Australia Criticized For Ramping Up Gas Extraction Through ‘2050 and Beyond’

Slashdot reader sonlas shared this report from the BBC:
Australia has announced it will ramp up its extraction and use of gas until “2050 and beyond”, despite global calls to phase out fossil fuels. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government says the move is needed to shore up domestic energy supply while supporting a transition to net zero… Australia — one of the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas — has also said the policy is based on “its commitment to being a reliable trading partner”. Released on Thursday, the strategy outlines the government’s plans to work with industry and state leaders to increase both the production and exploration of the fossil fuel. The government will also continue to support the expansion of the country’s existing gas projects, the largest of which are run by Chevron and Woodside Energy Group in Western Australia…

The policy has sparked fierce backlash from environmental groups and critics — who say it puts the interest of powerful fossil fuel companies before people. “Fossil gas is not a transition fuel. It’s one of the main contributors to global warming and has been the largest source of increases of CO2 [emissions] over the last decade,” Prof Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics and author of numerous UN climate change reports told the BBC… Successive Australian governments have touted gas as a key “bridging fuel”, arguing that turning it off too soon could have “significant adverse impacts” on Australia’s economy and energy needs. But Prof Hare and other scientists have warned that building a net zero policy around gas will “contribute to locking in 2.7-3C global warming, which will have catastrophic consequences”.

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How a Tiny Radioactive Capsule Was Found In Western Australia

A radioactive capsule that was reported lost in Western Australia on January 25 has been found. The BBC reports: On 25 January, when mining company Rio Tinto reported that one of their Caesium-137 radioactive capsules had gone missing, Western Australian authorities faced a seemingly impossible task. They had to locate a pea-sized capsule anywhere along a 1,400km (870 mile) route stretching from the Gudai-Darri mine in the north of the state to a depot just north of Perth’s city centre. Authorities sprung into action, mobilizing specialist search crews to look for the capsule, with firefighters among those asked to foray from their usual summer tasks. […] Before notifying the public to the threat, on 26 January, authorities began searching in Perth and around the mine site in Newman.

On January 27, an urgent health warning was issued to notify the public about the risk posed by the radioactive capsule. Health authorities had a simple message to anyone who may come across it: Stay away. “It emits both beta rays and gamma rays so if you have it close to you, you could either end up with skin damage including skin burns,” the state’s Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson warned. By January 27, search parties were in full force looking for the tiny capsule. But they were not scouting for it using their eyes – they were using portable radiation survey meters. The survey meters are designed to detect radioactivity within a 20m radius. Police focused their efforts on the GPS route the truck had taken, and on sites close to Perth’s metropolitan and high-density areas. One site along the Great Northern Highway was prioritized by police on 28 January after unusual activity on a Geiger counter – a device used for measuring radioactivity – was reported by a member of public. But that search did not uncover the capsule.

The next day, additional resources requested from Australia’s federal government had been approved and those overseeing the search began planning its next phase. With the new equipment in Western Australia and ready for use by 30 January, the search ramped up. An incident controller at the state’s emergency services department, Darryl Ray, described the new tools provided by the government only as “specialized radiation detection equipment.” Local media reported that radiation portal monitors and a gamma-ray spectrometer were among the new items being used by search crews. But by the end of 31 January, the capsule continued to evade search crews.

So the next morning, when the government revealed the capsule had been found just two meters off the side of the highway at 11:13 local time Wednesday, it seemed the all-but-impossible had been achieved. “You can only imagine it’s a pretty lonely stretch of road from Newman down to Perth,” Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said at a press conference on Wednesday. “You can’t help but imagine there was an element of surprise from the people in the car when the equipment did spike up.” While hesitant to give the exact location the radioactive capsule was found, Mr Klemm described it as “the best possible outcome.” Local media reports suggest it was found some 74km from Newman – so around 200km from the mine site. No one appeared to have been injured by the capsule, according to authorities, and it did not seem to have moved from where it fell. Mr Klemm said the additional resources from the federal government proved key to finding the capsule.

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Data on Tens of Thousands of South Australian Government Employees Breached in Ransomware Attack

“Russian hackers have stolen and published the personal data of tens of thousands of employees…” reports the Australian Financial Review.

Government officials have confirmed the breach — part of a ransomware attack — and say the stolen data may even include info on the country’s premier, according to an Australian public broadcaster:
The government said the records of at least 38,000 employees, but potentially up to 80,000 workers, have been accessed in a cyber-attack on external payroll software provider Frontier Software. The data includes names, dates of birth, tax file numbers, home addresses, bank account details, remuneration and superannuation contributions… Treasurer Rob Lucas said politicians, including Premier Steven Marshall, could be among those affected.

The treasurer added the breach potentially impacted “The highest of the high to the lowest of the low and all of the rest of us in between.” Except for schoolteachers, and the Department of Education, who did not use Frontier’s software.

The website publishing the 3.75 gigabytes of data claimed it was just 10% of the total amount, according to the Australian Financial Review, which “understands Russian organised crime group Conti, which claimed credit for launching the cyberattack on Queensland’s energy network CS Energy, published the information.”
Australian Payroll Association chief executive Tracy Angwin said the hack was a wake-up call to employers using remotely accessed payroll systems to ensure they were secure…

Frontier Software said the hacker responsible for the incident was known to employ a “double extortion” strategy, which included encrypting systems and stealing the data.

In another report, Bleeping Computer describes Conti as “a long-lived Ransomware as a Service operation” that “still manages to evade prosecution even after high-profile incidents against vital national resources such as Ireland’s Department of Health.”

The gang is believed to be behind the recent revival of the notorious Emotet botnet, which could lead to a massive new wave of ransomware infections. This week, Conti took responsibility for the attack against Nordic Choice Hotels, a Scandinavian hotel chain with 200 properties.

Thanks to Macfox (Slashdot reader #50,100) for tipping us off to the news.

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