GHISLAINE MAXWELL CHARGED WITH ENTICEMENT OF MINORS
Ghislaine Maxwell, the long-time confidante of deceased accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested by the FBI and charged by New York federal prosecutors with six counts in connection to an ongoing investigation into the multi-millionaire’s accomplices, CNN reports.
The indictment alleges that, “from at least in or about 1994, up to and including at least in or about 1997, Maxwell assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.
WHO IS EPSTEIN AGAIN? A convicted paedophile and alleged trafficker who died of an apparent suicide in jail last August, Epstein was a financier largely renowned for a “black book” of high profile contacts, and a social circle that included Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew amongst others; as Vox reported back in 2016, a since-dropped lawsuit alleged Trump raped a 13-year-old at a 1994 orgy hosted by Epstein.
Check out a short biography from Reuters for how Maxwell, a former girlfriend and associate of Epstein, fits into it all.
THE AFP HAVE ANOTHER JOURNALIST IN THEIR SIGHTS
The ABC reports that the Australian Federal Police have asked prosecutors to consider charging journalist Dan Oakes for publishing classified information concerning possible war crimes in the Afghan Files, a 2017 series co-written with Sam Clark that exposed allegations Australian soldiers unlawfully killed 10 men and children.
Almost a year to the day since the AFP’s Ultimo raid, the decision over whether or not to pursue charges now lies with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, although any prosecution would require approval from Attorney-General Christian Porter under a directive made in the wake of the ABC and News Corp raids.
Oakes has since responded to the news on Twitter:
Would just like to point out at this moment that whether or not we are ever charged or convicted over our stories, the most important thing is that those who broke our laws and the laws of armed conflict are held to account. Our nation should be better.
PRIORITY CHECK: The news comes just a few months after the very independent AFP decided not to investigate or even interview Angus Taylor over the forged document scandal, in part because he said sorry.
WELCOME TO THE HOTEL QUARANTINE
According to The Age, security guards employed at quarantine hotels in Melbourne are still misusing or not wearing personal protection equipment, while, separately, Victoria’s Rail, Tram and Bus Union has demanded the state government make masks mandatory on public transport.
The news comes after the ABC reported that a Sydney man who spent two weeks in Victoria’s hotel quarantine — where he was deemed not to be infectious — returned to work at a Balmain Woolworths, where 50 staff have now been told to self-isolate. Another man who had been in hotel quarantine before visiting Melbourne hotspot areas has also tested positive in Darwin.
Finally, with Victorian daily cases in their fourth day of high 60s/70s, the broadcaster also reports that the number of hospitalised and ICU patients are similarly growing and increasing the risk of more COVID-19 deaths.
HOW CAN WE HELP HONGKONGERS?
According to The Australian ($), federal cabinet will next week consider a plan to prioritise the skilled visa program over the safe haven visa as a means of fast-track resettlement for Hong Kong nationals seeking to escape China’s security crackdown.
With refugee applications growing even amidst the pandemic and the new national security law leading to immediate crackdowns on Hong Kong residents, cabinet will also consider options for Hong Kong nationals currently on tourist and other visas in Australia, as well as systems to protect the roughly 100,000 Australians currently living and working in Hong Kong.
Although the UK has announced a similar pathway to citizenship for more than three million Hongkongers with British Overseas Nationals passports and their dependants, The Guardian reports that UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab admitted there is little the government can do to “coercively force” China into letting residents leave and has, unsurprisingly, been rebuked by ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming.
WHAT WON’T HELP: As The New Daily reports, federal MP George Christensen has compared China to Nazi Germany on new right-wing social media website Parler.
DUTTON’S LATEST TWIST OF THE KNIFE
Finally, with the Australian Senate set to hold a public hearing today as part of an inquiry into the Morrison government’s latest attempt to ban mobile phones in detention centres, Home Affairs has argued in a submission that phones “present an unacceptable risk to the safety, security and good order of the immigration detention facilities”.
As The Guardian reported last week, the Coalition’s attempt to empower guards and officials to confiscate phones has been blasted by civil society organisations, including the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales which submits there is a “reasonable” chance of a successful constitutional challenge on the grounds of the bill’s impact on freedom of expression.
PS: Not only have groups like Human Rights Watch labelled phones a crucial lifeline that, if removed, basically formalises detention as a punitive system, but they have been used to record examples of excessive force, allegations of corruption, and award-winning memoir.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
It may further be observed that it is deeply disturbing to realise that a Minister of the Crown [Peter Dutton] who is charged with the responsibility for making decisions affecting the liberty of the subject — and on many occasions making assessments as to the consequences to be visited upon those visa applicants who have failed to comply with the law — is himself a person who has demonstrated an unapologetic reluctance to take personal responsibility for his own non-compliance with the law.
Justice Geoffrey Flick
In finding that Peter Dutton’s failure to comply with an order to make a protection visa decision for an Iranian man may constitute contempt, the Federal Court justice cannot help but note the explicit irony of Australia’s immigration chain of command.
“Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has lost its epic legal battle against actor Geoffrey Rush, with a blistering judgement from the full bench of the Federal Court rejecting its appeal over last year’s defamation finding and upholding a record defamation payout of $2.9 million.”
“It was a Wednesday afternoon in late November 2017. Sitting in the open-plan newsroom floor of The Daily Telegraph was the Murdoch tabloid’s star entertainment reporter Jonathon Moran, tapping away at a bombshell report for the next day’s paper.
“In it he would allege that the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), a jewel in the Harbour City’s cultural crown, had received a complaint of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by one of Australia’s most successful international film stars Geoffrey Rush.”
“In October 2017, The New York Times published a series of stories about the sexual crimes and misconduct of famous movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
“The story went around the world.
“Subsequently, actress Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote #MeToo as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’ Millions of women (and men) did so, spawning a global movement.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
We shouldn’t blame those in lockdown – we should thank them — Waleed Aly (The Age): “Remember when we were all in this together? As roughly 300,000 Victorians go back into lockdown, those days seem long gone. This is a very different moment from those days in late March when we all retreated anxiously into our homes, separated from each other but bound by a heightened sense of shared risk and solidarity. It might even be a more dangerous moment in some important ways.”
Scott Morrison is right: we need to protect ourselves ($) — Paul Dibb (The Australian): “This week Scott Morrison announced the most important changes to Australia’s defence policy since the end of World War II. Previous military crises in places such as Korea and Vietnam and the Confrontation with Indonesia did not place us in such grave danger as we now face in the post-pandemic Asia-Pacific region. As the editorial in The Australian observed on Thursday: ‘We have arrived at a pivotal moment in history.’”
Saturday is crucial for Anthony Albanese but July 23 is more important for Scott Morrison — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Just under two years ago, Anthony Albanese was expectantly awaiting the ‘Super Saturday’ byelections. Of the five contests, the outcomes in two, Longman in Queensland and Braddon in Tasmania, would be critical for Bill Shorten’s future as opposition leader.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Joint Council on Closing the Gap is set to meet.
A Black Lives Matter rally organised by David Dungay Jr’s nephew Paul Silva will kick off a national weekend of action, with events planned tomorrow in Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Adelaide, and some regional towns (depending on another NSW Police supreme court application, today, rallies will be held in Sydney and Newcastle on Sunday).