Friday, November 06, 2020

MAGA swarms election offices

Supporters of US President Donald Trump have converged on election offices around the country to protest the counting of mail-in ballots, as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden closes in on victory. There were reports that some supporters in Arizona were armed. In Michigan, where Trump once held an early lead, protesters demanded officials cease counting votes at a Detroit election facility, while others gathered outside a ballot-counting office in Phoenix, Arizona, where Trump is catching up to Biden, to instead insist that counting continue. Republicans also protested in Philadelphia, where Biden is on pace to overcome Trump’s Pennsylvania lead, and a local judge granted the Trump campaign the right to more closely observe ballot counting. In New York, Seattle and Los Angeles, progressives marched against Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Biden is also closing in on Trump in Georgia, where a judge dismissed a lawsuit from the Trump campaign over absentee ballots. Trump is filing a federal lawsuit in Nevada, where he remains narrowly behind.

An inquiry into Crown Resorts Limited’s New South Wales casino licence has heard that the gambling giant is not fit to hold the licence, given its failure to protect staff overseas in recent years. Counsel assisting the inquiry Adam Bell, SC, laid out several options in his final submissions, including the cancellation or suspension of the licence, a penalty of up to $1 million, amending the terms or conditions of the licence, or simply issuing a letter of censure. The inquiry was also told that billionaire shareholder James Packer should no longer be considered suitable to be a close associate of Crown. Despite a decision on the inquiry not being due until February 2021, Crown plans to continue to open a new harbourside Barangaroo casino in December.

Victoria on Thursday recorded its sixth consecutive day without any coronavirus deaths or new infections. The state had just 30 active infections on Wednesday, the lowest number since the government began counting them in March. Premier Daniel Andrews said the decision of NSW on Wednesday to reopen its border with Victoria on November 23 was a ringing endorsement of the state's ability to manage and suppress Covid-19 outbreaks. Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry will today hand down its interim report.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has resigned in order to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at a special court based in The Hague. Thaci announced his resignation at a news conference on Thursday. According to a draft indictment revealed in June, while he commanded fighters in the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998-1999 war Thaci and nine others were involved “nearly 100 murders” and other atrocities against “hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities”. Jakup Krasniqi, another Kosovo politician, was arrested on Thursday and transferred to The Hague, the Kosovo war crimes tribunal said in a statement.

Trump’s last stand
Protests have broken out across the US in response to Donald Trump’s attempts to cling to power. Today, Oscar Schwartz on what a potential Biden presidency could look like, and whether Trump will succeed in hijacking the result.

“Has Donald Trump’s preposterous presidency of the United States come to an end? Maybe. But even if Trump himself is no longer in the White House, his millions of supporters – fed an endless banquet of alternative facts, venomous opinion, and bilious rage and resentment – are still in the towns and suburbs, still tuning in to Fox News and logging onto Breitbart … troubling questions in Australia, too, where Rupert Murdoch has successfully imported the Fox News format into a cable channel, Sky News Australia, which has become the local televisual vanguard of the new right-wing revolution.”

“The reasons for the lack of trust were clear. They speak to deeper problems in the culture and processes of ASIC, one of Australia’s most important law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The context and the likely consequences of the scandal will affect us all. Less than two years after a royal commission found Australia’s financial institutions were guilty of appalling misconduct, the banks are back on top – with the ear of government and largely getting their way.”

“‘Shifting to takeaway only, he delivered some of the orders himself, and even offered to play an at-home concert to a lucky group who ordered the more premium tasting menu option. Shewry’s performance, he admits, was ‘truly shocking’, but he was floored by the response – the group’s kids even came outside to watch the show. ‘They haven’t heard enough music yet to know the difference between good and bad,’ says Shewry. This impromptu concert reflects the chef’s approach in the face of so much uncertainty: have fun and don’t forget the community.”

“A Melbourne man with deep links to Beijing's overseas influence arm has become the first person charged under Australia’s landmark foreign interference laws. The arrest of Di Sanh Duong, a former Liberal Party candidate, comes as relations between China and Australia have deteriorated to the worst point in decades.”

“Former treasurer and US ambassador Joe Hockey has made the baseless claim that there was ‘fraud’ in the presidential election, citing standard voting statistics as evidence of tampering. It comes as Coalition MP George Christensen is fact-checked by Facebook for a ‘misleading’ post alleging ‘Democrat vote fraud’ … ‘I mean it is a complete dog’s breakfast right across the country,’ claimed Mr Hockey, who has praised President Trump and enjoys a strong relationship with him.”

“Palmer ‘thanked’ Scott Morrison ... for contributing to his court bid to dismantle the state’s hard Covid-19 border. His gratitude is not misplaced. Legal observers say the Commonwealth solicitor-general, Stephen Donaghue, had to pick up the shattered remnants of the Palmer team’s efforts – to give the case a respectability it appeared to have lost. It is going forward in much better shape.”

“Mining company Adani has changed its name to a Latin word that means ‘crooked’, ‘deformed’, ‘mercenary or assassin’, after mistakenly thinking that it meant ‘brave’ ... Dr Christopher Bishop, from the Australian National University’s centre of classical studies, told Guardian Australia ‘it is sort of a Monty Python-Latin. It is that classic joke where you chuck an “-us” on to the end of anything and call it Latin.’”

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