WA trails town Dwellingup takes on mining giant Alcoa over proposed bauxite mine expansion


Community and environmental groups say they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight a multinational mining giant in its bid to expand in the South West of Western Australia.

Residents of Dwellingup, a small country town 100 kilometres south-east of Perth, are protesting Alcoa Australia’s proposal to expand its Huntly bauxite mine and increase production at its Pinjarra alumina refinery.

It would involve clearing 8,700 hectares of land surrounding Dwellingup, Serpentine and Jarrahdale.

The proposal will go through the highest level of environmental and public scrutiny with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The Dwellingup Discovery Forest Working Group said that provided a rare opportunity for people to voice their concerns.

Spokeswoman Jennie Wise said past approvals were done internally with no chance for public comment.

The last time Alcoa went through a public environmental review was for the Pinjarra refinery in the early 2000s.

“What we really want out of this is for the EPA to review our public submissions and not allow Alcoa to mine bauxite in the region around Dwellingup,” Ms Wise said.

Alcoa says less than 4 per cent of the jarrah forest in its mining lease has been cleared.(ABC Rural)

Trail town fights back

Dwellingup is situated among the jarrah forest and is fast positioning itself as a leading trails tourism destination.

“The proposal for one of their two mines directly borders people’s property in Dwellingup and it also encompasses some of our most precious forests,” Ms Wise said.

“We have had enough of Alcoa and the desecration of our forests over the length of the Darling Range for the last 60 years.

The WA Forest Alliance and The Wilderness Society have also joined the fight against the mine.

“As we know, protecting forests is climate action,” Wilderness Society state campaign manager Patrick Gardner said.

“It defies logic that we would not only drag our feet on climate action, but also allow another 8,700 hectares to be knocked flat.

“This is 8,700 hectares of forest that currently acts as a bulwark against climate change and a safe harbour for threatened species and our dwindling biodiversity.”

Miner defends rehabilitation record

In a statement, Alcoa said since it began operations in the South West more than 57 years ago, it had rehabilitated 77 per cent of any land cleared for mining with works ongoing.

“Our rehabilitation program is acknowledged globally as leading practice with self-sustaining jarrah forest ecosystems now thriving where we once mined,” a spokesperson said.

The two new mining regions around Myara and Holyoake will see Alcoa supply bauxite to the Pinjarra and Kwinana refineries for another 10 years.

The public environmental review is expected to take two years and incorporate several opportunities for public comment.



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Donald Trump trails Joe Biden by slim margin; Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania still too close to call


Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond election day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors meet. That’s set by federal law.

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after election day, as long as they are postmarked on or before the election date. These states include Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by November 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days after the election.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf tweeted that his state had more than 1 million ballots yet to be counted and he “promised Pennsylvanians that we would count every vote and that’s what we’re going to do”.

Trump appeared to suggest those ballots should not be counted, and that he would fight for that outcome in the nation’s highest court. Legal experts questioned Trump’s declaration.

“I do not see a way that he could go directly to the Supreme Court to stop the counting of votes. There could be fights in specific states, and some of those could end up at the Supreme Court, but this is not the way things work,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California-Irvine.

Trump has appointed three of the high court’s nine justices including, most recently, Amy Coney Barrett.

Democrats typically outperform Republicans in mail voting, while Republicans look to make up ground in election day turnout. That means the early margins between the candidates could be influenced by which type of votes – early or election day – were being reported by the states.

Throughout the campaign, Trump cast doubt about the integrity of the election and repeatedly suggested that mail-in ballots should not be counted. Both campaigns have teams of lawyers at the ready to move into battleground states if there are legal challenges.

AP



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Reece Evans and Mick Chapman tackle seven trails in seven days across NSW amid cancelled races


Like many athletes Reece Evans was left wondering what to do when races all over the world were being cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

But Evans and good friend and endurance athlete Mick Chapman didn’t want to let a pandemic get in the way of their passion.

“You train so hard and sacrifice a lot of your lifestyle to make that commitment,” Evans said.

