Well, it’s been a particularly incompetent week, punctuated by Venezuela’s problematic coup and our lesser-known politicians being absolutely deplorable. But at least one elderly couple found $10m worth of methamphetamine on their doorstep. That’s good, right?
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. This week we’ve seen more trouble in Venezuela, the culmination of all that’s ridiculous in local politics and an unexpected delivery for an elderly couple in Melbourne.
The ongoing crisis in Venezuela has worsened this week as protests erupted across the embattled nation.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for the remainder of the military to join him in ousting President Nicolás Maduro and his government—a president and government Guaidó claims is illegitimate. So much so that Guaidó declared himself as the legitimate leader of Venezuela earlier this year—a claim supported by the US, France, Germany, Britain and Australia. Russia, a key supporter of Maduro, have supported the current President and provided weapons and around 100 military personnel to bolster Maduro’s forces. Russia is a major investor in the Venezuelan oil industry, and are joined by China, Turkey, Iran, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua in support of Maduro.
Cuba also has military personnel on the ground, with US President Trump issuing a warning to Cuba, threatening sanctions if it did not “immediately cease military and other operations”.
So who currently controls the military? It depends on who you ask. According to Guaido, the majority of the military are now loyal to him; according to the Venezuelan Government and President Maduro, key military figures and the troops under their command are still loyal to them. So is this a coup? Again, depends on who you ask. According to US national security adviser, John Bolton, it isn’t a coup but rather the legitimate President (Guaido) simply trying to take control.
Despite ongoing assurances from the US and even a suggestion that Trump may look to intervene militarily, Guaido’s strategy this week wasn’t successful with the military failing to join him in his planned coup. Guaido, it seems, is undeterred, helping organise thousands of people to protest in the streets of the capital, Caracas. Guaido said,
“If the regime thought we had reached maximum pressure, they cannot even imagine. We have to remain in the streets”. The UN have spoken out against the response to the protests, indicating that it is “extremely worried” about the reports filtering out suggesting excessive force is being used against demonstrators. A local rights group has alleged that a young woman died after being shot in the head while protesting.
As power games continue between Guaido and Maduro as well as the US and Russia, the people of Venezuela continue to suffer in what has become a serious humanitarian crisis. For their sake, hopefully, some type of resolution can be reached and quickly.
Tropical Cyclone Fani has struck eastern India with force, with at least nine people reported dead already. Eight of the victims were in India and one in Bangladesh with reports suggesting that some were killed by flying trees and concrete propelled by the huge winds.
The tourist town of Puri in the Indian state of Odisha has been the hardest hit so far. Homes, trees and power lines have been torn down as wind gusts of up to 200 km/h pushed through the town. Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner, Bishnupada Sethi, said, “Damage in Puri is extensive, power supply, telephone lines disrupted”. A million people in the area were thankfully evacuated prior to Fani making landfall which has likely avoided a much larger death toll. Thanks to meteorological technological advances over the past twenty years, authorities have been afforded much more time to plan and evacuate those in the path due to an increase in accuracy of pattern prediction. By comparison, a super-cyclone hit the coast of Odisha for 30 hours back in 1999 and killed around 10,000 people.
The Indian Navy have also deployed seven warships as well as six planes and seven helicopters all loaded with divers, rubber boats, medical teams and relief materials on standby to assist with the fallout.
The risk isn’t over, particularly for Bangladesh which is next in Fani’s destructive path. Local authorities have commenced evacuating around 500,000 people from seven coastal districts that are expected to sustain heavy damage over the weekend. In the buildup, 14 Bangladeshi villages have already been inundated when a tidal surge broke through flood dams.
I think we can all agree that our political system has been utter chaos for a little over a decade. I’ve lost count of how many PM’s we’ve had – elected or otherwise. We’ve seen the rise of extremist independents steal the show; or those like Clive Palmer who’ve basically just tried their best to buy a seat at the table. We’ve seen pollies drop like flies after Section 44 breaches, and more recently a string of high profile retirements who all seem to have had enough of the circus.
It should be a surprise to absolutely no-one, then, that the upcoming election has turned into the most chaotic, unpredictable and ludicrous one we’ve had in recorded history. It’s been less than a month since PM Scott Morrison announced the May 18th election; a relatively short window to convince the public of which is the lesser of two evils this time around. Since then, a number of candidates have dropped out as a result of racist, sexist or homophobic slurs or potential Section 44 breaches. So much so, that as I list them for you, I’m not even confident I’ve got them all.
