By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
Goodbye, genital warts! Can’t say you’ll be missed! A new study of Australian visitors to sexual health clinics reveals that vaccines against the most dangerous forms of the human papilloma virus (HPV) are turning out to be very effective at eliminating genital warts—so much so that it is actually a bit mysterious. In 2007 Australia introduced a program of free(-as-in-beer) HPV vaccination for schoolgirls aged 12-13, with optional free “catch-up” programs available to older girls and women. This effectively created the conditions for a controlled experiment: Australia now has an under-21 age cohort in which there was near-total vaccine coverage in the populace, a 21-30 cohort that is somewhere around 50% covered, and a 30-plus group among which almost nobody has had the jab.
The clinics, which are all over Australia, were instructed to record incidence rates of genital warts among patients visiting for the first time. As you can see if you peek at the tables, the rates have stayed the same amongst the unvaccinated oldies and have plunged in the younger populations. It’s not just the women who benefit in this regard (while receiving hypothetical protection from future cervical cancer); the incidence rates dropped among younger men, thanks to herd immunity, and even declined significantly among gay men. It is not as though Australians have stopped having sex, as the matching incidence figures for chlamydia suggest. In fact, they suggest that they’re probably at it a bit more. (And why wouldn’t they be, what with everybody having much tidier genitalia and all?)
Most remarkable is the finding (see Figure 2) that genital warts have disappeared altogether among those in the youngest group of women, those almost universally vaccinated in early or pre-adolescence. For the year 2011 there were 235 patients; 235 were wart-free. In the words of the authors, “We were surprised by this finding, as some of these women probably had only one or two doses of vaccine, and false positive diagnoses are always possible.” The vaccine is designed to suppress only strains of HPV thought to cause most genital warts; the docs speculate that either “most” was actually “all” all along, or that the vaccine is knocking out other strains it wasn’t engineered to fight. Either way, this is probably an auspicious leading indicator when it comes to the ongoing cancer-prevention powers of these “quadrivalent” HPV vaccines.
If you check the footnotes of the study, you can see that these researchers are probably quite delighted to have arrived at these conclusions, since some of them are cozy with Merck, makers of the Gardasil HPV vaccine. No doubt this study has been spun to create the greatest possible sensation, but there are plenty of urogenital specialists in Australia; an “absolutely no young people anywhere are turning up with warts anymore” finding is the sort of thing that wouldn’t be accepted if it weren’t close to the truth. Big Pharma is obnoxious in many ways, but we must give the monster its due when warranted.
By Stephen Gordon - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The U.S. is a natural point of comparison for the Canadian economy for many obvious reasons. But Australia is an even better point of reference when is comes to certain aspects of our economy, especially in the last decade. Both countries are a major exporters of natural resources and have undergone significant transformation over the last decade.
The surge in commodity prices increased the terms of trade — the ratio of the price of exported goods to the price of imported goods — in both economies, but the effect in Australia was far stronger than what we saw:
By The Associated Press - Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 10:00 PM - 0 Comments
Agnew Gold Mine cracks down on dancing workers
PERTH, Australia – Up to 15 miners were fired from their high-paying jobs in an Australian gold mine after a “Harlem Shake” performance underground was deemed a safety hazard, a newspaper reported on Monday.
A YouTube video shows eight miners wearing safety gear while performing the convulsive dance in the Agnew Gold Mine last week. The West Australian newspaper quoted a sacked worker who wouldn’t give his name as saying up to 15 people were fired, including some who watched the performance but did not participate.
Mine owner Barminco considered the stunt a safety issue and a breach of its “core values of safety, integrity and excellence,” according to a dismissal letter cited by the paper.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 5:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Peggy Nash had asked why the Prime Minister wouldn’t be in Halifax on Friday to meet with the premiers—”Since the Prime Minister is rarely here on Friday…”—and Jim Flaherty had duly enumerated all of the conversations the Prime Minister has had with the premiers these last seven years and now Ms. Nash was apparently done playing nice.
