Australia fires kill half a billion animals as crisis mounts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Australia fires kill half a billion animals as crisis mounts

KEY POINTS
  • Wildfires have turned southeast Australia into a charred, apocalyptic nightmare, and threaten to wipe out entire species of animals.
  • An estimated half billion mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed since the bushfires started in September, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney. The actual number is likely much higher.
  • Pictures and images on social media show charred koalas receiving medical attention, bodies of dead animals lying on the ground and kangaroos desperately running from blazes.
GP: Bushfires Sweep Across The Mid North Coast of NSW
A wallaby licks its burnt paws after escaping a bushfire on the Liberation Trail near the township of Nana Glen on the Mid North Coast of NSW, November 12, 2019.
Wolter Peeters | Fairfax Media | Getty Images

Nearly half a billion animals in Australia’s New South Wales state have been killed by raging wildfires in the last couple months, and the devastating death toll is expected to rise.

Roughly 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been affected since bushfires started in September, according to ecologists from the University of Sydney, who add that the actual number is likely much higher.

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Southeastern Australian continues to battle massive brush fires

Wildfires have turned southeast Australia into a charred, apocalyptic nightmare as the country copes with a devastating fire season that is expected to grow worse as the summer months continue. Record high temperatures and drought exacerbated by climate change have ignited blazes that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and nine million acres and killed 18 people.

The blazes, expected to be the worst yet this weekend, threaten to erase entire species in Australia, which already has the highest rate of extinction in the world.

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Heartbreaking footage of kangaroos fleeing has been captured in Monaro, NSW, as bushfires close in.

For more fire updates: http://bit.ly/2Qbknvu 

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Pictures and images on social media show charred koalas receiving medical attention, bodies of dead animals lying on the ground and kangaroos desperately running from blazes. Experts say the fires have likely killed millions of animals including koalas, wallabies, wombats and kangaroos.

“Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes,” the University of Sydney ecologists said in a statement on Friday.

Roughly 34 species and subspecies of native mammals have become extinct in Australia over the last 200 years.

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In record heat Australia and South Australia, where temperature have risen to 40 degrees, koalas approached cyclists on the road to seek water.

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Australia’s koala population, which is already declining and vulnerable, has been especially devastated by the fires. Government officials estimating that 30% of the region’s species may have died.

Ecologists estimate that about 8,000 koalas have died since the fires started, as the slow-moving animals are unable to escape the flames. The marsupials are one of the country’s most iconic animals, and have contributed between $1.1 billion and $2.5 billion per year to tourism in Australia, according to government data.

“Up to 30% of the koalas in the region may have been killed, because up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed,” Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week. “We’ll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made.”

GP: Australia Wildfires: AUSTRALIA-KOALA-ANIMAL-FIRE
A dehydrated and injured Koala receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie on November 2, 2019, after its rescue from a bushfire that has ravaged an area of over 2,000 hectares.
Saeed Khan | Getty Images

Images of burned koalas prompted people to support a Gofundme page for Australia’s Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. The hospital has received more than $2 million in donations since September, but is still struggling to treat injured koalas.

University of Sydney Professor Dieter Hochuli said that while wildfires are traditionally a normal part of Australia’s ecosystem, the increased frequency and intensity has enormous consequences for the future of plants and animals.

“It’s not just the charismatic well known species that are at risk either. The insects that so many of our ecosystems are reliant on for services like pollination and nutrient cycling are very sensitive to fire,” he said.

“One of the great unknowns is just how, if it all, their populations and subsequently the services they provide will recover.”

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

There’s a fire in Australia the size of Manhattan

Fire crews' life-or-death moments caught on video

(CNN)Three fires have combined to form a single blaze bigger than the New York borough of Manhattan, as Australian firefighters battle what has been predicted to the most catastrophic day yet in an already devastating bushfire season.

The fires joined overnight in the Omeo region in Victoria state, creating a 6,000-hectare (23 square mile) blaze, according to Gippsland’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
In neighboring New South Wales state, a fire in the Wollondilly region south of the capital Sydney remains “out of control,” according to the Rural Fire Service. It has burned 264,000 hectares (1,020 square miles) of land in recent months.
Firefighters tackle a bushfire in thick smoke in the town of Moruya, south of Batemans Bay, in the state of New South Wales on January 4.

