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Australia’s once bustling ecosystems are at breaking point

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A new report into the deteriorating state of Australia’s environment reveals just how bad it really is

As you may have heard, Australia’s once bustling ecosystems are showing signs of collapse, and the nation’s environment as we know it is in a critical state.

Climate change, habitat loss, invasive species taking over, pollution and mining, have all had a part to play in this decline – a decline which has scientists seriously concerned.

Australia’s Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, will hand down all of the information contained in a brand new analysis.

Dubbed the state of the environment report, it was completed back in 2021, but its release was delayed by the former federal government due to the upcoming election at the time. Read more.

Now that it’s finally being published for all to see, it perhaps becomes clear why the leaders of the time wanted to keep it hidden for as long as possible.

In at least 19 instances, Australian ecosystems are now showing signs of collapse.

While scientists acknowledge national and state governments have tried to address the decline, it says there wasn’t enough funding to make a lot of difference. A lack of coordination across jurisdictions just led to a lack of decisive action.

Plibersek says the five-yearly report is a “shocking document,” telling “a story of crisis and decline in Australia’s environment, alongside a decade of government inaction.”

The report quoted the World Economic Forum in stating Australia’s environmental degradation is now considered a threat to humanity. They say this could “bring about societal collapses with long‑lasting and severe consequences”.

So what are some of the report’s key points?

  • Since 2016, 202 animal and plant species have been listed as threatened
  • Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent
  • More than 100 Australian species are either extinct or extinct in the wild
  • More than 6.1m hectares of primary native forest have been cleared since 1990 – an area more than six times the size of Melbourne.
  • Marine heatwaves have caused mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, 2017 and 2020

Released every five years, this recent state of the environment report is concerning.

Scientists stress the natural world, as the source of food, water, air and raw materials, is not separate from the human world, and shouldn’t be viewed this way.

They say the impacts of this will affect us all and it is in our own interest to understand, protect, and restore the health of our environment.

William is an Executive News Producer at TICKER NEWS, responsible for the production and direction of news bulletins. William is also the presenter of the hourly ticker Weather + Climate segment. With qualifications in Journalism and Law (LLB), William previously worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before moving to TICKER NEWS. He was also an intern at the Seven Network's 'Sunrise'. A creative-minded individual, William has a passion for broadcast journalism and reporting on global politics and international affairs.

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Why airline executives are being forced to face customers

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As frustrated customers take their anger out on the remaining airport checkin staff, airline executives are being forced onto the front line to face customers.

The return of summer in Europe has been overshadowed by travel chaos, leaving passengers frustrated and often out of pocket.

Thousands of people have been left to battle airport queues that last hours, long delays and thousands of cancellations.

Airports and airlines face staff shortages forcing them to reduce the number of scheduled flights – often at short notice. 

It’s a global problem, with airports and airlines rushing to hire back the thousands of positions they axed at the start of covid.

But how do you do it, and how long until things return to normal?

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Sinema Paradiso – Biden loves this movie

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It was a shocker out of nowhere when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a week ago that he had reached a deal with Senator Joe Manchin on a revival of significant pieces of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda for the American people:

  • The largest investment in clean energy and renewables ever undertaken by the United States, putting the US more firmly on track to meeting most of its 2030 carbon reduction targets
  • Reduced prescription drug prices for consumers and cuts in health insurance premiums – saving millions of households billions of dollars in the cost of medicines and health care
  • A national minimum corporate tax – with no tax increases for Americans earning less than $400,000

BEVERLY HILLS CALIFORNIA – It was less than a month ago that Manchin shredded Biden’s agenda, leaving the president’s party with very little to show voters this November that they can govern. 

Disunity among Democrats means political death, because if the party that controls the House, the Senate and the White House cannot produce the legislative goods for the American people, the Democrats’ half life going into the November midterms will be halved again.

Finally, the Democrats in the Senate fully understood this, from the socialist warrior Bernie Sanders, who decried what was left of the ambitious Biden agenda (this bill “does not address the major crises facing working families,” he said) to Ed Markey, the leader for decades on climate change. Markey said he would vote “to protect” the Schumer-Manchin-Sinema compromise — “which means voting no on amendments, even ones I support” on climate.  Both Senators understood it was better to get something real done than to be left with nothing for voters – that no Democratic Senator could let the best be the enemy of the good, as much as they hated settling for far less than they wanted.

Even Kirsten Sinema of Arizona finally came to the party she had helped wreck last December, when her vote for the Biden agenda was not certain. She stood firm on nixing one funding mechanism – taxing wealth industry managers on their capital gains – by accepting other taxes that would more than foot the bill.  

As they say here in Hollywood, Sinema Paradiso was a boffo performance.  And the president loved it:

“Today, Senate Democrats sided with American families over special interests, voting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs and reduce the deficit, while making the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share.  I ran for President promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does — period.”

Behind the scenes, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who last year when everything was booming blew the whistle on the inflation that has been roaring across America for months, concluded that these social items, paid for in this way, would help curb inflation.  Other eminent economists concurred.

And to nail that point, this bill is called the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

The Senate vote on Sunday, with the 50-50 tie between Democrats and Republicans broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, capped one of Biden’s best months in office:  The killing in Kabul of the head of Al Qaida, the passage of the most significant industrial policy legislation in years to spur the strength and competitive edge of the US semiconductor industry, overdue legislation to care for veterans exposed to burn pits in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the new gun safety legislation. And this new legislation will build on the trillion-dollar infrastructure rebuilding program enacted into law last year. And Biden had Covid.

