Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Postal vote protections finalised

New laws rushed through parliament this week will provide legal recourse for people harassed, threatened or vilified during the same-sex marriage postal vote campaign. The protections will enable courts to impose injunctions on offending material and civil penalties of up to $12,600 on offenders, but any legal action sought under the laws will require approval from attorney general George Brandis. The measures were approved at a Coalition joint party room meeting yesterday, despite reservations from backbench MP Tim Wilson and the Institute for Public Affairs, which warned the restrictions were “a dangerous limitation on individual freedom”. The laws expire with activation of sunset provisions after the result of the survey is announced on November 15.

Northern Territory chief minister Michael Gunner said he was “shocked and upset” after footage emerged of a person outside a Darwin business spraying water near an elderly Aboriginal man in an attempt to move him on. The person who filmed the incident told the ABC they witnessed a staffer of Darwin Tours “being quite aggressive” toward the man, before going inside to “physically get the hose and come out”. The Darwin Tours Facebook page has received dozens of negative reviews, while Darwin Tours operations manager Colin Bird defended the actions of the staffer, saying “if you do watch the video, the water does not actually come into contact with the gentleman”.

A new Australian Council of Trade Unions report warns income inequality is at its highest in more than 70 years. The ACTU report, to be released today, warns that Australia risks becoming an “Americanised society of high inequality and dead-end jobs, with long working hours, no holidays, zero job security and poverty pay levels”. The paper – the first released by the union peak body since secretary Sally McManus took office in March – blames neoliberal economic policies adopted since the 1980s and attacks on industrial relations laws for the situation, and calls on the government to abandon planned $65 billion corporate tax cuts and cuts to weekend penalty rates.

And a Greens bill to make the importation of medicinal cannabis easier is expected to pass the Senate. Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who introduced the bill yesterday, said the government was “blackmailing importers and threatening to remove their licence” for importing medical cannabis under Category A of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s special access scheme, despite the Senate voting to allow such importation in June. Since being legalised last year, medicinal cannabis has been subject to restrictions regarded as prohibitive and needless by terminally ill patients, their carers and advocates. Australian National University lecturer Dr David Caldicott told Guardian Australia “the introduction of medicinal cannabis in Australia had become a dog’s breakfast”, subject to ideological and political factors absent from similar reforms overseas.

Open Quotemarks

Nine years of working in a culture where I was called ‘black c**t’, a ‘n****r’, and a ‘slave’ – all in the name of ‘fun’.

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Eat, pray, live: the Lagos megachurches building their very own cities

“The Redeemed Christian Church of God’s international headquarters in Ogun state has been transformed from a mere megachurch to an entire neighbourhood, with departments anticipating its members’ every practical as well as spiritual need. A 25-megawatt power plant with gas piped in from the Nigerian capital serves the 5,000 private homes on site, 500 of them built by the church’s construction company. New housing estates are springing up every few months where thick palm forests grew just a few years ago. Education is provided, from creche to university level.” the guardian

Seven days of heroin

“This particular week, July 10 through 16, will turn out to be unexceptional by the dreary standards of what has become the region’s greatest health crisis. This is normal now, a week like any other. But a terrible week is no less terrible because it is typical. When heroin and synthetic opiates kill one American every 16 minutes, there is little comfort in the routine. There is only the struggle to endure and survive.” the cincinnati enquirer

Farewell to the greatest space mission of our time

“Launched on October 15, 1997, Cassini traveled for six years and 261 days before reaching Saturn. Though the sixth planet lies an average of 890 million miles from Earth, Cassini flew some 2.2 billion miles to get there via the scenic route: orbiting the sun to fly by Venus twice, then Earth, then to a gravity assist maneuver at Jupiter before reaching its destination. The craft has been orbiting the ringed planet since July 1, 2004, studying Saturn’s fascinating moons, tiny ring particles, and turbulent atmospheric storms.” popular mechanics



What explains AGL’s reluctance to keep one of its own coal plants open?

“The tense stand-off between the Turnbull government and energy giant AGL has deepened after different accounts emerged of what happened in a meeting about the future of the Liddell coal-fired power plant ... The government wants to plant to remain operating to meet a looming shortfall in baseload power. However, a statement released by AGL following Monday’s meeting noted it had committed to deliver a plan to avoid an energy shortfall ‘once the Liddell coal-fired power station retires in 2022’.”   fairfax


In a word? Money.

“The simple facts from where [AGL] sits are that wind power is now at least 38 per cent cheaper than coal, solar is 16 per cent cheaper and the gaps are getting wider by the day ... A coal fired plant costs $110 a megawatt hour to run. This compares to wind at $55 an hour plus another $25 an hour of so called firming power. A solar plant works out at $70 an hour plus $25 firming power. These are the numbers.”  the australian


and finally:

Ted Cruz sparks Twitter hilarity after appearing to ‘like’ porn video

“Conservative Republican politician Ted Cruz has been lampooned on social media after his Twitter account liked a pornographic video. The Texas senator’s Twitter account liked a post from the account @SexuallPosts, which contained a two-minute clip from a pornographic film. Although he has since deleted it, the post was live on his page for half an hour – and @SexuallPosts has since updated its Twitter description to say: ‘Follow for the Same Porn @TedCruz Watches’.” abc