“Mr. Speaker, the fact is the premiers of this country are getting together to discuss, among other things, the economy, but the Prime Minister is refusing to join them,” she prefaced. “According to the IMF, we will have fallen behind the U.S. in growth by 2015. Greece’s economy is expected to grow faster than ours.”
The Conservatives across the way burst into laughter. The Speaker was obliged to call for order. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s fiery takedown of Australia’s Opposition leader is changing hearts and minds
First, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s fiery smackdown of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, whom she branded a misogynist, became a YouTube sensation; now, it seems to have made Aussies love their unpopular leader—or at least hate her less.
It all started earlier this month when Gillard, noting that Abbott had once questioned whether women have the required temperament and physiology to lead, gave him a 15-minute dressing-down, labelling him a sexist and a hypocrite: “I was offended when the leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said, ‘ditch the witch.’ I was offended when the leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this leader of the Opposition. Every day in every way.” The video has since been viewed more than two million times, and comes at a pivotal moment for Gillard, who leads a minority government and is trying to push through unpopular spending cuts as the country’s mining boom cools.
Her approval rating jumped by five points in the wake of the incident, giving her a 10-point lead over Abbott, and it even prompted Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary to broaden its official definition of misogyny to include precisely the kind of sexist behaviour Gillard, the country’s first female leader, denounced in Parliament this month. (It is no longer limited to “pathological hatred” of women, but an “entrenched prejudice against women,” as well.)
Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, senior lecturer of gender and culture studies at the University of Sydney, says Gillard’s speech was a watershed moment in a country in which sexism is part of the cultural landscape. Gillard, once described as “barren” by a political opponent, has been “putting up with this sexist language for so long,” says Probyn-Rapsey, adding that Australia has “a profound anxiety when it comes to dealing with women in power.” She says that the Australian media was largely dismissive of Gillard’s speech—initially, the prime minister was accused of playing the “gender card”—until it gained positive attention outside the country. And then it gained traction inside the country. If polling trends continue, Gillard’s Labor party should win next year’s election. She is now seen as the preferred PM by 50 per cent of voters, while Abbott’s disapproval rating, now at 60 per cent, may climb after his latest gaffe. This week he said the government, which is cutting the baby bonus, wasn’t “experienced” about children—an apparent dig at Gillard, who is childless. Abbott’s woes are disappointing to John Winter, a 63-year-old Brisbane architect and Abbott supporter, who thinks Gillard’s status as feminist hero is “ridiculous.” He believes her speech was an opportunistic ploy, not unlike—in his opinion—her ascent to power. “She is poisonous,” says Winter, who accuses Gillard of attempting to “hitch up the sexism” to distract from political missteps like introducing a carbon tax when she promised she wouldn’t. To others, like Probyn-Rapsey, however, Gillard’s speech marks a significant moment—“when this woman stood up.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 7:01 AM - 0 Comments
SYDNEY – Air Canada is being credited with helping rescue officials pinpoint the location of a yacht in trouble off he coast of Australia.
SYDNEY – Air Canada is being credited with helping rescue officials pinpoint the location of a yacht in trouble off he coast of Australia.
A solo yachtsman left Pittwater, on Sydney’s northern beaches, two weeks ago heading for Eden on the New South Wales south coast.
Australian media reports an emergency beacon was activated early today with the man reporting that his boat had been drifting away from land since last week.
Because of the remote location, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority asked two airliners passing over the man’s GPS position to help confirm his whereabouts.
An Air Canada Boeing 777 flying to Sydney from Vancouver subsequently diverted from its courses to check on the distressed yacht about 435 kilometres east of Sydney. An Air New Zealand A320, heading to Sydney from New Zealand also went off course to locate the yacht.
With the boat’s location confirmed, a police vessel was dispatched to the demasted yacht, which was running low on fuel and drifting further out to sea.
A maritime safety official says police will make a judgment call when they arrive as to whether the man needs to abandon ship.