Weather conditions are deteriorating rapidly on Saturday, with the country’s Bureau of Meteorology warning that winds are picking up and temperatures increasing. “Today will be a day of severe to extreme fire danger through many districts,” the bureau said.
The death toll is rising as conditions worsen — Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that 23 people had been killed nationwide, up from 18 from earlier in the week. More than 1,500 homes have also been destroyed since the fire season began in September.
Victoria has declared a state of disaster and NSW has declared a state of emergency — both granting extraordinary powers and additional government resources to battle the fires.
It marked the first time VIctoria has activated these powers since the 2009 Black Saturday fires, the deadliest bushfire disaster on record in Australia with 173 people killed and 500 injured.
On Saturday, Morrison announced the deployment of up to 3,000 Australian Defense Force Reserve troops to affected states. Four planes will also be leased by the government to provide water bombing, while the navy’s largest ship, HMAS Adelaide, will be mobilized to evacuate citizens along the coast.
“Today is about ensuring we deal with the urgent crisis that is existing across fire grounds in four states in particular, to ensure we’re giving everything that is needed on ground without being asked,” Morrison said at a press conference.

Evacuations ahead of deteriorating weather

All three branches of the ADF — the navy, army, and air force — have been working this week to rescue residents from fire-threatened areas and isolated towns cut off by closed roads. On Friday, the navy evacuated about 1,000 people from the Victoria beach town of Mallacoota, Morrison said.
Some residents have chosen to stay and defend their homes, even with authorities urging people to get out while they can. Matt Runko, a homeowner in Moruya, NSW, departed late Friday — but was forced to leave his neighbor behind.
“He’s pretty confident he’s got enough water and resources over there to fend it off,” Runko told CNN — but admitted it’s “definitely a little bit distressing” that his neighbor was staying in the fire threat zone.

Thick smoke blankets southeastern Australia along the border of Victoria and New South Wales on January 1, 2020. An image taken over the same area on July 24, 2019 shows a smoke-free day.

JOSHUA STEVENS/NASA EOSDIS

Saturday’s hot, dry and windy weather is expected to hinder firefighters and worsen the flames, after a brief improvement in conditions on Thursday and Friday.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Saturday morning for “damaging winds” in NSW, the state hardest hit by fires so far. A passing cold front is causing temperatures to spike and humidity to drop, and bringing strong gusts up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) across the state’s southeast.
Some of the biggest fires have been burning for months, but the real danger on Saturday is the wind. Not only does it make the fires grow faster and bigger, but the wind can carry embers far distances and start entirely new fires in new locations.
These winds will change directions once the cold front passes — making the fires even more difficult to control. Some rain is expected by the end of the weekend heading into Monday, but won’t be enough to extinguish the large ongoing blazes, according to CNN meteorologists.
Angus Barners, an incident controller at the Rural Fire Service in Moruya, NSW, said he expected “very challenging conditions.”
“We can’t stop the fires, all we can do is steer them around communities,” he told CNN.

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

When deciding where to live, most people consider the weather, job opportunities, and proximity to friends and family. One thing that might not be at the front of your mind is how healthy a particular location is. Health is a complicated analysis, taking into account physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index has done the heavy lifting. They’ve analyzed countries based on reliable indicators of good health such as life expectancy, and penalizing based on indicators of poor health, such as tobacco usage.

Read on to learn more about the seven healthiest countries in the world and what really sets them apart.

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Australia

Australia

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Australia is often thought of as an ideal place to live, from its beautiful beaches to the rustic outback. What isn’t immediately obvious is that Australia is also one of the healthiest places to live. In fact, it is one of the only English-speaking countries to rate in the top seven.

Australia has high marks for physical health. The Global Burden of Disease study ranked it 10th out of 188 countries, based on 33 health-related indicators. It received perfect scores for several indicators including war, malnutrition, water access, sanitation, and malaria.

In addition to several perfect scores, Australia also focuses on providing services for those who need them. Australia has one of the best health systems in the world. Australia also has effective tobacco control measures and a low infant mortality rate. All these factors combined lead to an impressive life expectancy – 80 years for men and 84.6 years for women. That leaves a lot of time for enjoying those beautiful beaches.

Sweden

Sweden

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It is easier for a country to come out on top of health rankings when the government makes healthcare a priority. This is definitely the case for Sweden, which was rated as the most health-conscious country in the world.  Healthcare is virtually free for all citizens until the age of 20.

In addition to great healthcare, Sweden prioritizes family. This begins before the baby is born, with free or subsidized courses for mothers to help them prepare for delivery. Sweden ensures that families can prioritize work and childcare by providing 16 months of parental leave for moms and dads. Even when parents go back to work, Sweden caps child care costs at approximately $150 a month for the first child.

