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Archive for August, 2019

Utah has passed a law to become the only state in the United States to allow execution by firing squad.

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Governor Gary Herbert has signed a law approving the controversial method’s use when no lethal-injection drugs are available.

Herbert has said he finds the firing squad “a little bit gruesome”, but Utah is a capital punishment state and needs a backup in case a shortage of the drugs persists.

“We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty, and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued,” Herbert spokesman Marty Carpenter said.

“However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the executive branch.”

The measure’s approval is the latest illustration of some states’ frustration over bungled executions and difficulty obtaining the drugs.

Utah is one of several states seeking new forms of capital punishment after a botched Oklahoma lethal injection last year.

States have struggled to keep up their drug inventories as European manufacturers opposed to capital punishment refuse to sell the components of lethal injections to US prisons.

Many argue that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more decent than the drawn-out deaths involved when lethal injections go awry – or even if they go as planned.

Opponents say firing squads are barbaric, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah saying the bill makes the state “look backward and backwoods”.

Utah lawmakers stopped offering inmates the choice of firing squad in 2004, saying the method attracted intense media interest and took attention away from victims.

Utah is the only state in the past 40 years to carry out such a death sentence, with three executions by firing squad since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

The last was in 2010, when Ronnie Lee Gardner was put to death by five police officers with .30-calibre Winchester rifles in an event that generated international interest and elicited condemnation from many.

Forget bringing down Foxtel, Nine and Seven, Netflix’s main aim is to end online piracy in Australia.

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The US streaming service says its entrance to the Australian market on Tuesday will not disrupt the traditional television industry, or even pay TV operator Foxtel.

Founder and chief executive Reed Hastings instead has his eye on ending the illegal downloading of movies and TV programs not screened by traditional broadcasters.

“We’re really focused on heading off piracy,” he told AAP.

“There’s big piracy in Australia, and part of that is because there is not an easy, affordable service.

“What we have seen in Canada is as we grew, the amount of piracy declined, so that would be the hope here.”

He believes most people would prefer to watch TV and films legally, as long as the content is available immediately and at an affordable price.

Netflix’s Australian catalogue includes House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, but is currently smaller than those available in the US and other countries.

There are plans to expand its offerings in the coming months.

Netflix joins a growing list of online streaming services to hit the local market, including Nine and Fairfax Media’s Stan and Foxtel’s Presto.

Growth in the streaming industry has prompted Foxtel to restructure its pricing policies and prompted all players to aggressively bid for broadcast rights for popular programs including Game Of Thrones, Mad Men and Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.

But Mr Hastings does not expect Netflix’s arrival to trigger Foxtel’s demise, even if the US giant achieves its long-term goal of reaching up to three million Australian homes.

“It’s not a substitute, people are not cancelling cable to watch Netflix,” he said.

“Cable is 10 times more expensive, and we don’t have sports.

“We’re a supplementary channel.”

He also said the service works well at Australia’s slower internet speeds, and is confident internet data caps, a potential barrier to heavy users of streaming services, will continue to grow.

Tasmania have snapped up teenage batting star Jake Doran on a two-year contract, comparing the “coup” to their signing of Shane Watson 14 years ago.

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NSW wanted to retain the talented 18-year-old, who played for the Prime Minister’s X1 against England and the Chairman’s XI against South Africa in the recent summer.

But Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said they were not in a position to match Tasmania’s offer to Doran, who was in the NSW second XI and yet to make his first-class debut.

Tasmania’s chairman of selectors Michael Farrell confirmed the two-year deal.

“Jake Doran is coming to play cricket on a long-term basis for Tasmania,” said Farrell, adamant there was no assurance of a spot in the Sheffield Shield team.

“We don’t do that, we just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Farrell said.

“A lot of work goes into a playing list so there’s no guarantee of a game.”

The move comes a fortnight after former Test opener Ed Cowan announced he would leave Tasmania to return to Sydney.

“(Doran) will come down and press his claims like everyone else,” Farrell said.

“Cowan going has certainly left a big hole in our list and we’ve got to rebuild quickly.”

Farrell said the move was “reasonably similar” to Tasmania’s signing of Queenslander Watson, who made his first-class debut for the state in 2001 at age 20 and got his break into international cricket there before returning north in 2004.

“Shane came down here just to boost our playing stocks really quickly and he did that, which got his international career underway,” he said.

“It’s similar to that. I would probably say that Shane was well advanced when he came down here. It was just a matter of him honing his game.

“We’re hopeful Jake will do that but Shane was a touch more advanced than probably what Jake is.”

