Australia: Bid to remove ‘racist’ slave trader Ben Boyd’s name from Sydney street fails

The Kanakas were NOT slaves.  They were contracted labourers.  They were free to return to Kanaky at the end of their contract.  Most did

Calls to remove the name of slave trader Ben Boyd, who was responsible for ‘blackbirding’, from a leafy Sydney suburb have failed.

North Sydney Council will keep the name of Ben Boyd Rd in Neutral Bay and Cremorne, on the lower north shore of Sydney, after a former Green’s staffer created a petition to change the name.

The petition caused a stir in the community with the council then asked to consider a name change.

The road was named after a colonial entrepreneur who lived in Neutral Bay in the 1840s.

Boyd was known for pioneering the practice of using cheap labour from the South Sea islands to work in Australia. It is known as ‘blackbirding’.

After the petition was circulated the council asked constituents for their thoughts.

A survey was put forward and 2318 residents responded, 54.7 per cent opposed the renaming of the street while 44.3 per cent were in favour. Just 1.6 per cent were unsure.

The papers also said there were 20 council installed street signs referencing Ben Boyd Rd. The cost of replacing these would be about $6200.

There are also two plaques in the community commemorating Ben Boyd with the council preparing to alter these.

“The larger of these are soon to be reinstalled with another plaque outlining the story of Boyd’s place in Australia’s historical narrative,” council papers said.

“With that, the naming of Ben Boyd Road will be put in context, and residents and visitors can decide for themselves the nature of the man and his deeds.”

See also (2nd post)

China power crunch sees potentially millions of homes in the dark and global supply chains cut

Australia used to be a big supplier of thermal coal to China but that has been cut off by China for political reasons.  It would seem that replacement of the Australian coal from other sources has not been very successful

A widespread power crisis in China threatens to become the “new normal” as the country’s manufacturers and citizens alike face a potential cold, hard winter ahead.

Several of the country’s provinces have begun to ration power supplies in the face of shortage of coal supplies, increasing energy demands from manufacturers and consumers and tough emission standards.

China, which is increasingly dependent on coal, has ordered provinces to limit power consumption, as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics and strives to curb emissions.

This has led to unannounced power cuts for citizens in many provinces, who have taken to social media to complain about the lack of heating and public infrastructure, including lifts and traffic lights not working.

The most severe impact of the power crisis has been seen in the country’s northeastern industrial belt, comprising of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces.

Huludao city told residents to not use high energy-consuming electronics including microwaves and water heaters during peak periods, according to Reuters.

The immediate effects of the power crisis have echoed in industry as well. Key suppliers of Apple and Tesla halted production in some plants. Power-intensive sectors like aluminum smelting, cement manufacturing, steel making and fertiliser production have been hit as well.  At least 15 Chinese companies that produce goods ranging from aluminum and chemicals, said their production was curbed by power cuts.

While the power crisis has taken its toll on citizens only this month, early indications of the crisis have been witnessed since March, which is when the country had begun witnessing spikes in power prices, reported Reuters.

Joe Hildebrand: Real genius of Australia’s submarine pact is nothing to do with boats

The message that other major Anglosphere countries will give brotherly support to Australia is the main point.  Considered as a whole, the Anglosphere is a substantial counterweight to China

Beijing is spitting chips about Australia’s US sub deal despite the first boat not being due for more than a decade. Their real anger is because of something else.

The biggest advantage of a nuclear submarine is that it never has to surface, which is also the biggest advantage of Australia’s nuclear submarine deal.

There has been much debate over the technical merits of the new nuclear subs we will get from the US and UK versus the diesel-powered subs we just ditched from the French. At least all our armchair epidemiologists have found a new area of expertise.

But the most critical characteristic of both the diesel and the nuclear subs is the one they have in common: Neither actually exists. Australia has no French submarines or American submarines — and it won’t be getting any of either for a very long time.

In fact, the seismic announcement that sent the French Ambassador storming out and the President sniffily screening his calls has almost nothing to do with submarines at all. Indeed, it is inconceivable that such explosive tantrums could be caused by an argument over aquatic metal.

Instead it is about something far more primal and real — and much more real than phantom U-boats.

Paul Keating knows it, which is why the former PM’s reaction was if anything even more visceral than that of the French. He may have landed on the wrong side of the argument but at least he knew what the argument was about.

The most precious commodities in the submarine swap aren’t underwater tin cans but the flags that stood behind Scott Morrison, Boris Johnson and Joe Biden as the three leaders announced the new deal.

For Australia it was a clear message to China that we might not be the biggest kid in the playground but we’ve got both Blighty and Biff at our back. For the UK and USA it was a clear message that they now have not just an eye on the region but a dog in the fight.

Many on the lunar green left have sought to paint it as a provocative action but this is merely a form of geopolitical victim blaming. After the shameless trade war that China has waged upon Australia, its ubiquitous cyber attacks on our institutions, its open belligerence towards Hong Kong and Taiwan and its literal raising of the seabed in the South China Sea to create military bases — not to mention innumerable mass-scale human rights abuses within its own mainland — one wonders what they would consider an appropriate strategic response.

There was a time in global affairs just a decade or two ago when China was rightly considered a rational and reasonable actor. Sadly its more recent actions prove that while it may well still be rational — its hyper-nationalist and expansionist agenda is nothing if not calculated — it is no longer reasonable. Reasonable countries don’t put 200 per cent tariffs on wine.

So what do we do? The truth is there is not much we can do. Obviously Australia will never be any match for China in a straight fight, be it a trade war, a cold war or — God forbid — a hot one.

Our only option is to remind the Chinese that, as Princess Leia said to Jabba the Hutt, we have powerful friends. Some might sneer that the USA is a declining superpower but it’s the only one we’ve got. And, as Crosby, Stills and Nash once sang, you’ve got to love the one you’re with.

It should also be noted that if the United States can withstand its last two presidents then perhaps reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. If a nation can survive both Trump and Biden then surely that is a mark of infinite resilience.

It is thus both wholly and sadly unnecessary that this new — or rather renewed — alliance is causing such an identity crisis within the Australian Labor Party. Labor has always been a friend of America, to the point that it even uses the American spelling of its very name.

The great John Curtin made perhaps the most important decision in Australian history when he turned to the US to defend Australia from Japan after the fall of Singapore in World War II. It is then strange that the party has been infected by anti-American sentiment in all the decades since.

Of course in the 1990s Labor heralded the advent of the Asian century and it might have been right then. That doesn’t mean it is still right now.

Placating Indonesia while it oppressed East Timor was bad enough. Placating China while it oppresses Hong Kong and Taiwan is a whole new art of acquiescence. It certainly has no place in a party that calls itself progressive.

Anthony Albanese is right to support our reinforced position as a member of a Western liberal democratic alliance. As Opposition Leader he is obliged to ask questions and find fault but he needs to stand strong even as he is bombarded by the bonkers left.

Former PMs might carry on and cry but it’s only future PMs that count.

Why has the price of aluminium skyrocketed around the world?

Northern Australia has huge and easily accessible deposits of of bauxite right by the sea (at Weipa) and only a short sail from Asia.  So it is already a major supplier.  It may soon become even more dominant as a  supplier.  It easily has the reserves to replace Guinea and buyers should see that

What happened this week was a huge spike in the price of aluminium, which goes into everything from cars and trucks to phones and beverage cans. The metal touched $3000 a tonne — the highest it’s been since the 2008 global financial crisis — before settling down a wee bit after a couple days. But it’s still almost 70% more expensive than this time last year.

