More than 3000 people turned out on October 16 to walk across the Sea Cliff Bridge in the Illawarra in protest against coal seam gas mining plans in the area. The protest was further proof the coal seam gas (CSG) industry is in trouble. Its problem? An informed public. The Australian said on October 10 that a survey had showed the CSG industry was “losing the PR battle”, with 63% of respondents recalling a negative media story about CSG. Driving the bad coverage has been the large grassroots campaign against the industry.
Fremantle in Western Australia is emerging as a key battleground between a Liberal-National state government committed to building freeways at any cost and a community that wants to see better public transport and an expansion of rail freight. Container movements at Fremantle Port are predicted to double by 2020, yet the percentage being carried to port by train has declined from 17% in 2007 to 11% in this year. It is predicted to dwindle to 8.5% by next year.
Disconnect: The Truth About Mobile-Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It & How to Protect Your Family By Devra Davis Scribe, 2010 274 pages, $27.95 (pb) Meet SAM ― Standard Anthropomorphic Man. SAM is a big man and also the silent type who spends little time using his first-generation mobile phone held a safety-conscious half an inch from the ear. Safety standards for mobile phones have been based on SAM’s low exposure to mobile phone radio frequency radiation.
United States diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks make it clearer than ever that foreign troops occupying Haiti for more than seven years, under the banner of the United Nations, have no legitimate reason to be there. They show that this a US occupation, as much as in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it is part of a decades-long US strategy to deny Haitians the right to democracy and self-determination.
The debate over genetically modified (GM) food has flared up again recently, after Greenpeace destroyed an experimental CSIRO wheat crop in Canberra on July 14. The Australian Federal Police is now investigating Greenpeace over the incident, which CSIRO scientists claim has set their research back by up to a year. Greenpeace argued the crop posed a threat to the environment and human health. Plans are underway for human trials of the GM wheat before tests are conducted on animals.
There is no denying it, depression is on the rise across the world. The World Health Organisation says depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020. For young people this is already the case. Depression leads to about 850,000 deaths every year. But why is depression on the rise? In some instances it is a product of more readily available methods of diagnosis and public understanding of the disorder. But increases in suicide rates and other indicators suggest that the increase in depression is well beyond this statistical readjustment.
“During the first years of the siege, we could still manage, but nowadays we have no alternatives,” says Dr Hassan Khalaf, deputy health minister in Gaza. “It is a major crisis: many health services have stopped, and I’m afraid this will spiral out of control, because Gaza doesn’t have the essential medicines and supplies needed.” Cancer, kidney, heart and organ transplant patients, as well as patients needing routine surgeries, including eye and dental surgery, have been suffering for the past five years under the Israeli-led, internationally-backed siege of the Gaza Strip.
Safe sex advertisements are being returned to the city's bus shelters after widespread protests forced a ban to be overturned. Adshel, one of Australia's largest outdoor advertising companies, had taken down the ads on May 31 after a concerted campaign of complaints by the Australian Christian Lobby. Adshel said it had been the target of “a co-ordinated Australian Christian Lobby campaign” to have the ads removed, the June 2 Courier-Mail reported.
Good politicians are few and far between, but British health secretary Andrew Lansley is among the worst. In 2008, he was forced to apologise after saying recessions brought "good things" such as people being able to spend more time with their families. In Britain’s parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, he was accused of claiming for the renovation of a rural cottage, selling it, then “flipping” his second home designation to a London flat and claiming thousands of pounds for furniture. He said his claims were "within the rules".
Coal seam gas exploration is becoming a key political issue in NSW. The Labor and Liberal parties are pushing for a huge expansion in gas mining, including coal seam gas. But farmers, regional communities and city-dwellers are becoming increasingly worried about the health and environmental consequences of the gas rush. The NSW government recently approved energy company AGL’s bid to drill 90 coal seam gas wells and build a pipeline and processing centre near Gloucester, north of Sydney.