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Well, as far as weeks go, it was almost tolerable. Joe Biden decided he wants to be President, Fraser Anning’s mob doubled down and one joke targeted something we all loathe.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had developments in the 2020 US presidential election, controversy at a Fraser Anning event and an entertaining, if not inappropriate, prank in Brisbane.
Whilst many are still hoping for impeachment when it comes to US President Donald Trump, others are now turning their sights on the next US election in 2020 as the best possible way to remove the commander and chief.
A smattering of candidates from across the country have already announced their intention to run, but there was one name still waiting in the wings that allegedly had Trump worried—and this week he declared his presidential bid.
Joe Biden, former Vice-President under the Obama administration, has thrown his hat in the ring and has wasted no time in going after Trump. In a video announcement released late this week, Biden drew attention back to Trump’s controversial comments about the Charlottesville white nationalist riots in 2017 when Trump suggested there were “very fine people on both sides”.
Biden said, “With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
Dem’s fightin’ words, Joe.
Reports from inside the Trump camp suggest that Biden’s entry is exactly what the Pres was hoping wouldn’t happen. Trump responded to the announcement on Twitter saying, “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign.” Those close to Trump have indicated the flippant response is evidence that the Pres is terrified of Biden.
His alleged concern is understandable. Biden is an extremely popular figure both within the Democratic Party and the country at large. He’s considered politically centred, meaning he will likely be able to unite the factions within his party. Whilst his fame and popularity soared as Barack Obama’s running mate and then Vice President, the 76-year old also brings a wealth of political experience to the table. Prior to the Obama years, Biden represented Delaware in the US Senate from 1973 until 2009—just a paltry 36 years.
It won’t all be smooth sailing for Biden’s bid. Apart from the fact that he has to win the Democratic primary against other popular figures like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, he’s also no stranger to controversy in recent times. Biden has been the subject of a number of complaints in recent times from women he has worked with who have alleged inappropriate behaviour. Democrat Lucy Flores recently penned an essay in which she alleged that Biden kissed her on the back of the head just before they were due to present a joint speech.
“I felt him get closer to me from behind,” she said. “He leaned further in an inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, I didn’t wash my hair today and the Vice-President of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f**k? Why is the Vice-President of the United States smelling my hair? He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed, I was shocked. I was confused.”
As abhorrent as Biden’s alleged behaviour is, his saving grace may just be that the man he hopes to face off against has an even worse record when it comes to treatment of women. I don’t want to play equivalencies but so far there have been no reports of Biden walking around grabbing women “by the pussy”. At the very least it should limit Trump’s ability to use the allegations against Biden; not that Trump has a huge problem with being the pot calling the kettle black.
Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2019
While we’re on the topic of Trump, he’s had a busy week himself. On Friday, he announced that the US would not comply with a UN treaty which was established to try and regulate the global arms trade. The 2013 Arms Trade Treaty was endorsed by former US President Obama, however it was never ratified by the US Senate.
Trump described the treaty as “misguided” and a threat to US sovereignty (a stretch, even for him). He spoke at a National Rifle Association meeting in Indianapolis, saying “We will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone. We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom. And that is why my administration will never ratify the UN arms trade treaty. I am officially announcing today that the US will be revoking the effect of America’s signature from this badly misguided treatment. We’re taking our signature back.”
So what is this big bad treaty that Trump alleges will piss all over the rights of US citizens to “bear arms” under their constitution? Put simply, it’s a treaty that requires member countries to keep records of weapons transferring across international borders and also prohibits cross-border shipments that could be used to violate human rights or attack civilians. Hardly an encroachment on the rights of any US citizen or any US sovereignty. But apparently the super-profitability of the US arms industry is a little more important than trying to keep those weapons out of the hands of the people against whom the US has launched two illegal wars on the other side of the world.
Whilst the announcement was met with manic support from the gathered gun-nuts, at least one member of the crowd wasn’t happy with Trump, allegedly hurling a phone at him as he walked on stage. Unfortunately it was a terrible throw and the culprit was promptly arrested by the Secret Service.
Where’s egg boy when you need him?
Senator Fraser Anning took to Cronulla this week to announce the NSW candidates for his party, Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party, and in a surprise to absolutely no-one, it turned into chaos.
