Your Patient Health Records, Along With Security Issues, Rise To Fore

Civil Liberties Australia [30/10/11]:

Health privacy and security issues lead this issue, with the government careless about your interests in patient health records, and ASIO asking the government for even more money, beyond the excessive amounts they already receive. The extra spook cash could help to push new propaganda against the media, which the government wants recreate as a docile secretarial service for ministerial pearly statements. DNA contamination is another health/justice issue receiving more attention.

Meanwhile, a move towards legislative protection against corruption in Australia is losing out to the government's favourite approach, creating a 'framework' which leads to a 'plan' which soon becomes just a PR or advertising program: soon there'll be no need for any climate change tax – Australia can be powered by governments' PR spin. Back in the real world, the danger of contaminated DNA is being highlighted in official Medical Journal reports which warn of the dangers of mishandling of crucial judicial exhibits by lack of attention to proper standards.

Presumed Innocent Goes Up In Smoke

Civil Liberties Australia [27/10/11]:

CLA is concerned at the creeping trend throughout Australia to make more offences subject to "strict liability". That is government lawyer speak: it means that, under these new types of laws, you have to prove you are innocent rather than the government proving you are guilty, which has traditionally been the basis of Australian law. Here, in a letter responding to CLA's criticisms, is how the ACT Chief Minister tries to justify proposed new and badly-written laws over smoking in cars.

CM Katy Gallagher says that "It is acknowledged that this places a burden on the defendant but it is not considered to be a particularly onerous one". Considered by whom? Most defendants will find the provision very onerous. She also says that "it is envisaged that police officers will take steps to establish the age of all people in the car before any enforcement action is taken". It may be "envisaged", but it is very bad law when it is hoped – not legislated – for police to behave in a certain manner.

She also says it is "unlikely" that drivers and passengers will not know the ages of other people in the car. That's just plain nonsense, because many young people most at risk of being caught by this draconian legislation are prone to telling people they are older than they actually are.

This is bad law-making, and the relevant clauses should be revised before being enacted, CLA says.


President of Ireland Condemns the 1%

On social injustice perpetrated on the poor and the immigrant by the fat cats and financial speculators. [Adbusters]

 

I Love Australia!

Coombabah Wetlands, Gold Coast [31/10/11]

There are still koalas (and people making do with low tech cameras!)

Nature is doing its thing

Peace, beauty [and ticks] in a paper bark swamp

People are free to occupy a park to discuss ideas for a better future - as we did on the Gold Coast yesterday! [30/10/11] Image: @Cherylkarma

Submission To The Media Inquiry By A Gold Coast Citizen

... The fact is, we won.
All right?
We came in and we killed lots of them and we took their land and we're not giving it back, unless the High Court makes us and then frankly, the High Court will have to go.They weren't using the land for much. They're still not, to tell the truth. This is what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did and he's not going around saying, 'I came, I saw, I conquered, I felt really bad about it'. The history of the world isn't about people making friends, it's about cultures conquering other cultures, usually by force of arms. We had better weapons - end of story.

['What A Sorry Lot Of Rot', Robyn Wuth, Gold Coast Bulletin - 16/2/08]

I live on the Gold Coast.

It is a one-paper town.

Here is the most recent example of the misinformation and fear mongering produced by the local News Ltd outlet that continues unchallenged.

In an effort to get to the bottom of a mysterious "child abduction alert", which the Gold Coast Bulletin has published as news over the past few days, I emailed the Queensland Police as follows:

"The 'News Ltd' media on the Gold Coast has been heavily reporting a "Child Abduction Alert" in the last few days. There is no mention of a "Child Abduction Alert" on the QPS website. Could you please advise whether one has been issued and, if so, the details. If not, how does the QPS view the reporting of such an "Alert" when it doesn't exist?"

Today [31/10/11] the Queensland Police contacted me to advise that they had not issued a Child Abduction Alert.

Even if you choose not to purchase Rupert Murdoch's vile propaganda - as you can see from the attached images [see below] - there is no escaping the lies displayed all around town, in our supermarkets at service stations and outside news agencies and convenience stores.

Our local ABC radio station regularly repeats the fabrications contained within the Gold Coast Bulletin as if they were news.

I do not want the sexist, racist, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-intellectual garbage produced by the Gold Coast Bulletin censored.

I want a level playing field so that there can be an opportunity for other voices to be heard. News Ltd.'s stranglehold on the market renders this vital aspect of democracy impossible.

I also want to know how much advertising revenue is acquired by Murdoch publications from Federal, State and Local governments.

Additionally, I would like to make the following specific submission, which I believe addresses the public interest aspect of the terms of reference:

Australia should enact legislation similar to that in Canada, which makes it an offence for any news media outlet, in any platform, to publish as news something which is untrue.

A Gold Coast citizen.

 

Ban Voices Concern After Deadly Violence In Gaza and Southern Israel:

UN Media Release [30/10/11]

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern today at the recent escalation of violence and bloodshed in both southern Israel and the Gaza Strip that has reportedly left around a dozen people dead.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban condemned rocket fire launched from inside Gaza, which has killed an Israeli civilian in the country''s south, and called for its complete cessation.

He also urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint after the country''s military forces reportedly killed 10 alleged militants in Gaza.

