The smoke from autumn burn-offs could make coronavirus symptoms worse. It’s not worth the risk



MomentsForZen/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Don Driscoll, Deakin University; Brian Oliver, University of Technology Sydney; Courtney Alice Waugh, Nord University; Marcel Klaassen, Deakin University, and Veerle L. B. Jaspers, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

It’s hard to forget the thick smoke plumes blanketing Australia’s cities and towns during the black summer. But consecutive days of smoke haze can also come from planned burns to reduce fuel loads, and fires set after logging.

Expanding planned burning is often touted as a way to mitigate the risk of bushfires rising with climate change. But the autumn burn-off season is bad news for the COVID-19 pandemic, as smoke exposure can make us more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses.




Read more:
Logging burns conceal industrial pollution in the name of ‘community safety’


In fact, doctors in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, are campaigning for better air quality monitors. They argue burn-offs are a serious health risk during this pandemic, particularly with asthma inhaler stocks in limited supply.

Yes, planned burns can be useful, but they offer limited protection from bushfires and, right now, they pose an immediate health risk. It’s a reasonable bet that planned burning will do us more harm than good in 2020.

The same can be said of other sources of smoke, including from logging regeneration burns, wood heaters, backyard burn-offs and burning fossil fuels.

How does smoke from bushfires hurt our lungs?

Smoke pollution from the black summer may have killed more than 400 people, and sent 4,000 people to the hospital.

Bushfire smoke includes fine particles – less than 2.5 micrometers in size (one micrometre is a ten-thousanth of a centimetre) – that can reach to the ends of our lungs and enter the bloodstream. They compromise our immune system, weakening our antiviral defences.

Smoke also has a toxic mix of metals and organic chemicals that include known carcinogens. Even short term exposure increases hospital admissions and ambulance call-outs in Australia for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cardiovascular attacks and other health effects.

It’s not just humans – health impacts from smoke extends to wildlife, with smoke reducing their ability to mount an immune response and increasing their stress.

The ecological effects of smoke can also compromise animal survival, including making it harder for them to forage.

Exacerbating COVID-19

Smoke exposure causes inflammation in the lungs, as does coronavirus infection. But it’s a not a simple equation; they likely act in a synergistic way with complex interactions.

Recent studies have linked worse outcomes of COVID-19 infections with long-term cigarette smoking and air pollution, both of which have similar chemical components to wood smoke.

New research from the USA shows average air pollution with one extra microgram of fine particles per cubic metre is associated with a 15% higher death rate from COVID-19.

In other words, if COVID-19 has a base death rate of about 1 in 100, and fine particles in air pollution span from near one microgram/litre to higher than 12 in major urban centres, then the death rate could more than double to 2.65 per 100 infections.




Read more:
Bushfire smoke is everywhere in our cities. Here’s exactly what you are inhaling


Research into other viral infections shows just two hours of exposure to smoke can make people more susceptible to respiratory infections. But what we’re uncertain about is if short term exposure to smoke would illicit the same dire consequences – dramatically higher death rates – as there appears to be with long-term exposure to air pollutants.

What’s more, men could be more at risk than women. Men find it harder to fight off the flu than women, and prior exposure to wood smoke can make flu symptoms worse in men.

Planned burning is under pressure

The amount and pattern of planned burning is under pressure to change. Some commentators are campaigning for increased planned burning, but others are asking for less, and the Victorian firefighter chief has said it’s no silver bullet.

While planned burns aim to reduce wildfire, it’s not yet clear whether this will ultimately alter the amount of smoke over communities.

On the one hand, planned burns could pump more smoke into the atmosphere than wildfires because
larger areas need to be burned, smoke can build up and hang around for longer, and planned burns could produce more toxic smoke by burning wetter fuels.

On the other hand, planned burns have lower severity and are more patchy than wildfires, so burn less of the vegetation in a given area, potentially producing less smoke.




Read more:
The burn legacy: why the science on hazard reduction is contested


What about protection? Planned burns can make firefighting easier for a few years after fire. But current rates of planned burning give little protection for houses when wildfires are driven by extreme weather.

Planned burns within a few hundred metres of houses can give protection but must occur frequently, such as less than every five years. We shouldn’t expect towns to endure local smoke pollution this often.

A matter of timing

In the context of COVID-19, the seasonal timing of fires is also important.