By Luke Simcoe - Monday, September 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Memo to Australia: No need for new laws to crack down on jerks
Luke Simcoe is a guest blogger. He contributes the occasional post on web culture, the various kooks and cranks who inhabit the Internet, as well as copyright matters.
I often wonder if Australia missed the memo about not feeding the trolls.
In complete defiance of one of the Internet’s most common maxims, the land Down Under has gone crazy on trolls after a pair of celebrities—rugby star Robbie Farah and former Australia’s Next Top Model host Charlotte Dawson—were harassed on Twitter. In the wake of the attacks, conservative tabloid the Daily Telegraph has launched a #StopTheTrolls campaign (the hashtag for which has of course been heavily trolled) and Farah allegedly met with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard to discuss what could be done to stem the tide of slimeballs saying mean things online.
It’s already illegal in Australia to “menace, harass or offend” others via telephony—which includes the Internet—but that hasn’t stopped politicians from renewing calls for stricter laws and increased surveillance. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd declared “it’s time to build a bridge over the trolls,” while Communications Minister Steven Conroy lashed out at Twitter, citing the company’s reluctance to hand over information about users accused of violating the aforementioned law.
“Twitter may think they’re above Australian laws and they clearly think they’re above American laws, but ultimately good corporate citizens do not behave this way,” said Conroy.
By Nicholas Köhler - Monday, August 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM - 0 Comments
It’s happening in Australia. Right under that ozone hole…
Captain Cook discovered Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in 1770, when his ship smashed into it “and stuck fast,” as he put it in his journal. The seven-week layover that followed gave Cook’s men glimpses of a strange menagerie.
Mostly, it was the reef’s teeming fish they came to know. “We see them in plenty jumping about the harbour,” Cook wrote. Soon, his men were hauling them in.
Today that underwater idyll of old is suffering from the scourge of ultraviolet radiation, leaving Cook’s fish to suffer from skin cancer, of all things. Scientists with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Newcastle say that 15 per cent of the reef’s coral trout have lesions on their scales — melanoma-like tumours on their orange skins. The findings came out last week in the science journal PLoS One.
Australia lies beneath a great ozone hole, the Earth’s largest, which likely has something to do with the rate of skin cancer there — two out of three Australians get it by age 70. Now the country’s coral trout have become the first wild fish ever to hear similarly bad news.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, June 22, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
University of Sydney scientists figure out a simple way to turn deadly amphibians against themselves
Even a seemingly indestructible nemesis has a weakness. For Achilles, it was his heel. For Australia’s hated cane toads, it’s their highly toxic poison. University of Sydney scientists have figured out a simple, low-cost way to turn the toxin against the deadly amphibians. That’s good news for a nation that has seen huge swathes of its native species wiped out after the toads were imported in 1935 to control a sugar cane beetle. Within months of arriving in an area, the toads’ poison kills up to 95 per cent of native animals, including birds and even crocodiles that feed on amphibians. With no predators, they now cover large areas of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
But the toads’ ruthless efficiency is also their weakness. Cane toad tadpoles are cannibals, researchers have discovered; they hunt down and eat other cane toad eggs, which might otherwise grow to be rivals for food, by smelling the eggs’ cane-toad poison. So scientists lured the tadpoles into traps in two ponds, using the same poison as bait, and virtually eliminated one future generation of toads. While the technique won’t eradicate the toads from large bodies of water, it could protect conservation areas. There’s a bonus: the chemical lure didn’t attract native animals.
By Gustavo Vieira - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 8:35 AM - 0 Comments
An Australian coroner decided on Tuesday a dingo indeed took baby Azaria from a…
An Australian coroner decided on Tuesday a dingo indeed took baby Azaria from a campsite, just like her mother had been saying since 1980. The decision is probably the final word in a case that has been embedded in Australians’ minds since Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, cried out “the dingo’s got my baby” when her daughter went missing from her tent next to Ayers’ Rock, now known as Uluru.
