The Week in Brief: 17–23 December 2017

24 December 2017

The Week in Brief: 17–23 December 2017

Image credit: Kaboompics (Pixabay) — CC0 public domain dedication.

NSW Senior Crown Prosecutor to resign in February

New South Wales Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, QC, announced on Wednesday that he will be stepping down from the role in February.

Tedeschi became a Crown Prosecutor in 1983 before being appointed Senior Crown Prosecutor in 1997.

Over the course of his career, Tedeschi has prosecuted many high-profile criminals, including notorious serial killer Ivan Milat and Robert Xie, who was convicted for the Lin family murder earlier this year after four trials.

Tedeschi, also a noted photographer and author of legal history, will return to being a private barrister.

UN General Assembly demands US reversal on Jerusalem decision

The United Nations General Assembly has demanded that the United States reverse its stated aim of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognising the city as the capital of Israel.

The resolution, drafted by Turkey and Yemen, was adopted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, namely from some of the United States’ closest allies, including Australia, and Canada.

Whilst a symbolic move at best, the resolution is seen as a rebuke of the Trump administration, which had threatened to cut off aid to member nations who voted for the resolution.

The United Nations Security Council also attempted to adopt a similar resolution on Monday, which was vetoed by the United States.

EU rules new regulations for Uber

The European Union has ruled that Uber will be regulated in the same manner as traditional taxis, rather than as a ridesharing service.

While this won’t likely affect much of the company’s operations in Europe immediately, it comes as a bit of a blow to the company, particularly as it comes on the heels of London’s decision to revoke their licence to operate within the city.

China to implement emissions reduction scheme

China announced plans to implement an incentive scheme to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the big power companies of the nation.

It would work via a credit-trading system initially implemented in the power generation sector, which produced nearly half of the country’s fossil fuel emissions last year.

As yet, a firm deadline is not in place, but we should see this being rolled out over the next couple of years.

US cuts corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%

The Republican Party in the US has set into motion a large-scale tax overhaul, the largest of its kind for thirty years.

The Republicans argue that cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% will lead to more benefits for middle-class Americans.

However, the Democrats argue that it will only be the upper-class and big businesses that will really benefit, with lower-income families struggling even more.

President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law on Friday, marking his biggest legislative victory of 2017.

Police seize $1.04 billion of ice in WA

1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine was seized in Geraldton, Western Australia on Friday, the biggest drug haul in Australian history.

Worth some $1.04 billion, the drugs were stored in 59 bags of 20kg each, allegedly obtained from a boat named Valkoista which docked in Geraldton early on Friday morning.

The bust is the result of six months’ of investigative work, which continues as police monitor the “mother ship” which the drugs supposedly originated from.

Eight men have been charged, and will front up before the Perth Magistrates Court on January 17.

UK First Secretary of State fired over porn deception

Former UK First Secretary of State and de facto Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green has been fired from Cabinet after giving misleading statements concerning pornographic material found on his office computer in 2008.

Mr Green had denied that he had downloaded or viewed pornography on his office computer. He is the third cabinet minister to resign in two months, after Priti Patel was forced to resign over conducting unofficial meetings with Israeli officials and Sir Michael Fallon resigning over sexual harassment allegations.

Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed “deep regret” at the departure of Mr Green, who was seen as a leading ‘Remain’ voice campaigning for a softer Brexit in Mrs May’s cabinet.

Australia to end air strike in Iraq and Syria

Australia will end its campaign of air strikes over Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State.

The move comes as Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared victory over the terrorist group, which was recently pushed out of its self declared capital of Raqqa.

Australia’s contribution as part of its ongoing Operation Okra was six F/A-18F Super Hornet jets, an E-7A Wedgetail surveillance aircraft, and a KC-30 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, along with 780 Defence Force personnel.

The six Super Hornets will return home in January 2018, whilst the KC-30 and Wedgetail will remain deployed in support of continuing coalition operations.

Man drives into pedestrians in Melbourne

A man drove a car into pedestrians near Flinders Street in Melbourne on Thursday, injuring 19 people.

The car plowed through the intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth streets at around 4:41pm, stopping only when it crashed into a tram station.

The driver, Saeed Noori, a 32-year-old Australian citizen of Afghan descent, was arrested on the scene by an off-duty policeman.

A 24 year old man who was not in the car was also arrested at the scene, found to have knives in his bag, but was later released, with police saying that it was “believed he had no links to the incident”.

Mr Noori has a history of assault, drug use and mental health issues. Police say he has blamed “the mistreatment of Muslims” for “some of his activities”, but they still have not determined his motivation in full.

12 victims remain in hospital, with three in a critical condition.

Boris Johnson meets Sergey Lavrov in Moscow

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met his counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday.

Mr Lavrov acknowledged the strained relationship between the two countries and remarked that Johnson prefers airing his government’s concerns to the media and not directly to the Kremlin.

The Russian Foreign Minister said: “You prefer to talk about these reasons publicly, whereas we would prefer to talk about our mutual concerns not before a mic and at a tribune, but directly.”

Prior to arriving in Moscow, Johnson took aim at the Russian government over the civil war in Ukraine, alleged cyber attacks on Western nations, Syria and its annexation of Crimea.

During the meeting, Mr Johnson said: “As you rightly say, Sergei, things are not easy between us at the moment.

“Whatever the difficulties in our relationship – whether over Ukraine, over the western Balkans or what is going on in cyberspace – I agree with you that it’s important to talk about these things and to be frank about them and accept that they are obstructions in our relationship at the moment.”

However, Mr Johnson added that the two countries should not be “defined by these problems” and that they have “substantial interests in common.”

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Lavrov expressed a willingness to work together on global issues such as the threat posed by North Korea and upholding the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Mr Johnson is the first British Foreign Secretary to travel to Moscow in five years.