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The world has been gripped with a missile measuring contest, there’s been more trouble on Manus Island, we said goodbye to a couple of comedy greats and heard about the world’s greatest Maccas run.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. The world has been gripped with a missile measuring contest, there’s been more trouble on Manus Island, we said goodbye to a couple of comedy greats and heard about the world’s greatest Maccas run.
Many of us, myself included, have pointed out the terrifying similarities between post-Trump inauguration America and the Orwellian dystopia of 1984. So much so that, post-Trump inauguration, the book surged to the top of the Amazon best seller list forcing publishers to order large runs of reprints.
It turns out that the similarities are turning quite literal very quickly, and almost without notice the world has been transported back in time to the actual year 1984 – the Cold War is back with a vengeance, and is threatening to warm up. Depending on who you listen to…
Following the unexpected escalation in Syria by the US last week, Trump has now turned his eyes to North Korea in a very big way. With North Korea threatening to conduct its sixth nuclear test, Trump has seized at the opportunity to bring the fight to Kim Jung-un and fulfil one of the last election campaign promises he has left to try.
Trump announced on Twitter “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.” Whilst it’s tempting to dismiss it as the usual Trump hyperbole, it may not be, with the US diverting a Navy strike force from Australia to waters off North Korea. The strike force includes the supercarrier USS Carl Vinson (equipped with fighter jets) along with guided-missile destroyers and cruisers.
In addition, 22 F15s are sitting at the Kadena Air Base in Japan, armed and ready to go – a short 900 miles from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
China are pushing for a diplomatic solution and calling for calm; but have reportedly started amassing soldiers (around 150,000 of them) on the North Korean border just in case.
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
North Korea aren’t blinking either. They have promised “grim action” which will bring “catastrophic consequences” to the world if the US throw the first punch. The Pine Gap military intelligence base in the Northern Territory has reportedly been put on standby and the US have officially notified us that they are fully prepared to shoot down any missiles launched – presumably that includes any launched in our direction.
On Saturday, North Korea celebrated the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, its founding father, and put what appears to be a new long-range and submarine-based missile on display as part of festivities.
Late in the week, Trump also decided to drop a bomb on Afghanistan. Not just any bomb, mind you, but the largest non nuclear bomb ever dropped, appropriately nicknamed “The Mother of all Bombs”. The target was reportedly a tunnel complex used by Islamic State militants in Nangahar’s Achin district. The Afghan defence ministry have reported that 36 suspected Islamic State militants were killed in the bombing as well as presumably some infrastructure. Seems like a little bit like bringing a rocket launcher to a thumb war if you ask me.
The official name of the weapon used is the GBU-43/B and it has an explosive yield equivalent to more than 11 tonnes of TNT. Believe it or not, it’s not actually the largest. That title belongs to a Russian-built bomb which is nicknamed the “Father of all Bombs”. It comes with the power of around 44 tonnes of TNT.
Whilst it’s not my intention to play down the seriousness of what is going on here, it is starting to sound like the world’s worst dick measuring contest. (Or to put it another way…)
Trouble has erupted at the Manus Island detention centre this week with Papua New Guinea Defence Force personnel reportedly firing shots into the centre after an altercation with some of the detainees.
A large group of men were reported to have stormed the facility at around 6:30pm, sending detainees and Australian private security personnel running for cover. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection released a statement indicating that one man had been injured by a rock thrown into the centre but that the other residents were safe. They went on to say that there have been reports of PNG military personnel discharging a weapon in the air during the incident but no-one was injured.
Photos provided by detainees on the scene paint a different picture, with images showing bullets and bullet damage to the detainees’ accommodation. They also claim that at least 100 rounds were fired during the incident.
Videos footage also taken by the detainees has the sound of multiple gunshots in the background amid further reports that the gunfire was continuous for about 30 minutes. Reports also suggest that the private Australian security guards locked the gates with the detainees inside and fled the centre. But why would we possibly doubt the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s version of events?
Also on The Big Smoke
- Trump exposes largest bomb since WW2 for North Korea’s benefit
- #AusPol winners and losers: Who climbed the peak of Mount Avarice this week?
- While you were asleep: NK threatens to nuke, Taiwan bans dog meat, football rallies around Dortmund
It was a sad week in comedy both at home and abroad unfortunately. John Clarke, one of the greatest satirists ever known to Australian audiences (he’s a Kiwi but we like to claim the gooduns), passed away at the age of 68 this week. Clarke had been hiking in the Grampians National Park in Victoria and collapsed.
Clarke was first introduced to Aussie audiences in the 80’s with his Kiwi farmer character, Fred Dagg, before joining the satirical sketch comedy series The Gillies Report, both as a performer and as one of the primary writers. Most, from my generation at least, knew him most from his partnership with Bryan Dawe and their weekly, often cutting and always gut busting parody interviews.
Beyond the comedy lay a heart of gold according to Dawe. When talking about Clarke this week, he said:
“It was the in-between that was important with John, the phone calls, the friendship, the emails – always funny, always giving you a perspective on something that nobody else would give you and that’s probably the biggest thing I’ll miss. If you were sick or something had happened to someone in the family, the man would be on the phone three of four times a week to make sure it was all okay and would do anything. He was just a generous spirit. He was different to anyone, you couldn’t possibly live up to that standard.”
I can’t really add to that so here’s a best of for you to enjoy.
Also on The Big Smoke
- The moral crusade and Syria: Is it our responsibility to protect? That is the question
- While you were asleep: G7 disagree on Syria, Kendrick drops album cover, patient granted last wish
- Current Affairs Wrap: Syria makes shock waves, Bell tolls for Belle, Wolverine on cutting room floor
Not quite Domestic, but while on the topic of losses in comedy, I would be remiss if I didn’t throw a mention to Charlie Murphy who also unexpectedly left us this week at the age of 57. Whilst his younger brother Eddie may have reached a higher fame echelon, Charlie, to many, was the funny one.
Most, myself included, had never heard of him until he exploded on the scene as part of the ensemble on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show. His True Hollywood Stories sketches are the type that you watch over and over and over again and still piss yourself laughing every time. If you’ve never seen them, do yourself a favor and check this, this and this out right now in tribute to the great man.
Wacky and wonderful
Kids these days. When I was eight years old, the idea of walking further than a few blocks from my house was alien. The only way to see the world beyond this was by car, driven by someone else. An 8-year-old from Ohio in the US this week decided to take matters into his own hands – by throwing his little sister into his dad’s van and taking it for a Maccas run.
The little road rager waited until his parents were asleep and got to work on Operation Cheeseburger. Not only did he make it to McDonalds, but according to witnesses, he obeyed all traffic laws and drove the speed limit the whole way.
When the police arrived to speak to the little guy, he told them he had taught himself to drive by watching YouTube videos. And they got to eat the cheeseburgers too. What a world…
That’s it from me, TBSers! Have a great week!