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US dollar weaponisation to continue after Donald Trump is gone


It isn’t surprising that both those directly targeted by the US sanctions – countries like China and Russia – and other third parties are all pursuing mechanisms for circumventing them.

China is promoting its own currency in its trade deals, particularly within Asia, along with an ambitious schedule for an imminent launch of a digital renminbi. China and Russia have been trying to use their own currencies in their direct trades – last year was the first time dollar-denominated trade between them fell below 50 per cent.

The Europeans were side-swiped by one of the earliest decisions of the Trump administration.

With the Obama administration, they had signed up to the Iran nuclear deal in 2012, in which US sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for constraints on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Trump, unilaterally, took the US out of that deal and reimposed the sanctions.

The power of US sanctions lies in the dollar and the financial system infrastructure that facilitates its global usage – the SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication) secure messaging platform that enables financial institutions to send, receive, track and confirm transactions.

SWIFT is a co-operative controlled by about 3500 international banks (the Australian banks are represented on its board) and is arguably the key piece of global financial system architecture.

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In response to the abrupt US change in stance towards Iran and its impact on Europe and European companies – they would be in breach of the sanctions and risk being sanctioned themselves and cut out of SWIFT and the global financial system if they continued to trade with Iran – the Europeans tried to develop a workaround.

The major European Union members created a special purpose vehicle, INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to try to facilitate non-US dollar, non-SWIFT humanitarian transactions with Iran.

It was a clunky solution, more of a bartering platform than a SWIFT alternative. It allows buyers and sellers in Iranian transactions to be matched – Iranian companies or individuals in Iran and Europeans in Europe – and their deals netted off and settled in their own countries without any cross-border flows. It hasn’t been particularly popular.

The Iranian experience and US threats of sanctions – including threats against businesses working on or financing the Russian-sponsored Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany that included the prospect of “crushing” sanctions of a German port that was the logistical hub for the project – caused the Europeans to think more deeply about their vulnerability to the power of the dollar.

Earlier this week the Financial Times reported (and other mastheads subsequently confirmed) that there is a draft of a European Commission policy paper that refers to the difficulty of the EU asserting its independence and using the Iranian experience to argue for measures to shield the EU from the effects of “unlawful extraterritorial application” of US sanctions.

The efforts of China, Russia and the EU to reduce the extent of the US dollar’s dominance have gained momentum, thanks to the Trump administration.

The US sanctions not only impacted SWIFT but also European clearance and settlements platforms for domestic and international bonds, equities and derivatives so it isn’t at all surprising that the EU is searching for structural insulation from the threat of being caught up in future US sanctions.

Promotion of a greater use of the euro to settle transactions between European companies in traditionally US-dollar denominated trades, like commodities, and a shift from using US dollars in financial benchmarks to euros are among the paths being explored.

Network effects – the more the dollar is used in international transactions the more companies, individuals and countries have to use it – make any attempt to undermine the dollar’s reserve currency status problematic but the efforts of China, Russia and the EU to reduce the extent of its dominance have gained momentum, thanks to the Trump administration.

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Longer term, the incentive for countries other than the US to develop something along the lines of the multi-polar digital currency advocated by former Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, will only increase.

It’s not just the sanctions. Dollar dominance reduces the economic and financial independence of economies and the sovereignty of nations. It reduces their flexibility to respond to their own circumstances and, for those with free-floating currencies, can generate external shocks and destabilisation that are difficult to respond to.

If there were a global, or at least international, digital currency with credibility sponsored by the key non-US central banks the dollar’s dominance would be reduced, along with the extraterritorial power and coercive influence of the US.

The resentment, particularly in Europe, of the dollar’s status – it is disproportionate to America’s actual scale in global trade and economic activity – and the consequent under-representation of the euro in global activity relative to the size of the eurozone, existed before Trump’s presidency.

The past four years, with Trump’s trade wars, threats and sanctions on even America’s traditional allies have, however, stressed and perhaps even broken the trans-Atlantic relationship and provided new and more powerful motivation for China, the EU and other economies to reduce their exposure to the dollar and undermine its dominance.

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese accuses PM Scott Morrison of sucking up to Donald Trump


Anthony Albanese has accused the Prime Minister Scott Morrison of pandering and sucking up to outgoing US President Donald Trump along with “fringe dwellers” and “Trumpists” in his ranks.

In a major foreign policy speech to be delivered on Wednesday, the Labor leader will call for a reset for the US-Australia relationship suggesting that the Prime Minister had not done enough to build a relationship with the Democrats and incoming US President Joe Biden.

He also suggests that Australia will be left exposed for not developing a more credible position on climate change policy.

“Let’s call this what it was: Mr Morrison pandering to President Trump and those who follow him in Australia,’’ Mr Albanese says.

“And the Coalition has deliberately run down our diplomatic capability – making Australia weaker in prosecuting our interests.”

