Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Iran-Iraq quake kills hundreds

More than 400 people have died and 6700 have been injured in an earthquake that struck the Iran-Iraq border. The magnitude 7.3 quake hit especially hard in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, and was felt in Baghdad, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel. The Iranian Red Crescent told Reuters more than 70,000 people needed emergency shelter, while first responders from Turkey have already reached the affected cities of Sulaimaniyah and Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has been dispatched to affected areas in an effort to reach remote villages affected.

Liberal Senator James Paterson has defended his proposed same-sex marriage bill from accusations it demonises LGBTI people and winds back decades of anti-discrimination laws. Paterson’s bill, which was released yesterday, was widely criticised over provisions that would allow businesses to refuse wedding-related services to same-sex couples, let marriage celebrants decline to marry a couple if they “genuinely believe” a person’s legal gender to be incorrect, and allow parents to pull their children out of classes that conflict with the parent’s “marriage belief”. Paterson’s bill would also override state and territory anti-discrimination protections via an “anti-detriment” clause, providing legal protection for people wishing to act on their beliefs that sex should only be between a married man and woman, that gender is a binary, or that homosexuality is immoral. Government frontbenchers distanced themselves from the bill, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s more moderate proposal was “a good place to start”.

In the latest round of Senate Carousel, newly minted Senator Fraser Anning has quit One Nation soon after being sworn in. Anning said he was expelled after an acrimonious party room meeting earlier in the day, claiming leader Pauline Hanson had “verbally attacked” him and his staff. Hanson claimed Anning refused to contact with her after “multiple requests to discuss his future plans”. Anning was sworn in alongside 23-year-old disability advocate Jordon Steele-John from Western Australia and former Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett from Queensland, who took the place of former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters. Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie may resign from Parliament today if the British Home Office confirms she has dual British-Australian citizenship, while Liberal Senator Scott Ryan resigned from the Turnbull frontbench to become Senate President.

And in the Philippines, United States President Donald Trump has praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, saying the pair have “a great relationship” and laughing after Duterte addressed assembled media as “spies”. Like Trump, Duterte has had a hostile relationship with the media, targeting TV network ABS-CBN and saying that “corrupt” reporters “are not exempt from assassination”. A spokesperson for Duterte said that neither leader raised the topic of human rights in private discussions.

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The convert

“As the bus rolled through the predawn darkness, carrying the family south of the city, Tania began to suspect they were headed for Syria. Her husband had been wanting to go there; he’d been talking about it for weeks, but she had vehemently objected. She did not want to take her kids into a war zone. The country had become one of the most dangerous places on earth, with rebel groups, terrorists, and warlords all fighting with the ruthless government. She confronted her husband, who confirmed her suspicions. ‘It will just be for a few nights’, he said.” texas monthly

How Britain did Gaddafis dirty work

“In 2002 the CIA and MI6 began co-operating with the Libyan External Security Organisation (ESO), Col Muammar Gaddafi’s notorious overseas intelligence agency ... Opponents of the Gaddafi regime who had been living legally in the UK for years were detained by British police, and the British government made a determined attempt to have them deported to Tripoli. Asylum seekers and British-Libyan nationals in Manchester and London were menaced by Gaddafi’s agents, who were invited into the UK and permitted to operate on the streets of Britain alongside MI5.” the guardian

How Sicily became ungovernable

“Sicily is Mafia country, and no one is more aware of this than Nino Di Matteo. The 56-year-old public prosecutor is Italy’s most endangered man. Because the Cosa Nostra wants to see him dead, Di Matteo has had around-the-clock protection for the last 23 years, with 42 officers working in shifts to provide his security in Palermo. With submachine guns over their shoulders, they follow Di Matteo wherever he goes.” der spiegel



Which upstart minor party is threatening to upend Queensland politics?

“One Nation state leader Steve Dickson has apologised to Queensland teachers but won’t step back from his claims Grade 4 students were being taught about strap-on dildos as part of the controversial Safe Schools program ... ‘We are having little kids in grade four at school, young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap on dildos, how to do this sort of stuff - that is the real problem in this country’, Mr Dickson told reporters on Sunday.”   sunshine coast daily


The Greens. Why, who did you think?

“Queensland’s premier is convinced her deputy will emerge victorious in her battle against the Greens for her inner city seat, denying Labor’s shifting stance on Adani is to blame for the shift to the minor party. A Galaxy poll, first published by News Corp, shows Trad – who holds the inner-city seat of South Brisbane on a margin of 14 per cent – losing to the Greens candidate, Amy MacMahon, on a two-party preferred basis, 51 per cent to 49 per cent.”  guardian australia


and finally:

Scrabble scandal: Allan Simmons banned from competitions

“In the competitive world of vowels, consonants and blanks there are few bigger names than Allan Simmons. A prolific author of Scrabble books, previous UK champion and former chairman of the World English-language Scrabble Players Association, he was at the top of the game. But now Britain’s best-known has been banned from competitions for breaking the game’s rules. The scandal was the talk of the association’s championships, which ended in Nairobi yesterday.” the australian