Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Joyce under growing pressure

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is under increasing pressure to resign, as National Party MPs and former Nationals leaders cast doubt on his ability to outlast the ongoing infidelity scandal. Former deputy prime ministers Warren Truss and Mark Vaile have called for the issue to be resolved quickly, with Vaile saying the controversy was “getting to the point where it is affecting the government”. Nationals politicians, meanwhile, are reportedly debating whether to ask Joyce to step down. In a statement, Joyce denied allegations of sexual harassment published by News Corp outlets, saying the alleged harassment “did not happen” and he was considering legal action. Joyce also acknowledged his expected child with former staffer Vikki Campion, apologising to her and to his estranged wife and daughters.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has found ($) “rampant exploitation” of cleaners working for supermarket chain Woolworths, with contractors paying cleaners in Tasmanian stores as little as $14 an hour and up to 90 per cent of Woolworths’ Tasmanian supermarkets breaking minimum wage laws. Ombudsman Natalie James said Woolworths should pay back $43,000 in owed back pay, and the FWO inquiry into Woolworths found “serious exploitation occurring at multiple levels of its cleaning supply chain”. The inquiry also noted how cleaning contractors refused to co-operate with the inquiry, which was limited in ascertaining the extent of worker exploitation by cash payments, false records and “abysmal” book-keeping.

The New South Wales and Victorian governments are threatening to pull out of the Murray-Darling Basin plan if the Senate votes down an 18 per cent cut to water recovery targets recommended by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Labor, The Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team are all opposed to the cut, but the National Farmers’ Federation and Cotton Australia are in favour of a 70 gigalitre cut to the environmental water recovery target. The Senate will vote on the cut today.

And in Israel, police will recommend that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on two corruption charges. Netanyahu is accused ($) of accepting lavish gifts from billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer in return for political favours, and of offering to limit the circulation of newspaper Israel Hayom in exchange for favourable coverage from its rival, Yedioth Ahronoth. Police commissioner Roni Alshiech has hinted that Netanyahu hired private investigators to collect information about police officers involved in his case, a claim Netanyahu has vehemently denied. Attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit, a former advocate general for the Israel Defense Forces, will decide whether Netanyahu will be prosecuted.

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How a rock star of Iranian digital activism built a culture of misogyny and fear

“For years, ASL19 was at the forefront of a new push for digital freedoms in the wake of Iran’s Green Revolution. After the 2009 election, liberal Iranians had taken to the streets to protest irregularities in the vote. Facing brutal opposition by police, they also took to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, sharing protest plans or videos of slain protester Neda Agha-Soltan. Suddenly, access to digital platforms seemed like a global force for democracy. An activist and computer scientist living in Canada, Bangi seized the moment.” the verge

The ups and downs of a Russian anti-doping whistleblower

“The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, saw Russia finish 11th on the final medal table with just three gold medals. It did not sit well with then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was facing declining popularity. The Kremlin devised a strategy: to succeed in sports by any means necessary. The opportunity was the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The man to do it was Grigory Rodchenkov.”  organised crime and corruption reporting project

Inside North Koreas hacker army

“For half a decade before defecting, Jong was a foot soldier in North Korea’s hacker army. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, who might seek to expose security vulnerabilities, steal corporate and state secrets, or simply sow chaos, North Korean hackers have a singular purpose: to earn money for the country, currently squeezed by harsh international sanctions for its rogue nuclear program.” bloomberg businessweek



How is Canberra’s other office affair playing out?

“The head of the federal government’s Australian Border Force has left active duty following an external investigation. Sources say Roman Quaedvlieg​ has taken leave for a matter relating to his personal behaviour, rather than his official duties. According to reports, Mr Quaedvlieg is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour relating to a personal relationship.”   fairfax (from july 2017)


Very expensively.

“Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg is believed to have now accrued more than $400,000 in salary payments while on leave, as an external investigation into his personal conduct drags on into a new year. The case of the missing Commissioner, who’s still on a $619,905 remuneration package, is shrouded in mystery, and has again put into sharp focus the standards applied to public officials as opposed to their political masters.”  abc


and finally:

Paintings of Barack and Michelle Obama unveiled at National Portrait Gallery

“Brand new portraits of former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama – wearing matching calm, strong expressions – were revealed on Monday at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Kehinde Wiley painted Barack Obama sitting in a chair, elbows in his knees, leaning forward with an intense expression. The background, typical of a Wiley painting, is a riotous pattern of intense greens. ‘Pretty sharp’, Obama said with a grin.” npr



Win a double pass to The lady and the unicorn in Sydney

The Saturday Paper invites NSW readers to enter the draw to win one of 10 double passes to The lady and the unicorn at the Art Gallery of NSW. Having left France for only the third time in 500 years, the tapestries are considered to be some of the greatest surviving masterpieces of medieval European art. The competition closes at 5pm AEDT Friday, February 16 and winners will be notified on Monday, February 19.enter here