Monday, August 20, 2018

Tensions rise over NEG policy

Government MPs have reserved the right to cross the floor to sink the National Energy Guarantee, despite prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing changes to the flagship policy to shore up backbench support. On Friday Turnbull abandoned plans to ratify emissions reduction targets outlined in the 2016 Paris climate agreement, instead allowing targets to be set by regulation. Conservative backbenchers, including former prime minister Tony Abbott and several Nationals MPs, refused to back the changes, with Nationals MP George Christensen saying the revised policy “certainly hasn't allayed my concerns”. Home affairs minister Peter Dutton attempted to downplay media speculation that he was being encouraged to challenge Turnbull for the Liberal leadership over the issue, saying on Saturday that “the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the government”.

A bomb that killed 40 children in a Saudi airstrike on a Yemeni city last week was supplied by the United States, analysis has found. CNN reports that the Lockheed Martin MK 82 bomb, which killed 51 people when it struck a school bus in the northwestern town of Dahyan, was sold to Saudi Arabia as part of a State Department-approved arms deal. In March 2017, the Trump administration reversed an Obama administration ban on selling guided bombs to Saudi Arabia. Speaking to al-Jazeera, Dahyan parent Fares al-Razhi, whose 14-year-old son was killed in the attack, said he would “take revenge on Salman, Mohammed Bin Zayed and Trump”, singling out the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US.

A man who fled Australia after being outed by law enforcement as an informer inside a notorious bikie gang has become the first known Australian to gain refugee status. Stevan Utah fled the country in 2006 after an Australian Crime Commission press release bragging about an informant in the Bandidos blew his cover. In a landmark ruling, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board found that Utah "established with 'clear and convincing evidence' the state's inability to provide operational adequate protection from the threat against him". Utah provided evidence to the ACC on Bandido criminal activities including arms smuggling, methamphetamine production and murder.

Members of the South Sudanese community in Australia have called on prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and other political leaders to refrain from racist and inflammatory language. In a video campaign created by producer Richard Keddie and Anglican priest Philip Huggins, South Sudanese-Australians recounted the racism they had encountered as political rhetoric about “African gangs” spiked in recent months. Speaking to The Australian ($), the Reverend Chaplain Soma said “this video is needed to send a message to the politicians to be careful in using their words – not to use words that harm, words that really hurt people”.

And former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has died after a short illness. Annan, 80, became the first person from a sub-Saharan African nation to lead the UN when he was elected to the post in 1997. In 2001 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to refocus the UN on human rights issues, including efforts to oversee Nigeria’s transition to civilian government, supporting East Timor’s push for independence, and persuading Israeli troops to withdraw from Lebanon. World leaders and contemporaries paid tribute to Annan, with former United States president Barack Obama saying he “embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others”.

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In the longer term, the trend for death remains positive.

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Are cities making animals smarter?

“Some scientists speculate that only the most intelligent members of a species can survive in a hazardous and ever-changing urban world. If so, cities may be making animals smarter than their rural counterparts ... Untangling its influence requires researchers to confront one of the most daunting questions in cognitive science: What is the definition of intelligence?”the atlantic

Equal fights movement

“Physical ruin is part of this job description, and for the remaining weekend after Lit Up, Tracy Williams’ open palm strike – the evidence of a man physically beating up a woman while an accepting crowd looked on – will burn a deep crimson on Kimber Lee’s back. Depending on your vantage point, that handprint is either a token of honor and, perhaps, progress – or a radioactive badge of shame, nothing but spectacle masked as progress.”  espn

The charmed life of Esther the Wonder Pig

“In many ways, Esther exists far beyond her faded room or even the sanctuary itself. Online, she is known as Esther the Wonder Pig. Close to a million and a half people follow her on Facebook, about half a million on Instagram, and 50,000 on Twitter. On social media, Esther’s life is documented in detail, even if her life pretty much consists of sleeping, sleeping, palling around with a turkey named Cornelius, wearing silly wigs and outfits, sleeping, snuggling her dads, and sleeping.” the walrus



How can the media report on the far right without acting as a megaphone for them?

“What happens when you do a prime-time interview with a far-right leader – but don’t ask them anything about refugees? German television viewers found out Sunday night when the broadcaster ZDF ran a major interview with Alexander Gauland, a co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany ... The resulting 19-minute interview, in which Gauland struggles to answer basic questions about his party’s positions on such issues, has been lauded by opponents of the AfD as masterful.”  the atlantic


Plenty of ways, none of which involve watching Q&A next week.

“I cannot deny that at least three Muslims are directly linked to my father’s death. His murder. I cannot deny that they self-identify as Muslim. Nor can I deny that Islamic State is the violent propaganda machine behind their twisted ideology ... I am tired of needing to explain to adults that the actions of these individuals cannot be attributed to an entire group of people. I am tired of explaining that terrorism is a criminal and political phenomenon, not a religious one.”  alpha cheng, fairfax


and finally:

Stink over Boofhead the dog ends with $16,000 penalty for RSL club

“A man and his assistance dog Boofhead have won a court battle against a New South Wales RSL club, which discriminated against the pair during a six-month feud over the bearded border collie’s ‘pungent’ smell and appearance ... Peter Reurich, who says he suffers from an adjustment and personality disorder that manifests in anxiety and depression, was told to leave the club on multiple occasions because 11-year-old ‘Boofy’ stank.”  guardian australia