The war of general opinion rages on this week with a wide range of combatants and a Trump/Pope title fight. Here at the TBS Current Affairs Desk, we’re taking all bets! | Rob Idol
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. In a week of celebrity death matches, we’ve had Trump vs The Pope, Minchin vs Pell and Virgin Australia vs Kanye West.
Another week and we bitterly sup upon another dose of Donald Trump. The human hairline that simply won’t go away hit the news this week after seemingly making a rather powerful enemy. In a very unusual move, Pope Francis threw himself into the middle of the US Presidential race by publicly declaring that Trump’s potential immigration policy was “not Christian.” During a conversation with journalists on his way back from a trip to Mexico, the Pope philosophically said: “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
When asked whether American Catholics should vote for someone with Trump’s philosophy, the Pontiff indicated he did not want to “get involved in that.” However, he followed it up by saying “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give him the benefit of the doubt.” Unsurprisingly, Pope Francis, you are a far better man than I if you are suggesting giving him anything remotely resembling the benefit of the doubt.
Trump has labelled the comments by the Pontiff as “disgraceful” and reiterated that he was a “proud Christian.” With 21 percent of the US population identifying as Catholic, the blowback on Trump’s chances is yet to be seen. Trump did receive public support from Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr who declared that he is convinced of Trump’s Christian credentials. Assuming that Falwell shares his late father’s belief system, he’s the last person on earth qualified to decide who is Christian and who isn’t, and at the very least a lot less qualified than the progressive Pontiff. Someone should probably remind Trump that Christ was a dark-skinned, poor, Middle Eastern socialist. He was hardly a Republican.
The tables have turned on those looking to see a “Brexit”– that is, Britain leaving the European Union – after PM David Cameron won a “special status” deal this week, effectively giving Britain a few advantages if they were to stay in the EU. The deal has given Cameron some strong ammunition in the fight to prevent a “Brexit” in a historical referendum slated for June 23 this year, with polls suggesting that the result could go down to the wire.
The primary focus of the new deal surrounds immigration within the EU; easily the most contentious issue in the region at the moment. The new “special status” will allow Britain exemptions from the EU migration rules including limiting welfare rights of migrant workers. This provision allows Britain to put an “emergency break” for a seven year period if its welfare system becomes overwhelmed by migrant workers.
The deal also has a focus on maintaining Britain’s sovereignty whereby they are not “committed to future political integration,” an exemption from the EU treaty mantra of an “ever closer union.”
Those in favour of a “Brexit” have described the deal as a “calamity” and a failure of Cameron to honour his promise to the British people to “restore democracy to the over-bureaucratic and sclerotic EU.”
Cardinal George Pell has been under attack this week over his “inability” to return to Australia following a request to front up to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. Pell refused to return, producing a “sick certificate” from his doctor indicating he is too unwell to fly.
Tim Minchin, internationally renowned Aussie comedian/muso released a song this week called Come Home (Cardinal Pell), in which he refers to Pell as a pompous buffoon, a coward and scum. The song’s release also coincided with a GoFundMe campaign set up to fly representatives of abuse victims to the Vatican to confront Pell in person. The campaign is chasing $55,000, and all proceeds from Minchin’s song will go to this cause. It’s managed to significantly exceed the target in the first two days. The song has received enormous support from the community at large and put Minchin in a close race with Russell Brand as my number one man-crush.
Pell isn’t without his supporters, however. When the song first aired on Channel 10’s The Project, shock jock Steve Price, who was on the panel, immediately described Minchin as “pathetic,” a view that was clearly contrary to that of his colleagues on the panel.