Flu risk is lowest in the summer months, and COVID-19 might peak in late winter. This means smoke from wildfires in summer may have less impact than smoke from planned burns in autumn and spring.




Read more:
How does bushfire smoke affect our health? 6 things you need to know


The coming summer is unlikely to bring a repeat of last summer’s fires because so much forest is already burnt.

So, even if COVID-19 spills over into 2021, the compounding smoke risk from wildfires is likely to be lower than smoke from planned burns in autumn and spring.

Not worth it

All things considered, it’s not worth the health risk to conduct planned burns, logging regeneration burns or other burning this year while the pandemic continues to sweep through the country, particularly in areas close to towns such as the Yarra Valley.

Still, whether or not planned burns will change our total exposure to smoke from bushfires, the effects of climate change are definitely bringing more fire and with it more smoke.

This means we can expect to have to deal with interactions between virus risks and smoke risks more often in the future.The Conversation

Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University; Brian Oliver, Research Leader in Respiratory cellular and molecular biology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research and Professor, Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney; Courtney Alice Waugh, Associate Professor in Immunology and Disease, Nord University; Marcel Klaassen, Alfred Deakin Professor and Chair in Ecology, Deakin University, and Veerle L. B. Jaspers, Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

No food, no fuel, no phones: bushfires showed we’re only ever one step from system collapse



Australian Navy

Anthony Richardson, RMIT University

This summer’s bushfires were not just devastating events in themselves. More broadly, they highlighted the immense vulnerability of the systems which make our contemporary lives possible.

The fires cut road access, which meant towns ran out of fuel and fell low on food. Power to towns was cut and mobile phone services stopped working. So too did the ATMs and EFTPOS services the economy needs to keep running.

In a modern, wealthy nation such as Australia, how could this happen?

In answering this question, it’s helpful to adopt “systems thinking”. This approach views problems as part of an overall system, where each part relates to each other.

In other words, we need to look at the big picture.

Through a systems lens

Systems are everywhere, from the coral ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef to the vast technology networks of global financial markets. In a human sense, social systems range from the small, such as a family, to large organisations or the national or global population.

The systems I mentioned just now are “complex” systems. This means they are connected to other systems in many ways. It also means a change in one part of the system, such as a bushfire in a landscape, can set off unpredicted changes in connected systems – be they political, technological, economic or social.




Read more:
Australia needs a national fire inquiry – these are the 3 key areas it should deliver in


All complex systems have three things in common:

  1. they need a constant supply of energy to maintain their functioning

  2. they are interconnected across a range of scales, from the personal and local to the global and beyond

  3. they are fragile when they have no “redundancy”, or Plan B.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange – part of the complex system of global financial markets.
Justin Lane/EPA

The case of East Gippsland

To better understand a complex system collapse, let’s examine what happened in Victoria’s East Gippsland region, particularly the coastal town of Mallacoota, during the recent fires.

This case demonstrates how one trigger (in this case, a bushfire) may start a cascade of events, but the intrinsic fragility of the system enables total collapse.

Transport-wise, neither East Gippsland nor Mallacoota itself are physically well connected. Fires cut both the only transport connection to East Gippsland, the Princes Highway, and the lone road out of Mallacoota.




Read more:
Australia can expect far more fire catastrophes. A proper disaster plan is worth paying for


Smoke haze prevented air transport. This meant the only way out was by sea, in the form of intervention by the Australian Navy.

Second, there were no reserves of food, fuel, water, medical supplies or communications at hand when the fires had passed. Supplies ran so low there were reports of a looming “humanitarian crisis”.

These shortages are no surprise. In Australia, as in most developed countries, food and fuel distribution systems run on a “just in time” model. This approach, originally developed by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota, involves organising supply networks so materials are ordered and received when they are needed.

Such systems remove the need to store excess goods in warehouses, and are undoubtedly efficient. But they are also extremely fragile because there is no redundancy in the system – no Plan B.

Implications for Australia

Australia as a whole is, in many ways, just as fragile as Mallacoota.

We import 90% of our oil – a figure expected to rise to 100% by 2030. Much of that fuel passes through the Straits of Hormuz and then through the Indonesian archipelago. We have few alternative routes.




