Sunday. A day to reflect how we survived the week that preceded it. Hurricane Irma led the way, but there were enough winds of change, schadenfreude, and pity to go around.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen Mother Nature in all her fury, a green light for the postal survey, the passing of a brave advocate and a shit Tinder date.
Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, has torn a destructive path through the Caribbean this week with further devastation expected.
At least 21 people have died already across a number of islands as Irma brought 295 km/h winds and six metre high waves to Turks and Caicos, Saint Barthelemy, the US Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas and St Martin.
The International Red Cross have estimated that up to 26 million people could be affected – unsurprising given that Irma produced 295 km/h winds for 33 hours which is the longest of any storm since satellite monitoring began in the 1970’s.
It appears that Irma also brought her friends with two other tropical storms, Jose in the Atlantic and Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, upgraded to hurricane status. With the Caribbean Islands left in its wake, Irma has turned her sights to the US with landfall in Florida expected at some stage on the weekend. Whilst it was downgraded from a category 5 to a category 4 on Friday, it is still bringing winds of 240 km/h.
A mandatory evacuation has also been put in place on Georgia’s Atlantic coast. Virginia has also declared a state of emergency as their Governor, Terry McAuliffe, indicated that it looked increasingly likely that they could see “significant impacts” from Irma. Whilst their Texan neighbours on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Harvey last week, it’s expected that Irma’s damage will be more significant.
Billionaire Richard Branson rode it out in the wine cellar of his private Necker island and managed to emerge unscathed after hours of radio and Internet silence.
Just when you thought Mother Nature was done, across the Gulf, Mexico was hit by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake, said to be one of the most powerful recorded in history.
The quake occurred off the coast of Chiapas in the south of the Central American country at a depth of 69km on Friday. It was felt in Austin Texas, more than 2,000 kilometres away from the epicentre. A magnitude 6 aftershock followed about 30 minutes later.
More than 60 people have been confirmed dead, primarily in the state of Oaxaca on the Pacific coast, and the toll could rise significantly, with projections made by the US Geological Survey based on population figures anticipating between 1,000 and 10,000 deaths.
With some affected areas, particularly Veracruz, still in the path of Hurricane Katia and Hurricane Jose, more devastation could follow as Mexico is left to pick up the pieces.
From natural to potentially man made disasters, North Korea seems determined not to back down from the brink of nuclear war with the rogue nation expected to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile this weekend to celebrate it’s founding anniversary.
As tensions have already reached fever pitch following the apparent successful test of a hydrogen bomb earlier this month, a successful ICBM test now could see them spill over.
Kim Jong-un may see his plans interrupted, however, with experts saying solar storms expected this weekend could be enough of a deterrent. The storms will bring eruptions of mass and energy from the sun which would pose a threat to electronics which could result in data loss or the loss of ancillary equipment.
A high court challenge to the Government’s Same Sex Marriage postal survey was heard this week with the court ruling that the Government can proceed with the $122 million poll.
The simple question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”, will be asked of the population via ballots being sent to all registered voters on September 12.
With campaigning from both sides expected to escalate significantly in the coming weeks, new research was released late this week conducted by Newgate Research pollster Jim Reed which indicates that support for the “No” vote has risen as well as the number of undecided voters.
The research with a sample size of 800 people and a 3.5 percent margin of error suggested that the “Yes” vote was down 6 percentage points to 58.4 percent with the “No” vote sitting at 31.4 percent. More alarmingly for SSM supporters, the research indicated that the turnout could be quite low with only 65 percent of voters considering themselves as “very likely” to participate.
The Government has also indicated they will draft a bill over the weekend to attempt to apply the normal election safeguards to the survey including the requirement for material to bear an authorisation. It is hoped that this can quell the more extreme campaigning like the clash seen between “Yes” and “No” supporters outside a Brisbane church this week.
Labor have called for the rules to effectively ban “vile” content, however Senator Cormann for the Libs who is responsible for administering the survey has ruled it out, saying “You don’t want to put inappropriate limits on the freedom of political expression.”
