Category Archives: Zedlines

Tuesday Zedlines, 12th April

Queensland Bureau of Meteorology director Jim Davidson will testify in Brisbane today as part of the Flood Inquiry hearings.

In a written submission, Davidson has stated that forecasters had warned authorities of excessive rain over the wet season.

Yesterday the Inquiry heard engineers at Wivenhoe Dam based their operations on a prediction of no further rainfall, claiming forecasted rainfalls were volatile and unreliable.

Tasmanian Heritage Minister Brian Wightman has approved the construction of a bridge over the discovery site of forty-thousand year old Indigenous artefacts.

The bridge will be built over the Jordan river, north of Hobart. Strong local opposition to the project arose when over 3 million Aboriginal finds were discovered during planning.

A spokesman from the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources said he would meet with the community before construction starts. Protesters at the site have said they won’t move.

Libyan rebels have rejected a peace plan from the African Union, saying they will not agree to any proposition that leaves Moamar Gaddafi in power.

The African Union, led by South African President Jacob Zuma, have tried to broker peace to end a two-month civil war.

Mr. Gaddafi had already agreed to the plan, which would have seen immediate ceasefire, suspension of NATO air strikes and an effort on democratic reforms.

The Gillard government has ordered the removal of bans in the Australian Defence Force preventing women from applying from the most elite and dangerous of defence jobs.

Defence Minster Stephen Smith is at odds with his ministry after scandals of sexual abuse and suicide, and has ordered a series of reviews and inquiries.

The announcement has been backed by the head of the defence force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who says as long as women can meet the tough physical requirements they should be allowed to serve.

A violent mob has looted and set fire to buildings on a rampage through a Papua New Guinean town.

The mob was reacting to claims police bashed a young man in custody who later died.

Two policeman have been arrested and charged with murder. The protesters managed to torch police cars and burn the district Treasury to the ground.

Treasurer Wayne Swan has said Australia’s economic growth will be challenged by natural disasters and global economic instability, particularly in north Africa and Europe.

However, the Treasurer also expects emerging economies will underpin growth in the Australian resource markets.

Quoting a recent report from the International Monetary Fund, Mr Swan predicted a growth of three percent for 2011.

The Greens have criticised Campbell Newman for moving Ray Hopper to the back bench in his shadow ministry.

Mr Hopper was a vocal opponent of coal-seam gas mining. The Greens said this indicates the Liberal National Party plan to focus on a pro-mine stance in the next election.

Mr Newman said his new front bench had a strong commitment to rural and regional Queensland.

Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson may be elected to a seat in the New South Wales Upper House today.

Ms Hanson, who ran as an independent, is ahead by over six thousand cotes to her nearest competitor, Greens candidate Jeremy Buckingham.

Final votes will be counted by twelve o’clock today.

A suspected terrorist attack in Minsk, Belarus, has left 11 dead and at least a hundred more injured.

The explosion occurred at Mink’s busiest underground station in the middle of the evening peak hour.

President Alexander Lukashenko condemned the attack as an effort to undermine security in the region.

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Tuesday Zedlines, March 1st

 

The Wivenhoe dam release is expected to be extended another day following heavy rainfalls last week.

Wivenhoe’s drinking water levels were expected be at seventy-five per cent by today, however an extra forty thousand megalitres of dam flow have left levels around eighty-two per cent.

Dam officials have advised designated viewing areas have been closed for safety reasons, and that spectators should not attempt to view the dam release.

Brisbane doctor Rolf Homes has petitioned the Gillard government for one point five million dollars to fund cardiac services in rural areas.

Under the program, a mobile unit would travel to regional towns to provide assistance. Cardiac related illness is the largest contributor to middle aged Australian mortality.

The service is planned to begin next year.

Two Queensland oil workers have been evacuated from Libya, after they were stranded for ten days on an oil rig south of Benghazi.

Left by their contractors, Gary Nicholls and Terry Hinz were part of a team evacuated on Sunday by the British navy.

Hinz said as anti-Gaddafi rebel movements began taking over the area, it was the local Libyan people, not his employers, who helped his team escape.