Why has the cost soared?

Because of Guinea, a tiny country in West Africa. Earlier this month, a military junta ousted Guinean president Alpha Condé in a coup driven by frustration over a lack of social and economic reform during his tenure. (Ramming through a referendum to ignore term limits and extend his time in office didn’t win Condé any friends either.)

Guinea is one of the major producers of bauxite, the mineral that is the raw ingredient for the production of aluminium. With a country so dependent on mining producing a commodity the world is so reliant on, a military coup naturally introduced uncertainty into the market — and uncertainty often means volatility. Even though Guinea’s mines are making an effort to keep operations normal and production steady, prices can still rise because commodities are traded speculatively. This means traders are nervous about what could happen with this batch of colonels, or even the next government, whenever it’s formed.

Guinea’s travails have indirect effects. Any blip in the bauxite supply chain has potential to wreak havoc later on. This is especially true seeing that China, which turns much of Guinea’s rocks into shiny metal, has become a net importer of aluminium recently, so it doesn’t necessarily have the domestic back stock to keep up with industry demand.

Aluminium comes from an ore called bauxite. According to the US Geological Survey, bauxite is the “only raw material used in the production of alumina on a commercial scale”. In other words, if the world wants aluminium, the world needs bauxite. The process that turns bauxite into aluminium is called smelting, and it is fairly resource- as well as energy- and emissions-intensive. It’s a messy business.

While Australia was the world’s largest producer of bauxite last year, digging up 110 million tonnes, Guinea produced 82 million tonnes, or 22% of the world’s supply. For a country of just 13.6 million people, that is no small feat. More importantly, perhaps, it also has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, with 7.4 billion tonnes. Guinea may not be to aluminium what the DRC is to cobalt, but it’s almost there.

What does this mean for the prices of goods that use aluminium?

Well it’s not good. Aluminium is everywhere these days. It’s used heavily in automobile production: Ford’s F-150 pick-up, the best-selling vehicle in the US, uses loads of it, which unfortunately got pricier thanks to former US president Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminium. It’s in mobile phones. It’s in cans. The US uses it extensively in defence production. And the post-pandemic “greening” of the economy has led to increased aluminium demand due to its prevalence in electric car production and solar panels, as NPR’s Marketplace pointed out. 

Increased demand, combined with continued political uncertainty in Guinea, could keep aluminim prices sky high. If that happens, the prices of consumer goods will inevitably inch upward. The more volatile Guinea’s political situation is, the bigger the effect.

How long will this last? 

It depends on how long political instability in the country persists. Lately, consultations have begun to shift from military rule to a transitional government. But it could take weeks — or a whole lot longer — for a final decision to be made.

In the meantime, the leader of the coup, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, rushed to assure big mining companies he wouldn’t do anything to disrupt operations, which might take some of the froth out of the market.

Bauxite is Guinea’s golden goose, so it’s not likely the new junta will do anything to jeopardise exports in the short term. But if political instability continues — or if the government decides to take a bigger bite of mining revenues, potentially even leading to closures — supply problems could creep into an already jittery market. And if you drive, talk, or eat leftovers, that is not what you want to hear.

Australia needs a ‘clear plan’ for net zero to avoid energy crisis

Barnaby Joyce has hit the nail on the head.  Greenies and their supporters have NO plan for what will replace coal-fired electricity.  Nukes are anathema and natural gas is an increasingly scarce and expensive fossil fuel.  But only those two could keep the lights on at night and when the wind is not blowing

Mr Joyce has made a slight pivot in his stance on committing to a net zero target by 2050 after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made an economic case for adopting the target in a speech to business leaders on Friday.

The Nationals have traditionally been opposed to the commitment; however, the remarks from Mr Joyce may signal a future shift in the party’s position.

“We want to make sure – and the Coalition is a prudent organisation – we want to make sure that any process forward doesn’t just follow rhetorical flourish, one-line headlines, but makes sure that we have a clear plan,” Mr Joyce told reporters on Friday.

“I have to show the Australian people what happens, what it looks like when you get it wrong.

“And the UK energy crisis, the European energy crisis, will be our energy crisis.

“At the end of that graph resides coldness and unemployment, and we don’t want either of those.

Mr Joyce indicated he believed the treasurer was “completely right if people make decisions that restrict the flow of capital”, however, Australia should not allow “third parties” to restrict the capacity to act within rules and within a process that is legitimate.

Japan Could Mix Things Up in the Taiwan Straits

The USA plus the rest of Asia would make a powerful counterweight to China.  Even Vietnam could join in.  They have no love of China.  China did invade them a few decades back

After the disastrous meeting in Anchorage earlier this year, China is on the offensive. If not, it's certainly making moves because it easily slapped around Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It was an embarrassment. The adults are back, right? Well, they're getting the belt—by everyone. 

China and the Taliban have both clinched wins over the Biden White House. And knowing how Biden seems wholly disengaged with everything, I'd take some things out for a spin. Our shambolic exit from Afghanistan showed the world that American was "rudderless." The world sees we're a nation deeply divided. Now is the time to make some moves—and China certainly is exhibiting that in the Taiwan Straits. Yet, one nation could throw a wrench in Beijing's neo-imperial plans.

Look, if we were to compare Asia to a sports division, it would be the National Football Leagues' NFC East. It's stacked with powerhouse teams (historically), vicious competition, and no love among its members. Taiwan's defensive strategy heavily relies on US support. Its immediate goal is to hold off a Chinese onslaught long enough for American carriers and troops to arrive. Will that happen? Nothing's really set in stone, and it would take a long time for us to reach the besieged island should this happen. Frankly, this is a World War III situation and carriers be damned—ICBMs would be flying. Yet, Japan decided over the summer to get a bit more aggressive as well. 

Japan knows that Taiwan's security is tied to its own—and discussions of a defense pact were in the works. In June, Japan's deputy defense minister was quite clear that defending democratic Taiwan was a national security priority for Japan. It did not sit well with China—at all. In August, Japan and Taiwan held a virtual meeting on the matter (via Asia Times): 

Taipei and Tokyo held unprecedented security talks…a move that prompted China’s diplomatic displeasure.

The discussions were held under a “2+2” format and attended by a pair of senior lawmakers from Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). They took place online and lasted half an hour longer than the planned hour, according to Reuters.


Experts who have spoken to Asia Times on the potential for security cooperation between Tokyo and Taipei have suggested a range of feasible options the two sides could agree on.

The two could, for example, coordinate their intelligence, communications and responses to Chinese air intrusions in the gap between Taiwanese air space and Japan’s southern Ryukyu Islands.

A legal-logistical mechanism could be established in Japan to assure backup for Japan-based US forces if they deploy to or around Taiwan. Or, a joint Japan-US headquarters could be established, possibly on Okinawa, where the US deploys a Marine division and related assets to coordinate Japanese-US forces in regional operations.

Now, in September, the talks are still unofficial. There's no official security pact, but The Diplomat argued that this "renaissance" in Taipei-Tokyo relations may not last, though the fact that both islands have a shared interest in keeping China at bay will remain. We shall see what happens.

Biden administration takes aim at refrigeration gas

First they cut out CFCs on shoddy grounds. Now it is HFCs.  What will be used next in refrigeration? Highly flammable Propane?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday finalized a rule that will slash the use of a potent climate-warming gas commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners by 85% over the next 15 years, a move that will help halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade.

