Saturday 30 April 2011

OMG! Even Google went crazy

Even Google in Australia went ape
over the marriage of William to Kate


* GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT for consideration.

The strange logic residing between Tony Abbott's ears

Consumer Price Index figure for the March 2011 quarter have been released this week and they show a rise of 3.3% through the year to the March quarter 2011, compared with a rise of 2.7% through the year to the December quarter 2010. A change of 0.6% compared to last year.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics; The most significant price rises this quarter were for automotive fuel (+8.8%), vegetables (+16.0%), deposit and loan facilities (+4.6%), fruit (+14.5%) and pharmaceuticals (+12.5%).

This is Tony Abbott on Wednesday 27 April 2011 courtesy of his own website:

The latest CPI figures show that families are under considerable pressure. I think that it just makes it all the more urgent that the Government reign back its own spending because families under pressure obviously don’t need the kind of interest rate pressure which the Government’s spending spree is contributing to. The other point that ought to be made is that, why make a bad situation worse with a carbon tax and a mining tax? This is a government which is adding to the cost of living pressure on families, particularly with its carbon tax…….
I think that if you look behind the headline statistic you see that one of the big impacts has been fuel, one of the other big impacts has been power. Now, fuel and power haven’t been impacted by the floods and the cyclones. Fuel and power prices will be impacted by the Government’s carbon tax and that’s why I think it’s so important that the people understand that this carbon tax is toxic, this carbon tax will make cost of living pressures worse and what we want from government is sensible decisions, not decisions that make a bad situation worse

Er, run that by me again? Forget that floods and cyclones have resulted in expensive fruit and vegetables across the board or that pharmaceuticals have risen yet again. It is rising interest rates, fuel and power costs that have really pushed up the latest CPI figures according to Tony’s calculations. And those last two categories? Well, domestic economic reality that has seen electricity costs rise inexorably for years or those international market forces driving the price of a barrel of oil are not part of the Abbott equation - these current rises have no structural cause he can see and any future rise will be all the fault of a carbon price mechanism that hasn’t even been introduced to the Australian Parliament as a bill yet.

One of the most offensive aspects of the Leader of the Opposition’s political character is the fact that he obviously thinks the average voter is so stupid that any old lie told often enough will get him into The Lodge by 2013.

One of the reasons why mature Australian native trees in your garden and no dogs in the yard lead to unique moments

Plant a koala-friendly tree today

Advance Australia the Plastic

I was having a yarn with a local shopkeeper the other day when he remarked that most of his over-the-counter sales involved plastic.
I was rather surprised, being addicted to the feel of a roll of readies myself, but it was an observation borne out by the Australian Crime Commission’s
latest report
this year:

“Card transactions have continued to increase substantially over the past decade.
For example, during that period credit card transactions have increased from 42.8 million to 118.8 million per month.
Australians spend A$17.8 billion per month on credit cards and A$11.3 billion per month on EFTPOS transactions, and they withdraw A$12.4 billion per month from ATMs……
More than 657 000 cases of card fraud on Australian issued credit and debit cards were reported in Australia during 2009.
The value of credit card fraud was estimated at 57.15 cents per $1000 transacted in 2009. The value of debit card fraud during that year was estimated at 9.43 cents per $1000 transacted.”

Friday 29 April 2011

A great idea for all Australian schools

An idea that's being promoted in the home of great ideas, the United States of America - of course! - is absolutely brilliant. And, with a bit of lateral thinking it can to be slightly modified and readily applied right here in Australia. In the US the idea is being promoted in military circles, but here in Australia our schools seem the obvious place to apply the idea.

So, what's the bright idea?

Groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.

Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths. But just as a Protestant chaplain would not preside over a Catholic service, a humanist might not lead a religious ceremony, though he might help organize it.

An atheist group at Fort Bragg called Military Atheists and Secular Humanists, or MASH, has asked the Army to appoint an atheist lay leader at the base. A new MASH chapter at Fort Campbell, Ky., is planning to do the same as are atheists at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

Read the full report about this this in The New York Times here .

A final word on Trump's 'birther' claims

Long form of Obama birth certificate
released by the White House 27th April 2011

That faded playboy Donald Trump became the butt of more than a few jokes this month as he megaphoned those ridiculous old claims concerning U.S. President Barack Obama's birth certificate, which had been released to the media in short form during the 2008 presidential election and which was verified at the time by

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – A threat to the fledgling presidential campaign of Donald Trump emerged today, as a group of activists charged that Mr. Trump is not eligible to hold the nation’s highest office because his hair does not originate from the U.S.

The group, who call themselves “Balders,” claim that the hair-like substance that crowns Mr. Trump’s head is from a foreign country, which would mean that the candidate is less than one hundred percent American.

“Time and time again, Donald Trump has refused to produce a certificate of authenticity for his hair,” said Leeann Selwyn, a leading Balder. “This is tantamount to a comb-over of the truth.”

