The Shortlist Daily

The best reads from around the world

31st of March 2016

The anomaly of barbarism “There is nothing mysterious in the rise of ISIS. It is baffling only for those who believe—despite everything that occurred in the twentieth century—that modernization and civilization are advancing hand in hand. In fact, now as in the past some of the most modern movements are among the most barbaric. But to admit this would mean surrendering the ruling political faith, a decayed form of liberalism without which Western leaders and opinion formers would be disoriented and lost. To accept that liberal societies may not be ‘on the right side of history’ would leave their lives drained of significance, while a stoical response—which is ready to fight while being doubtful of ultimate victory—seems to be beyond their powers.” (Also: Conservative futures)

Lapham’s Quarterly

30th of March 2016

Tasmania relying on diesel generators for electricity “Tasmania has just 14% of capacity in its hydroelectric dams, and its main electricity supply cable has been wiped out by a mystery fault. Tasmanians haven’t had any brownouts yet, but the state is relying on 150 diesel generators and a decommissioned power plant to keep electricity supplies up until the winter rains arrive to replenish water levels. On Tuesday came news that the Basslink undersea cable to the mainland – which usually supplies half the state’s electricity – won’t be fixed until at least June.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

29th of March 2016

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching at 95% in northern section “An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95% of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought. Coral bleaching is caused by abnormally high sea temperatures that kill the tiny marine algae essential to coral health. This is the third global coral bleaching since 1998, and scientists have found no evidence of these disasters before the late 20th century … Professor Justin Marshall, a reef scientist from the University of Queensland, said the reason for these bleaching events was clear. ‘What we’re seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change.’”


24th of March 2016

Malik Taylor, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, dies at 45 “Malik Taylor, the wry and agile rapper known as Phife Dawg, who as a member of A Tribe Called Quest brought left-of-center hip-hop to the masses, died on Tuesday at his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was 45. Mr Taylor’s family and his manager, Dion Liverpool, confirmed the death and said the cause was complications of diabetes. Mr Taylor learned he had diabetes in 1990 — ‘When was the last time you heard a funky diabetic?’ he once rapped — and received a kidney transplant in 2008.”

The New York Times

23rd of March 2016

Islamic State claims attacks at Brussels airport and metro station “Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the two bomb attacks that killed at least 31 people and injured more than 220 in the departure hall of Brussels’ Zaventem airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital on Tuesday. The Isis-affiliated news agency AMAQ said its fighters carried out ‘a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices’. It also said the extremists opened fire at the airport and that ‘several of them’ detonated suicide belts in both attacks.” (Also: Radicalisation in Molenbeek and Belgian authorities overwhelmed by terror investigations)

The Guardian

22nd of March 2016

ASX chief Elmer Funke Kupper quits in face of investigation “The head of the Australian Securities Exchange, Elmer Funke Kupper, has quit his $3.5 million a year job over allegations that he knew of a $200,000 payment to the family of Cambodian strongman prime minister Hun Sen. The $200,000 payment was made when Mr Funke Kupper was chief executive of gaming giant Tabcorp and is now the focus of an international anti-bribery investigation led by the Australian Federal Police.”

The Age

21st of March 2016

Malcolm Turnbull recalls Parliament for April 18 sitting ahead of early election “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will bring the budget forward a week, setting the scene for a rare double dissolution election on July 2 unless the Senate passes laws to reintroduce the construction industry watchdog. In a snap press conference at Parliament House on Monday, Mr Turnbull said he had received permission from Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove to recall both houses of Parliament on April 18 to try to pass a bill restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission. If the government's bill is not passed, he will call a double dissolution election – the first since 1987.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

18th of March 2016

Senate sits through the night to consider voting reform “The debate over Senate voting reform went on. And on. And on. And on. And currently it is still going on. As Thursday night dragged into Friday morning, Labor and the Greens spent hours analysing one another’s deficiencies as political movements. Various Labor frontbenchers considered the merits of the fashion sense of the Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Labor’s Jacinta Collins declared at one point that she was not conducting a filibuster, and didn’t even laugh … By 6am, Greens senator Lee Rhiannon thought she was considering the third amendment. The acting Senate president noted in fact it was the fourth government amendment. By 6.45am Labor’s Penny Wong thought Greens senator Robert Simms had become tired and emotional.” (Also: Today is World Sleep Day. Our senators should stop debating and get some sleep)

The Guardian

17th of March 2016

Ex-president ‘Lula’ joins Brazil’s cabinet, gaining legal shield “After the police raided his home and prosecutors sought his arrest, the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, seemed destined to become the biggest figure caught in the widening corruption investigation upending Latin America’s largest country. But as it turns out, he may have an unusual escape route. Instead of facing jail, he is becoming a cabinet minister … Brazil is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades. An enormous graft scheme has hobbled the national oil company. The Zika epidemic is causing despair across the northeast. And just before the world heads to Brazil for the Summer Olympics, the government is fighting for survival, with almost every corner of the political system under the cloud of scandal.”

16th of March 2016

How publishing trends grow: Happiness, mindfulness, colouring “My trend-spotting habit dates back to 1999, when it was all commodity books (powered by the success of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod). In 2002, there was a fad for cute micro-histories with titles almost as long as the text – who today remembers Lord Minimus: The Extraordinary Life of Britain’s Smallest Man? And so it goes. By 2008, it was all about happiness, with a generical range that took in the historical, the scientific and the philosophical: clearly something more interesting was happening than a dozen books with the same word in the title. By 2012, everything was a biography.” (Also Moneyball for books: A detailed look at how we read)

The Guardian