Monday, 31 October 2016

Scientists warn Government against recommendations to wind back marine reserves

Updated 58 minutes ago
A group of scientists is urging the Government not to wind back the scale of the nation's 40 marine reserves, contrary to the advice of an advisory panel on the matter.

Key points:

  • An advisory panel is recommending the removal of a large area from protected marine zones
  • The Ocean Science Council says the cuts could be devastating to marine life
  • Professor David Booth says industry voices are over-represented on the advisory panel

The panel is recommending the removal of an area almost twice the size of Tasmania from the protected zones where mining and fishing are banned.
But the scientists, known as the Ocean Science Council, said cuts of that size could be devastating to marine life.
Professor David Booth, a member of the council and a professor of marine ecology, said he and his colleagues had concerns over the advice given to the Government.
"We welcome the review, there are a lot of good points to it, but what we're really concerned with is these bioregional panels — which recommended the zoning of the parks in areas around Australia — fall well short of what was recommended," he said.
"In particular, the marine national park 'no-take' zones, which are the gold standard for looking after marine biodiversity, have been eroded."
Professor Booth said the Coral Sea north-east of Australia was of particular concern.
"This supposedly large area that was going to be set aside as marine 'no-take' area was really going to be the jewel in the crown of our conservation efforts and bring us into line with the other big countries around the world who have done similar things," he said.
"What ended up is they've just taken 25 per cent of that 'no-take' area away for marginal economic benefit to the tuna fisheries."

Recommendations could 'devastate' marine life

According to Professor Booth, marine life would face dire consequences if the Government were to accept the advisory panel's recommendations.
"The loss of those areas means extractive industries can come in," he said.
"In some cases, that's recreational fishing, in others it's commercial, and there's other possibilities as well.
"These practices, although fairly well managed in Australia, can still devastate marine life."
But the chair of the advisory panel, Adjunct Professor Colin Buxton from the University of Tasmania, rejected Professor Booth's claims.
"I defy anybody to say that what we've done is to try and pander to people who are exploiting the ocean in an irresponsible way and we've left the oceans unprotected," he said.
"That is absolute rubbish."
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

He said the changes to no-take zones in the Coral Sea may seem like a lot, but the proportion designated as a marine park was still above international recommendations.
"Despite the fact that it sounds like we took a lot away, we've left far more than the international gold standard," he said.
"[Fishing] is very carefully regulated, it is demonstrably sustainable and it can only take place in 60 per cent of the Coral Sea."

Panel shows 'heavy bias' towards industry: Booth

Professor Booth has accused the advisory panel of prioritising the voices of the fishing industry while sidelining conservation.
"I just did a count, and of the members [of the advisory panel] 11 were fishing stakeholders, there were two scientists spread around Australia, one or two Indigenous and I think one local council member," he said.
"So you can see there was, I think, a heavy bias towards fishing interests."
The advisory panel has made assurances its recommendations would not trigger a loss of endangered marine life, cutbacks to marine hotspots or lead to expanded mining, and would in fact improve marine biodiversity.
But Professor Booth and the Ocean Science Council disagreed.
"No, we [the Ocean Science Council] and I do not accept those points," he said.
"In the face of the other big nations for marine conservation in the world — the US, New Zealand, Britain and even Palau — have expanded their larger marine areas.

"We're shrinking them away, which is pretty poor form for Australia."

Dakota Access pipeline: Native Americans allege cruel treatment

Extract from The Guardian

  • Activists released after arrest treated ‘like we’re not human beings’
  • Standoff with law enforcement continues with peaceful Saturday rally
Tires burn as soldiers and law enforcement officers stand in formation to force Dakota Access pipeline protesters off private land. Photograph: Mike McCleary/AP

Sam Levin in Cannon Ball, North Dakota
Monday 31 October 2016 05.03 AEDT

Native Americans protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) on Saturday accused law enforcement officers of cruel and inhumane treatment in jail, but said mass arrests and violent confrontations with police would not deter them from fighting construction of the oil project.

Activists were reunited at the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota after their release from local jails. Some told the Guardian police aggressively detained them, crowded them into vans, wrote numbers on their arms to track them, conducted invasive body searches and showed a lack of respect for native culture.
“They treat us like we’re not human beings,” said Russell Eagle Bear, a member of the Rosebud Sioux, who was one of 141 people arrested on Thursday when protesters tried to block pipeline construction. “We’re simply numbers to them.”
In tears, Caro Gonzales, a member of the Chemehuevi tribe who was one of the first arrested, said police temporarily detained her and three other women in a large cage that she described as a “dog kennel”.
“We were all crying in pain, saying we needed medical attention,” said Gonzales, 26, who also goes by the name Guarding Red Tarantula Woman.
Caro Gonzales
Caro Gonzales: ‘We were all crying in pain.’ Photograph: Sam Levin

