Monday, September 23, 2019

Ex-SAS soldier under AFP investigation

The highly decorated former Australian soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, is being investigated by federal police for allegedly kicking a handcuffed Afghan man off a small cliff before he was shot dead. The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes report that Australian Federal Police are investigating the Victoria Cross winner over accusations that he picked farmer Ali Jan Jan out of a group of detainees and kicked him off the cliff “like a scene from the movie 300”, with another soldier suspected of shooting dead the injured man a short time later. Jan was part of a group of men arrested as members of the Australian Special Air Service searched for Afghan army sergeant Hekmatullah, who had killed three Australian soldiers. Jan’s wife has called for justice over the incident. Roberts-Smith categorically denied all wrongdoing ($). The allegations come as special forces soldiers gave evidence about the executions of at least four prisoners, in breach of the Geneva conventions. 

Morrison and Trump: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly backed ($) US president Donald Trump’s plan to hold out for bigger concessions from China rather than accept a partial deal to end the trade war between the countries. “It’s got to be a durable outcome; it’s going to deal with the real issues that are there in their relationship,” he said in Washington DC, where he received a state dinner at the White House. The Wall Street Journal ($) reported that Morrison tried to invite a controversial Hillsong preacher to the event but was rebuffed. Morrison will wrap up his US trip, which has seen discussions over space missions and Australia's military commitments in the Middle East, by joining Trump to open Australian cardboard entrepreneur Anthony Pratt's factory in Ohio, a state critical to Trump’s election chances

Record temperatures: A new report will be presented to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday showing that the average global temperature for 2015–2019 is on track to be the 1.1°C above pre-industrial averages, the warmest of any equivalent period on record. The United in Science report notes the period saw widespread heatwaves, fires, cyclones, floods, drought, and sea-level rise, and that countries need to increase their emissions reductions targets fivefold to keep the world within 1.5°C of warming. The event comes after the biggest climate protest in history on Friday. 

Rugby Union: Wallabies winger Reece Hodge has been cited for a dangerous tackle on flanker Peceli Yato during Australia’s 39-21 victory over Fiji at the Rugby World Cup in Japan on Saturday. Citing commissioner John Montgomery of Scotland ruled the 25-year-old had a case to answer for the tackle, which forced the Fijian star from the field with concussion. Hodge is to attend an independent judicial committee hearing in Tokyo, on a date still to be determined. The Wallabies play their next match against Wales in Tokyo on Sunday.

Inside the Tanya Day inquest
Tanya Day died after being arrested for drunkenness. A coroner is now asking whether systemic racism contributed to her death.


“Jacqui Lambie came in from the goat farm, washed the smell off her hands and collected her messages. Two people lay in waiting – foes in life but side by side in Lambie’s voicemail. First was Gillian Triggs – former head of the Human Rights Commission, and now assistant secretary-general of the United Nations on refugee matters. Triggs had left a long message. She knew Lambie to be a compassionate person. She hoped to persuade her to resist the repeal of the medevac laws that give doctors more say over bringing refugees in offshore detention to Australia for treatment. The next message was briefer. ‘Jacqui, Peter Dutton here.’ Would Lambie please ring him?” 


“In the past, it was always a feather in the cap of a prime minister to be able to strike up a close personal relationship with the incumbent US president. Scott Morrison seems almost apologetic for the star treatment he is receiving from Trump ... Before he flew off, Morrison was keen to stress how the importance of the relationship between our two nations transcends leaders’ personalities. And he insisted in a number of interviews that he would be pursuing Australia’s interests. But the Chinese don’t believe it; they see Trump as the puppetmaster. Cartoons in Chinese state media certainly portray it this way.”


“She was 50, wearing jeans and a tank top at a Toronto nightclub, when a man assaulted her on the dance floor. ‘I had exactly two thoughts: “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me” and “This is still happening?’” she writes in her new book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. This time she tackled the aggressor to the floor, sat on him and punched him repeatedly. Her partner, her ‘beloved’ as she calls him in the book, stopped two men beside him who were moving to break it up. ‘She’s got this,’ he told them, confidently.”


“The Morrison government wants to settle more refugees in country towns to stop Sydney and Melbourne from becoming overly congested ‘megacities’, Population Minister Alan Tudge says. In a speech to be delivered at The Sydney Morning Herald's population summit, Mr Tudge will outline the federal government's plan to ease the pressure on major cities from Australia's expanded population – which he said had ‘underpinned our GDP growth’.”


“The Tamil family spent four years residing in this small Queensland community, 120 kilometres south-west of Gladstone. Nades had taken up a not-very-sought-after job at the local meatworks, and both he and Priya contributed to Biloela society in myriad ways, forging deep and abiding bonds. According to our prime minister, ‘if you have a go, you get a go.’ As it turns out, this maxim doesn’t apply to everyone.”


“Matthew McCurry, the paleontology curator at the Australian Museum, says that ‘some of the weirdest features’ of the animals were their forelimbs. The elbows of Palorchestes azael, the largest of the three extinct marsupials examined in the study, were locked at an obtuse angle at all times, as if reaching out for a handshake.”


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