Tuesday, April 16, 2019

You elected them to write new laws. They’re letting corporations do it instead.

Miroslav Marcek
The killing of Jan Kuciak, who covered corruption, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova sparked massive protests that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The killing was also a big factor in a presidential election last month in which liberal political novice Zuzana Caputova defeated the ruling party's candidate

Protesters in Bratislava march in memory of the murdered journalist.

Protesters in Bratislava march in memory of the murdered journalist.CREDIT:AP

Compelled voting may make politicians less responsive to electors because it is only the swinging vote they have to chase.

Berejiklian says she can find 'common ground' with One Nation, Shooters Party

The Berejiklian government could be forced to rely on five extra votes from the upper house crossbench to get its legislation passed.

When you speak to your virtual home assistant, such as your Alexa speaker device, is anyone else listening? Many of the owners of these fast-selling internet-connected gadgets, with 78 million bought worldwide last year alone, have wondered.
Last week, we discovered the answer – quite possibly. And not by any accident. Because Alexa's owner, the giant retailer and tech firm Amazon, has thousands of staff who do nothing else. 

Life's three certainties: death, taxes and fights over legal professional privilege

“ATO targets legal privilege”, cries the front page of a recent Australian Financial Review, neatly bringing together the second and the third of life’s certainties (the first certainty being one with which we try not to concern ourselves unduly here at Worth Knowing at Stevens Vuaran Lawyers).

The article quotes ATO Commissioner Chris Jordan as having said in March that “[the ATO’s] understanding of what advice is subject to legal professional privilege significantly differs from the position taken by some taxpayers and their advisers”, and, “we expect that these different views as to the scope of legal professional privilege will be tested shortly”. That expectation may shortly become reality, with reports that mining company Glencore has commenced proceedings in the High Court of Australia seeking to prevent the ATO from using documents obtained as part of the “Paradise Papers” leak (on the basis of a claim by Glencore that the documents are subject to legal professional privilege).

This story was published in partnership with USA TODAY and The Arizona Republic: “Each year, state lawmakers across the U.S. introduce thousands of bills dreamed up and written by corporations, industry groups and think tanks. Disguised as the work of lawmakers, these so-called “model” bills get copied in one state Capitol after another, quietly advancing the agenda of the people who write them. This story was produced as part of a collaboration between USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. More than 30 reporters across the country were involved in the two-year investigation, which identified copycat bills in every state. The team used a unique data-analysis engine built on hundreds of cloud computers to compare millions of words of legislation provided by LegiScan. A two-year investigation by USA TODAYThe Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity reveals for the first time the extent to which special interests have infiltrated state legislatures using model legislation.

USA TODAY and the Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law. The investigation examined nearly 1 million bills in all 50 states and Congress using a computer algorithm developed to detect similarities in language. That search – powered by the equivalent of 150 computers that ran nonstop for months – compared known model legislation with bills introduced by lawmakers. The phenomenon of copycat legislation is far larger. In a separate analysis, the Center for Public Integrity identified tens of thousands of bills with identical phrases, then traced the origins of that language in dozens of those bills across the country…”

Liberal candidate Gladys Liu responds to criticism over LGBT comments - The Guardian Liberal candidate Gladys Liu responds to criticism over LGBT comments - The Guardian