Archive for June 2019

EARTH FIRST: Enjoy your fire with a clear conscience

PROTECTION: Bush stone-curlews, whose habitat is threatened by firewood removal.FINALLY we are getting much-needed rain, but with it cold, miserable weather.
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I envy those of us who have the luxury of cosying up to a warm, cheerful wood fire. Unfortunately, there is a downside to the enjoyment of this luxury. If we do not take care about how we source our firewood, we could be unwittingly causing problems for the environment.

Environmental problems associated with the collection of firewood have been officially acknowledged as a key threatening process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Removal of dead wood and dead trees through collecting fallen timber for firewood has been determined by the NSW Scientific Committee as being a major contributor to environmental degradation.

The removal of dead wood and dead trees is a key threatening process as it represents a threat to biodiversity. Dead wood and dead trees are essential habitat for a wide variety of native fauna .

They are also vital components of many ecosystems. If dead wood is removed from the natural environment it can have consequences for loss of habitat, disruption of ecosystem processes and increased soil erosion.

Dead wood and dead trees often contain hollows used by native Australian birds and animals for nesting and shelter.

Australia has approximately 290 species of birds, mammals, frogs and reptiles that use tree hollows for shelter and breeding. Hollows available for this purpose can take up to 100 years to form, so removal of old growth dead timber can contribute to an already existing shortage.

Fallen timber also provides camouflage, protecting ground-dwelling species such as endangered bush curlews from predators.

Dead wood is essential for maintaining forest and woodland ecosystems. Along with the living under storey, leaf litter and soil components, it is vital for maintaining ecological processes. A diverse range of specialised insects, other invertebrates and fungi species depend on dead wood for their survival.

The removal of dead wood from the ground can expose the soil to wind and water, which can lead to an increase in soil erosion and sedimentation.

To avoid environmental damage when sourcing firewood it is necessary to make sure that we don’t use firewood that has been obtained contrary to any regulations that control forest management.

We need to be sure that any wood we obtain will not be collected from any threatened species habitat or ecosystem. We also need to be reassured that any wood harvested does not affect soil erosion or sedimentation of watercourses.

It is preferable that firewood is sourced from plantations and sustainably managed native forests, leaving dead timber and ancient hollows to provide habitat for native wildlife.

Have a chat to your wood supplier about sustainable firewood sourcing. Reputable suppliers will be aware of these concerns and will be sourcing their wood supplies in a sustainable manner. If yours does, you can enjoy your fire with a clear conscience.

Sources: Australian Government Voluntary Code of Practice for Firewood Merchants, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Armbands and bright balloons for Jess

SAYING GOODBYE: Jess McLennan will be farewelled at a funeral held in Wodonga on Thursday. The family has asked people wear bright colours, but Corowa-Rutherglen will also pay respects with black armbands on Saturday.Black armbands will be donned by Corowa-Rutherglen’s football and netball players on Saturday as a tribute to Jess McLennan.
Nanjing Night Net

The 23-year-old died last week from fatal head injuries sustained in a three-car crash.

Her funeral will take placeThursday at Wodonga District Baptist Church from 11.30am.

The family has asked in lieu of flowers, donations to a nursing scholarship funding –to be established where Miss McLennan studied at CSU –would be appreciated.

The funeral was being organised as a celebration of the young woman’s life.

Anyone attending is asked to wear bright colours and bring along a helium balloon to release at Glenmorus Gardens after the service.

Miss McLennan was an A-grade netballer for the Rutherglen Cats, but, as the club have a bye in the Tallangattta Leaguethis weekend, the Ovens and Murray will hold a tribute.

Corowa-Rutherglen will hold its first game in Rutherglen for 36 years on Saturday.

President Graham Hosier said both football and netball players would honour a young woman well-loved in the community.

“As a respect for the family, because we’re playing at Rutherglen, we’ll wear the black armbands,” he said.

Graham HosierThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Maitland bridge work and road closures | PHOTOS

Maitland bridge work and road closures | PHOTOS WORK: Maitland overpass under construction near the train station and Maitland roundabout. 17th MAY 2016. Picture: SIMONE DE PEAK.
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WORK: Maitland overpass under construction near the train station and Maitland roundabout. 17th MAY 2016. Picture: SIMONE DE PEAK.

WORK: Maitland overpass under construction near the train station and Maitland roundabout. 17th MAY 2016. Picture: SIMONE DE PEAK.

WORK: Maitland overpass under construction near the train station and Maitland roundabout. 17th MAY 2016. Picture: SIMONE DE PEAK.