RELATED: ‘Deplorable’: PM’s Trump gong slammed

RELATED: Albanese dismisses leadership talk

RELATED: Morrison snubs Trump but praises Pence, Biden

Accusing the Trump administration of taking America “close to the brink” in the tumultuous days of early January when Trumpists stormed the nation’s capital, Mr Albanese said US democracy had been forced to demonstrate its resilience.

“Today, Washington time, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States,’’ he says.

“US democracy has shown its resilience. Attempts to undermine it have failed.

“But America came close to the brink. The images we woke to on January 7 diminished those who seek to harm it.”

In a swipe at the Prime Minister, Mr Albanese said he needed to be stronger in his condemnation of US President Donald Trump for inciting the riots.

“It was so important for all of America’s allies to be utterly unambiguous when President Trump sought to undermine the democratic process,’’ he says.

“The great tragedy of the recent past is that the power of America’s example has been diminished from within.

“It is in Australia’s interests as a US ally to encourage the restoration of that power.”

Mr Albanese’s speech calls for Australia to “be the ally that the United States needs, rather than the ally it wants.”

“If it wasn’t already obvious, Malcolm Turnbull’s difficult first phone call with Donald Trump demonstrated the challenges building a strong relationship between our nations’ leaders would face,’’ he says.

“But Scott Morrison went too far – partly out of his affinity with Donald Trump, partly because of the political constituency they share.

“He remains afraid of the far-right extremist fringe dwellers who make up the bedrock of his personal support – and who he cultivates through the avatars of Trumpists and conspiracy theorists like Craig Kelly and George Christensen.”

Mr Morrison has previously labelled the riots and protests in Washington DC as “terribly distressing” and concerning.

But his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull has also admonished Mr Morrison for ever accepting a prestigious gong from US president Donald Trump.

“Well, look, I think it’s a great pity,’’ Mr Turnbull said.

“I think it’s a great pity that Morrison didn’t let it be known, you know make some tactful diplomatic excuse and not accept it.

“It’s a bit questionable. I think it would have been better not to accept it in the first place.”

The speech suggests that rather than an error, Labor’s recent social media posts attacking the PM as too close to Mr Trump are part of a broader strategy.

Featuring an image of the Prime Minister grinning with outgoing US President Donald Trump and giving the thumbs up to the words “it’s the company that you keep”, the post sparked division in Labor ranks.



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Trump backers seek online refuges after big tech backlash


Then came an unprecedented response from the tech companies to the Capitol riot, fuelled in part by false and misleading social media posts that undermined faith in the US election. Twitter banned Trump’s account, as well as 70,000 accounts associated with the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. Facebook and Instagram suspended Trump through the end of his term, and removed posts fraudulently claiming that the US election was stolen. Snapchat also banned Trump, and on Wednesday, YouTube suspended his channel for at least a week.

Some conservative users had briefly found refuge on Parler, only to see the conservative alternative to Facebook go dark on Monday when Amazon stopped providing hosting services. Parler sued Amazon over the ban; Amazon responded by arguing the platform’s “unwillingness” to remove posts threatens public safety.

“If we knock all these folks into the dark shadows of the internet, they’re going to continue to communicate, but authorities will have a harder time tracking it.”

Disinformation expert James Ludes

The crackdown prompted many conservative posters to consider more obscure alternative platforms such as Gab, which has marketed itself to Trump supporters. Gab CEO Andrew Torba, who describes himself as a “Christian entrepreneur and American populist,” posted Wednesday that 1.7 million users signed up in the past four days.

“This is where we make our final stand for our sacred birthright bestowed by God and affirmed by our Founding Fathers,” read a comment shared by Torba.

Other platforms attracting Trump supporters include Signal and Telegram, messaging services already used by individuals and groups with different ideologies around the world, as well as a growing list of lesser-known platforms, such as Rumble, MeWe and CloutHub.

Telegram announced on Wednesday that it had more than 500 million users, with more than 25 million signing up since Sunday.

Several Trump social media stars banished from the mainstream platforms have launched their own channels on the service, gaining thousands of followers in just days. A channel that claims to be run by conservative attorney L. Lin Wood Jr, who littered Twitter with false claims about the election and called on Parler for Vice President Mike Pence to be killed, has gained more than 100,000 subscribers since its first message was posted on Monday. QAnon and far-right channels also have seen their membership boosted by thousands this week.

Many of these smaller sites already were havens for extremists and conspiracy theorists who have been kicked off Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, said Jared Holt, a disinformation researcher at the Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council.

“In the worst-case scenario, I could envision there’s a potential here for mass radicalisation if droves of people show up on the platforms that have been the stomping grounds for extremist movements,” Holt said.

These platforms still only have a fraction of the audience that Facebook or Twitter have, meaning it will be harder for conspiracy theorists and extremists to spread their message.

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“There are trade-offs,” Starbird said of the platform’s crackdown: Less misinformation spreading in the general public, but also carrying the risk of concentrating misinformation on far smaller sites with few rules and little to no content moderation.

