Retail expectations see tomatoes going to waste and more Zedlines...

Retail outlets’ high demands for unblemished fruit is causing 70 to 84% of tomatoes to go to waste, according to a study from the University of Sunshine Coast. (Image Source: Wikimedia)

Environmental Science student, Tara McKenzie, found 70% of these unused yet edible and undamaged tomatoes were left in the field, and she said strict product specification rejects tomatoes too small or large, marked or oddly shaped.

In response to the study, a spokesperson for Coles said rejected produce is often used in other products including sun dried tomatoes and smoothies, while Woolworths also said through a recent initiative, the company has brought 6700 tonnes of imperfect tomatoes.

Aldi said since 2015 they have donated 6000 tonnes of food to charity which would otherwise be sent to landfill.

Dangerous parking crackdown in school zones

Motorists are now twice as likely to be punished for doing the wrong thing in Brisbane school zones.

Brisbane City Council has announced it will more than double law enforcement officers patrolling the areas in an effort to crack down on dangerous parking.

People caught double-parking or staying too long may receive a $94 fine, while those stopping on a yellow line or in a “no-stopping” zone will earn themselves a fine of $126.

The changes are in response to more than 18,000 requests filed to the city council last year to take urgent action against illegal parking in school zones.

Private health insurance changes for young Australians

Young Australians are being targeted in the redevelopment of private health insurance changes, in which premium discounts on cards are provided.

The Federal Government aims to have a raft of affordability and transparency measures to help take the pressure off health insurance premiums, which have increased since 2010.

Private health insurance funds will offer discounts of 2% a year for a maximum of five years for individuals aged between 19 and 29.

By attracting more young people into private health insurance, it allows the sector to remain sustainable in an ageing population.

Disability groups facing closure from funding withdrawals

Disability advocacy groups around the country are facing closure as states withdraw funding before the transition to the national disability insurance scheme, warning the cuts will leave “huge gaps” in representation for the rights and interests of those with a disability.

Most states and territories plan to withdraw their funding of disability advocacy as part of the NDIS rollout but the scheme does not properly replace advocacy funding or help the majority of people with a disability not covered.

State governments, including NSW, who are providing $10.6 million plus an additional $3.2 million to assist with the transition until mid next year, are feared to be cutting off funding once current commitments expire.

Federal assistant disability services minister Jane Prentice said that “all levels of government have a responsibility to support advocacy for people with disability to ensure they can exercise their rights and freedoms.”

Palestinian factions sign reconciliation agreement

Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas signed a preliminary reconciliation agreement in Cairo in an effort to end a decade long dispute.

Representatives from both factions attended meetings earlier in the week, mediated by Egypt, to discuss a unity agreement signed in 2011 that was never implemented.

The agreement, signed on Thursday, states the Fatah Palestinian Authority will resume control of the Gaza strip by December 1st and while analysts said there are many details still needing to be resolved, if the agreement holds it could see reconciliation between the two factions and improve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Civil war between Hamas and Fatah broke out in 2007 leaving Hamas in control of the Gaza strip and Fatah ruling the West Bank.

Israel and US quit UNESCO

Israel and the United States are leaving the UN cultural organisation UNESCO, after US officials cited “anti-Israel bias”.

The agency designates world heritage heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the Grand Canyon, as well as supporting goals like sex education, literacy, and gender equality.

Israel has come under fire from UNESCO in recent years for its activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, earlier this year designating the old city of Hebron a Palestinian World Heritage site, a move that was seen as denying Jewish history at the site.

The US withdrawal will become effective in December of next year. UNESCO head Irina Bokova says that the withdrawal is a matter of “profound regret”.

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