Rare spectacled hare-wallaby seen in Western Australia


This video from Australia is about the rufous hare-wallaby. They are relatives of the recenttly rediscovered spectacled hare-wallaby.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare Spectacled Hare-wallaby sighted in Western Australia

The threatened Spectacled Hare-wallaby has been sighted near Broome in Australia after nearly a decade without any recorded sightings in Kimberley region.

Although the species is widespread throughout other parts of northern Australia, the wallaby, which gets its name from its distinctive orange fur that surrounds each eye, is considered very rare in the Kimberley region and numbers here are declining.

“We need to keep a close eye on the threats to this rare and fascinating animal so we get the right information to help it survive into the future,” said Dr Alexander Watson of WWF-Australia.

“Their shelter and feeding requirements make them highly sensitive to habitat changes, so assessing their numbers is a good indicator of overall health of the local environment.”

The Spectacled hare-wallaby uses large grass tussocks for shelter from predators and the extremely hot daytime temperatures. Inappropriate fire regimes and trampling by larger animals can put the wallaby at risk of exposure.

The Spectacled hare-wallaby is well suited for life in extreme arid conditions, having adapted to extract and retain water from their food. However, their population is still at risk from modern threats such as introduced predators, grazing, frequent fires and extreme weather events like droughts.

Rupert Murdoch quarrels with Australian Prime Minister Abbott


This video is called Berlusconi and Murdoch: Two Fascist Peas in the Pod?

Once upon a time, Rupert Murdoch and Italian fellow media mogul and politician Silvio Berlusconi were close friends. However, then a quarrel broke out about money in Italy.

This video fr0om the USA is called Rupert Murdoch Pressured Tony Blair Over Iraq. It says about itself:

18 June 2012

Rupert Murdoch joined in an “over-crude” attempt by US Republicans to force Tony Blair to accelerate British involvement in the Iraq war a week before a crucial House of Commons vote in 2003, according to the final volumes of Alastair Campbell’s government diaries. In another blow to the media mogul, who told the Leveson inquiry that he had never tried to influence any prime minister, Campbell’s diary says Murdoch warned Blair in a phone call of the dangers of a delay in Iraq.”

Once upon a time, Rupert Murdoch and British politician Tony Blair were close friends. Tony Blair became godfather to a Rupert Murdoch child. However, like in the film The Godfather, a conflict broke about; between Blair and Murdoch about Murdoch’s ex-wife.

Once upon a time, Rupert Murdoch and Australian politician Tony Abbott were close friends. However …

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Rupert Murdoch turns on golden boy Tony Abbott over Australian PM’s failure to show ‘courage and leadership’

Talk of climate change and a series of gaffes has left the premier vulnerable

Oliver Poole

Sunday 23 November 2014

Fourteen months ago, Rupert Murdoch‘s papers championed Tony Abbott as he headed for election victory to become Australia’s prime minister. Yesterday, that mutual admiration came to an abrupt end as the media baron’s most influential newspaper labelled him “languishing”, “looking flaky” and not “hard enough”.

An editorial in The Australian upbraided Mr Abbott for lacking an “authoritative voice” and failing to show “courage and leadership”. It said: “Mr Abbott must regroup, trust himself and speak with purpose. Right now his insipid default setting is losing the people.”

During the 2013 election campaign, the Murdoch press in Australia was accused of bias by Kevin Rudd, leader of the incumbent Labor Party. An analysis of coverage in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph by ABC’s Media Watch claimed that, in the first week of the election campaign, half of the paper’s 80 stories were slanted against the government, with none against the conservative opposition. Over the next two weeks, it said, 59 stories were against the government, while only four were slanted against the opposition. Just three stories were said to have been in favour of the government.

Australian broadcaster and journalist Mark Colvin described The Australian‘s attack as a “remarkable turnaround”.

“The portents for Mr Abbott as he approaches his second Christmas as prime minister look a lot less promising,” he said. “And when, in the same editorial, it asks, ‘Is Mr Abbott hard enough?’, The Australian has inevitably kindled speculation that Murdoch‘s editors may have a successor in mind,” Mr Colvin added. With two years until the next election, however, any major challenge to Mr Abbott’s leadership would be a surprise.

Before Mr Abbott entered politics, he worked as a journalist for The Australian and, to mark the paper’s 50th anniversary in July, he described it as Rupert Murdoch‘s “gift to our nation”. Mr Murdoch had previously hailed Mr Abbott as an “admirable, honest, principled man”.

