MORE MONEY FOR SPIES IN BUDGET
As we gear up for the federal budget tomorrow, the government is giving us a taste of what to expect, with beefed-up national security measures being reported in the News Corp papers today. The Australian reports that foreign aid funds will be diverted to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) as part of a boost to national security. The domestic agency, ASIO, will also receive an injection of funds. The Herald Sun is reporting that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will receive $321 million to tackle gangs and local terrorists.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has told the News Corp tabloids Australians will have more money in their pockets after the budget. Saying the budget will tackle cost of living pressures, the Daily Telegraph reports we can expect help for first home buyers and cash to turn on heaters this winter.
MACRON MARCHES TO VICTORY
Emmanuel Macron has won the 2017 French presidential election, scoring an estimated 65% of the vote and overcoming far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. In a battle that was seen as a test of populist, anti-globalisation, ultra-nationalist sentiment in Europe, Macron’s victory represents a win for those who remain supportive of the European Union. The 39-year-old will be the youngest ever president of the republic.
But even in defeat, Le Pen has demonstrated the advance and normalisation of the far right in France, with her National Front party winning its highest proportion of the vote. Low voter turnout is also being reported, also seen as a sign of normalisation. The party is already positioning itself as the major opposition force in the country.
FAIRFAX TAKEOVER OFFER
Fairfax Media is weighing up a takeover offer from private equity firm TPG. The Australian reports the $2.2 billion offer is being greeted with a lukewarm response by the media company’s board. TPG is reportedly after mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review, Fairfax’s events and digital arms, as well as Domain. Directors were considering the move yesterday in a meeting at the office in Pyrmont. Fairfax boss Greg Hywood emailed staff yesterday to confirm the offer, but stressed there was no certainty to it.
Fairfax editorial staff for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and some Australian Financial Review staff are still in the middle of a seven-day wildcat strike over management plans to cut 125 editorial jobs. They are due to return to work on Wednesday.
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Sydney: Westpac half-year results announced
Canberra: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will launch the Mid-Winter Ball. The ball will be held June 14.
Brisbane: Inquest begins for case of missing Brisbane soldier Sean Sargent, who vanished in March 1999 after getting into a fight at a St Lucia party.
Constitutional recognition must do more for Torres Strait Islanders — Kenny Bedford and Josephine Bourne (The Australian $): “All agreed that this must be more than a feel-good, symbolic statement. The priority is practical reform. Only substantive reform can address original injustices, as well as the serious issues still confronting communities: youth suicide, unemployment and poverty.”
If you want to know about Muslim women’s rights, ask Muslim women — Susan Carland (Guardian Australia): “There’s the fundamentalist, patriarchal narrative, persistently trying to confine the social and public lives of Muslim women in line with the kind of narrow, gendered parameters that are by now so familiar. But there are also some western feminist discourses that seek to define our identities in ways that are quite neocolonial: backward, oppressed, with no hope of liberation other than to emulate whatever western notions of womanhood are on offer.”
‘Over-classified’ public documents spring a leak — Paul Maley (The Australian $):”The AFP hates investigating leaks. Not only do they go nowhere (just two out of 44 leak inquiries conducted over the past four years have led to convictions), they suck resources away from critical police work, such as counter-terrorism investigations, and drag detectives into murky partisan debates.”
A group of 82 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been released. The Islamist group abducted 270 girls in 2014 as part of a devastating insurgency that has left 2 million Nigerians displaced. The 82 girls were released as part of a negotiation with the Nigerian government that appears to have involved Switzerland and the Red Cross. — Reuters
North Korean state media has reported that another American has been detained by the country. The man is said to have been an employee at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology and would be the fourth American taken into custody. — Al Jazeera
Indonesian police have recaptured 200 prisoners after a mass jailbreak in Sumatra, while 242 prisoners remain at large. Prisoners burst through a doorway and overwhelmed guards, rushing from a severely overcrowded prison built to hold just 360 people but currently detaining 1,870 men. — The Guardian/Associated Press
WHAT WE’RE READING
Ai Weiwei: how censorship works (New York Times): “It is well known that I cannot speak in any public forum. My name is expunged everywhere in the public media. I am not allowed to travel within China and am banned from the state media, where I am regularly scolded. Commentators in the state media pretend to be evenhanded, but that’s impossible, given where they sit, behind the state’s protective curtain.”
There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up (BBC): “What would happen if we were suddenly exposed to deadly bacteria and viruses that have been absent for thousands of years, or that we have never met before? We may be about to find out. Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life.”
This isn’t realpolitik. This is amateur hour (Foreign Policy): “Realists sees international politics as a deadly serious business, especially when dealing with critical regions and potential peer competitors. A country whose leader understood this wouldn’t be relying on an understaffed State Department, an unqualified first daughter and son-in-law, and wouldn’t be trying to manage key relations via an uncensored Twitter account. Trump’s approach to foreign policy would make a great sitcom, opéra bouffe, or a Marx Brothers movie, but it is both disastrous and demeaning for the United States.”
Ivanka Trump’s collectible quotations (New York Times): “In her latest book, Ivanka Trump seems to like playing with paper dolls a lot. Ms. Trump’s ‘Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success’ is full of bullet-point lists, meaningless business-speak and inspirational quotation after inspirational quotation. It reads more like the scrambled Tumblr feed of a demented 12-year-old who just checked out a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations from the library.”
‘It’s yours’: a short history of the horde (Longform): “How Ta-Nehisi Coates built the best comment section on the internet — and why it can’t last.”