Wednesday, 30 September 2009

US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre information 30.09.09

ABC Radio reports that Samoa has been hit by a tsunami this morning after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake. Initial waves sightings are reported at 1.3 metres and higher.

From the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre:

ISSUED AT 1856Z 29 SEP 2009








Casino set for railway revolution

Moving freight by rail rather than road ... how sensible!

CASINO is on the cusp of a railway renaissance, with a development application to build a $10 million rail terminal about to be lodged with the Richmond Valley Council.

The terminal, which will be built on land next to the Casino Saleyards by the end of 2010, promises to reduce road freight by 150 trucks per day.

The Northern Star reports:

The terminal will connect to the main rail line and from there freight will travel to destinations and ports around Australia.

With the capacity to load two 750m long trains or a single 1550m train, it is expected one short train will depart for Brisbane daily and one long train will head southward to Sydney or Melbourne every two to three days.

Phillip Imrie, the Sydney-based engineer behind the proposal, said the terminal represented the future of freight in Australia.

An industrial estate will form part of the terminal. From there, businesses will be able to load goods directly onto waiting trains.

The Casino branch of the stockfeed company Riverina currently brings in more than 100,000 tonnes of grain and protein from Northern NSW and South-East Queensland every year by road.

“A facility such as this would give us access to southern grain markets which are currently cost prohibitive by road,” branch manager Col Shelton said.

Stage one of the terminal will employ 10 to 20 people on a full-time basis, although more will be working during the construction phase.

Mr Imrie said the terminal was likely to attract new businesses to Casino and this would bring more jobs.

Richmond Valley Council general manager Brian Wilkinson said the council was very keen to see the proposal go ahead and supported the overall concept.

Source: The Northern Star

Calf confusion or why the little bull loves fence posts

A heifer died two days after giving birth to a large bull calf, so I ended up with a poddy to raise.

I am pleased to say that he is going well, if a little bit confused.

He is being bucket fed and to avoid mess at feeding time I have drilled a hole in a stable wall which the milk teat goes through.

This works really well, except he now has a wood fetish.

Fence posts are fully examined to make sure that there are no teats and since the teat is black rubber the car tyres are of great interest to him.

To give him a more balanced view of the world I have been taking him out into the paddock and introducing him to the aunties (cows), this is working beautifully.

Each morning Arnold Bully the calf and I wander into the herd where I do my best cow impersonation.

Over the last week I have managed to have him accepted into the herd kindergarten.

This is where cows leave their older calves in the care of others and go off and feed; the calves play, have naps and generally learn how to be cows.

This is brilliant. Arnold has learnt that grass is for eating and you can drink water as well as milk.

He has the whole day out with the herd and comes home to his stable at night.

The problem for me is it is now my turn to look after the kindergarten kids - help!

Shame Rudd Shame: government gets a fail on pension increase

State government housing authorities and community housing are lining up to take a bite out of the Rudd Government $60 per fortnight base pension increase for single pensioners.

Those on low incomes in public housing normally pay 25 per cent of their total income in rent, however the NSW Government has already changed rent calculation rules for community housing so that single pensioners are often paying more than 25 per cent of their total income on rent each fortnight and, in many parts of NSW that steep late 2008 rent increase was implemented in one fell swoop despite the Federal Government being told that there would be a graduated increase over years.

That particular fiddle saw at least an extra $22 per fortnight immediately removed from the pockets of single pensioners living in community housing.

At present state governments are considering a twelve month delay of any rent increase based on the higher fortnightly pension payment, but there is no guarantee that incorporated community housing won't take a cut of the extra money before the end of the year.

When the Rudd Government first announced it was considering a pension increase it assured the electorate that the additional income would be exempt from consideration by nursing homes, aged care hostels, and supported accommodation when factoring accommodation costs. No ifs, buts or maybes.

One now wonders if even these pensioners will actually be getting the full benefit of the additional payment.

The Rudd Government had within its power the ability to make this pension increase an exempt fortnightly allowance or exempt pension supplement for other pensioners but it chose not to do so.

I suspect that this failure to quarantine the increase was a deliberate pandering to state interests and Rudd, Swan, Macklin et al hoped that pensioners would keep quiet as greedy state governments cut into their payments to subsidise fiscal mismanagement.

Shame, Rudd & Co, shame - you have treated single old age, disability and other pensioners living independently in the community as though they are the undeserving poor.

What I think of the Rees Government is of course unrepeatable in polite company.
What I think of a virtually silent federal and state Coaltion Opposition defies description (I'm particularly looking at you Nationals MP for Clarence Steve Cansdell, who thought previous NSW rent increase tactics were fair).

Tingle, Smith and Borsak think a name change will make the Australian Shooters Party more palatable to the electorate?

The Australian Electoral Commission has announced that The Australian Shooters Party now has a new name - Shooters and Fishers Party or just plain Shooters and Fishers for short.

If I remember correctly, at the 2007 federal election this party received less than one per cent of votes cast and it has certainly been on the nose recently due to the conduct of Robert Borsak in New South Wales.

When it comes to hunting, elephants would have to up there with the whales as iconic untouchables for many Australian voters and the overseas hunting trips taken by Borsak almost guarantees a poor voter turnout if he stands at the next federal election.