Switzerland

Switzerland

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Similar to other healthy countries, Switzerland has a healthcare system that is highly accessible. Basic healthcare coverage is mandatory in Switzerland and is structured so that everybody living in Switzerland has access to medical care.

A few things that set the Swiss healthcare system apart include:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not a basis for denying coverage
  • Coverage is subsidized by the government for individuals with low income
  • Patients get to choose their providers and do not need referrals to access specialists
  • The health of expectant mothers is prioritized, including prenatal care, delivery, and coverage for postpartum hospital stays and house calls

Switzerland’s prioritization on healthcare also allows it to boast the second highest life expectancy in the world — that’s something worth bragging about.

Japan

Japan

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Only one country can tout a life expectancy higher than Switzerland, and that country is Japan. One factor that may contribute to this longevity is the Japanese diet.

One staple of the Japanese diet is seafood. The consumption of fish has been shown to lower risks associated with heart disease and to increase life span by 2.2 years. To accompany the physical benefits, diets filled with fish also promote mental well-being. Consumption of fatty fish has been shown to elevate mood.

Japan is also one of the top 10 tea drinking countries in the world. Tea, and green tea in particular, provides a multitude of health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also producing higher levels of cognitive function.

Iceland

Iceland

Credit: Mihai_Andritoiu/ Shutterstock

Iceland is another country that has a diet heavy in fish, meaning the population reaps benefits similar to the Japanese. Where Iceland really shines is in its environment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rates Iceland as the top performance in environmental quality, with the best air quality and high levels of satisfaction with water quality.

The beauty of the physical environment also contributes to the health of Icelanders. They are motivated to get outdoors and exercise in such a gorgeous setting. While the citizens of Iceland regularly hit the gym, they also list ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, and kayaking as popular activities.

Italy

Italy

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When people think of Italy, one of the first things that come to mind might be delicious pizza and pasta. It may come as a surprise, then, that diet is one big contributor to Italy’s status as second healthiest country in the world. The Mediterranean diet is primarily composed of fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, and olive oil. The emphasis on olive oil leads to lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Another element of the Italian diet with similar benefits is garlic. Garlic has also been tied to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the Italian diet doesn’t include much meat, lean meats are the most popular. Even when Italians are consuming dishes that aren’t considered healthy, such as pizza, they prepare it in a more health conscious way. Their pizzas have less toppings and incorporate more fresh, healthy ingredients.

The Italian style of eating also contributes to mental health. Italian meals are focused on bringing families and friends together. Italians are known for maintaining large and healthy social networks. This emphasis on community helps reduce stress and promotes mental well-being.

Spain

Spain

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Spain has the honor of being named the healthiest country in the world. Like Italy, Spaniards follow the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on vegetables, lean meats, and olive oil.

Like Iceland, Spaniards live in a beautiful location, which likely promotes a natural inclination towards healthy, outdoor activity. One thing is for sure, it contributes to mental health, with 84% of Spaniards reporting that they are happy.

All these factors together also lead to the longest life expectancy of any country in the European Union. Even if you can’t move to Spain any time soon, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation to celebrate this happy and healthy country.

Iran Confirms Detention of 3 Australians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran Confirms Detention of 3 Australians

Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 – 09:30
FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks during a news conference at Australian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran’s judiciary on Tuesday confirmed the detention of three Australian citizens.

“Two of them had taken pictures in military areas and the third (was detained) for spying for a third country,” Fars news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying.

“The court will decide whether this person (detained for spying) is guilty or not.”

Esmaili did not identify the detained people and gave no details about when they had been arrested.

Australia’s foreign ministry had said it was providing consular assistance to the families of three Australians detained in Iran after Britain’s Times newspaper reported that two British-Australian women and the Australian boyfriend of one of them had been detained in Iran.

Perth-based travel-blogging couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin, who has been documenting their journey from home to Britain on social media, were first revealed as two of those arrested.

Later, the third Australian was identified by her family as Melbourne University lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert who specializes in Middle Eastern politics with a focus on Gulf states.

Britain said on Wednesday that it had raised concerns with the Iranian ambassador over the number of dual-nationality citizens detained in Iran and the conditions in which they were being held.

