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A letter from Roger Underwood, published with permission. He wrote a lengthy paper on fire control which I also have permission to publish but I cannot transfer the file onto my website and I will have to ask for the paper in a different format
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
In 2009 in the wake of the Black Saturday fires in Victoria, the fires that killed 180 people and burned down two substantial towns, I was invited to come to Melbourne and give a public lecture on the bushfire problem in Australia. My paper was presented to a large audience in an historic building in Collins Street, and then later published on the internet and in a number of journals, including in the USA, Canada and South Africa.
The paper was entitled Australian Bushfire Management: a case study in wisdom versus folly. It identified the problems with the current approach to fire management and pointed to a wiser and more effective approach … but at the same time, drew attention to the barriers to adoption of such a course. These barriers are basically political, and stem from (a) the absence of leadership and (b) the malevolent influence on governments of pressure groups, in particular the environmentalists and academics who oppose the “preventative medicine” of fuel reduction burning in eucalypt bushland.
I was moved to re-read the paper yesterday (copy attached), in the wake of the spate of disastrous bushfires now bedevilling Australia. Another two towns have burned since Christmas, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent on futilely trying to suppress intense fast-moving fires burning in heavy fuels. We all know this is impossible, but it is still attempted. I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s definition of a fanatic: one who, when proven wrong, redoubles his efforts.
Possibly the most dramatic example of the lack of leadership and populist politics is the decision of the Victorian Premier to reject the recommendations of the Black Saturday Ro...
The post-industrial impacts that humans have had on the Earth and its atmosphere may pinpoint the mid-20th century as the start of a new geological epoch. read now...
“… this government needs and must be held to account for their action – or inaction, on the information held in the secret files of the Heydon Royal Commission. If the Senate can’t hold the government to account on behalf of the Australian people – who will?”
Independent Senator of Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has panned certain media for describing the Turnbull government act of giving crossbench senators access to secret volumes of the Heydon Royal Commission Report on trade unions as “extraordinary”.
“Using this language is a sly and subtle attempt to take the focus away from extraordinary threats to the Australian State detailed in the Heydon secret reports, while creating a political bias against crossbench senators. The reporting tries to distract people and prevent them from asking – What are those grave threats to the Australian State that are being covered up, and are they being acted on by the Government?” said Senator Lambie.
Precedent set for Crossbench Senator viewing of secret reports
“The use of this language also clearly ignores well-known facts and precedents surrounding the management of previous secret and sensitive government reports which crossbench Senators were also given access to. So the Government’s actions, if the exclusive media report is to be believed – is not as extraordinary as some reporters would have you believe,” said Senator Lambie.
“A secret government report (DLA Piper Volume 2) detailing horrific sex crimes, assaults and...
The Turnbull government will take the extraordinary step of giving crossbench senators access to secret volumes of the Heydon royal commission report on trade unions in a desperate bid to end the stalemate with the independents over its industrial relations reforms.
The Weekend Australian can reveal the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is arranging a viewing of the confidential parts of the report after crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus demanded to see the full report before deciding on key industrial relations bills stalled in the Senate.
In a nod to the extreme sensitivity of the contents of the two volumes, kept secret from the public when the report was tabled on December 30, the government does not plan to distribute hard copies.
In his interim report released in December 2014, royal commissioner Dyson Heydon urged a volume be kept confidential owing to threats to 29 witnesses — “in order to protect the physical wellbeing” of those persons and their families.
“This is unfortunate, because the confidential volume reveals grave threats to the power and authority of the Australian state,” he reported.
In his final report last month, he recommend a sixth volume also remain confidential.
The government confirmed that Mr Heydon’s recommendation in the final report was also based on “se...
Malcolm Turnbull's visit to the Middle East and his upcoming meeting at the White House are both significant when it comes to his recent efforts to balance the expectations of both the hawks and doves in the voting community.
In 2003, Abu Omar was
kidnapped in Italy by the CIA. He was rendered to Egypt, where he
was tortured. The rendition became public in 2005 and the Italian
justice system was eventually forced to act; in 2009 22 CIA agents
were convicted in absentia for their role in Omar's
kidnapping and torture.
One of them was Sabrina De Sousa, a dual Portuguese-US citizen. She was detained in Portugal in October on a European Arrest Warrant, and a Portuguese court has just ruled that she should be extradited to Italy to serve her sentence:
A Portuguese court has ruled that a former C.I.A. agent should be handed over to Italy after being found guilty by an Italian court of taking part in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in 2003, one of the renditions ordered by the administration of former President George W. Bush.
The former agent, Sabrina De Sousa, holds dual American and Portuguese citizenship. Ms. De Sousa has denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the kidnapping, which took place while she was working undercover for the C.I.A. as a diplomat in Milan. She will appeal this week’s ruling, her lawyer, Manuel Magalhães e Silva, said by email on Friday.
