International: Thailand Dispels Concerns Following King’s Death

Thailand has reaffirmed that royal succession and election will not be a concern following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The king died at the age of 88 and was the world’s longest-reigning monarch, having presided the country for 70 years.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn said he would delay the ascension to the throne to mourn his father with the people for an unspecified period. In the meantime, the head of the royal advisory council, Prem Tinsulanonda will stand in as regent.

“[The prince] said at this time everyone is sad, he is still sad, so every side should wait until we pass this sad time,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“When the religious ceremony and funeral have passed for a while, then it will be an appropriate time to proceed.”

The Bangkok Post newspaper also reported that the general election scheduled for next year will not be delayed.

“The government has reaffirmed its commitment to following the roadmap for general elections scheduled for late next year,” the newspaper said.

The government also stated that the economy and government will continue to work as normal.

National: NSW Premier Mike Baird Backflips on Greyhounds Racing Ban

Five greyhounds have been killed since last week, when NSW Premier Mike Baird backtracked on his decision to ban the racing.

Baird and deputy premier Troy Grant announced that a panel will report to the state government about reforming the sport and “providing the most stringent, safest racing environment to eliminate avoidable injury”.

Baird said that he and his government were “wrong” about the decision to close down the industry after three months stating that the ban was “the right thing to do”.

“I got it wrong, we got it wrong, the cabinet got it wrong and the government got it wrong,” Baird said.

Baird said his advisor on the industry closure, Dr John Keniry had said that “there is now a deep appetite for change, for reform in the industry… [the industry is] desperate to change.”

The decision to ban greyhound racing from July 1, 2017 was a result of special inquiry headed by Michael McHugh, which found that up to 68,000 greyhounds had been euthanised in the past 12 years due to slowness and incapability to continue competing.

Brenton Scott, chief executive of the NSW Greyhound Industry Racing Alliance said cases of track euthanasia “represents an extremely small 0.13 per cent of runner. However, the industry accepts that every possible step must be taken to avoid any track euthanasia going forward.”

Fairfax’s Sean Nicholls said the reversal is likely caused by oppositional media and industry campaign, as well as predictions that the Liberal Party might lose the November 12 Orange by-election.

Technology: BlackBerry to Stop Making Its Own Phones

BlackBerry has announced that it will stop making phones in order to focus on software development.

The production of handsets will be leveraged to a new, Indonesia-based joint venture called BB Merah Putih. This venture will be led by PT Tiphone, an affiliate of Indonesia’s largest carrier, Telkomsel.

Chief operating officer and general manager at BlackBerry, Ralph Pini said the decision enables the company to continue bringing BlackBerry devices to the market and develop “state-of-the-art security software for devices”.

“BlackBerry is no longer just about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone,” said BlackBerry CEO, John Chen. “Through this strategy, there will continue to be BlackBerry-branded devices in the market; when you see our logo it means security, from our class-leading enterprise software to devices secured by BlackBerry software.”

BlackBerry smartphones have long been overtaken by Apple and Samsung, with current market share of 0.1 per cent and recorded losses of $670 million in the last quarter.

BlackBerry was known as the inventor of smartphones, with the launch of BlackBerry 850 in 1999. It was popular among business executives and heads of state, with President Barack Obama as one of the world’s most prominent fans of the phone product.

International: Fox News’ Chinatown Segment Sparks Outrage

Fox News’ segment on Chinatown has attracted criticism for its “racist stereotyping” of Chinese American communities.

The “Watters’ World” is a regular segment hosted by Jesse Watters in The O’Reilly Factor. In an episode aired on October 3, Watters was shown going to Chinatown to ask the community’s political opinion following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s statement on China.

Critics argue that Watters made fun of Chinese Americans’ culture and portrayed Chinese American citizens who are unable to speak English as politically ignorant for not being able to answer Watters’s questions. Critics also condemn Watters for asking a man if he knew karate (a Japanese martial art) and staging a mock fight in a taekwondo (Korean martial art) center that was followed by a clip of Bruce Lee (a Hong Kong-American man).

The video has received over 21,680 dislikes on Youtube, with one user commenting, “This video was a burning dumpster fire of racist stereotypes and lazy attempts at humor at the expense of Chinese Americans”.

Watters said on Twitter, “My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.” Shanghaiist website called this tweet “non-apologizing”, while The Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng responded with a video showing his own interview in Chinatown and telling Watters, “If you’re gonna be racist, at least get your stereotypes right…”

More than 19,000 people have signed a petition calling on Fox News to issue an apology, cancel the “Watters’ World” segment and meet with representatives of Asian American community to address the on-air racism.

International: Clown Sightings Terrify the World

A significant number of clown sightings have been recorded around the world in the past couple of months.

