The week that was in five minutes. We’ve seen Japan hit by two earthquakes, Clive Palmer hit with reality and a mattress that knows when you’re hitting it on the sly.
Hello all, and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had the earth moving in Japan with disastrous consequences, impeachment in Brazil, some potential closure on “Choppergate” and some technological innovations that prey on our impulsive weaknesses
Japan has been struck by two sizeable earthquakes this week. The first occurred on Thursday at a depth of 11km near Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu and measured 6.5 in magnitude. The damage to the area was significant, a situation not aided by the many aftershocks that followed.
As Japan feverishly worked to deal with the damage and rising injury count, a larger quake struck early on Saturday morning in the same region at a depth of 10km and measuring 7.3 in magnitude. A tsunami warning was triggered following the quake, however, it was lifted soon after. Thankfully the three nuclear power plants in the area have reported no damage or irregularities at this stage.
The two quakes have brought back painful memories for a nation still dealing with the emotional aftershocks of the 2011 Fukushima tragedy, which caused almost 20,000 fatalities.
Dilma Rousseff is almost certainly going to see her career as the 36th President of Brazil come to a close via impeachment. In the midst of the worst economic crisis that Brazil has experienced in decades and widespread reports of corruption, the calls for Rousseff’s removal have become deafening. Her unpopularity aside, the former guerilla has also been accused of manipulating government accounts to make the national deficit appear smaller prior to the last election, which has given rise to the call for impeachment (I think in Australia we call misdirecting the public on the state of the economy…politics).
Jose Eduardo Cardoza, Rousseff’s attorney-general made a last ditch attempt to stop an impeachment vote in the supreme court, but, unfortunately for Rousseff, the motion was defeated 8-2. For impeachment to occur, at least a two-thirds majority of the 513 members of the Brazilian lower house is required and unfortunately for Rousseff, early indications are that those opposed already have the required numbers.
The senate will then be required to vote on whether to proceed with charging Rousseff with breaking budget laws. Should that occur, Rousseff could be replaced by Vice-President Michel Temer as early as May (although Temer’s tenure is also currently under a corruption cloud).
The political turmoil could not have come at a worse time with the world descending upon Brazil later this year for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
On the home front, the knives are out for Clive Palmer with the infamous businessman/politician under fire for the collapse of his company, Queensland Nickel. The company is currently in administration, with FTI Consulting (the appointed administrators) recommending liquidation of over $200 million worth of debt. Included within the $200 million is an approximate $73 million owed to the workers who have lost their jobs.
The government have jumped on the opportunity with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash announcing they will bring forward payments to the sacked workers under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) scheme. Cash indicated that the government would then seek to pursue Mr Palmer himself through a special liquidator to recover the taxpayer-funded payout.
The expected $73.9 million bill will represent the largest ever payout from the FEG. Senator Cash made it clear that the demise of Queensland Nickel could have been avoided, and the blame for the collapse falls firmly on the broad shoulders of Clive Palmer.
Palmer has also been accused by the administrators of using Queensland Nickel as a “piggy bank”, using money from the beleaguered company to fund his other businesses and interests, including his political ambitions. Palmer has denied the allegations, however, PM Turnbull has seized the opportunity to describe the actions of Palmer as “disgraceful.” The process is sure to be drawn out, making it increasingly likely that the upcoming election will result in the end of Mr Palmer’s short-lived political career.
Speaking of political careers ending, former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has lost preselection for the seat of Mackellar to Jason Falinski 51 votes to 39. She was unable to escape the fallout from her taxpayer funded helicopter that resulted in her being forced to resign from the Speaker’s chair last year. Long time ally and mentee Tony Abbott’s announcement that he would not be endorsing Bishop may have been the final nail in Bishop’s political coffin. I’m sure her political pension will cover a few more chopper flights.
Also this week, the news has worsened for the 60 Minutes crew in their bid for freedom from a Lebanese jail. The crew could face up to 20 years behind bars as a result of facing charges of “offences related to kidnapping.” The father of the children has refused to drop the charges and the Lebanese authorities prosecuting the case claim to have evidence that Channel 9 was not only involved in the retrieval attempt, but may have funded the operation.
Wacky and Wonderful
Cheaters beware, a new technological innovation has hit the market that will make it that much difficult to get away with having your cake and eating it too. A Spanish company has developed a new hi-tech mattress called the “Smarttress” that presents as any normal mattress, but has a few surprises in store.
The hi-tech mattress is fitted with concealed sensors that record suspicious movements and alert your partner on their mobile phone, assuming they aren’t in there with you. To ensure that you can’t blame it on a lighthearted wrestle with the family German Shepherd, the sensors are set up to compare the movements detected to algorithms based on sexual motions.
It should be a foolproof system, assuming that no-one works out that it is actually possible to have sex outside of a bed.
While we are on the topic of incredible technological innovations, a new pizza box has hit the market that has the entire world screaming “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this first.” The box, created by the same people that created Push for Pizza (a one button pizza ordering app), has created a dual purpose for the little “pizza saver” that sits in the middle of your piping hot order. By tearing off a specific section of the box, folding the cardboard into the shape of a pipe shaft and then combining it with the Pizza Saver, you have your own pipe for smoking less than legal substances that apparently combine quite well with a pizza. You can keep your robot delivery driver Domino’s, these guys know what their customers want!
Have a great week TBSers!