Good Morning! Are things getting far more ridiculous, or is it just me? We’ve had violence in Barcelona, another honourary member of the Section 44 club, and a fictional character destroying a bottle shop.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had terror in Spain, more trouble for team Trump, trouble and controversy in Parliament back home and a hookah smoking caterpillar.
Terror has struck the popular Spanish town of Barcelona this week following a terror attack that has killed at least 13 people and injuring more than 100 others. A few hours later, a second attack was unleashed in the seaside town of Cambrils around 100 km from the site of the Barcelona attacks which saw another person killed and a further six people injured. A shootout with police followed which saw five suspects killed. Police have reported they were wearing extremely well made fake bomb belts. Spanish authorities have also reported that the injured and the dead came from 34 different countries.
Following the attacks, Spanish Police identified the possible driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack as Moussa Oukabir, a seventeen-year-old Spanish citizen from Girona. Not long after, it was announced that Oukabir was among the suspects killed in the Cambrils shootout. Apart from the five suspects killed, a further four are reportedly in custody and one other, named as Younes Abouyaaqoub, unaccounted for.
According to Julie Bishop, four Australians were injured in the attack including Jom Cadman who is listed among the seriously injured. It has also been reported that Cadman’s seven-year-old son, Julian, is missing. His family have been pleading for assistance in finding him on social media and his father Andrew is on his way to Barcelona to assist in the search.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks however the claim is currently unconfirmed.
The Trump Presidency continues to crumble from the inside with news emerging late this week that key chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has received his walking papers .
The move has been celebrated by most who see Bannon as the key influencer behind some of Trump’s more contentious policies and most recently, Trump’s controversial comments regarding the violence in Charlottesville, North Carolina.
The move also could spell the end for Trump. Not only does Bannon represent the far right conservative vote that Trump desperately needs to hold on to, but it appears that it has made an enemy of the man who was key to getting Trump the keys to the oval office.
Bannon immediately returned to the far-right news website, Breitbart, of which is was in charge before joining the Trump Campaign. A tweet from the Breitbart account not long after the announcement left the situation in no doubt – “WAR”.
Bannon told The Weekly Standard not long after his departure that “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over”. He also said indicated that conservative congressional Republicans will be abandoning Trump as well, describing it as an impending “Jailbreak”.
This week also saw writer Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal” declare that Trump is going to resign before the end of his term suggesting that investigators looking into the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia will “leave him no choice”.
The wagons are well and truly circling it appears.
It’s been another outrageous week in the Australian Parliament.
But let’s start with that little Constitutional crisis that still seems to be threatening the positions of MP’s and Senators everywhere.
Section 44 ostensibly states that if you hold dual citizenship then you aren’t eligible to hold office. Not too long ago we saw the two deputy leaders of The Greens fall on their swords after it was discovered that they were, in fact, dual citizens. More recently, Deputy PM and leader of The Nationals, Barnaby Joyce, found out that he held New Zealand citizenship by descent. The same man that described the departure of Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters as “Black and White” but a few weeks ago.
Joyce became the fifth federal MP to be referred to the High Court over his citizenship status in the past month (two from the Greens and fellow party member, Matt Canavan). Then his deputy, Fiona Nash, became the sixth on Thursday night.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous, it looks like the week has finished with Senator Nick Xenophon becoming the seventh with the British Home Office confirming that he holds dual British Citizenship.
Whilst Ludlam and Waters immediately resigned, stating that the Constitution was clear on the rule, it looks like everyone else is running to the High Court. Unsurprising, given that we are talking about a situation that could see the Government lose their wafer thin majority and/or see the structure of the Senate change significantly.
Given how common this has now become in a very short period of time, it’s also likely that the surface has only just been scratched in terms of MP’s and Senators that may be holding dual citizenship without knowing it. Whilst most are confident that the High Court will not deem Joyce et al ineligible, if it does, the consequences could be far reaching.
From the ridiculous to the…well…more ridiculous…enter Pauline Hanson. Unfortunately, Hanson does not hold dual citizenship between here and the fourth circle of hell. She did, however, pull a very her stunt which birthed its own verb (Hansoning) this week by rolling up to Senate question time wearing a full Burqa to draw attention to her calls for the garment to be banned in Australia.
Now I normally wouldn’t want to give this lunatic any more publicity for this type of bullshit that she’s already received, but the reaction she received for the stunt warrants attention.
Attorney General, George Brandis, one of the driving forces behind the proposed amendments to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, is hardly the poster child for those opposed to discrimination. Hanson’s stunt, however, appeared to cross the line for Brandis who responded with a stunning rebuke.
Brandis described the stunt as “Appalling”. He continued by telling Hanson in no uncertain terms that “we will not be banning the burqa” before saying,
“I am not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the Chamber dressed in a burqa when we all know that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith. I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians. We have about 500,000 Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law abiding good Australians”.
“Senator Hanson, for the last four years, I have had responsibility pre-eminently among the ministers subject to the Prime Minister for national security policy. And I can tell you, Senator Hanson, that it has been the advice of each Director-General of Security with whom I have worked and each Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police with whom I have worked that it is vital for their intelligence and law enforcement work that they work cooperatively with the Muslim community and to ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you to reflect on that”.
Brandis’ passionate response drew an immediate standing ovation from Labor and The Greens.
In the words of many others, credit where credit is due. I’ve been an outspoken critic of Brandis but I must give full credit to him for his response and thank him for it. Maybe Pauline is good for Aus Politics after all – she’s created the closest thing we’ve seen to Bipartisanship in a long bloody time.
Wacky and Wonderful
I’m sure police are often subjected to some over the top justifications for the crimes committed by those they apprehend. A man in Florida may have just taken the cake.
Matthew Horace Jones has been accused of destroying a liquor store that was under construction. He allegedly broke into a fenced in area, jumped on a forklift caused around $100,000 in damage before police stopped him at gunpoint.
He then identified himself as “Alice in Wonderland” before blaming the attack on “a hookah-smoking caterpillar” and explained he had an issue with “building a place to sell alcohol”.
Booze is the least of your worries Matthew. At least you’ll soon be able to Change Seats! in the prison commissary.
That’s it from me TBSers. Have a cracking week!