Good morning. Australians hoping for an overseas holiday in coming months face astronomical air fares, Scott Morrison faces internal resistance to higher emission reduction targets, and the Australian marathon swimmer Chloë McCardel has completed a world-record 44th crossing of the Channel.Thousands of Australians face $5,000 return flights as experts warn “it could take a full year” until international flight tickets return to pre-Covid prices. More than 45,000 Australians remain stranded overseas, with a scarce supply of tickets into the country available, despite both the prime minister and NSW premier’s optimism that travel could be “fast-tracked” by early November. The outback town of Wilcannia is celebrating two weeks Covid-free after the virus hit “like a cyclone” in August, but Aboriginal people in the Hunter-New England region have experienced a 400% increase during the past fortnight. Meanwhile, regional advocates have called for telecommunications to be enshrined in legislation as an essential service, with bushfires, floods and now the Covid pandemic causing outages across as many as 1,400 facilities nationwide.Russia’s population has undergone its largest peacetime decline – registering nearly 1 million people fewer between October 2020 and September 2021, with Covid blamed for an overwhelming majority of the deaths. The figures call into question the efficacy of the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine, with the nation’s daily death toll nearing 1,000 as it battles a deadly fourth wave. Russia’s population – 145 million – is now lower than when Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.A global survey of scientists has revealed that 15% have received death threats after speaking publicly about Covid, with 22% threatened with serious violence.Scott Morrison has informed party colleagues he wants a more ambitious emissions reduction target before the Cop26 summit but he faces potentially fierce resistance from the Nationals – some of whom have been openly hostile to moves to update the 26% to 28% cut by 2030 target, set six years ago by Tony Abbott. A Victorian thinktank has released figures showing that state-level commitments could deliver a 37% to 42% cut, with more than half of all energy coming from renewable sources before the decade’s end.AustraliaA dramatic crack in the Opal Tower in 2018 prompted action from NSW regulators. Photograph: Paul Braven/AAPMore than one in four apartment blocks in Sydney built between 2007 and 2017 are likely to have defects, startling research has suggested. Water damage, cracking and fire safety issues are the three chief defects, triggering legal action worth $14.3m already.The federal government is seeking to quash a landmark high court decision that ruled Aboriginal Australians cannot be deported after a New Zealand man appealed to the precedent in a case that remains ongoing.The Australian marathon swimmer Chloë McCardel has completed a world-record 44th crossing of the Channel – a cumulative 450 hours of swimming, involving more than 1.5m individual strokes. The 36-year-old admitted to journalists she had a “love-hate” relationship with the Channel.The worldThe 25-year-old distance runner Agnes Tirop represented Kenya in the 5,000m event at the Tokyo Olympics and finished fourth in the final. Photograph: Ibraheem Al Omari/ReutersA world record-holding Kenyan athlete, Agnes Tirop, has been found dead at her home. Police are seeking the 25-year-old’s husband as a suspect after the two-time world championship medallist was reportedly stabbed in the neck.A British football coach has been sentenced to 25 years prison in Dubai for possessing four bottles of vape liquid. The goods, which are legal in the UK, have been outlawed in the UAE. Billy Hood claims he was forced to confess in Arabic, a language he doesn’t speak.Two Venezuelan boys have been killed in Colombia for allegedly shoplifting, with armed men reportedly taking the two to the edge of town and shooting them. Venezuela’s attorney general has called on his Colombian counterpart to determine responsibility for the murders.William Shatner has declared himself “overwhelmed” after becoming the oldest human in space, after a brief but successful voyage onboard the Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos’s New Shepard rocket ship.Recommended reads‘It’s not the banks’ money on the line, or the government’s, it’s ours.’ Photograph: Jantanee Rungpranomkorn/Getty Images/iStockphoto“One bloke on a bus without a mask is infuriating but billions of pounds stolen from us is just a statistic.” Buried amid all the Covid pandemic-related anger there’s a very concerning figure: in just one UK-based small business lending scheme £27bn of fraud or credit loss occurred. As Adrian Chiles fulminates, this isn’t bank or government money, it’s public: “Hundreds of thousands of people running small and medium-sized businesses must have been, to put it bluntly, taking the piss. Most of them would have been taxpayers themselves.”“Trying to decipher the health of the economy is rather tough amid lockdowns,” Greg Jericho writes. According to the IMF though, Australia has been hit hardest of any OECD nations by the Delta strain, with GDP predictions for 2021 leaving Australia well behind comparable nations. But “it is not all bad news” – the nation is tipped to rebound in 2022 and experience steady, if not spectacular, results in years after that.Kyran Wheatley struggles to remember things. So it’s lucky he’s got access to his outbound DMs so he could compile this week’s funniest things on the internet. Discover a man and his bird, who loves to jam; dogs who are scared of other dogs; and a tiny horse trying to make a tiny step. Wonderful.ListenIt was labelled a “despicable and insane performance”. Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s speech in Taipei was not well received by the Chinese leadership – but what was he doing in Taiwan anyway? On this episode of Full Story, Daniel Hurst explains what has caused all the ruckus.Full StoryWhy was Tony Abbott in Taiwan?Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp3Full Story is Guardian Australia’s daily news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.SportThe influence of the likes of Samu Kerevi has been profound since overseas-based players returned to the Wallabies squad. Photograph: Ian Hitchcock/Getty ImagesIt was the law designed to stop Rugby Australia’s best and brightest from heading overseas but, with the latest Wallabies call-ups rendering the Giteau law effectively defunct, as Bret Harris argues, RA will need to balance the nation’s needs against the domestic competition’s.They were once the pride of an empire but, with no official bids made for the right to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, has the sun finally set on Great Britain’s games? As Andy Bull writes, relevance has waned over the past decade, and costs mounted.Media roundupDefence employees have spoken out about their sense of “shame” at a “tone deaf” banning of morning teas to honour LGBTQ+ colleagues by Peter Dutton, the Brisbane Times writes. The defence minister ordered his department and serving military personnel to stop events, saying he would not pursue a “woke agenda”. Four in five Western Australians want a net zero by 2050 commitment, the West Australian claims, with two-thirds of those surveyed over 70 voicing support. And the gambling industry has tipped in more than $1.5m in at fundraisers for more than 150 politicians, an ABC special investigation has reported.Coming upThe mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest will address the National Press Club.The man accused of raping the former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins will face court in the ACT.And if you’ve read this far …What happens when the sun dies? It’s perhaps not a question at the forefront of your mind this week, but it’s a quandary that has plagued astronomers for decades. Now, thanks to a new discovery led by a University of Tasmania researcher, there’s some hope that the eventual collapse of the sun won’t spell total obliteration for Earth.Sign upIf you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.Get in touchIf you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email firstname.lastname@example.org.Sign up to Inside Saturday to get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the top features from our new magazine delivered to your inbox every weekend.