Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dastyari resigns from Parliament

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari will leave parliament at the next election, saying his “ongoing presence detracts from the pursuit of Labor's mission” and he wished to “spare the party any further distraction”. Labor leader Bill Shorten praised Dastyari after the news broke, saying he was “one of the instigators of a banking royal commission” and had “been in the front of calling out Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party racism”. Dastyari will not leave the Senate immediately, leaving Labor the option of giving his vacant seat to former NSW premier Kristina Keneally if she loses the Bennelong byelection this Saturday. A recent Newspoll had Keneally and former member John Alexander neck and neck, with the Liberal primary vote falling by 11 per cent.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been criticised by several Indigenous policy experts and advocates after his statements on the ABC’s Q&A. Turnbull was questioned over his government’s opposition to an Indigenous Voice to Parliament by lawyer and Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman Teela Reid, who disputed his claim that the Voice “would effectively be a third chamber” and that a referendum on the issue would “go down in flames”. Turnbull and Reid also clashed over Reid’s assertion that Indigenous members of parliament had “political positions to make in parliament” rather than representing “the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”. Former Referendum Council co-chair Megan Davis said Turnbull’s justifications were “elaborately dishonest”, while IndigenousX founder Luke Pearson compared Turnbull’s response to the White Affairs Minister in 1986 satirical mockumentary BabaKiueria.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vetoed a $900 million government loan to the Carmichael mine project. In a letter to Malcolm Turnbull shortly after being sworn in yesterday, Palaszczuk said her government would veto the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund loan for mining company Adani to build a rail link from the Carmichael mine to the Abbot Point coal port. Palaszczuk secured re-election after more than two weeks of vote counting, moving deputy premier Jackie Trad to the treasury portfolio and unveiling a cabinet of nine men and nine women. Nanango MP Deb Frecklington, meanwhile, is Queensland’s new opposition leader, beating former leader John-Paul Langbroek in a Liberal National Party leadership ballot.

Shopping centre mogul Frank Lowy has sold Westfield Corp for $32.8 billion, with French property firm Unibail-Rodamco acquiring the international retail empire. Speaking to Fairfax from London, Lowy called the sale “the second most important day in Westfield history”. Lowy and his family will retain a stake in the business, and Steven Lowy will chair tech retail spinoff OneMarket. Westfield made headlines in 2014 due to its aggressive tax avoidance strategies, with a University of Technology, Sydney report finding it had paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 8 per cent in the preceding decade, translating to roughly $2.6 billion in foregone tax revenue.

And United States President Donald Trump has lashed out at women accusing him of sexual harassment and assault. Three women on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today claimed Trump groped and forcibly kissed them, calling for a Congressional investigation into similar stories from more than a dozen women. Responding to a call from Democratic Party Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to resign, Trump tweeted that Gillibrand “would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)”. Gillibrand called Trump’s comments “a sexist smear”, saying “you cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office”. The controversy comes as Alabama votes to elect a new Senator, with polls suggesting a tight race between Democrat candidate Doug Jones and Roy Moore, a Republican former judge accused of child sexual molestation. Attempting to shield her husband from accusations of bigotry, Moore’s wife Kayla told a crowd in Midland City that “we have many friends that are black” and “one of our attorneys is a Jew”.

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‘We know everything, but we have no proof’

“Since 2014, the Tunisian Truth and Dignity Commission has assembled over 62,000 cases with the aim of coming to terms with over 50 years of dictatorship. It’s an attempt to spur reconciliation despite the horrifying things that happened. The goal of this ‘transitional justice’ is to bring to light the truth about the old regime. There will be no verdicts. Instead, it’s about recognising the experiences and, especially, the suffering of the victims. It’s also about preventing these kinds of crimes from ever again being committed by the state so that Tunisian society can find peace. But can it work?” der spiegel

The little blue pill: An oral history of Viagra

“Viagra’s incredible run ended this week with the release of a cheaper, generic version of the world’s first impotence-fighting pill. And what a run it was. Approved 19 years ago, Pfizer Inc.’s Viagra ushered in a pharmaceutical and cultural revolution, put the phrase ‘erectile dysfunction’ in the medical mainstream, launched a thousand bad jokes and made friskiness a staple of prime-time television commercials. Bloomberg News spoke to people at the center of the phenomenon.” bloomberg

Expelling demons in Nevada

“On this afternoon in Henderson, Nevada, these men and women must reckon, together, with past sins. To much of the outside world, gambling is a vice not worthy of mercy: It is a symptom of recklessness, of compulsiveness, of greed ... But compulsive gambling is also an addiction – one that affects some three to four million people in the United States alone, and causes suicide attempts in one-fifth of those afflicted. That makes this meeting, in this tiny church, a haven for the sick.” pacific standard



Who’s hacking all these Twitter accounts and making government figures ‘like’ awkward things?

“Australia’s ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, has blamed hackers for an incident in which his Twitter account ‘liked’ a tweet that described Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a ‘cranky prick’ ... The ambassador is the third Liberal figure to be caught up in a Twitter mishap in recent weeks, with the accounts of Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Health Minister Greg Hunt liking pornographic tweets. The ministers also blamed hackers and referred the incidents to police.”   fairfax


Find out on the new TV smash hit, Law and Order: Australian Politicians’ Tweets

“Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate a hack of his Twitter account after it ‘liked’ a hardcore porn video. Experts were critical of the apparent lax security of social media accounts of senior members of the government after Mr Hunt became the second cabinet minister in as many months to fall victim to the embarrassing hack ... Former AFP detective superintendent Nigel Phair said Hunt was using the police referral to dodge questions on his apparent ‘reckless’ management of his social media accounts.”  the australian ($)


and finally:

‘They guard our secrets’: Inside the world of New York City doormen

“They’re the invisible men who know the secrets of New York's rich and famous, but rarely are their names known or their stories told. Welcome to the world of a Manhattan doorman. Photographer Alina Gozin’a spent months exploring this curious cultural phenomenon and is now bringing her findings to Australia for the At Your Door exhibition. ‘It’s an incredible, bizarre and wonderful culture of the doormen, which I don’t think exists anywhere else in the world the way it does in New York, and Manhattan predominantly’, she told News Breakfast.” abc