But if in fact Mr. Trump’s distinctive mane turns out to be of foreign origin, such a revelation need not be fatal to his presidential hopes, says Professor Davis Logsdon, who has studied the history of presidential hair at the University of Minnesota.

“Remember, several of our greatest early presidents, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, had hair that originated elsewhere,” Mr. Logsdon says. “The only thing that could kill Trump politically is if his hair turns out to be from France.”

At a GOP event in Iowa, Mr. Trump made no reference to the Balders controversy, and instead sounded an upbeat theme: “If I am given the chance to do the same magic I did for NBC, America will be the number four country in the world.”

In a piece of good news for Mr. Trump, a new poll showed a majority of likely voters agreeing with the statement, “Donald Trump being sworn in as President would be a great last scene in a
Planet of the Apes remake.”

Not content with making himself a laughing stock over Barack Obama's place of birth, the trolling Trump then went after the U.S. President's academic history.

NEW YORK (AP) — Real estate mogul Donald Trump suggested in an interview Monday that President Barack Obama had been a poor student who did not deserve to be admitted to the Ivy League universities he attended. Trump, who is mulling a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, offered no proof for his claim but said he would continue to press the matter as he has the legitimacy of the president's birth certificate."I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."

After being shot down in flames on the birther question Trump tried to run the line that he forced the President to release his birth certificate, but in reality he joins those on the Birther Scorecard who fell to earth in flames and a somewhat embarrassed Jerome Corsi whose book has just been pwned by a president.

I look forward to the next Borowitz installment!

Of course those rightwing American nutters aren't making everyone laugh, as correspondence between the White House and Dept. of Health in Hawaii shows:

As does this MNSBC opinion piece accusing Trump of spewing racial hatred:
And that's the last word.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.

With parts of the NSW North Coast exceeding average April rainfall before the month was out and the ground starting to sour in low spots, it's certainly been a soggy Autumn for many and it doesn’t look any better for May through to the end of July.

Bureau of Meteorology mapping

“The chances of receiving above median rainfall during the May to July period are between 60 and 75% over north eastern New South Wales and the southern half of Queensland, with the strongest odds on the Queensland/New South Wales border region (see map). Such odds mean that for every ten years with similar ocean patterns to those currently observed, about six to eight May to July periods would be expected to be wetter than average over these areas, while about two to four would be drier.”

Thursday 28 April 2011

Can anyone solve this WWI mystery?

Excerpt from Item No.11613276
NAA Australian Military records

Click on image to enlarge

On 22 February 1917 a group of soldiers, allegedly under arrest for rioting, were led back into A.I.F. No. 4 Depot, Wareham, possibly in Dorset, England, when the military escort party was attacked by 1,500 troops within the depot grounds.

Even allowing for a degree of exaggeration, Australian troops pelting a military escort with bricks and bottles in the wake of a recent riot, presumably in an effort to free the rioters, should not have gone unnoticed.

Does anyone know the background of this "melee"?

Australian Emergency Call Centres in 2011

This is the ideal.......

The Triple Zero (000) Emergency Call Service is an operator-assisted service that connects you to the relevant emergency service organisation (police, fire or ambulance). Telstra is currently responsible for answering calls to the emergency service numbers Triple Zero (000) and 112, and transferring them, with relevant associated information, to the requested emergency service organisation.
You should only call Triple Zero (000) when a situation is threatening to life or property, or time-critical. If a situation is not urgent but does need the attention of an emergency service organisation, you should obtain the number of your local police, fire or ambulance service from the phone book or by calling directory assistance.
If, at any time and for whatever reason, it is not technically possible for Telstra to transfer a Caller No Response Call to the IVR, it must instead forward it directly to the Police as if it were a genuine request for emergency police assistance. [Australian Communications and Media Authority, 4 June 2002 & 5 April 2011]

This is the reality for many.......

The Queensland flood inquiry has heard a triple-0 operator chastised a mother and her son, shortly before they were swept to their deaths.Two emergency calls made by Donna and Jordan Rice were played to the inquiry as their family wept quietly in the courtroom. [ABC Lateline, 19 April 2011]

Police Association vice-president Scott Weber said police were providing a "bare minimum" coverage of response to triple-0 calls. [The Telegraph 17 March 2010]

This is an emergency, an emergency," he could be heard shouting down the phone line. "I'm lost, I haven't had water for a long period of time. I'm about to faint."
In all, six calls David made to emergency services that day went dead due to what could have been his increasingly fragile health as well as poor reception.
In his final harrowing call, played on the first day of an inquest into his death, David begs the operator, "Can you send a helicopter?" before he is interrupted by her and placed on hold
[The Sydney Morning Herald 15 April 2009]

At 12.56am, early Saturday morning, I rang triple 000 to call an ambulance for a recently discharged surgical patient who was rapidly going into shock with severe internal bleeding.
The phone rang … and continued to ring. It took nearly three minutes get to speak to an ambulance call centre operator.....Then the nightmare began.
[Crikey 24 May 2009]

