Daily News Roundup

August 30, 2018

Image: ABC News


The construction of three dams around the Mitchell River catchment in far north Queensland could make the region a giant food bowl, a new report from the CSIRO says.

The CSIRO study mapped three key river systems in northern Australia, including the far north’s Mitchell River, which flows from Mareeba to the Gulf of Carpentaria, reports the ABC.

It said construction of three new dams along the Mitchell River could support as much as 140,000 hectares of year-round crop irrigation.

Resources Minister Senator Matthew Canavan said the far north could become a major food production centre, bringing significant economic benefits to the region.

“You would be looking at a $700 million direct benefit, $1.5 billion economy-wide benefit and 7,000 jobs as well,” Senator Canavan said.

“In terms of being able to boost our farm production as a nation, boost our food production, take the potential of growing Asian economies, it’s a big deal for the whole country.”

Mr Canavan said the process would take years, if not decades to implement.

“We’ve always said our northern Australian agenda was not something for an electoral cycle, it’s not something for us to deliver in just three years … it was something to set the country up, set the north up for decades,” he said.

He said the construction of the dams would come at a $755 million price tag, according to the CSIRO.

“Investing in dams is one of the key ways we can make our country more resilient from drought,” Senator Canavan said.

“In the Mitchell River, the consensus view is that there won’t be much change to rainfall patterns due to climate change.”

He said Indigenous groups would need to be extensively consulted before any decision was made to go ahead with the project.

The study also proposed a fourth dam for the Lynd River on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula.

The Fitzroy and Darwin rivers in Western Australia and the Northern Territory have also been identified as possible sites for dams in the report.


New internal images of premature babies breathing for the first time, captured with the help of ultrasound, have scientists hopeful that they can reduce deaths and chronic disease rates, reports the ABC.

It’s the first time moving pictures of the moment have been recorded, with the vision showing how a baby’s first breath pushes liquid from its lungs as it emerges from the womb.

At the moment, it takes several hours to determine the severity of a premature baby’s lung problems because doctors have to measure oxygen levels and make clinical assessments.

The power of the new pictures may mean a more accurate diagnosis can be made within 20 minutes of birth.

“What we’re hoping to do with ultrasound is see if we can make these decisions sooner and more closely after birth, and therefore initiate the right therapies sooner,” Dr Douglas Blank, the study’s lead researcher, said.

“Then the baby will have a better chance of surviving and surviving without significant lung damage,” he said.

Scientists from the Royal Women’s Hospital and Monash University performed ultrasounds on 115 full-term babies as they were born, with the They recorded the moment by placing tiny ultrasound paddles over their lungs.

“It was really kind of fun to watch these babies take their first breaths and see these dramatic changes on ultrasound,” Dr Blank said.

“All of a sudden when the baby takes its first breath … [the picture] goes from a dark rectangular shape to being a more bright white rectangular-shape with horizontal flashes across it.”

Researchers have performed the ultrasounds on eight premature babies, including twins Marta and Sara Tartaglia.


Senator John McCain’s 106-year-old mother has been slowed by a stroke but is expected to attend his memorial and burial services this week, reports Associated Press.

Roberta McCain is set to attend the services in Washington and Maryland for the middle son she called “Johnny”.

The former Vietnam prisoner of war, congressman, senator and two-time presidential candidate died of brain cancer on Saturday at age 81.

Roberta McCain once said her son liked to hold her up as an example of “what he hopes his life span will be.”

The wife of A Navy admiral lived a life of full of travel and adventure, punctuated by her sass and determination.

She had a habit of speeding behind the wheel and racking up tickets.

When told during a trip to Europe she was too old to rent a car, she went out and bought a Peugeot.

Her son once answered the phone to hear his mother say she was on a cross-country driving trip by herself, in her 90s.

McCain said in one of his books that his mother was raised to be a strong, determined woman who thoroughly enjoyed life, and always tried to make the most of her opportunities.

“She was encouraged to accept, graciously and with good humour, the responsibilities and sacrifices her choices have required of her. I am grateful to her for the strengths she taught me by example,” he wrote.

A native of Muskogee, Oklahoma, Roberta Wright was nearly 21 and a college student in southern California when she eloped to Tijuana, Mexico, in January 1933 with a young sailor named John S. McCain Jr.

He would go on to become a Navy admiral, like the father he shared a name with, and the couple would have three children – Jean, John and Joseph – within a decade.

With her husband away on Navy business most of the time, Roberta McCain raised the kids. She didn’t complain, and loved Navy life. The family lived in Hawaii, the Panama Canal Zone – where the senator was born in 1936 – Connecticut, Virginia and many points in between.

“To me, the Navy epitomises everything that’s good in America,” she told C-SPAN in 2008 during the presidential contest John McCain lost to Barack Obama.

John McCain followed his father and grandfather’s footsteps into the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he’ll be laid to rest on Sunday.

He became a fighter pilot and on his 23rd bombing run over North Vietnam he was shot down and taken prisoner in October 1967.

Roberta McCain said that learning her son was alive and had become a prisoner of war was “the best news I ever had in my life.”

John McCain wrote in his final book, published this year, that his mother’s “vivaciousness is a force of nature” and though a stroke has slowed her and made speaking a “chore,” she still had “a spark in her, a brightness in her eyes that would light up the world if she could resume her peripatetic life.”

This daily news roundup has been curated with stories from ABC News.

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