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Misogyny, violence against women and an unexpected voice of reason over the Hong Kong revolt. It’s been a bad bad week, my pets.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a further escalation in Hong Kong, a controversial visa block and a tragic week in Sydney.
The world continues to watch Hong Kong with concern as pro-democracy rallies continue amidst threats of escalation from China.
Whilst the protests have been marred with plenty of violence already, China has so far held back from initiating full force against the protestors. Satellite photos captured this week, however, appear to indicate that Beijing’s patience is wearing thin and we might be on the verge of a serious escalation. The photos in question appear to show more than 500 armoured personnel carriers parked in a sports complex in the Chinese city of Shenzen which is located just across the harbour from Hong Kong.
The Chinese Government were quick to indicate that the exercises in Shenzen had been planned before the protests began in Hong Kong, however, given they appeared not long after the Chinese Government also indicated that the protests were starting to show “sprouts of terrorism”, it’s not difficult to believe that there is a correlation in their arrival
The most surprising development, however, appears to be US President Donald Trump using Twitter to be the voice of reason in what must be a world first. Trump took to Twitter to say, “If President Xi would meet directly and personally with the protesters, there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem. I have no doubt!”
Not that Trump has anything to gain by undermining the Chinese government publicly at the moment or anything.
The rhetoric from China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, unfortunately, did nothing to quell the fear that the Chinese government may intervene in a more direct fashion, “The central government will not sit on its hands and watch….We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of (the) Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly. The central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss.”
What happens from here is anyone’s guess. In the modern age, any action taken is going to be seen by most of the planet very quickly which will hopefully temper the response from Beijing. In fact, it’s largely been the protesters’ ability to harness the power of social media that has helped amass support for the protests.
However, it’s hard not to be concerned given China’s less than stellar history in dealing with protests.
The most surprising development, however, appears to be US President Donald Trump using Twitter to be the voice of reason in what must be a world first.
Israel has controversially blocked two US Congresswomen from visiting their country as a result of their support of the movement to boycott Israel. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were due to visit both the West Bank and East Jerusalem next week however the Israeli government has now officially blocked them from entry.
Under Israeli law, any foreigner who calls for an economic, cultural or academic boycott of Israel is subject to having their visa blocked. However, Israeli officials had previously indicated that they were willing to make an exception for the Congresswomen before reneging this week. It appears that none other than US President Donald Trump may have been the catalyst for the backtrack after he called for the Congresswomen to be blocked on Twitter, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
The trip was originally supposed to begin on Sunday with visits planned for some of the more sensitive sites in the region including a hilltop plateau in Jerusalem which is known as Temple Mount to Jews and as Haram al-Sharif for Muslims.
In an ironic twist, Tlaib is of Palestinian descent with her parents being born in East Jerusalem and the West Bank respectively; Tlaib is also one of the members of Congress specifically targeted by Trump as someone that should “go back to her country”; an irony not missed by many watching the developments closely including New Jersey Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski who described the decision as “disrespectful to congress” as well as saying, “First he tells Congresswoman Tlaib to ‘go back’ to ‘her’ country, and then he tells that country not to let her in”.
For those playing at home, Tlaib was born in Detroit in the good old US of A.
All eyes were on Sydney this week as a brutal knife attack unfolded in the CBD on Tuesday afternoon. A twenty-one-year-old man who has since been identified as Mert Ney, fatally stabbed one person before taking to the streets and stabbing another in the back before being detained by members of the public.
Ney was allegedly visiting 21-year-old woman, Michaela Dunn, in her fourth-floor apartment in Clarence Street when the initial attack occurred. Ney had booked time with Dunn, who was working from home as a sex-worker during which time he brutally murdered her. According to Jules Kim, the chief executive of prominent sex worker advocacy group, Scarlet Alliance, Ney had previously visited Ms Dunn on at least one other occasion.
Following Ms Dunn’s murder, Ney allegedly left her premises and began a rampage through the streets with a bloodied kitchen knife that saw him stab 41-year-old Linda Bo in the back at the Hotel CBD. Thankfully, several members of the public heroically intervened, preventing Ney from attacking anyone else.
Amazing footage emerged quickly of the man who first intervened to stop the spread of this horrific attack; a man since identified as Lawyer John Bamford.
Bamford spotted Ney emerging from a building with the bloody knife raised and quickly grabbed a chair from the cafe he was at to distract and corral Ney. He told Sunrise, “I just grabbed the chair and, you know, went after him basically as best I could. I had to get rid of my papers that I had taken for lunch to read. So I had to drop them at my cafe, but the guy knows me there so I didn’t worry about that…We had a little brief encounter when he jumped off the top of the roof of a car and he went over to the other side…I forget what I said but I remember what he said, he said he had a bomb in his bag. He had a blue bag around his hips. The zip was undone and it didn’t look like there was a bomb in there to me. He was just having me on…what am I gonna do? Go home and say I was there and I could’ve done something and backed away from it? I mean, there was just no option. He was there, I had a chance to get him so I was gonna do something about it. What do you do?”
