WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION
An investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald has found that the forthcoming prosecution of alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan will examine the summary execution of at least 12 non-combatants or prisoners, while an estimated 10 Australian Special Air Services Regiment (SAS) veterans who served in the conflict — including five still-serving members — have been or will soon be referred to authorities.
The news comes ahead of the public release of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force’s (redacted) report into Australia’s conduct in the conflict next week, and, as the ABC explains, after Scott Morrison announced that a special investigator will be appointed to work with federal police and Commonwealth prosecutors to prosecute allegations of war crimes.
However, the SMH points to a potential hurdle in turning findings from the IGADF’s inquiry — which was conducted by senior judge Paul Brereton — into evidence admissible by court; confessions obtained during compulsory questioning cannot be used to prosecute the confessor under Australian law, although witness testimony can be used in future trials.
PS: Earlier this week, The Age also reported that Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith had been ordered to hand over preliminary findings from a war crimes inquiry into his conduct in Afghanistan to lawyers acting for the Nine media companies — The Age and SMH — that he is suing for defamation.
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NOT COOL AT ALL
The ABC reports that the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO find, in their latest biannual State of the Climate report, that Australia’s climate has now warmed 1.44 plus or minus 0.24 degrees since records began in 1910. Findings are broadly consistent with established climate science; fire weather and extreme heat days are up, stream flows are down, and cool season rainfall continues to decline while heavy rainfall events are becoming more intense.
In other climate news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the country’s largest superannuation fund, AustralianSuper, has dumped holdings in Whitehaven Coal as part of a plan to align investment portfolios with its 2050 net zero target. According to RenewEconomy, iron ore mining giant Fortescue Metals has also launched plans to build more than 235 gigawatts of renewable capacity, mostly wind and solar, to become a supplier of green energy and hydrogen that would rival Australia’s oil giants.
On the political end, RenewEconomy reports that the Palaszczuk government has named Mick de Brenni Australia’s first ever minister for energy, renewables and hydrogen; the ABC reports that South Australian Labor senator Alex Gallacher has joined Joel Fitzgibbon in white-anting the federal party and calling for climate change spokesperson — and Australia’s last minister for climate change — Mark Butler to be dumped from the portfolio; and The Guardian reports that Scott Morrison discussed climate change — but not a net zero target, which he increasingly stands alone in rebuffing — in his first phone call with president-elect Joe Biden.
WE’LL GIVE IT A SHOT
The Courier-Mail ($) reports that Health Minister Greg Hunt will today announce that early trial data from the University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine trials suggest the drug is safe, produces virus-neutralising antibodies, and is proving to be especially effective in the elderly.
The news comes as Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services releases a list of potential exposure sites for the South Australian aged care worker who had been in the state while “viral shedding”, which The New Daily explains includes shops and train lines across Melbourne Central on November 8, and Melbourne Airport on November 9.
According to 7.30, the Department of Immigration is attempting to deport a Sri Lankan woman and her children living in Kempsey, NSW because her husband — a primary visa holder — has passed away.
The department has denied Florence Udawatta and her children protection visas, arguing they are unlikely to be persecuted in Sri Lanka, while the Kempsey community has rallied the federal government to let them stay.
PS: The campaign comes as another family the Morrison government has fought tooth and nail to deport, the Bileola family of four, clock in almost 15 months on Christmas Island, where their daughters are currently escorted to school by Serco guards.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: KLAIN TO FAME
CNN reports that Joe Biden has tapped his longtime aide Ron Klain to be his incoming chief of staff, as the president-elect continues to face a stalled transition process and Donald Trump’s administration refuses to provide access to the “Daily Brief” of intelligence updates.
Klain previously served as chief of staff to vice president Al Gore during the Clinton administration and for Biden as vice-president, where he was appointed by then-president Barack Obama to lead the response to the 2014 Ebola crisis. As The Intercept reported back in 2016, Klain also helped create one of Bill Clinton’s “beat the Republicans at their own game” crime bills.
PS: According to a White House aide speaking with NBC’s Peter Alexander, Trump is “very aware there is not a path to victory” but believes the 72 million who voted for him “deserve a fight” so he’s battling as a form of “theatre” for them.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Madam President, the Chinese delegate wishes to recommend to the US:
- Root out systematic racism, address widespread policy brutality and combat discrimination against African- and Asian-Americans.
- Urge politicians to respect peoples’ rights to life and health and stop politicising and stigmatising the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Take holistic measures to eliminate political polarisation and social inequality.
- Combat the increasingly severe religious intolerance and xenophobic parties.
- Stop incarcerating migrants, including migrant children, and guarantee the rights of migrants.
- Address proliferation of guns and guarantee peoples’ rights to life.
- Lift coercive unilateral measures.
- Stop torture in anti-terrorist operations and halt military intervention in other countries and stop killing civilians.
- Stop interfering for political reasons in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights.
Thank you Madam President.
Chinese representative Jiang Duan
China’s latest turn at grilling America at the UN Human Rights Council is stunning in both its hypocrisy — which, to be honest, is just the UNHRC; we’re there as well — and for being 100% on the money.
“Privilege protects privilege.
“So it seems after further revelations today about how Alan Tudge pressured an ABC journalist to delete a photo taken in a Canberra night spot that, according to Four Corners’ bombshell report on Monday, would have embarrassed and compromised Christian Porter.”
“It’s no surprise that Christian Porter has threatened to haul in the lawyers to fight the allegations aired on Monday night’s Four Corners program about his public behaviour with a young female Liberal staffer.
“Threatening legal action acts as a deterrent to others who might publish more, and it’s very much in character for a politician with a reputation for seeing transparency and accountability as the enemy.”
“Most attention is focused on two contingencies in these uncharted seas: Trump’s many legal challenges to the election which are being filed in and thrown out by the courts daily; and the ‘what to do?’ prospect of his simply refusing to shift his arse out from behind the Resolute Desk on January 20, 2021.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
War crimes inquiry: Inquiry to expose military leadership’s disastrous failings ($) — Brendan Nicholson (The Australian): “Paul Brereton’s investigation of war crimes allegedly committed by Australian special forces soldiers in Afghanistan will confirm that atrocities were committed. It will deeply shock the nation. That investigation, and others carried out by the Australian Defence Force in parallel to it, have also identified disastrous failures in the structure and leadership of Special Operations Command that have developed over decades.”
Fitzgibbon’s antics point to the question bubbling in Labor ranks: can Albanese win? — Katharine Murphy (The Guardian): “I think we’ve reached the point in the Joel Fitzgibbon saga where some basic facts are being obscured by the narrative. So let’s give those facts a bit of airplay. We need to roll back to May of last year, when the Labor rightwinger Ed Husic made the decision to step down from the shadow ministry to create a spot for the New South Wales senator and former state premier Kristina Keneally.”
Corporate Democrats are attacking so-called far-left policies — Bernie Sanders (USAToday): “It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy. It also is good politics. According to an exit poll from Fox News, no bastion of socialism, 72% of voters favored the change ‘to a government-run health care plan’ and 70% of voters supported ‘increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.’”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
An extra estimates hearing has been scheduled to re-examine Australia Post issues.