Anning, who has managed to achieve the rare feat of making Pauline Hanson look like a well-read and balanced politician, deliberately chose Cronulla for the announcement this week, home of the infamous Cronulla Riots.
Journalists proceeded to ask Anning questions (as you do at a press conference) but were met with heckles and jeers from Anning’s supporters. One local journo, Eliza Barr, asked a question challenging Anning’s assertions on Muslim immigration which drew particular ire from the assembled mob. Anning told the assembled reporters to “go and have a look at police reports” to justify his claim that Muslims and Africans are a danger to Australian society. Barr, who happens to be a local crime and courts reporter, hit back saying “I haven’t seen a single person who is either Muslim or Sudanese charged with a hate crime of any kind.”
As Barr walked out of the park, one of Anning’s supporters threatened her. It’s believed that News Corp photographer, Dylan Robinson placed himself between Barr and the Anning supporters and began to photograph them; he was then attacked by at least one of the supporters who lunged at him and commenced throwing punches.
Robinson doesn’t appear to have thrown any punches in return but was on the receiving end of quite a few and had his shirt badly torn. As the attacker continued to throw punches at Robinson, bystanders intervened before police arrived and detained the 19-year-old.
NSW Police have since released a statement indicating that the 19-year-old man from Randwick is alleged to have made intimidating comments to Barr and when Robinson tried to intervene he was allegedly assaulted.
Hate begets hate, Fraser. Hopefully everyone remembers that on election day and we never hear from you again.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Anning supporter arrested after ‘physical altercation’ with media
- Current Affairs Wrap: Notre backlash damned, the Lindi Chamberlain sequel, life imitates art once more
A man in Logan, south of Brisbane, has died following a vicious assault earlier this week. Emergency services received a call to an intersection in Woodridge at around 5am on Friday where they found the 40-year-old male victim on the street.
He was treated at the scene by paramedics before being transported to Princess Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition; sadly, he succumbed to his injuries not long after.
Acting detective inspector Chris Joy, of the Logan Police Area Command, described the injuries as “severe”. Joy told reporters, “When an ambulance arrived, it was evident he had sustained a terribly violent assault. There was probably more than normal treatment delivered to the victim on the side of the road because of the serious nature of the…extremely violent injuries. At the time of being transported, his injuries were clearly life threatening.”
Police located another 40-year-old man nearby who has been taken into custody and is allegedly the man responsible for the attack. In concerning news, police have indicated that their investigations to date indicate absolutely no connection between the man in custody and the attacker, suggesting that the attack was completely random. Joy said, “The inquiries to date certainly support the fact that they hadn’t previously had any contact with each other. There’s nothing to suggest that this is anything other than a random assault, which of course is very concerning, but there doesn’t seem to be any known history between the two people involved.”
Police have asked anyone who may have been in the area at around the time of the assault who may have heard, seen or captured footage on dashcam, to contact them to assist.
Wacky and wonderful
In the modern world, we face vulnerabilities everywhere. Our televisions have been caught listening to us, the government can track our location with an unprecedented level of ease, and despite their consistent denials of anything nefarious, Facebook still hasn’t been able to explain why I see targeted advertising related to products I’ve only spoken verbally about to people.
Someone in Brisbane has used similar methods to play a prank on Lime scooters and the results are hilarious—albeit destructive and costly for the operators.
Users started reporting strange behaviour from the scooters as the speaker system in the scooter began making suggestive and offensive comments to the riders. Some of the more “innocent” messages included “Don’t take me around, because I don’t like to be ridden,” or “No, where you go?” at the end of a journey. Others were allegedly far more sexual or offensive in nature.
Lime scooter operators aren’t laughing, however, with spokesman Nelson Savanh blaming the hacking on “vandals”. “It’s not smart,” he said, “it’s not funny and is akin to changing a ringtone. It’s disappointing that someone has taken this opportunity to poke fun at members of the community in a hurtful way.”
He’s partially right. It’s tough for many businesses out there and pranks like this do create an extra cost that can have damaging flow-on effects for owners and employees alike. That being said, it was kind of funny and kind of smart; just like changing your mate’s ringtone when they aren’t looking.
That’s it from me, TBSers—have a cracking week!