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Showing posts with label australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label australia. Show all posts

Friday, February 07, 2014

The ASEAN trip completed on 1st February 2014

I have completed  the ASEAN trips. The last ASEAN country I just visited is Laos. I visited Vientiane and Luang Prabang but mostly I spend in the latter city.
So, the whole ASEAN countries I have visited since 2011 :
 ...Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Philiphine, Thailand (five times), Malaysia (many times, mostly transit here before flying to other countries), Singapore and of course, Indonesia.
My48-page-pasport is almost full and it may need a replacement. Even, it will be expired in 2016.

In addition to ASEAN, I have visited China (twice) and Australia (used to live here).

My next trip will be :...........will tell you later :)

However I have not posted both writings and photos of my last trip to Luang Prabang. I will do it later.
I am quiet busy because.....uhm...can't tell you now...anyway...Good nite!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Pope elected : Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis

AP
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope on Wednesday to lead the Roman Catholic Churcha prelate announced to huge crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
He took the name Pope Francis, the cardinal said.
Cardinals elected Bergoglio on just the second day of a secret conclave to find a successor to Pope Benedict, who abdicated unexpectedly last month.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

RIP Hugo Chávez Frías

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez Frías has died aged 58, after 14 years in power. Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, undergoing several operations in Cuba. He will be given a state funeral in the capital Caracas on Friday. Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is called within 30 days.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Australia needs guest workers?

Wanted: Workers Who Speak English and Show Up Sober - Careers Articles

 

By Rebekah Kebede and Mark Bendeich

KARRATHA, Australia -- Lucille Lievaux, a 25-year-old French geologist, commutes to work on a plane, a 1,300-km journey from Australia's Indian Ocean city of Perth to the mining town of Karratha, a smudge of suburbia on the continent's barren northwest coast.

Slim, blonde and passionate about her job, she sits in Karratha's busy single-storey airport, waiting for a jet to take her home. She has swapped her hard-hat and orange-striped overalls for a short-sleeved cotton top, jeans and sneakers. Wearing her sunglasses like a hairband, she looks out of place in a departure lounge crowded mostly with unshaven men.

Only the dirt beneath her short fingernails and tanned, weathered hands would suggest that she has something in common.

"Australia is like an El Dorado," says Lievaux, who came a year ago on a vacation. She now nets $5,000 a month, working two weeks out of every three at the Whim Creek prospect, an old open-cut copper mine dug out of the red rocky plain.

"It's so easy, so easy to find a job here as a geologist."

And it's so hard for Australia to find enough workers like Lievaux to sustain its mining boom. The tightening labor market is driving up wages, and combined with the resurgent Aussie dollar, is putting pressure on the entire manufacturing sector.

Lievaux may earn about $60,000 a year after taxes and be chauffeured to work in a jet, but she is not particularly well paid by the standards of Karratha, an Aboriginal word meaning "good country," and other remote boom towns.

A mine supervisor can earn in excess of $200,000, more than the head of the Federal Reserve. A truck driver's salary easily runs into six figures. A construction worker can make over $150,000, more than a doctor or lawyer.

"You can get girls cleaning at the mine camps and they can easily earn $100,000 a year," says Tracy Reis, 42, a travel agent based in Karratha.

 

More Projects Than Workers

The reason for this labor shortage, and the sky-high wages that come with it, is simple: Australia, with a population of 22 million, does not have the workforce to exploit its enormous natural bounty -- at least not at the pace required to satisfy Asia's hunger for resources.

The mining and resources industry, including oil and gas, has roughly $400 billion in new projects on the drawing board in Australia and will need another roughly 70,000 workers over the next five years alone, according to government estimates.

The construction industry is projected to need another 196,000 workers over the same period, many of them associated with new mining and energy projects.

The boom is just beginning and, already, labor is short -- not just for skilled jobs like geologists but also for unskilled work, creating a situation where even building laborers, cleaners, cooks and drivers are earning stratospheric wages.

But rather than flinging open the doors to foreign guest workers to fill these lower-level jobs, as countries such as Singapore and Dubai have done, Australia is taking measured and, some economists say, inadequate steps to import overseas labor.

Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart believes strongly that it is time for a rethink.

"Australia needs guest workers", says the nation's richest person, with a fortune worth more than $10 billion.

Rinehart is chairman of Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd. and daughter of the firm's late founder, Lang Hancock, who pioneered the country's iron ore industry in the 1950s and '60s after discovering a mother lode in the rust-red landscape of the northwest Pilbara region, inland from Karratha.

Rinehart is fond of ruby-red lipstick and wears her dark wavy hair cut to her shoulders and sometimes a string of pearls, but she has the same flinty reputation as her father, the "king of the Pilbara," a famously hard-headed entrepreneur who once proposed using nuclear blasts to develop iron ore ports.

Rinehart declined an interview with Reuters but answered questions by email, saying Australia not only needed highly skilled migrant workers -- such as French geologist Lucille Lievaux -- but also required unskilled, short-term guest workers for the costly, labor-intensive construction phase of development.

"Guest workers would benefit from jobs in Australia, increasing their skills and enabling them to provide for their own family's needs, so it is humanitarian assistance for them; in short, a win-win," she said.

Rinehart likens her idea to the use of seasonal workers in the farm sector to pick fruit -- when the work dries up, the workers go home -- but her suggestion that Australia should follow Singapore's economic model has angered trade unions.

In Singapore, unskilled foreign workers such as laborers and domestic servants are paid less than $1,800 ($1,465 U.S.) a month and cannot permanently resettle.