The first sighting was reported in Greenville, South Carolina in late August. The New York Times reported witness statements that “people in clown makeup had been terrorizing both children and adults”. The phenomenon then spread to other states in the US, such as North Carolina, New Jersey and Ohio, as well as other countries including Canada and Australia. In the latter, clowns have been spotted in Brisbane, Ipswich, Wollongong, East and North Sydney, and more.

While most of the clowns were just roaming around, a number of reports state that some clowns were chasing people using tools such as knives or baseball bats or vandalizing private property, leading to police arrests. Clown Sightings Australia page on Facebook announced that some clowns were spotted throwing eggs at cars in Randwick.

Some theories about this clown ‘uprising’ have been put forward. Many believe it is part of a promotional stunt for upcoming horror film “It” (2017) which heavily features clowns. However, others think it is just another social media fad. Benjamin Radford, author of non-fiction book “Bad Clowns” told CNN, “The scary clown image is perfect for social media. It is custom-made to go viral.

“You have something that is both scary and funny. It’s this combination of horror and humor, laughter and fears… People see this scary clown narrative happening on the news, and they’re like, ‘Hey I want to be a part of this!'”

International: UN Continues Delivering Aid to Syrians After Attack

The United Nations said it is ready to continue delivering aid to Syria, only days after at least 18 trucks were hit by an airstrike, killing 20 people and triggering the suspension of the humanitarian relief operations.

“The preparation for these convoys has now resumed and we are ready to deliver aid to besieged and hard-to-reach areas as soon as possible,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Wednesday, September 21.

“The United Nations continues to call for safe, unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to all Syrians in need, wherever they are.”

The attack happened after Syria broke the ceasefire agreement due to US-led coalition attack on Syrian army camp. US officials blamed Russia for the airstrike, while Moscow rejected the claims that Russia or Syria carried out the attack, in keeping with the ceasefire obligations.

According to the UN, the attacked trucks were heading to rebel-held town Urem al-Kubra, west of Aleppo.

The UN OCHA’s emergency relief officer, Stephen O’Brien called the continuous conflicts between the countries “a stain on the world’s collective conscience”.

“it appears that we have moved – once again – into reverse gear,” said O’Brien in a statement. “Active conflict and insecurity, as well as numerous delays in getting the necessary approval, have been limiting factors in reaching people in need these past many weeks.

“We need all necessary action from the parties and their supporters to ensure safe, sustained, unhindered and unconditional access. And we need an immediate end to the sieges which still collectively punish hundreds of thousands of civilians mercilessly. Anything less than the full lifting of the sieges will never be enough and we cannot pretend otherwise.”

Finance: Phasing Out Coal Won’t End Aus Economy, Says Australia Institute

Phasing out of coal production would not hurt Australia’s economy, according to an Australia Institute research.

The study found that the national economic impact would be insignificant if the Government put a moratorium on coal mines opening and expansion, although it could hurt regional areas relying on the industry.

“The world outlook for coal is fairly bleak. We don’t see much likelihood of strong market conditions for coal over the longer term,” said the research’s leader at Victoria University’s Centre Of Policy Studies, Professor Philip Adams to ABC’s AM. “There is enough coal in mines that are operating or will be operating to continue the level of exports that we see now.

“But, thereafter, coal production will slow as new mines which otherwise would come on are not allowed to come on.

“Is this a bad thing for Australia? The answer is no.”

Australia Institute chief economist, Richard Dennis said the impacts of a moratorium on the economy will be “trivial… Literally, when you graph the economy with a moratorium and without a moratorium, you need a microscope to find the difference.”

The report concluded with calls for a moratorium on new coal mines and expansions, and that the Government “should expect minimal economic disruption from doing so.”

The mining industry has rejected the study’s findings. The Chief Executive of the World Coal Association, Benjamin Sporton said coal still plays an important role in providing energy to the world, with coal currently providing 41 per cent of the world’s electricity and 90 per cent of Australia’s eastern seaboards.

“To try and say we’re going to move away from a fuel that provides that much of the world’s electricity, I just don’t think is realistic,” said Sporton.

The Executive director of Minerals Council of Australia, Greg Evans said the report is “a nonsense” and “just more anti-coal rhetoric, not analysis”.

“Only the green movement and their mouthpieces such as the Australia Institute (TAI) would be able to contend shutting down Australia’s second largest export industry would have limited economic impact,” said Evans in a statement.

“Annual coal exports at $38 billion in 2014/15 are almost twice those of beef, wheat, wool and wine combined so under their logic eliminating those great industries would also have negligible consequences.

“There are also 44,000 direct jobs in the coal sector and including related jobs, the number is around 150,000 and the majority of those are in regional areas. The TAI should travel to the Hunter Valley and Bowen basin coal towns and promote their economic thesis that the coal industry doesn’t matter.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously rejected calls for a moratorium, saying that it would not help “one iota” to relieve climate change if coal exports were to be stopped.

The Changing Nature of Trust: Australian Jobs That Need Security Checks

In Australia, the government has now increased a number of safety measures towards jobs that are considered a ‘high security’ risk. Jobs such as aged care services and disability care services now require to obtain a mandatory certificate.