"He hopes that the parties will fully respect the calm as brokered by Egypt," the statement noted, referring to a reported ceasefire organized by Egypt.

Mr. Ban added that the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, headed by Robert Serry, remained actively engaged with the Israelis and Palestinians in supporting efforts to end the violence.


The deadly attacks have taken place just weeks after Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a prisoner exchange that senior United Nations officials said they hoped would lead the two sides to make further hard decisions towards an eventual peace agreement to end the long-running conflict.

The Closing Of The American Mind

Gandhi joins Occupy Boston [Another image - which has been ungenerously copyrighted - can be viewed here]

Peace Abbey [25/10/11]:

I. That Strange Brown Man, Gandhi.

Gandhi is standing in the bustle of Occupy Boston. The wry smile, the flapping ears, and the walking stick in hand. A sign flags near his knees, “The world holds enough for everyone’s NEED, but not enough for everyone’s GREED.” People rush past him, walking on the wooden planks that work as the walkways between tents in Dewey Square. These people are temporary heroes, the people who have walked away from their ordinary lives to seek shelter together in the public square. Some of these people are happy, pleased to be together and to model a different social life. Others are already cold, already a bit dispirited. The days have begun to drag on. The novelty will wear off. It is precisely to ward off a drop in morale that Gandhi warned his fellow activists, “If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm” (Young India, June 17, 1926).

Quakers from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts, brought the statue to the site. They had made it as a gift to Goldman Sachs. On October 28, 2010, the Abbey workers and children from the Life Experience School came down to the Goldman office on High Street, not far from Dewey Square. They wanted to install their statue of Gandhi as a beacon against Greed. Goldman’s people declined the offer, so Gandhi was then chained to the doors of the building. He didn’t last long, went back to the Abbey, and then, when Occupy Boston started, came to his place amongst the protestors.

II. The Wrong Dewey.

Occupy Boston is in Dewey Square, in the canyons of finance – the Boston Federal Reserve, PNC Bank, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America (BofA. BofA seems never to leave the bad side of history. I remember spending nights at a shantytown in California twenty five years ago, protesting the Bank ofApartheid, as we called it, for its considerable investment in South Africa.

On September 30, about three thousand people marched from the Boston Common to the BofA office at 100 Federal Street to protest against the Bank’s aggressive foreclosure practices (particularly in majority minority neighborhoods). The Right to the City Alliance drew upon its impressive coalition of unions and community organizations to bring out the outraged, who blocked the doors to the BofA’s offices. The police arrested twenty-four people, including Presley Obasohan of Dorchester, MA, who says, “I blocked the doors at Bank of America so that my neighbors and me can stay in our homes. So many people have been thrown out of their homes or lost their jobs needlessly because of mistakes made by Wall Street Banks. Yet it’s the banks who are now rewarded with billions in tax refunds. It’s time to fight back.”

There was not much talk of foreclosures at Occupy Boston when I went there.

There were a few signs to mark the massive military frontier of the United States. Dewey Square, the site of Occupy Boston, is named for Admiral George Dewey, the Civil War hero who led the charge into Manila during the 1898 Spanish-American War. Dewey’s central feat was first to take advantage of the desperate help afforded by the Filipino rebels (led by Emilio Aguinaldo), and then when the Spanish were in retreat to force Aguinaldo into submission to American authority. The Square itself bears the marks of American imperialism, and of the military debt that will transfer across the generations. Despite this, there was not much talk of militarism and military debt among the Occupiers.

The main issue at Occupy Boston is of a different kind of debt, those owed by young people who took out impossible student loans. The total student debt in the United States is now over $1 trillion. It weighs down on the imagination of the youth, for whom education is reduced to a currency for future earnings (so as to pay off the debt) rather than an encounter totransform their intellectual horizons. This is the kind of crisis that would make sense to Vermont’s other Dewey, John, whose ideas about education are now relegated to the lonely corners of the library. In 1920, in his Democracy and Education, Dewey warned against vocational or trade education, which is the direction in which our students are now perforce to go. If vocational education dominated the curriculum, Dewey wrote, “education would become an instrument of perpetuating unchanged the existing industrial order of society, instead of operating as a means of transformation.” Any education that leads to the simple act of learning a trade or a skill is “illiberal and immoral,” Dewey argued, because the graduates “do what they do, not freely and intelligently, but for the sake of the wage earned.”
Today, the situation is more unpleasant. There are fewer wages to be earned. Yet, there is greater need for a radical imagination.

Mike, who is fixing his tent, tells me that he went to a community college with good grades. He had no scholarship and no means to pay with his family’s savings. This meant college loans. It also meant that Mike had to work a full-time job over the weekends. The financial crash of 2008 washed away the meager financial aid he had begun to receive. Mike had to drop out. He had no degree. But he had $12,000 in student debt. Nothing, not even bankruptcy, wipes out this debt. Mike went to work, trying to earn enough money both to pay off his debt and to save to go back to school. This is a Sisyphean task. Mike’s anger is against the banks, the “invisible organizations.”

Twenty-nine percent of students, such as Mike, worked more than thirty-five hours per week, and a majority of them (fifty-three percent), again like Mike, failed to graduate largely, but not wholly, because they simply did not have the time to read, to study.

