Monthly Archives: February 2019

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Go Back To Where You Came From cast shown rape footage in dramatic episode

Jodi, 33, changed her mind about refugees coming by boat after meeting two Rohingya refugees who had witnessed rapes. The young Rohingya refugee who escaped human traffickers just weeks before.
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The mother of two previously said Australia was being “invaded” by refugees.

Go Back To Where You Came From cast ‘at risk’ in Syria’The truth hurts, but not as much as we hurt asylum seekers’

Go Back To Where You Came From took a dramatic turn on Wednesday night when the cast of the award-winning SBS program were shown video of a refugee woman being raped.

The documentary series which explores Australia’s asylum seeker debate premiered this week and has already drawn headlines with the controversial views of some of the participants who fear Australia is being “invaded” by refugees.

On Wednesday night’s episode, cast members were taken to Thailand where they learnt about Rohingya refugees who are taken hostage by human traffickers as they make their way over the Malaysian border.

Adelaide woman Jodi, 33, has been vocal on the program about her intolerance toward refugees “invading Australia”.

She broke down after being shown a video of a Rohingya refugee woman being raped by three men.

Jodi, her sister Renee and former refugee Davy were also introduced to two teenage Rohingya refugees who had escaped the human traffickers just weeks before.

The two boys told Jodi, Renee and Davy about the deaths and rapes they had witnessed in the jungle camp, that they were planning funerals for the refugees who had perished, and how they had no family.

“I’m just so upset. I can’t believe that we were listening to a 16-year-old talking about what he’s seen, seeing people raped and killed in front of him,” Jodi said, crying.

“I have two 16-year-olds and it’s just devastating that he’s had to go through that.

“I can’t imagine them having 500 people here in this jungle. I can’t imagine being in that situation, but if I was, I would try to escape. Even if it meant getting on a boat. It’s just digusting.”

Later, the mother of two admitted she had changed her views on refugees, and said she didn’t know why traffickers would do that to other humans.

The other three Go Back To Where You Came From cast members were sent to Syria where they witnessed the large refugee camps in Jordan.

The show’s producers were slammed for placing the cast at “substantial risk” by allowing them to come within 1km of Islamic State insurgents.

“There was substantial risk associated with the deployment,” former Army officer and consultant Justin Bowden told Fairfax.

The final episode in the three-part series airs at 8.30pm on SBS on Thursday night.

Homegrown NASA scientist wants Australia in the space race

Australian NASA astrobiologist Abigail Allwood, pictured at her alma mater QUT, wants Australia to invest more into space exploration. Photo: Michelle SmithThe Brisbane astrobiologist at the forefront of NASA’s next mission to Mars has one regret in her stellar career – that she could not lead the charge to discover evidence of extraterrestrial life from her own country.
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Abigail Allwood, the co-leader of the coming Mars 2020 rover mission, said Australia would continue to lose its best and brightest minds if it did not embrace one of the most awe-inspiring of scientific fields.

“It’s a little bit sad, for me, to see that when I finished my degree here in Australia, I couldn’t pursue the kind of things I wanted to do in Australia at all,” she said.

“There’s very little involvement in space exploration.

“We don’t have a formal space agency, which makes it very difficult for us to participate in opportunities like this and, to me, it belies our capability.

“We produce so many bright graduates. We have a fantastic education system producing engineering, science technology and mathematics graduates and the sorts of things that really inspire them, like space exploration, is not possible to do here in Australia.”

Dr Allwood, who was at the Queensland University of Technology on Thursday to accept an outstanding alumnus award from the science and engineering faculty, said Australia had the capability to be a leader in space exploration.

But the nation’s involvement in humanity’s great exploratory frontier was “less than it could be”.

“There are some incredible Australian scientists overseas who want to come back and work here, if they had the similar opportunities back here that they do overseas,” Dr Allwood said.

“I’d be one of them.”

Dr Allwood, who has been based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena since 2006, is the Mars 2020 mission’s principal investigator for the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry.

The sophisticated instrument was one of seven chosen by NASA to be packed on to the Mars 2020 rover, which was similar to the Curiosity rover already on the Martian surface.

“The difference between Curiosity and the Mars 2020 rover is the science payload and the science objective,” Dr Allwood said.

“This rover has a suite of seven instruments – PIXL is one of them; we’re out on the arm – and the payload is selected especially to achieve the science objective of the mission.

“The primary goal is to search for evidence of ancient life on Mars.”

PIXL will be able to check the chemistry of Martian rocks, to grains as tiny as 100 microns, or 100 millionths of a metre.

“If you’re going to look for microbial life, you have to look at the scale of microbes,” Dr Allwood said.

“And that’s what this instrument does.”

Ultimately, the Mars 2020 rover will collect targeted physical samples with the aim of bringing them back to Earth.

“Contrary to some popular belief, we’ve never returned samples from Mars,” Dr Allwood said.

“We’ve never returned samples from any planet.

“We’ve had samples from asteroids and solar wind particles, but we’ve never, ever gone anywhere and actually deliberately, intelligently, selected a suite of samples and brought them back to Earth.

