Hungary will not participate in next year's Eurovision song contest, amid speculation the decision was taken because the competition is "too gay" for the taste of the country's far-right government and public media bosses. While no official reason has been given for the withdrawal, the move comes amid an increase in homophobic rhetoric in Hungary, where the anti-migration prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has launched a "family first" policy aimed at helping traditional families and boosting birth rates.
The Coalition's controversial push to make it easier to deregister unions and ban officials failed to pass the Senate late on Thursday. The "ensuring integrity" bill had been expected to pass the Senate, with the federal government appearing to have the numbers to see it become law. But, after more than half an hour of voting on amendments late on Thursday, the final vote on the bill was deadlocked at 34-34. Under the One Nation amendments, unions will face action for criminal conviction or civil court orders only, rather than findings against them. "The intent of these changes is to further protect Australian workers and minimize the risk of deregistration over paperwork misdemeanors," Senator Hanson told parliament.
A measles epidemic in Samoa has killed 39 people, with the World Health Organization (WHO) blaming an anti-vaccine messaging campaign for leaving the Pacific island nation vulnerable to the spread of the virus. The UN health agency warned that a steep decline in vaccination rates in Samoa had paved the way for a "huge outbreak", with almost 3,000 in a country of just 200,000 people. The death toll has been rising steadily since the country declared a national measles epidemic in mid-October.
Anglea Merkel last night decried Emmanuel Macron's scathing criticism of Nato and declared Europe is too weak to defend itself from an ever-growing list of threats. He German Chancellor delivered her first substantive public blow to the French President's recent claim that the trans-Atlantic military alliance was suffering from "brain death". In a speech to the Bundestag, she insisted the 29-member security bloc remains as important now as it did during the Cold War. "The preservation of Nato is in our fundamental interest, even more so than during the Cold War, "she told MPs. "For the time being, Europe can't defend itself on its own - we are reliant on this trans-Atlantic alliance."
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