Monday, August 05, 2019

Suspects identified in US gun massacres

Two separate mass shootings in the United States have left at least 29 dead and 53 injured, with one attack linked to white supremacy and the other counting the suspected gunman’s sister among the victims. The first, a massacre in El Paso, Texas, saw a gunman fire into a crowded retail area close to the Mexican border. Local prosecutors have pledged to pursue the death penalty for 21-year-old suspect Patrick Crusius, with police investigating an online message purportedly from the shooter which claimed: “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Less than 13 hours later, police say that 24-year-old Connor Betts attacked a crowd outside a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio, wearing body armour and brandishing a high-calibre rifle. US President Donald Trump tweeted: “God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.” 

US Democratic Party presidential candidate and El Paso native Beto O'Rourke linked Trump to the first massacre. “Anybody who begins their campaign for the presidency by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals; anyone who, as president, describes asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border as an infestation or an invasion or animals; anyone who describes those who do not match the majority of this country as somehow inherently dangerous or defective; sows the kinds of fear, the kind of reaction that we saw in El Paso yesterday,” he said.

Bendigo woman Kerry Robertson, 61, has become the first person to end her life under Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act. Robertson, who was suffering from terminal breast cancer, formally requested to end her life 26 days ago. Two pharmacists delivered the lethal substance in a locked box to her nursing home room, and demonstrated how to use it. Her daughters Jacqui Hicks and Nicole Robertson were by her bedside as she consumed the substance, and told advocacy group Go Gentle Australia: “It was a beautiful, positive experience. It was the empowered death that she wanted.” The Victorian government expects up to 150 people a year will use the scheme, with Western Australia and Queensland considering similar legislation. Lifeline 13 11 14. 

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age report that the Morrison government is negotiating with the US Government to buy millions of barrels of oil under an emergency strategy to mitigate the risk of Australia plunging into an economic and national security crisis. The deal is an effort to shore up low domestic storage levels, which leaves the economy vulnerable to price hikes and rationing in the event of war in the Middle East. The announcement comes as Iranian state TV claims the country’s naval forces have seized a third foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on Sunday said the government was giving a US request for Australian support to patrol the region “very serious consideration”.

In men’s cricket, another remarkable performance from Steve Smith has turned the tables on England on day four of the first Ashes test at Edgbaston. In his second century in two innings since returning from a year-long ban, Smith’s 142-run knock transformed a solid England lead into a massive deficit, with Australia declaring at 7-487. The home team survived the seven final overs of the day to finish on 0-13, needing a further 397 runs on the final day.

The Latham Moment
Just on 15 years ago, almost half the country voted for Mark Latham. Now, the former Labor leader is a One Nation representative who could play a significant role in the new right.


“Australia’s law-enforcement agencies are sidestepping the courts to obtain the vast majority of their phone-tap and email interception warrants from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) – a body that has attracted criticism for the number of its political appointees, some without legal qualifications. Figures from the Home Affairs Department show more than three-quarters of the 3524 interception warrants that state and federal police and anti-corruption bodies obtained in a year were authorised by members of the AAT, not by judges.”


“Many imagine choosing a sperm donor as a flick through a thick catalogue of multiracial, square-jawed men with medical degrees – a United Colors of Benetton campaign with sperm motility counts. But in Australia the supply entering fertility clinics has slowed to a dribble. Superficially, this is because Australia requires more from its donors than other countries: before his proverbial 15 minutes in a back room with a Styrofoam cup, a donor has to agree that offspring produced from his bequest are able to identify him once they reach adulthood.”


“I made the choice to be a non-binary transgender person as much as every man made the choice to be a man, every woman to be a woman and every child to be born. Sure, there are choices I have made to ease the dysphoria I feel as a result of the way people read me – taking hormones has helped me express myself and my gender in a way that feels more truthful for me. But I am not a fad, a myth, or a predator in disguise.”


“Now the 18-month fight by Murrindindi residents against a hotel development at the foot of Victoria's high country has become embroiled in a corporate scandal of epic proportions. It features a shadowy international fugitive known as ‘Mr Chinatown’. Then there's the black-windowed SUVs idling, lost, up residents' driveways. Throw in some high-rolling Chinese gamblers, links to Crown casino and, for good measure, advertisements in Mandarin offering to make guests a ‘crack-shot hunting god’ on the trail of that great Australian game, the wombat.”



“Travelling retirees are being urged to brush up on their manners as small towns confront a nationwide increase in camping and caravan holidays. The pastime is experiencing double-digit growth in most states but some townsfolk say ‘grumpy’ seniors can leave them feeling overwhelmed at times.”



“Shane Singh, Playboy’s executive editor, explained that the underwater photo shoot, to be photographed that weekend, was for the magazine’s cover — but not in the way that older, leering readers might expect. ‘The water is meant to represent gender and sexual fluidity,’ Mr. Singh said, seated beneath a 1988 Herb Ritts portrait of Cindy Crawford. The women who would pose in that water — their limbs wrapped around one another in a balletlike pose — were not simply models but activists. One uses performance art and digital media to share stories about the H.I.V. epidemic. Another is an underwater dancer who promotes ocean conservation. The third, a Belgian artist, recently filmed herself walking naked through a Hasidic neighborhood of Brooklyn during a sacred holiday. (An angry mob chased her out.)”


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