Paul Howes, a firebrand union leader and an influential figure in ruling Labor party circles, recently blew the whistle on what he says was one attempt in the oil industry to bring in Filipino workers on "slave-labor pay."

"We have told the government that we cannot stand by and allow what is essentially the trafficking of cheap labor from Asia into the remote northwest of Western Australia," says Howes, head of the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

The issue of guest workers is explosive because it implies below-market wages and challenges the national ideal of an egalitarian state. Australia thinks of itself as the land of a "fair go," a classless society founded in the 18th century by convict outcasts from the industrial slums of Britain.

To some, the mere mention of guest workers summons up images of an underclass of lowly paid, Asian workers.

But supporters of guest-worker schemes argue it does not have to be this way, noting that fair wages are enshrined in industry labor agreements and stressing the real benefit to employers would be access to reliable, committed workers.

 

Wanted: Speak English & Turn Up Sober

Jared Fitzclarence, owner of Karratha Aluminum Welding, lives in a small, dirty trailer behind his little firm's workshop, which has six employees working on everything from repairing trucks to larger jobs for a local gas-export project.

Over the din of his welding shop, Fitzclarence explains how finding the right employee can be daunting. In filling a recent vacancy, he tried several hopeless local candidates before finally hiring a hard-working, reliable Bangladeshi.

"We couldn't get someone who wasn't a complete loser or a drug addict ... it was causing no end of trouble," he says.

"It's not just here. Any business along this entire road has massive problems getting decent staff."

Fitzclarence believes guest workers are a good idea if they speak passable English like his young Bangladeshi employee.

"I think that's fantastic if they speak English. That's my biggest problem ... It's a language barrier," he says.

Large employers complain about the difficulty in both finding and keeping good workers. Mining contractor Leighton Holdings says it turns over more than a quarter of its workforce every year as staff shop for every higher wages.

"It's a frightening figure," Leighton Chief Executive David Stewart told a business lunch in Melbourne.

"They are very much motivated by someone having different conditions -- the food's better in the camp maybe, they serve different beer in the kitchen. I've got no idea. But it's a real challenge for us. We can't have a business where there's that much movement of people. It's enormously challenging."

Australia's largest energy firm, Woodside Petroleum Ltd., has partly blamed labor shortages for delays to its $14 billion ($14.9 billion U.S.) Pluto liquefied natural gas project, now nearing completion near Karratha.

The project, due to start producing in September, is already six months behind schedule and about $1 billion over budget. It also has been troubled by design problems and by a few weeks of weather-related delays, but the scarcity of labor, especially skilled workers, has become an industry-wide complaint.

Australia has around $200 billion in gas-export projects alone in the investment pipeline, and developers such as Woodside, Chevron Corp, BG Group Plc. and Santos Ltd. need to move fast to sign up Asian customers or risk seeing one or more of their projects fall over.

The question of guest workers is larger than the debate over labor shortages. It also touches directly on another important issue facing Australia: rapid population growth and its ability to host the more than 100,000 new settlers every year.

Australia's egalitarian ideal means all foreign workers have the right to resettle in the country permanently -- and very many of them do just that, adding to the strain on national infrastructure such as transport, hospitals and schools.

Even those who oppose the idea of guest workers, based on fears that it could create an economic underclass of outback shanty-town dwellers, concede that it has some demographic merit.

Currently, foreign workers who come to Australia on temporary employment visas can bring their families with them and can apply to stay on as permanent residents -- and about a third of all such visa-holders are granted residency every year, according to an Immigration Department spokesman.

Every migrant worker who arrives in Australia on temporary work visas, known as 457 visas, brings on average one dependent with them, according to Immigration Department data for 2009-10.

In contrast, guest workers are typically not allowed to bring family with them and have no right to resettle, which would ease the pressure on population growth.

Bob Birrell, economist and sociologist at Melbourne's Monash University, who is skeptical of guest-worker schemes in general, concedes that Gina Rinehart's idea has some demographic merit.

"To that extent, I agree with her," Birrell says. "It surprises me to say that but she does have a point there. It's just that I don't think she's going to succeed here."

It may seem odd that Australia, with 22 million people sharing a continent the size of Western Europe, is concerned about population. But the country is mostly arid, forcing about 90 percent of people to cram into 3 percent of the country. In 40 years, the population is projected to reach 36 million.

In major cities, infrastructure is already failing to keep up with population growth, and new suburbs are emerging without trains or hospitals. In the outback, the situation is far worse.

To walk much beyond the town boundary of Karratha is to enter a barren wilderness. At points, the outback is so flat and empty it is possible to gaze out at a 360-degree horizon and perceive a slight curvature of the Earth.

Inside Karratha, trucks rumble along the main street, ferrying materials and men between the town, nearby ports and the mines, while miners in fluorescent orange overalls are everywhere on foot. A town with an official population of around 18,000 is actually bursting with around 28,000 people.

Accommodation is so tight that big miners such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton find it cheaper to fly their workers into Karratha for a few weeks at a time rather than build whole new settlements in the desert.

For long-distance commuters such as Perth-based Lucille Lievaux, their temporary mine accommodation is usually an air-conditioned shipping container with a single bed. But even regular visitors like her will create demand for more labor.

All new miners arriving in the outback, even if only for a few weeks, will need doctors if they get sick and entertainment if they get bored. They will also generate more demand for lowly skilled jobs such as cooks, cleaners and garbage collectors.

