Archive for: ‘April 2019’

Apples losing their crunch

11/04/2019 Posted by admin

Global warming is causing apples to lose some of their crunch but is also making them sweeter, a study says.


Analysing data gathered from 1970 to 2010 at two orchards in Japan, a research team said on Thursday there was clear evidence that climate change was having an effect on apple taste and texture.

“All such changes may have resulted from earlier blooming and higher temperatures” during the growth season, they wrote in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

About 60 million tonnes of apples are produced every year, making it the world’s third most popular fruit.

Previous studies have shown that global warming has caused apple trees to flower earlier, and that harvests are also affected by changes in rainfall and air temperature.

The orchards used in the study produce the Fuji and Tsugaru apples, the two most popular kinds in the world, and are located in Japan’s Nagano and Aomori prefectures, where the mean air temperature has risen 0.31 and 0.34degC, respectively, per decade.

The orchards were chosen because there had been no changes in cultivars or management practices for extended periods, thus ruling out non-climate factors like technological improvements in the apple change.

The analysis showed a decrease in acidity, firmness and watercore, but a rise in sugar concentration over time.

“We think that a sweeter apple is a positive thing and a loss of firmness is a negative thing,” study co-author Toshihiko Sugiura of the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science in Fujimoto told AFP.

“We think most people like sweet and firm apple fruits, although everyone has his own taste. A soft apple is called ‘Boke’ in Japanese, which means a dull or senile fruit.”

The study said that the results “suggest that the taste and textural attributes of apples in the market are undergoing change from a long-term perspective, even though consumers might not perceive these subtle change”.

Fukushima operator pumps out toxic water

11/04/2019 Posted by admin

The operator of the crippled Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has started pumping out radioactive groundwater to reduce leakage into the Pacific Ocean.


Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) began the work after it admitted last month that radioactive groundwater had been seeping out of the plant, confirming long-held suspicions that the sea was being contaminated.

The company said it pumped out 13 tonnes of groundwater from a well between 2pm and 8pm local time on Friday.

By mid-August, TEPCO plans to complete a new system enabling it to pump out 100 tonnes of groundwater a day. The water will be filtered and recycled to cool the reactors.

But there are growing fears that existing facilities will soon be overwhelmed, as TEPCO scrambles to find ways to process and store waste water.

“It has been an urgent issue for us to suck out groundwater from this area as soon as possible,” a TEPCO spokesman said on Friday. TEPCO officials could not be reached on Saturday.

The embattled utility – kept afloat by a government bailout – last month admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater had been leaking outside the plant.

It has since said tainted water has been escaping into the Pacific for more than two years since the atomic crisis triggered by a huge quake and tsunami in March 2011.

An official at Japan’s industry ministry said this week that Tokyo estimates 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater may be seeping into the ocean every day.

“But we’re not certain if the water is highly contaminated,” he added.

A French expert said the environmental risk posed by the leaks was small compared to the overall radioactive contamination from the disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently pledged deeper public involvement into the clean-up of the Fukushima plant.

While no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the meltdowns at Fukushima, large areas around the plant had to be evacuated with tens of thousands of people still unable to return to their homes.

Watson accepts opening days may be over

11/04/2019 Posted by admin

Shane Watson admits he’s lost the right to dictate where he bats for Australia, and after a disappointing start to the Ashes series, he’ll accept a likely move back to the middle order.


The first announcement made by new coach Darren Lehmann was to reinstate Watson to his favourite position opening the batting, and declare the 32-year-old was there to stay for the series.

But just three Tests in and the allrounder appears set to make way for David Warner at the top and push down to No.4, to better balance out Australia’s ratio of left and right-handers in playing England offspinner Graeme Swann.

A more permanent change was foreshadowed in the second innings at Old Trafford when Warner opened the batting as Australia sought quick runs.

Watson averages 24 for the series without a Test 50, but despite opening being statistically his best position, he says he has no choice but to accept he might have missed his chance.

“As I always say I certainly do love opening the batting in all forms of the game,” he said.

“But I do understand the thought process behind it … about getting some right-handers in the middle of the order because the right-handers have it a bit easier playing Graeme Swann.

“I also haven’t scored the runs as an opener in these three Test matches to be able to continue to feel like I’m doing a competent job at the top of the order.

“I’m happy to fit in and contribute wherever I can to stay in.”

The frustrating thing for Watson is he’s made starts in every innings he’s played and was out three consecutive times lbw.

Between the second and third Tests he worked hard at improving his head position and reducing his stride down the wicket.

“I’ve been working hard on one thing in particular where the ball is seaming back to try and give myself the best chance of being able to get through a ball like that. But even (at Old Trafford), things just aren’t working at the moment,” he said.

“It’s been really disappointing. It’s probably been the first time in my career that I feel like I’m actually batting well, but I’m not getting the results that I know I can get.”

At Lord’s, Watson opened the batting and bowling for Australia for the first time in his career – a sign that his allround ability is still an asset for the team.

Watson has taken just one wicket for the series, but he’s bowled 61 overs for 31 maidens, at an economy rate of 1.86.

It’s the most Watson has bowled in a series since 2011 and the fastest he’s bowled in some time – even matching Ryan Harris for pace.

England great Geoffrey Boycott predicted Watson would go from an opening batsman who bowls a bit, to an opening bowler who bats a bit in this series.

Watson couldn’t disagree.

“To be able to take the new ball in the second innings at Lord’s and come on pretty early, my role is probably changing a little bit,” he said. “But any way I can try and evolve and try and contribute to the team is the most important thing for me.

“My body bowling-wise feels as good as it has ever been.

“I am confident that I can let myself go.”

ACC highlights organised crime and illicit drug links

11/04/2019 Posted by admin

The Australian Crime Commission says the illicit drug market remains the principal source of profit for organised crime and Australia is a major target for organised crime syndicates.



It’s annual report into illicit drugs in Australia highlights an alarming increase in the use, seizure and arrests for illicit drugs.


The report shows that the largest amount of illegal substances in more than a decade was confiscated by police and customs officials in 2012.


Amanda Cavill reports.


The Australian Crime Commissions’s Illicit Drug Data Report says the 76 thousand seizures of cannabis, amphetamine-type substances, heroin, cocaine and other substances, together with 93-thousand illicit-drug related arrests in 2011-12 are the highest of the past decade.


The weight of the five-billion dollars worth of drugs seized in the reporting period was almost 24 tonnes, a 150 per cent increase on the previous year.


The report details the number of performance and image enhancing drugs seized at the Australian border has also increased substantially.


The Commission says performance and image-enhancing drugs are a growing industry with the number of detections increasing to almost nine-thousand, up from just over five-and-a-half-thousand the year before.


Head of the Crime Commission John Lawler says the illicit drug market remains the principle source of profit for organised crime and continues to be a key focus for law enforcement.


Mr Lawler says new technology means that detection is becoming increasingly difficult.


“Just as legitimate markets have diversified their operations and taken full advantage of globalisation, so too have the criminals that trade in illicit drugs. There is increasing diversity in the embarkation points for illicit drugs, the range of transit countries, the concealment methodologies that you see here before you are evolving and becoming more sophisticated than ever. And we’re seeing even greater diversity in the drugs themselves.”


Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus says there’s no doubt that Australia is being deliberately targeted by criminal syndicates


“It is clear to us that the illicit drug market remains the principle source of profit for organised crime. Accrdongly illicit drugs and the profits they generate continue to be a key focus for law enforecement in Australia. Our high Australian dollar our relative wealth as a country and our apetite for illicit drugs mean we remain the target of international drug trafickers and criminal syndicates around the world.”


Customs Department Chief Mike Pazzullo says drug criminals will go to any lengths to avoid detection but many of the drugs are still found.


The smugglers’ methods included concealing drugs in kettles, curry paste jars, safe boxes, batteries and whiteboard markers.


He says eighty five per cent of the drugs that are seized are because of criminal intelligence collected by law enforcement agencies before the drugs ever arrive in Australia.


Mr Pazzullo says collaboration is the key.


“We also work day to day, hour to hour, week to week on operations collecting intelligence, fusing that intelligence preparing for operations, supporting the federal police and other law enforcement agencies in taking down some of these criminal syndicates. Collaboration is very important.”


John Lawler says while the problem of drug trafficking continues to grow he believes that Australia is well placed to continue the battle against it.


Mr Lawler says the results shown in the report clearly reflect that.


“What you are seeing here is you’re seeing the impact of law enforcement. We’ve got now better national systems co-ordinating law enforcement than ever before. We’ve got an organised crime strategy, nationally agreed. We’ve got a national targeting system and we’ve got collaboration and intelligence sharing between state and territory and commonwealth agencies that’s the best I’ve ever seen it.”

AFL Demons appoint Bartlett as president

11/04/2019 Posted by admin

Liberal Party national president Alan Stockdale’s bid to become president of AFL club Melbourne has failed, with the Demons announcing Glen Bartlett has been given the role.


“Bartlett was elected to the position by the club’s board at a meeting of board members on Friday, and has the support of the AFL, which is assisting with efforts to reinvigorate the club to achieve greater on and off-field success,” the Demons said in a statement.

The Demons formed a board nominations sub-committee which includes AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon following the resignations of four board members earlier in 2013.

Further candidates are currently being interviewed.

Bartlett, a lawyer who played four games for West Coast in 1987, said he was honoured to be handed the role.

“I would like to thank the board and the AFL for their support and faith in me,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett, who joined the board in July, will take over from interim president Peter Spargo.

“Glen Bartlett is very well-credentialled in both a football and business sense, and has the support of the AFL in leading the Melbourne Football Club board as it moves to take the club into an era of sustained competitiveness and success,” Dillon said.

“The AFL is confident Glen is well placed to work closely and enthusiastically with CEO Peter Jackson to drive the necessary reforms across the club.”

Stockdale’s leadership bid had attracted high-profile support including the backing of former Demons’ No.1 ticketholder and Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix chairman Ron Walker.

Former Hawthorn club president Jeff Kennett, who was premier of Victoria when Stockdale was state treasurer, had also made a bid to be Demons’ president to succeed Don McLardy who had stepped down in June.

In a dramatic season that has featured two wins from 19 matches plus the sackings of chief executive Cameron Schwab and coach Mark Neeld, the Demons secured almost $3 million in conditional extra funding from the AFL in June.