Friday, March 22, 2019

Mozambique reels from Cyclone Idai

Rescue workers are struggling to save thousands of people endangered by the after-effects of a powerful cyclone that struck southeastern Africa last week. Cyclone Idai, which hit the Mozambican port city of Beira last Thursday, brought flooding and torrential rain that has stranded thousands of people on rooftops and in trees. Rescue efforts have been severely hampered by damaged infrastructure, inadequate food and medical supplies and a near-complete absence of rescue equipment such as helicopters. While the official death toll in Mozambique currently stands at about 200, president Filipe Nyusi said on Monday that “everything indicates that we can have a record of more than 1000 dead”.

New Zealand will ban semi-automatic rifles, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in response to the Christchurch terror attack. Speaking on Thursday, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said “every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country”, and that “we are confident as a government that the vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change”. Gun owners voluntarily surrendered 37 firearms to police after Christchurch. According to the 2017 Small Arms Survey, New Zealand has an estimated 1.2 million civilian firearms in circulation, or 26.3 weapons for every 100 people.

Leaked footage from prime minister Scott Morrison’s meeting with senior Islamic figures the day after the Christchurch terror attack has belied his claim to be met “with warm embraces” by Australian Muslims. In footage published by the ABC’s Hack on Thursday, the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, questioned Morrison’s commitment to fighting Islamophobia and hate speech while Morrison sat at the same table. “The tragedy in New Zealand yesterday - it wasn't something overnight, it's been something that's been a build-up over the last few years because of the incitement of hatred, bigotry, and discrimination against groups like the Islamic community,” the Grand Mufti said. Lebanese Muslim Association director Ahmad Malas, who also attended the meeting, said the Grand Mufti and others “raised several concerns, grievances with the position that senior members of government have taken on immigration, previous incidents such as the Bourke Street attack, and political rhetoric about Muslims being detrimental”.

And prime minister Scott Morrison has claimed he raised the topic of growing Islamophobia at a 2010 shadow cabinet meeting in order to address it, rather than exploit it for electoral gain, as later reported. In a live half-hour interview with The Project’s Waleed Aly on Thursday, Morrison at times struck a combative tone, suggesting that Aly was “sugar-coating” the supposed threat of “rapists, murderers and paedophiles” being transferred to Australia from offshore detention facilities for medical treatment. Morrison asserted he mentioned Islamophobia at the 2010 shadow cabinet meeting because he “was acknowledging that there were these fears in the community and that we had to address them, not exploit them”. Media reports about the meeting, which went unrefuted until this week, quoted unnamed sources in the room who claimed Morrison asked: “ ‘What are we going to do about multiculturalism? What are we going to do about concerns about the number of Muslims?’ He put it on the table like a dead cat.” Morrison has called the allegation “an ugly and disgusting lie”.



“Whichever party attempts to form government will likely have to deal with an upper house of bewildering complexity. The large number of seats up for grabs in the legislative council, and the state’s preferential proportional voting system, mean minor parties can win representation with a relatively small percentage of the vote.”


“Living with all-consuming rage binds these estranged women. Like her mum, the 16-year-old is mad with the world and on track to make mistakes she might never recover from. But Erin wants something better for Shelby – a life unlike hers, a decent one. ‘You can be better than me.’ ”


Lux Prima opens with a tremulous wash of synths – a stately series of minor, major seventh and augmented chords. There is an instant otherworldly atmosphere, a feeling enhanced by an angelic soprano voice swooping wordlessly, as if singing from the beyond. Drums and bass join in next, adding a touch of majesty to the ethereal mood, and hushed female voices intone, ‘Faithful sunshine’. In a few minutes, everyday reality melts away and time moves slower as you drift.”


“The police head of the UK’s national deradicalisation program has urged Australia and other liberal countries to invest in grassroots terrorism prevention, as new figures show the number of far-right-inspired extremism referrals to the scheme have soared.”


“One of Australia’s most prominent far-right extremists has escaped prosecution even though he left explicit, violent and repeated threats on the message bank of a Melbourne freelance journalist ... ‘I’m going to torture you to an absolute delight little Lukey Luke. Absolute delight. And I have people looking at you right now staring at you from across the fucking street from where you live, enjoy this motherfucker’, Nathan Sykes is recorded saying.”


“Confessing that he was completely blindsided by the request, parent Erik Schaff said Wednesday that his son Cody, 8, needed a full-body costume and 30 individually wrapped treats by tomorrow morning for some sort of school celebration.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.