Prison Site or Forest Reserve?

This post reproduces a series of letters relating to the site near Westbury announced by the state government in June as the location for a proposed Northern Regional Prison.

The substantive issues raised include the reserve status of the land and its actual conservation values.

It includes:

– letter dated 26 June by Andrew Ricketts, a private reserve owner, to Premier Peter Gutwein.

– response dated 9 July by Minister for Corrections Elise Archer to Ricketts; copied to Premier.

– reply dated 3 September by Andrew Ricketts addressing issues in the Archer letter, sent to Archer and to Minister for Parks and Reserves and Minister for Planning Roger Jaensch; copied to Premier, Labor Leader Rebecca White, Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor

– additional documents that may help illustrate the issues: National Reserve System IBRA map; CRA Key Fauna Habitat Rare and Threatened Species Map; a map of the prison site.

TASMANIAN TIMES: Northern Prison Questions Remain.

TASMANIAN TIMES: Northern Prison Site Confirmed for Westbury.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent=”no” parentcategory=”writers” show = “category” hyperlink=”yes”]

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Osoyoos Indian Band mulls closing pictograph site after vandals deface it with obscenities

Warning: This story contains offensive language.

The Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) is considering fencing off its reserve land east of Osoyoos Lake, B.C., after a First Nations pictograph was defaced with graffiti.

A band security patrol officer found the graffiti on the rock painting at Rattlesnake Point on Saturday. The doodles, in black spray paint, include offensive language: “F–kin ch-g sh-t” and “F–k this dirty rez.”

Vandalism occurs on Indigenous rock sites across Canada, but has been rare, said University of Victoria anthropology instructor Chris Arnett, who studies archeology in the B.C. Interior and other B.C. regions.

Arnett was first introduced to the Osoyoos pictographs by a band member about 40 years ago.

“It probably represents something from the very ancient mythological tribe,” Arnett said about the historical significance of the Osoyoos Indian Band rock art site. “They [the pictographs] have been known for hundreds, if not thousands of years.”

Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie said he’s upset by the vandalism committed by what he calls a “racist criminal.” 

“In the Okanagan [we] got some very bad racist people around us here,” Louie told Sarah Penton, host of CBC’s Radio West. “They need to be punished big time.”

Osoyoos Indian Band Coun. Nathan McGinnis said the council will consult with elders and the community about their next steps to protect the heritage site. He said the OIB reserve, surrounded by fences, would look like it’s been “handcuffed” but closing the site from public access seems the only option to prevent vandalism.

“If our elders are OK with it, I’m 100 per cent for it, because we can’t have this [act of vandalism happening] again.”

A security patrol officer of Osoyoos Indian Band found the defacement in black spray paint. (Submitted by Nathan McGinnis)

But Arnett doesn’t want the reserve land to be fenced off since the provincial government already has one of North America’s most stringent heritage preservation regulations to deter people from trespassing and damaging First Nations properties. 

The anthropologist said education about Indigenous cultures is important to prevent vandalism from happening again, especially when the population of the B.C. Interior is growing. Many newcomers to the region may not know the significance of the archeological sites.

“They [local schools] should have courses on Indigenous peoples and knowledge and history, starting in kindergarten,” said Arnett.

He believes spray paint isn’t as strong as colouring used for Native paintings and will eventually fade away.

McGinnis said even in the best case scenario, with advanced cleaning technology, the graffiti could still look like a blur on the rock.

Nathan McGinnis and fellow Osoyoos Indian Band councillors will consult with elders and the community on whether to fence off the reserve from public access in order to prevent vandalism on pictographs. (Osoyoos Indian Band)


“Whenever you see that site, you’ll see a little bit of a blur there, and you’ll remember what happened,” said Louie.

In an emailed statement to CBC, RCMP say the Osoyoos RCMP has initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident and will reach out to Louie to start the investigative process. 

It asks anyone with any information about the vandalism on the Osoyoos pictograph to contact the Osoyoos RCMP at 250-495-7236.

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Volunteers build path to historic site of cosmonaut landing in Russian forest

Volunteers have built a walkway leading to a special place in the history of spaceflight – the middle of a forest.

The trail, deep in the remote Perm region of Russia, will take visitors to the site where 55 years ago two cosmonauts crash landed after their spacecraft malfunctioned.

After completing the first spacewalk in history, Alexey Leonov, along with fellow cosmonaut Pavel Belyaev, faced a system failure upon reentry to Earth.

They were forced to land the Voskhod-2 spacecraft deep in the forest in the middle of winter – far from the target destination.

It took three days for rescue crews to reach them in the remote region, but they emerged as heroes of the Soviet space programme.

“This site is important not only to the Perm region, I would say it is important both to Russia and to the whole world, because there are not so many places where cosmonauts land,” said Vladimir Lipnyagov, Head of charity foundation Parma which has organised the walkway project.

“Second, here is the place where these very famous cosmonauts landed, and this very famous Voskhod-2 (spacecraft) from where the first spacewalk by man in history took place.”

A plaque now stands in the spot where the spacecraft landed in 1965 – a spot that was previously difficult for visitors to reach.

But the new 400 metre long eco-trail, constructed over two weeks, means tourists will now be able to visit the spot much more easily.

“People of course do come here, but there was no straight good route here, so to say, there were terrible bumps here, thick grass growing,” said Anna Ivanova, one of the volunteers.

“Now anyone would be able to come here, I think, by foot, up to this point, and see in person the site where the cosmonauts landed.”

Lipnyagov hopes a new monument can be created as he says the current one is “too gloomy”.

“We would like to put on the landing site a model of that capsule in which our cosmonauts Leonov and Belyaev landed.”

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Reading and Leeds Festival to have two main stages on each site in 2021

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PA Media

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Stormzy, who has previously headlined Glastonbury, was due to perform at Reading and Leeds this year

Reading and Leeds Festival will be back next year with six headliners split across two main stages in each site.

The event, which sees acts rotate between Reading and Leeds, had been due to happen last weekend but was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now 2021’s headliners will be Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Disclosure and Queens Of The Stone Age.

Up to 200,000 fans are expected at next year’s events – from 27 to 29 August.

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Lorne Thomson/Getty Images

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Liam Gallagher seems pretty pleased to be back on stage next year

The head of the event’s promoters Festival Republic, Melvin Benn, said it was their “most epic plan yet”.

“Two main stages, six headliners, the best line up of acts 2021 will see and 200,000 fans are going to celebrate the best music,” he added.

The event, regarded by many live music fans as second only to Glastonbury in the annual UK music calendar, will also include AJ Tracey, Doja Cat, Lewis Capaldi, Mabel and Two Door Cinema Club, along with rappers Ashnikko, DaBaby and Fever 333.

Rapper Stormzy and former Oasis frontman Gallagher had been due to headline the 2020 events – along with rock band Rage Against The Machine – and the organisers were able to retain the services of both British superstars.

Gallagher said: “Yes Brothers and Sisters, I come bearing good news…Yours Truly is headlining Reading & Leeds 2021. C’MON YOU KNOW. LG”

Catfish And The Bottlemen, who will headline the festival for the first time, told BBC Radio 1 it was a “huge honour” to have been asked to top the bill.

“We’ve always had it in the back of our minds since we first played the BBC Introducing stage [in 2013],” the band’s frontman Van McCann said.

“To be able to come back now and have that slot, it’s a big one.

“We’ll probably turn up with a few new songs.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The organisers are hoping fans will still enjoy attending – although it may not look quite like this next year

The festival will still take place at the usual venues – Richfield Avenue in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds. Tickets bought for this summer will remain valid, while refunds will also be available, organisers have said.

Reading and Leeds are both among the longest-running and largest music events in Britain. Reading has a capacity audience of 105,000 music fans, while Leeds can take 75,000.

The Reading Festival itself dates back to the the 1960s, and used to be best-known as a rock festival, but over the years it has included a more diverse line-up and added Leeds as a second site in 1999.

Last year’s headliners included The 1975, Post Malone, Twenty One Pilots and Foo Fighters. Other acts included Billie Eilish, Bastille, Blossoms, Yungblud, Pale Waves and The Distillers.

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Israel Bombs Site West of Gaza City as UN Envoy Warns of ‘Unbearable’ Conditions

Israel Bombs Site West of Gaza City as UN Envoy Warns of 'Unbearable' Conditions

Multiple eyewitnesses reported an Israeli strike on a site west of Gaza City early on Friday, August 28, shortly before the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov warned of “unbearable” conditions in the enclave. The strike was the latest in a series on the Gaza Strip, which Israel said was a response to the launch of rockets and incendiary balloons. Six rockets were launched at Israel early on Friday morning, according to the IDF. Hamas’s military wing said the rockets were a response to the “escalation and aggression of the occupation on Gaza.” Conditions in the Gaza Strip have been deteriorating rapidly in recent weeks, with its sole power plant forced to shut down on August 18 because of a lack of fuel and the first community-spread cases of COVID-19 being reported in recent days. After the latest exchange of fire, Mladenov tweeted: “The situation in and around Gaza is rapidly deteriorating. Militants continue to launch projectiles and incendiary devices. The tightening of closures is making life inside the Strip unbearable. Electricity is down to 3 hours, hospitals barely functioning.” He called for the resumption of fuel deliveries and for Palestinian militants to cease the launch of rockets and incendiary devices. “Under the current circumstances no mediation efforts to prevent escalation and improve the situation can succeed,” he concluded. Credit: Shady Salfity via Storyful

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A.C.T. Government announces intent for permanent pill testing site

The A.C.T. Greens have made a progressive move towards drug decriminalisation and treating drug use as a health issue, writes Chris Mordd Richards.

THE A.C.T. IS SET to potentially trial a fixed location pill testing site in the city this summer in a bold move to address the health issue of pill taking, without trying to arrest their way out of it.

The A.C.T. Greens proudly announced on Thursday 20 August that they ‘have secured a commitment from A.C.T. Labor to explore a permanent pill-testing site in the A.C.T. this summer’.

This would be an Australian and an A.C.T. first, building on the success of two previous trials of pill testing facilities at music festivals in Canberra, specifically at Groovin the Moo, as IA has previously reported on.

A.C.T. Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said on Thursday at the announcement:

The A.C.T. Greens are pleased today to have secured a commitment from our government colleagues to extend pill-testing from only music festivals to a more regular weekend service in the city, this summer, informed by expert health advice.


The reality is, people don’t just take pills at music festivals. A routine pill-testing site will continue to build on the success of previous pill testing trials at music festivals here in the A.C.T. and help keep more young lives safe.


 This decision today means that over the coming summer, as we look to potentially eased restrictions, we’ll be able to provide more supports so that young people can experience less harm as a result of recreational drug use.

IA spoke with Andrew Braddock, the Greens candidate for Yerrabi in the 2020 A.C.T. Election, about how the trial might work in practice:

“The aim is to start this plan over this summer, the exact starting date is yet to be determined but it would aim to commence in 2020. It will run for a period of months over the summer period, which tends to be the period that pill-taking increases.”

The facility would be open Friday through Sunday, to cover the busier weekend period when pills are more likely to be used, although the exact hours it would be open on those days is still to be decided.

The benefits of pill testing

When asked what kind of staffing mix would work at the centre (such as nurses, social workers and counsellors), Braddock said:

“We have a commitment that there will be public health staff there, what the exact skillset looks like has not been determined. There would also be other staff from partners such as NightCrew, who already have a pop-up facility providing services to those with alcohol inebriation.”

It has not been determined either if the A.C.T. would purchase their own expensive testing equipment to use at the facility, although the nature of the trial strongly suggests the Government would attempt to lease or hire instead of purchasing outright if that was possible and more cost-viable.

On the question of an arrangement with A.C.T. Police regarding an amnesty zone around the clinic so punters aren’t arrested specifically on their way to get a pill tested, Braddock said:

We’ve already had very good cooperation with the A.C.T. Police in terms of their conduct for pill testing at the festivals, we would look to be able to continue that in terms of this new permanent facility.


The exact nature of what that might look like would probably be very similar to what was currently in place at the festivals, however that will still need to be sorted out with the police.

In terms of the potential location of the testing centre, Braddock says there have been initial suggestions to locate it near the current NightCrew operations, by Civic Bus Station Platform #8. This is still to be determined, however, like the other details.

The A.C.T. Greens have advocated for a routine pill-testing site as a health service for many years now.

