Contents: Morally indefensible II Innovation JCU II Nasty world – Trump II II One belt, One road II Rogue company II Power bills to soar II Quote of the month II
People working long term in the public service and living in public housing make me angry. Well paid, six months paid leave after 10 years, salary sacrifice arrangements, TOIL, 12% supa, paid holidays, sick leave, it goes on. Everyone knows a permanent public service job is gold. The limit on assets in order to be eligible for public housing is $90,000. The most recent statistics on homelessness indicate 19,838 people in Qld and 105,237 nationally (ABS, 2011). The wait list for public housing in Qld I am told, is nearer 200,000. Public housing is for disadvantaged people not those working in the public service permanently over a long period of time.
Innovation – nature-based technology
Turning a problem into a solution is what Dr Madoc Sheehan does. With Assoc. Professor Kirsten Heimann and two student researchers, the JCU team have successfully produced a microalgae biofilm that can absorb nitrogen and heavy metals from tailings water. Their experiment conducted at the tailings dam at Qld Nickel, revealed dissolved heavy metals, while cleaning the water.
Assoc. Prof. Heimann said then “the water can be more easily re-used …and poses less of a danger to the reef.” When harvested 10% of the algae’s dry weight was made of pollutants. Dr Sheehan confirmed that 40% of the tailings water was carbohydrate which made it suitable for converting into a biofuel e.g., ethanol. This same biofuel could be used to harvest and grow the algae again, a complete remedial cycle.
Dr Sheehan (pic) has received many awards for embedding sustainability into the engineering curriculum. “Eventually we’ll be able to clean mine waste water using algae, concentrate the heavy metals, sequester CO2 and turn it back into energy.”
Mine waste becomes a resource. Source JCU Media release 13 Apr 2017
A nasty world
Referring to the world, President Trump said “right now it’s nasty.” Having dropped the Mother of all bombs on a network of caves and tunnels (Tora bora) used by ISIS and close to the Pakistan border,(Apr 14).. and fired some 60 missiles at an air base used to launch planes which bombed civilians in a chemical warfare attack (sarin gas) in Syria (Apr 7), Trump has illustrated he is not fearful of taking action.
Also reported in The Weekend Australian April 22-23, an Egyptian American aid worker imprisoned in Egypt for three years has been released after Trump’s diplomatic intervention. Aya Hijazi, her husband and four other aid workers, were arrested and charged with child abuse and human trafficking. The bogus charges were widely dismissed by human rights groups. Ms Hijazi who is a dual citizen, had established a foundation to help street children in Egypt. Pic: Aya and President Trump at the White House.
Unfortunately the US is said to be closing in on Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But according to Cameron Stewart writing as Washington correspondent for The Weekend Australian, “any successful prosecution would need to prove Assange went beyond his role as a publisher or journalist in leaking classified documents.” Barry Pollack, representing Assange, said “WikiLeaks is a publisher and they are publishing truthful information that is in the public’s interest.” Assange has been held up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.
Source: Sarah Blake, Newscorp, NY, Apr 14, 2017, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, The Weekend Australian
The world is indeed a nasty place when you consider 20 million people face starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, and this figure includes 1.4 million children. The Islamist group, Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out suicide bombing missions. Around Lake Chad (Nigeria) 117 attacks have been carried out since 2014, 80% of the bombs were strapped to girls who were sometimes drugged before their missions. An estimated 500 children are still missing including half the girls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group in 2014. While Boko Haram are said to be in retreat the UNHCR has said 2.25 million people have been displaced.
Seven hundred Palestian prisoners held in Israeli jails have begun a hunger strike over conditions. Led by Fatah Marwan Barghouti, a potential successor to the current Palestinian president.
Israel has been blasted for approving its new Emek Shilo settlement in February 2017. More than 600,000 Jews live in 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.
Even Israel’s highest court deemed the Amona settlement illegal and residents had to be evicted. Pictured, a Palestinian boy looks on during clashes with Israeli soldiers near Qadomem in the West Bank. Source – Abed Omar Qusini, Reuters, Aljazeera News
While in Venezuela chronic shortages of food and medicine have lead to major protests. The country is in recession with inflation running at 63%. Venezuela boasts the world’s largest oil reserves and yet its homicide and inflation rates are among the world’s highest (The Guardian Weekly 21 April). President Maduro has also silenced the media. In recent weeks Peru, Brazil and Argentina have led an effort to censure Venezuela. Some of Maduro’s hardline supporters face indictments for drug trafficking and corruption in the United States.
Source: Cairns Post April 13, p36, Guardian Weekly, Al Jazeera
One belt, One road – BR
The ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative is a Chinese economic and strategic agenda by which the two ends of Eurasia, as well as Africa and Oceania, are being more closely tied along two routes–one overland and one maritime. Supporters suggest that the initiative permits new infrastructure and economic aid to be provided to needy economies. Critics claim that it facilitates Chinese economic and strategic domination of the countries along these routes.
Geoff Wade from the Dept of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security explains the Australian Government’s assessment. “On land, the plan is to build a new Eurasian land bridge and develop the economic corridors between China-Mongolia-Russia, Central and West Asia, the Indo-China peninsula, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. On the seas the initiative will focus on jointly building secure and efficient transport routes connecting major sea ports.”
China has massive capital reserves—both state and private, achieved through 40 years of rapid economic growth, and the OBOR is intended as an outlet for the vast excess production capacities which exist today in China. The initiative conceptualised by Chinese President Xi Jinping, will cost $5.3 trillion. Beijing will host a summit mid May on the Silk Road initiative and many world leaders are expected (and it would be sensible) to attend. Author: The focus of OBOR now termed ‘BR’, is in my opinion, to increase China’s dominance of world trade, strengthen the Chinese currency,…oh and sell lots of goods in the process..
Santos – rogue company
Prosecuted for pollution and damage to an aquifer in northern NSW (Sydney Morning Herald, March 8, 2014) when drilling for coal seam gas, Santos this year was found to be extracting 25% of east coast gas to meet its long term overseas gas contracts. Matt Chambers of The Weekend Australian (Apr 22-23) reported Santos as having taken 59% of its gas in March from third parties rather than use its own supply. Jennifer Howard reporting for the Australian Financial Review 10 Apr., “the combined $70 billion to build the 3 separate projects has meant none are nearly as profitable as expected, given [current] low oil prices.”
But as Chambers pointed out, “it is hard to get away from the fact, Santos and partners (France, Malaysia and Korean companies) approved a 2-train project that would rely on third party gas and that amount has grown substantially since 2011. Santos management are responsible. Some gas purchases were linked to development, its true, but gas used to be $3-$4 a gigajoule, and businesses are finding they now have to pay $12 to $20 per gigajoule.
Power prices to soar
The Australian government stepped into the energy crisis yesterday and put a cap on gas exports. Looks like Santos will have to buy abroad.
I hope its expensive. I am not happy about increasing power bills, when Australia has the resources. The Australian government needs to get a grip on energy and price carbon.
End of Blog quote: ‘Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature, it will never fail you’ – Monet
Pic: Lion rock, SW Tasmania. Photo; Grant Dixon 2007
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