One week closer to Trump, and seemingly the edge of reason. The week that flew by also featured Pauline cleaning house and a radical new way to love your job. Don’t ask…
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a perfect, if not disgusting, representation of the difference between the outgoing and incoming US Presidents, a terrifying preview of future US/China diplomacy and our fair share of home-grown controversy.
The countdown to the apocalypse Donald Trump’s inauguration is well under way, bringing with it abject insanity, because of course.
Let’s start with the good. Outgoing Prez, Barack Obama, gave his farewell speech this week in his adopted hometown of Chicago, Illinois. His message was simple “Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can.”
He of course talked of his achievements during office. Little things like steering the country out of the “Great Recession”, bringing about the longest stretch of job growth in US history, opening relations up with Cuba, striking a nuclear deal with Iran, legalising Same Sex Marriage, giving healthcare to twenty million people that previously did not have access to it and “taking out” public enemy number one, Osama Bin Laden.
Yeah…thanks for nothing, Obama.
The most memorable part of the speech, however, wasn’t another reminder to those that inexplicably believe he wasn’t a good commander and chief that he’s kind of the best they’ve had in a long time; it was the tribute he gave to his wife and children. He spoke from the heart whilst fighting a losing battle against tears when thanking his wife for being his best friend. He spoke of his pride for her and the country’s pride for her. (The full speech can be watched here.)
It was a beautiful moment of class and grace, which served to quickly remind us of how different things will be under the Trump administration. Speaking of: whilst social media was lighting up paying tribute to Obama for his speech, it was also lighting up with the latest scandal to hit Trump.
An unproven and unverified intelligence dossier was released to the public this week which suggests that Russia is in possession of damning surveillance of Trump which is being used to blackmail and control the soon-to-be President. It alleges that Trump booked a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow (the same suite that Barack and Michelle Obama stayed in while in office) and then proceeded to hire prostitutes to come to the room and urinate on the bed. It goes on to suggest that the Russian Government had the hotel bugged and the entire escapade was captured for posterity.
Trump was quick to slam the release, tweeting “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” and pointing out that the Russians have also denied the story describing it as “A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE”.
He has a point. There is absolutely nothing to substantiate the dossier – we don’t even know if it’s come from someone even resembling a reliable source. The problem for Trump, however, is for most people, the behaviour described is hardly a big shift from what we already know about him.
He took the opportunity to hold his first press conference since winning the election to comment on the allegations; and by comment I mean complain about how unfair it is and refuse to take questions from CNN who he accused of being “fake news”.
Is it real? Maybe. Will we ever know? Probably not. While Penthouse have offered a $1m bounty for the footage (apparently they think someone might actually want to pay to watch it), if it does exist, I’m sure it’s being well protected by Russia.
FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
INTELLIGENCE INSIDERS NOW CLAIM THE TRUMP DOSSIER IS “A COMPLETE FRAUD!” @OANN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
At the same time that “Golden Shower Gate” was unfolding, the man that Trump is looking to award the highly coveted Secretary of State position to, Rex Tillerson, is doing his best to distract from the scandal by starting a war with China.
Tillerson compared China’s actions in the South China Sea to those of Russia’s invasion of Crimea before adding that he would be seeking to deny Beijing access to the artificial islands they have created in the region.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Government weren’t particularly impressed with the comments with the Chinese state-owned China Daily warning “it would set a course for devastating confrontation between China and the US”. Whilst the rhetoric between the two nations on the topic has been escalating for some time, the Obama administration were careful to never take a position on ownership of the disputed territory, rather, choosing to focus on concerns over military buildup in the territory. Apparently that’s not the approach we can expect from the Trump administration.
Former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, has weighed in on the news suggesting that Australia needs to immediately draw a line in the sand and make it clear that they will not be participating in any US-led action in the South China Sea. “When the US secretary of state-designate threatens to involve Australia in war with China, the Australian people need to take note,” Keating said. Wise words that are hopefully heeded by our own powers that be.
Back at home, we might not be able to claim anything as controversial as “Golden Shower Gate” but we’ve still managed a pretty controversial week in the world of AusPol.
Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley fell on her sword late this week, resigning from Turnbull’s cabinet following controversy over her use of taxpayer funds. Ley was accused of using taxpayer money to fund a trip to Queensland with her husband during which she bought an investment property for a lazy $800,000.
Whilst the trip was for “official business” as she was announcing $1.3 billion in funding at Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital, she apparently took the opportunity for a side trip down to the Gold Coast, paid for by her travel allowance, to make an “impulse buy” of an almost million dollar property. According to Ley, the purchase “was not planned nor anticipated”.
The story, for many, is a little hard to swallow but, either way, Ley still claims that the entitlement rules were followed and that ministerial standards were not breached. She offered her resignation as the affair “had become a distraction” which Turnbull, agreeing with her assessment, accepted. Turnbull also used the opportunity to announce changes to the much maligned entitlements system including the establishment of a new agency to investigate claims as well as a requirement for politicians to disclose their expenses monthly.
Sorry Mal, but a simpler and far cheaper solution is already available – hand over responsibility for the administration of expense claims to Centrelink. I guarantee not another one will be paid…
Also on The Big Smoke
- When reality becomes fiction: Trump living Clancy fantasy
- While you were asleep: Trump takes on BuzzFeed, Centrelink system “working”, MJ/Fiennes leak
- Current Affairs Wrap: Centrelink on compassion, NZ on Roberts, Ley on our dime
- Centrelink: You can’t Liquid Paper™ a sucking chest wound
When you reach the point that Pauline Hanson doesn’t rule out sacking you for your controversial comments, it’s reasonably safe to assume you’ve gone too far. That’s the situation in which One Nation party candidate, Peter Rogers, has found himself this week following the publishing of an article regarding the famous death of three year old Aylan Kurdi, who was the subject of a now infamous photo of his lifeless body on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in 2015.
Rogers published an article on his website this week entitled The drowned boy, the lie that changed the world. The article suggests that Aylan Kurdi was “alive and well” and the entire exercise was fabricated in order to “open the floodgates” for fraudulent refugee claims.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the article also suggested that the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 was also a fabrication. Whilst Rogers claims that the post was written by a friend, the alleged friend who is only known as “Paul” has alleged that One Nation were aware of the article and offered no objections to it’s publication, and that Hanson herself had viewed it 24 hours prior to publication, only suggesting that they “be careful”.
Hanson has told the media that she is looking into the matter and will “sack Mr Rogers if necessary”. Watch this space…
Wacky and wonderful
The issue of employee retention is incredibly important for businesses in the modern age. Whilst a fair wage was once all that was required to inspire loyalty, businesses now have to focus on workplace culture, work life balance and other perks to ensure that they hold onto their talent. We live in an age of flexible working hours, telecommuting, and internal comforts and perks that previous generations couldn’t have dreamed of.
According to Mark Sergeant, a senior lecturer in psychology at Nottingham Trent University, a controversial new idea to reduce stress and increase creativity would be “very effective”.
That idea? Masturbation breaks.
Following an article by Ravishly titled “Why Fapping is The New Smoke Break”, Seargeant suggested that not only would it result in “more focus, less aggression, higher productivity and more smiling” but would also be a great form of “self-motivational reward” after getting everything on their “to-do” list ticked off.
As an employer myself, I think…no…not touching it.
That’s it from me. Have a great week TBSers!