Sifting terrorist chips from Israel policy push

AMMAN: Pallet loads of potato chips are hardly an answer to the plight of Palestinians, now in the fourth year of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Likewise, a continued ban on shipments of coriander to the impoverished enclave cannot be seen as a serious plank in Israel’s national security blueprint.Since the blockade began in 2007, world opinion has chosen to ignore its impact on daily life in Gaza. But Israel’s gross over-reaction in killing nine protesters as its forces commandeered a Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla two weeks ago has finally focused attention on the cruelty of a blockade justified by Israel as essential to preventing the smuggling of weapons to Hamas.Under a barrage of international criticism, Israel is easing some of the restrictions – but in identifying the products that seemingly no longer constitute a security risk the Netanyahu government has exposed the blockade as an exercise in collective punishment of a civilian population.Along with chips, Israeli authorities have decreed that the likes of jam, halva and razor blades have ceased to be a security risk and will be allowed into Gaza. Coriander and cardamom, and possibly even cookies, might soon be cleared for shipment too.The gesture prompted a withering response from Gisha, an Israeli non-governmental organisation that monitors the detailed management of the blockade. “Gisha is pleased to learn that coriander no longer presents a threat to Israeli security,” its website says.In anticipation of permission for cookies to go to Gaza, however, Gisha lights on the blockade as economic warfare, saying: “It is not enough to permit Gaza residents to purchase Israeli-made cookies. Israel should stop banning raw materials such as industrial margarine and glucose, so that Gaza residents can produce their own cookies and restart the economy that has been paralysed for three years.”The list of prohibited goods still includes building materials – which Israel says will be hijacked by Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation. But it also lists the essentials for two industries by which a people dependent on food donations might work to feed themselves – fishing and market gardening.Gisha says they are still denied fishing rods and nets; nets for greenhouses and tractor spare parts; irrigation pipes and planters for saplings; and heaters for chicken farms.If only in this humanitarian dimension, there is something grotesque about Israel’s insistence on a policy that has demonstrably failed – Hamas survives and is getting stronger in Gaza. And that the world has acquiesced amid so much civilian suffering and privation in Gaza is equally disturbing.The global outcry in the aftermath of the botched Israeli attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla signals a move for change. But just what can be achieved remains to be seen.As with every crisis point in the 62 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an international consensus that ”something” has to be done to ease Palestinian suffering can bog down in endless negotiation, winning just minimal change as world attention shifts to other issues.Such an outcome was evident in the reported remarks late last week of unnamed Israeli officials who told the Associated Press that the easing of the blockade was more about defusing pressure for an international investigation into the attack on the flotilla than on relieving Palestinian suffering.There was further muddying of the issues with an Israeli claim that the blockade would not be lifted unless Hamas agreed to Red Cross visits to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006 – an issue that is already the subject of Egyptian-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas.George Mitchell, Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy, told reporters in the aftermath of the attack that Washington was working ”aggressively” to make sure that Gazans received adequate supplies.Writing in the International Herald Tribune on Friday, the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain condemned Israel’s “unbending determination to force compliance with the blockade … [and] a logic that must now be abandoned”. They used the word du jour for describing the blockade – “unsustainable”.Just as there is a new argument in the US that Israel’s national security and settling the country’s conflict with the Palestinians are separate issues of American national security, there is a new global embrace of the separateness of Israel’s strategic need to deny Hamas weapons and the economic and humanitarian needs of Gaza’s 1.5 million people.Moves are afoot to have European Union monitors – instead of Israeli troops – examine the freight depots that serve Gaza. The ministerial trio also proposes that the Gaza port be reopened to cargo ships that would come under international inspection – to intercept smuggled weapons.Whatever the fate of the blockade, there is an expectant sense in the region that the emergence of non-Arab Turkey as a new and powerful champion of the Palestinian people has set the scene for dramatic changes in the management of the crisis.Likening Arab governments to lemons squeezed of their juice, because of their lost credibility for failing to extract concessions for the Palestinians, a former adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan observed to the Herald: “It’s going to be a hot summer.”He was not discussing the weather.