Monday is of course the day the pond watches the dog botherer
watching the watchers so that all may disappear up sundry
The watchers watching the watchers routine seems to have disappeared from the reptilian splash ...
For five years, Tata, the Indian firm that owns what used to be British Steel has been warning that energy costs in Britain are squeezing competitiveness.
Previous reductions have accelerated in 2015 with a 15 per cent cut in jobs.
Successive UK governments have responded by further turning the screws with now renewable energy requirements and other impacts. And each new announcement of retrenchments, like the most recent one, is met by anguished blame shifting and calls for specific supports.
Politicians the world over have a knack of etherealising their decisions on renewable energy as though they have no consequences. Many have been conditioned by absurdities like the sun and wind is free so how can using this energy be adding to costs and their eyes glaze over when confronted by hard data demonstrating the renewals cost three times as much as fossil fuel alternatives. Doubtless, public servants will advise them that if energy costs account for 12 per cent of product costs and the energy price increases by 20 per cent then cost increases are less than 3 per cent and easily absorbed. Such arguments fail to recognise that it is the residual profit that drives business decisions and the 3 per cent is perhaps three tenths of profits, or a 30 per cent reduction in the owners’ income.
The result of the developed world imposing penalties on its energy costs is an acceleration of the relative growth in China, India and other countries that would not countenance anything but token measures to price carbon. Among developed countries, the US has attracted European relocations by dint of its cheap energy (both BMW and Mercedes build their SUVs in the US) – Obama is doing his be...
How bad are Australia's refugee gulags? So bad that
someone is trying to kill themselves every two days:
Incident logs from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection covering one year, obtained under freedom of information laws, paint a picture of depression, desperation and violence at Australia's domestic and overseas detention camps and in the community.
They raise fresh questions over the human rights implications of Australia's tough border protection regime, which has been condemned by the United Nations, and will fuel calls for children to be immediately released from detention.
The data shows that in the year to July 2015 there were 188 incidents of self-harm involving asylum seekers at Nauru, about one every two days. There were 55 such self-harm acts at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
They included detainees swallowing poisons, stuffing tea bags down their throats and hanging by bed sheets or other makeshift nooses.
As usual, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting
poorer. And now inequality is at
truly staggering levels:
Just 62 people own as much wealth as the poorer half of the global population, as the widening of the gap between the rich and poor accelerates.
As the business elite converge on Davos for the World Economic Forum, an Oxfam report shows wealth is becoming further concentrated, with the number of people owning the same amount as the bottom half of humanity falling from 388 to 62 in five years.
It says a "broken" economic model underpinned by deregulation, privatisation and financial secrecy has seen the wealth of the richest 62 people jump by 44 per cent in five years to US$1.76 trillion ($2.74 trillion).
In that time, the wealth of the poorest 3.6 billion people plunged by 41 per cent.
Today in The Australian
With the world’s stock markets reeling after their worst-ever start to a year, it is important to remember that the adjustments at the heart of the current turmoil are inevitable and desirable. But that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. And as the threats mount, strengthening our economy’s capacity to withstand a global downturn becomes ever more urgent.
My favourite men’s tennis bit of trivia is that Bernard Tomic is
closer in age to Novak Djokovic than Djokovic is to Roger
Tomic is 23, was born in October 1992; Djokovic is 28, was born in May 1987 and is 5 years and 5 months older than Tomic; Federer is 34, was born in August 1981 is 5 years and 9 months older than Djokovic.
I like it because it reminds me why whenever Federer is asked about his favourite or toughest opponent he invariably talks about three generations of players – those who where there when he arrived, like Sampras and Agassi, those who arrived at the same time as he did – Hewitt, Safin and Roddick – and then he mentions Nadal and Djokovic (Nadal is 4 years and 6 months younger than Federer).
We think of Djokovic and Federer as peers in a way which we would never think of Djokovic and Tomic.
That Djokovic and Federer, although separated by nearly 6 years, have become perhaps the greatest rivalry in the history of professional men’s tennis says a great deal about both. That Federer has been able to keep playing as well as he has for so long is amazing, and that Djokovic began playing as well as he did so early is worth remembering when valuing his greatness.
Remember as Djokovic begins his quest for a 6th Australian Open that he won his first title 8 years ago in 2008. He was 21, and it was no real shock. Sure he upset Federer in the semis, but Federer was suffering glandular fever and Djokovic even then was far too good to pass up an opportunity to beat a wounded Federer.
But Djokovic was the 3rd seed at the time, had lost to Federer in the previous year’s US Open and made the semi finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon in 2007. He was already very good, even if he was almost more known for his ability to impersonate other players than his tennis ability:
Now that it appears former Howard Government minister and Nationals MP Larry Anthony may be contemplating a return to politics perhaps it is also time to recall a little of his history.......
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