Thursday, September 05, 2019

MPs back no-deal Brexit block

A bill that aims to prevent the United Kingdom from exiting the European Union without a deal has passed 327-299 in the House of Commons, which also rejected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wish to hold an early election. The no-deal prevention bill will now proceed to the House of Lords for approval, but could be held up through the weekend if opponents manage to filibuster. MPs are racing to pass the legislation before the government suspends Parliament next week. In response Johnson challenged Labour to support his proposal of an October 15 election, appearing to call Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn a “great big girl’s blouse”. Corbyn said the party would not do so until laws were in place to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and a subsequent motion calling for an early election was rejected.  

On the subject of contentious laws: Outgoing Australian Security Intelligence Organisation chief Duncan Lewis has suggested granting the Australian Signals Directorate domestic spying powers to counter the “existential threat” of foreign influence. A News Corp article ($) suggesting that ASD’s role could be expanded led to police raids on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst earlier in the year. The comment from Lewis comes as the Australian Federal Police raided the Canberra home of ASD officer Cameron Gill on Wednesday morning. Greens spokesperson for media and communications, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, said the government should be “upfront about whether today’s raid is in relation to the earlier raids on a News Corp journalist who exposed the Government’s draconian plan to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australians.”

Speaking of an oppressive climate: Dorian, the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall, has finally moved past the Bahamas, where it stalled for 40 hours, leaving a trail of “apocalyptic” destruction in its wake. Rescuers are now picking their way through the most severely impacted islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, where 45 per cent of the homes were estimated to be severely damaged or destroyed. The death toll stands at seven but is expected to rise sharply from a storm believed to have been made stronger by climate change. Dorian is now moving towards the US coast, but has dropped in intensity from a category 5 to a category 2 storm.   

Over to rather less wild weather: Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne survived strong winds and the English bowling attack to combine for a 116-run partnership, on the rain-affected first day of the fourth Ashes men’s test at Old Trafford. Opening batsman David Warner again failed, out for a duck to his nemesis Stuart Broad. With just 44 overs completed for the day, Australia will resume batting today at 3-170.

The truth about wages
The reality of the wage debate in Australia is that companies are geared to pay dividends rather than to invest in growth – and the treasurer’s intervention does nothing to change that.


“A covert operative of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency conducted a secret affair with a senior Whitlam government minister who was of interest to America in the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal, according to a new book on the use and abuse of secrecy in Australia. Journalist Brian Toohey writes that the woman was the spouse of a US official and worked at an Australian university while she was also undercover for the CIA.”


“These are indeed dark times when our government and its agencies go out of their way to punish anyone who exposes wrongdoing – the quintessential work of journalism. And in the name of preserving Australia’s democratic freedoms and rule of law, time-honoured conventions are junked, lawyer–client privilege trashed, and justice not allowed to be seen to be done. Along the way, Australia’s commercial interest was conflated with our national security interest.”


“‘For almost 40 years, the AIS basketball program – now known as the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence – has produced generation after generation of elite athletes. If the Boomers secure their first medal at a major international tournament in September, having fallen just short at the 2016 Olympics, this success will be due in large part to the AIS.”


“Google’s YouTube agreed on Wednesday to pay a $170 million fine and limit ads on kids’ videos to settle claims that the company violated children’s privacy laws. The world’s largest video-sharing site agreed to pay the fine, which is a record for a children’s privacy case, of $136 million to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and $34 million New York State for failing to obtain parental consent in collecting data on kids under the age of 13, the FTC said.”


“The Australian government has released a discussion paper on Australia's Data Sharing and Release Legislative Reforms, tweaking what it proposed last year by removing a fundamental element of privacy -- consent. The paper proposes the Data Sharing and Release legislation not require consent for the sharing of personal information. ‘Instead, we are placing the responsibility on Data Custodians and Accredited Users to safely and respectfully share personal information where reasonably required for a legitimate objective,’ it says.”


“‘Tell me about volume,’ she asks, then follows up with an explanation of market capitalisation. Her listeners, clearly engaged, appear eager to weigh-in on what might cause a stock’s value to fluctuate. But this isn’t night school, or a local college class. Lookman is a project manager who founded and teaches at Camp Millionaire, and her dozen or so students are all children between the ages of 10 and 14. When she pulls up a financial summary for the Disney company showing, among other things, a serious dip in value in the recent past, one of the kids stage-whispers: ‘I bet that was when Aladdin came out.’”



Quiz Night - September 20
State Library of NSW, Sydney

Love the weekly ritual of The Saturday Paper Quiz? Now trivia fans can come together for a grand night of quizzing in partnership with the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

Participants will enjoy a three-course meal designed by Annie Smithers and drinks will be available to purchase from A Wine Service bar, curated by Blackhearts & Sparrows. Plus, there are great prizes to be won.

Stay tuned for future Quiz Night events around the country.

Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.