That exacerbates labor shortages and drives wages higher -- to the point where scores of foreign backpackers are now being drawn to towns like Karratha, able to earn enough in a few months to fund the rest of their trips around the world.

Some live in tents around the town, and can quit their job and vanish in the time it takes to stuff a rucksack

 

Influx of Pacific Islanders

This phenomenon is well known in the east of the country, where fruit-growing regions have relied for decades on the fickle flow of young backpackers to provide seasonal labor. But a few years ago the horticultural industry became so fed up, they did something radical: they set up a guest-worker scheme.

The scheme brings in workers from poor island nations of the South Pacific and is backed by the government -- though it is very quietly pursued and faces skepticism even from within the Immigration Department, which helps to administer it.

For Richard Hamley, who employs islanders under the two-year-old scheme to pick tomatoes, there is no good reason why the mining industry should not adopt a similar scheme.

"We were originally a little skeptical about it because we didn't think that islanders would have been a good fit, but we could not have been more wrong," says Hamley, who runs the tomato division of horticultural firm Costa Exchange.

"They are fantastic workers. They have a work ethic that makes Australians look silly ... A lot of Australians don't want to work on weekends and they take time off."

Hamley says his guest workers are actually more expensive overall than local labor, given strict obligations to transport and house them and to pay fair wages, but he stresses that they are much more productive and better value for money.

Right now, such a scheme appears to be a step too far for the mining industry, where unions deny labor shortages are jeopardizing some big projects and they point to the record profits being mined out of Australia by global firms such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Xstrata Plc.

"As far as I can see, all the projects that have been planned to go ahead have gone ahead," Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, told Reuters. "There haven't been any major projects to my knowledge that have been held up critically because of a shortage of labor."

Even the AWU, however, does not appear to completely rule out the introduction of a guest-worker scheme, provided local workers are given first priority and training where required.

"Only after companies have shown they are prepared to invest in training to give Australians the first bite of the cherry should we consider bringing in guest workers," says AWU boss Howes.

Indeed, the ruling Labor party is moving quietly in the direction of guest workers for the mining industry with its "enterprise migration agreement" announced in May.

Tailored for mining, this new arrangement enables developers to fast-track the import of short-term labor for projects worth more than A$2 billion. They can bring in construction workers and set their wages project-wide, giving them more control over costs, though wages would have to accord with "market rates".

Even Rinehart is pleased.

"I believe in short-term guest labor for pre-construction and construction periods and am delighted to see recent developments that major projects over A$2 billion will be able to access guest labor...," she said in the email to Reuters.

The key difference, though, between this new arrangement and a genuine guest-worker program like the fruit industry's scheme is that workers under the former still have the right to resettle and pursue the great Australian egalitarian dream.

The immigrant's dream is deeply woven into the social fabric of a nation where about a fifth of the population is born abroad, almost double the proportion of Americans born overseas.

Australia still maintains a tough stand against asylum-seekers and human trafficking, but the days of a "white Australia" policy are over: nearly half of the 208,921 people granted permanent residency in 2009-10 were from Asia, with just 19 percent from Britain, Ireland and Europe.

"It's a good life in here," says Mohammed Monirul Islam, the 28-year-old Bangladeshi who is a star employee at Karratha Aluminum Welding.

"If you do a little bit hard work, you will get more money. And you will have a good life," he says during a brief pause in his work, having pulled away his grimy welding mask to reveal dark wavy hair and a steady, focused gaze.

Islam says he has dreamt since childhood of leaving the problems of Bangladesh behind and forging a new life overseas. His first step overseas had been to Singapore where he worked 15-hour days, seven days a week as a ship-building supervisor.

Now in Australia on a 457 visa, he earns A$35 an hour and is applying for permanent residency. He plans to go to Bangladesh to take a bride, then later bring his parents out to Australia.

"Yes, of course. My wife and my parents, we'll be together here," he says.

(Writing by Mark Bendeich in Sydney. Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; editing by Bill Tarrant.)

 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feeding the Black Swans at Albert Park, City of Port Philip, VIC
video
I took this video when I visited Albert Park.Here my friend and I were feeding the cutie wetland species:) Black Swans and Pacific Black Ducks are feeding and breeding
in the park.
According towww.parkweb.vic.gov.au, it boasts 225-hectares of beautiful parklandincluding a picturesque lake and network of trails. It is very famous place. Internationally it is recognized as a place for F1 events (Australia Gran Prix). I havent watched the Grand Prix because the
ticket is so expensive.Besides I am not a fan of F1 thing.
Visiting the park when it is not used for the Grand Prix, I absolutely free.
The park is very beautiful, a sanctuary for wild fauna and flora. You can feed the swans there. If you are hungry there are some nice eateries with good food. The park is located in the City of Port Phillip, just three kilometres from the Melbourne CBD. You can take bus or tram.

Want to know more abour Albert Park, here I copy some info from its official website (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au).
Albert Park is a Heritage. Evidence indicates that Aborigines inhabited Albert Park and the surrounds some 40,000 years ago. Albert Park was a series of swamps and lagoons that provided edible vegetation. In 1864 the Park was proclaimed a public park and named Albert Park in honour of Queen Victoria's devoted consort, Prince
Albert. Over the ensuing years Albert Park was used as a tip, as a camp for the armed services, for scenic drives and for many forms of recreation.