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The forgotten community fighting for pride

It is cold and wet in Wilcannia. Wind is blowing through town as about 20 locals gather around a park bench on the Barrier Highway to sign time sheets proving they have worked the hours to earn a government allowance.The Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program manager requested a shed from the federal government seven months ago from which to run the scheme.But work-for-the-dole participants are still meeting in 48-degree summer heat or the biting autumn wind that characterise the weather extremes on NSW’s flat, far-western plains.It is National Sorry Day, 2010, and Wilcannia, with a population of about 700 – two-thirds of which is Aboriginal – is a town broken.At its peak in the late 1800s, it was home to 3000 people and a busy inland port.More than a century later – notwithstanding the recent welcome rains and flowing Darling River – shops are barred and boarded up, the only employers to speak of are government departments, and the town centre is bookended by two poverty-stricken Aboriginal communities, the Mission and the Mallee.About five years ago 28 government houses, designed to be energy-efficient, were built. The residents have complained of being cooked in the sauna of their own crumbling homes ever since.The median income across the vast Central Darling Shire is just $310 a week. In Wilcannia, unemployment is estimated at more than 60 per cent.But immense resources are thrown at the town. The council has counted more than 50 government and non-government agencies that service its barely 15 streets and their residents.Access to fresh fruit and vegetables is cited by the Central Darling Shire Council as a big problem, but alcohol and marijuana dependence, as well as an historical paucity of activities and jobs are others.”They’ve really had no purpose the last 30 years,” the Darling Shire community and economic development manager, Kym Fuller, said.In the first week of June, Wilcannia lost four of its residents to drug and alcohol-related disease and organ failure, he said. They were all aged under 45.”There are cars stolen to get to funerals,” Mr Fuller said. ”People are putting their hands out for petrol so they can squeeze 10 people into the car.”But just before Christmas, something close to a miracle happened. Five members of the Wilcannia CDEP committee entered their council building – some for their first time in their lives – and sat down on the”flash, cushion chairs” to reach agreement on constructing a drive-through art gallery at Reconciliation Park opposite the hospital.”Before, they were told what to do. Now they’re asked what to do,” the CDEP manager, Trevor Johnstone, said. ”We’re supposed to be dumb blacks. They think we’re dumb blacks.”Their victory over a few business owners concerned, among other things, that the view to the golf course would be blocked by the open-air gallery, has given locals a sense of pride and community ownership they haven’t known for decades, Mr Johnstone said. ”There’s been a lot more pride up here because they’ve been treated with respect.”Mr Johnstone sees hope for Wilcannia in spite of years of setbacks. ”You’ve got to treat them like people,” he said.Each week, more than 30 CDEP workers meet in town to help fashion the drive-through gallery. Among them are recognised artists, 10 of whom will paint one wall each to contribute to the rest area, where it is hoped tourists will stop to break the drive to or from Broken Hill, which is 200 kilometres west.The project is a far cry from the not-too-distant past when, it is rumoured, business owners would buy paintings from locals with a case of beer and then sell their works to visitors for $200 apiece.Woddy Harris, who lives on the edge of town in a shed, spends his days carving didgeridoos, clapping sticks and bowls out of mallee, river red gum and leopardwood. He is passionate about returning the younger Aboriginal generation to the ways of old. ”There’s a spirit, whether you believe in it or you don’t believe in it. It’s still there,” he said. ”I learned [to carve] by my vision of the old people. You create life for yourself.”The revival of the town’s rugby league team, the Wilcannia Boomerangs, has also raised the chins of locals. ”Last year, they won every grade in the [Outback] Rugby League, from seniors through to juniors,” Mr Fuller said. ”They bloody did too, the bastards,” Mr Johnstone, who lives on Menindee Yabbies turf 150 kilometres away, said with a grin.There are other plans afoot to boost the town. Nobody quite believes it will happen, but a Sydney couple have bought a huge property on the outskirts of town with 15 kilometre of river frontage and plans to develop a luxury eco-resort there.Jim Sammon, who is originally from Ireland but has lived in Wilcannia for 20 years, owns the mining camp-style accommodation at ”The Shannon” next door to the proposed resort. He said life had been worse in his adopted home town in the past: ”It used to be a pretty rough sort of a place, but it’s good now.”
