Tuesday, August 27, 2019

G7 agree on limited aid for Amazon

The G7 leaders’ summit in France has agreed to deliver a $29 million package of aid to fight massive fires burning across the Amazon rainforest. The amount – around the same outlay as the cost of the summit itself – would be complemented by the creation of a reforestation program to be unveiled at next month’s UN climate meeting in New York, according to French President Emmanuel Macron. The agreement was reached at a session on climate, which US President Donald Trump failed to attend. The aid package came despite Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro implying on social media that Macron’s wife is less attractive than his own, in comments Macron described as “extremely disrespectful”. Richard George, the head of forests for Greenpeace UK, said the financial contribution was “chump change, especially as the crisis in the Amazon is directly linked to overconsumption of meat and dairy in the UK and other G7 countries”. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the G7 talks as an observer, meeting with several world leaders, including talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding a post-Brexit trade deal.

Speaking of financial aid: The first day of an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into NSW Labor heard allegations that Chinese real estate billionaire Huang Xiangmo gave $100,000 in cash to a senior Labor Party official in 2015. The inquiry is looking at question marks surrounding receipts for 20 cash donations of $5000 at a fundraising event, with some donors reporting they only paid $500. The hearing also included details of a witness who took his own life the weekend before a scheduled private hearing. Lifeline: 13 11 14

On the subject of concerning numbers: A survey of 4600 state school pupils in NSW and Victoria has found one in five African students has been threatened by another student, and nearly half of East Asian students have been called names. The Australian National University study found discrimination came from both students and teachers. In one case, Tanzanian Year 11 student Emmanuel Asante said being called a “black monkey” contributed to his depression. 

In sport: Australian tennis star Ashleigh Barty has survived an unexpectedly tough first-round encounter at the US Open in New York to defeat unseeded Kazakh Zarina Diyas, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.  The world No. 2 relied on the strength of her serve to come back from losing the first set. In the second round she is set to face either unseeded American Lauren Davis or Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson.

Scott Morrison’s middle class
Scott Morrison says the middle class doesn’t trust the public service. The problem - as Rick Morton reports - is available research says the opposite.


“Australia’s conservative organs have almost all embraced a mythology, by turns unhinged and incoherent, that seeks to turn Pell from an offender into a martyr. Before the summary was even publicly available, columnists were filing stories that decried a miscarriage of justice. This followed a pattern established long before the guilty verdict.”


“When John Howard announced his gun buyback, it was Fischer who joined him and stared down his own constituency. He did so not because Howard needed the numbers but because it was right. He argued with Nationals voters in towns where his own effigy hung.”


“Bob Murphy subscribes to the notion that athletes die twice, and two years after his own sporting expiration he’s doing just fine. For all of his whimsy, the Bulldogs great knows that your mid-30s is past time to grow up. ‘It’s a bit like the end of childhood,’ he says. ‘There’s a bit of sadness there but, jeez, I was 35. That’s a long childhood.’”


“The Gomeroi Traditional Custodians failed in a bid to have sacred sites in north-west New South Wales preserved and protected from development due to cultural importance. The land near Gunnedah had already been earmarked for the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine, which gained conditional federal approval in 2015 and has state development consents. Ms Ley rejected their application on the grounds that the potential jobs generated from the mine were more important than cultural preservation.”


“It is just 17 years old, but that hasn’t stopped Federation Square being added to the state’s heritage register in recognition of its cultural significance to Victoria. Monday's decision does not stop the square from being altered in the future but dramatic changes must now be approved by the Heritage Council, an independent group appointed by the state government. The square has divided opinions since opening in 2002, but debate over its future ignited in 2017 after the Andrews government announced it would allow demolition of one of the civic space’s key buildings to make way for an Apple store.”


“Next they supplemented the diet of a crow population in rural Clinton, New York, with a high-cholesterol human food, cheeseburgers, calling in orders of 100 McDonald’s cheeseburgers at a time. ‘They thought we were joking,’ Townsend says. The Clinton area crows gobbled up the three burgers a day that researchers put under nesting trees, with some adults delivering burgers to the nestlings and some eating or storing the food for themselves.”


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