Current drug laws contribute to unnecessary deaths

It is a coup indeed to have convinced A.C.T. Labor to come on board with the initiative after many years of lobbying, although the upcoming A.C.T. Election in October is clearly weighing on the Government’s mind in making this decision at this particular moment.

More details on this announcement are not available yet until after the A.C.T. Election and are entirely dependent on A.C.T. Labor forming government again and going ahead with an exploratory phase ahead of the actual trial taking place.

The Canberra Liberals are yet to respond to this announcement in terms of whether they would also support such a trial if they were to form government for the first time in 19 years in the A.C.T. after this election.

This commitment is set to be a vote winner among 18-30+-year-old voters in the A.C.T. among those most likely to be taking pills. It might even attract some Greens voters to vote Labor instead to ensure this does go ahead under a re-elected Labor Government.

Whether the Federal Government would seek to interfere somehow, as they have previously threatened over the legalised cannabis legislation in the A.C.T., is also unclear at this stage.

What is clear is that the A.C.T. is leading the pack in terms of drug decriminalisation and treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue.

The rest of Australia will surely be watching the experiment keenly to see what can be gleaned from it, just like when the first injecting room was opened in Kings Cross all those years ago.

You can follow Chris Mordd Richards on Twitter @Mordd_IndyMedia.

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Luxe cooking school, cabins for ‘magnificent’ farm site

THE owners of a boutique organic cooking school in the Ballina Shire hinterland are expected to get approval for on-site cabins, a recreation building and new education facility for their classes.

The $2.2 million development application for the site on Fernleigh Rd at Brooklet has been recommended for approval at Thursday’s council meeting.

Lodged by Planners North on behalf of Bhadra Property Holdings, the DA is for eight tourist cabins four with one bedroom and four with two bedrooms and a lounge/recreation building.


A development application for new cabins and a cooking school is slated for approval by Ballina Shire Council.


A third element of the proposal is the information and education facility, which would be used for the Bhavana Organic Farm and Cooking School.

The cooking school is already operating on the property, with classes starting at $325.

According to their website, Bhavana means “spiritual cultivation”, and this is “at the heart of every experience we offer”.

“More than just a cooking school, Bhavana is a catalyst for health and wellbeing,” the website states.

“Our slice of paradise is situated on 125 acres of magnificent farmland … Bhavana is about simple delicious food in a nourishing and nurturing environment.

“Inspiration, relaxation and creation are at the foundation of our teaching.

“Our intention is to extend your knowledge, and support you in making healthy whole food choices for you and your family.”


Bhavana Organic Farm and Cooking School offers simple, organic food.

Bhavana Organic Farm and Cooking School offers simple, organic food.


The Brooklet site is right next door to Olivia Newton-John’s Gaia Retreat and Spa.

And it appears Gaia is not impressed with the plans, and instructed town planner Malcolm Scott to lodge an objection to the council on their behalf.

“The overall nature and scale of the proposed development is not consistent with contemporary planning controls,” Mr Scott wrote in the objection.

“The proposed cabin buildings and recreation, administration and commercial kitchen building will be clearly visible from sections of the recreation open space area and walking track within Gaia.

“The proposed commercial cooking school is not like an art gallery, museum, library or visitor information centre and appears to be more, by nature and use, a hybrid type of boutique small restaurant. Restaurants are a prohibited development in the RU1 zone.

“Gaia Retreat and Spa have instructed me; it is their opinion that the proposal should be refused or significantly scaled back in order that contemporary planning controls can be achieved and the potential for unintentional off-site impacts onto its operation minimised.”

Gaia Retreat and Spa were not the only ones opposed to the DA.

The council received 10 submissions, including five objections and five letters of support.

Two of the submissions were kept confidential.

Council staff have recommended approval of Bhadra Property Holding’s DA, with some conditions.

Councillors will make a decision at Thursday’s council meeting.

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New northern prison site includes wedge-tailed eagle buffer zone, documents say

More questions have been raised about how the Tasmanian Government plans to protect endangered wedged-tailed eagles and other threatened species when it builds its proposed $270 million Northern Regional Prison.

New Right to Information (RTI) documents, requested by a member of the public, reveal the State Government bought the 70-hectare Brushy Rivulet site, five kilometres north of Westbury, for $75,000 in 1999 with the intent to “protect the forest”.