A former Japanese delegate to the International Whaling Commission has criticised the Japanese whaling fleet for returning early following activist obstruction.

The para-legal activist group Sea Shephard have been blamed for reducing the fleet’s seasonal catch to a fifth of its usual total. Supporters say whaling fleets are abiding by the IWC code, while Sea Shephard is not.

However, anti-whaling groups have noted a current stockpile of six thousand tonnes of unwanted whale meat.

Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades has called for more support from the federal sector to support local road networks receiving significant traffic from freight services

The Gillard Government last week announced its draft National Freight Strategy, which would increase the number of roads available to trucks transporting goods across Australia.

However, Coffs Harbour Shire Association President Bruce Miller said focus should instead be put on increasing rail line transport. The draft strategy is currently open for public comment.

China may relax its strict one-child policy, after it was yesterday announced the country’s massive population has made a modest jump to 1.34 billion people.

The census was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, and showed China added almost 6.3 million people to its population last year.

Experts say the slowing growth rate is due to the generation-old one-child policy, combined with the country’s increasing wealth and urbanisation.

State Government is set to reintroduce cattle to the Victorian Alpine National Park, in a trial intended to lessen fuel for bush fires.

Greens MP Adam Bandt has labelled the act “environmental vandalism”, and said keeping the four hundred cattle in the national park puts many endangered species at risk.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has also condemned the move, and said an investigation is under way as to whether any federal laws have been breached.

Kenilworth residents are on alert after it was discovered an application has been lodged to explore the area for the metal manganese.

State Government last week advised the community that Adelaide-based company Monax Mining has applied to search for manganese, a metal used in stainless steel, over a 304sq km area.

The Sunshine Coast Environment Council said it was concerned by the proposal, and said environmental and social issues need to be further considered before the exploration went ahead.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences have announced predictions of 2.3 billion dollars in farming losses due to recent natural disasters.

The coal industry is also expected to face losses of two billion dollars due to lost production times.

The proposed flood levy is still in negotiations, with independent Senator Nick Xenophon refusing to approve the bill until Queensland agrees to acquire disaster insurance.

A former Japanese delegate to the International Whaling Commission has criticised the Japanese whaling fleet for returning early following activist obstruction.

The para-legal activist group Sea Shephard have been blamed for reducing the fleet’s seasonal catch to a fifth of its usual total. Supporters say whaling fleets are abiding by the IWC code, while Sea Shephard is not.

However, anti-whaling groups have noted a current stockpile of six thousand tonnes of unwanted whale meat.

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Tuesday Zedlines, Feb 22nd

Liberal backbencher Judi Moylan has criticised the Liberal National party’s immigration policy, following a move by the coalition to limit the number of asylum visas granted.

LNP immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said 96 per cent of Afghani boat immigrants were granted asylum, and that the limit would restore balance to those waiting in detention camps.

A spokesman for the Gillard government accused the LNP of wanting to politicise the debate surrounding immigration policy.

A spate of Aborginal suicides in the Kimberly region has led West Australian authorities to call for better management of services to remote Indigenous communities.

In the last month, seven Aboriginies, all under the age of thirty, have taken their own lives.

The region suffered a similar spate of suicides in 2006. A coronial inquest from this time recommended regional alcohol management and more prevention services.

Western Australian authorities have given the federal Immigration department the go-ahead to build a new detention facility in Northam, near Perth.

The planned site has been declared environmentally suitable, despite some concerns over a local endangered cockatoo species.

Over 700 Northam residents protested the detention centre plans when first announced in November.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Lawrence Springborg has given his support for a community group opposed to the development of a residential estate in Greenbank, Logan.

The Save Greenbank group are challenging the approval given by the Urban Land Development Authority, saying current legislation fails to allow residents to object to proposed developments.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow night at the Greenbank Community Centre for members of the public to voice their concerns.

Roughly fifty thousand homes lost power in last night’s storms.

Ipswich and Brisbane’s north were among the worst hit areas, however response crews were able to restore power to around eighty per cent of homes before midnight.

Two thousand houses are still without electricity, with the Sunshine Coast being the worst affected.

Violence in the Libyan capital of Tunisia continues this morning, as several high-ranking authorities publicly deride the regime of dictator Moamar Gaddafi.

