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It’s a nicer way of describing Irish cultural appropriation, which some say has happened with a new movie set on the Emerald Isle starring Emily Blunt (English), Christopher Walken (American), John Hamm (American) and Jamie Dornan (at least he’s Irish…). Even the National Leprechaun Museum says it’s “a bit much”…
HEARTBREAK AHEAD OVER ALLEGED WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN
PM Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds yesterday outlined the next steps to deal with alleged war crimes in Afghanistan involving Australian special forces soldiers between 2005 and 2016. The findings from a soon-to-be-released report prepared by New South Wales Justice Paul Brereton will be taken up and investigated by a newly formed Office of the Special Investigator to be set up within the Department of Home Affairs. Considered to be one of the most important investigations into Defence operations in decades, Morrison said the Inspector-General’s report alleges cases of “disturbing conduct” and Australians, including the veteran and serving communities, will find it difficult to take.
BACK IT UP A BIT…
Investigations into claims that several of Australia’s elite soldiers were involved in unlawful killings and other breaches of the law of armed conflict during their deployment to Afghanistan have been ongoing for 4 years. During that time, it’s been in the media quite a bit… The ABC obtained leaked classified documents, and it published claims Australian troops had killed unarmed men and children. The Federal Police raid on the ABC Sydney offices last year is thought to be related to that. The highest-profile former soldier to be mentioned in connection to the inquiry is Ben Roberts-Smith, a recipient of the Victoria Cross. As for the process, the secretive Inspector-General inquiry is said to have interviewed hundreds of witnesses and found evidence of “extremely serious” and “deeply troubling” actions by soldiers in a small number of Special Air Services (SAS) and 2nd Commando regiments. And that’s what the Special Investigator, who is yet to be appointed, will look into and refer to police and prosecutors if criminal charges are to be laid.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
A redacted version of the Inspector-General’s report will be released on Thursday next week. As for how long the Office of the Special Investigator has to do its work – there’s no timeline. It will “exist as long as needed to carry out its brief,” Morrison said. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw has warned that war crimes prosecutions could take up to a decade to complete. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said she had “no doubt” next week would be distressing, particularly for those who have given evidence about their service. She urged anyone who felt they needed help to contact Defence support services.
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LATEST CLIMATE REPORT SAYS THE HEAT IS ON
Increasing temperatures, the further rising of sea levels, extended fires seasons, more frequent tropical cyclones, and less rainfall in eastern and southern Australia. According to the latest State of the Climate report from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, that’s on the cards. On average, Australia’s climate has warmed by 1.44C since 1910 due to rising levels of carbon dioxide with researchers saying it’s now impossible to limit global warming to the 1.5C target outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. Instead, the upper end of the range – 2C – is what should be aimed for. Last year was the hottest year on record, but the report points out the last decade is likely to be the coolest we’ll experience in the coming 100 years. The report, which is released every 2 years, is out today.
COVID and carbon emissions were the topics of choice for the first phone call between US President-elect Joe Biden and PM Morrison yesterday. Biden was “very interested” in Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Morrison said. And there was talk of how our countries could work together on carbon emissions reduction technologies. Not on the read-out: the leaders’ differing views on carbon emissions targets, and our joint strategic interests in handling China’s push into the region. But there was a classic hit: the importance of the US-OZ alliance. And with the 70th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS defence treaty next year, Morrison has invited the President-elect to visit Oz next year to crack a tinnie to celebrate – just make Biden’s a non-alcoholic variety… It comes as outgoing US President Donald Trump continues to keep a low profile (though not on Twitter…) following last weekend’s election result.
GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME
Continuing its golden run, Victoria recorded its 13th consecutive day of no new coronavirus cases or deaths yesterday. And as of yesterday, there are just 3 active COVID infections in the state. It comes as the state’s top health bureaucrat quit to “pursue other opportunities”. Kym Peake, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, was one of the witnesses called upon to provide additional evidence to the hotel quarantine inquiry last month. Meanwhile, international travel is up for discussion at the National Cabinet meeting today. So-called ‘low-risk countries’ including Japan, South Korea, Pacific Island nations might open their borders to Aussies sometime early next year with Taiwan, Singapore and parts of China also on the cards. Today’s meeting is also expected to cover state border reopenings and a vaccine rollout plan. Also on the agenda – the response to the Bushfires Royal Commission, which made 80 recommendations in its final report last month.
