What a ludicrous week. Trump swans closer to the oval office, Obama mends atomic fences and Saudi Arabia wants to ban animal selfies.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. This week has seen Trump steam ahead, Obama building more bridges, the Milk Revolution of 2016 and a disturbing revelation about a much loved 90s musician.
Just for something different, let’s start by turning our attention to all things Trump. The Don has officially leapt over the first major hurdle he faces in his mission to become the first Galactic Emperor by securing the number of delegates required to win the Republican nomination for the US Presidency.
What does this mean? Well, nobody’s really sure. In normal circumstances, if a candidate gains the endorsement of 1237 delegates or more, then they win the nomination. As we know, however, normal is the last word anyone would use to describe Donald Trump and/or the climate by which we’re battered.
An endorsement does not actually equal a vote, which does make one wonder about the point of the nomination process. The delegates will head to the Republican National Convention to cast their actual votes for the nomination and there is nothing preventing the delegates that have endorsed Trump from voting with the conscience (or some might say, brains) on the day. The key will be whether anyone else decides to make a last-ditch attempt to take the Iron Throne…I’m looking firmly in your direction Mitt Romney.
At the same time, Trump has backed out of a plan to face Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders in a one on one debate. Whilst Hillary Clinton is still the most likely to secure the Democratic nomination, Sanders hasn’t gone away. A plan had been floated to hold a debate between him and Trump that most would agree would be the most anticipated spectacle since we got to see Yoda yield a lightsaber against Palpatine. Trump has pulled the pin on this indicating that it would be inappropriate to organise a debate until a Democratic Nominee is named.
From the ridiculous to the sublime, this week also saw outgoing US President Barack Obama make history by becoming the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima since 1945; the year that the US destroyed the city with an atomic bomb.
Obama used the historic moment to continue the push for nuclear non-proliferation; a stance that helped secure him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The visit was subject to criticism in the US and Japan, with some in the US raising concerns that the visit would represent an apology and those in Japan hoping for exactly that, a formal apology. Obama stopped short of issuing a formal apology for the attack, however, the visit certainly represented a positive step.
On behalf of most of us, Barack, we’re really going to miss you….
Back home, the news has been dominated by everyone’s favourite calcium building beverage, milk. The focus has been driven by the announcement that Australia’s largest dairy producer and the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Murray Goulburn and Fonterra respectively, were slashing the price they paid farmers for milk.
Waleed Aly went on the attack on Channel 10’s The Project, explaining that the net result of the price slash will see farmers paid $0.37 per litre of milk against a production cost of $0.38 – a situation that anyone with a basic grasp of maths will tell you makes it very difficult to survive. To add insult to injury, Murray Goulburn and Fonterra are claiming that farmers were overpaid since July last year, which means that the average back-charged debt now owed to them by farmers is $120,000. Aly went on to announce his “greatest call to arms”, urging Australians to pay a little bit more at the checkout for Australian produced brand-name milk and products, in effect, purchasing directly from the embattled farmers.
We can be a disengaged apathetic mob at times, but in this case, Aly’s call to arms was very much taken up by Australians. Pictures of milk shelves at various Coles and Woolworths supermarkets around the country started flooding social media, showing completely empty shelves where the Australian produced brand-name milk would normally be and shelves full of the supermarket giant’s discounted milk products (discounted due to purchasing deals with the aforementioned milk giants).
IGA Supermarket owners took things one step further, posting signs encouraging their shoppers to support the movement and buy local dairy following moves from IGA head office to encourage their operators to stock and push local product.
Coles and Woolworths quickly made their own situation worse, with reports coming in that those empty local dairy producer shelves were staying empty, leaving shoppers with no choice but to purchase their own discounted product. It’s too early to tell whether this movement is sustainable or whether it will eventually fall by the wayside, however, a very important message has been sent to our duopolistic supermarket industry – power lies with the consumer and en mass that power can be substantial.
The election juggernaut continued on its merry way this week, with Bill Shorten and his Labor party having another strong week. The latest Seven News/Reachtel poll indicates that Labor now has its largest lead of the campaign, creeping up to 52 against the Libs’ 48 on a two-party preferred basis.
Many were expecting a fightback from the Libs by way of a debate between Treasurer Scott Morrison and his shadow counterpart, Chris Bowen. Based on the traditional belief that the Libs are better economic managers, most would have expected Morrison to easily win the day, however, the result was totally unexpected with Bowen largely holding his own against the current Treasurer. The debate was the opening act for the headliner on Sunday – the first major debate between PM Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, which at the very least will show whether Shorten’s growing momentum can be pegged back by the Member for Wentworth.
Ex-PM Tony Abbott has managed to spend a couple of weeks out of the headlines for a change, with most of us assuming he had slipped into a coma. The end of the week saw him thrust back into the spotlight with the announcement of a new independent candidate challenging him for his Warringah seat in the upcoming election. Former popular television presenter James Mathison has announced his independent candidacy for the seat and he’s made it clear that the move is motivated by one man…Tony Abbott.
Mathison plans to wage his war on social media, specifically going after the youth vote. Whilst no-one would expect the former Australian Idol host to topple the ex-PM, he could make some headway as more and more of his target demographic grow more and more disenfranchised with the political system and offerings of the two major parties. Mathison appears to have a few tricks up his sleeve, including obtaining his Uber license to allow him to speak directly to a wide range of voters while driving them around. Time will tell, but Mathison recently won some fans as pictures of him being removed from a Save Our Trees protest in Moore Park by police hit the media.
Wacky and Wonderful
Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a prominent cleric from Saudi Arabia, is a man not afraid to take on the big issues facing his community. The member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars used his position this week to call for a ban on humans taking photographs with cats and other animals.
The Sheikh believes that the ban is necessary to stem the trend of Saudis who “want to be like Westerners”. Saudi Arabia operates under Wahhabism, an ultraconservative brand of the Islamic Faith, which has seen chess banned in the nation due to it being “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players”, as well as Pokemon, which apparently promotes Christianity and Judaism. Shame on those pesky youths who want to destroy everything that Saudi Arabia has built with their quest for a little bit of equality…and the freedom to partake in the Internet’s favourite past time – feline based memes.
As someone on the cusp of Gen Y and Gen X, a good six months of my youth saw me celebrate everything that is MC Hammer. I was swept up in the happy pants, the dancing and the still unanswered question as to why he never wanted anyone to touch him. This week, my admiration for the man otherwise known as Stanley Kirk Burrell took a hit when he revealed his deepest darkest secret.
MC Hammer…is afraid of Hammers.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Hammer confirmed that he does his best to avoid his namesake tool, labelling them as “a scary proposition” that can result in damage to your fingers.
Have a great week TBSers!