The rule aims to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% in a range of common appliances and carries out legislation passed with bipartisan support in Congress last year. It would make the U.S. compliant with the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty to reduce HFCs that the U.S. has not yet ratified.

"It really sends a signal to the rest of the world that we are all in on climate change," National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday evening.

The rule comes with under six weeks to go before the pivotal UN climate summit in Glasgow. President Joe Biden is rolling out several climate measures through executive actions, while other key climate proposals are dependent on Congress passing budget and infrastructure bills.

McCarthy said she does not know when Biden will send the amendment to the Senate for ratification.

The EPA said the rule is one of the most "consequential" in terms of its climate impact. Along with additional interagency measures, it can reduce 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent by 2050 — equal to nearly three years of U.S. power sector emissions at 2019 levels, according to a White House fact sheet.

The EPA rule creates an allowance allocation and trading system to reduce HFCs and is reviewing over a dozen petitions to restrict HFC use in other applications.

The EPA and White House also announced on Thursday that the administration will take an interagency approach to prevent the illegal trade, production, use, and sale of HFCs and prepare for enforcement actions to punish violations of the law.

(1)Males and females are different after all

An angry backlash has erupted after an all-boys netball team won a state title in Queensland by beating sides made up of female players in the decider.

The Queensland Suns Under-17 team was comprised entirely of boys and won the Under-18s championship in Brisbane this week, beating regional female teams en route to the trophy.

The Courier Mail reports after the Suns beat the Bond University Bull Sharks 46-12 in the final, some members of the crowd directed abuse towards the boys, with many believing it was unfair they were allowed to compete.

Suns coach Tammy Holcroft told the publication: “The abuse ranged from comments made courtside deliberately within earshot of the Suns contingent, to adults making vulgar comments directly behind the team bench.


(2)Males and females are different after all

Following the debut of MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin, an Australian advocate has called for transgender athletes to be banned from competing in professional women’s sports.

McLaughlin, the second openly transgender woman to compete in MMA in the United States, won her debut on Friday night via submission at the Combate Global prelims.

The 38-year-old used a rear-naked choke against Celine Provost to end the match three minutes, 32 seconds into the second round.

PM Morrison is making an enemy of China – and Labor is helping him

Former Australian PM Paul Keating comes out as a Sinophile below.  What he says about the subs is nonsense but I agree with him in deploring the nagging of China.  Criticizing a Communist regime was never going to do any good.  Western criticisms have caused China to lose "face" and that was always going to engender hostility

The Liberals, having no faith in the capacity of Australians and all we have created here, could not resist falling back, yet again, to do the bidding of another great power, the United States of America.

Menzies, even after World War II, did Britain’s bidding against the international community in attempting to wrest the Suez Canal from Egypt just as he deceptively committed Australian troops to Vietnam to appease the United States.

Howard, another US appeaser extraordinaire, committed us to an illegal war in Iraq with tragic consequences.

And now, Morrison, a younger throwback to the Liberals’ Anglosphere, shops Australia’s sovereignty by locking the country and its military forces into the force structure of the United States by acquiring US submarines.

And all in the claim of a so-called “changed security environment”. That change is China’s more aggressive international posture – the posture of now, the world’s largest emerging economy. This change in China’s domestic and foreign posture is labelled by Morrison and his government not as the shifting posture of a re-emerging great power, but as “the China threat”. As though China, through its more abrupt and ruder foreign policy, has also presented a military threat in its dealings with Australia.

A threat that, in fact, has never been made and that has never materialised.

The word “threat” explicitly connotes military aggression or invasion, a threat China has never made against Australia or even implied making.

Chinese tariffs on wine or seafood do not constitute a military threat any more than does China’s intolerance of Hong Kong domestic political management.

Hong Kong and its affairs do not and cannot be represented as some military threat to Australia – an event that requires from us consideration of a military response. Even Chinese island-pumping in the South China Sea does not represent a military threat to Australia, unwise on China’s part, as I believe it to be.

But this is the construction Scott Morrison and his government have placed on China and its relationship with Australia.

It is a “threat”, implying by use of the word, that it is a military one.

This false representation of China’s foreign policy has also been condoned by the Labor Party, if not explicitly. In her five years as Labor’s opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, by her muted complicity with the government’s foreign policy and posture, has neutered Labor’s traditional stance as to Australia’s right to strategic autonomy – an autonomy unconstrained by any power, including, that of the United States.

Instead, Wong went along with the stance of Julie Bishop and Marise Payne – calculatedly, with not a cigarette paper of difference between her and them. And did it with licence provided by Bill Shorten as leader and, now, Anthony Albanese.

Now that long policy void is being exploited by Scott Morrison. At Morrison’s instigation, Australia turns its back on the 21st century, the century of Asia, for the jaded and faded Anglosphere – the domain of the Atlantic – a world away.

And Labor is complicit in the historic backslide. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been up to their necks in it also. Peter Hartcher’s bi-weekly froth-mouthed articles about China and its supposed threat, along with Chris Uhlmann and his wicked representation of China as marauding Nazis, has constituted an important part of the climate that has allowed Morrison to now shop the country to the Americans.

China does not attack other states, unlike the United States, which does attack other states, yet the Herald and The Age have portrayed China as an aggressor power with malevolent intentions.

In a measure of luck, Australians have been vested with a continent of our own. A continent having a border with no one – with no other state. And certainly, not remotely within any territorial contest or claim by China, which is 10 flying hours from Australia’s east coast cities.

The notion that Australia is in a state of military apprehension about China, or needs to be, is a distortion and lie of the worst and most grievous proportions. By its propagation, Australia is determinedly casting China as an enemy – and in the doing of it, actually creating an enemy where none exists.

So poisonous are the Liberals towards China they are prepared for Australia to lose its way in the neighbourhood of Asia, in search of Australia’s security from Asia, by submission to yet another strategic guarantor – 240 years into our history.

This strategy amounts to a massive bet on the United States and its staying power in Asia. Rather than Australia finding its own way around the region, including with China, as we have done so well in the past, Morrison and Labor have tied us to the unknown endurance of the United States and the pain it is prepared to wear in defence of what it believes are its core Asian interests.

I have said before, but it is worth repeating: the United States is a naval power, whereas China is a continental power. A continental power with the largest land mass in Asia occupied by 20 per cent of humanity. And competently served by a modern military.

The United States, by its aircraft carrier fleets, enjoys naval force projection but that projection is fuelled from its bases on the American west coast. Its capacity in a military exchange with China will be limited by the attenuation of its supply lines and the vulnerability of its surface vessels to Chinese submarines and ballistic missiles.

I have also said before, but worth repeating, that when it comes to major international conflagration, land beats water every time. Through this submarine purchase, Australia surrenders its naval forces to the command of the United States, while setting itself into a military position incapable of defeating Chinese land-based and sea denial forces.

It takes a monster level of incompetence to forfeit military control of one’s own state, but this is what Scott Morrison and his government have managed to do

True blue Aussie bushman and rodeo champ, 75, is fined $100 for carrying a POCKET KNIFE on his belt - despite doing so every day since the age of 14

This is an absurd prosecution from every angle.  Section 2A of the Act  specifically provides that "A person may carry a knife on his or her belt for performing work in primary production."  The magistrate who convicted  him needs to brush up on the law

An elderly bushman who has carried a tiny pocket knife for more than 60 years was charged and forced to face court after possessing the item in public.

