Daily News Roundup

April 30, 2021

FRIDAY, APRIL 30

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again lashed the misuse of social media and called out identity politics during a passionate speech at a dinner on Thursday night.

Mr Morrison was giving an address at the United Israel Appeal Dinner in Randwick when he doubled down on his criticism of identity politics and social media.

It comes after footage of the Prime Minister speaking at a national Christian convention on the Gold Coast last week was circulated online, where Mr Morrison called the misuse of social media “the work of the devil”.

On Thursday night, Mr Morrison told guests “social and moral corrosion” was “caused by the misuse of social media, and the abuse that occurs” on such platforms.

“I would say it also includes the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics,” he said.

“We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal.

“You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things others try to identify us by, you by, in this age of identity politics.

“You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age.”

Mr Morrison said all of these attributes contributed to the “incredible diversity” of Australian society, but they were not the essence of our humanity.

   “When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings – in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder,” the Prime Minister said.

“Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when people are defined solely by the group they belong to, or an attribute they have, or an identity they possess.”

He said the Jewish community understood that better than any other in the world.

Community was the major theme throughout Mr Morrison’s speech at the appeal dinner on Thursday night, where he paid tribute to many outstanding Jewish Australians, including his “dear friend” and colleague, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

“Good citizens, good neighbours and good friends, who understand through their own faith and history and sufferings that life is not what you accumulate but what you give, what you contribute,” he said.

“In my church, we talk about blessed to be a blessing and that is what you’re doing here tonight.

“So being among you tonight, I’m deeply honoured to be here, I’m deeply grateful for your contribution to our nation.”

Mr Morrison, a Pentecostal Christian, who is deeply religious, said he and his wife Jenny had been called upon to do God’s work in his speech at the Australian Christian Churches conference last week.

In the address, which was published by a secular group online, the Prime Minister also said social media could be used by “the evil one” to undermine society and revealed he would “lay hands” on Australians he met at disaster relief centres.

Laying of hands is a practice performed in some Pentecostal churches to support prayers of healing.

“I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying, and putting my hands on people,” he told the conference about a recent visit the Pilbara after Cyclone Serjoa.

”Laying hands on them and praying in various situations.”

Mr Morrison is Australia’s first Pentecostal prime minister and the denomination has grown in popularity despite only 1.1 per cent of Australians identifying with it.

 

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Five people have been charged with attempted murder and robbery in connection with the armed snatching of Lady Gaga’s dogs and the shooting of their walker.

Detectives do not believe the alleged thieves knew the dogs belonged to the pop star, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement on Thursday (local time).

Investigators believe the motive for the February 24 robbery was the value of the French bulldogs, which can be worth thousands of dollars.

The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, is recovering from a gunshot wound and has called the violence “a very close call with death” in social media posts.

He was walking Lady Gaga’s three dogs — named Miss Asia, Koji and Gustav — in Hollywood just off the famed Sunset Boulevard when he was attacked.

Video from the doorbell camera of a nearby home shows a white sedan pulling up and two men jumping out.

They struggled with Mr Fischer, and one fired a single shot from a gun before fleeing with two of the dogs, Koji and Gustav.

Dog walker, Ryan Fischer, described the experience on social media as “a very close call with death”.

The video captured Mr Fischer’s screams of, “Oh, my God! I’ve been shot!” and “Help me!” and “I’m bleeding out from my chest!”

Lady Gaga offered a $US500,000 reward ($643,000) — “no questions asked” — to be reunited with the dogs. The singer had been in Rome at the time filming a movie.

The dogs were returned two days later to an LAPD station by a woman who police initially said appeared to be “uninvolved and unassociated” with the crime.

Jennifer McBride, 50, told police reported she had found the dogs and responded to an email address associated with the reward.

Ms McBride turned out to be in a relationship with the father of one of the suspects, the LAPD said Thursday.

It was not immediately clear if she had received the reward.

