Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Boris Johnson wins race to become British Prime Minister

Boris Johnson will today become the new British prime minister, after comfortably winning a ballot of Conservative party members to replace Theresa May as leader. Johnson defeated rival candidate Jeremy Hunt 92,153 votes to 46,656. In his victory speech, Johnson, who led the campaign for Britain to exit Europe at the 2016 referendum, pledged to deliver Brexit by the October 31 deadline and “take advantage of all the opportunities” it offers. “We are once again going to believe in ourselves, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy ropes of self doubt and negativity,” he said. Johnson pledged to leave Europe this year even in the event of a no-deal, despite fears that it could lead to empty supermarket shelves and medicine shortages. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted that he wanted to work with Johnson on the basis that both sides were committed to facilitating “the ratification of the withdrawal agreement” reached by former prime minister May, a deal that Johnson has described as dead. Congratulations came in from around the world, including from US president Donald Trump, who described Johnson as “Britain's Trump”.

BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie has unveiled a $570m climate investment program to reduce emissions in the face of what he described as the “existential” threat of climate change. BHP’s direct and indirect emissions totalled 596.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide for the fiscal year — the equivalent of the emissions produced in a year by 126 million cars or 153 coal-fired power plants, according to the US EPA calculator. Environmental non-profit Market Forces on Tuesday described BHP's commitment to cutting its direct emissions in line with the goals of the Paris agreement as "encouraging", but said the company was "pulling the wool over anyone who now believes the company will do the same” for its indirect emissions. The announcement comes as a new report by the Australia Institute finds Queensland’s mining royalties regime gives “effective subsidies” to low-quality thermal coal exporters. That includes Adani’s Carmichael project, described by forensic accounting specialist professor Sandra van der Laan as “a corporate collapse waiting to happen”.

Two teenage boys first categorised as missing in northern Canada are now suspects in the murder of Australian man Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24. The two were found shot dead on July 15 on a highway in northern British Columbia. The two teenagers – Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18 – are also wanted in relation to the murder of an unidentified man found dead near their abandoned burning vehicle.

In sport, Chinese swimmer Sun Yang's second gold medal at the 2019 world championships has been marred by controversy again, days after Australian Mack Horton refused to share the podium with him over doping allegations. Yang won gold in the men’s 200 metre freestyle after Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys was disqualified, before clashing with Britain's Duncan Scott during the medal ceremony. Scott, who finished joint third, refused to shake hands with Sun, who responded by telling the British swimmer: “You’re a loser. I’m winning, yes.”

High-rise catastrophe
A softening in the housing market has shown up defects and flaws that were being hidden by demand. Debra Jopson on how housing became an asset and what that means for the past decade of construction.


“Robert Gottliebsen, a business columnist for The Australian, was also present. He says he played a ‘not insignificant role’ in rebranding the franking credits reform as a ‘retirement and pensioners’ tax. As he wrote later, in an article that claimed Labor’s loss was planned at this meeting: ‘Retirees don’t march in the street but they belong to connected organisations which enable them to become a massive political force if they are aroused.’”


“Cai Guo-Qiang is an incendiary artist in the literal sense of the word. He works with gunpowder. The most serenely beautiful of his works contain a destructive edge and doubtless stir up the conservative ‘Call that art?’ brigade in his homeland China.”


“It is true that I have advocated renewable energy for years and there are more than 80 wind farms in Australia, with two more under way in Tasmania. None of the 80 was built without any social or environmental cost. All are part of the world’s dire need to replace burning fossil fuels with renewable energy in our era of climate emergency. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Robbins Island is on the wrong side of the ledger and I look forward to independent studies of all its costs and benefits.”


“And sure enough, this new ‘Lion King’ turns out to be a dead-eyed Stepford safari of a movie from which all personality and cinematic vitality appear to have been drained away, until only its cold technological ambition remains. Photo-realism, it should come as no surprise, isn’t the most accommodating aesthetic when it comes to hula-dancing meerkats. But neither does it seem to have much use for camp, theatricality or surrealism of any kind, all qualities that the original ‘Lion King’ — and for that matter, its hugely popular Broadway incarnation — had in spades.”


“‘We love this word Medicare, it’s like Bambi,’ Mr Fitzgibbon said. ‘I don’t want to be seen as the one who wants to shoot Bambi, but I think there’s a better way of delivering universal healthcare which is more efficient and fairer.’ The same demographic reality is what led to the introduction of compulsory superannuation, Mr Fitzgibbon said, while also arguing that privatising the Medicare ‘monopoly’ and adding competition would create a more efficient system.”


“Two pro-meat activists have been fined after eating raw squirrel carcasses – with the fur still on – at a vegan market stall in Soho, London. Deonisy Khlebnikov, 22, and Gatis Lagzdins, 29, both from London, were filmed biting into the squirrels at the food stand on Rupert Street on 30 March this year. The two men were reportedly asked to stop eating the animals by the parent of a distressed child, but continued eating the raw rodents.”


Your chance to win a double pass to Griffin Theatre | City of Gold

The Saturday Paper invites readers in New South Wales to enter the draw for the chance to win one of three double passes to see Griffin Theatre’s City of Gold, a howl of rage at the injustice, inequality and wilful amnesia of this country’s 21st century. It’s an urgent play for our moment from a vital new voice, starring playwright Meyne Wyatt (The Sapphires, Redfern Now, Mystery Road).

The performance will take place at 7pm on Tuesday, July 30, at the SBW Stables Theatre in Sydney. Entries close at 11pm (AEST) on Thursday, July 25.

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