What a week. A person named Trump, but not the regular one made a mistake, as did an Australian Senator and marital apathy reaches the kingdom of China. Huzzah.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had another bad week in the Trump camp, a show of force in QLD, an oversight of mammoth proportions and a lesson in why you should always read the terms and conditions.
At the risk of repeating myself, it’s been another tough week for US President Donald Trump.
It’s been revealed that Trumps eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. held a meeting in Trump Tower in 2016 with a Russian Lawyer, Natalia Veselnikskaya, who is believed to have connections to the Russian Government. Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump Jr’s brother in-law Jared Kushner were also in attendance. Trump Jr. has released a statement indicating that those in attendance “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children”.
No-one, however, is buying the official story. It has been reported by three advisors to the White House who were briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it that Trump had been promised the damaging information on Clinton prior to the meeting, and this was indeed the primary purpose of the meeting.
Trump Jr. quickly changed his story with an updated statement indicating that he had met with Veselnitskaya at the request of an acquaintance from the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant and was told during the meeting that information was available that would show individuals connected to Russia were funding Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He went on to indicate that her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense and that no information was ever provided. Trump claims that the supposed information was simply a pretext for the meeting and the real agenda was a discussion on the Russian ban on American adoptions of Russian children.
The next day it was reported that Trump Jr. had been advised in an email from British music promoter, Rob Goldstone prior to the meeting that the information she had to offer was part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s presidential campaign. Trump Jr, again, changed his story with his lawyer admitting that Goldstone had contacted Trump Jr. and “suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic party front runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia”. The New York Times obtained copies of the emails and advised Trump Jr. of their intention to publish them. He asked for time to respond and then proceeded to release them himself on Twitter.
The emails revealed that Trump Jr had been advised that Veselnitskaya was a “Russian government attorney”. It was then revealed that there were more people in attendance than first reported with a Russian-American lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, admitting that he too was there. Akhmetshin, though he denies ever working as an intelligence agent, is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies. He has confirmed that he served in the Soviet military in a unit that was part of counter-intelligence but maintained that he was never formally trained as a spy. The US Senate disagrees, however, naming his as a former “Soviet counter-intelligence officer” in documents (http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/nthamerica/2017/07/15/former-soviet–spy–admits-meeting-trump-jr.html).
The consequences of the multiple lies and backtracking are being felt immediately with Congressman Brad Sherman and Congressman Al Green of California and Texas respectively filing an Article of Impeachment against Trump for “High Crimes and Misdemeanours”.
Whilst opinions on how the escalating sabre rattling between the US and North Korea will play out are varied, it seems that both the US and Australian Governments continue to take the threat seriously. This week has seen more than 30,000 Australian and American military personnel participating in the biggest joint exercise in history between the two nations called Operation Talisman Saber (TS17).
The operation is being undertaken in north Queensland and also includes participants from New Zealand, Japan and Canada. Saturday saw 10,000 soldiers defending Stanage Bay, north of Rockhampton representing the largest beach landing by Australian troops since World War 2.
Despite the potential for conflict on our neighbourhood due to issues in the South China Sea and North Korea’s escalating nuclear program, there is no real expectation at this stage that conflict will hit our shores. The exercise, however, is a strong show of support for the US/Aus alliance in the region.
The Greens have been plunged into chaos this week with the shock resignation of Senator Scott Ludlam, co-deputy of the party. Ludlam’s resignation follows the incredible discovery that despite being a Senator for almost ten years, Ludlam is actually ineligible to hold elected office in Australia. It turns out that Ludlam holds dual citizenship due to being born in New Zealand. Under section 44 of the Australian Constitution, a dual national cannot stand for election. Ludlam was seemingly unaware that he still held New Zealand citizenship, believing that he had given up the citizenship when he became an Australian citizen as a teenager.
Ludlam decided to resign rather than fight the ineligibility due to the law being very clear on dual nationals. He said, “I could have dug my heels in I guess but it creates a messy, protracted dispute when that section of the Constitution is crystal clear and has been tested before…it’s not something I particularly want to put myself or my staff through”
The situation is unprecedented, and it could result in Ludlam having to repay nine years worth of salary and allowances. PM Turnbull has described the oversight by Ludlam as “remarkable” and has indicated that the decision regarding the potential repayment of salary and allowances will be left for the Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann to decide.
The discovery was made by a Perth barrister, Dr John Cameron, who obtained a certificate confirming Ludlams NZ citizenship status after making an application to the New Zealand Department of Internal affairs for details on both Ludlam and Senator Derryn Hinch. He discovered that Hinch had renounced his NZ citizenship prior to the election.
Cameron has insisted that the investigation was not politically driven, nor undertaken in his capacity as a lawyer but rather as a citizen. He told the media “I expected the human headline may not have done it and Mr Ludlam would have done it, but it was the other way around”.
The High Court will make a ruling on the matter and likely disqualify Ludlam which will then result in a recount of ballot papers from the 2016 election.
Wacky and Wonderful
In the digital age, most of us are hit with so many terms and conditions that it’s very easy to not pay much attention to them. Every time we update our phones, our computers, download a new app, sign up to a website, we are hit with pages upon pages of information that we have absolutely no interest in reading through. What’s the worst that could happen after all?
For 22,000 in the UK, it may mean cleaning up dog poo at the local park, providing hugs to stray cats and dogs, manually relieving sewer blockages, cleaning portable toilets at local events and festivals, painting snail shells to brighten up their existence and scraping chewing gum off the streets.
Public Wi-Fi provider, Purple, decided to draw attention to the fact that people rarely read the T’s & C’s and have a little fun while doing it. They included a clause stipulating that anyone using their service may be required at their discretion to perform any of the weird and wonderful duties.
One person over the two week period that it was included spotted it. One out of 22,000. Purple have indicated that the prank formed part of their announcement that they are the first General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant Wi-Fi provider which will require “unambiguous consent” before users personal or behavioural data can be used for marketing purposes – the GDPR makes no such mention of “unambiguous consent” for cleaning up dog poo however.
It’s hard to tell sometimes whether innovation coming out of China is a stroke of genius, or just plain kooky. I’ll let you be the judge on this one.
The Global Harbour mall in Shanghai has added an interesting new service for its shoppers – husband storage.
A number of glass pods have been erected within the mall each containing a chair, monitor, computer and gamepad loaded with 1990s retro games. The idea is that wives can their husbands in their rather than listen to a litany of complaints about being dragged around shopping against their will.
One man who tried the pods, Mr Yang, said he thinks the pods are “Really great. I’ve just played Tekken 3 and felt like I was back at school!”. Another complained about the lack of ventilation and air conditioning. Speaking from experience, ventilation is highly recommended when leaving men in front of a gaming device for several hours at a time…
That’s it from me, have a cracking week TBSers!