Australia’s ‘five strong pillar’ economy: agriculture

Agriculture has always been and is likely to remain for some time, an important component of the Australian economy. While agriculture contributes just 2.3% of GDP, its diminishing importance is not the result of any reduction in output but rather to the growth in manufacturing and the service-based sectors of the economy.

Today, more than 307,000 people are employed in agriculture. Agriculture is the biggest employer in rural and regional communities, but if we consider all those employed in the input and output sectors, food manufacturing and processing, distribution and retail, agriculture provides employment for more than 1.6 million Australians.

via Australia’s ‘five strong pillar’ economy: agriculture.

Rising Inequality: A Benign Outgrowth of Markets or a Symptom of Cancerous Political Favours? – Frijters – 2015 – Australian Economic Review – Wiley Online Library

Is the rise in inequality in Australia due to global changes in the distribution of marginal productivity or changes in the allocation of political favours? This article lays out the arguments for both views. Looking at the tax and subsidy changes that favour the rich, and considering that almost all the 200 richest Australians look like the beneficiaries of political favours rather than innovators or superstars, the article concludes that inequality is probably increasing due to changes in the political realm. The discussion outlines a research agenda and possible counter-moves, such as more direct democracy and having open markets for political favours.

via Rising Inequality: A Benign Outgrowth of Markets or a Symptom of Cancerous Political Favours? – Frijters – 2015 – Australian Economic Review – Wiley Online Library.

The Strangest White House Correspondents’ Dinner Ever – NationalJournal.com

On Saturday, March 15, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at the Willard Hotel at 7 p.m. and was greeted by the U.S. Navy Band, which played “Hail to the Chief” and “Anchors Aweigh.” He was then moved from his wheelchair into a special chair brought over from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner. Seated between outgoing association President Thomas F. Reynolds of United Press, and his successor, John C. O’Brien of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Roosevelt laughed at the reporters’ jokes and sang along loudly when George H. O’Connor crooned his usual medley of Irish and popular songs. While Roosevelt ate South American honeydew, supreme of sea bass Victoria au crouton, and breast of guinea hen forestière, the Navy Band played and a chorus from the Naval School of Music sang. Then came a faux newsreel produced by Paramount, which included a segment making fun of the Lend-Lease Act debate. It was nine months before Pearl Harbor.

via The Strangest White House Correspondents’ Dinner Ever – NationalJournal.com.

Goodbye to an Oklahoma Earthquake Observatory – The New Yorker

end your way through the forest of red and white oak trees just outside the unincorporated township of Leonard, Oklahoma, and eventually you’ll find yourself at Glasnost Road. Glasnost intersects with Observatory Lane—the reflective road signs are written in English and Russian, so you won’t get lost—and there you’ll come across two modest buildings, one enclosed by a high fence and an unexpected redbud tree. This is the campus of the Leonard Geophysical Observatory, where the research scientist Amie Gibson and the seismic research specialist and lab technician Jake Nance do the majority of the daily (and absurdly unrelenting) work of deciphering raw seismic data into magnitudes and locations for the thousands of earthquakes that now shake Oklahoma each year.

via Goodbye to an Oklahoma Earthquake Observatory – The New Yorker.

Natural Health News and Wellness Tips: Fight Dirty: How to Become a Backyard Garden Guerrilla Even If You’ve Never Grown a Tomato

Sometimes I think that the next Revolutionary War will take place in vegetable garden battlefields, all across America.

Instead of bullets, there will be seeds.  Instead of chemical warfare, there will be rainwater, carefully collected from the gutters of the house. Instead of soldiers in body armor and helmets, there will be backyard guerrillas, with bare feet, cut-off jean shorts, and wide-brimmed hats.  Instead of death, there will be life, sustained by a harvest of home-grown produce.  Children will be witness to these battles, but instead of being traumatized, they will be happy, grimy, and healthy, as they learn about the miracles that take place in a little plot of land or pot of dirt.

via Natural Health News and Wellness Tips: Fight Dirty: How to Become a Backyard Garden Guerrilla Even If You’ve Never Grown a Tomato.

Natural Health News and Wellness Tips: Vitamin E Important to Brain Health, Preventing Alzheimer’s

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered how vitamin E deficiency may cause neurological damage by interrupting a supply line of specific nutrients and robbing the brain of the “building blocks” it needs to maintain neuronal health.

The findings – in work done with zebrafish – were just published in the Journal of Lipid Research. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The research showed that zebrafish fed a diet deficient in vitamin E throughout their life had about 30 percent lower levels of DHA-PC, which is a part of the cellular membrane in every brain cell, or neuron. Other recent studies have also concluded that low levels of DHA-PC in the blood plasma of humans is a biomarker than can predict a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

via Natural Health News and Wellness Tips: Vitamin E Important to Brain Health, Preventing Alzheimer’s.

Researchers seek more clues about birds’ migration path

It was like finding a needle in a haystack — if the haystack could be anywhere in about 17 countries.

A Golden-winged Warbler captured by Michigan Technological University bird researcher Amber Roth on Jan. 25 had a small, silver band around its tiny leg. From its markings Roth learned the bird had been banded by a Rockford University researcher at a forest preserve in Illinois last Sept. 2. Roth, at the time, was at a private reserve created for Golden-winged Warblers on a coffee plantation in northern Nicaragua.

via Researchers seek more clues about birds’ migration path.

Kelp beds transplanted to Tasmania to help reveal effects of climate change – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

In a world-first study, scientists have transplanted kelp off the coast of Tasmania to better understand the impact of climate change.

The kelp, which grows from northern New South Wales around to Western Australia, provides an ecosystem for hundreds of marine species.

Now it is thinning and becoming patchy because of warming waters.

via Kelp beds transplanted to Tasmania to help reveal effects of climate change – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Who’s Afraid of a Feminist Foreign Policy? – The New Yorker

Last month, Saudi Arabia abruptly cut ties with Sweden, recalling its ambassador and announcing that it would issue no new visas to Swedish business travelers. The cause, according to Saudi Arabia, was some remarks made by Margot Wallström, the foreign minister of Sweden.

Wallström, a sixty-year-old Social Democrat who has spent almost her entire career in politics, was appointed foreign minister last fall, when Prime Minister Stefan Löfven took office.

via Who’s Afraid of a Feminist Foreign Policy? – The New Yorker.