A few tents down sits Drew, who like many other homeless people wants to go to Florida, where it is warmer. Drew worked at Costco, which recently fired him. “I lost everything,” he says. The system is trying to “eliminate the middle class,” he pointed out, giving him no chance to go to school or to get a stable job. Drew is afraid of debt. He’s right. It is corrosive.

I find Jen sitting very quietly. Debt came to her purposefully. She carries student loans in the tens of thousands. I can see it in her eyes. “You can be anything you want,” she says of what she was told when younger. “That’s a lie.” She comes from a middle-class suburb of Boston, where upward mobility has been blocked by the financial crisis. “Where I come from there is no community,” she says, repeating William Whyte (The Organization Man, 1956) who said of such suburbs, “it remains a development, more than a community.” It is the Occupy encampment that has allowed Jen to have a feeling of community, and hope that somehow, as if byevaporation, the experience of this protest will remove her debt.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York pointed to the $1 trillion figure of student debt ($100 million of student loans taken out in 2010, twice the amount from 2005). Real wages in the United States have remained stagnant since 1973. To send their children to college, families have taken out second mortgages on homes, taken out loans against their future income or else allowed their charges to take out loans on their own. There is no capacity to pay for college through earnings and savings (as the CollegeBoard has been warning us since at least 2005). Between 1992 and 1999, annual borrowing for students at four-year public colleges rose by 65 percent, from $1800 to $3000. This meant that the average debt for a four-year cycle rose in this period to $12,000. With this burden, a congressional study noted, “the students from low income families are often unable to support loans after graduation.” The understatement buried in the phrase “unable to support loans” is pointed: it means that students leave college just barely out of their teens in a financial situation that resembles bankruptcy.

Burdened by student debt and afraid of the jobs crisis, students are simply not able to enter college to expand their horizons. In 2006, Helen Lowery of Boston University told the Christian Science Monitor, “I really want to work in advocacy law, but from a practical perspective that’s not going to happen. I just won’t be able to pay back my loans.” The freedom to think is encroached upon by the encumbrances of money.

This is before the current financial crisis. It is worse now.

This is the Closing of the American Mind.

III. Free Education.

Pankaj Mehta, a theoretical physicist, invited me to speak at Occupy Boston as part of the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series. The Series is the first offering of the Free School University, which is poised to start offering regular classes, and perhaps offering degrees. Such an exercise will permit us to think of the de-commodification of education, study that has not been turned into a product to buy and sell.

Conversations at Occupy Boston revive ideas of free education. I broached it to those I met. The idea does sound ludicrous. However, many countries offer either free education or what amounts to free education (between 70 and 90 percent of the college costs paid for): Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. The governments of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom contribute between 55 and 70 percent of college costs (but not for long in Cameron’s England). The tuition and fees to all public institutions of higher education in the United States is somewhere in the ballpark of $25 billion (according to the Labor Institute). That is a small proportion of the cost of the wars ($7.6 trillion since 9/11) and of corporate tax breaks (of which, deferral on foreign income is by itself $1 trillion). The cost of higher education is a fraction of the $1.35 trillion to $3 trillion, which is range of the cost of the Bush and Obama tax cuts.

So much hidden money, so much enforced austerity.

VIJAY PRASHAD is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. The Swedish and French editions are just out. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad@trincoll.edu

Murdoch's ABC Attack

Avaaz.org [31/10/11]:

In hours, Murdoch could secure his stranglehold on the Australian media by acquiring our public international TV news network -- and rob a struggling ABC of $223 million in funding. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is under pressure to give control over the network to Murdoch instead of the ABC -- but together we can stop the deal.

Just last week, we called on you to help save the media inquiry from Murdoch's meddling -- and thousands of you responded. Now, we desperately need to come together again. Murdoch’s mouthpiece The Australian has been leaking details of insider support for Murdoch in a blatant attempt to force Labor into backing his bid. Conroy knows that giving the network to Murdoch would greatly increase the media mogul’s corrupting influence and hurt the ABC, and is looking for a way out.

Together, we can give Conroy the public mandate he needs to reject Murdoch’s power grab and award the contract to the ABC. Send a message to Conroy telling him that Australians don't want this dodgy deal -- sign now and then forward to everyone!

Dear Minister Conroy,

I urge you not to reward Australian News Channel with the Australia Network contract. Australia’s national interests are not served by handing the operation of our international broadcaster to a company controlled by Rupert Murdoch and linked to his deceitful practices.

It’s the ABC that can best ensure a strong and independent Australian news voice in our region.

Sincerely,


Rudd pushed on with bids for Australian Network despite support for ABC ['Sydney Morning Herald' - 24/10/11]:

Kevin Rudd rejected plans to allow the ABC to keep operating Australia's official TV service in Asia, despite a confidential government review that gave a gold star to the public broadcaster for running the Australia Network.

The detailed ''mid-term'' report by the Foreign Affairs Department was never released to the ABC but prepared last year to help decide the future of the $223 million taxpayer funded service.

But Mr Rudd - toppled from the prime ministership only days before the report was finalised - decided, on taking over as Foreign Minister after the election, to demand a more intense process.

The service was put to tender in February and Sky News, part-owned by News Corporation, entered competition with the ABC for a new 10-year contract.

A final draft of the official review, obtained by the Herald, states the ABC ''consistently met or exceeded'' the performance markers set out in the existing contract.

