International: Mike Pence Pledges US Commitment to the EU

US Vice President Mike Pence said the country “remains committed” to the European Union in a visit to Brussels, following President Donald Trump’s vocal criticism of the organisation.

“It is my privilege on behalf of President Trump to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union,” Pence told reporters.

“Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values and above all the same purpose, to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and to those objectives we will remain committed.”

The statement contrasted Trump’s previous comments about the EU, which the president described as “basically a vehicle for Germany”. Trump has also been a vocal Brexit supporter, saying the UK was “so smart in getting out”, and that “others will leave” as well.

Pence also addressed concerns over the new administration’s commitment to NATO defence pact, which Trump recently described as “obsolete”. While the US maintained “unwavering” support for the alliance, Pence said NATO members still had to meet the 2 per cent defence spending target as soon as possible.

“America will do our part, but Europe’s defence requires Europe’s commitment as well as ours,” said Pence. “The president expects real progress by the end of 2017… the patience of the American people will not endure forever.”

The Morality Behind Background Checks

Background checks have always been a questionable and ethical procedure. There have been debates on whether or not a person’s criminal record should be an important requirement or a deal breaker for a potential employee. A person’s history can be a difficult quality to overlook but it is important to know your rights when applying for a federal police check.

  • What is a national police check? A national police check outlines an individual’s record of any criminal activity in Australia. Australian citizens and residents will usually need a check as a requirement. According to Seek, “it is a government service provided to either an individual or organisation for employment, voluntary work and occupation-related licensing or registration purposes.”
  • Why do employers need a police check? To reduce the risk of theft, fraud or other criminal activity performed by a potential new employee. With community services and industries where employees are working with children, the elderly or other vulnerable communities, police checks are vital for an organisation to rule out employing people who are past offenders.
  • Know your rights. Nothing happens without your consent regardless of whether you need a check for police investigation or prosecution purposes.
    During the procedure, you will need to confirm and sign a consensual form in order to release your criminal history for employment purposes.Seek says “In addition, if you’re asked in an interview whether you have a criminal record, according to the Human Rights Commission, you are not required to volunteer any information, unless there’s a requirement under legislation to do so. In this case, you would have to disclose your record.”

This article was sourced from: https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/why-companies-require-police-checks-what-are-your-rights

National: Actor Shot Dead in a Bliss n Eso Music Video Filming

An actor was shot dead in Brisbane’s CBD during a music video filming on Monday.

Actor and stuntman Johann Ofner was shot in the chest during the filming of hip hop group Bliss n Eso’s new music video for the song “Friend Like You” at Brooklyn Standard bar.

Ofner received immediate treatment from paramedics and police, but died at the scene.

Detective Inspector Tom Armitt said the use of real firearms in the filming would be central to the investigation.

“A scene was being conducted in which the actors were using firearms,” he said. “As a result of the use of those firearms one of the actors has received a wound to the chest and subsequently died from his injuries… how they occurred that is part of our investigation.”

Bliss n Eso confirmed that the filming was for their music video.

“The band were not on site at the time. The video production crew and our team are currently working with the police in their investigation and we are unable to provide further comment at this time.”

Zoe Angus, director of creative workers’ union the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance said the incident underlined the importance of industry compliance to workplace safety.

“This tragedy is a stark reminder that the screen industry is inherently dangerous and of the need for total vigilance about workplace safety at all times on set,” she said.

“This is a wake-up call for those safety guidelines to be reviewed and extended into — for example — online productions, music videos, the whole other raft of screen production sector.”

National: Pauline Hanson’s ‘Racist’ Maiden Speech Condemned

Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech has caused furore over its ‘racist’ message.

During her first speech in parliament on September 14, Hanson called for a ban on building mosques, wearing the burqa, and Muslim immigration.

Below are some of the speech’s excerpts:

Muslims want to see sharia law introduced in Australia. This law is a totalitarian civil code which prescribes harsh feudal rules imposed on everything, firstly for Muslims, later for everyone. As long as Islam is considered a religion, sharia conflicts with our secular state.

Islam cannot have a significant presence in Australia if we are to live in an open, secular and cohesive society. Never before in Australia’s history have we seen civil unrest and terror associated with a so-called religion, or from followers of that faith. We have seen the destruction that it is causing around the world.

If we do not make changes now, there will be no hope in the future. Have no doubt that we will be living under sharia law and treated as second-class citizens with second-class rights if we keep heading down the path with the attitude, ‘She’ll be right, mate.’

Therefore, I call for stopping further Muslim immigration and banning the burqa, as they have done in many countries around the world.

The Greens parliament members walked out on the speech. “We walked out of the chamber during Pauline Hanson’s first speech to this Parliament because we stand with the millions of Australians who choose to walk away from negativity and racism,” said Greens leader, Richard di Natale in a statement.

“We are sending a very strong message that we stand with the majority of Australians who value cultural diversity, respect, and tolerance.”

