Rob Idol

About Rob Idol

Rob is an aspiring writer who balances his time between a “real” job and his passion for politics, social justice and all things creative. He has an MBA, an unhealthy obsession with current events, an even unhealthier obsession with pop culture and has been known to offer favourable food reviews in exchange for free meals. www.robidol.com.au

Current Affairs Wrap: Arson enflames Japan, the Iran situation intensifies and a crim goes out on a brown note

What a week it has been, we’ve had arson devastate Japan’s anime community, a historic murder ruling at home and one criminal making the news for the wrong reason.

 

 

Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a deadly arson attack in Japan, more trouble off the coast of Iran, a historic sentence back home in WA and an embarrassing fail for a crook in the US.

 

 International

A suspected arson attack on an animation production company in the Japanese city of Kyoto has killed 33 people with many others injured.

The man responsible allegedly ran into the building screamed “you die” before starting the blaze that quickly spread throughout the building. At this stage, no motive has been established for the attack and it’s believed that the death toll will continue to rise in the coming days. Local media have suggested that as many as 70 people were believed to be in the building when the attack occurred. Some of those confirmed dead were reportedly trapped in a stairwell whilst trying to reach safety on the building’s roof.

Kyoto Animation president, Hideaki Hatta, has told the media that the company had previously received death threats via email but that the company always responded “sincerely”. The attack has sent shockwaves throughout Japan and the rest of the world; Japan is famous for it’s low crime rate and even lower violent crime rate.

A list of missing persons has been posted on Reddit and it includes a number of famous names in the Anime world including Takemoto Yasuhiro, Kawanami Eisaku and Nishiya Futoshi. Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, tweeted in response to the attack, “It’s so dreadful that I’m lost for words…I pray for those who passed away”.

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Tensions continue to escalate between the US and Iran with US President Donald Trump confirming that an Iranian drone was shot down by the US Navy in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian military is believed to have shot down a US drone in the same region last month.

Trump has told the media that the destruction of the Iranian drone was a defensive move after it came within a kilometre of the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, and ignored multiple warnings to stand down and retreat. Trump said, “The drone was immediately destroyed. This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce”.

The statement from the Pentagon also confirmed “defensive action” against a drone but didn’t identify the drone as Iranian in origin, “A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and it’s crew”.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was equally coy, telling the media “We have no information about losing a drone”.

At the end of the week, Iranian authorities seized two vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, the first a British flagged Swedish owned tanker and a British-operated, Liberian-flagged tanker.

Earlier in the week, Iranian state-run television reported that it’s Revolutionary Guard had seized a foreign oil tanker inside Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island. The unverified video accompanying the story shows two speedboats circling what appears to be the Panama-flagged MT Riah before seizing it, allegedly with twelve people on board.

US intelligence indicated that the tanker was owned by the United Arab Emirates, however, the UAE has denied this. The US State Department released a statement following the report saying, “Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately …(the US) will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to ensure the Iranian regime’s extortion tactics and malign activities do not further disrupt maritime security and global commerce”

Around the same time, Iran deliberately breached the 300-kilogram limit for low-enriched uranium that it was bound by under the 2015 nuclear deal, all but destroying what was left of the treaty. They have also continued to escalate their rhetoric, with the head of the IRGC, Commander Hossein Salami, indicating that Iran would switch from a defensive to an offensive strategy “if the enemy makes a mistake”.

It seems like a “mistake” is inevitable.

 

Domestic

Anthony Robert Harvey, a 25-year-old man from Perth faced sentencing this week over the mass murder of his family last year at the family home in Bedford.

In what was one of WA’s worst mass killings, Harvey admitted responsibility for the murders of his 41-year-old wife Mara, their three-year-old daughter Charlotte, two-year-old twins Alice and Beatrix and their  73-year-old grandmother Beverley Quinn in September last year.

Harvey became the first person in WA to be jailed for life with an order issued that he is never to be released from prison. Justice Hall, who presided over the case, gave Harvey the maximum penalty available under WA law – the order to never be released – a penalty he indicated was reserved for the very worst cases. He said, “Frankly, I struggle to find words that are adequate to convey the magnitude of your offences …Your actions are so far beyond the bounds of acceptable human conduct that they instil horror and revulsion into even the most hardened of people….It is necessary to make an order that you never be released in order to meet the community’s interest in punishment and deterrence.

Justice Hall continued, describing the way in which Harvey took the lives of his family as an “exceedingly brutal manner”.

The “never to be released” sentence has not been used since it was introduced under changes to the state’s homicide laws in 2008 until now. Mara Harvey’s sister, Taryn Tottman, read a statement outside court following sentencing in which she described the sentence as “extremely suitable”. She said, “In an ideal world, now that sentencing has been handed down, my family would return …But I know that this will never happen…Instead, we ourselves have been given a life sentence …Please remember my mum, Beverley, as a generous, committed, loving mum and friend that she was …My sister Mara for her love, support and determination…My nieces, Charlotte, for her enthusiasm and laughter, Alice for her sense of adventure and cheekiness, and Beatrix for her spirit and, of course, her hugs”.

Just a horrible waste of lives all around with no happy ending possible.

***

Greens Senator Nick McKim found himself in hot water in Papua New Guinea after a failed attempt to visit the East Lorengau prison camp on Manus Island.

Government officials denied McKim entry to the facility and soon after, he received a visit from immigration. He tweeted, “Just had a visit from two Immigration Department officials and been instructed to leave PNG. I will accept this deportation and leave #Manus tomorrow. But no matter where I am I will never stop fighting to expose the truth about the humanitarian calamity of offshore detention”. (https://www.sbs.com.au/news/papua-new-guinea-deports-australian-senator-after-manus-island-visit).

Senator McKim indicated that barring an Australian senator from visiting Manus in this manner was “an extension of the culture of secrecy that exists around Australia’s shameful offshore detention regime”

He has a point. Australian taxpayers are funding these facilities to the tune of around $1 billion per year. An elected senator should have the right to inspect how those funds are being used on behalf of their constituents and assuming that they have complied with local immigration laws (which Senator McKim had after being granted a 12-month multiple entry visa), an attempt to inspect those facilities without notice shouldn’t result in deportation. It’s not an issue of national security which makes it very difficult to believe that the Department of Home Affairs isn’t hiding something from us.

 

Wacky and Wonderful

The internet is filled with stories of criminals that had their dastardly schemes undone in some of the stupidest and embarrassing ways. A man trying to evade police in Missouri last week may have just taken the cake.

The police were chasing a man who had a warrant for possession of a controlled substance. He had managed to hide from the officers and their K-9 units for a while, but his own body betrayed him with a “thunderous” fart, which led the officers right to him. The Clay County Missouri Sheriff’s Office announced the capture on social media, saying, “If you’ve got a felony warrant for your arrest, the cops are looking for you and you pass gas so loud it gives up your hiding spot, you’re definitely having a day”.

The nearby Liberty Police Department assisted in the arrest, and continued the fun on their Facebook account, saying, “Thanks to @SherrifClayCo for airing out a wanted person’s dirty laundry and fanning the flames. The Liberty Police Department was surprised to see this incident slip out, which stinks for the arrestee. Fortunately, no one was injured during his arrest #nervousbelly #nocomment”

It’s good to see local law enforcement accepting a well known, but not often admitted fact – farts are always funny.

That’s it from me TBSers, have a cracking week!

 

 

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