Rob Idol

Current Affairs Wrap: Trump’s Presidential moment, Barnaby’s media gaffe and an Oscars to remember

Barnaby

Approx Reading Time-12As far as weeks go, it was fairly tame. Trump gave a Presidential speech coated in platitudes, Barnaby Joyce was burnt by the limelight and there was a catastrophic snafu at the Oscars. Standard.

 

 

 

Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had Trump’s first speech to Congress, rising fears in Europe, unthinkable tragedy on the NSW/VIC border and an Oscars night to remember (or forget).

 

International

US President Donald Trump addressed Congress for the first time this week. The highly anticipated speech had pundits wondering whether we would see more of the divisive Trump we have come to loathe or something a little more “Presidential”.

According to most experts, we surprisingly saw the latter. It wasn’t necessarily inspiring nor a break from the rhetoric or policy platform we have seen thus far, however, the delivery was less aggressive and some would even say poised.

It wouldn’t be a Trump moment without some level of controversy. In this case, it was delivered by way of a reference to US soldier Ryan Owens, who was recently killed in action during a commando raid in Yemen. Trump spoke directly to Owens’ widow, Carryn, who was in the audience, saying her husband’s “legacy is etched into eternity” as Congress gave her a rousing round of applause.

Whilst many referred to this as Trump’s first “Presidential” moment, others have been quick to point out that all might not be what it seems. Trump quoted Defence Secretary James Mattis, who said the raid produced “vital intelligence”. However Republican Senator John McCain described the operation as a “failure” and Owen’s own father refused to meet with Trump and called for a formal investigation into the incident. Earlier in the week, Trump also appeared to blame the military for Owens’ death, pointing out that the incident occurred just after he came into office.

The praise and relative lack of controversy was short lived as US Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under increased scrutiny this week as he continued to deny discussing campaign issues with Russian officials prior to Trump’s election.

At the same time, the White House has confirmed that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and recently ousted National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, met with the Russian Ambassador to the US in December.

It has also been revealed that Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, also spoke with Russia’s US Ambassador at the same event where Sessions spoke with him. Sessions has resisted calls for his resignation, choosing instead to recuse himself from all matters to do with the Trump campaign.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire I suppose. Particularly when you have a good look at a 1997 publication called “Foundations of Geopolitics” which outlines how Russia could return to full world power strength.


Also on The Big Smoke


Sweden, it appears, are taking the increased threat from Russia seriously, deciding this week to re-introduce military conscription.

Four-thousand men and women will be compulsorily called up for military service from January 1st, 2018, selected from around 13,000 young people born in 1999. According to defence ministry spokeswoman, Marinette Nyh Radebo, the move has been prompted by “the security change in our neighbourhood”. She went on to say “The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighbourhood are some of the reasons.”

According to Ms Nyh Radebo, “70% of parliament is behind the decision to strengthen the military and co-operation with the countries around us”. Sweden’s system is going to be modelled on neighbour Finland’s recruitment model – both states are currently not members of NATO and remain neutral.

 

Domestic

Police divers have discovered the body of a 5-year-old boy at Moama in the Murray River. The boy went missing on Thursday after witnesses claim to have seen his 27-year-old mother trying to drown him and his 9-year-old brother.

The 9-year-old managed to escape and is currently in hospital in a serious condition. His mother handed herself in to Echuca police station yesterday and has made no application for bail. She is expected to face charges of murder and attempted murder, and has been extradited to NSW.

According to police, the woman has made full admissions of her role in the incident, telling police of her “intention to kill both children”. Witnesses report being told the night before that she “had to drown my babies”. It’s also believed that she was released from prison in February and did not have custody of her two sons; both boys were put into full time custody with their grandparents around 18 months ago.

The surviving child has also sustained dog bites in the incident from a pit bull named Buddy. Buddy’s owner has told the media that Buddy was trying to save the boy.

The father of the two boys has also spoken to the media, saying he has never met his 5-year-old, and has had little to do with his 9-year-old since separating from the children’s mother when the older boy was “two or three”. They continued with an on-again-off-again relationship which led to the birth of the younger boy. He described his state as “numb”.


Also on The Big Smoke


Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce let his emotions get the better of him this week when being interviewed by Channel 10’s The Project. During the interview, he was asked about a push for new laws which would grant the government additional rights to share veteran’s personal information.

The line of questioning appeared to flummox Joyce, who eventually blurted out “If you want to keep your information absolutely private, don’t go and get the dole whilst you’ve also got a job”.

Quickly realising his damning faux pas, Joyce tried to blame the interviewers saying “You should get the Agriculture Minister on to talk about agriculture not veteran affairs”.

Host, Waleed Aly, responded by pointing out that Joyce was the deputy PM of the country as a defence to the line of questioning. Joyce responded with “Mate, it would help if you actually called me before to tell me you wanted to talk about this. I heard about this discussion as I went from the centre of town to here, I mean fair go. The first I hear about this conversation is when I get from town to here. And you expect me to be proficient in every sector of every department, I’ll give you my best shot but really and truly guys”.

The Project’s hosts then pointed out that they had in fact apprised Joyce’s media contact.

Maybe it’s about time we stopped giving our Pollies a heads up about the questions they will face from the media, then we might actually start getting genuine answers instead of the scripted dribble that has become the norm.

 

Wacky and wonderful

The Oscars have been and gone for another year. Many anticipated controversy given the large level of resistance within the entertainment industry towards the election of Donald Trump. Controversial it was, but for a completely different and unexpected reason.

Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were on stage to award the coveted “Best Picture”. As Beatty opened the envelope and looked down, a confused look spread across his face. Dunaway, presumably thinking that Beatty was having a senior’s moment, jumped in and read the winner on the card, “La La Land.

The cast and crew of La La Land triumphantly took the stage, happily accepting the award. As the acceptance speeches continued, a flurry of activity commenced behind the podium with producers gesturing and whispering in a panic. The reason became evident quickly: the wrong winner had been announced.

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz took the microphone back to announce the mistake, repeatedly telling the crowd that “this is not a joke” and going on to invite the real winners on stage to accept their award, the Moonlight team.

Once the dust had settled, it was discovered that the representatives from audit company, Price Waterhouse Cooper, had handed Beatty the wrong envelope. The mistake occurred due to the fact that all awards have two identical envelopes being prepared which are kept at opposite ends of the stage respectively.

The previous award, best actress, was won by La La Land star, Emma Stone, and awarded by Leonardo DiCaprio, who entered the stage from the left hand side with the correct envelope. Beatty and Dunaway entered from stage right and were handed the duplicate for Stone’s award instead of the Best Picture envelope. Poor old Warren Beatty knew something was up but was unable to stop the trainwreck before it unfolded. Sad and controversial for all involved but damn entertaining for the rest of us!


Also on The Big Smoke


Facebook announced this week that they are developing an artificial intelligence system designed to recognise and report suicidal behaviour in its users. The move was spearheaded by CEO Mark Zuckerberg following several high profile suicides being live streamed via the service.

The system scans posts and compares them to others that were legitimately linked to suicidal behaviour in the past. If the system deems certain posts serious or life threatening enough then they are immediately passed on to a newly formed community for immediate review if the situation is “deemed urgent”.

Hat’s off FB team – what a wonderful initiative.

 

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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