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: Bloomberg’s limp debut, Bolt’s grim take, violence grips Germany

Lord, what a week. Mike Bloomberg was cooked on live TV, Andrew Bolt turned the stomach of the nation, and right-wing violence visited the streets of Germany.

 

 

Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had an implosion in the Democratic primaries, right-wing horror in Germany and some overdue justice. 

 

International

The Democratic Presidential race is in full swing over in the US as the party seeks to decide who will face the incumbent, Donald Trump in the Presidential election later this year. 

Bernie Sanders is shaping up to be the most likely, however, all eyes were on late entrant, Mike Bloomberg, as he participated in his first debate this week. Bloomberg, most famous for being the man that took over as the Mayor of New York City from Rudy Guiliani also holds the honor of being the richest candidate in the field by a wide margin. Bloomberg’s billions put Trump’s supposed fortune to shame as well; and given he has already spent over $400 million on marketing during the Democratic nomination, it appears that he’s hoping his fortune will be his golden ticket. 

Based on his performance in the debate this week, perhaps not. $400 million can buy you a lot of advertising space but it can’t prevent your opponents from eviscerating you. His fellow Democratic hopefuls all took aim at him, but it was Elizabeth Warren did the most damage – and ended up being the most prominent performer in the debate as a result. 

Warren focused on Bloomberg’s alleged history of misogyny and sexism, saying “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump”

She also focused on a number of non-disclosure agreements that women had signed with Bloomberg’s company over the years, calling on Bloomberg to tear them up, “Mr Mayor, are you willing to release all those women from these nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?”

Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg refused as he spent most of the debate looking like a deer in the headlights. 

In the days following, Bloomberg appears to have had a change of heart, tweeting: “Bloomberg LP has identified 3 NDA’s signed over the past 30+ years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made…..If any of them want to be released from their NDA’s, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release”

Senator Amy Klobuchar also took aim at Bloomberg’s extreme wealth, “I don’t think you look at Donald Trump and say, ‘We need someone richer in the White House”. 

Klobuchar has a point. The Dems lost in the last election because they put the wrong candidate up – as the country was screaming for an option that wasn’t solely representative of the white elite, they were given Hillary. Putting a billionaire with a sordid history of alleged sexual harassment up against Trump isn’t going to yield the result they are hoping for.

That being said, if Presidential Elections were decided in some sort of cage match then I would pay serious money to see Trump and Bloomberg duke it out to the death. 

***

The German town of Hanau was shaken by a deadly right-wing terrorist attack that saw nine people murdered in cold blood

The alleged shooter (since identified as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen) burst into a Turkish-owned shisha bar near the city centre and began shooting. As soon as he walked in, he shot and killed three people before executing the waiter who had just brought them their food. 

Reports indicate that Rathjen then calmly walked out of the cafe, jumped in his BMW and began heading west towards his home. He stopped on the way, however, at Karl-Schumacher Platz and another Turkish-owned establishment called the “Arena bar and cafe”. He then rang the bell at the cafe’s side entrance, casually walked inside and opened fire in a crowded smoking area. 

Iskender Muhammad, a customer at the bar, told the media, “We heard five or six shots…and then I saw the man come towards us. He shot a guy in the head. The guy collapsed on the floor and then the gunman came and shot us. We hid behind the all and piled up on top of each other, one after the other, like a ball. From my group, unfortunately, only two or three survived. I was one of them.”

Rathjen then allegedly drove to his home in Helmholtzstrasse and executed his 72-year-old mother before shooting himself. 

As is always the case with the now too common right-wing terrorist attacks, a crazy hate-filled manifesto was left behind on his personal website for the world to see. In it, he calls for the “complete annihilation” of people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He also claimed that an “intelligence agency” has been controlling his actions and thoughts. 

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told the media that the horrific murders have revealed the “poison” of racism and hate in Germany. She also promised that Germany would stand up with “strength and decisiveness” to those who try to divide society

Merkel is sadly correct, but the problem isn’t endemic to Germany.

We’ve seen it play out in a number of Western countries with horrific and deadly results – New Zealand, France, the US, Italy, Norway, Canada, Sweden, the UK have all seen fatal attacks in recent years and the problem isn’t going away. While our leaders preach of the danger of violent immigrants or extremists from non-Christian religions, the death toll from those that feed off the divisive and bigoted rhetoric continues to rise. But hey – when you’re leaders rely on votes from the right-wing to keep power…well, what’s going to change? 