It’s also possible that some on the far right may take greater advantage of more-secure, encrypted messaging services offered by the likes of Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp, making it harder for researchers, journalists and government officials to monitor for signs of threats, according to James Ludes, a former congressional defense analyst and disinformation expert who runs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University.

“They’re still here,” Ludes said. “If we knock all these folks into the dark shadows of the internet, they’re going to continue to communicate, but authorities will have a harder time tracking it.”

Meanwhile, on fringe websites associated with the anti-government Boogaloo movement, planning continues for armed protests at state capitols. Chatter around such protests is present on some social media, Holt said, and an internal FBI bulletin this week warned of extremist threats at such events.

Organisers “are still intent on going forward,” Holt said. “It remains unclear what we could expect as far as turnout goes for that.”

AP

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Twitter CEO says Trump ban was right, but sets a ‘dangerous precedent’


Dorsey’s statements – the first time the CEO spoke about the decision – arrived on the heels of an emotional week in which right-wing figures disavowed the power of Silicon Valley companies, while employees and the public had begged the company for more explanation of its actions in response to the violent January 6 pro-Trump rally at the Capitol. At the same time, Twitter continued to suspend tens of thousands of problematic accounts.

Twitter’s Trump ban drew criticism from some Republicans who said it quelled the US president’s right to free speech. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned through a spokesman that legislators, not private companies, should decide on potential curbs to free expression.

Dorsey said he believed Twitter had made “the right decision”, adding that the company “faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety.”

But the action, he noted, came with perilous consequences in terms of fragmenting the online conversation as people flee to use different services that suit them politically, and giving companies like Twitter enormous unchecked power.

“This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet,” he wrote. “A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same.”

Twitter has introduced a series of measures over the last year like labels, warnings and distribution restrictions to reduce the need for decisions about removing content entirely from the service.

Dorsey has said he believes those measures can promote more fruitful, or “healthy,” conversations online and lessen the impact of bad behaviour.

Twitter banned Trump’s account last Friday after first suspending him for 12 hours the day of the Capitol siege. On Friday, Trump again tweeted that he wouldn’t attend the inauguration, as well as saying that his supporters would not be disrespected “in any way, shape, or form.”

Twitter immediately dismantled his account, saying the tweets could incite violence.

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Facebook has also banned Trump indefinitely, as has Amazon-owned video platform Twitch. Snapchat banned him permanently, while Google-owned YouTube did so for seven days. Amazon’s web services division cut off the Trump friendly social media site Parler, which was also removed from the Google and Apple app stores.

The Twitter CEO explained bans by social media companies on Trump after last week’s violence were emboldened by each other’s actions, even though they were not coordinated.

Supporters of Trump who has repeatedly made baseless claims challenging Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election, stormed the US Capitol last week, trying to halt the certification by Congress of Biden’s Electoral College win.

On Wednesday, Trump became the first president in US history to be impeached twice.

The Washington Post/Reuters

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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick will not accept medal from Donald Trump following US Capitol violence



Six-time Super Bowl coach Bill Belichick says he will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Donald Trump in the wake of the violence at the Capitol.

In a delicately worded, one-paragraph statement, Belichick said: “Remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

The New England Patriots coach did not explicitly say he had turned down the offer from Mr Trump, who he has called a friend.

Instead, Belichick explained, “the decision has been made not to move forward with the award” in the wake of last week’s deadly siege.

Mr Trump said on Saturday, three days after the riots, he would award Belichick the nation’s highest civilian honour.

It was to be one in a late flurry of presentations that also included golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.

Sorenstam and Player accepted their awards in a private ceremony the day after Trump supporters stormed the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Five people died in the mayhem, including US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Belichick was to be honoured on Thursday.

“Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.

“Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.

“I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team.”

Although he describes himself as apolitical, Belichick has waded into politics on occasion.

He wrote Mr Trump a letter of support that the candidate read aloud the night before the 2016 election at a rally in New Hampshire, a bastion of the team’s fandom.

Although Mr Trump said the letter offered “best wishes for great results” on election day and “the opportunity to make America great again”, Belichick said it was merely to support a friend.

Belichick also wore an Armenian flag pin to the White House in 2015 when the team celebrated its fourth Super Bowl victory — believed to be a sign of support for the team’s director of football, Berj Najarian, who is of Armenian descent.

Last month, Belichick called on the US Government to take action against Turkey and Azerbaijan for “unprovoked and violent attacks against Armenians”.

In the aftermath of black man George Floyd’s death at the hands of white police this summer, Patriots players praised Belichick for providing an open forum for them to express their feelings on race and social injustice in America.

In his statement on Monday, Belichick called that “one of the most rewarding things in my professional career”.

“Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

AP



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Federal government demands clarity from social media over Donald Trump Twitter ban


The federal government is calling for consistency from social media giants after Donald Trump’s Twitter ban sparked fresh questions over their role in policing free speech online.

The US President has been removed from a slew of social media platforms, most notably Twitter, after being accused on inciting a deadly assault on the US Capitol.