I suspect that this has something to do with the name change and attempt to widen its base - but I don't think Tingle, Smith or Borsak remember the old adage of a leopard and its spots.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cybersquatting on photographs: one form of identity theft on the Internet

One hears a lot about identity theft these days and the need to protect personal online information, but what one doesn't hear about that much is the use of photographs of real people to represent other people who are using the Internet to promote or sell either themselves or saleable items (sometimes through use of a fictitious online persona).

This type of photo squatting is not as simple and straightforward as commandeering the image of a famous person from the past or a current politician/celebrity as an avatar accompanying online comments made using a pen name; this is more a stated claim involving the downloading and re-naming of an existing jpg file and then uploading it again to the Internet to represent a second person/fictitious persona without the knowledge or permission of the first person in the original photograph.

These 'fake' photographs often turn up on auction and dating sites. Sometimes the fakes appear to involve activity bordering on the unlawful, sometimes they appear to simply be misrepresentation of the second person's actual physical appearance - a type of wishful thinking.

What is obvious is that the people who have had their photographs hijacked in this way rarely have any idea that their faces are out there in cyberspace often inserted in biographies which give them street addresses, phone numbers, emails, jobs, partners and/or families that bear no relationship to their own lives.

Do you know where those happy snaps you may have posted on your website or social networking page have migrated to?

Graphic from Silhouette Clip Art

Australian Goanna Pulling Championships, Wooli 4 October 2009

It's almost October, when it will be time for the Goanna Pulling Championships.
Date: 4 October 2009

Venue: Wooli Sports Ground, Wooli

Contact: (02) 6649 7740 for details.

Past contestants
battling it out
in Wooli on the
NSW North Coast.

Monday, 28 September 2009

A pre-Copenhagen 2009 climate change question for governments of the day

It is widely accepted that (i) there is an increase in global warming due to anthropomorphic activity (principally though greenhouse gas emissions), (ii) this increase in warming is/will result in climate change with a significant deleterious effect on natural environment, infrastructure and society, (iii) there is limited extant legislation and/or binding treaty which seeks to adapt human activities in order to reduce these emissions at the national or international level, and (iv) the continent and territorial waters of the Commonwealth of Australia are/will experience the negative effects of climate change earlier or to a greater degree than some other nations.

What is also beginning to emerge is the possibility that few, if any, national governments are willing to create legitimate policy or enact legislation which seeks to either curb actual greenhouse gas emissions or limit exposure to climate change impacts. To date political rhetoric on climate change has been profuse and relatively worthless.

It is also becoming apparent that with a few exceptions change of government is unlikely to lead to real policy change in relation to how a country deals with global warming and, in Australia, any change of government is just as likely to result in a weakening of structural response.

So when will Australians start to band together and sue one or all of the three tiers of government (under existing common, statute law and/or international treaty) in order to effect climate change mitigation?

An critique: CLIMATE CHANGE LITIGATION IN THE LAND AND ENVIRONMENT COURT OF NEW SOUTH WALES AND OTHER COURTS,The Hon. Justice Brian J Preston Chief Judge Land and Environment Court of NSW,August 2009

A little dust storm? Don't worry be happy!

Dust plume passing over the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef
24 September 2009
Universe Today

If you thought that anti-science 'what anthropomorphic climate change?' blogs couldn't get any worse, then Watts Up With That just proved you wrong.

WUWT thinks that the recent massive loss of top soil across three states due to the big dust storm (larger picture) which hit the Australian east coast on 23 September 2009 is a real bonus:

That dust headed to sea has an unappreciated benefit – it will fertilize the ocean with its mineral rich dust. There may be some interesting blooms of sea life in the weeks to come.

Unfortunately, some of these interesting blooms may occur on the Great Barrier Reef which is already negatively impacted by silt and nutrient rich run-off from adjacent coastal lands.

Some readers' comments shown on the blog also posit that a dry Lake Eyre might be to blame for all that dust. Confusing the much larger Lake Eyre Basin with the actual lake.

Image from The Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Click to enlarge

NASA which had a space-eye view of the storm's progress pointed out that dust was rising from multiple sources including agricultural land not just from the salt lakes.

The second dust storm which formed on 25 September also crossed three states and reached the coast.

On a continent with some of the oldest and most depleted soils on Earth, dust storms and the potential for erosion they represent, don't actually have an upside.

On the NSW North Coast four days of dust-laden air followed in some areas by a day of bushfire smoke on Sunday were not ideal living conditions for the very young, frail aged and those with respiratory problems.

Smoke from mulitple fires mingling with dust
27 September 2009
Southern Queensland to Northern NSW

iSnack2.0: the 'new' Vegemite being panned?

Every time I visited my local supermarket these last few months it seemed that its display of the 'new' Vegemite and cream cheese spread didn't move very many jars from the shelves into shopping trolleys.
Last week the store was forced to offer the spread at almost half price in the hope of finally getting rid of all those yet unnamed jars ahead of Sunday's announcement that it was to be called iSnack2.0.

  • 1.0 of bondi Posted at 3:44 PM Today

    That's the best they could come up with??

