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Grassland fires that are deadly and devastating events for many kinds of wildlife are a boon to certain types of birds known as fire foragers. These opportunists prey on animals fleeing from a blaze, or scavenge the remains of creatures that succumbed to the flames and the smoke. But in Australia, some fire-foraging birds are also fire starters.
Three species of raptors are widely known not only for lurking on the fringes of fires but also for snatching up smoldering grasses or branches and using them to kindle fresh flames, to smoke out mammal and insect prey.
How amazing is that?! You can read and see more at Live Science.
The government of Belize halted all exploration for oil in its territorial waters from Dec. 29, becoming one of the first developing countries to turn away from oil in favor of protecting the ocean environment. This is truly The Peoples Law, Janelle Chanona, vice president of the NGO Oceana in Belize, said in a report by teleSUR. Belizeans have remained steadfast in their opposition to offshore oil since they became aware that marine assets were at risk of irreversible damage from the offshore oil industry. That opposition began in earnest when the government shared its plans for oil exploration near the Belize Barrier Reef. At that point, WWF started a campaign during which 450,000 people emailed the government about offshore drilling, according to an article at Quartz. Belize is a small country making a mighty commitment to putting the environment first, Nadia Bood, a WWF reef scientist, said in the Quartz article. A stingray in Belize. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay. The Belize Barrier Reef System Reserve has been a UNESCO world heritage site for more than two decades. The 300-kilometer (186-mile) stretch of coral in the Caribbean Sea is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, second in size only to Australias Great Barrier Reef. It is home to turtles, crocodiles and manatees among the roughly 1,400 species found in Belizes reefs. Such wildlife is a huge draw for tourists, who contribute about 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product, according to Quartz. The Guardian reports that 50 percent of Belizes
The rapid expansion of the coal seam gas industry in Queenslands Darling Downs has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in local hospital admissions for circulatory and respiratory conditions, according to report by a local GP, published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies.
The GP, Geralyn McCarron, has called for a comprehensive investigation of the health impacts of the unconventional gas industry in Australia.
McCarron found that, between 2007 and 2014, hospital admissions for acute circulatory conditions increased by 133 percent in the Darling Downs area, rising from 2,198 to 5,141, and admissions for acute respiratory problems increased by 142 percent, from 1,257 to 3,051.
The GP reports that, over the same period, there was a huge increase in the amount of pollutants...
Hello. I am new to the wonderful NQ (Hinchinbrook) and I have three questions. Any help appreciated.
Where is the best place to buy a new phone, preferably a cheap Chinese-made smartphone that I can whack a Telstra SIM card in?
Second, what's the best live streaming movie sites you can access in Australia? (The local free-to-air channels are complete crap.) Or should I just stump up for Netflix?
Any suggestions for a good, second-hand car dealer that offers finance in Townsville?
And I have a nine-year old. Rugby or rugby league? :-)
A Queensland tourism representative has blamed a drop in Great Barrier Reef tourism on scientists warning of pollution and global warming risks:
A Queensland tourism representative has called one of the Great Barrier Reef's leading researchers "a dick", blaming the professor for a downturn in tourism growth at the state's greatest natural asset. Col McKenzie, the head of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, a group that represents more than 100 businesses in the Great Barrier Reef, has written to the federal government asking it to stop funding the work of Professor Terry Hughes, claiming his comments were "misleading" and damaging the tourism industry.
But the Australian Conservation Foundation said tourism representatives and operators like McKenzie should stop blaming scientists for reporting what was happening to the reef and start targeting major polluters to ensure change. Hughes, who serves as the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and is considered one of the world's leading experts on the reef, has been warning of the damage rising water temperatures have been inflicting on the reef for years.
