Rob Idol

Current Affairs Wrap: The week where Auspol was crazier than its American cousin – Yeah, I said it.

Approx Reading Time-14The thing that we most learned from this week is that no-one won an argument, Iraq is not on the Contiki gap year itinerary and renewable energy will kill us all. Chin chin.

 


Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a little panic in the global financial markets, Trump vs Hillary: Round 1, and our pollies taking on ISIS on the frontline.

 

International

Investors around the world felt an uncomfortable wave of déjà vu as Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, was faced with a sizeable $US14 billion compensation demand from the US Department of Justice.

The demand from the DOJ is related to the bank’s involvement in the Global Financial Crisis by way of mortgage securities issued by the bank in the US in the leadup to the world crash. The German government also confirmed that they would not be offering any assistance to bail out the banking giant which unsurprisingly saw investors running for the hills.

Reports this week suggested that as many as ten large international hedge funds had removed their Deutsche accounts as well as countless other investors around the world. Deutsche Bank has seen its shares lose more than 50 percent this year in the lead-up to them finally facing the music for their involvement in the 2008 Crisis.

Australia has not been immune from the effects with the ASX feeling the pain via the major banks seeing reductions in their share price this week, however energy stocks managed to soften the overall blow with the ASX managing to finish the week, and the month, slightly up.

A last minute reprieve from the US Department of Justice, however, appears to have steadied the waters by way of a $US5.4 billion settlement signed off at the tail-end of the week. The settlement representing less than half of the amount demanded saw Deutsche Bank shares climb back up 6.4 percent; their biggest gain since April.


Also on The Big Smoke


The first US Presidential Debate was held this week with the world tuning in to see how Trump and Clinton would perform head to head for the first time.

As is usually the case, a clear winner is hard to define as it depends very much on who you are asking. However, the majority of commentators appear to be of the opinion that Clinton just edged out her controversial opponent.

Clinton managed to stick a few strategically placed knifes in Trump including pointing out that Trump had “rooted for the housing crisis”; a reference to a 2006 audiobook from Trump University where Trump referred to the possibility of a housing crash saying “I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy”. Trump responded simply by saying “That’s called business by the way”, which will likely help mitigate Trump’s rising popularity among the working class in the US.

Clinton also honed in on Trump’s personal success, pointing out again that Trump has refused to release his tax returns; something that has been done by every Presidential nominee since 1976. Trump responded with a tit-for-tat reply, indicating that he would release the information, against his lawyer’s wishes, when Clinton releases the 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted from her private email server; the same emails that have her embroiled in controversy over the use of the same server for highly confidential information.

Clinton took the opportunity to hit back, questioning what Trump could possibly be trying to hide by keeping the documents secret, particularly if those records indicate that Trump pays very little in taxes (a revelation that caused huge damage to Mitt Romney’s campaign against Obama when it was revealed he paid less in federal taxes than many middle class families). Trump then handed Clinton a little icing on her cake by suggesting that not paying taxes “Makes him smart”. I’m not sure the majority of hard working American’s that you are asking to vote for you would agree, Don.

All in all, it doesn’t matter. We will know our collective fate soon enough. Either we end up with the first female US President in history; or we hand control of the world’s second largest Nuclear Arsenal to a man who likes to sit up at 3am attacking a former Miss Universe winner and encouraging everyone to watch her alleged sex tape – so, basically every 15-year-old boy on the planet.

 

Domestic

If you haven’t been keeping up with the news this week, you may not be aware that the country, and in particular South Australia has been experiencing a little bit of rain and poor weather. And by a little bit, I mean of the Ark building biblical type.

SA experienced twin tornados, extreme winds and a proverbial-load of rain all coming together to hit the state with the worst storm in 50 years. The two tornados, in particular, caused the most havoc as they destroyed three elements of critical electricity infrastructure that saw South Australia completely disconnected from the national grid, plunging the entire state into the dark ages.

As I write this, many parts of the state are still without power with rolling blackouts continuing, particularly in regional areas. The flood risk, however, has become the biggest danger, with severe floodwaters being experienced across the metropolitan and regional areas as almost all rivers, dams and reservoirs overflowed.