The release from jail of the protesters came after a week of increasingly tense conflict between Native American activists and a growing police force seeking to thwart protests against the $3.8bn pipeline.
The project, which would transport crude oil from the Bakken oil field to a refinery near Chicago, first sparked demonstrations in April, when members of the Standing Rock Lakota and other Native American nations rode on horseback and established the Sacred Stone “spiritual camp”.
Thousands of activists have since traveled to Cannon Ball, North Dakota, including members of tribes from across the US, launching a huge and continuing protest that has become a rallying cry for indigenous rights, climate change activism and environmental conservation.
Leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux say the pipeline, a project of the Texas-based corporation Energy Transfer Partners, threatens the water supply and cultural heritage and would destroy sacred lands. Over the last week, activists have repeatedly attempted to occupy the property where pipeline construction is beginning, leading to daily standoffs that have ended in arrests and violence.
Protesters inspect charred vehicles and signs in front of a law enforcement barricade.
Protesters inspect charred vehicles and signs in front of a law enforcement barricade. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

The Morton county sheriff’s office and supporting police agencies from across North Dakota and beyond have now made more than 400 arrests, accusing Native American activists, journalists and film-makers of rioting, trespassing, arson, resisting arrest and assaulting officers.
A sheriff spokesman, Rob Keller, told the Guardian in an email Sunday that “temporary holding cells made of chain link fences” are only used during mass arrests, and said that medical and nurse staff address inmates’ needs.
The drama intensified when protesters created barricades of fire and set alight vehicles including those meant for pipeline construction.
Protesters and civil rights groups monitoring the demonstration have argued that police have become overly militarized and dangerously aggressive. Law enforcement officials on Friday admitted to using pepper spray, “bean-bag and sponge rounds”, Tasers and devices that transmit loud bangs and high-pitch tones, in response to what Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier described as “escalated violent and illegal actions”.
“We got herded around like cattle,” said Wakia Chikala, another protester who was arrested on Thursday.
Several members of a youth council that has helped lead the movement at Sacred Stone told the Guardian they were on the front lines of Thursday’s standoff and that police attacked them when they tried to remain peaceful.
“The cops threw me to the ground,” said Wambli Red Bird, 19, of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. “One of them had a knee on my neck and they were shouting ‘Stop resisting.’ I was telling them, ‘I’m going peacefully.’”
Lauren Howland: ‘Every time we got maced, we got right back up.’ Photograph: Sam Levin

“The cop grabbed me and twisted my hand,” added Lauren Howland, a 21-year-old youth council representative and member of the San Carlos Apache tribe who is recovering from a broken wrist sustained in an earlier confrontation with police. “But every time we got maced, we got right back up.”
Authorities faced widespread criticism from free speech advocates after police issued an arrest warrant against the broadcast journalist and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman – charges a judge later rejected. The actor Shailene Woodley was also arrested at the protest, which has also attracted visits from the actor Mark Ruffalo and the civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
The ground effort to stop the oil project comes a month after a federal judge denied a request from tribal leadership to block construction permits.
Activists held a peaceful rally on Saturday, marching to a bridge where there is now a roadblock and barricade separating the camp from the pipeline project – where police remain stationed with large tanks. Tribal leaders sang as law enforcement helicopters flew above the crowd.
Gonzales said she spent 36 hours behind bars and was now facing multiple charges, including criminal trespassing and conspiracy with fire. Police also impounded her motor home, she said, with all of her belongings.
“I don’t have any clothes or anything,” she said, sitting in a hotel room in a local casino, where she and others were recovering from what they described as traumatic jail experiences.
Gonzales, who lives in Olympia, in Washington state, and has been at the camp for three months, said she was arrested while praying. “They slammed us on to the ground,” she said.
Ticky Black Crow Smith: ‘I’m not giving up.’ Photograph: Sam Levin

She said she was particularly upset by the way police repeatedly searched her and other Native American women.
“He searched me everywhere, touched everywhere,” she said, adding that the experience has been emotionally draining. “I was just crying. I couldn’t physically stop myself.”
Ticky Black Crow Smith, a 29-year-old member of the Kwatsan tribe, said he was arrested twice in the last week, but would not stop protesting.

“I’m not giving up,” he said. “DAPL is not giving up. Why should I?”

Peter Garrett says ALP can reverse vote decline by prioritising environment

Extract from The Guardian 

Former environment minister says party needs to make commitment more explicit in order to win over progressive voters, who have drifted to the Greens