The previous owner, Dr Harry Laker, had failed to get approval to use the property for timber harvesting as it was identified as having “high conservation value” and “several rare species” of flora — he then agreed to sell the property to the Crown for conservation.

The Crown purchased the property using funds from the Private Forest Reserves Program, the RTI also reveals.

‘No way you’re going to able to build a prison’

In June, after months of community protests, the State Government abandoned plans to build a northern prison at Westbury and announced a new site at Brushy Rivulet, five kilometres to the north.

The newly released documents show a 500-metre eagle nest buffer zone covers much of the site and a wedge-tailed eagle nest was identified on the property boundary in 2015.

It states in the document that: “no tree could be felled within 500 metres of that nest.”

A government spokesman said no evidence of threatened species had been found on recent visits.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Rick Eaves)

The Government plans to clear 15 hectares of the site to build the prison and will also need to construct roads, sewage and other services for it.

Eric Woehler, from Birdlife Tasmania, has questioned how a prison could be built on the site given what the documents revealed about the need for conservation.

He said eagle nest buffer zones were set up to protect nests and ensure eagles could continue breeding successfully.

“When you look at the footprint of the property and how much of that area is within that 500-metre buffer around that nest, there’s no way you’re going to be able to build a prison and clear all the habitat around it,” Mr Woehler said.

“It’s just not possible. Any activity by humans within line of site of that nest, within that 500 metres, is likely to cause a degree of disturbance to those eagles.”

Minister says RTI information ‘out of date’

Local bird watchers raised concerns about the proposed site and the potential threat to endangered species soon after the site was announced in June.

The RTI detailed verified sightings of wedge-tailed eagles as well as Tasmanian devils, green and gold frogs and Tasmanian masked owls near the site in recent years.

But in a press release, the Minister for Corrections, Elise Archer, said the information included in the RTI documents was now “out of date”.

“The site does not contain the values for which it was originally purchased, and indeed for more than a decade, consideration has been given to allowing the land to be sold,” she said.

Ms Archer said the Tasmanian Land Conservancy was notified of the decision not to continue with the transfer of the land’s ownership before it was announced as the preferred northern prison site.

Peter Gutwein and Elise Archer looking at the map
Peter Gutwein and Elise Archer announcing the new site for a northern prison in June.(ABC News: Manika Dadson)

The Government wants the first stage of the prison built by 2025.

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Taiwan tells Taobao e-commerce site to re-register or leave island

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Alibaba Group is seen at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

August 24, 2020

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan gave e-commerce site Taobao Taiwan six months to re-register as Chinese-backed rather than foreign or leave the island, in the government’s latest shot against Chinese firms.

Taiwan has stepped up oversight of Chinese investments and the operations of Chinese tech firms on the island and last week said it planned to stop local sales of Chinese internet television streaming services, though it didn’t plan to block them.

Taiwan treats investment from foreign countries differently to that from China, with far more stringent rules for Chinese firms.

The investment commission of Taiwan’s Economics Ministry said on Monday Taobao Taiwan was operated by a British-registered company called Claddagh Venture Investment, which it said was in effect controlled by China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Alibaba owns the wildly popular main Taobao platform in China.

The commission was also concerned about information security as user data was sent back to China, it said, adding that Taobao Taiwan had been fined T$410,000 ($13,961) and had six months to either withdraw its investment or re-register.

“We do not consider the company as a foreign investment,” commission spokesman Su Chi-Yun told Reuters. “They will have to decide whether to disinvest or rectify their investment.”

The company should have registered as a Chinese investment but came in as foreign since “it’s more convenient”, he added.

Claddagh’s Taiwan office expressed regret at the move and said it had received no formal notification from the government, but said it respected the decision and would “carry out rectification as soon as possible”. It did not give details.

It said Taobao Taiwan, launched last year, is an entirely different company from Taobao China and does not come under the Alibaba group.

Alibaba said it was “not in a position to comment”.

Claddagh is registered in the British town of Altrincham.

Su said even if Taobao chose to register as a Chinese investment in Taiwan, it could still fall foul of rules barring Chinese companies from sectors vital to its business model, such as third-party payments processing or advertising.

($1=29.3680 Taiwan dollars)

(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai Editing by Clarence Fernandez and David Holmes)

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