Morning mail: NSW wakes up to new freedoms, Haiti kidnapping, and vintage Melbourne – The Guardian Australia

Monday: Schools and some sports to restart in Sydney as new modelling warns about borders reopening. Plus: pictures reveal a changing city
Last modified on Sun 17 Oct 2021 17.08 EDT
Good morning. A group of 17 US missionaries have been kidnapped by an armed criminal gang in Haiti. Schools are reopening in New South Wales, as the state loosens more restrictions from today. And an enchanting collection of historical images reveal the changes and developments Melbourne has experienced over the years.
A raft of new freedoms came into effect in NSW today, after the state reached an 80% vaccination rate among its adult population. Some students are returning to their classrooms, community sport can resume, more friends and family members can gather at home, and vertical drinking and dancing is allowed at hospitality venues (but not nightclubs). From Monday, fully vaccinated residents can have up to 20 people to their home, the limit on wedding and funeral guests will lift, and there will no longer be a cap on hospitality venue bookings.

A group of 17 US missionaries, including children, have been kidnapped by an armed criminal gang in Haiti. The missionaries were kidnapped early Saturday morning on their way home from building an orphanage. The area in which the Americans were seized is the territory of the 400 Mawozo criminal gang, which has a history of targeting religious groups and has been blamed for previous kidnappings earlier this year. Haiti – which currently has the worst global record for kidnapping – has been struggling with a sharp increase in the gang-related crimes since its president, Jovenel Moïse, was shot at his home on 7 July.
A judge has ordered that a mute asylum seeker who has been detained in Australia for eight years be moved to Nauru or released into a house in Perth pending the transfer. The man – known as AZC20 in court documents – is an engineer who fled Iran seeking protection in Australia, and has since been moved between detention centres. The indefinite nature of his detention has damaged his mental health. In a judgment delivered late last week, Justice Darryl Rangiah noted AZC20’s “chronic demoralisation” and said the “unchallenged evidence is clear that ongoing and prolonged detention in the environment of detention centres is contributing to the applicant’s poor state of mental health”. If he is ultimately transferred to Nauru, he would be the first person sent offshore by Australia in more than seven years.
Australia could see Covid surges from new variants when the border reopens even after it reaches an 80% vaccination rate, according to modelling published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday. This new research follows the NSW premier’s announcement that returning Australians and tourists would be able to travel to Sydney without needing to hotel quarantine.
A remote community in the Northern Territory has had problems with its water supply since at least 2008, where the water is contaminated with uranium three times above the recommended limit. Now the community wants answers.
The National party has exited a marathon meeting where they discussed the Morrison government’s climate policy without coming to an agreementwith discussions to continue into the parliamentary sitting week.
Covid restrictions across Victoria will change again from Friday 22 October when Melbourne’s lockdown will end after the state reaches a full vaccination rate of 70%. Starting on Friday, curfews will end, there will be no more travel limits, home visits with restrictions will be allowed, hospitality businesses will reopen and students will attend classrooms part-time in metropolitan Melbourne.
A Russian film crew has returned to Earth after spending 12 days on the International Space Station shooting the first movie in space.
The US has urged Britain to follow its example and try to repair its relations with Paris in the wake of the row over France’s loss of its submarine contract with Australia. The secretive and sudden cancellation of the contract has created a crisis of trust between Paris on the one hand, and London, Canberra and Washington on the other.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has said the police crackdowns on Algerian anti-war demonstrators 60 years ago that led to many deaths was an “unforgivable” crime, becoming the first French presidential to officially recognise the country’s responsibility.
Hundreds of pro-military Sudanese protesters have rallied for a second day in the capital, demanding the dissolution of Sudan’s post-dictatorship interim government, saying it has failed them politically and economically.
A former top environmental lawyer at the Trump justice department accused of plotting to undermine the 2020 election results in Georgia and other states, is facing ethics investigations in Washington that could lead to possible disbarment, as well as a watchdog inquiry that might result in a criminal referral.
An enchanting collection of historical images compiled by Melbourne-born lawyer and artist Chris Macheras reveals the changes and developments the Victorian capital has experienced over the years. From Melbourne Cup parties to street scenes to migrant arrivals, it’s all celebrated in the Old Vintage Melbourne Instagram account and a new book.
Australians are the world’s biggest consumers of health and wellness apps, punching well above our per capita weight in our quest for peak physical and mental condition, according to research from telecommunications company Uswitch. In recent years we have also been making them – with everyone from fitness influencers to mental health advocacy groups launching digital products. From bibliotherapy to burpees, gratitude journals to cathartic workouts, Nadine von Cohen logs into Australia’s new crop of wellbeing apps.
Extreme rightwing views and the wellness community are not an obvious pairing, but “conspirituality” is increasingly pervasive. “While the overlap of leftwing, magazine-friendly wellness and far-right conspiracy theories might initially sound surprising, the similarities in cultures, in ways of thinking – the questioning of authority, of alternative medicines, the distrust of institutions– are clear” writes Eva Wiseman. “But something is happening, accelerated by the pandemic – the former is becoming a mainstream entry point into the latter.”

Ecstasy, LSD and magic mushrooms: are these drugs the future of therapy? Scientists treating depression and a range of other mental illnesses have been running controlled trials using MDMA and psychedelic drugs such as LSD. And the results have been encouraging.
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Australian Football Players are using their platforms to inspire change on climate. “People say they don’t want to be lectured to by professional athletes,” writes Jordan Roughead. “But we’re not trying to school anyone on the science.”
For the first time in the history of the Association of Tennis Professionals, all semi-finalists in a Masters 1000 tournament were ranked outside the top 25 as the final four men’s players took to Stadium Court at the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday. Of the four players, Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie was the highest ranked, an outcome that nobody could have possibly predicted at the beginning of the year.
Australians wanting to travel to leave or return to Australia will have access from Tuesday to an international proof-of-vaccination certificate, the Brisbane Times reports. Business leaders are frustrated with the federal government’s failure to commit to serious climate change action and want a national net zero emissions target to urgently be set, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Business leaders believe Australia is being left behind the rest of the developed world.
A Senate inquiry report is due into the destruction of 46,000-year-old caves at the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia.
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