A Libyan ambassador to the UN has declared that Gaddafi is guilty of genocide against the people, while the country’s justice minister has quit his post.

Libyan diplomats in China and India have resigned, and the embassy in London is today flying the flag of the protest movement. Two hundred and thirty five people have died in protests.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has demanded the Gillard government implement legislation requiring all states to purchase disaster insurance.

Senator Xenophon said he will not give his support for the controversial flood levy, a one-time tax designed to raise funds for flood relief, unless his requests are met.

However Queensland Finance Minister Rachel Nolan said there is no guarantee the state can be insured, and that the scale of recent disasters is unprecedented.

Papua New Guinea has appointed its first tribunal to investigate a serving Prime Minister.

PNG PM Sir Michael Somare will face three retired judges from Australia, New Zealand and England on charges of alleged misconduct in office.

Prime Minister Somare was first referred to public prosecution in 2006, but has fought the matter in PNG courts for the last five years.

A flood relief centre has been flooded, following last night’s downpour.

The centre, which was located on the lower levels of the RNA show grounds, has had roughly a third of its stock lost to water damage.

Volunteers have been asked for to help with clean up efforts.

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60,000 Protest Anti-Union Law In Madison, Wisconsin

Workers in the US state of Wisconsin have been protesting in the capital, Madison, for seven days now, with at least sixty thousand rallying on Saturday. They are protesting a planned law that would ban public-sector unions from trying to negotiate about anything except basic wage rates, and would also ban them from even asking for wage increases above the consumer price index.

Protesters near the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday February 19. Photo by flickr user _kristy_

The law would also make it legal to sack any state government employee who takes part in any industrial action, and force those employees to pay more for their health and pension funds. The law has been proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker, who received donations for his campaign from the right-wing billionaire activist Koch brothers.

Protesters occupy the Wisconsin Capitol. Photo by flickr user pchgorman.

Protesters have occupied the state capitol building over the weekend, while Democratic state senators have left Wisconsion so a vote cannot be held on the law.

Click here to download the full text of the planned law (pdf file)

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Tuesday Zedlines, February 8th

The main road in Grantham will be reopened today for the first time since January floods devastated the Lockyer Valley region and killed twenty three.

After discussion with Grantham residents, the Lockyer Valley Regional Council decided to reopen Gatton-Helidon Road with a forty kilometre per hour speed limit.

The road connects Gatton to Toowoomba. Local roads in Grantham will remain closed.

Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has criticised the Gillard government’s flood recovery process as being overly bureaucratic.

Prime Minister Gillard yesterday announced a watchdog committee would oversee the allocation of all flood relief funds. Mr Abbott said this shows the Labor party can’t be trusted with money.

Legislation to secure finances for the rebuilding will go before parliament on Thursday.

South Sudan became the world’s newest country by referendum this morning, with over ninety eight percent of southerners voting for independence.

After a twenty two year civil war ended in two thousand and five, the South will formally declare independence on July ninth.

Human rights groups are concerned Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will be “rewarded” for allowing the referendum. Al-Bashir is currently facing charges of war crimes in international court.

Premier Anna Bligh has confirmed the next Queensland election will be held in twenty twelve, with the coming year to be focused on rebuilding efforts.

Recent polls put Bligh’s approval rating for her handling of the floods at seventy nine per cent, however polls for her general performance as Premier is still only at thirty eight percent.

Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has only polled a twenty four per cent approval for his handling of the floods.

Dr Matthew Large of the University of New South Wales has claimed to have found conclusive evidence of a link between marijuana use and psychotic illnesses.

A study using data from 20,000 patients and drawing on more than 80 international studies has concluded the young are most at risk, with regular cannabis users 5 times more likely to develop schizophrenia.

However, head of Psychiatry at NSW University Philip Mitchell has criticised the findings, saying the report can’t distinguish whether regular use causes an illness or simply exaggerates it’s affect on susceptible users.

Bomb squad officers were called to a Cairns police station last night to detonate a suspicious device left on the driveway.

Police say the device was a hoax and the station did not need to be evacuated.

They are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers or the Cairns police station.

