More Green House Hooha

camels in the desert from http://www.fotosearch.com

Wow! What a crazy world we live in! Particularly in Australia I think!

This obsession with green house gases is absolutely ridiculous. The government will no doubt order a cull of pesky Australians next. Hopefully they will start with politicians.

They plan to cull 1 million camels in the outback because to put it bluntly – they fart too much.   People don’t, of course! But what about cows, pigs, goats and sheep?

And they have also made the clever observation that caged hens produce less green house gas emissions than free range hens. Well isn’t that grand?

A report for the Australian Egg Corporation, which represents most egg  farmers, found that free range egg production’s carbon footprint in Australia  was about 20 per cent higher than caged production.

The main reason was because free range egg production uses more feed per  kilogram of eggs produced  than caged egg production, the report, which was  half-funded by the federal government, found

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/animals/egg-gas-finding-a-rotten-result-for-freerange-hens-20111216-1oyic.html#ixzz1lBD0f0hd

So we thought caging hens was a bad thing, right? Wrong! They might live lives of abject misery but it’s all good. Because they don’t eat much because they’re not fed much (and what’s the point anyway as they don’t have anywhere to go), they’re now the gold standard.

I might add that yellow yolks are produced by the hens eating  green material. There is no green material in a caged hen’s vicinity and there’s no grass in a crowded barn. So these hens are all fed food colouring in their feed and this is what makes their yolks yellow.

Personally, I only buy organic eggs. I have raised hens and I am all for the rights of all animals, and in particular, the rights of poultry who I believe, live a ghastly life in a factory situation.

So if all we now care about is what or who is producing more green house gases, and if eating more is what is producing those gases, then be prepared for the imposition of forced dieting on the whole Australian population and for the destruction of your family pet, because I know for sure that my dog farts a lot!

I am of the opinion that the most hot air is coming from Canberra. And surely those elaborate meals that are served in their taxpayer subsidised restaurant might also be creating a lot of unpleasant gases.

They should cut out their fois groie and caviar and maybe we could keep our poor camels whose only crime is they exist.

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Two Orangutans Who Got Away…

Here in Australia and in other Western countries we seem to be of the opinion that orangutans are delightful, cuddly animals who are loving and kind – even generous. I recently saw a video of unusual animal partnerships which featured a dog who was befriended by a young orangutan.  The orangutan would share all his food with the dog. Apparently this is normal behaviour for orangutans.

Unfortunately, it is not normal behaviour for humans who have no desire whatsoever to share their world with animals.

Money is our god and we will happily kill orangutans for it if that’s what it takes.

I have said this many times in my blog but it was brought into stark relief with this picture of a terrified orangutan protecting her baby from being killed by poachers seeking a bounty in a palm oil plantation in Borneo. Having burnt down the jungle, the plantation owners are keen to see an end to any pesky orangutans who have somehow managed to survive.

See http://news.ninemsn.com.au/glanceview/212832/orang-utan-protects-baby-from-gang.glance

Luckily the orangutans in this picture survived and were relocated by an animal rescue organisation called Four Paws.

What a sad testament to mankind! When I read this I feel so sad that I am one of them.

And here’s another delightful story about our relationship with animals/ birds etc.

A provisional driver in Northern New South Wales changed lanes to run over four ducks that were waddling across the road, killing two. The remaining two were able to fly away.

Fortunately an off duty policeman was behind him and pulled him over, charging him with animal cruelty offences. I hope he finds it just as amusing when everyone knows his name.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8410153/fowl-play-man-runs-over-ducks

I’m wondering if in our next lives we’ll all be lined up on some planet and used as target practice by aliens. Now that would be apt.

 

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A Cheer for Leonardo diCaprio

It is quite a fight to save the earth’s resources from being plundered, isn’t it?

The latest news is that an alliance of European local authorities, US film stars, Japanese shops, soft drink companies and Russian foundations have thrown in $116 million to stop the extraction (for now) of 900 million barrels of crude oil form 1870 square kilometres of “core” Amazonian forest, Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/30/ecuador-paid-rainforest-oil-alliance

This land is home to two Indian tribes and more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species than anywhere on earth.

Ecuador agreed that if it could raise 50% of the revenue lost over 13 years, it would halt plans to drill the area.

I note that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the contributors. He is a very impressive man in this regard. I believe he also made a significant contribution to Russia to protect Russia’s tigers. This brings me to my next item of interest…

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8398505

It has now come to the point where armed guards have been deployed to protect India’s diminishing tiger population in the south of India.

From 40,000 wild tigers in 1947 they have now gone down to 1400 or thereabouts. Of course it was great sport to kill them. The British and the Rajahs of India used to enjoy nothing more than a good tiger hunt. The miracle is that there are any at all left alive. They were all wiped out in Singapore.

The biggest threat that tigers, rhino, elephants and sea horses face these days is Chinese traditional medicine. The bones of tigers are used in medicines where alternatives could quite easily be used.

Of course the other threat which will finally wipe all these creatures out is habitat destruction. We grudgingly set aside reserves for tigers and other wild animals and then the locals ‘eat’ away at the edges until finally the whole reserve has disappeared.

However, the above items are excellent news and I thank these governments and financial contributors for their valuable contributions in helping save the planet’s irreplaceable resources.

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Interview with an Author

Hello! I have been off the scene for some time as I went overseas on holidays and then was sick when I came home and then  I got carried away with a big writing project!

However, I have just had the good fortune to interview a wonderful  author, Helen Ross.

The transcipt of that interview is below. I think you’ll be wanting to read her work after you read this!

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS  FOR HELEN ROSS

Did you always want to be a writer?

Not consciously.

