By Nicole Knight,2014-11-11 20:26
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This week:

    ; Coping with a disaster

    ; Why people climb mountains;

    ; The controversy over whaling.


    Hi I'm Kerry Staight. Also on the program today:

    ; Selling off a national icon

    ; Making life easier for blind people.

    Those items later... but first to our top story this week.

Disaster Response (0.41 4.55)

    In recent weeks we've see two major emergencies in neighbouring countries, the earthquake in Indonesia and a violent uprising in East Timor. In both cases Australia has been able to help in some way... but who asked us, or did we volunteer? And who is responsible for responding to such a huge problem?

    Well, Lucy has been looking at both situations to help us understand how big emergencies are handled. Lucy Andrew, reporter

    Anyone who has found themselves in an emergency knows that it's not a nice experience. In most cases the people involved need help.

Dana has experienced an emergency.

DANA: I was riding on the gutter of the street and I fell off my bike and broke my arm.

    Dana went to the hospital emergency department where she saw a doctor, had an X-ray and her arm was put in a plaster cast.

    When an earthquake occurred in Yogyakarta in Indonesia last week, lots of people died and many people were injured with broken bones and cuts. Twenty thousand people needed to go to the hospital. They needed a lot of bandages, a lot of doctors and a lot of hospital beds. There was no room in the hospital and most people were treated outside.

    Dana was able to continue her life pretty much as before... she only had to adjust to having a cast.

DANA: Once I had the cast on I went home.

    But for people in Yogyakarta, even if they are well enough to go home, they have no home to go to. They will have to make do with tents supplied by aid organisations.

SHOP KEEPER: Can I help you there?

REPORTER: Yes, I think this is perfect. Do you have anymore like this one?

SHOP KEEPER: Sure. How many do you need?

REPORTER: Fifty thousand.

    Where would you find fifty thousand tents? I don't know, but aid groups keep stores of tents ready for emergencies.

    Many organisations provide aid in emergency situations. The first thing they do is find out as much as they can - What sort of emergency, how many people are affected and what are their needs. The aid organisation then works out how to get shelter, food, water and medical supplies to the people who need them.

    When a big disaster occurs, the government will often declare a State of Emergency. A State of Emergency means that the government will focus on the disaster, calling on emergency services and other countries, like Australia, for assistance.


That's what's happened in East Timor.

    In East Timor, the State of Emergency was not caused by a natural disaster but by riots and conflict between people. Because of the conflict, people are scared to live at home. Lots of houses, shops and markets have been destroyed.

    The East Timorese also need shelter, food and medical help but getting it to them is made difficult by violence in the streets.

    Even with a broken arm, Dana can go to school. During a State of Emergency there is often no school because the school has been damaged or it's not safe to travel to school.

East Timor and Indonesia both have emergency situations caused by very different problems.

    We can't do anything to stop earthquakes, but once the Indonesians are safe they can start rebuilding houses, shops and schools.

    In East Timor the riots are due to people being angry with their government. Australian troops are there to help stop the conflict. Then it's up to the East Timorese people to make some changes so it doesn't happen again.

True or False?

    Java is the most populated island on earth.

    Answer: True

ZOOM (5.07- 5.47)

    Other stories in the news this week ...

Australia has urged other Asian countries to help keep the peace in East Timor.

    Australian and Malaysian soldiers have been working together to stop gangs fighting and burning homes in Dili.

    The United Nations is supervising the foreign military involvement and is also trying to end a power struggle between the East Timorese President and the Prime Minister.

    Some people, including the leader of rebel forces fighting the government, want the prime minister to resign.

    And as we reported last week the Prime Minister, John Howard, will hold talks this week about the use of nuclear power generation in Australia.

    He wants an official inquiry to look at the health, safety, and environmental and economic arguments for and against nuclear power.

    He says since an oil production crisis is approaching, alternative energy sources must be investigated.


    How many Australian mountains are among the world's 10 tallest?

    The answer is none.