Wayne McLennan, 75, is a local legend in his hometown of Chinchilla, Queensland, where he the former rodeo champion is affectionately known as 'Cowboy'.

But last month, when heading home from the local pub, Mr McLennan was stopped and breathalysed by police, before being taken to the station after blowing slightly over the limit.

After producing a second test under the legal blood alcohol level, the policewoman informed him he would be getting charged for another crime. 

'While I was there she said 'but I am going to charge you for wearing a pocket knife in public'. I said "what? I didn't know you weren't allowed to wear one",' he told A Current Affair.

'I've been wearing one since I was 14 years old. She said "that's it, that's the law".' 

Mr McLennan said he has been going about his business on his farm and in town with the tiny knife in his pocket for decades.

The blade, which barely measures more than an inch, is used for common jobs around the property and is a necessary part of every farmer's toolbelt.   

'Well if I got to go and put a bale of hay out, I use it to cut the string and then open a bag of horse feed, use it to open the top,' he said.

Cowboy was out in Chinchilla last month having a few beers at the pub with friends before he got some takeaways and headed back to his car.

Police stopped him before he even got in the car and said they were going to breathalyse him, where he blew over the legal limit.

The 75-year-old blew under the legal limit on his second attempt, but police still didn't let him go.  

Cowboy was charged with Section 51 of Queensland's Weapon Act, which says a person mustn't possess a knife in a public place or school unless they have a reasonable excuse.

The farmer said he 'wouldn't have had one on me if I'd known I wasn't allowed to wear one' and was shocked at the decision of the policewoman.

Mr McLennan faced local court where a magistrate fined him $100 and allowed him to leave without conviction.

He says no one around town could believe his story.  'That's why people keep ringing me and talking to me about it, they didn't know whether it was true or false,' he said.

Other bushmen around town have supported the 75-year-old, saying it was common place to innocently carry a small pocketknife. 'Oh it's ridiculous, every second guy here that walks into the pub here on a Friday night, has a pocket knife on their belt,' fellow Chinchilla local Tom Latimore said.

$464 million in grants to kickstart hydrogen industry

This is pretty silly. It is true that burning hydrogen produces no pollution but obtaining the hydrogen does. Whether it is extracted from natural gas or produced by electrolysis, it is an industrial process that uses a lot of energy.

And once you have the hydrogen you need a heavy and expensive pressure vessel to transport it -- and that uses up energy too. And the vessels do explode sometimes, dangerously

The state’s first test-run Hydrogen refuelling station opened in Redlands today with one of the state’s first hydrogen cars getting a tank of fuel made from Queensland sunshine.

Queensland’s burgeoning hydrogen industry will get a cash injection in a bid to get manufacturing plants running and create a global export hub.

Gladstone has been singled out as one of seven regions to be prioritised for $464 million in grants to help build pilot projects, set up joint ventures, secure supply chains and get production up and running.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today announce the cash, saying it will help establish new export industries and set up Australia to supply energy to the growing market in southeast Asia.

The scheme is in addition to the announcement last week for a large-scale renewable hydrogen plant to be built near Gladstone by electricity generator Stanwell, as well as federal, state and other corporate backers.

It’s location near a port, water and high-capacity electricity generation has put the central Queensland city in prime position to take part in a hydrogen boom.

The Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs grants will open next Tuesday, September 28, and will include grants of up to $3 million for research and development projects, and a second stream of up to $70 million to rollout hydrogen hubs.

Industry applicants will have to stump up at least half the cash for the proposal, with the grants only to cover 50 per cent of the cost.

Mr Morrison said the funding was about fast-tracking the development of the emerging technology.

“Our plan to invest and develop low emissions industries will mean more jobs for Australian workers, particularly in our regions, cheaper energy for businesses and lower emissions,” he said.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the hydrogen industry was expected to create 8000 jobs and generate $11 billion a year by 2050.

“A thriving hydrogen sector will help Australia to achieve its emission-reduction goals while continuing to grow our economy and support existing industries,” Mr Taylor said.

There are a range of hydrogen projects already starting in Queensland, including the Stanwell project, Dyno Nobel’s study producing renewable hydrogen at Moranbah and QUT research into renewable energy hybrid systems to generate hydrogen.


UK carbon dioxide shortage could force farmers to cull pigs

A CO2 shortage!  A great irony, surely

Britain’s pig farmers are the latest casualty of the worsening energy crisis which threatens to trigger a shortage of carbon dioxide used across the food and drinks industry.

Rocketing gas prices have caused a Europe-wide slowdown for some chemical factories that produce fertiliser, a byproduct of which is carbon dioxide which is used in fizzy drinks and beer as well as in the meat industry to stun animals before slaughter.

Meat industry representatives have warned that farmers may imminently be required to begin “humane” pig culls due to a looming shortage of carbon dioxide to slaughter the backlog of animals destined for abattoirs that are already understaffed amid labour shortages.

It would be the first time that farmers would be required to destroy their animals en masse since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease two decades ago forced the government to send the army to British farms to cull livestock.

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said: “We urgently need the secretary of state for business to convene the big CO2 manufacturers to demand that they coordinate to minimise disruption, and provide information to Britain’s businesses so contingency plans can be made.”

The government has held emergency talks with representatives from the food and drink industries, as well as the UK meat sect0r, over concerns that trouble in the chemicals industry could impact CO2 supplies for the food sector.

Norway-based chemicals company Yara International on Friday set out plans to curtail its ammonia production at six facilities across Europe by 40%, including a plant in Hull, which will also impact the CO2 supply chain. It blamed record gas prices across Europe for affecting its profit margins.

The decision follows the shutdown of two fertiliser plants in the North of England by US company CF Industries earlier this week, also due to record high gas prices. The company shut its plants in Billingham in Teesside and Ince in Cheshire, which employ about 600 workers.

Fertiliser plants use gas to produce ammonium nitrate which is used in agriculture to support crop yields, but also produce food-grade carbon dioxide. A CO2 shortage three years ago triggered panic among meat producers as well as pubs and breweries.

Allen said the latest carbon supply chain squeeze would be worse than the 2018 disruption because there has been “zero warning of the planned closure” which has “plunged the industry into chaos”.

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, told the Guardian that pig farms were “at bursting point already” and the carbon dioxide shortage would compound the disruption in UK abattoirs caused by a lack of labour.

“Government has got to intervene,” she said. “I was talking to a farmer earlier who was almost in tears at the thought of having to kill animals that they had lovingly raised. The last thing they want to see is animals being killed on farms.”

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has also been in talks with government officials about the looming issues in the UK’s carbon dioxide supply chain, and said it would closely monitor the situation to further understand its consequences.

A government spokesperson said it was “monitoring this situation closely” and officials were in regular contact with the food and farming organisations and industry, “to help them manage the current situation”.

Fears for UK recovery as record energy prices shut fertiliser plants

All those closed coal plants are coming back to bite them.  It's simple supply and demand.  Reduce the supply of elecricity and the price will shoot up

Gas has been widely used to replace coal but that just puts a strain on the gas supply

Record energy prices have forced two fertiliser plants in the north of England to shut down and brought steel plants to a halt, in some of the clearest signs that the energy crunch engulfing Europe could deal a blow to the UK’s economic recovery.

The US fertiliser maker CF Industries has halted production at its plants in Billingham in Teesside and Ince in Cheshire, which employ about 600 workers, because of rocketing gas prices, which have reached successive record highs across Europe in recent weeks.

