This week has been a series of unfortunate affairs: Alabama doubles down on their abortion rhetoric, Folau will finally see the inside of a courtroom and still no word on the Australian missing in North Korea.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had Alabama being Alabama, the end of an era at Apple, more from the Folau circus and a concerning case of a missing Aussie overseas.
You might recall I talked about the systematic campaign in parts of the US to make abortion illegal in the Current Affairs Wrap a few weeks ago. Not only is that campaign continuing undeterred, but we’ve now seen just how ridiculous the result is.
Marshae Jones, a woman from Alabama, was shot during a fight back in 2018. The fight occurred outside a Dollar General store in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, which ended with Jones being shot by Ebony Jemison in the stomach. Jones survived the shooting, her five-month-old unborn baby, unfortunately, did not.
Hard to argue that this would be one of the most difficult experiences for a person to go through. But it pales in comparison to what happened next.
Jones has now been indicted by a grand jury and charged with manslaughter over the death of her unborn child. The woman that shot her, Ebony Jemison, had her charged dropped.
Alabama’s criminal code has a provision to prosecute a pregnant woman over the death of her unborn baby; one of 38 states in the US with foetal homicide laws. When Alabama introduced their foetal homicide law in 2006, a specific exception related to a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy was included. An exception that will disappear once the state’s decision to ban abortion in almost all cases is put into law soon.
Prosecutors argued that Jones allegedly started the fight that ultimately resulted in her being shot and subsequently should bear responsibility for her unborn baby being killed. The argument isn’t completely devoid of merit; putting the abortion and right to choose arguments to the side, I think most people would agree that there is a duty of care between the mother and unborn baby in cases where the intention is to bring the baby to term. But to place the burden of responsibility on the mother rather than the person that fired the gun in this circumstance defies explanation.
It is, unfortunately, just another precedent being set on the road to the full criminalisation of abortions in the US. Whilst there are many states that will fight tooth and nail not to see this happen, if Roe v Wade is overturned then the constitutionally protected right to abortion disappears. Should Trump win a second term, you can all but guarantee that we will see a large portion of the US where abortions are completely illegal except in the rarest of circumstances. At least the showrunners for Handmaid’s Tale will have an easy job writing future seasons—it’s being done for them.
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It’s the end of an era for tech giant Apple this week with long-standing Chief Design Officer Jony Ive announcing his resignation.
Ive joined Apple back in 1992, after the then Director of Industrial Design for Apple, Robert Brunner, spent two years unsuccessfully trying to recruit him from Tangerine. He worked on the second generation of the Newton and the MessagePad 110 however these projects (along with most of Apple projects in the early-mid ’90s) weren’t resounding successes. Ive contemplated resigning on multiple occasions over the following years.
The return of co-founder, Steve Jobs, to Apple in 1997 however, was the catalyst for Ive coming into his own and forging a partnership that transformed the landscape of personal technology. Jobs once described Ive as his “spiritual partner” and after seeing what the two achieved together in the following years, it’s easy to understand why.
Following Jobs’ return, Ive was promoted to Senior Vice President of Industrial Design and was put in charge of the design team that would go on to design the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. As the history books tell us, those designs are what turned a company on the brink of bankruptcy into the first trillion-dollar business in history.
So where to now following the departure of the man that Tim Bajarin, a longtime Apple analyst, described as the “soul of Apple’s industrial design”? Your guess is as good as mine. But investors didn’t react particularly well to the news with around US$9 billion being wiped off Apple’s stock market value in a matter of hours. With investors and consumers continuing to approach the future of Apple with caution, it’s going to take some impressive innovation in the near future to restore it to its former glory; Ive’s departure has definitely made that less likely.
If you’ve had access to a news source of any description over the past month, you might have heard the name Israel Folau bandied about.
Just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown. Folau posted an image on Instagram back in April that warned the following groups of people that “hell awaits you” and demanded they “repent”:
If you feel like playing a quick game of “which of these is not like the others”, you’ll notice that all bar one of the above are a result of personal choice—the one being homosexuality. I can choose to be a drunk, adulterer, liar, fornicator, thief, atheist or idolater—but I can’t choose my sexuality. Folau was quickly condemned by large sections of the population but also found himself without a job, with Rugby Australia terminating his contract.
Rugby Australia wrote on April 11:
Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality. Rugby is a sport that continuously works to unite people. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our game and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality is acceptable and no language that isolates, divides or insults based on any of those factors can be tolerated… As a code, we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts of commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action. In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.