In the dark of February 5, the 27-year-old ran to the telephone connection - it had been deliberately turned off. She reconnected it, dialled the emergency number and it diverted to Cairns police, a thousand kilometres away. She revealed how she had just been raped and that the alleged perpetrator was still outside her building with several of his drunken mates. He'd also stolen a bottle of vodka and she feared he would be back. The police officer said he would immediately ring the community police officer on the island, but reported back to the victim that the local representative of the law had responded it was raining and he was not prepared to walk around to the crime scene in the rain, even though he was told the alleged perpetrator was still on the premises. [The Australian 10 March 2008]

In January 2001, Peter Taber and Ian Styman bound and gagged Joy Alchin, when they broke into her home near Nowra.
They took her money and left.
Styman called Triple-O and asked for police to be sent to the house, but the call was not responded to and Mrs Alchin died nine days later.
[ABC News 26 April 2007]

One of two sisters stabbed to death in their Melbourne home early last Saturday called tripl-0 for help as she was dying. But Telstra says the emergency call lasted five seconds before it was terminated, amid reports the woman's throat had been cut, making it impossible for her to speak. Telstra's triple-O service received a call from a mobile phone belonging to one of the sisters about 1:44am on Saturday, more then 19 hours before the bodies were of Colleen Irwin, 23, and Laura Irwin, 21, were found in their Altona North home. Telstra spokesman Andrew Maiden said an operator answered the call but there was no voice or background noise and the call was terminated, at the caller's end, after five seconds. [Geelong Advertiser 4 February 2006]

The Ombudsman is inquiring into complaints that police failed to respond to desperate triple-O calls from the children of a man who was being assaulted.[ABC Stateline 11 March 2005]

Says it all really

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Minchin's Storm

Oi, Julia! These bees are bad news. So pull yer finga out!

In December 2010 the U.S. Government banned the import of queen bees and bee packages from Australia because it said that there was a chance of bringing bee diseases (particularly from the Asian Bee) into America.
With a display of blinding stupidity in January 2011 the Gillard Government agreed with the Asian Honeybee National Management Group that it was too hard a task to eradicate this pest bee and it would no longer try - even though these flying cane toads were still confined to North Queensland and older established bee hives were no longer being found only newer ones.
The U.S. ban is still in place and the bees have had a summer season to move into native bee territory virtually unchallenged, but now the Government is supposedly having a bit of a rethink on the subject of pest bee eradication after a Senate committee failed to support the AHNMG’s craven retreat.
Bees and honey are reliable multi-million dollar export earners for Oz or were until the former Howard Government began to mismanage biosecurity.
So it’s not time for PR spin. It’s time for eradication action.
So Jools – remember that you're Australia's number one ranga and put the toe of your prime ministerial boot up the backsides of those AHNMG wimps and make them bluddy move quickly.

Save the nation’s morning honey fix!

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Australian Christian Lobby sharing a little bit of God's love

Jim Wallace (tweeting since 3rd February 2010) sharing the love....

Then blamimg Twitter for his own bad judgement....

The Bob Barker has a slight mishap

Digital image of the Bob Barker coming across the bar

After returning intact from its anti-whaling duties in the Antarctic the Sea Shepherd Organisation’s ship Bob Barker ran into a little trouble on 20 April:

The 1200-tonne anti-whaling ship the Bob Barker took a tilt for the worse on Wednesday when an attempt to slip the boat ashore at the Harwood Slipway went awry.

Things went wrong for the vessel when one of the main support arms of the slipway cradle broke under the pressure of the vessel. The broken arm jammed the wheels of the cradle, leaving the Bob Barter stranded half-way up the slip, on a 20 degree list.

At this stage there is no indication that any damage has been done to the Bob Barker, and work is being done this morning to remove the broken arm from the cradle to free-up the trolley assembly. It is expected the boat will be refloated in the Clarence River later today.

(The Daily Examiner, 21 April 2011)

Miles Franklin Award 2011 shortlist

It's only two months away from the Miles Franklin Award announcement and the 2011shortlist promises a good read over the last remaining days of the Easter holiday break for those fortunate to have time off work and a copy of one of these books in their hands, if the judges' remarks are any indication.
Congratulations to the authors.

When Colts Ran is an epic tale, and one never quite knows what to expect of it. Only the thrill of the venture is predictable. So it is apt that McDonald should open with a quote from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: ‘Ready. And I. And I. And I. Were shall we go? Where indeed’.
The novel follows Kingsley Colts, as he cycles through a life of initial rebellion, adventure, misadventure, aspiration and disillusion.

That Deadman Dance, a powerful and innovative fiction that shifts our sense of what an historical novel can achieve. Its language is shaped by the encounter of Noongar and Australian English, producing new writing and speech.
Its central character occupies both indigenous and settler worlds, and yet is contained by neither. Its narration of the early contact of British colonisers, American whalers and the indigenous Noongar people on the south coast of Western Australia in the early nineteenth century is both historical and magical.