The federal government has urged social media giants to be consistent when enforcing their rules, with Technology Minister Karen Andrews accusing them of having subjective processes.

“There have been many instances of comments that have been taken down from various platforms. Yet in some instances, these platforms are very quick to act when it seems as if the subject content is something that they don’t personally agree with,” she told 3AW Radio on Tuesday.

“That is unfair, it is inconsistent and it lacks the transparency that we are looking for.”

Ms Andrews said although there was “nothing new” in private corporations applying their own terms, she said there was a “deeper question” over the consistency and fairness of the rules.

She confirmed the government was considering stronger powers for the eSafety commissioner to combat dangerous content online but said the conversation on Mr Trump’s ban was “about social media ethics”.

Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said it was hypocritical for Coalition members to promote free enterprise while calling for a private company to be regulated.

“I’m a bit old-fashioned, I believe in free enterprise. I believe that Twitter is a free enterprise and should be able to ban whoever is inciting hate speech as they wish,” he said on Tuesday.

“I found it extraordinary to see some allegedly free enterprise politicians call for stronger regulation of Twitter and other social media.”

The bans prompted questions over whether social media executives should have the right to censor world leaders online.

The suspension of Mr Trump’s personal Twitter account came despite a New York federal appeals court ruling in 2019 that he was not able to block users.

The ruling stated that given the account was frequently used to conduct official business, blocking users would violate their First Amendment rights.

Liberal MP Dave Sharma said last week he supported the decision to ban Mr Trump from Twitter, arguing it was the “right decision on the facts”.

But he was troubled by the precedent of social media giants curtailing the speech of a world leader.

Twitter’s approach to Iranian leader Ali Khamenei has prompted further accusations of inconsistency.

New posts on the Ayatollah’s English-language account, which regularly shares his statements despite not being officially verified, have been suspended.

But the account remains online despite accusations it has incited violence towards Israel.

Parler, a “free speech social media alternative” favoured by many Trump supporters, has also been decimated after Amazon, Google, and Apple removed it from their servers within 24 hours.

Apple accused Parler of failing to implement adequate safeguards against the spread of violent or hateful material.

But the bans have been criticised for silencing Trump supporters by effectively removing Parler from the internet.



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Fox News ponders life after Trump


Prime-time hosts like Carlson and Sean Hannity spoke darkly of possible voter fraud and irregularities. But privately, senior figures at the network acknowledged a struggle to thread the needle between the president’s bogus (and possibly defamatory) fraud claims, and the demands of an audience that was increasingly confused at the discrepancies between Trump’s lies and the reporting on Fox News, which declared Joe Biden the president-elect November 7.

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Executives at Fox News were unfazed by the lamentations of liberal critics, but the defection of conservative viewers to fringier pro-Trump outlets like Newsmax was more concerning. The prospect of Trump TV, a rival media venture led by the president himself, also loomed.

Now, in the wake of violence at the Capitol and Trump’s increasing isolation within his own party, Fox News is finding a path forward: sympathise with the grievances of a Trump-adoring audience that has finally acknowledged its tribune has fallen. Become a MAGA safe space.

“Tens of millions of Americans have no chance; they’re about to be crushed by the ascendant left,” Carlson claimed. “These people need a defender. You need a defender.”

It was not hard to deduce whom he had in mind.

Anyone expecting an about-face from Fox News — or an apology, as some liberals might daydream — has not studied its history or that of its owner, Murdoch, whose ability to adapt to political change is matched only by his reluctance to kowtow to critics.

With Democrats set to take power in Washington, Fox News’ pundits are trotting out the old hits. On his Friday program, which aired shortly after Twitter announced that it had banned the president from its platform, Hannity promised, rather generically, to “expose what is breathtaking hypocrisy of Democrats and the media mob.” He went on to attack familiar Fox News villains like the Clintons, the Obamas, Madonna and comedian Kathy Griffin. It could have been a rerun from 2014. (Hannity, in fact, had pre-taped his 9 p.m. show a few hours earlier.)

Carlson, who was live Friday, seized on the news that Twitter had closed Trump’s account, warning his viewers that “the crackdown of America’s civil liberties is coming” and portraying liberals as hellbent on silencing conservative views. But he uttered the word “Trump” only twice over the entire hour.

It took a moment for Fox News’ hosts to recalibrate after the shocking and violent events of the week.

Several network stars, notably anchor Laura Ingraham and political analyst Brit Hume, spread a baseless theory that left-wing activists — not Trump supporters — were responsible for the violence at the Capitol. (Ingraham later tweeted a debunking of the theory.) A guest on Carlson’s Wednesday show made the same unfounded claim about antifa infiltration, with no pushback from the host. And news anchor Martha MacCallum initially compared the siege at the heart of American democracy to a minor incident of graffiti at a Republican senator’s house.

By Thursday, amid a flurry of White House resignations and a rising chorus of Republicans declaring that it was time for Trump to go, there were cracks in the firmament.

