Perry has pulled one of its famous polo shirt designs after it became associated with a far-right organisation. The company has halted sales of the black and yellow top in the US and Canada, after it was adopted by the neo-fascist organisation the Proud Boys.
Novelist Richard Flanagan shares the themes in his new book – grief and loss, but also possibility, and the beauty of a disappearing world – with Michael Williams. “To be clear, his magnificent new book The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is hopeful. It is bleak at times, a book about a disappearing world, about loss and grief, about familial failures of empathy and societal failures of attention. But it is also playful; with an eye for absurdity and a darkly funny streak.”
Five weeks into a six-month study exchange in Europe, Paul Mitchell’s 20-year-old son flew back to Melbourne amid the coronavirus outbreak. After realising his son was mostly cooking sauce out of a jar, he promised to teach him cooking, over video calls. “The lesson started and he had ear buds in but no ingredients out, not even a pot. Blokes wandered in and out of the kitchen, fascinated.”
The Morrison government is no longer fixated on a surplus – but for how long? Greg Jericho writes: “Whenever a recession hits, every treasurer and prime minister becomes a Keynesian. The bald reality is that the private sector collapses in a recession and unless the public sector steps in to the breach, that recession could turn into a depression.”
Today Full Story examines how the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg could change America. She was a pioneer of women’s rights and a liberal icon of the US supreme court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last week may alter the course of American politics and lead to a seismic shift towards a more conservative court for years to come.
Across the tennis landscape, upstarts are tweaking the noses of their betters. On day two of the 2020 French Open, it briefly was the turn of the three‑time champion Serena Williams, who had to wrestle with the ingenious challenge of her compatriot, Kristie Ahn, before moving into the second round with much of her old swagger.
Lewis Hamilton’s claim that he and his Mercedes team are being unfairly targeted to make Formula One more competitive has been strongly denied by the FIA. The world champion accused the FIA of attempting to “stop” him as he moves closer to taking his seventh world championship after he was penalised at the Russian Grand Prix.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a national database compiling timely information from paramedics, hospitals, coroners, police and the community on suicides will be launched to demystify the subject in a bid to prevent more deaths. ANZ Bank is poised to remove access to millions of dollars in loan redraw facilities after identifying around 200,000 accounts with incorrect balances, according to the Australian Financial Review. Another eight crew from a bulk carrier anchored off the Pilbara coast have tested posted for Covid-19, the West Australian reports.
A right-hand man to casino billionaire James Packer faces a third day of grilling at an inquiry run by NSW’s gaming regulator.
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption will hold hearings looking into allegations against former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire of “breach of public trust to improperly gain a benefit”.
If you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.