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Wet weather, illness keep blood donors away

A POTENT mix of bad weather and a big start to the cold and flu season has caused a “sudden and unexpected” plunge in blood donations in NSW.Donations fell to 13 per cent below the daily targets last month, after reaching targets in the previous three months.The Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s NSW manager, Garry Wolfe, said May was a particularly bad month for donations.”I think the weather drove a lot of people away from the donation centres because travelling to and from them is more difficult in wet weather,” he said.”On top of that the cold and flu season started well and truly in May, and June so far has not been much better. If this continues it will place us in a precarious position”.Mr Wolfe said even people who had recently had a cold but were over their worst symptoms were able to donate.”When you are over those obvious symptoms of a virus and you don’t have a sore throat and your temperature has dropped to near normal you might be all right to donate.”Rod Smith’s daughter, Ava, 8, has blood transfusions every week to help treat her leukaemia. She would not survive without them. “They help by maintaining her immune system and her energy levels and her blood’s ability to clot,” he said.”[Hearing about the decrease in donations] is pretty disturbing from our point of view”.Mr Smith said Ava, who will need transfusions for the next four months of her treatment, relied on donated blood not just for survival, but to improve her quality of life.”Her mood is really important to how she recovers and without the blood she has got no energy,” he said. “It’s almost like a drug: she gets the blood and half an hour later she is feeling better and … playing with the other kids”.
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Drought edict turns farmers against Thai government

CHIANG MAI Farmers in Thailand’s drought-stricken north have been told by the government they cannot plant any more rice, further fuelling anti-Bangkok sentiment in the Red Shirt-loyal region.Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter, shipping more than 9 million tonnes offshore each year, but the worst drought in nearly 20 years has forced the government to decree that no rice is to be planted until it rains.Disaster areas have been declared in 53 of Thailand’s 75 provinces, affecting nearly 7 million people, and scores of dams are at critically low levels. Water has been diverted from the Mae Klong, a river in the country’s west, so that Bangkok does not run short of water.The irrigation department has said the far north is the worst-affected region, and no water can be released from dams there for crops, only for drinking.A project director with the department, Maitree Pitinanon, said rain was expected at some time during the current monsoon season, which runs until September, but when, and how much, was not known.Government officials throughout the country have instructed farmers to abandon crops or not to plant new ones. It is likely to be the middle of next month, at the earliest, before any water is available for farming.But beyond the implications for Thailand’s food supply and its export markets, the ban on planting rice is a further political division in the country, driving yet another wedge between the Bangkok elite and the rural poor.The north and north-east are the heartland of the anti-government Red Shirt movement, whose two-month sit-in in the centre of Bangkok was violently put down by government troops last month. At least 88 people were killed during 68 days of protests.Despite being routed, the Red Shirt movement still has a significant presence in the north and north-east, with persistent rumours it will reform, likely in a different guise, to resist, or even violently protest against, the government.Khum Toorasit, a rice farmer who works leased land on the outskirts of the northern city of Chiang Mai, has had to turn over his failing rice crop to cattle because there is no water to keep it going.Mr Khum said the decree for farmers to abandon rice crops and delay planting new ones was robbing people of their only income and fuelling resentment of the government.”If we can’t grow rice, we cannot earn any money, we have no rice to eat. What can we do? We can do nothing,” he said.Mr Khum said the drought had been building for months, and the government should have moved sooner to secure water supplies, help farmers with loans, and begin cloud-seeding programs.”We still have debts, but we cannot pay, so we have even more money to owe,” he said. ”If there is no help for farmers soon there will be an uprising against the government for sure.” The government said this week that it would begin cloud seeding in the north in the next few days.The Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has ordered the Agriculture Ministry to devise drought mitigation strategies for next year.
