Good morning all! The week that just flew had a nicer face than usual. Unless you’re Robert Mugabe. Or you voted ‘No’.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen a surprising end to an infamous dictator, another dick move from the White House, history made back home and the prank of all pranks from your favourite party game company.
One of the world’s most infamous dictators appears to have been removed from his post in a surprisingly “bloodless takeover”. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, was placed under house arrest by his own military earlier this week, prompting far more questions than answers both inside Zimbabwe and around the world.
The announcement came on live television with Major General SB Moyo, the Chief of Staff Logistics, telling the nation that the army was ridding the government of the “criminals” who have led Zimbabwe to economic ruin. They have explicitly denied that the move represents a coup d’etat however it’s hard to see it as anything but.
The catalyst for the move appears to be the firing of Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, by Mugabe last week who now stands poised to replace the deposed leader. Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, started as a freedom fighter before training as a lawyer and eventually becoming the chief of Zimbabwe’s intelligence service. Colloquially he’s known as the “Crocodile”, which he has previously explained by saying “It strikes at the appropriate time”; potentially prophetic if nothing else.
Mnangagwa’s expected elevation has turned what could have been a celebratory time for the people of Zimbabwe into a potentially bittersweet one with many suggesting that he is cut from the same cloth as his predecessor. Mnangagwa has been an instrumental member of Mugagbe’s Zanu-PF party and has held the role of treasurer and feared security and defence chief. Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has echoed the pessimism, saying:
“Mnangagwa has been Mugabe’s right-hand man since before independence and then for the last 37 years. It’s difficult to see how, going forward, he can be respectful of human rights, given his history.”
Mugabe’s fate is yet to be decided with the 93-year old still negotiating with the military, apparently unwilling to step aside at this stage. It’s very unlikely, however, that Mugabe will have much of a choice and will likely end up exiled in comfort elsewhere.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: Middle East close to war, Hanson takes on Dastyari, and man escapes gas chamber with own brand
Just when we thought that US President Trump couldn’t sink any lower, he has proven us wrong for the 1,331st time since taking office. The administration announced this week that they are lifting a ban on the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport as trophies – a ban imposed by the Obama administration in 2014.
The move has been justified in a statement issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service stating that “Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”
The decision, however, may have been a little more personally motivated, given the fact that both of Trump’s sons are avid big game hunters and have personally murdered elephants, buffalo’s and leopards.
Animal rights group, The Elephant Project, took to Twitter immediately to condemn the decision:
Reprehensible behaviour by the Trump Admin. 100 elephants a day are already killed. This will lead to more poaching. https://t.co/rld67eM018
— The Elephant Project (@theelephantproj) November 16, 2017
Comedian Ricky Gervais, a passionate animal rights advocate, also slammed the decision, saying “The fact that Trump has lifted President Obama’s ban on elephant trophies being imported into the country is a devastating blow to the survival of these beautiful animals. It’s savage and pointless. It breaks my heart.”
Prominent biologist Richard Dawkins cut to the point (as he tends to do), tweeting, “Is he setting out to be deliberately obnoxious? No purpose other than going out of his way to spite Obama?”.
At the risk of editorialising, let me wholeheartedly agree. The decision does nothing but promote and advocate the senseless and disgusting murder of these beautiful, peaceful creatures for the express purpose of giving gun-toting wankers the opportunity to pretend that they don’t have micropenises. Not my most eloquent turn of phrase but it’s all they deserve.
If you found yourself anywhere near a newspaper, the Internet, a television or a radio this week then you may have heard that the results of the same sex marriage survey were released with the “Yes” side receiving a landslide 61.6% of the vote. Every state and territory recorded a “Yes” majority, with the ACT topping the vote at 74% and NSW rounding out the bottom end with 57.8%.
PM Malcolm Turnbull immediately pledged to see SSM legalised before Christmas, making possibly the most impassioned speech of his Prime Ministerial career. Turnbull described the result as “unequivocal” and “overwhelming” before describing the Australian people as “our masters, we who were elected to Parliament.”
The original architect of the plebiscite cum postal survey, former PM and staunch “traditional” marriage advocate, Tony Abbott, congratulated the “Yes” campaign before thanking “the 4.7 million Australians who supported marriage between a man and a woman.” The backhands continued as Abbott described the result as justification for the process that he started before describing the process as having been “a credit to us as a nation.” Hard to argue with, if you see a vile, misleading and repugnant campaign of victimisation, demonisation and homophobia as a good thing, of course.