''The quality of the programming was assessed as good, credible and timely and provided far better coverage of the region and other international broadcasters,'' the report states.

A decision on the future of Australia Network is shaping as a headache for Labor. It is more than a month overdue having being deferred from an original deadline in May.

The government is sitting on two separate independent reports that recommend Sky News should take over the service after lodging a superior bid.

But some cabinet members have baulked at the prospect of handing the contract to a company linked to News Corporation over the publicly-funded ABC and are privately blaming Mr Rudd for creating the mess.

Mr Rudd was not convinced by the Foreign Affairs review about the ABC's performance and that much of the ratings and audience data in the report was commissioned by the ABC.

Mr Rudd decided against leaving the service with the ABC for five more years and instead created an independent mechanism for deciding a new contact, with final approval resting with the Foreign Affairs department head, Dennis Richardson.

But the government intervened in June to change the rules for deciding the tender and make it a cabinet decision, handing final approval to the Communication Minister, Stephen Conroy.

Australia Network is run on behalf of the Foreign Affairs department and intended as Australia's voice in Asia and the Pacific region.

The department declined to discuss any recommendations from the ''commercial-in-confidence'' review.

The review, dated June 28, 2010, gives an insight into why the ABC is fighting to retain the service. In addition to the value of the contract, advertising revenue on Australia Network has more than tripled in the past three years - a still modest annual sum of $1.1 million, but expected to grow.

The disclosure of the review conducted by a three-person committee led by Foreign Affairs official Sally Mansfield - is likely to further complicate the decision on the future of Australia Network as it points to holes in the ABC's regional coverage.

It concedes ''a huge gap does exist, however, into China - an issue of access being addressed by the ABC and [Foreign Affairs].''

A promise by Sky News to expand the service into China led a panel of public servants in May to judge Sky the better bid.

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

 

The Panel for Education Policy (or PEP) enacts policy for the New York City Department of Education

OurSchoolsNYC.org

NYCore.org

 

People's General Assembly on Public Education

Nov 7

5 PM

Tweed Hall

52 Chambers Street

New York City

 

This Is What Democracy Doesn't Look Like

Expansion

On 7 September 2011, the Minister announced that the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program (NSCSWP) will be expanded to fund up to 1000 additional schools. School communities will be able to choose to employ either a chaplain or a secular student welfare worker. The program will also be strengthened with the introduction of minimum qualifications, benchmark standards for service providers, and improvements to the complaints management system.

Expansion Applications now open

Applications are now open for funding under the expansion of the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program.

All applications for funding under the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program will be lodged electronically via the Internet. Applications will only be accepted if submitted online, and a receipt of the submission will be issued automatically.

Schools can apply for a maximum of $60 000 over three years to establish or expand chaplaincy or student welfare services in their school community.

Priority will be given to schools located within a disadvantaged, regional or remote location. In recognition of program support required by such schools, an additional 20 per cent loading to a maximum of $72,000 over three years will be available to all remote and very remote schools, as measured by the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA).

Schools will be required to provide evidence and results of consultation with their parent body or equivalent, demonstrating the support for the appointment of a chaplain or student welfare worker at their school. ...

A Statement In Response To Qantas Action

Australian & International Pilot's Association

Following Qantas management’s unprecedented and unilateral decision to ground its fleet on Saturday there have been several erroneous reports both in the media and directly from management that we would like to clarify:

* Industrial action by AIPA pilots has not cost the company a single cent in revenue.
* Industrial action by AIPA has not delayed a single passenger or grounded a single flight.
* Our entire public industrial action over the past 4 months has been to make positive in-flight announcements and to wear red ties with our campaign message on them.

For Qantas management to respond to these reasonable and non-disruptive actions in this way is more than a gross over-reaction.

It is a sign that the current management has lost touch with the travelling public, its workers and the basic Australian ethos of free speech.

We are hoping for a positive outcome from the 21 day negotiation period that has been set by Fair Work Australia.

In the meantime we’d like to thank all of you who have expressed support for our pilots. Your kind words have been much appreciated.

Barry Jackson
President
Australian and International Pilots Association

Government Dancing To Qantas' Tune: Bandt:

Greens Media Release [30/10/11]

The Government may be helping Alan Joyce in his move to send Qantas jobs offshore, said Greens MP and workplace relations spokesperson Adam Bandt.

Mr Bandt, who was a specialist industrial relations lawyer before entering parliament, said "Whether with their eyes open or closed, the Government is doing exactly what the renegade management of Qantas wants."

"The Government should be standing up to Alan Joyce and demanding a negotiated outcome, not doing his dirty work by helping him avoid good faith bargaining."

"The unions had already suspended their industrial action and a negotiated outcome was on the cards. However, instead of forcing Qantas to negotiate with unions, the Government is now seeking an imposed outcome, which may remove the unions' right to bargain for job security clauses."

"The Government has started a process that may now end with the workers' claims for job security being determined under provisions of John Howard's WorkChoices."

"Instead of seeking to remove the workers' legitimate right to bargain, the government should have simply sought to suspend Qantas' outrageous industrial action and enlist FWA's help for compulsory negotiations to resolve the dispute."