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Congested Sydney to lose funding

SYDNEY’S strategic metropolitan planning is the worst of Australia’s major capital cities, leaving it exposed to a lack of federal government funding for essential infrastructure projects.A survey to be released today by KPMG ranks Sydney in sixth place, with Melbourne at the top, followed by Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.The table ranks all capital cities on criteria drawn up by the Commonwealth of Australian Governments relating to infrastructure, urban design, land release and the like.From 2012, the federal government intends to allocate infrastructure funds on the basis of how the capital cities rank on these criteria. Based on this survey’s findings, Sydney will continue to struggle to receive federal funding for major infrastructure projects.The survey found Sydney ranks poorly in the areas of implementation and infrastructure of urban planning and design, trailing almost all other capital cities in these two areas.”Sydney’s rank … is partly a reflection of its performance in relation to managing congestion. Without delivery of further major transport infrastructure, this challenge is likely to worsen, due to forecast increasing population growth,” KPMG noted in the report.The Property Council of Australia and groups such as the Planning Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects funded the KPMG research.”Some of the moves NSW has taken recently, such as the newly established Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority and matching some infrastructure and land use needs is where Sydney is starting to get it right,” the acting NSW executive director of the Property Council, Glenn Byres, said.”But we need a quantum shift in the transport space, for example. You can’t have the recent flip-flops on transport … you can’t announce and then abandon projects and expect to stay ahead of the congestion curve.”The lack of certainty of large transport infrastructure projects in Sydney, with the shelving of the Metro projects and the north-west rail link, indicates that land delivery policies are also failing as a result, the report noted.”The pressing demand for robust and deliverable strategic plans will become stronger as Sydney expands towards a population of 7 million people by 2050,” Mr Byres said.”Access to Commonwealth infrastructure funding is now also contingent on the presence of strong capital city strategic plans mandated by COAG.”There is no time to waste and NSW needs to build on recent initiatives that illustrate an appetite for reform and an ability to reshape institutional capacity.”The KPMG report also found that consolidating the Sydney Metro Strategy and Metropolitan Transport Plan into one document will assist the cause of better strategic planning – provided the transport vision also represents a 25-year visionBut NSW’s mixed track record of implementing transport projects has undermined confidence in the state’s investment priorities, with the need to better monitor, report on and improve progress towards critical spatial targets, it said.
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Election threatens to tear Belgium apart

BRUSSELS: Belgium goes to the polls tomorrow for a snap general election amid fears that growing support for Flemish radicals could push the country further towards a north-south split.Many politicians and observers see the election as vital to the country’s future, with much hanging on how many of the Dutch-speaking majority vote for the independence advocates of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA).As the elections approached, the NVA’s leader, Bart de Wever, was in a buoyant mood.Opinion polls say his party is set to beat the more moderate Christian Democrats of the outgoing Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, to become the biggest in the wealthy Flemish north, with 25 per cent of the vote.Such a seismic shift would not be enough alone to bring the end of Belgium.There could yet be the first francophone prime minister since the 1970s, with the Socialist Party leader Elio Di Rupo out in front in the poorer French-speaking Wallonia to the south. However it would sound loud alarm bells that the two communities, which have lived side by side in devolved partnership for decades, are growing apart.Mr de Wever, who says he is not interested in the top job, does not see himself as a revolutionary. He believes the country, formed in 1830, will ”slowly but surely, very gently disappear”, as powers are devolved further to the regions and to the European Union.What is inevitable in a country with no national political parties is a coalition government comprising parties from both communities in a country where only the capital, Brussels, is officially bilingual.Rainer Guntermann, analyst for Commerzbank of Germany, expects increased political tensions in a country that has gone through three prime ministers, including one twice, since the last general election in 2007.Mr Leterme’s five-party coalition government imploded in April after a Flemish liberal party walked out, frustrated at the lack of progress in talks aimed at clipping special rights accorded to francophone residents in Flanders.While plenty of political horse-trading can be expected after the results become known, Belgium – a founding member of the EU – will be hoping to present a semblance of normality and leadership when it assumes the union’s rotating presidency on July 1.Mr Leterme’s outgoing cabinet will have to deal with day-to-day affairs if there is no new team in place by then.Agence France-Presse
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Campbell returns as temporary speaker as Premier reshuffles duties

THE public rehabilitation of the former transport minister David Campbell has begun, with his appointment as a temporary Speaker to the State Parliament.His appointment fills a vacancy in the panel of temporary Speakers which occurred following the elevation of Frank Terenzini to the cabinet last month as Minister for Housing, after David Borger was moved across to become Roads Minister.As a temporary Speaker – one of five – Mr Campbell will receive no additional salary, unlike the positions of Deputy Speaker and Assistant Speaker, which carry annual allowances of $25,000 and $17,000 respectively.As a senior minister, Mr Campbell was on an annual salary of $252,000, which has fallen to $166,000 as a backbencher, including his electoral allowance.Mr Campbell quit the cabinet last month following the broadcasting on commercial television of footage showing him leaving a gay bathhouse in Kensington.”I wouldn’t rule out a future role for David Campbell in the ministry,” the Premier, Kristina Keneally, said.”Certainly I have spoken publicly about my compassion for his situation and my admiration for his commitment to his family.”Ms Keneally said she had not discussed the matter with Mr Campbell. ”He is a good local member and he does have a good contribution to make to the people of NSW,” she said.”But I haven’t had any conversations with anyone about any vacancies or any future reshuffles. I’m quite confident in the cabinet ministers that I have.”Ms Keneally reshuffled the responsibilities of Ian Macdonald and Graham West, who both quit the cabinet just over a week ago, to other ministers, saying that she would not consider any further cabinet appointments until the state budget had been delivered, which occurred earlier this week.Mr Campbell, the member for Keira in Wollongong, holds one of the safest seats in the Parliament, with a margin of more than 20 per cent.It is unclear whether Mr Campbell will stand for parliament at the state elections in March.There was a great deal of public sympathy for him following his recent decision to stand down from cabinet.
