Friday, 30 January 2015

Community Garden Journal: Week 3 & 4

Hi everyone, 

Thank you again checking out my journal and for spreading the word. Just a quick update this time. 

Lousy weather kept my time at the garden to a minimum last week. Marina and I were only able to plant some coriander seeds and rosemary cuttings before the weather put a stop to it.

This week though, I finally got to plant something in my plot. I transplanted a tomato plant from another plot and also put down some roma tomato seedlings that I bought from the local farmers market. I then put in some rather sad looking parsley that hopefully will find new life in my humble plot and finally I re-added some off the tumeric seedling that I was given a few weeks back. 

Next week I plan on planting the basil, tomato and rosemary cuttings that I took a couple of weeks ago. Until next time, happy gardening!

Broc West
WEEK 3 and 4

Rosemary cuttings
 Dried coriander seeds

Hopefully some local restaurants will be interested

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny cancels Australia tour amid security concerns

from American anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny has cancelled her speaking tour of Australia amid security concerns.

The controversial speaker had booked appearances in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Gold Coast, however a number of venues had cancelled because of mounting complaints from the public.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Dr Tenpenny said that "pro-vaccine extremists had made continual, anonymous threats of vandalism and violence" and that organisers could no longer guarantee the safety of attendees.

Fellow anti-vaccination campaigner Australian Stephanie Messenger had been due to speak with Dr Tenpenny and had organised much of the tour.

"Some people were planning to bring babies," she said in the Facebook statement. "The threats have been persistent."

"We are not able to insure that the attendees would be safe from harm."

Ms Messenger also claimed that "pro-vaccine extremists have been sabotaging the venues and have threatened to disrupt the normal business operations of the locations during the meetings".

The tour organisers said additional options for Dr Tenpenny were being considered but were not confirmed at this time.

They said that refunds would be issued for all tickets sold.

ASEAN Countries Urged To Stand Up To China Over South China Sea

from Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are concerned over China’s land reclamation projects in the South China Sea and have pledged to step up efforts to deal with what they see as a threat from China. Their statement came on Wednesday after the topic was brought up at a ministers’ retreat in Malaysia. "The retreat shared the concern raised by some foreign ministers on land reclamation in the South China Sea," Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said at a press conference following the two-day meeting, according to Channel News Asia. Anifah’s statement did not specify which countries raised the concerns.

The Philippines, however, issued its own statement at the end of the retreat. "The massive reclamation issue presents a strategic policy dilemma for ASEAN," Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement issued at the end of the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting, according to Kyodo News. "Our inaction on this would undermine the principle of centrality, since we are unable to address in a unified and collective way such a critical issue in our own backyard."

“The ministers instructed senior officials to intensify efforts toward achieving the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and work vigorously toward the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea,” Anifah said during the press conference.
Malaysia, which holds the rotating ASEAN chair position for 2015, has instructed Thailand, the designated country coordinator between ASEAN and China, to increase the frequency of meetings between the association and China. ASEAN has been trying to conclude the Code of Conduct agreement since the Declaration was first signed back in 2002. Progress has been slow, which some say is due to deliberate stonewalling by Beijing as it shores up its own claims in the South China Sea, according to Tokyo-based Asia-Pacific politics site The Diplomat.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Japan's Finance Minister Calls For Swift Passing of Extra Budget

from Asia News Network: Japan's finance minister Taro Aso has called for the swift passage of an extra budget to rid the economy of prolonged deflation and boost the pace of its recovery.

The sales tax increase from 5 per cent to 8 per cent last April and the weakened Japanese currency have combined to jack up prices, resulting in the dampening of personal consumption.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe's growth policies, known as Abenomics, first working through ultra-loose monetary easing and massive fiscal spending, have benefited large, export-oriented companies and their employees.

But Abenomics has been criticised for doing little to help small and medium-sized firms.

It has also not raised incomes of most Japanese households, especially those outside Tokyo, Osaka and other major cities.