The editorial came after the Australian prime minister said that climate change was an “important subject”, following talks with the French president François Hollande, last week. He had previously stated that, in his opinion, climate change was “absolute crap”.

Mr Abbott had faced pressure to place climate change on the agenda of the recent G20 meetings of world leaders in Brisbane.

Last week, Mr Abbott made the mistake of referring to China as Tasmania during a dinner with President Xi Jinping as he summed up the details of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It was one of a number of gaffes during his tenure. In May, he was caught winking at a radio host in the middle of an interview when a phone-sex worker called into the programme. The incident was broadcast live by ABC.

Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef: here.

Koalas told apart by their noses


This video from Asustralia says about itself:

A heart breaking story – In the eucalypt forests of east coast Australia lives one the world’s most loved animals, the koala. Join Jenny Brockie as she observes a year in the life of Arnie (King Koala) and his group of females and offspring. Arnie, Lulu and Marie must fight off threats from rival males, goannas, snakes and feral dogs in order to maintain the group and Arnie’s ascendancy.

From Wildlife Extra:

Individual Koalas can be told apart by their noses

Individual Koala Bears can be identified by their nose says new research, as each Koala has a unique ‘noseprint’, just like a human fingerprint.

Janine Duffy from the wildlife tour operator Echidna Walkabout, which carried out the research, said: “A few years ago I was looking up at one Koala thinking, ‘Gee, I wish I could tell you guys apart’ and I just looked at the nose through my binoculars and I thought ‘Oh my God! They’re all different.’ I knew this could be important because I’d found a way of learning about Koalas without having to touch them.

“Up until then, Koalas could only be monitored by catching them and releasing them with a GPS collar. They are animals that get stressed easily, and wild ones like to keep their distance from humans. Catching and dragging them out of a tree to do research can be very harsh.”

After the initial discovery, Janine and her team have recorded the nose patterns of 108 wild koalas over 16 years, and identified that not one has changed substantially in that time.

Their research has led to important discoveries about Koala behaviour, and Janine believes it could play a major step in helping the species survive.

“I’d love to see a national online koala database, with tourists and locals contributing photographs to help identify Koalas and track their movements and behaviour,” she said. “It’s part of my grand dream that every Koala in Australia would be known.”

Australian, Japanese militarists celebrate World War I


This video says about itself:

Australian comfort woman Jan Ruff-O’Herne

Jan Ruff-O’Herne told her shocking story on Australian Story in 2001 – a secret that took her 50 years to come to terms with before finally, she revealed it in a letter to her two daughters.

An idyllic childhood in Java was brought to an abrupt end by the Japanese occupation during Word War Two. Aged 21, she was taken from her family and repeatedly abused, beaten and raped – forced to be a sex slave for the Japanese military.

The term coined for this brutal sex slavery was ‘comfort woman‘.

But since revealing her ‘uncomfortable truth’ Jan Ruff-O’Herne’s suffering has been transformed into something affirmative.

In February this year, this 84-year-old Adelaide grandmother made the long journey to testify before Congress in Washington DC. The Congressional hearing was the pinnacle in her 15-year global campaign to seek justice for ‘comfort women’.

Now six years since Australian Story first aired her story, Jan Ruff-O’Herne feels she is one step closer to finally achieving her ultimate goal.

By Richard Phillips in Australia:

Australia’s WWI Albany commemoration: All about the future, not the past

7 November 2014

The former whaling port of Albany in Western Australia was the setting last weekend for the “Albany Convoy Commemoration.” It was part of the Australian government’s World War I centenary program—a multi-million dollar four-year campaign aimed at preparing the population for new wars.

In October 1914, King George’s Sound, just off Albany, was the assembly point for merchant ships carrying Australian and New Zealand troops, later known as Anzacs, before they set sail for the slaughter houses of WWI.

The first armada of 32 ships, carrying 30,000 troops and 8,000 horses, departed from Albany on November 1 under escort from three Australian navy vessels and HIJMS Ibuki, a navy cruiser from Japan, a British wartime ally. It was the first of two convoys that conveyed 41,000 troops from Albany that year. A third of these soldiers were killed in the attempted allied invasion of Turkey in 1915 or on the European battlefields.

Last weekend’s commemoration was attended by an estimated 40,000 people and senior government representatives from Japan, France and New Zealand. It was an occasion for government and military heads to wave the flag and issue proclamations about the birth of the “Anzac spirit,” while engaging in high-level discussions with military allies for new wars.