“To put up a Trump flag and take down the American flag is not patriotic — it was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” Brian Kilmeade said on “Fox & Friends.”

The false rumours about Antifa involvement were dialled back, and hosts criticised the Washington violence.

Still, no Fox News prime-time star has yet blamed Trump for his role in inciting the riot at the Capitol. And rather than reckon with years of backing Trump and giving comfort to his supporters, the network’s commentators have simply swivelled, finding new ways to take on old targets. In the Fox News universe, Biden is now a socialist prepared to upend the American way of life. And many hosts have drawn a direct equivalence between the storming of the Capitol by an anti-democratic mob and the Black Lives Matters protests over the summer in support of racial justice.

Power player: Lachlan Murdoch with father Rupert.

Power player: Lachlan Murdoch with father Rupert.Credit:Bloomberg

As repulsive as such rhetoric may be to liberals, it is part of a formula that has rarely failed Fox News, which remains the profit engine of Murdoch’s Fox Corporation.

The network’s ratings fell after Election Day, and it has lost badly to CNN in the ratings since the riot at the Capitol. But in 2020 as a whole, Fox News was the third-most-watched network in the country in prime-time on weekdays. That was not just cable news; it was all of television. Only CBS and NBC ranked higher.

Fox News’ biggest stars, meanwhile, are staying put. Ingraham revealed a new multi-year contract in December, and Carlson and Hannity are also on long-term deals, according to a person with knowledge of the network’s inner workings. For all of the hype over Newsmax, its ratings have fallen back from postelection highs.

And if Murdoch ever feels the need to distance himself more formally from Trump, he has other platforms on which to do so. In November, another Murdoch organ, The New York Post, proclaimed Biden’s victory in a cheery front page. After this past week’s Capitol riots, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal made a case for Trump to resign.

Murdoch and his son Lachlan, who is the executive chairman of the Fox Corporation, had no comment, a representative said.

Trump TV takes Capitol hit

Trump TV, which could have posed a significant challenge for Fox News in 2021, now appears less of a threat. Industry experts say the reputational damage that Trump sustained in the wake of the riots — and his abandonment by allies and donors — has severely hurt his ability to get a viable Fox News competitor off the ground.

“This has not been a positive note,” said Christopher Ruddy, a confidant of Trump and the CEO of Newsmax.

Starting a new network requires approval from cable distributors like Charter Communications and Comcast (which Trump has gleefully denounced as “Concast”), corporations that could face intense public pressure not to associate with Trump after his presidency.

A flash lights up the front of the US Capitol as a mob of Trump supporters control the steps of the building.

A flash lights up the front of the US Capitol as a mob of Trump supporters control the steps of the building.Credit:

Even digital news outlets, like the websites created by former Fox News stars Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, need help from mainstream tech companies that may now baulk at any association with the Trump brand.

“The prospects are now greatly diminished,” said Christopher Balfe, a conservative media consultant who has built digital platforms for stars like Beck and Megyn Kelly. “You’ve got a real distribution problem. And now that Facebook and Twitter have taken action, they’ve opened the door to a broader de-platforming.”

As for a traditional TV network, Balfe said cable carriers “weren’t interested before November 6, and they’re certainly not interested in taking anything from him after January 6.”

Still, some television veterans say that Trump’s millions of supporters could sustain a media outlet regardless of corporate qualms.

“There will always be some entity that’s willing to make a buck by hosting their service,” said Jonathan Klein, a former president of CNN.

Klein pointed out that Comcast and other cable distributors carry Newsmax and One America News “despite the fictions they’ve been perpetrating.” He added, regretfully, that the violent events at the Capitol could even function as a launching pad for a niche media outlet catering to an audience eager to hear more from Trump.

“He might have thought of it,” Klein said, “as his greatest kickoff event.”

The New York Times

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Big Tech turns up the heat on Trump followers with Parler suspension


Parler chief executive John Matze lashed out at Apple, saying the iPhone maker was banning the service until it gives up free speech and institutes “broad and invasive policies like Twitter and Facebook.”

Amazon has suspended Parler from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) unit, for violating AWS’s terms of services by failing to effectively deal with a steady increase in violent content on the social networking service, BuzzFeed News reported late on Saturday.

Amazon’s move effectively takes the site offline unless it can find a new company to host its services.

AWS plans to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, at 11:59 p.m. PST, according to an email by an AWS Trust and Safety team to Parler seen by BuzzFeed.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the letter was authentic.

Some Trump supporters have vowed to return to the Capitol next week.

Some Trump supporters have vowed to return to the Capitol next week.Credit:NYT

Matze, in a post on Parler responding to the Apple suspension, said, “They claim it is due to violence on the platform. The community disagrees as we hit number 1 on their store today,” Matze said in a post on Parler.

“More details about our next plans coming soon as we have many options,” Matze said.

In addition to Parler, right-leaning social media users in the United States have flocked to messaging app Telegram and hands-off social site Gab, citing the more aggressive policing of political comments on mainstream platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Google, in its announcement Friday that it was suspending Parler, said that Parler must demonstrate “robust” content moderation if it wants to get back in the store.