5 Hidden Gems in Australia’s Outback

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Hidden Gems in Australia’s Outback

When we hear mention of the Australian Outback we often picture the geographical desert heart of the country and sacred sights such as Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). But the Outback is actually a term used to describe any remote region of the country’s interior and coastline. From aboriginal sites to canyons, lakes and mountain ranges, there’s a little of the Outback to discover in every state. Here’s our list of some hidden gems to add to your bucket list.

Cape York, Northern Queensland

Cape York, Northern Queensland

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Spread across the narrow peninsula at the northernmost tip of Queensland is Cape York, a grueling 745-mile (1,200-kilometer) journey by 4WD from Cairns. Your reward for making it is jaw-dropping landscapes, superb fishing and memorable cultural encounters, among other things. Spend your days spotting ancient Quinkan rock art and swimming in the transparent waters of Twin Falls. Walk within touching distance of wallabies and crocodiles in Lakefield National Park and kick back on Frangipani Beach.

Lake Gairdner National Park, South Australia

Lake Gairdner National Park, South Australia

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Lake Gairdner is Australia’s third biggest salt lake and home to no less than 200 islands. There’s not many places in the world that you can watch land-speed races and world-record speed attempts on a lake, but this is one of them. Also within the park is Lake Everard and Lake Harris, and the three offer great opportunities for wilderness camping. The dramatic red Gawler Ranges provide a stunning backdrop to the lakes’ white surfaces.

Maralinga, South Australia

Maralinga, South Australia

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The site of British nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and long off-limits to tourists, Maralinga was given back to its traditional owners, the Maralinga Tjarutja people, in 1985. Today you can take guided tours to learn about both its indigenous Australian heritage and nuclear testing era. You can then fly in from the town of Ceduna and keep an eye open for migrating whales, between June and October.

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Mungo National Park, New South Wales

Mungo National Park, New South Wales

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If it is the ethereal landscapes of the Outback that you are in search of then Mungo National Park is the place to be. Its dried-up lakes and petrified sand dunes really seem to be from another planet. This section of the UNESCO-listed Willandra Lakes Region also boasts immense cultural importance. The remains of both the 8,000-year-old Mungo Man and the Mungo Lady were discovered in the park. Don’t miss the sunset over the Walls of China lunettes.

Tarkine Wilderness, Tasmania

Tarkine Wilderness, Tasmania

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Arguably one of our planet’s last great wilderness regions lies on the northwest coast of Tasmania. This is where you’ll encounter Australia’s largest expanse of temperate rainforest and a utopia of unblemished caves, forests, mountains, rivers and waterfalls. You’ll also spot myriad birdlife and possibly catch a glimpse of the menacing Tasmanian devil. Stand at the Edge of the World and you can experience the Roaring Forties winds that helped to carve out Tasmania’s rugged coastline.

Australia: 3 Best Ways to Explore the Outback

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Best Ways to Explore the Outback

The Outback is a remote stretch of land on Australia so vast that it covers 70 percent of the island continent, while holding only 3 percent of its population. It’s one of the world’s largest remaining intact areas home to not only deserts, but woodlands, mountains, and sub-tropical savanna as well. It’s a great place to really step into nature and discover some of the harshest, most beautiful environments in the world. Here are the three best ways to explore the Australian Outback.

In Search of Wildlife

In Search of Wildlife

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The Australian Outback is filled with animals you can only find there, and lots of wildlife in general. The most famous, of course, is the kangaroo, hopping all throughout the country (which, remember, is mostly Outback). Dingoes, friendly lizards like the Blue Tongue Lizard, wild camels, koala bears, wombats, platypuses, wallabies, toads, and just about anything you could think of dwell here, too. It’s also home to some dangerous creatures, such as crocodiles, spiders and, most famously, snakes. There are approximately 170 species of the reptile slithering throughout the country (many in the Outback), and about 100 of them are venomous. While Australia is home to the top three most venomous snakes in the world (Eastern brown snake, Western brown snake, Mainland tiger snake), there are very few fatalities annually. The country’s Outback is also great for bird watching, as parrots, emus, and thousands of other birds can be found all throughout the country.

Leaving the Pavement

Leaving the Pavement

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Going off-road in the Outback is essential to the experience. Yes, it’s already “off-the-beaten-path” no matter which highway you take through it, but getting onto dirt roads and then hiking into areas even further off the beaten track is so rewarding. A few places to start: the Old Telegraph Track, which was once the northern region’s only line of communication and home to many waterfalls and swimming holes; the Simpson Desert French Line, with its frequent dune crossings; and Gibb River Road, which follows a river that offers fresh water gorges, secluded swimming holes and unrivaled Outback landscapes.

