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Australia’s nationalist One Nation party sought funds from U.S. gun lobby: report

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Australia’s nationalist One Nation party allegedly sought millions of dollars from the U.S. gun lobby and discussed weakening the country’s strict gun control laws with the U.S. National Rifle Association (NRA), Al Jazeera reported.

Posing as the head of a fake Australian pro-gun lobby, Al Jazeera secretly filmed top officials from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation allegedly meeting NRA executives in Washington in 2018.

It also reported the One Nation officials discussing the possibility of raising A$20 million ($14.22 million) prior to a meeting with a U.S. gun lobby supporter.

Concerned about foreign influence in Australian politics, particularly from China, the government introduced laws banning foreign political donations in November last year. The One Nation meetings took place in September.

“Reports that senior One Nation officials courted foreign political donations from the U.S. gun lobby to influence our elections and undermine our gun laws that keep us safe are deeply concerning,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Tweeted on Tuesday.

One Nation confirmed in a statement their two representatives attended the meetings, but there was no evidence in the Al Jazeera TV report, aired late on Monday, that a donation was made.

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Calls and emails to the NRA headquarters in Virginia were not immediately returned.

Australia has some of the world’s strictest firearm laws, implemented after a lone gunman killed 35 people at Port Arthur on the island state of Tasmania in 1996.

Australia banned semi-automatic weapons, launched a firearm buy-back scheme after the massacre, and imposed strict licensing rules which require weapons to be locked up when not in use.

Al Jazeera said the report was three years in the making.

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In the report, One Nation’s chief-of-staff James Ashby and Queensland state leader Steve Dickson can be seen allegedly telling NRA officials that with its help the party could win enough seats to gain the balance of power in Australia’s upper house of parliament.

“We get the balance of power, very simply that means that we have the testicles of the government in our hand at every given stage,” says Dickson. “Guns, in the scheme of things, are still going to be the be-all and end-all.”

In another meeting with a U.S. gun lobby supporter, Dickson says: “It’s going to get down to money at the end of the day. We can change the voting system in our country, the way people operate, if we’ve got the money to do it.”

Ashby confirmed One Nation had been invited to attend the meetings but he accused Al Jazeera of interfering in Australia’s looming national election, due in May.

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“The matter has been referred to ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and the Australian Federal Police due to concerns of foreign interference into Australian politics in the lead-up to the imminent federal election,” Ashby said in the emailed statement.

The footage allegedly records an NRA lobbyist telling both Dickson and Ashby that it would benefit the U.S. pro-gun movement if Australia’s gun laws were relaxed.

“That helps us because the biggest argument we get from folks is, ‘Well look at Australia’,” he says.

The role of One Nation in promoting right-wing nationalism in Australia has come under the spotlight in recent days following the killing of 50 Muslims in New Zealand, allegedly by an Australian white supremacist.

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Nationalists have struggled to gain a significant voting bloc in Australia’s parliament, although One Nation did wield considerable influence in the upper house between 2016 and 2018.

The party fractured last year with several resignations, but it is hoping to regroup at the coming national election, with its support base largely rural voters disillusioned with the major parties which they accuse of being city-focused.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry and Sam Holmes

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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How Teach for America evolved into an arm of the charter school movement

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When the Walton Family Foundation announced in 2013 that it was donating $20 million to Teach For America to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools, its press release did not reveal the unusual terms for the grant.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school. The two-year grant was directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

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Why do conservatives hate Oberlin College so much?

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When I was an undergraduate at Oberlin in the mid-Aughts, there was a student in my class year who was obsessed with 19th-century British Royal Naval culture. Every Friday evening, he would host a sing-along in a dorm lounge, for which he would bring xeroxes of historical sea shanty lyrics and pass them around so that we could sing along, waving our glasses of “grog.” This was a semi-established event — he had distributed flyers around campus advertising the weekly British Royal Naval sea-shanty singalong and grog-drinking event, which would extend late into the night. Though he was not a resident of the dorm where it took place, he was welcomed into the lounge by its members, and became a fixture of sorts.Like many well-endowed liberal arts schools in rural areas, Oberlin College functions as a sort of de facto social welfare state, and is designed to encourage and cultivate one’s passions, even if they are not strictly academic. Thus, after writing up a proposal for the student-run activities board, the same student, the British Royal Navy culture guy, was able to plan, organize and execute a ticketed Royal Naval Ball, held in the atrium of the science center. The event featured 20 dishes of authentic British era-appropriate cuisine, cooked by student chefs, several courses of wine and port, and a violinist present to play period-specific music. The whole affair culminated with a traditional, British partner line dance — its sole inauthenticity the fact that we didn’t pay attention to our dance partners’ genders the way the Brits would have.
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2020 Election

Here are 5 reasons why 2020’s down-ballot races could reshape America’s future

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The political press always tends to focus mostly on the marquee race for the White House but that's especially true this cycle, as Donald Trump runs for a second term. He demands attention and his antics enrage his opponents and delight his supporters in equal measure.

But national reporters risk missing the big picture by centering so much of their reporting at the top when many of the most important political battles in 2020 will take place further down the ballot.

Trump is catnip for reporters and their editors, but the dearth of coverage of downballot races didn't begin with his election. As the news media in general faces structural changes—with print circulation declining and much of their work moving into digital spaces that are more difficult to monetize--publishers have cut back on reporters assigned to the state and local government beat. Nevertheless, Trump has arguably worsened the trend by getting so much airtime— one estimate suggested that over the past four years, Trump has taken up, on average, 15 percent of the entire daily news cycle on the three leading cable networks, nearly three times what Obama did.

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