What a week it was. Donald Trump started a fight with Canada, a horrible crime shocked a nation and Uber looked to curtail drunks that use their product.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had lines drawn between the US and Canada, the start of the Fifa World Cup, a tragedy in Melbourne and the latest innovation from Uber.
The United States and Canada have never been the best of friends. For the most part, their relationship is cordial, but something is always bubbling just below the surface. The main reason for the general amiability is the fact that Canada are the most polite nation in the world. They take the incessant and tired jokes at their expense on the chin and rarely return serve.
But if anyone can aggravate the most polite among us to the point of snapping, it’s US Pres Donald Trump, and it appears he’s done just that.
Trump and his Candian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, both attended the G7 summit in Quebec recently. While the other nations involved sought to hammer out international trade strategies that would continue to strengthen global trade, Trump came looking for a fight. Reports from an official from the French Government suggested that Trump took aim at the EU and Canada for taking advantage of the US. The official was quoted as saying:
“And so began a long litany of recriminations, somewhat bitter reports that the United States was treated unfairly, that the trading system was totally unfavourable to the United States, the American economy, American workers, the middle class.”
Trump then turned up late to a working session on gender equality, much to the disappointment of Trudeau. Trump then left the summit earlier than planned later that day to travel to Singapore for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, conveniently skipping sessions on climate change and clean energy. Before he left, however, he made a case for the reinstatement of Russia to the G7 who were suspended from the group in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
At the conclusion of the summit, the remaining leaders released a statement indicating that they “strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies” as well as calling for a “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade”. Trump was having none of it, instructing the US representatives left behind not to endorse the joint communique and then taking to Twitter to let the world know just that.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Trudeau faced the media and decided to take aim at Trump for imposing tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU on steel and aluminium imports. He told the media, “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around” before indicating that Canada will move forward with retaliatory measures against the US.
The Trump camp was whipped into a frenzy. Trump took to Twitter, calling Trudeau “meek, mild and dishonest”, as well as accusing Trudeau of making “false statements”. Perhaps Don should have done his research given Trudeau destroyed a former Navy reservist with a black belt in karate in the ring a few years back.
The Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, handled it all exactly as you would expect the Canadian foreign ministry to; by politely calling out Trump’s BS and indicating that Canada would “always be willing to talk”.
“Canada does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks…and we refrain particularly from ad hominem attacks when it comes from a close ally.”
The Canadians themselves are outraged…well, as outraged as Canadians get publicly. A movement to boycott US goods and travel is underway and picking up steam. Given Canada’s high reliance on imports from their closest neighbour, it’s hardly going to make a large dent in the US economy but could very well have enough of an impact to send a strong message down south… Don’t tread on me, eh!
Also on The Big Smoke
- The Donald/Kim summit is just the sideshow of a more important circus
- Current Affairs Wrap: Hammer falls for axe man, tragedy strikes Sydney, rise of the “poo jogger”
The 21st Fifa World Cup is officially underway in Russia. Spanish World Cup winner, Iker Casillas, along with Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova, escorted the World Cup Trophy into Luzhniki Stadium in a Louis Vuitton travel case, before British singer Robbie Williams entered the stadium, kicking things up a gear with one of his biggest hits, Let Me Entertain You.
Williams’ performance was peppered with technical issues including the microphone feed dropping out in television coverage being streamed to millions around the world. Perhaps out of frustration, he flipped the bird directly to the camera towards the end of his performance. He was soon joined by Aida Garifullina, a Russian soloist from the Vienna State Opera, and brought the house down.
Then the real man of the hour entered the arena, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was welcomed to huge cheers from the local crowd. He addressed the crowd and spoke of the power of soccer to unite the planet as “one team”, saying, “in this unity, over which no powers reign, in which there are no differences of language, of ideology or of faith, lies the great power of football, and of all sport.”
Putin sat alongside Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who were to face the Russian side in the opening game. With the Saudi team being the lowest ranked qualifier for the Cup and the Russian team being the second lowest ranked qualifier, an hard-fought contest was potentially in the offing. Except it wasn’t. Russia tore the Saudi team apart, finishing 5-0. Putin was gracious with his Royal guest, offering a consoling handshake after Russia scored after 12 minutes.
An up-and-coming comedian from Melbourne was brutally raped and murdered this week, leaving the nation in shock. 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon had just finished a gig at the Highlander Bar in the Melbourne CBD before walking to her home in Carlton North, taking a route she had taken many times before. When she was a few hundred metres from her front door, she sent a message to a friend saying she was “almost home safe”. Unfortunately she never made it.
