Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana this week. Over 50,000 homes have been damaged by historic flood waters, and – at time of writing – there are 32 confirmed fatalities. Mexico’s Pacific coast has been warned to brace itself, as Harvey is headed there next.

Meanwhile, Nepal, India and Bangladesh are suffering from several weeks of devastating monsoon rain. Over 41 million people have been affected by the flood waters, and well over a thousand people have lost their lives. Entire villages have been lost to landslides, with thousands forced to flee their homes. Oxfam has reported as much as two thirds of Bangladesh is currently underwater. Mumbai is the latest metropolitan city to be hit. Schools were closed earlier in the week, and the city’s largest hospital was flooded. The region is in crisis.

India Rain
Photo by Rajanish Kakade. Mumbai’s flooded streets, the 29th of August.

The government met with leading electricity retailers this week in an effort to get the price of electricity cheaper for Aussies. It worked, apparently, with retailers sending out 1 million letters before Christmas explaining how their customers can save cash. The retailers used the meeting to push for the government to set a clean energy target, as recommended by a scientific report: the Finkel review. We’ll do a deep dive on the government’s current policies around energy – clean or otherwise – on Tuesday. It’s another issue that divides the government.

The government announced a $110 million ‘Career Transition Assistance Program’ this week, designed to teach people over 50 how to navigate finding new work. The program will go into a trial stage in certain regions across the country. It comes after the age discrimination commissioner, Susan Ryan, said mature-age employment was a ‘national disaster’ in 2013.

North Korea fired a missile that passed over Japan this week.  The missile angered everyone – including Trump, the UN and Turnbull, who all renewed their language for North Korea to calm their friggin’ farm. Turnbull’s most recent comments put pressure on China to step up and rein in North Korea’s apocalyptic death wish. (If you want to know why that’s a whole thing, check out our North Korea deep dive from a couple of weeks ago.)

A leaked document at the start of the week revealed that the Government was stripping 100 asylum seekers of a $200 a fortnight pension and giving them just three weeks to find their own accomodation and jobs. The asylum seekers have ended up in Australia after being transferred from offshore detention for various medical reasons. The Government stood by the measure, saying it sticks to their promise that no asylum seekers who arrive by boat will ever be settled in Australia. This zero tolerance policy is in place to apparently deter illegal people smuggling that often ends in deaths at sea. And indeed, they have ‘stopped the boats’ – mostly. A boat containing six Chinese men and a PNG people smuggler made it to Queensland shore this week. It’s the first boat to make it to Aussie mainland since May last year.  In related news, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton – the man in charge of all of this – suggested Aussie lawyers helping out asylum seekers free of charge were un-Australian. The Law Council of Australia told Peter Dutton to get stuffed (I may be paraphrasing there).

It’s the first day of Spring today. Australia has just been through its warmest Winter on record.

As many as 27,000 people are fleeing Myanmar. The Rohingya Muslim’s are attempting to escape the government there. The Myanmar government started viciously persecuting the group after Rohingya Muslim’s killed a dozen security officials last week. There are multiple but unconfirmed reports of the government conducting massacres and burning entire villages to the ground. The refugees are trapped between a No Man’s Land between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Bangladesh refuses to open their borders. 11 children and 9 women have been found dead after their boat washed up on the shores of Bangladesh. They were attempting to flee the violence.

NASA released new pictures from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter this week, showing snow on the dunes of the red planet. Unlike the ice of Earth, the snow is carbon dioxide – dry ice. When the sun starts shining at Martian spring time, when this photo was captured, the ice starts to crack, and escaping gas brings forth darker sand up from below. The whole thing creates a rather nice pattern, as pictured.

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The photo at the top of the article is also from NASA, capturing Hurricane Harvey about to hit the United States coastline.

We’ll be back next week, doing our best to explain the current state of Australia’s energy policy, and doing our better than best to try and make that an appealing read…

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