Enough, already! This week saw the reemergence of blame in the results in the US election, the return of a 1990’s approach to stop piracy and the promotion of idiots on YouTube.
Hello all, and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had Obama vs Putin: The Final Battle, Trump vs Everyone, the loss of another one of TV’s good guys, and another idiot on YouTube.
It’s the election that just won’t go away. After weeks of hibernation in the foetal position under my bed grasping my faithful teddy bear, I’ve finally garnered the strength to come back to the world and read articles covering the aftermath of Trump 2016. Expecting to find that I had either been wrong about the inevitable apocalypse or alternatively that I had been right and that bulk order of Heinz Baked Beans had turned out to be my wisest 2016 purchase, I was shocked to find out that the result itself seems to still be in question.
Hillary Clinton has this week upped her rhetoric against Russia, straight out accusing the Kremlin and Putin himself of being partially to blame for her loss. Clinton made claims that Russia were behind cyber attacks that resulted in her personal emails being published by WikiLeaks, and that Putin himself was behind them as a result of his “personal beef” against her.
At this point, it would be easy to write this off as bad sportsmanship or confirmation that Clinton had joined the tin-foil hat brigade. However, outgoing President Barack Obama appears to be on board as well, stating that “when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections… we need to take action and we will. At a time and a place of our own choosing. Some of it may be… explicit and publicised; some of it may not be”. When the Pres starts channeling Liam Neeson from Taken, I suppose we should all pay attention, particularly given he has to vacate the chair in around a month, meaning that the enigmatic “time” that he refers to might be pretty close.
Not content with a few threats, Obama took the opportunity to really sink the boot in. He described Russia as “smaller” country, a “weaker” country with an “economy that doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms”. Then with the ultimate smackdown, “Over a third of Republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave. How did that happen?”.
Okay. Possibly still a case of sour grapes. Then we have the fact that both the CIA and the FBI have reported that they believe Russia directly intervened in the election to place Trump in the White House. Trump was quick to defend his BFF Putin, dismissing the report with his transition team stating “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Fair point. Well, it would be if it wasn’t coupled with the news this week that Trump refuses to read or attend daily intelligence briefings because they were “repetitive” and due to him being a “smart person” he already understood the potential threats. If it sounds familiar, it is. As Michael Moore pointed out this week, Trump’s party predecessor, George W Bush, also didn’t believe in wasting time reading intelligence briefings; including one on August 1, 2001 suggesting that Osama Bin Laden was going to attack the US on home soil which he glanced at before going fishing and then taking four weeks of leave back at his ranch. In the fifth week, well, let’s just say the CIA had it right in this case…
Also on The Big Smoke
- While you were asleep: Aleppo shelling restarts, gender-neutral pronoun, Earth hopes for asteroid
- While you were asleep: Peace comes to Aleppo, Kanye meets Trump, Theresa’s Trousergate
- While you were asleep: Voller fronts RC, NYT pans Australia, UCL draw released
- While you were asleep: Trump tells truth, violence rocks up, Patti’s noble gaffe
The best news of all is that amidst all of this nonsense, we can finally get back the countless hours we’ve all wasted fact checking everything that Trump puts up during his Twitter rampages. The clever folk over at The Washington Post have developed a plugin for Chrome that will do it for you – though unfortunately it probably won’t help re-educate Trump supporters who I’m sure exclusively use Internet Explorer.
If only that was the only problem facing the “President-Elect”. This week has seen the ongoing d**k measuring contest in the South China Sea escalate, with reports suggesting China has installed weapons (including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems) on all seven of the artificial islands it has created in the disputed zone.
Our own Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, showed concern this week when the report was released, urging countries with competing claims in the region to refrain from “coercive behaviour and unilateral actions”; ever the diplomat, Bishop was careful not to name China but it’s not like Brunei have been stocking up on missiles.
Whilst everyone has known full well that the aim from China was always to militarise the islands, there were two further incidents this week that appear to be escalations.
In the first, a Chinese warship stole a drone from a US oceanographic ship on Friday, right in front of the Americans, who apparently quickly advised the Chinese that the drone was US property. This was ignored until the Chinese had turned its vessel around to take its new toy home. A formal complaint has come from the Pentagon, demanding the return of the drone but I wouldn’t be waiting by the mailbox.
Of much greater concern was China’s decision to fly a Xian H-6 nuclear-capable plane straight across the disputed territory not long after Trump gave them the metaphoric bird via his phone call to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen; it was also the second time they’ve done it since Trump’s election.
Not worried yet? Okay, well in response the US will begin flying F-22 Raptor fighter planes (the deadliest in its arsenal) across the region next year, fighters which will be housed and launched from Northern Australia. So fighter jets under the control of Donald Trump, stored in and flown from our country could be used in the new year to provoke the Chinese military. No cause for concern whatsoever…
Our own Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, showed concern this week when the report was released, urging countries with competing claims in the region to refrain from “coercive behaviour and unilateral actions”.
Last night, The Australian Republican Movement held its 25th-anniversary dinner at The Great Hall at Sydney University. Our Publisher Alexandra Tselios attended the dinner where PM Malcolm Turnbull took to the stage where he expressed his ongoing commitment to Australia becoming a Republic – but also said he believes Australia would only be ready to become a Republic after the current Queen passes away. The timeframe of Malcolm’s #AUSExit wrung the ire from some as Peter Fitzsimons led the disagreement felt by most of those in attendance. Fitzsimons later took to the stage to passionately express the power of the Grass Roots movement and herald the new era that the movement is walking toward. The evening also honoured long-serving members and Founders of the movement, including our own Franca Arena.
Turnbull closed his speech with a rousing challenge to the masses: “Keep the faith. Advance Australia. Up the Republic”.
The Australian Federal Court handed down a historic verdict this week, forcing Internet Service Providers to “take reasonable steps to disable access” to pirating websites.
Rights holders such as Village Roadshow and Foxtel will foot the bill for the ISP’s to block such sites which could be at a cost of $50 per domain.
Yet again, the Australian Government and our Court System have proven that they are really at the the forefront of technology. Attempting to block domain names to address this issue is a response suitable for the last time that our Internet speeds were close to globally competitive – around the late ’90s.
A simple subscription to a VPN will circumvent this ban immediately – something that is still completely legal and nowadays very affordable and user-friendly enough for the luddites among us.
Not to mention, as has been proven time and time again, those behind such piracy websites usually have a better grasp on modern technologies than the governments, agencies and courts trying to stop them. With this case being in the courts for over a year, they’ve had plenty of time to prepare. Good time to own a VPN company.
Wacky and wonderful
Adam Saleh is apparently a YouTube star and a self confessed “professional idiot”. Whilst I can’t verify the former, the latter was certainly proven to be true this week following his claims to have travelled from Melbourne to Sydney in checked luggage.
As his profile started skyrocketing with the mainstream media picked up the story, it all came crumbling down just as quickly. Melbourne Airport security footage released to the media depicted Saleh boarding the same plane with his mates in the usual fashion.
Tiger Airways jumped on board quickly to destroy the remaining shreds of Saleh’s credibility. These included the fact that his mates allegedly checked the bag in through an automated check-in area which Tiger pointed out has a maximum accepted weight of 32kg. Secondly, the plane in question had no heated baggage holds meaning that Saleh would definitely not have been sweating as he was in the video. Rather, as pointed out by Tiger, “Had you been in the baggage hold, by the time you arrived in Sydney you would have been a popsicle”.
Pretty cold response!
Have a cracking week, TBSers!