The Burke Report

Liz Burke rounds out the week in news and current affairs...

Seriously, Mother Nature. Epic flooding, destructive storms, even locusts have made a recent appearance. All poor Queensland needs now is a river of blood and a guy with a stick and it would be a lot like another story I know.

The former category five Cyclone Yasi ripped through northern Queensland on Wednesday night. Save for one young fella who powered up a generator inside his house without adequate ventilation, the cyclone spared lives as it bypassed high-population areas and set on a path between Richmond and Mount Isa.

The cyclone did collect more than a few roofs and trees and boats, and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power, diminished safe water supplies, and left many Queensland homes, farms, and other establishments, particularly those in coastal centres including Mission Beach, Tully and Cardwell, in devastation. 

Thankfully for many, the cyclone was slightly less forceful than predicted. Yasi has been downgraded to a tropical low, though danger remains in the form of flash flooding, and, of course, the huge cleanup and recovery ahead. Yasi’s destruction has also added to Queensland’s incredible listing of homeless people.

Though far north Queenslanders are well-accustomed to preparing for and dealing with such disaster – the area is known to be cyclone-prone – longstanding residents are saying they’ve never seen anything like this.

The increasingly popular Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, continues to perform with her no bullshit approach, satisfying press and viewers and keeping cool in the face of disaster. Prime Minister Gillard is touring cyclone-hit areas this morning, currently in Townsville inspecting the trail of distructino left by Yasi.

Although money’s been mostly left out of discussion, as the focus has been on safety, now that the storm has passed (literally, certainly not figuratively), the government is starting to tentatively broach the issue, speaking of expanding the current flood relief fund in place to cover the state’s now wider needs, and exploring the need for a more general disaster fund.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has been taking up collections asking his supporters to donate to his campaign against the compulsory flood recovery levy, which he believes tax-payers should not have to fund. The request has been met mainly with confusion, and the flood recovery legislation is sure to stir up a whole lot more controversy when it is introduced to Parliament, resuming next week.

The opposition leader wasn’t the only often-seen-in-a-Speedo Australian making news this week. Olympian Ian Thorpe announced his return to the pool, and how he’s been sneakily training for his elite swimming comeback ahead of next year’s London Olympics.

Internationally, but still close to home, another Australian soldier, Corporal Richard Edward has been killed by homemade explosive device, and another soldier was seriously wounded. The 22-year-old, described as always putting smiles on other people’s faces and who was engaged to be married, is Australia’s 22nd casualty in Afghanistan, and the Defence Minister has advised Australians to brace for further casualties, as this does not weaken Australia’s mission in resolve of the decade-long conflict.

Continuing this not-so-good-news week, violent conflict between Egyptian president Hosni Murabak’s supporters and anti-government protestors have continued in Cairo with the country’s army stepping in, in an effort to stop bloodshed.

While concerns are held for civilians, security forces are now targeting foreign media. Though the reporting of fears held for journalist, who are being harassed, beaten, and holed up in hotels has been met in poor taste by some, saying our thoughts should be with the Egyptian people, it’s clear the journos are performing an essential service, and their safety is important. ABC America has compiled a troublingly extensive a list of media folk who have been threatened, attacked, or detained while in Egypt, some are also reported missing.

Civil conflict continued overnight on the streets of Yemen, where more than 20,000 have assembled in the face of tear gas, live ammunition, and police forces demanding a change in government in a demonstration that is part of a “day of rage” across the nation, rallying against the regime of president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Demonstrators demanding a change in government waved banners with messages “the corrupt and the tyrants must go” and “the time for change has come”, shoulder “No to corruption, no to dictatorship." The day of rage gathered the largest crowd since a wave of protests, inspired by those that toppled Tunisia’s ruler and now threaten Egypt’s president.

Also, the internet is over. Well, not really.

No, it hasn’t all been downloaded, or bought up, or put behind a paywall. Apparently the stock of IP addresses, numbers that identify destination for digital traffic has run dry. To be honest, it seems few are entirely sure what this means, but I don’t think it matters. A spokesperson for the non-profit organisation in charge of IP distribution has assured this does not mean modern life will be devastated by an IPocalypse.

Liz @ Girl With a Satchel


Tammi said...

Western Australia is now suffering from severe bushfires, allegedly made worse by Yasi's wind.