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Local News - Victoria

Nations need to be on guard against another Trump


It is to be hoped Joe Biden’s presidency stabilises the US democracy and its status as a world power. As long as democratic nations remain on guard against the election of the likes of Donald Trump, there remains hope for the future.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

The joy of living in safety in a true democracy

It was 1990 and we had three young children in tow after three months of youth hostelling in Europe and North America. On the last leg at Los Angeles Airport, the young American attendant said: ‘‘So you’re going home to paradise?’’ I smiled but did not really understand what he meant. Over the years, his words have become clear. But clearer this week as I witnessed the rampage on democracy in Washington, DC.
Lorraine Ryan, Templestowe

A disruptive rabble, not an organised coup

An ‘‘assault on democracy’’ is a grossly overstated description of the invasion of the Capitol building. There was no planned attempt to replace the government with an alternative, no leadership and no manifesto of aims. There was no attempt to bring the army or police on side. It was merely a rabble keen to make a noise, let off steam, be disruptive and disrespectful and get on the news. It was no more a threat to democracy than an egg thrower or rowdy group in the parliamentary gallery shouting slogans before being ejected.
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West

Impossibility of making Trump see reason

Surely, Donald Trump is suffering some kind of delusional illness. What else could explain his frightening rejection of reality? When he can no longer deny that his has lost the presidency, will he order his followers to drink poison, as Jim Jones, the leader of Peoples Temple movement, did in 1978? Already, he will go down in history as the baddest of bad losers.
Danny Cole, Essendon

I believe this, therefore it must be true

People will believe exactly what they want to believe, regardless of the facts. And it is not the truth that matters most, it is what people believe. Never have these two statements been played out so accurately to reflect their inherent truths.
Joyce Butcher, Williamstown

Why are we surprised that the riot happened?

While watching the events in Washington on Wednesday, I was struck by memories of demonstrations sponsored by US governments, whether under Democratic or Republican administrations, protesting against election results and attempting to overturn them in other countries, like Georgia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Bolivia and Belarus.

In each case, the US administration declared the election fraudulent, usually in advance, and encouraged direct action. In the current situation in the US, we had the President making similar accusations both before and after the election. Why should anyone be surprised that it has now happened there?
John Hird, Ripponlea

The Prime Minister must speak out on Trump

Scott Morrison says: ‘‘It is not for me to offer commentary on world leaders’’ (The Age, 8/1). It looks like he still does not hold a fire hose. He is pointedly unwilling to douse Donald Trump’s fire or call him an arsonist.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills

THE FORUM

Medal for true greatness

When Donald Trump awarded our Prime Minister the Legion of Merit, I thought he was in outstanding company given that my dear father, Major Martin Clemens, was awarded the same medal. His for ‘‘exceptionally meritorious conduct and showing disregard for his own safety” after having led a battalion of American soldiers against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, July 1943.

It was a bloody battle but few American lives were lost. Sadly, 65 enemies lost theirs. Father’s citation is personally signed by Franklin Roosevelt and is highly valued by our family.

Now I see our Prime Minister refuses to condemn the violence incited by Donald Trump. I feel rather insulted that he accepted the Legion of Merit from this man. Malcolm Turnbull says it is a ‘‘pity’’ he did not refuse it. It belittles the value of it. Sad days.
Alexandra Clemens, Prahran

The US’ double standard

There was more than a touch of irony in former president George W.Bush’s reference to banana republics in his condemnation of the storming of Congress. It was often the direct and sometimes violent intervention of the US in the democratic process in those countries to protect American interests that led to their becoming banana republics.
Ross Bardin, Williamstown

Tell me it’s not true

I think I am locked into watching an improbable, bad movie about a pandemic sweeping the world and the end of democracy in America. Please can I switch off and give a review of a mountain of rotten tomatoes.
Elizabeth Howcroft, Hawthorn

Rational Trump voters

To all those many millions of Trump supporters who did not turn out in a seditious attempt to thwart the will of the people, America owes you a debt of gratitude.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe

Such sensible priorities

I turned on the car radio late on Thursday afternoon to catch up on news about the American insurgency. Delightfully 774 ABC was not covering this; it was cricket time, and there was an earnest, in-depth discussion about when the rain might stop so play could restart. Prioritising non-cricket over a violent threat to American democracy makes me very happy to live in Australia.
Colin Jevons, Glen Iris

His lips are sealed

‘‘It’s not for me to offer commentary on other world leaders’’, says Scott Morrison. Let us keep this quote handy for the next time our cautious Prime Minister mentions Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Nicolas Maduro or Xi Jinping. Or, for that matter, Boris Johnson and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East

Terrorists and democrats

Let me see if I have this right. The protesters who stormed the US Capitol were ‘‘domestic terrorists’’ but the mobs who stormed and vandalised the Hong Kong Legislative Council, threw petrol bombs and destroyed subway stations were freedom loving democrats?
Peter Martina, Warrnambool

Power of governments

If the storming of the US Capitol building teaches us anything, it is that politicians vastly underestimate the impact and influence they have over a community – or worse perhaps, they are fully aware of it.

