Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Abbott’s sister pulls out of Wentworth byelection

Tony Abbott’s sister has decided to stay out of a political fight in the name of Liberal Party harmony. It was only a week ago that Christine Forster announced her intention to nominate for pre-selection for the Wentworth byelection after the resignation of deposed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, but the Liberal councillor for the City of Sydney pulled out yesterday. She said the commentary around her candidacy “has focused on the suggestion that it was a proxy for division within the Liberal party”. Ms Forster said while this was not true, she wanted to “avoid any such perception” and so would be standing aside.

Last night on ABC TV’s Four Corners, Sarah Ferguson interviewed Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to Donald Trump and former editor and chairman of right wing news and commentary website, Breitbart. Bannon touched on Australia’s relationship to China, and his brand of economic nationalism and its harnessing of anger and racist commentary. He said the rise of Trump-style populism is part of a “revolution” and that he believes “Australia is going to be a hotbed of populism” in the near future. Bannon is about to release his new film Trump @ War and is visiting Australia later this year.

A damning report published by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre on Australia’s offshore processing in Nauru examines Australia’s “man-made” humanitarian crisis. The report says the situation on the island has “gone well beyond our worst fears” since processing resumed in 2012 and that “[the] policy has traumatised children so much that they are giving up eating and trying to kill themselves”. Experts in the report also say that “people transferred to Nauru by Australia are among the most traumatised they have seen, even more traumatised than those in war zones or in refugee camps around the world”. Following condemnation by the UN and Australia’s continued refusal of New Zealand’s offer to take the refugees, the report says there is only one solution that remains: “the suffering must end, and Australia must bring them all here now.”

In a Fairfax-ABC exclusive, Australia’s largest honey producer Capilano has been accused of selling “fake” honey under its Allowrie brand, which contains a mixture of imported and local honey. Almost 50 per cent of the honey tested by the nuclear magnetic resonance, or NMR process, were “adulterated” with something other than bee nectar. Capilano said the tests used in the investigation were unreliable and not those considered to be the official Australian testing method. However, 7.30 obtained leaked documents from a recent meeting of the Australian Honey Bee Council, the peak body of apiarists in Australia, where a motion was passed recommending the NMR test be adopted as the new standard, calling it “the best available method”.

Brazil’s Museu Nacional Museum in Rio de Janeiro has succumbed to fire, incinerating the 20 million historical items in its 200-year-old collection. Established in 1808, the National Museum was one of the largest natural history museums in the Americas, and housed artefacts including a Roman fresco from Pompeii, a 12,000-year-old skeleton of a woman called “Luzia”, and Greco-Roman and Egyptian items. It was also home to many historically significant items for the nation, including pieces from the pre-Columbian era, its indigenous cultures, the Portuguese colonisation of the 1500s and its declaration as a republic in 1889. It is still unclear what caused the fire. In a tweet, historian and professor, Dr Ana Lucia Araujo, described the museum as “the equivalent of the British Museum” for Brazil and lashed out at the Brazilian government for allowing it to happen, blaming continuous cuts to funding. “Losing it is devastating, still a disgrace that could have been avoided,” she tweeted. The BBC’s Katy Watson, said that “many see” the destruction of Brazilian history “as a metaphor for the city - and the country as a whole”. Rio de Janeiro is facing “growing violence, a deep economic decline and political corruption”, particularly since hosting the Olympic Games in 2016, she says.

Two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of possessing secret documents. The duo had uncovered and reported on a massacre in Myanmar of 10 Rohingya Muslims by Buddhist villagers and Myanmar troops. The judge presiding over the case said the documents the reporters held could “be useful to the enemies of the country or the ones who oppose the country”. However, the defendants Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo told the court that police handed them the papers moments before arresting them.


“In a speech last year at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Mr. Lifschitz put it more bluntly, implicitly comparing Australia’s arts policies to the thickening of artery walls that occur before a heart attack. Many of the majors, he said, are ‘arteriosclerotic — playing heritage works to aging audiences.’ ”


“Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges. Trauma bleeds. Out of wounds and across boundaries. Sadness becomes a seizure. Empathy demands another kind of porousness in response. My Stephanie script is twelve pages long. I think mainly about what it doesn’t say. Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia—em (“into”) and pathos (“feeling”)—a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border-crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?”


“Their house became one of the 9 million homes that would go into foreclosure nationwide between 2007 and 2010. The Littles went from hosting barbecues in their backyard with a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen to taking whatever they could get from local food banks. A decade after the height of the Great Recession in 2008, people who lost homes and careers are still recovering. For the Littles, life is more stable now, but the swimming pool and outdoor kitchen are long gone.”


“Steve Bannon put Donald Trump in the White House and rewrote the rules of modern politics along the way. Described as the most dangerous political operative in America, the strategist, renegade Republican and professional provocateur channelled the anger and disappointment of those who felt left behind by globalism to install Donald Trump as president.”


“In an age of upheaval, he sees opportunity. After playing a key role in Britain's Brexit campaign, he's been forging links with right wing nationalist groups across Europe, including the French National Front. Australia is next on his radar. He's identified Australia as ripe for his brand of revolution and plans to bring it here. ‘Australia is at the tip of the spear on this,’ [he said].”


“We all know it’s good to hydrate. Water can be so blah, though. So when I’m trying to rehydrate after a long run in the summer heat, I tend to reach for an old-timey solution: The energy drink of ancient Rome. The Romans were famed for their innovations in military logistics, which allowed them to extend their territory from Rome and its immediate surrounds to the whole Mediterranean and ultimately, with the establishment of the Roman Empire, virtually all of western Eurasia. But an army can’t win if it’s thirsty. Enter posca.”

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.