Wild weather, damaged infrastructure and people’s lives and livelihoods at risk? Basically the modern politician’s wet dream as all and sundry jumped in to start blaming everyone else. South Australian State Opposition Leader, Steven Marshall, managed to take a moment in the middle of the chaos on Wednesday night to Tweet his support to the emergency services working to save lives and property, and in the same Tweet attack the SA Government. Perhaps rolling up his sleeves and putting out a few sandbags might have won him a little more public support; that or taking some mattresses down to the homeless shelters in Adelaide that were absolutely overrun on the night and desperately needing assistance.

Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and SA crossbencher Senator Nick Xenophon both chose to blame renewable energy almost immediately. A view echoed by both PM Turnbull and Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg as they did everything short of calling for a Royal Commission into renewables. The rhetoric forced experts – you know, those guys that actually have decades of experience in infrastructure and power – to come out and point out that the unprecedented power outages had “absolutely nothing to do with renewable energy” but were a “transmission system failure…a rare event but one that has happened in various places around the world, including much larger events in the US and Canada”. This view is reasonably well supported by the fact that South Australia was hit by more than 80,000 lightning strikes including a direct strike on a power station during savage storms that brought down 22 electricity transmission poles”.

Whilst it’s undeniable that there are lessons to be learned here, political point scoring while people are seeing their houses destroyed, businesses ruined, lives put at risk and, tragically, the loss of a number of embryos being prepared for transfers for IVF patients is just about as low as it gets – but a perfect reflection of the career politicians that make our decisions for us.

Some pollies do like to get their hands dirty and throw themselves into the thick of it, though, as we discovered this week when everyone’s favourite little ex-baby of the house, Wyatt Roy, took a little trip overseas to the Middle East.

It appears that Wyatt saw himself as a little more Earp than Roy as he travelled to Iraq’s Mosul District, the literal war zone frontline in Iraq. The various travel warnings that he ignored were obviously somewhat justified as he found himself under gunfire from Islamic State.

It’s currently illegal under Australian law to travel to Iraq’s Mosul District. The possibility that Roy met with Kurdish militants is also a violation of Australia’s counter-terrorism laws. I can guarantee that if you or I had taken a similar trip, we’d find ourselves behind bars, or worse, in an interrogation room with Peter Dutton.

The trip has been seriously condemned by pretty much everyone including PM Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Turnbull told the media in his best, most fatherly tone, “The next time I speak to Wyatt I will be giving him some very sage and stern advice”.

Perhaps that advice will include a suggestion that Wyatt should engage the services of a lawyer. As Senator Penny Wong pointed out, it’s currently illegal under Australian law to travel to Iraq’s Mosul District – carrying a penalty of ten years’ jail time.

Of more concern is the possibility that Roy met with Kurdish militants whilst on his little jaunt which is also a straight out violation of Australia’s counter-terrorism laws. Maybe it’s time for the Government to practice what they preach – because I can guarantee that if you or I had taken a similar trip, we’d find ourselves behind bars, or worse, in an interrogation room with Peter Dutton.

 

Wacky and wonderful

This week we’ll start with a little more “wonderful” than “wacky”. The Western Bulldogs have broken the longest current drought in any major Australian sporting competition by beating the Sydney Swans to win the 2016 AFL Grand Final.

The Bulldogs have not lifted the Premiership Cup since 1954 and have not been in a Grand Final since 1954 so it’s safe to say it’s been a long time between drinks. They were the underdogs from the start; finishing outside the top four meant that every final they faced was sudden death. They’ve had a year plagued by injuries to key players, the most prominent of which being 34-year-old Captain, Bob Murphy, who was cruelly ruled out for the year in April when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

The emotion on Murphy’s face as he watched his beloved team when the final siren blew was bittersweet; his pride obvious, his heartbreak hidden just below the surface. As coach Luke Beveridge was about to leave the podium after his victory speech, he stopped and in a moment those that witnessed it will not soon forget, returned to the microphone and said “Before I go I’d like to call up Bob Murphy to the stand. He deserves it more than anyone”. Beveridge then handed his own winning coach’s medal to Murphy, showing a level of class and humanity that we don’t see nearly enough anymore.

That’s it from me – have a cracking week, TBSers!

Rob Idol

Rob is an aspiring writer who balances his time between a “real” job and his passion for politics, social justice and all things creative. He has an MBA, an unhealthy obsession with current events, an even unhealthier obsession with pop culture and has been known to offer favourable food reviews in exchange for free meals. www.robidol.com.au

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