David Attenborough’s new TV program on Great Barrier Reef

This video from Australia is called GoPro HD: Scuba diving, Great Barrier Reef.

From the Sunday Express in Britain:

Sir David Attenborough, 89, plunges 1000ft below sea level for new documentary

HE MAY be turning 90-years-old next year, but age is nothing but a number to Sir David Attenborough.

By Kirsty McCormack

PUBLISHED: 10:49, Sun, Nov 22, 2015 | UPDATED: 11:03, Sun, Nov 22, 2015

The much-loved broadcaster and naturalist has set a new deep-sea diving record after plunging 1,000ft below sea level for a new documentary.

Almost 60 years after his first scuba dive at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Attenborough returned and managed to see parts of its flora and fauna which have never before been seen.

The father-of-two was armed with a cameraman and Triton submersible pilot as he filmed one of three documentaries, which are set to be shown on BBC One over Christmas.

Speaking of his latest experience, Attenborough told The Sunday Times: “There is no other one like [Triton], and it took me to a part of the reef which no human being has ever looked at before.”

After coming face-to-face with a 6ft grouper fish – which is not known to exist at such depths – Attenborough said he felt “fantastically privileged”.

“David was, as it were, conversing with the fish, which itself must have been surprised to see a sub for the first time,” said Attenborough‘s producer, Anthony Geffen.

“If he did have any worries or fears about going down to 300 metres, he did not show them. Anyway, curiosity always gets the better of him,” he added.

Attenborough made his first trip to the reef back in 1957 for a Zoo Quest programme. The footage was shot in black-and-white and Attenborough described it as “the most exciting natural history experience of my life”.

Wildlife art exhibited in London

Rainbow lorikeets, at the London exhibition

From the Natural History Museum in London, England:

See how artists and scientists view the natural world in 110 images from the Museum’s collection in the Images of Nature gallery.

Spanning 350 years, historic prints, watercolours and paintings hang alongside modern images created by scientists, imaging specialists, photographers and micro-CT scanners.

The gallery includes a temporary exhibition of themed artworks.

Our current exhibition is The Bauer Brothers: Masters of Scientific Illustration, on display until 26 February 2017. We will showcase a new selection of exquisite botanical and zoological watercolours by Franz and Ferdinand Bauer every four months.

Star specimens and exhibits:

  • some of the first scientific images of Australian wildlife, observed by Ferdinand Bauer on the voyage of HMS Investigator (1801-1805)
  • Franz Bauer‘s intricate illustrations of orchids and other exotic plants introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Roelandt Savery‘s famous dodo painting
  • a more scientifically accurate interpretation of the extinct bird by Julian Pender Hume
  • interactive screens, where you can explore a variety of artworks
  • a drawing wall, where you can contribute your own picture

Australian police drag breastfeeding pro-refugee mother away

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Breastfeeding woman dragged from refugee sit-in protest

The woman said of the incident: ‘There are far worse things going on in detention camps

Olivia Blair

A woman was dragged from a refugee sit-in protest by police while breastfeeding her son.

Video footage shows the woman, known as Jill, being removed from the Immigration Department offices in Melbourne after participating in the sit-in.

The woman was part of the group Families, Friends and Feminists Against Detention (FFFAD) who held a ‘Pram Jam’ at the offices to support a Somalian refugee who was allegedly raped on the island of Nauru, where many asylum seekers are held.

The group state on their Facebook page they want the woman “to be give permanent resettlement options in Australia with her family”.

Jill told Buzzfeed: “I took my 22 month old son Manny to a protest… I was breastfeeding him when the police came in to remove us, and I continued while they carried me out.”

She reportedly said of the incident: “There are far worse things going on in detention camps.”

“It raises the question, why are my son’s feelings so important, while the well-being of children in detention is a matter of indifference?” she said.

The protest was in support of a refugee woman who was allegedly raped while being held on the Pacific island of Nauru.

According to the BBC, the Australian government said she could come to the country to terminate the pregnancy, however later left without doing so.

There are conflicting reports as to whether this was disallowed by the government, they state that the refugee changed her mind — which she denies.

According to Buzzfeed, she is now in an Australian hospital.

The Independent has contacted Victoria Police for comment.