Read more:
Australia’s fuel stockpile is perilously low, and it may be too late for a refill


Nor do we maintain sufficient back-up reserves of fuel. Australia is the only International Energy Agency (IEA) member that does not meet the obligation to keep 90 days of fuel supplies in reserve.

As East Gippsland and Mallacoota have shown, many other connected systems, such as food distribution networks, are critically dependent on this fragile fuel supply.

A close shave

On January 3 this year – the very day HMAS Choules evacuated people from Mallacoota – the US killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by drone strike.

If Iran had responded by disrupting the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, throwing global oil supply into turmoil, Australia may have faced nationwide fuel shortages at the height of the bushfire crisis.

Late last year Australia reportedly had 18 days of petrol, 22 days of diesel and 23 days of jet fuel in reserve.

A global fuel crisis was avoided only due to restraint by both the US and Iran. Australia might not be so lucky next time.

Activists calling for de-escalation in the conflict between the US and Iran in January.
MARK R. CRISTINO/EPA

The need for reserves

Our communities, especially in bushfire-prone areas, need more redundancy to make them resilient to disasters. This might mean towns storing water, non-perishable food, blankets, medical supplies, a generator, a satellite phone and possibly fuel, in protected locations.

More broadly, Australia needs a national fuel reserve. This should be in line with the IEA’s 90-day obligations. In December last year, Australia reportedly had just 54 days’ worth of reserves.

The federal government has recently looked to bolster reserves through possible deals with the US and Holland. But overseas supplies will not be very helpful in an immediate crisis.

The implications of the bushfire crisis are clear. At a national and individual level, we must improve the resilience of the systems that make our daily life possible.The Conversation

Anthony Richardson, Tutor and Researcher, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

For hydrogen to be truly ‘clean’ it must be made with renewables, not coal



Hydrogen from renewable energy such as solar can be produced with zero emissions.
Lucas Coch/AAP

Frank Jotzo, Australian National University; Fiona J Beck, Australian National University, and Thomas Longden, Australian National University

Using hydrogen as a clean fuel is an idea whose time may be coming. For Australia, producing hydrogen is alluring: it could create a lucrative new domestic industry and help the world achieve a carbon-free future.

The national hydrogen strategy released last month argues Australia should be at the forefront of the global hydrogen race. Led by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, the strategy takes a technology-neutral approach, by not favouring any one way of making “clean” hydrogen.

But it matters whether hydrogen is produced from renewable electricity or fossil fuels. While the fossil fuel route is currently cheaper, it could end up emitting substantial amounts of carbon dioxide.

Dr Finkel and Energy Minister Angus Taylor ahead of a meeting about the hydrogen strategy.
RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAP

Not all ‘clean’ hydrogen is the same

Hydrogen can be produced using electricity through electrolysis, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. When renewable electricity is used, this does not produce any carbon dioxide and is known as green hydrogen.

Hydrogen can also be produced from coal or gas. This process releases carbon dioxide. Most hydrogen produced today is made this way.

Some – but critically, not all – carbon dioxide from this process can be trapped and stored in underground reservoirs – a process known as carbon capture and storage (CCS).




Read more:
145 years after Jules Verne dreamed up a hydrogen future, it has arrived


But CCS is technically complex and expensive. Only two plants producing hydrogen from fossil fuels currently use it: one in Canada, with a carbon dioxide capture rate of 80%, and one in the US with a lower retention rate.

In Australia, the only operating large-scale CCS project is Chevron’s Gorgon gas (not hydrogen) project in Western Australia. After a significant delay, and three years since the project started supplying gas, carbon capture and storage began this year.

High carbon-capture rates are not assured

The hydrogen strategy uses the term “clean hydrogen” for hydrogen produced from renewable electricity, and from coal or gas with carbon capture. And it assumes a “best-case” scenario where 90-95% of carbon dioxide is captured from fossil fuels.

Such rates are technically possible, but have not been achieved to date. Lower capture rates are not examined in the strategy.

At 90-95% capture rates, coal- and gas-based hydrogen is much less carbon-intensive than traditional fossil fuel uses. But a capture rate of 60% means hydrogen from coal has a similar emissions-intensity to burning natural gas directly.

Emissions intensity of fuels with and without CCS. Hydrogen numbers are for production only; emissions intensity is higher for exported hydrogen. Source: authors’ calculations, using data from the International Energy Agency and US Energy Information Administration

The national strategy does not describe a mechanism to ensure best-case capture rates are met. Production of hydrogen might ramp up much faster than the facilities required to capture emissions, allowing large amounts of greenhouse gas to enter the atmosphere – similar to the Gorgon case.

Another risk is that carbon capture will not be able to achieve the best-case rates for technical or cost reasons.

Towards zero-emissions exports

Countries including Japan, South Korea and Germany are exploring the possibility of using hydrogen in a range of ways, including in power generation, transportation, heating and industrial processes.

Some future importers may not care how cleanly our hydrogen is produced, but others might.

To illustrate why carbon-free exports matter, we calculated emissions if Australia produced 12 million tonnes of hydrogen for export per year – equivalent to about 30% of our current liquified natural gas exports and in line with production estimates in the national strategy.




Read more:
Enough ambition (and hydrogen) could get Australia to 200% renewable energy


It would require roughly 37 million tonnes of natural gas or 88 million tonnes of coal. If 90% of carbon dioxide was captured, emissions from gas would total 1.9% of Australia’s current (2018) annual greenhouse gas emissions, or 4.4% using coal.

If only 60% of the carbon dioxide was captured, hydrogen from gas and coal would account for an additional 7.8% and 17.9% of current national emissions respectively – making it much harder for Australia to achieve existing and future emissions targets.

Where to invest

Right now, producing hydrogen from fossil fuels is cheaper than from renewables, even with carbon capture and storage.

Australia also has large and ready reserves of brown coal in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley that will not be used by the declining coal-fired power industry. Captured carbon could be stored under Bass Strait. And the nation’s plentiful gas reserves could be turned into hydrogen, in addition to or partly replacing liquefied natural gas exports. So, it is unsurprising that the national strategy left all options on the table.

A diagram showing the myriad potential uses for hydrogen.
National hydrogen strategy



Read more:
Hydrogen fuels rockets, but what about power for daily life? We’re getting closer


However establishing hydrogen production facilities with carbon capture would mean huge spending on equipment with very long lifetimes. This is risky, as the capital would be wasted if the market for emissions-intensive hydrogen collapsed, either through public attitudes or a global imperative to move to zero-emissions energy systems.

The world is already far off the pace needed to meet its emissions reduction targets, and must ultimately get to net-zero to prevent the worst climate change impacts.

Australia should invest in research and development to make green hydrogen cheaper. This requires driving reductions in the cost of electrolysis, and further reductions in large-scale renewable energy production. It could lead to big benefits for the climate, and Australia’s future export economy.The Conversation

Frank Jotzo, Director, Centre for Climate and Energy Policy, Australian National University; Fiona J Beck, Senior research fellow, Australian National University, and Thomas Longden, Research Fellow, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia’s fuel stockpile is perilously low, and it may be too late for a refill



File 20180508 46335 1i3mq3t.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Australia currently keeps only a fraction of the fuel it needs in reserve.

Samantha Hepburn, Deakin University

Australia is an island nation that depends heavily on imported fuel – and our stockpile is critically low. According to recent reports, we have just 22 days’ worth of crude oil, 59 days of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), 20 days of petrol, 19 days of aviation fuel, and 21 days of diesel in reserve.

This is clearly in contravention of Australia’s obligation as a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to hold at least 90 days of supply.




Read more:
Running on empty: Australia’s risky approach to oil supplies


Australia is the only import-dependent country in the IEA that has not imposed any stockholding obligation and which has no current bilateral obligation to stockpile in another country. This makes us highly vulnerable to international disruptions. These might include political instability and air strikes in OPEC countries, or transit difficulties in established routes such as the Straits of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca – the latter a known target for offshore terrorism.

In response, the federal energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, has ordered a liquid fuel security review, to be completed by the end of 2018. It will examine how fuel is supplied and used in Australia, and assess our capacity to withstand international disruption.

The expectation is that once the review is completed, we will be in a position to comply with our IEA obligations by 2026. But that is eight years away. If there is disruption before that, our low stockpiles may rapidly diminish and the review will be too little, too late.

What are our obligations?

Australia is one of 29 IEA countries. Twenty of them (including Australia) have minimum stockholding obligations, as IEA members, which require at least 90 days of supply. Members that are also within the European Union are subject to an even more stringent stockholding directive, introduced in 2009. This requires them to cover either 90 days of net imports or 61 days of consumption, whichever is greater.

This effectively means that net exporting countries such as Denmark, which are excluded from the IEA stockpiling obligations, are nevertheless required to hold 61 days of consumption in reserve.

There are three types of fuel stockpile that countries can use to ensure they meet the minimum requirements: industry stock, government stock, and specialist agency stock.

Industry stock is (as the name suggests) held by industry, whether for commercial purposes or to comply with legislative requirements. Ordinarily, the obligation imposed is set in proportion to the company’s oil import share, or its share of sales in the domestic market. Twenty of the 29 IEA countries meet their obligations through legislative obligations on industry stock.

Government stock is held exclusively for emergency purposes. Legislative mandates for emergency government stock exist in New Zealand and the United States. But Australia has no legislation that requires the government to
maintain an emergency fuel stockpile.

Agency stocks are held by a separate agency that has the responsibility to stockpile in accordance with legislative requirements. Such agencies may be administered either by industry or by government. Such agencies exist in Spain and Ireland – but, again, Australia has no equivalent agency.

Depending on differences in oil market structure, geography and national policy, IEA-compliant countries may impose mandates upon one or more category of stockholders. Australia imposes no legislative mandate upon any category. This effectively means it has no rules at all about maintaining a proper fuel stockpile.

Why is Australia non-compliant?

Australia has reached this critical point for several reasons.

The first is simply a product of inertia. Unlike the fuel shocks suffered by the United States in the 1970s, for instance, Australia has never experienced strong fuel disruption. Having been used to having huge surpluses of coal, gas and uranium, energy security has never been a strong concern.

This also reflects our tendency as a nation to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to energy security. Added to this is the lingering free market complacency that underpins our refusal to impose extra regulations on private industry in response to global security issues.

The second reason is economic. The IEA stockholding obligation does not determine whether the reserve must be in the form of crude or refined oil. This is a significant issue because storing refined products is more expensive than storing crude oil. Australia, with limited domestic refining capacity following the closure of ageing oil refineries, will need to bear a greater storage burden than other countries because we need to stockpile refined products.




Read more:
Security in doubt as Australia’s aging oil refineries shut down


The future

The liquid fuel security review is long overdue. We have been aware of our fuel
vulnerabilities for many years.

Singapore provides us with most our refined petroleum and, in turn, relies on the Middle East for more than 80% of its crude oil supply. There is no doubt that political instability in the Strait of Hormuz could seriously hurt our energy security.

Petrol, diesel and jet fuel together account for 98% of our transport needs. If conflict did break out, or crucial transport routes were blocked or subject to significant terrorism threats, Australia would face the real possibility of running out of fuel.

The ConversationThis is an unacceptable risk. We urgently need legislation that will give us a much bigger buffer against global energy uncertainty.

Samantha Hepburn, Director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Law, Deakin Law School, Deakin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South China Sea: Trouble is Brewing in Territorial Disputes


  1. Is war brewing in the South China Sea? Territorial disputes are raging between China and Vietnam and also between China and the Philippines over a number of island groups in the South China Sea. A recent law passed by Vietnam has added fuel to the fire. The articles and videos below look into the disputes.

NEW YORK STATE: 49 DEAD IN PLANE CRASH


Tragedy has struck Buffalo in New York State (USA) with a commuter plane crashing into a home. The crash and fiery explosion that followed has killed all 48 people on board the plane and one person on the ground.

Continental Connection Flight 3407 (Colgan Air) struck the home in Buffalo at about 10.20 pm. The plane involved was a 74-seat Q400 Bombardier aircraft which was carrying a large quantity of fuel when it exploded on impact with the house.

The flight was taking passengers from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York State. According to reports, the weather at the time was light snow, some fog and 17 mph winds.

According to witnesses the plane sounded like it was having problems just prior to the crash. The plane has been reported as flying low, with the left wing a little lower than the right. According to air control the plane simply dropped off the radar.

Authorities at the Department of Homeland Security have been quick to rule out terrorism as a cause for the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident, along with the Federal Aviation Administration.

A family assistance number is available for family and friends of those involved in the crash: 1-800-621-3263.

