Rob Idol

Current Affairs Wrap: Black holes, voting reversals and the best minister in the world

Approx Reading Time-11Rob Idol is back with his summation of the week that was and he’s not short of content; black holes, Trump’s revival and a Valentine’s gesture.

 

Just like to kick off proceedings with a Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovestruck TBS faithful and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. The week saw the tides turn in New Hampshire, an astrophysicist’s wet dream, trouble on a few fronts for the PM and a bit of Valentine’s Day goodwill.

 

International

Checking in with the US Presidential race (well, the heats before the race I suppose) saw all eyes on the New Hampshire primary. The worst fears of any red-blooded, dystopian-future-fearing, run-of-the-mill, well-adjusted human being were realised when Donald Trump bounced back to destroy his opposition.

Trump had the wind taken out of his sails in Iowa last week but was back with a vengeance as he cruised to victory with 35.1 percent of the vote. For the rest of the medals, Kasich ran a distant second with 15.8 percent and Ted Cruz filled the last step on the podium with 11.7 percent.

On the blue side of the fence, everyone’s favourite man of the people, Bernie Sanders, with broom in hand, swept the floor with Hillary Clinton. He won 60.4 percent of the vote compared to Clinton’s 38 percent.

In many ways it’s fitting. A presidential race between Sanders and Trump has absolutely everything going for it. It’s light vs dark, Jedi vs Sith, George Pell vs populace.

The scientific world was also set alight this week, as it turns out that old Albert “Bedhead” Einstein was correct in his general theory of relativity when he predicted the existence of gravitational waves – or as all my fellow Star Trek geeks like to say, “ripples in the fabric of space.”

Researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory confirmed the discovery and the scientific community has lost their collective mind. I won’t give a full rundown of what they are and why they are an important discovery; not because it would bore you, but because it’s a well-known fact that astrophysicists are the internet’s most prolific trolls and one misstep in my explanation could result in some serious social media shaming.

The short version is that not only does the discovery confirm what Einstein predicted a century ago, it also provides researchers with a completely new tool to explore the cosmos.

Scott Hughes, an astrophysicist from MIT, was reported as saying that “we can use gravitational waves to probe mysterious celestial objects like black holes and neutron stars, which typically have no light.” He was also reported as saying, “whenever first detection happens, there’s gonna be a party, no question. But after that, when detection becomes routine, is when things start getting really interesting.”

Whilst the ground-breaking discovery is fantastic, I’m now far more interested in hearing more about exactly how astrophysicists party.

The discovery also had a little bit of an Aussie flavour, with some home-grown researchers playing a “substantial” role in the discovery, including personnel and technology developed by our own CSIRO.

You know, those guys to whom the current government keeps cutting funding…

 

Domestic

I know I covered asylum seekers last week, but I’m gonna damn well keep covering it until we sort it out.

#Letthemstay protests have continued across the country as the debate over the fate of the 250 or so asylum seekers about to be shipped back to Nauru hit fever pitch.

As I reported last week, there had been a fair bit of backlash following the High Court’s decision that the government’s Nauru detention policy was perfectly legal. Several State Premiers decided to jump in on the action, penning a variety of open letters to PM Turnbull, offering to take responsibility for the outcasts in their respective states. Credit must go to Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, who led the charge with representatives from the other states following suit with comparable offers.

The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane has also thrown their voice into the mix, with doctors at the hospital refusing to discharge a one-year-old, badly burned on Nauru and flown to the hospital for treatment, until a “suitable home environment is identified” ie: not Nauru. A hospital spokesperson on Friday indicated that they have a duty of care to the child, as they do for any child in their care, whereby they will not release a child to a home environment that is not considered safe. Unsurprisingly, they don’t consider a Government sanctioned child prison a suitable home environment.

Turnbull is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Allowing this group to stay sets a dangerous precedent that will likely encourage others to create situations necessitating medical care on the mainland in order to escape. Still, Turnbull and his government have missed the point entirely this isn’t about their right to asylum nor is it about the success of “Stop the Boats.” It’s about the fact that we are putting some of the most vulnerable human beings on earth in an unsafe, unhygienic and inhumane environment. There are reasonable arguments in support of “Stop the Boats”; there is no reasonable argument on earth for subjecting them to what we are actually subjecting them to…and, apparently, refusing to find a better solution. This was further evidenced with a former employee of the Nauru detention centre, breaking ranks and presenting a written report to the Senate inquiry into Nauru which outlined the horrible conditions.

You might not want or be able to help them, Malcolm, but stop kicking them while they are down.

Speaking of getting kicked while you’re down, Turnbull himself has had a rough week as he announced his new-look cabinet. That’s right, a new cabinet just months after his last new cabinet. The changes were very much forced on the PM, despite him trying to claim it was all his idea by saying, “organisms that don’t change are dead.” We already know that Mal Brough finally stepped down over the (still) current investigation into the Peter Slipper affair. Then there was Jamie Briggs, who may or may not have got a little too enthusiastic in his “handling” of public servants after a few drinks in December. This week saw Human Services Minister Stuart Robert get the axe from Team Turnbull after an ill thought out junket to China in 2014.

Add to this a couple of retirements in Warren Truss and Andrew Robb, and the cabinet was starting to look as bare as most of our own cabinets will if the GST hike comes to fruition (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The Nationals had their own little shakeup following leader Truss’ retirement, with big bad bustling Barnaby Joyce stepping up to the leadership, one that also makes him Deputy PM by default. His new National Deputy Leader, Fiona Nash, also scored a cabinet spot out of the reshuffle, bringing the number of women in Cabinet to six with nine in the executive. It also represents the first time that deputies of both the Libs and Nats are female. At least the promise of increased female representation from Turnbull is being fulfilled. Hopefully he’ll get on with the other promises shortly…

 

Wacky and wonderful

Now to an award that none of us knew had been established, nor did we even know we needed. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, this week saw the presentation of the inaugural Best minister in the world award at a summit in Dubai. The winner was none other than our own Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt.

Minister Hunt was awarded the prestigious title for his crucial role in reducing carbon emissions  an award that is judged on criteria including innovation, leadership, impact and reputation. That’s right, the man that called Tim Flannery in 2013 to let him know that he and Abbott had abolished the Climate Commission; the man who announced approval to dump dredge spoil from the Abbot Point coal terminal expansion into a section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Looks like Tony Abbott might be a shoo-in next year for his tireless support of the LGBTQI community…

A high school senior from Smithfield, Utah has become a Valentine’s Day hero after purchasing 900 roses; one for every single girl in his school.

Hayden Godfrey came up with the idea when he was in middle school after noticing that some girls didn’t receive anything. As much as it may seem like he’s put a chip on every number of the romance roulette wheel, he has a girlfriend and the gesture was done with her help and support. Proving he’s no dummy, Hayden made sure she was looked after courtesy of a pair of concert tickets to see her favourite band.

I must say it reminds me of some important advice I received when I was in high school. I was told that statistically, if you walk up to ten women and ask them to sleep with you, one of them will say yes. As much faith as I place in statistics, it’s not a theory I ever got around to testing in my single days.

 

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

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