Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Hong Kong protesters stage dramatic escape

Dozens of Hong Kong protesters have made a bold escape from a police siege of a university campus. The anti-government protesters used ropes to lower themselves from a footbridge onto waiting motorcycles, as thousands of others approached the Polytechnic University campus in an effort to break the siege. Some protesters remain trapped on campus. Earlier on Monday, protesters who attempted to leave were hit with tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons. The police have indicated that live rounds may be used after a Sunday attempt to clear the university, which has become a fortified operations hub for the protesters. The campus has been designated a “riot” zone by police — a charge of rioting carries up to 10 years in prison. China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, said the mainland government had the “resolution and power” to end the unrest if necessary. The news comes as former prime ministers Paul Keating and Tony Abbott put forward alternative views of Australia’s future relationship with China.    

Coal closures: Energy company Alinta has said the low cost of renewables could see it close its largest coal-fired power station, Loy Yang B, much earlier than planned, reports the ABC. Energy Minister Angus Taylor, meanwhile, has told The Australian that at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting he will demand energy ­reliability standards that could trigger legal obligations on major retailers to source more power from coal, gas and hydro. The news comes as a new study finds the world is emitting the potent ozone-depleting greenhouse gas nitrous oxide in much higher quantities than estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Charity status revoked: Animal rights group Aussie Farms has had its charity status revoked, following an investigation by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The group provoked controversy in January after publishing an online database of farm addresses across Australia, prompting then-Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to say they didn't deserve their charitable status. Aussie Farms can appeal the decision, but investigation findings will not be released due to secrecy provisions.

Assange extradition: Julian Assange has been provided a computer in prison unsuitable to work on his extradition hearing, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court has heard. Speaking outside court, a member of Assange’s team claimed the computer was unlikely to have internet access. Judge Vanessa Baraitser said she had no jurisdiction over his conditions in prison, and extended his remand in the maximum-security HM Prison Belmarsh. If extradited to the United States, Assange could face decades in prison for leaking US government secrets. The news comes as La Repubblica reports new details on the surveillance video of Assange’s quarters in the Ecuadorian embassy allegedly provided by a Spanish security company to US intelligence agencies, and ahead of a Swedish Prosecution Authority update this week on a probe into a 2010 rape allegation against the Wikileaks founder.

Changing consent law
A review of consent laws in New South Wales is recommending changes to how juries interpret sexual assaults and the onus that is placed on defendants. Bri Lee on the response from frontline organisations and the woman whose case triggered the inquiry.


“The quote you are about to read did not come from Scott Morrison, although our prime minister repeatedly invoked the same sentiments this week, every time someone asked him about the role of climate change in eastern Australia’s unprecedented bushfires. ‘This sort of response isn’t helpful. Families are mourning. Offer a prayer and temper your desire for politics …’ Nor is this next quote from New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who deemed it ‘inappropriate’ to talk about the causes of climate change while her state was burning: ‘This is a time for people to grieve, to mourn, and to heal. This is not a time for political discussions or public policy debates.’  ... Actually, the quotes come from the United States’ National Rifle Association.”


“I’m no defender of George Pell’s. As David Marr’s researcher for his 2013 essay examining Pell’s complicity in the Australian church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse, I was very open to suggestions that he might have been more directly implicated. But as well as providing avenues for successful prosecutions, the justice system must afford people – even people we don’t like – opportunities to defend themselves against allegations that cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt.”


“Bonham Carter even contacted Princess Margaret through a psychic medium to get permission to portray her, which is possibly the most Helena Bonham Carter act imaginable. It’s a welcome departure to see the actress grounded in realism and drama once more, while still sparkling and delighting as the troubled princess. Her pairing with a more muted Colman elevates the royal sisters’ rivalry to new, complex heights.”


“Professor McFarlane said we have a clear idea of how many veterans suffer from PTSD. The psychiatrist was the author of a landmark study that looked into the mental health of veterans who left the defence forces between 2010 and 2015 — about 25,000 people. Of that group, Professor McFarlane found 17 per cent — a little more than 4,200 people — suffered from PTSD.”


“Shell-shocked veterans will have their post-combat trauma eased by a half-billion-dollar expansion of the Australian War Memorial, according to the institution's outgoing director. Brendan Nelson, who ends his term this year, believes a key contributor to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a lack of proper recognition of military service.”


“Meetings at work should be seen as a form of ‘therapy’ rather than about decision-making, say researchers. Academics from the University of Malmo in Sweden say meetings provide an outlet for people at work to show off their status or to express frustration. Professor Patrik Hall says they are becoming increasingly frequent - as more managerial and ‘strategy’ jobs generate more meetings. But he says despite there being more meetings ‘few decisions are made’.”

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