Morning mail: deadly wake of Florida hurricane, Putin to annex Ukraine land, Australia’s food waste bill climbs

<span>Photograph: Usa Today Network/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Usa Today Network/Reuters

Good morning. In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Florida is starting to report loss of life and the numbers are climbing. Vladimir Putin is preparing to announce the annexation of parts of Ukraine after sham referendums. And a new study has put a (high) number on the cost of the food that Australians throw away uneaten.

Rescue crews in Florida are searching for residents trapped by floods after Hurricane Ian, which the US president, Joe Biden, said “could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history” as the official death toll starts to climb. The catastrophic scale of damage wreaked by the near-category 5 storm is still unfolding. Residents from the city of Fort Myers were reporting entire houses swept away by the metres-high storm surge, and relatives have lost contact with residents who tried to wait out the storm.

One in three households is throwing away, unused, the equivalent of a shopping bag full of food each week, a new study has found, despite food waste costing Australians more than $2,000 each year. Nearly half of Australian households (42%) said they are throwing away as much food or more than they did this time last year, the study from climate action group Wrap and Mayonnaise brand Hellman’s has shown.

Vladimir Putin will today sign treaties annexing territories in occupied Ukraine, the Kremlin has said – including parts of the country it does not currently control. The provocative move follows sham referendums held over the last week in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. But the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the move “would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned”. Joe Biden said the US would never recognise the Russian claims, saying the results of the votes were “manufactured in Moscow”.

Today, we’re also celebrating the Guardian’s commitment to climate coverage. The Guardian published more than 4,000 climate stories in the past year, holding firm on our pledge to give the climate emergency the sustained attention it demands. We have brought readers multiple exclusives on the plight of the Great Barrier Reef, exposed the flaws in Australia’s carbon credit scheme, and produced a landmark investigation into the carbon bombs threatening the planet. This work is made possible by the support of our readers. If you’re able, please help to support urgent, independent climate journalism today.

Australia

Andrew Forrest says he believes only 10%-15% of carbon credits represent real emissions reductions.
Andrew Forrest says he believes only 10%-15% of carbon credits represent real emissions reductions. Photograph: Ben Makori/Reuters

Carbon offsets are questionable, dangerous and far from a good investment for companies hoping to reduce their environmental impact, Andrew Forrest, Australia’s richest man, has said.

A $1.6bn agreement to help facilitate affordable housing in Australia has failed to reduce inequity and national reform is now imperative, the Productivity Commission has found.

Melissa Caddick’s husband has denied playing any role in his wife’s November 2020 disappearance, telling an inquest he did not deliberately delay reporting her missing to buy time or avoid police attention.

A South Sudanese refugee who was wrongly jailed due to a “failure of the system” has lost an attempt to sue the Canberra court responsible for the error. The ACT supreme court rejected the argument that his imprisonment was arbitrary and a contravention of the Human Rights Act.

Processing times for an important skilled worker visa have more than doubled and the number of migrants languishing on bridging visas has increased six-fold, a new report warns.

The world

Liz Truss rejected any idea of error when pressed on why her government had cut taxes primarily for richer people in the mini-budget despite inflationary pressures, prompting a decline in the pound and a rise in the cost of government debt.
Liz Truss rejected any idea of error when pressed on why her government had cut taxes primarily for richer people in the mini-budget despite inflationary pressures, prompting a decline in the pound and a rise in the cost of government debt. Photograph: Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters

Liz Truss has insisted her government’s economic policy is on the right course despite the need for emergency intervention from the Bank of England, saying she is “prepared to take difficult decisions” and will not change policy.

Swedish authorities have reported a fourth leak on one of the two Nord Stream pipelines that EU leaders believe became the subject of sabotage at the start of the week. The two leaks in Swedish waters were close to each other, “in the same sector”, a coastguard officer told Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

More than 1,700 murders of environmental activists were recorded over the past decade, an average of a killing nearly every two days, according to a new report.

Queen Elizabeth II’s cause of death is described as “old age” in the register of deaths released on Thursday.

Recommended reads

Was Andy Warhol the first influencer of the modern world? The artist may have died two decades before social media turned the word into a job title, but Warhol’s prolific use of photography to capture a carefully curated life would have won the artist millions of followers today. The artist as influencer is one of the themes the Art Gallery of South Australia will explore during the 2023 Adelaide festival in March, in Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media.

The great Australian protest documentary Ningla-A’na is returning to cinemas with a new restoration timed for the 50th anniversary of the film and its subject. Capturing the early days of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, it’s not just a historical document but a kind of evergreen clarion call and electric time capsule.

Listen

With the period of mourning for the Queen’s death officially over, there have been renewed calls for Australia to cut ties with the monarchy. But so far, polls don’t suggest any surge in public support for such a change. Meanwhile, the Labor government is pushing ahead with another constitutional reform – an Indigenous Voice to parliament. So what does all this mean, for republicans in Australia?

In this episode of Full Story, Jo Tovey talks to Lenore Taylor and Mike Ticher about the path forward for an Australian republic.

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

Sport

A new AFL Players’ Association survey has found many players have experienced racism, including from people within the industry.
A new AFL Players’ Association survey has found many players have experienced racism, including from people within the industry. Photograph: Joe Castro/AAP

The players’ union will survey former AFL players regarding their experiences of racism after a third of 92 current players who identified as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or a person of colour reported incidents. The AFL Players’ Association’s first Insights and Impact Report also found less than one-fifth of AFL players who have experienced racism in the game felt their matter was sufficiently dealt with and showed “concerning” incidences of vilification from people in the industry.

Media roundup

The New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, has called on state and territory leaders to remove one of the last vestiges of the pandemic ahead of today’s national cabinet meeting, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Northern Territory traditional owners say they are “appalled” by a suggestion a second uranium mine could be established in Kakadu National Park, the ABC reports. And The Australian reveals the Spanish push to build Australia three navy destroyers for $6bn.

And if you’ve read this far …

From footy finals to rural shows, see Australia’s best photos of the month.

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