Author: Sandi Keane

Global warming’s huge and endless cost of rising seas

Protecting coastal infrastructures is just the beginning of our battle to survive the rising tide. Freelance journalist, Peter Boyer, who was awarded an OAM for services to conservation and the environment, reports. RISING OUT of a coastal swamp, medieval Venice became a maritime power with a global reach. Now, that glorious relic of empire is being reclaimed by the sea. It doesn’t help that the city is sinking – around 25 cm in the past 100 years – but the real problem now is that the sea is rising at a faster rate. For many years, autumn and winter tides have flooded city...

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Protect your digital rights: Big Brother and his little sisters may be watching

“As long as you have signed over your rights to corporations, they can still sell out big to Beijing, Moscow or whoever else is peeping from afar”, warns Professor Jack Linchuan Qiu, Chinese University of Hong Kong. IMAGINE CHINA takes down its national internet blocking system – aka the Great Firewall – tomorrow. Will this affect how you use the internet? Without the Great Firewall, Facebook and Google will grow exponentially in China. Before long, the tech giants own a sizeable share of the Chinese market and have become good buddies with Beijing. This scenario unfolds at a time when Donald Trump’s inward-looking policy upsets Silicon Valley’s efforts to expand its global empire, and when the US Congress further deregulates the internet industry, allowing internet service providers (ISPs), for example, to collect and trade user’s private data. So the tech giants decide to go to bed with China. What does this have to do with you using your smartphone in, say, Sydney? Well, if you have a Facebook presence, it means your social network information may now be used in a few additional ways, without your knowledge. Perhaps a few China-bashing news items, shared by your friends, will disappear from your news feed. And if you rely on Google, YouTube, Amazon or Uber, the data you accumulate during your daily routines may now empower not just the Little Sisters (that is,...

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Cagey Chinese raider HNA needs eye of FIRB

China-watcher Michael Sainsbury is hoping the appointment of former spook David Irvine to the Foreign Investment Review Board will step up scrutiny of Chinese conglomerates like the HNA Group, the highly predatory company which nabbed 19 per cent of Virgin. Michael investigates the secretive acquisitor. THE INTERNATIONAL storm of controversy around conglomerate HNA Group, one of Virgin Australia’s two secretive and highly acquisitive Chinese shareholders – and also an investor in Australia’s property sector – just won’t go away and now looks set to play out in a Manhattan courtroom. Guo Wengui, an self-exiled Chinese billionaire now living in New York, has made...

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Philanthropy funds serious journalism in US. Why not here?

Monash University’s Dr Bill Birnbauer has been advocating not-for-profit, tax-deductible public interest journalism since the 2012 Finkelstein Inquiry. Like Michael West, he sees the United States model as a solution to the current journalism crisis. NON-PROFIT investigative journalism centres have invigorated watchdog reporting in the United States over the past decade, a period commonly associated with despair over the state of serious journalism. My research attributes a sharp increase in the number of such centres in the United States directly to philanthropic funding, made more attractive by tax deductibility, and this same model could work in Australia. This rescue mission of quality...

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Corporate welfare Canavan calls for taxpayers to fund gas exploration

Matt Canavan is not only espousing a $1 billion taxpayer leg-up for Indian coal magnate Gautam Adani to build a rail line but has now called for public money to be deployed for gas exploration in South East Australia. It is not as if Exxon and BHP, which operate offshore gas rigs in the Gippsland basin, or other big gas players for that matter, desperately needs help from taxpayers for their exploration. But the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia wants to help them out anyway. Before readers draw the conclusion that spraying taxpayers’ funds about on gas exploration is...

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