While not disagreeing there was work to be done on the reef's health, McKenzie accused Hughes of exaggerating the damage, which he said has been detrimental to the region's multibillion-dollar tourism industry. "I think Terry Hughes is a dick," he told Guardian Australia. "I believe he has done tens of millions of dollars of damage to our reef in our key markets, being America and Europe. You went to those areas in 2017 and they were convinced the reef was dead. And people won't do long-haul trips when they think the reef is dead."
McKenzie said in 2016, tourism growth in the region had returned to pre-global financial crisis levels, before "that growth died" in 2017, which he blamed on Hughes "negative comments".
Also at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Read more of this story at SoylentNews.
While there are no official records of the undying (yet), more people live beyond 100 years of age in Japans Okinawa Prefecture than anywhere else in the world. And while they may have tapped and plumbed the fountain of youth somewhere in the hundreds of islands, the key to longevity may be more simple.
Life medicine, or what the locals call nuchigusui, is an Okinawan precept for healthy living. By focusing everyday practices on easing the mind, satisfying the spirit and looking after the body, the locals have inhabited a philosophy that seems to be working pretty well.
It all comes down to fresh food, stress-free living and a connection with nature that is endemic to Japanese culture and way of life. For thousands of years, the rich beauty of the islands has been conserved, and if you look at the stars at night amidst almost no light pollution you can catch a glimpse into ancient utopian times.
Whether its long stretches of white sand beaches, rare blue coral reef or dense jungles, 20 per cent of the Okinawa Prefecture is national park. The islands are also incredibly fertile, and provide a habitat for dugongs, turtles, rare cats and thousands of other animals that feed off its rich resources.
Food itself is the essence of nuchigusui. Eating is revered as medicine; vitality is passed from the cook to the customer. The island chain has countless wholesome dishes that are native to the region, from delicious teas to rich sobas, all of which aim to nourish and rejuvenate.
Okinawa might be the only place youll ever visit where the more time you spend, the more time you earn on Earth, and even if you dont find the secret to immortality, youll walk away feeling pretty bloody relaxed.
Check this vid out to see what we mean.
This post has been presented in conjunction with Be.Okinawa, but all opinions are the authors own.
Cover by Ryo Yoshitake
Worried the electricity system won't keep up over summer? Worry about coal. Seriously.
One of the four giant units at Victoria's ageing Loy Yang A power station broke down on Tuesday night at 11.05, taking out 230 megawatts, and then at 1.10 on Wednesday morning after being partially restarted, taking out what by then was 161 megawatts.
When demand soared during Sunday's heatwave, the Eraring plant on Lake Macquarie in NSW lost 275 megawatts. A few minutes later, Loy Yang A lost 264 megawatts.
On New Year's Day, unit 1 of Millmerran in Queensland stalled, taking out 156 megawatts. On December 28, unit 2 of Tarong in Queensland stalled, taking out 314 megawatts. On Boxing Day, unit 4 at Loy Yang stalled, taking out 528 megawatts. On Christmas Day, unit 1 at Gladstone stalled, taking out 230 megawatts, then unit 1 at the Tallawarra gas plant in NSW, taking out 187 megawatts. And so on, back to the start of summer.
When unit 3 at Loy Yang shut down without warning on December 14 taking out 560 megawatts and imperilling the entire system, the new Tesla battery 1000 kilometres away in South Australia sprang into action ahead of the coal-fired power station that was contracted to restore stability. It proved to be "dispatchable" in a way coal-fired power stations are not.
Age, heat and the steady encroachment of renewables are destroying the only advantages coal-fired power stations ever had.
When Treasurer Scott Morrison stood up in Federal Parliament and waved around a lump of coal in a stunt unworthy of his office, he said coal was an important part of ensuring a "more certain" energy future.
But he was speaking about the past.
Coal-fired power stations didn't used to get critically hot as often as they do now. The February 2017 heatwave that took out 2438 megawatts in one day in NSW might have once been a once-in-500-year event. Now it's a once-in-50-year event and perhaps soon a once-in-five-year event. The calculations are by the Australia Institute's Mark Ogge and Hannah Aulby in a study of the risks to energy security entitled Can't Stand the Heat. Ogge is the person who has been keeping a record of power station outages.
