Tag Archives | Australia

Australia As Bellwether For The New Global Climate

USMC-100909-M-3740P-136Extreme weather events in Australia are now commonplace and scientists believe it may be a bellwether for the rest of the world. Report from National Geographic:

In early 2012 once-in-a-century floods submerged swaths of Great Britain and Ireland, causing some $1.52 billion in damages. Then in June record-high temperatures in Russia sparked wildfires that consumed 74 million acres of pristine Siberian taiga. Months after that, Hurricane Sandy pummeled seven countries, killing hundreds and running up an estimated $75 billion in damages. Just this week, a tornado of virtually unheard of size and ferocity tore through a small city in Oklahoma, leaving 24 people dead.

Each of these one-off traumas was bad enough, wreaking havoc, but in Australia such events seem to be becoming commonplace.

The Lucky Country has experienced a major spike in extreme weather in the past few years, with a string of devastating incidents just since January.

That has people wondering if the island continent is somehow a perfect bellwether for the Earth’s changing climate.

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Landmark CCTV Case in Australia: Government Seeks to Change Law to Resume Surveillance

This sign is under surveillance
Image by lonely radio

Last week (2nd May), in the midst of Privacy Awareness Week [1], an Australian campaigner, Adam Bonner won a landmark decision against CCTV cameras in New South Wales [2]. The decision did not rule that the cameras in the town of Nowra should be switched off, but instead ordered the local council to stop breaching the Information Protection Principles of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act. Remedies were suggested by the Privacy Commissioner but suffice to say Shoalhaven council has switched the cameras off whilst deciding its next move.

The decision of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal New South Wales ordered that:

1. The Council is to refrain from any conduct or action in contravention of an information protection principle or a privacy code of practice;

2. The Council is to render a written apology to the Applicant for the breaches, and advise him of the steps to be taken by the Council to remove the possibility of similar breaches in the future.

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Australian Scientist Claims To Have Photographed Dozens Of UFOs

ufosDust on the lens? Magnetic distortion? Or something else entirely? The Australian writes:

A biochemist-turned-school teacher says he captured hundreds of “UFOs” on his digital camera from his Darlington home in the Perth Hills.

Rob Hartland has taken more than 20,000 photos of the daytime sky in the past six months and analysed them on his computer. He says he has identified a dozen different UFOs including round, square and saucer-shaped craft, posting the photos to his website wispyclouds.net for extraterrestrial buffs and sceptics to ponder.

Mr. Hartland, who has a PhD in biochemistry, said he had no history of mental illness or drug taking and that he never altered his photos, though he acknowledged many people would find his claims hard to believe.

The Sunday Times picture editor Jackson Flindell said Hartland’s images did not appear to have been tampered with.

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Australian Billionaire Orders 117 Animatronic Dinosaurs For Jurassic Park-Style Resort

With so many very rich people in the world, why has it taken so long for someone to do this? Via the Australian:

Clive Palmer is a giant step closer to creating his own Jurassic Park after the eccentric billionaire put in an order for more than 100 mechanical dinosaurs.

The mining magnate, who is also building a replica Titanic, already has a tyrannosaurus rex called Jeff and an omeisaurus named Bones in his Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane.

Mr. Palmer said today he had ordered another 117 animatronic dinosaurs for the resort from central China. He said the new arrivals would include a 1200kg brachiosaurus and a 7m tall mamenchisaurus – both tall plant-eating reptiles.

The animals, which will be displayed in the woodlands around the resort, will sway their tails, heave their chests and blink, Mr. Palmer said.

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Mysterious Light Blamed For Circle Of Fire In Australian Suburb

Between this and certain recent meteors, I feel like someone up there is angry. Seven News Queensland reports:

Tasmanian police and firefighters are unable to explain the source of a beam of light which reportedly fell from the sky and formed a circle of fire in a Hobart suburb.

Early Saturday morning police and fire crews received calls from concerned residents in Carnegie Street at Claremont, who reported seeing a bright light igniting a fire in a nearby paddock.

Tasmania Fire Service officer Scott Vinen says the blaze was quickly put out, leaving an obvious burnt patch. He says the bizarre incident has everyone baffled: “Once we put the fire out, we kind of walked through the fire and tried to find something…We thought a flare or something may have landed there, but we couldn’t find any cause.”

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The Law of the Tongue

Humans have trouble honoring treaties with each other, what are the chances they’d respect a contract signed with another species?

Pretty good … at least in one case.

The Orca king, Old Tom, directs an Australian harpoon boat toward a captured pod of whales.

Killers of Eden” is an in-development indie feature film that tells the story of the whales of Twofold Bay, Australia. From the early 1800s through to 1930, Australian whalers had an agreement with a local pod of Orcas known as “The Law of the Tongue.” The Orcas would herd baleen whales close to the shore of the Port of Eden, blocking their escape routes, at which point harpoon boats would set upon – and kill – the whales. The tongues of the baleen whales would be cut off by the whalers and delivered to the orcas as a food tribute.

The humans and orcas would cooperate in other ways as well.… Read the rest

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Julian Assange To Run For Australian Senate In 2013

This is assuming he’s not jailed in an off-the-grid dark pit somewhere come next year. The Herald-Sun reports:

Julian Assange will run for a Senate seat in the 2013 federal election and his mum reckons he’ll be awesome. Christine Assange has confirmed her son’s candidacy, after WikiLeaks tweeted the news.

Queensland-born Assange, who founded the secret-leaking website WikiLeaks, announced his Senate ambition last December from Ecuador’s London embassy. He said he would run as a Senate candidate under a yet-to-be-formed WikiLeaks party banner and was recruiting others to stand with him. He sought refuge there last June in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Assange fears if he goes to Sweden to be questioned over rape allegations, authorities will allow him to be extradited to the US to be questioned over WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of US diplomatic cables.

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Australian Town Overtaken By Sea Foam

If the world is destined to soon end due to mysterious and extreme weather, I hope that this is how civilization crumbles. The town of Maroochydore has been incapacitated after being blanketed with foam bubbles reaching as high as nine feet:
A stretch of Australia's Sunshine Coast has been blanketed in sea foam, swept ashore by the remnants of a tropical cyclone that struck Australia last week.
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Faulty iPhone Maps Could Kill You, Australian Authorities Warn

Is our reliance on GPS and mobile devices maps making us increasingly disoriented and oblivious? To me, the relevant aspect of this story is not that Apple’s map app is flawed, but that numerous people would drive to a remote, dangerous desert just because their smartphone told them to. Via Newser:

Apple’s much-maligned mapping system is so flawed that motorists who rely on it run the risk of ending up dead in the wilderness, Australia police warn. Over the last few weeks, six motorists have become stranded in Victoria state’s Murray Sunset National Park when following the map app’s directions to a city more than 40 miles away, CNET reports. Some iPhone users were stranded in the park for two hours without enough food and water.

Police in the area have urged drivers to rely on other forms of mapping. “Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the park,” they said in a statement, warning that temperatures in the park could reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, making the map problem “a potentially life-threatening issue.” Apple has yet to comment on the issue.

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