"The economy remains on a moderate recovery path. But weakness can be seen in private consumption, and economic recovery is uneven across local regions," Aso said in a key policy speech at the opening of the ordinary session of Parliament yesterday.

To tackle this, the government is seeking the passage of a 3.12 trillion yen (US$26 billion) extra budget by early April. The extra budget is to fund an economic stimulus package drawn up last December that will provide subsidies to offset higher fuel costs and help local governments implement measures to revitalize their communities.


Singapore Forms Cyber Security Agency After World Hack Attacks

from Singapore's government will set up a new agency to strengthen cyber security, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's office said Tuesday, amid more reports of high-profile hacking incidents worldwide .

The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, to be established on April 1, "will provide dedicated and centralised oversight of national cyber security functions," Lee's office said in a statement.

The creation of the new agency follows a string of attacks on Singapore government portals, including the websites of the office of the prime minister and the president in 2013, as well as other hacking incidents around the world.

In neighbouring Malaysia, the website of Malaysia Airlines was commandeered Monday by hackers who referenced Islamic State jihadists and claimed to be from the "Lizard Squad", a group known for previous denial-of-service attacks.

There have also been other recent cyber attacks around the world, including one on the US Central Command's Twitter account this month and on Hollywood studio Sony Pictures last year.

The agency, which will work closely with the private sector, will be involved in "strategy and policy development, cyber security operations, industry development and outreach," according to the statement.

China to hold military parade to 'frighten Japan'

from China will this year hold its first large-scale military parade since 2009, reports said on Tuesday (Jan 27), with one key goal described as being to "frighten Japan".

Communist China generally shies away from the vast annual demonstrations of military might. But it held once-a-decade National Day parades in 1999 and 2009 to mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the October 1 establishment of the People's Republic of China.

On its instant messaging WeChat account the People's Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, cited a Hong Kong report that a parade would be held this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

One reason for holding the parade was "to frighten Japan and declare to the world China's determination to maintain the post-war world order", said the article, written by Chinese financial and global affairs commentator Hu Zhanhao.

"Only by showing its military capabilities can (China) show Japan its attitude and determination and let it know that whoever dares to challenge the post-war order related to China and touch China's core interests is its enemy and must be psychologically prepared for China's strong counterattack," it said.

Other reasons included showcasing China's military strength and increasing Chinese pride. The report did not give a date for the event but said it would mark the first time it was not held on National Day.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

#PoliceStateUpdate: Queensland Promises $22m Boost For Police and Surveillance

from Campbell Newman’s government has made a renewed pitch on law and order in the Queensland election, promising to roll out more surveillance of organised crime and terrorism suspects, more “rapid action” squads and to provide tablet computers for beat police.

The premier (pictured) touted the initiatives as “important new components in the war against crime” and defended the effects of his government’s controversial bikie crackdown.

An extra $22 million for police intelligence gathering and analysis over four years, largely comprising extra staff and surveillance technology, would “allow police to go out and get information on the activities of criminal gangs and also, sadly in these uncertain times, would-be terrorists onshore here in Queensland”, Newman said.

But the move was motivated primarily by the “day-to-day fight against organised crime”, he said.
“I stress that protections in Queensland, for example for phone intercepts and the like, and the oversight by people outside the Queensland police service is the most stringent of any Australian state,” he said.

“There is no change contemplated to those laws by this government.”

He said a 12% annual drop in reported crime was a sign of success, but the government’s ambition of “ejecting motorcycle gangs from the state” was yet to be fulfilled.

Asked if recent drug market surveys suggesting no drop in illicit drug consumption or availability in Queensland were disappointing, given the resources thrown at fighting the bikie gangs’ “business model”, Newman said there had been a very significant drop in crime.

Japan says jets scrambling at record pace to counter Chinese, Russian intrusions

from Japanese air force jets are scrambling at a record pace to counter Chinese fighters intruding into its air space along its southern flank and Russian bombers and spy planes probing its northern defenses, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. 

Chinese fighter flights have increased in and around the energy-rich East China Sea, where Japan and China both lay claim to a group of islets.