Newscorp’s answer to Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Bolt, wrote an article defending Pell, alleging that he is the victim of one of the most “vicious witch hunts to disgrace this country.” Whilst Bolt is accurate in suggesting that, so far, no real evidence of Pell’s involvement in either a coverup or as a perpetrator himself has been presented, it’s hard not to be suspicious of Pell’s sudden “inability” to front the Commission that is tasked with establishing whether that evidence exists. Not to mention the hypocrisy of his jibe at The Project host Waleed Aly, suggesting that Aly would not have screened “four minutes of unbridled hatred for a Muslim Cleric.” I find it hard to believe that Bolt would have written an article in defence of Bill Shorten if he had been too “unwell” to front the Royal Commission into Trade Unions.
The wagons do appear to be circling as in the days following the release of Minchin’s song, as the Herald Sun broke a story alleging that Pell himself is under investigation from a Victoria Police taskforce for abusing between five and ten boys. Pell immediately denied the allegations calling them “without foundation and utterly false.” A statement from his office suggested the timing of the leaks is “clearly designed to do maximum damage to the Cardinal and the Catholic Church, and undermine the work of the Royal Commission.” Fair point…just like the timing of his “illness”…
On the topic of Royal Commissions, South Australia this week released the tentative findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, tasked with investigating the viability of a variety of nuclear industry options for the state. Commissioner Kevin Scarce announced that around $445 billion would end up in the state’s finances over 70 years by creating a high-level nuclear waste dump in SA.
The report also suggested that a waste repository would generate around $5 billion per year for the first 30 years – this represents about one-third of the present State Government revenue overall. Further to this, the waste dump would generate around 1,500 full-time jobs, peaking at up to 5,000, during the 25-year construction process. Around 600 full-time jobs would be maintained once it’s operational.
Whilst it is an understandably divisive issue, it is a discussion that needs to be had, as the Weatherill Government struggles to find ways to reignite the floundering SA economy, which currently has the highest unemployment rate in the country. There’s a lot more pain to come with the upcoming closure of the Holden facility at Elizabeth, the Allinta power station at Port Augusta and reports this week that the Arrium steelworks in Whyalla is in serious trouble.
Wacky and wonderful
The walking god complex that is Kanye West is no stranger to social media attacks – both giving and receiving. This week saw him firmly in the sights of a couple of very prominent brands with both Virgin Australia and Pizza Hut having a crack.
In response to a tweet from West talking up his new album to Pitchfork, the Virgin Australia Twitter account eloquently scribed the truism “EAD you douche.” EAD being a popular acronym for “eat a…”, well, you get it.
Around the same time, Pizza Hut responded to West’s recent revelation that he owed $53 million and needed extra money to “bring more beautiful ideas to the world” by offering the superstar a job making pizzas. The official Pizza Hut Twitter account posted “Stop telling everyone you need dough and try kneading some dough. We got your CV today. You start at 9am tomorrow.” The tweet also included a mocked-up CV, with fierce rival Taylor Swift’s name listed as a referee…with a cross through it.
Virgin claim their account was hacked despite the overwhelming support they received from the public for the tweet – it appears the tweet came from somewhere inside their now ex-media agency, Carat.
That’s it for me…have a cracking week and be excellent to each other.
The ‘weak’ in Aussie politics – as seen by Roger Pugh
This was the week when Malcolm declined to put Tony on his dance-card for the shuffle.
Heard in the Canberra press gallery
“Has Warren Truss retired?”
“Yes but this time he’s packed it in rather than just gone to sleep”
Heard at Labor Party HQ
“Greg Hunt has been acclaimed as the World’s Best Minister”
“That must be an ecumenical award”
Heard in the Coalition caucus
“Philip Ruddock’s an example to us all”
“Malcolm’s desperately hoping that includes Bronnie”
Heard in a Sydney pub
“Trump has happened because Americans think their politicians are a pack of plonkers”
“Good heavens that means that a similar disaster could happen here”
Heard at the ABC
“What is the most encouraging aspect of Barnaby’s rise to Deputy PM?”
“The fact that if Malcolm is run over by a bus he wouldn’t become PM”
Heard in the Parliament House bar
“Malcolm lost three ministers last week”
“It would only take around another seventy before he’s forced to promote Tony”