Friday, August 24, 2018

Yet another leadership showdown

Nothing’s really happening today, go back to bed.

Just kidding. Australia may have its fifth prime minister in 10 years by lunchtime, as the Liberal Party prepares to meet for the second leadership spill of the week. Speaking at Parliament House yesterday, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull scheduled a Liberal party room meeting for midday Friday, provided a majority of Liberal MPs signed a letter calling for one. While it remains unclear if 43 Liberals have put their name to such a letter, Turnbull pledged to stand down if the meeting was called and a spill motion was carried. In chaotic scenes yesterday, Turnbull supporters Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash and Mitch Fifield resigned from the ministry, with Cormann saying he “can't ignore [the] reality” that Turnbull’s leadership was untenable. Besides former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, treasurer Scott Morrison and foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop were expected to contest the Liberal leadership if a spill motion is successful.

Turnbull also highlighted growing questions around Dutton’s eligibility to sit in parliament. Solicitor-general Stephen Donaghue QC will deliver advice this morning on whether Dutton’s financial interests in childcare centres that receive public subsidies disqualifies him from public office. “I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament”, Turnbull said. A Labor motion referring Dutton to the High Court was narrowly defeated 69-68 in a House of Representatives vote on Thursday, while the Senate voted to establish an inquiry into Dutton’s use of ministerial powers to prevent the deportation of two foreign au pairs. Late on Thursday night, Dutton released legal advice from former solicitor-general David Bennett QC, which he claimed “puts to rest the spurious and unsubstantiated allegations raised against by [sic] eligibility”.

Nine Network chief political correspondent Chris Uhlmann has hit out at News Corp and other news outlets, saying they were “players in the game” to depose Turnbull and install a conservative replacement. Speaking on The Today Show on Thursday, Uhlmann said the News Corp newspapers, 2GB Radio in Sydney and Sky News were “among the biggest bullies in the land”, and that they “get their knickers in a huge twist” when they were criticised. Saying he “couldn’t give a rat’s arse” if they came after him for his comments, Uhlmann said Sky News was “turning Liberal National Party voters into One Nation voters” and that “if you’re going to dish it out, you have to be prepared to take it”.

And in India, the Kerala state government has responded angrily to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to accept foreign aid to help in the recovery from deadly floods. At least 231 people died after heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding in the southwestern state, prompting the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Maldives to offer monetary aid. While Modi directly thanked UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he has refused all aid offers. Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac called Modi’s stance “a dog in the manger policy”, urging the central government to “compensate Kerala” for the foregone funds. Donate to the Kerala chief minister’s fund for flood relief here.

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The bridge of desperation

“The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has led to one of the largest mass migrations in Latin America’s history ... Venezuelans are trying to get out. The UN says 2.3 million people have fled the country – 7 per cent of the population. More than a million have arrived in Colombia in the past 18 months. Many of those Venezuelans have come over the Simón Bolívar International Bridge.”  bbc

The self-driving car that will never arrive

“A conversation about self-driving cars is really a conversation about AI. AI as a concept has lately had even broader setbacks; IBM’s Watson managed to win at Jeopardy but has proven a catastrophic failure at its much more noble ultimate goal of helping treat cancer with more success than human doctors. While we’ve made progress in the time since sci-fi went from pulp to high art, our reach continues to cyclically elude our grasp. Quite simply, it is both very hard and not good.”the outline

The hidden epidemic of compulsive hair pulling

“Step into any classroom or coffee shop, and the odds are at least one person in the room has a body-focused repetitive behaviour, such as trichotillomania or skin picking disorder. People with BFRBs perform repetitive self-grooming activities such as picking, pulling or biting. These can cause emotional distress and damage to the body, but the people performing the behaviours can’t stop. At their most extreme, these conditions are life-threatening.” mosaic



Can we have Peter Dutton for prime minister, please?

“Peter Dutton’s first big policy push has been savaged by former cabinet colleagues and economists after the Liberal leadership contender outlined an alternative economic vision that would deny the budget at least $40 billion in revenue. Dutton launched a fresh bid for the prime ministership by announcing he would remove the GST from power bills, slash immigration, and establish a royal commission into the energy sector.”  fairfax


Not THAT one – the 30-year-old from Texas. He’d do a better job than anyone running today.

“As the Coalition’s leadership implosion continued on Thursday, Peter Dutton’s phone was buzzing with notifications. For the last year, Dutton – a 30-year-old who lives in the Texas city of Austin – has received messages of support and criticism from Twitter users who have mistaken him for the man hoping to become Australia’s next prime minister.”  abc


and finally:

To brighten your day, here is a croc crossing a canal on a pool noodle

“Sure, there’s a leadership crisis reaching fever pitch in the Australian government today, but the real news is a crocodile crossed a canal using a pool noodle. The creature was caught on camera earlier this month resting on the pool noodle as it swam across the water in the canal in Key Largo, Florida ... South Florida is the only place in the US where both American alligators and American crocodiles exist, according to the National Park Service.”  nt news