As arguing against climate change action gets harder, the naysayers get louder

The Minerals Council of Australia insists campaigns to stop new fossil fuel projects have an ‘ideological’ rather than ‘environmental’ objective

Shouting down or starving out those with whom we disagree can seem so much easier than confronting their arguments.

Take the mining industry’s latest effort to diminish the power of environmentalists seeking to stop new coalmines and coal seam gas wells.

Continue reading…

‘Female viagra': FDA panel backs Flibanserin with safety restriction

A coalition of women’s groups and the drug’s manufacturer advocated for approval of the pill, Flibanserin – but others advised agency to remain cautious

Government health experts are backing an experimental drug intended to boost the female sex drive, but stress that it must carry safety restrictions to manage side effects including fatigue, low blood pressure and fainting.

The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 18-6 in favor of approving Sprout Pharmaceutical’s daily pill flibanserin, on the condition that its manufacturer develops a plan to limit safety risks.

Continue reading…

Under Sepp Blatter, it wasn’t all bad

His motive may have been votes, but the former president of Fifa’s gesture in taking the World Cup to South Africa was important

In his days as a performer in Las Vegas, the late Dean Martin once sidled up to the microphone and told his audience: “I’d like to tell you some of the good things the mafia is doing.” His listeners, many of them aware of the Rat Pack’s connections, got the joke.

As Sepp Blatter’s opponents revelled in the sight of a suddenly aged and crumpled figure announcing his decision to step down from the presidency of Fifa this week, they need to remember that good things as well as bad happened during his reign over world football. If the game’s governing body is to re-emerge in a more satisfactory form, those in charge of its reconstruction will have to base their work on his achievements as well as on a cleansing of the stables.

Continue reading…

Coalition says kidnap risk means wealthy need tax reporting exemptions

Abbott government wants to exempt 1,000 private companies from tax transparency measures, partly because of claims of abduction threats

The Abbott government is pressing ahead with plans to exempt about 1,000 Australian-owned private companies from tax transparency measures after claims wealthy owners could face kidnapping threats.

After the kidnapping suggestion was raised at a Coalition party meeting in March, the government confirmed it was looking to amend the disclosure rules in part due to concerns about risks to personal safety.

Continue reading…

Oklahoma rodeo: ‘I can be gay and I can be a cowboy’ – video

Rodeos are a cultural staple of the American south. The bulls, the horses, the lasso. A gay rodeo has all those things, with equally capable participants. But it also has goat dressing, a drag contest and provides a family for gay men and women who might not be accepted by their own.

The Guardian travelled to the Oklahoma gay rodeo to meet some of the participants, soak up the atmosphere and find out why the event – now in its 30th year – is so dear to cowboys’ and cowgirls’ hearts. Continue reading…

Joan Kirner farewelled by dignitaries and politicians in a community send-off

One woman shouted out ‘Good on you Joan’ and everyone – premiers, cabinet ministers, friends, strangers – began to clap

Joan Kirner would have enjoyed every moment of it. People streamed down the streets of her bayside suburb of Williamstown towards the town hall, lining up an hour before the doors opened. The dignitaries and politicians were there, as befitting a state funeral, but this was a community send-off. Community was a word the first female premier in Victoria used again and again, even when it was unfashionable in the neoliberal 1980s and 1990s.

Among the suits were bright pink hair, Essendon football club scarves and Aboriginal flags. Those that couldn’t fit in went to the local secondary school gym to watch the funeral streamed in, and the local RSL opened its doors afterwards to all-comers.

Related: Joan Kirner, former Labor premier of Victoria, dies aged 76

Related: Joan Kirner obituary

She was just as ready to stand up for something she thought was right at the end of her life as she was 50 years ago

Continue reading…

Why we should be talking to Iran

The prospect of a nuclear deal and the end of sanctions has transformed Iran. Grasping that is in the west’s interests

The shaded alleys of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran are awash with crowds, though to the chagrin of shopkeepers most people just wander by. Sanctions have reduced purchasing power, as did the mismanagement of the Ahmadinejad era –inflation rose to 45% in mid-2013. Now under Hassan Rouhani, elected president two years ago, inflation is down to 15%, and the economy is expected to grow this year by about 1%. If sanctions are lifted, Iran’s central bank expects a surge of an extra 2%.

Related: Bulk of Iran sanctions to be lifted upon fufilment of Lausanne conditions

Darius sells women’s clothes, and a decade ago he was not allowed to display bras, even on legless, faceless mannequins

Some officials even say Saudi actions in Yemen are a ‘new Nakba’ and worse than anything done by Israel to Palestinians

Continue reading…

Sydney siege inquest to look at why Man Haron Monis was on bail

Coroner overrules objections from crown prosecutor, saying it was common sense to look at the fact Monis was bail when he took 18 people hostage

The Sydney siege inquest will examine why gunman Man Haron Monis was granted bail when he was charged with 43 counts of sexual and aggravated assault and being an accessory to murder.

The office of the director of public prosecutions (DPP) tried to stop the coronial inquest examining why Monis was granted bail, arguing it was beyond the scope of the inquest.

Continue reading…

Alan Bond obituary

Charismatic business tycoon who bankrolled Australia’s triumph in the America’s Cup but later faced bankruptcy and imprisonment for fraud

Alan Bond, the controversial business tycoon who backed Australia’s ultimately successful bid for the America’s Cup yacht race, has died aged 77. He was just 12 years old when he stepped ashore in Australia for the first time. His parents, Frank and Kathleen, like many thousands of Britons in the aftermath of the second world war, had taken the momentous decision to emigrate from the grey austerity of northern Europe to the sun-kissed southern hemisphere.

Young Alan was plucked from Perivale school in Ealing and on arrival in Australia attended Fremantle boys’ school near Perth. He took a job as a signwriter on leaving school, but quickly realised that his future lay in business. Such was his talent and determination that before he reached his 40s, his name was known throughout Australia and beyond. In 1978 he was named Australian of the year.

Continue reading…

Australia has forfeited world leadership on climate policy, says Kofi Annan panel

Canberra has withdrawn from constructive engagement on the issue, says report, as Australia is grilled at crucial meeting in Germany

Australia has forfeited its position as a global leader on tackling climate change and is now a “free-rider”, a panel led by former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan has said.

The Africa Progress Report 2015 disputes claims by the fossil fuel lobby that moving away from carbon would impede economic growth in developing countries. It says high-emitting nations, such as Australia, have stepped back from global discussions in favour of unilateral action.

Related: The ten worst environment decisions in Abbott’s first year | Alexander White

Continue reading…