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Just the ticket to beat the meter

IF THE idea of a Sydney council going out of its way to hand back parking fines sounds like fairyland, consider moving to Parramatta. The council is creating a new appeals panel, staffed by residents, that will be empowered to cancel fines in special circumstances.The lord mayor of Parramatta, Paul Garrard, said that a six-month trial of the system resulted in almost one in five fines being cancelled, indicating it would cost the council ”thousands of dollars”. But he said the goodwill generated was worth it.”This is not a get-out-of-jail free card, but there are some issues that aren’t totally clear cut,” Cr Garrard said. ”And council has the opportunity to act in those grey areas.”Made up of two residents and one council officer, the panel will be empowered to consider all possible factors that lead to a parking infringement, including hearing evidence from the relevant council ranger.It may exercise discretion to let people off with a warning if there are extenuating circumstances.Cr Garrard cited a recent example where a woman rushing to get to her grandson’s army graduation parade had misread a parking notice and was allowed off; or a hypothetical situation where a parent taking his or her child to the doctor overstayed a one-hour limit, as possible cases for a cancellation.”The panel can consider all the factors there – how would you feel if you were a grandmother trying to get to your grandson’s parade march [and you were booked]?” Cr Garrard said.The exact guidelines under which the panel may exercise discretion have not yet been finalised.The panel, the council’s own invention, was created not because rangers had made too many mistakes but because the exercise of their discretion was not clearly governed and the system had not been sufficiently flexible to be fair, Cr Garrard said.”We’re losing money out of this, but [parking fines] were never supposed to be a revenue source,” Cr Garrard said. ”We don’t put quotas on our community safety officers when they’re out there in the public arena. This effectively puts our money where our mouth is.”Sitting on the panel will be a volunteer job for the two residents. Nominations closed last week and the council is sorting through applications.Under the six-month trial conducted over summer a panel of council officers heard 453 penalty notice appeals. Of those, 89 were given a caution in lieu of the penalty, in 287 cases the penalty stood and 77 were withdrawn.Cr Garrard was expecting a flood of appeals when the residents’ panel first sits, which may be as soon as next month. Anyone whose case is rejected by the panel may still appeal to the State Debt Recovery Office.The Parking Infringement Review Panel is part of Parramatta council’s overhaul of its public image to present a friendlier face to residents. Rangers have been re-christened Community Safety Officers, and have ditched the ”military-like” leather jackets and cargo pants for the ”smarter” outfit of charcoal trousers and white-collared shirts.A spokeswoman from the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW said that to its knowledge, the Parramatta system was the first of its kind in the state. What are some of the craziest excuses you’ve ever heard? My son told me to park there.Driver:Officer: Is that your son in the car?Driver: Yes.Officer: How old is your son?Driver: Three.Some other excuses include “I was not stopped in the No Stopping zone, I was just waiting for someone.” or ”I have parked here 20 times before and never been booked.”How do you respond if someone gets angry at you?Staff are trained to deal with upset or difficult customers by undertaking regular customer service and conflict resolution training. It is important to deal with the emotion first then solve the problem/tasks. It is important to remain calm, be polite and actively listen as the person may just be having a bad day and a parking ticket is the final straw, have empathy (no one likes getting a ticket), explain the reason for the ticket and the options of appeal.Do you ever feel guilty about the job?Of course, it’s natural … to feel guilty at times. We’re all decent people who perform a role that is at times hard and for the most part thankless.Is there any joy in giving tickets to flashier cars?No. We employ fair and equitable enforcement of parking related legislation/regulations.Any leniency if someone leaves a note on their dash?No. If the vehicle is unattended there is no way to verify what is written on the note. As an example I have seen drivers place a note on the dash that reads “Broken down, gone to call the NRMA”. The review panel, however, will provide the means to verify legitimate cases.What’s the best part of the job, and the worst?The best part of the job would be working outdoors, educating people about parking requirements and generally helping people as ambassadors for the council. The worst part would be being abused or physically assaulted.