Peter Garret
Peter Garrett: ‘I believe Labor now has a unique opportunity to cement its position as the true party of protecting our natural environment.’ Photograph: Jeremy Park/AAP
The former environment minister Peter Garrett has declared the Australian Labor party could arrest the decline in its primary vote by “unequivocally” putting the environment at the centre of its policy and political offering.
Garrett issued the challenge to his former parliamentary colleagues over the weekend during a lecture he delivered to the Ararat branch of the ALP.
The lecture is a prelude to a fundraising push Garrett will launch on Monday with the former Western Australia premier and federal minister Carmen Lawrence, and the former trade minister Craig Emerson, to strengthen Labor’s grassroots environmental campaign operation, the Labor Environment Action Network (Lean).
“In the midst of the current craziness of the alt right both here and abroad, I believe Labor now has a unique opportunity to cement its position as the true party of protecting our natural environment as shadow environment minister Mark Butler has put it,” Garrett said in the weekend lecture.
He said Labor had always been the party of environmental action, but the party needs to make its commitment to the environment more explicit in order to win over progressive voters, who have drifted away from Labor to the Greens.
“Today, with Labor again just a heartbeat away from government, I believe federal Labor’s increasingly low primary vote could be arrested if it unequivocally put environment at the centre of its policy and political focus,” Garrett told branch members in Victoria.
Lean is a relatively new grassroots lobby group within Labor. In the lead-up to the last ALP national conference in 2015 the group launched a successful rank and file campaign to persuade Bill Shorten to sign up to a 50% renewable energy target.
Lean works cross-factionally and it followed a strategy of pushing climate resolutions through many local ALP branches before bringing them on for debate on the national conference floor.
The activist group got the numbers to lock the federal leadership in behind an ambitious renewable energy policy by first activating the grassroots membership and then working with the key leftwing union, the CFMEU, which represents workers in the energy sector.
The activist group wants to bolt itself into the institutional architecture of the ALP through the fundraising effort, which is designed to give the group the resources to lobby the party and activate the Labor membership in time for the Turnbull government’s planned review of the Direct Action policy next year.
In an email that will go out to party members on Monday Garrett argues the ALP membership needs to hold the party’s feet to the fire when it comes to environmental action.
“Progress doesn’t just happen. We have to fight for it: in the public, and in the party,” he says.
“It starts from the grassroots. It takes long hours of policy research. Of travelling the country going branch to branch. Of deep collaboration and negotiation with the union movement.”

Government's scare tactic about the welfare system treats us like idiots

Extract from The Guardian

Example of parents being better off on welfare than working is absurd. Never has being a single mother of four been considered a ticket to easy street
‘It is patently absurd to hold up such a family as an example of anything, let alone the welfare system.’ Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Contact author
Sunday 30 October 2016 08.00 AEDT

With Halloween on Monday night, it seems the government has tried to get into the spirit by once again attempting to scare the public into thinking the welfare system is bloated and wasteful. But as has been the case so many times on this issue, the only horror involved is that we have a government that continues to treat the public as idiots by using figures that collapse under the slightest scrutiny.
On Friday a story on the front page of the Australian relayed the views of the social services minister, ­Christian Porter, that the welfare system was flawed because “thousands of parents claiming government benefits are financially better off not getting a job”.
To support the need for welfare cuts to prevent this supposedly unjust situation, an example was provided of a person who despite not working would receive $52,523 from various government payments – an amount more than the $39,841 take-home pay of the median worker or even the $49,831 brought home by the median full-time worker.
As Kurtz would say, “The horror! The horror!”
Well no, actually.
Who is this shocking example that should have us gnashing our teeth over the bloated, bludger-inducing welfare system?
Why, a single parent with four children aged four, seven, 10 and 13 who neither receives any employment income, nor any child support from (presumably) the father, and who is paying $400 a week in rent.
It was a curiously specific example. It is rather odd that this government, which has steadfastly refused to provide the traditional tables in the budget detailing the impact on families of differing sizes and incomes, is able to now come up with such a precise example of a family when it wants to suggest welfare spending needs to be cut.
But it is patently absurd to hold up such a family as an example of anything, let alone the welfare system.
In 2012-13, of the 6.7m family households in Australia, just 580,000 or 9% were single-parent households with dependent children. Ben Phillips, from the ANU’s centre for social research and methods, estimates that only 4% of single parents have four or more kids and only about 2.5% are in a situation where their income would be such that they would be eligible for all the income this hypothetical person is getting.
So we are talking small numbers. And the example is both oddly specific and oddly vague.
$400 a week for rent? Where and for what type of house? If the three eldest children are of different genders that would mean at least two bedrooms for them and one for the four-year-old, plus one for the parent. A four-bedroom house for just $400 rent a week? Good luck finding that.
And it is worth noting that the $400 a week rent already accounts for 40% of her income.
But the real reason we should laugh with scorn at the example is not just that it seems utterly divorced from reality and at best represents a minute number of Australian households, but because it is also absurdly misleading.
Now it’s true that $52,523 is more than the take-home pay of a median wage earner, but that is a very disingenuous comparison. It is not comparing like for like.
The comparison would make sense only if median wage earners taking home $39,841 were also single parents with four children. And were a single parent to be earning only that amount, she too would have access to welfare like the family tax benefit A, which for four similar aged kids would be about $23,400.
As it is, the comparison is as stupid as trying to work out who is the better batsman by comparing David Warner’s test batting average with Steve Smith’s average in T20 matches.
Comparing household incomes means taking into account the size of each household. This is obvious when you think about it. A family of four needs more income than that of a single adult to achieve the same living standards, because it costs more to feed, clothe and house a family of four than a single person.
To compare households of different sizes economists use an “equivalised” measure.
The latest household, income and labour dynamics in Australia (Hilda) survey, released in July, estimated that the median equivalised household disposable income in 2014 was $45,505.
Now as that is still less than what this hypothetical single parent is getting in welfare, it sounds like a clear case of her getting too much. But that $45,505 amount is for a single person household.
Economists estimate that to maintain the same standard of living, you need to earn 30% extra per dependent child. So a single person who takes home $1,000 a week has the same standard of living as a single parent with one child earning $1,300.
So for a single parent with four kids to be on the median household income, she doesn’t need to earn $45,505. She would need to earn $100,111 – or almost double what this hypothetical (and extremely rare) single parent is receiving.
Or to put it another way, when you account for the size of her household, this hypothetical single parent, who apparently has no need to go back to work because life is so good on welfare, is equivalent to a single person earning $23,874 – or $459 a week. Not exactly living the high life.
But that is no shock. Never in the history of the world has being a single mother with four kids been considered a ticket to easy street.
That the government needs to resort to such an absurd example highlights not that the system is wasteful and is deterring people from working, but rather that it is actually quite targeted and that the government is bereft of a good case to justify the cuts it plans to make.
So try again, minister, and maybe next time leave the attempts at horror to the kids going out trick or treating.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

