The cold facts of May, a pouring wave of misrepresented disrespect and the hope of all bald men differentiate this week from all the others.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen an unexpected UK election, a little more wagon circling for Trump and a controversial night at the Adelaide Oval.
The UK managed to press on following last week’s horrific terrorist attacks to hold a general election. Most expected current PM Theresa May to win comfortably as she desperately sought a stronger mandate to proceed with the UK’s separation from the European Union. Instead, May watched on as her strategy turned into one of the biggest backfires in political history.
May’s expected win plunged into an unexpected hung parliament, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attracting a significant portion of the “younger” vote with his more progressive policy platforms.
One election day survey indicates that around two thirds of the 18-24 year old vote went to Labour as well as over half of the 25-34 year old vote with the over 55’s backing the conservatives as expected. Whilst not confirmed officially, it is believed that the youth turnout was significantly higher than recent elections. Unofficial figures on social media are suggesting that there was a turnout of between 48% to 72% of voters under 25 against a 2015 turnout of 43%.
Theresa May looks to have secured support from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with their 10 seats appearing to be the key to a coalition that will allow her and her Conservative Party to form government.
On the surface, the alliance may work. The DUP hold quite conservative values, including opposition to same-sex marriage as well as being anti-abortion – they are also reportedly climate deniers. They also happen to be the only party apart from the Conservatives that are in support of the Brexit. That being said, whilst May has been pushing the idea of a “hard” Brexit, DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously said “no-one wants to see a hard Brexit”, particularly as it could result in a “hard” border with the Republic of Ireland. A “hard” Brexit in simple terms is a full and complete separation from the EU whilst a “soft” Brexit looks to try and maintain as close a relationship as possible with the EU moving forward.
The result represents the message already being received in other western nations like the US and Australia – older voters are desperately trying to hold on to the old paradigm whilst the youth are rising for a new one. Kind of makes you wonder who would be sitting in the Oval Office if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee…
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Speaking of the US Prez as we, unfortunately, more often than not do, Trump faced an uncertain week with former FBI director, James Comey, testifying for the Senate Intelligence Committee – a moment that many believe could be a big push forward on the road to impeachment. A full copy of the transcript of his statement to the Committee can be found here.
Both sides seem to have claimed victory over the testimony. Trump believes that one part of Comey’s testimony represents a “total and complete vindication” as Comey confirmed Trump’s assertion that he had been told three times by Comey that he was not under investigation by the FBI. So yes, if you ignore everything else in the statement you could believe that Comey vindicated Trump – certainly if you assume The Presidency is always 140 characters or less…
Comey did confirm plenty that will help build the arsenal to remove Trump from office. He confirmed that Trump had personally asked Comey to “go easy” on former campaign aide and national security advisor, Michael Flynn. Flynn was and is under investigation for his ties to Russia and how they may have impacted the election campaign.
Comey also confirmed under oath that Trump had taken Comey to dinner not long after he was sworn in and demanded “loyalty” from the then director of the FBI. Comey allegedly assured the Prez that he would be “reliable” but Trump would accept nothing less than loyalty. Semantics, possibly, but the word “loyalty” does tend to imply a level of quid pro quo that shouldn’t really exist between the Executive Branch and the FBI.
All of this, of course, is what was publicly released and televised. Comey also spoke to senators in a closed-door session on Thursday which you would assume is far more likely to contain the really juicy bits.
The Socceroos took on Saudi Arabia in a crucial World Cup qualifying match this week at the Adelaide Oval with a win for Australia representing the possibility of direct qualification to next year’s World Cup. The Socceroos came out triumphant with a 3-2 scoreline after Tom Rogic took the lead back in the 64th minute.
That wasn’t the biggest story of the night, however. Plans were in place for a minute’s silence to be observed prior to the match in honour of those who lost their lives in the London terror attacks last week. As the crowd silenced and the Socceroos linked arms and stood in a line across the centre of the pitch, the Saudi team appeared to have no interest in participating as the players ignored the moment and continued to move around into their starting positions.
Football Federation Australia have reported that it was their suggestion to have the public memorial before the match and had sought agreement from the Asian Football Confederation and the Saudi national team before the match. The AFC and the Saudi team reportedly agreed that the minute’s silence could be held however Saudi team officials did indicate that the tradition wasn’t in keeping with Saudi culture and that their players would move to their own side of the field during the memorial.
As expected, the move wasn’t welcomed by, well, almost anyone in Australia. A number of commentators have pointed out that a number of Saudi players appeared to ignore team instructions and did stand quietly and respectfully during the silence; however, the majority of the team did not. Witnesses have also indicated that the Saudi supporters section also refused to respect the minute’s silence, proceeding to yell during the tribute.
In the modern age, we rarely have something that the majority of us, and our politicians, can agree on, but this does appear to be one of those moments. Everyone from Pauline Hanson to Anthony Albanese to comedian Dave Hughes have attacked the Saudi team for their actions, and rightly so. The consensus seems to be that the Australian team would have participated and respected any similar request if they were playing in Saudi Arabia (out of fear or solidarity) and the Saudi’s cultural excuse for not doing so on Australian soil just doesn’t cut the mustard – pretty hard to argue with in my humble opinion.
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Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, delivered his energy review at the COAG meeting this week, to help establish a framework and strategy for Australia’s energy market in the future. The 212-page report is designed to create a national approach for the myriad of issues facing Australia’s energy supply, free of the divisive political fighting that has taken over the discussion.
Dr Finkel’s recommendations focus on an “orderly transition to bring new generation into the market to improve reliability” and that “participation is based on low emissions, not technology type. There are no prohibitions, just incentives”.
The long and the short of this is that coal-fired power stations will continue but will continue using carbon capture and storage technology to produce cleaner power. Dr Finkel has also recommended that coal-fired power stations and other major generators must be given three years’ notice before closing and that governments should work in consultation with communities for the “safe exploration and production” of gas. Dr Finkel would also like to see incentives put in place for consumers who reduce their energy demand when needed as well as greater transparency and clearer information about power prices to consumers to allow them to easily move between retailers.
The report predicts that with a clean energy target in place, 35% of Australia’s power could be produced by wind farms by 2050.
Whether the report actually results in bipartisan action remains to be seen, but when it comes to the environment in this country, it’s pretty easy to be cynical about the chances.
Wacky and wonderful
Bald men have a tough run sometimes. Whilst dated and cliché, the suggestion that their completely normal follicular deficiency makes them less of a man still plays out from time to him.
There’s hope, however, and I’m not talking about Ashley and Martin. Authorities in Mozambique have issued a warning to bald men as it turns out they are a little more popular. Not due to the long standing rumour that they are more virile, but because there is a spreading belief in central Mozambique that the heads of bald men contain gold.
Yep, you heard me.
Jokes aside, five bald men have actually been killed in central Mozambique so far. Two in May in the Milange district and three this month in the district of Morrumbala. So if you are looking for a solid investment opportunity, I think the Mozambique wig market is about to have a good year.
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The US Secret Service has made an unexpected move in order to increase their ranks – they are relaxing their marijuana policy.
The Service will no longer disqualify an applicant who has used marijuana more than a certain number of times but rather will consider usage history within a “whole-person concept”, taking into account the time between last use and their application to the agency.
Fair enough…I’d have to be ripped out of my brain before I’d contemplate taking a bullet for Trump…
That’s it from me TBSers, have a cracking week!