Chamberlain-Creighton had been previously convicted of murdering Azaria, served three years in jail, only to be later cleared of any wrongdoing, while always maintaining that a dingo had taken the baby from the tent.
The latest decision is the result of a fourth coroner’s inquest into the case, which was also investigated in the murder trial against Chamberlain-Creighton and her husband at the time, Michael Chamberlain, as well as by a royal inquiry commission. This time, the coroner’s inquest sought to clarify that a dingo had indeed taken the baby; as Azaria’s body had never been found, her official cause of death remained as “unknown” until now. The coroner ruled that “the cause of her death was as the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo.”
In a press scrum outside the coroner’s office in Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, Chamberlain-Creighton and her husband seemed finally vindicated, according to Australia’s ABC. “No longer will Australians be able to say that dingoes are not dangerous, and that they only attack if provoked,” she said.
By Gustavo Vieira - Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM - 0 Comments
Aussie kids just won’t have it anymore
Australia is known for its unique local cuisine, featuring kangaroo meat, Anzac biscuits, as well as the rather singular Vegemite. For decades, Aussie moms have been slapping the sticky, black spread on toast. But sales are slumping because kids are turning their noses up at the stuff. Made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer, Vegemite is an acquired taste, a far cry from the appetizing flavour of spreads like peanut butter and Nutella.
Kraft Foods, which owns the Vegemite brand, tried tweaking the recipe last year, hoping to attract a new generation of Aussies. But the less salty, less pungent, slightly sweeter version of the original was quickly yanked from store shelves; it just wouldn’t sell. Now, Kraft is reaching out to the more than 1.5 million Aussie expats who may be craving a Vegemite fix; the company is monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other online forums to identify where it might ship the product next.
“The taste can be strong,” John Keating, owner of Toronto’s Australian Shop, says with a laugh. “But on the right bread or cheese it’s quite delicious.” Barack Obama, however, like young Aussies, remains unconvinced. “It’s horrible,” the U.S. President said last year.
By Gustavo Vieira - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 8:45 AM - 0 Comments
Australia opens a new examination of the famous case
It was a case that divided Australia from the start, with a plot line so bizarre it was made for movies. In 1980, while the Chamberlain family camped at the foot of Ayers Rock, baby Azaria cried from the tent. When her mother, Lindy, went to check on her she claimed she saw a dingo emerge from the tent, at which point she ran through the campground screaming “the dingo’s got my baby”—a line that went on to become immortalized in film, entered the cultural lexicon and even morphed into a comedy staple. The case inspired a television series, several books and a feature film starring Meryl Streep; the dingo-baby line made it into episodes of Seinfeld, The Simpsons and Family Guy.
But the case never left the Australian psyche. “I don’t think there’s anybody who would think about dingoes now and not think about that case,” says Rob Kaczan, a doctoral student from Melbourne. The baby’s body was never found. “Everyone had an opinion about it,” says Michelle Arrow, a historian at Macquarie University in Sydney and co-editor of The Chamberlain Case: Nation, Law, Memory. Now, after three decades of speculation, legal drama, investigations and inquests, a coroner has opened what is expected to be a conclusive examination of the case.
