The news last week (4/8/14)

And so the world has spun right round (right round) another seven and a bit times. What’s been happening?

A tentative ceasefire between Israel and Hamas broke after it was believed a young Israeli soldier was kidnapped/captured (tomato/tomato), who has since been killed in action (though whether by Palestinian suicide bomber or in the assault meant to rescue him is unclear). Despite hopes that Israel might be planning on withdrawing ground troops now that it’s objectives are supposedly close to completion, and despite heavy international pressure (on both sides) for a diplomatic solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to talk tough, saying troops were being redeployed not withdrawn. Meanwhile confusing statements by the IDF and the collapse of a humanitarian ceasefire have left many Palestinian civilians stranded in live fire zones.

The bloodshed in Ukraine looks like it might finally be coming to a conclusion, with rebel strongholds Donetsk and Luhansk being brought under siege by government troops. They have a long way to go, since the rebels are still apparently receiving support from Russia (who just don’t know when to quit, do they?) but Kiev is confident of victory, or at least looks confident. Colonel General Valeriy Heletey, the Ukrainian Defence Minister has said that while they are close to the rebel controlled crash site they will not fight over the area until international forces have completed their search for remains and evidence. Dutch and Australian police have spent the last week combing the area for the remaining (up-to) 80 missing bodies.

In lighter news, the Aussie PM has apparently shelved his ridiculously unpopular Paid Parental Leave scheme until next year, rather than go through the embarrassment of having it voted down by members of his own party. It was unpopular with voters, unpopular with business (who were the ones who were going to pay for it) and it was unpopular with Coalition MPs and Senators, many of whom seem to be indicating it’s less breaking an election promise and more finally bloody pulling his fingers out of his ears and opening his bloody eyes.

In less lighter news Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is disputing claims by psychiatrist Dr Peter Young that the department specifically told International Health and Medical Services to not publish a report about the rates of mental illness amongst children in detention. True or not, a growing number of Christian leaders are calling upon Abbot and Morrison (who claim to men of faith, though I’m unconvinced it’s the Christian kind) to get these kids out of prison camps. What was that Jesus said about “As you do unto the least of these”?

God this is depressing.

Argentina has defaulted for the eighth time on July 30. There’s still a chance they can salvage the situation quickly enough to avoid serious damage to their economy (S&P reversing their downgrading of Argentine debt, for instance) if they can find a solution that both satisfies the so-called ‘vulture’ funds and doesn’t make the President and her government look stupid after all the time they’ve attacking said funds (and the New York judge, court appointed mediator and banks). I’ll admit I’m not feeling a lot of sympathy for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her economic ministers (not quite a SCHADENFREUDE! moment, but not far off). Could be I find it hard to feel sympathy for a government that believes populist name calling and political melodrama are viable alternatives for, ya know, a negotiated solution that minimises or negates economic impact. Or it could be I don’t like her hair and taste in clothing. Who knows?

The Commonwealth Games have come to a conclusion and Australia’s made it through with a solid medal tally. Massive props to all of those who wore the green and gold. I’m gonna miss all the ‘I shoulda won! The ref was corrupt!’ rants from the losing boxers.

And that was a bit of what happened last week.

Last week’s news (28/7/14)

Another week goes by, papers are printed, sites are updated (cough) and networks try to make horrible tragedy as engaging and entertaining as possible.

To start with are the aeronautical disasters of the TransAsia flight brought down by stormy weather and low visibility over Taiwan on Wednesday, resulting in 38 dead including the 4 crew (though thankfully 10 survivors managed to crawl from the wreckage), and the Air Algerie flight that crashed over Africa on Thursday, killing all 110 passengers and 6 crew. I don’t want to say any more than that it’s shocking that such disasters should occur so close together and so soon after what happened to MH17, and that it’s good that at least some survivors made it out of the TransAsia flight.

The announcement that Australian Federal Police (supported by members of the Australian Defence Force) would be heading to the Ukraine to join and assist the force of Dutch officers in securing the MH17 crash site was met with some criticism this week. Some of this criticism was that the Australian government was overplaying its hand. Others thought that the deal signed between Australia and Ukraine that included ‘contingencies’ allowing AFP and ADF personnel to be armed was ‘nuts,’ fearing that having armed Aussies around might provoke the pro-Russian separatists or something. Given that the AFP and ADF have more than a little experience in conflict zones (such as the Solomon Islands, Fiji, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Somalia and the list goes on) you’d think that they might just know what they’re doing. Interestingly enough, while the current force active in Ukraine are unarmed (something Deputy Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has expressed concerns about), the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that the Dutch will be signing a similar agreement with the government in Kiev allowing for armed ‘contingencies’.

San Diego Comic Con happened this weekend, where people were disappointed by the lack of big announcements or reveals from Marvel, we got our first look at Wonder Woman from DC (my brain says the costume’s pretty badarse but my heart just isn’t feeling it), and a 64 year old woman was hit by a car trying to escape marauding zombies. I shit you not. Anyway, the first trailer for Mad Max Fury Road was shown and it was… good? I think it was good. A lot happened that looked pretty cool but… yeah. Check it out. I’m a little concerned that with a bigger budget it might have lost a bit of charm. But hey, let’s see where this angry street takes us.

In NSW an unfortunate drama started to come to a conclusion yesterday when Mr Vic Alhadeff, a Jewish community leader (chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies no less) resigned from his government appointed position as chairman of the NSW Community Relations Commission. Mr Alhadeff came under fire after he sent out an email (to members of the Jewish community) a couple of weeks ago titled ‘Israel under fire’ that condemned Hamas while glossing over Israel’s role in the violence, angering Muslim leaders across the state. His apology (for the outrage, not the commentary) didn’t help and quite a few prominent Islamic leaders boycotted an iftar dinner held as NSW state parliament house to mark Ramadan that Mr Alhadeff attended. Despite having the continued support of Premier Mike Baird, many claimed Mr Alhadeff’s position as CRC chair had become untenable and apparently he finally agreed (though it seems he still stands by the comments).