“That’s really important and it’s very different to a grab-and-go situation, where you grab samples from whatever you happen to find, because the context around the samples we collect is absolutely critical.”

Dr Allwood said getting those samples back to Earth would not be easy.

“(Samples) will be deposited on the surface of Mars by this mission and, if it’s decided by the science community, the public and so forth that it’s compelling enough to bring these samples back, then another mission would go and collect them,” she said.

“They would send a fetch rover to pick up the samples, put them in what’s called a Mars Ascent Vehicle – a MAV – and then launch the cache into orbit around Mars.

“A separate mission will then need to then bring those samples back to Earth from Martian orbit.

“So, it’s a complex series of steps.”

Dr Allwood said that complexity demonstrated how difficult getting humans on to the surface of the red planet would actually be.

“The number of miracles needed to bring samples back is such that it’s too much to put into one mission – it’s divided into three missions – so the technology to get humans to Mars and get them back safely is much, much larger,” she said.

“There’s so many more miracles that will need to be achieved.”

But if the work discovered there was once life on Mars, Dr Allwood said the cost and the effort would all be worth it.

“Understanding whether or not we’re alone in the universe, understanding whether life ever arose separately somewhere else other than Earth, that’s culture-changing and mind-changing stuff,” she said.

New hotel in Darling Harbour convention centre to be Sydney’s largest

Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz
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Foundations are laid for the Sofitel Hotel project in Darling Harbour. Photo: Peter Rae

Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz

Investor Dr Jerry Schwartz is pictured with his son Dane aged 4. Photo: Jerry Schwartz

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It’s a race between two tycoons across a one-kilometre stretch of Sydney Harbour for the title of owner of Sydney’s grandest hotel.

Eccentric cosmetic surgery-cum-hotel king Jerry Schwartz may have stolen a march on James Packer on Thursday as he made a show of laying the foundation stone of a new $350 million hotel development.

Mr Schwartz was promising a cracking pace. “We’ll be [erecting] one floor every 10 days,” he said.

The project will be Sydney’s first newly built five-star hotel in nearly two decades and is part of the broader $3.5 billion redevelopment of the Darling Harbour convention centre precinct.

The 600-room, 35-storey tower is being billed as Sydney’s largest.

It can hold that title without contest so long as James Packer’s $2-billion hotel and apartment complex winds its way through a complicated planning process. Mr Packer’s plans allow for only 350 rooms but promises “six star” luxury and more than twice the floors.

The Barangaroo south development is fighting its way  through complicated planning and legal battles, including a dispute between developer Lend Lease and the state government.

The $2 billion plan is yet to secure major government approvals but Crown Resorts is attempting to push ahead with laying the project groundwork.

Should the project be knocked back, the company will be left holding a costly bill for early earth moving and foundation work, plans for which are on display until the end of next month.

Mr Schwartz says his hotel’s proximity to the convention centre will give him an edge with business guests, who have previously had to make do with the three-and-a-half star Ibis on Darling Harbour.

In addition to a ballroom Mr Schwartz is hoping a helipad will be an extra lure for business travellers.

“It’s something no one in their right minds would object to,” he said. “It’s 35 storeys high, who’s going to complain, the neighbours?”

(A 2012 proposal for a nearby floating heliport on Darling Harbour was shot down amid outcry over fears plans were approved without due concern for noise pollution).

The government is yet to be presented with an application for the helipad.

LED lights will be built into the hotel’s framework. “We’ll be able to write things on the building – like ‘Happy [New Year] 2018’,” he said.

The hotel will be complete in the latter half of 2017.

Under an arrangement with construction firm Lend Lease, Mr Schwartz will buy the building after it is complete and subcontract its operation to Sofitel and Accor.

Lend Lease also has the contract for developing the convention centre and Barangaroo south.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the development was proof Sydney “was a city that belongs on the world stage”.

The hotel has been granted a 99-year lease as part of the public-private partnership designed to reinvigorate Darling Harbour.

Five elephants were slain while the world mourns Cecil the lion

Shot dead: Cecil the lion Photo: ALDFDentist Walter Palmer writes apology letter to patientsCecil’s killing unleashes calls for ban on trophy hunting
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​Nairobi: While the world mourned Cecil, the 13-year-old lion that was allegedly shot by a American hunter, dentist Walter Palmer, in Zimbabwe, another devastating poaching incident was quietly carried out in Kenya.

Poachers killed five elephants in Tsavo West National Park on Monday night. The carcasses were recovered by rangers on Tuesday morning — what appeared to be an adult female and her four offspring, their tusks hacked off.

While the killing of the lion in Zimbabwe has attracted the world’s attention, the death of the five elephants has received almost no coverage, even though elephants are under a far greater threat from poachers than lions. Their tusks can be sold in Asia for more than $US1000 ($1360) per pound.

“It’s just devastating,” said Paul Gathitu, a spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service. “It took us completely by surprise.”

