Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Morrison sought to sabotage protection visas

Cabinet documents from 2013 obtained by the ABC reveal then-immigration minister Scott Morrison allowed his department to intervene in ASIO security checks to stop asylum seekers being given permanent protection visas. The broadcaster reports that Morrison approved a suggestion from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that his secretary should ask ASIO to delay security checks, so that changes to immigration law could come into effect in time to deny many applicants permanent protection. The documents reveal as many as 700 people were affected by the “mitigation strategies … to reduce the likelihood of a permanent protection visa grant” adopted by Morrison and the DIBP, although it is not known if ASIO agreed to delay its checks.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on an army post near Kabul that killed 11 soldiers. The attack on the Marshal Fahim National Defence University came just two days after an ambulance bomb in the capital killed more than 100 people, while 18 people were killed last week when the Taliban attacked Kabul’s International Hotel. In response to the upsurge in violence, United States President Donald Trump has reportedly authorised the deployment of more US ground troops to assist and train Afghan security forces. A report prepared for US Congress in October found the Taliban now controls roughly 40 per cent of the country.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared that the date of Australia Day will not change as long as he is prime minister. In an interview with News Corp columnist Miranda Devine on Monday, Turnbull said those pushing for the date of Australia’s national holiday to be moved from January 26 were “a disgrace”, claiming that “the overwhelming majority of Australians want to keep Australia Day on the 26th of January and agree with the patriotic sentiments we’re expressing”. Tens of thousands of people marched in Invasion Day rallies on Friday, including an estimated 60,000 in Melbourne, to advocate for Indigenous rights and justice.

Progressive activist group GetUp! and right-wing think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs have both criticised government plans to outlaw foreign political donations. While GetUp!, the Greens and left-leaning groups have opposed the move on the grounds that they may stifle political expression, IPA research fellow Gideon Rozner told Fairfax the law “represents a dangerous restriction on freedom of speech” that would affect “charities, religious organisations, industry associations [and] service clubs”.

And pop singer Bruno Mars and rapper Kendrick Lamar have swept the 2018 Grammy music awards. Mars won record and album of the year for his album, 24K Magic, as well as song of the year for That’s What I Like, while Lamar picked up four awards, including best rap album for DAMN. This year’s ceremony featured heavy social and political elements. Pop singer Kesha, who has long claimed she was sexually assaulted by her producer, Lukasz Gottwald, performed her single, Praying, with members of the #MeToo movement. Lamar performed a politically charged rendition of XXX. with U2’s Bono and the Edge, while rapper Jay-Z labelled Donald Trump a “superbug”.

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The Philippines’ beauty pageant obsession: Who benefits?

“In the Philippines, beauty pageants are a national obsession. Many young girls are urged by their parents or older relatives to join beauty pageants because of the prestige that comes with winning. Filipinos are exposed to beauty contests at a young age due to their ubiquity – with pageants being a staple in every community ... Pageants are so embedded in Philippine culture that there are contests for children, LGBT communities, and senior citizens. Even overseas Filipino workers host their own pageants in communities abroad.” rappler

‘This is serious: Facebook begins its downward spiral

“The social network is worth over half-a-trillion dollars, and Zuckerberg himself is worth some $76 billion. Facebook has some of the smartest engineers and executives in the entire industry. But the fallout from that success has also become increasingly obvious, especially since the 2016 election, which prompted a year of public relations battles over the company’s most fundamental problems. And now, as we enter 2018, Zuckerberg is finally owning up to it: Facebook is in real trouble.”  hive

Before Fenty: 100 years of black makeup brands

“The enormous outpouring of support Fenty has received belies the fact that Rihanna is far from the first entrepreneur to meet the cosmetics needs of women of color. For more than a century, makeup brands have courted the black community and prospered, making it all the more curious that it took 2017’s so-called Fenty effect to confirm the obvious: Women of color enjoy makeup and are eager to buy it.” racked



Is artificial intelligence really the defence threat we’re warned it is?

“Artificially intelligent drones that can kill on their own will increasingly pose a challenge to Australia's values as they potentially give a military edge to foreign enemies who have no ethical qualms about using them, the Chief of the Australian Army has warned. Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell told Fairfax Media there would be countries and groups such as terrorist organisations that would have lower ethical standards than Australia about using such robots.”   fairfax


Human intelligence (or lack thereof) still takes precedence, for now.

“Strava, a fitness-tracking app, is revealing potentially sensitive information about military bases and supply routes via its global heatmap website ... On the weekend, 20-year-old Australian university student Nathan Ruser noticed the map showed the locations and running routines of military personnel at bases in the Middle East and other conflict zones.”  abc


and finally:

Photos showcase the rebirth of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

“Because lives are rebuilt with more than just brick and mortar, the rebuilding of Puerto Rico will most certainly affect its people everywhere on a cultural level, but how and to what extent? Ruben Natal-San Miguel, a former resident with family still living on the island, made these photographs from December 9 to 26, 2017. He wanted to investigate, document, and make an assessment of Puerto Rico’s conditions after the disaster of Hurricane Maria.” vice