Friday, December 15, 2017

Child abuse report out today

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will release its final report today after adjourning for the last time. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten sat alongside hundreds of survivors, advocates, lawyers and community leaders in the Royal Commission’s Sydney offices yesterday, as chief commissioner Robert McLellan gave the closing address. McLellan said it was “the responsibility of our entire community to acknowledge that children are being abused”, and that “the tragic impact of abuse for individuals and, through them our entire society, demands nothing less”. Survivors gave McLellan, counsel assisting Gail Furness and other commissioners a standing ovation. Social services minister Christian Porter, however, was criticised for going to the third Ashes cricket test in Perth with former prime minister John Howard instead. The Royal Commission’s 21-volume final report will be handed to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove today.

The National Australia Bank has announced it will cease lending money to new thermal coal projects, becoming the first major bank in Australia to restrict lending to the fossil fuel industry. While NAB will continue to fund existing coal projects, the bank said the move would begin “the orderly transition to a low carbon economy”. Environmentalists welcomed the decision, with Greenpeace calling it “an enormous win for our movement and our planet”. Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, meanwhile, called NAB’s announcement “a contemptible and cowardly decision” that “speaks volumes about the malaise within Australia's ‘leadership’ elite”.

Entertainment giant Disney will buy large parts of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in a US$52 billion merger. The 20th Century Fox film studio will come under the Walt Disney Studios umbrella, and Disney will assume control of brands such as The Simpsons, National Geographic, the X-Men franchise and streaming service hulu. Fox Broadcasting, including the conservative Fox News channel, will be spun off into a standalone company over which Murdoch will retain control. Murdoch and his family will receive a 4.25 per cent stake in Disney, which is planning to launch its own streaming service to compete with Netflix.

Voters in the northern Sydney seat of Bennelong go to the polls tomorrow, potentially deciding the fate of the Turnbull government as the Liberals’ John Alexander attempts to hold off a challenge from former NSW Labor premier Kristina Keneally. The campaign has been marked by accusations of anti-Chinese racism and overshadowed by the foreign interference scandal that forced the resignation of a Labor senator representing New South Wales in Canberra, Sam Dastyari. Polls have suggested a tight race, while Chinese-language newspapers and posts on Chinese-language social media sites have encouraged members of Bennelong’s substantial Chinese-Australian community to vote for Keneally. She said she was “not ruling anything in or out after the polls come in on Saturday night”, including a return to a presenting role on Sky News or filling the Senate vacancy left by Dastyari’s resignation.

In the United States, music producer Russell Simmons has been accused of rape by multiple women, in a continuation of the sexual assault and harassment scandal that has rocked American film, television, music and politics. Speaking to The New York Times, four women accused Simmons of sexual predation in the 1980s, 1990s and in 2014. The women worked with Simmons in a professional capacity while he was running Def Jam Recordings, the music label he co-founded in 1983, which helped cement rap and hip-hop’s place in popular culture. The women said his power and influence over the music industry discouraged them from coming forward and, in some cases, stymied their careers. Simmons denied the allegations through his lawyer.

And the US Federal Communications Commission has voted to repeal net neutrality provisions, allowing internet service providers to legally control customers’ internet speeds and website access for commercial reasons. The ruling strikes down regulations classifying the internet as a public utility, which prohibited ISPs from restricting or throttling what customers could access through their networks. Online companies Reddit, Etsy, Apple and Netflix opposed the ruling, while tech giants Facebook, Microsoft and Google have largely stayed silent on the issue. Although Americans overwhelmingly support net neutrality, the FCC’s three Republican appointees voted to repeal the Obama-era provisions.

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Open Quotemarks

Do they speak our language? How many of them have lived in a tower block, or a council estate, or in social housing?

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LAWYER LESLIE THOMAS DRAWS ATTENTION TO THE WELL-PAID LEGAL TEAMS PRESIDING OVER THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE INQUIRY
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Revealed: The secrets of one of the worlds dirtiest banks and its powerful Western protectors

“With her perfect composure, pristine suits, and Harvard MBA, Khachatryan was the organised and efficient face of an institution in chaos. FBME Bank had been accused by the US government of allowing money laundering on a vast scale for terrorists, drug traffickers, repressive dictators, organised crime groups, and financiers for the Syrian regime – and now it faced being barred from using the dollar. The lion’s share of the bank’s business came from highly secretive Russian clients who relied on FBME to funnel their money into the global financial system without asking too many questions.” buzzfeed

Eastern Europeans tire of being sold inferior products

“It was a mid-July day in Bratislava when Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico gave vent to his fury, pulling off his jacket and threatening to hand down sanctions. But his anger wasn’t directed at some tin-pot dictator. Rather, his tirade was focused on fish sticks from Iglo and fabric softener from Lenor. Those companies, Fico threatened, could find themselves boycotted if they continued to sell inferior products to the consumers of Eastern Europe.” der spiegel

The human cost of the ghost economy

“I’d found my squad, a cadre of screw-ups, felons, floozies, single moms, the differently abled, students, immigrants, the homeless and hungry, the overqualified and under-qualified, all of us ghosted by the traditional marketplace ... There is a story about a ghost economy. The distance between the main employer, the company that hires the temp agency, and the worker who fulfills these gigs, allows for the same type of casual cruelty that is exchanged between people who meet on online dating apps.” longreads

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Q. 

Will their performance in final exams determine whether the young people of today succeed?

“The wait is over for thousands of Year 12 students who received an early-morning text message telling them their HSC results. More than 68,000 students have been awarded their HSC this year, with a record breaking number taking out top honours and more students than ever receiving the prestigious ‘All Around Achievers Award’. This year an unprecedented 1394 candidates earned this coveted award – that means a student scored in the highest possible band across ten units.”   the daily telegraph

A. 

Of course not! The postcode they were born in and their parents’ wealth are much more important.

“A 2014 survey about the estimated and desired levels of wealth distribution found high levels of misunderstanding about how we see ourselves ... We think that the richest quintile owns around 45 per cent of Australia’s wealth while the actual figure is 60 per cent. The survey found we would prefer the wealthiest 20 per cent in society to own just over a third of the nation’s wealth. The top 20 per cent actually own just over 60 per cent of Australia’s wealth.”  the mandarin

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and finally:

‘He began to eat Hermione’s family’: bot tries to write Harry Potter book – and fails in magic ways

“After the team at Botnik fed the seven Harry Potter novels through their predictive text keyboard, it came up with a chapter from a new Harry Potter story: Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. It is worth reading. ‘Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good.’ Well, that’s not wrong. And the following sounds plausibly Pottery: ‘Leathery sheets of rain lashed at Harry’s ghost as he walked across the grounds towards the castle. Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance.’ ” the guardian