“I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”
Said Texan Attorney Rod Ponton as he logged on for a virtual court hearing with his Zoom filter set to ‘fluffy white kitten’. He was an attorney-at-paw…
FAR RIGHT HORRORS PAST AND PRESENT
German authorities have charged a 100yo man with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder based on allegations he was a Nazi SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin between 1942-45. The man, whose name has not been disclosed in line with German privacy laws, is fit to stand trial despite his advanced age, prosecutors say. The move follows last week’s charging of a 95yo woman over her alleged complicity in the murders of 10,000 people. It’s claimed she worked as a secretary at the Stutthof concentration camp during WWII.
WHY PURSUE THEM NOW?
There’s no time limit on the prosecution of those involved – directly and indirectly – in the mass murder in Nazi concentration camps of more than 6 million Jews and 5 million others who were killed for their race, politics, ideology and ‘behaviours’. What has changed over time is the German justice system’s approach to pursuing those who worked in ‘low-level positions’. The focus broadened following the conviction of John Demjanjuk in 2011. A guard at the Sobibor camp, he was in his 90s when a judge ruled that no one could have worked at a concentration camp and not be partly responsible for the atrocities. And while there has been some criticism over the pursuit of the elderly, others say the rise of far-right extremism has made it more important than ever.
IS EXTREMISM ON THE RISE HERE TOO?
Sadly, yes – as it is around the world. Last year, Heather Cook, the deputy director-general of intelligence service delivery at national security agency ASIO, told a parliamentary inquiry that right-wing extremism now accounts for 30-40% of its counter-terrorism work, up from 10-15% before 2016. Also close to Oz, the Christchurch mosque attacks were a big wake-up call. As a result, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton launched a high-powered parliamentary inquiry into ‘extremist movements and radicalisation’ in Australia covering right-wing, Islamic and other forms of extremism in December. It is scheduled to report in April.
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VICTORIA CLEARS THE AIR
The Holiday Inn in Melbourne has been evacuated as the coronavirus outbreak linked to the quarantine hotel grew to 8 cases yesterday. The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says the “working hypothesis” is that the virus spread via the vapour from a nebuliser that a guest was using to inhale medication. The outbreak has seen Premier Daniel Andrews press pause on receiving additional international travellers while authorities “get to the bottom of what’s going on”. South Australia dusted off their “abundance of caution” and put their hard border back up for Melbourne residents. And if you need some COVID resilience inspiration, Europe’s oldest person, French nun Sister Andre, has recovered from her case of the virus just days before her 117th birthday. “I’m happy to be with you, but I would wish to be somewhere else – to join my big brother, and my grandfather and my grandmother,” she said. That’s gratitude for you…
CROWN SLIPS WITH NSW GOVERNMENT
Following the release on Tuesday of a scathing report that ruled Crown Resorts unfit to operate its new Barangaroo casino, the company’s fate now rests in the hands of NSW’s gaming regulator. If the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority adopts the inquiry’s recommendations, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said “all bets are off” for Crown unless the company undertakes significant reform. Pressure is mounting on Crown boss Ken Barton and board director Andrew Demetriou to resign after billionaire shareholder James Packer’s company Consolidated Press Holdings yesterday cut ties with Crown yesterday with its representatives on the board bailing out. As for what might happen to the Barangaroo development if the casino is ditched? Experts reckon it could be turned into luxury apartments worth tens of millions a pop. High rollin’ indeed…
CRASH INVESTIGATORS STRUGGLING FOR ANSWERS
Indonesian investigators released a preliminary report into a recent crash overnight. It revealed they are finding it hard to understand what happened to the Sriwijaya Air jet to cause it to crash after takeoff from Jakarta airport on 9 January killing all 62 people on board. That’s because divers were able to recover the flight-data recorder but could not find the memory unit from the cockpit voice recorder. Divers are still searching for the module that would reveal what the pilots were saying about what was happening. For now, investigators are working on the theory that a malfunctioning automatic throttle reduced the power output of the aircraft’s left engine. The right engine remained steady, forcing the plane to roll. “We can’t conclude anything just yet,” said investigator Nurcahyo Utomo.
TRUMP TRIAL TENSIONS
Democratic prosecutors have made an emotion-fuelled pitch against former President Donald Trump via a video presentation. It puts Trump’s speech to a big crowd of supporters in Washington DC on 6 January next to the events at the Capitol. Democrats say Trump’s own words and his supporters’ actions make their case that he is guilty of inciting insurrection. Even Trump’s lawyer Bruce Castor said “It’s natural to recoil. It’s an immediate thing that comes over you without your ability to stop it – the desire for retribution. ‘Who caused this awful thing? How do we make them pay?’” he asked. It’s a compelling statement, unlike the rest of Trump’s legal team’s presentation, which copped criticism yesterday. Aside from the commentators, their client, who was watching from Florida, was also not impressed, reports say…
CHINA NOT IN DA CLUBHOUSE
After a short period of operating without censorship limitations, Beijing has now kicked Chinese users off the secretive American social media app Clubhouse. Launching in April last year, it’s an invitation-only audio-based platform where users from all around the world can join chat rooms to participate in what is effectively a live, free-flowing podcast. The app was fast gaining popularity in China with users expressing themselves on topics ranging from Tiananmen Square to their love lives as they shared their stories with the world – and with their fellow citizens. It’s the latest clampdown on free speech in China – a shame, one journalist wrote, as it gave locals “a chance to prove that they aren’t brainwashed drones.”
APROPOS OF NOTHING
For Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis, his $6 Kmart tee is a hit. If he doesn’t have the retailer’s logo on his chest in his match at 1.30pm today, we’re shouting the next round of affordably priced homewares…
They say it’s a work-from-anywhere ‘Office Pod Concept’. We say it’s a desk in the back of a campervan. You decide.
A top tip from the impeccably groomed Tessica Brown: don’t fix your hairdo with a spray of a super-strength adhesive – “unless you want your hair to be like that, FOREVER.” They call her the Gorilla Glue Girl…
SQUIZ THE DAY
12.15pm (AEDT) – Australian Open Tennis – Ash Barty v Daria Gavrilova – Melbourne
ABS Data Release – Recorded Crime, Offenders (2019-20)
Birthdays for Jennifer Aniston (1969) and Khalid (1998)
• the first first-class game of cricket played in Australia. It was Tasmania v Victoria in Launceston (1851)
• a 20.2kg lobster was caught off Nova Scotia – the heaviest crustacean ever caught (1977)
• Nelson Mandela being released from Victor Verster Prison in South Africa after 27 years as a political prisoner (1990)
• the deaths of Sylvia Plath (1963), Alexander McQueen (2010) and Whitney Houston (2012)
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