“To get the body right to turn up to one of those races and perform, and then it gets cancelled. It’s obviously pretty shattering.

“Everybody this year just took the opinion that there’s nothing on, there’s nothing to do.

“The world’s buggered but there’s definitely things you can go and do.”

Chapman decided to create his own adventure and invited Evans along for the ride.

Dubbed ‘7in7’, he chose seven trails across NSW he had never been to before and set out to complete them across seven days.

They rallied an entire crew together, hired a campervan and off they went.

“It was a big week,” Evans said.

A challenge like no other

There was no holding back right from the start with the adventure kicking off at Mount Kosciuszko.

“We managed to get to the summit after some snow hiking, but there were 100km/h winds up there that morning, so it got pretty dangerous,” he said.

The pair had to change course and detour towards Thredbo Village where they finished the run through snow.

Reece Evans running on the Royal National Park Coastal Track.(Supplied: Lyndon Marceau)

“That sort of thing is pretty hard on your body,” he said.

Looking down the barrel of day two they were faced with 30kms along Green Cape Lighthouse which was backed up by 860m of elevation climbing Mount Gulaga.

“By day three … I was wondering if I was going to make it through the seven trail runs in seven days,” Evans said.

No stranger to adventure

But having previously competed in Bright’s Four Peaks Alpine Challenge he had an idea of what he was in for.

“As you keep going your body adapts to what you’re doing,” he said.

“You keep running, you get a bit of adrenaline, you get a bit excited and you might just forget that there’s a few niggles here and there.”

The two pushed on, running point to point at Jarvis Bay for the fourth day.

man with fluorescent hat and socks emerging from rocky tunnel covered in ferns
Day six featured 25kms through Glowworm Tunnel in the Wolgan Valley.(Supplied: Lyndon Marceau)

That was followed by Mermaid Pools, Glowworm Tunnel and finally Bundeena to Garie Beach — all places Evans had never seen.

Adventure in your backyard

The seven days saw them travel 1,800kms by car to reach each location in NSW.

Evans said it was an incredible experience to be able to explore parts of the state where he’d grown up but never seen.

“It was a bit of an eye opener for me to realise that there are so many things you can do in your backyard,” he said.

“You don’t have to travel all that way or overseas to find some amazing places.”



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Sen. Gardner trails in polls but intends to shift the tide


Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Co., and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will face off in a live Senate debate Friday, as the two candidates gear up for the last few weeks of a contentious race.

Hickenlooper has led in the polls for several months, fluctuating from a five to nine-point lead over Gardner since August.

But Gardner says he is a “fighter for Colorado” and has a plan to shift the tide as ballots hit the U.S. Postal Service Friday, initiating early voting in the Centennial state.

“John Hickenlooper is about himself. He can’t answer for his ethical violations, he can’t answer for his failures of leadership…and the radical job-killing agenda he wants to put in place if he gets elected,” Gardner told Fox News Friday.  

“I look forward to driving that contrast,” he added, making clear that his strategy in the lead up to the election is to draw a stark divide between the two candidates.

Gardner has repeatedly accused Hickenlooper of “ethics violations” while on the campaign trail. And while speaking with Fox News Friday, he doubled down on the issue, saying that he would like to get answers as to whether or not Hickenlooper broke the law by using money from a federal post-9/11 economic recovery fund, to pay for personal legal fees.

“John Hickenlooper took countless corporate jet trips around the country in violation of the state constitution — and the state’s independent ethics commission found him in violation of two counts of the constitution,” Gardner said.

According to Hickenlooper, the reason he has been attacked so much during the campaign for his ethics violations was because the people and groups running ads in favor of Gardner couldn’t defend his voting record.

“Cory Gardner can’t run on his record,” Hickenlooper said at the first debate last week, reports The Durango Herald.

Hickenlooper’s campaign could not be reached for comment by Fox News.

But Hickenlooper isn’t the only candidate to take heat for previous decisions made will in office.

In 2016 Gardner sided with the then-GOP led Senate and blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, from being reviewed after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“[T]he next president of the United States should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court,” Gardner wrote in a press release in March of 2016, before referencing then-Vice President Joe Biden’s previous stance on filling a Supreme Court seat during an election year.

“In 1992, even then-Senator Joe Biden stated the Senate should not hold confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee until after that year’s presidential election,” Gardner wrote. “Our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in this process.”

Gardner announced in late September that he would confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett.

Two days later Cook’s Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, had moved the Colorado race from a “toss up” to “lean Democrat,” signaling that election analysts considered Gardner’s decision to be the nail in the coffin for his campaign, due to Colorado’s recent history of trending blue. 

Democrats opposed to filling the Supreme Court  seat, immediately pointed to Gardner’s change in stance, particularly his changing view from 2016 where he claimed the “next election is too soon.”

“It’s in line with our precedent, and that’s simply what I was referring to in 2016 and what I am referring to today,” Gardner told Fox News. “Our precedent states that we are under no restriction or prevention…to nominate and confirm a Supreme Court justice.”

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Though Democrats have claimed that the precedent GOP Senators set in 2016 dictates that they should hold off on the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice.

Gardner seemingly argued that the GOP “precedent” is to follow what the majority wants to do, rather than what they have previously argued.  

“The American people are absolutely making this decision, that’s why we have a Senate majority…we maintained the majority and I’m following precedent.”

Gardner acknowledged the tough fight ahead as the Nov. 3 General Election draws nearer, but said this was expected in the traditionally purple state.

“I think voters have gone through very tough times, and they want somebody that they know is going to get them back on the right track,” he said, adding that the best way to reach all voters is through “bipartisanship.”



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Susan Collins trails Democratic challenger by just 1 point, new Maine poll shows


Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) just had one of her best external polls in a while, as she finds herself mired in a tight re-election race against her Democratic challenger, Maine’s House Speaker Sarah Gideon.

The poll, conducted by the Portland, Maine-based Digital Research Insights for The Bangor Daily News, found Collins trailing Gideon by just one point, a boost following a series of polls in which Gideon led by several points. The previous BDN poll in August, for example, showed Collins trailing by five points.

Collins’ race is crucial for Republicans, who are looking to hold on to the majority in the upper chamber.

The poll surveyed 500 registered voters between Sep. 25 and Oct. 4. The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points. Read more at The Bangor Daily News.

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WATCH: $128k boost for mountain bike trails



BOM BOM Mountain Bike Park is set for some much needed upgrades after Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis handed Grafton Cycle Club a $128,200 grant on Wednesday.

Mr Gulaptis said the upgrades from the grant will aim to entice more people from the Clarence Valley and surrounds to enjoy the natural playground south of Grafton.

“There is no better place to go mountain bike riding than in the pristine Clarence Valley nature. Investing in this project will bring more visitors to the region and offer extra opportunities for locals to stay fit and healthy,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“The funds will be used to repair trail infrastructure damaged by heavy rains earlier this year and to mitigate negative impacts on future weather events.”

Check out the gallery below as the Member for Clarence joined Grafton Cycle Club members for the announcement:

Grafton Cycle Club president Grant Hodgins said the trails had mostly been constructed by hand over the past 16 years and was pleased to be able to bring them up to a higher standard.

“This funding will allow us to repair and upgrade the trail surfaces, bridges, water crossings and signage to a standard that is much more resilient to the weather and much easier for us to maintain,” Hodgins said.

Hodgins said the club had only benefited from smaller grants in the past, and was over the moon to have the recent application approved.

“We prepared a plan and went for the big picture. We thought asking for over $100,000 is huge. Our club has only had $6,000 grants to hold events, we’ve never planned this big,” he said.

Bushfires paired with heavy rains and the COVID-19 enforced break has left the trails looking a little worse for wear, but Hodgins said the plan will address that as they look forward to a return to competition this Sunday.

“We haven’t had as many people riding them. Just having people riding the tracks keeps them clear,” hodgins said.