Goldman Sachs, a major commodity trader, warned rocketing prices would mean heavy industries across Europe running the risk of blackouts this winter, particularly if freezing temperatures drag into 2022 across Europe and in Asia.

The warning came as UK Steel, the industry’s trade body, said steelmakers were already forced to pause work during peak electricity demand hours due to market prices for power.

The energy price shock has triggered calls for UK ministers to take urgent action to protect households and companies, while governments across Europe move ahead with rescue deals to help energy consumers to weather the coming winter.

The boss of the energy supplier E.ON UK, Michael Lewis, used an interview with the Financial Times to call on the government to help hard-pressed households by moving the cost of supporting renewable energy subsidies from energy bills to general taxation.

In Spain the government plans to claw back €3bn (£2.6bn) from energy generator profits, and put in place tax breaks for consumers, in order to stem the economic contagion of runaway energy prices. Meanwhile, the French government is considering plans for direct subsidies for energy payments and Greece has amassed a €150m rescue fund to cut all consumer bills.

The UK government has been slow to respond to the brewing energy crisis, despite Britain shouldering the highest energy market prices in Europe, according to market experts at S&P Global Platts.

CBI, the UK’s biggest business group, said the jump in energy prices was “a concern for businesses looking to accelerate their recovery from the pandemic”, and called for companies and policymakers to work together to safeguard the UK’s international competitiveness.

Energy prices have rocketed across Europe owing to a global boom in gas demand following a cold winter that depleted gas storage facilities. There has also been trouble importing gas from Norway and Russia which has cut its exports to Europe in recent months, for reasons some in the industry suspect may have a political motivation.

The gas price hike has proven particularly difficult for the UK because it continues to rely heavily on gas-fired power plants. There are also rising fears over the UK’s electricity supplies after a string of unplanned power plant outages and some of the lowest summertime wind speeds since 1961.

The UK’s electricity woes were compounded this week by news that one of its biggest power cables responsible for importing electricity from France would be forced to shut until late March after a fire at a converter station in Kent. The cable shutdown means the UK will rely more heavily on electricity generated domestically by gas-fired power plants, which could increase the pressure on gas supplies, and coal plants that have raked in record payments to help keep the lights on.

CF Industries said the company did not have an estimate for when production would resume at its UK facilities, and experts fear that other heavy energy users will also face shutdowns or rocketing business costs this winter.

UK Steel said at current electricity prices it was already impossible for steel producers to be profitable at certain times of day or night and urged the government and the regulator to intervene.

“The government and Ofgem must be prepared to take action as this situation continues,” said Gareth Stace, the group’s director general. “Electricity prices increase in the winter months, therefore the situation gets more urgent each and every day.”

A spokesperson for the government said it was “determined to secure a competitive future for the UK steel industry” and had provided “extensive support”, including more than £600m to help with the costs of energy and to protect jobs.

“Our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” the spokesperson added.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, said it understood that “the current situation with gas prices is putting pressure on customers” and remained “committed to continuing to work closely with industry through the period ahead”.

GPs hit out at restrictions on supposed Covid treatment Ivermectin

<i>The general Leftist determination to find fault with Trump has to be factored into any judgment about Ivermectin.  As I read it, the condemnations of it and the devotions to it are both too sweeping.  

On my reading of the research literature, it is in a familiar class of drugs that is useful if taken early in disease onset but useless after that.  So both sides can quote findings that support their position.</i>

The move by Australia's legal drug authority to warn general practitioners against prescribing the drug Ivermectin as a supposed 'Covid treatment' has divided the grass roots medical fraternity.

Last week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration issued new restrictions on the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 symptoms amid fear it was being handed out by GPs to those using it as an unauthorised treatment for the virus.

The drug, which has traditionally been used to treat lice and scabies in humans, and which also is used to treat conditions in animals, gained popularity as a potential Covid cure after ex-United States President Donald Trump talked it up while in office. 

News of the direction stirred robust debate among doctors commenting under a Royal Australian College of General Practitioners article. 

While some welcomed the decision, many appeared furious that they were being told what was best for their patients. 

'The contempt we are held in by our bureaucracy is palpable,' one GP stated. 

'Once again general practice is considered the lowest common denominator of medicine, and our competence and objectivity to treat our patients appropriately is questioned,' another doctor wrote. 

Some GPs argued it was 'common knowledge' among doctors that vaccination alone was not the only approach to manage pandemics.

'Being vaccinated does not make anyone a superhuman to COVID infection. If our goal is to keep Australian safe from dying, shouldn't we give alternatives to those who for whatever reasons will rather die than take the vaccines,' one doctor wrote. 

'India saved their nation with Ivermectin. Do we want people to die in their homes in the name of promoting vaccination? GPs should stand up for choice.' 

GPs are now only able to prescribe ivermectin for TGA-approved indications, such as scabies and certain parasitic infections.

The changes mean only specific specialists , including infectious disease physicians, dermatologists, gastroenterologists and hepatologists, will be permitted to prescribe the drug for other 'unapproved indications' if they believe it appropriate.

'These changes have been introduced because of concerns with the prescribing of oral ivermectin for the claimed prevention or treatment of COVID-19,' the TGA told doctors.

'Ivermectin is not approved for use in COVID-19 in Australia or in other developed countries, and its use by the general public for COVID-19 is currently strongly discouraged by the National COVID Clinical Evidence Taskforce, the World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Administration.'

'I am neither for or against Ivermectin at this stage,' one GP commented.

'WHO had given contradictory statements on Covid inflection right from the start. For example, no human to human transmission.'

Some GPs claimed they had been bullied by anti-vaxxers desperate for access to the drug to treat Covid.  

'I have been approached by an aggressive family twice and I obliged once which was so hard next time that I needed to call police to get rid of that patient - frustrating indeed,' a GP stated.  

It is understood the drug's promotion by anti-vaxxers has led to a dramatic increase in its uptake by the large sections of the community. 

The drug has been used as an authorised treatment for Covid-19 in some eastern European, South American and Central American nations, and was used in India to during the outbreak of the Delta strain, but is not recommended by the WHO. 

It came back into the headlines this month when prominent podcaster Joe Rogan said he used the drug and others to treat his Covid infection and rapidly recovered, with some attacking his promotion of unauthorised treatments. 

A quick look on social media reveals the drug is widely promoted in anti-vaccination circles as an alternative to the jab. 

'There has been a 3-4-fold increased dispensing of ivermectin prescriptions in recent months leading to national and local shortages for those who need the medicine for scabies and parasite infections,' GPs were warned.

The health watchdog has warned improper use of the drug can be associated with serious adverse effects, including severe nausea, vomiting, dizziness and neurological effects such as dizziness, seizures and coma. 

Although some GPs remain skeptical of the TGA advice.  

'Ivermectin is wrongly painted as a dangerous drug and a "serious overdose reaction" of diarhoea is mentioned. This is laughable,' one GP wrote.

'Many patients taking all sorts of medications are experiencing diarhoea and a S/E. Should we remove all these meds from GP's hands then?' 

Former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who in August assumed the leadership of Clive Palmer's United Australia Party, has repeatedly said drugs such as ivermectin and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine - another unproven treatment - should be used to treat Covid.

'I'm not saying take the drug. I'm not saying the drug works, but I'm saying the doctor should be free to sit down with their patient and make a decision,' he previously told SBS.

