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What a week it has been. Gladys Liu faced questions about her loyalty, Scott Morrison was criticised by Andrew Bolt and Google Earth solved a two-decade-old murder mystery.

 

 

Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a horrible mix up in New Jersey, a potentially concerning connection in our Parliament and Google Earth and an accidental amateur sleuth to the rescue in Florida.

 

International

A couple from New Jersey in the US have launched a lawsuit following an unexpected surprise at the birth of their daughter. Kristina Koedderich and Drew Wasilewski were having trouble conceiving and decided to get help at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science at Saint Barnabas in 2012.

After spending an eye-watering $725,000, the couple successfully conceived and they were overjoyed to successfully give birth to a little girl in 2013.

Within a couple of years, the couple began to notice that their daughter didn’t resemble either of them; in fact, it appeared that she was developing “Asian” features despite Koedderich and Wasilewski being caucasian. They undertook a DNA test in 2015 and their worst fears were confirmed; there was “0 per cent probability” that Drew was the father of the little girl.

It appears a mixup occurred at the expensive clinic that saw someone else’s sperm used to impregnate Koedderich and possibly saw Wasilewski’s sperm used in the impregnation of another woman. The mixup resulted in significant pressure on the couple’s marriage which unfortunately resulted in their divorce.

The couple’s lawyer, David Mazie of Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman, had indicated that the clinic’s negligence caused “the breakdown of the marriage between Kristina and Drew Wasilewski”. He has also indicated that the couple is desperate to find out who the biological father is so that they can understand their daughter’s genetic history as well as afford her the opportunity to have a relationship with her biological father in the future, should she choose to.

Superior Court Judge Keith Lynott has ordered the clinic to hand over details of all men who donated sperm at around the same time that Kristina and Drew used the clinic to try and narrow down the list of potential biological fathers.

The clinic hasn’t commented on the incident except to say that the proceedings have “broad implications potentially affecting many more people than the immediate parties involved”; the clinic has also refuted the amount of money that the couple spent at the clinic, indicating that the amount was closer to $75,000 or roughly 10% of the amount being claimed.

Just a horrible situation all around.

 

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UK PM Boris Johnson is under more fire this week as the fallout of his drastic moves over the past few weeks come back to bite him.

Scotland’s highest civil court heard a challenge from a cross-party selection of politicians this week who believed that Johnson’s recent suspension of UK Parliament was unlawful. The three-judge panel agreed; ruling in favour of the group and declaring Johnson’s suspension unlawful.

The Scottish judges indicated that Johnson was motivated by the “improper purpose of stymieing Parliament” as well as suggesting that he had effectively misled the Queen in advising her to suspend Parliament. They continued, “The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the prime minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect.”

Lord Brodie, one of the three judges, also said, “This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities….It was to be inferred that the principal reasons for the prorogation were to prevent or impede Parliament holding the executive to account and legislating with regard to Brexit, and to allow the executive to pursue a policy of a no-deal Brexit without further Parliamentary interference.”

The government disagrees and intends on appealing against the ruling in London next week. PM Johnson has also unequivocally denied misleading the queen. But he’d hardly admit that, would he?

 

 

Domestic

Gladys Liu, member for Chisholm in Victoria, has come under heavy fire this week for her alleged connections to the China Overseas Exchange Association which in turn has direct links to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.

Online records from the Chinese Government list Liu as a council member of the Guangdong provincial chapter between 2003 and 2015 and also as a council member for the Shandong provincial chapter in 2010.

The alleged memberships are controversial due to the fact that it’s believed the organisations exist to exert Chinese influence in foreign nations and have been referred to as China’s “magic weapon” by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Clive Hamilton, China researcher at Charles Sturt University explains, “The two bodies of which Ms Liu a council member are explicitly created y the communist party of China in order to exert influence in countries like Australia.”

Feng Chongyi, Associate Professor of UTS also said, “This is one of the organisations created by the Chinese government for United Front operations. In particular, its work specialises in friends from overseas Chinese communities.”

