Miscellaneous comments from 19 February 2013

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The anti-whaling group's long range vessel Bob Barker was hit in the stern by the factory ship Nisshin Maru, said Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson. Its engine room had taken on water, but the vessel was upright and no-one had been hurt, Mr Watson said. These sea-bound eco-criminals, illegally slaughtering protected wildlife in a whale sanctuary, are breaking the marine laws - such is their confidence and audacity! Australia has done nothing over the years to confront these illegal vessels. The Nisshin Maru had also hit the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin multiple times, as security men aboard the Japanese ship threw stun grenades and used water cannon, Mr Watson said. They were in the Southern Ocean, north of the Australian Casey Research Station. Dr Bob Brown said another illegal activity in the area was causing great concern. He said yesterday that a South Korean oil tanker was leaking oil as it dodged icebergs in the dark to re-fuel the whaling fleet. Capt Watson said the Japanese ship had also struck the Korean-owned fuel tanker, the Sun Laurel. Bob Barker, with 38 crew aboard, was hit a number of times as they tried to stop the Nisshin Maru from refuelling, which he says is illegal in the Southern Ocean. Japan's whalers seem to think they are above the laws, and have a carte blanche to do what they like Australia's EEZ and the Southern Ocean. Dr Brown said the Australian Government had promised in 2007 that it would stand up to the whalers. The Minister for the Environment, already under harsh criticism for recent environmentally-hostile decision, is turning a blind eye instead of taking action. The Australian Federal Court in 2008 issued an injunction against Japan's whalers. However, it's not being implemented.

Dale Peterson, co-author of Demonic Males, has published a really solid scientific book called The Moral Lives of Animals, which has a fantastic final chapter on cetaceans. I was going to write a review but am too busy to do so at the moment.

Japan has sent a giant military icebreaker to bolster its whaling fleet in the conflict with Sea Shepherd off the Australian Antarctic Territory, anti-whaling activists say. It is a 12,500 tonne Shirase, operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force. Read more: The Korean tanker Sun Laurel was making a renewed attempt to refuel the whalers' factory ship Nisshin Maru under the shelter of a Coast Guard helicopter from Shirase. It has since sent a helicopter into the sky to monitor the Nisshin Maru, and a Korean-flagged oil tanker, the Sun Laurel, which is being tracked by the Sea Shepherd's Sam Simon eight miles away, he said. The war against whales has been raised to new and disturbing levels. Military hardware, illegal refueling, and ship ramming means more violence and a greater level of audacity and flagrant violations of whaling policies and the laws of the ocean. Japan is violating the Australian Federal Court injunction against their whaling, and there are calls for the government to send a Customs vessel down there. Years of inaction means that the problem of Japan's illegal whale slaughter has magnified and extended, and they now assume that they have the laws on their side. We all know this is not "scientific research"! Killing animals to get no more than demographic data is a self-defeating way of conducting research into wildlife. It's like a surgeon saying that an operation was successful and the medical problem was fixed, but unfortunately the patient died! One dead whale is much like another and there is already a huge stockpile of whale meat. This military hardware is about Japan flouting their economic and military power and superiority. There is more at stake here than the whales- it's a whole agenda of having dominance in the Antarctic for future mining resources, and fishing rights.

