Gordon Smith

Current Affairs Wrap: Anti-marriage equality campaign starts, NK reveals payload, Nurse arrested for the crime of nursing

At some point we must reach the moral bedrock. But not this week! We’ve had the commencement of the anti-marriage equality campaign, more atomic threats from Pyongyang and the nurse that was taken away in cuffs, for doing her job. Wowzers.

 

 

We live in a beautiful world. You just wouldn’t know it if you’ve been following the news this past week.

If you have somehow managed to both keep up to date with all things newsworthy, without having thrown your preferred device out the window in the process, you deserve nothing but respect.

Because this week, in particular, really tested our limits of forgiveness and understanding, and sought to remove any remaining faith you may have in your fellow man.

Take Australia, for example.

With parliament having risen and the government more or less free to make its movements outside of the public eye, you’d think things would settle down at least just a little, right?

Well, no. Wrong, in fact.

If you were hoping for a bit of reprieve from the Days of Our Lives-esque dual citizenship saga, you were sadly disappointed.

Derryn Hinch – former radio presenter turned senator – has let the drama reign on for another week, even as the High Court put the case of (what still may not be a grand total of) seven ministers on hold.

While the likes of Joyce, Canavan, Xenophon, and really by this point what seems to be the remainder of the Parliament, have kept us all waiting for the next turn in their ‘my mum signed me up’ novellas, Hinch, with the skill only a journalism degree could bring, has taken us through the whole thing – act by act.

It all started Wednesday, with Hinch announcing that he would seek advice on the legitimacy of his election, the weight of a vintage US social security number hanging over his conscience.

Come Saturday, the smoke had cleared, and section 44 went hungry. On advice from the attorney general, the Justice Party Senator redacted any plans to refer himself to the high court

What a difference three days makes.

With the government now sowing the seeds of possible citizenship faux pas on Labor’s side, this issue looks like it could be the gift that keeps on giving. No matter how much you wish you wouldn’t.

Still, with the rowdiness of question time put to bed for another week, and the same sex marriage can well and truly kicked down the road, at least you could have a bit of reprieve from the decade-long conversation of why LGBTI people should/should not be allowed to marry.

Wrong again.

Like an elderly relative drunkenly stumbling up to the Christmas dinner, the ‘no’ campaign has predictably launched its campaign – and just as unwanted, too.

The Coalition for Marriage – a coalition made up entirely of heterosexual marriages, of course – has thrown its 1950’s hat into the ring, asking voters to ‘think of the children;’ just not the gay ones.

Legalising marriage equality will lead to parents losing the right choose, the four women claim, while not telling us what exactly they won’t be able to choose anymore.

Perhaps most memorably of all is familiar face Cella White, telling the nation that because of those darn gays, her son was told he could wear a dress at school.

Not that he had to, or that it would be recommended he did so. Just that he had the option.

That, however, never happened. At least, as far as the school’s principal and teachers believe.

‘We checked with all the teachers; it never happened,’ Frankston High principal John Albiston said.

‘I have never had any complaints that we advised the boys they could wear dresses. We didn’t offer them that option.’

‘Why would this so-called incident that never happened have anything to do with marriage equality?’

Why indeed.

***

Maybe things aren’t so bad outside Australia?

Well, if you’ve been following the news, maybe not.

Earth’s favourite hermit kingdom – North Korea – has done it again.

After an unusually long quiet period, Pyongyang fired yet another missile: this time directly over Japan.

No longer aiming for its adjacent seas, or pushing its chest out over US military territory in the Pacific Ocean, North Korea has gone the full fearmonger.

‘Missile passing. Missile passing,’ warned a text message sent to people across Hokkaido, as Japan’s national broadcaster reassured residents of Japan’s northern island of the army’s readiness to shoot down anything deemed a threat to public safety.

Elsewhere, all eyes have been on the flooded regions of Houston, Texas.

‘We live in a global world and there is a lot going on out there at the moment. But people should know about what is happening in India, Bangladesh and Nepal,’ explained the International Federation of Red Cross’s Hanna Butler.

Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t pay any notice to the still drowning woes of Texas – just that maybe there’s a little bit of bias when it comes to airtime.

Hurricane Harvey has seen at least 45 people die, and is set to break records when it comes to clean up cost. Worse still, about 80 per cent of Texans do not possess flood insurance.

This is further complicated by chemical contamination, caused by flooding of an Armeka Inc. plant.

The plant, currently still burning under secondary flames, is causing respiratory irritation, with ‘noxious’ smoke rising.

So besieged by nature’s wrath, a public health emergency has been declared.

Of course, one can always rely on the kindness of others in this kind of crisis.

Unless one of those others is a multimillionaire televangelist, who happens to own a 16,800-seat megachurch.

Joel Osteen canceled all services at his Houston-based arena-sized Lakeside Chruch, despite the literal thousands of people seeking shelter.

‘It doesn’t make sense why you’re not opening up your mega church to house Houston citizens. Help me understand that,’ said writer Emily Timbol, amid a sea of (understandably) frustrated commentators.

In good Christian conscience – and in response to a growing tide of controversy – Osteen soon swung his doors open. His doors which appeared to be entirely damage free.

But, amid all of this confusion and unpredictability, you can at least take solace in one constant: the heavy-handedness of America’s police force.

This week you were a glutton for choice, too.

You could have found comfort in hearing a Georgia officer joke that they ‘only kill black people,’ all while a dashcam watched over him.

Better yet, you could take the option of the Utah nurse, arrested for having the audacity to uphold proper medical practice.

In harrowing footage, University of Utah Hospital burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels was handcuffed by Detective Jeff Payne after refusing to take blood from an unconscious patient.

Wubbels is seen in blue medical scrubs consulting colleagues, before presenting waiting officers with a printout of the hospital’s policy on sharing blood samples to test for alcohol or drugs.

Under policy, which she explains was agreed with the Salt Lake City police department, she would need a warrant or the patient’s consent, or the patient would need to be under arrest.

In an entirely rational response, Payne then grabs Wubbels, telling her that ‘we’re done.’

Wubbels can then be seen screaming for help as the officer drags her outside.

‘Somebody help me! You’re assaulting me! Stop! I’ve done nothing wrong!’

After leaving Wubbels in a hot police car for 20 minutes, Payne releases her. Not a booking or charge in sight.

The Hospital has come out in full support of their nurse. The officer? Well, if precedent is anything to go by, he’s probably going to stay exactly where he is, regardless of what any investigation says.

After all that, you’re probably thinking, ‘gee, what a depressing week.’

And hey, you’re probably right. At least you’ve got a few more reasons to drink now.

Gordon Smith

Journalist by day, cunning linguist by night. A passion for politics, hypnotically involved in human rights. An Australian born with a Japanese tongue, hoping to hold the big wigs in government to account.

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