It comes at the request of Azaria’s parents, Lindy and Michael, who split in the ’90s, but who have gathered evidence of a number of recent dingo attacks, including at least one that was fatal.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 8:06 PM - 0 Comments
Casting about for news and commentary to improve my understanding of Kevin Rudd’s turnabout-may-or-may-not-be-fair-play-but-it’s-the-game-I’m-playing attack on Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who putsched him out of the job less than two years ago, I was amused to learn about this new book, released today, apparently, and written by the prominent political journalist George Megalogenis. It’s called The Australian Moment, and like so much down there, its thesis will be oddly familiar to Canadians:
“There’s no better place to be during economic turbulence than Australia. Brilliant in a bust, we’ve learnt to use our brains in a boom. Although the Great Recession continues to rumble around the globe, we successfully negotiated the Asian financial crisis, the dotcom tech wreck and the GFC. Despite a lingering inability to acknowledge our achievements at home, the rest of the world now asks: How did we get it right? Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 1:05 PM - 0 Comments
Some of Melbourne’s most brazen “charitable donations” included broken furniture, dirty diapers, and old Christmas trees
Residents of Melbourne, Australia’s most affluent suburbs (Kew, Carlton and Fitzroy, to name a few) have an interesting approach to public charity. Instead of leaving hand-me-down toys and clothing at their local donation drop-offs, welfare operators say they’re leaving trash. The drop-offs were hit hardest over the holidays, when residents literally dumped hundreds of tons of garbage at the various donation points in the area. The illegal dumping is so severe that local charities have been forced to spend over $5 million on garbage removal this year.
The problem isn’t getting any better: an ongoing offence in Melbourne, illegal dumping has increased 20 per cent from last year, possibly because many of the city’s inner-city dumps have closed down. Some say residents are using donation points as a replacement for the now defunct dumps because the nearest landfill is far away and requires a premium fee that people simply refuse to pay.
Some of Melbourne’s most brazen “charitable donations” included (besides plain old paper garbage) broken furniture, dirty diapers, old Christmas trees, lunch leftovers, and a live kitten trapped in a bag.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
Japan, India and Tuvalu add their concerns.
The tiny South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, one those most at risk from rising sea levels caused by climate change, was more blunt. ”For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, its an act of sabotage on our future,” Ian Fry, its lead negotiator said. ”Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act,” he said in an email to Reuters.
Critics in Australia are using the Harper government’s decision to scorn the Australian government.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 77 Comments
The Liberals have apparently decided that 308 MPs is enough.
“It doesn’t make any sense in these days of financial restraint,” Liberal MP Marc Garneau said Tuesday at a Commons committee studying the legislation that would give 15 extra seats to Ontario, six seats each to B.C. and Alberta, and three seats to Quebec … “Canadians are concerned about the added cost of such an inflationary measure,” Garneau said. “The government’s new proposal sends the wrong message to Canadians: that it wants to increase the number of politicians, while it slashes the public services that are provided.”
We presently have 308 MPs for 34.6 million people (one MP for approximately 112,000 people). For the sake of comparing Westminster systems, the United Kingdom has 650 MPs for 62.2 million people (one MP for approximately 96,000 people), while Australia has 150 MPs for 22.3 million people (one MP for approximately 149,000 people).
But if the concern is “cost,” then perhaps the Liberals should propose reducing the number of MPs. Never mind, how many we need, how few could we get away with? That, if the Liberals want to get into it, makes for an interesting debate about what exactly our MPs do to justify their respective existences.
A young Stephen Harper, for instance, advocated for a ten percent reduction in MPs. That would’ve reduced a 295-member House to a 265-member House. So instead of adding 30 seats, perhaps we could get away with 43 fewer than we already have.
By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently announced that it may add the terms “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” to its passport applications
The Australian government wants to further accommodate the country’s gay, lesbian and transgendered citizens—at least when it comes to filling out paperwork. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently announced that it may join the U.S. and Britain in adding the terms “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” to its passport applications. That way, same-sex couples won’t have to decide which one of them is “mother” and which is “father.”
This follows a move announced in September where a third gender option was added for passport applicants. Now, an X appears next to the gender slot on the passports of those who have selected “indeterminate” as their sex. Furthermore, people no longer need sex-reassignment surgery to be placed in their preferred gender category.
Family rights groups are railing against these changes, contending they erode the traditional family model. “It would break down the understanding of a family and family relationships,” Terri Kelliher of the Australian Family Association told the Herald Sun newspaper. But that might not be the issue for same-sex couples. Instead, it could prove difficult to decide which parent is number one.
