7 February, 2023
Max Opray is Schwartz Media's emails editor.
Thousands killed in Turkish quakes
Two massive earthquakes have rocked Turkey and Syria, with the death toll of 2700 people expected to rise sharply.
What we know:
- A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake toppled thousands of buildings and trapped residents under mounds of rubble on Monday (AP);
- Residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside in the rain and snow to escape falling debris, with buildings collapsing in a 330km radius from Diyarbakir in Turkey to Aleppo in Syria;
- The earthquake, which was centred on Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, sent residents of Damascus and Beirut rushing into the street and was felt as far away as Cairo;
- Major aftershocks continued throughout the day, including a second 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the afternoon that brought down more buildings (The Independent);
- Rescuers searched through tangles of metal and concrete for survivors, with near-freezing winter conditions adding to the urgency of extracting those trapped in the rubble;
- “It was like the apocalypse. It’s bitterly cold and there’s heavy rain, and people need saving,” said Abdul Salam al-Mahmoud, a Syrian in the northern town of Atareb (Reuters);
- Tens of thousands have been left homeless, taking refuge in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centres;
- Refugees living in precarious temporary structures in war-torn Syria were particularly exposed to the earthquakes (Al Jazeera);
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said all Australians were “deeply saddened” by the loss of life, and that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was not aware of any Australians caught up in the earthquake (ABC);
- A raft of organisations are calling for donations to support their work on the ground to help those affected (Global Citizen).
Greens back ‘Yes’ campaign
The Greens have officially backed the ‘Yes’ campaign in the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, hours after First Nations senator Lidia Thorpe quit the party over the issue.
What we know:
- Greens leader Adam Bandt said his party believed the federal government should pursue a treaty before a Voice to Parliament, but opposing the referendum would be counterproductive (ABC);
- “I don’t think a ‘No’ vote will get us closer to treaty and truth, but I respect that others in the First Nations community may have a different view on that — I will join my fellow Greens MPs in campaigning for ‘Yes’,” he said;
- The announcement came shortly after Thorpe resigned from the Greens over her concerns about the Voice, although Bandt claimed she would have been free to vote as she wished on the issue;
- Thorpe announced she was resigning to lead the “Blak sovereign movement”, where she will push for truth and treaty before a Voice to Parliament (Crikey);
- “It has become clear to me that I can’t do that from within the Greens. Now, I will be able to speak freely on all issues from a sovereign perspective, without being constrained by portfolios and agreed party positions,” Thorpe said;
- Thorpe committed to voting with the Greens on climate issues and said she had not resolved her final position on the Voice, flagging she would negotiate to secure progress on deaths in custody reforms;
- Thorpe is the latest in a line of politicians to be elected on a party ticket only to go independent, following in the path of Cory Bernardi, who quit the Liberals seven months after winning a six-year term (The Politics);
- The shift means Labor will now require the 11 Greens plus two independents to pass legislation in the upper house, leaving Jacqui Lambie’s two-seat bloc in a powerful position (The Conversation).
Abbott joins UK climate denialists
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has joined the board of trustees of a leading UK climate denial group, as he calls for “more genuine science and less groupthink in this debate”.
Abbott announced he would join the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a UK think tank that spreads climate disinformation and undermines net zero policies (DeSmog).
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said Abbott would “find himself at home” at the GWPF.
“Tony Abbott’s government ignored the science of climate change and remained focused on a backward-looking agenda for the Australian power system and economy. He will no doubt find himself at home with lots of other blokes at the Global Warming Policy Foundation who have a backward-looking agenda for the UK’s economy,” Ward said.
NT reverts to alcohol bans
Alcohol bans will be reinstated in central Australia, after a snap review of alcohol laws ordered by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in response to a spike in crime in Alice Springs.
Albanese and NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles separately announced the return of alcohol bans in town camps and remote Aboriginal communities (ABC).
Under new NT legislation to be introduced to parliament next week, the bans can be lifted if residents agree and vote on alcohol management plans.
The federal government will also provide an extra $250m for improved community safety, addressing foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, enhancing domestic violence services and improving school attendance for children.
Many remote communities will be unaffected by the change, because they were already dry before the bans were put in place, but some town camp leaders said they didn’t want to see the bans return.
Beyoncé queen of the Grammys
Beyoncé has become the most successful artist in Grammys history, taking home four trophies at the 65th edition of the music awards night.
The singer won for best R&B song, best dance/electronic recording, best dance/electronic album and best traditional R&B performance (EW).
Beyoncé’s four victories from her nine nominations mean she has now won a record 32 Grammy awards across her career to date.
Accepting the record-breaking prize for dance/electronic album, the 41-year-old paid tribute to both her “beautiful husband” and the “queer community for their love and for inventing the genre”.
Harry Styles was meanwhile recognised with album of the year, for Harry’s House, while Lizzo won record of the year for About Damn Time.
Robo-debt: Who leaked personal data to defend it
Today, senior reporter for The Saturday Paper Rick Morton on how the robo-debt royal commission is revealing one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the Australian government. Warning, this episode includes discussion of suicide.
I have to admit I didn’t write that.
Federal Labor MP Julian Hill rails against the threat of AI technologies, before hammering home his point by revealing his speech to parliament was part-written by ChatGPT (The Guardian).
Postscript: The Sauce That Survived Italy’s War on Pasta
“Pasta is like our rhetoric,” chimed in the fascist theater critic Marco Ramperti. “Only good for filling up our mouths.” The French poet Gabriel Audisio called pasta a “dictatorship of the stomach” that necessitated an “insidious, slow process of rumination … the unctuous conciliatory rhythm of the sloth.” In Genoa, an anti-pasta advocacy group formed under the acronym PIPA, or “International Association Against Pasta,” in English (Gastro Obscura).