Friday, July 24, 2020

Puzzle in the postcodes hit with lockdown

Yet another finding that lockdowns hinder rather than help

Melbourne local government areas with postcodes which were locked down almost three weeks ago continue to have some of the highest net increases in active coronavirus cases in Victoria, despite optimism from health authorities about a stabilisation in the state's caseload.

Analysis of Tuesday's local government area data shows that while the active caseload is falling in the City of Melbourne and Moonee Valley, which are home to significant public housing tower clusters, it continues to rise in the other four local government areas with postcodes which went into early lockdown on July 2.

There have also been significant increases in outer suburban and regional areas as the virus continues to spread among essential workers who are required to still be out and about, despite the July 9 Melbourne and Mitchell Shire lockdown.

With as much as 80 per cent of Victoria's caseload understood to be in essential workers and their close contacts, the Andrews government is now pinning its hopes on the success of its mandatory masks policy, which comes into effect at midnight on Wednesday.

The news comes as Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services, which is battling with a contact tracing backlog of more than 1000 cases, said it was "unable to provide that level of breakdown" when asked by The Australian to provide suburb or postcode-based case data for the three Melbourne LGAs with the highest caseload. A single local government area can contain more than 300,000 residents and cover hundreds of square kilometres, but the depart-ment has refused to provide a more localised breakdown of case numbers

From "The Australian" of 22.7.20

Indigenous owners lose bid to protect land earmarked for Shenhua mine

You can guarantee that any new mine, dam or road will be found to trespass on an Aboriginal sacred site.  There's money in such claims.  They usually result in a "compensation" payout for the Aborigines and their lawyers

But the company fought this one so everyone is out of pocket

This does clearly need reform.  A rule specifying that there will be no monetary reward for such claims would probably result in most such claims never even being raised.  An apology would have to suffice

An Aboriginal group has lost its bid to protect a culturally valuable site from being destroyed for the Shenhua coal mine in northern NSW, but says the fight to protect the area is not over.

Federal Court Judge Wendy Abraham dismissed the application for a judicial review of the Environment Minister's decision not to protect the Mount Watermark site near Gunnedah from the controversial open-cut mine.

The applicant, Veronica 'Dolly' Talbott, acting as a member of the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians, had submitted that Environment Minister Sussan Ley took into account an "irrelevant consideration" when she weighed the impact of the mine on Indigenous sites against perceived social and economic benefits to the local community.

In dismissing the application, Justice Abraham said the applicant had failed to establish that the social and economic impacts are irrelevant under the Heritage Act.

The judgment said Minister Ley had stated she "considered the expected social and economic benefits of the Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine to the local community outweighed the impacts of the mine ... as a result of the likely destruction of parts of their Indigenous cultural heritage."

Ms Talbott said the decision "demonstrates the abject failure of the [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection] Act to provide meaningful protection for areas of particular significance to Aboriginal people."

She said the decision had not deterred Gomeroi elders from continuing to seek protection for the area, and the group, which represents more than 600 Gomeroi people and 31 Aboriginal nations, had made a new application to the Environment Minister to protect the area's sacred sites.

"If this mega-mine proceeds, our interlinked sacred places will be completely destroyed and obliterated from the landscape."

Ms Talbott said there is "an urgent need" to protect places of significance to Aboriginal people, especially following the destruction of the Juukan caves by mining giant Rio Tinto earlier this year.

A spokesman for Minister Ley said the ruling confirms her decision was made in accordance with the provisions of the act and has already announced her intention "to commence a national engagement process for modernising the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage, commencing with a round table meeting of state Indigenous and environment ministers."

The meeting will be jointly chaired by Minister Ley and the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.


Top cop accused Facebook of contributing to rape and torture of kids

The Australian Federal Police commissioner has accused Facebook of contributing to the rape and torture of children.

Reece Kershaw has torn into tech giants for allowing paedophiles to hide behind end-to-end encryption. 'If I was running those companies, and you were going to contribute to the rape and torture of children, I can't see why that's a good thing,' he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Kershaw said Australian tech companies were extremely co-operative in helping the AFP weed out criminals exploiting encrypted platforms. 'The tech companies here are excellent and have been very helpful and supportive of what we have been trying to achieve,' he said.

'I'm not that happy with, obviously, Facebook and others.'

Mr Kershaw said his officers would be further disadvantaged by tech companies planning to use even more secure communication methods.