Today the magnificent Albert Park is enjoyed by approximately five
million visitors annually. Vestiges of Albert Park's Aboriginal
history still remain, the most noticeable being the large ancient
River Red Gum Tree, reputed to be the site of many corroborees. It is
thought to be over 300 years old, the oldest remnant tree in the Port
Phillip area, located next to Junction Oval on the corner of Fitzroy
Street and Queens Road, St Kilda.

The Clarendon Street gates are the best manifestations of European
history. Originally built of wooden pickets in 1910, they were cast in
wrought iron in 1939 and can still be seen today.

Aboriginal Traditional Owners

Parks Victoria acknowledges the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of
Victoria - including its parks and reserves. Through their cultural
traditions, Aboriginal people maintain their connection to their
ancestral lands and waters.
Further information is available from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria AAV
and Native Title Services Victoria

Fauna

Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the park including wetland
species such as the Cattle Egret, Common Tern, Eastern Curlew, Great
Egret, Pomarine Jaeger, Pelicans and White-throated Needletail. Black
Swans, and Pacific Black Ducks are common, both feeding and breeding
in the park.

Native mammals, reptiles and amphibians in the park include Common
Bent-wing Bats. Common Brushtail Possums, Glossy Grass Skinks and
Common Froglets.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Barrack Obama will be in Indonesia in March 2010

Us President Barack Obama will visit Indonesia and Australia in March


(Obama will visit Indonesia in March. During his childhood, Obama lived in Menteng Jakarta for 4 years. Therefore, he can speak Indonesian language. The childhood connection have made him hugely popular here. Even we have some Obama statues placed in Yogyakarta and Jakarta. Though some people protested it and asked the statues to be replaced by Indonesian genuine hero.  )


US President Barack Obama will will visit Australia in March after a trip with his family to his childhood home in Indonesia.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Mr Obama looked forward to discussing issues including green energy, climate change, economic recovery and non-proliferation with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd and Mr Obama have met a number of times since Mr Obama became President last year and have forged a close diplomatic relationship.

Mr Rudd welcomed the President's visit.

"President Obama will be a most welcome guest in Australia on his first official visit," he said.

"Australia's relationship with the United States of America is our most important international partnership.

"We are allies, we are trading partners, and we cooperate on the international challenges confronting all nations."

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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Australia and the US.

"Our formal military alliance, the ANZUS Treaty, has been in force for nearly 60 years," Mr Rudd said.

"The President's visit will underline the strength and breadth of the relationship."

Mr Obama, who was known as "Little Barry" when he lived in Jakarta with his mother in the 1960s, said last year in Singapore that he was looking forward to visiting his old haunts in Indonesia.

He was invited to make the trip by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and both sides have said they plan to use Mr Obama's childhood ties to the country to further tighten a crucial pan-Pacific relationship.

"This trip is an important part of the president's continuing effort to broaden and strengthen the partnerships that are necessary to advance our security and prosperity," Mr Gibbs said.

Mr Gibbs said that Mr Obama would inaugurate the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership during the visit, which is intended to further deepen ties between the two countries.

It is possible he will introduce his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, to neighbourhoods he knew as a boy and also to some old school friends.

Mr Obama's visit will be greeted with massive expectations in Indonesia, and a comprehensive security operation in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The childhood connection and his knowledge of a few words of the Indonesian language have made him hugely popular in the country of 234 million people, 90 per cent of whom are Muslim.



Monday, February 01, 2010

full-body scans start in Australia

Aussie passengers face full-body scans | News.com.au
AIRLINE passengers face tougher security screening - including possible full-body scans on US flights - in a $400 million-plus strategy to tackle terrorism.

Religious rehabilitation programs to halt the spread of radical Islam in prisons will be unveiled and security at international gateways to Australia, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, will be strengthened.

According to the Herald Sun,domestic travellers can also expect more routine security screening, including swabs to detect explosives.

After lengthy delays and the rewriting of eight earlier drafts, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his senior ministers will today finalise a White Paper on Counter-Terrorism.

The document aims to ensure Australia is better able to cope with threats from home-grown terrorism and follows the arrest of Muslim terrorism suspects in Melbourne last August.

The Government has also moved to tighten aviation security after the failed attempt by a Nigerian-born man to blow up a plane approaching Detroit in the US at Christmas.

The Government will also step up security for incoming cargo and reverse a decision to cut the number of air marshals.

The most controversial reform will be the likely introduction of full-body scans for international passengers.

Senior ministers believe that Australia should embrace tougher US-style anti-terrorism laws, despite concerns over passenger privacy and questions about the cost-effectiveness of the technology.

The roll-out of full-body scanners would take place at a small number of international airports - most likely Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - and be used for flights to the US.

Top security advisers to the Government say the aim is to maintain vigilance without resorting to stripping passengers naked before a flight.

The Government is also considering enhanced explosive screening and tests to detect chemicals other than nitrates. Technology now used at most domestic airports can detect only nitrate-based chemicals.

Among other reforms, the Government will announce a big investment in security screening for international flights into Australia.

This will include installing new equipment and beefing up the number of officers at airports in Asia and the Middle East.

The White Paper will also include "preventive" measures, including programs to try to de-program radical Muslims in prison.

Britain puts money towards a Muslim grassroots initiative called the Radical Middle Way, which pays for an interactive website to promote mainstream Islam.

Cabinet's National Security Committee - which includes Mr Rudd, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith and Attorney-General Robert McClelland - will debate a range of options today.

The strategy's architects are the PM's National Security Adviser and former SAS commanding officer Duncan Lewis and his offsider Angus Campbell, another ex-SAS officer.

