Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Would-be citizens at Dutton’s mercy

The government will release details of its tightened citizenship process this week as it prepares to shepherd the changes through Parliament. Immigration minister Peter Dutton will be given new powers to personally reject citizenship applications approved by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if he thinks they run counter to the national interest. Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said Dutton being given veto power over the tribunal’s rulings was of “grave concern”, while Australian National University law professor Kim Rubenstein said giving individual ministers such sweeping powers put Australia on “a slippery slope to very draconian environments”.

Under the new citizenship rules, migrants will be subject to a four-year period of permanent residency, tougher English language requirements, and a “values test” to prove they are compatible with Australian society. Applicants will also need to prove they have integrated into the community before citizenship is approved. Labor has not yet indicated whether it would support the new measures, potentially forcing the government to rely on the Senate crossbench.

Chief scientist Alan Finkel has defended his review of energy security released last week from criticisms across the political spectrum. Speaking to the Guardian, Finkel downplayed the possibility of governments using “clean” coal to meet a clean energy target, and said the ultimate responsibility for reducing Australia’s carbon emissions lies with governments. The Finkel review’s proposed model would cut emissions 28 per cent by 2030, a level environmental groups say would breach Australia’s Paris Accord obligations. Government backbenchers, meanwhile, warn that concessions for the coal industry are necessary if the Coalition party room is to support the plan.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to push on with the “hard” Brexit plan her Conservative party took to Thursday’s election, despite losing a Parliamentary majority and facing a possible leadership challenge. May secured the short-term support of the Tory backbench at a post-election meeting of the party’s 1922 Committee this morning, while continued negotiations between the Conservatives and the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party have forced the traditional Queen’s Speech to be pushed back. Besides the uncertain outcome of the negotiations, blame for the delay lies at least in part on the thoroughly British requirement that “the speech has to be written on goat's skin parchment, which takes a few days to dry”.

And a slew of prominent Australians have been awarded Queen’s Birthday honours. Actor Cate Blanchett, economist Ross Garnaut, Kimberley Legal Service worker Ruth Abdullah and ABC election warlock Antony Green were selected for the honours list of about 900 people this year, while proselytising giraffe Healthy Harold was shamefully excluded yet again despite his recent brush with death.

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Isn’t it funny – the English words never really explain how my true Indigenous spirit feels.

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Can a new generation in the banlieues change French politics?

“The campaign season in France this spring revolved around the meaning of ‘Frenchness’, a perennial question given new urgency by a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks that resulted in the highest number of deaths on French soil since the 1940s, the year-and-a-half-long state of emergency that followed and a generalized economic anxiety. Every week seemed to bring a new polemic about ‘mass immigration’ or the role of France’s Muslims in formulating an Islam compatible with the French Republic or the importance of affirming French ‘culture’, whatever that might be.” the new york times magazine

The impossible mathematics of the real world

“There’s no precise definition of a near miss. There can’t be. A hard and fast rule doesn’t make sense in the wobbly real world ... A near miss is something that is close enough to surprise or fool you, a mathematical joke or prank. Some mathematical near misses are, like near-miss Johnson solids, little more than curiosities, while others have deeper significance for mathematics and physics.” nautilus

Canada’s middle class is on the brink of ruin

“Canadian households are now carrying more debt than those of any other G7 nation. By the end of 2016, Canadians owed a total of $2 trillion in mortgages, consumer credit, and loans. Millions of us now report living paycheque to paycheque, spending almost everything we make. The reason our debt level is so troubling to economists is that we appear to be nearing a breaking point when it comes to our ability to manage it.” the walrus



Who will be the next UK Prime Minister if Theresa May goes?

“Although May on Monday managed to quiet talk of any immediate ouster, she is still considered unlikely to stay on over the next two years, as exit talks unfold ... May’s willingness to take blame for the election loss Monday appeared to have won her favor from her party colleagues, who said she had effectively ended talk of an imminent coup. But party members said she would still have to prove she understands that while she may have the will to continue on as normal with her Brexit plans, she no longer has the votes.”   the washington post


‘Prime Minister Boris Johnson’ would fit 2017’s peak-absurdity theme nicely.

“Boris Johnson has been pressed by five other members of the cabinet to oust Theresa May as prime minister as the Tory party descended into a new civil war. The foreign secretary was contacted by the ministers on Friday morning as the scale of the general election debacle was unfolding and told they would support him if he moved against May. ‘A handful of senior people have pledged their loyalty to Boris at cabinet level’, an ally said. ‘He has been inundated with messages of support.’”  the times


and finally:

Inside the chaotic battle to be the top reply to a Trump tweet

“Seconds after the president sounds off to his 31 million–plus followers, he’s bombarded with replies – almost all of them extreme. There are comedians, actors, doctors, scientists, admirers, goons, politicos, activists, journalists, and trolls. And within seconds they’re all just a few pixels below the president’s missive – yelling, arguing, and looking to be the one Donald Trump sees when he checks his Twitter feed.” buzzfeed news