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Rob Idol regales us with the week that was, including Mugabe’s award, Abetz’s (latest) gaffe and Bieber’s member.
Hello and Welcome to this week’s TBS Current Affairs Wrap. It’s been a bit of a strange week with controversial awards handed out, senate inquiries into Emojis and historical amnesia for one Italian designer obsessed Senator.
Let’s get stuck into it.
Everyone’s favourite dictator, Robert Mugabe, was this week awarded the Confucius trophy, the Chinese equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. Mugabe earned this honour for this “national leadership and service to pan-Africanism and for injecting fresh energy into the global quest for harmony”.
This is the same Zimbabwean President who ferociously condemned homosexuality in a speech to the UN last month, having previously referred to homosexuals as “inhuman” and “worse than pigs and dogs.” He’s also the same peace loving chap that has been responsible for mass ethnic cleansing and leading his country to the unenviable position of being ranked 156th out of 176 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index; in fairness, they did still manage to get beaten by Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea.
It’s not my place to question the validity of this supposed “peace prize” but given it can count Vladimir Putin amongst its previous winners and the Chinese Government have vehemently denied any connection to the award, I’ll let you make your own judgements.
Tragedy struck this week in Sweden when a 21 year old man dressed as Darth Vader went on a rampage in a school in the town of Trollhattan, killing a teacher and a student, and injuring three others before being fatally shot by police.
With Halloween just around the corner, students initially thought that Anton Lundin Pettersson was simply part of a Halloween prank, even stopping to pose for photos with the costumed assailant before he proceeded to use his sword to stab a 20 year old male teacher and a 17 year old student.
Officials have declared it a hate crime, as details emerge of Lundin’s connection to right-wing hate groups and a note found in his apartment allegedly confirming that the attack was racially motivated. The two victims who lost their lives were from Somalia and Syria respectively, and Trollhattan is the most segregated city in Sweden, with the neighbourhood surrounding the school being made up of at least 50% foreign born people.
The ANZ this week became the last of the big four banks to increase interest rates, despite a lack of movement in the official cash rate from the Reserve Bank of Australia. Westpac made the first move by increasing its variable rate by 0.2 percentage points; with CBA, NAB and now ANZ following suit soon thereafter. The move has been justified by the banks as a required response to increased regulations delivered by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) requiring the banks to hold a higher amount of capital in reserve to reduce risk and exposure to the housing market.
The banks have responded to public criticism of the move, arguing that the cost of a safer banking system should not be borne by their shareholders who they ultimately answer to. Wayne Byres, chairman of APRA has hit back suggesting that based on corporate finance theory, shareholders should require a smaller return as a result of the banking system becoming safer. PM Malcolm Turnbull, whilst being very careful not to attack the big four banks, also suggested that he did not see the need for any bank to increase rates to meet higher capital levels.
Banks, are of course businesses and have a primary fiduciary duty to their shareholders. One must wonder, however, about the true state of competition in the banking sector when the immediate answer to increased regulatory costs is to pass that cost on to the consumer knowing full well that your competitors will follow suit leaving consumers with no option but to sit down and take it. It could also be argued that the banking sector has certain duties under public policy both in regard to restricting profiteering and in terms of protecting the state of the economy at large; both of which appear to not be a priority for them.
The cynic in me has to also wonder about the timing of the move by the big four as it co-incided with the Federal Government’s move to accept most of the recommendations of the Murray review into the financial system.
Former cabinet minister, perennial bad sport and D&G fan, Eric Abetz has thrust himself into the headlines again this week when he referred to Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States as a “negro”.
Whilst the few that have rushed to his defence have suggested that his intention wasn’t to offend, blistering attacks have followed from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, the majority of the media and even Jacqui Lambie.
Most could be forgiven for a slip of the tongue or at least given the benefit of the doubt, but Abetz has hardly an inspiring track record when it comes to 21st century thinking with previous moments of inspiration including linking abortion to breast cancer as well as using Dolce and Gabbana to justify his assertion that “many gay men don’t want to marry.”
Following the controversial statement, Abetz has attempted to justify his use of the term citing its use by Barack Obama, and even Martin Luther King as an excuse.
Wacky and Wonderful
An Australian senate committee this week dedicated significant time to investigating an interview that Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, gave to entertainment website Buzzfeed earlier this year.Why the scrutiny? Ms Bishop answered every interview question exclusively with emojis.
With confusion among the committee rampant, Attorney General George Brandis weighed in explaining that emojis are “the smiley faces you sometimes get in texts.” It appears that Brandis is determined to prove that he isn’t the luddite that we all know he is; rumour has it he plans to sign up to MSN Messenger next week and link it to his MySpace account.
Following the recent release of full frontal picture of Justin Bieber skinny dipping during a vacation to Bora Bora, do it yourself dildo-maker “Clone-A-Willy” have offered the popstar $1 million dollars to endorse their products.
The offer follows the mostly positive reviews of Bieber’s “package” including a vomit inducing tweet from his own father asking Justin “What do you feed that thing?” and forever destroying the innocent paternal hashtag #prouddaddy