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Abuse ‘still part of brigades mentality’

INITIATION rites continue to be carried out within the NSW Fire Brigades, and bullying and intimidation affect all areas of the organisation, an investigation has found.Sexual abuse and ritual bastardisation of young recruits, which took place in the 1970s and 1980s, has largely been replaced by psychological abuse such as verbal insults, threats and aggressive behaviour, a report by KPMG says.The investigation was ordered by the state government this year after several fire fighters went public with claims of widespread abuse, saying management turned a blind eye or covered it up for decades.Fallout from the revelations is set to continue – five serving fire fighters who were charged with indecently assaulting a fellow officer in 1989 are to appear in court on Tuesday. The officers are on paid leave.The Independent Commission Against Corruption is understood to be investigating allegations of misappropriating funds and rorting expenses at the brigade’s training headquarters in Alexandria.In a joint statement, the Commissioner of NSW Fire Brigades, Greg Mullins, and the state secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, Jim Casey, said both groups were ”concerned that the report notes that there is still evidence of both physical bullying (including shouting and aggressive behaviour) and psychological bullying. Such behaviour will not be tolerated.”Last month the Minister for Emergency Services, Steve Whan, said a $1.3 million workplace conduct and investigations unit had been set up to look into and prevent further instances of bullying and harassment. Other initiatives included a 24-hour confidential hotline for employees to report workplace issues, and complaint resolution training for all 7000 brigades staff.The Opposition spokeswoman on emergency services, Melinda Pavey, said it took ”very brave whistleblowers” to put a spotlight on the destructive workplace culture.”We’ve had seven ministers in 10 years, and no Labor ministers had the courage or saw the need to fix some very fundamental problems within the fire brigades.”The report found there was a pervading ”boys’ club” mentality, with just under half of the 186 female firefighters surveyed having personally experienced discrimination. .It found physical abuse still occurs with 14 per cent of employees having experienced it personally and 19 per cent having witnessed others experience it within the past two years.
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Teen sailor faces storm of criticism

TEENAGE sailor Abby Sunderland, whose derring-do exploits resulted in a rescue operation involving the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, has taken on critics of her failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe.”Since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?” she said. Writing on her blog, aboard a French fishing boat which is ferrying her to safety, the 16-year-old American added: ”The truth is, I was in a storm and you don’t sail through the Indian Ocean without getting in at least one storm … Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world.”As the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, confirmed the Australian taxpayer had in part underwritten the search and rescue effort on the Indian Ocean under international maritime obligations, debate continued to rage over the wisdom of the voyage.”It’s too young,” said Joe Tucci, from the Australian Childhood Foundation. ”There is a point at which these ‘youngest-ever’ records should be stopped … young people can’t drive before a certain age, and we should apply it to these … situations as well.”Clive Hamilton, the professor of public ethics at at Charles Sturt University, said he was somewhat conflicted about the issue. ”Rather a lone sailor, than a teen porn star,” he said. ”We all admire adventurous people, but on balance I think it was too risky.”Back home in her native Los Angeles, Abby’s family were also queried about accusations of negligence in allowing their daughter to risk her life.”It wasn’t a flippant decision,” said her father, Laurence Sunderland. He said that Abby had ”spent half her life on the water” and was delivering yachts solo at the age of 13.Mr Sunderland said Abby’s age had no bearing on her accident. She was skilled enough to sail thousands of kilometres alone, negotiating the treacherous seas around Cape Horn and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, he said.with LA Times
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