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Morning mail: Facebook’s hate factory, the case against Trump, urban design fails | Australia news

Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Friday 6 December.

Top stories

A shadowy group has used some of Facebook’s largest far-right pages to create a commercial enterprise that harvests anti-Islamic hate for profit and influences politics across the globe, a Guardian investigation has revealed. The Israel-based group has churned out thousands of coordinated posts to more than 1 million followers over the past two years, funnelling audiences to a cluster of 10 advertisement-heavy websites to milk the traffic for profit. The revelations show how Facebook has failed to stop clandestine actors from using its platform to run coordinated disinformation and hate campaigns.

Nancy Pelosi has asked the judiciary committee to proceed with articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Quoting from the Declaration of Independence and the founding fathers about the danger of a president betraying the country’s trust to foreign powers, the House speaker announced on Thursday that she was directing the judiciary committee to draft articles of impeachment. “The president leaves us no choice but to act,” Pelosi said. “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.”

A leading Uighur activist, Rushan Abbas, has urged Australian MPs to take a stronger stance against the Chinese regime, while backing controversial comparisons between the state’s authoritarianism and Nazi Germany. Abbas, who met MPs in Canberra on Thursday and held a roundtable at the US embassy on the plight of the Uighur Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang province, said “modern day” concentration camps holding as many as 3 million Uighurs were a case of “history repeating itself”.


Angus Taylor has doubled down on his assertion he saw and met the US author Naomi Wolf during his time at Oxford University, while demanding she apologise for accusing him of antisemitism.

The State Emergency Service was “not happy” that its volunteers were used as support people during the strip-search of children and ordered two members to leave a music festival in NSW last weekend due to a fear of the “legal ramifications”, an inquiry has heard.

The Labor party’s national president, Wayne Swan, will issue a call to arms for progressive parties to fight back against misinformation, declaring nothing can be off the table “including breaking up the social media platforms where the concentration of their market power is damaging society”.

Footage showing cattle having their horns removed has prompted renewed calls for the use of pain relief to be made mandatory on Australian cattle stations.

The Block star Scott Cam will be paid $345,000 for 15 months’ work as the national careers ambassador, employment department officials have revealed. In OctoberMichaelia Cash announced Cam’s appointment to the role promoting vocational education, but refused to reveal his pay, arguing it was “commercial in confidence”.

The world

A candlelight vigil

People take part in a candlelight vigil as they protest against a series of rapes in India. Photograph: Abhishek Chinnappa/Reuters

An Indian woman has been set on fire on her way to a court hearing to testify against two men who had allegedly raped her. The 23-year-old is in a critical condition with 70% burns after she was attacked by five men in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. They dragged her to a field, doused her with petrol and set her alight.

Israel’s state prosecutor plans to indict several associates of Benjamin Netanyahu, including his cousin, for corruption in relation to a contentious A$2.8bn deal to buy German submarines.

More than 450,000 people have marched in cities across France as railway workers, teachers and hospital staff held one of the biggest strikes in decades against Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the pension system.

North Korea has threatened to redeploy its arsenal of formidable insults against Donald Trump, referring to him once more as a “dotard” if he continues to use nicknames like “Rocket Man” for Kim Jong-un.

Recommended reads

Riverside Expressway

Riverside Expressway, a prime example of Brisbane’s ‘noisy and ugly infrastructure’. Photograph: Regi Varghese/AAP

What are the worst urban design disasters in Australia? In every city there are places where the road should be just a bit wider, where the bus stop would be better a few metres down or, perhaps, a multi-lane highway simply should not exist. Bad urban design ruins commutes and can make daily life unnecessarily difficult for disabled and elderly people. Guardian Australia spoke to experts and chose a few of the country’s biggest design fails – from the crossing chaos of Sydney’s Central Station to the train stations in the middle of freeways in Perth.

There are plenty of ways to have your night – and career – ruined at the office Christmas party. Brigid Delaney to the rescue: “It’s Christmas party season and by now HR should have sent an all-staff email warning you that ‘it is a work function and an appropriate standard of conduct is expected’. Much of the focus is (rightly) on sexual harassment and bullying. But there are plenty of other ways to have your night – and career – ruined. As the veteran of 147 jobs (truly), I have catalogued the way you can torpedo your career (or at least have regrets the next day) at the office Christmas party.”


Full story takes you inside the hate factory. In its exclusive investigation the Guardian has uncovered a network that’s using rightwing Facebook pages in Australia and overseas to spread misinformation and hate around the world. This episode goes behind the investigation, looking at how this network formed and who created it.


“I wasn’t convinced before the WBBL’s first standalone season,” writes the Adelaide Strikers star Megan Schutt. “But the competition has delivered in every way possible and I’m sure the finals this weekend will produce some exciting cricket.”

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.” When it comes to Marco Silva and the Premier League it is tempting to wonder which part of Joseph Heller’s dictum is most applicable. The third part? All of them? None?, asks Barney Ronay.

Colin Kaepernick is the black Grinch for those who dream of a white America, writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Media roundup

Leaked documents obtained by the ABC allegedly show how a gambling company “stops people winning”. A witness in the ACCC’s criminal cartel action has revealed that he “listened to secret phone recordings to help the regulator identify bankers on the calls”, the Australian Financial Review reports. The Sydney Morning Herald’s front-page runs with the headline “Sydney chokes as state burns”.

Coming up

The court of appeal will hand down a judgment in the case of Borce Ristevski after prosecutors pushed to increase his minimum six-year jail sentence for the manslaughter of his wife, Karen.

A service will be held to remember the Indigenous activist Sam Watson at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane.

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