Last month, the equivalent to the TGA - the US FDA - put out a tweet urging people not to take ivermectin, amid a surge of calls to poison centers nationwide. 'You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,' the agency wrote.

DOJ to Limit Chokeholds, No-Knock Raids

No knock raids are a gross breach of civil liberties (4th amendment) and can easily be abused. It's time they were stopped. All evidence obtained via them should be deemed inadmissable on Miranda grounds. Too bad if a few druggies get time to hide their stash

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it would be imposing limits on federal law enforcement's use of chokeholds, carotid restraints and no-knock warrants going forward.

Chokeholds and carotid restraints only be authorized if police officers find themselves in a situation that requires the use of deadly force, which is defined as a "reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person."

The new policy will also limit no-knock warrants to times in which "physical safety is at stake," but would still be required to get approval from both a federal prosecutor and the agent’s law enforcement component.

"Building trust and confidence between law enforcement and the public we serve is central to our mission at the Justice Department," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "The limitations implemented today on the use of ‘chokeholds,’ ‘carotid restraints’ and ‘no-knock’ warrants, combined with our recent expansion of body-worn cameras to DOJ’s federal agents, are among the important steps the department is taking to improve law enforcement safety and accountability."

This comes in response to several deaths in recent years that occurred from the use of these police tactics.

In 2014, Eric Garner died after New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold and compressed his chest against the ground while arresting him for selling loose cigarettes. Pantaleo was subsequently fired but was not charged for Garner's death.

Outrage over no-knock warrants came after Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her home last year during a botched police raid.

The new policy comes as national police reform legislation has stalled in Congress.


If Amy Coney Barrett means what she just said, she should resign from the Supreme Court right now

Danielle Campoamor has written below an unalloyed hit-piece for the Independent.  In  the bad old days, the Independent was known to many conservativesas the Subservient and that is if full flower below.  I have often noticed that it takes a woman to rip another woman apart and Danielle Campoamor  is in that tradition

Referring to a senior conservative Senator as a "goblin" reveals her bias and she is amusing in calling Trump "shameless" for appointing judges from his side of the political aisle.  Democrats don't do that?  They invented it with their finding rights mentioned nowhere in the constitution (abortion) and denying ones that were (affirmative action)

And Danielle totally ignores the times Barrett has OPPOSED conservative positions -- e.g. on immigration and firearms. She IS independent.

While speaking at a lecture hosted by the University of Lousville’s McConnell Center, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed faux concern over the American public’s belief that the highest court in the country has become partisan. After she was introduced by the Republican Senate Minority Leader and proud partisan goblin Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — and no, even Veep writers couldn’t have made this mess up — Barrett said justices should be “hyper-vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too.” She went on to insist that “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties” and that “to say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner.”

If you can lobotimize yourself into forgetting that Barrett joined her fellow conservative judges in recently refusing to block the clearly unconstitutional 6-week abortion ban in Texas, and sidestep the rank hypocrisy oozing from the mouth of a woman who gladly accepted a nomination that went against the very promises Republicans made when they blocked then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, perhaps you can take Barrett’s concern at face value. Maybe partisanship keeps this proud conservative judge up at night. Sure.

But if she is truly afraid of bipartisan hacks taking over the United States Supreme Court, then she should take the first step in rectifying the problem… and resign.

Barrett was nominated and later confirmed to the Supreme Court for one main reason and one main reason only: to overturn Roe v Wade. The president who nominated her, Donald Trump, said as much. During a 2016 presidential debate, Trump said “I will be appointing pro-life judges” and promised Roe v Wade would fall “automatically” after those judges were confirmed, especially if he was in a position to appoint two or three judges during his presidential tenure. And he was. Now, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Barrett herself sit on the high court, with the court’s partisanship on full display and Trump’s shameless promise fulfilled.

Scientists warn polar bears are inbreeding due to climate change

The loss of genetic diversity sounds bad, but there is no evidence it actually is. They just assume it is. There is a reply to the story here which pretty well demolishes it

A new study on climate change’s effects on polar bears was published Wednesday in the Royal Society Journals.

The study, published Wednesday in the Royal Society Journals, found a 10-percent decrease in the genetic diversity of polar bears in the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard over a 20-year period, corresponding with the loss of sea ice.

“We found a drastic reduction in genetic diversity over the 20-year period," one of the study’s authors, Simo Maduna of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, told ABC News. "And we could, in actual fact, associate this reduction in genetic diversity with the loss of sea ice."

As the sea ice melts due to climate change, polar bears have fewer encounters with other polar bears. 

Researchers worry that as more bears begin to inbreed, it could lead to infertility among the polar bears, as well as an inability to combat disease.

"With genetic diversity, when the population becomes so small, you'll find that there will be a higher chance of closely related individuals mating and producing offspring," Maduna said. "But with that comes a risk in the sense that some of the traits ... that are recessive, will now basically be unmasked in the population."

Polar bears are already facing other detrimental effects of global warming, such as starvation from their dwindling hunting grounds. A previous study from 2020 estimated that all polar bears could be extinct by 2100 if the Arctic ice continues to melt at its current rate.


Australian TV Channel takes ex-Bachelorette Georgia Love off air after racist social media post

Jokes are now dangerous

Georgia Love has been taken off air after sharing a racist post on social media.

The former Bachelorette star has been disciplined by employer Channel 7 following backlash over the post earlier this week when Love posted an Instagram image of a cat inside an Asian restaurant with the caption: “Shop attendant or lunch?!” and a laughing emoji.

“We have addressed this matter internally and disciplinary action has been taken,” a Seven spokeswoman said.
“Seven does not condone this inappropriate conduct and all of our staff have the right to work in a safe, nurturing workplace free from prejudice.”

After her stint on Ten’s Bachelorette in 2016, TV journalist Love earlier this year landed a dream job as a reporter on 7News Melbourne.

It is understood that after a workplace investigation and being counselled by bosses, Love will work on the news production desk effective immediately.

Love, who married partner Lee Elliott after meeting on the reality show, apologised to colleagues in an email sent by 7News Director Shaun Menegolo.

“It has been a difficult week for many as a consequence of some inappropriate and offensive posts on a staff member’s private account,” Menegolo said.

“Following a workplace investigation that had to follow due process, I want to let you know that Georgia has been counselled and will be reassigned to the production desk, effective immediately.”

Australia now the biggest gold producer

What happened to South Africa?  Black rule, I guess

Australia has become the biggest gold producer in the world, overtaking China for the first time.

It's great news for gold miner Red 5 which is ramping up efforts to begin production at its King of the Hill mine in Western Australia's Goldfields.

"We started constructing in October 2020 and we're on track for the first gold in about seven or eight months time, in the June quarter of 2022," Red 5 managing director Mark Williams says.

The miner is turning the switch back on at the open cut and underground gold mine it bought four years ago.

The timing is pretty good too, with spot gold prices hovering at about $US1,800 an ounce.

"We've been able to essentially beat the rush with the escalation in the pricing," Mr Williams tells The Business.

How did we top China?

China has been the world's biggest gold producer since 2007, with Australia the second largest producer for about a decade.

Gold analysts Surbiton Associates report China produced 153 tonnes of gold in the first half of this calendar year.

Australian gold miners produced 157 tonnes.

"That's the first time that's happened," Surbiton Associates director Sandra Close says.

But, she adds, it wasn't an increase in Australian production that led to the switch.

"The Chinese, I believe, have had some problems in the mines with some safety problems, some personnel being killed, so at the moment some of the mines are being investigated.

