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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Facing up to the law: increasing surveillance raises privacy concerns

February 12, 2013 Comments off

smh.com

I spy the use of facial recognition systems by law enforcement agencies is becoming more widespread. Illustration: Sam Bennett

ABOUT 15,000 people have had images of their faces captured on an Australian Federal Police database in its first year of operation, igniting fears that the rise of facial recognition systems will lead to CCTV cameras being installed on every street corner.

The database includes pictures of alleged criminals who may not know their images are on file.

The AFP say facial recognition may eventually be considered as credible as fingerprints, but images on their database are not being shared with state police forces. Sharing images on a national database could be possible by 2015.

The president of Australian Councils for Civil Liberties, Terry O’Gorman, said it was troubling that technologies such as facial and number plate recognition had become so widespread and there appeared to be no independent monitoring of the impacts on privacy.

The justification for widespread CCTV has also been questioned, with a report by police in London, the most spied-upon city in the world, showing that only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras.

An AFP forensic and data centres biometrics co-ordinator, Simon Walsh, said international agencies were Read more…

Australian summer lurches from fire to floods

January 29, 2013 Comments off

phys.org

Roger Barnes rescues a friend’s surfboard from a flooded home in the Brisbane suburb of Newmarket on Monday.
From bushfires raging in searing tinder-dry conditions to surging floodwaters and destructive tornadoes, Australia has witnessed staggering climate extremes during its summer of 2013. From bushfires raging in searing tinder-dry conditions to surging floodwaters and destructive tornadoes, Australia has witnessed staggering climate extremes during its summer of 2013.  Already this month the country’s largest city Sydney has endured its hottest day on record, a 45.8 degree Celsius (114.4 Fahrenheit) scorcher during a heatwave so extreme heat scales on government forecast maps had to be redrawn. Just a week later, ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald dumped torrential rain on coastal areas of Queensland, leaving four people dead, swamping 2,000 homes and forcing dramatic rooftop rescues of those trapped by the deluge. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who on Monday toured bushfire-hit areas in southeastern Victoria state even as turbid floodwaters swamped the nation’s northeast, said the contrast was not lost on her. “I was looking at blackened landscape, burnt trees, black Read more at: phys.org
Categories: Australia, Flood Tags: , ,

Australia is so hot they had to add new colors to the weather map

January 9, 2013 Comments off

washingtonpost.com

As scorching temperatures persist across Australia, the country’s Bureau of Meteorology added a new color to its weather forecasting map, extending the range to 54ºC, or 129ºF, from the previous cap of 50ºC, or 122ºF.

The new, deeper purple “dome of heat” swirls above South Australia, indicating temperatures above 50ºC in some areas.

Bureau of Meteorology

Bureau of Meteorology

The previous all-time temperature record was 50.7ºC, reached in South Australia in 1960.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology says this is the first time Australia has ever recorded five consecutive days of temperatures above 39ºC (102ºF). Nationwide average temperatures on each of the first six days of 2013 were among the top 20 hottest days on record.

This is also the year with the most record days in Australia since 1910, when national records began

 

Thousands of Lowood catfish die

September 17, 2012 2 comments

qt.com

DEAD and bloated catfish are washing up on the banks of the Brisbane River in their thousands, leaving scientists searching for an explanation.

The department of heritage and environment are investigating the death of hundreds of fish in the Brisbane River at Lowood.

DEAD and bloated catfish are washing up on the banks of the Brisbane River in their thousands, leaving scientists searching for an explanation.

SeqWater officers were seen scouring the banks of the river just outside the centre of Lowood yesterday, where scaly bodies were scattered along rocky sections of the bank or bobbing belly-up in the steady current.

It is believed hundreds of fish were found dead last week and more were counted yesterday – totalling in the thousands.

The dead fish were found as far upstream as the Lockyer Creek.

Only catfish seem to have been affected, leading to speculation that a virus may be sweeping through fish populations in the river.

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection executive director Andrew Connor said there would be no explanation for the fish Read more…

China Lashes Talk of Asian Missile Shield

April 12, 2012 Comments off

gsn

A senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday lashed potential U.S. plans to collaborate with partner nations in developing a ballistic missile shield covering Asia, China Daily reported (see GSN, March 27).

U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Madelyn Creedon in March said the Obama administration was discussing cooperative missile defense with Australia, Japan and South Korea, according to earlier reporting. Any antimissile system for the region would be based on the developing U.S. “phased adaptive approach” program to deploy land- and sea-based missile interceptors around Europe, Creedon told lawmakers.

“The Chinese government always insists that (countries) should start by maintaining global strategic stability and promoting strategic mutual trust between major powers to handle the issue of missile defense prudently,” according to Luo Zhaohui, Asian affairs chief for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

“Building a missile defense system in the Asia-Pacific region will have negative effects on global and regional strategic stability, and go against the Read more…

Australian state of Queensland stages its biggest ever evacuation as floodwaters rise

February 6, 2012 Comments off

globalpost.com

An aeriel view of the swollen Balonne River in Queensland is seen just before water levels peaked at 12.75 metres (42 feet) on Jan. 4, 2011. The river is now threatening to reach new highs, devastating the township of St George. AFP/Getty Images

MELBOURNE (Australia) – Thousands of people have been evacuated from the parts of the eastern Australian state of Queensland, where river heights are threatening to reach record levels, local media report.
Over 2,000 people were forcibly evacuated from the inland township of St George on Saturday night, in what the Australian Broadcasting Corporation says was the largest evacuation in the state’s history.


The Australian newspaper says
the nearby Balonne River has already passed the all-time high of 13.4 metres (44 feet) recorded during the devastating floods of 2010, and it is expected to continue rising to over 14 metres (46 feet).
The newspaper says that some 300 to 400 residents had stayed to protect their properties, ignoring warnings that rescue services might not be able to reach them later. Some had built a temporary levee in an attempt to hold back some of the water, but the state Premier Anna Bligh said their efforts had “no prospect” of succeeding. Twenty houses were destroyed over the weekend and a final evacuation was scheduled for Monday morning, local time.
“This is the third flood this town has coped with in just less than two years, so there’s a lot of distress and a lot of emotion,” Bligh added, confirming that she would visit the flood-affected areas on Monday.
Later on Monday morning, some media began reporting that Read more…

No opt-out rule for airport body scanners

February 6, 2012 Comments off

ABC

Generic outline: a screen displays an image of a man walking through the scanner.

Civil libertarians are worried by proposed legislation meaning passengers will not be able to opt out of undergoing full body scans at Australian airports.

The Federal Government will introduce legislation this week so the technology can be rolled out in all of Australia’s international airports.

The move follows a trial in Sydney and Melbourne.

Except for travellers with serious medical conditions, all passengers will have to go through the scanners if asked by airport staff.

Civil Liberties Australia director Tim Vines says the scanners will amount to an unnecessary digital strip search of citizens who want to travel.

He says passengers should be allowed to request a pat-down.

“In the European Union, where they do allow these types of scanners, they have issued a directive that says governments must Read more…

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