The new policy will also include a package of measures intended to streamline response times and the information flow between domestic security agencies such as ASIO, the overseas intelligence officers in the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, and the Australian Federal Police.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Row over 'biblical' weapons in Afghanistan

Row over 'biblical' weapons in Afghanistan | The Australian
AUSTRALIAN special forces soldiers are using gunsights with biblical references etched on to them as they fight the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The ADF has several hundred of the sights, which are prized by elite troops for their accuracy over long range.

Their use by US, British and New Zealand troops has raised alarm among military leaders that it could reinforce views among extremists that the West is waging a crusade against Islam.

The Australian Defence Force is investigating how to remove biblical references etched on to gunsights, without damaging the weapons.

The ADF and military authorities in the US, Britain and elsewhere thought the letters and numbers on the sights were simply stock or model numbers until a US soldier in Afghanistan complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the initials referred to passage from the Bible. One example was JN8:12 which turned out to be a reference to chapter eight, verse 12 in the Book of John: "When Jesus spoke again to the people he said 'I am the light of the world.


" 'Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life'."

While coalition soldiers were unaware of the significance of the initials, military officials quickly became alarmed that religious extremists could take some propaganda advantage from them being proof the West was waging a crusader war against Islam.

The ADF confirmed yesterday it had been unaware of the meaning of the inscription when the sights were issued to troops.

"The Department of Defence was unaware of the significance of the manufacturer's serial number," the spokesman said. "The sights were procured because they provide mature technology which is highly reliable, in wide use by our allies and best meet Defence requirements. Soldiers are confident in the utility of the sight and the positive and proven effect which it is having on operations."

The spokesman said Defence was conscious of the sensitivities over this issue and was assessing how to address them.

Another inscription was 2COR4:6, which is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament. The passage reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

US military rules prohibit religious proselytising in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn to prevent criticism that the US was on a religious crusade in its war against al-Qa'ida and Iraqi insurgents.

The sights are used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers.

The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $US660 million ($725m) multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the US Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the American Army.

Trijicon issued a statement saying: "As part of our faith and our belief in service to our country, Trijicon has put scripture references on our products for more than two decades.

"As long as we have men and women in danger, we will continue to do everything we can to provide them with both state-of-the-art technology and the never-ending support and prayers of a grateful nation."



Thursday, January 14, 2010

The lost generation

White grandma wins custody battle for Aboriginal grandchildren | News.com.au
THE Family Court has given a white grandmother custody of her two Aboriginal grandchildren.

The court ruled a safe, stable upbringing in her home is more important than their immersion in the hunter-gatherer culture of their people, The Australian reports.

The grandmother, 60, has been fighting for full-time care of the children since 2008, saying they had been exposed to alcohol-fuelled violence in every home they lived in before coming to her.

The mother's legal team, from the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, argued that the children must be raised in the tradition of Tiwi Islanders: gathering bush tucker, doing craftwork, speaking the Tiwi language and attending ceremonies.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

tips to find your stolen camera :)

His idea is interesting and I might follow his tips. I lost my camera when I was at David Jones shopping center, Melbourne. There were so many pictures that I had not  moved it to my pc. I was hoping someone would return it. Until I returned here, no whereabouts of my camera and the pics.



Sunday, December 06, 2009

bike, bike, bike

Australia's best bike rides | News.com.au
CYCLING, in its many forms, is one of the fastest-growing participation sports in Australia and for good reason.

You can do it solo or you can do it as part of a group and, best of all, you set the pace you want to go.

Whether your preferred distance is 10km or 100km, riding a bike is a great way to recharge and forget the cares of the daily grind.

Simon Hayes is the author of Where to Ride Sydney. After more than a decade in cycling journalism, there aren't many places you can ride a bike in Australia he doesn't know about.

SASSAFRAS

Where: Dandenong Ranges National Park, Victoria

You begin this climb from The Basin. If you're driving there's plenty of parking at the bottom, or you can arrive by train at Ferntree Gully and ride up Forest Rd.


From The Basin simply ride up the bends of Mountain Highway until you get to the top.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? But then you have a range of options.

Turn right into Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd and then left into Sherbrook Rd to Kallista.

Then either left to Monbulk or right to Belgrave. Then back up Sandells and Ferny Creek Rd for a leg-breaking climb through the tree ferns. Lovely!

THREE PEAKS RIDE

Where: Canberra, ACT

Canberra is the city for bike riders. There is so much to do, but this ride will give you a sample.

The three peaks in question are Black Mountain, Mt Ainslie and Red Hill.

Of the three, Red Hill is the easiest and Mt Ainslie is the steepest. But you can choose your own order to ride them in.

Begin at Ainslie shops in Wakefield Gardens and ride on to Limestone Ave, turning left.

You'll see the top of Mt Ainslie behind the war memorial. Continue past the memorial, turning left into Fairburn Ave and then left into Mt Ainslie Drive.

This road is very steep but you will get a lot of satisfaction at the top.

Watch for kangaroos on the descent, especially in the early morning.

At the bottom, turn left into Fairburn and then right into Northcote Drive. Follow it across the lake.

Ride around Parliament House until you hit Melbourne Ave.

Go left here and into Gowrie Drive for the easy climb to Red Hill.

You can't miss Black Mountain with the Telstra Tower on the summit.

Head back over the lake via Commonwealth Ave, left into Parkes Way and right into Clunies Ross St. Black Mountain Drive is on your left.