Visiting National Parklands

Visiting National Parklands

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Going to national parks in the Outback is the best way to explore it. Doing it overland would be something special, too, because you get to see the thousands of miles in between some of them. But the national parks themselves show that the Outback isn’t all barren deserts. Places like Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory have wetlands and ancient rock art. Kings Canyon, located within Watarrka National Park in central Australia, can be enjoyed from the rim or gorge, deep within the sandstone formation. Mutawintji National Park offers a more “classic outback landscape,” its website says, with dirt roads and rugged gorges and desert stretching to the horizon. Or there’s the wildly remote Culgoa National Park, which has free camping, the largest continuous tract of coolabah trees and a rich cultural history.

6 Longest Highways on the Planet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Longest Highways on the Planet

If you’re used to traveling by car, you’re probably quite familiar with the highways in your local area. These lengthy stretches of empty roadway can seem nearly endless on long trips and are notorious for prompting complaints from the backseat. And while no roadway lasts forever, these six highways come the closest. Buckle up and prepare for an epic road trip.

6. National Highway 010 – China

Credit: Anna Frodesiak / Wikimedia

First on our list is National Highway 010, the longest highway in China. Also known as the Tongsan Expressway, this highway is over 3,500 miles long and runs through nine of China’s major provinces. A curious feature of this highway is that it’s interrupted by the Qiongzhou Strait, where cars must be ferried across the water to reach the province of Hainan. However, after decades of research, China is finally exploring new ways to subvert this problem and connect Hainan with a dedicated road-rail tunnel.

5. Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network – India

Credit: Soham Banerjee / Wikimedia

Completed in 2012, India’s Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network is the newest roadway on this list yet already stands as the fifth-longest highway in the world. Spanning over 3,600 miles, the Golden Quadrilateral Network gets its name from the shape the roads make from connecting four of India’s major metropolitan areas: Delhi in the north, Chennai in the south, Kolkata in the east, and Mumbai in the west. It was an ambitious project that ended up creating a network of highways throughout all 13 of India’s states, and it stands to this day as the country’s primary transit route for commerce, industry, and agriculture.

4. Trans-Canada Highway – Canada

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Ranking as the fourth-longest highway in the world and the second-longest national roadway is the Trans-Canada Highway. This long, interconnected system of roadways extends 4,860 miles, running through all 10 of Canada’s provinces and joining most of the country’s major cities. The Trans-Canada Highway took 21 years to build and required over $1 billion to finish, and the final results are pretty impressive: At the time of its completion, it was the world’s longest uninterrupted highway.

Of course, it wouldn’t hold this title for long, but it does still have a few cool features that others on this list don’t. For example, electric vehicle charging stations were installed along many segments of the highway in 2012, helping owners of electric cars make their trips across the country without relying on gasoline.

3. Trans-Siberian Highway – Russia

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With a total length of over 6,800 miles, the Trans-Siberian Highway is the longest highway in Russia and the Asian continent as a whole. Comprised of seven federal highways that were built separately and combined, the Trans-Siberian Highway runs an impressive distance from St. Petersburg in Western Russia all the way to the eastern city of Vladivostok.

Unlike some other highways on this list, the Trans-Siberian Highway is a dangerous route to travel. Many of the sections are poorly-maintained and extend far into the cold Russian tundra, with few gas stations or rest areas in sight. It’s recommended that drivers make the trip only between June and September when the weather is warm and the conditions are easier—if they must make the trip at all.

2. Highway 1 – Australia

Credit: Michael R Evans / Shutterstock.com

Runner-up on our list is Highway 1 in Australia. While it’s not the longest highway in the world compared to our first place winner, Highway 1 does bear the distinction of being the longest national highway owned by any single country, so it has that going for it.

Highway 1 is just over 9,000 miles long; a series of interconnected roads that connects to all of Australia’s major state capitals by way of a giant loop that circles the entire Australian continent. Known locally as the “Big Lap,” this long highway certainly isn’t the most direct way to travel around Australia — but it’s a popular route for motorists interested in taking a scenic tour of the country.

