Bite-sized bulletins by ALEC SMART
Radical environmentalists Extinction Rebellion (XR) have chosen this week and next for rallies and civil disturbance to draw attention to the climate crisis threatening the planet. Protests, many involving activists chaining themselves to immovable objects (or each other), have taken place in the USA, Europe, India, and Australasia. A sub-group, dressed in scarlet robes and turbans and known as the Red Rebels, are adding colour to the global gatherings.
The worldwide movement, which began in October 2018, relies on civil disobedience and publicity stunts to pressure governments act on climate change including transitioning from coal-burning power stations to renewables.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cursed them as “uncooperative crusties” and demanded that the “importunate nose-ringed” protestors stop blocking the streets with their “hemp-smelling bivouacs.”
In Brisbane on Tuesday, XR activist Paul Jukes suspended himself from Story Bridge in a hammock for six hours, prompting reactionary radio DJ Ray Hadley to declare, “Leave the bastard there!” Jukes live-streamed his stunt on Facebook whilst demanding Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declare a climate emergency. She didn’t respond. Arrests were made when 200 protestors blocked major traffic junctions, some of whom locked themselves to concrete-filled steel barrels.
In Melbourne, over 70 XR protesters were arrested on Monday, the majority whist sitting down at a busy CBD traffic intersection.
In Sydney former Greens senator Scott Ludlam was one of 38 people aged between 19-75 arrested on Monday as he sat down with XR protestors obstructing Broadway near Central Station. On Tuesday beekeeper Paul Hoskinson handed out jars of honey labelled “sorry honey” to apologise to commuters delayed by the XR protests, while others dressed as bees and beekeepers pretended to die to draw attention to the mass global die-out of the essential insect.
XR face increasing pressure to kerb their protests. Last week Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, told 2GB Radio: “There needs to be mandatory or minimum sentences imposed. A community expectation is that these people are heavily fined or jailed.”
Those arrested in Sydney received stringent bail conditions, including a ban from taking part in any further XR events and exclusion from a 2.5-kilometre radius surrounding the Town Hall – effectively the entire CBD.
A ‘supertrawler’ that caused widespread consternation seven years ago when Seafish Tasmania introduced it to Australian coastal waters, is now vacuuming up fish in the English Channel, just 22km off the south coast. Fish trapped in the net are sucked up with a large pipe into an on-board fish factory, where they’re automatically sorted, packed and frozen ready for export, mostly to Africa.
The 142-metre factory trawler, Margiris, believed to be the world’s second largest, weighs 9,499 tonnes and can process over 250 tonnes of fish a day, with a cargo capacity of 6,200 tonnes. Seafish Tasmania took custody of the ship in 2012, and renamed it Abel Tasman, then secured an 18,000-tonne quota for jack mackerel and red bait.
However, after sustained protests against its use by environmentalists – who warned it was drastically reducing food stocks for cetaceans, southern bluefin tuna, sea birds and fur seals – and opposition from both leisure and commercial fishing industries, the Australian government prohibited the trawler from fishing in Australian waters for two years. Seafish then sold its stake in the vessel to a Dutch company and the vessel reassumed her original name.
Similar opposition to its plundering the oceans now threatens its operation in the English Channel, where it is targeting shoals of herring, mackerel and blue whiting. John Hourston of the conservation group Blue Planet Society said: “The reaction to the news that the super-trawler Margiris is off the south coast of England has been astonishing… Commercial fishermen, anglers, conservationists, the public, they all want to see these vessels banned. Not only are they unsustainable, they leave ecological destruction in their wake. Dolphins, porpoises, seals, and huge amounts of fish are all victims of their supersized nets.”
Perth doctor Ioana Vlad issued a warning in the Medical Journal of Australia concerning the dangers of wearing high-vis tops in direct sunlight. The alert arises from an incident in 2018 when a 40-year-old field environmental engineer suffered first-degree burns to his back from the reflective strips on his high-visibility safety shirt.
Although the man’s injuries were not serious or permanent, he was treated with aloe vera and painkillers for the stripe-shaped scorch, which was as severe as an unpleasant sunburn.
Dr Vlad believes it is the world’s first case of burns caused by reflective tape.
“Those people wearing them should be aware that if this tape is coming into direct contact with the skin, and they are in direct sunlight, this could happen,” she cautioned. “They should either wear something else underneath like a t-shirt or avoid direct sunlight.”
Royals sue Rupert, Rothermere and Reach
Prince Harry’s wife Meghan Markle launched legal proceedings against the Mail on Sunday newspaper, co-owned by media tycoon Viscount Rothermere (a great-grandson of its Nazi-supporting founder Harold Harmsworth).
The Duchess of Sussex alleges misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of Britain’s Data Protection Act for what she claims is unlawful publication of a private letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
A spokesperson for the newspaper responded: “The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously.”
Simultaneously, Prince Harry launched legal proceedings against Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper and Reach PLC, owners of the Daily Mirror, for alleged illegal interception of telephone voicemails, dating back to the early 2000s.
Murdoch has already been castigated for hacking private voicemails when British police discovered that among 4000 celebrities and victims of crime as well as Prince Harry’s older brother William and seven other members of the Royal Family, journalists working for his News of the World newspaper accessed the personal answerphone of raped and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Detectives found the intrusive journalists also deleted some private voicemails on Dowler’s answerphone, which wrongly led family and friends to believe that she was still alive and accessing her personal messages. Within days of the public outcry Murdoch closed the 168-year-old News of the World.
In issuing his claim, the Duke of Sussex recalled the tragedy of his mother, Princes Diana, relentlessly hounded by the tabloid press.
Media obsession with Diana ultimately led to the high-speed chase by paparazzi that resulted with her death in August 1997 in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel beneath the River Seine in Paris.
On 1 October Prince Harry released an official statement saying: “As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting.. Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences… There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives… My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”
Not Happy Apple
A Russian man filed a lawsuit for moral harm against the Californian computer giant Apple, claiming an iPhone app turned him gay. The man, identified as Mr Razumilov, filed suit in a Moscow court seeking one million rubles ($22,800) compensation after a cryptocurrency called ‘GayCoin’ was delivered via an app to his smartphone, instead of the Bitcoin he ordered.
In a story confirmed by Agence France Presse, the man’s GayCoin arrived with a note saying, “Don’t judge until you try.” According to the plaintiff’s court submission on Sept 20: “I thought, in truth, how can I judge something without trying? I decided to try same-sex relationships.
“Now I have a boyfriend and I do not know how to explain this to my parents … My life has been changed for the worse and will never become normal again.”
Razumilov’s lawyer, Sapizhat Gusnieva, told AFP her client was “scared, he suffered.”
Homosexuality is tolerated but condemned in Russia. A law introduced in 2013 officially bans the “promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors,” including homosexuality.
Apple’s Russian representatives ignored media requests for comment. A Moscow court will hear the complaint on October 17.