Jones said NSW wasn’t going to make an exception for Doran in order to keep him.

“We have invested heavily in Jake’s development and were keen to keep him.

“We made him an offer based on his age, potential and performances at senior level to date.

“The success of NSW cricket for well over a century has been built entirely on merit-based selection and reward, and our offer was consistent with these principles.”

He is fully entitled to make that choice and we wish him well.”

A Yalangi woman from the Kunjandji clan and prominent former Magistrate, O’Shane has demonstrated a lifelong-trend for achieving ‘firsts’.

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She was the first Aboriginal teacher in Queensland, Australia’s first Aboriginal Barrister, the first woman and Aboriginal person to head a Government department in Australia and the country’s first Aboriginal magistrate.

But Indigenous women have had no choice but to be political, O’Shane says, thanks to a lack of protection from double-discrimination (sex and racial-based) and the essential role played by Indigenous women in keeping communities together and Aboriginal cultures alive.

“When you talk about women in the Indigenous political movement, I can’t think of one, honestly, I can’t think of one who was going to take a back seat,” O’Shane says on NITV’s Awaken program.

“We were never out of politics because it was literally the air we breathed, the land we walked.”

“We were never out of politics because it was literally the air we breathed, the land we walked.”

O’Shane joins four other prominent women for a special NITV Awaken called ‘Influencers and Game-changers.’

Appearing with her are Tanya Hosch, a Torres Strait Islander woman and 2012 AFR Woman of Influence who is a campaign director for the Recognise constitutional recognition campaign; Tania Major, a Kokoberra woman and 2007 Young Australian of the Year; Shari Sebbens, a Bardi, Jabirr-Jabirr woman and actress who successfully traverses stage, film and television; and Amelia Telford a Bundjalung and South Sea Islander woman, climate activist and NAIDOC Youth of the Year.

While O’Shane may have retired from the bench, it is clear that her role as an advocate for human rights is as strong as ever.

Speaking about government policies around the world. O’Shane lambasts them as “violent” towards Indigenous peoples.

“We live in a violent world. Our government leaders are violent people.

“They have taken us in recent years and even to this day, they have taken [First Peoples] into war zones, where we had no responsibility being [there].”

“They have taken us in recent years and even to this day, they have taken [First Peoples] into war zones, where we had no responsibility being [there].”

She also said that that the cutting of services is tantamount to perpetuating human rights abuses.

Her comments come after the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, announced funding cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations under the Federal Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS).

Minister Scullion has announced that less than half of the 2,345 Indigenous organisations that sought funding for 4,948 projects under the strategy will share in $860 million to deliver 1,297 projects.

Awaken: Influencers and Game-changers airs on NITV at 9.30pm on Wednesday 25 March (Channel 34 free to air. Channel 144 Foxtel).

It is co-hosted by Catherine Liddle and Stan Grant, and features Pat O’Shane, Tania Major, Shari Sebbens, Amelia Telford and Tanya Hosch.

Turning crowded urban areas into a green oasis could help fight the impact of climate change, Australian experts believe.

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Urban greening advocacy group 202020 Vision wants Australia’s green urban areas increased by 20 per cent by 2020 for economic and social benefits, including cooling cities.

The group says reducing the impact of heat in cities could soon be crucial.

The year 2014 was the third hottest in Australia and the hottest globally since reliable climate records began.

A joint CSIRO/Bureau of Meteorology report on climate change, released in January, showed average temperatures in Australia could rise up to 1.3C by 2030 and at least 2.8C by 2090, with more frequent heat extremes.

A University of Sydney study this month said increased heat from global warming could disproportionately affect heavily built-up urban areas, trapping heat by day, re-radiating it at night and increasing heat stress for residents.

Dr Simon Divecha, a 202020 Vision spokesman from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, says urban greening shields cities from heat.

“If we shade the buildings, the walls, the roads, it stops that mass … absorbing that heat during the day and radiating that heat at night,” Dr Divecha said.

Air-conditioning can work more efficiently if combined with planting shade trees and wall vegetation or rooftop gardens and urban re-greening along watercourses.

New commercial buildings in France must now have solar panels or rooftop gardens, Dr Divecha said.

A green roof reduces stormwater runoff when it rains, reduces air pollution, shades and doesn’t re-radiate heat like a concrete roof does, he said.

Although more work is needed, Dr Divecha said Australian councils are embracing change.

The Sydney City Council encourages roof gardens in new buildings, while the City of Adelaide seeks efficient building design and Melbourne city planners are developing new ways to add greenery to urban landscapes.

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