In the latest outrage on Christmas Island—Australia’s notorious immigration detention outpost in the Indian Ocean—security guards provoked rioting by inmates on Sunday following the suspicious death of an Iranian Kurdish refugee, Fazal Chegeni: here.

AUSTRALIAN police smashed a protest yesterday at a refugee prison on Christmas Island. Cops sent to the Indian Ocean territory, just 230 miles from Indonesia but 1,000 miles from Australia, reported using “some force,” including tear gas, against people who had built barricades in the camp: here.

Raped Somali refugee woman’s victory in Australia

This video from the Australian parliament says about itself:

Adam Bandt calls on Peter Dutton to allow Abyan the medical treatment she needs

19 October 2015

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton must allow Abyan to access the counselling and medical treatment that she requires. And he must let the media into the hell-holes of Nauru and Manus so we know what’s really going on there.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Australia: Raped Somalian allowed back to Oz for abortion

Thursday 29th October 2015

AUSTRALIA bowed to pressure from the UN yesterday over a Somali woman raped in the Nauru detention camp who wants an abortion.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said yesterday that the woman, known by the pseudonym Abyan, would be flown to Australia for the procedure after she alleged she had been raped.

Canberra pays the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, whose population numbers just 10,000, to host the camp where Abyan was sent.

On Tuesday the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) demanded that Abyan be given a second opportunity after being denied a termination of her 15-week pregnancy earlier this month.

She was flown 2,500 miles to Sydney on October 11 but returned five days later still pregnant. The government claimed she had changed her mind about the abortion.

But Abyan said in a statement from Nauru that she had not changed her mind, but had been denied an interpreter and counselling.

Abortion is legal until 20 weeks in Australia but illegal in Nauru.

The case of has highlighted Australia’s draconian policy of imprisoning asylum-seekers in squalid camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Mr Dutton claimed he was concerned that 240 asylum-seekers who flew to Australia for medical treatment then got court injunctions preventing their return to Nauru.

He said that Abyan would return to Australia to consult a doctor and receive mental health support, but would not say when.

The minister denied that the move was prompted by the OHCHR.

Invertebrate animals in Dutch gardens, new research

This video from Australia says about itself:

The living soil (1982)

Without spoken commentary, this film depicts both the life of the soil and the life within it. The parent rock weathers, and soil is born. It cracks under the sun, then rain brings it back to life: seeds germinate, and animals burrow and bustle below and above the soil’s surface. To complete the chemical cycle, fungi, agents of decay, flourish, themselves to decay in turn. Scavenging insects pick a mouse corpse clean, and a new generation of shoots sprouts among the bones.

Photographic techniques reveal actions that our senses cannot otherwise register. Slow-motion anatomizes the impact of a water drop on sand; time-lapse photography eliminates transient details and emphasizes processes, such as the growth of roots and shoots and the removal of soft tissue from a dead animal. These processes, being slow, fail to catch our attention on a brief nature ramble, but they power the mechanism of the living soil. As the film’s introduction states: ”the soil is both the source and the product of the cycle of life and decay”.

The Dutch Ecology Institute recently did research on invertebrate animals in Dutch gardens.

NOS TV reports today (translated):

The results mean that isopods, of which there are 39 species, have a narrow victory over arachnids. The first ones live in 94 percent of the gardens, the second ones in 93 percent. Worms also get a percentage of above 90.

Other land animals that often live in garden soil are slugs and snails (above 80 percent), ants (72 percent) and centipedes (61 percent).

Soil restoration techniques at post mining sites: here.

Australian pro-refugee rallies, 11 October

This 7 September 2015 video is called Australia says refugees are welcome.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


AUSTRALIANS will be hitting the streets in their thousands in cities and towns across the country on Sunday, 11th October in opposition to the government’s inhumane treatment of refugees in detention centres both on Australian soil and offshore on Manus Island and Nauru.

There will be mass rallies at 11am on Sunday in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, and Adelaide. In the capital Canberra, whistleblower Tobias Gunn, a former Save the Children worker who has seen the deplorable conditions on Nauru first hand, will be one of the speakers at the main rally.

Gunn will be speaking out against the horrors of detention on Manus Island and Nauru. These include the physical, psychological and sexual abuse of men, women and children, and the silencing of doctors and other workers from speaking out about this abuse through the use of the draconian Border Force Act.

