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Welcome back to the unfortunate week that was. We witnessed abject horror at a mosque, Malcolm barely survive, and a maiden bowled over at the cricket.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen terror in Egypt, a long-awaited international trial result, trouble at home for Turnbull and a very Aussie themed Wacky and Wonderful.
Terror has struck in Egypt following the bombing of a mosque in North Sinai which saw 235 people killed. The al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed (some 211km from Cairo) was first bombed, with those lucky enough to escape and flee, gunned down.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has told the media that he will respond with “the utmost force” and the Egyptian military have already conducted air strikes on “terrorist” targets in response to the attack.
The attack has not been claimed by any group yet and has shocked the local population who are used to seeing Christian churches or security forces targeted by Islamic State in the area. The attendees were apparently followers of Sufism, which is a mystical branch of Sunni Islam. Sufism is widely accepted across the Muslim world however jihadist groups including IS see them as heretics. IS have publicly condemned them in the past and warned that those who did not “repent” would be killed.
The attack saw a further 100 people wounded and is the deadliest militant attack in modern Egyptian history.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: Mugabe outed, the marriage equality question answered, Cards Against Humanity against Trump
- Current Affairs Wrap: Middle East close to war, Hanson takes on Dastyari, and man escapes gas chamber with own brand
After a four-year trial and 16 years on the run, the “Butcher of Bosnia”, Serbian military commander Ratko Mladić, has been sentenced to life in prison by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal.
Mladić was found guilty of 10 of the 11 charges he was facing including genocide, crimes against humanity and terror offences. The Presiding Judge, Alphons Orie described the crimes as ranking “among the most heinous known to humankind and include genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.”
Mladić wasn’t present for the verdict after losing his cool prior to its announcement, yelling “this is all lies, you are all liars” before being ushered out of the courtroom. His legal team have also indicated they will appeal the sentence however it’s doubtful that the appeal will be successful.
Mladić was the Commander of the Bosnian Serb army in 1992 in the former Yugoslavia as the former nation collapsed into the Yugoslav wars. Under his leadership and that of then-Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević, tens of thousands of people died through military conflict and genocide. During the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, approximately 10,000 people died including many children. Mladić was also responsible for ordering the torture and rape of thousands of people in internment camps. Most shockingly, Mladić oversaw the mass killings at Srebrenica in July 1995, which saw the slaughter of approximately 8,000 Muslim men and boys, before putting them in mass graves. The incident was the first case of genocide in Europe since the Holocaust.
Whilst the verdict is welcome news for the survivors, Mladić is unfortunately still held in high regard by some Serbs for overseeing the swift capture of Bosnia during the Yugoslav wars.
Another Current Affairs Wrap, another tough week for the PM. The beginning of the week saw a report come from Andrew Bolt that a Lower House Coalition MP had threatened to quit the party if Turnbull was not sacked within a fortnight. I’m sure worse has been threatened from the back bench over the years, however, with the Coalition’s ability to govern hanging on by a thread thanks to the citizenship debacle, any defection right now could have real consequences.
At the same time, a rumour surfaced that Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop were preparing to force a spill and run on a joint ticket. Rumours are just rumours, right? The timing, as it turned out, couldn’t be worse, as Turnbull announced that he was cancelling a sitting week for the House of Rep’s to allow the Senate to finish debating the same-sex marriage bill before sending it to the House.
No-one, of course, believes for a second that cancelling a sitting week has anything to do with getting SSM through before Christmas as Turnbull has promised. The far more likely scenario, or scenario(s), is that the delay has been instigated for one, or all of the following reasons:
- To put the brakes on a backbench push for a Royal Commission into Banks which could see Coalition MP’s cross the floor to get through, effectively destroying what’s left of Turnbull’s leadership,
- To let a couple of pesky byelections complete – specifically the one on the 2nd of December that should see Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce restored to Parliament (Joyce wouldn’t be back in Parliament by then, however, the win would help restore confidence in the Government’s numbers),
- To avoid or at least delay an “ugly” party room meeting that could be the catalyst for a spill.
Then the shit really started piling on. The Cabinet has started leaking like a sieve, leading Deputy Leader Bishop to call for a formal investigation after ferociously denying that she was the source of the leaks when the accusations were flung at her. The leaks surrounded the push for the Royal Commission into Banks which Turnbull has stated won’t happen despite an uprising of support throughout the party, and particularly, within the ranks of it’s Coalition partner, the National Party.
The signs aren’t good for Turnbull and whoever isn’t holding the knife. The one thing we’ve learned in recent times since it’s become commonplace to replace sitting PM’s is that leadership spills are quite often self fulfilling prophecies. Such is the danger of populist politics; an inordinate level of power is issued to the media who, in my opinion at least, cause the spills they start spreading rumors about. With the spill talk increasing amongst the various battles Turnbull is fighting on all fronts, it’s clear that a puppet master somewhere has already decided his fate. Or at the very least, those within the ranks that want him gone are much better at using the media than he is.
Which brings us to the Queensland election, which could be the final nail in the coffin.
The election is shaping up to be a nailbiter. The latest polls have Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor in front by a nose, however, the result is very likely to come down to the involvement of minor parties as the major parties are looking to record very low first preference votes.
Premier Palaszczuk and Liberal counterpart Tim Nicholls both seem to be very aware of the likely outcome, with one playing on it and the other accidentally alluding to it. Opposition leader Nicholls was facing the media about the issue, stating unequivocally that there would not be any “deals, Coalition or shared ministry with One Nation.” He, however, tried to sidestep the question of whether he would accept One Nation votes in a minority government. When pushed on the question, Nicholls then had an unfortunate slip of the tongue, saying “the best thing to do is to support your local LNP-One N, ah, LNP candidate at the election.”
Premier Palaszczuk has told the Queensland public that “a vote for the Liberals is a vote for a One Nation coalition led by Tim Nicholls,” taking full advantage of the perception. According to reports, she made the reference a dozen times during her 10-minute final speech to the public on the eve of the election as well as referencing it several more times during questioning.
Wacky and wonderful
Admittedly, the wacky and wonderful section tends to focus on the wacky more than the wonderful. This week, however, I’m pleased to bring something on the wonderful side of the fence to you.
In Hervey Bay, a paramedic team were in the process of transporting an elderly patient to the palliative care unit of the local hospital. En route, the woman mentioned to the paramedics that she wished she could “just be at the beach” instead.
Without hesitation, they took her to the beach one last time. The Hervey Bay officer in charge, Helen Donaldson, said “Above and beyond, the crew took a small diversion to the awesome beach at Hervey Bay to give the patient this opportunity. Tears were shed and the patient felt very happy.”
The story has started to spread on social media with others sharing similar stories of wonderful acts by the ambos in Australia. Hats off, guys – what wonderful human beings.
Also on The Big Smoke
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There are few things more Australian than going to watch Australia take on the Poms in the Ashes. For Michael Langridge, it was the perfect setting for him to deliver what has been now dubbed “the most Australian proposal in history.”
Langridge was at the Gabba watching the match with his girlfriend Tori Roebuck. Being the true supporter he is, and the fact that there is a “Pool Deck” at the Gabba for the lucky few who are able to watch an International Test Match live from the comfort of a pool, Langridge was dressed to the nines in green and gold “budgie smugglers”.
On day two of the match, Langridge dropped to one knee and asked Tori the big question in front of thousands of fans both at the game and watching at home.
As luck would have it, Tori said yes – and Australia can now hopefully associate budgie smugglers with this moment rather than with Tony Abbott…
That’s it from me, TBSers – have a cracking weekend!