Ney then moved on but quickly had a group of different people giving chase including a former soldier, Jase Shore, who cleverly used a nearby milk crate to protect himself from the knife and along with other bystanders, used it to subdue and detain Ney before police could arrive to arrest him. He said, “I was coming around a corner, I think it just, it was just something there, at my feet, within arm’s reach while I could still see the offender, so it was one of the only things I could grab at the time…my initial thought was to keep distance between me and him, and the blade really, or to try and get the blade out and knock him down with that object”
It’s fair to say that every member of the public who distracted, gave chase and detained Ney is a Bona Fide hero and very likely saved the lives of others who may have ended up in Ney’s wake.
Whilst reports emerged quickly that Ney had been carrying material about mass casualty terrorist events on a USB and had also been yelling “Allahu Akbar” during the rampage, authorities were quick to dismiss any suggestions that the attack was terror-related. Ney has a history of mental health issues and it’s believed that the attack was likely fuelled by this rather than any association with a terror organisation or direct radicalisation.
Whilst the heroics of these men showed the best of us, some of the aftermath has shown the absolute worst.
Ms Dunn’s profession was immediately drawn into the spotlight as some of the more deluded amongst the media and society at large seemed to believe that her chosen profession as a sex worker was relevant to her being a victim.
As the initial reports emerged, #MilkCrate went viral immediately and everyone had a good laugh at what was really one of the most “Aussie” responses in a crisis, very little was being spoken about Michaela Dunn with the exception of the sex worker community.
As Gala Vanting, president of the Scarlet Alliance, pointed out, the response was vastly different to the response given in other recent high profile attacks against young women, “Something that’s notable for me is that it’s the sex work community who are leaving flowers on Michaela’s doorstop. I’m reminded of Eurydice Dixon’s murder in Melbourne and the fact that an entire city flocked to the site of her death to leave flowers and remember her. In terms of their demographic, these two women had quite a lot in common, and yet the way they are grieved and spoken about by the media, the government, community leaders, it’s very different”
She has a point. Particularly when you consider some of the vilest and most repugnant commentary made after Ms Dunn’s murder on infamous sex worker advertising site, “Punter Planet”, which saw a member of the site comment “Probably a punter totally fed up with fake Asian ads. Won’t be the last. That’s for sure. Let the culling begin.”
Yet this disgusting commentary hasn’t been reported by the mainstream media at all. If we really want to address the issue of violence against women in this country, we need to attack it wherever it lies, call out whoever it’s perpetrated by and call out whoever it’s encouraged by or justified by. To do otherwise is just transparent virtue signalling and about as effective as “thoughts and prayers”. A woman was brutally murdered; her profession, race, religion, culture, sexuality or favourite flavour of ice cream don’t diminish her innocence and shouldn’t diminish our outrage.
Yet this disgusting commentary hasn’t been reported by the mainstream media at all. If we really want to address the issue of violence against women in this country, we need to attack it wherever it lies, call out whoever it’s perpetrated by and call out whoever it’s encouraged by or justified by.
I wish I was shuffling into a story that was vastly different, but unfortunately, it’s more of the same vitriolic shit. Shock jock Alan Jones took aim at New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern on Thursday for suggesting that “Australia had the answer to the Pacific” with respect to climate change during the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu; and by “took aim” I mean straight out suggested that our PM should physically attack her.
PM Morrison responded to the comments, calling them “way out of line” and expressing his disappointment saying, “I mean, I have two daughters. So you can expect that’s how I would feel personally about it”. Former PM Malcolm Turnbull also took to Twitter to call for Jones to apologise to Ardern “for his latest misogynistic rant”.
Jones, of course, doubled down, claiming that he’d meant to say “put a sock in it” and placed the blame on those that had misinterpreted him, “This was wilful misinterpretation of what I said to obviously distract from the point that she was wrong about climate change and wrong about Australia’s contribution to carbon dioxide level”.
Yes Alan, we “wilfully” misinterpreted your suggestion that the PM forcefully shove a sock down the throat of a woman – amazing given it’s exactly what you said verbatim; and over 30 years of broadcast experience tends to suggest that you knew exactly what you were saying. Just like you did when you suggested that Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame” due to his daughter being a liar not long after his death.
The only thing worse than a misogynist is one that’s too much of a coward to own what he said.
That’s it from me TBSers, have a cracking week!