Archive | November 2013

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Julie Bishop Weighs into Japan-China Islands Dispute
The Facts

Following the United States’ affirmation of support for Japan’s sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku Islands with China, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop has also warned China to back off or there will be consequences.

Last week, The Peoples’ Republic of China laid down an airspace defence zone over the islands which effectively bans commercial and military flights. In defiance to this prohibition, the U.S. flew two unarmed B52 bombers over the area on Tuesday without notifying Beijing.

The contested islands lie between Japan’s Okinawan territories and Taiwan. The uninhabited volcanic archipelago which is abundant in marine life has been a traditional fishing ground for both the Taiwanese and Japanese for centuries. It was claimed by a Chinese envoy in 1534 but acceded to Japan after the First Sino-Japanese War under the conditions of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, 1895. Under terra nullius, Japan took possession of the archipelago as they were uninhabited.

Following the surrender of Japan at the end of World War ll, conditions under the Potsdam Declaration in 1945 and San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1952, stipulated that the archipelago became part of the U.S. occupied territories. The edicts deemed that Japan could only retain sovereignty of the four main islands and such minor islands as “contemplated”. A clear decision on and the administration of the Senkaku Islands was never specified. Subsequently, in 1972, they were handed over to Japan by the US after the two countries signed the Okiniwan Reversion Treaty in 1971, restoring full administration of the islands to Tokyo.

Mineral exploration in the region by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East in 1969, revealed that the area showed potential for oil and gas reserves.

Despite originally acknowledging the 1895 Shimonoseki Treaty, in 1970, The Peoples’ Republic of China declared that it rejected the decisions of both the Potsdam Declaration and San Francisco Peace Treaty. China claims that the Potsdam Declaration annulled Japan’s possession in 1895 and asserts that the Senkaku Islands should have been returned to them.

According to Reuters, while the U.S. does not hold an official stance regarding the sovereignty of the islands, it recognizes the Japanese Government’s administration of the territory. As an ally, therefore, the United States has a responsibility to defend Japan in the event of any military threats.

Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop asserts that Australia has the right to take a position on international affairs and it is appropriate to show support for the standpoint of the U.S. and Japan. The Minister summoned the Chinese Ambassador to inform him that Australia would not stand for China’s intimidation in the Asian Region. According to Reuters, the Ambassador has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” to Ms Bishop’s reprimand, claiming her objections to China’s installation of the no-fly zone over the Senkaku Islands are “mistaken”. He declared that the Foreign Minister’s statements would damage Australian-Chinese relations.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Hagel

Gerowyn HansonGEROWYN HANSON
Gerowyn is Infinitive’s health and travel contributor.

Save the NBN Petition delivered to Clive Palmer’s Faifax Office

NBN PETITION DELIVERED TO CLIVE PALMER MP’S FAIRFAX OFFICE

GEROWYN HANSON ©

Today, a group of Sunshine Coast constituents from Clive Palmer’s electorate of Fairfax, delivered a petition regarding the NBN to the Member’s office in Maroochydore.  Voters, acting under the banner of “Save The NBN Day Of Action”, lead by Host and this writer, Gerowyn Hanson, presented the petition to staff member, Leslie Grace. About a dozen concerned citizens for saving the NBN were able to make it and present the Petition to Leslie, despite traffic delays in the area. Participants have asked the Member for Fairfax to advocate on their behalf for the NBN to be delivered to all Australian homes and businesses, not just the fortunate few already connected. The Honourable Member was not present.

With the Abbott Government revoking the previous Labor Administration’s programme to have all homes and businesses be connected directly to the NBN, the vast majority of locations will miss out. Labor’s nation-building plan was to use fibre optics to deliver the internet to individual premises.

Optic fibre to the premises (FTTP), is a more technologically advanced means of delivering a much greater load of information at a fast efficient speed over the internet. The current copper connection installed by providers such as Telstra, has been in use for decades. To date, copper wire has been a cheap, effective means of conveying a certain percentage of data. Fibre, however, is a medium which conducts light and therefore visual images such as print, graphics and large files can be delivered at a faster rate.

While using the existing network is a more inexpensive way of delivering ADSL broadband, the Government’s plan to install fibre to the node (FTTN) instead, will be inefficient. A node is a neighbourhood hub where the main telephone cable separates into the individual premises’ copper wire telephone line. Unlike fibre, copper is prone to deterioration from moisture and loses its effectiveness over distance.  The farther away from the node a house or business is, the longer it takes and the more inefficient it becomes to deliver data. Moreover, as many of these copper cables have disintegrated over the years it has further exacerbated the service’s short-comings.

In Clive Palmer’s electorate of Fairfax, many homes and businesses find themselves in “black spots” where the existing copper network is stretched to the limit. Often, there is little or no wireless mobile service provided as an alternative. The Coolum Industrial Estate is a case in point where the current network is incapable of serving the needs of the local business community. Last year, Malcolm Turnbull MP, the current Minister for Communications and Broadband, visited the industrial estate to discuss these problems with local business owners.

