Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Al-Araibi rescue effort steps up

Prime minister Scott Morrison has personally intervened in the case of Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Nine newspapers report that Morrison urged Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to release al-Araibi in a letter, sent several days ago. Al-Araibi was arrested in Thailand in November, after authorities acted on an Interpol “red notice” that has since been lifted. The Bahraini government filed a request for al-Araibi’s extradition on Monday. Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 after being tortured by Bahraini authorities, and was granted refugee status in 2017. Former Socceroos captain and SBS football commentator Craig Foster pleaded al-Araibi’s case to FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura on Monday, saying in an open letter that “football must do everything in its power, immediately, to stop the improper incarceration of one of our own”. In an interview with Nine from his cell, al-Araibi said “please Australia, keep fighting for me. I pay taxes, I play football, I love Australia. Please don’t let them send me back to Bahrain”.

Aboriginal activists have staged a protest outside the Sydney offices of Channel 10 after Studio 10 host Kerri-Anne Kennerley claimed attendees of Invasion Day protests were indifferent to Indigenous disadvantage. “Has any one of them been out to the outback where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped? Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped, they get no education. What have you done? Zippo,” Kennerley said on Monday. Kennerley said she was “offended” when co-panellist Yumi Stynes described her comments as “racist”, saying “just because I have a point of view, Yumi, doesn't mean I am racist”. First Nations organisation Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties organised the #SackKAK rally in response, with FISTT calling Kennerley’s remarks “ill-informed” with “no factual back up”.

The South Australian royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been handed to the state’s governor. Guardian Australia reports that commissioner Bret Walker SC has recommended that the plan breaches the Water Act 2007 by setting the amount of water irrigators could take from the Murray-Darling system using criteria other than environmental factors. The report came as a third fish kill affected the western New South Wales town of Menindee.

And news outlet BuzzFeed Australia has announced at least 11 journalists will be retrenched from its news division as part of a 15 per cent worldwide reduction in staff. Hundreds of BuzzFeed news journalists were laid off in the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain last week, and retrenched US employees were forced to publicly petition the company to pay out accrued holiday leave. The company’s Australian outpost gained attention for its reporting on abortion law reform, LGBT rights, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and the Australian Federal Police raid on the Australian Workers Union offices in 2017. In an all-staff memo, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said “I care about the people at BuzzFeed more than anything other than my family”. Peretti has an estimated personal net worth of US$220 million.



“According to investigators, low water flows, including less-than-anticipated amounts of water being released from a lake upstream, encouraged the growth of blue-green algae. Then a cool snap between January 4 and 5, combined with high winds, caused usually separate layers of cold and warm water to mix. The cold water carried less oxygen than the warm, lowering oxygen levels overall. The cold water also killed parts of the algal bloom, further robbing the water of oxygen.”


“Late on Monday, telling only his closest office staff and Lucy, Turnbull resolved to vacate his position as leader of the Liberal Party the next morning – to confront his opponents in a shock challenge. It would be a circuit-breaker; it could bring breathing space or victory. This was a decision the prime minister would hold close until the moment came, seeking to win with the element of surprise.”


“Bray tells us of his awakening sexuality, his Wiradjuri identity, before retreating to a bubble bath, which we all watch on a TV screen. He returns, the bubbles barely concealing his cock and balls, and then asks if any audience members know how to roll a cigarette. As one young woman obliges, he speculates his indulgence of casual sex and drugs fills an empty void.”


“The Morrison government is close to achieving its goal of taking all refugee children off Nauru, with just two families still in limbo on the island – but hundreds of adults remain without a place to resettle ... More than 100 children and their families have come to Australia from Nauru in the past four months. However, home affairs minister Peter Dutton has maintained these refugees will not settle permanently in Australia.”


“I asked Imran how he felt when he heard he might go to America. He told me he did not believe it; he did not trust the officials. Today he works days at a decorative glass company and attends school in the evening with other foreign students. Every morning he receives an encouraging text from an Australian couple who befriended him via Facebook while he was still detained.”


How many years have you worked at BuzzFeed?

- Less than 2

- 2-3

- 3-4

- I remember when our holiday bonus was a drawing of a cat, and the CEO presented it as an investment.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.