1. Pan-American Highway – North/South America

Credit: Vadim Petrakov / Shutterstock.com

The longest highway in the world is undoubtedly the Pan-American Highway. This sprawling maze of interconnected roadways spans over 29,000 miles, beginning up north in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and running all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Yep, that’s right—this particular highway runs nearly the entire length of North and South America combined. Motorists who travel the whole length of the highway will pass through 14 countries, two continents, and a diverse array of climates that include forests, prairies, jungles, deserts, and arctic tundra, to name a few. It’s a trip that few can claim to have made, but in terms of sheer length, this highway is second to none.

The World’s Longest Roadways

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Many of these highways are destinations for world travellers who love the road and want a challenge — but be careful on these long trips! Just because these regions are designated as “highways” doesn’t mean that they’re well-kept or safe in all areas. Make sure you do your research and prepare well in advance before tackling any of these.

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7 Beaches Where You Don’t Want to Swim

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Beaches Where You Don’t Want to Swim

Some beaches, while beautiful, have hidden perils, reasons someone sunbathing shouldn’t cool off with a dip. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of beaches where you’ll definitely don’t want to go swimming.

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, India

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, India

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You might be able to figure this one out for yourself when you’re close up, but despite the many beaches within the city, none are safe for bathing. While Chowpatty Beach is Mumbai’s most popular beach and is the host of the city’s annual celebration in honor of the Hindu god Ganesh, it is littered with waste and debris. Large amounts of untreated sewage reach the coastline and, with steadily increasing pollution levels, any beach-goer is at serious risk of infection.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

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The warm climate and incredible surf at New Smyrna Beach in Florida tempt its visitors to jump in the water. But it’s what’s lurking underneath that’s the trouble. Due to the volume of attacks, the beach has gained the title of “shark capital of the world.” The sharks are attracted by large populations of fish as well as the floating surfboards overhead; it’s the ideal snacking ground. While none of the attacks on humans have been fatal, and die-hard surfers continue to jump in, we wouldn’t recommend it.

Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

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The islands of Hawaii are renowned for their glorious beaches, and as idyllic settings go, you can’t get much more perfect than Hanakapiai Beach. A well-known checkpoint in Hawaii, visitors trek a rocky, 3.2-kilometer hiking trail to get there. The temptation to jump in and cool off is overwhelming. However, as the area isn’t protected by any reef, its currents are vicious. Powerful rip currents are capable of pulling even the most experienced swimmers out to sea. With no lifeguards, no hope of rescue and a handmade sign with a death-tally on it as a stark reminder of the water’s power, you’d be mad to chance it.

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Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia

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Fraser Island boasts one of the most awe-inspiring beaches in the world, stretching an incredible 120 kilometers along its east coast. While the crystal clear waters try to lure visitors in, there is more than one threat waiting. Underneath the water, nearly invisible box jellyfish are lurking, able to kill a full-grown adult with their sting. If the jellyfish don’t get you, then the many sharks in the bay will be next in line. On top of all that, the tides can be vicious. It seems the beaches on the Island aren’t meant for human paddlers.

Gansbaai Beach, Gansbaai, South Africa

Gansbaai Beach, Gansbaai, South Africa

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While Florida has gained the title for shark capital of the world, Gansbaai is home to the most great white sharks. The sharks are attracted to the area because of the huge colony of fur seals, which live in the water between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. The channel, known as shark alley, is a stretch of water to be feared. If you like to get your adrenaline pumping, you can book a cage dive. You can get up close and personal with the world’s most notorious shark and live to tell the tale.

Playa Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico

Playa Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico

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With a nickname “The Beach of the Dead,” Playa Zipolite is no place for a casual swim. The beach is picturesque, and the dangers are certainly hidden to the naked eye. In fact, they are also hidden to all the naked people; the beach is popular with backpackers and nudists. The danger comes from the giant waves that create extremely dangerous undercurrents. Swimmers are easily pulled out into the water. The introduction of a specialized lifeguard crew has reduced the number of drownings, but you’re safer sunbathing on the sand.

The Black Sand Beaches, Kilauea, Hawaii

The Black Sand Beaches, Kilauea, Hawaii

Credit: Robin Runck/Shutterstock

The black sand beaches of Kilauea, located in Volcanoes National Park, are certainly beautiful. The sand is an incredible contrast to the golden sands we’re used to elsewhere, and the water looks eerily inviting. However, a beach located next to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Kilauea, needs to be approached with caution. The temperature of the water can reach up to about 110 degrees. You’ll want to be careful not to burn your toes. Don’t let that stop you visiting though, having erupted as recently as last year, there are new black sand beaches to explore, and the area needs tourism more than ever.