Like a lot of kids  I pretty much wanted to be a gamut of things –  from a movie star to a spy. In my search for ‘that  niche’ I have tried most things – silver jewelry making, tap dancing,  drama, African dancing and the list goes on, and on,  and on …… But I have always enjoyed creative  pursuits – music, drama, drawing, and the like.

When I was a  primary teacher (many moons ago) I loved encouraging my primary school students  to develop their imagination and creativity through storytelling, creative  writing, art, music and drama.  As a teenager I also tried song writing so I guess writing has always been in the  background without me being conscious of it.

When did you start  writing?

Thinking I had  discovered ‘my niche’, I spent three years studying drama part time (during  my early-mid twenties), but little did I know that a poet was soon to be  born.

As part of a drama  assignment I had to write and ‘perform’ a poem, or piece about an animal, as  selected by a ‘lucky dip’. My animal was the gorilla and so I penned my first  poem, Lulu, the gorgeous gorilla. So pretty much from this time, around 1983,  I have wanted to be a writer and this hasn’t waned. Acting went out the window, and I took up the pen (or nowadays the  computer) instead.

What writers do you think have influenced you?

In regards to rhyming poetry – Dr Suess and A.A. Milne. Other influences have been C.S Lewis, and Lewis Carroll, and Agatha Christie. I will also have to give  special mention to Jackie Hosking (http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com)
and  Dr Virginia Lowe’s Create a kid’s book course  http://www.createakidsbook.com.au ). Jackie, Virginia, and Virginia’s  husband, John, have been instrumental in honing my craft.

What genres do you write in/or have written in?

I completed a Diploma in Writing with ‘The Writing School’ which encompassed a variety of genres so have written in many genres and styles. But to date my published work has been children’s picture books, rhyming poetry (which I am trying to perfect), and  article writing (online  websites and  for a local community magazine). In 2009 I completed a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). That was certainly a month of madness. Even though no one will ever read that, I didn’t realise how much I was going to enjoy being in that novel writing zone. So I have some ideas that I am working on.

Have you had any work commercially published? 

10 Yellow Bananas (released 2010) New Version. Little Steps Publishing, New Frontier. Illustrations by Dee Texidor

Bubble Gum Trouble and other Giggle Poems (2009) Little Steps Publishing. Illustrations by Dee Texidor Giggle poetry published in Cherububble (Primary/Early childhood education on-line resource).

Heart-felt poetry published in anthologies.

Freelance Journalist (resident writer) for South City Bulletin (Logan community magazine)  August – December 2010.

On the horizon:  two of my poems will be published in Jelli-Beanz  Publishing’s Volume One: Hopscotch of their annual publication “Packed Lunch“, a collection of children’s short stories,  poetry and illustrations.  Due out in November 2011.

How many books have you published independently?

If you look at self publishing in the traditional sense of the author pretty much doing everything, then the answer would be two. In 2006 I self published Ten Yellow Bananas (original version), and Santa is in our Chimney. Both books sold very well, and because of this, I felt ready to take the next step of making my books more commercially appealing.

I then decided to take the partnership publishing path because I still wanted some creative control, but I wanted to use a reputable company that offered  professional services. I decided upon Little Steps Publishing, a Division of  New Frontier (a well respected, award winning NSW publishing company). The company offers great services, using the same professional team that it would for its traditional contractual published books. However, unlike some partnership publishing companies, Little Steps doesn’t just take on any work. The company is very discerning about what it publishes, so I felt like I had the best of both worlds ie. a reputable company agreeing to publish my work whilst still allowing me some creative control.

To date I have had two books published with Little Steps:  10 Yellow Bananas (New Version, released 2010) and Bubble Gum Trouble and other Giggle Poems (2009). The new version 10 Yellow Bananas has been revised quite dramatically with the assistance of Dr Virginia Lowe’s Create-a-kids-book course, and my poetry collection was edited by Little Steps before going into production.

So why did you decide to self-publish/publish independently?

For quite a number of years it has been a well-known fact that ‘it isn’t easy  to get a publishing contract.’ 
As such, I didn’t want to spend the possibility of months and years of sending manuscripts to publishers and receiving rejection slips in the mail. Also I didn’t want to be dependent on a publisher deciding whether my book was marketable or not (when I believed there was a market for my style of writing).

I have good intuition, a very independent streak and am very resourceful, so having acquired a number of skills and experiences over the years in my  secretarial/PR/teaching and sales background, I believed I could take on the  various roles required of a self-publisher.

How did you get started, i.e. how did you go about self-publishing or gathering information?

First, I read as much as possible on self-publishing, and looked objectively at the pros and cons.  I started researching self publishing years before I took that path; as well as noting all the processes required.

After years of research, one of the easiest and clearest books that I have come across is Self-Publishing Made Simple – The  Ultimate Australian Guide by Euan Mitchell. There are also lots of websites on self-publishing to assist.

I then estimated the size of my book, number of pages etc. to get approximate quotes from a graphic artist, and printing companies, before making the final decision to go ahead to self-publish.  I then organised the procedures involved, considered time lines, and took it from there.

 How did you go  about editing your work?

In relation to my first book, Ten Yellow Bananas, I did hours of editing in relation to the story and rhyme. A number of English teacher colleagues then proofread it for grammatical errors, and assisted in story flow. I then passed it to some primary teachers for their feedback, and to gain feedback from their students (target market group).

Santa is in my chimney was assessed by the wonderful rhyming poet, Jackie Hosking and her manuscript assessment service. (http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com)
Bubble Gum Trouble was edited by the professional team at Little Steps Publishing, and the new version 10 Yellow Bananas was assessed by Dr  Virginia Lowe as part of her Create-a-kids-book course. ( http://www.createakidsbook.com.au).

How long did the self-publishing process or independent publishing take place, ie. from the beginning to the printing of your books?