As the Spanish Flu epidemic is sweeping Australia, Sergeant Quinn Walker returns home from the Great War to face the ghosts of his past. Ten years before he had fled his far-flung Australian country town, accused of an unspeakable crime. Unable to show himself, he hides in the bush and secretly visits his dying mother.

Monday 25 April 2011

ANZAC Day 2011: putting a face to the name

“Oakborough”, Rylstone, New South Wales
Corporal 5th Reinforcements 34th Battalion
Australian Imperial Forces
Killed in action sometime between 3rd and 5th April 1918
At Villers-Bretonneux, France
Resting forever in an unknown grave
Aged 23 years and 2 months

Lest We Forget


On 27 April 2015 it was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald that Athol Goodwin Kirkland’s grave had been identified in Crucifix Corner Cemetery outside of Villers-Bretonneux and a headstone with his name, rank, battalion and the inscription “I once was lost but now am found” erected and unveiled in the same month.

The Figg Family descendants of May "Maisie" Webb nee Kirkland rejoice in the finding of a beloved brother of May Webb, an uncle to her children, grand-uncle to her grandchildren and, great-uncle and great-great-uncle to the younger generations alive today and one who has always been treasured in family memory.

Past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour revisited

The Australian Government Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal is holding an Inquiry Into Unresolved Recognition For Past Acts Of Naval And Military Gallantry And Valour.
The Tribunal has been directed to inquire into and report on the appropriate recognition for specific acts of gallantry or valour performed by the following naval and military personnel and make recommendations on the eligibility of the naval and military members, as listed, to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the Victoria Cross for Australia or other forms of appropriate recognition :

Gunner Albert Neil (Neale) Cleary - Army Aged 22, a prisoner of war who sought to escape after the infamous Sandakan death march in 1945. He was recaptured by Japanese guards and brutally beaten over a period of days before dying.

Midshipman Robert Ian Davies - Navy Aged 18, Australian-born sailor serving aboard the British battleship HMS Repulse. Attacked by Japanese aircraft off the coast of Malaya on December 10, 1941, he was last seen firing at the attackers as his gun position submerged.

Leading Cook Francis Bassett Emms - Navy Aged 32, a cook aboard HMAS Kara Kara, a boom gate vessel stationed in Darwin harbour at the time of the Japanese air attack on February 15, 1942. Despite severe wounds, he continued to fire a machine gun at attacking aircraft. He died en route to a hospital ship. His actions were considered comparable to British sailor Jack Mantle, awarded the VC for defending his ship from German air attack in 1940.

Lieutenant David John Hamer - Navy Gunnery officer aboard HMAS Australia during operations off the Philippines in 1945 when the ship came under repeated Japanese air attack. Over nine days, he calmly directed anti-aircraft defences. One attacking suicide aircraft passed within five metres of his head.

Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick - Army Aged 22, British-born soldier who achieved lasting fame on Gallipoli. Day and night, braving enemy fire he and his donkey carried wounded to the aid station. He was shot dead on May 19, 1915.

Lieutenant Commander Robert William Rankin - Navy Aged 36, commanded the sloop HMAS Yarra escorting a convoy of merchant ships back to Australia ahead of advancing Japanese forces. Spotting three Japanese heavy cruisers on March 4, 1942, he turned to attack in the hope of allowing the convoy to escape. Yarra's situation was hopeless and Rankin was killed shortly after ordering surviving crewmen to abandon ship.

Able Seaman Dalmorton Joseph Owendale Rudd - Navy One of 11 Australian sailors who participated in the attack on Zeebrugge, Belgium, on April 22-23, 1918. Essentially a commando raid, this was designed to seal off a canal allowing German submarines access to the sea.

Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean - Navy Aged 18, a gun-loader aboard the Corvette HMAS Armidale which was attacked by Japanese aircraft off northern Australia on December 1, 1942. Although wounded, he shot down one Japanese bomber and was last seen still firing as Armidale disappeared under water.

Leading Aircrewman Noel Ervin Shipp - Navy Aged 24, a sailor attached to the Australian navy helicopter flight in Vietnam, then operating with a US helicopter unit. On May 31, 1969, he was a door gunner aboard a US helicopter gunship which came under intense enemy fire, with its pilot hit. Shipp was observed to continue firing on the enemy position right to the moment of impact which killed all aboard.

Lieutenant Commander Francis Edward SmithNavy Aged 33, killed while serving as a gunnery officer aboard HMAS Yarra while directing a one-sided battle with superior Japanese warships. Born in Lismore on the NSW North Coast.

Lieutenant Commander Henry Hugh Gordon Stoker - Royal Navy Commanded the Australian submarine AE2 when it successfully penetrated the Dardanelles at the same time as Australian troops went ashore at Gallipoli. AE2 sank in the Sea Marmara and all aboard were taken prisoner.

