Australian politics, society & culture

The Shortlist Daily

The best reads from around the world

5th of August 2015

Former British PM Edward Heath investigated over child sex claims amid claims of cover-up “The British police watchdog is investigating claims of an old cover-up over allegations that former prime minister Edward Heath abused children. London's Mirror newspaper spoke to one alleged victim, now 64, who said he was assaulted at age 12 in an exclusive Mayfair flat in 1961 when Sir Edward was an MP. And the Guardian reported that detectives have spoken to a middle-aged man who says he was abused as a child by Heath several times. Sir Edward died in 2005, aged 89. He was prime minister in the early 1970s and lost the leadership of the Conservative party to Margaret Thatcher in 1975. Wiltshire Police were said to have heard allegations about Sir Ted Heath in the 1990s, but they were not followed up … An alleged victim told the Mirror that he had run away from home in the 1960s, was picked up by Sir Edward while hitch-hiking, driven to his ‘very posh’ home, given a cup of tea and a sandwich and a bed for the night. He says that night the MP sexually abused him. He said he reported the attack two months later but was ‘fobbed off’ by social workers. Four years later he recognised his attacker's photo in a newspaper and told his mother of the attack. But he says he was branded a ‘liar and a fantasist’.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

4th of August 2015

Charlie Hebdo’s multi-million-dollar pile of tragedy money “Gérard Biard, the new editor in chief, remarked in his first editorial after two jihadist killers, the Kouachi brothers, murdered a dozen people at the paper on January 7 to avenge the caricatured Prophet Muhammad: ‘For a week now, Charlie, an atheist paper, has accomplished more miracles than all the saints and prophets together.’ Foremost among those miracles is newfound wealth. In the space of a few months, a publication with a storied past but uncertain future, beset by dwindling revenues and readership, casting around for financial support, has been transformed into a cash cow. People who had scarcely heard of the paper now flaunt the ubiquitous ‘Je suis Charlie’ badge. The post-massacre edition, No. 1178, sold some eight million copies, an increase of more than 13,000 percent over previous levels. Subscriptions have soared to more than 200,000 from about 10,000. Donations have multiplied, from Google, the French government, and sympathizers across the world. One Web site garnered close to $2 million through the contributions of 24,500 individuals. As a result, Charlie Hebdo, irreverent mocker of all forms of power, reportedly finds itself sitting on more than $33 million in cash, a once unthinkable sum … Charlie, in its self-image, is of the left, the scrappy outsider rather than the moneyed insider. It is above all of the school that believes there is a right in Western democracies to laugh at everything, to blaspheme, and to commit sacrilege.”

Vanity Fair

3rd of August 2015

In a Yemen hospital, malnutrition menaces young lives “Born just before the outbreak of Yemen's devastating war, Ali Mohammed al-Tawaari may well not survive it. Damaged by a lack of skilled medical care at a critical moment in his early weeks, the six-month-old infant struggles for life in a hospital in the bomb-damaged capital Sanaa. Ali suffers malnourishment and complications from a botched circumcision performed by an unqualified practitioner. ‘He is dying, you can see it,’ said his mother Wadha, watching his tiny skeletal figure, clothed in green pyjamas.” (NB: Contains photos that may be disturbing.)


31st of July 2015

I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it “Australians are proud of their tolerance yet can be perplexed when challenged on race, their response often defensive. I may be overly sensitive. I may see insult where none is intended. Maybe my position of relative success and privilege today should have healed deep scars of racism and the pain of growing up Indigenous in Australia. The same could be said of Adam. And perhaps that is right. But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth. The ‘wealth for toil’ we praise in our anthem has remained out of our reach. Our position at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator tragically belies the Australian economic miracle. ‘Australians all let us rejoice’ can ring hollow to us. Ours is a more troubled patriotism. Our allegiance to Australia, our pride in this country is undercut by the dark realities of our existence.” (Also: The Adam Goodes debate is all about race)

The Guardian

30th of July 2015

Britain and France scramble as migrants keep trying to cross Channel Tunnel “They have reached Europe after often-treacherous journeys, usually across the Mediterranean. They have dodged the authorities as they made their way northward toward their ultimate goal, Britain. But now, thousands of illegal migrants, refugees from war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, find themselves bottled up at one final choke point in northern France: the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. Over two nights this week, their desperation and frustration have flared to new levels as they have tried in far larger numbers than normal to breach the security around the tunnel and hide themselves amid the trucks and freight being shuttled by rail from Calais to southern England. The French police said there had been about 2,100 attempts by migrants to gain access to the tunnel on Monday, and Eurotunnel, the company that operates the 31-mile English Channel crossing, put the number for Tuesday night at about 1,500. At least one migrant, believed to be a Sudanese man, died in the attempts this week. An unknown number slipped through, the authorities said. Most of those who tried were caught and turned back — free, by and large, to try again.” (Also: UK tourists visiting France are being sprayed with manure by angry farmers)