By Alex Ballingall - Monday, October 10, 2011 at 10:05 AM - 2 Comments
A federal court in Sydney places a 16-year-old girl on a watch list to prevent her parents from sending her to Lebanon
Who says parents know best when it comes to raising their children? Apparently not the Australian judicial system. Joe Harman, magistrate at a federal court in Sydney, recently placed a 16-year-old girl on Australia’s airport watch list to prevent her parents from sending her to Lebanon for an arranged marriage.
According to Australia’s The Age, the girl had only met her arranged husband once. She desperately wanted to avoid being shipped off to marry him. In what Harman called “a great act of bravery,” the girl approached the court for help. Harman decided to place her on the PACE Alert system. That way, the government will know if her parents try to force her out of the country to be married.
Since the girl expressed fears over her mother’s reaction to how she had taken her cause to the courts, the magistrate ordered her parents not to question, threaten or harass her. “It is not the right of any parent to cause their child to be married against their will, whether in accordance with Australian law or otherwise,” Harman said. Sometimes the parenthood of the state trumps the parenthood of the parent.
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is under fire for depicting the PM having sex under the country’s flag
The primarily publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has drawn the ire of feminists and politicians alike for its “pathetic and disrespectful” TV depiction of Prime Minister Julia Gillard having sexual intercourse on her office floor beneath the Australian flag. The controversial scene took place last week on the ABC’s new show, At Home With Julia (the season started airing Sept. 7), a comedy about the PM’s private life starring Amanda Bishop as Gillard and Phil Lloyd as the PM’s real-life boyfriend, Tim Mathieson. Critics of the show—some of whom include MPs in Gillard’s Labor Party and parents of Australian war veterans, say the sex scene—however fictional—is disrespectful to both the PM and the country in general. One MP even suggested that government funding for the ABC be internally reviewed. And Gillard isn’t the only public figure under the magnifying glass either: her assistant treasurer, Bill Shorten, has described the show as “very tasteless” (his character is played by a dog). As for Gillard herself? “I’ve got some bigger things on my mind,” the PM told an Australian news program recently, “so I won’t be commenting on it.”
By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 11:45 AM - 0 Comments
‘We know that females like low voices because that indicates a larger male’
Australian researchers have concocted a new tactic in their ongoing battle against the hordes of cane toads infesting the countryside: dim the lights and lure them to their deaths with the promise of sex.
For years, toad trappers have used lights to attract insects that would in turn draw hungry toads into traps. James Cook University’s Lin Schwarzkopf has modified that method to include dimmer UV lights that will avoid the problem of scaring some of them away. She’s also added speakers that emit the deep drone of the male toad to attract females. “We know that females like low voices because that indicates a larger male,” Schwarzkopf told Britain’s Independent.
Schwartzkopf says this has led to a tenfold increase in the number of toads caught. She wants the traps to be mass-produced for the effort against the toad infestations that have plagued the country since the 1930s, when the species was introduced to kill beetles that were devouring sugar cane crops. Once the toads are caught, they’re either sprayed with a lethal chemical or placed in a freezer to die slowly from the cold. And all they wanted was some action.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM - 2 Comments
Backbencher accused of brothel spending on tax dime
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard may be forced into a by-election by a possible sex scandal plaguing Labor backbencher Craig Thomson. Police are investigating allegations that Thomson, the former national secretary of the Health Services Union, used his union credit card to pay thousands of dollars to a brothel in Sydney. Thomson denies the allegations, arguing that his credit card was stolen and used illegally, and Gillard supports his claim. But if Thomson is convicted, he would have to step down from parliament, triggering a by-election that the Labor Party would likely lose (polls show that support for the party remains the lowest in the country).
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 112 Comments
That’s the average value of a milk quota per cow under a supply-management system
I have a proposal I’d like to run by you. As you’re no doubt aware, the Canadian pundit industry has been going through some difficult times of late, not—God knows!—through any fault of our own, but what with the economy, and fluctuating advertising revenues, and that whole Internet thing . . . Anyway, we’re a resourceful industry with a proud history, so we’re not looking for any handouts, but what I was wondering was if maybe there was some way just to bring some order to the marketplace, so we wouldn’t have to deal with these wild swings in market conditions that, I can tell you, make it impossible to plan.
