In the United States, authorities have released the names of the 11 people murdered in a Pittsburgh synagogue at the weekend. The victims, all of whom were middle-aged or elderly, were shot and killed by Robert Bowers, 46, in what the Anti-Defamation League called “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States”. Worshippers were attending a baby-naming ceremony at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday morning when Bowers entered with an assault rifle. During a gunfight with police officers, he told them “I just want to kill Jews”. The attack is the third high-profile hate crime in the US in less than a week. A white gunman murdered two black people in a Kentucky supermarket on Wednesday after attempting to storm a black church, while on Friday authorities arrested Cesar Saroc for mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and businessman George Soros. Speaking at a rally on the day of the Pittsburgh shooting, US president Donald Trump joked “maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day”.
Disability advocates have criticised prime minister Scott Morrison’s decision to redirect funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme to a new drought relief fund. Morrison announced the $5 billion Drought Future Fund at a summit on Friday, with $3.9 billion of the scheme’s money originally slated for the NDIS. Physical Disability Council of New South Wales chief executive Serena Ovens told Fairfax helping drought-stricken communities should not come “at the cost of an equally important scheme for some very vulnerable people”. National Disability Service chief executive Chris Tanti said people with disabilities, their families and carers were experiencing “a lot of anxiety” following the announcement.
A motion banning the Liberal Party from marching at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been defeated at the event’s annual general meeting. Activist group Pride in Protest, which is attempting to emphasise the origins of Mardi Gras as a protest event, moved motions banning prime minister Scott Morrison from marching in the parade and reviewing corporate sponsorships. Pride in Protest spokesperson Holly Brooke said allowing a “Liberal float in Mardi Gras sends the message that this organisation can actively fight against our rights but can capitalise on our community spirit when it's useful for them”.
And Gosford Anglican Church minister Rod Bower has announced he will run as an independent candidate for the Senate at the next federal election. Father Bower, whose church’s outspoken billboards have gained international attention, said on Saturday that he hoped to be “one of a number of centrist independents committed to rebuilding the ethical framework of our national parliamentary system”, and that he was motivated by “parliament’s inability to act ethically on issues such as climate change, refugees and basic human rights”. He indicated he would resign from the church if elected “to maintain a clear separation between church and state”.