So let’s recap. You publicly vilify homosexuals by indicating on social media that they are going to hell. Your employer pulls you aside and makes it clear that you aren’t permitted to do it, that doing it is a breach of the code of conduct of your organisation and thus a breach of your employment contract, and that if you do it again you’ll get fired. Then you go and do it again.
What do you do next? You start yelling religious discrimination of course, and you make plans to sue your employer. Fair enough, it might be a ridiculous claim but who am I to begrudge someone for spending millions of dollars they’ve earned in sport and sponsorship to have their day in court?
What’s that? He doesn’t want to pay for it himself? He’s started a GoFundMe campaign to get the general public to pay for his lawsuit to win back his multimillion-dollar sporting contract?
Who would donate for a millionaire to win back a multi-million dollar contract? A lot of people it turns out. Folau’s GoFundMe was chasing $3 million. As Folau’s campaign sat side by side with campaigns trying to raise money for treatment for dying children, it quickly broke all site records, passing the $750,000 mark. It turns out, however, that GoFundMe isn’t big fans of their platforms being used for rich people to raise money to defend their right to vilify people based on their sexuality—they pulled the campaign.
The generous souls at the Australian Christian Lobby stepped in immediately, hosting a new fundraiser on their website for Izzy and launching an all-out PR campaign on the media circuit in support of him. That fundraiser quickly raised $2 million before being paused by the ACL.
Thankfully, some in the community understand the huge steaming pile of ridiculousness that this is; former Collingwood star Dane Swan has launched a tongue-in-cheek crowdfunding campaign of his own chasing $3 million for a bender in Vegas. Swan says of the campaign, “As Australians, we are born with the right to freedom of expression. I believe it is my duty as a servant of the sesh to set the standard on the circuit through Instagram and Snapchat. The last three-day bender I went on put a strain on me financially. Whilst I can’t remember much of it, I was told it was pretty exy.”
Folau and Rugby Australia sat down late in the week for a conciliation conference to try and settle the matter without heading to court. Unsurprisingly, it failed, with Folau’s lawyer George Haros telling the media, “It appears as though, unless things change, then we will be heading for court.”
Court is really the best result for everyone. Folau’s termination was completely legal and had nothing to do with religious discrimination as he has falsely claimed. He was terminated for breaching his employer’s code of conduct; he wasn’t vilified or prevented from believing or practicing his faith, he was terminated for doing exactly what he previously agreed not to do again. We need to have this heard in court, have the law applied correctly, and send a message that you should be free to practice your faith without discrimination, but not at the expense of the freedom of others not to be discriminated against or vilified—and that if you sign a contract with your employer and accept millions of dollars in return, your employer has the right to terminate your contract if you breach it.
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A 29-year-old Perth student, Alek Sigley, has been reported as missing in North Korea. Sigley, who speaks fluent Korean, is undertaking his master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il-sung University whilst working as a tour guide. He’s believed to be the only Australian living in North Korea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to Sigley’s family whilst also “urgently seeking clarification” about his situation with the North Korean government. At this stage, it has not been confirmed as to whether he’s been detained by the NK government or is otherwise missing.
Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, confirmed that consular assistance is being provided however admitted there were “some complications”.
“Our embassy in South Korea has reached out to relevant officials in North Korea,” he said. “There is obviously some complications in providing consular assistance into North Korea. We work through the Swedish Government in North Korea and all of these steps are underway.”
Sigley grew up in Perth, attending Rossmoyne Senior High school before starting his tertiary studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. In 2016, he was awarded a prestigious Colombo Plan scholarship to study at Sogang University in Seoul and to undertake an internship with the Korean Herald newspaper. He then founded Tongil Tours, an Australian-based company that specialises in guided tours to North Korea.
PM Scott Morrison has described the development as “very concerning” and has fielded questions from other world leaders attending the G20 meetings in Japan at the moment including Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.
“We’re talking to our partners in that part of the world to get to the bottom of what has occurred here,” he said. “It’s obviously very concerning. I’m very concerned about it. We’ve had a lot of sympathies also expressed and willingness to assist by other countries.”
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe said, “I’m very concerned about it, and concerned about it for his family. What’s at stake here is the welfare of an Australian citizen. And so we are working hard to know exactly what we believe may have taken place and we are working hard with our partners to do just that.”
That’s it from me TBSers, have a cracking week!