It's the easiest to find a job since the mining boom.
The latest count from the Bureau of Statistics shows there were a record 216,000 job vacancies in November and 661,400 Australians out of work, the lowest total since 2012.
The ratio of 3.1 means there were roughly three job seekers for each vacant job, a step up from November 2016 when there were 3.7.
In NSW, the state with the best odds, there were only 2.2 job seekers for each vacant job, one of the lowest ratios ever recorded. A year earlier there were 2.7.
While Victoria has recorded the biggest improvement, the odds remain nowhere near as good as in NSW. There were 3.1 unemployed Victorians trying to get each vacant job in November, down from 4.2 a year earlier.
In Queensland the odds improved from 4.5 per vacant job to 3.9, in South Australia from 6.1 to 5.7, in Western Australia from 4.7 to 4.3 and in Tasmania from 7.9 to 5.7.
In the Northern Territory the odds remained little changed at about two unemployed per vacancy, and in the Australian Capital Territory they slid from 1.6 to just 1.3. But the ACT figures are unrealistic because they are biased downwards by the number of ACT workers living outside of the territory and the number who come from interstate for jobs.
The better odds in every state reflect both a surge in the number of vacancies, from 69,000 to 81,500 in NSW, and from 45,400 to 57,500 in Victoria, and also a drop in the number of Australians identifying as unemployed.
A near-record 383,300 more Australians have found work in the past 12 months, almost all of them full-time.
Construction vacancies have ju...
It was an interesting day off Southport yesterday in a 25+kt northerly. Lots of birds although the north wind caused reduced diversity. Great numbers of Tahitis, a Kermadec and a showy White-necked Petrel in 60fths were the highlights.
Miminipossum notioplanetes represents a new Early/Middle Miocene family (Miminipossumidae) of phalangeridan possums recovered from the Two Trees Local Fauna from the Riversleigh World Heritage area in northwestern Queensland and the Kutjamarpu Local Fauna of the Tirari Desert in northern South Australia. Because of widespread convergence in key features of P3 and M1 among phalangeridan families, the interfamilial relationships of Miminipossumidae are uncertain. The age of the Kutjamarpu Local Fauna has been in doubt with estimates ranging from Late Oligocene to Middle Miocene. The new taxon raises to 15 the number of taxa in the Kutjamarpu Local Fauna that are shared with both...
A great morning at the lake - also Black Falcon, Freckled Ducks, 500 Whiskered Terns + 300 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers.
Another year down in the just-over five-year history of this
site. 2017 did not have either a federal election or a
Tasmanian state election but there was still a fair amount of
interest, especially in the Queensland election. Indeed
traffic by unique pageviews was only down 40% on last year despite
the lack of a federal election, and up 25% on the last year without
a federal or Tasmanian election (2015). Moreover, there were
more total pageviews than in the last state election year, 2014!
Here's the activity graph for the year (the units are sessions per
So big is Melbourne's infrastructure boom that Treasurer Tim Pallas fears Victoria will run low on the specialist skills and resources such as gravel needed to make it happen.
"We've known for a while that the technical and the specialist skills required for transport projects, particularly rail projects, have been hard to get," he told The Age. "The more projects you start the harder it gets. We've only a handful of rail signallers in the entire state to manage not only the existing network but also the upgrades planned and under way.
"That's just one illustration. We are also hearing of shortages in project management, finishing trades, commercial advisory skills, industry analysis, systems engineering and tunnelling. For high-end skills, it's obvious, but its also a problem for entry-level skills."
"Only on Friday I was meeting with the extractive industries representative body, and everybody around that table was saying there is so much demand for raw materials, quarry materials, cement and sand and so on that suppliers are choosing which jobs they bid on.
"You've got to expect pressure on price."