In the nine months ending Dec 31, Japanese fighters scrambled 744 times, 32 percent more than the same period the previous year, the ministry said. Encounters with Chinese aircraft, which accounted for half of the nine month total, jumped to 164 in the final quarter of 2014, the most since 1958, when records began.

At the current pace, scrambles for the year to March 31 would exceed the 944 encounters logged 30 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

"With only three quarters of data available, we can't yet say whether it will be a record year," a spokesman for Japan's Air Self-Defence Force told reporters.

In the last three months, Japanese jest scrambled 369 times to meet Russian planes, four times the pace of a decade ago.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Community Garden Journal - Week #2: Planting Seeds, Making Cuttings & Soil Prep

Welcome to the second week of my community garden journal. 

Firstly let me just say a massive thank you to each and every one of you out there for the encouragement, tips, advise, retweets and overall positive feedback I've received over the last 7 days regarding last week's introductory post to the community garden journal.

Also a very special thank you to my good mates James Corbett and James Evan Pilato for the honorable mentions on last week's episode of New World Next Week and The Corbett Report's most recent podcast 'Guerilla Gardening'. I definitely did not expect such a positive response to this endeavor and I have to say it has been heartening and humbling to say the least. So thank you all once again.

So, with all that said here's some of what I got up too this week at the Cotton Tree Community Garden. Please enjoy and please continue to spread the word. Until next week, happy gardening!
WEEK 2, 2015

This week was all about getting things ready for planting, which hopefully will be in a couple of weeks. My first order of business was to create some seed friendly soil. Marina kindly showed me her preferred recipe for making great soil. A mixture of good quality potting mix, coconut peat and perlite. The coconut peat keeps the soil moist and a handful of perlite (which is actually expanded volcanic glass) is handy for soil aeration. Just for now I decided to sow some Coriander and Chinese Kale seeds. The seeds were given to me by a neighbor quite some time ago, so we'll see if there's still any life left in the little guys.

Next, I raised the level of soil in my plot, as months of neglect had left it rather low. So I grabbed a shovel, a wheelbarrow and put in some hard yakka in the brutal Aussie heat and got to work. At the end of the day I added some sugar cane mulch on top to try to prevent the soil from drying out. It's kinda funny, I used to do whatever I could to avoid gardening work when I was a snotty teenager (much to my parents grief), but now I really love getting sweaty and putting in the effort to make the best little garden I can.

Finally, Marina showed me some methods of pruning and making cuttings. Plants like basil and tomatoes are great for this as not only does the plant appreciate a good trim, but in a few weeks I hope to be replanting the cuttings in my own plot. One of the many things I'm learning is that nothing needs to goes to waste. Everything can turned into something useful like compost or cuttings.

Potting mix, coconut peat & perlite
Coconut peat

It's not all flowers & butterflies

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Japan approves biggest ever defence budget amid Asia tensions

from Japan approved its largest-ever defence budget for the next fiscal year on Wednesday (Jan 14), as hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks to strengthen surveillance of territorial waters in the face of a continuing spat with China.

For the year to March 2016, Tokyo will spend 4.98 trillion yen (US$41.97 billion), the government said, indicating a budget increase for the third straight year. "This is the largest budget ever," said a defence ministry official, adding the highest allocation previously was 4.96 trillion yen earmarked in 2002.

The trend reflects Abe's wish to build a more active military, a push supporters say is in response to the rising tensions with China, with which Tokyo is at odds over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea.

Japan is increasingly wary of Beijing, which is seen by several countries in the region as becoming aggressive over various sovereignty claims. But detractors point to Abe's desire to bolster the military more generally, and to shrug off the shackles of pacifism.

China responded cautiously to the announcement, urging Tokyo to pay heed to the past. "Japan's moves in its military and security policies have long drawn the attention of its Asian neighbours and of the international community. They indicate whether or not Japan can follow the path of a peaceful development," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

The premier had wanted to alter the constitution to reduce restrictions on the armed forces, but was unable to muster sufficient public support, and moved instead to reinterpret the relevant clause to allow the military to come to the aid of an ally under attack.