  • origimite Posted at 3:46 PM Today

    what the hell kind of name is that? I will admit, it's a crap product - it tastes like bum, but giving it a name like that is just stupid. If I were Apple, I'd be getting my lawyers ready

  • Stephen of Quakers Hill Posted at 3:47 PM Today

    WTF ???????? That is the stupidest name....Ever ! No argument.

  • JOHN STRONGER of BRISBANE Posted at 3:48 PM Today


  • Timothy Dub Posted at 3:53 PM Today

    iSnack2.0 sucks. Worst. Name. Ever. What about vegelite. Anything would be better than that generic name. Why does everything have to have a 2.0 at the end of it these days. So passe. I won't be buying iSnack2.0 it doesn't sound very appetising, well maybe to a Dell Laptop it may.

  • Medusa Knows of Banana Republic Posted at 4:03 PM Today

    You're kidding!?

  • N of Bondi Posted at 4:04 PM Today

    That has got to be the stupidest name ever

  • It was always going to be chancy, fooling around with an Aussie icon. At this rate it's odds on there'll be a name change and then removal from the Australian market sometime in the next two years.

    Kraft Foods Inc. calling out 'uncle' - after less than a week it has announced it is considering a name change for its new spread.
    Matters are moving so fast that it might be gone from the supermarket shelves by New Year. ;-)

    Sunday, 27 September 2009

    Happy 11th Birthday Google!

    Google's 11 th birthday logo on 27 September 2009

    Google Inc was created way back in 1998 off the back of the founders' earlier foray into search engines, BackRub, and the fledgling company set up in a Santa Monica garage in September of that year.

    You may be getting older, suffer from the occasional hiccup and have a few aches and pains around the Gmail area, but you are still the world's favourite first stop for information searches.

    So happy birthday, Google and may you have many more.

    Casino and Grafton winners in house price growth according to ANZ September 2009 rural & regional quarterly report

    Snapshot from ANZ Rural and Regional Quarterly 23 September 2009

    According to the ANZ Rural and Regional Quarterly 23 September 2009 non-residential and residential building approvals are weak across the NSW North Coast and are falling back towards 2001 levels. Existing dwelling slae prices have also fallen in Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay.

    However, the median house price in Casino and Grafton has risen by 5-6% in the last twelve months. In part due to the fact there appears to be more housing stock on the market under $350,000 potentially attracting buyers eligible for the First Home Buyers Grant.

    State of Play 2009: Indigenous Land Corporation

    The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies has published a 2009 discussion paper on Policy Change and the Indigenous Land Corporation.

    According to National Native Title Tribunal Library Services:

    Policy change and the Indigenous Land Corporation / Patrick Sullivan

    The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) was established in 1995 by the Keating Government as one element of its three-part response to the Mabo judgment. The first part was the Native Title Act (1993), which validated past grants of land to settlers and set up a process for claiming and registering surviving rights of native title. The second part was the creation of an Indigenous Land Fund, established by successive appropriations over ten years, after which it was to be self-sustaining.The ILC was set up at the same time to receive part of the allocation each year to buy alienated land for Indigenous groups. The third part of the Keating response, a Social Justice Package, was never implemented.

    This discussion paper investigates changes in ILC policy from its inaugural period, when land was bought and divested to Indigenous groups rapidly, to the present day, when the ILC controls application procedures more tightly, divests under strict conditions, and augments its income from its own operations and investments. The paper suggests the ILC has shifted its focus from the direct benefit of land ownership towards joint programs with other government agencies for training, education and employment. The paper suggests this policy change has occurred without widespread consultation and communication, which has resulted in the dissatisfaction of Indigenous groups. The paper also discusses ILC finances, finding that it has faced considerable challenges since 2004 when it began funding itself entirely from the earnings of the Land Fund and its own investments.

    Full research paper PDF here.

    Anyone else just a mite suspicious of the G20's motives?

    The G20 has been around since 1999. It's a group of finance ministers and central bank governors. Many of the same ministers and bankers who sat complacently by while the global financial crisis grew into a tsunami which threatens to widen the gap between the developed and developing world, between rich and poor, between those countries with enough resources to buffer against climate change and those that will simply sink into the ocean or blow away on the wind.
    One or two of its members countries have also been on record in the past as wanting to sideline the United Nations as an international forum and decision making body.
    I think that the dynamic duo, Kev and Wayne from Nambour, need to be careful here because in this group of twenty they will still be mice in bed with at least two elephants - the USA and the European Union.
    Even though Australia is now considered a developed country by those heavies participating in setting G20 policy, the
    International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; it's still privately rated as something of a wannabee.
    When I look at how things went down at Pittsburgh this month I can't help feeling that what I'm really seeing is the international banking and business world shoring up the status quo and trying to kick the UN off the field.

