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Australia


  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Desecrated site a loss for all Australians

    THE desecration of an Aboriginal sacred site in the Northern Territory is a loss of heritage for all Australians, a magistrate says. Magistrate Sue Oliver on Friday found that OM (Manganese) Ltd damaged and desecrated a sacred site known in English as Two Women Sitting Down, at Bootu Creek, about 170km north of Tennant Creek.This is the first desecration conviction in Australia.The company blasted and mined 40 metres away from the site, causing it to collapse in 2011."What has been there for many thousands of years has been lost forever," Ms Oliver said....

  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    Yale's Ben Kiernan: Genocide goes on all around us today

    Remote tribes in Indonesian Papua and the Amazon are at grave risk of genocide and it is happening now in Syria and the Sudan, despite the world saying ''never again''.So says a genocide expert, Yale University history professor Ben Kiernan. Papuan tribes - more than 40 regarded as ''uncontacted'' - faced genocide by the Indonesian military, he said. ''Not enough is known about what is happening in Papua, but lots of refugees are fleeing,'' he said.In Papua, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru indigenous people faced deforestation, disease and violent confrontation. Although only the violence could be called genocide, diseases brought by ranching and logging often could not be called accidental....

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    High Court 'pardon' bid for Boer war soldier 'Breaker' Morant

    His death in front of a firing squad was the defining moment of one of the best known, and most bitter, episodes of the Boer War: British-Australian soldier Harry “Breaker” Morant was court martialled and sentenced to death in 1902 for shooting prisoners.But now, more than a century on, campaigners are to launch a legal bid at the High Court in London to force the Government to open an inquiry into the case with a view to securing a posthumous pardon for Morant, as well as fellow soldiers, Peter Handcock, shot for the same offence, and George Witton, who was jailed for life.The supporters believe the men were simply following British army orders when they executed their prisoners and that they were used as scapegoats by embarrassed senior officers, including Lord Kitchener, and to accelerate peace talks with the Boers.Jim Unkles, a military lawyer who has taken the case on, said: “I am applying to the High Court for a review of the British government decision not to help an independent inquiry. I am filing papers next month. The appeal will be on the basis that there were major errors at the court martial, that it was an abuse of protest and that these men were denied their rights. Kitchener conspired to get them executed.”...

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site

    It's been raining at Gunung Padang, and the grass on the mountain's precipitous eastern slope is slick with water and mud.But geologist Danny Hilman, is undeterred. While others slip and fall around him, he trudges expertly down this hill tucked away among the volcanoes 120 kilometres south of Jakarta to show off two big holes he's dug.Since Dutch colonists discovered it in 1914, Gunung Padang has been known (though not widely) as the largest of a number of ancient megalithic sites in Indonesia....

  • Originally published 07/12/2013

    Aussie oral history project to record gay life stories

    An oral history project will document the life stories of gay and lesbian Australians in a first comprehensive record of the changing attitudes to homosexuality.The joint three-year project by Macquarie University and the National Library of Australia will use historians from the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne to record the life stories of 60 gay and lesbian people across Australia.Professor Clive Moore, who is involved in gathering the interviews from the University of Queensland, says the project is looking to hear from a range of perspectives."We want to gather [stories] from people who were born from about 1940 through to the younger generation that might be 20 years-old," Professor Moore says....

  • Originally published 07/11/2013

    Skull challenges Captain Cook claim

    A skull found on the banks of a river in rural Australia is believed to date from the 1600s and has challenged the view that Captain Cook was the first white person to set foot on the country’s east coast.Carbon dating showed the skull belonged to a Caucasian male and had an 80 per cent chance of dating back to the 1600s, long before Captain Cook first reached Australia in 1770.The tests were ordered by local police after the intact skull was found near Taree, a town about 200 miles north of Sydney. No other skeletal remains were found....

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Lego Acropolis offers insight into ancient world

    Look deep into the enormous Lego Acropolis going into the Nicholson Museum tomorrow and you'll see a tiny amphitheatre in which a Lego Oedipus is stabbing his eyes out with a sword. Lego blood spills all over the stage. An audience of Lego mini figures looks on, aghast.''It's a performance of Oedipus Rex,'' explains Michael Turner, the museum's senior curator. ''It's the perfect show for the Theatre of Dionysus and the audience looks like it's having a wild time.''Built by Ryan McNaught, the only Lego-certified professional in the southern hemisphere, the Lego Acropolis contains more than 120,000 bricks and took about 300 hours to build. The buildings, including The Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the smaller Erechtheion temple and the Propylaia, the monumental gateway, are made from gleaming white bricks....

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot

    An Australian bushman and naturalist claims to have captured video footage of the night parrot, a bird not seen alive for more than a century.John Young, who describes himself as a wildlife detective, showed the footage and a number of still photos of the bird to a packed room of enthusiasts and media at the Queensland Museum on Wednesday. The desert-dwelling night parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis, has never been photographed and the only evidence of its continued existence has been two dead birds found in 1990 and 2006.Wildlife authorities and birders responded to the sighting with excitement, saying the evidence supporting Young's claim was overwhelming....

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Did medieval sailors reach Australia?

    Archaeologists hope to unravel the mystery of how coins dating back to the 10th century were found off the shores of Australia.Ian McIntosh, professor of anthropology at Indiana University, will be leading an archaeological search on an island in northern Australia in order to see if evidence of a medieval settlement can be found. This was the same place that nearly seventy years ago several coins were discovered that date back as far as the year 900 AD.The coins raise the possibility of shipwrecks that may have occurred along an early maritime trading route and bring to mind the ancient trading network that linked East Africa, Arabia, India and the Spice Islands over 1,000 years ago. Aboriginal folklore also speaks of a hidden cave near where the coins were found that is filled with doubloons and weaponry of an ancient era....

  • Originally published 05/20/2013

    Ancient discovery set to rewrite Australian history

    Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an ‘‘X’’ might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia’s history.Australian scientist Ian McIntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, plans an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community.The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.Back in 1944 during World War II, after Japanese bombers had attacked Darwin two years earlier, the Wessel Islands - an uninhabited group of islands off Australia’s north coast - had become a strategic position to help protect the mainland....

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    Call for investigation into 'lost white tribe'

    A historian claims he has found the site of a Dutch settlement about 100 kilometres north of Perth, that pre-dates the First Fleet.Henry Van Zanden believes the survivors from the Dutch shipwreck Gilt Dragon in 1656 came ashore and started a tribe which may have thrived into the 19th century.A so-called white tribe was mentioned in a newspaper report in the 1830s but it has often been dismissed as a hoax.Mr Van Zanden believes it refers to the group of 68 survivors of the Gilt Dragon who disappeared after coming ashore....

  • Originally published 04/24/2013

    Australia not found accidentally, study suggests

    Australia's colonization may have been an organized affair rather than an accident, a new analysis suggests.Some 50,000 years ago, aboriginal human settlers arrived on the continent, but how many people it took to found Australia's population is unknown. The new study, published Tuesday (April 23) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that about 1,000 to 3,000 individuals originally landed on Australia's shores.

  • Originally published 02/15/2013

    Ancient asteroid strike in Australia "changed face of earth"

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - A strike from a big asteroid more than 300 million years ago left a huge impact zone buried in Australia and changed the face of the earth, researchers said on Friday."The dust and greenhouse gases released from the crater, the seismic shock and the initial fireball would have incinerated large parts of the earth," said Andrew Glikson, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University.The asteroid was bigger than 10 km (6 miles) in diameter, while the impact zone itself was larger than 200 km (120 miles) - the third largest impact zone in the world....