What humans can learn from orangutans

Extract from ABC News
Having looked deep into the eyes of countless orangutans during his career, primatologist and former zookeeper Leif Cocks believes humans have a lot to learn from our fiercely intelligent, orange-haired cousins.
Updated about an hour ago

There is no doubt there is a hierarchy of animals. We egocentric humans put ourselves on the top and assign creatures such as cockroaches and rats towards the bottom.
But for primatologist, zoologist and former zookeeper Leif Cocks, there is an animal that deserves the status of personhood.
In his new book, Orangutans: My Cousins, My Friends, the vegan, non-leather wearing founder of The Orangutan Project argues that these critically endangered great apes of Sumatra and Borneo are far more intelligent than we give them credit for and so must be given special recognition and priority.
His arguments are scientifically and emotionally compelling and his stories are hilarious and deeply moving; this man has looked deep into the eyes of many orangutans and seen a special wisdom he believes could help us become better people.

'Friends for life'

Cocks discovered an affinity with our long, orange-haired cousins when he began working with them at Perth Zoo in 1988.
He was immediately charmed by their shy, elusive, intelligent nature and soon became close to his charges.
"A friendship with [orangutans] is much more pure than a human friendship because they don't need or want anything from you," Cocks says.
"Plus, they have long memories so they are friends for life."

The most famous orangutan in popular culture is probably King Louie — the power-hungry, boastful, greedy and aggressive creature of Disney's The Jungle Book.
But orangutans are actually the introverts of the great apes; they live high in the canopy in semi-solitary yet connected communities.
Cocks says they are patient, loving, independent and capable of complex thought.
They are also the Tibetans of the apes — the most peaceful of all on our family tree.
Humans have killed more than a million orangutans, yet not one has killed a human, despite being seven times physically stronger. A mother will defend her baby to her own death, rather than the death of a man with a machete.
Orangutans are the most intelligent of all animals, Cocks says, because they have a developed theory of mind — "the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others".
They have a sense of ego and identity, distinct personalities, and recognise themselves in the mirror.

An affinity for Nicole Kidman photos

In his book, he tells the stories of cheeky, temper-filled teenager Temara, traumatised babies and a lovelorn orangutan who loved flicking through women's magazines and pulling out photos of his favourite redhead, Nicole Kidman, to decorate his enclosure.
Orangutans are actually not our nearest relatives. DNA coding proves we share 99 per cent of our DNA with chimps, slightly less with bonobos and 98 per cent with gorillas. Orangutans come next with 3 per cent DNA difference.

Yet there is no doubt their intelligence is exemplary. Cocks cites a zookeeper adage: "Give a screwdriver to a chimpanzee and it will throw it at another chimpanzee. Give a screwdriver to a gorilla and it will use it to scratch itself, (they are like the sports scholarship winners of the great apes, beautiful, but not bright). But give a screwdriver to an orangutan and it will use it to escape!"
And escape they do. Cocks details several ingenious orangutan plans that fooled zookeepers.
Sweet, diabetic male Hsing Hsing escaped his enclosure at Perth Zoo and was only caught because he stopped to free his friends.
Fellow inmates and mother and son team Puluh and Puan may have gotten further in their great escape had they not visited their neighbours for sex.

It seems we humans can learn a lot from the smartest of the great apes

Their child rearing style, for instance, has led Cocks to believe that humans' 'tough love' strategy is actually damaging.
"They are the most deeply-loving, supportive, nurturing and devoted mothers," he says, adding that their spatial skills and ability to read body language are far more advanced than ours, and their peaceful nature is worthy of emulation.
When I ask Cocks whether he is anthropomorphising the animals he so clearly loves, he insists all his arguments are backed up by science.

But as he grew to see his charges as friends he became uncomfortable with their incarceration, which led to conflict with zoo authorities.
In 2011, after 27 years of zookeeping, Cocks quit his job at Perth Zoo to set up The Orangutan Project, in the hope that if we recognise orangutans as people, we will grant them freedom, compassion and protection.
The project aims to protect the species against extinction and has so far cared for more than 200 orangutans, protected 3,500 animals and 332,000 hectares of rainforest.
But the next few years are critical if key ecosystems are to survive. The project also aims to foster change in the way land is used, and work with the Indonesian Government to provide on the ground protection.

