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The week that was was a particularly brutal one, highlighted by numerous stabbings and one man’s war against a spider.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen tragedy in Poland, increased tensions in Taiwan, multiple stabbings in Sydney and a strange police callout in Western Australia.
Five teenage girls have tragically died in Poland after a fire broke out inside an escape room game they were participating in.
Escape rooms, which have been growing in popularity in recent years, see the participants locked inside a room and attempting to escape it by solving a series of puzzles. The five 15-year-old girls were inside the escape room with a 25-year-old man when the fire broke out. The man miraculously survived and has been hospitalised with burns. At this stage his condition hasn’t allowed police to interview him and ascertain the cause of the fire, which is currently unknown.
Polish state news agency, PAP, have reported that they have unofficially learned that the five young girls died from carbon monoxide asphyxiation. Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński has immediately ordered that fire safety controls be installed at all escape rooms across Poland. Polish President Andrzej Duda described it as a “crushing tragedy” on Twitter, and Koszalin Mayor Piotr Jedliński announced that Sunday would be a day of mourning across the city.
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Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to the media this week and warned that China won’t rule out the threat of military action to reclaim Taiwan.
Jinping’s speech reassured the Taiwanese that they would enjoy peace and an independent system of governance as part of China’s “one country, two systems” model.
“Different systems are not an obstacle to unification, and even less are they an excuse for separatism,” he said. “The private property, religious beliefs and legitimate rights and interests of our Taiwanese compatriots will be fully assured.”
The peaceful message was quickly peppered with threats, as he spoke against efforts to promote Taiwan’s independence, saying, “China must and will be united…which is an inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people in the new era. We make no promise to give up the use of military force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means. Reunification is the historical trend and the right path. Taiwan independence is…a dead end.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen hit back immediately, indicating that the Taiwanese people will never give up the democratic freedoms they currently enjoy and that don’t exist in mainland China. President Tsai has been at odds with China since her election in 2016 as she has refused to acknowledge China’s position that the island is part of “one China”. She told the media, “Democratic values are cherished by the Taiwanese people; it’s their way of life.”
Taiwan’s foreign ministry also spoke out, saying, “If the Chinese Government cannot treat its own people kindly, cannot guarantee human rights and will not let its own people vote…then Taiwanese will look at China’s intent with suspicion.”
To further make their point, the Taiwanese military released videos of its military in action including its supersonic missile system, which is believed to be capable of warding off Chinese warships. The Taiwanese press have also claimed that Taiwan is pursuing a plan to further boost its weapons arsenal, including reverse-engineering old fighter jet engines in an attempt to build a “simplified, improved” turbojet engine which is expected to be put in a new cruise missile to deter Chinese military aggression.
The ongoing issue between China and Taiwan has some analysts concerned that it could represent the catalyst of a larger military conflict in the region, particularly with the US maintaining an active presence in the Taiwan Strait and relations between the US and China continuing to worsen.
The streets of Sydney were the scene of a violent, 45-minute rampage on Friday which resulted in multiple vehicle collisions, two carjackings and a stabbing.
The incident began when police noticed a 4WD with missing number plates on the Hume Highway at Bass Hill in the west of Sydney. Police attempted to stop the vehicle to investigate, however the driver allegedly rammed one of the police vehicles before escaping and driving east towards Chullora before abandoning his vehicle and stealing a Woolworths delivery truck.
Police allege that the driver collided with up to five cars in Wiley Park in the southwest of Sydney before colliding with several more on West Botany Street in Rockdale. The driver then allegedly abandoned the stolen truck and was confronted by a member of the public who attempted to calm him down and keep him at the scene. The driver then proceeded to stab the member of the public. Witnesses have reported that the victim could be heard shouting “call an ambulance”, with one witness saying, “It was the worst thing I have seen in my life, it was crazy.”
The driver proceeded to carjack a red taxi and flee the scene as witnesses came to the aid of the stabbed man. Not long after, the man was confronted by police on Forest Road near St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Primary School where it’s believed he took his own life. Multiple ambulance and police teams were on the scene but were unable to revive the man.
Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Mick Fitzgerald has since spoken to the media and provided further details on the alleged attacker, saying “(the attacker) has a mental health background. He has not got an extensive criminal history, but he is known to police. It was a man doing everything he could to avoid arrest. His actions, particularly when he stabbed an innocent person, are the actions of someone we believe who had mental health issues…It would appear to us that the offender wasn’t trying to intentionally harm people along the way. He could have, if he wished to, harm a great deal of (people).”
The stabbing victim was rushed to St George Hospital in a serious condition and it’s believed he underwent surgery on Friday night. His condition is listed as serious but stable.
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Unfortunately this wasn’t the only stabbing in Sydney this week. A 24-year-old man was stabbed and killed earlier in the week at the Church of Scientology’s Australasian headquarters in Sydney. The victim was an employee of the centre and is believed to have been stabbed in the neck before being taken to Royal North Shore hospital and succumbing to his injuries on Thursday afternoon.
Another employee, an older man, is also believed to have been injured in the incident, however his injuries are believed to only be superficial and he is in a stable condition. A 16-old-boy was arrested at the scene and has since been charged with murder, common assault (DV), common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray.
It’s believed that the victim, a 24-year-old Taiwanese national, was attempting to escort the teen down the driveway of the facility before he was attacked with a 25cm kitchen knife. Reports have suggested that the alleged attacker was visiting the centre where his mother was to undergo a “purification ceremony”.
It’s since been revealed that the teenage boy is a 16-year-old Chinese national who is the son of a Scientologist but wasn’t a member of the church. It’s believed that the boy wanted to stop his mother from undergoing the controversial “purification” process that is supposed to rid the body of drugs and toxins to reach a spiritual high.
An unnamed source has told the media that the boy had begged his mother not to undergo the process in an argument the night before the stabbing. The ritual concerned is advertised on the Church’s website as a ritual that “enables an individual to rid himself of the harmful effects of drugs, toxins and other chemicals that lodge in the body and create a biochemical barrier to spiritual well-being”.
The ritual has however been debunked by a number of independent doctors and according to an investigation by the New York Press, it can be quite dangerous. The 16-year-old alleged attacker has been refused bail.
Wacky and wonderful
Arachnophobia is a serious business. Some of the most embarrassing moments in life have been directly associated with discovering one of the eight-legged devil spawn or in my attempts to get rid of one. It can turn a seemingly normal, together adult into a cowering mess.
As embarrassing as some of my spider experiences have been, it seems a man in Western Australia has taken the cake.
Police were called to an address after neighbours reported hearing a toddler screaming and a man shouting death threats. A neighbour walking past the premises repeatedly heard a male shouting “Why don’t you die” amidst the toddler screams.
With sirens and lights blazing, police arrived at the premises only to find the toddler safe and sound, the only victim being an unwanted spider.
The embarrassed man admitted to police that he had a serious fear of spiders before apologising to the police for the inconvenience.
That’s it from me, TBSers. Have a cracking week!