In relation to my first two books, it took about six months (from memory). The two books published independently by Little Steps probably took about a year (no more), which included illustrations.  There were some shipping delays in relation to 10 Yellow Bananas.

What obstacles did you encounter during this process, if any?

Nothing too disastrous. Probably some minor time delays because the graphic artist for the 2006 published books was also working on  other projects. And this also applied to the illustrator working on the Little Steps books.

How did you go about organising a printing company?

I researched as many as I could. Finally I visited newsagents and bookstores and found a couple of local companies where the print production was of a high quality. Then compared quotes and production quality.  Also the graphic artist worked closely with the selected printing company.

The books published by Little Steps were published by their selected  printing company.

What was your print run?

For the 2006 published books – 3000 each.  I got my money back fairly quickly.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing or publishing independently?

Advantages: The creative control

Disadvantages:  The creative control.  Being accountable for most of the processes can be very daunting. For my first book, I found it quite difficult to get advice at times, and in the end, just had to realise that it was all going to be a learning curve.

What was your biggest learning curve or is there anything that you would have done differently?

Don’t let a couple of ‘negatives’ set you back. I have  learnt you can’t please everyone. And not all people in the publishing arena
know what parents and children like. Just because a distributor won’t take on your books, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for your work. It is what your target market thinks that is important, and then finding out how to tap into that market. Starting out is a learning curve so hindsight is a great  thing after the event. And you can only do the best you can do with the information you have at the time.

How do you market your books?  Do you come across any obstacles when dealing with bookstores, etc?

Marketing is hard work. But if you don’t make it a chore, it should be exciting and very rewarding. I have never had any problems dealing  with bookstores, especially the books published by Little Steps. Little Steps’s bookstore distributor is well known book distributor, Dennis Jones & Associates. I market through schools, and small advertisements in Thorpe Bowker’s bookstore and library newsletters. I have given up doing the door to door bookstore round. Firstly it is very time consuming, and secondly, there is
not much profit left after the publisher, distributor and bookstore take their share.  I try to find ways to directly reach my target market (cutting out the middle man). If I have to put in the hard work, then I try to think laterally to recoup my expenses, and aim for some profit.

What does successful self-publishing or successful independent publishing mean to you?

Living my dream. Doing what I love doing without going  bankrupt.

What advice would you give other authors who are thinking about self-publishing/publishing independently or setting up their own company?

Do your research. Don’t go in blind but keep an open mind.
You must be true to yourself as to why you want to go down that path. If you  just want a story to pass down on to your grand kids, then get a couple of  copies printed at your local print store.

What attributes do  you feel are necessary to be a successful self-publisher, eg. determination, patience, organisation, sales and marketing experience, self-belief …???

All of the above. And learning to develop a thick skin like a rhinoceros can help. Having a rich partner, will also help.

What inspires you to keep writing and continue publishing independently?

I just love writing and improving my skills. Publishing independently is a way of getting my work out there and this keeps me a happy gal.

Is there one person you can think of who played a significant part in your writing career?

My dad.  He always instilled in me to be the best that I could be. This was a little hard at times, especially as a kid just wanting to have fun, but his words now resonate so strongly with me.

Other than my dad, I would have to mention a few other names in relation to honing my skills – Dr Virginia Lowe and her husband, John, Jackie Hosking, and the team at Little Steps for giving me the confidence to believe in my work.

Where would you like to be in five year’s time, writing wise?

Full time writer. A novel or two under my belt. Roll over J.K Rowling. Hmmm. J.K Rowling who?

If you were offered a publishing contract with a mainstream publisher, would you accept it?

I would certainly think long and hard about this one.  The contract would have to offer me something that I couldn’t do on my own.  Regardless of how a book of mine is published, I would still be involved in the marketing.
I couldn’t completely let go of those reigns, unless I knew I had a best seller and the publisher was going to rock the world with a marketing campaign. The downside of having a publisher and distributor is that a lot of profit goes to them. So definitely food for thought. However, if I was given a huge book advance, that might be another story.

What projects are you working on now?

Lots. Have two finished children’s picture book manuscripts, assessed by Dr Virginia Lowe, that are ready to go. However, I am currently looking at my options. Also working on a couple of  story ideas. Also working on marketing strategies.

What words best describe you?

Quirky, intuitive, creative, intelligent (most of the time), determined yet flexible, happy, friendly, and, at times, non-conventional.

Have you any other words of advice?

Develop your craft. And network.  It is amazing what you can learn from other writers about writing and the publishing world.

Also believe in yourself and your work. Taking alternative publishing paths doesn’t mean that your work is inferior to those published under a contractual basis. You have to think outside the square and believe in yourself.  But don’t be too precious about your work if it means improving your skills.

Enjoy your journey but don’t neglect your family and  friends.

And  Helen just to finish up, could you please complete the following:

At school I was … quiet, a dreamer and a little quirky. But quite bright and creative.

When I was a child  I wanted to be … a nice but quirky witch, an actress and a spy

I relax by … reading, watching movies, painting and browsing French inspired stores.

My website address:  http://misshelenbooks.com

My blog: http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com

Books can be bought from http://www.redhen.com.au  (or via my website: http://misshelenbooks.com).  1

10 Yellow Bananas and Bubble Gum Trouble can also be purchased at stores (just quote the ISBN number).

You can find book reviews at: http://misshelenbooks.com

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The Day the Music Died

This week I received a rather disturbing email containing a list of things that are on the point of extinction. The list contained – newspapers, post offices, music, books, cheques, land-line phones, television, privacy and ‘things’ you own.

I will attach the list to this blog but personally I found the most disturbing items were books and music and I have to wonder if the world will be a better place because of it.  You can be the judge of that.

The demise of books has been on the cards for a while. This year one of Australia’s biggest booksellers, Angus and Robertson, went into liquidation. Borders also closed. The reasons were varied – the poor retail sales market right across the board, internet book sales, children preferring video games to reading, holding an immense range of stock, and the rise of the Ipad.

Those who enjoy reading can no doubt think of nothing better than curling up in bed with a good book. Curling up in bed with a warm Ipad or laptop does not have the same comfy feeling, does it? I also wonder how a new author would become known.  There would be no more J.K. Rowlings as no one would be able to find them amongst the millions of anonymous books on the internet. There would be no publisher to sift through manuscripts for you. You’d get the good, the bad and downright awful books all on one level playing field. At some point the authors you know and trust will die and then who will you turn to?

As for music, I’ve noticed that over the last ten years something has happened to music. In my opinion it started with Napster.

These days the Beatles wouldn’t stand a chance of being discovered.  I’m having difficulty to recalling any memorable music created recently. One medium where musicians could promote their latest video clips was on MTV.  Nowadays MTV just shows a host of awful reality shows for teenagers.

 Music was always a hard business to make a living in. The music industry was very greedy indeed and from what I recall, quite a few well known musicians went on strike rather than make music for nothing based on contracts they signed when they were unknown.  I think George Michaels was one of them.

These days the only way to be discovered musically is via television reality shows such as X Factor and the Idol shows.

I noticed in the news today that it is the view of international shopping centre guru Bruce Shaw that shopping centres will also soon be extinct. At the very least they will have to reinvent themselves if they want to stay alive. See http://www.news.com.au/business/paradise-for-shopaholics-inside-the-mall-of-the-future/story-e6frfm1i-1226077205619

Anyway, for your edification, have a look at the list that I received in my email –
1. The Post Office
Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply
in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long
term.  Email have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep
the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Cheque
Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018.
It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process
cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual
demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office.
If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the
post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper
The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly
don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of
the milkman. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The
rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper
and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple,
Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid
subscription services.

4. The Book
You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your
hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading
music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind
when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever
leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with
books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter
before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And
think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the
screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t
wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget
instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone
Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t
need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’ve always had it.
But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell
phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider
for no charge against your minutes

6. Music
This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry
is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the
lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who
would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record
labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40%
of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional
music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is
also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and
disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for
Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the
Music Dies.”

7. Television
Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the
economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers.
And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the
time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated
down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are
skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I
say good riddance to most of it. It’s time for the cable companies to be
put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch
online.

8. The “Things” That You Own
Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives,
but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in
“the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your
pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD,
and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing.
Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud
services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will
be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS
will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will
open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be
saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the
cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your
books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the
good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all
be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the
things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run
to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf,
or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy
If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it
would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway.
There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built
into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, “They”
know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and
the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a
zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. “They”
will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.

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Mars Attacks!

This week an armchair astronomer discovered what appears to be a cyclindrical structure on the planet mars. He gave the co-ordinates and I’ve looked it up on Google Mars and it’s there for all to see.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technology/8257609/mysterious-structure-discovered-on-mars

There are now 49,500,000 links which relate to this, listed on Google.

Interestingly, the only official feedback on this matter is that it’s due to pixelation.

Well, that might be true. However we should be very suspicious of government opinion on any extraterrestrial matters. A cynical person might think that the governments don’t want people to believe in the existance of aliens. Maybe they know they couldn’t control a couple of billion terrified people running amok on earth. 

There may have even been a civilisation on mars in the past as scientific evidence reveals that water flowed intermittently on the surface of Mars during the past 650 million years. http://www.psrd.hawaii.edu/May00/wetMars.html

Another ‘structure’ on mars has also provoked discussion. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/5981624/Mars-monolith-fuels-theories-of-alien-life.html

To directly quote from the article –

A rectangular object found jutting out of Mars’s surface and caught on camera by the University of Arizona has caused speculation over the nature of the “monolith” and its origins.

Sci-fi fans are said to be drawing parallels with the mysterious monoliths used to mark a change in human evolution in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now, if you think that NASA tells the truth, have a look at this website and many more like it. http://xfacts.com/spirit2004/

The issue relates to the tampering of photos of the martian landscape. For some reason or another NASA wants people to believe that the planet mars is red, rather than the hospitable colour that it truly is.

As one blogger wrote-

Why does NASA deliberately alter the color of the Mars photograhs ? Just because science mistakenly has always referred to Mars as the “Red Planet” is no reason for NASA to be deceptive about the planet’s real color . Below are some of the Martian pictures before and after NASA changed their real color . They show the true color of Mars . Something the world has been denied until recently .

“Investigation shows that there are several indications that the NASA is tampering with the colors, and changes them from an Earth-like environment into a red inhospitable environment. But it seems that the young scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are not convenient with this.

At the press conference last saturday, the JPL-scientists showed the latest picture of the Martian landscape. It showed a salmon-coloured desert with a blue sky. It seems that they did it on purpose, since previous pictures were all extremely red. Below the pictures of the conference are shown:”

At the time, NASA forbade the release of photos taken on the planet until they released them themselves. The pictures revealed a brown planet with a blue sky. However, after NASA took control of the situation they mysteriously changed colour from brown to red. The funny thing was though, that coloured markers on the legs of the space craft also changed colour in the process! Anyway, if you look at the above links you’ll see that some astronomers at NASA rebelled and released the real untouched shots. You can see them on that website.

Incidentally, there are other mysterious structures on mars. Mysterious glass-like tunnels are one strange construction. See http://www.enterprisemission.com/can.htm for the various theories relating to the glass tunnels which do look like giant glass worms. If the tunnels are the remains of worms then they are worms I wouldn’t like to meet, being a mile long and hundreds of feet across. So could they perhaps be ancient alien-made constructions?

For speculation and information on other structures such as the ‘face on mars’ and ‘pyramids on mars’ see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cydonia_Mensae

And today an Italian space enthusiast named Matteo Lanneo claims to have found a structure on the face of Mars that looks like Mahatma Gandhi. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/163047/20110615/nasa-mars-mahatma-gandhi-face-structure-google-mars.htm

There’s also a rather unusual formation that looks like the Little Mermaid that the Rover photographed on mars. I’d be very interested in getting a close up of that.

Anyway, that is just our closest planet. There are heaps of amazing things to be discovered out in the universe. Personally, I think the Moon Io, which is one of Jupiter’s moons, is incredibly fascinating. Just imagine this. There is no water on Io, so instead of having a water high tide, the land has a high and low tide!

Yes, that’s right. I’m not sure how often, but apparently the land rises as a high tide up to 100 meters (330 feet)! Those are tides pushing and pulling the rocky surface (for comparison’s sake, Earth’s ocean tides vary by no more than 18 meters or 60 feet). The tidal forces are exerted in combination by Jupiter and two of its other large moons, Europa and Ganymede. It’s the energy generated by these tides, rather than internal heat, that powers Io’s geologic activity.

Read more: http://www.brighthub.com/science/space/articles/5811.aspx#ixzz1OdRLX77k

I suppose we won’t be colonising Io any time soon as Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. With more than 400 active volcanoes, Io doesn’t have the cratered surface common to so many other moons: powerful lava flows continually reshape the landscape. The Ionian volcano Loki, believed to be the solar system’s most powerful volcano, can spew out up to 1,000 square meters of lava each second.

When I wrote the book, the Doofuzz Dudes and the Planet Zok, I said that the landscape was like a dot picture. You needed to refocus your eyes so that you could see the landscape. Also, the planet had a strange climate. You could walk forward a few metres and the climate would change from cold to hot and then back again a few metres later.

Well, considering that there are moons out there where the land forms a high and low tide, my book was not so odd at all.

But I sure would like to get a closer look at that ‘pixelated’ structure on mars!

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Stopping the Live Animal Trade Overseas

Shock horror! 

Are we really surprised that cattle were being tortured in eleven abattoirs in Indonesia?

Not so long ago we were all shocked and horrified that sheep were being squashed into unbearably close quarters as they were shipped overseas to the Middle East.

We were shocked that at the other end their legs were broken so they could fit more neatly into a car boot from where they could be carried live to their slaughter.

Yes, it is all horrifying. And I’m very glad that at least for the time being or at least until nobody is looking again, we have stopped transport to those abattoirs. However I have heard that it is impossible to ban livestock going to those eleven abattoirs since all livestock is delivered to a central point from where it is distributed. Nevertheless, we have all been assured by the PM that this is the case, and she wouldn’t lie to us, would she?

Whatever the case, give them a couple of months and the situation will undoubtedly return to normal. These days Australia doesn’t have that much  to offer the world by way of exports. We don’t manufacture much and really all that is left are minerals and animals.  So we can’t afford to be too uppity about the way foreigners treat our cows and sheep.

Animals Australia did a marvellous job putting this abomination in the spotlight so give them a donation if you can. I did as it would have cost them a lot of money to put together a sting like this and they are doing great work. http://www.animalsaustralia.org

The implication however, is that these abattoirs are undesirable and horrific, so the rest are fine.

Well I wonder. I would imagine that the very nature of dying when you’re healthy is a horrific thing to face. Don’t tell me that a cow or sheep in any abbattoir doesn’t know what awaits them.

They can smell the fear in the air. They can hear the terrified bellowing of their friends.

I’ve heard that when cows face death they find their friends and huddle together. Just like we would.

I wonder about the public outcry if they saw this video – kangaroo hunters shooting kangaroos for dog meat and for your dinner via Woolworths and Coles; hauling the joey out of the dead mother’s pouch and bashing out its brains on their bumper bars. Incidentally, this is as per the government’s recommendations.

To meet our insatiable demand for poultry, a continuous conga line of over inflated chickens are sent along a conveyor belt and down the shoot where a blade chops off their head.

Now that wouldn’t be a nice way to die either. Recently a poor man who had been called in to do a repair above the conveyor belt, fell and went down the shoot where he was decapitated.

They wouldn’t even stop the machinery for ten minutes while the unfortunate fellow repaired it!

In the West animals are supposed to be stunned before slaughter. However, apparently Halal and Jewish methods of slaughter forbid the stunning of the animals. They have their throats cut and the blood is drained out of their bodies while they are still alive.

And add that to a bit of extra torture prior to their deaths – breaking their legs,  gouging their eyes, beating them – we can all be thanking our lucky stars that we weren’t born as animals.

Read this article on the nasty religious methods of slaughter http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/54850,news-comment,news-politics,after-scientific-proof-of-pain-should-we-ban-islamic-and-jewish-religious-slaughter

The problem is that modern civilisation is incredibly reliant on meat. The average restaurant has a menu that is heavily meat laden. Maybe there is one vegetarian choice if you’re lucky and it’s often just a salad.

And yet recently I saw a documentary about some indigenous New Guineans. They were saying that every two weeks they need to eat some meat and they catch a bat to eat. A bit different to our daily gorging on meat. In the West each of us probably eats half a sheep every month.

If I cook a vegetarian meal for my partner two times in a row,  I hear an awful lot of moaning. My friends tell me the same thing about their husbands.

We are overly reliant on meat as a filler and I’m wondering how dangerous this is for our health and if an excess of meat is behind our soaring rates of bowel cancer. I imagine that due to the nature of our intestinal tracts, there is an awful lot of decaying meat stuck in our systems.

The Western culture does not traditionally offer ranges of vegetarian dishes. For the first eighteen years of my life I ate the same thing every day – a chop and three vegetables. Hardly inspirational.

However, go to Turkey and you’ll get stuffed capsicums and eggplant and the yummiest vegetarian dishes. Similarly, India which has a very high non-meat eating population, has a wonderful range of vegetarian dishes which are absolutely delicious.

If you want to help animals then try to replace at least a couple of meals a week with a vegetarian option. Buy a good vegetarian cookbook and you’ll see there are  some delicious dishes. Personally, I love vegie burgers.

Try this recipe as it is really terrific.

VEGIE BURGERS – 1

Ingredients

1 medium carrot, grated

i small zucchini, grated

1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 egg, lightly beaten 

2 x 300 gm cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 teaspoons ground cumin

plain flour to coat patties

oil for shallow frying

lettuce leaves; Turkish bread rounds; 1 Lebanese cucumber, 1 sliced avocado and mild sweet chilli sauce to serve

1) Squeeze excess liquid from grated carrot and zucchini. Process carrot, zucchini, coriander, garlic, egg, chickpeas and cumin in a food processor until almost smooth.

2) Divide mixture into four portions; shape into patties. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Coat patties with flour and shallow fry in hot until browned on both sides.

3) Divide lettuce leaves over split bread rounds; top with patties, cucumber and avocado. Drizzle with chilli sauce.

P.S. I buy organic eggs as caged hens also suffer unbearable torture being stuck in a cage for their whole lives and forced to lay eggs under hot lights. I don’t trust the ‘free range’ label on boxes either as I understand that their would not be enough free range hens in the whole of Australia to keep up with demand. Furthermore, those that are ‘free range’ are hardly ‘free’. They are squashed in a shed with thousands of other hens and never see a blade of grass.  In fact, because it is necessary to eat green grass to get yellow yokes, they have a colouring added to their food so  that their yokes turn yellow.

VEGIE BURGERS- 2

Chop up an onion, a stalk of celery and thinly slice a sweet potato. Stir fry and add mirin and soy sauce to taste.  When the sweet potato is cooked, add brown lentils which have been soaked and boiled till they are cooked. Mix well and add an egg to bind.

Make into patties and serve as in the previous recipe.

This is a fantastic recipe although quite messy to eat!!!

Another organisation that does wonderful work drawing attention to the plight of farm animals is Voiceless.  Go to their website to see what they are up to http://www.voiceless.org.au/

I also support the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New  York, USA. which rescues abused farm animals http://casanctuary.org/

P.S. Bob Katter was quoted regarding the Live Meat Trade with Indonesia forWednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald. He said ‘A people without land will look for a land without people.” Hmm, do you think you’d like to be invaded by Indonesia now you’ve seen what they do to our livestock? I don’t think so!

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Monkey Magic

Staff at a zoo in Jersey in the Channel Islands are ecstatic at the birth of a Tamarin Monkey. The Black Lion Tamarin comes from Brazil but there are only 1000 left in the wild because their habitat has been destroyed by loggers.

How sad that the only specimens will be in zoos! Will the logging of jungles ever cease?

Oh sorry, of course they will – when they are all chopped down! And then everyone will be mighty happy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fnhJTawT2k

http://news.bbc.co.uk - pied tamarin monkey twins

The picture inserted is of rare pied tamarin monkey twins born in Colchester Zoo in June 2010.

It is thought the population of the pied tamarin in the wild has fallen by half over the last 18 years.

The pied tamarin, which originates from the Manaus region of Brazil, is an endangered species on International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

“There’s a European endangered species programme for them, so the studbook keeper looks to match genetically compatible animals together,” said Anthony, the zoological director.

Because of their nervous disposition, pied tamarins are notoriously difficult to breed, according to Anthony.

So this is another case of a species being almost wiped out because of their habitat being destroyed. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/essex/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_8751000/8751761.stm

In July, 2010, London Zoo’s golden-headed lion tamarin adopted a baby emperor tamarin, when it was just two weeks old.
 
Emperor tamarins, native to South America, are generally brought up by their fathers who carry them until they are old enough to fend for themselves. 

However, the childless golden-headed lion tamarin monkey took a shine to the grey youngster two weeks after it was born at London Zoo.

Senior keeper, Lucy Hawley, said: ‘At first the father of the emperor tamarin baby was a little nervous about Juanita but now they all seem to get along just fine”. 

 
WOMAN ATTACKED BY MONKEYS
 
It certainly doesn’t pay to be afraid of anything. It does seem that you’ll attract what you’re afraid of. At least that seems to be the way with this British tourist who was attacked by monkeys.
 
I can sympathise with her as I myself was attacked by a cranky monkey in Thailand,  that clung on to my arm and gave me a big bite. I still have the scar.

The 56-year-old was surrounded and attacked by a group of macaques as she sat on a towel while on holiday in Thailand. She had a fear of primates after her father brought up a ‘positively evil’ chimpanzee.

So she and a friend joined a tour on Monkey Island, off Phuket.

‘I thought I was heading for safety under this rock in the shade,’ said Mrs Darwell.

‘The next thing I noticed, this monkey walked up next to me and I thought, “Oh dear”.

‘Then, the monkey took my wrist and pounced on my right arm, sinking his teeth in and hung off it. He wouldn’t let go – he was locked on.

‘There was one man, a tourist, and when he saw the monkey bite me, he screamed and ran off. Then another monkey bit my arm… and all of a sudden I was surrounded by monkeys.’

Mrs Darwell, of Peterborough, collapsed and was taken to hospital with puncture wounds and bruising.

She said: ‘I wouldn’t have got off that bloody boat if the tour guide had said at all that there was even the slightest risk.’

Tour leader Yongyut Buasod said: ‘We can’t control the monkeys if they decide to bite someone.’
Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/831554-monkey-phobia-woman-attacked-by-group-of-macaques#ixzz1MmxJEL9Z

 

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Hateful Hunters and Strange Governments

 

 HATEFUL HUNTERS

Last week I entered this post but it was buried under another item.  It seems bad enough to repeat it this week. Don’t we have enough problems with guns already? Sure, there are other weapons freely available, but guns are particularly lethal and in the hands of children, neverlone adults, they are a recipe for disaster.

Sadly, the recent change of government has given a higher profile to a very unsavoury political group –  The Shooters’ and Fishers’ Party.

There is a revolting photo in circulation of their leader, Robert Brown MP, crouching proudly beside an elephant he has slaughtered and then later, hauling away its tusks.

It is a very sad day indeed when a political party with the sole goal of ensuring that as great an area as possible is made available for blood sports, should be able to gain so much power.

Extraordinarily, they want the introduction of hunting classes in schools! 

Their list of demands go on and on and although they are sugar coating their requests under the guise of ‘saving’ Australia from the terrible threat of feral animals,  their only goal is to indulge their blood lust by killing as much as possible with the help of their dogs.

Among other demands, they want national parks opened up to them and their dogs. Just imagine – the very place which has been set aside for native animals – the only ‘safe’ place for animals now that their habitats have been destroyed to build apartment blocks – is now going to be invaded by brutes with guns and dogs! How sad that we can’t and won’t protect our native animals.

Their manifesto includes –

  • The Party asserts the right of the law-abiding citizen to own and use firearms.

So they want everyone to be toting guns,  and for children to learn about killing at school. Is there enough wildlife for everyone to kill? They won’t be surprised when children bring guns to school and shoot each other, will they?

I quote directly from http://candobetter.net/node/1352 –

Professional safari hunters, recreational hunters, sports shooters, or weekend warriors? This Bill would overturn all environmental legislation protecting our remaining wildlife in NSW. It is repugnant. This proposal is nothing to do with noble gesture of taking on the task of the government’s culling feral animals in National Parks.
The Game Council in this self-interested set of demands, simply wants to give its weekend warrior member base open slather access to shoot almost anything and everything in the bush. It would be 24/7 open season on wildlife perpetually across NSW every day of the year. Every weekend would be weekend warrior party time in the ute with the spotties and the beers and the guns – just like in the good old days eh? In doing so, The Game Council and the Shooters Party have shown their true colours. The Game Council’s objective is to provide for the effective management of ‘introduced species’ of game animals. By advocating the hunting and shooting of native animals and birds is outside its ‘introduced species’ charter.

According to Greens MP Ian Cohen, if feral animals are to be culled then “it should be managed by trained Livestock Health and Protection Authority officers.” “Recreational hunters are not helping when it comes to feral species – the reality is that hunters, with their dogs, are often a cause of pest species dispersal, driving feral animals into national parks.”

It will be truly unfortunate if this group of rednecks get their way! What they stand for is repugnant to the majority of the population.

ANIMAL PROPERTY RIGHTS 

Dr John Hadley from the University of Western Sydney has proposed legal rights for Australian native animals. He says that Australia has the largest loss of biodiversity in the world and this is due to habitat loss.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8240382/anger-at-animal-property-rights-proposal

Naturally, farmers aren’t having any of it.

When I was driving home late last night I heard a radio announcer debating the subject of who ‘owns’ the world. He scoffed that snakes and frogs don’t own the world. We do!

How interesting. At last look I thought that the world belonged to everyone and everything that exists in it. I didn’t know that people, who incidentally are only a relatively recent addition in terms of the planet’s timeline, had special ownership rights. 

And if we are under that ridiculous illusion we can so easily be taught a jolly big lesson. We have already proved that we are powerless in the face of nature’s wrath. A single tsunami in Japan wiped out tens of thousands of people. Tornados wiped out homes, crops, farm animals as well as people. Floods have collectively killed hundreds of thousands of people all over the world from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan to Australia just in the last two years. In the face of earthquakes we have also proved to be powerless.

And we think we ‘own’ the world? If we did then these problems would surely not exist. Would they?

And yet, if the oceans were to raise 10 metres in one night I wonder how many islands would be wiped out and how many people drowned. No problems – we own the world and we’ll make sure THAT doesn’t happen.

BAULKHAM HILLS SHIRE COUNCIL

The same radio announcer was also furious that Baulkham Hills Shire Council has effectively put a green ban on all its residents. The locals who have huge blocks of land of up to five acres, have found that overnight huge swathes of their properties (the parts with trees on them that is) have been slapped with a no destruction order. So they are banned from cutting down the trees or subdividing the land.  Interesting! Of course they mostly undoubtedly bought the properties with the express intention of doing just that in the fullness of time.

However, I have to question the consistency of councils’ and governments’ attempts to preserve the environment.  Just down the road at Lane Cove, the State Government has still maintained its rezoning of Batten Reserve and appears to have the full intention of chopping down all those trees and killing all that wildlife. So where is the logic?

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The Doofuzz Dudes and the Ozone Thief

m.news.com.au

 

THE DOOFUZZ DUDES AND THE OZONE THIEF

Book number nine, The Doofuzz Dudes and the Ozone Thief,  is now in production!

Hopefully it will be published by July this year.

Read the blurb here so you will know what to expect –

When Toby and Huon Doofuzz’s cousin, Jared comes to visit, he brings a kooky new invention with him – a set of repairing arms! As usual, nothing goes as planned, and after an embarrassing incident where the repairing arms smash Mrs. Doofuzz’s antique vase, Jared seriously considers giving up inventing.

Before too long the Dudes are thrown headlong into an incredible adventure when Mr. Pillari’s magic display goes horribly wrong and the Dudes find themselves on the way to the Planets Zok and Joh25n. Even more disturbingly, they have a nasty encounter with the Moondarians’ sworn enemy, the horrible Prince Florian and his scary girlfriend,  Acid-Rayne.   

How did Prince Florian escape his space jail? And who are the blue Twaddlers?

Will the magical Oruclees survive the catastrophe on Planet Joh25n?

Who is Raindrain the Drainbrain and what part does he play in the dramatic situation?

And will the Dudes escape their next encounter with the creepy Space Spiders?

Most importantly, who is the Ozone Thief and can the damage be repaired?

To find out the answer to these questions, and more, read the ninth book in the Doofuzz Dudes series, The Ozone Thief.

 HATEFUL HUNTERS

Sadly, the recent change of government has given a higher profile to a very unsavoury political group –  The Shooters’ and Fishers’ Party.

There is a revolting photo in circulation of their leader, Robert Brown MP, crouching proudly beside an elephant he has slaughtered and then later, hauling away its tusks.

It is a very sad day indeed when a political party with the sole goal of ensuring that as great an area as possible is made available for blood sports, should be able to gain so much power.

Extraordinarily, they want the introduction of hunting classes in schools! 

Their list of demands go on and on and although they are sugar coating their requests under the guise of ‘saving’ Australia from the terrible threat of feral animals,  their only goal is to indulge their blood lust by killing as much as possible with the help of their dogs.

Among other demands, they want national parks opened up to them and their dogs. Just imagine – the very place which has been set aside for native animals – the only ‘safe’ place for animals now that their habitats have been destroyed to build apartment blocks – is now going to be invaded by brutes with guns and dogs! How sad that we can’t and won’t protect our native animals.

Their manifesto includes –

  • The Party asserts the right of the law-abiding citizen to own and use firearms.

So they want everyone to be toting guns,  and for children to learn about killing at school. Is there enough wildlife for everyone to kill? They won’t be surprised when children bring guns to school and shoot each other, will they?

I quote directly from http://candobetter.net/node/1352 –

Professional safari hunters, recreational hunters, sports shooters, or weekend warriors? This Bill would overturn all environmental legislation protecting our remaining wildlife in NSW. It is repugnant. This proposal is nothing to do with noble gesture of taking on the task of the government’s culling feral animals in National Parks.
The Game Council in this self-interested set of demands, simply wants to give its weekend warrior member base open slather access to shoot almost anything and everything in the bush. It would be 24/7 open season on wildlife perpetually across NSW every day of the year. Every weekend would be weekend warrior party time in the ute with the spotties and the beers and the guns – just like in the good old days eh? In doing so, The Game Council and the Shooters Party have shown their true colours. The Game Council’s objective is to provide for the effective management of ‘introduced species’ of game animals. By advocating the hunting and shooting of native animals and birds is outside its ‘introduced species’ charter.

According to Greens MP Ian Cohen, if feral animals are to be culled then “it should be managed by trained Livestock Health and Protection Authority officers.” “Recreational hunters are not helping when it comes to feral species – the reality is that hunters, with their dogs, are often a cause of pest species dispersal, driving feral animals into national parks.”

It will be truly unfortunate if this group of rednecks get their way! What they stand for is repugnant to the majority of the population.

CANE TOADS FOILED

 A little bit of good news on the subject of cane toads which have devastated wildlife across Australia since their introduction by some lame brained people decades ago.

A clever person attached a radio tracking transmitter to a cane toad which was found in Sydney. That cane toad led the trackers to its breeding grounds where its tadpoles were found and hopefully fed to some hungry fish.

We don’t need cane toads in Sydney or anywhere at all.

Everyone seems to hate rats but, quoting from the Daily Telegraph – Rats love drains and so do toads and both come from the Northern Hemisphere so rats have developed a tolerance for the toad’s poison.  A researcher was following a cane toad fitted with a transmitter and he found it in a drain, killed by a rat. So rats aren’t as bad as you thought – are they?

Also the threatened native green and golden bell frogs are apparently eating the toads’ tadpoles. That is interesting as I’ve read that even the cane toads’ tadpoles are poisonous.

A labrador is being used by Sutherland Council to sniff out cane toads and a second dog, a kelpie, is also being trained.

CHRISTIE CARR AND IRWIN, THE DISABLED KANGAROO

 What do you make of the American lady who has been caring for a disabled kangaroo as if it was her own child?

Irwin, the kangaroo, suffered brain damage when he hopped into a fence at a wildlife sanctuary a year ago.

Christie Carr took over his care and had a bolster seat fitted in her car with a hole for his tail. She dresses him in suits and pyjamas and feeds him very inappropriate food – cheezels and chips.

However, there is no denying her love for Irwin, the red kangaroo, and yet her local council is demanding that she insure it for $50,000 per year to ensure it doesn’t attack anyone. She has had him neutered so that he won’t become agressive and in fact, he is undersized for his age and won’t be growing to full size due to the fact that he has been desexed.

Given that in Australia we hate our national icon, the Kangaroo, and at any given moment there are hundreds of hunters out there blasting them to smithereens whilst every morning the ones that got away are lying squashed on our national highways, it is a wonderful thing that someone really does love their kangaroo pet.

Sure, Irwin shouldn’t be wearing a suit and pyjamas and eating cheezels, but who could deny the love of a woman for a disabled animal who would undoubtedly have been euthanized if it had been left to its own devices?

Let the lady keep  her pet and congratulations to a woman who really does love a kangaroo, instead of eating it as we do in Australia!

POSTSCRIPT

I just read the following news, so it seems that Irwin has been saved! The winner as per usual, is the insurance company.

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — An anonymous donor has purchased a $50,000 insurance policy to help an Oklahoma woman keep her pet kangaroo as a therapy pet.

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