Monday, June 29, 2020

SAS boss concedes war crimes

Special Forces Commander Major General Adam Findlay has admitted that Australian soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, according to leaked records of a secret military briefing. Findlay claimed “there are guys who criminally did something” at a SAS headquarters briefing to soldiers in Perth in March on the results of a war crimes probe into the SAS, reports 60 Minutes and The Age. Findlay added that war crimes had been covered up, blaming “poor moral leadership up the chain of command.” Senior New South Wales court of appeal judge Paul Brereton is investigating 55 serious alleged war crimes in an inquiry, but details have so far remained hidden from the public. Justice Brereton is expected to deliver his report in coming weeks. One incident under investigation is the alleged murder of Afghan farmer and father of seven, Haji Sardar, in 2012.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston have threatened to name, shame and defund organisations that refuse to sign up to the child sexual abuse redress scheme. In a letter to organisations named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but yet to join the scheme, Morrison and Rushton said the institutions could have their charitable status revoked. The organisations, which include the Jehovah's Witnesses and several Catholic groups, have until June 30 to declare their intent to join the scheme. Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse could miss out on compensation if organisations fail to sign up, a situation that currently is delaying 103 applications.  

The Federal Government should inject $70 billion to $90 billion in extra economic stimulus to recover from the Covid-19 downturn, according to a new report from thinktank the Grattan Institute. The report recommends spending on social housing and infrastructure projects to get hundreds of thousands of Australians back to work. JobKeeper should be expanded to include university staff, casual workers, and temporary migrants, and extended beyond September for businesses in affected industries. It also recommends increasing the Child Care Subsidy, telehealth support, and transport reforms to reflect likely changes to patterns of work in a “with-COVID” world. It comes as a report by Beyond Zero Emissions says practical projects to decarbonise the economy could keep 355,000 people in work each year, reports Guardian Australia.

As countries attempt to ease lockdowns and establish a new normal, more than 10 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 500,000 deaths have been officially recorded around the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.  The United States has recorded 2,510,323 cases the highest in the world. Brazil, with 1,313,667 recorded cases, and Russia, with 633,542, have the world’s second and third highest number of infections. Australia has recorded 104 deaths from 7686 cases. It is thought the tallies reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.


“Two days before the ABC confirmed that up to 250 jobs will be cut across the organisation, the federal government finalised a $200,000 offer for consultants to prepare a report on news and media business models looking specifically at the impact of public broadcasters ‘on commercial operators’ … As it happens, a key requirement of the research, due before the end of August, is also a hobby horse of the ABC’s commercial rivals.”


“There’s also the fact that three of the six areas in Melbourne identified as having outbreaks have large migrant populations, and Cowie says it’s clear the public health messaging has somewhat failed these communities. A factor in this might be a minor bureaucratic difference, he says. ‘In Victoria, all infectious disease notifications come through one central office and are responded to centrally, while in New South Wales they have local health districts and each of those local health districts have a public health unit who are responsible for the surveillance and response to notifiable diseases,’ he says.”


“Australia’s revision of ethnic food from abject to exciting only remixes old colonial tropes of encountering otherness in the wild. In a recent episode of MasterChef: Back to Win ... Cooper, introduced by the judges as a ‘master’ and revolutioniser of Thai cuisine, described his curry as ‘spicy and a bit feral’ ... eating otherness is – for the white food adventurer – more intense, exciting and dangerous than eating European cuisine. By becoming a ‘master’ and ‘revolutioniser’ of Thai cuisine, Cooper has dared to discover otherness in the wild, and tamed it into a dish suitable for fine dining.”


“The Morrison government will provide 107 publishers and broadcasters with a share of $50 million in funding to support news services for regional Australians. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the 2020-21 funding for applicants to the Public Interest News Gathering program would assist media businesses serving regional and remote parts of Australia.”


“Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has defended not passing on a request from the ABC's managing director for extra regional funding during last summer's bushfire season … Insider Host David Speers said he had obtained a letter from the NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro to the prime minister and deputy prime minister saying ignoring this funding request for regional areas was ‘incomprehensible’.”


“Publican Jack Brereton said he'd never experienced a downturn like COVID-19 in his 19 years at the hotel in Longley, south-west of Hobart … so when a group of locals called him and wanted to install a giant coronavirus bonfire in front of the pub he said he got pretty excited.”

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