This week, Uluru closed to strains of complaint, Donald made yet another gaffe and Eminem performed for the secret service.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had horror in Essex, rebel-rousing from the Trump camp, a historical moment in the red centre and high paranoia over lyrics.
British authorities have launched an investigation following the shocking discovery of 39 dead bodies in the back of a truck at an industrial estate in Essex.
Information is still being gathered however the truck’s driver, Mo Robinson, a twenty-five-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
It’s believed at this stage that the container that the bodies were found in had been shipped from Belgium to the town of Purfleet in Essex, east of London. The truck that the container was loaded on is believed to have originated in Northern Ireland. Police have indicated that the container and the truck left the port together at around 1:05 am on Wednesday morning.
Not long after, the East England Ambulance Service received a call from an unknown source which prompted them to send five ambulances and a car to the Waterglade Industrial Park at around 1:40 am.
It has since been revealed that the bodies discovered were all Chinese nationals and were made up of thirty-one men and eight women. The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, spoke to the media, saying,
“We read with a heavy heart the reports about the death of 39 people in Essex, England. We are in close contact with the British police to seek clarification and confirmation of the relevant reports”.
Friends of the driver, Mo Robinson, have told the media that they believe him to be 100% innocent, saying, “I’m telling you now, he wouldn’t have known those people were in the back…apparently he’d parked up at the industrial estate in Essex and had gone to fetch the paperwork from a pocket on the inside of the lorry door. When he opened the container up and saw all the dead bodies, he was absolutely horrified – as anyone would be – and called the ambulance service who in turn alerted the police. I heard the container was refrigerated – the temperature was -25C and the bodies were frozen and had been dead for some time”
A local truck driver told the Irish Mirror that it was completely feasible that Robinson was unaware of his cargo, he said, “The paperwork the driver deals with doesn’t have to say what is in the trailer…I don’t go in the back of any of my trailers and if it’s a sealed trailer I can’t. It could be that the driver has gone to pick that up and not known.”
Police in Northern Ireland have since searched three properties to try and ascertain how these poor souls lost their lives. As a result of the searches, three further people have been arrested in relation to the mysterious deaths – a 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland, and a 38-year-old man and woman from northern England.
As the impeachment train continues to build momentum in the US, Trump and his supporters have begun pulling out all the stops in their attempts to stop it from happening.
Earlier in the week, Trump took to Twitter to complain, “Someday, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”.
Putting aside the blind inaccuracy of the statement for a moment, the tweet immediately drew criticism from everywhere due to Trump’s completely insensitive use of the term “lynching”. “Lynching”, of course, is commonly used as a term to describe the murder of thousands of primarily African-Americans between the 1880s and the 1960s.
Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, told the media, “For Trump to characterise a legal impeachment inquiry as a lynching shows a complete disrespect for the thousand of black people lynched – murdered – throughout our nation’s history in acts of racism and hatred”.
Disgusting choice of words aside, the statement itself is also incredibly misleading and inaccurate. The House of Representatives in the US cannot impeach a President; they can only prepare articles of impeachment which are then referred to the Senate where an impeachment trial occurs, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding.
So….due process basically.
As Pentagon official, Laura Cooper (who is responsible for overseeing Ukraine and Russia matters) was due to testify behind closed doors as part of the impeachment process, a group of over thirty Republican politicians attempted to storm the hearing room.
I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
Capitol police were called in to restore order and clear the room. Witness reports say that the Republican representatives pushed straight past Capitol Police personnel and began yelling and voicing their objections about the depositions being held in closed sessions.
The invasion by the group of Republicans delayed the hearing by around five hours but has left them with possible criminal charges related to national security.
If that wasn’t crazy enough, it turns out that twelve of the group actually sat on committees that allowed them to be present for the hearing and would have been allowed to go inside if they’d asked.
They claim they did it to protest the secrecy of the hearing; but anyone with half a brain can see it for what it was – a stunt designed to misdirect from the truth and to bolster support within their ranks. Can’t imagine why the Democrats want the depositions held behind closed doors.
Methinks the Republicans doth protest too much.
As of this weekend, climbing our most famous landmark, Uluru, is officially banned. With Friday being the last day climbing was permitted, long lines of visitors queued to take the opportunity before it was too late.
Mother nature appeared to have other ideas early on Friday with wild winds causing operators to close the climb due to safety concerns.