"We shall have to see what happens to gold production in the next six months, both in Australia and in China."

Australian gold production is rising

The last two years have been the best on record for Australian gold producers.

In the 2019/20 financial year 328 tonnes of gold was retrieved from beneath Australian soil — the most ever in a year.

Last financial year was the second best year, yielding 321 tonnes.

"We do have a larger number of smaller mines compared to some of the other gold mining countries such as, say, the US," explains Dr Close.

"That gives us a little more flexibility sometimes."

IBISWorld research predicts the $26 billion sector will see revenue rise 11.6 per cent this year "due to continued uncertainty about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy".

It says the growth is also due to an anticipated surge in industry output and higher gold prices.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals investment in gold exploration rose more than any other commodity in the June quarter, up 19.3 per cent to $429.8 million.

Why does the gold price go up when everything else goes down?
Gold is known as a safe haven asset.

Generally the price of gold increases when there's political and economic instability.

"Gold is the one safe haven asset that everybody flocks to in times of difficulty, in times of turmoil and trouble," says The Perth Mint's chief executive Richard Hayes.

"Given where the world is today with COVID and the terrible problems that we've seen around the world, the demand for both gold and silver has gone through the roof."

But it's not always a straight line.

The gold price fell when the COVID-19 pandemic first took hold around the world.

"The initial reaction was quite negative — we actually saw in March 2020 gold prices fall roughly about 11 per cent and that was a reflection of a flight to safety and the market running towards the US dollar," explains Commonwealth Bank director of mining and energy commodities research Vivek Dhar.

Six months later, gold peaked at a new high.

"We have certainly seen a lot of volatility because up until August last year we actually saw gold track higher to lift above $US2,000 an ounce," he says

It's now come back down and is worth about $US1,800 an ounce.

"But it's held at the $US1,800 mark rather than the sort of $US1,200, $US1,300, $US1,400 mark that it was holding at pre-COVID," Mr Hayes adds.

"So certainly that's up by 20 to 25 per cent on where it was two years ago."

What about digital currencies like bitcoin?

Some argue digital currencies are giving gold a run for its money as the ultimate store of wealth.

But the extreme volatility of the likes of bitcoin and ethereum, where the price can move more than 10 per cent in a single day, has others arguing it's too risky.

"Bitcoin or ethereum coin exists in cyberspace. At the end of the day, it's simply an entry in an electronic ledger," argues Mr Hayes.

"If you look through history at commodities, where they have shot from relative obscurity to prominence, like South Sea pearls or the tulips out of Amsterdam, they all went through the same cycle that we're seeing now with cryptocurrencies — they went up spectacularly in value and fell just as quickly."

What else drives the gold price?

The biggest factor affecting the gold price right now is the US Federal Reserve and a weaker US dollar.

While the Reserve Bank of Australia is continuing with its tapering of bond buying, the US central bank is yet to move.

"A delay to tapering is likely to provide less support for the US dollar than otherwise and that should be positive for gold," Mr Dhar explains.

"While the inverse relationship between gold and the US dollar has deviated significantly in the past, in recent months movements in the US dollar have provided a reliable steer of gold price movements."

Which means we could see the gold price, and its contribution to our economy, rise again.

Corals climate 'fighters'

That they "need rising temperatures to slow" is just an assertion.  No figures are given

Corals may be able to roll with the punches of climate change better than initially thought in coming decades, but need rising temperatures to slow to have a fighting chance.

Corals can pass down the ability to survive rising temperatures via their genes, researchers say.

That's the finding of new Queensland-led research, published on Monday and based on an analysis of 95 trait measurements across 19 species of reef-building corals from previous studies.

The authors determined corals, which have suffered widespread bleaching events in Australia this century, can pass down abilities to survive under environmental stresses such as rising temperatures through their genes.

"We found their ability to pass on adaptive traits is maintained despite increasing temperatures," said lead author Kevin Bairos-Novak, a PhD candidate at James Cook University's Coral Centre of Excellence.

"In particular, corals that are better than average at survival, growth and resisting bleaching stress under future ocean conditions should be good at passing those advantages on to their offspring."


Antibiotics and bowel cancer

I no longer post regularly on my Food & Health blog but I have just put up something there that should be of general interest -- An article about a link between antibiotics and bowel cancer

Queensland water utility wins appeal against 2011 flood damages ruling

The Wivenhoe dam could easily have stopped the flood but it was mismanaged by the bureaucrats in charge of it  -- who ignored their own manual.

This judgment says that the operators can do what they want as long as they agree with one-another!  This should go to the High Court

State-owned dam operator Seqwater has won an appeal against a landmark ruling on the 2011 Queensland floods.

In 2019, the Supreme Court in New South Wales found the Queensland government, Sunwater and Seqwater, had acted negligently and had contributed to the disaster.

It was ruled engineers had failed to follow their own flood mitigation manual, leading them to release large volumes of water at the height of the flood, damaging more properties.

A judge ordered more than 6,500 victims whose homes or businesses were damaged were entitled to almost $900 million in compensation.

Two of the defendants agreed to pay their share of the settlement but Seqwater — which was found liable for 50 per cent — appealed against the decision on a number of grounds.

During a hearing in May, Seqwater argued engineers had acted appropriately and the decisions about water releases were suitable.

In a published judgment today, three NSW Court of Appeal judges ruled the engineers "acted by way of consensus" and "ultimately" followed the strategy determined by the senior flood operations engineer and were not in breach of the Civil Liability Act.

"Failure by Seqwater's flood engineers to depart from that strategy was not proven to be in breach," the judges found.

"Even if their conduct departed from the manual, that did not of itself entail a breach of that standard."

Ipswich councillor and Goodna flood victim Paul Tully slammed the unexpected decision as a "kick in the guts" to many still-struggling flood victims.

"This decision defies commonsense and logic given that SunWater and the state government have already accepted they were jointly liable for the flood," Mr Tully said.

"We now have the bizarre situation where the state government and SunWater have agreed to pay $440 million as their assessed 50 per cent liability, while Seqwater has squirmed out of its responsibility on a legal technicality."

Mr Tully accused Seqwater of legal delaying tactics over 10 years "lacking one iota of justice, common decency or fair play".

"In the past decade, many flood victims have passed away, marriages have failed and people have suffered mental breakdowns as a result of the legal delays."

The judgment also rejected the initial judge's determination that losses had been caused by the "cumulative effect" of several breaches by the flood engineers.

"That approach was artificial … and assumed that each flood engineer could and should exercise independent judgment," the judges found. "The flood engineers acted in a collaborative manner … all were liable for each breach. "The fact that a particular engineer was on duty at a particular time was not a critical factor."

The matter was dismissed and the respondent was ordered to pay costs.

Climate change is causing ‘catastrophic harm to health’ and action to tackle it cannot be put off because of Covid, medical journals warn

This is nonsense on stilts.  Warm weather is good for you. Winter is the season of dying.  And the claims about disasters also range between exaggerated and false.  For instance, the claim that agriculture is suffering is the reverse of the truth.  Almost every year grain crops are in glut

'Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world,' read an editorial published in more than 220 leading journals ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in November.

Since the pre-industrial era, temperatures have risen around 1.1 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit).

The editorial, written by the editors-in-chief of over a dozen journals including the Lancet, the East African Medical Journal, Brazil's Revista de Saude Publica and the International Nursing Review, said this had caused a plethora of health problems.

