Rob Idol

Current Affairs Wrap: Bali’s developing volcano, Mexico’s splitting quake, Bernardi’s growing schadenfreude

Welcome back to the week that was yours. Disaster struck, but natural and lesser so, headlined by one Cory Bernardi.

 

 

Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a seriously pissed off Mother Nature, a Liverpool Kiss for our favourite former PM and Cory Bernardi being Cory Bernardi.

 

International

Lets start this week with our favourite island neighbour, Bali, which is in the midst of panic as it’s very large volcano, Mt Agung, is looking to erupt.

As it happens, I’m currently in Ubud, roughly 30km from Mt Agung, so The Big Smoke can safely say that we have the closest Australian reporter to the action!

In all seriousness, the situation is growing more and more dangerous for those near the current exclusion zone. The alert level was raised on Friday night to four, the highest level, and represents an expectation of an imminent eruption. Approximately 28,000 people have been evacuated already from surrounding villages however this number could increase significantly given that 240,000 people live within the now 12km exclusion zone.

The Balinese Tourism Commission have advised that tourists are safe as long as they avoid the exclusion zone and there is no reason to change or cancel your plans to come to Bali. However, a travel advisory has been issued for travellers coming as if an eruption occurs, the resulting ash cloud will likely close the airport and ground flights in and out.

The region that is home to Mt Agung has experienced hundreds of seismic tremors over the past week which continue to escalate in size and number. From Ubud, we are now feeling them multiple times a day and they do appear to be increasing in intensity.

Volcanic eruptions are very unpredictable. Whilst everything seems to point to an eruption very soon, it could take longer or may not happen at all. Evacuation centres have been set up for all of those displaced with the local and expat community donating food and supplies to help those affected.

Whilst the humans in the direct path have been evacuated, many animals both domestic and wild are currently at significant risk. There have been reports from some locals that snakes and monkeys have been moving their way down the volcano and out of the area in another ominous sign of things to come.

Unfortunately many domestic animals have been left behind and are scared, injured and at risk for their lives. The volunteers from the Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre (BARC) have joined forces with the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) and Animals Indonesia to form the Animals Emergency Response Unit in response. They have set up an emergency rescue centre outside of the exclusion zone and are currently rescuing as many animals as possible who have unfortunately been left behind or have escaped.

If you wish to donate to their efforts, please visit their mycause fundraiser here. Funds are desperately needed to erect temporary fencing to accommodate the large numbers already being rescued. I volunteer with BARC occasionally and have been in direct contact with those on the ground today; they really need the help.

The increasing number of humans already being displaced by this potential disaster also need help. There are a number of places to donate or assist but I can recommend the efforts being made by Kopernik here in Ubud as they are working directly with the displaced.


Also on The Big Smoke


On the other side of the globe, Mother Nature is proving that she’s an effective multitasker as Hurricane Maria smashed Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos Islands this week. As the region was coming to grips with the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma earlier this month, Maria arrived intent on outdoing her predecessor.

Maria formed on September 16 and by September 18 had strengthened to a Category 5. At its peak, it had winds of 280km/h, just shy of the 295km/h experienced with Irma.

Puerto Rico was hit extremely hard, with Maria being the worst storm to hit the US territory in more than 80 years. Electricity and communications were severely damaged making it difficult to get a full understanding of the scale of the destruction. Officials have also reported that 70% of the island is without drinking water.

The worst is unfortunately not behind them. A huge dam holding back a large inland lake is in imminent danger of failing due to damage sustained from Maria. As many as 70,000 people could find themselves in the path of deadly rushing water. Puerto Rico Governor, Ricardo Rossello has urged residents to evacuate, however due to damage to communications systems and infrastructure, it’s difficult to ascertain whether the message is reaching everyone.

Ok, I can’t be diplomatic anymore. Mother Nature isn’t just an excellent multitasker, she’s a straight out bitch. While the Caribbean and Central American regions are either dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma or facing the current wrath of Hurricane Maria, a 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City.

The quake quickly became Mexico’s deadliest in decades as it claimed close to 300 lives; a number that is all but certain to rise in the aftermath. Millions of residents have been displaced and forced out into the streets and officials are still desperately looking for more survivors.

The quake struck on Tuesday, with the epicentre being approximately 55km south of Puebla. Damage was sustained in the Mexican states of Puebla, Morelos and the Greater Mexico City area including the collapse of at least 40 buildings.