The New York Times

29th of July 2015

Bronwyn Bishop is considering her position amid expenses scandal “Julie Bishop says Bronwyn Bishop is considering her position amid speculation the Labor party will use the resumption of Parliament to disrupt question time as part of the fallout from the Speaker's use of taxpayers entitlements. This came as News Corp reported on Wednesday that Bronwyn Bishop claimed travel allowance to attend federal Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro's wedding in 2007 and Labor vowed to call out the absurdity of the Speaker's position, if she remains in the chair by the time Parliament resumes next month.” (Also: Malcolm Turnbull live-tweets public transport trip to Geelong)

The Age

28th of July 2015

35 women tell their stories about being assaulted by Bill Cosby “There are now 46 women who have come forward publicly to accuse Cosby of rape or sexual assault; the 35 women here are the accusers who were willing to be photographed and interviewed. The group, at present, ranges in age from early 20s to 80 and includes supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson alongside waitresses and Playboy bunnies and journalists and a host of women who formerly worked in show business. Many of the women say they know of others still out there who’ve chosen to remain silent. When we started contacting the women who had publicly claimed Cosby assaulted them, it snowballed in the same way that the initial accusations did: First two women signed on, then others heard about it and joined in, and so on. Just a few days before the story was published, we photographed the final two women, bringing our total to 35. ‘I’m no longer afraid,’ said Chelan Lasha, who came forward late last year to say that Cosby had drugged her when she was 17. ‘I feel more powerful than him.’”

New York Magazine

27th of July 2015

TPP: Australia on the verge of joining huge new Pacific trade deal “Australia is on the cusp of joining a huge new United States-led trade deal which will ‘set the rules’ for doing business in the region at the expense of China. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving twelve Pacific-Rim nations, could be sealed in coming days, after talks that had drifted for five years narrowly escaped death in the US Congress. ‘It could be done this week,’ said Trade Minister Andrew Robb last night, as he prepared to depart for what he hopes will be one final round of talks in Maui, Hawaii. ‘There's no guarantees but the whole mood has shifted,’ he said, referring to a last-minute US Congress decision to give the White House autonomous negotiating powers.” (Background: The devil in the trade deal)

The Sydney Morning Herald

24th of July 2015

A new climate-change danger zone? “How much does the climate have to change for it to be “dangerous”? This question has vexed scientists ever since the first climate models were developed, back in the nineteen-seventies. It was provisionally answered in 2009, though by politicians rather than scientists. According to an agreement known as the Copenhagen Accord, to avoid danger, the world needs “to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius”. Now a group of climate modellers is arguing that the danger point is, in fact, a lot lower than that … An increase of two degrees Celsius could still be enough to melt large portions of Antarctica, which, in turn, could result in several metres’ worth of sea-level rise in a matter of decades. What’s important about the paper from a layperson’s perspective—besides the fate of the world’s major coastal cities, many of which would be swamped if the oceans rose that high—is that it shows just how far from resolved, scientifically speaking, the question of danger levels remains. And this has important political implications, though it seems doubtful that politicians will heed them.”

The New Yorker

23rd of July 2015

Bill Shorten in favour of boat turn-backs “Labor will double Australia’s refugee intake to 27,000 people as part of a suite of new immigration policies, which also includes turning back asylum seekers boats. And while some in the party’s Left faction are preparing for a fierce fight over the issue, at least one factional powerbroker from the Left – who asked not be named – predicted the adoption of a boat turn-backs policy would be allowed by this weekend's national conference. ‘[Labor leader Bill Shorten] won’t lose it [the vote on turn-backs] I don’t think, though there will be substantial opposition. But some in the Left actually support turn-backs,’ the Left powerbroker said.However, Labor backbencher and former speaker Anna Burke warned voters may abandon the party following Mr Shorten's decision.” (Also: We asked Peter Dutton the same question seven times and it pissed him off “‘How can the government with a straight face say that you’ve stopped the boats when there are actually boats arriving, you just won’t talk about them?’ Dutton: ‘Well if there are other questions I’m willing to come back to you …’”)

The Sydney Morning Herald