What I have in mind is some sort of scheme whereby the government would restrict the supply of opinion in magazines and newspapers to some fixed number of column inches per year, with a view to propping up—er, stabilizing—salaries at a target rate. Naturally I am sensitive to the concerns of magazine readers, not to mention magazine owners, but I don’t imagine it would raise the cover price of magazines by more than about 200 per cent or so.
No? Foolish? Extortionary? Outrageous? Then allow me to introduce you to the world of supply management: an actual policy pursued by the governments of Canada and the provinces for the past 40 years. Only I’m not talking about comparative fripperies like magazines (we have our own indefensible support programs, though not, ahem, on the same scale). I’m talking about basic foodstuffs, the kind the typical Canadian family eats every day: dairy products (milk, cheese and butter), eggs, and poultry (chicken and turkey), whose prices are maintained, by means of a strict regime of production quotas, at two and three times their market levels.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 12:31 PM - 2 Comments
Residents could face fines, jail time for refusing to remove face covers
Police in Australia’s most populous state have been given new powers to remove burkas and other face coverings to identify suspected criminals. People in New South Wales can now be sent to jail for up to a year, or face fines of over US$5,800 for refusing to remove a face cover. The new powers come after a recent case where a Muslim woman was acquitted because a judge ruled her veil made identification impossible. The Islamic Council of New South Wales has reportedly accepted the move, and the Muslim Women’s Association said it was doesn’t have a problem with it as long as the issue is handled sensitively by police. According to the BBC, the Western Australian state government is considering implementing a similar rule.
By Stephanie Findlay - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 10:55 AM - 5 Comments
Australia is turning its cross-hairs on gassy camels
A dead camel in Australia may soon pay off in carbon credits. Down under, where feral camels are running rampant in the rangelands and producing unholy amounts of methane, the government is proposing an official camel cull to help combat climate change. There are 1.2 million feral camels in Australia, and with few natural diseases and no natural predators, the population is expected to reach two million by 2020. One camel emits an estimated 45 kg of methane a year—the equivalent of a metric tonne of carbon dioxide. (In contrast, a passenger car emits about 5.2 metric tonnes annually.)
Under the proposed new regime, expected to become law this summer, accredited marksmen will be able to shoot the animals for carbon credits. “Potentially it has tremendous merit, because feral camels are a dreadful menace across the whole of arid Australia,” said Mark Dreyfus, Australia’s parliamentary secretary for climate change. Camels were first introduced to Australia in the late 1800s to work in the outback. Today, in the age of planes, trains and automobiles, the humped beast is just an exotic pest—albeit a gassy one.
By Jenn Cutts - Monday, June 6, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
If you want a man in Australia, get out of the city
What’s a single city girl have to do to find love these days? If she’s in Australia, her best bet is to head for the country. Late last month, the first “Thank Goodness He’s A Country Boy” tour brought 50 single ladies looking for love to Tamworth, New South Wales, a town of 58,000 midway between Brisbane and Sydney. After arriving late Friday night, the girls spent Saturday brunching, shopping and primping before a night of mingling at a Tamworth hot spot, where a “man auction” benefiting a local charity was held. “The best part of the night was watching the guys strut their stuff,” says tour organizer Brie Peters. (The gents had spent the afternoon gearing up by lunching at a local grill and watching a rugby match.)
Demographic data backs up what women in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne already know—there’s a drought of available men in Australia’s cities. With more and more young women moving to metropolitan areas, and young men seeking success abroad in greater numbers, prospects for a love connection are dim. The Tamworth tour had an “85 per cent success rate,” says Peters, who is planning a second tour to Wagga Wagga, N.S.W., in July. “Seeing such genuine country men and knowing so many lovely city girls who want to find love—what better way?”