Leading Seaman Ronald Taylor - Navy Aged 23, a sailor aboard HMAS Yarra who remained alone at his gun, firing continually until killed shortly before the ship sank.

Captain Hector Macdonald Laws Waller - Navy Aged 41, commander of the cruiser HMAS Perth which encountered a superior Japanese force in the Sunda Strait on February 29, 1942. Perth fought until all ammunition was gone and the ship was struck repeatedly by torpedoes. Captain Waller went down with his ship.

A second inquiry into prisoners of war killed while escaping or executed after recapture saw Ballina soldier Private William Forges Schuberth posthumously awarded a Commendation for Gallantry.

*Details of war service found at Towoomba News

Sunday 24 April 2011

Today's Fitz Files

Some good news for NSW Police after Yamba debacle

On 20 April 2011 The Daily Examiner ran with Yamba riot police inquiry launched which confirmed that the NSW Police Commissioner had instigated an investigation into how the police brief was prepared for use by the public prosecution team.

So it was perhaps fortunate that the day before the NSW Police media unit had released the latest Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) figures indicating major categories of crime are at their lowest rate for 20 years.

Comparing 10 main crime categories from 1990 to 2010, BOCSAR has found the murder rate has halved while robbery with a firearm has fallen 66 per cent.

In other trends,

· Motor vehicle theft is down 70 per cent
· Break and enters (non-dwelling) is down 62 per cent
· Break and enters (dwelling) is down 43 per cent
· Robbery with a weapon (not firearm) is down 23 per cent
· Robbery without a weapon is down by five per cent…..

a 14 per cent reduction in assaults in New South Wales in the past two years…..

a 27 per cent reduction in ‘glassings’ in licensed premises during the same period.....

in the 24 months to December 2010, all major categories of crime in New South Wales are either stable or falling.

They include:

· Robbery with a weapon not a firearm: down 11 per cent
· Robbery without a weapon: down 6.9 per cent
· Break and enter (non-dwelling): down 11.4 per cent
· Steal from person: down 10.6 per cent
· Malicious damage to property: down 10.1 per cent
· Motor vehicle theft: down 9.3 per cent
· Steal from motor vehicle: down 4.8 per cent…..

The BOCSAR website is now interactive and you can compile your own statistical sets here for the area in which you live.

For everyone who loves butterflies....

Tern Hill, near Market Drayton UK, 9th. to 16th. Aug. '09

Unknown location

Artis, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Natural History Museum, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Mozzie, mozzie, mozzie! Oi, oi, oi!

Roll Back MalariaWorld Malaria Day 2009Tomorrow is World Malaria Day.
Mozzies are more than a nuisance at an evening barbeque in the Oz summer or an annoying pest when camping with the kids on a long weekend. Mosquito bites can lead to Ross River, Barmah Forest and Dengue Fevers.
Bites can also lead to Malaria - one of the causes of chronic delibiltating disease and death in tropical and subtropical zones around the world.
Although malaria is now rare in this country, vigilance is required to prevent its spread. So make sure you put don't leave stagnant water lying around in your garden, don't allow the lawn to get rank, keep those screen doors closed and cover-up or slap on repellant when you go outdoors.
Remember: "North Coast Public Health Unit has warned of an expected seasonal increase in the risk of contracting mosquito-borne disease in the coming weeks and also the Easter holiday period."

Saturday 23 April 2011

Banded Morwong begins the hard fight against a decline towards extinction

Distribution - Banded morwong inhabit exposed rocky headlands and coastal reefs, from Seal Rocks in NSW, throughout Victorian and Tasmanian waters to Robe in South Australia. They are also found in New Zealand, where they are known as red moki.
Size - They are the largest of the morwongs, reaching a maximum length of approximately 70 centimetres and 15kg in weight.
Characteristics - The reddish-silver body displays approximately 8 thick bands, which vary in colour from reddish-brown to almost black in juveniles. Banded morwong feed on reef-dwelling shellfish and crustaceans, however, they are caught by spearfishers more often than by line fishers. They are a highly regarded tablefish.
Confusing species - Banded morwong are similar in shape and colour to the red-lipped morwong. They lack the characteristic brown spots of the re-lipped morwong and the distribution of these species does not overlap.

It was inevitable that evidence of the impact of climate change on marine life would move away from corals and hard-shelled creatures and focus on fish.

As an edible fish the Banded Morwong forms part of Australia’s native food stocks.

On 17 April 2011 Nature Climate Change magazine published Tolerance limit for fish growth exceeded by warming waters by A. B. Neuheimer, R. E. Thresher, J. M. Lyle & J. M. Semmens which demonstrates that this fish is beginning to be adversely affected by increased seawater temperatures:

Our data demonstrate that increasing water temperatures have pushed a species past the point where warming is beneficial to growth, and suggest mechanisms for range contraction as a result of this increase. The distribution of any species is a function of local environmental conditions and the likelihood of spawning and subsequent recruitment of juveniles. For populations living at the warm-edge of their distribution, temperatures that surpass TP result in higher metabolic costs and less availability of energy for growth and reproduction. Declining growth rates are also likely to reduce fecundity and egg quality, both of which vary directly with female size in fish (see, for example, ref. 25), and increase the risk of predation and starvation. Additionally, the loss of large fish at high temperatures is expected, as thermal sensitivity (via oxygen supply restriction) increases with body size. All of these effects imply a reduction in the population’s recruitment success24 and productivity.