Senator Penny Wong was captured in a photograph which is likely to be forever synonymous with the result; the photo saw Wong in tears, draped in a rainbow flag being hugged by her Labor colleagues. Wong publicly thanked Australians for “standing up for fairness and equality.”
PENNY WONG CRYING IS A MOOD ALSO I AM CRYING SO OS MUCH pic.twitter.com/gBMtv6zTSP
— laura (@liraels) November 15, 2017
— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) November 16, 2017
Head of the Australian Christian Lobby and fierce “No” campaigner, Lyle Shelton, congratulated the “Yes” camp on a decisive victory, before saying that he and his supporters would keep trying “to win this back over time” saying:
“That could take years or decades but I think there are millions of Australians who still believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and that is a public good, and there may be a time in the future when we can persuade our fellow Australians to that position once again.”
So unfortunately we’re unlikely to see an end to the outright lies coming from Shelton and the ACL any time soon, but looking at the demographic split in the vote, he’s likely to have less and less people listening as the “years and decades” roll on.
As predicted, the “non-binding” nature of the survey is being used by a few Parliamentarians who have suggested they will either abstain or vote “No” despite it being in direct contravention to the result within their electorate. Tony Abbott is expected to abstain despite his electorate recording a 75% yes vote. Federal MP for Canning, Andrew Hastie, is too abstaining against the wishes of a 60% majority of his electorate, somehow describing the decision as being “Out of respect for the Australian people”. MP Rick Wilson from the O’Connor electorate in WA is also expected to abstain despite a 56.2% “Yes” vote in his electorate.
Senator Cory Bernadi has made it unequivocally clear that he will vote no, regardless of the result, in a surprise to absolutely no-one. He is joined by Liberal Senator Slade Brockman and Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie who have made similar pledges. If you saw Kevin Andrews’ interview where he suggested that Islamic bakers should be able to refuse service to Jewish customers, I think you can guess which way he’s voting – his electorate of Menzies saw a 57% “Yes” vote, for the record.
The ABS have released the full results online, here.
Also on The Big Smoke
- #AusPol winners and losers: Who went postal after the postal vote?
- Post postal: Where does our divided country go from here?
Liberal MP John Alexander has renounced his British ties to allow him to defend his seat of Bennelong in the up-coming by-election as the fallout from the parliamentary citizenship mess rolls on. Alexander recently resigned from parliament once he discovered that he “most likely” held dual citizenship by descent.
The path back may not be as simple as he had planned, however, with Labor scoring a significant recruit to contest the seat in former NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally. The 2016 election saw Alexander win the Bennelong seat with a solid margin of 9.7% however a ReachTEL poll this week suggests that Keneally is already enjoying a 7% swing on that result with Alexander reduced to 53% against Keneally’s 47%.
Whilst there is still a lot of ground to make up, the almost exclusively Liberal held seat was the scene for one of the biggest upsets in Australian political history when high profile Labor candidate, Maxine McKew, took out then-PM John Howard in the 2007 election that also spelled the end of his Prime Ministership.
To make matters worse for the Libs, there’s also the Cory Bernardi factor. Bernardi has been threatening to run a candidate in the by-election, a move that will rip votes from his former party. With Benelong also narrowly voting against SSM in the postal survey, Bernardi is likely to have a strong supporter base which could have a significant influence in the result.
Wacky and wonderful
Cards Against Humanity is an organisation that frequently allows the dark sense of humor contained within their popular party game to spill out into the real world. In a protest against the Black Friday shopping spree in the US last year, they launched a campaign asking for consumers to send them $5 in exchange for absolutely nothing – which is exactly what they delivered to at least 6,000 people that took them up on their offer. In a previous Black Friday stunt, they offered “actual bullshit” to consumers, charging $6 for a box of real live bull poo – which they delivered to 30,000 people who jumped on board.
This year, they may have finally outdone themselves with a shot at none other than US Prez Trump. The company announced this week that they’ve purchased a plot of land on the border of the US and Mexico to deliberately make it difficult for Trump to build his border wall. An announcement on their website said:
“We’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.”
The move deserves applause on it’s own; but for it to come from a company called “Cards Against Humanity” may have just resulted in the greatest use of irony in history.
That’s it from me, TBSers; have a cracking week!