Refugee Action organisers declare: ‘Bring your friends and family or link up with one of the many groups attending and representing the diversity of Canberra’s community standing up for refugees. ‘Union contingents like CPSU, NTEU, IEU (Independent School Teachers), Nurses, AEU (public school teachers) and AMWU will be there.

‘There is a more humane, cost-effective, practical and proven alternative to the government’s cruel policy of deterrence. ‘It’s based on the system Australia operated in the 1970s and 1980s to eventually resettle more than 100,000 Indochinese refugees. Join us! Stand up for refugees and tell Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the government that there is a better way and that Australia needs to completely abandon its shameful and inhumane refugee policy.’

Refugee Action are demanding:
• NO Turnbacks
• Close Manus & Nauru
• NO Border Force Act
• End Mandatory Detention’

Ahead of Sunday’s demonstration, the Melbourne Refugee Action Collective issued an Open Letter to the Refugee Movement. Entitled Kids Out, All Out! it stated: ‘Everyone wants children out of detention. The Australian Human Rights Commission report, “The Forgotten Children 2014”, which was released in early 2015, renewed interest in and drew attention to the situation of children in detention.

‘As a result, we have seen the formation of groups such as “Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children”. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has “Kids Out” as one of its key campaigns. Since the election of Malcolm Turnbull, the Greens have also prioritised the focus on children. Their spokesperson Adam Bandt said a key test for Turnbull would be “Releasing children who are locked up in detention”.

‘And “GetUp’s” campaigner Shen Narayanasamy recently argued: “People might be swayed by the Stop the Boats rhetoric, but they draw the line at child abuse”.

But the truth is that there are few children in detention even if you count Nauru as well, where there were 87 as of July. The issue for children on Nauru is not detention per se, it is the fact that they are incarcerated on Nauru.

‘Getting them out of detention, only to leave them on Nauru would be worse than an empty victory. Keeping families and children on Nauru is still child abuse. By continuing to focus on “children in detention”, there is a serious risk of both disorienting the people in those groups and also misdirecting their significant energy and mobilising ability.

‘Limiting the focus to children, inadvertently actually limits the impact on the government. The fact is that the government is getting children out of detention including significant numbers out of detention on Nauru. Things have moved on since the “Forgotten Children”. To end the abuse of children, we have to end offshore processing and close Nauru.

‘It is time to campaign for what we really mean – close Manus, close Nauru. We also need to end mandatory detention, onshore as well as offshore. So long as the architecture of detention and deterrence exists, there is always a risk that children and others will be detained again in the future. Detention is not OK for anyone. It is understandable that people think campaigning for children is a relatively soft target, that can appeal to a much wider layer than “end offshore processing”.

‘It is also sometimes argued that “children out” is only a first step; and that the groups will then go on to campaign against offshore processing after “children out” is achieved. But that is not the way politics works. When (former Autralian premier) Howard released the children from detention in 2005, “ChildOut” folded. There are ways to tap into concerns about children in detention without disarming the campaign groups. Our slogans have to be “Free the Children; Free Everyone; Close Manus & Nauru; End Offshore processing”.

‘With the ascension of Turnbull it is essential that we don’t sell the campaign short. More and more people see through the Liberals’ “Stop the Boats” slogan. More than ever we have to demand: “Stop the abuse – free ALL the refugees”.’ The detention centre on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru was opened in 2001 for up to 800 people and the use of immigration detention facilities is now part of a policy of mandatory detention in Australia.

On 19 July 2013 there was a major riot in the detention centre with several buildings destroyed by fire. A TV programme on sexual assault allegations on Nauru last week lifted the lid on the scale of abuse women are suffering there. In one case, it was shown that the Australian government, Border Force, and IHMS (the medical provider on Nauru) have ignored the request for a termination by a 23-year-old Somali woman who became pregnant after a sexual assault. She is now 10 weeks pregnant.

‘The need for action by the government to meet her request grows more urgent by the day,’ said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. Despite her requesting a termination for weeks, the woman is now 10 weeks pregnant. It is simply unbelievable that health authorities have not acted sooner. She is in a fragile state, yet those who have a duty of care are recklessly playing with her mental and physical health.’