Mountain Climbing (5.51 10.02)

    All ten are in Asia and 9 of them are in the Himalayas. Accidents involving Australian climbers in recent weeks have reminded us of just how dangerous mountaineering can be. It's one of the most extreme challenges any person can face. Well, Andrea doesn't mind a challenge, and she seemed remarkably calm when we asked her to find out more. Andrea Nicolas, reporter

    This is the highest mountain in the world. It's in the heart of the Himalayas, on the border of Nepal and Tibet. We know it as Mount Everest.

    In Nepal, it's called Sagarmatha, which means 'goddess of the sky'. And in Tibet they call it Chomolungma, meaning „mother goddess of the universe‟.

People come from around the world to climb the giant mountain.


It's about the same height as 20 10-storey buildings. That's around 9000 metres or 29,035 feet tall.

    In 1924 two British men, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were the first to attempt to climb Everest. But they never came down and no one knows if they actually made it to the top.

    The first successful Mount Everest climb was in 1953 by New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay a Nepalese Himalayan person known as a Sherpa.

    Since then, more than 4000 people have attempted to climb to the summit. Only about 900 have succeeded and more than 150 people have died trying.

    Mountain climbing is dangerous. Just recently, Sue Fear, the first Australian woman to climb Mount Everest was climbing another Himalayan mountain and fell into a giant crack in the snow called a crevasse. She was presumed dead, and rescuers gave up looking for her because it was too dangerous to recover her body.

If it's so dangerous, why do people want to climb these huge mountains?

    SUE FEAR (2004): I think it's very cool that we can't control nature. We think we can control everything. Well, nature doesn't listen, and the weather, it spits us back and it gives us a bit of humility.

    The conditions on Mount Everest are extreme: ferocious winds, sudden storms, avalanches and hidden crevasses.

    It's also freezing on the mountain and because it's so cold you need to wear special climbing gear.

    I've got thermal underwear, thick socks, a fleece jacket, a wind-proof parker, a beanie some gloves and of course ski goggles, to protect my eyes from the snow.

Now I'm all set for the big climb...

But the scariest place on Everest is known as the 'deathzone'.

The air up there only has about one third of the oxygen we normally have at sea level. In these conditions climbers

    produce more red blood cells to try and get more oxygen to parts of the body. Some take bottled oxygen with them and stop at camps at different heights on the way up to help them get used to the changing conditions.

    Despite all the precautions, the human body struggles to survive and can suffer frost bite, hypothermia, tiredness, nausea and hallucinations.

    That's what happened to Australian climber Lincoln Hall recently. His team thought he was dead. But the next day another climbing team found him motionless but still alive in the death zone and rescued him.

    But despite the risks, climbers will continue to attempt the world's highest and most challenging mountain.

True or False?

    No blind people have ever climbed the world's tallest mountain.

    Answer: False

Blind Assistance (10.14 14.21)

    An American named Erik Weihenmayer became the first blind person to scale Mt Everest in 2001. And it's interesting to note that Sue Fear - who we mentioned in our last story - was also known for her work to help prevent avoidable blindness.

    Which brings us to Andrea's other story this week, which happens to be on how people who can't see manage to

    cope with the challenges of life.

    Are they really in the dark? Andrea Nicolas, reporter

    This is life through Trevor's eyes. Trevor is legally blind and has been for twenty years. That doesn't mean he can't see at all, but as he puts it, his vision is dreadful.

    TREVOR: I can see off the side but there's nothing in the centre, so you don't have a head right now Andrea.


    Trevor has the most common form of blindness - Macular Degenerate disease, which is loss of central vision. So he can't see anything directly in front of him.

    TREVOR: If you can imagine walking around with a basketball at arms length in front of your face, you've pretty well got the picture.

    The macula is at the centre of the retina in our eye and helps us to see fine details in front of us. In a person with this disease the macula is damaged; either because blood vessels aren't supplying enough blood to this part of the eye to keep it working, or because the blood vessels are leaking blood-causing vision to blur.

There's no treatment and no cure, so Trevor has learned how to function without sight.