Yet with 80 per cent of their habitat destroyed by logging, palm oil plantations and forest fires, it has a hell of a job ahead of it, and not a lot of time.
I have been to Sumatra and seen the swathes of cleared land, the thick smoke of forest fires that burn for months and the endless line of trucks laden with palm nuts on their way to be crushed for oil.
It's a depressing and overwhelming sight that leaves one feeling guilt and shame. The sight of an orangutan swinging high above you in the wild is a rare pleasure that brings indescribable joy.
But then Cocks believes we need to save the orangutan for selfish as well as altruistic reasons.
"We pay a huge price for our technological advancement," he says.
"The orangutan reflects the most noble part of being human and saving them helps us connect back to the natural world."


Media Release.

Mark Butler M.P.

Shadow Minister for 

Climate Change and Energy

Date:  27 October 2016
Labor and the renewable energy industry have called on the Turnbull Government to end its attack on renewables and develop policies that support jobs and new investment. 
Today the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler, met with representatives of the renewable energy industry to discuss the industry’s future and the importance of renewable energy to Australia’s modern economy and future energy security.
Representatives from some of the world’s most innovative energy and technology companies attended the talks, including Tesla Energy, Siemens, AGL, Acciona, and GE.
Discussion included the job and investment-destroying policy uncertainty created by the Abbott-Turnbull Government and the need for national leadership to secure the immense economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy.
Labor will not stop fighting for a clean, secure and affordable energy system in Australia; one that is increasingly powered by renewable energy.
That is why Labor proposed the goal of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 at the election; a goal that has been estimated to create 28,000 new jobs.
In contrast, since the Liberals came to power we have seen a sustained attack on renewable energy investment, leading to almost 3,000 jobs being lost in the sector while almost 3 million jobs have been created in the sector worldwide.
Only yesterday the International Energy Agency clearly stated the global march toward renewable energy is picking up steam – with 15 percent growth last year alone.
Other countries realise the economic, security and environmental benefits of renewable energy while Australia id going backwards even though we have the best solar, wind and wave resources in the world - and have developed world-leading renewable energy technologies.
Industry representatives confirmed that investment in renewable energy drives job creation across a range of fields, rapid technological innovation has resulted in a significant reduction in the cost of renewable energy generation and the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy will increase over time with further technological advances in battery storage and improved efficiency of generation.
Australia’s future energy security depends on greater investment in renewable energy. While coal will continue to play a role in our economy, the status quo of an electricity system that is heavily reliant on coal-fired power stations is not sustainable due to the aging of existing coal generators and the imperative to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
What we lack is national leadership, with the Government refusing to commit to any policy to support new renewable investment beyond 2020.
Australia deserves an ambitious renewable energy target and a national government that will do its job and lead; not one that creates a policy vacuum and then chastises states for filling the vacuum it created.

The world is racing towards a prosperous and clean renewable energy future and because of the Turnbull Government’s lack of action, Australia is going backwards with its head in the sand. 


Media Release.

Mark Butler M.P.

Shadow Minister for 

Climate Change and Energy

Date:  27 October 2016
Today, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and CSIRO released their biennial State of the Climate report. The facts speak for themselves:
  • Australia's climate has warmed in both mean surface air temperature and surrounding sea surface temperature by around 1 °C since 1910.
  • There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.
  • May–July rainfall has reduced by around 19 per cent since 1970 in the southwest of Australia.
  • Sea levels have risen around Australia. The rise in mean sea level amplifies the effects of high tides and storm surges.
The extent to which the climate will change later in the century depends on the level of emissions now and into the future.
Emissions started to rise again last year, and the Government’s own projections from May confirmed that they will be three per cent higher than 2000 levels in 2020.
 If we are to meet our obligations under the Paris Agreements, and stop our country from suffering devastating climate change, we need a government that is willing to acknowledge the challenge and create good policy.
The Government’s policies will not constrain or reduce emissions to 2020, let alone 2030.
Both the Emissions Reduction Fund and Renewable Energy Target finish in 2020. What happens after that?
It’s the question that the international community and the people of Australia are asking the Turnbull Government.
The time for action is now. Our emissions are growing daily, each year is getting hotter, bushfires are more frequent, and oceans are rising.

We need strong policy but the Turnbull Government continues to play the waiting game with Australia’s future.

Splitting a nation: Memories from the days before India and Pakistan's bitter rivalry fade away

Posted about 2 hours ago

There are only a handful of people still alive who remember a time before India and Pakistan became bitter rivals. James Bennett found one of them while doing a story about cricket bats in northern Punjab.
Relations between India and Pakistan are never warm, and recently they have taken a turn for the worse, with escalating violence in contested Kashmir.
The area has been fought over since 1947, when Partition split what was then the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan.

I had gone to meet 85-year-old Ramesh Kohli in his factory in Jalandhar Punjab to speak to him about his struggle to import Australian willow.
As we spoke workers shaped cricket bats by hand in the background.
"I belong to the Kohli family," Mr Kohli tells me.
"My father and uncle started the company, called Beat All Sports, in the year 1935, in Sialkot, which is now west Pakistan."
In 1948, following Partition, he and his family moved to India and restarted their business.
"Since then we have been manufacturing cricket bats, hockey sticks, footballs, and exporting all these items all over the world," he says.
But what happened when the British left India in 1947 is one of history's grisliest passages.
Grossly abbreviated, political rivalries between the Hindu and Muslim leaders, with whom the British were negotiating with for independence, convinced them to split their empire.
India was assigned to Hindus and Sikhs, and the area carved out from it for the Muslims was East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (now just Pakistan).
And with that decision, the Kohlis found themselves part of the largest mass migration in human history.
"When the Partition took place that was 1947, so we left for Jammu, which was half an hour from Sialkot," he says.