Domestic

A Four Corners report last week has forced a significant shakeup at one of Melbourne’s top Catholic boys schools, St Kevin’s College. 

The report revealed that current headmaster, Stephen Russell, had written a character reference for former coach Peter Kehoe, which was provided to the magistrate overseeing Kehoe’s sentencing for grooming a St Kevin’s student.

You did read that right – a teacher just convicted of grooming a student had a positive character reference given to the court by the headmaster of the school. Character evidence in support of Peter Kehoe was also given by the dean of sport at St Kevin’s, Luke Travers.

The victim of Kehoe’s crimes, Paris Street, was in year 9 when the offences occurred and just 15 when he gave evidence at the trial; an absolute testament to the young man’s bravery. His mother, Caroline Redmond, had raised concerns about Kehoe to the school back in 2014 but was reassured by headmaster Stephen Russell that “Peter is a good person, of good character, and you have nothing to worry about”. 

Sadly, that wasn’t even close to true. Kehoe continued to groom Paris, with his efforts becoming more disturbing and more explicit. After Kehoe convinced Paris to come to his house, asked him if he knew what “pre-cum” was and proceeded to invite Paris to “lick it off any time liked”, Caroline and Paris went straight to the police. 

If the apparent endorsement of Kehoe’s character from the headmaster and dean of sports wasn’t enough, it turns out that St Kevins’ didn’t contact Paris or his friend Ned O’Brien (who gave evidence) in the leadup to the trial nor did they offer any real support.

The only real contact came on the first day of the trial when staff called Ned’s mother to inquire as to why he wasn’t in school that day – she informed them he was due in court as a witness. Soon after, the headmaster called to find out whether Ned would be wearing his (recognisable) school uniform in court. 

 

If the apparent endorsement of Kehoe’s character from the headmaster and dean of sports wasn’t enough, it turns out that St Kevins’ didn’t contact Paris or his friend Ned O’Brien (who gave evidence) in the leadup to the trial nor did they offer any real support.

 


Justice, it seems, might finally be prevailing. Within days of the Four Corners report coming out, headmaster Stephen Russell resigned and dean of sport, Luke Travers, was stood down. A day later, Deputy Principal Janet Canny was “asked to step aside” by Edmund Rice Education Australia who runs St Kevin’s College

But for others, the lesson still hasn’t sunk in. Columnist Andrew Bolt appeared to defend Kehoe on his show this week – or at least minimise his offences. Bolt indicated that Kehoe “hit on a boy at that school. No sex occurred”. At least we now know that Andrew’s preferred courtship rituals generally include offering 15-year-olds the opportunity to lick his “pre-cum”

Should we be surprised? Not at all. Bolt has been notorious in his defence of convicted paedophile, Cardinal George Pell. In Bolt’s world, Greta Thunberg is more of a threat than men in positions of power that rape children. Shockjock, Ray Hadley, took aim at Bolt late in the week accusing him of being “soft on paedophiles”. Paris himself wrote an open letter that quickly went viral indicating that his experience had been “trivialised” during Bolt’s interview with Sydney Institute founder Gerard Henderson. 

Bolt has since apologised to Paris and also defended his defence of Pell, saying, “If I really thought George Pell was a paedophile, I’d go for his throat…I think you know I don’t put up with that kind of crap…none of us defend paedophiles, and nor do I defend some creep who grooms a child, tries to seduce him – of course, I don’t, what planet are my critics on to think that I would”. 

Sadly the planet where we listen to what you say and write. Pell is a convicted paedophile – that’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact. Bolt has defended him on multiple occasions since that conviction…sounds a lot like defending a paedophile to me. 

***

But rather than finish with a shot against that particular bottom feeder, I’d rather finish with a word of thanks to Paris Street (and Ned O’Brien). Standing up and helping convict a predator like this was unbelievably brave – and has very likely prevented other young men from becoming victims of him.

Telling your story to the media was even braver – and seems to have catalysed some long overdue change within St Kevin’s. Calling Bolt out immediately and publicly took enormous fortitude as well. I really hope you go on to have a wonderful life filled with joy and happiness. 

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



 

 

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