Monday, October 29, 2018

Hate crimes rock United States

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”.



“It was the night before the moment they had all worked for. The night before a moment they hoped would be cathartic, but not climactic – the apology, they all agreed, would not end responsibility. They were nervous, proud and hopeful, which is an inadequate description. The sum of feeling was raw and irreconcilable.”


“I believe that both sides of the national debate about asylum seekers have lost touch with reality. I also believe that our current system is wrong, destroying the lives of the men, women and children on Nauru and Manus Island for no reason. I do not support the idea of unrestricted migration, but I think the policy as it stands goes far beyond what is necessary to prevent it from occurring.”


“Democracy, it seems, is much more fragile than most of us imagined. As I watched it being whittled away in the nation that used to call itself the world’s greatest democracy, like millions of others, I became more and more concerned. I have watched in open-mouthed horror as the things we own in common – public schools, public broadcasting, public health, public transport, public infrastructure – have been undermined, underfunded and deliberately destroyed.”


“As part of their new special envoy roles, former conservative leaders Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have been given two extra staffers each at a cost to taxpayers of more than $450,000 ... The pair already had an additional employee each for holding office as prime minister and deputy prime minister, lifting their staff numbers to three more than the average backbencher.”


“The ABC understands that tensions are high among South Australian Indigenous communities regarding the timing of an expected visit from special envoy for Indigenous Affairs Tony Abbott in the wake of a recent alleged murder in Ceduna.”



“The events of that day are still not entirely clear, but what is known is this ... At 6.39pm, Jessica Whyte took a bite and quickly spat it out before wiping her mouth on a serviette. There’s no other way to say it: The ‘chocolate’ gelato wasn’t chocolate at all. It was shit. Human shit.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.