As the morning went on, the weather eased and rangers re-opened the climb to the hundreds of waiting visitors. Those that climbed did exactly what countless others who have climbed Uluru did; they ignored the sign at the base of the rock asking people not to climb out of respect to the Traditional Owners. It says, “Uluru is sacred in our culture. It is a place of great knowledge. Under our traditional law climbing is not permitted…as custodians, we are responsible for your safety and behaviour. Too many people do not listen to our message. Too many people have died or been hurt causing great sadness. We worry about you and we worry about your family.”
The Anangu people, who are the indigenous custodians of Uluru, have been making the same plea for years. Their pleas may have been ignored by visitors, but the board of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park heard them, unanimously voting to ban climbing in 2017.
I was lucky enough to visit Uluru a few years ago and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I saw the sign, I didn’t climb it and it didn’t diminish the experience whatsoever. While some may not “get” the need for the ban; I don’t get why anyone believes their need to vigorously stroke their own hubris outweighs the deep offence it causes to a culture that views Uluru as sacred. Could there be anything more selfish?
Which leads us to a strangely related story this week surrounding Queensland’s sole One Nation MP, Stephen Andrew.
Andrew had invited a group of guests to the chamber in Parliament House on the evening of Saturday the 19th of October. After consuming a few bottles of wine and running amok in the chamber, the group had to be removed by security.
Speaker of the House, Curtis Pitt, broke the news to State Parliament on Wednesday morning, “Parliamentary security has provided me video footage of the Member for Mirani and a group of visitors to the parliamentary precinct, under his responsibility, late in the evening of Saturday 19th of October…the footage indicates that several of the visitors interfered with members’ desks in this chamber by opening the compartments under the desks where members store personal belongings and in some cases interfering with the contents.
Footage showed that in some cases when this occurred, the member was standing next to the visitor interfering with the members’ desk. Disappointingly, this is not the first time I’ve written to the member about the behaviour of visitors he has responsibility for on the parliamentary precinct”.
But, wait…I don’t get it? People have been rifling through other peoples stuff and invading their privacy for years and all of a sudden they want it to stop?
Andrew was asked to apologise to Parliament and was also suspended from bringing guests into Parliament for the next six months.
Andrew addressed Parliament, saying, “I did not condone any of the behaviour of the people that were there – it was utterly unacceptable and I did ask those people to stop and I did regain those people and took them straight away from the house. I wish to apologise unreservedly to this house and all of its members”
He continued, “I’ve always endeavoured to ensure school groups and the public are given access to their Parliament and I am proud to speak about the rich history and cultural heritage this Parliament comprises…I acknowledge that members have the right to privacy for their chamber desks and contents stored within…I acknowledge that visitors under my supervision interfered with members’ privacy and I must take responsibility for this.”
Whilst the identity of the visitors hasn’t been released, it’s believed that they were likely members of One Nation as Andrew had been attending the One Nation Annual General Meeting earlier in the day nearby.
Wacky and Wonderful
The secret service have a tough job at the best of times. Being tasked with protecting the President, even at the cost of your own life, would undoubtedly be an incredibly stressful position. But being in the secret service under President Trump is another thing all together.
The information came to light this week showing that infamous rapper, Eminem, was visited and interviewed by the Secret Service over lyrics in his 2017 song, Framed, which make reference to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.
The lyrics concerned are:
But dog, how the fuck is Ivanka Trump in the trunk of my car?
Gotta get to the bottom of it to try to solve it.
Must go above and beyond, ‘cause it’s incumbent upon me.
Plus I feel somewhat responsible for the dumb little blonde,
Girl, that motherfuckin’ baton twirler that got dumped in the pond.
Records from the Secret Service indicate they investigated Eminem after “a concerned citizen” reported the song to them. It turns out, however, that the “concerned citizen” was a reporter from TMZ who was simply seeking comment on the lyrics, “I want to know if your agency is investigating Eminem for his threatening lyrics about First Daughter Ivanka Trump.”
Agents interviewed Eminem in January 2018 during which they referred to another anti-Trump freestyle that he had delivered during a recent awards show. Slim Shady didn’t miss the opportunity, deciding to rap along with the lyrics as the agents read them to him, “Mathers was familiar with the song and began rapping along with the interviewers as the verse was read”.
Unsurprisingly, the investigation wasn’t taken any further. But I have no doubt that the Don will be looking for his revenge…
That’s it from me TBSers, have a cracking week!