Thursday, April 18, 2013

They're out to get Tom

Tom is too popular for them

CONTROVERSIAL bookie Tom Waterhouse's firm is the latest gambling giant to face court over strict Victorian laws banning offers of rewards to customers who open a betting account.

The company is accused of offering to match new punters' initial deposits of up to $200 at Caulfield in February last year, the latest in a string of prosecutions by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation.

But the court action has sparked calls for tougher penalties from anti-gambling campaigners, who have likened the current maximum fine per charge of $2817 to "a slap on the wrist with a limp lettuce leaf".

Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce chair Rev Tim Costello said penalties should reflect the serious consequences of problem gambling -- like broken marriages, crime and bankruptcy.  "Because the social impacts are so serious and affect the entire community, the sanctions should be serious," Rev Costello said.

Victorian InterChurch Gambling Taskforce chair Mark Zirnsak said the current maximum penalty was no more than a parking ticket for the thriving gambling firms. He said that due to the jurisdictional difficulties of imposing loss of licence penalties on online agencies, penalties needed to make breaking the law unprofitable.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon called the penalties "pathetic" and said the only dilemma faced by bookmakers would be whether to "laugh all the way to the bank or the commentary panel".

Waterhouse -- the son of champion racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse -- was recently barred from offering opinions during sports broadcasts after a parliamentary hearing in March found he was blurring the lines between bookmaker and commentator.

Last year, online agency Sportsbet was fined $3000 for offering free bets of between $100 and $200 to new customers upon signing up.

A magistrate found four charges of offering inducements proven against the company and six charges proven against its subsidiary, International All Sports Ltd, which was fined $4500.  But last month, the fines were halved on appeal.

VCGR said prosecutions of Betezy, Betfair and Tom Waterhouse were under way.


Tough luck for those who rely on government for health care

LARA Harris just wants her tonsils out.  But the 12-year-old has been told she must wait until November to have them removed despite having missed more than five months of school in the past 14 months.

Lara has enlarged tonsils which she said had caused her constant head and stomach aches, along with prolonged bouts of tonsillitis.

On Sunday night she was rushed to Flinders Medical Centre by ambulance because she was struggling to breathe and had a major respiratory infection.

"I've just been really sick and I can't really do anything ... it's really painful," Lara said.

Lara was first diagnosed with tonsillitis in November 2011 and has had regular recurring bouts in the months since.

The Huntfield Heights youngster has missed more than five months of school and has had to stop exercising because she gets too exhausted.

"I miss sport. I used to play basketball and other sports and do dance, but I had to stop," she said.

Lara's mother, Kym Harris, said November was too long to wait for her daughter to get her life back.

"I am just really frustrated. Her tonsils have been closed together since January," she said.

Mrs Harris was originally told that it would take a few months before her daughter's tonsils could be removed at the Women's and Children's Hospital.

"I was happy to wait for a while because I didn't realise how much it would affect her health," Ms Harris said.  But she has since been told the earliest time her daughter could have her tonsils out would be November.

The family first contacted former Opposition health spokesman Martin Hamilton-Smith in October last year. He wrote to then Health Minister John Hill, but is yet to receive any response.

Opposition spokesman Rob Lucas said the family should expect a response sooner.  "Clearly Lara is suffering in agony," he said.  "At the very least there should be some sort of response about whether or not something can be done."

In a statement, a spokeswoman for SA Health said Lara would undergo surgery within 12 months because she was classified as non-urgent.

"Sometimes, patient's conditions change in which case the person should be reassessed," the spokeswoman said.


America's National Public Radio visits a Warmist experiment in Australia

And the experiment makes it look like coral reefs will be in trouble if the much-foretold global warming ever arrives. Would Warmists ever get any other result?

In real-life, however, corals survive well in a whole range of temperatures.  Australia's Great Barrier reef stretches over 1600 miles roughly North to South, including temperate zones and near-equatorial zones.  It is one vast natural experiment on the effect of temperature variation on coral growth.  And guess where in those 1600 miles corals grow best?  The warmest part!

So the Warmists on the reef fiddle around with fishtanks and ignore the reality just out the window.  What a joke!  But reality never has suited the Green/Left.  It's a sad commentary on a lot of people but, basically, you have to be a crook to be a Warmist

Scientists have been worried about coral reefs for years, since realizing that rising temperatures and rising ocean acidity are hard on organisms that build their skeletons from calcium carbonate. Researchers on Australia's Great Barrier Reef are conducting an experiment that demonstrates just how much corals could suffer in the coming decades.

As we burn fossil fuels - we're talking about oil, gas and coal - carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere. Now, there are debates about how quickly that is changing the global climate, but there is no question that billions of tons of carbon dioxide have soaked into the ocean. That's making waters more acidic, which puts some ocean ecosystems at risk, particularly coral reefs. We sent NPR science correspondent Richard Harris to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to look into these consequences. His first stop was a research station on Heron Island.

RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: Heron Island is surrounded by a reef that is home to sea turtles, sharks, rays, brilliantly colored fish, and hundreds of other species. The spectacular scenery draws snorkelers from around the world. The island also hosts one of the world's major coral reef labs, run by the University of Queensland, and research there shows that the reefs are in trouble. Scientist Sophie Dove plunges her arms into a tank the size of a kettle drum.

SOPHIE DOVE: OK. We'll start with the plates. Uh-huh.

HARRIS: She and research assistant Annamieke van den Heuvel are weighing chunks of coral.

ANNAMIEKE VAN DEN HEUVEL: Two hundred and forty-six point nine.

