It’s been a rather violent week, punctuated by the abuse of Sam Dastyari, assumed peace in the Middle East and the prohibitive standards of decorum.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen an interesting defence in Alabama, new trouble in the Middle East and a variety of controversies related to everyone’s favourite sparring partners, Sam Dastyari and Pauline Hanson.
A Republican nominee for a US Senate seat in the state of Alabama has found himself in hot water this week with explosive accusations involving him having sexual relations with a 14-year old girl in 1979.
Roy Moore, then aged 32, allegedly approached the girl outside a courtroom in Etowah County and offered to watch her while her mother went inside the court for a child custody hearing. Moore allegedly chatted with the girl and asked her for her phone number. Days later he reportedly picked her up from near her house before driving her to his home in the woods and initiating sexual contact.
At least three other women have come out indicating that Moore either propositioned or dated them around the same time when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
Moore has released a written statement denying the allegations and blaming them on a smear campaign by the Democrats. The allegations and the denial, it turns out, aren’t the most interesting part of the story. Alabama State Auditor, Jim Zeigler, who is also a Republican, publicly leapt to Moore’s defence and may have done far more harm than good.
Zeigler dismissed the accusations, describing the relationship as akin to that of Joseph and Mary from the Bible. Specifically, he said:
“Take the Bible: Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance…Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
We’ve all got that one mate who really doesn’t understand the difference between helping and hindering yeah?
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A potentially game-changing situation is developing in the Middle East involving Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The escalation is centered around the sudden resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri on November 4th, which Hezbollah Chief, Hassan Nasrallah, has accused Saudi Arabia of organising.
Nasrallah has publicly accused the Saudis of detaining now former PM Hariri and has also accused them of asking Israel to launch strikes against the Lebanese Shiite movement. The accusations appear to have at least some basis in fact, with France publicly calling for Hariri to have “all his freedom of movement.” French President Emmanuel Macron has also made a surprise visit to the Saudi Capital, Riyadh, after a scheduled visit to the United Arab Emirates.
The Lebanese President, Michel Aoun’s office released a statement saying “President Aoun met Saudi charge d’affaires Walid Bukhari and informed him that the circumstances in which Mr Hariri’s resignation took place were unacceptable.” The president also “called for the return to Lebanon of the head of the government.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also weighed in, describing Hariri as a “strong partner”, and warned against “any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country.”
This week also saw Saudi Arabia issue a statement asking its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately and urged Saudis not to travel there. Saudi Arabia have also accused Hezbollah, who are militarily-backed by Iran, of firing a missile at them from Yemen after the resignation.
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Witnesses in Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa have reported airstrikes against the city from a Saudi-led coalition which have left at least three civilians wounded. The strikes reportedly hit a residential area near the ministry of defence building as well as the ministry of defence building itself. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also shut down the borders to Yemen in a move that the UN has described as a potential catalyst for “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.” The UN has also listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis with around 17 million people in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine.
Should the conflict escalate any further, the entire region could erupt. Detaining the head of state of a sovereign nation tends to have pretty serious consequences after all.
The campaign is well underway in the lead-up to the Queensland State Election on the 25th of November and unsurprisingly, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation have dominated the headlines so far.
One Nation has seen its popularity surge in Queensland; so much so that Pauline Hanson is shaping up to be the Kingmaker at the conclusion of the election. The election’s first Galaxy poll has seen its vote rise to 18% (up from 0.9% in the 2015 election) with the LNP recording a 4% drop.
The expected result has One Nation leader Pauline Hanson wheeling and dealing in anticipation of her potentially powerful position. She has demanded a new casino be built on Great Keppel Island in exchange for her party’s support in balance of power negotiations – a project that Hanson indicates has already been knocked back by both of the major parties.
But it wouldn’t be a Pauline Hanson election without a sideshow, and the sideshow is growing. Earlier this week, Hanson launched her campaign trail with a road trip around Queensland, complete with a specially purposed bus called the “Battler Bus”. The Twittersphere erupted, quickly pointing out that not only does Hanson have her own private plane but also that her previous political decisions include pushes to cut welfare payments and voting against increasing housing affordability – you know, the types of initiatives that actually help “battlers”.
Things got worse late in the week as One Nation candidate Mark Thornton came under fire for posts on the Facebook page of an adult store that he owns. Thornton was forced to admit that he does own “Cupid’s Cabin” but was quick to blame the offending posts on his wife. In particular, a post that said “Good sex should be in the gray area between ‘tickle fight’ and domestic violence” drew criticism; Thornton denied knowledge of it and played it off as “your 50 Shades of Grey type.”
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Hanson’s old sparring mate, Sam Dastyari also hit the headlines this week following an incident in a Melbourne pub that saw him ambushed and racially vilified by members of a far-right-wing group.
Dastyari was approached by the group, who referred to themselves as “working class patriots”, and called a “terrorist” and a “monkey” in reference to his Iranian heritage. Dastyari kept his cool, simply calling the men racists to which they replied “what race is Islam?” Fellow Labor MP Tim Watts, who was also in attendance, jumped in asking them “what race is dickhead?” – instantly earning him the respect and admiration of the majority of the nation.
The attack was unsurprisingly condemned by Dastyari’s parliamentary colleagues including PM Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party, however, decided a little victim-blaming was in order. Hanson’s chief of staff, James Ashby, claimed that “Sam Dastyari gets heckled because he’s a wanker…not because he’s a Muslim.
Hanson was slightly more diplomatic, rejecting Ashby’s analysis but blaming the incident on Dastyari’s character rather than his religious or cultural background, as well as accusing Dastyari of playing up the incident. Seems a stretch given the video of the incident (published by the perpetrators) makes it pretty clear that the incident was both racially and religiously motivated…but Pauline’s never been one to let the facts get in the way of a good yarn.
PM Turnbull has had the weekend deliver a headache of his own with Federal Liberal MP John Alexander announcing that he is a dual citizen and resigning his position. His resignation sees the Coalition reduced to 74 seats in the lower house and now officially a minority government. PM Turnbull has supported Alexander’s decision to resign and has denied that Labor will be able to pass a no-confidence motion against his government. It should be an interesting week.
Wacky and wonderful
A police interrogation room is the last place that most of us would want to end up. We’ve all seen enough television and movies to get an idea of the various tactics and ploys used by investigators to elicit a confession from even the most stubborn of accused.
A man in Kansas City, charged with drug and gun offenses, had a counter-tactic that seemingly saw him win the day. As detectives asked 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. for his address, he “leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering.”
He “continued to be flatulent”, eventually forcing the detective to leave the room. The tactic, whilst temporarily successful, hasn’t solved Sykes Jr.’s problems in the long run with him appearing in court not long after facing charges of felony possession of three firearms and possession with intent to sell cocaine.
An unlucky punter found himself on the receiving end of a bullet to the head this week following a sexual engagement gone wrong. The victim was in the middle of a session with an escort by the name of Marissa Wallen when Wallen allegedly shot him before stealing his wallet and fleeing his home.
Wallen, 21, has admitted to the shooting, telling detectives that she did it because he was “performing oral sex wrong” and she “did not know how to tell him that.”
Let that be a warning to you gentlemen – the Internet is a valuable source of educational information on a wide range of topics.
That’s it from me, TBSers. Have a cracking week!