Well, it was a week of negatives. Trump bombed Syria and Yassmin Abdel-Magied was kicked out of the US. But, one man went to extreme lengths to exhibit his love for Taylor Swift, and that’s something, right?
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had Trump make a bold move in Syria, Zuckerberg appearing almost human, tragedy on the high seas and the world’s most depressing Taylor Swift fan.
US President Donald Trump addressed the world late this week to announce that he was following through on his threat to launch attacks against Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons. Trump, in his live address, said, “A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.”
For once, it appears Trump wasn’t lying. The Syrian capital of Damascus was rocked by loud explosions early on Saturday with Syrian television reporting that a scientific research centre had been hit but that Syrian air defenses destroyed thirteen rockets fired by US military.
The US was not alone in the attack, assisted by both the UK and France. A joint statement from our own PM Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne also threw support behind the strikes. Trump then directed his ire at Syrian allies, Russia and Iran, saying, “To Iran and to Russia I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”
An important question and point, even if it did come from the head of a country who has directly and indirectly been responsible for the same thing to varying degrees. However, few would argue with the particularly heinous history of Bashar al-Assad when it comes to using horrifying chemical weapons against many innocent people including his own citizens.
Well intentioned or not, the move by Trump could result in a dramatic escalation by way of Syria’s allies, Iran and Russia. Russia indicated last week that an attack such as this would be viewed and treated by them as a war crime. Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon also indicated that any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launching sites targeted. Should Russia follow through on this threat, it would see US military assets directly attacked by the Russian military, the potential consequences of which being all too horrible to contemplate.
Russia’s ambassador to the US has responded to the attacks with a statement saying that Russia had warned that “actions will not be left without consequences.” Whilst Trump did indicate that Russia were not consulted or informed about the launch prior to it occurring, the US did make all attempts to mitigate any risk to civilian lives or Russian forces.
Watch this space. It’s hard to see a situation where Russia won’t respond in some fashion, let alone Iran.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: Los Angeles rocked, McGregor loses to opponent, Comm Games begin
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Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Senate this week for more than ten hours in response to the data collection and leaking scandals that have plagued the tech giant.
Despite the grilling, Zuckerberg appeared to get out relatively unscathed – primarily because he was being questioned by a group of people that for the most part would struggle to use a computer. There appears to be a general consensus that greater regulation with respect to data collection is required, but what that might look like remains to be seen. US lawmakers don’t have a particularly strong history in legislating anything related to the Internet, primarily due to a fundamental lack of understanding of the technology.
Inevitably, the Internet community has had an absolute field day. The meme factories went into overdrive immediately, with many taking aim at Zuckerberg’s emotionless and almost robotic responses to the various lines of questioning. If nothing else, it was worth it for that.
Tragedy struck this week on P&O Cruise’s Pacific Dawn, with a 47-year old woman from Brisbane falling overboard. An exhaustive search was undertaken following the incident, approximately 150 nautical miles from New Caledonia, however she couldn’t be located.
Suggestions that the woman was knocked overboard by a freak wave have been dismissed by eyewitnesses who have suggested that she was leaning out over the railing and lost her footing. The woman was allegedly in an entertainment area with her husband before walking over to the nearby deck due to feeling sick. She began to vomit over the side while leaning over a railing. Her husband witnessed her fall and immediately collapsed in shock.
A photograph has begun circulating on social media which allegedly shows the woman in the water near a floating device right before a large wave engulfed her. The authenticity of the photo has not been established.
Regardless of the exact circumstances, the incident is heartbreaking for everyone involved. After the search was abandoned, the captain of the ship made the difficult announcement to the passengers. Reports from aboard Pacific Dawn indicate that the mood is understandably sombre. The boat is expected to dock in Brisbane early Sunday morning.
Also on The Big Smoke
- The Facebook hearing: Merely the tip of a very clueless Zuckerberg
- Facebook won’t slow down, but can a regulatory body catch up?
Controversial Australian author Yassmin Abdel-Magied live tweeted her own deportation from the United States this week.
Abdel-Magied was due to appear at an event in New York on April 18th called “The M Word: No Country for Young Muslim Women”. After arriving in Minneapolis from the UK where she now lives, US Customs and Border Protection officers cancelled her visa and took her passport and phone. Abdel-Magied indicated that she wasn’t given a reason.
A statement released by Customs and Border Protection indicated that Ms Abdel-Magied was refused entry because she had the wrong travel visa. The statement said, “During the inspection, CBP officers determined this individual did not possess the appropriate visa to receive monetary compensation for the speaking engagements she had planned during her visit to the United States … As such, she was deemed inadmissible to enter the United States for her visit, but was allowed to withdraw her application for admission. The traveller is eligible to reapply for a visa for future visits.”
According to Abdel-Magied and event organisers, the visa type she was travelling under was the same for which she had previously been admitted for similar engagements. Whilst it’s obviously an inconvenient situation for both Abdel-Magied and the organisers of the event at which she was scheduled to speak, the words “storm in a teacup” come to mind. She was never deported; she was refused entry and permitted to have her application withdrawn, however that hasn’t stopped the word being bandied about for shock value. By all accounts she wasn’t mistreated and odds are she will still make it to the speaking engagement.
Also on The Big Smoke
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- While you were asleep: Trump threatens Russia, Athletes ditch Comm Games, Plants complain about Sydney
- While you were asleep: Facebook fronts Senate, Roma beats Barcelona, Stan Lee’s awful life
Optus have come under fire after a job advertisement was published for one of its Sydney stores calling for “Anglo-Saxon” candidates.
The telecommunications giant have launched an internal investigation after the ad went live on SEEK with Optus vice-president of human resources, Vaughan Paul, indicating those involved faced disciplinary action. “This incident is unacceptable and does not reflect Optus’ values of diversity and inclusion,” Paul said. “This error is a clear breach of our advertising standards and commitment to equal opportunity employment. Optus proudly supports diversity and employs staff representing more than 70 nationalities.”
Can’t wait to read the job ad for the soon-to-be newly-vacant positions.
Wacky and wonderful
We’ve all had a celebrity crush. Someone over whom we allow the odd fantasy to creep into our heads. Some people take it a little further and try to get the attention of their crush – maybe a song written in their honour; maybe some fan art put on Twitter or a simple DM professing our love/lust for them.
Then there’s this guy.
Bruce Rowley from the US is apparently a fan of singer Taylor Swift. Fan art or heartfelt poetry weren’t going to be enough for Rowley to show Swift the depths of his love.
Instead, he robbed a bank.
After successfully robbing an Ansonia bank, Rowley proceeded to drive to Swift’s Rhode Island home before throwing money over the fence to impress her. Swift, unfortunately for her, wasn’t home at the time, so Rowley decided to retreat and drive home before state troopers spotted his vehicle and arrested him.
Rowley confessed his love for Swift to the arresting officers during his ride to the station, indicating that he wanted to impress her and wanted to ask her to marry him. Apparently he thought the portion of the $1,600 he stole thrown over the fence of her $17 million dollar mansion was going to do to the trick.
No official word from Swift but I’m pretty confident it didn’t.
That’s it from me, TBSers. Have a cracking week!