Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Joyce loses WA Nationals support

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has lost the support of the Western Australian National Party, deepening the leadership crisis that has engulfed the federal Nationals. In a statement, WA Nationals leader Mia Davies said “the Nationals brand across regional Western Australia has suffered as a result of Mr Joyce's actions” and that Joyce was causing “ongoing damage” at federal and state level. "It is the view of the Parliamentary National Party of Western Australia that Mr Joyce's position as federal leader is no longer tenable”, Davies said. The WA branch of the party has a history of independence from the larger party structure, with past federal representatives refusing to join coalition governments. Joyce has vowed to stay on as leader, declaring “I’m not going anywhere” in an interview with Fairfax as he takes a week of personal leave. Speaking on Sky News yesterday, Queensland Senator Matt Canavan denied he knew of former Joyce staffer Vikki Campion’s relationship with Joyce when she took a job in Canavan’s office in April 2017.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s promise to implement the Voice to Parliament Indigenous advisory body recommended by the Uluru Statement has won the support of a majority of voters. A Newspoll ($) released on Tuesday found 57 per cent of people backed the idea, while just 32 per cent opposed it. Shorten promised a Labor government would legislate for a Voice to Parliament last week, saying Labor would “not wait” for the Coalition to agree to a referendum proposal on the issue. Actor and Wongatha-Yamatji and Noongar-Gitja woman Shareena Clanton criticised the government’s refusal to consider the proposal in an appearance on ABC’s Q&A on Monday, saying “we are tired of non-Indigenous Australia thinking they know what is good for us and thinking that they can be the voice for Aboriginal Australia”.

Defence documents lodged by The Daily Telegraph in the Geoffrey Rush defamation case allege Rush repeatedly touched the genitals of a female actor while carrying her onstage during a production of King Lear in 2015. The document also claims Rush went into the women’s toilet during an end-of-show party and stood outside a cubicle occupied by the actor, Eryn Jean Norvill, who told him to “fuck off” and was “visibly upset” after the encounter. Federal Court judge Michael Wigney denied a request from Rush’s legal team to suppress details of the defence, saying “the interests of open justice outweigh the considerations” of possible damage to Rush’s reputation. Rush is suing the owner of The Daily Telegraph, Nationwide News Pty Ltd, over a December article alleging the actor engaged in “inappropriate conduct” during the production. Rush has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

And a commission of inquiry into Western Australia’s finances under the former Barnett Liberal-National government has found billions of dollars were spent on “a knee-jerk, ad hoc” basis, leaving the state’s finances in poor shape. The inquiry, commissioned by premier Mark McGowan and headed by former state treasury official John Langoulant, found that major public works “did not have robust (or any) business cases”, and that “large buckets of money were allocated to high-level and relatively undefined objectives”. The Royalties for Regions program “saw the development of a ‘shadow budget’ process” where ministers could approve large projects without proper process and consultation, while a $4.8 billion contract to manage Fiona Stanley Hospital was awarded to private contractor Serco without a business case. Liberal leader Mike Nahan and WA Nationals leader Mia Davies testified before the inquiry, while former premier and sitting Liberal MP for the seat of Cottesloe, Colin Barnett, refused to appear.

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The brutal world of sheep fighting: the illegal sport beloved by Algeria’s ‘lost generation’

Combat taa lkbech, which means sheep combat in the Algerian Arabic dialect, is a bit like football. It releases the pent-up energies of otherwise unoccupied men and allows them to safely act out potentially divisive strains of nationalism, regionalism and neighbourhood pride. But sheep fighting lacks the artistry, skill and precision that make football so enthralling: a sheep confronts an identical opponent and bludgeons him into submission using only his face. Matches are a festival of brute force and domination.”the guardian

How a plot to kill Kim Il Sung ended in mutiny and murder

“They were supposed to be a top-secret assassination squad tasked with attacking the residence of North Korea’s then-leader Kim Il Sung. But the experiment to create a crack team of would-be assassins ended in disaster. Seven lost their lives – executed for desertion or criminal activity, and dying from fatigue during the arduous training on a remote island. The remaining 24 members turned on their military trainers, killing most of them in a bloody mutiny.” cnn

M-16: A bureaucratic horror story

“Between 1965 and 1969, more than a million American soldiers served in combat in Vietnam. One can argue that they should never have been sent there, but no one would argue that, once committed to battle, they should have been given inferior equipment. Yet that is what happened. During those years, in which more than 40,000 American soldiers were killed by hostile fire and more than 250,000 wounded, American troops in Vietnam were equipped with a rifle that their superiors knew would fail when put to the test.” the atlantic



Compared to the rest of Australian politics, how ridiculous has the South Australian election become?

“A wacky, cheesy election ad featuring SA Best leader Nick Xenophon rapping political messages in a Bollywood-style dance scene and rising from a hospital bed was released on Tuesday. Renowned for his stunts during a 20-year career in state and federal politics, Mr Xenophon says he is bracing for ‘naysayers’ to attack and lampoon the two-minute video.”  the advertiser


On a scale from 1 to Johnny Depp’s dogs, about a 4.

“The embarrassment of Barnaby Joyce’s extramarital affair has reached all the way to the US, with satirist John Oliver skewering the deputy prime minister on his show on Sunday night ... Speaking on his comedy show Last Week Tonight, Oliver made fun of the scandal by pointing out that Mr Joyce had opposed gay marriage in Australia due to his belief in traditional family values. ‘You might think that that is hypocritical, but in reality Joyce has such incredible family values that he can’t restrict them to just one family’, he joked.”


and finally:

The Winter Olympics feature 2,951 of the world’s greatest athletes, and also this woman

“There’s a premise built into the structure of the Olympics that pretty much every single Olympian, even those far down the standings, are elite athletes at the top of their game performing at a level fans could only dream of. Freestyle skier Elizabeth Swaney is an affront to this notion, and her run down the halfpipe is so thoroughly average that it’s an inspiration of sorts.” deadspin