Proposed Norwegian Law Puts Indigenous Peoples’ Rights At Risk – UN Expert: Media Release [28/10/11]

A United Nations expert urged Norway today to strongly reject the proposal by one of its parties to repeal key laws and policies designed to protect indigenous groups, saying its approval would represent an “enormous setback for the recognition and protection of human rights in the country.”

“Norway could cease to be the world leader it has become in the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples if the Norwegian national Parliament approves the proposal of one of the largest political parties in the country, the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet),” said Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people James Anaya.

I am further concerned that the ensuing debate on the proposal could perpetuate negative views of the Sami people and encourage discrimination against them.

The proposal would take away many of the land ownership, self-determination and protection rights of the Sami people, Norway’s largest indigenous group, which also inhabits parts of Sweden, Finland and Russia.

“If approved, the proposal will reverse the many advances Norway has made towards recognizing and securing the rights of the Sami people in accordance to international standards, despite significant challenges,” Mr. Anaya said.

“I am further concerned that the ensuing debate on the proposal could perpetuate negative views of the Sami people and encourage discrimination against them.”

The proposal recommends that the Norwegian Parliament denounce the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention on indigenous and tribal peoples which gives indigenous groups the right to choose to integrate or maintain their cultural and political integrity.

In addition, it recommends the abolition of the Sami Parliament and the administrative area for the Sami language, as well as asking the national Parliament to repeal the Finnmark Act, which gave the Sami people the right to manage their land without interference.

“I am pleased that the Government of Norway has taken a firm position against the proposal,” Mr. Anaya stressed.

“I appeal to the members of the standing committee on local government and public administration, members of the Norwegian national Parliament, and to the Norwegian people as a whole, to likewise strongly reject the proposal of the Progress Party, as well as any future proposals that may undermine the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Sami people in Norway.”

Last year, Mr. Anaya met with Government officials in Norway to discuss key issues affecting Sami people, including their right to land, water and education.

In January, Mr. Anaya issued a report on their living situation focusing on their right to self-determination at a national level exercised through Sami parliaments and efforts to revitalize their language and provide Sami children with culturally appropriate education.

Sam Watson Speaks At Occupy Brisbane

Jim McIlroy 'Socialist Alliance' [29/10/11]:

BRISBANE -- "It's great to see the sense of coming together shown in your camp here," Murri community leader Sam Watson told a gathering of around 40 people at the Occupy Brisbane camp at Post Office Square here on October 29. Watson spoke at a special forum, as the Occupy Brisbane site continues into its third week.

The work of the camp has continued to develop and expand, as up to 40 tents now occupy the park, and OccuLibrary has been added to the OccuPlay childcare tent. General assemblies are held every evening to discuss issues facing the occupation.

"The issue expressed in the slogan, 'We are the 99 per cent,' is a very important, global concern. It highlights the fact that the One Per Cent dominate the wealth and power in society," Watson said.

"For example, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has just been granted a $2 million bonus, for laying off workers and cutting conditions.

"The 99 per cent know what it's like to battle the rising cost of living, rents, transport, power bills.

"In a country with one of the highest living standards in the world, many young people and families are homeless.

"It's time to hold the multinational corporations to account for their actions, while ordinary people do it hard," he added.

"Aboriginal people in our country do it toughest of all. In the latest death in custody, a young Aboriginal man from Mount Isa has died in a Brisbane prison cell, just last week.

"His pleas for help were ignored, and he tragically took his own life.

"All across this land, Aboriginal communities are fighting to protect their sacred sites against the big mining companies. Our elders are calling our for assistance.

"They have expressed support for the global Occupation movement. We have a long experience of occupying for justice.

"Next year is the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, set up in Canberra in 1972. We will mark that anniversary with a major announcement to challenge the legality of white colonial occupation of our land," Watson said.

"In addition, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody, whose findings were released in 1991. The commission made 339 recommendations, few of which have been implemented.

"While the commission did some good work, of the 99 deaths studied, at least 45 would have justified criminal charges against police or prison officers. Yet no charges were recommended.

"In 2011, the Aboriginal community has carried out a series of activities to highlight this critical issue. Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the arrest rate, incarceration rate and death rate of Black people in custody.

"In November 2004, Cameron Doomadgee was killed by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley on Palm Island. The campaign to bring Hurley properly to account is still running.

"Until we can force a cop or prison officer to be convicted and jailed for these crimes, Black deaths in custody will continue unchecked," Watson stressed.

During discussion, Watson ranged over many topics, especially relating to Aboriginal issues. He condemned the Northern Territory Intervention as a "retreat back to the old days of ration cards for Aboriginal people." It is a "brutal form of social engineering," he said, adding that it has not only continued from the days of the Howard government, but been extended under Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

In conclusion, he urged the protesters at Occupy Brisbane to "stay focussed on maintaining your camp. This international Occupy movement is not going away, but building up and getting stronger," Watson emphasised.

@OccupyBrisbane are keen for donations of fresh fruit and vegetables, solar panels, 12v batteries.

A discussion on creative protest will be held @ midday today [30/10/11]

Food for thought - Letter to the Editor 'Tweed Shire Echo' [27/10/11]:

Across the globe millions are now rallying against governments, politics, corruption and corporate greed.

What I witnessed in our dot on the globe in the council chambers last Tuesday was alarming.

