Thursday, December 19, 2019

Record heat combines with record bushfires

The record-breaking national heatwave is set to combine with forecast 100km/h wind gusts to fan bushfires across the country today. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has issued "extreme" fire warnings for the Sydney, Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges, with 100 fires burning across the state. Penrith in Sydney’s west is expected to hit 45C, as the “heat dome” that set an all-time average temperature level of 40.9C across Australia on Tuesday arrives at the eastern seaboard. Evacuations were ordered in a number of areas in Queensland yesterday, where about 70 fires were burning. “It's not been as hot as this, as early as this,” said Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Neil Bennett. South Australia, where the highest temperatures have been recorded this week, will again face extreme conditions, with Adelaide forecast to hit 44C and even more extreme conditions in the interior. 

Trump impeachment: United States President Donald Trump is expected today to become only the third president to be impeached. The US House of Representatives will vote on two articles of impeachment, with the Democrat majority anticipated to have the numbers despite all Republicans expected to oppose the move. Democrats have concluded Trump withheld military aid to pressure Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation into his political rival, former US Vice-President Joe Biden. “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG!” Trump tweeted, calling for the country to pray in response. If either article of impeachment passes, the process heads to the Senate for a trial, likely early next year.

Oil drilling approved: Norwegian energy company Equinor has secured environmental approval to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority says the company now has two of four approvals required to proceed with the plan, which is opposed by a coalition of environmental activists, traditional owners and surfers. The approval comes with restrictions on the time of year any activity can take place, requirements for public reporting on the impact to the environment , and provision of additional rigs ready to drill relief wells.

Indigenous Voice: Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, who head the senior advisory group overseeing the design of a voice to government, envision the body will have power to ensure funding for Indigenous Australia gets to where it is needed. “We have to make sure the money is being spent as close as possible to the problem,” Langton told The Australian. “Funds are being siphoned off at every layer of government.”

What is Labor doing on coal?
Anthony Albanese says ending Australian coal exports won’t halt climate change. He says we need to cut emissions, but Adani should get on with it and start digging in the Galilee Basin. Karen Middleton on how Labor is resetting its coal rhetoric.


“Margaret* fainted from hunger when she was turned away from an overstretched food bank. She had to be taken to hospital. She was 58 and sleeping rough, and had not eaten properly for weeks because Centrelink stopped her Newstart Allowance for a breach she can no longer recall. ‘It’s not just the low payments,’ she tells me, as she relates her experience of seven years’ unemployment. ‘It’s that they get stopped for every little thing.’”


“You don’t have to look far to find why this emperor has no clothes. The government’s own emissions reduction projections, released late last Friday by the Department of the Environment and Energy, show a projected cut in emissions of just 4 per cent over the entire decade of the 2020s. The latest quarterly update shows we have reduced our national emissions for the year to June 2019 by 0.1 per cent. The shadow minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, says, ‘At this annual rate, it will take 217 years for the government to reach its 2030 emission reduction target.’”


Stasiland is about four ‘ordinary’ but deeply extraordinary people who refused, under enormous pressure, to collaborate with the Stasi regime. At 16, Miriam Weber nearly succeeded in scaling the Berlin Wall. Under torture she refused to betray those who had helped her – she couldn’t, because no one had. Later, her young husband, Charlie, died in Stasi custody. From behind the scenes, the Stasi orchestrated the entire funeral, down to the choice of coffin.”


“Jetstar plans to cancel 28 flights on Thursday in response to industrial action by ground workers but expects to get most customers to their destination within three or four hours of their original flight ... ‘We won’t be swayed by stand-over tactics and have strong contingencies in place to protect customers’ travel on Thursday — as was demonstrated last Friday,’’ a spokesman said.”


“Scott Morrison escaped Sydney’s bushfire air pollution crisis on a business class Jetstar flight to Honolulu, according to eyewitnesses who claim to have seen him check in to the flight. Airport sources have told The New Daily that the Prime Minister jetted out to Hawaii days ago, despite his office claiming on Monday this was ‘wrong’. ‘ScoMo was checked in to the Jetstar flight to Honolulu a few days ago,’ he said. ‘He travelled Jetstar business class.’”


“The new design is intended to make it unbearable for workers after five minutes, shortening employees toilet breaks in the process. The ‘StandardToilet’ made by a start-up in the UK of the same name is sloped so it sits at a 13-degree downward angle … industry research from the company suggested that the average person spent 25 per cent more time in work toilets than necessary.”

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