    Pic from Financial Axis

    Mungo MacCallum writing over at Crikey believes that the G20 Pittburgh Summit is a true change in the world economic order:
    "It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of the events last week in Pittsburgh.
    The acceptance by all the major players of the role of the G20 as a rule maker for the conduct of the financial systems of member nations quite literally ushers in a new world economic order.
    And this is not some kind of Orwellian nightmare in which a conspiracy of plutocrats (or Jews, or Masons, or Martians) use their might to enslave the wretched of the earth, but a genuine democratisation that directly includes two thirds of the world’s population and indirectly gives a voice to the rest.
    The London meeting of the G20 in April proved that the new organisation could actually work; that the diverse array of interests could co-operate in reforms to a system in desperate need of them. Now the process has been formalised and we have a long-overdue representative body with the power and the will to lead the world out of the global economic crisis and towards a better and fairer model of interdependence for the future.
    Unsurprisingly, the Australian media have made much of the fact that Australia, as an active member of the club, now has a seat at the top table and this is indeed a cause for rejoicing. But far more important is the part Australia played in its construction, which is a matter for genuine and bipartisan pride."

    Saturday, 26 September 2009

    Leaders Statement from the 2009 G20 Pittsburgh Summit signals new directions or business as usual?

    This morning The Pittsburgh Summit released a lengthy Leaders' Statement, the full transcript of which can be found here.
    Only a handful of its 50 clauses plus annex dealt with climate change.
    In this the G20 (like the G8 before it) fails to live up to the UN's record on climate change, on the day the Australian media reported that it had become the new premier forum for global governance and economic management.

    In part the Leaders' Statement reads:

    12. Today we agreed:

    13. To launch a framework that lays out the policies and the way we act together to generate strong, sustainable and balanced global growth. We need a durable recovery that creates the good jobs our people need.

    14. We need to shift from public to private sources of demand, establish a pattern of growth across countries that is more sustainable and balanced, and reduce development imbalances. We pledge to avoid destabilizing booms and busts in asset and credit prices and adopt macroeconomic policies, consistent with price stability, that promote adequate and balanced global demand. We will also make decisive progress on structural reforms that foster private demand and strengthen long-run growth potential.

    15. Our Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth is a compact that commits us to work together to assess how our policies fit together, to evaluate whether they are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced growth, and to act as necessary to meet our common objectives.

    16. To make sure our regulatory system for banks and other financial firms reins in the excesses that led to the crisis. Where reckless behavior and a lack of responsibility led to crisis, we will not allow a return to banking as usual.

    17. We committed to act together to raise capital standards, to implement strong international compensation standards aimed at ending practices that lead to excessive risk-taking, to improve the over-the-counter derivatives market and to create more powerful tools to hold large global firms to account for the risks they take. Standards for large global financial firms should be commensurate with the cost of their failure. For all these reforms, we have set for ourselves strict and precise timetables.

    18. To reform the global architecture to meet the needs of the 21st century. After this crisis, critical players need to be at the table and fully vested in our institutions to allow us to cooperate to lay the foundation for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

    19. We designated the G-20 to be the premier forum for our international economic cooperation. We established the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to include major emerging economies and welcome its efforts to coordinate and monitor progress in strengthening financial regulation.

    20. We are committed to a shift in International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota share to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries of at least 5% from over-represented countries to under-represented countries using the current quota formula as the basis to work from. Today we have delivered on our promise to contribute over $500 billion to a renewed and expanded IMF New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB).

    21. We stressed the importance of adopting a dynamic formula at the World Bank which primarily reflects countries' evolving economic weight and the World Bank's development mission, and that generates an increase of at least 3% of voting power for developing and transition countries, to the benefit of under-represented countries. While recognizing that over-represented countries will make a contribution, it will be important to protect the voting power of the smallest poor countries. We called on the World Bank to play a leading role in responding to problems whose nature requires globally coordinated action, such as climate change and food security, and agreed that the World Bank and the regional development banks should have sufficient resources to address these challenges and fulfill their mandates.

    22. To take new steps to increase access to food, fuel and finance among the world's poorest while clamping down on illicit outflows. Steps to reduce the development gap can be a potent driver of global growth.

    23. Over four billion people remain undereducated, ill-equipped with capital and technology, and insufficiently integrated into the global economy. We need to work together to make the policy and institutional changes needed to accelerate the convergence of living standards and productivity in developing and emerging economies to the levels of the advanced economies. To start, we call on the World Bank to develop a new trust fund to support the new Food Security Initiative for low-income countries announced last summer. We will increase, on a voluntary basis, funding for programs to bring clean affordable energy to the poorest, such as the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program.

    24. To phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.

    25. We call on our Energy and Finance Ministers to report to us their implementation strategies and timeline for acting to meet this critical commitment at our next meeting.

    26. We will promote energy market transparency and market stability as part of our broader effort to avoid excessive volatility.

    27. To maintain our openness and move toward greener, more sustainable growth.

    28. We will fight protectionism. We are committed to bringing the Doha Round to a successful conclusion in 2010.

    29. We will spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

    30. We warmly welcome the report by the Chair of the London Summit commissioned at our last meeting and published today.

    31. Finally, we agreed to meet in Canada in June 2010 and in Korea in November 2010. We expect to meet annually thereafter and will meet in France in 2011.

    * * *
    1. We assessed the progress we have made together in addressing the global crisis and agreed to maintain our steps to support economic activity until recovery is assured. We further committed to additional steps to ensure strong, sustainable, and balanced growth, to build a stronger international financial system, to reduce development imbalances, and to modernize our architecture for international economic cooperation.