They will be trying this out in Australia soon. Don't let it happen. 'Every day, it seems a new report comes out praising the ongoing housing recovery. In Georgia, home prices are up 5% over last year, a year in which we also had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Seems a little odd, doesn't it? Don't foreclosures usually drive down the market? 'That's because the housing "recovery", as they're calling it, is fuelled almost entirely by Wall Street private equity firms, hedge funds and the Fed's unwavering support. After creating a massive bubble in home prices that eventually burst and caused our economy to go into a tailspin, these guys have decided to come back for more, and figured out a way to profit off their destruction - by turning foreclosed homes into rentals and securitizing the rental income. 'The Blackstone group, the biggest player in the new REO to rental market, has spent $2.5bn in the last year purchasing 16,000 homes, a number that amounts to over $100m per week. Property records show that many of the homes Blackstone has acquired in Fulton County over the last few months were purchased on the courthouse steps at the monthly foreclosure auction, or through short sales-when a lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed on a loan. The vast majority of these homes are not empty, but occupied by homeowners who fell behind during the great recession. 'Gone are the days of calling up your landlord to let them know rent will be there on the 7th instead of the 1st this month. As more and more Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and wages continue to decline or remain stagnant, paying rent a few days late could lead to a negative credit score, impacting their ability to secure resources and move up the ladder of the middle class.' More here:

of 25 February from

Hundreds of thousands take to the streets to denounce austerity and defend democracy as corruption scandals shake Spanish royal house and government.

Europe's 2013 protest season finally kicked off this week. On Saturday, three days after the umpteenth general strike paralyzed Greece, a "citizens' wave" of indignation washed over Spain with hundreds of thousands of protesters swarming onto the streets of Madrid and over 80 cities in yet another major popular outcry against the ongoing financial coup d’étât. In Madrid, clashes broke out and at least 40 were arrested after police sought to disperse protesters who had once more encircled Parliament.

Saturday’s demonstration in Spain was deliberately timed to coincide with the 32nd anniversary of , an attempted coup d'étât by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, who in 1981 led a military contingent of 200 armed officers as they stormed into Congress while it was in the process of electing a new Prime Minister. Although King Juan Carlos publicly condemned the coup, Der Spiegel last year revealed showing that the King privately sympathized with the coup.

For millions of Spaniards, the embarrassing issue of the country’s anachronistic aristocracy is enough of a headache already. As Spain’s crisis burst out into the open, King Juan Carlos infamously went in Botswana, amply displaying the insensitivity and aloofness of the head of state (who also serves as honorary president of the country’s WWF branch). Meanwhile, the King’s daughter and son-in-law are facing major for multi-million euro fraud and money-laundering.

THE Queensland State Government plans to reopen logging in two million hectares of environmentally sensitive land put aside by the previous government, including in Central Queensland. Logging will resume in south-east Queensland, the western hardwoods area, cypress regions in the west, Central Queensland and north Queensland. "Premier Newman is ripping up the agreement between industry and environment groups forged over decades to protect our remaining native forests, and has already offered 25-year sales permits to 14 cypress sawmills," Green Senator Larissa Waters said. "The re-opening of native forest logging will trash invaluable habitat for native wildlife, destroy carbon stores, and is an economic risk given plantation forestry is a more sustainable and provides reliable employment into the future. With a mere signature, "Minister McVeigh has approved that the areas of State Forests previously excluded from further harvesting by the former State Government, as well as the State Forest areas proposed for tenure transfer to the protected areas estate, are now available for commercial log timber production and associated harvesting once again. This includes the State Forest areas within the 1.2 million hectares identified in the Western Hardwoods and Cypress Regions for proposed inclusion in the protected area estate and the remaining State Forest areas in central Queensland, the Mackay-Proserpine area and the north Queensland ecotone forests." Forestry Minister John McVeigh told the ABC in December 2012 "We believe there is in the order of 100,000 hectares of forest that can be accessed on quite a sustainable basis," he said. "We have also got the Western Forest and we are working on 25-year access agreements for cypress for our struggling timber industry." This environmental vandalism is "good" for the economy, and the powerful logging industry, but it's destroying our natural heritage and our environmental foundations. Allowing fools and eco-criminals to run our State governments is like the blind running with an axe - they only see $$$ and megalomaniac power and fail to see environmental and intrinsic values of trees, vegetation, natural systems and biodiversity. Contact Premier Campbell Newman:

A new report on Australia's liquid fuel security says we need a Fuel Security Plan and also a home-grown alternative fuels industry. The report, commissioned by the NRMA, says that if there are any major disruptions to oil imports it would take just three weeks for the country to grind to a standstill. The report argues that Australia's liquid fuel security has been hurt by the federal government's move towards greater dependence on foreign liquid fuel supplies, with 85 per cent of transport fuel coming from overseas crude oil or imported fuel. “We have about three weeks' worth of fuel at our disposal before the country would come to a standstill.” It says there are no coherent contingency plans to deal with the devastating impact of any cut to overseas supply because of war, economic turmoil or natural disasters, instead adopting a “she’ll be right” approach. Not only is our government entangled in their own petty arguments and internal conflicts, but they are still growing in the antiquated "economic growth" and mass immigration modes. Coal and (increasingly) gas will remain two of the most widely used fuel sources for many years to come. Coal and (increasingly) gas will remain two of the most widely used fuel sources for many years to come. Australia has limited arable land, and CSG mining is a threat to land and water supplies. In the past decade, the expansion of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry in Australia has been nothing short of momentous. Conflict with agricultural land has been aggravated by the environmental and social ramifications of coals seam gas expansion. The extraction of coal seam gas is reliant upon the use of gallons of groundwater. In an arid landscape such as Australia, where water is a scarce resource, any depletion is concerning. Coal seam gas is an unsustainable fossil fuel and there are clean energy alternatives that are commercially and economically available to be developed in Australia right now. Large tracts of farmland will become unavailable for food production, forests and native bushland will be cleared and fragmented, and residential communities and metropolitan centres will become industrialised. It's a pyrrhic type of economic "boom" if our land and food sources are gone and water polluted.

Across Africa, elephants are being slaughtered by poachers in record numbers -- and their tusks hacked off with chainsaws -- to make luxury items, statues and trinkets in Asia.

It’s heartbreaking to hear conservationists use the term ‘killing frenzy’ to describe the scale of elephant poaching right now -- it’s the worst it's been in over 2 decades.

Thailand is the world’s largest unregulated ivory market and a top driver of the illegal trade.They’ve been in the hot seat for years, yet so far little has been done to clamp down on their role in the elephant attack. But there is a window of opportunity, a glimmer of hope!

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has just announced that she is considering a full ivory ban. That's why Avaaz has started global petition, to give this campaign the last push it needs to win.

?This is the best chance we’ve had in years to have a meaningful victory for Africa’s elephants -- we just need to put people power behind it. Join me now to stop the bloody ivory trade. Sign the urgent petition and share it with everyone:

Leonardo DiCaprio is representing this cause. He says that these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures are being annihilated is a tragedy, but today we can right that wrong.

In the Property Council of Australia's report released on Monday, Adelaide was awarded the best liveability score, with Canberra second and Hobart third. Darwin scored the worst on overall liveability ranking, with Brisbane coming in 6th, Melbourne 7th, and Perth 9th of 11 cities. So, the cities that Property Councils and their developers have had the most experience "planning" and "managing population growth" have turned out the least liveable. Property Council CEO Peter Verwer said Australians had clear views on what made cities effective. "They continue to rate our cities poorly in housing affordability, environmental sustainability, congestion and public transport," he said. Adelaide is one of the least dense cities with regard to residents per hectare. Canberra has the least of the capital cities. This means they are not overwhelmed by lack of public transport, they have space and room to move, and not crowded in. Canberra is the least dense. Population growth in Melbourne is outstripping any effort to provide infrastructure and services, and now there is a $10b debt to provide for it. With further growth planned for Melbourne, debt will become even more entrenched, and liveability will continue on a downward spiral. Once growth continues beyond maturity, and optimum size, it becomes malignant. Dr Warren Hern, a public health physician studying urban geography in 1969, was struck by the stunning similarity between images of the growth and invasiveness of cities over time and the images of malignancies that he had seen as a medical student. He saw these patterns in relationship to other characteristics of the human population: rapid, uncontrolled growth, invasion and destruction of ecosystems adjacent to human communities, and distant colonization (metastasis) throughout all of human experience. As seen by astronauts and photographed from space by satellites, millions of manmade patterns on the land surface of Earth resemble nothing so much as the skin conditions of cancer patients. We need some leaders with vision to comprehend a nation's maturity, and the courage to end the growth stage of a city's lifecycle - and go towards the long -term stage of stabilization before growth becomes detrimental.

A major victory has been won in the war against the illegal slaughter of elephants, which claimed 25,000 animals in 2012, after Thailand’s Prime Minister pledged to outlaw her nation’s legal domestic ivory trade. Thailand is the key place where illegal ivory from Africa is laundered into products destined for their biggest market in China. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra stood before a crowded hall of delegates attending an international wildlife trade meeting and told the world that she would take steps to end the ivory trade in her country. This commitment would close a major global loophole that contributes to tens of thousands of elephant deaths every year. It was a decision that did not come easily, and would not have happened if not for you. You were part of a 1.4 million-strong petition urging her to stand up for elephants and ban Thai ivory trade. The announcement, which pleased environmentalists, places additional pressure on China to halt its legal ivory trade, a thriving industry that experts say has helped fuel the highest rate of African elephant poaching in decades. There were 1.3 million African elephants in 1979, but poaching has reduced the population to as few as 400,000. Officially there is a total ban on international trade in ivory, but there is a rampant black market, fuelled in places by organised crime and terrorist groups including the Lord’s Resistance Army in DR Congo and al-Qaeda’s al-Shabab in Somalia. This is an enormous step forward in the fight to stop wildlife crime.

WILDLIFE campaigner Bob Irwin has made a rare public appeal, calling for a stop to the killing of dugongs and turtles by Aborigines. "The killing has to stop," the statement, under the banner of the Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation, said. "Dugongs and turtles are endangered and we are witnessing a rapid and unwarranted decline. "Traditions" are human constructs, no matter how deeply engrained into Aborigine culture. They can, and sometimes, must be changed. VOTE: "I fully support it:

Vital whale habitat off Kangaroo Island is once again under threat from an oil and gas company. Australia is nearly running on dry, and will be dependant on imported oil supplies in the near future. The race to find fossil fuels, in the form of gas, is mounting. Economic growth requires fuels. Environmental Minister Tony Burke decided that the proposed seismic testing should not proceed without additional scrutiny of the company's proposal. withdrew their proposal, and then re-submitted it with some new material added. Thanks to this loophole in the review system, the 30-day comment period for public comment has now been reduced to only 10 days! Our whale experts have reviewed the new material and found that none of the changes will really help whales. So all this withdrawal and re-proposal did was reduce the time for the public to comment. Seismic testing can be devastating to marine life. Just imagine -- intense, deafening blasts of compressed air...every 10 seconds...for 24 hours a day...for weeks on end. IFAW Oceania director Isobel McCrae says: Please tell Minister Burke, right now, that it is too much to risk. Kangaroo Island's whales and other marine life, must be protected from oil and gas exploration. The economic/population growth paradigm means constantly imposing on our precious environment, threatening non-human species, and loosening environmental protection protocols.