The three-day extravaganza, initiated by the former Rudd Labor government in 2008, featured a re-enactment of the convoy’s departure, involving four Australian warships and a submarine, a New Zealand navy vessel and a Japanese destroyer. A military march through the town was accompanied by low-flying Australian air force planes roaring overhead. Then came a commemorative service and the opening of the National Anzac Centre, a so-called interpretative museum.

More than 800 Australian Defence Force personnel were involved in the proceedings, along with soldiers from New Zealand and the French Pacific colony of New Caledonia. On Saturday night, WWI memorabilia were projected onto local buildings, alongside an outdoor “community concert.” Nearby Middleton Beach was covered with 30,000 hand-sewn red poppies.

No doubt many of those in attendance came to honour relatives who served in the war and were genuinely interested in trying to understand what produced the 1914–18 slaughter. That, however, was the last thing on the minds of the official speakers. Those in charge were preoccupied with obscuring the real reasons for WWI as they discussed, in private, preparations for new wars.

Australian Veteran Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson chaired the commemoration ceremony. Japanese officials in attendance included Kazuyuki Nakane, the vice-minister for foreign affairs and Hideshi Tokuchi, the vice-minister of defence. Tokuchi oversees all Japanese negotiations with US and international defence officials.

Disingenuous speeches were delivered by Australian and New Zealand prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Keys, pledging to “never forget” the “selfless sacrifices” of the war dead and the “spirit of Anzac.”

The so-called Anzac spirit—of mateship and unwavering devotion to the nation—is an entirely invented reality and one that denies the imperialist character of the war. The Australian and New Zealand troops on board the ships were mobilised in 1914 as part of the British Empire’s war efforts to retain its global dominance. The soldiers had never even heard the term Anzac.

Abbott called on those present to remember “the soldiers and sailors of the countries of the British Empire, of gallant France and of Japan—first an ally, then a foe, now the very best of friends.”

In 1914, the ruling elites in Australia, New Zealand and Japan were driven by long-held imperial ambitions in the region. The sacrifice of thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops was the human down-payment for the emergence of Australia and New Zealand as imperialist powers. As soon as the war began, all three countries seized German territories in the Asia-Pacific.

Japan had told the British government that it would only enter the war if it could take Germany’s Pacific territories. On 7 August 1914, Britain officially requested Japanese assistance to destroy German navy ships in and around Chinese waters. Japan declared war against Germany on 23 August and attacked the German settlement at China’s Tsingtao a week later.

Australian and New Zealand forces took over Germany’s South Pacific colonies, including German New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru and Samoa, while the Japanese military seized the Mariana, Caroline and Marshall islands, north of the equator.

Japan, which expanded its influence in China at the expense of Germany and other European powers during the war, not only escorted Anzac troop convoys to Egypt and Europe in 1914. It was also involved in the bloody suppression of the Singapore Mutiny, an anti-colonial uprising against the British in Singapore six months after the outbreak of WWI. In February 1915, Japanese marines were mobilised to assist British forces crush the week-long rebellion by 850 Indian members of the British army stationed there.

While speakers last weekend shed crocodile tears over the death of Allied soldiers in WWI at the official ceremonies, Australian Defence Minister David Johnston met with his New Zealand, Japanese and French counterparts to discuss the current war in the Middle East and preparations for future conflicts.

Johnston and New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee held the annual Australia-New Zealand defence ministers’ meeting, which covered “recent developments in Iraq, and shared perspectives on security issues in the South Pacific.” Johnston then met with the French minister for defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to further Australia’s “close cooperation with France in the South Pacific” and “shared interests” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Johnston also held extensive talks with Japanese officials Nakane and Tokuchi on Australian-Japanese involvement in the US-led “pivot to Asia,”—Washington’s diplomatic offensive and military build-up against China.

Over the past 18 months, the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rapidly increased military spending, “reinterpreted” the Japanese constitution to end legal restraints on participation in US-led wars and increased Tokyo’s diplomatic and military pressure on Beijing.

As well as collaborating closely in Washington’s war preparations against China, the two countries are strengthening their own military ties. In July this year Abe, while visiting Australia, announced new defence agreements between Canberra and Tokyo which could pave the way for the Australian purchase of Japanese submarines.

This is another clear indication of increasing geo-political tensions, particularly between China and the US and its allies, and the danger of wider conflict in the region.

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[5 November 2014]