Friday, May 19, 2017

ATO scandal and Ailes’ death

Deputy Australian Taxation Office commissioner Michael Cranston is facing charges of abusing his position as a public official. Two of Cranston’s children, Adam and Lauren, were among nine people charged by federal police yesterday over a tax fraud conspiracy totalling almost $170 million. Cranston himself, who has overseen some of the ATO’s largest investigations into tax evasion in a career of more than 35 years, allegedly instructed subordinates to access restricted information about the ATO’s investigation into his son’s activities. Four ATO officials have been stood down for their role in the scandal so far, and other investigations that Cranston has participated in may be in jeopardy. Speaking to the ABC’s 7.30 last night, Labor Senator Doug Cameron said the scandal could deal tremendous “reputational damage” to the ATO, while Nick Xenophon said Cranston’s downfall could jeopardise the Panama Papers tax avoidance investigation and have “international implications”.

A leaked security report obtained by Lateline reveals at least one Papua New Guinea soldier fired bullets into the Manus Island detention centre. The report, produced by contractor Wilson Security after PNG soldiers and Manus locals stormed the refugee processing centre in April, says a soldier produced a weapon “believed to be an M16 assault rifle” and began firing “his weapon randomly into the air and towards the RPC, staff and facilities”. The revelations contradict the department of immigration’s version of events, which state that weapons were fired into the air.

Fox News founding CEO Roger Ailes has died aged 77. Last year the presidential advisor and media tycoon was forced to resign from the cable news station he turned into a political force when 25 female Fox anchors, producers and commentators spoke out about Ailes’ pattern of sexually harassing and intimidating women at the network. Ailes’ death has inspired vastly differing accounts of his life, with Fox glossing over his serial harassment and progressive outlets excoriating his mark on modern media and politics.

The Nation’s Joan Walsh called Ailes “the most darkly influential man in American politics over the last 50 years”, while Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi said he “made [the United States] the hate-filled, moronic country it is today”. Civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing women allegedly harassed by former Fox host Bill O’Reilly, said Ailes’ death will “let all his victims now be ungagged for the true, full reckoning of his life”, and urged people to remember his “sadistic destruction” of women who complained about harassment. Fox host Ainsley Earhardt, in contrast, praised Ailes’ political nous and work ethic, asking: “who doesn’t have sins? We all have our crosses to bear”.

And an 18-year-old woman has been killed and 22 people have been injured after a car drove into pedestrians in New York’s Times Square. Police quickly ruled out terrorism as a motive, identifying the driver as Richard Rojas, a 26-year-old Navy veteran with two arrests for drink-driving. Eyewitnesses said Rojas drove along nearly four blocks of “sidewalk” at high speeds before crashing and trying to flee on foot.

Open Quotemarks

No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.

Close Quotemarks

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Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent

“One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.” miami herald

What connects Brexit, the DUP, dark money and a Saudi prince?

“If Northern Ireland were a normal democracy, the election campaign would be dominated by a single question: how did the Democratic Unionist Party end up advancing the cause of a united Ireland through its support for Brexit? More specifically: what role did dark money play in that extraordinary decision? This story has all the makings of a John le Carré thriller but democracy on this island needs facts, not fiction.” irish times

When your child is a psychopath

“At 11, Samantha is just over 5 feet tall and has wavy black hair and a steady gaze. She flashes a smile when I ask about her favorite subject (history), and grimaces when I ask about her least favorite (math). She seems poised and cheerful, a normal preteen. But when we steer into uncomfortable territory – the events that led her to this juvenile-treatment facility nearly 2,000 miles from her family – Samantha hesitates and looks down at her hands. ‘I wanted the whole world to myself,’ she says. ‘So I made a whole entire book about how to hurt people.’ ” the atlantic



Is it on?

“Labor’s Anthony Albanese has distanced himself from Bill Shorten's response to the 2017 budget, arguing the federal opposition should have claimed victory after the Coalition's ‘ideological surrender’. In a speech to the Transport Workers Union in Perth, Mr Albanese – who was narrowly defeated by Mr Shorten in the 2013 leadership contest and who still has significant support in the caucus and among party rank-and-file – has set out an alternative budget response suggesting a different narrative for Labor.”   fairfax



“Fairfax Media has spoken to several Labor MPs who were surprised by the tactics Mr Shorten adopted in his budget response. Broadly speaking those MPs, who asked not to be named, believe Mr Shorten made a mistake by opposing a rise in the Medicare levy for all income earners and that he moved too far to the left of the political spectrum in his reply. Those MPs fear that, like former prime minister Tony Abbott, Mr Shorten is in danger of falling into the trap of ruling out measures proposed by the current government that could help repair the budget.”  fairfax


and finally:

Tragic love triangle is sad for lonely rare snail, still good for science

“It had been a timeless love story. A garden snail with a rare genetic condition can't mate with normal snails; scientists launch an international search for a mate; the snail becomes a media sensation; and miraculously not one but two possible mates are found. That’s where we left the tale of Jeremy, the rare left-coiling snail, last November. But since then, what had been a snail fairy tale has turned into something of a tragedy for Jeremy – its two possible mates proceeded to mate with each other instead.” npr