Monday, July 17, 2017

New terror powers for soldiers

Australian Defence Force personnel will be given sweeping new powers to act in response to domestic terror attacks. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and defence minister Marise Payne will today outline the ADF’s new powers, which will make it easier for soldiers to be deployed in support of state and federal police during a terrorist incident and give special forces units legal authority to shoot and kill on domestic soil. At present the ADF can only help in response to a terror incident if state or territory police believe their own capacity is overmatched. ADF liaison officers will also be placed in law enforcement agencies to train police officers who respond to terror attacks.

American immigration officials have abruptly left Nauru ahead of schedule, raising fears the United States may renege on its promise to take up to 1250 refugees and asylum seekers held in Australian offshore detention. The news came just a day after the US announced it has reached its annual refugee intake of 50,000 people, with the next year’s intake not due to begin until October. Foreign minister Julie Bishop played down those fears, saying on Insiders she had received personal assurances from US Vice-President Mike Pence that the deal would go ahead. Bishop also said she was confident Australia would win its bid for a seat on the United Nations human rights council in October, to join fellow rights luminaries Egypt, China and Saudi Arabia.

Controversy remains the word at state Liberal Party conventions, with the party’s New South Wales and Queensland branches in the headlines for the wrong reasons. The Queensland Liberal National party conference voted yesterday to call for a ban on headscarves for girls under the age of 10 after proposals to ban immigration from countries with sharia law and prohibit facial coverings were defeated. Southport LNP member Brooke Patterson said the headscarf ban was needed because “in three months there will be a Muslim uniform in state schools in Queensland”.

The NSW Liberals’ upcoming Party Futures Convention, meanwhile, will feature a standoff between supporters of Malcolm Turnbull and former prime minister Tony Abbott, who has been agitating for internal party reform. Fairfax reports that NSW Liberal state director Chris Stone has been asked to investigate claims of branch stacking by Abbott supporters, who will push for local party members being given a greater say in preselections. New federal Liberal director Nick Greiner told Sky News yesterday that he intended to urge Abbott to stop destabilising the party, saying: “we have got to be adults about it”.

And Roger Federer has become the first male player to win eight Wimbledon singles titles, convincingly beating Croatian Marin Čilić in three sets. The milestone makes Federer the most successful men’s singles player in Wimbledon history, and the second most successful player at Wimbledon behind Martina Navratilova.

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I don’t think we should shed too many tears over the consequences of Mr Ludlam’s own negligence.

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Does the world’s top weed killer cause cancer? Trump’s EPA will decide

“Its use in global agriculture has soared almost fifteenfold since Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready seeds in 1996. As a result, traces of glyphosate have been detected in cookies, crackers, chips, breakfast cereals, and honey, and in human urine and breast milk. Monsanto says it’s nothing to worry about. More than 1,000 farmers and other agricultural workers stricken with non-Hodgkin lymphoma disagree.” bloomberg businessweek

What goes up

“In August 1970 a lost grandmother and four young children had been wandering in the desert outside Phoenix for four days, and the massive effort to rescue them was stalled ... Into this slow-motion emergency, a 30-year-old helicopter pilot named Jerry Foster sprang into action. A little more than a decade later, all through Arizona, Foster would be called the King of the Wild Blue Sky. The stories of his derring-do, saving lives and stopping crime and thrilling school children are still legends to those who remember.” epic true stories

The Ayatollah’s billion-dollar Alaskan bagman

“The unlikely figure at the center of this story – which encompasses shadowy Iranian businessmen based in the Middle East and Caucasus; high-ranking South Korean state banking officials; an Iranian-American airline magnate whose planes have been linked to covert work for the U.S. government, including the CIA; the difficult politics of multilateral sanctions; the abstruse world of illicit finance; and laundered property and goods spread across three U.S. states – is a septuagenarian Alaskan ex-salmon exporter and restaurateur, Kenneth Keun Zong.” politico



What does ‘moderate’ Liberal policy look like?

“South Australian Minister Christopher Pyne and his moderate faction have stopped a concentrated conservative effort to snatch control of the state division of the Liberal Party. Mr Pyne’s staffer Hannah March was elected as president of the SA Liberal Women’s Council over the Right’s candidate Ursula Henderson in a hotly contested vote on Tuesday night.”   the advertiser


International arms dealing, apparently.

“The United States is by far the largest defence exporter, accounting for about one third of the world’s sales, followed by Russia with about a quarter. Australia is now only the 20th largest exporter but the sixth biggest importer of defence equipment. ‘My ambition and the government’s ambition is to reverse the current situation … There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t be as capable as Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain’, Mr Pyne said.”  fairfax


and finally:

An oral history of The Simpsons’ classic Planet of the Apes musical

“In a show as jam-packed with memorable moments as The Simpsons, it’s hard to say with any certainty where any one bit ranks. What I do know is when you mention anything about Planet of the Apes to a fan of the show, their mind will instantly jump to the words ‘Dr. Zauis, Dr. Zauis’. Others will happily sing the whole dang score for you. The memory of the show’s fictional Planet of the Apes musical has lasted the 21 years since it aired as part of the episode ‘A Fish Called Selma’ in season seven.” vulture