Jeremy Hearn, the Liberal Party’s candidate for the seat of Isaacs in Melbourne’s outer south-east Suburbs has been disendorsed following the discovery of an anti-Muslim rant he posted online last year that had enough conspiracy theories in it to earn him a tin foil hat (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-01/federal-election-liberal-candidate-dumped-anti-islamic-comments/11061480). If that’s not bad enough, according to the PM, the only reason Hearn was preselected was because their original candidate had been challenged under section 44.
Then we have Jessica Whelan, Liberal candidate for the Tasmanian seat of Lyons; or should I say a former candidate for the Tasmanian seat of Lyons after she was forced to quit this week. A report in The Mercury newspaper outed a number of Whelan’s previous social media posts which included an endorsement of genital mutilation, a suggestion that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in Australia and a little bit of slut-shaming of a Labor candidate as well. The timing couldn’t be worse for Morrison who was literally on the campaign trail in Tasmania with Whelan when the story broke. After pressure from the party, she resigned and told her supporters to vote for the nats, before saying she would run as an independent, before saying she won’t run as an independent.
It wouldn’t be a shitstorm without involvement from our good friends at One Nation HQ. Steve Dickson, who you might remember as the One Nation candidate caught on tape recently trying to sell Australia’s gun laws to the NRA, also fell on his sword after the release of another video from the same investigation. Dickson was at a strip club in the US enjoying himself before proceeding to make sexist, racist and misogynistic comments about the girls at the club before proceeding to attempt to sexually assault one of the dancers. Again, he blamed it on the booze. The rest of us blamed it on the fact that he’s a sexist, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, deluded pig….but eh, semantics.
Or a Liberal candidate for the inner-Melbourne seat of Wills who resigned this week after revelations that he had been encouraging conservative Christian groups to “infiltrate” the Liberal Party to stop homosexuals from being elected to office and party positions.
Labor haven’t escaped the chaos either with candidate Luke Creasey resigning late this week after previous social media comments that included offensive comments about women and a little rape joke thrown in for good measure.
Then there’s Tony Hanley from Clive Palmer’s party calling Saudi Arabians “tea towel heads” and “future terrorists” along with same-sex attracted women as “big fat ugly chicks”. He hasn’t resigned but I can’t imagine Clive will make him either. Sachin Joshi, the Libs candidate for Paterson blamed women for the gender gap due to their lack of “initiative and skill”; he hasn’t resigned as yet and seems intent on pushing on; and just in case Steve Dickson hadn’t killed what was left of One Nation, Ross McDonald who is One Nation’s candidate for the Queensland seat of Leichhardt had sexist posts from social media leaked which included pictures of him grabbing the breasts of women while on holiday in Thailand.
Did I mention that all of the above happened this week?
While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about Energy Minister Angus Taylor. In the age of social media, clearly, it pays to be careful as we’ve seen a number of people fall on their swords this week due to comments they’ve made publicly before that have come back to bite them.
Taylor, it seems, could certainly use a little bit of training. After putting a post on Facebook announcing an extra 1,000 car spots at Campbelltown station, Taylor, presumably, would sit back and wait for the likes and comments to come rolling in. Angus, it turns out, isn’t one to wait for the world to give him a pat on the back; he’s a man of action. A minute or so later, he commented on the post saying,
The public quickly worked out that the Energy minister forgot to log out of his primary account and into the fake account he uses to pump himself up in the public eye; and as we know from past experience, the internet public happens to be a witty and unforgiving bunch.
Thousands upon thousands of people jumped on to Taylors page and began commenting on pretty much everything he’d ever posted. Every single comment was identical – “Fantastic, Great move. Well done Angus”.
It’s probably relevant to mention that Taylor used to be the minister for cybersecurity; it definitely makes me feel safer.
Taylor’s media spokesperson was asked for an explanation and also asked whether Taylor or his staff regularly left comments praising his announcement under separate accounts. Unsurprisingly, an answer has not been forthcoming as yet.
Wacky and Wonderful
In the age of online shopping, it’s more common than one might expect to receive a package in the mail that you completely forgot about. Admittedly, in days gone I’ve made the mistake of combining a few drinks with a shopping bout only to end up surprised when purchases I had very little recollection of making arrived on my doorstep. And I’m definitely not alone.
An elderly couple outside of Melbourne had a package arrive recently. Neither was expecting anything but proceeded to open the package anyway. Inside, they discovered $10 million worth of methamphetamine. Thankfully for them, rather than it being the result of a drunken internet binge, it turned out to be a case of a simple wrong address.
The couple called the police immediately who quickly identified it as 20 kilograms of methamphetamine. Very shortly after, police converged on a house in the nearby town of Bundoora and arrested a 21-year-old man – and found a further 20 kilograms of the illegal drug.
Be smart kids. Make sure you send your $10 million worth of illegal narcotics to the right address.
That’s it from me TBSers. Have a cracking week. And don’t forget: Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus”