Home' Greymouth Star : May 29th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
10 - Friday, May 29, 2015
pub toast of
A vendor sleeps next to stacked cartons of air coolers at a shop in New Delhi.
Uhrnovice (Czech Republic)
A self-ser vice pub offering local beer
has become a hit in a tiny Czech village
where touring cyclists mingle with locals
to help themselves to the country’s
“Ordinary pubs have no chance to
sur vive in a village like this,” local home
brewer Martin Povysil, who installed the
beer machine — resembling a coffee or
bank machine, but with a tap — on the
outside wall of the community centre in
“ Normal pubs open in the evenings and
at weekends but they are mostly closed
during the day, leaving your tourist or
All beer lovers need to do is grab a cup
from the storage rack, insert a coin and
run their ID through a scanner to prove
they are over the drinking age of 18 to
help themselves to a cool, crisp pint.
He believes his beer tap is one of a kind.
“This beer machine is unique, I’ve seen
something like this in Japan and the
United States on the internet, but this
version is completely different,” Povysil
Cyclists passing through the village
in central Czech Republic — a country
where people drank a world-leading 144
litres of beer per head in 2013 — can also
pour themselves lemonade for the same
price as beer. — AFP
Indian heatwave deaths top 1700
Hospitals in India are battling to treat
victims of a blistering heatwave that has
claimed more than 1700 lives in just over
a week — the highest number recorded
in two decades.
Hundreds of mainly poor people die
at the height of summer every year in
India, but this year’s figures are already
the highest since 1995, when official
data shows 1677 people succumbed to
In southern Andhra Pradesh — by
far the worst-hit State — where top
temperatures have reached 47degC,
1334 people have died since May 18,
according to the Press Trust of India
Doctors said they had never seen so
many severe cases.
“O ur wards are completely full,” J V
Subbarao, medical officer at the Rajiv
Gandhi Institute for Medical Sciences
in Andhra Pradesh, said.
“I have worked as a medical officer in
this district for 40 years and I have never
seen anything like this, with so many
people arriving already dead.”
Subbarao said most of the worst
affected were poor and elderly who were
simply unaware of the dangers of heat
Another 340 people have died from
the heatwave in neighbouring Telangana
State, where temperatures hit 48degC
over the weekend, compared to 31 such
deaths in the whole of last year.
Experts say official figures for heat-
related deaths likely under-estimate the
true number because extreme weather
conditions disproportionately affect
the poor who are less likely to die in
Forecasters said there was little hope
of any immediate respite from the
temperatures in northern India, which
have been aggravated by hot, dry winds.
“ We think that these heatwave
conditions will take another four to five
days to subside,” Brahma Prakash Yadav,
director of the Indian Meteorological
Hundreds of the deaths could have
been prevented if authorities followed
the example set by Ahmedabad which
introduced measures such as cooling
spaces to protect citizens from the rising
mercury, climate experts said.
Doctors’ leave has been cancelled to
help cope with the sick flooding into
hospitals and clinics, complaining of
headaches, dizziness and fever. Most of
the deaths have been of construction
workers, homeless people and the elderly.
But with the threat of more frequent
heatwaves as a result of climate change,
experts say India must recognise rising
temperatures as a natural disaster, just
like floods or earthquakes, and have a
strategy to protect vulnerable people.
“The spiking temperatures underscore
the need for local heat adaptation plans
and early warning systems to reduce the
health effects of heat stress and increase
resilience in local communities to rising
temperatures,” Anjali Jaiswal from the
United States-based Natural Resources
Defence Council (NRDC).
“Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan —
south Asia’s first early warning system
against extreme heatwaves — is tailored
to help protect the city’s vulnerable
communities during these disasters.”
After a heatwave hit Ahmedabad, a
western city of 5.5 million people, in
May 2010, killing over 1300 people, local
authorities mapped areas with ‘high-risk’
populations including slums, as part of
an action plan.
They also built up public awareness of
the risks of high temperatures and set
up ‘cooling spaces’ in temples, public
buildings and malls in the sizzling
The United Nations Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change predicts rising
global temperatures could cause an
increase of up to 82cm in the sea level
by the late 21st century due to melting
ice and the expansion of warming water,
threatening coastal cities from Shanghai
to San Francisco.
More frequent and intense extreme
weather events are also expected,
putting towns and cities in disaster-
prone countries like India at greater risk.
Many of India’s 1.2 billion people live in
areas vulnerable to floods, cyclones and
While May and June are India’s
hottest months — with temperatures
regularly pushing above 40degC —
meteorologists say the number of days
when temperatures approach 45degC
has increased in the past 15 years.
Temperatures yesterday hit 47degC
6degC degrees above normal — in
Khammam district in Telangana State.
In the neighbouring State of Odisha,
streets were empty, construction sites
abandoned and offices half-empty
during peak afternoon hours, as the
mercury hit 46.5degC in some parts.
“The situation is horrible. It is so bad
that we are not able to stay at home nor
can we go out,” Debaria Bagh, 35, a cycle
rickshaw driver in Titilagarh town in
Cities like New Delhi and Ahmedabad
were hardest hit because of the heat
reflected off paved surfaces and a lack of
Compared to 2010, heat waves have
been shorter but killed more people,
Arjuna Srinidhi, climate change
programme manager at the Centre for
Science and the Environment, said.
Disaster management officials in
Odisha and Andhra Pradesh said they
alert the public before a heat wave and
issue advice, but admit more can be done
to enable cities to cope.
“Since heatwaves affect a large
population, you cannot move them out.
I personally feel that we need to find a
better way to deal with a situation like
this,” a disaster official from Andhra
Pradesh State, which has recorded 1,020
In Ahmedabad, authorities have
focused on public awareness as the first
step in preventing heat-related deaths.
This includes telling people how to
protect themselves via campaigns on
television, radio and newspapers, as well
as through messaging platforms such as
The basic information includes not
venturing out in the afternoon, drinking
lots of water and what to do if people
feel dizzy or feverish. High temperatures
can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion
and heat stroke, and worsen chronic
cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
The government also alerts residents
to forecasts of very high temperatures
through hospitals, community groups,
media outlets and government agencies.
Health workers have also been trained
to recognise the symptoms of heat
stress and ensure emergency rooms and
ambulances are stocked with ice packs.
“Similar heat adaptation plans could be
adopted throughout India to combat the
dangerous impacts of these scorching
temperatures as other Indian cities and
states express interest in replicating
programme,” Jaiswal of the NRDC said.
“These efforts take on greater urgency
as climate change increases the intensity
and frequency of heatwaves across the
country and around the globe.”
City offers way to beat heat
Australian iron ore magnate Gina
Rinehart’s eldest daughter won
control of the $3 billion dollar family
trust yesterday in a judgment critical
of Rinehart ’s former control of the
fund and attempts to block the long-
running legal dispute.
The Supreme Court of New South
Wales judgment loosens Rinehart’s
legendary grip on her business
empire, with almost 25% of Hancock
Prospecting Pty Ltd held by the trust.
Rinehart owns the remainder of the
family firm, which in turn owns 70%
of Roy Hill, a Pilbara-based iron ore
mine due to start shipments later this
South Korea’s POSCO, Japan’s
Marubeni Corp and Taiwan’s China
Steel Corp also have stakes in the
mine, which will be Australia’s
fourth-largest when it reaches full
Three of Rinehart’s four children
eldest Bianca Rinehart, Hope
Welker and John Hancock — sued
for control of the trust in 2011.
They alleged their mother acted
with “gross dishonesty” as trustee,
when she pushed out its vesting date
until 2068, meaning all four children
would not get their shares until they
were in their 80s and 90s.
The dispute over the trust
contributed to delays in setting
up funding for Roy Hill and legal
experts said yesterday’s ruling allows
the children to press their rights as
minority shareholders and seek more
power via the courts.
In a 160-page judgment, Judge
“manipulated” global accountancy
firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers into
providing advice contrary to the best
interests of the children.
Brereton also said that some of
Rinehart’s repeated attempts to deter
her children from prosecuting the
case “closely approach intimidation”.
“It is true that there are many who,
in the emotional and personal context
of family relations, act in a manner
in which they would never think to
act in a commercial transaction,”
“On the other hand, it might be
asked, if Mrs Rinehart was prepared
to act as she did towards her children,
how much further might she be
prepared to go in the case of unrelated
Bianca and her brother John
Hancock launched legal action in
2011. The youngest daughter Ginia
has sided with her mother, while
daughter Hope Welker pulled out of
The case laid bare the family’s testy
relationship even as its fortunes fell
along with the iron ore price. Rinehart
relinquished her role as trustee in late
2013, but the case rumbled on as the
family could not agree on a successor.
“There were huge efforts to put
pressure on us, it has been enormously
stressful,” John Hancock told Reuters.
In a short statement, Hancock
Prospecting noted that the trustee
will be required to consult with all
beneficiaries and get the advice of the
POSCO, PwC and China Steel
declined to comment,
Marubeni could not immediately be
The trust has shrunk by about $2
billion in value since the children
began the case, while Rinehart’s own
fortune has fallen to about $12.2b
from $17.4b in 2014, according to
Forbes. — Reuters
Rinehart loses grip on $3b family trust
An indigenous group determined
to stop an Indian coal giant building
a $16.5 billion mine on their lands is
taking their fight global.
Adani’s Carmichael mine, expected
to export at least 50 million tonnes of
coal a year, is slated for Queensland ’s
Galilee Basin on traditional lands of
the Wangan and Jagalingou (W and J)
W and J spokesmen Adrian
Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson
will on Sunday embark on a three-week
global tour to urge major investment
banks in New York, Washington,
London and Zurich to immediately rule
out funding the mine.
They will also meet with traditional
owners overseas, including indigenous
Canadian groups opposing tar sands
projects in the province of Alberta.
But first, the group will campaign
outside Adani’s Brisbane offices today.
They will serve papers on the company
announcing a landmark Federal Court
Burragubba says the group has filed an
appeal and judicial review to challenge
the National Native Title Tribunal’s
decision to allow the Queensland
government to issue mining leases for
He said the group planned to take the
matter all the way to the High Court.
“ We won’t rest until this disastrous
project is thrown on the scrap heap of
history and our culture can live strong
and thrive into the future as it has since
time immemorial,” he said.
Johnson said the court action and the
tour were just the latest steps in that
“ We will do whatever is necessary to
stand up for (our) country and ensure
that Adani and its friends in government
and finance understand that when we
say no, we mean no,” he said. — AAP
A Frenchwoman who kept her
boyfriend as a ‘domestic slave’,
forcing him to ingest sponges and
window cleaner, has been sentenced
to three years in prison.
Zakia Medkour, 43, was also
ordered to pay 200,000 euros
($305,232) in damages to her ex-
boyfriend Maxime Gaget, 37, for
crimes that the prosecution said
went “beyond violence” with a
“female torturer and a male victim”.
The pair met in 2007 on the internet
and seven months later moved into a
Parisian studio where Medkour lived
with her two children.
The court heard how Medkour stole
Gaget ’s identity papers and credit
cards, forced him to sleep on the floor
near the front door and prevented
him from accessing the toilet.
For over a year he suffered
beatings, insults, she burned him
with cigarettes or a white-hot knife,
threw salt into his eyes and blocked
his contact with the outside world.
Medkour told him that if he
rebelled, she would accuse him of
“ In the beginning there were
feelings and then fear and then
shame,” Gaget told the court.
“It is hard for a man to admit he
is being beaten by a woman. I also
stayed to protect the children. ”
Gaget in February published a
book about his experiences called My
Girlfriend. My Torturer, which has
helped lift the taboo about domestic
abuse against men in France.
During the trial Medkour tearfully
apologised to her former boyfriend,
saying she was “not heartless”.