This highlights the importance of having a forward-thinking government. One that works towards addressing climate change, the recognition, value and respect of Indigenous people, and the benefits of improving social inequality to better the country and the world. Is Australia ready to move beyond the anti-policy agenda of the weak, narrow-sighted and impotent Coalition government? I certainly hope so.
Dave Zalstein, Dingley Village

What happened to …

When the lockdown ended, I felt very safe using public transport. Everyone wore masks and kept their distance. Now many people are brazenly flaunting the mask rules. Surely it would not be too difficult to have inspectors board the trains to enforce the rules. Containing the coronavirus is much more important than fare evasion.
Jean Shaik, South Yarra

… wearing your masks?

Congratulations to JB Hi-Fi at Forest Hill. The staff member at the door politely asks shoppers to wear their mask properly. But what of the shopping centre management, the government, the police?

There are lots of signs and posters around, and yet masks under the nose are everywhere. Are we too precious and too timid to ask people to wear their masks properly? A little publicity and a courteous request by a COVID marshal at the entrance to each shopping centre would probably be enough to make a difference.
Stephen Mills, Blackburn South

Show some empathy

I am disheartened by the vitriol displayed by Victorians towards fellow Victorians who are stuck interstate, portraying us as reckless and irresponsible.

We left Victoria on December 13. There was no COVID apart from that in hotel quarantine and no warnings on travel. We had not seen any family for 18 months. Why would we not cross the border to see them, especially as we were going to spend our time in a rural area which had had one case in total, last April?

On New Year’s Eve, we were given seven hours notice to get back to Victoria to avoid isolation or quarantine. We were at the beach, with no car and no flights, near the border to Queensland. To get back in that timeframe was impossible. The Victorian government has been unnecessarily cruel towards citizens like us who pose no risk. We do not need fellow Victorians to be cruel and judgmental also. I suggest we work on building our capacity for kindness and empathy.
Melissa Ort (in exile), Fitzroy North

Our right to be safe

I certainly sympathise with people who are experiencing difficulties returning to Victoria, but I also sympathise (to a greater extent) with those who are at risk of suffering if this virus takes off in Victoria again. They have the right not to be subjected to a deadly virus and possibly lose their job, business, health or even life as a result. Perhaps the answer is for government to look at assisting those who are struggling to return with costs and other practicalities etc, including with quarantining.
Sally Scott, Hawthorn

True, suffering refugees

I can accept that the sudden border closedown over the New Year period was disappointing for many families and inconvenienced many. But please do not tell me that you feel like ‘‘refugees in our own country’’ (The Age, 8/1) when we still disgracefully lock up genuine refugees in situations and conditions that disregard our obligations under the UN Convention on Refugees.
Denise Stevens, Healesville

Danger of a third wave

When we Victorian citizens are a couple of months into the hard lockdown brought about by the third wave of coronavirus infections introduced into the community by an international visitor to the Australian Open, will no one be responsible for that as well? Another ‘‘orphan event’’, signed off by a phantom? Corporate greed being allowed to endanger the public’s health is simply lunacy.
Phil Piesse, Kew

So, who’s to blame?

Recently I received a Christmas card (13 by 9.5 centimetres) from the UK which had been opened by ‘‘Australia Post for Inspection by ABF’’. I was incensed and rang Australia Post to find out why it was opened. They did not know. Then I rang the Australian Border Force to ascertain why such a small item was examined. I received the same answer: ‘‘We do not know’’. Why?
Sylvia Sanders, Park Orchards

Cricketing matters

The practice of batsmen (and women batters too) scratching at the crease to take guard is imprecise and needlessly destructive. It also needlessly involves the umpires. Why not paint three short lines aligning the stumps precisely?
Graeme Stubbs, Balwyn

Loss of precious trees

If Melburnians are concerned about tree clearing (The Age, 4/1), I suggest they avoid the Otway Ranges where native forests are being logged on a grand scale. You can no longer reach any of the Otway’s many beautiful waterfalls without going through the ugly wasteland left behind by loggers. Replacing native forests with pine plantations, as seems to be the case, provides no habitat for native wildlife.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove

Inequality of our votes

Caitlin Fitzsimmons’ article (Comment, 6/1) on the risk to our otherwise robust electoral system was excellent.

But there is another blatant gerrymander in the system that needs to be rectified. The Constitution says no state shall have fewer than five seats in the House of Representatives. The outcome is that Tasmania has five seats with an average number of electors of around 75,000. Mainland states’ seats are much larger. Mine (Cooper) has more than 110,000 electors.