Police arrested James Jackson, 18, Jaylin White, 19, and Lafayette Whaley, 27, in connection with the violence.

They are charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree robbery, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr Jackson, who authorities say was the shooter, also faces charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and a felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle.

Mr White faces one count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Mr White’s father, 40-year-old Harold White, and Ms McBride are charged with being accessories to the attack.

Mr Jackson, Mr Whaley and the Whites are all documented gang members, according to the LAPD.

The five suspects were scheduled to be arraigned in court on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.

The five were each being held on $US1 million ($1.2 million) bail, online jail records show.

Lady Gaga did not immediately address the arrests on her social media accounts.

Mr Fischer and Lady Gaga’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

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A traveller, who unwittingly entered a common area of the Brisbane International Airport yesterday after arriving on a flight from Papua New Guinea, has tested positive to coronavirus.

The traveller and one other passenger had been in transit on a flight from Port Moresby, a coronavirus hotspot, and were accidently allowed into the “green zone” at the departures terminal on Thursday morning.

For an hour-and-a-half the pair shopped and used public toilets before being retrieved. 

Initial results released yesterday from one of the two passengers came back negative, but the second passenger’s result was inconclusive.

More samples were sent to Queensland Health’s Forensic and Scientific Services laboratory and a positive result was returned today.

The positive result is one of three today, the other two were detected in hotel quarantine.

Brisbane Airport Corporation confirmed the incident was a result of human error and the breach was being investigated.

A spokesperson said the pair were “accidentally” let into the international airport’s green zone at 9:55am Thursday after arriving on an Air Niugini flight. They were in transit and due to board a Qatar airlines flight later in the day.

Currently all overseas arrivals except for those from New Zealand must stay in “red zone” areas of the airport.

During the period the infected traveller was in the green zone, three flights to New Zealand departed, taking approximately 390 passengers.

The flights affected are Air New Zealand NZ202 from Brisbane to Christchurch, Air New Zealand NZ146 from Brisbane to Auckland, and Qantas QF135 from Brisbane to Christchurch.

“We believe the passengers were only in the vicinity of a small number of people,” a Brisbane Airport Corporation spokeswoman said.

“It will be up to Queensland Health to determine who of these had close contact with them and they will be liaised with directly by Queensland Health.”

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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “naked, thieving king”, while facing court via video link after his hunger strike. 

His remarks as he appeared on a blurry video screen, looking skeletal, came amid new legal pressure on Mr Navalny and his movement.

Allies said he faced new criminal charges and they had been forced to disband his network of regional campaign offices, which the authorities are seeking to ban as “extremist”.

Mr Navalny, his head shaven, said he had been taken to a bathhouse to look “decent” for the hearing. He undid his prison uniform to reveal a T-shirt that barely hid his thin torso.

“I looked in the mirror. Of course, I’m just a dreadful skeleton,” he said, adding that he now weighed 72 kg, the same as when he was at school.

Later in the appeal hearing against a guilty verdict on a charge of defaming a World War II veteran, Mr Navalny, 44, went on the attack against Mr Putin and the Russian justice system. At one point he interrupted the judge, and was reprimanded.

“I want to tell the dear court that your king is naked,” he said of Mr Putin.

“Millions of people are already shouting about it, because it is obvious… his crown is hanging and slipping.”

Reiterating allegations of corruption that the Kremlin denies, he said: “Your naked, thieving king wants to continue to rule until the end … Another 10 years will come, a stolen decade will come”.

Mr Navalny came to prominence with an anti-corruption campaign of caustic videos cataloguing the wealth of senior officials he labelled “swindlers and thieves”.

He has emerged as Mr Putin’s fiercest political rival in an era when mainstream opposition parties have managed to build up only narrow support.

A separate court is considering whether to declare Mr Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his network of regional campaign offices “extremist”, which would give authorities the power to jail activists and freeze bank accounts.

ENDS