An association of Northern Territory politicians will today appear in Canberra to rally support for the territory to become a state.

The group has met with representatives from Prime Minister’s office, however the Gillard government has said they are yet to receive an official request.

A nineteen ninety-eight referendum for stateship for the Northern territory failed by a margin of roughly fifty-two to forty-eight percent.

The federal government have announced two projects to combat long-tern unemployment.

The programs, implemented in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, aim to overcome the barriers faced by the mentally ill and homeless when seeking employment.

The move is part of the Innovation Fund, a grants program aiming to assist the disadvantaged find stable careers.

Roughly sixty per cent of ginger crops grown in the Sunshine Coast have been ruined due to the outbreak of the pythium soft rot fungus.

The Sunshine Coast is responsible for 80 per cent of Australia’s total ginger production.

Conventional chemical treatments do not appear to be having any effect.

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Tuesday Zedlines, January 4th

 

A Queensland Hotels Association spokesman has denied there will be a sudden increase in pub and hotel foreclosures following the Global Financial Crisis.

Roughly five per cent of pubs in Queensland currently face financial difficulties.

Inflated prices during the mid-2000s, and supposed unfair loaning practices by banks have been blamed as the cause of the current credit difficulties.

The Greens Party have called on the ALP to seek an injunction in the International Court of Justice against Japan’s seasonal whale hunt.

Over the weekend, two boats from the controversial conservation organisation Sea Shepherd were hit with powered water jets from a Japanese whaling fleet they sought to disable.

The LNP have also called for Australia to form an independent body to monitor annual whaling in southern oceans.

A spokesman for a Tasmanian Aboriginal activist group has warned they will not move from the area of planned bridge construct on a significant indigenous archaeological site.

Part of the proposed bridge runs through a region said to hold roughly three million artefacts, some of which could be up to 40 thousand years old.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has placed an emergency heritage listing on the area, however concerns have been raised that construction could begin later in the week.

Northern Territory Treasurer Delia Lawrie has raised concerns over the ethical benefits of the national mining tax.

Under the national Minerals Resource Rent Tax, a 30% tax will be placed on the profit made, based on the value of the resource.

A senate inquiry into the scheme is currently in progress.

The Electronic Frontiers Association have raised concerns online commerce may suffer as a result of campaigns by major retailers.

An open letter published today by companies including Borders, Harvey Norman and Myer, called for the Australian Government to raise the GST level on imported items.

The EFA said the benefits diversity offered by the internet should dissuade any changes aimed at hindering online shopping.

Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger has announced he will retire from political this Monday, following the completion of his second term.

The former body builder and movie star was first elected in 2003, garnering the moniker Governator. He was then re-elected in 2006.

Mr Schwarzennegger has not yet announced any plans for his future career.

The New South Wales Nurses Union has announced bed closures in Wollongong, following failure to meet demands for improved nurse to patient ratios.

The union has been in negotiations since November, asking for one nurse to every four patients. More closures have been threatened if the situation continues.

A spokeswoman said the closures would affect non-urgent matters, but urgent or intensive care would not be affected.

Cairns scientists have launched the world’s first biological attack on dengue fever.

The attack involves releasing thousands of mosquitoes, infected with a bacteria that stops the transmission of the disease, to breed with the local population

Cairns has undergone some of the worst fever epidemics in Australia over the last two years. There is currently no vaccine for the disease.

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Cape York Australian Aboriginal Academy expands to Hopevale

A new education program in Cape York will be extended to the town of Hopevale, the Queensland Government announced on Friday. The Cape York Australian Aboriginal Academy has been operating in the towns of Coen and Aurukun this year.

The Academy’s program is in three parts, Class, Club and Culture. The Club part has music, sport and art programs, The Culture part of the program teaches indigenous language and culture to students.

The Class part uses a teaching method called Direct Instruction to teach maths, and reading and writing in English. In Direct Instruction, teachers must keep strictly to controlled, scripted lessons. A major study in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s, called Project Follow Through, found Direct Instruction to be the most effective method of raising poor schoolchildren’s scores in standardised tests.  Direct Instruction is opposed to methods of teaching where children seek out and solve problems for themselves.

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