Photograph from Reef Watch Victoria

Nice job if you can get it

Being an author as well as the most powerful political leader in the world works for Barack Obama, whose combined 2010 tax return with his wife shows a gross income from all sources of US $1.98 million with a $1.34 million taxable component and a refund claim for over $12,000.
Michelle adds her mite by availing herself of the
Henry G. Freeman Jr. Pin Money Fund to the tune of $9,966. Presumably because hubby has a heart attack over the price of some of those glitzy gowns.

Friday 22 April 2011

The War On Science - an update

The Australian Press Council published thirty-eight adjudication notices on a variety of issues in 2010 and is off to a good start in 2011 with five listed so far this year. However, complaints about inaccurate or misleading reporting on the subject of climate change appear to be thin on the ground.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority received hundreds of complaints in the 2009-10 financial year - none of which appear to have involved radio presenters speaking about climate change.

Last Tuesday Simon Sheikh for the GetUp! team sent out an email which stated in part that this organisation had; Put the shock jocks on notice with formal complaints about their misinformation.

Hopefully he will succeed and hopefully he will also consider objecting to some of the more outrageous claims made in the print medium. Particularly those claims published by The Australian newspaper, often referred to on Tim Lambert’s Deltoid blog as The Australian’s War On Science.

Scientists don't solely rely on computer modelling when it comes to climate change

Investigations into Anthropomorphic Global Warming are not confined to computer modelling conducted in the safety of laboratories or offices - scientific teams often experience uncomfortable extremes in their search for reliable data.
A fact which is sometimes lost in the noise created by climate change denialists.

The terrain for the scientific work conducted by ICESCAPE scientists on July 4, 2010, was Arctic sea ice and melt ponds in the Chukchi Sea. The five-week field mission was dedicated to sampling the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the ocean and sea ice. Impacts of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment, or ICESCPE Mission, is a multi-year NASA shipborne project. The bulk of the research will take place in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in summer of 2010 and fall of 2011.

Image Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen

So who is homeless in Oz? Will we ever find out?

As part of preparations for the August 2011 Census of Population and Housing, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is revisiting how it estimates the number of homeless people across the nation. It was fascinating to find that here in Oz we actually have a minimum community standard as to what constitutes a home of your own - a small rental flat with a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and an element of security of tenure.
Don’t have that or something very like and you don’t have a permanent home it seems.
Regardless of this definition, apparently our statisticians are running through a bit of a longstanding maze when it comes to calculating homelessness.
Undercounting and over counting are just as likely across different groups and it was no surprise to find that rural and regional areas were more of an accuracy challenge than cities and suburbs.
In 2006 there were 173,000 people in homeless services accommodation on census night and several thousand sleeping rough, but nobody really knows exactly how many don’t have a roof over their heads. Probably because rough sleepers often need to hide where they kip outdoors for the night to keep safe and indoor couch surfers don’t always like to admit how precarious is their situation.
Anyways ABS is trying to do something about the head count problem and is holding
consultation nights at these venues in April and May.
I wish them luck but I’m not holding my breath when it comes to a head count of the homeless in the Northern Rivers - so many places to hide if you don't want to be noticed.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Wild About Wooli Art Show 22-23 April 2011

The Art Show kicks off at the Wooli Hotel Motel with the Opening Night Cocktail Party at 7pm on Friday 22nd April, and continues during Saturday 23rd April.

A craft market in conjunction with the exhibition will be held on April 23 from 7am-12pm.

Proceeds from the ArtShow 2011 will support the efforts of the Coastal Communities Protection Alliance-Wooli (CCPA)


Fortescue Metals may be intent on winning the war but it's not covering itself in glory

The tactics used by Fortescue Metals in its patronising, heavy-handed and divisive negotiations with the Yindjibardi people is mirrored by details found in this application to the National Native Title Tribunal on the 15 April 2011 concerning negotiations with the Njamal people and in this 2009 press release

Looks like Andrew Twiggy Forrest is a serial offender. My way or the highway could very well be his personal motto.

