Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Trump pressed Morrison for investigation help

US President Trump pushed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help gather information to discredit the investigation into collusion with Russia, according to two American officials. The New York Times reports that officials claim to have knowledge of a call in which Trump asked Morrison for help with a Justice Department inquiry into the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election, which began after Australian officials alerted the FBI. One of the officials said that in an unusual move, the White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of the president’s aides. 

Trump impeachment: Trump has suggested the lawmaker leading the impeachment inquiry against him should be arrested for “treason”. On Monday Trump said that Democratic Representative Adam Schiff had told lies “in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber” in relation to Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the son of former Vice-President Joe Biden. The whistleblower who first revealed the issue has agreed to testify but fears for his safety. Two Ukrainians named in the report that triggered the impeachment inquiry said that Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudi Giuliani, actively pushed for an investigation into dealings by his political rivals in the Ukraine. Sergeii Leschenko, an advisor to Zelensky, told CNN that Giuliani started applying pressure to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden shortly after Zelensky’s election in April 2019.

Media freedom compromised: Attorney-General Christian Porter’s solution to protect journalists from prosecution will further compromise freedom of the press, warns the Law Council of Australia. In the wake of police raids on the ABC and the home of a News Corp journalist, Porter issued a direction under the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Act that prosecution of a journalist in relation to national security must have his approval “as a separate and additional safeguard”. Law Council of Australia President Arthur Moses SC told the ABC the direction "puts the Attorney-General, who after all is a politician, in the position of authorising prosecutions of journalists in situations where they may have written stories critical of his Government. It creates an apprehension on the part of journalists that they will need to curry favour with the Government.” 

Australian dependence on China: China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng ­Jingye, has urged a reduction in “prejudices and suspicions” in an interview with The Australian. Cheng said Australia should ­remember it depends on China for its economic success. “You have been talking about your continuous economic growth, for the past 28 years,” he said. “It seems sometimes, some people forget what are the reasons behind that.” The interview comes as The Australian Financial Review reports ($) Australia's share in the value of exports to China reached a record 38 per cent, or $117 billion. China will today celebrate the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule, which will see one of its biggest military parades in Beijing and a pageant involving 100,000 performers, as well as attempts by Hong Kong authorities to ban protests for the day, and China doubling its troop numbers in the territory.

Late monsoon: More than 100 people have died in India in unusually late monsoon rains, officials said on Monday. The heavy rain submerged streets, houses, and even hospital wards, with photos showing patients lying on hospital beds in dirty rainwater. The annual monsoon usually lasts from June to September, with this September on track to be the wettest in 102 years, according to the Times of India.

Part two: The sentencing of Jaymes Todd
The judge who sentenced Jaymes Todd for the rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon was asked to consider Todd’s age, autism diagnosis and early guilty plea.


“Other videos filtered out in the days that followed, in moments when the internet wasn’t shut down, along with photos of the bloodied bodies of Papuans caught up in the violence. Panicked crowds fleeing the crackling gunfire as the Indonesian security forces moved in; mass arrests, with hundreds of students forced to lie on the ground with their hands on their heads, armed Indonesian troops and police watching over them. In one clip, a young man who identifies as a student in Papua’s coastal capital, Jayapura, details his injuries: his arm hit by a rubber bullet, head struck by a rifle and length of wood, choked, kicked in the ribs five times. A bloodied bandage sits low across his eye.” 


“In 2015, Shoalhaven councillors solved the problem by voting to plan for a future in which sea-level rise will not be so bad after all: an alternative reality, where Shoalhaven remains unscathed from the worst impacts of climate change ... The council had commissioned an expert report, and then tossed most of it out, taking the advice of an American climate-change denial advocacy organisation backed by the fossil-fuel industry, and the advice of a group of property owners whose land value was impacted by the expert report’s findings. ‘It was horrifying,’ says Stevenson. ‘I mean, it was just crap policy.’”


“We’re sitting at the head of the glossy, imposing table in the boardroom of Richmond’s ‘Tigerland’ headquarters. Dwarfed by the oil painting of the club’s team of the century consuming the wall behind her, O’Neal is generous and calm, in a way only a football fan whose club is onto something good can be. Outside the wide windows, a mild and sunny spring day makes the Punt Road oval seem a site of September possibility.”


“As Australia grapples with extended drought across the country – in many places, the worst on record – the Coalition has been talking up its $7bn drought package in support of ‘struggling farming families’. Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon has called it the ‘most audacious lie’ he has ever heard in politics, saying very little of the $7bn is actually hitting the ground in drought-affected communities.”


“The Morrison government is being forced to review all 123 councils eligible for drought relief after it admitted it used the wrong weather data to award a million dollars to a waterlogged Victorian shire. Councillors in Moyne Shire were shocked to learn that they were one of 13 additional local government areas to win a slice of the $100 million drought relief package, after experiencing one of its best seasons in years.”


“The news, like a vagina, is a delicate ecosystem. This isn’t my analogy; it comes compliments of Brooke Binkowski, the managing editor of the fact-checking, hoax-debunking website Snopes. ‘I compared fake news in one interview to a yeast infection. I was talking to a dude, and he went really silent ... If it gets overrun with a bad fungus in the form of fake news, the balance gets upset and it becomes extremely uncomfortable—and very difficult for the entire body politic,’ she says. ‘And so you have to flush it out. Not flush it out, you have to...I think my analogy just fell flat.’ ‘Cleanse it gently?’ I suggest. ‘Yes!’ she replies. ‘Cleanse it gently. With real news.’”


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