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Energy price cap could mean people missing cheapest deals, warns consumer champion

Which? said the cheapest tariffs had vanished from the market as suppliers prepared for the cap’s implementation Joe Watts Independent Theresa May’s energy price cap which comes into force on Tuesday could mean people missing out on the cheapest electricity and gas prices, the UK’s foremost consumer group has warned. Which? said some of the cheapest tariffs available had been vanishing from the market as suppliers adjusted their operations in the run-up to the cap’s implementation. The prime minister argued the cap would cut bills for millions ... Read More »

Why archaeology is so much more than just digging

It’s our experience that most people think archaeology mainly means digging in the dirt. Authors: The Conversation Admit to strangers that you are of the archaeological persuasion, and the follow-up question is invariably “what’s the best thing you’ve found?”. Start to tell them about a fantastic ink and watercolour plan you unearthed in library archives, or an old work site you stumbled upon in thick eucalypt bush, and their eyes glaze over. People invariably want to hear about skeletons, pots ... Read More »

First Democratic contender announces she’s running for president

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a sharp critic of big banks and unregulated capitalism, has entered the 2020 race for president, becoming the first major candidate in what is likely to be a long and crowded primary marked by ideological and… Doina Chiacu The Canberra Times Reuters, New York Times In an 8.30am email to supporters on New Year’s Eve — 13 months before the first votes will be cast in the Iowa caucuses — Warren said she was forming an exploratory committee, ... Read More »

‘It unnerved us’: John Howard admits he mishandled the High Court’s Wik decision

Former prime minister John Howard has admitted his government mishandled its response to the High Court’s Wik decision, saying it created the impression the government was “drifting” and… Stephanie Peatling The Sydney Morning Herald In December 1996, the High Court upheld a decision in a case brought by the Wik and Thayorre people of Queensland against the Queensland government. It decided that native title is not necessarily extinguished by the grant of a pastoral lease and that native title can co-exist ... Read More »

Howard govt feared slow Y2K bug preparations, cabinet documents reveal

Predictions of a chaotic IT collapse brought on by the Y2K bug had the Howard government fearing Australia was unready for the worst, previously classified documents reveal. Doug Dingwall Brisbane Times As the year 2000 approached, the federal government in 1997 took seriously the warnings that the new millennium’s arrival could play havoc with electricity, hospitals and traffic lights. The “millennium bug”, cast by some as a looming apocalypse, brought on hundreds of billions in estimated spending worldwide to avoid catastrophe. ... Read More »

Happy new year? Tell that to the natural world we are destroying

As humans slow down for the holidays, so does the environmental damage they inflict – if only briefly Philip Hoare The Guardian So the animals must pay for our dysfunctionality. Japan, swayed by some notion of nationhood, asserts itself by declaring its resumption of whaling. Revenge is being wreaked on the Save the Whale campaigns of the 1970s and 80s – the bedrock of modern environmentalism – and all those yoghurt-knitting hippies. Killer whales and belugas are kept in “whale jail” in the ... Read More »

Trump gives in to calls to slow down troop pullout from Syria

United States President Donald Trump has given in to pressure to slow down his planned troop pullout from Syria, permitting the US military four months to withdraw. PreesTV The New York Times reported the decision on Monday. Trump had initially given the American forces 30 days for the procedure. The American president had hinted at a more extensive pullout timetable earlier on Monday, tweeting about “slowly sending our troops back home.” Many military and Pentagon officials had sought to entirely change the president’s mind ... Read More »

In shutdown, national parks transform into Wild West — heavily populated and barely supervised

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. — The government shutdown has left America’s national parks largely unsupervised. No one is at the gate. No one is collecting a fee. Meghann Cuniff , John Waters and Joel Achenbach The Washington Post The visitor centers are closed. There are some law enforcement and emergency personnel on site, but certainly nothing as standard as a park ranger who can answer a question. People are streaming into the parks, enjoying the free access, but they’re finding trash cans overflowing ... Read More »

Coronation of King Rama X set for early May, Thai palace says

Elaborate ceremony to be held from May 4 to 6, Royal Household Bureau announces Asia Times A three-day coronation ceremony will be held in early May for Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the Royal Household Bureau announced on Tuesday. The “new” king – who is 66 and known as Rama X of the Chakri dynasty – will be crowned in an elaborate ceremony to be held from May 4 to 6, it said in a televised announcement. “It’s a suitable time ... Read More »

Organ donor ‘opt-out only’ policy could mean fewer transplants

A proposal to automatically make people organ donors could reduce the number of available organs, the authority in charge of the system says. ABC Sunshine Coast – By Alex Easton and Sheridan Stewart ABC The idea of forcing people who do not want to donate their organs to opt out of the organ donor register is one of several aimed at combating an illegal international black-market trade that has some organs selling for hundreds of thousands of… The idea was raised in the recommendations of a report to ... Read More »

Brazil swears in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil has sworn in former army captain President Jair Bolsonaro, amid tight security. The far-right politician, an admirer of the country’s former military dictatorship, pledged to rid the country of “ideological ties.” DW Bolsonaro was sworn in as at president on Tuesday, promising to overhaul the country’s economy and bring about sweeping social change. An aficionado of US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro rose to power on a pro-gun, anti-corruption agenda. Speaking in an address to the nation on Tuesday, Bolsonaro said, now ... Read More »

NSW institutions can now be sued for abuse

The NSW government has eliminated a legal defence used by churches to avoid being sued by victims of child sex abuse. SBS AAP Victims of child sex abuse in NSW can now sue the church after the state government removed a legal roadblock used by institutions to avoid compensating survivors. From January 1 churches will no longer be able to use the “Ellis defence” as a way of avoiding paying compensation. In 2007 former altar boy John Ellis lost a ... Read More »

Archbishop of Canterbury urges openness in new year message

Justin Welby says country should try to overcome recent struggles and divisions Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The archbishop of Canterbury has urged the country to start 2019 in a “new spirit of openness towards each other” in an attempt to overcome the struggles and divisions of recent years. Justin Welby was delivering a new year message from Lambeth Palace, his London base. Acknowledging that the festive period can be stressful for some families – “sometimes we get on each other’s nerves” ... Read More »

Find parenting tough? Be glad you’re not American

I have a news flash: being a grandad beats being a parent. Parenting is now a much tougher gig, whereas grandparenting is all care and no responsibility. And it’s a lot cheaper. Ross Gittins The Age These thoughts are prompted by an article in the New York Times, in which Claire Cain Miller writes that parenthood in the United States has become much more demanding than it used to be. “Over just a couple of generations,” she writes, “parents have greatly ... Read More »