    The blogosphere is growing?

    According to the pundits the amount of Internet time spent on social networking and blogging sites is growing and the amount of time in front of the teev is falling away (except for those over 40 years old).
    However we're all still spending more time watching television than cruising cyberspace.

    Australia's draconian sedition laws and the Australian Press Council

    Last Tuesday the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs held a hearing as part its Inquiry into the Anti-Terrorism Laws Reform Bill 2009.

    This private members bill seeks to undo some of the harm done to freedom of speech by Howard Government anti-terrorism legislation, which was subsequently supported by a Rudd Government which has failed to address concerns since it came to office and virtually ignored the Australian Law Reform Commission report and recommendations to date.

    Here is an extract from the Australian Press Council's submission to the inquiry:

    Executive Summary

    Consistent with its long held position that sedition laws are an impediment to freedom of expression and have the potential to have a 'chilling effect', the Australian Press Council support the removal of sedition offences in s80.2 of the Criminal Code Act in their entirety.

    In view of the lack of precision in the definition of a "thing" in s101.4 of the Criminal Code Act, the Council is concerned that journalists could be exposed to being charged with a serious offence should they inadvertently come into possession of material in the course undertaking their role. The current provision is unsafe and the Council supports that proposal in the Bill that the section be repealed.

    Where it is practical to do so, the Council supports the proposed amendments to Division 102 of the Criminal Code Act that would bring the processes for proscribing a terrorist organisation in line with the requirements of administrative law. By ensuring publicity, public consultation,consideration of submissions by an independent advisory committee, notice and a right of appeal the proposed amendments increase transparency, public and media scrutiny and enhance the public right to know.

    The Council supports proposed amendments to s102.7 of the Criminal Code Act to ensure that providing support to a terrorist organisation cannot be construed to apply merely to the publication of view favourable to a proscribed organisation.

    Consistent with its earlier submissions, the Council express its concerns that this Division 3 Part III of the ASIO Act poses a threat to freedom of speech and has the potential to obstruct the ability of the media to ensure that government agencies are held to public account and that the questioning and detention practices of ASIO do not go beyond what is necessary to facilitate the investigation and prevention of terrorism.

    Consistent with its earlier submissions, the Council holds the view that the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act is a threat to freedom of the press and it potentially oppressive. The Council supports repeal of this legislation as proposed in the Bill.

    Full PDF copy of Australian Press Council submission

    List of submissions to the inquiry

    Doris O'Grady's art from the Seelands district

    Cows at Tristania

    Discovering Doris O'Grady 1902 - 1994 exhibition at Grafton Regional Gallery

    Main gallery until 25 October 2009

    Pavonia Hastata growing on bank of the Clarence 1927

    Untitled 1928

    Friday, 25 September 2009

    Maclean man pleads guilty to Internet intimidation & other charges - gets 12 month good behaviour bonds

    The Daily Examiner, 24 September 2009, page 4
    Click to enlarge

    Yesterday, Grafton Local Court convicted Berlin, also known as John Paul Breslin, of charges of intimidation with intention to cause physical/mental harm, possessing a police uniform when not a policeman, selling police insignia and using police insignia when not a police officer.
    In court Berlin changed his plea to guilty on all charges after the defence and prosecution agreed to combine several of the charges.
    Berlin came under police notice when he sent abusive and threatening emails to a man living in the United States who distributed police insignia under licence from the NSW Police Department between June and September last year.

    Last Monday was World Alzheimer's Day, but I forgot.......

    .........which is not as funny as it sounds given the age group I am entering.

    The day after that the Northern Rivers Tweed Daily News reported:

    TWEED Heads has the highest rate of dementia cases in the state and it's predicted this number will more than triple in coming decades, according to new figures out today.

    THE report, commissioned by Alzheimer's Australia NSW, found the Tweed area had the highest incidence of dementia in NSW with 1608 cases this year, increasing to a projected 7451 in 41 years.

    In 2009 Alzheimers Australia and Access Economics estimated that 36,000 people diagnosed with dementia live outside of Sydney in rural and regional New South Wales, and Of those people with new cases of dementia in New South Wales in 2009, approximately 14,000 live in Sydney, while approximately 10,000 reside in the balance of New South Wales. Projections suggest that the incidence of dementia in Sydney will increase 4.9-fold to approximately 67,600 (63,600-71,400) people, while new cases of dementia in thebalance of NSW will increase 4.8-fold to 48,700 (45,800-51,400) people by 2050.

    Thursday, 24 September 2009

    The Big Dry, The Big Red, the big dust choke on the NSW North Coast - but Lismore still played on at the 2009 Festival of Cricket

    The Northern Star this morning:
    "THE DUST storm that enveloped the North Coast yesterday at one point stretched to Mount Isa and caused humidity at Ballina to plummet to an almost unheard of minus 2 per cent.
    Every drop of water was sucked from the air by the dry continental air mass, prompting the Rural Fire Service to declare a total fire ban.
    Like a giant snowball it grew as it travelled, blowing close to 16,000 tonnes of dust across the coast every hour."

    However, the boys in white were determined to play on in Lismore at Oaks Oval in the
    2009 Festival of Cricket!