Ten million people who had lived side-by-side scrambled in the giant shift, and like many others, the Kohlis abandoned their possessions in Sialkot.
"We left our house and our belongings and everything," he says.
"Everything we could carry was the clothes and the suitcases, maybe a little bit of cash, but most everything was left over there."
The haste was driven by fear, and amid panic and anger at such upheaval, violence gripped Punjab, fuelled by animosity and thirst for reprisal.
Stories abound of horrific violence and refugee-laden trains being ambushed by mobs.
Estimates vary wildly, but anywhere between several hundred thousand to 2 million people are thought to have been killed.
"I was 12 years, I had full memory what happened, and I've seen a lot of bloodshed during Sialkot to Amritsar, in the trains," Mr Kohli says.
"And then we saw what's happening in Amritsar, all the bloodshed, I had the memories of that."
But Mr Kohli's family was lucky and managed to survive the violence.
"After 21 days in a military camp, we were brought to Amritsar, then from Amritsar we went to Agra where we had the contacts," he says.
"And we stayed there for two years, but then we came back to Jalandhar because Jalandhar was the place where we had the labour."

Tensions continue between neighbours

In Jalandhar Mr Kohli's father and uncle rebuilt their business from scratch.
Since then it has supplied bats to India's most revered cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar.
Mr Kohli was working his way up through the firm when an opportunity arose for him to return to Pakistan after two decades away.
"I still remember where my house was," he says.

"The lady living over there was a very nice lady, she had also come from Jalandhar, she was also one of the sufferers of the Partition.
"She went the other way. And when I went to see [the house] she said 'why have you come?', I said 'I have just come to have a look at my house'.

"She was such a nice lady, she said, 'this is your house, you can come and stay over'.
"So there are good people as Hindus, there are good people as Muslims."
Cross-border respect is in short supply at the moment.
Rising military tensions over Kashmir have flowed into society, India and Pakistan have banned each other's films and actors — even cricket is not immune.
Indian cricket player Gautham Gambir has said that he "couldn't think" about playing Pakistan in such a climate.
That news saddened Mr Kohli.
"I keep telling everybody, there are very good people in that community also," he says.
"You have to be a good human being, whether you are a Hindu or a Muslim."
Mr Kohli is still sharp and spritely for his 85, but as the 70th anniversary of Partition looms, his generation of Punjabis are not getting any younger.
When they go, a human link, a thin strand still connecting people so similar, yet now so divided by politics and history, will sadly be severed.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Poverty in Australia: We've never been richer, so why hasn't the poverty rate budged?

Extract from ABC News

Updated 16 minutes ago
Australia has made no progress in the fight against poverty over a decade, in fact, the percentage of Australians living in poverty actually increased according to a recently released report.

Key points:

  • Poverty is "everywhere" and "getting worse," volunteer says
  • There are about 320,000 public housing dwellings in Australia
  • There are over 150,00 applicants on waiting lists for public housing

In 2003-04, 11.8 per cent of Australians lived in poverty, according to statistics cited by the Social Policy Research Centre. By 2014, that number had crept up to 12.6 per cent.
Despite a run of 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth — almost unmatched in the Western world — the poverty rate has not budged.
"It's everywhere really. And it's getting worse," says Maria Dowling, a volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society in Melbourne.
She and her husband John are part of the Home Visitation program, which provides food and assistance for low income households.
"Their need is just so great," Ms Dowling says.
"That gap is just huge out there."
Peter Ryan, who lives with his four children in public housing in Melbourne, is thankful for the "Vinnies" visits.
"It doesn't seem like a lot to a lot of people. But when you're on the pension, it actually all adds up," he says.
"You find in the next week, you haven't got money for food. And if you haven't got money for food, the kids are hungry, and they yell at dad."
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The 61-year-old stopped working years ago after suffering shoulder and hip injuries.
Most of his pension goes to pay his rent; the family has about $520 a fortnight for all expenses aside from utilities.
"Truthfully, it's bloody hard. I think it's actually got harder," he says.
There are about 320,000 public housing dwellings in Australia.
Many of the residents are feeling the effects of one of the most often identified causes of poverty: the reduction of social welfare payments, such as Newstart, the parenting payment, and the Disability Support Pension.

Eight-year wait to get into public housing for one family

Vanessa Carpani is what statisticians refer to as a "lone parent", caring for her two children Jade Gangi, 10, and Jene Gangi, 17.

Below the poverty line:

  • Vanessa Carpani receives $414 in welfare payments a week
  • Her subsidised public housing rent is $114 a week
  • That leaves her with $300 for income for food, utilities and all other expenses
  • According the OECD the poverty level for a lone parent with two children is $548.74 per week
  • She is $248.74 below the poverty line per week

Her only income is from partial payments from Newstart, and a parenting payment. She also lives in public housing.
"I couldn't afford private rental," she says.
"We waited eight years in transitional housing to get housed here."
Even with subsidised rent, and income from two social welfare payments, Ms Ryan's family has fallen far below the poverty line.
For a lone parent with two children, OECD guidelines set the poverty line at $548.74 per week after housing costs.
After paying her rent, Ms Ryan is left with only about $300 per week. That's $248 per week below the poverty line.
Still, Ms Ryan says without public housing, her family's situation would be much worse.
"There are less fortunate people out there that are living on the streets still," she says.

