Monday, May 21, 2018

Labor questions UNHRC vote

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has questioned the federal government’s opposition to a United Nations Human Rights Commission resolution to establish an independent inquiry into the deaths of more than 60 Palestinians last week. Speaking to the ABC’s Insiders, Albanese said a Labor government would have voted with 29 other nations in calling for the investigation. “The government needs to explain why it was isolated as one of only two nations to vote against an independent inquiry”, Albanese said, adding that “an independent investigation is in the interests of all”. Australia was the only nation besides the United States to vote in opposition to the inquiry, with foreign minister Julie Bishop saying the resolution’s wording “pre-judged the outcome” and “[failed] the test of balance and impartiality”.

A draft plan prepared by the National Disability Insurance Agency would restrict the level of NDIS services available to people with autism. The Weekend Australian reported ($) on Saturday that the draft document, part of which was accidentally published on the NDIS website last week, altered a list of autism spectrum disorders that automatically qualify for NDIS support to only include those requiring “very substantial support”. While NDIS representatives claimed the amendment was a mistake, The Weekend Australian claimed it was part of a broader strategy to restrict NDIS services in an effort to reduce costs. Autism spectrum disorder advocacy group Autism Awareness Australia called the news “absolutely shocking”, saying on Facebook that “the government’s short-sightedness on this is appalling”.

A digital economy tax targeting large firms such as Facebook and Google could secure the federal government enough support in the Senate to pass the rest of its tax package. Fairfax reports that Centre Alliance senators Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick may support corporate tax cuts in return for a new levy targeting large digital companies. “As long as there are no cuts to core community services, we'd be receptive to a degree of tax relief for everybody”, Griff said. Efforts to establish a “Google tax” have progressed in the European Union, but face difficulty in convincing major economies such as the United States, China and Japan to tax domestic online firms.

And in the United States, the mother of a teenage girl killed in a Texas school shooting said the shooter may have acted out of revenge because her daughter turned down his advances. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, killed 10 people and injured at least 13 at Santa Fe High School on Saturday before surrendering to police. Sadie Rodriguez, whose 16-year-old daughter, Shana Fisher, was killed, said Pagourtzis “kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no”. Rodriguez said Pagourtzis “continued to get more aggressive” until Fisher “embarrassed him in class” by “[standing] up to him” the week before the shooting. Pagourtzis is being held without bail on charges of capital murder and aggravated assault on a public servant.

Open Quotemarks

Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House. Melanie is feeling and doing really well.

Close Quotemarks

Episode 15: Corruption in the capital
Richard Denniss talks to Senator Kristina Keneally about ICAC’s impact on politicians’ and public servants’ behaviour in NSW, and whether a similar commission should be implemented federally.


I killed them all: The life of one of Americas bloodiest hitmen

“Martinez, who was born and spent most of his life in California, said that for three decades he had worked as a gun for hire, collecting debts and killing people across the United States. Police say that work was often for Mexican drug cartels, though in a few cases he also killed people just because they pissed him off. Martinez refused to say anything about the drug business, including whom he worked for or with. But he was more than happy to talk about bodies.” buzzfeed news

The weird, dangerous, isolated life of the saturation diver

“For 52 straight days, Shannon Hovey woke up in the company of five other men in a metal tube, 20 feet long and seven feet in diameter, tucked deep inside a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. He retrieved his breakfast from a hatch (usually eggs), read a briefing for the day, and listened for a disembodied voice to tell him when it was time to put on a rubber suit and get to work ... He is a saturation diver – one of the men who do construction and demolition work at depths up to 1,000 feet or more below the ocean.” atlas obscura

‘Parrot isn’t hungry’: On family, food, fasting and Ramadan

Pasta: My parents say the word like a curse, with a shudder of disgust. To them, pasta is the food of desperation; of too little time. Your adult children eat it because they think they are too busy to do anything but boil water and heat up a jar of sauce. Your small children beg for it because they prefer the limp noodles and over-salty Prego of this country to that of yours, with its array of textures and careful balance of colour.”catapult



What exactly did Australia vote against at the UN?

“Australia has defended its role as one of only two countries – along with the United States – to reject a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to investigate the killings of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza on the grounds it prejudged Israel. Australia and US were the only countries to vote against the resolution to send a commission of investigators, but it passed with the backing of 29 members of the 47-nation UNHRC. 14 countries, including Britain, Germany and Japan, abstained.”  fairfax



“In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, two against, and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”  unhcr


and finally:

Royal wedding photographer feeling pretty guilty about the time he ran Princess Di off road

“Attempting to keep his past in the past while setting up a shot of newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, royal wedding photographer Geoff Kelly was unable to completely suppress his guilt over the 1997 incident in which he ran Princess Diana off the road in Paris’ Pont de l’Alma tunnel, killing the Princess, her companion Dodi Fayed, and their driver.” the onion