Monday, January 15, 2018

Australia's First Antipodean Slavic Prime Minister ...

"Journalism is not a perfect exercise. It’s a human endeavor, so we will make mistakes. But if you’re not willing to be honest about it and transparent about it, then I think the people who are trying to brand real journalism as fake news are given a leg up, because they can say, see, they made this mistake and they won’t say anything about it." — Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News on PBS Newshour. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's election security unit has no immediate plans to probe allegations of electoral fraud, despite President Donald Trump's announcement this week he was giving the issue to the agency, according to administration officials. Trump said on Wednesday that he had asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review voter fraud and determine appropriate courses of action, as he announced he was disbanding a presidential commission dedicated to the matter. Multiple officials and sources familiar with the matter said they were unaware of plans within DHS, a sprawling agency responsible for a wide array of national security issues, to investigate voter fraud. State and federal officials said that having DHS pursue voter fraud allegations would undermine efforts to protect voting systems from cyber attacks, a current DHS priority.

The White House is instituting new policies on the use of personal cell phones in the West Wing in the wake of damaging reports of a chaotic Trump administration detailed in a new book. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released the following statement on the policy change: “The security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration and therefore starting next week the use of all personal devices for both guests and staff will no longer be allowed in the West Wing. Staff will be able to conduct business on their government-issued devices and continue working hard on behalf of the American people.” CBS News' Mark Knoller reports that during the Obama administration, reporters were not allowed to bring personal devices into the Roosevelt Room.

In the United States there is a buzz brewing around TV host Oprah Winfrey running for president. And a considerable bulk of Americans who remain devastated Hillary Clinton did not win the country's 2016 vote.
In the United Kingdom, Theresa May is Prime Minister and New Zealand has recently elected its third female prime minister, Jacinda Ardern...
The deputy Labor leader since 2013, Tania Plibersek is hugely popular with Labor ranks, particularly those on the left of the party. Bob Hawke has said she's "got everything it takes" and Gillard has described her as one of the most gifted communicators in the game.
An MP since 1998, Plibersek is valued for her sense of calm. She also has strong policy credentials as a former health and housing minister, with shadow roles in foreign affairs and now education.
When it comes to the leadership, she has adopted a wait-and-see approach: happy to be deputy, but also open to the top job if it became available. Even so, in the event of a spill if Labor lost the next election, Plibersek is not a certainty and would likely face competition from Albanese, Bowen and Tony Burke. As one Canberra watcher also noted, does she have that really ruthless streak required to go all the way to The Lodge?

Forget Oprah for president: The contenders to be Australia's next female PM 


ICIJ and the Committee for Protection of Journalists received a $1 million grant at the Golden Globes ceremony in Los Angeles last night. This is the first time in the 75-year history of the event that grants have been announced on air. 

The announcement by the press association president was followed by an impassioned speech by Oprah Winfrey who reinforced the importance of the work we do safeguarding the truth here at ICIJ.

“We all know the press is under siege these days,” she told the crowd. “We also know it's the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. 

“I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

All of us at ICIJ and our broader network of journalists are incredibly grateful for the grant that will help us continue our work – in such a critical time.

Last week, our partners in Lithuania and Great Britain reported on the first money recouped from our Paradise Papers investigation. A Lithuanian company, linked to U2 frontman Bono, has paid $71,000 in back taxes. You can read about it on The Guardian and Lithuania’s 15min

From chasing down interviews with political players to tracking Russian-linked cargo ships, Paradise Papers television partners produced a number of memorable reports.

A new mass data leak, this time from an elite law firm with elite clients, shows how deeply offshoring is embedded in the global financial system.

Tax authorities worldwide have recouped millions of dollars since the Panama Papers were first published in April 2016.

The U.S. Commerce Secretary has sold his stake in a shipping firm with Russian ties, but did he disclose enough information prior to his appointment?

Australian corruption priced at $72bn, federal ICAC advocates seize the day.
We're not even halfway through January and the drums are beating for a federal ICAC louder than ever. The ACT is next in line, and federal parliamentarians could well make a move of their own before the year is out.

Push vs pull: national FOI stats paint a blurry picture of open government.
Not all freedom of information laws are created equal, which makes comparing the transparency of different systems across Australia rather difficult. States that proactively publish more information might look more secretive on paper.