Living standards improving for low income families: IPA

The recent report on poverty from the Social Policy Research Centre is not without its critics.
Some, like the free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), believe contrary to the report's central conclusion, that living standards are improving for Australia's poorest citizens.
"We've got to focus on: 'Are people's lives better than they were 10 years ago, 20 years ago?" says Simon Breheny, director of policy for the IPA.
"Things like fridges, microwaves, cars, televisions, X-boxes, all of these things are available to people who are on even the lowest incomes in our community. That's a terrific thing."
Mr Breheny argues because the poverty rate is based on taking 50 per cent of the median income, as that income rises, so do the relative living standards of people living above and below the poverty line.
Zowie Mactavish lives just below the poverty line with her daughter Tiffany van Klaveren, aged 15.

She does not know where they would be if they were not in public housing.
"If we hadn't been offered this property, we were about to be out on street," she says.
Ms Mactavish has income from three sources: partial payments from the Family Tax Benefit and Newstart, and some part-time work. Still, after housing costs, her $465 weekly income is just below the poverty line — $514. 44 per week.
Public housing has been a vital backstop for her family. But governments across Australia have failed provide enough to meet demand.
There are more than 150,00 applicants on waiting lists for public housing across the country.
"Without public housing it'd just be crazy, chaos," Ms Mactavish says.
"I know so many people who are in public housing that if they weren't in public housing, they'd just be destitute … living in squats, wherever." 

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey HD | Episode 9 : The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth

General News Summary July 20, 1895.

BRISBANE, JULY 20, 1895.

General News Summary.


Italian fleet visits England.
Sir Henry Parkes' wife dies.
Brazil borrows £6,000,000 in London.
Big Orange demonstration in Sydney.
Running streams in N.S.W. frozen over.
Queensland honey up for sale in London.
Patrick Newman drowned at Bundaberg.
Victorian farmers threatening to emigrate.
Boiler explosion at Bulli causes two deaths.
New State school to be erected at Wynnum.
Frost in N.S.W. does much damage to crops.
Labrador Hotel, Southport, destroyed by fire.
Ross River Meat Works working night and day.
General election campaign in N.S.W. in full swing.
Two jockeys killed at the Moree Picnic Races.
Mrs. Costello burned to death at Araluen, N.S.W.
Sydney express train runs into a mob of Bullocks.
Turkey restores a portion of territory to Bulgaria.
An old woman of 63 stabbed by a madman in Melbourne.
Rabbits reported to be attacking Hammond Downs station.
W. Hayne run over by a train at Toorak, Vic, and killed.
Outbreak of redwater disease amongst cattle at Torren's Creek.
A little seven-year-old girl at Omaru , N.Z., is burned to death.
American wheat crop reported to be 14 per cent below last year.
Forty workmen killed at the building of a new bridge in Egypt.
Orient steamer Lusitania arrives at Adelaide with smallpox on board.
New rich discoveries of gold reefs reported from Bower Bird Creek.
John Currie falls from a height of 60ft.. in Melbourne, and is killed.
F. J. Murray, police inspector, files his schedule, liabilities £9646.
A ten-year-old half-caste girl killed by a blackfellow at Barcaldine.
French residents in Sydney celebrate the destruction of the bastille.
Great excitement in Canada over denominational subsidy to schools.
A lady named Brown fined £100 at Walgett, N.S.W., for sly grog selling.
Good prices for Australian wool still continues in the London market.
A Melbourne madman commits suicide by jumping into the river Yarra.
Christopher Moeller falls overboard in the Fitzroy River and is drowned.
A little girl at Milthorpe, N.S.W., dies from the effects of excessive skipping.
The late Premier of Bulgaria is attacked and fatally wounded by four assassins.
Chairman of a divisional board committed for trial on a charge of defamation.
Large consignment of alleged brandy seized in Melbourne as unfit for drinking.
South Australian Treasury paymaster arrested on a charge of embezzlement.
New Zealand Premier informs a deputation that he is against land nationalisation.
Two hundred and fifty pounds worth of gold specimens stolen from a Croydon claim.
James Johnston accidently shot in the back by his brother at Queenbeyan.
Railway accident in the Argentine Republic, fifteen persons killed and thirty injured.
A Sydney barque on a voyage to Glasgow puts into Wellington in a leaky condition.
Another conspiracy against the Czar of Russia reported as having been discovered.
Five children seriously burned at Rockhampton through playing with gunpowder.
German officer sentenced to four years in gaol for selling German fuses to French agents.
Disastrous railway collision near Quebec. Thirteen persons killed and forty-nine injured.
A clergyman meets with a terrible accident at Parramatta through trying to enter a moving train.
Michael Davitt issues an appeal to the friends of the Irish Home Rule cause in Australia.
Murdoch and Co. fined £1000 for smuggling jewellery, also £750 worth of their goods forfeited.
MICHAEL DAVITT elected unopposed to represent Kerry in the next Parliament of Great Britain.
Terrible cyclone in New Jersey. Forty-four persons seriously injured and over 100 houses wrecked.
All French servants at the British Embassy, Paris, dismissed on account of suspected espionage.
John Daley, Irish ex-M.P., seriously injured in Sydney through attempting to enter a moving train.
Public funeral in Melbourne to superintendent fire brigade who was killed whilst performing his duty.
Leonard Harper, Christchurch solicitor, remanded in London on a charge of fraud, involving £13,000.
Serious conflict in the island of Formosa between Japanese and Chinese. Two hundred of the latter killed.
Albert medal conferred on Hereward Hewison for rescuing his brother from the jaws of a shark at Newcastle.
John Daly, recently released from from prison as an Irish dynamiter, is returned M.P. For Limerick unopposed.
Conflict between peasantry and Turkish troops on the island of Crete, in which the soldiers were defeated.
Frank Tinyani, a Manilla man, committed for trial at Thursday Island on a charge of murdering a policeman.
Five hundred pounds subscribed in Melbourne for the Irish Parliamentary Party in response to Davitt's appeal.
Bulgarian Premier instructs magistrates to prevent public sympathy with the people of Macedonia under Turkish rule.
AIDOM, railway contractor, claims £200,800 from N.S.W. railway contractor. Arbitration referee awards him only £2681. 5s.
German fleet assembles at Tangier to enforce an indemnity from the Government of Morocco for the murder of a German subject.
Thomas and Augustus Stapleton committed for trial at Roma on a charge of stealing a mob of cattle belonging to Jimmy Tyson.
Italian Chamber of Deputies ignores the request of the Vatican to declare the anniversary of the Freedom of Rome a national Holiday. 
At large meetings of Canadian Orangemen resolution were carried to resist with their blood and lives the granting of separate schools to Roman Catholics.

