Breaking the Bubble

Australia announces apology to Aborigines

Australia’s new government has announced it will issue an apology to the nation’s Aboriginal minority for past mistreatments when the parliament reconvenes on Feb. 13.

According to the New York Times, the parliament will make it their first order of business as a measure of the importance they place on the issue.

The apology is in response to a history of mistreatment of the continent’s Aboriginal population, beginning with the slaughter of tens of thousands from their population after European settlement began in the 18th century. It continued into the 20th century with policies of forceful assimilation by taking children from Aboriginal families and placing them with white parents (which was formally abandoned in 1969) as well as the denial of suffrage in national elections until 1962.

Report shows Chinese economy suffering

In the midst of China’s worst winter in more than 50 years, the Civil Affairs Ministry hs released figures that show that the economy has taken four and a half billion dollar hit, according to CNN. Transportation has been stalled, the power grid has been frozen and destroyed crops have led problems. Food prices have inflated and the lifeblood of China’s growing manufacturing sector, the roads and railways, have been halted because of the winter conditions.

“Because of the snowstorm, the transportation isn’t very good and so there might be a late delivery,” said marketing manager Calvina Chan. The loss of transportation has had a domino effect on the energy sector also, disrupting the delivery of coal to China’s power plants. The energy issues are complicating China’s problems.

“This time the snowstorm’s problem is not so much freezing the production but freezing the transportation line which makes transportation of coal to those power plants more difficult,” said economist Nicholas Kwan.

This has all occurred during the Lunar New Year holiday, which is China’s busiest shopping season. Many factory workers who had planned to travel home are stuck at the train stations waiting for trains that may be delayed for days.

“I have been sleeping out here for six days. I have spent all my money. I don’t know how I will get home,” one man said.

The Chinese government has had convince almost 470,000 people to abandon their holiday plans and accept ticket refunds. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao apologized to the all the people stuck at the train stations. “First we’ll fix the electric grid. After that, the trains will run again. … Then all of you can go home for the Chinese New Year,” Jiabao said.