Kenyan investigators say the poachers crossed the border from neighbouring Tanzania, slaughtered the elephants and then quickly returned to their base, making them difficult to track. Tsavo stretches along the border for more than 50 miles.

Rangers heard gunshots ring out on Monday evening. They searched all night through the vast park and discovered the carnage the next morning. There was blood and loose skin where the tusks were cut off. Kenyan authorities say the poachers escaped on motorcycles, carrying their loot.

In recent years, the poaching of elephants has increased exponentially because of the demand for ivory in Asia, where it’s used for unproven medicinal purposes. Between 2010 and 2012, poachers killed more than 100,000 African elephants — a level of destruction that put the species on the road to extinction. Unlike many other animals, elephants mourn the death of their brethren, wrapping their trunks around the bones or carcasses of the deceased.

While the African lion population is also under threat, it is largely because their habitats are being destroyed by farmers and developers, not because the animals are hunted.

Kenyan authorities say they were making progress in the fight against poachers before the recent killing at Tsavo. Last year, the government deployed 550 new rangers. Advances in technology have allowed researchers to monitor herds using GPS trackers, gauging when they might be under threat based on their movement and speed.

“We’ve increased our intelligence and our operations. We were having success,” Gathitu said. “That’s why we’re so surprised.”

In Tsavo, investigators are searching for the men who killed the five elephants. Two suspects have been arrested. Security officials found a bloodstained ax and a hacksaw in one of their homes.

It’s not just Kenya where mass elephant killings occur. In Congo, 30 elephants were killed in 15 days earlier this year in Garamba National Park. The illegal wildlife trade is valued at $US7 billion to $US10 billion annually.

“We are in an elephant crisis right now,” Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, a non-governmental organisation, told The Post recently.

Just two days before the Tsavo elephants were killed, President Obama announced during a visit to Kenya that he would introduce more restrictions in the United States to diminish the market for ivory there. The regulation would prevent the sale of ivory from African elephants across state lines.

But the United States makes up only a fraction of the international ivory market, and regulations in Asia remain loosely enforced.

Washington Post

Immunity boosters for kids

Shivering our way through the colder months of the year is guaranteed – much like the colds, flu and viruses that it brings to our families.
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But while us adults can nurse ourselves back to health relatively quickly, it often hits our children harder.

There are no guaranteed ways to avoid these dreaded lurgies completely, but there are ways we can boost our children’s immunity.

This can mean they are less susceptible to illness in the first place, and help them recover in the instances when they do get sick.

Here are some of the best immunity boosting tips.

Foods

Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is one of the best ways that you can ensure that your child’s immune system and health remains strong.

Fruit and vegetables such as carrots, green beans, oranges and strawberries are good examples of foods that contain immunity boosting phytonutrients.

These phytonutrients can assist in increasing the body’s production of white blood cells and antibodies that help to block out viruses.

‘Superfoods’ in particular contain high levels of phytonutrients, and many also offer additional health and immune boosting benefits.

Colourful vegetables offer a good source of antioxidants, and green vegetables provide folic acid, zinc and vitamins.

Yoghurt is full of probiotics, while garlic and onions help fight bacteria in the stomach, and fish offers the benefits of omega 3.

Vitamins and supplements

While a balanced diet will provide a sufficient level of vitamins for your child, additional supplements may be beneficial during sickness, cold and flu season, or in the instance that your child is a picky eater.

Vitamin C is one of the most essential vitamins for children due to its antioxidant properties that help ward off sickness. Vitamin C is found naturally in foods such as oranges, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.

Vitamin D is another important vitamin for children and is obtained from both food and sun exposure.

Much research has linked vitamin D to healthy immune systems, and recommendations state that children should have safe sun exposure for 20-30 minutes a day to boost their levels.

In instances where this is not possible, a supplement may be beneficial.

Other immunity boosting vitamins and supplements include zinc, Echinacea, and probiotics.

Cutting out sugar

While the occasional cake, chocolate or biscuit is fine, a regular diet laden with sugar is not.

Sugar has been linked with the dampening of children’s immune systems, and sugar overloads can trigger a dip in immune functioning for up to six hours.

Try to avoid obvious sugar laden foods wherever possible and be aware of hidden sugars in processed foods.

Sleep

One of the most natural ways to boost your child’s immunity is by ensuring that they are getting adequate hours of sleep.

If your child is sleep deprived, their immune system is negatively impacted and their body’s ability to fight off infection is low.

Ongoing sleep deficiency can mean your child may have trouble fighting off even the smallest of infections.

Recommended hours of sleep for children are: Children 1-2 years: 11 to 14 hoursPreschoolers 3-5 years: 11 to 13 hoursSchool children 6-13 years: 9 to 11 hours

Exercise

Research has shown that regular and moderate exercise may help improve your child’s immunity as it increases white blood cell activity and its circulation throughout the body.

On the flipside, too much exercise can have a negative effect as a child will become overtired and their immune system overworked.

According to government guidelines, children aged between 1-5 should be physically active every day for at least three hours, spread throughout the day.

Children aged between 5-17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.