DOVE: Do you want to just check the zero when I take this away?

HARRIS: Dove has recreated a simplified version of the coral ecosystem in a dozen large tanks.

DOVE: And so in each tank here we basically - I can lift up the lid - this is one of our - this is our present-day tank, if you like.

HARRIS: The water temperature and the carbon dioxide levels match the conditions on the present-day reef.

DOVE: We've got little mushroom corals, fungia, brain corals, stylophera pistolata there. It's a very common coral around the world. We've got these corals that look like bunches of flowers. They're called lobophelia.

HARRIS: The corals in this tank look healthy. And as she weighs them, she seems that they've been growing since she transplanted them here nearly a year ago. Then she opens the next tank.

DOVE: We'll hop from present day, and the next one along here is the worst of the future with a thing we call business as usual or do nothing tank.

HARRIS: Dove is pumping much warmer water with lots of added carbon dioxide into this tank. This is what the world's oceans are likely to look like later in this century when the schoolchildren visiting this island today reach middle age.

DOVE: And as you look into here, it looks quite different, as you will see.

HARRIS: Oh yeah.

DOVE: OK. So there's lot of this slimy, yucky mess(ph) of cynobacteria.

HARRIS: Clumps of black gunk swirl along the surface of the tank.

DOVE: We find that cynobacterial (unintelligible) tend to do really well in the future. The slippery slope to slime seems to be the way to go.

HARRIS: Not so for the coral. Most of it has either died or turned white, which means the organisms that live inside the coral have moved out.

DOVE: So as you see, the future is not a great place. Here's - the needle(ph) coral is underneath here. It's gone. And there's really not very much left alive.

HARRIS: In all there are four sets of tanks here: the healthiest coral are in a tank that simulates pre-industrial conditions. The present day tank looks almost as good, but the coral looks progressively worse in tanks with increasing carbon dioxide and temperature.

DOVE: We can make this a little bit (unintelligible)...

HARRIS: Now, plenty of small-scale experiments in the lab have shown that corals suffer in hotter waters and in more acidic conditions. This experiment puts those two threats together, since that's what the reefs of the future will face. Dove tries to be dispassionate about her findings, but the site touches the human chord.

DOVE: I feel pretty sad when I look into this. You know, I look at the others, the control tank, and I think, well, that would be nice if we could at least stay like that.

HARRIS: But doing so would mean civilization would have to stop burning fossil fuels immediately. That's not going to happen. Instead, once the carbon dioxide concentrations get high enough in the ocean, the stony structure of the reef actually starts to dissolve. That's bad news for the vibrant life that lives on the reef.

DOVE: There's no reef building going on here. It's reef dismantling that's going on here. Maybe some fish can survive in this type of environment, but I think we're going to lose a lot of the fish capabilities, you know, for fishing and everything. So people who are trying to live off what the reef offers them, this is going to be much harder. From a tourist's point of view, I don't imagine this is something that tourists would feel that attracted to come and see.

HARRIS: And as the reefs erode, they will offer less protection from the storm surges generated by the typhoons that sweep ashore here in Australia and throughout the South Pacific.

ANDREAS ANDERSON: Millions of humans are dependent on the reefs today.

HARRIS: Andreas Anderson is a reef scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. He says increasing ocean acidity is a big threat to the millions of people who depend on the fish that in turn depend on the reef. He says experiments like the one on Heron Island suggest the reefs face bad times ahead later in this century, but the weakness of studies like this is that they change conditions for the corals in one sudden shock.

ANDERSON: So what we don't really understand is, you know, how quickly will this happen, to what extent will it happen. Will organisms be able to acclimatize or adapt to this over a longer time scale?

HARRIS: The best case is that the change will be slow.

ANDERSON: If it breaks down very rapidly, we are definitely in big problems. But if it takes thousands of years, then, you know, perhaps it's not so bad.

HARRIS: Sophie Dove knows no experiment is perfect, but hers is designed to look for hints that corals can adapt to their new circumstances, and she doesn't see any sign of that. We will have more definitive answers soon enough because this experiment isn't simply confined to tanks at research stations - it's playing out on every coral reef in the world.


This post also up on Coral reef compendium

EU Carbon Collapse Deals Blow To Australian Climate Policy

[Australia's Labor Government] will revise down its carbon tax revenue estimates following a crash in the European carbon market, at a likely multi-billion dollar cost to the federal budget.

The EU’s carbon price sank to 2.55 euros ($A3.24) in trading overnight, as legislators rejected a proposal to save the market from collapse.

The federal budget currently assumes a $29 carbon price in 2015, when Australia’s carbon trading scheme is linked to the EU carbon market.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet told the ABC: “We will continue with our plans to link with the European emissions trading scheme from 1 July 2015, which is still over two years away.

“But this year’s budget, as is usual practice by Treasury, will include a revised forecast for a carbon price in 2015-16 in Australia.”

He said the carbon revenue slump “is another way the global financial crisis has hit the budget”.

Much of the revenue from the carbon tax is pumped out into the economy in the form of household compensation.

The EU carbon price peaked at nearly 30 euros in 2008, but an abundance of permits and weak demand for electricity as a result of the European recession has pushed down the price down.
Yesterday, the price dropped below 3 euros before recovering partially to 3.20 euros.

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said the fluctuating carbon price in Europe showed Australia would be linking its scheme to a “deeply unstable” system.

Australia’s carbon tax was five and a half times higher than the European tax, and completely out of step with the rest of the world, he said.


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