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Well, fudge. It’s been a week of insanity, as Donald Trump was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the emergency services hotline came down with a bout of the Telstras and one rad dude saved one rad dog.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had some ups and downs in the White House, Mother Nature making her presence felt in Hawaii, a failure from our major telco back home and a technologically-inspired animal rescue in India.
It’s been another rollercoaster week for the Big Cheese Cheeto in the White House. Let’s start with the good (well, for him anyway).
Eighteen Republican politicians have joined forces and signed a letter nominating President Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize as a result of the apparent progress to peace on the Korean peninsula. The letter indicated that Trump has “worked tirelessly to apply maximum pressure to North Korea to end its illicit weapons programs and bring peace to the region… His Administration successfully united the international community, including China, to impose one of the most successful international sanctions regimes in history.”
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we could be looking at the first ever Nobel Peace Prize issued for calling a world leader “Rocket Man”. Elton John should ask for royalties.
The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
As crazy as it sounds to most of us, it appears that Trump has a powerful ally in the race for the prize, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in also publicly indicating that Trump is a worthy recipient. Reuters reported that President Moon told senior secretaries, “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace.”
Moon’s stance is likely not shared amongst his Chinese neighbours, with the media there suggesting that the line was nothing more than an attempt to play to Trump’s vanity. Either way, it’s hard to imagine that China would be particularly impressed with Trump taking credit for something that simply couldn’t have happened without the Chinese tick of approval, nor have we actually seen any tangible or real results as yet (and of course, there is the growing opinion that North Korean President Kim Jong-un is playing out a very careful strategy and we really don’t know what his endgame is).
Trump wouldn’t be the first US Pres to hold the title. His predecessor, President Obama won the award in 2009 for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. Prior to this, the prize had been won by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter.
Of course it will depend on whether Trump is still President when the award is given. A new addition to Trump’s growing legal team, Rudy Giuliani, publicly confirmed that Trump had reimbursed his attorney, Michael Cohen, to the amount of $US130,000 for hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, something that Trump had previously denied.
The rest of Trump’s team appeared to be blindsided by the revelation, with White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left floundering in front of the press when she was grilled on the specifics. Sanders was asked if Trump had filed a fraudulent form when filling out his required personal financial disclosure form in the lead up to the election; she simply responded that she “didn’t know”.
Hardly a ringing endorsement of innocence.
Also on The Big Smoke
- While you were asleep: Stormy Daniels sues Donald Trump, Siri says naughty word, a much too soon primer for the World Cup
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Hawaiʻi Island has shifted into full eruption mode, forcing the evacuation of thousands of local residents. Increased seismic activity had seen the region shaking with multiple earthquakes this week before Kilauea began erupting on Thursday.
On Friday, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake shook the island, shortly followed by larger eruptions that saw lava spewed near residential areas. The US Geological Survey advised via Twitter that the epicentre of the large quake was “in almost exactly the same location as the deadly 1975 M 7.1 quake.” The 1975 quake resulted in the death of two people and the injuring of a further 28.
So far two homes have been damaged directly by lava flow and the eruptions have forced toxic fume warnings to be issued for the area. Molten lava was also seen bubbling through cracks on streets in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighbourhoods. As it stands, roughly 1,700 people and 770 buildings are under a mandatory evacuation order.
Kilauea has been continuously erupting for more than three decades, however, the magnitude of the earthquakes and the increasing size of eruptions have local residents understandably worried.
Telstra have been issued a big “please explain” after damage to a cable in regional New South Wales saw intermittent interruptions to Triple-0 services experienced in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, which included calls dropping out and a complete inability to call emergency services.
Traffic lights in Victoria were also affected by the outage as well as disruption to EFTPOS services. Telstra reported that the damage was caused by a lightning strike which was supported by a photo of the cable pit located between Bowral and Orange. However, CEO Andy Penn refused to guarantee that lightning was the cause. The Bureau of Meteorology also indicated the closest lightning strike at the time of the damage was 200km west of Orange.
Penn has advised that a faulty international router disrupted the contingency system that should have rerouted calls to one of two other operational cables in the case of failure of the primary cable. Given all of my experiences using Telstra’s technical support, I can’t say I’m surprised.
Whilst the incident itself is a freak one off, Telstra’s inability to enact contingency plans at the time have raised serious concerns at all levels. NSW Police Assistant Deputy Commissioner Mark Walton told the media that emergency services in NSW became aware at 2:00am that calls were not being received before the backup systems kicked in at 4:00am. Walton said that they are unaware of how many calls were missed during the two-hour window.
Queensland Ambulance Service indicated that they have reviewed their call logs and have identified 11 patients who experienced delays in contacting emergency services, however are satisfied that no-one experienced any “adverse impact to their care”.
We take our responsibilities to connect people very seriously, particularly with E000, and we deeply apologise for the impact to services https://t.co/wGb48P4Mpx
— Telstra News (@Telstra_news) May 4, 2018
Hopefully no-one did experience “adverse impact to their care” during the outage and hopefully Telstra can ensure that such a dangerous and fundamental failure in their duty of care doesn’t happen again.
Also on The Big Smoke
Brett Peter Cowan, the man who killed 13-year old Daniel Morcombe in 2003, has again been violently attacked by fellow inmates at the Wolston Correctional Centre.
According to the Department of Corrective Services, Cowan “suffered superficial wounds to his neck and ear when he was assaulted by another prisoner in a common area…Queensland Corrective Services officers brought the situation quickly under control. No officers were injured. The prisoner did not sustain any serious injury.”
Cowan was previously attacked by inmate Adam Paul Davidson in 2016 when Davidson poured boiling water over Cowan’s head and then proceeded to bash him with the empty bucket. Davidson reportedly yelled “this is for Daniel” before commencing the attack. Cowan experienced superficial burns to 15% of his body.
Cowan was sentenced to life without parole until August 2031, suggesting he will likely be the target of attacks for many years to come; I don’t think too many people are losing sleep over it.
Wacky and wonderful
Animal welfare, and specifically dog welfare, is a subject I’m rather passionate about. I’ve volunteered in Bali for a number of years and witnessed some incredible work from people dedicating their lives to rescuing injured or sick dogs.
Thus Milind Raj from New Delhi has become my new hero this week.
While out for his usual morning walk last month, Milind investigated sounds of an animal whimpering, discovering a puppy trapped inside a drain. The dog had been stranded there for at least two days according to Mr Raj. It turns out that Milind not only has a soft spot for dogs, but also has a keen interest in Artificial Intelligence as well as building robots for a living. Jumping into action, he quickly returned to his lab to devise a plan to rescue the stranded pooch.
He quickly jury-rigged an AI-controlled robotic arm attached to a giant drone. According to Raj, the drain was “like a bog… It was not possible for a human to rescue the puppy without endangering their own life.” His decision to use the AI-controlled robotic arm was borne from the fact that the arm was equipped with a smart heartbeat sensor. The sensor allowed him to monitor the puppy’s heart rate to ensure the grip of the arm wasn’t too tight.
Whilst many have praised Mr Raj, some are skeptical, suggesting that there were quicker and easier ways to rescue the dog, and others questioning how legitimate the rescue was given the clean state of the puppy when he was removed from the drain.
Mr Raj did adopt the pooch and name him “Lifted”.
That’s it from me, TBSers – have a cracking week!