“Not having things on, a few people are yet to renew their membership so we’re looking to let them know we’ll have events going ahead again.

“We’ve got good relationships with the two bike shops in Grafton. They keep telling us they’ve sold all their bikes so we have a huge opportunity to help the sport grow further here at Bom Bom.”

Bom Bom Racing will return with a two-hour event from 9am on Sunday, July 5. To sign up, head to the Bom Bom Racing Facebook page for more details.





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Donald Trump trails behind Joe Biden by seven points in latest election poll


80% of America thinks country is ‘out of control’ with covid pandemic and race riots – as Trump trails Biden by seven points and loses ground with his blue-collar voters

  • President Donald Trump is trailing behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by seven percentage points according to new poll
  • The new numbers reveal Trump has lost major ground with key voter groups including voters who do not hold a college degree and men 
  • Poll finds Trump leading among voters without a degree by only three percentage points, and losing voters with a degree by 24 percentage points 
  • Trump’s support among male voters has sunk to eight points and his deficit with female voters has risen to 21 points 

President Donald Trump is trailing behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by seven percentage points according to latest election polls.

In the 2016 presidential election Trump narrowly lost the popular vote by about two points, but was able to secure the Electoral College vote. 

But a popular vote loss of seven points would make the chances of winning the Electoral College again extremely unlikely.

The new numbers reveal Trump has lost major ground with key voter groups including voters who do not hold a college degree and men, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll measuring data from May 28 to June 2.

President Donald Trump is trailing behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by seven percentage points according to the latest election poll

Biden is currently leading among voters with a college degrees by 24 percentage points. Trump in the 2016 election won support among voters without college degrees by eight percentage points, but that margin has shrunk in this election to just three percentage points, meaning he's losing his support in that demographic

Biden is currently leading among voters with a college degrees by 24 percentage points. Trump in the 2016 election won support among voters without college degrees by eight percentage points, but that margin has shrunk in this election to just three percentage points, meaning he’s losing his support in that demographic

Similarly in the 2016 election Trump depended heavily on male voters and did not perform so well among women. He won male voters¿ support by about 12 percentage points but that number has shrunk to eight percentage points in this election

Similarly in the 2016 election Trump depended heavily on male voters and did not perform so well among women. He won male voters’ support by about 12 percentage points but that number has shrunk to eight percentage points in this election

One of Trump’s biggest losses in support is among blue-collar workers without a college degree.

In 2016 he won voters without a degree by eight points and lost college graduates by about nine points, profiting slightly from the education gap.

However, this week’s poll finds him leading among voters without a degree by only three percentage points, and losing voters with a degree by 24 percentage points.

Similarly in the 2016 election Trump depended heavily on male voters and did not perform so well among women. He won male voters’ support by about 12 percentage points in 2016 and lost women by the same amount.

According to the new poll his support among male voters has sunk to eight points and his deficit with female voters has risen to 21 points.

Biden has seen enormous support from college-degree voters.  Hillary Clinton only won college-degree holding voters by nine percentage points and Biden has support by 24 percentage points.

He’s also raked in support from female voters. Clinton led in the 2016 election with support from female voters by 12 percentage points. So far in this election Biden has support from female voters by 21 percentage points.

Biden currently has support from college-degree voters and female voters, outweighing numbers Hillary Clinton had in the 2016 election

Biden currently has support from college-degree voters and female voters, outweighing numbers Hillary Clinton had in the 2016 election

Another poll found that two thirds of Americans believe Trump has increased racial tensions in the US.

Overall 67 percent of voters polled said Trump mostly increased racial tensions – including 92 percent of Democrats, 73 of Independents, and 88 percent of African Americans and 63 percent of whites, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Meanwhile just 18 percent said he decreased tensions.

Almost six in 10 Republicans believe he either increased tensions at 29 percent or are not sure at 30 percent.

‘It’s very unusual to see Republicans break when the name Trump is presented, but that is the case here,’ Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll said. 

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