INDIA: NEWS BRIEFS


Recent Incidents of Persecution

Kerala, October 31 (Compass Direct News) – Suspected Hindu extremists burned down a school building run by a church on Oct. 16 in Kuravilangad. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the main building of St. Mary Higher Secondary School was destroyed in the fire, and authorities found materials used to set the school ablaze on the premises. Church authorities demanded an investigation, and government officials have visited the site. The school has a reputation for holding seats open for poor Dalit Christians in spite of strong opposition from the upper-caste Hindus. A police investigation was ongoing at press time.

Karnataka – Mangalore police on Oct. 14 assaulted a Christian for participating in a recent protest rally against attacks on churches. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that local police targeted Herald D’Souza for taking part in the rally, dragged him to a police station and severely thrashed him, then charged him with rioting. The head constable, identified only as Gopalakrishna, assaulted him without initiating any inquiry. D’Souza sustained serious injuries on his backbone, chest, face and hands. A complaint has been registered against the head constable, but senior police officials are pressuring the Christian for a settlement.

Andhra Pradesh – Police on Oct. 14 arrested Christians in Kamareddygudem village of Nalgonda district. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that at about 8 p.m., as the five-member Operation Mobilization (OM) Christian media team led by Kummari Rajesh was screening a film on Jesus, a group of extremists arrived on motorbikes. They assaulted the OM team and destroyed equipment worth more than 200,000 rupees (US$3,950). Rajasekhar Sarella, legal counsel for the Christians, told Compass that Rajesh filed a First Information Report against the extremists at Thripuraram police station, and the extremists filed a counter complaint. The Christians were charged with “unlawful assembly” and “hurting religious sentiments.” They were released on bail on Oct. 20. Police also arrested Hindu extremists Gundeboina Lingaiah, Srinivas Reddy and Narshingh Venkatreddy for damaging property and voluntarily causing hurt with dangerous weapons. The extremists were also released on bail.

Karnataka – Unknown assailants set a church building on fire on Oct. 13 in Yadavanahalli, Bangalore, burning it down at 1 a.m. According to the Global Council of Indian Christians, a pulpit, tables, sound system, fans, music instruments, lights and other furniture of St. Anthony church were reduced to ashes, with damages estimated at around 100,000 rupees (US$1,975). Police claimed that it was an accident, while the Electrical Inspectorate of Karnataka ruled out an electrical short circuit. Church authorities have filed a complaint, and at press time a police investigation was underway.

Andhra Pradesh – Hindu extremists belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) disrupted worship and threatened Christians on Oct. 12 in Madanapally, Chitoor. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that about 20 extremists barged into Krupa Prayer House shouting the Hindu devotional slogan “Jai Sri Ram [praise lord Ram]” and told the Christians not to conduct future worship meetings. The Hindu extremists planted a stone in front of the church and told the Christians that they were planning to build a Hindu temple there. A GCIC representative told Compass that the matter was settled, with a police official promising to give the Hindu extremists land for a temple elsewhere.

Uttar PradeshHindutva (Hindu nationalist) extremists allegedly belonging to the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak and Bajrang Dal on Oct. 12 disrupted worship, desecrated Bibles and vandalized furniture at a church in Anola. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reported that at about 10 a.m. some 15 to 20 extremists led by Sanjeev Saxena stormed into an Assemblies of God Church, denouncing Christ and cursing. They warned pastor Jallal Masih and the nearly 35 believers not to worship in the church building again. A representative of the Christian Legal Association told Compass that no Sunday worship has been held there since then.

Tamil Nadu – Hindu extremists attacked a church and damaged a statue of Mary on Oct. 9 in Ganapathy, Coimbatore. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that the assailants entered the church premises, broke the glass cabin and damaged the six-foot tall statue. The incident sparked protest among Christians, resulting in about 100 church members gathering on the road demanding protection and the immediate arrest of the Hindu extremists. Police have arrested three extremists, said the GCIC, and at press time calm had returned to the area.

Karnataka – Hindu extremists on Oct. 5 burned Immanuel Full Gospel church, and police forced its pastor to give a false statement in Kanaji Pura, Chamarajanagar. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) reported that extremists set fire to the church, damaging the pulpit, Bibles and hymn books. The extremists along with police officials had threatened pastor C.J. Patrick two weeks prior, telling him to cease worship and shut down his church. A police complaint has been filed, but police have pressured the pastor to falsely state that it was an accident and not an attack. A GCIC representative told Compass that the case was closed, as the pastor gave the false statement in writing.

