What a week it has been. old enemies have kicked off fresh hostilities, Peter Dutton hit both a new high and a new low, and one man took a train ride he’ll never forget.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen the arrival of Cold War mkII, Mother Nature’s fury in Darwin, Peter Dutton being Peter Dutton and an interesting train ride for a man from Wollongong.
A war of words between Britain and Russia has escalated this week, leading some to declare that the Cold War sequel is already upon us.
A recent attack on former Russian Spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury, has been blamed on Russia and specifically Russian President Vladimir Putin. British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, pointed the finger at Putin this week saying that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Putin gave the order for the attack personally.
British PM, Theresa May, had previously blamed the Kremlin directly, saying it’s “highly likely” that they were behind the attack. May went on to expel 23 Russian diplomats from Britain whom she accused of being spies working under diplomatic cover. Russia has indicated they will respond in turn, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov telling the media that Russia will be expelling British diplomats.
Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, responded to Johnson’s naming of Putin, calling the accusation a violation of all rules of diplomatic protocol and “nothing but shocking and unforgivable behaviour from the point of view of diplomacy.”
The poisoning attack represents the first offensive use of a military grade nerve agent since the second world war, and also saw the leaders of France, Germany and the US join the UK in a statement to Russia, demanding full disclosure on the Novichok nerve agent program.
PM Turnbull decided to weigh in as well, joining Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in a statement condemning the attack, saying they “share the UK’s outrage” over the attack. The statement went on to say “Australia condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances. There is no circumstance that justifies the use of such indiscriminate, abhorrent weapons.”
Whilst Turnbull and Bishop didn’t directly blame Russia or Putin, the statement did support May’s stance, saying “We support her Government’s commitment to ensure a full investigation and efforts to bring those responsible to justice. The Australian Government also supports the UK Government’s right to take relatiliatory measures, including its decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats and to call for an emergency session of the UN Security Council.”
US President Trump has a significant list of people gunning for him on various levels, for various incidents, both current and historical. One such incident relates to his alleged affair with former porn star Stormy Daniels between 2006-2007.
Trump has denied all allegations and Daniels has been all but silenced due to an apparent non disclosure pact preventing her from discussing what did or didn’t happen. All that might change soon, however, with a crowdfunding campaign launched this week by Daniels and her legal team who seek to raise enough funds to challenge the validity of the alleged pact.
It appears that there are many who want to support Daniels, or at the very least want to see Trump outed, with the campaign raising more than $160,000 within two days from more than 5,500 people.
Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, has admitted to paying Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 as part of the nondisclosure deal however claims that he made the payment with his own money and it had nothing to do with Trump, who denies any relationship with Daniels.
Trump never signed the alleged nondisclosure agreement, which is the basis for Daniels’ and her legal team arguing that it was never valid. It wouldn’t be the first time a US Prez was brought down by his…ahem…zipper.
Residents in Darwin and surrounds are battening down the hatches in preparation for Tropical Cyclone Marcus which is heading towards the top end city. Marcus was upgraded to a category two on Saturday, just hours before its expected to start impacting Darwin.
Residents have been told to expect winds of more than 130 kilometres per hour as well as heavy rains and and tidal surges. Business owners have been encouraged not to open for business on Saturday as travellers have found themselves stranded with almost all flights in and out of Darwin being cancelled. The AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) has also rescheduled their Grand Final from Saturday to Sunday due to the cyclone warning.
Darwin last experienced a direct cyclone in 2011 with the arrival of Cyclone Carlos, however this was only a Category 1 when it hit the city with 98 kilometre per hour wind gusts felt. Long term residents of Darwin, however, still think back to Cyclone Tracy in 1974 which saw widespread destruction and the death of 65 people.
Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, found himself in hot water again this week, following comments made about white farmers in South Africa who he said “deserve special attention…from a civilised country like ours.”
Whilst Dutton is potentially now in contention for a Guinness World Record for the “most layers of offence squeezed into one sentence”, the reaction elsewhere has been swift and extremely negative. The South African Foreign Ministry have demanded a full retraction of Dutton’s comments, with a prominent South African advocate, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, saying “The majority African population regard a reference to civilisation as an insult”. Ngcukaitobi suggested the rhetoric brings back some pretty nasty memories for the region with it’s obvious connection to the racism of colonial settlers and the discrimination perpetrated during apartheid.
Greens Leader, Richard Di Natale, also pointed to the obviously racist message in Dutton’s statement, saying “There’s no debate as far as I’m concerned, the bloke is an out-and-out racist…According to Peter Dutton, if you’re a white South African farmer, you are going to make a great contribution, you’re not going to bludge on welfare. But if you’re not white, you won’t do any of those things.”
Given Dutton publicly expressed a need to reduce Australia’s intake of migrants last month, it’s hard not to share Di Natale’s interpretation.
Wacky and Wonderful
From the wacky files we have something a little homegrown this week.
Father of three from Wollongong, Shane Brennan, was minding his business on the train platform recently when he was approached by a woman, who he described as having “a mad body”, and told “I’m horny, will you f*** me?”
Brennan took the young woman up on the classy offer, telling the media afterwards “How many f***ing men would have knocked it back?”
The result was Brennan on the receiving end of oral sex on the train which saw him receiving a criminal conviction and a $700 fine after pleading guilty to willful and obscene exposure and behaving in an offensive manner.
Brennan has told the court he regrets his actions after he received a “bollocking” from a magistrate and is expected to be in big trouble with his partner.
City Rail staff found what they described as a “large and disgusting” liquid mess on the floor which they originally believed to be urine. Brennan, however, denied urinating, telling staff it was Coca Cola which he admitted to splashing on his genitals in order to clean them. Or in his own words:
“I got a blow job on the train and I was rinsing my c**k off.”
That’s it from me, TBSers. Have a cracking week!