1. Any clown can lead a country!
What with our ScoMo and Donald Trump as POTUS, you might think that any clown can run a country. Now in Ukraine we have – Comedy is a tool, a trick – Ukraine will soon see that running a country is no joke. Jack Bernhardt, a comedy writer and occasional performer, takes a look at the news that:
- Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian with no political experience other than playing the role of president in a TV series, has won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, with near-complete counting showing he has won over 70% of the vote.
- stars in Servant of the People, a massive sitcom about a teacher who accidentally becomes president after a video of him ranting about political corruption goes viral. It’s basically The West Wing if Jonathan Pie was President Bartlet – and yes, I did need to take a shower after typing that.
Last year Zelenskiy registered Servant of the People as a political party and ran for president in what looked like a publicity stunt.
- Zelenskiy has links back to oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, the owner of the channel on which Servant of the People airs, and it’s hard to believe that Kolomoisky isn’t anticipating at least something in return for the man he’s made president.
Bernhardt’s final word:
- The fear is that Zelenskiy is not the anomaly, but the logical conclusion. Comedy has changed the world: it’s doused everything in cynicism, replacing hope with a hollow laugh.
And who now is going to star in Servant of the People? Bernhardt says:
- Every leader needs a hobby, and honestly, is starring in a meta-sitcom that blurs the lines between fiction and reality that much weirder than Theresa May’s walking holidays?
2. British politics is beyond funny
And beyond farce.
In the link above Jack Bernhardt says:
- Boris Johnson made his name off comic appearances on Have I Got News For You, rising to mayor of London with nothing more than a stupid haircut and a propensity to say “wiff-waff”.
Andrew Gimson says For now, Theresa May is the Stop Boris candidate.
The party rules are a problem in making a quick switch, but the real problem is that there is no alternative candidate other than Boris Johnson. They really need two, so that Johnson doesn’t get into the run-off.
- Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has surged into the lead for the European elections, according to two opinion polls.
Having formed only in January, the party has leapfrogged Labour and the Tories and eaten into Ukip’s support.
A YouGov poll for The Times put the Brexit Party on 23 per cent, Labour on 22 per cent and the Conservatives on 17 per cent. Last week it was on 15 per cent, Labour was on 24 per cent and the Tories were on 16 per cent.
It’s like Pauline Hanson running over the top of ScoMo and Bill. Then we did once have Barnaby Joyce as Deputy PM.
3. Notre Dame goes up in smoke
Arguably this was the story of last week.
Here are a series of links:
Notre Dame cathedral is known for its stained glass windows and iconic towers. Take a look inside before the fire
Finally Betoota Advocate advises Berejiklian Flies To France To Advise On Tasteful Luxury Apartments In Notre Dame Restoration:
- “There’s this company called Meriton, they’ll do it for free. You just need to somehow incorporate some luxury high rise apartments in the plans”
My wife has seen many European cathedrals and says it is up there as one of the best. I’m sure they’ll put it back together better than ever from the detailed images they took a few years ago. However, finishing before the Paris Olympic Games in 2024 may be a stretch.
4. Terror strikes Sri Lanka
The first news was Two Australians among the 290 killed in Sri Lanka blasts. This has now been revised down to “about 253”. To be brutally frank, I think it is a problem of inferring numbers of bodies from the body parts.
A good place to follow developments is via the BBC at Sri Lanka attacks. The latest is that there has been actual shooting, described as a gun battle, in the eastern part of the country as police step up raids.
I’ve heard a great deal on radio about the event and its implications. Islamic State no longer have territory, but are loaded with cash, with arounde $6 billion in kitty. They don’t just comprise marginalised groups on the edge, they also have the well-educated, the middle class and the upper middle class in their numbers. The borders of many Asian states are quite permeable.
So Sri Lankan groups had outside help, and what happened was almost certainly being planned before the Christchurch attack. So the notion that it was ‘revenge for Christchurch’ may not be untrue, but wasn’t the prime reason why the attack happened. The attack was to disrupt normal life, to perpetrate terror, kill westerners and target the tourist industry [See also the targeting of Christians in the comment below.]. Sri Lanka can never be the same. Other countries should be alert and alarmed.
On the positive side, there was advance warning to the authorities, albeit ignored, and that warning came from intelligence sources in India as well as the US.
Despite the so-called ‘defeat’ of Islamic State this kind of activity could go on for a very long time.
5. ANZAC day
ANZAC day is now well-established as a day of acknowledgement of those who have served and suffered for the rest of us, rather than the achievement on real nationhood, which is where it was going for a while. Spending $100 million on the John Monash Centre might have helped to concentrate our focus.
This is a scene of what happened at Fromelles, where we lost 5,513 in 24 hours:
This is also from Fromelles, not sure what they were doing:
Henry Reynolds talking with Phillip Adams was a bit astonishing. He says reconciliation should see us honouring the brave First Nations peoples in our land as heroes who fought and resisted the foreign invaders. That is, when we see our true heritage as extending millennia before the arrival of the First Fleet. He thinks we need an institution within an institution at the Australian War Memorial, or a separate institution to do the story justice.
Richard Fidler replayed a remarkable conversation with Gwen Cherne in Questioning the line of duty:
- Gwen Cherne grew up in Ohio. She was working in Afghanistan on aid and infrastructure projects when she met an Australian named Peter Cafe.
He was a security contractor who had trained in the Australian Army, and he’d served in East Timor and Cambodia.
Gwen and Pete married, moved to Australia, and had two children.
With Gwen’s support, Pete re-enlisted with the army, but his mental health was deteriorating.
He was deployed to Iraq in 2016, and while he was there he suffered a stroke.
When Pete returned to Australia he worried his career was over, and at home his moods became explosive and unpredictable.
Pete died in 2017, and Gwen believes her family was treated differently by the Department of Defence because her husband wasn’t killed in the ‘line of duty’.
Gwen is now an advocate for the War Widows’ Guild of Australia and an ambassador for the Invictus Games.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Pete committed suicide after an episode of the domestic violence they lived with became extreme. It is compelling listening. Gwen Cherne is analytical and superbly articulate about what happened. Everyone has a breaking point, and the army broke her husband Pete. We should honour him as a casualty ground up by our war machine that is meant to keep us safe.
These are challenging ideas, but not to be dismissed lightly, as Malcolm Turnbull did the Uluru Statement from the Heart. See: