Saturday, 9 December 2017

Links 9/12/17


So many things, so horrifyingly hard to keep up with things. 

But first of, here's Sean Kelly on Marriage Equality becoming law in Australia: 
But while it is easy to become distracted by disillusionment, we shouldn’t always succumb. All of the above is about disenchantment with politics as it is practised in Canberra – and as we head into summer and away from this brutal parliamentary year, we should, briefly at least, try to give our focus in its entirety to the great change that occurred this week in Australia. It is a wonderful change, one that has already brought – and will continue to bring – joy to millions, and the various political frustrations of this week are, in comparison, nothing at all. 
The Monthly: Remember This Moment, December 8, 2017
It's a victory that should remain untarnished by the way it was won: the wrongness of the idea that a majority should get to vote on the civil rights of a minority, a campaign of hatred by the no side, protagonists claiming the victory for themselves and patting their own shoulders when all they did was try and appease the homophobic elements in their own party. Malcolm Turnbull doesn't get to claim this as his own - it's all of ours, and not because, but in spite of the current Australian government (and it is not the final hurdle, and anyone who thinks so only reveals their deliberately limited and privileged conception of what this community is). 

And none of this should distract from what is happening on Manus. After the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court found the detention centres to be unconstitutional, instead of finding a solution for the people trapped there, Australia left them to their own devices in an increasingly hostile climate. 
It’s important to understand that willful negligence has always been a central philosophy in Australia’s offshore detention regime. The nation has outsourced its responsibilities and pitted one marginalised group against another. It is a former coloniser of Papua New Guinea, has weaponised much needed aid, has pressured the PNG government with directions straight from Australian immigration and border force personnel, and failed to deliver many logistical upgrades that they promised Manusians. After over four years of indefinite detention, it’s obvious that the regime’s underlying ideology is an act of neocolonialism.
From the beginning, Australia has stoked the fires between both the local Manusian people and the men unlawfully detained on the island. The refugees have become a symbol of outside meddling, intrusion and danger. And while some locals have tried to assist the men, there have been numerous incidences of violence and tension between the two groups. 
Meanjin: Human Rights and Political Wrongs, November 23, 2017
Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist, has documented the situation on Manus for the Guardian. 

Yemen's former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by former Houthi allies that he only recently broke with in the now three-year old civil war which is a proxy of the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led alliance has been fighting Houthi rebels in the country but has failed to make a military breakthrough.

Meanwhile, in the never-ending horror show that is United States politics - I think this year has felt so incomprehensible because as much as all these revelations come together in an emerging story about corruption and incompetence, none of it seems to go anywhere. Every single new revelation on its own feels like it would have ended any previous presidency, and yet, all of these scandals disappear into a black void. It's "party before country", but on a much more massive scale: an entire political party well-aware of how much of its political future is now linked to a ticking time bomb of an administration. 

In Alabama, Republicans are backing Roy Moore, who is facing sexual assault allegations against minors. 

In Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential elections, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to "telling four lies to the FBI" - and the fact that these are relatively minor charges was widely interpreted as a sign that Flynn had started to cooperate with the investigation. Statements by Donald Trump regarding Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador are contradicted by Flynn's admission. One of the prosecutors working for Mueller stated that a "a very senior member of the transition team" directed Flynn to make contact with the Russian ambassador. Another revelation is the fact that the transition team seems to have actively undermined US foreign policy. 

Pop Culture: 

TIME magazine decided to make the #MeToo movement the Person of the Year, and Donald Trump, who recently boasted he was invited for a photo shoot, is named in the accompanying article as an example of the misogyny that this movement is exposing with every new revelation of sexual misconduct and abuse. The conversation isn't just about the men who have profited from industries that are built on skewed power differentials and male privilege, but also about the very culture that has collaborated and been complicit in allowing these men to thrive regardless of the countless allegations that were, more or less, public knowledge years before 2017 (how long have the rumours about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer been around?). How come this misplaced reverence for cultural figures like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski still outweighs any consideration for the damage they have done

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