“Of course, I wasn’t particularly happy.”
Said artist Brad Downey of his collaboration with Slovenian craftsman Ales ‘Maxi’ Zupevc being burnt down. ‘Melania’ – a nice/different/unusual wooden representation of America’s First Lady outside her hometown lasted a year. Maybe the new bronze version will do better…
THE PLANET GIVES US A ‘WAKE-UP CALL’
A big new biodiversity report from the United Nations on the natural world is out – and it’s not pretty. Flagging significant “dangers involved in mankind’s current relationship with nature”, the study set out to measure progress made over the last decade. What it found was “continued biodiversity loss, and the ongoing degradation of ecosystems, are having profound consequences of human wellbeing and survival.”
WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
In 2010, 196 member states of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity – including Australia – gathered in Aichi, Japan and committed to a plan to limit the damage inflicted on nature by 2020. The 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets include things like limiting habitat loss, reducing pollution, and preventing the extinction of known threatened species. None of the targets has been fully met, and only 6 have been partially achieved, the report says. And UN director Elizabeth Mrema made the link between the pressure on nature and COVID-19. “As nature degrades, new opportunities emerge for the spread to humans and animals of devastating diseases like this year’s coronavirus,” she said.
GEEZ… IS THERE ANY GOOD NEWS?
There is. Nearly every country that signed on in 2010 is taking some steps to protect biodiversity. In the past decade, the global rate of deforestation has fallen by a third compared to the previous decade. There’s been good progress on eradicating invasive species and introducing better fishing practices. There are more protected natural areas on land and at sea. And restrictions on hunting have paid off for those species. Looking forward, “it is not too late to slow, halt and eventually reverse current trends in the decline of biodiversity,” the report said. But Australia was called out for criticism with our Bramble Cay melomys – a rodent that was found on an island in the Torres Strait – reported as the world’s first mammal extinction due to climate change. And urgent action is needed across the world, experts say, with 8 new ‘transitions’ suggested. It will next be discussed at the UN Summit on Biodiversity, to be held virtually on 30 September.
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MOVE TO BRING MORE AUSSIES HOME
The Federal Government wants the cap on international arrivals lifted from 4,000 a week to 6,000. The cap was put in place to ensure the hotel quarantine system run by the states and territories wasn’t stretched to breaking point. But with the number of coronavirus cases coming down again (they’re lookin’ at you, Victoria…) more people should be allowed into the country, Team Morrison says. Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter yesterday said 2,500 Australians overseas are “in distress” or “need to come home quickly”. In total, there’s believed to be 27,000 Australian residents living overseas who want to return. It will be discussed at Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.
HUMAN RIGHTS SQUASHED IN VENEZUELA, UN REPORT SAYS
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his senior colleagues ordered the country’s security forces and allied militias to kill and torture citizens to suppress political opposition and create a climate of terror, a new United Nations Human Rights Council report says. Investigators say the government has committed “egregious violations” amounting to crimes against humanity with systematic violence since 2014 becoming government policy. The UN team was unable to travel to Venezuela to investigate, but the report is based on 223 interviews with victims, witnesses and former officials. Venezuela’s government will be given an opportunity to respond. The country has been lurching from crisis to crisis under Maduro’s dictatorial leadership.
IF A CELEBRITY ISN’T ON INSTA…
…do they really exist? A handful of A-listers including Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry and Leonardo DiCaprio have frozen their Facebook and Instagram accounts… for 24 hours. No, they weren’t scandalised by overexposed actor Chris Evans… It’s part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign – a movement was launched by civil rights activists during America’s recent racial unrest. It’s also garnered the support of some big brands who suspended their advertising with Facebook over the social media platform’s track record on limiting misinformation and hate speech online. Big tech is also on the nose with 75% of Australians, says a new report from the eSafety Commission to be released today. The key concern – privacy, the safety of users, and we’re concerned they aren’t doing enough to stop the spread of misleading information.
A DUCK FROM AUSSIE CRICKETERS
Aussie national cricket coach Justin Langer has expressed regret over the team’s stance on the Black Lives Matter movement during their current tour of England. While the England and West Indies teams took a knee before every match during their three-Test series in July, it hasn’t happened during the latest games. Australia captain Aaron Finch has said that he discussed it with his English counterpart and they decided “education around it is more important than the protest.” That earned a rebuke from West Indian legend Michael Holding who called their position “lame”. “In terms of taking a knee, to be completely honest, we could have talked more about it perhaps leading up to the first game,” Langer said yesterday.
MANTEL MISSES THE CUT IN BOOKER SHOCK
It’s the most diverse shortlist in the history of the Booker, but for some, there was one glaring omission. Hilary Mantel – who is one of only two women to win the coveted £50,000 (AU$88,000) prize twice (for the first two novels in her Wolf Hall trilogy) – has lost out on her chance to claim it a third time for The Mirror and the Light. Those who are through: Diane Cook (The New Wilderness), Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar), Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain), Brandon Taylor (Real Life), Tsitsi Dangarembga (This Mournable Body), and Maaza Mengiste (The Shadow King). Four of them are debut novelists. Formerly a very British affair, this year’s prize shortlist is dominated by Americans with just one Brit making the cut. “No one wins the Booker Prize because of who they are. A book wins because of what it does,” said Gaby Wood, literary director of the Foundation. The winner will be announced on 17 November.
A TOWN CALLED ASBESTOS
It’s in Canada, and its citizens reckon it’s time for a rebrand…
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Australian Citizenship Day – 120th anniversary of the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia (1900)
ABS Data Release – Labour Force, August
Birthdays for Indian PM Narendra Modi (1950) and director Baz Luhrmann (1962),
• Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek becoming the first to report the existence of bacteria (1683)
• the debut of the Looney Tunes characters Wile E Coyote and Road Runner in the cartoon Fast and Furry-ous (1949)
• the premiere of M*A*S*H (1972)
• the signing of the Camp David Accords, frameworks for peace in the Middle East and between Egypt and Israel (1978)
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