Friday, August 09, 2019

Climate change threatens food systems

We need to immediately change our diets, how we grow food, and the way we use land if the world is to tackle climate change, according to a new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The report found the current trajectory of forest destruction and intensive farming practices would result in global hunger, mass migration and conflict. However, immediate action to cut meat consumption and reduce food waste could significantly reduce the impact of climate change. Alana Mann, a lead researcher at the Sydney Environment Institute, said the report should be a wake-up call for people living in cities that “assume supermarket shelves will always be full”. Australia, where meat consumption was high and deforestation rates were rising, was singled out as a region where rising evapotranspiration was causing deserts to expand. In Australia, 30 jurisdictions representing roughly 3 million people and 12 per cent of the population have declared a climate emergency.

A bill to decriminalise abortion has passed the NSW Parliament's lower house 59 to 31. Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian supported the bill, but several of her frontbenchers, including Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, voted against it. The bill allows abortions performed by a registered doctor for women up to 22 weeks’ gestation. Amendments saw provisions on conscientious objection for doctors strengthened, as well as rules ensuring specialists perform abortions beyond 22 weeks in approved public facilities. Doctors would need to consider whether the pregnant woman needed counselling. Greens MP Jenny Leong, one of the 15 cross-party co-sponsors of the bill, said of the lengthy debate: “The sound of men arguing over our personal reproductive health choices hurts my ears and it offends my very core.” The proposed laws will proceed to a vote in the upper house the week after next.

In a televised speech on Thursday night, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi explained the reasons why he stripped the Himalayan Muslim-majority territory of Kashmir of its statehood and special constitutional status. Modi's Hindu-nationalist administration has imposed a near-total communications blackout in the region since Sunday night, arresting more than 500 people including prominent local politicians. He said the move was to free the region of “terrorism and separatism”. The unprecedented move inflamed tensions with Pakistan, which also claims the territory, with the rival nuclear power’s Prime Minister Imran Khan declaring that the situation could see the countries go to war, asking: “Who will win that war? No one will win it and it will have grievous consequences for the entire world.”

Friends of Eurydice Dixon, who was raped and murdered in Melbourne in June last year, are banding together to stage material the Melbourne comedian never got the chance to perform. Dixon, who was killed on the way home from a set at Melbourne's Highlander Bar, was planning to develop an act that explored the notion of a committed feminist sympathising with arguments of men's rights activists. The concept will instead be realised at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in September by her friends and fellow comedians including Sofie Prints. Asked whether Dixon would appreciate what they did with her idea, comedian Greg Duffield told The Age: “I hope she would. Maybe she'd think we were stuffing it up and say 'Can't you come up with your own ideas for crying out loud?’”

Rodney Rude diplomacy
A visit from US ministers gives a clearer picture of what America wants. But as Trump’s trade war with China escalates, it also sets the stakes for Scott Morrison’s visit to Washington.


“My grandma had advanced Parkinson’s, as well as dementia, and needed assistance with every aspect of daily life, including using the toilet and bathing. She had frequent hallucinations and was also delusional, at various points thinking the progression of her disease was a symptom of us poisoning her. This was the most heartbreaking aspect of her disease. With the encouragement of her GP, we hoped that under the frequent medical supervision a nursing home could provide, her emotional state might improve. In reality, it had the opposite effect.”


“The first movement of Janáček’s rhapsody presents the death of the old warrior Taras Bulba’s son Andrei at his father’s own hands. The boy defies his father and fights for the Polish enemy because of the princess he loves. Then he is cowed and falls to his father. The lovers are characterised by lyrical use of horns and strings, the wrath of the father concomitant with the growl of the trombone. Trumpets convey the rage and sweep of battle.”


“One of the most famous of all Taipei beef noodle restaurants is Lin Dong Fang, located in central Zhongshan district and open from 11am to 3am. When I first visited in 2015, it was spread over two shopfronts with a couple of huge cauldrons of rich brown broth bubbling away by the footpath and a slightly smaller pot simmering with starchy water for the thick noodles. Lin Dong Fang built its reputation on flavoursome clear-broth noodles that were said to include herbs from traditional Chinese medicine.”


“Australia's biggest medical appointment booking app HealthEngine is facing multi-million-dollar penalties after an ABC investigation exposed its practice of funnelling patient information to law firms. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched legal action against the Perth-based company in the Federal Court, accusing it of misleading and deceptive conduct.”


“Life insurers have trawled through the medical records of 150,000 Australians in an attempt to deny payout­s in the 18 months since a parliamentary inquiry called for new restrictions on access to person­al health data ... they have also warned that a new voluntary industry code of conduct will not stop insurers demanding­ full medical records under the threat of refusal to provid­e cover or stall the processing of a payout.”


“In a country full of paunch proverbs, (‘A man without a paunch is like a sky without stars’) Mr. Salvini has made his soft stomach a validator of his Made-in-Italy authenticity and a feature of his common touch. But also his muscle. It has become Italy’s ultimate power paunch. ‘A man with a paunch,’ he said in Sabaudia on Wednesday, ‘is a man with substance.’”


Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.