Her lawyers ascribed her behaviour
to her troubled past and also said
she suffered from a bi-polar mental
Medkour’s prison sentence is
French law, which means she could
eventually escape jail time. — AFP
Woman jailed for torturing boyfriend
Chrudim (Czech Republic)
Scientists battling a bee-killing disease
are about to start testing a new weapon
a sun-heated hive designed by a
Czech high school teacher.
Roman Linhart said he had secured
a patent for his invention after 10
years of research into ways of wiping
out varroosis disease, which has been
destroying bee colonies across the
The stakes are high, as the death of
bees threatens har vests which rely on the
insects for pollination.
The teacher at Chrudim’s Secondary
School of Agriculture, 120km east of
Prague, joins a line-up of experts who
have been trying to find an efficient way
to tackle the condition for decades.
Experts from Czech Republic ’s Palacky
University said they were about to start
trialling Linhart ’s method — which
aims to kill the varroa destructor parasite
responsible for the disease by heating up
hives to 40degC and higher.
“Scientific probes will be performed
in the summer. Some beekeepers have
tested the method and it had the declared
parameters,” Professor Vitezslav Bicik,
of the university’s zoology department,
Beekeepers have tried using heat
before. But their efforts have been
hampered by difficulties in powering the
heating units in often remote locations
and making sure the bees themselves are
not harmed by the high temperatures.
Up to now they have often resorted to
removing the entire population before
heating the hive, a tricky and time-
Linhart, a beekeeper himself, said he
got round the problems by using just
the power of the sun for his thermosolar
hive, and a technique that heats the hive
through the glass top for about two
According to the plans, the heat slowly
builds up in black-painted metal sheets
inside the insulated hive, paralysing,
sterilising and eventually killing the
mites but leaving the bees unharmed.
“ With this, you can take 100 hives,
or as many as you have, and work
simultaneously on all of them,” Linhart
said. — Reuters
Humans ‘cannot win’ against killer robots
Killer robots being developed by
the United States military “will
leave humans utterly defenceless”,
an academic has warned.
Two programmes commissioned
by the US Defence Advanced
Research Projects Agency are
seeking to create drones which can
track and kill targets even when out
of contact with their handlers.
Writing in the journal Nature,
the professor of computer science
at the University of California,
Berkley, Stuart Russell, said the
research could breach the Geneva
Convention and leave humanity in
the hands of amoral machines.
“Autonomous weapons systems
select and engage targets without
human intervention; they become
lethal when those targets include
humans,” he said.
“In my view, the overriding
concern should be the probable
endpoint of this technological
“Despite the limits imposed by
physics, one can expect platforms
deployed in the millions, the agility
and lethality of which will leave
humans utterly defenceless. This is
not a desirable future.”
The robots, called Laws — lethal
autonomous weapons systems —
are likely to be armed quadcopters
or miniature tanks that can decided
without human inter vention who
should live or die.
Last year Angela Kane, the United
Nations’ high representative for
disarmament, said killer robots were
just a “small step” away and called
for a worldwide ban.
“Laws could violate fundamental
principles of human dignity by
allowing machines to choose who
to kill,” Russell said. — AP
Steve Wozniak says the move by
governments to retain the metadata
of consumers is unethical.
Speaking at a business forum in
Sydney, Wozniak said Australia
was heading in the same direction
as the United States, and likened
snooping laws to having a
neighbour and best friend who had
a secret camera in your bedroom for
“ Would he be your friend any
more?” he asked.
“That ’s a lack of ethics. What you
expect is what you should get.
“It’s unethical in the sense that
as a human being, I expect one
level of treatment and I’m getting
another. There is secrecy, there is
Wozniak said there had been
many examples of similar laws not
He also said that today, privacy is a
dream and almost gone.
“ Every step you take, every message
you send, is out there on the web,” he
The engineer behind the Apple 1
and 2 computers said he hopes one
day to be an Australian citizen.
“As a matter of fact, I can not only
see myself as a citizen, but some
day saying I lived and died as an
Australian,” he said to applause.
But he had an uncomfortable
dominance, hypothesising that
accident rates for self-driving cars
may be so low there may one day
end up being laws to stop humans
driving. — AAP
Snooping laws unethical, says Apple co-founder
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