'In the past 20 years, heat-related mortality among people older than 65 years has increased by more than 50 percent,' it read.

'Higher temperatures have brought increased dehydration and renal function loss, dermatological malignancies, tropical infections, adverse mental health outcomes, pregnancy complications, allergies, and cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality.'

It also pointed to the decline in agricultural production, 'hampering efforts to reduce undernutrition.'

Personal carbon allowances revisited

This is straight totalitarianism, reminiscent of Soviet Russia  You will be restricted from doing things that you would normally do by a "carbon" straitjacket.  Reminiscent of wartime rationing


Here we discuss how personal carbon allowances (PCAs) could play a role in achieving ambitious climate mitigation targets. We argue that recent advances in AI for sustainable development, together with the need for a low-carbon recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, open a new window of opportunity for PCAs. Furthermore, we present design principles based on the Sustainable Development Goals for the future adoption of PCAs. We conclude that PCAs could be trialled in selected climate-conscious technologically advanced countries, mindful of potential issues around integration into the current policy mix, privacy concerns and distributional impacts.

Climate change deniers are as slippery as those who justified the slave trade

Nick Cohen is a moderate Leftist but he has fallen for the egotistical fallacy that what goes on in his own head goes on in most other people's.  He declares skeptical arguments disproven  without looking at the shallowness of the "disproofs".  He is just gullible.  Calling climate skeptics "cranks" just reveals him as a bigot.  What he writes is a smear, not an argument

No one seems as defeated as the global warming “deniers” who dominated rightwing thinking a decade ago. Like late 18th-century opponents of abolishing the slave trade, Lord Lawson and the claque of Conservative cranks who filled the comment pages of the Tory press are remembered today as dangerous fools – assuming they are remembered at all.

The billions of dollars spent by the fossil fuel industry on propaganda and its acceptance by know-nothing elements on the right caused incalculable damage. They might have followed Margaret Thatcher, who warned in 1989 of C02 admissions leading to climate change “more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known”. The desire of business to protect profits and the vanity of politicians and pundits, who saw themselves as dissidents fighting the consensus rather than fanatics enabling destruction, helped to waste two decades of valuable time.

Every argument they advanced has been disproved, as much by the experience of everyday life as science. Journalists are advised: “If someone says it is raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the window and find out which is true.” The world only had to look at the weather outside to know who was trying to fool it.

To pick from the dozens of examples in Richard Black’s history of the conspiracy theory (Denied: The Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism) , global warming is not a “swindle”, as a Channel 4 documentary informed its viewers in 2007. Glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking and the seas are becoming more acidic. If there was swindling, it was at Channel 4, as Ofcom suggested when it found the station guilty of several breaches of the broadcasting rules. It is not “erroneous” to assume that humanity is driving the climate catastrophe, as the Spectator assured its readers as late as 2017. The pace of man-made climate change is faster than anything in the Earth’s history and all attempts to invent other explanations have failed.

Viscount Ridley, who presided over the collapse of Northern Rock, and now dismisses the collapse of the planet in the pages of the Times, said climate change was doing “more good than harm”. We should adapt to a warmer Earth and celebrate the reduction in deaths from the winter cold. But the seas and icecaps cannot adapt, nor can cities threatened with flooding and countries facing desertification. The lights did not go out as we switched to renewable energy, as so many pundits said they would. And energy bills have fallen rather than risen, despite the assertions of the noble Lawson to the contrary. Rightwing denialism appears buried so deep in the dustbin of history it can never be recycled.

And yet there is nervousness among the impressively large number of Conservative politicians who are serious about pushing for net zero. They are pleading with their colleagues to understand the advantages to consumers and businesses that a determined remaking of the economy would bring. The Conservative Environmental Network is already in a fight with a small group of rightwing MPs, who claim “the poorest will pay the highest price for net-zero fantasies” (even though no measure is more likely to reduce fuel poverty than a government home-insulation drive). That battle will only intensify.

I put “denier” in quotes at the top of this piece because the enemies of science (and of us all) are endlessly malleable shapeshifters. Once they can no longer deny the existence of man-made global warming, they shift and keet on shifting so no one can ever pin them down. In this, they mirror the defenders of slavery 230 years ago, who created the modern world’s first corporate PR campaign and provided an example for all who have followed.

The comparison isn’t harsh. One day, the attack on climate science will be seen as shocking as the defence of human bondage. Indeed, that day should have long passed. They are overwhelmingly old men or, in the case of Lawson, a very old man. They grew up in a 20th century where the carbon economy was natural: the way the world was and would always be. Slavery was equally natural to the plantation owners and slave traders of Georgian Britain. It had always existed, everywhere on Earth.

The 18th century had its Viscount Ridleys who opined that slavery did more good than harm. In 1789, during the hearings for the first abolition bill in history, one witness told parliament that Africans wanted to be enslaved and “nine out of 10 rejoice at falling into our hands”. The pro-slavery lobby was as well funded as the fossil-fuel lobby, and as relentless. The Telegraph comment pages did not exist in 1789 so it commissioned The Benevolent Planters by one Thomas Bellamy to appear at the Theatre Royal in London’s West End. The play told the story of Oran and Selima, lovers who are separated in Africa. Their capture by slavers is a blessing. Far from being oppressors, kind slave owners bring the couple together in the West Indies and allow them to live productive lives together.

William Wilberforce was assailed by claims that if Britain abolished slavery, “our manufactures will droop in consequence, our land-tax will be raised, our marine destroyed, while France, our natural enemy and rival, will strengthen herself by our weakness”. Today, Nick Timothy, the man who destroyed Theresa May’s premiership, tells Telegraph readers the British will be forced into penury by “net-zero zealots” while other countries “break their promises” and profit from our naivety.

In the 18th and 21st centuries, as soon as one fake position was exposed, another took its place. The arguments change. The intent remains the same.

It remains an open question as to whether Boris Johnson secretly shares a denialist intent. Conservative environmentalists look on him with approval as he prepares to host the Cop26 climate change conference in November. He says all the right things, but the investment and political will needed to electrify transport, reduce meat eating and refit the housing stock are nowhere to be seen. Denialism is a shapeshifter. Its latest form may be a bombastic prime minister who promises the Earth but does next to nothing to protect it.


There is a long research article under the heading above that would not be appropriate to reproduce here. I did however like one of their graphs. I reproduce it below. You will note that the temperature was the same in 1550 and 1950. Not much global warming there!

The lesson is that the temperature goes up and down in random ways

Much-touted Bangladesh study of masks is a snark

Multiple accounts have popped up (e.g. here) saying that the study vindicates mask-wearing. It does not. Just two quotes from the study abstract tell the tale:

"Neither participants nor field staff were blinded to intervention assignment"

"The proportion of individuals with COVID-like symptoms was 7.62% (N=13,273) in the intervention arm and 8.62% (N=13,893) in the control arm"

For a start, the study was of people with "COVID-like symptoms", not actual disease and there was NO data on deaths. So there is a lot of room for slippage there.  How often were the "symptoms" actually indicative of COVID infection? 

Secondly, the figures for mask-wearers and non-mask-wearers differed only slightly (7.62% vs 8.62%) -- to a  degree readily explainable by the fact that the study was not blinded.  The experimenters knew who the wearers and non-wearers were and it is routine that such a circumstance gives results favourable to the hypothesis.

Not blinding the study was a huge breach of scientific protocol and renders the results of zero authority.