    More pics from The Northern Star, The Daily Examiner, and Nellibell.

    Grafton Bridge

    Copmanhurst backyard

    Lismore airport on 23rd September 2009

    Even more pics of Tabulam and Ballina at The Far North Coaster.

    Have your say on Australia's anti-terrorism laws before 25th September 2009

    Australian Greens MPs have written to Attorney-General Robert McClelland about the Rudd Government's intention to expand Australia's anti-terrorism laws:
    Dear Attorney-General,

    I welcome the opportunity to comment on proposed changes to Australia's anti-terrorism legislation in a public consultation process.

    I am concerned, that detailed changes to our laws are being proposed before the government has provided the promised White Paper on terrorism, or before the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Laws has begun their work.

    I am particularly concerned about the proposal that the Australian Federal Police be permitted to enter premises without a warrant under emergency circumstances that are not clearly defined.

    While Dr. Haneef Aside would have benefited from a 7 day cap on being held without a charge, I am concerned that there has been no demonstrated need for the proposed 7 day preventative detention period, and that setting such a maximum could be a licence to use it.

    I am not convinced that the proposed redefinition of the act of terrorism is an improvement,, rather the proposal significantly widens the offence. You have departed significantly from the proposals put forward by the Sheller Committee. Your changes will make the legislation more complex, and simultaneously uncertain. Some legal practitioners have suggested that it will be unworkable.

    I do not support the strengthening of the National Security Information Act, which allows for closed court proceedings, effectively locking lawyers out of the room, and for some evidence to be closed to the accused and their legal representatives. It also requires security clearances for lawyers which threatens the right to a fair trial and limits the pool of lawyers permitted to act in cases. Your proposed changes would contravene the separation of powers established by chapter three of the Constitution.

    As Australia played an active role in establishing the terms of the so-called war on terror, Australia has a role in reformulating what a legitimate response to terrorism should look like. This import role cannot be undermined by unconsidered, ineffective reform.

    The Greens also have an online petition which can be signed before 25 September 2009:

    The Greens have been calling for review of our anti-terrorism laws since well before the Rudd government was elected. Rammed through our Parliament in 2005, the Howard-Ruddock anti-terrorism laws demand urgent review and overhaul rather than strengthening, because of how seriously they undermine our human and civil rights.

    If you would like to sign this petition go here.

    Obama still being pursued through US court over his birth certificate and right to hold office

    The hostility towards US President Barack Obama continues in the far right section of the blogosphere, in some mainstream media reporting and through action in the courts. American lawyers must having a field day.

    Elizabeth Ann Pascal is defending her president in a case currently before a US district court, Kerchner et al v Obama et al.

    The plaintiffs in this case assert in part that Barack Hussien Obama II was not solely born a US citizen and cannot hold office as President of the United States of America.

    Here is Elizabeth's July 2009 motion to dismiss and the plaintiff's August 2009 response. The matter apparently remains on the court docket at the time of writing this post.

    This civil action was not the only one of its kind and, at least one other appears to be still extant as Barnett el al v Obama et al, which has a scheduling conference on 5 October 2009.

    The strangest of all these cases (although one brought when Obama was still a senator and based on race not citizenship) has to have been the sealed and dismissed The Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations of Missouri et al v. Obama et al which originated with this filed statement of claim.

    Obamaconspiracy has a complete rundown here on how these court actions are playing out.

    Youth Decide: they may not all have the vote yet but politicians ignore at their peril

    Click on snapshot to enlarge

    Youth Decide wasn't just a vote. It's a movement. And the next step is to deliver these results to all Federal politicians.

    Over thirty-four thousand young Australians taking part in a recent survey opted for a national and global response to climate change which actually reduced greenhouse gas levels beyond the green wash currently being proposed by most politicians.

    Twitterverse is tittering at PETA

    There's been a lot of re-tweeting out there on Twitter since someone discovered the phonetic resonance of the name given by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to its blog - The PETA Files.

    If nothing else it should give Aussie graziers and woolgrowers a bit of a laugh - as well as possibly falling foul of one or two overly sensitive filtering software programs.

    Perhaps I should send a memo to the Minister for Censorship and Rememberance of Children, ol' Stevo Conroy.......

    Wednesday, 23 September 2009

    Penny Wong talks to Asia Society about Copenhagen and beyond - 11pm [AEST] Wednesday 23 September 2009 webcast, listener questions

    The Asia Society wants to let you know about an upcoming webcast, Copenhagen and Beyond – The Post-2012 Agreement.

    Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water will be speaking with Asia Society's own Orville Schell, the director of the Center on US-China Relations, tomorrow at Wednesday, September 23, 2009 from 8:30-9:30 a.m., ET (New York).

    We hope that you will join us online by visiting our website, and following the directions there.

    The webcast will be available 30 minutes before the program begins.

    Listeners will also have opportunities to send their questions in to, where they will be addressed during the program.

    Policy Programs,

    Asia Society

    Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email ncvguestpeak at live dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

    How did your pet get its name?

    Contributors to The Sydney Morning Herald's Column 8 provide insights on naming family pets.