Sky News Host, Andrew Bolt, took Liu to task during an interview this week which saw her refuse to answer questions and consistently fall back on the age old “I can’t recall” excuse. During the interview, she also refused to indicate whether she believes that China’s claim to the South China Sea was unlawful or not despite being asked several times.

PM Scott Morrison lept to Liu’s defence the next day during question time before playing the “race card”. Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus asked,

“Did the Prime Minister receive any advice about the current member for Chisholm from government agencies before or since the May 18 election?”

Morrison hit back aggressively, saying, “What is the intent of this question? The intent is to infer, against a member of this House, disloyalty to this country, and that member has in some way been the subject of some investigation……The member for Isaacs should take a good, hard look at himself, and he should have a good hard look at the 1.2 million Australians who will see exactly what he is doing to Australians of Chinese descent.”

Accusations of racism from a Government that continues to employ Peter Dutton is beyond laughable. But Andrew Bolt wasn’t laughing; and we got to witness a rare double-barrelled attack against the PM from the controversial commentator, made even rarer given it included a defence of the Labor Party. Bolt said, “The way that the Prime Minister played that race card five times this morning, well I can only say the Chinese regime should be sending him a thank you card. This slur against Labor and others was particularly disgusting.”

I don’t agree with Bolt very often, but he hit the nail on the head here. Liu was unable to adequately explain her past memberships within organisations that anyone would agree you should be associated with as a member of Australian Parliament. The only thing racist about the events this week was the PM calling the questioning racist. We’d expect the exact same level of scrutiny put on any member of parliament that had past associations with organisations that seek to influence our country from within. It’s as simple as that.

 

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There was a tragic end to the search for two missing campers in regional Victoria this week after they were found dead on Friday. Twenty-two-year-old Caleb Forbes and his twenty-one-year-old girlfriend Shannon Lowden set out the previous Friday to Thomas Dam in West Gippsland to camp overnight.

Unfortunately, they didn’t make it back and their planned time and the alarm was raised after Forbes failed to turn up to work on Sunday.  Police, SES and volunteers spent all week searching the area, with hopes high that the pair would be found safe. On Thursday before they were found, Inspector Cashman of the Victorian Police indicated that the disappearance was “totally out of character”; he said, “If they are in their car and they’ve got camping gear that can keep them warm we are hopeful that they will be OK. If they have moved away from their car then that’s a concern but if they have stayed with their car, they can access water, they should have some supplies that have almost diminished but the water will keep them going.”

Whilst the full details have not been released by authorities yet, it seems that their 4WD came off the road and ended up on its side down an embankment next to a tree. Victoria Police released a statement saying, “The pair were found deceased in their car on Trig East track, east of Thomson Dam at about 11 am”.

Inspector Cashman also described the location, saying, “It is a very difficult track to negotiate, it is almost a sheer drop to the side. We will put work into finding out what has actually occurred to make that car leave the road. We have spoken to the families and they are understandably devastated. It is very difficult for everybody concerned.

 

Wacky and Wonderful

A twenty-two-year-old missing person case in Florida has been amazingly solved by complete accident.

A former resident of Moon Bay, Wellington in Florida was doing what a lot of us do when we’re bored on the internet; he was having a look at his old neighbourhood on Google Earth. As he scrolled and zoomed down memory lane, his eye caught something bizarre. As he looked closer, it seemed to be a car submerged in a lake.

The man wasn’t certain of Google Earth’s accuracy so he contacted a current resident near the lake who used his drone to confirm that it was indeed a white car on the edge of the pond behind his house. He then notified local authorities who attended the lake immediately and discovered the skeletal remains of Wiliam Moldt, who went missing at the age of 40 back in 1997.

According to the Charley Project (an online database of cold cases in the US), the “vehicle had plainly (been) visible on a Google Earth satellite photo of the area since 2007, but apparently no one had noticed it until 2019”. Hopefully, the discovery gives his family some peace.

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