Michael Burrill

About Michael Burrill

Michael Burrill is a 24-year-old writer and contrarian. His hobbies include cheap Australian lager and existential dread.

Current Affairs Wrap: Terrorism, Ebola, whistleblowers and Ukraine

From the whistleblower to a bit of dog whistling to homegrown terrorists caught with all the bells and whistles, it’s just another weekly Current Affair Wrap from Michael Burrill.


The countdown to Iraq War III (or the “humanitarian mission with military elements” according to George Brandis) continued this week as PM Tony Abbott committed 600 troops and IS beheaded another westerner, British aid worker David Haines. Abbott reached into the George Dubya playbook and put the current situation in the Middle East down to extremists hating our way of life. Definitely nothing to do with the years of the West supporting repressive regimes and movements like the Afghani mujahideen (a precursor to the Taliban and also funded by old mate Osama Bin Laden), nor the repeated military operations. Just them terrorists hating our freedom. Tony then rhetorically dropped to one knee, hands held to the sky in anguish adding, “I would like to see, over time, an understanding by all people and cultures, and religions, that there should be separation of church and state, that there is a sense of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And no one could accuse anyone in this government of allowing religion to influence their politics – not Ton’, not Kevin “natural family man of the year” Andrews and definitely not Cory “horse whisperer” Bernardi.

Barack Obama found some time in his busy schedule of grandiose speechmaking and extra-judicial drone strikes to address the Ebola crisis, committing 3000 troops. Tony Abbott proved as ever he’s his own man by committing $7million to the crisis in response. Obama went on to describe the epidemic as “a threat to global security”. While it is unclear if bombing missions are on the table in the eventuality of terrorists with Ebola, it’s good to know that even in a horrifying humanitarian crisis our allies have two calmly alert eyes on the terrorist threat.

As do Australian law enforcement, as 800 police in Sydney and Brisbane carried out a completely disproportionate operation to arrest 15 terror suspects. Details remain vague (what better way to put already panicked people at ease?) – nine of the 15 men have been released, while it is alleged one of the remaining six planned to carry out a random beheading, planning to “shock, horrify and potentially terrify” the public (charges usually reserved for Channel 10’s The Project). Some will claim these raids only prove the need for new “anti-terror” laws despite the operation going ahead fine without them.

In a preview of the future (if whistleblower provisions of the intelligence half of that same legislation pass), Whitehouse Institute whistleblower Freya Newman appeared in court and was found guilty…and could face a two-year prison term when sentenced next month. It’s not just at home, however, as 43 intelligence reservists who refused to serve in the Palestinian territories and outlined systematic abuses and mass surveillance carried out on Palestinians were threatened with criminal action. Some may suggest for all the talk of these proposed changes being for our protection that the whistleblower provisions seem more about protecting politicians or intelligence officers acting unethically than anything else.

Lastly, this week the Ukraine voted to grant separatist rebels a level of autonomy as part of the Russian-brokered ceasefire deal. Though it seems things have cooled down, with some rebels still wanting to leave Ukraine all together and Ukraine announcing Nato arms deliveries, I wouldn’t count on this one being over. Some men’s midlife crises consist of a new ear piercing and a mid-range convertible, while others straddle missiles and edge the world towards cataclysm in their attempts to arrest their diminishing virility…


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