What a historic week it was. Hillary Clinton secured the nomination, the juvenile detention system was exposed and McDonald’s introduced the walk-thru window for drunks.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen history made in the US, a terrifying preview of Trumpian foreign policy and outrage in the Northern Territory.
Hillary Rodham Clinton made history this week becoming the first ever female candidate of a major party for President of the United States as she was officially named the nominee for the Democratic Party.
Clinton gave a rousing speech as she accepted the nomination which among other things was a rallying cry for gender equality as she stated “What an incredible honour that you have given me, and I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet.” The line was delivered following a montage showing the faces of her 44 male predecessors before shattering like glass as Clinton took the stage.
Continuing with the same theme, speaking directly to young women across the country, she said “This is really your victory. This is really your night. And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman President. But one of you is next.”
Husband (and ex-President) Bill was on hand to support Hillary, delivering a forty minute speech which included him describing his wife as “the best darned change-maker I have ever known.” All I know is that if Bill becomes the first ever “First Gent”, we are all in for an entertaining four years.
Whilst ousted Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, has thrown his full support behind Hillary, many of his supporters are yet to be swayed, with pro-Bernie protesters out in full force both inside and outside the convention which included holding a sit-in inside a media tent, with some protestors even having their mouths taped shut. Others ended up in clashes with police.
Hopefully some level of unity will follow as the Democrats turn their eyes to potentially the most dangerous foe they have ever encountered – Donald Trump.
Whilst Hillary has been cleared of any wrongdoing related to using an unsecured Blackberry and email address for confidential government correspondence (for now at least), Trump certainly isn’t letting it go. So much so that he made comments this week that some have likened to treason as he called on Russia to hack Clinton to discover the truth about the matter. Yes, Trump actually publicly requested assistance in an election campaign from a foreign adversary but also asked them to commit digital espionage against his own country to achieve it.
The suggestion, tongue in cheek or not, has raised further concerns regarding Trump’s apparent admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin which – combined with his comments suggesting that the US may not continue to assist NATO allies in Russia – is cause for alarm in anyone’s book.
ABC’s Four Corners program aired an investigation into abuse within Northern Territory youth detention centres earlier in the week which included footage of children being tear gassed, as well as disturbing and graphic footage of a youth detainee being stripped, assaulted and mistreated. The public outrage was loud and immediate, so much so that PM Turnbull immediately ordered a Royal Commission into Northern Territory juvenile detention.
At the same time, the NT Corrections Minister John Elferink was immediately sacked from the portfolio by the NT Chief Minister Adam Giles, with the leader to take responsibility for it himself. Six prisoners who have spent time in the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre (featured in the footage) are also taking legal action against the Northern Territory Government.
Protests have also been held across the country this weekend in support of children being held in juvenile detention facilities with hundreds attending across various capital cities.
The footage and outrage didn’t escape the attention of the international community with the United Nations immediately calling on the Australian Government to compensate victims of abuse and extend the scope of the Royal Commission to juvenile justice nationwide. They also noted that children as young as ten were being “held in inhumane conditions and treated cruelly” which could represent a breach of our human rights obligations. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, also pointed out that the footage could violate both “the convention for the rights of the child and also the convention against torture” – two international treaties that Australia is a party to.
The latest warning from the UN would surely hurt ex-PM Kevin Rudd’s chances of achieving his ambition of being appointed as the UN Secretary General – if he’d been allowed to throw his hat in the ring, that is. PM Turnbull announced this week that Rudd’s request for endorsement from the Government for his application was to be denied.
Turnbull claims his reasoning is simply that Rudd is not suitable for the role, an assertion that appears to ignore not only Rudd’s extensive credentials for such a role, but the strength of his relationship with many nations around the world and his strong reputation within diplomatic circles. The Labor party have called the refusal by Turnbull “weak” and “pathetic” whilst also alluding to the obvious conclusion that partisan politics and the far Right of the Liberal party were the real basis for the decision.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, also pointed out that the footage could violate both “the convention for the rights of the child and also the convention against torture” – two international treaties that Australia is a party to.
As we know, Kevin Rudd isn’t usually one to lie down quietly when the cards don’t fall his way and this is no exception with the former PM publicly releasing a number of private letters written to Turnbull which suggest that Turnbull had privately supported Rudd’s bid for some time.
Whilst Rudd’s claims cannot be proven and have been quickly denied, it wouldn’t be the first time that Turnbull has had a change of heart on things that he previously adamantly supported. Rudd also released a statement thanking foreign minister, and Liberal Deputy, Julie Bishop for her support for his bid. Bishop was the main high profile Lib to support Rudd (along with AG Brandis) and probably the most qualified, based on her portfolio, to make an assessment as to his suitability. Rudd also publicly drew attention to the fact that Turnbull refused to meet with Rudd at all to discuss the matter and delivered the bad news over the phone.
That is the state of politics in this country right now, I suppose; priority one is to destroy the other guy and if there’s time left we can try doing something in the interests of the nation.
Wacky and wonderful
In a move sure to delight everyone who has woken up with a Big Mac on their chest after a big night out, a McDonald’s in Wales has introduced a new feature to their store designed to solve a long-standing customer complaint. The Maccas in question has installed a walk-through window which will operate between the hours of 2:30am and 4:00am to allow drunken revellers the opportunity to get that ten pack of chicken nuggets on the way home – a luxury usually reserved for those behind the wheel of an automobile.
As many of you would know (even if you don’t admit it), many McDonald’s stores continue their drive through service after normal restaurant opening hours. Customers can only access this exclusive service if they are inside a car due to apparent safety concerns – despite the fact that their customer base in the middle of the night is almost completely made up of those who no longer have the legal ability to drive (or the taxi drivers forced to make a detour). The world just got a little better…
Also on The Big Smoke
For those of you that have had your GPS or Google Maps App lead you down the garden path, or are having trouble tracking down that elusive Pokémon, Geoscience Australia are coming to your rescue. It turns out that due to shifts in tectonic plates, the entire Australian mainland actually moves around 7 centimetres per year. Since the last time data was recorded in 1994, we’ve actually managed to move around a metre and a half in total.
To combat the misalignment, Geoscience Australia is updating the Geocentric Datum of Australia to update our official longitude and latitude to help new technology like self-driving cars and drones that rely on highly accurate coordinates. The good news is that the move is northwards, which I’m assuming will eventually mean that based on my quick look at the map, Perth and Kuta in Bali could merge. It might be a while away and an assumption based on zero knowledge of the science, but if our pollies can do it, then I can too.
Have a cracking week, TBSers!