Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Shorten pledges anti-corruption body

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has promised to legislate for a federal anti-corruption commission if Labor wins the next election. Speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, Shorten said a federal integrity commission was needed to restore public confidence in the political system “because the most corrosive sentiment in democracies around the world is the idea that politicians are only in it for themselves”. Shorten said the commission would be modelled on the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, that it would be “independent and well-resourced, secure from government interference” and “effectively operate as a standing royal commission”. Labor began contemplating changing its historic opposition to a federal anti-corruption body after Australian Federal Police officers raided union offices in October, while minor parties such as the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party have long supported such a body.

Media outlets have warned new security laws being introduced by the government could severely curtail press freedom. In a joint submission to the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security, News Corp, Fairfax, the ABC and 11 other media groups said the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 “criminalises all steps of news reporting” and creates “a real risk that journalists could go to jail for doing their jobs”. The bill’s secrecy provisions would outlaw possession or publication of unauthorised classified documents, and criminalise the publication of information that may “harm or prejudice Australia’s international relations” or “relations between the Commonwealth and a state or territory”, potentially outlawing any reporting on international and domestic trade, foreign affairs, and taxation.

Indigenous rights activists and supporters have rallied behind Melbourne Invasion Day protest organiser and Yigar Gunditjmara/Bindal woman Tarneen Onus-Williams after Victorian Liberal MPs called for her to be sacked from her position with the Koorie Youth Council. State opposition MP Tim Smith said Onus-Williams should be fired for saying “fuck Australia, hope it burns to the ground”.  In an interview after the rally, Onus-Williams said her remarks were “a metaphor, not actually a statement to be taken literally”, saying “the current system isn't working”. Former Victorian premier and notorious golliwog collector Jeff Kennett concurred, telling The Australian ($) her comments undermined the KYC’s mission of promoting “understanding and appreciation of all things Indigenous”. The #IstandwithTarneen hashtag has trended nationally on Twitter in response to the calls for Onus-Williams to resign.

And Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has announced the nation will hold a referendum on the question of legalising abortion in May. Ireland has some of the world’s strictest anti-abortion laws, outlawing all abortions except to save the life of the mother, and the Irish Constitution contains provisions guaranteeing “the right to life of the unborn”. Opinion polls suggest voters are likely to strongly back liberalising abortion laws in line with parliamentary committee recommendations legalising abortions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. Varadkar said abortion in Ireland was “unsafe, unregulated and unlawful” and “this is a decision about whether we want to continue to stigmatise and criminalise our sisters, our co-workers and our friends or whether we are prepared to take a collective act of leadership to show empathy and compassion.” In Australia, abortion officially remains illegal in NSW and Queensland, while conditions vary widely between other states and territories.

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Looking forward to tomorrow’s State of the Uniom.

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What science is like in North Korea

“When Kim Hyeongsoo, 53, got his degree in biology, he hoped to be part of a team that conducted research of global significance. But Hyeongsoo was born in North Korea, which had a different mission for him: figure out how Great Leader Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il could eat without getting fat ... Few findings from North Korean scientists make it in international journals, so the world knows little about what they do.”  the outline

With more Islamic schooling, Erdogan aims to reshape Turkey

“Erdogan has said one of his goals is to forge a ‘pious generation’ in Turkey ‘that will work for the construction of a new civilisation’. His recent speeches have emphasised Turkey’s Ottoman history and domestic achievements over Western ideas and influences. Reviving Imam Hatip, or Imam and Preacher, schools is part of Erdogan’s drive to put religion at the heart of national life after decades of secular dominance.” reuters investigates

When Barbie went to war with Bratz

“Before Barbie, dolls were babies, to be fed and burped and bathed and wheeled around in prams and put down for naps. Barbie, who has hips and breasts, was a ripoff of a magnificently racy German doll called Lilli. Lilli was inspired by the title character in a Playboy-style comic strip; she works as a secretary but is usually barely dressed, like the time she shows up at the office in a bikini. ‘So dumb!’ she says.” the new yorker



What can NSW transport minister Andrew Constance do to distract Sydneysiders from the ongoing public transport crisis?

“NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has admitted there’s ‘a problem’ with the rail network’s ability to recover from major incidents and that the system relies on overtime ... This month, the Sydney train network was thrown into chaos after a large number of staff members called in sick, with platforms on CBD stations shut due to overcrowding and commuters faced major delays getting home.”   fairfax


Absolutely anything but this.

“The controversial ‘Ferry McFerryface’ was a name handpicked by NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance even after he was warned by senior bureaucrats of the risks. A 9NEWS freedom of information investigation has revealed the competition to name a new fleet of ferries cost a whopping $100,000. Documents reveal Ferry McFerryface was not only ineligible to be accepted under the government’s own criteria but it attracted just 182 votes.”  9news


and finally:

Will Ferrell’s George W Bush returns to Saturday Night Live

“Donald Trump came in, and suddenly I’m looking pretty sweet by comparison ... A lot of people are saying ‘man, I wish George W Bush was still our President right about now’. So I just wanted to address my fellow Americans tonight and remind you that I was really bad. Like, historically not-good. Please do not look back at my Presidency and think ‘this is how we do it’.” saturday night live