THE O'GRADY LOOP

Where: Adelaide, South Australia

Begin at Glen Osmond and ride up the bike path on the old freeway to Mt Lofty.

Hang a left and then take the Mt Lofty Summit Rd to Greenhill Rd. If you're short on time turn left here. Otherwise turn right through Uraidla and out to Lobethal where you can refuel.

Follow the sign of Main St to Adelaide and head to Cudlee Creek and on to the Gorge Rd. This is a stunning piece of road.

Suddenly, as you round a bend you're surrounded by beautiful red rocks and you can really fly down the hill. You'll end up in the suburb of Athelstone where you can head back into town.

If you do this ride in either December or January, you may well see O'Grady out there too.

SWAN RIVER WINE TRAIL

Where: Perth, Western Australia

Cycling doesn't have to be all sweat and pain. The Swan Valley Food and Wine trail is a case in point.

This ride covers 32km and takes in numerous wineries, breweries, cafes and fresh produce stalls.

Being only an 18km drive from Perth, you have the option of a day trip or a nice weekend on the bike. This is the kind of place where you can wind back and recharge your batteries.

There aren't any huge hills, the climate is lovely and most wineries can arrange for purchases to be sent to your home, leaving you free to ride.

If you want to leave the car at home, you can access the area by train, disembarking at Guildford station.

MT WELLINGTON

Where: Hobart, Tasmania

The ride up Mt Wellington in Hobart is a must-do for all cyclists.

If you begin in the popular areas of Salamanca Place or Sandy Bay, you will begin at sea level and the summit is at 1271m. That's a pretty good climb by any stretch of the imagination.

For a bit of trivia, Cadel Evans won the stage here in the 1998 Tour of Tasmania. It would be nice to say you've ridden somewhere Evans has.

To do this ride you need to get on to Cascade Rd. Follow it past the brewery, making a mental note to visit on the way back, before the road becomes Strickland Ave.

Turn right into Huon Rd and then right into Pillinger Drive at Ferntree. From here on in, the only way is up.

Some advice a pair of arm warmers and a light jacket in the back pocket are a good idea. It can get very cold up there.

SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK

Where: Sydney, New South Wales

If you're out for a Sunday ride with the children you'll find kilometres and kilometres of bike paths, through mangrove swamps and along the Parramatta River.

For something a bit more fancy, why not have lunch at the Armory Wharf Cafe, a place that has to be one of Sydney's best-kept secrets. Small children will enjoy the playground above Blaxland Common.

And if it's a bit of speed that you're after, try the bunch training at 6am every Tuesday and Thursday from Murray Rose Ave.

They're guaranteed to get your heart pumping.

MAGNETIC ISLAND

Where: Magnetic Island, Queensland

Yes, you did read this right. We mean that little island off the coast of Townsville.

It may seem strange, but if you're looking for a place to take the family and ride your bike, this is the place.

While there's only about 26km of road on the island, there are some short, steep little climbs that will get your heart rate up.

If you take your bike north on the plane you can easily knock over a quick 50km training ride while the family is still in bed. Get back to the hotel by 10am and you have the rest of the day with them.

If you're after something a bit longer, hop on the ferry to the mainland and ride up Castle Hill or north to Cape Pallarenda while the children go to the Reef Aquarium or the free water park on the seafront.

Trust me, this one's a winner with the whole family.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

RUOK?

Make a change - reach out on RUOK? Day to help suicide prevention | National News | News.com.au
THREE words. One question. A life changed. Today is RUOK? Day, a national day of action for suicide prevention.
Across Australia, people are asking their families, friends and colleagues a very simple question: "Are you OK?".

Why ask? Because research shows there is no harm in taking a real interest in how someone else is feeling - in fact the conversation could change a life or even save one.

If you're planning to reach out today to someone who might be struggling to cope, I'd like to thank you. I wish I'd had the chance.

In 1995 my father, Barry, took his own life. It was a shock to everyone. My dad was a highly regarded, successful business management consultant. No one realised he was doing it tough; perhaps because no one thought to ask him: "Are you OK, Baz?"

Having experienced the devastating impact of that suicide, I felt I had to get people to talk about the subject. That's why I founded the national suicide prevention initiative, RUOK? Day (www. ruokday.com.au).

I'm glad I did. The feedback we get is proof that it's an idea whose time has come.

Of course, there are pluses and minuses. We recognise that this is a country with a tradition of mateship, of looking after each other in good times and bad. But we also know that many Australians don't like to make a fuss. "She'll be right," we often say. But what if it's not?

Today is the day to find out.

As you'll discover, you won't create a problem by asking "Are you OK?" Our advisers, Lifeline, tell us that genuinely engaging with a person at risk can reduce that risk.

We have also received guidance from beyondblue, Black Dog Institute, headspace, LifeForce, Mindframe, National Prescribing Service, Reach Out, SANE Australia and Suicide Prevention Australia.

RUOK?'s role is to raise awareness, while our partners are in the field every day. We could not have launched the initiative without their help.
Ways for you to connect

HOW to connect with someone on RUOK? Day . . .

1. Act now

Don't wait. If you see signs such as behaviour change or mood swings, or detect feelings of hopelessness, then act.

2. Be receptive

Put the invitation out there: "I've got time to talk". Maintain eye contact and sit in a relaxed position.

3. Break the ice

Use open-ended questions such as "So tell me about . . .?" which require more than a "yes" or "no" answer.

4. Listen

Listen to what a person is saying, be open-minded and non-judgmental. Sometimes, people are not always seeking advice, but they just need to talk about their concerns.