“I think it’s just ugly hate speech,” said musician Jimmy Barnes on ABC’s Q&A last night, describing Hanson’s maiden speech as “fanning the flames of extremism”.

A number of media outlets, such as ABC and SBS, have also pointed out the factual errors in Hanson’s speech, with the Courier-Mail saying the speech was “more fiction than fact”.

National: Labor Senator Stephen Conroy Retires

Labor’s Victoria senator Stephen Conroy has announced his resignation from politics, only months after being re-elected at the July 2 election.

“You should always go out on top…it must be time to say farewell,” Conroy states in his tabled speech. “It has been a great privilege to serve as a senator for Victoria, as leader and deputy leader of the Labor Party in the Senate and as a cabinet minister in two Labor governments.”

Conroy mentions his daughter, Isabella in the speech. “When you resent being in Canberra because you are missing your daughter’s soccer training it is time to retire from the Federal Parliament,” the statement reads. “It’s time for me to hang up my boots as Captain of the Parliamentary Soccer team and spend more time teaching Isabella soccer tricks.”

Conroy’s decision caught his party colleagues by surprise. “I’ve only just heard of these reports so I’ll be having more discussions during the day,” Labor’s federal deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek said on Friday. Labor MP for Corio, Richard Marles told ABC he was also surprised by the decision, but said, “Steve was always going to do this in his own way and on his own terms.”

Opposition leader Bill Shorten thanked Conroy for his “tireless contribution” to the party and the country. “In his twenty years as a senator, Stephen has relished every challenge put to him…” states Shorten. “He goes with my goodwill, my best wishes and my thanks for his service.”

Conroy has previously served as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity.

 

Environmental: NASA Releases Global Climate Change Report

NASA has published data showing global temperature and rainfall patterns that may change through the year 2100 due to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions concentrating in the Earth’s atmosphere. The dataset shows projected changes worldwide responding to growing carbon dioxide simulated by 21 climate models.

Source: NASA
Source: NASA

According to NASA Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan, “NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future,”. She states that “with this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”

The NASA climate projections provide a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 25km resolution, covering the time period from 1950-2100.

Source: NASA
Source: NASA
Source: NASA
Source: NASA

Using these data sets, modelling algorithms, and workflows, NASA is using NEX – a collaboration and analytical platform that combines state of the art supercomputing to explore and analyse Earth’s change.

National: Michael Kirby’s View On The Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite

No one beats around the bush quite like Malcolm Turnbull. Continuing his history of a few semi-broken promises in his best Liberal fashion, Mr. Turnbull has now proven his sitting-on-the-fence nature by introducing the unwanted same-sex marriage plebiscite. A fantastically half-arsed idea in an attempts to shift the gay marriage decision to voters.

Source: Yahoo
Source: Yahoo

Former High Court Justice, Michael Kirby has expressed his views on the plebiscite warning that it’s ‘alien’ towards the constitution, stating it would establish a ‘bad precedent’ that would weaken Australian parliaments.

Source: Punjab Tribune
Source: Punjab Tribune

Mr. Kirby also reiterated that the same-sex vote was unnecessary, pointing out that there was no plebiscite on important national issues such as abolishing the White Australian Policy and that gay Australians deserve the right to equality too.

Source: SMH
Source: SMH

Mr. Turnbull has distanced himself from making any further comments and the plebiscite will not be held until next year. Until then, it will be a while before Australia can have same-sex marriage.

National: Q&A Mitch Fifield says ‘Australia shares responsibility for Nauru’

Liberal frontbencher Mitch Fifield admits that Australia has a “shared responsibility” for the asylum seekers and refugees at Nauru detention centre in ABC show Q&A, Monday, August 22.

Fifield was responding to Tracey Donehue, a former teacher at Nauru Regional Processing Centre who asked about the responsibility of the Australian Government for asylum seekers, as witness accounts – including hers – of detainees’ mistreatments continue to be ignored.

Fifield suggested that the Federal Government has a responsibility to investigate incidents of abuse and assault on Nauru. “There wouldn’t be incident reports filed if they weren’t for the purpose of being investigated,” said Fifield.

Last month, government files leak revealed a wide range of abuse allegations, including assaults, sexual abuse, child abuse and poor living condition in the detention camp.

Liberal frontbencher and Immigration minister Peter Dutton said while the case would be investigated by Nauruan authorities, “some people do have a motivation to make a false complaint”.

“I have been made aware of some incidents that have reported false allegations of sexual assault because in the end, people have paid money to people smugglers and they want to come to our country,” Dutton told 2GB Radio.

“Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia. Certainly, some have made false allegations.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government will assess the information, while former immigration minister and current treasurer Scott Morrison claim the files should not be taken as fact. “It’s important to stress that incident reports of themselves aren’t a reporting of fact, they are reporting that an allegation has been made of a particular action,” Morrison said.