Bushfire smoke, dust storms and asthma

Images of Brisbane shrouded in an asthma-inducing smoky haze on Monday reminded me of Queensland Ballet’s season launch in 2009. We had driven down for the matinee on a day when a massive dust storm was predicted. By the time we came out, the dust haze was so thick you could barely see the ABC headquarters across the road from the Lyric Theatre. No doubt those of you who remember that were reliving it on…

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Journalists facing deadly risks

Not for the first time, I’m ruminating about the deadly risks facing journalists working in conflict zones or countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt or even India. It’s 1am and I’m reading the Guardian Weekly, starting with its world roundup, where my eye is drawn to a headline: “Indian journalist beaten to death.” In just 100 words we are told that Shantanu Bhowmick’s death at the hands of a stick-wielding mob brings the…

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Solar no easy energy fix

Solar energy is great – we’ve got eight panels on the roof, a hot water system and a portable panel in the caravan. Pretty useless on Thursday, though, with ex-cyclone Debbie sending heavy rain our way. It would be great if we’d had a battery bank under the house to store the energy from the sunny weeks we’ve been having. But battery bank technology is yet to become affordable for the 1.6 million Aussies who…

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