It is very evident the pro-Byrrill Creek dam councillors have not reviewed the many professional expert reports and instead have been hooked by misinformation and vested interests. I acknowledge some councillors have no regard for our priceless environmental values and that is their right. However, it is most disturbing they have no regard for the geotechnical/engineering issues and the financial/legal implications. Also that they are not willing to learn lessons from our past with the better knowledge today.

With an approved DA for a village and an added bonus of water frontage increasing sale values should Byrrill Creek dam go ahead, there certainly is a conflict of interest [for Cr van Lieshout].

In the process on the decision for the Tweed shire’s future water supply, to abstain from voting on the first part of the item re ‘perceived’ conflict of interest but then vote on the second part of the item is of grave concern, ie the potential exists to torpedo any move to proceed with the planning of the professional/expert recommendation of the Clarrie Hall Dam option to secure the shire’s future water supply.

A decision made for the future of the whole shire in the interests of just 24 landholders is mind-boggling. But what was most disturbing was the statement of the councillor that the ‘Labor government is now out in NSW and will be at federal’! The implication being that with a ‘wink and nod’ any scientific/professional/expert knowledge and laws/legislation/regulation can be thrown out the window.

The power of the political game in that room looking after mates and treating the citizens and the future of this whole shire’s water supply with contempt was revolting.

Lindy Smith
Tweed Heads

Premier Calls For Immediate End To Qantas Stand-Off:

Media Release [29/10/11]

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has called on Qantas to get back to the negotiating table with unions and end the stand-off immediately.

Ms Bligh said the extraordinary and unprecedented action taken by Qantas today would be devastating for Queensland.

“It will cripple our Tourism industry, impact the thousands of fly-in fly-out workers that drive our mining industry and see the sectors of the Queensland economy that rely heavily on intra and inter-state air transport grind to a halt,” Ms Bligh said.

“It will also leave thousands of Queenslanders travelling this weekend stranded.

“Qantas must end this now.


"And if the parties cannot, or will not, get back to the negotiating table I call on the Federal Government to bring the parties together."


The Premier said the impact on Queenslanders and the Queensland economy would be enormous.

The Queensland Government is urgently seeking legal advice as to whether the State could be party to action to bring the stand-off to a conclusion.


"All options are on the table, including joining in an application to Fair Work Australia, to bring this to a head," Ms Bligh said.

The 1% Implements Secret Strategy to Destroy Qantas:

Transport Workers Union Media Release [29/10/11]

'This is your captain speaking. Well, maybe not today. But I can guarantee that the guys on the flight deck and the great team care just as much about aircraft safety as I do. I've been flying over 40 years as a pilot and I can tell you, there's no-one I'd rather have at the controls than a Qantas pilot.' ['Daily Mail' - 23/3/11]

Today's unwarranted and disgraceful snap announcement by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is designed to destroy Qantas as we have always known it.

No amount of chaos will cause Qantas senior management to deviate from their ambition to outsource Australian jobs to Asia and detonate the Qantas brand.

It is clear that Mr Joyce is unfit to lead this great Australian company. He should take his $5 million package and leave the airline in capable hands – not those of someone who has seen share value halve and provided no dividend to shareholders for over two years.

Alan Joyce got a 71 per cent pay rise yesterday - taking his pay to $5 million. He did not bother telling his shareholders he was about to utterly destroy their investment but locking out the people who keep Qantas planes safe.

Why did he not advise shareholders of his plan to ruin the airline and wreck employee relations for years to come?

These are the actions of a hard-line ideological board built around a chair that still yearns for the workplace-busting days when he could roll out AWAs at will. He wants to re-inflict them on workers under a Tony Abbott-led anti-employee government.

Qantas management has totally lost touch with their employees. Their massive pay rises have sailed through, but the requests for certainty for three years on job security have been dismissed with lies.

The TWU has taken a total of six hours industrial action in over eight (8) months negotiations. Qantas has only issued an ultimatum that workers agree to it without even having the chance to look at it.

Make no mistake, Qantas has always wanted this dispute. They trained strike-breakers 9 months ago to do the work of TWU members. They have never wanted to resolve their employees' claims. Never. Our claims have been to gain job security for the next enterprise bargaining agreement and a negotiable pay rise.

This is a breach of the Qantas Sale Act, pure and simple.

The Act says Qantas has a national responsibility to the Australian community, content, and workforce. The TWU is now calling on the Federal Government to intervene in the public interest and to preserve the jobs that Alan Joyce and his over-remunerated Board members are willfully trying to destroy.

 

@OccupyBrisbane Extends Invitation To Those Stranded By QANTAS' CEO To Enjoy Hospitality @ Post Office Square

 

Occupy Melbourne @ State Library [29/10/11]

Image: @OccupyAusUnions

Following a HUGE march through Melbourne's streets today, Occupy Melbourne plan to hold a General Assembly at 4pm tomorrow.

... Geee ... there's a lotta ppl here ... @Asher_Wolf

Perth Immigration Detention Rally [29/10/11]

Image: Senator Ludlam

Occupy Wall Street Launching First Nationwide General Strike In America Since 1946

Washington's Blog [27/10/11]:

Rumors have been flying for a week that the Occupy protesters will be launching a nationwide general strike. We have been biting our tongue waiting for a formal decision.