ETHIOPIA IN CRISIS
More than 10,000 Ethiopians have fled to neighbouring Sudan as a military conflict in the country’s north escalates. Hundreds of people have been killed in recent days in the Tigray region as fighting between government forces and the politically powerful Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) takes off. Humanitarian services estimate 200,000 will flee over the border to escape the fighting in the coming days. What’s going on in the region is hard to get a handle on because the government has blocked internet and telephone communications. Tensions between the two sides have risen since PM Abiy Ahmed – who comes from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo – came to power in 2018 and moved to curb the TPLF’s influence. Abiy won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for brokering peace with neighbouring Eritrea after 2 decades of conflict. And now his country is hurtling towards a civil war.
SINGLE AND SPENDING
The brainchild of China’s online juggernaut Alibaba, Singles Day is the world’s biggest shopping event. And this year, the retailer posted a massive 498 billion yuan ($103 billion) in sales, pointing to an economic recovery in China. This year, the number of participating luxury brands doubled to more than 200, with the likes of Balenciaga, Prada and Chloe overcoming their initial reluctance to make their first appearance in the sale. Chinese officials’ warning of their nation’s consumers going off our products didn’t come to pass with 2,000 Aussie businesses raking in more than $1 billion in sales from Chinese shoppers. Australia kept its place as the fourth most popular Singles’ Day shopping destination, behind Japan, the US and South Korea with apartments, luxury bags, appliances and cars snapped up.
And if you have sales on your mind, there’s a Squiz Shortcut to enhance your mood…
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
Two things. 1) We were yesterday years old when we found out those cool/elaborate chain reaction sequences that take people forever to set up are called Rube Goldberg Machines… 2) This one made us cry with laughter.
And look, we might have got a bit misty watching this clip too. It’s former prima ballerina Marta Cinta González Saldaña, who was in care with Alzheimer’s disease until she died last year. Her therapist put on the music from Swan Lake, a ballet she performed 60 years ago, and her response is wonderful.
Shaking that off… This Sunday morning there will be a batch of our favourite blueberry muffins. We feel quite strongly about it.
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6.45pm (AEST) – Women’s State of Origin clash – Sunshine Coast Stadium, Queensland
The National Cabinet meets to discuss border reopenings, a vaccine rollout plan and the response to the bushfire royal commission
Birthdays for actor Whoopi Goldberg (1955) and TV host Jimmy Kimmel (1967)
• the release of Walt Disney’s animated film Fantasia (1940)
• US spacecraft Voyager 1 taking the first close-up pictures of Saturn (1980)
• the release of Eminem’s Lose Yourself, which would become the first rap song to win Academy Award (2002)
5.10pm (AEDT) – Tri-Nations Rugby – New Zealand vs Argentina – Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Dilwali – Hindu, Sikh, and Jain faiths celebrate the Festival of Lights and the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance
Start of Food Safety Week (on until 21 November)
Start of the Dubai Airshow (on until 18 Nov)
A birthday for Prince Charles (1948)
• the birthday of painter Claude Monet (1840)
• the publication of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851)
• New York World reporter Nellie Bly beginning her attempt to surpass fictitious journey of Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg by travelling around the world in under 80 days (She succeeds, finishing the trip in 72 days, 6 hours) (1889)
• the first public trains runnings under the English Channel (1994)
• the film premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and the first James Bond film starring Daniel Craig, Casino Royale (2006)
Start of National Skin Cancer Awareness Week (on until 21 Nov)
Independence day in Palestine
Season 4 of The Crown released on Netflix
Birthdays for ABBA singer Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad (1945), shoe designer Jimmy Choo (1948) and actor Shailene Woodley (1991)
• the ousting of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe (2017)
• the death of rapper Lil Peep at 21yo (2017)
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