Three Australian scientists you've never heard of who changed the world

Posted 9 minutes ago

The inventor of television, a pioneering radio astronomer, and the man who discovered lithium — their names are virtually unknown, and yet their works and discoveries changed the face of science forever.

Henry Sutton: Inventor of the television

"What did Henry Sutton do in Ballarat in 1885?"
I have asked this question all around Australia, and rarely get an answer.
One man who did know when I asked him on Channel 9 a few years ago was Barry Jones, Labor's former minister for science.
Dr Jones told the story of Sutton's work on telephones in the family store, and how he set up a system that sent primitive pictures of the Melbourne Cup to Ballarat in 1885.
Sutton was well known for his inventions in the 19th century and was even visited by Alexander Graham Bell.
Sutton spoke to Bell about his invention of the phone box on the wall, with its speaker poking out and an earpiece on a cord, and asked Bell whether he had thought of combining the two. Thus the handset was invented.
Sutton was experimenting with innumerable devices from an early age, even ones for automobiles.
So why is his name unknown? Did he influence John Logie Baird, the Scot famously linked to TV?
Sutton's grand-daughter Lorayne Branch, who is writing his biography, is investigating.
It is a story even more perplexing than that of Lawrence Hargrave, whose work on box kites inspired the Wright Brothers and the invention of planes — but at least Hargrave made it to our banknotes.

Ruby Payne-Scott: Radio astronomer

Ruby Payne-Scott was a pioneer of radio astronomy and of interferometry — using more than one observational position to locate something in space.
In the 1940s, working in Sydney, she tracked various bursts from the sun.
During World War II she was part of the Allied team developing radar.
This immensely able woman had married, secretly, while working for CSIRO.
At that time no wife could hold a senior position in the public service.
When, eventually, her baby bump made her situation obvious, she was effectively sacked and left astronomy in 1951.
When telling her tragic story at an Australian Academy of Science meeting in 2014, Professor Brian Schmidt, now the vice chancellor of ANU, burst into tears and was given an ovation.
How times have changed. But recognition of this brilliant woman's work has not.

Dr John Cade: Medical scientist

John Cade discovered what became the first really effective drug to treat a mental affliction: lithium, which is used as a cure for bipolar disorder.
Cade grew up in Melbourne, was a superb student and followed his father into medicine.
A spell in a Changi prisoner-of-war camp in Singapore during the war reinforced the young man's self-reliance and prudence.
His discovery of the effects of lithium was accidental — he used it in the preparation of some other ingredients to test guinea pigs and found that they became passive and almost seemed to lie about with smiles on their faces.
The recognition of lithium was delayed because of resistance to the substance in America, where it had been used instead of table salt with unfortunate results.
The first experiments on people, though successful at first, led to harmful side effects.
Only when Cade, with help from colleagues at the Florey Institute in Melbourne, was able to monitor his patients' blood levels of the element, was treatment smooth.
Cade's influence on civilising mental hospitals included being a pioneer of dietary standards.
Some institutions fed their charges so badly that Cade found there were even outbreaks of scurvy. Now, because of him, we have dieticians attached to the wards.
His legend may at last be spread by a terrific new book by Greg de Moore and Ann Westmore, called Finding Sanity: John Cade, lithium and the taming of bipolar disorder.