Thursday, June 20, 2019

Four charged with murder over MH17

Nearly half a decade after the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, four suspects have been charged with the murder of 298 people on board an aircraft that included 38 Australian passengers. International arrest warrants have been issued for Russian trio Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. The Dutch-led joint investigation team have charged the four with taking a BUK-M1 missile launcher into Ukraine that was used to shoot down the Boeing 777 as it flew over territory held by pro-Russian separatists while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014. The Russian and Ukrainian constitutions forbid the extradition of their nationals for criminal trials, so the suspects will be tried in absentia under Dutch law when the trial begins at The Hague on March 9, 2020. Chief prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the three Russian suspects have military and intelligence backgrounds, with the most senior being Girkin, a former colonel in the Federal Security Service. He added that investigators have "evidence showing that Russia provided the missile launcher".  Russia's Foreign Ministry described the claims as "absolutely hollow”.

Asylum seeker advocates are celebrating World Refugee Day today on the back of a key Federal Court ruling allowing the medical evacuation of a critically ill 29-year-old Iraqi man from Nauru. On Tuesday the federal court overturned the Home Affairs Department’s effort to block the transfer on the basis that the asylum seeker had not spoken with a doctor. Justice Mordecai Bromberg ruled that doctors don’t have to speak to a patient in order to make a medical assessment, in what is being hailed as an important precedent. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told the ABC that the court's ruling would make travelling to Australia by boat more attractive, and he would continue with plans to scrap the laws, passed by Labor and crossbenchers in February. Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally dismissed Dutton’s narrative about restarting the boats, pointing out that the legislation only applied to people already on Manus Island and Nauru.

A United Nations investigation has found that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the gruesome assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate last year, and that there is “credible evidence” implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Agnes Callamard, a special rapporteur for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, found that Khashoggi was the victim of a “deliberate, premeditated execution” and may have been tortured. “Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances,” Callamard wrote. “Every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the crown prince being aware, at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr Khashoggi, was being launched.”

A new report from thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions suggests the Northern Territory could harness the power of clean energy worth more than $2 billion in revenue by 2030. The 10 Gigawatt Vision plan would create more than 8000 jobs, which report authors argued would exceed employment forecasts from a proposed NT fracking industry, and prevent more than 20 billion tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. The report suggests incentives for renewable-powered downstream minerals processing and manufacturing, goals for mines to transition to 100 per cent clean energy and electric machinery by 2030, and backing for Indigenous communities to be equity partners in zero-carbon developments.



“Like so many others, Kirby hid his homosexuality – ‘I went along with that for a long time’. It was his partner, Johan van Vloten, who decided enough was enough. ‘We have to get rid of this,’ he said. ‘It is ridiculous, nothing will ever change while we go on conspiring in the ignorance of the straight majority by pretending we are straight.’ At the time Kirby argued it would be better not to reveal the truth until after he left the High Court. There is a great deal of ‘institutional feeling that you mustn’t do anything that would damage the court’. Yet, it is precisely because he was a member of the court that ultimately he thought reality should be faced.”


“Nobes paints a picture of an unsupported, exhausted workforce, unable to provide decent care with the scant resources they are given. There were often no cleaning products, continence aids or wipes to clean residents’ bodies, forcing workers to use wet paper towels. Nobes would sometimes be the only aged-care worker in charge of a floor of 18 male residents, some of whom had a history of violence and sexual disinhibition. When she complained about being headbutted, punched, kicked and threatened, her superior shrugged and said, ‘That’s dementia.’”


“Any parent these days will know the term 'inside voice', a plea with the kids to keep it down inside the house. In The Female Persuasion, Wolitzer playfully turns the notion on its head, speaking of women embracing their 'outside voices'. For Wolitzer – and her characters – this notion centres on speaking her mind without being afraid of repercussions, and it’s as much about fiction as about being in the world.”


“Collingwood's premiership push has received a huge blow, with emerging star Jaidyn Stephenson banned for 10 matches and fined $20,000 for betting on three AFL games involving his club. The 2018 Rising Star Award winner was banned for 22 matches but 12 of those games were suspended. 'This is the toughest penalty imposed under our wagering rules,' AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said. An AFL statement confirmed the 12-match suspended sanction would apply for the remainder of Stephenson's career.”


“With one hand, they slap down Stephenson for his $36 betting spree. With the other, they take an estimated $10 million from online bookmaker Beteasy. At $36, it is recklessness. At $10 million, it is good business. With one hand, they preach moderation in gambling. With the other, they wave through a gambling advertising blitz on TV, radio, in print media, online, all over the AFL's own website and at the grounds, unrelenting and inescapable, until your head spins like poker machine wheels. Gamble responsibly? How about advertise responsibly?”


“A Norwegian island is campaigning to get rid of the concept of time, allowing residents to do ‘what we want, when we want’. Citizens of Sommaroy in West Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle, argue that normal business hours should not apply to them because they do not experience time like the majority of the rest of the world. The sun doesn’t rise in winter or set in summer on Sommaroy, leading most of the island’s 300 residents to back a bid for it to become the world’s first time-free zone.”

Gaming the gaming industry
Australia records higher losses from gambling than any country in the world. Our politics encourages the industry for the sake of tax revenues.

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