A devastating earthquake hit Mexico this week. As rescue efforts sort through the wreckage, the death toll continues to rise. At time of writing, more than 230 people have died. The 7.1 magnitude quake hit southern Mexico, just over a hundred k away from the country’s capital. More than 21 children died in a collapsed school. 40 buildings in Mexico City collapsed, with thousands of others left damaged and unstable. It is the second earthquake that Mexico has experienced in a fortnight.

In other wild weather news, Hurricane Maria has devastated the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this week. Maria is the latest in a trilogy of hurricane’s that has devastated much of Central America and the Southern States of the US in the last month. In addition, the Aussie Bureau of Meteorology is warning of an upcoming heatwave. NSW may have it’s first September day over 40 degrees ever. Is climate change causing this? Probably. We’ll do a deep dive into a rough and simple guide to the most recent climate change evidence on Tuesday.

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Photo by Marco Ugarte. A man emerges from a collapsed building in Mexico City.

The same-sex marriage debate rages on. If you still haven’t received your form, don’t panic. You should have it by the 25th of September. If you don’t have it by then, you can register a missing form here. High-profile leaders of the ‘no’ campaign insist that legalising gay marriage will somehow influence what children are taught in schools  – a fact that has been disproved by international case studies of other countries who have permitted same-sex marriage, the government’s insistence that they have no intentions of altering the curriculum, and the fact that many private schools make up their own minds on how to teach sex and relationships education anyway. High-profile leaders of the ‘yes’ campaign have been criticised for being too sensitive BUT ALSO for making offensive remarks. See the double standard there? Let’s just all have a Golden Gaytime and a lie down. (Read the story behind the plebiscite here.)

A load of important people met at the United Nations this week, including our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Donald Trump made his United Nations debut. Trump used the opportunity to threaten North Korea, saying any action undertaken by them would result in the US ‘totally destroying’ them. He referred to the North Korean leader as ‘Rocket Man’ and said he was on a suicide mission. He also said lots of his mates were getting rich in Africa, which is ‘fantastic’, and he mispronounced Namibia. He insulted Iran, and said he had doubts about continuing the deal that the US made with them to slow their development of nuclear weapons. The other delegates spoke most extensively about the growing threat of climate change on poorer nations, and the international rights of refugees and migrants.

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Qatari special operations personnel carry out a training exercise with US forces, part of an ongoing partnership. Photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride.

The government remains agitated over energy policy, which we did a deep dive on here. Tony Abbot has spent a lot of time on conservative media in the last six months, mostly undermining Turnbull’s leadership. Abbot said it was a disaster for Australia to keep exploring the path of renewable energy. Turnbull replied that the government is committed to renewables in part because of policies that Abbot himself set up. This week the gas industry has drawn further criticism for selling off its excess product to International markets, rather than feeding it back into Australian homes. Meanwhile, a study from Australian National University has confirmed that Australia could move to 100% renewable energy within twenty years with the use of more hydro-power. The study identified more than 22, 000 possible sites where stations could be built.

Queensland is taking the focus of our national leaders – both Bill Shorten and Malcom Turnbull paid visits this week. A state election is expected to be called soon, and up to eleven seats are considered to be in play. Malcom Turnbull promised new coal-fired power projects in Queensland if the LNP won the next state election. Labor remains more cautious about the future of coal.

Meanwhile Bundaberg and Hervey Bay will be the next site for trialling ‘cashless welfare cards’, where welfare recipients are restricted to spend their cash on ‘essential items’. The program is designed to curtail alcohol, drug and gambling mis-use. The program will target young people under 35.

The Gold Coast council faced some pretty severe raised eyebrows this week, after a 4 Corners report revealed politicians such as Deputy Mayor Donna Gates received donations from developers and then voted in favour of their real estate projects. They would declare a conflict of interest but not remove themselves from relevant votes. Gates allegedly did this over thirty times.

From microwaves to megamasers
A new image from the Hubble Telescope captures two galaxies, blasting out radiation from the constellation Virgo. Image by NASA.

We did a deep dive into the Myanmar refugee crisis earlier this week. Some of the refugees are currently being held on Manus Island, after attempting to enter Australia. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment on their future, although reports from inside the centre suggest that refugees are being pressured to return to Myanmar. It is common practice to offer cash to refugees to return home in an effort to clear the Manus Island Detention Centre, which last year was ordered to close by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court for breaching human rights.

One Nation Senator Malcom Roberts faced the High Court this week over his citizenship. We covered the citizenship clusterf*ck here. Roberts could possibly hold dual citizenship with the UK, rendering him ineligible to sit in Parliament. He insists he renounced his citizenship – but it was revealed this week he did this by sending an e-mail to an address that didn’t exist. So things are not looking great for the climate-denying conspiracy theorist.

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Senator Malcom Roberts. Photograph by Mick Tsikas.

Dr Evelyn Scott, indigenous and islander leader and social activist, passed away at the age of 81. She was the granddaughter of a man brought to Queensland from Vanuatu as a slave. She was a key part of movement around Mabo, the indigenous apology and the movement to have the indigenous population recognised in official census data.

This week was Jewish New Year. It’s celebrated over two days, traditionally by the sounding of a ram’s horn (a shofar), and by the Hebrew biblical prescription of ‘raising a noise’. L’Shana Tova!

 

 

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