Suddenly, Joe Biden looks good in the Director’s chair.

One more vote later this week in the House of Representatives will crystallize all this.  The same political lesson re-learned by Senate Democrats now is staring House Democrats in the face.  They have a margin of four votes.  Unity will ensure victory; defections will bring down the curtain on dozens of their House colleagues – and themselves.

All this sudden legislative momentum, after months of paralysis, is occurring when the extremism of the Trump Supreme Court is causing a shift in the political tectonic plates.  Last week, in one of the most Republican states in the country, Kansas, voters decisively rejected a state constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion. That meant that a lot of Republicans in Kansas (!) thought the Supreme Court had gone too far. In Indiana late last week, the Republican legislature passed one of the strictest anti-abortion laws anywhere -and it was immediately signed by the governor.  This will happen in other states. 

Millions of women, and those who care about them, are angry that their constitutional right to reproductive health care has been taken away.  And they are mobilizing to vote in November.

Republican political hardheads are worried the anti-abortion zealots have gone too far.

For all these reasons, this is a moment for Democrats to show they can deliver on significant promises they made to the American people in 2020 and shift the polarity of these extraordinarily polarizing times.

If they fail in the House, this movie is over.

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China releases video to scare Pelosi from Taiwan

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The new broke mid-morning Monday in Washington.  The Wall Street Journal reported that House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to Taiwan. 

SUMMIT COUNTY COLORADO – Neither the Speaker’s office nor the White House would confirm the trip, but spokesman John Kirby, speaking from the briefing room and seeking to frame what is unfolding ahead of the visit, said:

“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile our actions are not threatening and they break no new ground. Nothing about this potential visit — potential visit — which by the way has precedent, would change the status quo.”

So Pelosi in Taiwan is on, after days of speculation and significant angst over what Pelosi’s visit would mean, especially in light of China’s exceptionally hostile words about Pelosi’s trip.  

As Australia knows from the bitter rhetoric and harsh punitive measures China has inflicted on Australia over trade, the messages from Beijing on this trip have risen to high-decibel levels. After the long telephone call last Thursday between President Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping, the official readout from Beijing was emphatic:

“Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.” There have been clear intimations of  military displays near Taiwan to coincide with Pelosi’s visit.  There are even concerns that China might target her airplane as it headed towards Taipei.

Many see Pelosi’s visit as exceptionally provocative, and it is clear China expected President Biden to do something about it, particularly after Biden said to the media 10 days ago that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now.”  

In this photo provided by Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, and Singapore President Halimah Yacob shake hands at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. Pelosi arrived in Singapore early Monday, kicking off her Asian tour as questions swirled over a possible stop in Taiwan that has fueled tension with Beijing. (Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore via AP)

The White House and State Department almost certainly received messages from several foreign countries, including close allies, that the trip was ill-timed and would make a tense situation even more tense at a moment when many are hoping, given all the global shocks flowing from the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s alliance with Xi, that the objective should be to lower – not raise – the temperature on US-China strategic issues.

It was clear over the weekend, however, that the distilled consensus was that as long as the Speaker was intent on visiting Taiwan, buckling to Chinese pressure on the visit would set a most unacceptable precedent. 

Why?

It is not unprecedented for a Speaker of the House to visit Taiwan.  Newt Gingrich did it in 1997.

It would be unprecedented for a President to seek to block a foreign trip by a Speaker of the House. Biden can advise, but consent is not his to give. Under the United States Constitution, there are three co-equal branches of the government.

The Executive, who exercises power over foreign policy.  The Congress, which appropriates money to fund the government, and passes laws affecting all official activities, including foreign policy, and fully exercises oversight authority over what the Executive does.  And the Judiciary. No one branch is subordinate to the other two.

Biden can counsel but cannot tell the Speaker not to go Taipei.  She has every right to go to Taipei and assess the situation to inform what Congress should – or should not – do with respect to American foreign policy interests regarding China and Taiwan and new laws that may warrant enactment.

If China could muscle the Speaker from visiting Taiwan, then China can feel it can muscle the United States from any and all other actions it may undertake with respect to Taiwan.

In Washington, that would be an unacceptable precedent.

The White House has stressed, just before the Pelosi visit gets underway, that nothing has changed with US policy:  that the United States is committed, by law, to the “One China” policy and has said repeatedly that the United States “opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo.”

Translation:  China must not invade Taiwan.  Taiwan must not declare itself independent of China. “One China” must be fully realised peacefully.

The truly big question for today and tomorrow is:  What will Pelosi’s message to Taiwan and China be when she is there?  What signals will she send?  What she says will directly affect strategic calculations of how to further play out the long game over Taiwan.

I met Nancy Pelosi when she was in her first term as a member of the House.  It was days after the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. We were at a small dinner in Washington.  All the talk was of the man before the tank – the lone soul stopping the beast in its path.  But the beat slaughtered those seeking more freedom.

Famous image of man in front of the tank in Tiananmen

 Pelosi talked with conviction and passion that what China did was wrong, and that Tiananmen had to inform the United States’ relationship with China.

That is where Nancy Pelosi was on the issues and who she was then.  That is where she is and who Nancy Pelosi is now.

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