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Martin McKenzie-Murray
The news you missed since the Queen died

Two weeks ago, on the day Queen Elizabeth II died, Steve Bannon surrendered himself to authorities. In the Solomon Islands, an election was delayed. In France, President Emmanuel Macron was embarrassed when people did not attend his unity conference. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, a public administrator was suspected of killing a reporter who was investigating him over a hostile work environment.

In London, an activist was arrested, then “de-arrested”, for shouting “Who elected you?” at King Charles’s proclamation. A young Scottish man was detained after shouting “Sick old man!” at alleged sex criminal Prince Andrew, while the Union of European Football Associations announced an investigation after Celtic fans unveiled a giant banner reading “Fuck the Crown” during a Champions League match in Warsaw.  

The Joy of Sex turned 50, and so did Manchester’s former enfant terrible, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who said he’d be celebrating in the Caribbean and that his brother Noel wasn’t invited. A young Englishman broke the Guinness World Record for a pub crawl, drinking in 67 pubs inside 24 hours. “It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Nathan Crimp told the Liverpool Echo. “The plan was to try and keep it sober for the first 25 pubs, but that went out the window 15 pubs in.” 

Ukraine spectacularly reclaimed territory from Russia, prompting Vladimir Putin to “partially” mobilise 300,000 reservists and to announce referendums on the independence of four separatist-held Ukrainian regions. “Sham ‘referendums’ will not change anything,” Ukraine’s foreign minister tweeted. “Russia has been and remains an aggressor illegally occupying parts of Ukrainian land.”

Putin’s humiliation seemed dangerous, and obliged from foreign policy experts more nervous reflections on nuclear escalation, something that was tactically underscored by the Kremlin’s state-owned broadcaster, Russia Today. “Judging by what is happening and what is about to happen, this week marks either the threshold of our imminent victory or the threshold of a nuclear war,” Russia Today’s editor-in-chief said. “I can’t see any third option.”

Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that shelling had caused an explosion near the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, while North Korea passed a law authorising the use of pre-emptive nuclear strikes. Meanwhile, the new British prime minister, Liz Truss, privately contemplated what she would write in her “letter of last resort” – the PM’s handwritten note, placed inside each of the four nuclear-armed Trident submarines, and intended to posthumously instruct the submarine’s commander on whether or not to retaliate in the event of a catastrophic nuclear strike that’s decapitated civil leadership.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs minister, Penny Wong, considered expelling Russia’s ambassador. 

United States President Joe Biden explicitly confirmed that the US would militarily defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, dissolving some of the strategic ambiguity the US once maintained on the question. Taiwan expressed their “sincere gratitude”, while China’s foreign ministry said: “The US remarks … severely violate the important commitment the US made not to support Taiwan independence, and send a seriously erroneous signal to Taiwanese separatist independence forces.”

After Biden’s remarks, Wong said she planned to meet her Chinese counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, and would not entertain hypotheticals about Australian military assistance in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.  

In Washington, Twitter’s former head of security Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testified before congress that the company was recklessly insecure, vulnerable to foreign mischief and defined by “extreme, egregious deficiencies”. “I am here today because Twitter leadership is misleading the public, lawmakers, regulators and even its own board of directors,” Zatko said. “They don’t know what data they have, where it lives and where it came from and so, unsurprisingly, they can’t protect it.” 

Lawyers for President Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, admitted that he could be indicted for retaining classified documents that he removed from the White House. The New York attorney-general sued Trump and his three eldest children for “years of financial fraud”. And journalist E. Jean Carroll, who has previously accused Trump of raping her in a department store’s changing room in the 1990s, said she planned to file new legal proceedings against him. “There comes a time when a woman does not back down!” 

In Cambodia, the third mass trial of former opposition figures began. In Iran, fatal protests erupted after a young woman died following her detention by “morality police” who were enforcing the country’s severe hijab laws. In America, weeks after opening an uncredited school with a mysterious curriculum, Kanye West admitted he had never read a book and doesn’t like them. Meanwhile, the Sweden Democrats, born from a neo-Nazi party in 1988, claimed 20.5 per cent of the popular vote in the country’s general election and will likely form a coalition government with Sweden’s centre-right party. 

A typhoon crossed Japan, as a man in Tokyo set himself alight in the parliamentary district to protest over the planned state funeral for former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July. A large majority of Japanese now object to the state funeral, after revelations of Abe’s – and his ruling party’s – ties to the Unification Church, an evangelical Christian sect founded in South Korea and notorious for squeezing donations from members in exchange for eternal grace. 

The journal JAMA Pediatrics said more than 10 million children globally had lost a parent or carer to Covid-19, the World Bank warned of a global recession, and the United Nations released a report estimating that 50 million people live in slavery – “28 million in forced labour and 22 million in forced marriages”. This was an increase of 10 million on 2016 estimates. 

The National Academy of Sciences published a genomic study of an immortal jellyfish, the only known species that can physically rejuvenate itself indefinitely, and we learnt that Shin Kubota, a leading researcher at Kyoto University who maintains a colony of the Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish, also writes and performs songs about them. Titles include “Die-Hard Medusa” and “The Immortal Jellyfish Festival Song”. 

Tobacco giant Philip Morris released a media statement “calling on policymakers, regulators, public health advocates, tobacco companies, and activists to unite behind bringing about the end of cigarette smoking”. In March, Ukraine’s deputy leader said the company had donated 500,000 packs of cigarettes to their army. 

At home, climate scientists warned that Australia should be prepared for more flooding, as we enter a third consecutive La Niña weather pattern. “We can’t rule out flooding,” Dr Andrew King told the ABC, “especially as catchments are still pretty full and the soils are still pretty wet, especially below the surface.”

More allegations were made that our troops had committed war crimes in Afghanistan, while AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan admonished players for their rowdiness during the league’s Brownlow Medal count, which was held at Melbourne’s Crown Casino and whose broadcast was criticised for being saturated with gambling ads. 

In the same week, the Victorian parliament passed a law forcing punters to place personal limits on what they could lose to the same casino’s 2600 pokie machines, and which restricts individuals to using $1000 in cash every 24 hours to militate against money laundering. The laws were a partial response to Victoria’s Royal Commission into the casino last year, which found “disgraceful, illegal, dishonest, unethical, exploitative, alarming” conduct. “To see some of those guys that young kids idolise sculling beers,” lamented basketball legend Andrew Gaze of the Brownlow night. “Drinking responsibly should be part of what they do.”

Separately, an inquiry into Sydney’s The Star casino found it was not fit to hold a licence. “The institutional arrogance of this company has been breathtaking,” NSW’s Casino Commission chief said after reading the report. “And their willingness to take risks in pursuit of financial goals has been appalling.”

The ABC broke shattering details of an external inquiry into Hawthorn Football Club, in which three Indigenous former players allege that staff, including then senior coach Alastair Clarkson and his assistant Chris Fagan, variously pressured them into leaving their families, splitting from their partners and, in one instance, wanted a player’s partner to abort their child. Clarkson and Fagan, who are now at different clubs, denied any wrongdoing, while the AFL said they would launch their own independent inquiry, led by a King’s Counsel.   

Tennis player Roger Federer announced his retirement, British actor Tom Hardy surprised competitors when he showed up to an open jiujitsu contest held in an English school gym and won, and NASA released revised objectives for its Moon to Mars mission. “We’re helping to steward humanity’s global movement to deep space,” the agency said.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 24, 2022 as "Some news since the Queen died".

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