TREVOR: The sight loss was fairly rapid and so that messes your head around a bit.

But he says with the right support, blind or visually impaired people can have relatively normal lives.

    Like most people Trevor has a job but his workplace is a little different. He has special tools, called 'adaptive technology' that helps him get through the day.

    Trevor actually works in the 'adaptive technology' section at the Royal Society for the Blind. So he's the right person to show us exactly how these tools work...

    This machine makes writing huge and much easier to read. Trevor says he can't see anything on the paper without it.

    This camera's designed to help blind school students‟ work in a normal classroom. They can zoom in on the blackboard, their teacher and their schoolwork.

But some tools are less serious...

    TREVOR: This is a little device that will help you to identify colours. Can I use your jumper?


TREVOR: Ok we just colour-brate it and then it will tell me what colour.

MACHINE: Very dark red

TREVOR: Very dark red, I wouldn't think so.

Even robots make mistakes. Let's try again...


That's it.

    Tools like this one are really stops blind people burning themselves on boiling water when they make a coffee.

    TREVOR: When the water reaches about a centimetre from the top it'll make a beeping sound so you know to stop pouring.

And like in a science-fiction movie most of the technology can talk.

    TREVOR: There are talking calculators, my mobile phone talks to me, talking telephones, watches, you name it.

Check out Trevor's mobile


TREVOR: So it's just spoken everything that is currently appearing on the screen.


Most blind people have talking gadgets throughout their entire house.

    Trevor says many people are terrified of being blind. But it doesn't stop him from doing most things, besides driving a car that is.

ANDREA: How would you want people to treat you?

    TREVOR: No differently to any other person. I mean I'm not different from any other person other than my eyes don't work as well as theirs. That's the only difference.

True or False?

    The Blue Whale is the largest animal that ever lived.


Whaling (14.38 18.30)

    Blue Whales can be up to 30 metres long and weigh as much as 120 cars. Unfortunately they are one of the whale species in danger of becoming extinct. So 60 years ago the International Whaling Commission was set up to make the rules on how many whales can be hunted. The commission will meet next week to decide whether to allow more whaling.

     Dan Hamilton reporting

    In Australia, if you are lucky you might see a whale frolicking near a beach, but if you lived up here in Japan there are whales in markets and restaurants; well bits of them as a piece of meat that some people like to eat.

    Whales have been hunted for hundreds of years by many different countries - but the Japanese only began eating the meat regularly 60 years ago after World War Two when there was a shortage of food.

    These days, not many Japanese people eat whale meat - but that hasn't stopped the Japanese whaling industry from continuing to hunt and kill hundreds of whales each year.

Hunting whales for food is actually illegal - it's called commercial whaling.

    Last century commercial whaling reduced numbers of many whale species to dangerously low levels.

    There are approximately 25 species of whales considered to be in danger of becoming extinct. The top six are Gray Whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, North Pacific Right Whales, North Atlantic Right Whales and Sei Whales

Commercial whaling has been banned for almost 20 years.

    But hunting whales for scientific research is OK. And that's why Japan has continued to kill hundreds of whales each year - saying it's for science - to find out more about whales. Opponents believe this research could be done without actually killing the creatures.

    Japanese whalers kill about 400 Minke whales each year - but it could be as high as 900 this year. That's a lot of dead whale left over after the research - so Japan sells the meat from those whales.

    Some argue it's just a clever trick - that Japan's scientific research is really just commercial whaling in disguise.

So who decides whether to ban or allow whaling?

    The International Whaling Commission has representatives from 67 nations including Australia and Japan, and they discuss and vote on these important issues.

The Commission meets again this month and another vote will be held on commercial whaling.

    Some countries, including Australia, argue that if commercial whaling was made legal, species will again be in danger of extinction. Australian would like Japan to stop all whaling activities, including scientific research. But countries that hunt whales say that there are now enough whales in the ocean to begin commercial whaling again.

Both sides try to persuade other countries to vote with them.