Staff working in aged care homes and disability care centres who have supervised or unsupervised access to care recipients must obtain a police check. All volunteers that are likely to have unsupervised access to care recipients must also obtain a police check.

National criminal history record checks (also known as police checks) provides evidence that the employee has not committed any crimes, in an attempts to lower the risks of any thefts or assaults that may occur in the workplace.

Criminal records may include arrest, conviction, and possibly criminal proceedings.

Technology: Construction Delays In Transformative Technologies

It has been reported from Sourceable, that there has been a powerful wave of new technologies said to be sweeping across the AEC sector. Along with the traditional industrial tools and machinery available, there are new devices which have impacted upon the way firms are involved in the development of built environments and do business.

According to Marc Howe, “These technologies cover a range of different areas and functions, including unmanned drones, building information modelling (BIM), reality capture, big data, as well as augmented and virtual reality platforms.

Mobile data in particular is having a highly “disruptive” impact on the AEC sector, with workers carrying levels of computing power on their person that were all but inconceivable for even the largest mainframe devices only one or two generations ago.

It’s this extraordinary level of mobile computing power in tandem with surging levels of connectivity that underlies the ability of other disruptive technologies to make critical contributions to the AEC sector.

Mobile technology means that drones, embedded sensors and portable smart devices can channel vast amounts of data from building sites or built assets to cloud computing hubs, supplying them with all the information they need to fuel or enhance other key technological processes such as BIM, augmented and virtual reality, or predictive analytics that rely upon the accumulation of big data lakes.

A recent white paper published by Viewpoint Construction Software on mobile technology and data notes that this ongoing trend is set to accumulate momentum, leading to further profound changes in the development and operation of built environments.

The white paper foresees the development of “better telecommunications, more connected mobile devices, increased integration of enterprise and project-based software, growing reliance on data-rich BIM(M) approaches and the explosion of data-emitting, interactive systems in and around our built assets.”

The authors of the paper further observe that “the successful construction business of the future will be one that can harness the power of this data, working with its supply chain partners and its customers to extract intelligence from its processes and from the assets it helps deliver so that it can add real value.”

If the effective adoption of new paradigm-changing technologies is essential to the success of construction companies in future, Australian firms will need to overcome prevailing levels of trepidation and conservatism about these shifts in order to flourish in years to come.

According to Lynne Edwards, ANZ marketing manager, Viewpoint Construction Software, many in the construction sector remain laggards when it comes to the adoption of new technologies.

“The construction sector isn’t making the most yet of the new technologies that are now on offer,” said Edwards. “There’s the technology out there, yet many people remain nervous about using it and making it work for them, because they either don’t like change, or they don’t want to disrupt the status quo.”

Firms at the mid-market level can often feel that they’re not large enough or sufficiently prepared to embrace new technologies.

Edwards notes, however, that it’s often the size of construction projects rather than the companies themselves that should determine the types of tools or technologies that are adopted.

“The products that can really help construction companies are designed to foster collaboration in larger and often complex projects ,” she said.

“While a company might feel a bit overwhelmed by having to deal with a huge project, the only way they’re going to grow is by enlisting the help of those technologically based resources.”

Another issue impeding the use of key emerging technologies by the construction sector is the Catch 22 dilemma of companies never having an appropriate time or situation to forge ahead with their adoption.

“Companies feel they’re either too busy at the moment to think about it, and so they say to themselves they’ll do this when we’re less busy,” said Edwards. “When they’re less busy however their conservatism creeps back in and they say they don’t want to make an investment now that they have the time because of the risks involved.”

Technology: Blackhole Discovered in Markarian 1018 Galaxy

An international team of astronomers has found a black hole in the Markarian 1018 galaxy, cracking the code behind the galaxy’s changing brightness throughout the decades.

Markarian 1018, located 555 million light-years away from Earth, was first discovered in the 1980s emitting little light. A few years after, it became categorized as a Seyfert type, a galaxy with very high brightness.

However, the astronomers found that the galaxy once again dimmed in 2015 using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope along with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

“When we re-observed [Markarian 1018] last year we found that it had returned to this dimmer state that it was in when it was first observed in the 1980s,” said study lead author Rebecca McElroy, a Ph.D. student at the University of Sydney and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics.

McElroy said this decline in brightness was because the black hole was starved of fuel or accretion material. “It’s possible that this starvation is because the inflow of fuel is being disrupted,” Ms. McElroy said. “This could be because of interactions with a second supermassive black hole.”

McElroy said the findings provide new knowledge on active galaxies. Previously, active galaxies have been categorized into two static types: obscured and unobscured. However, Markarian 1018 challenged this classification.

“Future research on the galaxy will allow us to explore the exciting world of starving black holes and changing active galaxies in more detail,” Fellow at the European Southern Observatory, Bernd Husemann said.