Rob Idol

Current Affairs Wrap: America rings in 2018 with gunshots, Australia chooses her best, Woo you Mr Woo

In the week that was, while America was busy revealing her worst, Australia honoured her absolute best. Chin-chin.

 

 

Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had another school shooting in the US, a major search underway for 50 people lost at sea and an Australia Day with plenty of highs and lows.

 

International

The Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, was rocked this week by a school shooting which saw two people killed and a dozen wounded.

The alleged perpetrator, a 15-year-old male student, has not been identified as yet and no potential motive is known. A local prosecutor has told the media that it appears the gunman shot at random and did not specifically target the two 15-year-old students who sadly lost their lives. He is currently in custody facing two counts of murder and at least twelve counts of first-degree assault. Kentucky does have the death penalty however it’s unknown at this stage as to whether prosecutors will be pushing for it.

The shooting marks the eleventh shooting at a US school this year and the third this week. At the same point last year, there had been five school shootings nationwide. Not that these types of statistics seem to matter to gun lobby and those that support it.


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A ferry with an estimated 50 passengers has been missing for more than a week off the coast of Kiribati.

The New Zealand air force have joined the search with a military Orion plane joining the Fijian-led search of the area. The ferry had departed Nonouti Island en route to the Kiribati capital of South Tarawa back on January 18th in a 240 kilometer trip that was expected to take two days.

John Ashby, a New Zealand senior search and rescue officer has indicated that the MV Butiraoi underwent repairs to its propeller shaft just before disembarking which may have caused navigation problems.

 

Domestic

Australia Day has come and gone and it’s fair to say it was an Australia Day like no other we’ve had before.

Continuing on from last year, the 2018 Australian of the Year came from the science field with quantum physicist, Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, given the nation’s highest honour.

Dr Graham Farquhar, a biophysicist also from the science field, was awarded Senior Australian of the Year for his work in protecting food security in the face of climate change.

Matilda’s striker, Samantha Kerr, was recognised as Young Australian of the Year, adding the honor to her growing list of sporting achievements, which to date includes being named as a finalist for FIFA Female Player of the Year, winning the Australian Sportswoman of the Year and MVP of the USA National League. Her Young Australian of the Year win, however, is more about her off field work as an advocate for the recognition of women’s sport.


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PM Malcolm Turnbull opened his Australia Day speech with a greeting in the Ngunnawal language; no small feat given the language hasn’t been widely spoken for around a century. Turnbull has been learning the language since last year and had previously used it to address the ninth annual Closing the Gap report.

The usual bbq and Hottest 100, however, gave way to nationwide protests against “Invasion Day”, with Melbourne being home to the largest with an estimated 60,000 people marching.

Extra security was put in place across the country in anticipation of the protests with X-Ray scanning and security walls set up in the Sydney CBD – though it appears that the protests weren’t marred by violence and were well received.

The growing movement to change the date has seen the face of January 26th already changing. Radio station Triple J announced late last year that they would no longer be holding their hottest 100 countdown on the 26th of January as a show of solidarity with Indigenous Australians – a move criticised by the government who urged them to reconsider.

Conservative senator Cory Bernardi took matters into his own hands, launching his own alternative Hottest 100 on music streaming service Spotify, with his party telling their supporters via their website:

“As taxpayer-funded Triple J and their ‘Hottest 100’ abandon our national day for political correctness, we’re inviting you to cast your vote by telling us your favourite 3 tracks from our #AC100 playlist.”

Many of the artists featured on Bernardi’s playlist immediately demanded they be removed. Icehouse frontman, Iva Davies, described the inclusion of his hit song Great Southern Land as a breach of his “moral rights”.  You Am I frontman, Tim Rogers, threatened Bernardi with legal action as a breach of his moral rights under the Copyright Act.

Darren Hayes demanded that Savage Garden’s hit, To the Moon & Back be removed, saying “I don’t support your party, values or views. Remove my music from your promotions. You do not have permission to use my music.” Bernardi hit back telling Hayes that “Music is for everyone” before Hayes tweeted to a list of other iconic artists on the list asking them if they were okay with it. They weren’t.

 

But the Hilltop Hoods summed up the response perfectly with a one-line tweet:

 

Whilst the move to change the date still has a long way to go, it did appear to most that a crossroads had been reached this year. Perhaps, as the relative international teenager that we are, we are a little bit closer to the inevitable change that could represent not only a necessary and concrete recognition of the crimes of the past, but also a move towards a new unity that could shape a national identity for the future that is truly inclusive.

I, for one, will raise my glass to this great country of ours when that day happens.


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An arrest at the Maroubra Junction Hotel turned violent resulting in the shooting death of a suspect and the stabbing of a Police Officer.

Police had attended the venue just after 3pm on Australia day to arrest 33-year-old Nick Newman who was wanted for child abuse offenses. The attendance followed a public appeal for assistance to locate Newman the day before.

As detectives attempted to arrest him, Newman lunged at Detective Sergeant John Breda and stabbed him in the chest and abdomen with a knife. Officers opened fire with witnesses reporting hearing four or five gunshots as Newman was shot dead.

Detective Breda has been described by Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec as “an exceptionally dedicated and experienced senior investigator who has committed his career to keeping the community safe.”

Breda had surgery for his injuries overnight and is listed as being in a serious but stable condition. Acting NSW Police Commissioner David Hudson has told the media that medical personnel are comfortable with his progress, “However he is by no means out of danger. All of the police have their fingers crossed and are saying prayers for him.”

 

Wacky and Wonderful

There’s one more major award from the Australia Day honours list that we haven’t talked about – Australia’s Local Hero for 2018.

Eddie Woo, a teacher at Cherrybrook Technology High School, was the recipient this year, being recognised for his YouTube channel “Wootube”, which has helped children across Australia learn and understand maths.

The channel, which boasts more than 174,000 subscribers, was set up by Woo five years ago to help a student suffering from cancer who was too sick to attend classes.

Woo’s passion for both education and maths has helped many children get a firmer grasp on the important subject, but it was his passionate acceptance speech that provided the biggest inspiration.

Woo talked about the struggles he had faced as the son of Chinese-Malaysian parents who migrated to Australia in order to give their children a better education, explaining his decision to enter the field was driven by a desire to “pay it forward”. He spoke of the bullying and racism he experienced as a child, and stressed the importance of the role that educators have to play to challenge bullying and racism in Australia.

It’s a damn good read and I encourage you all to do so. The full version can be read here.

 

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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