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

MAITLAND: New England Highway overpass work from 2015. Picture: Stuart Scott

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Five places that changed me: Joseph Mitchell, OzAsia Festival Director

Hiking is my way of switching off from the world and recharging: Joseph Mitchell. Photo: SuppliedJoseph Mitchell, OzAsia Festival Director, former Australian Swimming Team member  DOHA, QATAR
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I spent a month in Doha back in 2006, working on the Asian Games. It was only 10 years ago, but you could still see the local culture and tradition in quite an authentic way, just before all the supermalls, business centres and tourist-ready sites were built en masse. The main city had very traditional markets, barely any tourists and practically no western influences. It seemed as if I had an opportunity to glance the last moments of a traditional Doha just as it started to transition into a more accessible and marketable destination for foreigners.  LIJIANG, CHINA  

In 2010, I travelled through China for five weeks, seeking out different arts and cultural experiences. One of the most memorable places was the remote town of Lijiang, in the Yunnan Province. The Mufu Palace is smaller than Beijing’s Forbidden City, but no less impressive and with far fewer crowds. The highlight of Lijiang was the Naxi Orchestra who perform on classical Chinese instruments that date back around 800 years and were kept safe during the Cultural Revolution by being buried in the earth so that the authorities couldn’t find and destroy them.  NEW YORK, US

NYC is my favourite place in the world to visit. On any day there must be nearly 100 different theatre or dance productions, countless music concerts and a never-ending selection of galleries to explore. I try to stay in different areas of the city each time I visit to get a sense of the neighbourhoods. The Lower East Side seems to be where I keep returning most. Around 2013, I lived in Toronto for a year, and every long weekend I would nip down to NYC for a few days and binge on theatre. The locals in Toronto would ask me why I would travel all the way to NYC for such short periods of time, and I had to explain to them that a one-hour flight for an Aussie was like skipping down the road.  NEW ZEALAND

Hiking is my way of switching off from the world and recharging. And New Zealand has to be one of the greatest places for hiking on the planet. A worthy mention for something different is Mount Taranaki in New Plymouth. The 2.5-kilometre-high snow-peaked mountain jets up into the sky but is only a few kilometres from the ocean. Hiking up takes a good five hours but standing at the peak surrounded by snow and looking down at the expansive Pacific Ocean makes one realise how diverse and wonderful the world is. NIAGARA ON THE LAKE, CANADA  

When living in Toronto, I would regularly head down to Niagara on the Lake, a boutique wine region near Niagara Falls, and stock up on local wine as well as catch performances at the Shaw Festival. The Shaw Festival is a summer theatre festival dedicated to staging the works of Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. The large repertoire company which produces this festival is incredibly talented and they perform many classic works that are rarely, if ever, staged in Australia. And a quick mention that the ice-wine from that region is amazing.

The OzAsia Festival is on in Adelaide from September 21 until October 2. The full program will be launched on July 12. 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Cops can’t fix our problems while we hide from the truth

Back in the good old days … Tony Mokbel made a fortune out of drugs by supplying our demand. Photo: Jason South
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Rudolph Nureyev in Paris. Good dancer but not a police reporter. Photo: Jean Gaumy-Gamma

Former drug lord Tony Mokbel. Photo: Photo: Reuters

Police examine a tow truck that drove into a swimming pool in Lockport, New York. Poice said the driver was juggling two cell phones, texting on one and talking on another, when he slammed into a car and crashed into the pool. Photo: Stephen Wallace

Texting while driving is stupid. Photo: Glen Watson

A car on display at Empire Park Bar Beach warning of the dangers of texting while driving. Photo: Phil Hearne

Here at what critics gleefully describe as the crumbling Fairfax Media Empire we have endured a couple of tough weeks farewelling colleagues as they boarded the gravy train known as the Redundancy Express.

They ranged from the decorated, the determined to the slightly demented but all contributed to the product you are now reading (increasingly on-line for free, you cheap bastards) and will be missed.

Some, such as legendary columnist Lawrence Money, left with a farewell card and cash reserves equivalent to a medium-sized South American dictatorship, while others now embark on the search for a real job.

At such times, over a farewell glass of Midori and milk, it is traditional to wax lyrical about the “Good Old Days”.

It was time when newspapers dominated the media landscape and the day began with the thump of ad-fattened editions hitting the driveway. Back then railway commuters stood for the elderly and read their papers, rather than sprawl over two seats while playing Angry Birds. (Question: Why are they called smartphones when most of the users are so spectacularly dumb?)

The good old days…

On Sunday we had a lamb roast and overcooked vegetables before adjourning to the lounge to watch Jack O’Toole on the World Of Sport woodchop.

We bought Australian cars built by New Australians who spent their weekends with knotted hankies on their heads concreting their backyards and tending to exotic vegetable patches.

I was shocked when I went to school-friend Gianni D’Ortenzio’s house for a dinner of stuffed peppers. That was spooky enough but when his dad gave him a glass of home-made vino I was sure he would end up a demented alcoholic. It turned out to be worse. He became a psychiatrist.

The trouble with Midori and milk mixed with nostalgia is it makes memories quite fuzzy, for the truth is the Good Old Days (GOD) were nothing of the sort.

Paedophile priests were untouchable (unlike their victims), corrupt cops were virtually never caught, every police district was paid off by illegal bookies, evidence was fabricated in courts, and wards of the state were brutalised and sexually exploited.

And the great newspapers did little, content to report the news of the day while rarely scratching below the surface.

Today in this newsroom we have dozens of well-trained and energetic reporters who regularly break big stories. I even know the names of some of them.