Mother Jones tweets:

From our reporter at #occupyoakland General Assembly just now MT @timmcdonnell: General strike passes with 1184 votes of approval

JackalAnon tweets:

STRIKE APPROVED FOR NEXT WEDNESDAY! GENERAL STRIKE FIRST TIME IN THE USA SINCE 1946!

(The last American general strike was also in Oakland). The strike will occur on November 2nd. One of the founders of the Tea Party – conservative Karl Denninger – supports the strike.

Occupy Wall Street in New York has also been considering a proposal for a general strike. And there are also rumors of a global general strike next year.

Tents Back Up @ Occupy Oakland!

@KALWinformant [29/10/11]

The Reign Of The One Percenters

Income inequality and the death of culture in New York City

Christopher Ketcham, Orion Magazine [November/December 2011 Edition]:

... It is August again, one year later, and my daughter is back in town. She brings with her a gift from Paris: a little book, barely a pamphlet, published in French under the title Indignez-Vous! which translates as “Cry Out!” or “Get Indignant!” or, perhaps more accurately, “Get Pissed Off!” It sold 600,000 copies in France when it was published last spring.

The author is a ninety-three-year-old French diplomat named Stéphane Hessel, who, during World War II, trained with the Free French Forces and British secret service in London, parachuted into Vichy France ahead of invading Allied troops in 1944, fought in the Resistance on his native soil, was captured by the Gestapo, and did time in two concentration camps. In “Cry Out!” Hessel reminds us that among the goals of the fight, as stated by the National Council of the Resistance following the defeat of Nazism, was the establishment in France of “a true economic and social democracy, which entails removing large-scale economic and financial feudalism from the management of the economy.” “This menace,” he writes—the menace of the fascist model of finance feudalism—“has not completely disappeared.” He warns that in fact “the power of money, which the Resistance fought so hard against, has never been as great and selfish and shameless as it is now.”

For the One Percenters are a global threat, found in every city where the technocratic managers of global capital seek to make money without being productive. They are in Moscow, London, Tokyo, Dubai, Shanghai. They threaten not merely the well-being of peoples but the very future of Earth. The system of short-term profit by which the One Percenters enrich themselves—a system that they have every interest in maintaining and expanding—implies everywhere and always the long-term plundering of the global commons that gives us sustenance, the poisoning of seas and air and soil, the derangement of ecosystems. A tide of effluent is the legacy of such a system. An immense planetwide inequality is its bequest, the ever-expanding gap between the few rich and the many poor.

Therefore, cry out—though the hour is late.

What is needed is a new paradigm of disrespect for the banker, the financier, the One Percenter, a new civic space in which he is openly reviled, in which spoiled eggs and rotten vegetables are tossed at his every turning. What is needed is a revival of the language of vigorous old progressivism, wherein the parasite class was denounced as such. What is needed is a new Resistance. We face, as Hessel describes, a system of social control “that offers nothing but mass consumption as a prospect for our youth,” that trumpets “contempt for the least powerful in society,” that offers only “outrageous competition of all against all.” ...

... The protest in Liberty Square, the protest of the Ninety-nine Percenters, is currently driven by no mere platform of demands, nor should it be. It is driven by moral outrage, as a challenge to the authority of an immoral economic system.

Olivia Newton-John and Husband John Easterling Awarded Stroud Award of Freshwater Excellence™ for Role in Amazon Conservation:

Media Release [12/10/11]

Olivia Newton-John and John Easterling awarded Stroud Award of Freshwater Excellence™ for support of Amazon rainforest and watershed conservation by the Stroud Water Research Center.

Olivia Newton-John and husband, John Easterling, were awarded the Stroud Award of Freshwater Excellence by the Stroud Water Research Center at its annual “Water’s Edge” gala at Longwood Gardens in the suburbs of Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, October 11, 2011.

The Stroud Award of Freshwater Excellence™, also known as the SAFE Water Award™, is awarded for outstanding achievement to those who contribute broadly to the conservation and protection of fresh water.

Olivia Newton-John and John Easterling, also known as “Amazon John,” are both staunch supporters of rainforest conservation and known for work in conserving the Amazon River watershed—the largest in the world.

Newton-John and Easterling are committed to supporting a positive, sustainable future for the Amazon rainforest and its inhabitants. They are active board members of the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research Foundation which promotes conservation of the Peruvian Amazon through environmental education programs, supporting basic and applied research, and protecting unique tracts of land in that region.

Easterling is the founder and owner of the Amazon Herb Company which makes products from the natural ingredients found in the Amazon rainforest and provides support to many indigenous communities in the Amazon.

Olivia Newton-John is best known as a singer, actress and supporter of cancer research and rainforest conservation.

Bernard W. Sweeney, Ph.D., president and senior research scientist at Stroud Water Research Center also ceremoniously announced Stroud’s Memorandums of Understanding with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research Foundation (ACEER) to further expand and market Stroud’s Leaf Pack Kit as a teaching and water-quality assessment tool in schools in North America (NWF), Latin America (ACEER), and eventually worldwide.

Larry Schweiger, president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation was present at the event to celebrate the Stroud relationship, and representing the ACEER, were its President Roger Mustalish and Board Members/Honorees of the evening, Olivia Newton-John and John Easterling.