Uttar Pradesh – Police raided a church based on a complaint filed by Hindu extremists belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, or VHP) for forceful conversion on Oct. 2 in Baradabari. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that police investigated The Alliance Ministry’s Life Church, taking away a church register and other documents. After the enquiry police returned the register and allowed pastor Rajender Gautham to continue his ministry, but on Oct. 4 summoned him again. They told him to halt future worship meetings in the church building, as the VHP had threatened to attack Christian meetings in the area.

Chhattisgarh – Violent attacks rattled the Christian community in Dantewada district in the past month, with Hindu extremists seriously injuring a Christian woman attending a funeral with an axe blow to the head. As Christians gathered for a memorial service for Somli Bai of Narli village on Sept. 29, an angry mob attacked them, injuring about 35 Christians, six of them seriously. A woman identified only as Bode was admitted to a hospital with a serious head injury from an axe, as was Raju Karma, who was critically wounded and his motorcycle burned. Some of the Christians took shelter in a nearby jungle, with three persons missing. On Oct. 5, a mob demonstrated in front of Indian Pentecostal Church in Kirandul, 10 kilometers (six miles) from Narli, accusing the pastor of forcible conversions. He has reportedly gone into hiding following death threats to his family and him. In Bacheli (three kilometers from Narli), pastor Sudarshan Pani told Compass that Hindu extremists tried to kidnap Satish Basra, pastor of the late Bai’s church. Local residents foiled the kidnapping attempt. Police have been informed of all the incidents, but a First Information Report has not been filed, according to local sources. “These troubles have been started by outsiders who have come into the Kirandul-Bacheli area and are inciting local people against Christians,” Pastor Pani said. “A few high-caste families have voluntarily accepted Christianity in the past few days and this has added more fuel to the fire. The convert families are firm, but the pressure is being felt by the entire community.”

Karnataka – Police on Sept. 28 disrupted a worship service and detained a pastor in Hubli. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that police took the pastor for questioning based on Hindu extremists’ allegations of forceful conversion. Worship came to a halt as police ordered members to stop the meeting. Saying that that he had not caused any disturbances and was conducting the worship service in a Christian’s building, pastor Daniel Kote was released after questioning. Recently Hindu extremists had attacked another worship meeting led by Pastor Kote in Hotel Chalukya, resulting in services moving to the church member’s building.

New Delhi – Hindu extremists belonging to Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh vandalized a church, accused the pastor of forcible conversion and brought down the roof and a wall of Rehma Faith Church on Sept. 17 in Peeragarhi, west Delhi. The same mob on Sept. 18 arrived at the church with saffron flags, vandalized the remains of the church and pelted Christians with stones, while police stood by as mere spectators, reported the Christian Legal Association of India. A child and three church members were injured in the attack. A complaint has been registered and police protection has been provided on the church premises.

Andhra Pradesh – A revenue inspector and his workers demolished a church building on Sept. 3 in Hyderabad. According to the All India Christian Council (AICC), the revenue inspector identified only as Srihari said that he had carried out the demolition according to orders from another revenue inspector identified only as Sudhakar. The pastor, identified only as Jairaj, had all pertinent documents for legal ownership of the land, but the inspector refused to listen to him and went ahead with the demolition work. Hindu extremists reportedly had earlier pressured the pastor to vacate the building. Pastor Jairaj has sought help from the National Minority Commission. Moses Vattipalli told Compass that AICC has decided to file a case against the revenue officers.

Report from Compass Direct News

ELECTRIC CARS COMING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER


In great news for the environment and consumers it seems that ‘green cars’ will be arriving in Australia sooner rather than later, with infrastructure for electric cars to be set up in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne within four years. The project is a joint venture between AGL, Macquarie Capital and Better Place.

The project aims to set up recharge stations for electric cars at workplaces, homes and shopping centres. It is thought that some 250 000 recharge stations will be built in the project. Such projects have already been set up in Israel and Denmark.

Macquarie Capital is to raise $1 billion to build the recharging network, with AGL to supply renewable energy for the project. Better Place will actually build the network.

Should the project go ahead and the infrastructure be built, motorists will be able to dump petrol and diesel vehicles and move to electric ones. This will of course be a great relief from rising fuel costs and help protect the environment from further greenhouse gas emissions.