Indeed I have been selected to mentor one such serious fellow who has a huge appetite for quick-breaking stories and slow-cooked American ribs. Back in the Good Old Days we trained young police reporters by hitting home-made cricket balls at their heads while they filed copy over the phone. The idea was to prepare them for duty as war correspondents by making sure they could duck and weave without missing a deadline.

The trouble was we smashed all the windows in the pressroom office then had to pay for them to be secretly replaced. Four days later the Russell Street bombing blew them out again.

And it is not just Fairfax that breaks important yarns – News Limited’s Herald Sun has some great reporters and Rupert Murdoch is commercially the greatest newspaper person in the world.

Such statements fly in the face of the modern and pathetic trend of bagging media rivals on ideological grounds. For the record The Age is not filled with bearded hipsters and News Limited doesn’t sacrifice virgins at Friday night drinks. (I’ve been to their office. They don’t have any.)

Rudolph Nureyev in Paris. Good dancer but not a police reporter.

In another selfless act of mentoring I took a Herald Sun police reporter to a boxing gym to toughen him up. He arrived wearing leggings more suited to ballet master Rudolph Nuryev, which proves journalism is a broad church.

While mainstream media is shrinking through economic necessity there appears to be an alarming growth in a group of columnists who march to the beat of a single drum.

When it comes to law and order they claim crime is out of control because an evil collective of left-wing media types known as Anarchists, Bolsheviks and Communists (ABC) bully governments to be soft on crime and to pander to minorities at the expense of the majority.

The flaw here is they wildly over-estimate the influence of the press and by extension their own for the first truth in media is it is powerful through disclosure and ineffective through opinion.

This piece is the same. Some will agree and some will disagree but it will not alter anything. (I once considered running for prime minister under the slogan, “I’m here to help people, not to like them.” It didn’t take off.)

The reality is the soft on crime theory is nonsense as law enforcement has more peacetime power than at any time since Federation.

In the past three decades we have seen massive jumps in phone tapping, electronic surveillance, accessible CCTV vision, financial checks, online analysis, secret coercive hearings and DNA sampling.

There is truth in sentencing, tougher parole, new terrorist laws, more police, more courts, more jails and more prisoners. And guess what? The crime rate is going up.

The first myth is there is a war on crime as if criminals are an invading army. In fact most non-violent crime flourishes because that is exactly what we want.

Narcotic seizures have gone through the roof but we are awash in the stuff because we love drugs. We pay more for illicit substances than just about any other nation and we are happy to buy pills made by idiots with tatts on their arms, cavities in their mouths and the hygiene habits of feral goats.

The chop chop tobacco industry has exploded as thousands of smokers gleefully defraud the federal government of legitimate tax revenue.

People’s homes are burgled because other people are prepared to buy cheap jewellery and electronic goods they must suspect are stolen.

The engine room of most crime is profit and most profit-related crime is there because crooks are simply filling a demand. They are really the dark side of us.

Tony Mokbel made a fortune out of drugs by supplying our demand.

These critics who decry big government and the so-called Nanny State actually crave a Stern Daddy model where the naughty are sent to bed without their pudding.

They want more police, tougher laws, more jails and less judicial discretion even though this is a proven failure. More prison time means more recidivism and more crime. It is a mathematical certainty.

They say lock up your daughters and lock up your luxury cars because African youths from the Apex gang may come down the chimney and steal both.

And they say police won’t talk of the ethnic peril because of pressure to remain politically correct. No, they don’t highlight it for they know it is counter-productive as every headline acts as a recruitment poster for Apex.

Which brings us to the next myth – that Australians are good-hearted larrikins with a strong independent streak and a healthy disregard for authority.

When my father came to this country he noticed a sign in the Flinders Street subway that said “No Spitting”. As he had no intention of indulging in such an act he wondered why there was a need for such a direction in the first place.

The facts are we are over-governed and seem to want the police to save us from our own stupidity.

In a democracy police cannot impose social order and yet increasingly we want cops to be our guardians, teachers, enforcers and social workers.

We are at risk of becoming a nation of overweight, overwrought and overbearing whingers.

There would be more than enough police if they were assigned to deal with serious crime rather than the seriously stupid.

Do we really need a police blitz to stop motorists texting while trying to control a potentially lethal piece of machinery? Is there anyone with a brain bigger than a sea cucumber’s who doesn’t see the dangers? Is there anyone who thinks putting invitations on Facebook for a Saturday night party will not end up with drunken rock apes with real rocks trashing the joint?

We now need more than 1000 protective services officers to staff railway stations, as we are incapable of being civil to each other on public transport.

When police are able to chase serious crime the clear-up rate is impressive. In homicide the solution rate is well over 90 per cent and the murder rate remains one of the lowest in the world.

Community well-being relies on a sense of public safety, which requires police to protect us from being victims of violence and yet the crime department and other specialist units remain chronically understaffed as police run around dealing with the indulgent and illogical.

What we really need is more detectives and fewer directives.

Police say they are swamped with ice-related crimes, which is another self-inflicted wound as the addicted start as voluntary, occasional users.

How about we stop being so scared and take ownership of our problems. Police are there to help us in times of need not herd us as if we are a flock of panicky sheep.

To bastardise President John F. Kennedy: Ask not what police can do about crime, ask what you can do to prevent it.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.