Both of our political leaders have headed towards Western Sydney, of high population growth and neglect over the past five years. This week, when Julia Gillard campaigned in western Sydney, she announced an offer of $1 billion of taxpayers' money to help build an expressway to the city. Gillard offered the money to the NSW government on three provisos: that the highway include a freight link to Port Botany to take truck traffic off suburban roads; that it run all the way to the city rather than stopping short; and that the state not impose any new tolls on existing roads. The NSW government rejected the deal and the cash. Barry O'Farrell said the federal conditions would add $5 billion to $8 billion to the cost of a project estimated originally to cost $10 billion to $13 billion. Read more: There comes a time when the costs of economic growth outweigh the benefits. Political spin means that Gillard got her headline, she managed to look like she cared about the people of western Sydney, yet it will not cost the taxpayer a cent. Western Sydney is a multicultural region with a growing population, with long neglected infrastructure that is slowly choking the region. Gillard stated that the residents of Western Sydney were not “second class citizens”. When it was heard, the reaction was “who said we are?” I's a revealing slip of the tongue? People are being amassed as consumers, as second-class citizens, for the benefit of the mainstream. They are shelved away and ignored until they are convenient - at election time. NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson says the government is ignoring western Sydney's massive population growth. Mr Robertson says Sydney's population is forecast to grow from 4.6 million to 6 million people within the next 20 years, with almost 60 per cent of that growth occurring in Western Sydney. Infrastructure, roads, and public transport haven’t kept up with the booming population. Most of the New South Wales infrastructure plans are about connecting western Sydney with Sydney, not about connecting it with itself. Gillard said that “I'm a migrant. We've built a great multicultural society together,” she said of the post-war migration program which brought her own family from Wales in the 1960s. “It's been good for our economy, it's been good for our society.” Gillard's experience as a migrant would be totally different that those of today, living in Western Sydney! She came at a time of zero unemployment, prosperity and great opportunities. Gillard has broken her first promise, to not hurtle towards "big Australia". Australia as an infant modern nation provided many opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. What was successful, beneficial in the past, and part of our nation's foundation, can't necessarily be extrapolated and projected in the future with the same positive outcomes. There are limits to any growth, and Australia has come to maturity as a nation. Growth is only one part of a community's, nation's, or individual's life cycle. We are facing an unknown future, especially with regards to energy sources, climate change, food security and increasing scarcities of natural resources. No ongoing growth can be perpetuated on a finite landscape. Our migration-based population growth was a major contribution to our society. However, growth after maturity is usually detrimental and malignant.

More than 800 whales escaped the harpoon this season because of anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd, its director Bob Brown said. He said the assertion by Japan's fisheries minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, that eating whales was the same as Australians eating kangaroos was the first time the Japanese had not used science as an excuse for whaling. They have obviously discarded their thinly-disguised smoke-screen of "scientific research". Nothing very scientific has even been published on their research results, except demographic data. It's killing the "data" to find out the age and location! It's totally unscientific and unethical. Except for indigenous Australians, who killed and ate kangaroos on a subsistence level, Australia has never had a "culture" of eating kangaroo meat. It was only eaten in desperation by early settlers, when there wasn't enough meat from sheep and cattle. Kangaroo meat is mainly for pet food, skins and an export. It's not part of Australia's mainstream diet either, despite being touted by the industry! Sea Shepherd's success in saving the lives of 800 "protected" whales in a whale sanctuary puts to shame all the waste of time and money the government's diplomatic efforts have been. A not-for-profit charity/animal rights/conservation group should not have to rely on donations that the government's ADF or coast guards should be doing. If policies are NOT backed up by implementation, they are nothing but political spin! How dare Japan kills whales in a whale sanctuary, in the protected Antarctic. They are also signatories of the Antarctic Treaty and have a duty to comply with its policies, not flout them when they already have a massive stockpile of un-eaten whale meat. Mr Brown said Sea Shepherd was not optimistic the hearing on whaling at the International Court of Justice in The Hague would begin soon. If Australia loses this court case, a lot of public money and diplomatic effort will be lost, and whatever basis our government continues with their facade of being "anti-whaling", it will be further weakened. Direct action at the onset, instead of all this procrastination and brow-beating, should have put an end to Japan's illegal whale slaughter years ago. Instead, they have allowed it to escalate to dangerous dimensions, all to be unsuccessful. Policies need implementation, not political spin and inaction.