At around 2:40am on Wednesday morning, her body was found on a soccer pitch at Princes Park. Police have since released CCTV images which captured her fateful walk home. It’s believed she was stalked for more than four kilometres before being attacked.
Following the release of the CCTV images, a 19-year-old by the name of Jaymes Todd handed himself in at the Broadmeadows police station and was charged with both rape and murder the following day and remanded into custody. Police do not believe that he knew Dixon. Todd’s lawyer also told the court that he suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder and is socially regressive.
The comedy community took to social media to share their sympathy and outrage. Julia Morris described her death as “despicable”. Fellow comedian Luka Muller started a GoFundMe which shot past it’s $1,500 goal immediately and has now raised over $30,000, the majority of which will be donated to charities that Dixon supported. High profile comedians Cal Wilson, Anne Edmonds and Celia Pacquola were among those that donated.
Also on The Big Smoke
Jason Todd, Jaymes Todd’s father, has spoken to the media saying he’s “as appalled as the rest of society,” before indicating he hadn’t seen his son since Dixon’s body was discovered. He continued, “It’s indescribable. It’s a very hard time for me and the family, and I feel greatly for Eurydice’s family and friends and offer my condolences. There is nothing I can do to change it or make it better, but I wish there was. That comes from our whole family…I know nothing about what happened, I haven’t even seen him yet and I’ve got nothing to tell you, I’m probably going to get dragged over the coals for this.”
The tragedy has generated significant debate about violence against women. Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, took to social media with a strong statement, saying, “No woman should change their behaviour following the death of Eurydice Dixon in a Melbourne park this week…Our message to Victorian women is this, Stay home. Or don’t. Go out with friends at night. Or don’t. Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.”
Victoria Police Superintendent, David Clayton, told the community to “take responsibility for your own safety” before urging anyone walking near Princes Park to take extra precautions and always be aware of their surroundings. The vibe on social media appeared to be far more in line with Andrews’ message rather than the police, with many people suggesting that being told to “take responsibility for your own safety” is akin to victim blaming. Grace Quealy summed it up on Twitter:
A man is assaulted at night and we discuss lock out laws and drunk violence. A woman is assaulted at night and we tell her to stop walking alone. #EurydiceDixon
— Grace Quealy (@giant_blonde) June 14, 2018
The Australian Armed Forces have been hit with major controversy this week following the release of photographs showing an Australian military vehicle on operations in Afghanistan flying the Nazi swastika flag.
The photo was allegedly taken in August 2007 and is believed to be genuine following two separate expert analyses which ruled out digital alteration. An unnamed defence force source has told the media that it was a “twisted joke” rather than an indication that soldiers were expressing a belief in neo-Nazism. The same source confirmed the flag was up for a “prolonged period”.
Vice Chief of Defence, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, has contradicted this, however, saying, “I think the important thing is the situation was dealt with quickly – the flag was removed.” Another spokesperson from the Defence department said, “The personnel involved were immediately cautioned at the time and subsequently received counselling…Additionally, steps were taken to reinforce education and training for all personnel who witnessed the flag.”
PM Malcolm Turnbull has criticised the conduct of the soldiers involved, saying it was “completely and utterly unacceptable”.
This has been the latest in a recent string of controversies surrounding the behaviour of our armed forces; so much so that the Inspector-General of the Defence Force is now conducting a sweeping inquiry into Australian elite troops, including possible breaches of the Geneva convention. A recent two-year long investigation uncovered several incidents of possible unlawful killings by members of the Australian Defence Force.
Wacky and wonderful
Industry interrupter, Uber, have had their fair share of ups and downs. We’ve had outrage from the taxi industry over sudden, largely unregulated, competition. We’ve had widely reported scams from Uber drivers trying to cash in on cleaning fees by faking damage to their vehicles. Those controversies, while concerning, haven’t seemed to slow the meteoric rise of Uber.
Their latest innovation may just.
Uber have applied for a patent to use Artificial Intelligence to determine how drunk potential passengers might be. Officially, the patent says that the system would spot “uncharacteristic user activity”.
The proposed system would store information about Uber customers and use it to match previous sober behaviours to how they are behaving when ordering their ride. It would use data points such as the angle at which a user is holding their device when they order the service, the accuracy of their button clicks, typos, location and their speed of walking. If any of the above raised a red flag, a driver with more experience dealing with inebriated passengers may be sent or the booking may be cancelled.
Even without having the stats to back me up, I’m pretty confident that a large portion of Uber customers would be well under the influence; in fact it may be their biggest demographic. The taxi industry with their less than modern technology must be doing cartwheels right now.
That’s it from me, TBSers – have a cracking week!