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Horizontal Falls: The power and fury of the tides

A STARLIT sky and a lone street lamp are my sole companions as I wait for the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures (HFSA) tour bus outside my hotel in Broome. At 5am, the bus arrives, packed with travellers — some excited, others wary of boarding a small Cessna Amphibian seaplane. At the airport, young Tonnia meticulously weighs us and our bags, and assigns seats, before fastening herself into the pilot seat. It is a picture-perfect day to fly low over Broome, the Dampier Peninsula, and hundreds of islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago in Australia’s pristine north-western Kimberley region.

ICAN Expects Nuclear Ban Treaty to Enter into Force in 2019

As the world witnesses an increase in nuclear sabre-rattling in 2018, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is supporting global public movement to put pressure on governments to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. ICAN’s Treaty Coordinator Tim Wright (TW) expects the Treaty to enter into force in 2019. He commends South Korea's "great leadership" role by initiating the inter-Korean dialogue. "But true peace must be based on the total rejection of nuclear weapons by all nations, not just North Korea." The rejection by President Donald Trump of the Iran nuclear deal, he says, "undermines the non-proliferation efforts."

A tryst with nature in Broome

In Australia’s north-western coastal pearling town of Broome, the Mangrove Hotel’s garden bar is packed with visitors and there is no room near the deck overlooking Roebuck Bay. The excitement is palpable as the sky begins to turn ink blue. In anticipation, the crowd cascades into silence as the swaying branches of frangipani and palm fan the gentle autumn breeze. A silver line appears on the horizon bathed in a reddish-orange glow. A golden stairway begins to appear as the full moon makes its ascent. Immersed in the spectacle, I am almost oblivious to the photo frenzy ensuing around me. Staircase to the Moon is a natural phenomenon visible from March to November, when the rising full moon, reflecting off the exposed tidal mudflats in the bay, creates this optical illusion. Broome’s natural splendours, as much as its pearling past, are a drawcard with local and international travellers.

A nation, stumped

Australians are livid. Sport is paramount in their psyche. Cameron Bancroft’s brazen and premeditated attempt to tamper the ball, at the behest of captain Steve Smith and vice captain David Warner, has shocked and horrified Australians. These are people who espouse the tenets of ‘Advance Australia Fair’, which is enshrined in their national anthem sung with pride before every game. Ishaan Oak and his classmates at Glenunga International High School in Adelaide were crestfallen to see the ball-tampering news unfold. “We were surprised, angry and saddened because all of us looked up to Steve Smith as the captain of the baggy green,” said Ishaan, 13, who had started playing cricket at the age of four, with his father in their suburban backyard.

The pearls of Cygnet Bay

A four-seater Cessna lands on a pindan (red soil) airstrip near a narrow dirt road that leads to Cygnet Bay. It is tucked in at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula on Australia’s remote north-western Kimberley coast, where the Great Sandy Desert merges effortlessly with white beaches and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. It was here, in 1946, that wheat farmer Dean Brown entered the pearling industry, collecting the world’s largest pearl oysters, Pinctada maxima, for their mother-of-pearl shells. A decade later, his sons, Lyndon and then Bruce, joined him. They began experimenting with farming pearls and established the first all-Australian owned and operated cultured pearling company, Cygnet Bay Pearls.

HIV seeks refuge in immune cells to avoid full elimination

Genetically-intact HIV hides in the same cells of the human immune system that are supposed to attack and destroy pathogens, scientists at Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney University, discover in a new study. Previously, it was thought that HIV hides primarily in central memory T-cells during effective anti-HIV therapy. But, in the study published this month (19 October) in Cell Reports, the scientists show that replication-competent HIV persists in specific subsets of CD4+ immune memory T-cells.

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It was never in Jamsetji Tata's ken

© Neena Bhandari, Business Standard, India

ImageThe Tata Group of companies has made big forays into Australia, investing and expanding in various sectors from mining to information technology. Historically too, remote though it may now be, Tata Steel has a connection to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, which contains 50,000 tonnes of steel. Close to 80 per cent of the steel used in the bridge, spanning 1,650 ft (503 metre), was made by Teesside Company Dorman Long, which became part of British Steel Corporation after World War II. In 1999, British Steel merged with a Dutch company, Hoogovens, to become Corus. In 2007, Corus was bought by Tata Steel.

Tata Steel has had an office in Brisbane since 2000. The original name was Tata International, since deregistered. The principal business activity has been procurement of steel-making raw material in Australasia, predominantly metallurgical coal, for the steel operations in Jamshedpur. “These volumes have continued to grow and are now in the millions of tonnes. Additionally, Tata Steel Resources was tasked with identifying investment opportunities in metallurgical coal mines and made its first overseas coal mine investment in Carborough Downs, central Queensland, in 2005 with a five per cent equity stake. We are now actively identifying new investment opportunities to the increasing metallurgical requirements for the steel mill expansions in India for the next 10 years and beyond,” Bryan Granzien, chief executive officer, Tata Steel Resources Australia Pvt Ltd, said.

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Sydney breaks bread with Sangrur - the wheat link

© Neena Bhandari, Business Standard, India

ImageWheat collaboration between Australia and India is likely to be extended, after experiments combining strengths in each other’s varieties show rising promise.

India and Australia are collaborating on research to enhance the volume and quality of grown wheat. The five-year bilateral programme on marker-assisted wheat breeding concludes in May 2012 but is set to be extended.

It has been exploring molecular technologies, management practices and more heat-tolerant cultivars, to face the challenges of climate change. India and Australia are particularly vulnerable to increasing temperatures, warns a leading Australian wheat scientist.

"In Australia, wheat is rain-fed and will be adversely affected by the combined impact of higher temperatures and drought. In India, increasing temperature linked with lowering water tables would mean farmers will be unable to irrigate with the current frequency. This will result in difficult production conditions and reduction in total yield,” says Richard Trethowan, director, A Watson Grains Research Centre, University of Sydney. India is the second largest producer of wheat and Australia seventh in the world. India produces all its consumption; Australia is the second largest global exporter of wheat and, so, a major contributor to global food security.

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