The federal government's new powers over coal and coal seam gas could delay dozens of projects and ultimately cost the industry billions of dollars, companies say. Environment Minister Tony Burke released new guidelines recently. Conservation groups said the additional safeguards on water contamination would be useful in sifting out the riskier, more marginal mining and fracking projects. Mining corporations are getting edgy and objecting to all the rules. ''Rather than drowning Australian industries in regulation, we should be focusing on reducing costly project delays, which are harming Australia's reputation as an investment destination,'' deputy chief executive of Australian Mining Association Greg Sullivan said. Australia doesn't want to be an "investment destination" if it's not in our interests. Delays are costing investors $10 million a month. Fracking is hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping pressurised water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas. Fracking has come under considerable pressure from those who fear contamination of underground water reservoirs. Critics of the methods say that fracturing formations could lead to mixing of freshwater with saline aquifers, pollution of water by fracking liquids, or pollution of water reserves by gas. A preliminary study by the University of Texas revealed many allegations of groundwater contamination appeared to be related to "above-ground spills or other mishandling of waste water produced from shale gas drilling, rather than from hydraulic fracturing itself". New South Wales Government revealed (Feb 2013) that it would implement safeguards banning the extraction of coal seam gas near suburbs, country towns and some rural industries, such as horse breeders and wine producers, potentially ruling-out hundreds of proposed gas wells and some $4 billion worth of gas. AGL, which had plans to drill in 66 gas wells near and under housing estates in Western Sydney, looks to be a big loser from the new safeguards. The uncontrolled nature of the drilling , the damage and the widespread nature of the various drilling programs affecting huge swathes of the US are affected is alarming. Risking our health, our soil, our water supply and our landscape for a short-term supply, and a pretty profit, is utterly unacceptable. GASLAND- When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarked on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown." Some "investments" are not in our interest, especially when they wreck the land, the air and the water we need for our livelihoods!

by Philip Thomson in the Sydney Morning Herald of 17 Mar 2013

Morbidly obese kindergarten children and year 6 pupils weighing 100 kilograms are evidence of a health crisis needing a multimillion-dollar intervention to fix, former world champion marathon runner Robert de Castella says.

Mr de Castella runs the not-for-profit SmartStart for Kids program, which has been delivered to 52,000 overweight children in the past 13 years. He has also written to the ACT government proposing a program for children at extreme risk that he says is ''absolutely critical''.

The proportion of overweight and obese kindergarten children in NSW increased from 17.7 per cent in 2004 to 18.7 per cent in 2010, according to a Sydney University study.

See also: by Bie Kentane, 13 March 2013 on Global Research.

The following is my response to a -196935">comment which excused wars conducted by the U.S and its allies in the 20th and 21st centuries on johnquiggin.com

Mel (@ # 39) wrote:


You have written numerous posts praising the brutal murderer, torturer and serial rapist, Muammar Gaddafi.

The articles about the illegal invasion of Libya in 2011, by the US, France the UK, Libya's former coloniser, Italy and other NATO allies are to be found . There are 18 articles in all and the first is of 4 March 2011. Feel most welcome to post comments beneath any one of these articles to show us where we are wrong. In particular, please feel welcome to produce evidence that you have of Muammar al-Gaddafi (1942-2011) being a "brutal murderer, torturer and serial rapist". Other factual reporting about the criminal invasion of Libya and NATO's current proxy terrorist war against Syria is to be found on , and , the and elsewhere.

Mel continued:

I also note with considerable merriment and mirth that your Can Do Better website runs pro-Lyndon LaRouche and anti-fluoride propaganda.

The articles which address the concerns of the Citizens Electoral Council include: of 18 Oct 2010 and
of 17 Jan 2013. I think most who read those articles will find them to be balanced appraisals of the Citizens Electoral Council. Again, feel most welcome to post comments to those pages to shw us where we are wrong.

There are also a number of articles against the fluoridation of drinking water, many of which do not originte from the CEC. Please also feel welcome to produce any scientific evidence you have that water fluoridation is not harmful.

