“Stock losses”. The words just rolled off a weary farmer’s tongue on a recent news report on the fires. Lip gloss, tooth floss, fairy floss, stock loss. It doesn’t quite capture the terror of plunging around a paddock in searing heat and choking smoke, crashing into fences and ditches in a terrified effort to escape but still being burned alive.
Small mercy would be choking before the final blast of heat that preceeds the flames does its worst. Animals got a mention on one SBS report, with one farmer saying how horrific it was. No not the being burned alive, or even the shooting of the blackened survivors, but the mess if the corpses were left too long before burial.
I’m left comparing biro losses and stock losses. Perhaps they need to search under the sofa, that’s where my biros seem to end up.
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Too soon! It’s the new catch cry to shut down debate when related events are not going your way.
We’ve heard it a lot this week any time the words “bushfires” and “climate change” have been mentioned in the same sentence.
If a politician, such as Julia Gillard on Monday in Tasmania for example, utters the proscribed phrase she’s accused of “politicising” a disaster.
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Mainstream television’s reporting of natural and other catastrophes has turned the delivery of information about human struggle, the mighty elements, loss and its consequences into nothing more than disaster porn.
Nowhere has this been so evident than with the recent “live” coverage of the Tasmania bushfires.
Late last week and into this one, the south-east of Tasmania burned, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents and holidaymakers as homes and livelihoods, never mind beloved pets and essential livestock perished.
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In Grantham and beyond, they searched for bodies in battered houses and hot, swampy fields. Clearing debris from footpaths, roads and yards. Eighteen months before, they’d fought the inferno in southern and central Victoria, fighting fires, saving lives, and making endless cups of tea.
They’re Australian volunteers - thousands of them - who left jobs and families to lend a hand to the natural disaster recovery efforts that swept across our eastern states in the past three years.
Their work saved lives and homes. Comforted hearts, and made towns livable again. Actions fit for a reward of huge proportions. But here’s what they got instead. A muddled up medal with serious eligibility issues and a confusing criteria that ignored the efforts of thousands of others. And a bungled up awards ceremony. Seem unfair to you? Well, here’s how it happened.
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You can well imagine that in better times, Francesco Schettino is the kind of guy you’d like to have around. A little bit debonair, as he chats at the bar with the ladies. And a little bit dangerous; careening around the waters off the coast of Tuscany, “as if the boat was a Ferrari”.
But as we know, the good times reveal very little about a person’s true character. It’s what they do when a situation goes horribly wrong that says the most.
In times of danger, the best people protect themselves from immediate harm, so as not to further inflame the situation. But their first instinct is to help others, or help defuse the situation. The worst people think only of themselves. They take risks for their own safety and threaten the lives of others. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which category, Francesco Schettino, the 52-year-old captain of doomed cruise ship Costa Concordia, who literally jumped ship in the time of crisis falls into.
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‘Tis the season for many predictions. Here’s mine: The world will not end. Earth will not be ripped apart by titanic tectonic shifts, swallowed by a black hole, or smashed to blithereens by another planet.
Doomsday prophet Harold Camping had to crawl back into his shell after two failed predictions of the world’s end last year – this year there’s a broader belief that the end is nigh. This too will prove false.
The ‘2012 phenomenon’ is a meme, an idea that has spread across the world, gathering layers of bullshit as it goes. It was born from a murky misunderstanding of an ancient Mayan calendar.
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The toxic oil spill in the Bay of Plenty will leave tonnes of dirty, sticky fuel on New Zealand beaches.
The clean up will continue today, even as “fist-sized patties about 5mm high” continue to wash up, with the weather hampering efforts to battle the spill from the crashed cargo ship Rena. It’s a looming environmental disaster.
Authorities can’t use booms to stop the spread because of the ocean conditions, and are hoping dispersants will reduce the damage. There is also some speculation marine microbes could help.
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The day after Japan suffered its largest ever earthquake and a subsequent, devastating tsunami, the number of deaths and extent of damage is still unclear. Up to 1000 people are feared dead, and there are concerns about radiation leaking from reactors. The Pacific remains on tsunami alert.
For full coverage including pictures and video, and live updates throughout the day. see news.com.au.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard this morning described it as a “terrible, terrible natural disaster” and said about 45 Australians were registered in the region.
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Sometimes people just get it plain wrong. And that goes for me as well.
Often we’ve thought that Generation Y are so preoccupied with themselves that they are not interested in the world around them. Or worse, they’re interested but not doing anything about it.
The stereotype goes along these lines: locked up in their bedrooms, on Facebook 24 hours a day, playing computer games, comfortable in the world of anonymity. And no social responsibility. Well, it’s time to put all their prejudices back in their box. Because what has happened in Brisbane in the last few weeks is the total and comprehensive counterproof.
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Sometimes it takes a disaster to shake the complacency out of us. To rethink the attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ when clearly things are not right.
So isn’t it time to develop a national masterplan to help guide future planning and development in this country to try and stop the increasing loss of life and damage that the natural forces around Australia unleash?
If you look at the past decade there have many natural disasters, both fire and flood, which have destroyed so many homes. We have seen the fires in Victoria which swept through the hill communities of Flowerdale, Kinglake and Marysville in 2009 destroying over 2,000 homes and taking 173 lives. Back in 1983 Ash Wednesday fires in South Australia destroyed 2,400 homes.
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Through the uncertainty, devastation and loss, Brisbane has finally revealed itself to me.
As the flood waters continued to rise in the city’s suburbs yesterday, so too did its fiercely defiant spirit.
You could almost feel a little tall poppy syndrome settling in.
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Extreme situations bring out extreme behaviour.
So far we have seen heroism, desperation, and stoicism. Grief and relief.
And now we’re seeing the lowest of the low – scammers pretending to be collecting money for flood victims.
There will come a time for introspection, but for now we watch the tide.
Before dawn broke this morning much of Brisbane’s CBD will have been swamped by a muddy deluge that will scour and scare the city.
But this is a news story like no other in our history because this story is playing out painstakingly live on at least four channels.
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The floods in Pakistan are too enormous to comprehend. The equivalent of 85% of the Australian population has been made homeless in just a couple of weeks. The death toll is not yet known. The nation has been turned upside down.
These events made it hard even to take seriously the news reports this week on the ‘floods’ in the Sydney suburbs of Paddington and Carlingford, in which residents lost sports cars and Sex Pistols memorabilia.
There are tragedies, and there are tragedies.
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A month on from the devastating earthquake that killed 230,000 Haitians, we are once again witnessing the ongoing and intrinsic apathy in this country.
Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means saying that as a nation we didn’t care, that we didn’t dig deep, band together and support the rescue efforts in Haiti, we most certainly did, like we always do – but is that enough?
Four weeks ago the devastation was front-page news, with stories infiltrating every digital sphere. Now, that’s simply not the case.
Our flag flutters from letterboxes, fenceposts and trees along our roads – an enduring and binding tribute to the resilience of our communities in the 12 months since that fateful February day we now call Black Saturday.
Their resilience was tested like never before on February 7, 2009. And it has been severely challenged many times since as they struggle to slowly rebuild lives, homes and entire towns.
The progress has been slow, painfully so, for many communities. A year on Kinglake is still without a petrol station, Marysville still waits for a school and new shops. And people in each community have had to battle ever increasing bureaucracy and building permits based on new building standards that still can’t deliver the required roofing and window materials.
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