Top pro-Israel group in Australia lauds police recommendation to indict Litzman

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Top pro-Israel group in Australia lauds police recommendation to indict Litzman

Zionist Federation of Australia calls on Israeli deputy health minister to step down over suspected efforts to prevent extradition to Melbourne of alleged sex abuser Malka Leifer

Protesters demonstrate on March 13, 2019, outside the Jeursalem District Court during extradition hearings for Malka Leifer, a former girls school principal wanted for sexual abuse in Australia. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Protesters demonstrate on March 13, 2019, outside the Jeursalem District Court during extradition hearings for Malka Leifer, a former girls school principal wanted for sexual abuse in Australia. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A prominent Australian Jewish organization on Wednesday welcomed news that police had recommended the indictment of Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman for allegedly pressuring officials in his office to prevent the extradition of suspected sex predator Malka Leifer to Melbourne.

“This is a very welcome step forward in a frustratingly long and drawn out process to achieve justice for Leifer’s victims,” the Zionist Federation of Australia, an umbrella organization of pro-Israel groups, said in a statement.

The ZFA also called for Litzman to step down from his post while the legal proceedings against him continue.

Developments in the Leifer case have been closely followed by the Jewish community in Australia and Tuesday’s police recommendation made national headlines down under.

“These are extremely serious allegations and it is simply untenable for anyone in a position of public trust and responsibility to continue in their position while under
investigation for fraud and breach of trust. There should be zero tolerance for an elected official who sabotages the rule of law – a democratic principle which is foundational to the State of Israel,” the ZFA added.

The Australian umbrella group went on to express solidarity with Leifer’s alleged victims, specifically Dassi Erlich, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer, who have led a campaign to push Israel to extradite their former high school principal.

(R) Deputy health minister Yaakov Litzman seen during a press conference after meeting with president Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90); (L) A private investigator tagged Malka Leifer as she spoke on the phone, while sitting on a bench in Bnei Brak, on December 14, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Police on Tuesday recommended that Litzman be charged with fraud and breach of trust for the case involving Leifer, a former ultra-Orthodox girls’ school principal charged in Australia with 74 counts of child sex abuse. Since February, authorities have been investigating the deputy health minister on suspicion that he had pressured employees in his office to alter the conclusions of psychiatric evaluations that had deemed Leifer fit for extradition.

In addition, police also recommended that Litzman, who is also chairman of the United Torah Judaism party, be charged with bribery for attempts to influence officials in the Health Ministry to prevent the closure of a Jerusalem deli that he frequented — a closure that had been ordered due to “serious sanitary findings found that led to the sickness of a number of people who ate from its products.”

Litzman, who possesses many authorities of a full minister despite serving as a deputy, denied any wrongdoing, maintaining in a response to the police recommendation that his office has a “clear open-door policy for assisting members of the public. This is without discrimination between populations and without clarifying the status of those who call for assistance. The deputy minister expressed confidence that no charges would ultimately be filed.”

In the wake of the police recommendation, it will be up to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to determine whether to indict the deputy health minister.

The Kan public broadcaster reported Tuesday that the State Prosecutor’s Office is slated to hand down its recommendation to Mandelblit by the September 17 elections and said the attorney general may even reach a decision to indict — pending a hearing — before the vote.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, speaks with Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, left, in the Knesset, on March 28, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Leifer is known to have links to the Gur community, of which Litzman is a member, having once taught at a school in Israel affiliated with the Hasidic branch.

A Justice Ministry official told The Times of Israel in February that police had recordings of Litzman and officials in his office speaking to Health Ministry employees and pressing them to act on Leifer’s behalf.

In 2000, Leifer was recruited from Israel to work at the Adass Israel ultra-Orthodox girls school in Melbourne. When allegations of sexual abuse against the mother of eight began to surface eight years later, members of the school board purchased a red-eye plane ticket back to Israel for Leifer, allowing her to avoid being charged.

After authorities in Melbourne filed charges against her, Australia officially filed an extradition request in 2012. Leifer was arrested in Israel two years later, but released to house arrest shortly thereafter. Judges deemed her mentally unfit to stand trial and eventually removed all restrictions against her, concluding that she was too ill to even leave her bed.

Jerusalem District Psychiatrist Jacob Charnes in 2016. (Facebook photo)

She was rearrested in February 2018 following a police undercover operation that cast doubts on her claims regarding her mental state, and has remained in custody since. The operation was launched after the Jewish Community Watch NGO hired private investigators who placed hidden cameras in the Emmanuel settlement, a Haredi community in the northern West Bank, where Leifer had been living, which showed the alleged sex abuser roaming around the town without any apparent difficulty.