This means the vote of a person in Bass is worth almost 50more than mine. Any gerrymander in the House influences who forms government. It is time for a referendum on dropping this undemocratic gerrymander. Does either of the major parties have the courage to do so?
Geoff Wescott, Northcote

AND ANOTHER THING

The US

Emperor. Stark nude. And stark raving mad.
Nina Wellington-Iser, Hawthorn

From Kennedy’s Camelot to Trump’s chaos in a lifetime. Democracy is a fragile fabric.
Bill Cleveland, Kew

Trump wanted a wall built. It’s going to be 2-metres high around Capitol Hill.
George Djoneff, Mitcham

Is there a crime in the US for inciting violence? Treason maybe?
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

The ‘‘leader’’ of the free world has gone from a First World to a Third World country. How the mighty have fallen.
Warren Wiggins, Flemington

We haven’t heard the last of Trump. An expert grifter working a long con – and there’s still money to be made.
Laurie McCormack, Northcote

Has the American dream become a nightmare?
Stan Marks, Caulfield

The first Republican president, Lincoln, saved the union. The latest has torn it asunder.
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton

The Republicans reject Trump (at last). Principle or rats deserting a sinking ship?
David Rose, Montrose

Morrison’s silence in criticising the actions of Trump is deafening.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

With its election and the handling of the pandemic, the US must be the only asylum run by the inmates.
Stan Thomson, Sandringham

Will Trump be remembered for starting the US’ second civil war?
Ross Cropley, North Ringwood

Will Morrison now return his Legion of Merit medal?
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully

I assume it was bone spurs that prevented Trump from joining the mob.
Geoff Castles, Ringwood North

Should England resume control of its dysfunctional North American colonies?
Bill Pell, Emerald

If only we’d listened to Shorten when he said ‘‘Trump is barking mad’’.
Geoff Cheong, Aspendale Garden

Note from the Editor

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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Labor Donald Trump tweet lashed


Former Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has admonished Scott Morrison for ever accepting a prestigious gong from US president Donald Trump.

Calling on Mr Morrison to “deplore” the acts of violence in Washington DC in a more full-throated attack on Mr Trump, he said it was always “fraught” to accept awards from foreign powers.

But he claims it’s now too late to hand it back in the wake of the “disgraceful” violence in Washington DC overnight and the US President’s ongoing claims of voter fraud.

Just before Christmas the US president awarded the Prime Minister one of the US’ top military honours.

Mr Morrison has been awarded the Legion of Merit, as was India’s leader Narendra Modi and former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

A spokeswoman for Mr Morrison said he was honoured by the award. But Mr Morrison told ABC TV on Thursday that it was not a good look.

“Well, look, I think it’s a great pity,’’ Mr Morrison said.

“I think it’s a great pity that Morrison didn’t let it be known, you know make some tactful diplomatic excuse and not accept it.

“It’s a bit questionable. I think it would have been better not to accept it in the first place.”

Mr Morrison condemned the acts of violence in Washington DC, urging the US President to facilitate the “peaceful transfer” of power to a new President.

“Very distressing scenes at the US Congress,’’ he said.

But asked about Liberal MPs’ claims of voter fraud in the US he said it was a “free country” and people had a right to free speech.

Earlier, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a more strongly worded attack on the outgoing US President and “the mob” laying siege to US democracy.

“Today’s mob violence at the Capitol is the culmination of Trump’s sustained assault on American democracy,’’ Mr Turnbull said.

“The President should call on the mob he incited to disperse and go home. And Trump’s supporters in the GOP and the media should reflect on what they have enabled.”

Mr Turnbull also retweeted former US President Barack Obama’s white house staffer Ben Rhodes claim that the US President should be removed from office

“This man needs to be removed from office. He is leading an insurrection against American democracy,’’ he wrote.

The chorus of condemnation from Australian conservative political leaders also including former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett who said President Trump’s actions were disgraceful.

But Mr Morrison’s repudiation of the violence erupting in Washington DC has been rubbished by Labor in a social media post declaring “it’s the company you keep.”

RELATED: Woman shot dead in US carnage

RELATED: Follow our live updates from the US

Featuring an image of the Prime Minister grinning with outgoing US President Donald Trump and giving the thumbs up, the post has sparked division among voters with some urging the ALP to “delete this”.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke responded to the tweet saying it was “poor form”.

“It’s what every Australian PM has done, regardless of party or issues: work with each US administration for Australia’s national interest with our key ally,” Mr Hawke tweeted.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the terrifying scenes in the United States were an “assault on the rule of law.”

But asked on 2GB radio today whether the Labor’s social media post was “absurd, isn’t it?” and appeared to walk back from it on Thursday.

“I mean, the suggestion that it wouldn’t have been Bill Shorten getting a photo op with Donald Trump if he had won the election?,’’ host Joe De Hildebrand asked.

“I am responsible for my own tweets, Joe. And I put one out this morning. I have been critical in the past of Scott Morrison attending what effectively was a campaign rally for Donald Trump in Ohio,’’ he said.

“I said that at the time, and I stand by that. That was inappropriate. But of course, it’s always appropriate that any Australian Prime Minister would meet with the President of the United States.



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