Mel continued:

I'm unable to take you seriously ...

Unless you can bring yourself to subsantiate your claims, the feeling may be mutual.

Those opposed to war and terrorism may also find of interest this popular about a recent meeting of Syrian Australians for Peace in Syria in the Melbourne Unitarian Church. It includes broadcasts by three Syrian Australian speakers who have suffered personal tragedy in the war agzinst their homeland, which has been shamefully excused by Australia's 'Labor' Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

Discussion closed on johnquiggin.com

10:58AM. Discussion on his sandpit page was closed by Professor Quiggin before I could post the above comment. So I -196969">posted the comment below, including a link back to this comment on his subsequent Weekend Reflections page.

Professor Quiggin has -196953">closed the discussion on sandpit, before I had a chance to respond to Mel’s tirade against me and my web-site, candobetter. I think this is unfortunate, both for me and other site visitors. Those wishing to read my response to Mel, including links to other resources including a very popular article, which includes video broadcasts of a recent public meeting of Syrian Australians for Peace in Syria at the Melbourne Unitarian Church can read it .

In what may be considered an early Easter miracle, an extinct species of native frog has begun its rise from the dead. Australian scientists have grown embryos containing the revived DNA of the extinct gastric-brooding frog, the crucial first step in their attempt to bring a species back to life. The dead genetic material of the extinct amphibian into the donor eggs of another species of living frog, a process similar to the technique used to create the cloned sheep Dolly. The eggs continued to grow into three-day-old embryos, known as blastulas. The Southern Gastric Brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus silus) was a bizarre frog that swallowed its eggs, brooded its young in its stomach and gave birth through its mouth. The frog species became extinct in 1983. The Southern Gastric Brooding Frog was an interesting frog in its own right. The females actually cared for its babies. Over the last five years, the Lazarus Project research team has performed repeated experiments using a laboratory technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer. Fresh donor eggs were harvested from the distantly related Great Barred Frog, Mixophyes fasciolatus. While the embryos had yet to develop into tadpoles, genetic tests revealed the dividing cells contained the DNA of the extinct frog. The Lazarus Project team has been able to recover cell nuclei from tissues collected in the 1970s and kept for 40 years in a conventional deep freezer. The "de-extinction" project aims to bring the frog back to life. UNSW's Professor Archer spoke publicly for the first time today about the Lazarus Project and also about his ongoing interest in cloning the extinct Australian thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, at the TEDx DeExtinction event in Washington DC, hosted by Revive and Restore and the National Geographic Society. Researchers from around the world are gathered there to discuss progress and plans to 'de-extinct' other extinct animals and plants. Possible candidate species include the woolly mammoth, dodo, Cuban red macaw and New Zealand's giant moa. Scientists have managed to extract DNA from Thylacine carcasses. Unfortunately the DNA is in little fragments and trying to reassemble the DNA in its original order is proving difficult without an intact model. At present the researchers are hoping that the use of the DNA model of the Thylacine’s closest relative – the Tasmanian Devil – will lead to better progress. While many scientists have argued it would be impossible to bring a species back from the dead like in the film Jurassic Park , the Lazarus project's breakthrough suggested the revival of extinct species was no longer the realm of science fiction. The team has also demonstrated that the cloning technique, known as somatic nuclear cell transfer, could be used to conserve the genomes of other critically endangered species, particularly frogs, whose populations have plummeted around the world. Frogs are disappearing world-wide, even without habitat disturbances. Although some of the factors responsible for the sudden fall in frog numbers are not clear, a number of human activities are harmful to frogs. Some of these activities include habitat loss, predation by introduced animals, insecticide and herbicide use, increased salinity and changes in the water management of streams, ponds and wetlands. Loss and destruction of habitat by the explosion of human numbers means that any resurrected extinct species would have limited habitat and a limited gene pool. The planet's resources are dwindling and pushing out non-human species.