    John Barselaar, of Coffs Harbour, ''My local vet is a man of fine humour and a pundit like myself, but I have to take my hat off to his recent repartee in the surgery. A woman came in with two dogs feeling poorly. When asked the dogs' names she replied Beethoven and Bach. Immediately he saw the problem, and advised her they were feeling Lisztless!'' (Monday 21/9)

    ''Naming family pets after famous composers is not all that unusual,'' writes Steve Zervos of Abbotsford (Column 8, yesterday). ''We named our kitten Beethoven because just after we picked him up and brought him home, he made his first movement on the piano.'' (Tuesday 22/9)

    ''Beethoven the cat,'' writes Michael Morton-Evans (Column 8, Monday), ''puts me in mind of Tyson the dog. A friend many years ago bought a dachshund and named him Tyson, after the Lancashire-born fast bowler Frank 'Typhoon' Tyson. When asked why, he explained: 'Because he has four short legs and his balls swing both ways.'' (Wednesday 23/9)

    'Losing to win' a pandora's box for bowls

    Here's Iluka resident Jim Brigginshaw's take on allegations that Kiwi lawn bowlers folded in a game against lowly-ranked Thailand in last month's Asia-Pacific championships in Malaysia to ensure rivals Canada would be eliminated.

    Brigginshaw, who has a regular column in The Northern Star, wrote:

    IF, as Bowls Australia chief executive Dalrymple is reported as saying, there's nothing in the rules of bowls to stop a team deliberately losing a game, it's time there was.

    Assuming he's been quoted correctly, his wishy-washy response to allegations against the New Zealand national team is less than reassuring that this blot has no place in our sport.

    Attributed to him are comments such as 'hard to find fault', 'people willing to push the limits', and the top clanger of all, 'there's a question of whether it's in the spirit of the game'.

    A question? There's no question - if bowls has degenerated to the stage where we have to think whether to ask questions about the legality, or even propriety, of what clearly is a breach of sporting integrity, heaven help us.

    The difficulty, of course, is deciding when a team is not performing to its ability. But if there is obvious evidence of it, the culprits should have the book thrown at them.

    The New Zealand team says it was a legitimate loss. The official inquiry will have difficulty proving otherwise.

    These allegations gave Bowls Australia an opportunity to take a strong stance against deliberately losing a game. Instead, we got a weak-kneed response.

    Source: The Northern Star

    Images from and

    A phone, a phone. My kingdom for a phone! [or the dubious joy of living in a regional blackspot]

    The children have grown and moved to cities across Australia, however they were all back for a family gathering recently.

    We had a great time; the only thing that caused problems was the mobile phone reception or more correctly the chronic lack of phone coverage.
    Though since they all had different carriers I thought for sure someone should get a signal.

    The first symptoms of phonitis appeared within 4 to 6 hours of arriving. "I’ll just pick up any messages from work", friends etc; then the cold sweat, and the realisation of no reception.

    It was like a snowball affect, as soon as one discovered they could not use their phone you could see the panic in the eyes of the others. They all stampeded to their phone lifelines.

    The youngest daughter discovered that if she squeezed herself under my desk and held the phone at a 45 degree angle pointing north she could get one bar of coverage. Just enough to receive SMS. The look of relief on her face was classic. So much so I could not resist and took a photo to record the event.

    The others headed outside, showing great faith in their various phone companies. Then looks of horror on their faces when none received a signal.

    One headed for higher ground where he eventually found reception over 1 km away at the left front gate post. If he stood on the post he could talk on his phone. Mind you it did drop out quite a bit.

    The younger son who is not much on exercise decided that he would go up to the third floor of the house. This was not enough, so by trial and error he discovered that if he hung out of the east facing window on the third floor and held the phone in one hand and the TV aerial cable in the other he was intermittently in contact with the outside world.

    The eldest girl showed great calm and headed for my computer. The facade of calm was shattered when she realised that it was dial-up and only marginally faster than snail mail.

    When the neighbour's hazard reduction burn accidentally set fire to the telephone junction box and the landline went out, then smoke from the fires interfered with what little signal they had, it all became too much. They all headed into town for Maccas and 'real' phone coverage.

    Graphic: Google Images

    There's no getting away from it - high political office changes the family

    Not long after his inauguration US President Barack Obama flew a chef from St Louis to Washington so that he could have pizza with the boys.
    Then his kids were seen jetting off for an upmarket overseas holiday with Dad and Mum via Air Force One.
    But none of that really pointed to the unreality of life in The White House until Michelle Obama went shopping for food in September 2009 while many ordinary Americans were still reeling from the global financail crisis.
    Yes, this recent Washington Post article shows the wrong side of Chicago is now truly a lifetime away.

    "The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.

    Then, and only then, could Obama purchase her leafy greens. "Now it's time to buy some food," she told several hundred people who came to watch. "Let's shop!"

    Cowbells were rung. Somebody put a lei of marigolds around Obama's neck. The first lady picked up a straw basket and headed for the "Farm at Sunnyside" tent, where she loaded up with organic Asian pears, cherry tomatoes, multicolored potatoes, free-range eggs and, yes, two bunches of Tuscan kale. She left the produce with an aide, who paid the cashier as Obama made her way back to the limousine.........