Mr Pallas said that at $9.6 billion per year, Victoria's infrastructure spending program was unprecedented. As a proportion of the state budget it was the biggest since that of the Bolte Liberal government in the 1960s and 1970s that began construction of the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop.
Victoria's $9.6 billion per year program was in competition for resources with the NSW $12.1 billion per year program, also the biggest on record. Other big projects in Queensland and New Zealand meant that the market for skills along the east coast was tightening, as it had in Western Australia during the mining construction boom.
"We are having to get people from further away and pay them more than we thought," Mr Pallas said. "Ultimately we have to pay what the market is prepared to offer."
"Look at what happened with Sydney's Westconnex. The entire industry in NSW put in one single consolidated bid that put the state government at a disadvantage. Here, we are facing the same sort of thing with the North East Link. You can only bring so many people in from interstate. You get to a point where you hit bedrock in terms of imported skills."
Mr Pallas said it wasn't yet clear t...
Sydney has become Australia's economic powerhouse, accounting for almost half of Australia's economic growth.
The extraordinary figure of 41.2 per cent is the highest since Victoria led the nation into recession in the early 1990s.
New calculations show that Sydney and Melbourne combined accounted for more than two-thirds of Australia's economic growth during 2016-17, a concentration rare on a global scale.
The capital city GDP estimates prepared by Terry Rawnsley of SGS Economics and Planning show Sydney's economy grew 3.3 per cent during 2016-17, easily surpassing Melbourne's 2.8 per cent.
The economy of regional NSW grew 1.5 per cent; the economy of regional Victoria grew 5.8 per cent.
A rough measure of living standards, GDP per capita grew 1 per cent in Sydney while slipping 0.1 per cent in Melbourne.
GDP per capita shrank 0.6 per cent in Brisbane and 4.7 per cent in Perth.
Mr Rawnsley said economic activity was gravitating to Sydney and Melbourne, even though Melbourne's living standards were slipping.
"It's getting economic refugees from Perth and Brisbane, whose living standards are slipping faster," he said. "Melbourne is more affordable than Sydney. If you want a big city with a vibrant economy but you don't want to pay Sydney prices, you go to Melbourne."
Sydney is Australia's hottest capital city economy. SGS suggests that to rein in Sydney's economy the Reserve Bank would have to push up its cash rate from 1.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent. To rein in Melbourne's it would have to push it 2.25 per cent. In Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, the cash rate would have to be pushed down to 0.25 per cent.
1801 - The ship Speedy, a whaler, arrived at Sydney, "from the
Queensland: ALP 48 LNP 39 KAP 3 PHON 1 GREEN 1 IND 1
2PP Estimate 51.2 to Labor (+0.1 from 2015)
It's taken a while but I've finally found some time to put up something about the final results of the 2017 Queensland state election. I try to always put something out on Christmas Day, though last year nasty weather interfered with that plan.
In a nutshell, the 2017 Queensland election was one where a great many dramatic things could have happened, but virtually none of them did, as the following sections explain:
Hardly any seats changed hands
You don't turn 89 seats into 93 without breaking a few eggs, but the level of seat transfer between the parties at this election was remarkably low. On a notional basis and ignoring retirements and mid-term defections, just nine seats changed hands at this election, most of them marginal anyway. The Liberal National Party lost Redlands (1.2%), Gaven (2.8%) and Aspley (3.2%) to Labor, and would have lost Maiwar (3.0%) to Labor as well but the Greens snatched it instead. Labor lost Bundaberg (0.5% and which was a freak win last time anyway) and Burdekin (notionally theirs by 1.4% but LNP-occupied) to the LNP, and might have lost Mirani (3.8) to the LNP had not One Nation helped itself to its only win. The LNP also dropped Noosa (6.6) to independent Sandy Bolton, and Hinchinbrook (3.4) to KAP's Nick Dametto. In Hinchinbrook, Dametto (who according to his party had only been campaigning for four weeks) pulled off a duplicate of Andrew Wilkie's Denison 2010 winning method of coming third and getting everyone's preferences.