'Paedophiles are counting down the days because they cannot wait,' he said.

He said Australians could no longer ignore news of child exploitation. 'As a country we need to be more outraged,' Mr Kershaw said.

He challenged Australians who opposed legislation giving law enforcement access to encrypted communications to explain it to victims of child exploitation. 'They may never get justice because technology has been designed to keep the identity of their monster a secret,' Mr Kershaw said.

The AFP has received more than 11,000 referrals about child exploitation so far this year.

Mr Kershaw believes the insidious crime is 10 times more prevalent in the shadows of the dark web.

He warned more Australians were accessing child pornography during the coronavirus pandemic. 'There are more people at home on their computers and more desperate people across the world,' he said.

The AFP is increasingly vigilant to foreign interference in Australia, which security agencies believe has reached levels not seen since the Cold War. 'It's here, it's in our country,' Mr Kershaw said.

'Those that try to, under the auspices of a foreign principal, try to interfere in our systems and our processes, whether that's commonwealth or state government, we will take action.'

The AFP is also focused on the growing threat of right-wing terrorism.

'We don't discriminate on what the ideology is,' Mr Kershaw said.  'If you're out there to harm through violence and try and murder Austalians here or offshore then we're going to come after you, no matter what you believe in.'

Mr Kershaw, who is nine months into the role, wants his officers to seize between $600 million and $1 billion worth of criminal assets over the next five years.


IEA chief tells Australia all coal must go if world to meet climate targets in orderly fashion

Fatty Birol is probably right.  But would meeting the targets change anything?

The head of the International Energy Agency has warned it will be impossible for the world to meet its climate targets, even the “modest ones,” if existing coal plants are allowed to continue operating at full capacity and for the full course of their lifetimes.

In a keynote address to the opening session of the Clean Energy Council’s first online-only Clean Energy Summit, IEA executive director Fatih Birol said the transition to renewable electricity was not enough; we should be working just as hard to decarbonise the remaining energy sector.

That is, rather than simply committing to a future where no new coal plants are built – a reality the notoriously conservative IEA accepted some years ago – we should be shutting down the existing global coal power fleet, or cleaning it up.

“The issue is, what to do with the existing coal plants,” Birol told the CEC webinar on Tuesday afternoon. “For me, it is the number one issue.

“Existing coal plants, if they operate for their normal economic lifetime… an average coal plant has a lifetime of 40 years or so, if they continue, it is impossible to reach our climate targets, even the modest ones,” he said.

“So, we have two big homework [tasks] in front of us: One, what we build new should be sustainable. Second, what do we do with the existing assets around the world? Steel facilities, cement factories, power plants – it is very important to decarbonise them.

“Even if everything new is zero carbon, it is not enough. We have to decarbonise the existing ones. And therefore, other technologies are very important; from hydrogen to carbon capture or other electrification technologies.”

The IEA chief’s frank comments impressed webinar host and Pacific Hydro CEO Rachel Watson, who described them as “very, very sobering,” particularly in light of Australia’s current energy policy debate, where new coal-fired power generation has not even been ruled out.

“So you’re well aware that the retirement of coal-fired power stations is a very hot topic in the Australian market. And I hadn’t actually heard it expressed exactly the way you did just now, that if we don’t retire early, some of the existing fleets, we will not reach our emissions reduction target,” Watson said.

“If we don’t retire [the coal plants] early, or, if we don’t use technology which decarbonises the existing plant, such as carbon capture,” Birol clarified.

“But as it stands, now, if they continue to operate as they are, impossible, and we can forget it. We can forget our climate targets,” he said.

This view was later reiterated by Kobad Bhavnagri, the global head of industry and building decarbonisation at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Speaking in a panel discussion following Dr Birol’s address, Bhavnagri said renewables were set to dominate new investment in electricity generating capacity, as the least-cost source of new electrons almost everywhere in the world.

“That means that the electricity system is definitely transforming, but it is incremental, because you still, of course, have all this fossil fuel capacity that remains in the system,” he told the Summit.

“To 2030, the pattern of investment driven by economics alone, we think, will keep the electricity sector on a pathway towards 2°C [of global warming].

“After 2030, we need more to happen and the economic change itself, and in particular the persistence of coal in the energy systems around the world… means that after 2030 the electricity system deviates from the 2°C pathway.

“And, in all cases, we’re very far away from the 1.5°C pathway, so there’s still a lot that needs to be done, a lot of intervention that needs to take place.”


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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