* The Sydney Morning Herald photograph of Forrest when he topped the BRW Executive Rich list 2011

The Independent highlights a problem with MSM software

It was a ridiculous story to start with, Kate Middleton jelly bean expected to fetch £500, and some joker thought that royal wedding mania had gone far enough because this URL (censored here to avoid the Filtering Dragon) was inserted on The Independent newspaper’s website:*ck-it-lets-just-print-it-2269573.html

Despite its explanation and apology the Indie (like many other online media organisations) can’t get rid of that usurper URL. Every so often the website’s software redirects from the legitimate URL back to the fake. Classic! So I tried to spoof a couple myself and to my surprise it worked - albeit briefly for The Oz URL:

Houston, the MSM has a problem. J

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Weighing up the poll-driven media

Sometimes it is hard to decide whether media reporting driven by opinion polls represents solid fact or ephemeral fancy………

On 18 April 2011 The Age published an article based on the results of Nielsen survey from 14-16 April 2011 based on 1,400 respondents:

a carbon price has become steadily more unpopular

On the same day The New Zealand Herald told the world that:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's fragile minority Government continues to sink in the polls as Australians increasingly turn against her proposed carbon tax.

While ABC Radio AM online echoed these reports with:

Criticism of Julia Gillard's carbon tax has broadened, with the latest Sydney Morning Herald/Age AC Nielsen poll showing that opposition to a price on carbon has jumped three points to 59 per cent…..

Based on the same Nielsen poll used by the mainstream media, Crikey opined:

opposition has mounted

Then the BusinessGreen news site on 18 April decided to muddy waters by mentioning a second survey taken in March 2011:

The Australian government's flagship plans for a new carbon tax and emissions trading scheme are facing growing opposition, according to two new polls suggesting that public and business support for the proposals is wavering. A survey of 1,400 people commissioned by Fairfax newspapers and published earlier today found that 59 per cent of respondents opposed the government's proposals, up three points on the last survey in March. Another Essential Media poll of just over 1,000 people carried out late last month reported that 51 per cent of respondents opposed the plan while only 34 per cent supported it.

However on the very same day all of the above articles were published, Essential Research released results of an online survey from 13-17 April 2011 based on 1,002 respondents showing another way of gauging support:

With compensation for low and middle income earners and small businesses, support for the Government’s carbon pricing scheme increased to 51% and opposition dropped to 33%. This is a slight fall in support since this question was last asked in mid-March.

With compensation, support among Labor voters increases 15% to 78% and for Liberal/National voters increases 13% to 34%.

Support among men increased from 39% to 47% and for women increases from 38% to 55%.

It will be interesting to see how the media responds to this particular Essential Research survey, given that it runs somewhat counter to the main narrative when compensation for any price rise is factored into the equation. At the time of writing only Crikey had bothered to mention this second survey.

So what does one believe with regard to the Australian electorate’s sentiment concerning placing a price on carbon pollution?

I suspect that, faced with conflicting information, we all believe that the majority agrees with whatever is our own personal position.

Just by putting itself out there @Centrelink invites unhappy comment

Can't wait to see how many unhappy Centrelink 'clients' home in on this Twitter account once the word spreads that the Oz government agency everyone loves to hate is offering its head for the washing.

Snapshot 19th April 2011

As skennedybooks said: Who the hell would want @Centrelink tweets showing up in their stream? about 2 hours ago via Echofon

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Is Australia's food security failsafe measure under threat?

In January 2011 Australia had donated USD $13,047,051 to the Global Crop Diversity Trust’s Svalbard seed vault in Norway, with another USD $8.1 million.

Australia is currently the third largest national government financial donor to the Trust after Norway, Britain, and the United States. Chairperson of the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (Australia), Professor John Lovett, sits on its board.

Among the individual foundation/corporation donations to the Trust so far, only the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/UN Foundation has given more than Australia or Norway, Britain and America.

In February this year Victorian farmer Dr. Tony Gregson travelled to Norway with 301 samples of field peas and 42 rare chickpeas, presumably for inclusion in the Australian Gene Banks held in the vault.

The Svalbard seed vault has been in operation for three years and has been plagued with budgetary and operational problems which seriously threaten ongoing seed viability.

Climate change impacts are predicted to hit Australia hard and those successive natural disasters we have experienced since late 2010 have shown us the possible scale of these impacts.

So what is the Australian Government doing to ensure that all these well-meaning geneticists, biologists, farmers and other seed collectors (attempting to insure that the country’s food security is assured) are not working hard in vain? Are the Global Crop Biodiversity Trust’s activities being monitored closely at ministerial level?

Photograph from Google Images

Sol Trujillo joins the pudding club

Pic from Bloomberg interview on 11th January 2011

Sol is obviously living off the fat of the land since leaving Telstra and is beginning to look as padded as the popular cartoon image of the merchant banker he's become:
Garcia Trujillo Holdings LLC....After being CEO of three $45 billion market cap companies on three different continents, Sol Trujillo who serves on the board of directors of Target (NYSE:TGT) and WPP Group (NASDAQ: WPP) says that companies have a “domestic emerging market” with just as great a potential as other international markets. Trujillo joined forces with Charles P. Garcia, a member of the Board of Directors of Winn-Dixie Stores (NASDAQ:WINN) as well as Nina Vaca, Gary Trujillo who sits on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Well Fargo Bank Desert Region, Alejandro Silva, who sits on the Board of Directors of Walgreen’s (NYSE: WAG), and other Hispanic business leaders in this new venture.