The woman, known as Najma on the TV programme, should be brought to Australia immediately, he insisted. ‘Najma lives in daily terror,’ said Rintoul, ‘Like other refugee women in the community on Nauru, she is completely vulnerable. Many of the refugee houses are remote; have no lighting and no security. Like so many others, the perpetrators of her assault remain at large. Their houses are not secure; the door locks can be, and often are, slipped with a knife blade, leaving them exposed to assault and theft.

‘Many of the Somali women refugees on Nauru have been found to be refugees because they have been victims of sexual abuse. Najma was held captive by a rebel Somali group in 2004 and 2005 and was sexually assaulted and abused over those two years and her suffering didn’t stop then. Rather than finding protection on Nauru, Najma is facing the same kind of persecution she faced in Somalia.

‘The government has been aware of the shocking rate of sexual abuse on Nauru for a long time. One Iranian rape victim was kept on Nauru from May until August before finally being brought to Australia. She is still waiting for her family to join her. The Australian government has created a living hell for Najma and others on Nauru. Nauru is not safe, and must be closed.

‘Malcolm Turnbull has made concern about domestic violence a hallmark of the new government. The violence against women on Nauru is as bad as the domestic violence in Australia. It is violence that the government is ultimately responsible for. The Prime Minister has the power to immediately to end the violence against the refugee women on Nauru. The only question is, will he?’

AUSTRALIA plans to offload its responsibilities to refugees onto the Philippines, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said yesterday. Amid a refugee crisis that rivals that in the Mediterranean, Australia’s right-wing government wants its poorer neighbours to take in those fleeing war and poverty but unwelcome Down Under: here.

Koala survives car collision

Koala Bear Grylls

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation today:

Bear Grylls‘ survives 100kph impact with car, gets wedged above vehicle’s bumper

By Malcolm Sutton and Brett Williamson

A koala has been affectionately dubbed “Bear Grylls” after it became wedged in the grille of a vehicle travelling 100 kilometres per hour in the Adelaide Hills.

The koala was hit on the South Eastern Freeway and remained stuck until the driver arrived home some ten kilometres down the road.

Driver Loren Davis said she hit the koala just after the Bridgewater exit heading to Mount Barker, where it was dark “with no street lights”.

“I didn’t see the koala until my headlights found it but I couldn’t change lanes because another car was there [on the inside lane].

“I slammed my brakes on but another car was behind me, so there was no choice but to hit the koala.”

Ms Davis said she pulled over after both cars had passed but could not see the koala in the dark.

“I drove home, feeling upset that I’d killed a koala.

“Once I got home and pulled into the garage I turned on the light to see the damage.

“I turned around, saw a koala and just screamed.”

Ms Davis said she thought the koala was dead and ran inside to tell her fiance and his son.

“When they called out and said, ‘he’s alive’, I was teary, thinking of this poor koala in the front of the car.”

Ms Davis said the koala seemed quite “with it” and growled every time they drew close.

They were able to push a blanket underneath its arm and the koala used it to pull himself out of the grille.

“We backed my car out and closed the garage door to let him rest in there. We didn’t want him to wander off until we’d seen he was okay.

“We’re calling him Bear Grylls.”

Michael ‘Bear’ Grylls is a British adventurer and television presenter with a knack for getting himself into dangerous situations and surviving unscathed.

CFS considered to remove the koala

Fauna Rescue of South Australia volunteer and koala hotline operator Don Bigham said the owners of the car talked about calling the Country Fire Service to remove the koala.

Because it would take him 40 minutes to get to the house, Mr Bigham suggested they call the Royal Automobile Association.

“But fairly quickly, the koala got out,” Mr Bigham said.

“They had closed the [car] garage when they got home, so they had it [contained].

“When I got there it was sitting on gym equipment with some obvious minor abrasions.”

The koala was taken to a vet where x-rays and a further examination was undertaken.

Despite the ordeal, the koala was mostly uninjured, suffering only abrasions.

“The koala has come home with us and probably in the next day or so it will be going back home,” Mr Bigham said.

Koalas are a regular occurrence on Adelaide Hills’ roads and often display a casual disregard for traffic conditions.

“They don’t behave in an extremely bright manner sometimes,” Mr Bigham said.

“They walk down the middle of the road, [even] sit on roads.”

This koala reminds me of this snowy owl.