china

How Aussie sports teams are doing overseas

The Young Matildas, Australia's women's soccer youth team, lost to their Chinese counterparts 2-1 in an Asian Under-19 Championship tie in Wuhan on Monday night. And if that wasn't enough, there was an all-in brawl after full-time with spectators pelting the Aussies with bottles.

Axe the boycott, be there, be heard.

I'm not a supporter of sporting boycotts in most cases. The exceptions can be distilled down to two types. One, where discrimination and exclusion is inherently carried out by the host sporting body (eg. apartheid-era South Africa). And two, where the host nation is in such a repressed, run-down state that playing international sport in those surrounds would be grossly immoral (eg. Zimbabwe, North Korea).

Boycotts of the Olympic Games are almost as old as the modern Olympics themselves. Think of Irish athletes refusing to compete in the first London Games and you realise that 2008 is the centennial year of the Olympic boycott.

Costa Zoo and the China Syndrome

You don't have to be a rocket surgeon, or even a brain scientist, to understand the People Republic of China's role in that Maoist Johnny Howard's strong economic management of Australia. And you might even be aware of the Chinese government's new-found interest in foreign corporate investment. However, the New South Wales Government's leading parliamentary economist, treasurer Michael Costa, is none of the above.

It seemed reasonable enough in Question Time in the Legislative Council on Tuesday, when John Kaye of the Greens put the following to Costa the Coster:

Of terrorists and cricketers

Ever worried about all these new anti-terrorist laws? Ever worried that their wide-ranging discretionary powers would be used for entirely non-terrorism related reasons? Well, it happened in Australia this week.

The Australian cricket team was threatened with action under the Australian Passports Act 2005 if they went ahead with this September's planned tour of Zimbabwe.

Vale the baiji

The International Year of the Dolphin begins on a poignant note. Last month, the Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin - the baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) - was declared to be almost certainly extinct.

A victim of the long-term poisoning of the Yangtze River.

The baiji is the first species of cetacean to have become extinct in modern times, and it's the first large mammal to disappear as the direct result of man's pillage of the Earth's natural resources.