    A lot of new countries have recently joined the International Whaling Commission, and many of these are countries in the Caribbean that have small fishery industries, that need money to survive. And Japan is willing to help them.

    It works something like this - Japan gives each country something it needs - money - and in return Japan gets something it needs - a promise from that country to vote to allow commercial whaling.

    It's expected that during the next meeting a majority of countries will vote to allow commercial whaling. That means Japan will be able to kill many more whales than it does now.

    Plans are already in place to sell whale meat cheaply to schools, hotels and hospitals - and so it's possible whale could become a more popular food in Japan.


    18.30 19.10

    To sports news now....

    The Socceroos should be feeling more confident drawing one all with the Netherlands, which is ranked number three in the world.

    The Netherlands led one-nil at half time, but Australian midfielder Tim Cahill equalised in the second half.

    Australia had to play with ten instead of eleven men for the final thirty minutes of the match because midfielder Luke Wilkshire was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

The Socceroos are now in Germany to continue training for the World Cup.

Time for a quiz:

    Which three major rivers are fed by the Snowy Mountains?

Snowy Sell Off (19.25 23.24)

    We'll have the answer after this story. Sometimes governments decide to sell off things to get large amounts of money to use for something else. It's called privatisation and not everyone agrees that it's a good idea. Sarah looks at the plan to sell off the Snowy Hydro Scheme and why the governments decided against it. Sarah Martinelli reporting

    When people overseas think of Australia, they often picture this, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It's a national icon, world famous. It took 1400 men 8 years to build. Can you imagine the fuss if someone tried to sell it off?

    Believe it or not, that almost happened to another Australian icon, the Snowy Mountain scheme. It's an amazing feat of engineering and good old Aussie hard yakka. 100 000 workers from 30 different countries moved mountains to divert the flow of water in the snowy river to the west, allowing the dry inland areas to be irrigated for farming, and giving power to the cities.

    NEWSREEL: This is the snow country of the world‟s driest continent. Here the snow lies for months on Kosciuszko while 100 miles away to the west the ground cracks with drought.

    The Snowy Mountains scheme is sometimes called the birthplace of multiculturalism in Australia. When it began in 1949 there was a shortage of scientific and engineering skills to do the work. So a major national and international recruitment program was carried out. Many people sacrificed a lot during construction.

    NEWSREEL: And these are the men who are drowning admirably, tearing the hills apart, turning great rivers back in their courses and forcing the water through the very mountains themselves.

    Towns were swamped, and people were forced off their properties, but they were proud of the fact that they were building something that was for Australia. So there's no surprise that plans to sell the snowy scheme off to private business is annoying some Australians. Farmers are worried that they might not have access to enough water.

    Look at it like this. The water that I'm about to drink is mine. I paid for it, because I have to pay water rates. But if the Snowy scheme was sold to private investors, they wouldn't own the water, but they would own the rights to take water out, store it, and release it back into the system.


    When the government sells off assets to private investors, its called privatisation. It's happened before. This business used to be totally owned and run by the government. But the government started selling it off in 1997. Since it has been run as a business, for profit, some people say it hasn't served Australians as well as it used to, particularly those in the bush. And some people are worried that will happen to the Snowy scheme too, if it is sold. The investors who buy it may not have Australia's best interests as their priority.

So how could the Snowy scheme be sold off?

    The Snowy scheme is owned by three governments. NSW owns 58 %. Victoria owns 29 % and the federal government owns 13%. They all want to sell it, to raise 3 billion dollars. But a public outcry has forced them to rethink the idea.

    John Howard has changed his mind, and NSW and Victoria have abandoned plans to sell their shares. So Australia's greatest feat of engineering will be owned the governments on behalf of the people, for now.

    Ok, before that story I asked, “Which three major rivers are fed by the Snowy Mountains?” The answer is the Snowy, Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers. There are other smaller rivers too.

That's the program for this week.

    Check out our website for stories, puzzles and quizzes.

    The Friday morning special this week is about World Culture.

    That's at 10:15.

    I'll be back after Rollercoaster with Short Takes. Catch you then.


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