Friday, September 28, 2018

Ford and Kavanaugh testify

In the United States, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of the women who has accused him of sexual assault have testified before a Senate committee. In her opening statement, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford said that while she was “terrified” of testifying, she felt she “couldn’t not do it”. “My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life,” Ford said. Abandoning his prepared remarks, Kavanaugh attacked Democratic members of the Senate judiciary committee, saying there was “a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation”. “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit,” Kavanaugh said. “Never.”

ABC chair Justin Milne has resigned after pressure from staff, politicians and commentators. Speaking to 7.30’s Leigh Sales on Thursday, Milne said he “wanted to provide a release valve” and it was “not a good thing for everybody to be trying to do their job with this kind of firestorm going on”. Already under immense pressure to resign, new leaks on Thursday revealed Milne had told former managing director Michelle Guthrie that she had to “shoot” political editor Andrew Probyn because former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull “hated” him. Turnbull denied pressuring ABC executives, saying “the bottom line is I’ve never called for anybody to be fired”.

Peak health and medical bodies have called on the federal government to bring asylum seeker children and their families held in offshore detention to Australia. The Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Australian Medical Students Association were among organisations that joined the #DoctorsForAsylumSeekers campaign on Thursday. AMSA president Alex Farrell said “as medical professionals, our first job is to care for people, especially children. This must be our guiding principle”.

And federal education minister Dan Tehan has threatened to withdraw billions in funds unless state and territory governments sign on to the federal government’s schools funding model. In a letter to Victorian education minister James Merlino, Tehan said “the Commonwealth will be unable to make the first 2019 payment to the relevant state or territory, including with respect to non-government schools”, unless all states and territories committed to the funding agreement by December. State governments and education unions have criticised the proposal to earmark $4.6 billion for private, independent and religious schools, with Northern Territory education minister Selena Uibo saying she was “concerned this deal erodes equity in the school funding”.


“Losing our twenties to layoffs and poor employment opportunities meant that other things were put off. I still have crippling student loan debt, with a degree I have never used; we both filed for bankruptcy; we put off children, and now are struggling to conceive; and buying a house feels like a pipe dream.”


“The Porcupine is the only barren-ground caribou herd across the north that is not in steep decline. However, while the caribou themselves know no border, the American political climate and details buried in a controversial tax bill have created a crisis for the herd and the Gwich’in people who span northern Canada and Alaska and have depended on them for tens of thousands of years.”


“Dad jokes are simultaneously beloved and maligned, deeply ingrained in the intimacies of family life and yet universal and public enough to have a hashtag. There’s a specific tone and interpersonal dynamic that converge to make a joke a dad joke – and the recent ubiquity of dad jokes might even reveal something about the states of modern fatherhood and humor.”


“The Northern Territory's Aboriginal Affairs Minister says he is ‘offended and disgusted’ that former prime minister Tony Abbott failed to meet with him on his first trip to the NT as the Indigenous affairs envoy, labelling the visit an excuse to ‘get around kissing some black kids’.”


“Elders, educators and parents in Borroloola reportedly forced federal Indigenous affairs envoy Tony Abbott out of the community on Wednesday ... Abbott faced heated criticism for cutting millions from community-based services and was given a scathing review of his vision for educational ‘assimilation’ and ‘punitive policies’ which link attendance rates to welfare payments.”


“Can you imagine a world where you see a video of a world leader engaged in some kind of damning act, but you can’t tell whether it’s real or a completely computer-generated fake? What about a world where pretty much anyone could make that fake video on a regular computer using free tools? ... Let’s put your fake-detecting skills to the test.”



Win tickets to John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist

The Saturday Paper invites NSW readers to enter the draw to win one of 10 double passes to John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist. The exhibition, now on at the Art Gallery of NSW until November 11, showcases the remarkable work of the Sydney artist who painted with Van Gogh, Monet and Matisse. Entries close at 11.59pm AEST on Friday, October 5, and winners will be notified by Monday, October 8.

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.