Summer Schwartz° Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Democrats push on with impeachment

Democrats have introduced an article of impeachment against US President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting insurrection over the violent attack on the Capitol. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the article as early as Wednesday (US-time), and Democrats have the numbers, making Trump the only US president to be impeached twice, though there are concerns the move could backfire. Republicans earlier blocked a resolution calling on Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, forcing the House to go to a full vote on Tuesday. State capitols across the US are preparing for similar attacks, while an internal FBI bulletin is warning of a huge uprising if Congress attempts to remove Trump, with an armed group planning to travel to DC. Back home, Labor MP Anne Aly, an expert in counter-terrorism, is calling for the upcoming extremism inquiry to focus on the threat of right-wing extremists on social media, noting that much of the Capitol attack was organised online, The New Daily reports.

More than 50 MPs have joined Parliamentary Friends of Making Social Media Safe, a new group launched by Nationals MP Anne Webster and Labor MP Sharon Claydon. The group is focused more on abuse than censorship, with Webster telling Nine that MPs want the platforms to be held more accountable, even liable for defamation or inciting violence. “I do value freedom of speech but at some point in time, when there’s a significant amount of harm occurring, we need boundaries,” Webster said. Free-speech warriors Craig Kelly and George Christensen, meanwhile, are among the most influential Australian MPs on Facebook, Guardian Australia analysis shows. So much for “censored conservatives”.

China has condemned Australia, the United States, Britain and Canada for interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, saying its sovereignty must be respected, the ABC reports. The Chinese foreign ministry was responding to a recent joint statement by the four members of Five Eyes, demanding China respects the freedom of Hong Kongers, after the arrests of 55 politicians and activists – the biggest such action taken under a new national security law. Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, who recently tweeted a fake image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child, defended China’s governance, saying, “Relevant countries should face up to the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China, abide by international law and the basic norms of international relations, [and] abandon double standards.” In other China news, World Health Organization experts are due to arrive in the country on Thursday for their delayed investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Bushfires in Western Australia and South Australia have been downgraded overnight, after Monday’s soaring temperatures sparked multiple emergencies. A blaze started by a car fire near a Perth freeway, threatening lives and homes, was downgraded to watch and act, but authorities say it is neither contained nor controlled. The out-of-control Blackford fire in SA, which saw the town of Lucindale evacuated after residents were initially told it was too late to leave, reduced further overnight. It has so far burnt through almost 17,000 hectares of land. Residents in Melbourne’s west were told to shelter indoors last night, with a watch and act message in place, as crews battled an industrial fire in Laverton North into the night, following the city’s hottest day in a year.

Summer Schwartz°

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Bronwyn Adcock • THE Monthly (Feb 2020)

Caught up in the chaos of the catastrophic bushfires on the NSW South Coast, the author experienced the terror of those whose homes and loved ones are threatened, as the failures of leadership became all too real.

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Ayesha Tiwana • THE Saturday Paper (Nov 2020) 

The coronavirus pandemic has only heightened the precarious situation in which international students often find themselves, with many forced to take on jobs that pay less than the minimum wage.

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Lidia Thorpe • THE Saturday Paper (Oct 2020) 

“This year has brought our lives, particularly in my home city of Naarm, Melbourne, to a standstill. Millions of us have sat inside our homes, trapped in our own heads, trying to understand how things got to this point, thinking critically about the structure of our society and the country we want to emerge from this crisis, the life we want for our kids.”

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Paddy Manning • 7am podcast (JAN 2021)

In 2011 the Queensland town of Grantham was inundated with rain, causing flash flooding. It had a devastating impact on the town’s residents. But events like this are predicted to become more common, as the planet warms leading to more extreme weather events. Today, Climate change will kill you, part two: flood.

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Thornton McCamish • THE Monthly (SEP 2020)

Masha Gessen and Anne Applebaum sound alarms on how ‘post-truth’ public debate leaves us mute in the face of autocracy.

"Though the two books come from different perspectives, both are short, deeply informed polemics about the destruction of trust in democratic government." 

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Declan Fry • THE Saturday Paper (DEC 2020)

Yhonnie Scarce and Judy Watson’s joint exhibition draws a paradoxical sense of life from historical atrocities.

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David Moyle • THE SATURDAY PAPER (OCT 2020) 

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Rachel Withers is the contributing editor of The Monthly Today.