Wednesday, November 07, 2018

US voters turn out for midterms

Polling places are set to close in the United States congressional midterm elections. The vote marks the first large-scale electoral test of US president Donald Trump’s administration, with Trump having the lowest approval rating of any president at their two-year mark in modern history. Democrats are increasingly confident of retaking the House of Representatives, while Republicans are attempting to maintain control of the Senate. The campaign has been marked by far-right political violence, openly racist messaging from Republican politicians, and widespread voter suppression in electorates with large communities of non-white voters. The first polls will close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky at 10am AEDT. You can track results here.

Fires have broken out at the Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory as detainees seized parts of the facility. Armed police and emergency services were called to the juvenile prison on Tuesday, with a number of detainees reportedly throwing objects at police officers from the roof of one building. “This is the police. Drop your weapons. Your actions are being monitored. There will be consequences. Stop putting yourself and others at risk. Surrender yourself to the police,” warned a police broadcast at the facility. Don Dale became infamous in 2016 when the ABC’s Four Corners published details of children being tear-gassed, beaten, abused and restrained by guards.

Two prominent charities are under investigation following revelations that much of the money donated to drought relief efforts was not going to those in need. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission sought assurances from Aussie Helpers and Rural Aid that millions of dollars donated during recent charity drives was being spent on farmer relief. ACNC commissioner Gary Johns told Fairfax on Tuesday that “ACNC staff have visited the operations of the charities and we are working with them to understand their work and confirm they have procedures and practices in place to manage the large number of donations they have received”.

A NSW Police officer has pleaded guilty to making a threatening phone call to the office of Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Senior constable Sean Daniel Murphy entered a guilty plea on one count of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday. Murphy called Hanson-Young’s Adelaide electorate office in July after seeing her on television, telling the staffer who answered the phone that he wanted to rape one of Hanson-Young’s child female relatives. Murphy made a similar call to Hanson-Young’s Canberra office the next day which was not reported to police, during which he said “did you know in Islam you can fuck 9-year-old girls?” He will be sentenced in February.

Irish horse The CliffsofMoher has been euthanised after sustaining an injury during the Melbourne Cup. The five-year-old stallion was put down on the track after fracturing its shoulder about 600 metres from the starting gate. The incident marks the sixth horse death at the Melbourne Cup since 2013. RSPCA Australia spokesperson Jane Speechley said the animal welfare organisation “has long voiced its concerns about the welfare of racehorses, including the use of inhumane devices such as whips and tongue ties, as well as the risk to injury and death during races”.

And former Labor leader Mark Latham has joined Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, because misery loves company.



“Australia is yet to see a state government float the idea of legalising cannabis for recreational purposes. But figures from the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) suggest the policy could generate $136 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales in Victoria alone.”


“Orson Welles never saw a film project he couldn’t start shooting. Finishing them was another matter. The career of the legendary American actor, writer, director, and producer, who made his feature debut in 1941 with Citizen Kane, a movie cripplingly cited as the best ever made, was littered with long and intermittent productions.”


“Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, known as PMDD, is the name given to a set of distressing emotional and behavioural symptoms that some women experience premenstrually. It’s estimated that 3 to 8 per cent of women, or those assigned female at birth, experience PMDD.”


“The My Health Record opt-out helpline is up and running again after a system failure this morning, when centre workers said they had been ‘inundated’ by those rushing to opt out before the deadline ... Callers to the telephone opt-out service were told the system used by call centre operators had crashed on Tuesday morning, as Australians rushed to opt out of the controversial e-health system.”


“The Senate inquiry into the My Health Record system has called for access controls to be applied by default, with individuals having to choose to remove access codes themselves, and for the current opt-out period to be extended for a further 12 months. It has also called for stronger restrictions on using My Health Record data for secondary uses, commercial purposes, for employment or insurance purposes, or to enable the government to recoup revenue.”


“The internet is never kind to politicians but, when you are a prime minister on an aggressive pre-election tour, with a folksy ‘daggy dad’ media strategy and a bus with your face on it, it becomes ruthless. Add in the existence of Photoshop and an over-reliance on the phrase ‘fair dinkum’, and you have a viral recipe for ridicule.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.