Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Home Affairs Minister Dutton

Attorney-General George Brandis has confirmed immigration minister Peter Dutton will take up the new home affairs “super ministry” on December 17. The home affairs portfolio, announced in July, will give Dutton sweeping powers over Australia’s intelligence, security and border control apparatuses, and has been criticised for centralising too much authority under one figure and stripping the attorney-general position of its ability to hold security agencies accountable. Brandis denied rumours he will retire from politics before the December reshuffle, saying he intended to stay put. Last week a Canberra Times investigation found a web user with an IP address connected to the Australian Taxation Office edited Dutton’s Wikipedia page, briefly changing his middle name to “Lucifer”.

Labor MP David Feeney will refer himself to the High Court after failing to provide documentation proving he does not have dual citizenship. Feeney said British authorities could not find documents he sent in 2007 renouncing any British or Irish citizenship he may possess, and that he did not check they had been received until last month. A byelection in Batman, Feeney’s inner-Melbourne seat, would likely see Labor lose to the Greens, which performed strongly in the seat at the 2016 federal election. Labor MPs Josh Wilson, Anne Aly and Justine Keay, Liberal MPs Jason Falinski, Nola Marino and Ross Vasta and Nick Xenophon Team MP Rebekha Sharkie are also at risk of being declared ineligible for various breaches of citizenship requirements, although the High Court cannot rule on any more citizenship cases until next year.

Debate on Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s bill legalising same-sex marriage has continued in the House of Representatives, with more than 100 MPs scheduled to speak on the issue. Speaking on the bill, Labor MP Linda Burney evoked her son, Binni Kirkbright-Burney, who died in August, and said she supported same-sex marriage as “as someone who is a member of a community that has experienced great discrimination and injustice”. Amendments moved by conservative MPs pushing for greater religious protections are set to be defeated after crossbenchers and several Liberal ministers declared they would vote for the bill as it stands. The debate came as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s claims that the same-sex marriage postal vote was a “respectful debate” were undercut by a survey from the National LGBTI Health Alliance finding that assaults against LGBTIQ people more than doubled after the survey was announced.

Labor has joined a push by the Greens and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to enshrine ten days’ paid domestic and family violence leave into national employment standards. Speaking on Tuesday, opposition leader Bill Shorten said the protections were needed because the distress of workers seeking help for domestic and family violence should not be “compounded by fear of losing your job or the financial disadvantage of going without pay”. Malcolm Turnbull refused to back the policy in Question Time, instead raising his voice and claiming members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union were conducting an “outrageous campaign of vile abuse”.

And in Switzerland, the International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. An IOC investigation into doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games found “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia”, including a government-backed doping program and organised tampering with the urine tests of Russian athletes by government scientists. Russian athletes with clean records will be invited to Pyeongchang, but will compete under the Olympic flag and in a neutral uniform.

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Catholic Church priests raped children in Philadelphia, but the wrong people went to jail

“Ask retired Philadelphia police detective Joe Walsh about his stellar career, and he’ll tell you he was just doing his job. But there is something he’s especially proud of – in his 35 years on the force, Walsh believes he never locked up an innocent man or woman. Until, that is, his last case, when he was asked to investigate the alleged multiple rapes of a former altar boy a grand jury dubbed ‘Billy Doe’ to protect his identity.” newsweek

The wounds they carry

“The seniors, age 17, were running late for a country music concert. The Las Vegas sun had long faded beneath a distant mountain range on that first day in October, so the twins hurried back inside Faith Lutheran High to change clothes. Jason Aldean, Natalia’s favorite singer, was scheduled to perform the final set at that weekend’s Route 91 Harvest festival.” the washington post

Jedi Confidential: Inside the dark new Star Wars movie

“A long time ago, a grade-schooler got his hands on a spaceship. He followed the assembly instructions as best he could, snapping on the cannons, the landing gear, the tiny interstellar-chess table. Soon enough, Rian Johnson was holding his very own Millennium Falcon. ‘The first thing I did’, he recalls, ‘was throw it across the room, to see how it would look flying’. He grins. ‘And it broke.’ ” rolling stone



How’s Gerry Harvey taking the Amazon launch?

“Australia’s $300 billion retail sector will face its reckoning after global e-commerce giant Amazon ended months of speculation by flicking the switch on its local website. Amazon has started taking orders and shipping products from its warehouse in Melbourne’s east. ‘Millions’ of products are available across 23 categories, including consumer electronics, sports and outdoor goods, toys, home improvement and tools, and clothing and accessories, it said.”   fairfax


We shall fight them in the flatscreens aisle.

“Gerry Harvey, Harvey Norman’s chairman, had previously said that Amazon would be ‘idiots’ to launch their retail offering so close to Christmas. ‘We haven’t got to adjust to anything’, said Mr. Harvey, who insisted that his business had not altered its plans in anticipation of Amazon’s arrival. ‘We’ve been in business now for 56 years. I’ve always been keen and able to be ahead of the pack. The minute someone gets ahead of us, I’ll hand the badge in. They follow us, we don’t follow them.’ ”  the new york times


and finally:

Aussies on Twitter this year cared most about politics, marriage equality and, of course, BTS

“Turns out 2017 ended up being a good year for fans of K-Pop and marriage equality. Twitter has released its Australian year in review, revealing what the country’s users have been talking about. Unsurprisingly, the country’s vote to allow LGBTQ couples to marry was among the most discussed topics on the platform. The hashtag #marriageequality ranked second behind #auspol (short for Australian politics) in Twitter’s top list.” mashable