There was very little 2PP swing
On the night, 2PP estimates were running at about 52-48, but after a close look at the final numbers my estimate is just 51.2% to Labor, a swing of 0.1% from 2015. Perhaps an exact figure will be derived from the ballot papers, but in the meantime mine is based on the actual numbers of preferences that flowed to Labor and the LNP in cases where both were still in the count, and estimates for the remaining preference flows based on actual flows observed at the election. For the Greens I've used their Maiwar flow, for Strelow I've assumed her preferences would flow between the ALP and LNP much as they did between the ALP and One Nation, and for Bolton I've assumed 50-50. Overall a shade over 90% of votes can be exactly accounted for, and those for which estimates are required are mostly One Nation. I'm most uneasy about the estimate for KAP (51-49 to Labor), because KAP inconveniently failed to come third...
On Saturday 30 December, the visiting American
registered Bombardier BD-100-1A10 Challenger 300 bizjet N1013 was
noted departing Mackay Airport. It made the short hop back to
Hamilton Island Airport before departing a short time later for
|N1013 parked at Mackay Airport (File photo)|
1788 - Governor Phillip ordered; seize and carry off some of the
Two (2) of Supplys dinghies rowed across to Manly where;courteous [kidnappers]enticedentered into conversationwith a group of Aborigines digging pippie for lunch.
At a proper opportunityour people rushed in among them and seized two  men: the rest fled but the cries of the captives soon brought them back, with many others, to their rescue; and so desperate their struggles.
Only one  of them was secured, the other effected his escapestones. spears, firebrands[thrown]nor did they retreatuntil many musquets were fired over them.
The kidnapped warrior, aged about thirty (30), was wrestled into a dinghy; fastened by ropes to the thwarts of the boat and taken to Sydney.
Watkin Tench stood on shore reporting as the boat came to rest;his agitation was excessive, and the clamourous crowds who flocked around him did not contribute to lessen it.
Many unsuccessful attempts were made to learn his name; the governor therefore called him Manly, from the cove in which he was captured; this cove has received its name from the manly undaunted behaviour of a party of natives seen there, on our taking possession of the country.
Captain Arthur Phillip secured the capture of an Aboriginal person named Arabanoo to train as an interpreter.
1811 - The ship Speedwell arrived at Sydney with the first cargo of cedar from the Shoalhaven.
1821 - The NSW Government first permitted private distillation of grapes, sugar & grain...yippie, home brewed grog for New Years Eve!
1824 - A meeting between Wiradjuri resistance warrior Windradyne and Governor Brisbane took place at Parramatta; a great feast was held with 8 tribes comprising of approx. 400 Aboriginal People from far and wide (some travelling up to 200 miles) with Windradyne seeking an end to hostilities between settlers and Aboriginal people.
The Sydney Gazette reported in 1824 that...
"A SPORTING CENTENARIAN. - Margaret Evans died at the age 105. This extraordinary female was the greatest hunter, shooter, and fisher, of her time ; fiddled excellently, rowed stoutly, was a good joiner, was a blacksmith, shoemaker, boat builder, and maker of harps, and at 70 was the best wrestler in the country."
1828 - The Cascades female convict factory opens at Hobart.
1828 Whatshisname Stirling was told to spot his bot, park his arse and generally make himself at home by lounging about the Swan River to occupy it for the Brits.
Oh, and they pipped him up to Lt for the privilege.
1834 - Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld published An Australian Grammar of the Language Spoken by the Aborigines of the Hunter River. Threlkeldhad lived among with Abori...
Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL) is closed for the wet season. The park is anticipated to re-open 1 August 2018, subject to road and weather conditions. Affected parks: Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL).
Errk Oykangand National Park (CYPAL) is closed for the wet season. The park is anticipated to re-open 1 May 2018. Affected parks: Errk Oykangand National Park (CYPAL).
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