    Obama, in her brief speech to the vendors and patrons, handled the affordability issue by pointing out that people who pay with food stamps would get double the coupon value at the market. Even then, though, it's hard to imagine somebody using food stamps to buy what the market offered: $19 bison steak from Gunpowder Bison, organic dandelion greens for $12 per pound from Blueberry Hill Vegetables, the Piedmont Reserve cheese from Everson Dairy at $29 a pound. Rounding out the potential shopping cart: $4 for a piece of "walnut dacquoise" from the Praline Bakery, $9 for a jumbo crab cake at Chris's Marketplace, $8 for a loaf of cranberry-walnut bread and $32 for a bolt of yarn."

    Time to get real, M'chelle!

    Photographs from Google Images

    Tuesday, 22 September 2009

    Senator Fielding accidentally produces a little light relief in the international climate change policy debate

    I opened my browser yesterday morning to find the Herald-Sun giving a few online centimetres to this:

    A CROSSBENCH senator who doubts the science of climate change says he may back an Australian Government plan to let developing countries propose their own cuts to carbon emissions.

    Mirth immediately took over for several minutes.
    What on earth is Steve Fielding talking about? Any idiot can tell that a matter of government foreign affairs policy which will not require legislation to implement does not need endorsement from the only Family First party member to make it into federal parliament.

    The man and his constant need to be in the political limelight is a national embarrassment.
    The only consolation is that published print versions of his opinions will quickly disappear into the recycler's maw or landfill, while digital versions on the Internet will eventually lead to data mining results like this from Personas which actually appear to reflect his lack of credibility:


    River deltas sinking across the globe except in Australia and Antarctica?

    A study was published in Nature Geoscience this month on the vulnerability of river deltas and finally there was some guarded good news for Australia in relation to flooding and rising sea levels.

    Many of the world's largest deltas are densely populated and heavily farmed. Yet many of their inhabitants are becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding and conversions of their land to open ocean. The vulnerability is a result of sediment compaction from the removal of oil, gas and water from the delta's underlying sediments, the trapping of sediment in reservoirs upstream and floodplain engineering in combination with rising global sea level. Here we present an assessment of 33 deltas chosen to represent the world's deltas. We find that in the past decade, 85% of the deltas experienced severe flooding, resulting in the temporary submergence of 260,000 km2. We conservatively estimate that the delta surface area vulnerable to flooding could increase by 50% under the current projected values for sea-level rise in the twenty-first century. This figure could increase if the capture of sediment upstream persists and continues to prevent the growth and buffering of the deltas.

    Worst hit will be Asia, but heavily populated and farmed deltas on every continent except Australia and Antarctica are in peril, it says according to SBS World News.

    Revenge of the wrinklies!

    Sometimes cyberspace produces an antidote to life's little irritations.

    This time it threw up a bit of sweet payback for all those bluidy undisciplined televised Federal Parliament Question Times since November 2007.

    These pics are from a campaign by industry body Aged & Community Services Australia which can be found at Kevin 87. There are lines and wrinkles here enough for all those insults offered to voter intelligence and failure to grasp the national health care nettle. Pity there's no pics of Pyne and Abbott.

    Growing old is manda-
    tory; growing up is optional
    . ~Chili Davis

    Monday, 21 September 2009

    Are national economic concerns winning out over global environmental crises?

    World leaders are gathering in Pittsburgh USA for a G20 summit, which officially commences on 24 September 2009 with an aim to review the progress made since the Washington and London Summits and discuss further actions to assure a sound and sustainable recovery from the global financial and economic crisis.

    Two days have been set aside to cover this topic and calls to commit to further government intervention in international banking and commerce.
    If recent media coverage cited on is any indication, then the minds of world leaders are firmly fixed on their national economic woes.

    It is easy to suspect that global warming will continue take a backseat to the global financial crisis, despite the fact that a UN meeting on climate change is taking place tomorrow ahead of the G20 summit.

    It is a real possibility that very little progress will be made this week towards the Copenhagen agenda on climate change, despite the Rudd Government's reported behind-the-scenes work on the legal framework for a new climate change treaty, and ways to finance poorer countries' efforts to adapt to a low-carbon world, could become a crucial contribution in breaking the impasse on a greenhouse treaty.

    Immediate national economic imperatives appear to be winning the hearts and mind battle at the expense of addressing very real environmental crises.
    Yesterday The Guardian reported:
    UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and negotiators say that unless they can convert world leaders into committed advocates of radical action, it will be very hard to reach a credible and enforceable agreement to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.

    The Australian has an online poll underway which asks the question:
    Do you expect any concrete progress to be made at the November climate change summit in Copenhagen?

    Most of those who have taken part in this poll so far (pictured) are not optimistic about the possibility of concrete progress.

    Indeed many people are becoming very cynical about global and government response to climate change. On the NSW North Coast this has manifested itself in a number of ways, including this black humour view of Yamba's problems at the mouth of the Clarence River:
    * When asked what strategies were in place to provide support in the event of a major flood of West Yamba, one SES worker is reported as to have said "We'll stand on the edge of Yamba Hill and toss life jackets to people as they float by". [Climate Change Australia,Clarence Division, Submission on Draft Sea Level Rise Policy Statement by the NSW Government,March 2009]