Thursday, December 07, 2017

#MeToo takes Person of the Year

Time magazine has named “The Silence Breakers” who started the #MeToo movement against sexual assault as 2017’s most influential “person”. Time cited the experiences and testimony of actors Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Alyssa Milano and Terry Crews, activist Tarana Burke, hotel cleaner Juana Melara, strawberry picker Isabel Pascual, Oregon state senator Sara Gelser, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, former Fox News contributors Wendy Walsh and Megyn Kelly and the employee plaintiffs suing New York’s Plaza Hotel for “normalising and trivialising sexual assault” against its staff as instigating “one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s”. United States President Donald Trump, himself accused of multiple counts of sexual assault, was named first runner-up, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, US Department of Justice special prosecutor Robert Mueller and NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick among those shortlisted.

Same-sex marriage will likely pass Parliament today after debate wraps up in the House of Representatives. More than 100 MPs have spoken on the issue, and amendments to protect religious freedoms pushed by conservatives are set to be defeated, allowing Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s bill to pass unamended. Governor General Peter Cosgrove could ratify a passed bill this week, allowing the first same-sex weddings to take place in days.

Former trade minister Andrew Robb has reacted angrily to a government crackdown on foreign interference in Australian politics, saying he was “sick of being hammered for being treasonous”. Robb accepted an $880,000-a-year part-time job with Chinese firm Landbridge after retiring from politics; work that would require public registration under proposed regulations seeking to curb foreign influence. Speaking on the ABC’s Radio National, attorney-general George Brandis tried to reassure Robb, saying “nobody’s suggesting that anybody has done anything wrong”. The government’s plan to ban foreign donations to political parties, activist groups and charities will face difficulties passing parliament, with Labor and the Greens opposing parts of the proposal and legal experts warning it may be unconstitutional.

Labor’s Senator Katy Gallagher and lower house MP David Feeney have been referred to the High Court, becoming the latest parliamentarians to become caught up in the ongoing citizenship crisis. Debate on the same-sex marriage bill was delayed after the government voted against a crossbench motion to refer a further nine MPs. Manager of opposition business Tony Burke said “there will be a very large number of referrals to the High Court”, while independent MP Andrew Wilkie said the citizenship saga had made parliament “the laughing stock of this country”.

Queensland Labor has secured a working majority in state Parliament after winning the Gold Coast seat of Gaven. While Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has not yet declared victory or visited Governor Paul de Jersey to form a new government, the result will allow Labor to form majority government without support of the Katter’s Australia Party, Greens, One Nation and independent crossbench. Counting still underway in the seat of Townsville could see Labor pick up a 48th seat, providing a further buffer.

And in the United States, Donald Trump has declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, breaking with decades of diplomatic precedent and sparking a furious reaction from Middle Eastern and North African governments. US embassies across the region were advised to step up security ahead of the announcement, which foreshadows the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas said the move would have “dangerous consequences” for “the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world”, while leaders of a number of American allied nations, such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France, urged Trump to reconsider. Hamas called for “a day of rage against the occupation” to protest the move of ”the American embassy to Jerusalem and declaring it the capital of a Zionist entity”.


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Apprentice hairdressers are likely to come in when their mates are going down the coast and say ‘my dad beat me up last night’.

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Weinsteins complicity machine

“Harvey Weinstein built his complicity machine out of the witting, the unwitting and those in between. He commanded enablers, silencers and spies, warning others who discovered his secrets to say nothing. He courted those who could provide the money or prestige to enhance his reputation as well as his power to intimidate. In the weeks and months before allegations of his methodical abuse of women were exposed in October, Mr. Weinstein pulled on all the levers of his carefully constructed apparatus.” the new york times

Can Germany break its lignite habit?

“Lignite, that dark brown, brittle material which once fueled Germany’s economic miracle, should really be obsolete in a world that claims it wants to end its reliance on fossil fuels. Nevertheless, 100,000 tons are dug out of the ground just beyond Zimmer’s garden fence every day. Each year, 170 million tons of brown coal are mined in Germany and used to produce almost a quarter of the country’s total electricity output. Yet the once vital energy source has become something of a burden in the age of new technologies.” der spiegel

In India, not all are pleased by a national park’s World Heritage status

“Since 1975, when the formerly independent Kingdom of Sikkim became an Indian state, the area has played a key role in geopolitical relations between India, China, Nepal, and Bhutan ... Seven months of investigation in the state of Sikkim has uncovered major concerns from experts and community members over the award process, the criteria by which it was judged, and its impact on the environment and people. All of which gives rise to the question: who, exactly, comes to benefit from a World Heritage status listing?” devex



Will David Feeney win a Batman byelection if the High Court finds him ineligible?

“The Labor MP David Feeney appears bound for the high court after being unable to determine his citizenship status under UK law and serious questions remain over at least another six lower house MPs, as the dual citizenship debacle continues to cut a swathe through the parliament. New citizenship disclosures tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday night have uncovered problems with Feeney’s eligibility because he cannot locate renunciation documents that he believes he lodged with the British Home Office in October 2007.”   the guardian


He might not even make it that far.

“Fairfax Media has been told that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is ‘absolutely furious’ with Mr Feeney, who revealed on Tuesday that he was caught up in the citizenship fiasco sweeping Federal Parliament. Clare Burns, the recently defeated Labor candidate in the state byelection for the seat of Northcote, which is within the seat of Batman, has been discussed as an alternative to Mr Feeney. Both Ms Burns and Mr Feeney were contacted for comment on Wednesday.”  fairfax


and finally:

John Oliver grills Dustin Hoffman about sexual harassment allegations

“‘Do you believe this stuff you read?’ Hoffman asked.

‘Yes’, Oliver replied. ‘Because there’s no point in [an accuser] lying.’

‘Well, there’s a point in her not bringing it up for 40 years’, Hoffman said.

‘Oh, Dustin’, Oliver said disapprovingly, putting his head in his hand.” the washington post