5. Safety first

If your concerns are real, don't leave the person alone. Remove any means of self-harm available.

6. Good advice

Encourage a healthy lifestyle – eating well and exercise plus regular sleep are the best ways to cope with tough times.

7. Act

No matter where you live, the person at risk can get help from a range of professional and supportive people.

8. Seek assurances

Thoughts of suicide often return. Emotions fluctuate, situations change. Ask them to promise to seek help again.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

trafficking

Canberra Woman Charged With Human Trafficking, Debt Bondage And Prostitution | Gov Monitor
A 42-year-old woman will face ACT Magistrates Court this morning, after being charged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The woman has been charged with offences including possessing a slave, debt bondage and operating an illegal brothel.

It will be alleged in court that the woman brought sex workers to Australia to work in exploitative conditions in Canberra.

Officers from the AFP’s Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams (TSETT) executed a search warrant on 14 October 2009 in the Canberra suburb of Kambah.

The woman was arrested and charged with the following offences:

* Possessing a slave, contrary to section 270.3(1)(a) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)

* Debt Bondage, contrary to section 271.8(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)

* Attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to section 43 of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)

* Two counts of allowing a non-citizen to work in breach of a visa condition, contrary to section 245AC of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)

* Allowing an unlawful non-citizen to work, contrary to section 245AB of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)

* Operating a brothel other than in a prescribed location, contrary to section 18 of the Prostitution Act (ACT)

The woman was granted conditional bail to appear at the ACT Magistrates Court today (18 November 2009).

A 55-year-old Preston man has also been served with a summons in connection with this matter and is due to appear in ACT Magistrates Court today.

The TSETT were established to investigate Commonwealth offences relating to trafficking in persons for sexual or labour exploitation.

Where a potential victim is identified, the AFP responds immediately to remove identified trafficking victims from harm, and to initiate victim support arrangements in line with the whole-of-government strategy to combat trafficking.

Australia is recognised as a destination country for such activities, though current data suggests the number of victims in Australia is low with 141 victims provided with support on the program since 2004.

By its very nature, this crime type involves people who are reluctant to come forward due to shame, threats or fear.

Police urge anyone with information they believe may be related to people trafficking or sexual servitude to contact the AFP on 1800 813 784 (free call).

The maximum penalty for these offences is 25 years imprisonment.

Topics: AFP, Australia, Australian Federal Police, Canberra, debt bondage, Governance, human trafficking, illegal brothel, Kambah, labour exploitation, prostitution, sex crimes, sex workers, sexual exploitation, slave, Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams, TSETT


Sunday, September 27, 2009

War Widows in Australia are much luckier than those of here

War widow wins housing reprieve | News.com.au Top stories | News.com.au
Under present compensation arrangements, partners of soldiers killed in action are entitled to an initial lump sum payment of about $122,000.

They can then choose either to be paid a further one-off payment of about $507,000 or receive an indexed pension of about $335 a week.

The pension is uncapped and not taxed.

Dependants receive about $73,000 as a lump sum, an $81-a-week payment while they are dependants and education support.

Widows and dependants also receive a gold card, which entitles the holder to departmental funding for all healthcare services.

The Government expects to receive a report from a review of the compensation arrangements early next year, a deadline the opposition says should be brought forward.


iSnack 2.0 picked a.k.a vegemite

Why do I post this story? Because I used to lived with vegemite :). It is real Aussie food ..was created in 1920's ..
IT'S unlikely there'll be too many happy little Vegemites, given the obscure name attached to the new cheesy version of the Aussie spread.

iSnack 2.0 is the name Kraft Foods chose for the new, creamier recipe of the suburban staple, following a national naming competition which attracted more than 40,000 entries.

The move is a bid by the food conglomerate to align the new product with a younger market -- and the "cool" credentials of Apple's iPod and iPhone.

The product's tag line reads: "iSnack 2.0, because it's the next generation Vegemite."

The new formula, said to combine Vegemite with Kraft cream cheese, is allegedly easier to spread and is milder in taste than the original.

The winner of the contest, West Australian web designer Dean Robbins, 27, told The Sun Herald: ''It's been difficult to contain my excitement; I actually leapt out of my chair when I heard the news. To think that I could go down in Australia's history is overwhelming."
The company has sold 2.8 million jars of the new blend since July, The Sun Herald reports.

A public contest was held to name the original Vegemite in the 1920s.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

THE Twelve Apostles are now the Seven Apostles.

Another of the Twelve Apostles collapses; seven left | Travel News | News.com.au
THE Twelve Apostles are now the Seven Apostles. Neil Sander, a tour operator noticed that one of the remaining Apostle's had fallen at just after 5pm yesterday.

And with the Grand Final today Mr Sander believes it could be an omen.

"The Geelong surf coast beats a Saint again," he said.

"I went 'oh my god'," he said.

He arrived on the scene with a tour group of nine people and instantly noticed the missing apostle.

But by the time the group had arrived there wasn't much to see, according to Mr Sander.

"Just a little bit of rock sticking out. The water was murky too, almost an army green mixed with a creamy colour."

The apostle was one of those nearest the Loch Ard Gorge and Port Campbell and just before the remains of the Island Arch formation.

Mr Sander has operated his Young Travellers Tours company for a year, and provided tours of the area for four years.

And he said the apostle would soon be missed.

"All the tour company's go there, so hundreds a day go to see that bit. It's a magnificent photo."