Monday 18 April 2011

The only 'welfare' narrative mainstream media will entertain

Welfare cheats rack up $9 million debt screams The Australian online ‘Top Story’ headline last Sunday above an article concerning a Centrelink review of 500 cash transfer recipients and, that cry was echoed throughout the mainstream media. With at least one publication, The Daily Telegraph, attempting to link this debt to money laundering on behalf of organised crime in its Cheats and criminals hit jackpot article.

It is obvious that this mini-frenzy over ‘high-flying’ gamblers was triggered by a recent media release, as the wording across diverse media outlets is almost identical in many instances. None of the online articles mentioned the very real possibility that some of these Centrelink review decisions might go before the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of Australia.

One has to wonder if this media release came from a Gillard Government minister ploughing the ground ahead of the May 2011 budget’s implementation of more ‘welfare reform’.

In comparison the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s March 2011 report Centrelink: The Right Of Review – Having Choices, Making Choices, highlighting problems with Centrelink review processes, created barely a ripple. As did those instances where both Centrelink and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions erred by pursuing Centrelink clients who had not committed fraud and, other instances where Centrelink sought to have its own previous decisions overturned in order to unsuccessfully pursue the mirage of financial gain inferred by a client’s gambling losses.

The vast majority of those receiving pensions, allowances, benefits, family payments or disaster relief are neither cheats, criminals or out-of-control gamblers and I suspect that many who live on the NSW North Coast are becoming rather tired of the media's almost unrelenting focus on a negative view of welfare recipients.

Centrelink: Right to review–having choices, making choices—0411 (195.46KB) PDF download

Sunday 17 April 2011

Climate change 'scepticism' as a cultural issue

Excerpts from The culture and discourse of climate scepticism by Andrew J. Hoffman* (2011) which looks at the American experience:

The scientific community has concluded that human activity is a major cause of GHG emissions and that these emissions influence global warming (this author subscribes to this view, most notably stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] and the National Academies of Sciences). However, there is clearly more than science at play in shaping the public and political debate on climate change. It is striking that one of the strongest predictors of an American’s beliefs regarding climate change is his or her political party affiliation. According to a 2009 Pew survey, 75 percent of Democrats believe there is solid evidence of global warming compared to 35 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Independents (Pew Research Center, 2009b). This variance can only be explained by the presence of a deeper ideological and cultural influence on both the definition of the problem and consideration of solutions…………………..

I recently began a study onthe climate skeptic movement and climate skepticism more broadly to better understand the cultural and ideological issues at play by systematically analyzing the frames used to mobilize the counter-movement. As part of this study, several cultural themes have emerged as dominant among the skeptic movement (Hulme, 2009).

For skeptics, climate change is inextricably tied to a belief that climate science and climate policy is a covert way for liberal environmentalists and the government to interfere in the market and diminish citizens’ personal freedom. In the words of a conference speaker at a 2010 climate skeptic conference, skeptics believe ‘the issue isn’t the issue’ and ‘the environmental agenda seeks to use the state to create scarcity as a means to exert their will, and the state’s authority, over your lives’. Many skeptic conference presenters invoked the idea that ‘climate change is just another attempt to diminish our freedom’ and climate policies will decrease personal liberty. One went so far as to suggest that a binding international agreement on climate change would end with individuals being required to carry ‘carbon ration cards’ on their person.

A second prominent theme among the skeptic movement is a strong faith in the free market. Members of the skeptic movement consistently argued that climate legislation will hinder economic progress and that renewable energy is not feasible without large government subsidies. Another skeptic suggested that ‘doing nothing about climate change is doing something [because] it enables people to keep their money and invest it in the future’.

Finally, one of the most intriguing themes that has emerged from the study is a strong distrust of the scientific peer review process. Skeptics argue that public funding of science in the post-Second World War era through organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF) corrupted the scientific process. In their view, ‘peer review’ turned into ‘pal review’, and establishment scientist editors only published work by their friends and those whose scientific research findings agreed with their own. This frame was particularly salient at the skeptic conference in the wake of the 4 Strategic Organization 9(1) 2009 ‘Climategate’ controversy, in which thousands of emails were leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Skeptics argue that these emails support their claims that dissenting scientific papers have been suppressed, although multiple investigations have cleared the scientists………..

Some may argue that the climate skeptic movement is small and thus irrelevant to the debate on what to do about climate change, but as social scientists, we cannot endorse such flippant dismissal. If, as we suspect, skeptics invoke climate frames that resemble abortion politics, this has serious policy implications. As long as members of the skeptic movement are included in the policy debate and sway the opinions of some lawmakers, their discourse is critically relevant.

* Andrew J. Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan; a position that holds joint appointments at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. Within this role, Andy also serves as associate director of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. His research uses a sociological perspective to understand the cultural and institutional aspects of environmental issues for organizations. He has published eight books and over 90 articles and book chapters on these issues.