In addition to the Federal Government’s concern over budget blowouts from the NBN, some people claim that the present copper network is adequate and there is no need for a faster broadband service. For an individual who requires nothing more than to check their emails, this is possibly true for the moment. Other cynics assert that the only advantage of fibre optics is to download and view pornography quicker.

For many ordinary Australian households, however, neither ADSL nor mobile broadband modems are adequate enough to download movies and music, or view YouTube or ABCTV’s iView, for instance. Businesses are handicapped by the present system when it comes to uploading or downloading photographic advertising, product designs or large documents, to name a few. This is especially true for many residents in the Fairfax communities of Coolum and Peregian.

Residents from the Fairfax Electorate and other Sunshine Coast communities shared personal experiences with the current inadequacies of the copper network. Participants from all walks of life who are seriously worried about missing out on FTTP discussed the advantages of having a fast, efficient internet service provided to their businesses, education institutions and households. 

Asian neighbours, such as Korea and Japan already use FTTP.  Continuing the use of a copper network could further hamper business and development for Australia in one of the fastest growing regions in the world. In a first world country like Australia, a copper based supply network is becoming obsolete for delivering the information needed in the modern era.Image

National day of action on climate change – Infinitive

National day of action on climate change – Infinitive.

CLIMATE ACTION COOLUM BEACH QLD
GEROWYN HANSON ©

Today, Sunday 17th November, 2013, I spoke at one of only two of Get Up’s Climate Action Rallies held on the Sunshine Coast. Organized by local, “Scoffy”, about 150 people from the Coast, and as far away as Northern NSW and even Sydney, attended. People brought chairs, picnic lunches, dogs, and children, and enjoyed the day by opening the discussion around climate change.
As a Founding Friend of the newly established Climate Council, administered by Dr Tim Flannery, it was essential to focus on educating people. Firstly, it was important to use correct labels when referring to those who are ‘for’ and ‘against’ the research on global warming. I asked the people assembled if they knew the difference between a scientific “sceptic” and a scientific “denier”. Being sceptical is part of the process of scientific inquiry. We still refer to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity as a theory, indicating the investigation is ongoing. No one these days, however, would deny gravity exists; it indicates that researchers are keeping the debate going until there is absolute proof. There is therefore, nothing wrong with being a climate sceptic but a climate denier says, “NO!” I wonder where we have heard “no” before. Perhaps it used to be uttered by a certain “Mr No”?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the greenhouse gases responsible for warming the planet. The earth, however, needs a greenhouse effect in order to sustain life, so it is not necessarily a maligned chemical. The question is: what is the optimum amount of CO2 the atmosphere needs to maintain a healthy balance? Apparently, of all the other elements found in the air, it is only 0.003%. Recent measurements found it is now around 0.004% but this can vary, rising to as much as 0.007%. Now while this might not sound like a huge amount, it is the final straw that has broken the camel’s back.
We now have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than at any other time in the earth’s history. Scientists can measure these amounts by examining ice cores which contains tens of thousands of years’ worth of information held in solution when rain or snow fell. Researchers can state there the carbon levels in the atmosphere are at the highest amount ever seen in the last 800,000 years.
Of course, the carbon cycle involving the transpiration of plants into the air, converting to form vapour (clouds), falling to earth as rain or snow and being held in solution in the sea or soil, has contributed to the natural balance. Volcanoes, bushfires, etc. have also been part of that cycle. What happens, though, when the balance is upset? The reflective nature of carbon particles in the atmosphere contribute to warming the planet. So too, the heating up of the sea surface results in evaporation at the interface, releasing those carbon particles held in solution into the air, exacerbating the effect.
The outcome of global warming can be seen by rising temperatures causing droughts and wildfires. The consequence is more plant and animal extinctions of some of the sensitive species, as well as the crop failure of our food sources. Warming seas appear to cause more frequent and destructive cyclones and storms as well, adding to the predicament.
Even if the human production of carbon were ceased and reduced today, it would still take more than 1000 years for the levels to return to what they were at the time of the Industrial Revolution. That is how much human activity has upset the natural balance of the carbon cycle.
Next week, I will be going to the Federal Office of Fairfax, held by Clive Palmer, to submit a petition advocating for the NBN to be supplied to all Australian homes. At the same time, I will make an appointment for a future date to present another petition to the Member asking him to support the constituents’ desire to take action on climate change.
By all means remain sceptical about climate change but be responsible for your own part in reducing CO2 emissions. Do your own research by keeping up-to-date on the latest scientific research and be informed. As a final thought, even if the science can be disproven in the future, the effort we make now will at least result in a cleaner, healthier planet than the one we have now.