Others contacted by the Herald Sun had heard rumours but couldn't confirm.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Kevin Rudd as a Prime Minister should earn $1 million a year and the Opposition Leader $600,000

Barnaby Joyce calls for PM's salary to be $1 million | National News | News.com.au
OUTSPOKEN Senator Barnaby Joyce has called for Kevin Rudd's salary to be almost trebled to $1 million as MPs yesterday defended another pay rise.

The Remuneration Tribunal's decision to boost the base salary of federal politicians next week to $131,000 - an extra 3 per cent - comes just months after the Australian Fair Pay Commission refused to give 1.3 million workers on the lowest wage one cent extra.

But staring down tough economic times and volatile poll results, the Queensland Government yesterday said it would stand by its 2009 election commitment and keep state MPs' salaries frozen.

Senator Joyce told The Courier-Mail that unless pay was comparable with the private sector, Federal Parliament would be filled with "lords, ladies and lunatics".

He said the position of Prime Minister should earn $1 million a year and the Opposition Leader's cheque should swell to $600,000.

Mr Rudd, is paid about $340,000 a year and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull $242,000. Both are already millionaires.

But the senator stopped short of advocating pay parity with some of the country's top chief executives, such as Commonwealth Bank head Ralph Norris, whose fixed cash salary is about $3.25 million.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon yesterday agreed with Senator Joyce and said Mr Rudd was underpaid.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Government agreed with the "modest" payrise, the first since 2007. Mr Rudd ordered a freeze in 2008.

"Generally, we've seen wage movements of around 3.9 per cent across the economy," Ms Gillard said.

Asked how she could justify a payrise for MPs while the lowest paid missed out, Ms Gillard said: "The Government actually said to the Fair Pay Commission that it should award a considered rise to minimum-wage workers. That's what we argued for."

Acting Opposition Leader Julie Bishop would not be drawn into a debate on whether the payrise was justified.

"The value for money that each member provides to their electorate is judged by the public at every election," Ms Bishop said.

The independent Remuneration Tribunal usually sets increases to principal executive officers on reference salary A - which also includes some bureaucrats - in July.

However, it determined earlier this year it would wait until September.

In a statement yesterday, the tribunal pointed to the nation's improving economic outlook, and "noted" the positive August minutes of the Reserve Bank.

The Australian Fair Pay Commission in July rejected the ACTU's call for a $21-a- week increase because of fears any rise would cost jobs.

It meant the paypackets of low-paid workers remained at $543.78 a week. The last time the minimum wage was frozen was in 1982.

Greens Leader Bob Brown said he would oppose the rise unless "battlers" got one too.


Monday, August 24, 2009

How Aussies are really caring for their mates who are in trouble in overseas.

Schapelle Corby 'clinically insane' | World News | News.com.au
SCHAPELLE Corby's family has renewed its fight to have the convicted drug smuggler returned to Australia after a top psychiatrist warned she will not survive her sentence if she remains in Bali's Kerobokan Prison.

Associate Professor Jonathan Phillips spent a week with Corby in prison earlier this month and said the former beauty student was "hanging on by a thread".

Dr Phillips, former president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said the 32-year-old would continue to deteriorate unless she is moved.

"She is now helpless, hopeless, feels useless, she feels alienated, she feels removed from the rest of humanity," Dr Phillips told the Seven Network tonight.

"By any normal definition of insane, Schapelle is sadly in that category.

"She is in a situation where she could easily move forward to kill herself."


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Domestic Violence in Australia

Australia must tackle domestic violence to stop homelessness | National News | News.com.au
AUSTRALIA needs to address domestic violence to tackle the problem of homelessness among women, with 46,000 women already in need of shelter, a welfare group says.

Speaking out on International Women's Day, Homelessness Australia said women without a roof over their head should be a priority for government, particularly during tough economic times.

Women accounted for 46,000, or almost half of the country's homeless, the welfare group said.

It said women made up 40 per cent of those sleeping rough or in improvised shelters.

Among people living in boarding houses with no security of tenure, 28 per cent were women, and 48 per cent of what Homelessness Australia calls "couch surfers" - who depend on the charity of family and friends - were women.

Domestic violence was the biggest driver of homelessness, and women and children were worst affected by it, the group said.

"The largest single cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence, which overwhelmingly affects women and children," Homelessness Australia said in a statement.
Related Coverage

* Mothers afraid to seek welfareThe Australian, 22 Aug 2009
* More than $280m to tackle homelessnessNEWS.com.au, 2 Aug 2009
* WA homeless surge with rentsPerth Now, 9 Jul 2009
* Homelessness surges as rents soarsThe Australian, 9 Jul 2009
* Thousands of kids cast out on the streetsNEWS.com.au, 17 Jun 2009

"Sixty-six per cent of children who sought refuge in a homeless service last year were in the care of a woman made homeless by domestic violence."

Spokeswoman for the welfare group, Pauline Woodbridge, said the statistics showed the country had much to do to tackle homelessness and its causes.

"The statistics show that we have a long way to go in addressing women's homelessness, and its primary drivers, domestic and family violence," she said in a statement.

"The needs of indigenous women and women of non-English-speaking backgrounds demand particular attention in this area."

Executive officer of the welfare group Simon Smith said he hoped the federal government's national plan to tackle violence against women and children would overlap with its Homelessness White Paper.

"This is a priority, with economic downturn likely to swell the numbers of people who are homeless, and further stretch a homelessness sector already undergoing far-reaching reforms," Mr Smith said.