Despite the seemingly damning footage, the trial has dragged on for an additional year, as the court continues to debate her mental fitness. The Jerusalem district psychiatrist responsible for evaluating Leifer, Dr. Jacob Charnes, has changed his mind three times regarding whether Leifer was fit for extradition, ultimately signing off on a legal opinion in which state psychiatrists found her fit for extradition.

However, when the psychiatrist was cross-examined by the defense on the evaluation late last year, he told the court that he recommended an additional evaluation of Leifer be carried out — a proposal that both sides have rejected.

A legal official told The Times of Israel that police suspected Charnes changed his medical conclusion after being contacted by officials in Litzman’s office. Though Charnes has been interrogated under caution in the case against the deputy health minister, police on Tuesday said they did not recommend he be tried.

The Jerusalem District Court will hand down a final decision regarding Leifer’s mental fitness for an extradition hearing on September 23. The Times of Israel learned last month that a separate court-appointed medical board is slated to officially conclude that Leifer has been feigning mental illness, in a ruling that would likely impact the Jerusalem District Court’s decision.

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Australia: 5 Things to Know About Australia’s Aboriginal Cultures

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Things to Know About Australia’s Aboriginal Cultures

The Australian aboriginal tribes are an ancient and diverse group of people who inhabited the Australian mainland and outback thousands of years before settlers arrived. Their culture and traditions have been the subject of substantial academic investigation ranging from archeological study to sociology. The story of aboriginal people in many ways mirrors that of other indigenous peoples across the world with loss of life and resources at the hands of settlers, but this often overshadows the rich heritage of aboriginals themselves.

Ancient Origins

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genome study of aboriginal tribes found common genetic ancestry indicating a distinct population in Australia dating 50,000 years into the past. The current theory proposes that the first aboriginals arrived to Australia from Africa using primitive boats, making them the oldest distinct population of humans living outside of Africa.

Borrowed Words

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In spite of their common origins, Australian aboriginal tribes are a diverse group. Today there are 20 different indigenous languages still spoken by aboriginal peoples, but investigations suggest that there were over 250 different languages before the colonists arrived. From these diverse languages, over 400 words were incorporated into the Australian lexicon, including ‘koala,’ ‘wombat,’ and ‘boomerang.’

Eternal Dreams

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In describing the aboriginal spiritual belief systems, Francis Gillen coined the term “dream time” to refer to aboriginal spiritual traditions. However, the term has been disputed as a mistranslated of the indigenous word “alcheringa,” which may have a closer translation in “eternal, uncreated.” The spiritual practices of aboriginal tribes vary by location across Australia, but the concept of dream time usually refers to a timeless plane of existence with a continuous chain between all people and their ancestors stretching from the creation of the earth into the future.

Visual Storytelling

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Aboriginal tribes did not develop written words, and because of this transferred much of their history and teaching between generations with their art. Rock art and ochre pigments were common mediums among ancient tribes, which depicted colorful images with rich iconography to convey stories about ancestry, spirituality and morality. There are still places around Australia where these works have withstood time and can be observed.

Harnessing the Flame

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Aboriginal tribes used fire for a variety of functional applications. Some of these uses included agriculture application in order to enrich soil for the growth of natural fauna for the purpose of attracting prey. Some tribes also used controlled burns in a similar way to the modern practice in order to prevent large-scale, devastating bush fires.

Catastrophic Encounters

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Contact with European settlers was deadly for the aboriginal tribes. The number of violent deaths at the hands of settlers is still a topic of investigation and controversy, but the most significant contribution to loss of life were expulsion from inhabitable territories and disease. Without resistance or medicine, aboriginal populations were devastated by smallpox, measles, and influenza brought by the European settlers, particularly in dense groups. Population estimates place the number of aboriginal people inhabiting Australia at 750,000 in 1788 to just 93,000 in 1900.

The Modern Condition

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Eighty percent of present-day aboriginal people live in major Australian cities, not the Outback. The long history of violence and discrimination toward aboriginal peoples has left them disadvantaged in indicators of health, education, and employment. In the face of continued discrimination, aboriginal groups continue to campaign for awareness, equitable treatment, and reparations. A recent landmark ruling of the Australian high court granted the Ngaliwurru and Nungali tribes the right to sue for colonial land loss, entitling them to several billion dollars worth of compensations.

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