Eerily, the quake occurred on the 32nd anniversary of the 1984 Mexico City earthquake that took the lives of 100,000 people. The anniversary was commemorated with a national earthquake drill at 11am – two hours before the devastating quake struck.

Late on Saturday night, China reported that a 3.4 earthquake had been detected in North Korea which is suspected to have been caused by an explosion (as if there was any doubt). So Mother Nature’s off the hook there. Watch this space…

Thoughts and prayers to the many human beings and animals affected by the growing wrath of Mother Nature from all of us at The Big Smoke.

 

Domestic

Now I’m not one to condone violence, but former PM Tony Abbott was allegedly headbutted by a man during a visit to Hobart to advocate a “No” vote in the same sex marriage survey… and as horrible as it sounds, my initial reaction was a wry smile.

Reports initially suggested that the attack was motivated by Abbott’s stance on the SSM debate – primarily because Abbott called Sky News’ Bolt Report to let his mate Andrew know about the incident before he’d even reported it to police.

The alleged perpetrator, however, has publicly made it clear that the SSM had nothing to do with the attack. Astro Labe, a 38-year-old man from North Hobart has told the media that the attack was impulsive based on his longstanding disdain for the former PM – or in his words, “It was nothing really remotely to do with that. It’s just about Tony Abbott, the f***ing worm that he is. All it was is I saw Tony Abbott and I’d had half a skinful and I wanted to nut the c***.”

Whilst Mr Labe does support the “Yes” campaign, he maintains that it had no bearing on the alleged assault. He has since been charged with one count of common assault and has been granted conditional bail. He explained that the same-sex sticker on his jacket was a coincidence as “It was purely because a friend of mine had walked past handing them out and had stuck one on my jacket.”

Mr Labe’s version seems to have been backed up by an Abbott staffer who witnessed the alleged assault indicating that there was no mention of SSM. Despite this, Abbott continues to try and drag the incident into the SSM debate, telling the media yesterday morning that he was “sorry to say the love is love campaigners were the ones spreading the hate.”

Senator Eric Abetz has also come out insisting that the incident was linked to the “Yes” campaign because apparently he knows better than the alleged perpetrator and the actual witnesses to the incident. Then again, Abetz also once tried to link abortions to breast cancer so he’s never really been one to rely too much on fact.

MP’s and Senators from all sides have condemned the act as unacceptable and “un-Australian” – but it’s hard to believe that there weren’t a few that indulged in a cheeky smile when news of the incident came out.

From one Conservative to a man that makes Abbott look like a Communist, ex-Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi hit the news this week in a monumental backfire.

Bernardi caught wind of a fundraiser being held by Craigburn Primary School in South Australia which supported the “Do It In A Dress Campaign”. The campaign (which has been run by Australian charity OneGirl for six years) allowed students of all genders to come to school in a dress or in casual clothes in exchange or a gold coin donation. The fundraiser was organised by the students after they learned of the plight of girls in Africa who didn’t have access to education.

But all Cory saw were little boys in little dresses and his blood boiled over. Taking to Twitter, he wrote “One school in SA now has ‘wear a dress day’. This gender morphing is really getting absurd.” Bernardi provided a link in the tweet to the blog on the school website outlining the details of the event, a blog post that clearly stated that the event was organised by the student leadership group, clearly stated the reason behind the drive (which had nothing to do with Safe Schools, SSM or any gender debates) and also clearly stated that participants had the choice between wearing a dress or casual clothes. Cory’s a busy man, I suppose we couldn’t expect him to actually read the whole thing could we?

OneGirl CEO Morgan Koegal has told of her confusion when she first saw Bernadi’s tweet saying, “I didn’t quite understand how it related to the campaign we were running….We’ve been running this campaign for six years — so if it’s not intended as a comment on what’s going on in Australia right now.”

Senator Bernadi’s tweet got attention as he wanted; just not the actual attention he wanted. Those that disagreed with Bernardi, of which there are apparently quite a lot, decided to chip in and donate. The student body had expected to raise around $900 which would have been an amazing effort by these great kids. 48 hours later, thanks to Bernardi’s tweet, they had raised $200,000 – and have now reached over $250,000.

Senator Bernardi of course refused to back down, maintaining that it was completely inappropriate for a school to encourage their male teachers and students to wear drag. Then, as only he could, tried to take credit for raising the funds, tweeting “After a successful week of fundraising and politics, it’s time for a cold beer on a beautiful day.”

At the risk of editorialising…no, I better not, the depth of his depravity speaks for itself.

That’s it from me, TBSers, have a cracking week!

 

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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