Breast cancer awareness advocate, Connie Johnson, has lost her battle with the insidious disease at the age of 40. Johnson and Gold Logie winning brother, Samuel, formed the “Love Your Sister” charity after her terminal diagnosis some seven years ago – a charity that has raised more than $4 million and increased breast cancer awareness significantly.
Johnson was first diagnosed with a bone tumour in her leg at the age of 11 as well as cancer in her womb around a decade later. According to Connie, she beat both thanks to early identification and treatment. Unfortunately at the age of 33, the cancer had spread to her spine, pelvis, lungs and liver, delivering a death sentence.
Johnson refused to yield and decided to fight as well as raise awareness and funds to help others – a fight that saw her survive for a further seven years against the odds. Following her breast cancer diagnosis, Connie and brother Samuel launched their first fundraising plan following a dare issued to Samuel from Connie to ride a unicycle around the country. Samuel set out on one wheel with a goal of raising $1 million and raising awareness. Not only did he finish the task but managed to raise $1.5 million as well.
Earlier this year, with Connie’s health declining, the pair embarked on their most ambitious event, the Big Heart Project, which saw them call on the public to donate 5c pieces which would then be turned into a giant silver heart. The campaign saw $2 million raised and a very large silver heart constructed.
In her final days, Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, attended Connie’s bedside to award her a Medal of the Order of Australia. The official citation read as follows:
“Mrs Johnson is a person who is simply inspirational. Her creation and leadership of the Love Your Sister Village has done much to encourage other Australian women to undergo regular screening and has also raised vital funds to support cancer research.
She has become one of this nation’s formost advocates of the importance of early detection and the need to find a cure. In the process, she’s rallied many others to join with her to assist this endeavour.
Mrs Johnson’s efforts for our community will endure and maker her most deserving of our nation’s gratitude and admiration.”
Rest in peace, Connie.
Wacky and Wonderful
When Mother Nature shows us how powerful she is, it’s hard not to feel insignificant. Whilst we can plan for the worst, there is often very little we can do if we are stuck in the firing line of one of her natural disasters.
For US man, Joshua Stanaland, this was a helplessness he couldn’t accept. With Hurricane Irma bearing down, he decided to stand up and give Mother Nature the middle finger.
Stanaland created a Facebook event titled “Everybody Points Their Fans at the Hurricane to Blow it Away”, which saw over 58,000 people commit to pointing their fans at the storm. The instructions provided were:
“Everybody takes their fans outside and points them at Hurricane Irma to blow it away from us. Air compressors with a blow gun attachment also a plus, or anything else. Get creative. Date/time subject to change due to the unpredictable path it may take.”
Whilst we can hope that most of those who have signed up aren’t taking the plan too seriously and follow evacuation instructions where given, we do have to remember that this is the country that elected Trump…
Sometimes a wacky story is just wacky enough to hit the mainstream media, which is what happened this week when we heard about the world’s worst Tinder date. A young grad student in the UK by the name of Liam Smyth took a nice woman he met on Tinder out for dinner. Dinner was followed by a visit back to his house for a few glasses of wine and a documentary about Scientology (see, Netflix and Chill).
The young woman in question found herself in the most awkward of positions after using Smyth’s bathroom to…release some bowel pressure, before discovering that the toilet wouldn’t flush. Not one to simply accept that “shit happens”, the industrious young lady proceeded to collect the unflushable in tissue paper and haul it out the window. Unfortunately for her, the window in question didn’t actually open to the outside but straight into a 18-inch gap between it and another non-opening, double glazed window.
The evidence, it would seem, became stuck between the two windows, but rather than ghost and delete her Tinder account as most of us would, she confessed her predicament to Smyth who began preparations to take a hammer to the window and resolve the issue. Not willing to accept defeat, the young lady decided to try and climb between the windows to retrieve the tissue wrapped embarrassment which saw her become stuck.
Rather than just giving Smyth a story to tell over and over to his mates at the pub, her valiant attempt resulted in the fire department coming out to free her and presumably the item that started the mess in the first place.
Smyth took to GoFundMe to try and raise funds to replace the now broken window – £2,700 and counting!
That’s it from me, TBSers. Have a cracking week!