Stroud Water Research Center seeks to advance the knowledge and stewardship of freshwater through education and research for use in conserving and restoring streams, rivers, and their watersheds around the world. The Center was established in 1967 and is an independent 501©(3) not-for-profit organization located at 970 Spencer Road in Avondale, Pennsylvania. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.stroudcenter.org or call (610) 268-2153.

Egyptians March In Support Of Occupy Oakland

Buzz Feed - Chris Menning [28/10/11]:

Pro-democracy demonstrators in Egypt marched from Tahrir Square to the US Embassy as a message of solidarity to the victims of police brutality in Oakland. All photos were tweeted by Egyptian blogger Mohammed Maree (via BoingBoing).

Hundreds Gather On Steps Of State Library For #occupymelbourne March To Treasury Gardens [29/10/11]

According to @jonohar, thousands marched through the CBD.

Dear Queensland Police

Spring Hill Voice has emailed the Queensland Police [29/10/11] in an effort to get to the bottom of a mysterious "child abduction alert" which apparently is only known to the local News Ltd. outlet:

The 'News Ltd' media on the Gold Coast has been heavily reporting a "Child Abduction Alert" in the last few days. There is no mention of a "Child Abduction Alert" on the QPS website. Could you please advise whether one has been issued and, if so, the details. If not, how does the QPS view the reporting of such an "Alert" when it doesn't exist?

Occupy Wellington To Host Free Community-Based Tertiary Ed.

Scoop NZ:

Press Release: Occupy Wellington [28/10/11]

Occupy Wellington to Host Free Community-Based Tertiary Education Initiative in Civic Square Despite Eviction Rumours

Despite rumours of Police eviction earlier in the week, the Occupy Wellington group today announced the launch of an ongoing Community Education Initiative, kicking off with a two-day series of open lectures on problems and solutions for economic and environmental issues this weekend.

According to the group’s website, this initiative is the first step towards an ongoing community-based platform for freely accessible tertiary educational opportunities. This weekend’s ‘Occupy Your Mind’ lectures will be given by a University-based academics, community experts, professionals, and environmental advocates.

Topics covered in the public lecture series include economic issues such as the proposed ‘Robin Hood Tax’, the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and the global financial crisis, as well as environmental issues such as offshore drilling, causes and consequences of the Rena oil spill, and ethical food production and consumption.

Speakers include Dr Peter Thompson (Senior Lecturer, School of English Film Theatre and Media Studies, Victoria University) discussing the role of media in the global financial crisis, and Sarah Meads (Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam NZ), speaking about the relationship between social justice, food, and climate change.

Saturday will also feature participatory discussion groups, including a Safer Spaces workshop at 3pm, facilitated by Ian Anderson, Emily Haskell, and Andren Sath.

Lectures and workshops will be followed by performances by local musicians, including Seth Frightening on Saturday and the Newtown Rocksteady on Sunday.

Despite eviction rumours, broadening community support for the Occupy camp has showed no signs of slowing down.

“The groundswell of support shown by academics and other experts in the community for the Occupy movement in Wellington has been overwhelming.” says Ben, a supporter of Occupy Wellington.

“I’ve received numerous messages of hope that this community education program can be an ongoing thing” Ben says.

It is understood that the Wellington City Council and the Police have not made any moves to evict the group from Civic Square, and that arrangements have been made between Occupy Wellington and children’s organisation Capital E to ensure that Occupy activities do not interfere with the annual ‘Big Halloween’ children’s event on Monday.

Free educational events will continue next week at the Occupy site, with volunteers at the Community Law Centre presenting a public workshop on legal topics relevant to the Occupy movement on Monday evening.

“I’m really looking forward to running our workshop at the Occupy camp next week” says Kate Scarlet (LLB), a Community Advocate at the Wellington Community Law Centre.

“We’re happy for every opportunity to provide legal education to the community” says Kate.

Full schedule for ‘Occupy Your Mind’ event:

Saturday 29th October

11am: Michael Williams (Worker’s Rights Campaigner): Rena - Causes and Consequences.
12pm: Mike Smith (Environmental advocate): Economics, Oil and the Environment.
1pm: Grant Brookes (Tax Justice spokesperson): Introducing the Robin Hood Tax.
2pm: Bill Rosenberg (CTU Policy Director): The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and its Likely Effects.
2.45pm: Dr Peter Thompson (Senior Lecturer, School of English Film Theatre and Media Studies): Media and the Global Financial Crisis.
3.30pm: Sarah Meads (Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam NZ): Food Justice - Social Justice, Food and Climate.
4.30pm: Seth Frightening and Special Guests

Sunday 30th October

11am: Dr Andrew McGregor (Senior Lecturer, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences): Ethical Food Choices.
12pm: Mary Bryne (Fluoride Action Network NZ:) Hazardous Waste in the Water.
1pm: Jimmy Green (Generation Zero): Youth and Climate Change.
2pm: Miles Thompson: Understanding Money in the Social Network.
3pm: Newtown Rocksteady Unplugged with Special Guests Sam Manzanza and Matiu Te Huki.

What's Your Local TV Station Hiding?

Libby Reinish, Save The News [27/10/11]:

Viewers currently have to comb through file folders to get information on how news stations are run.
Broadcasters use the public airwaves for free in exchange for a commitment to serve and inform their communities. If you want to know exactly what your local broadcasters are doing to meet those public-interest obligations, the best place to look is their public files.

Unfortunately, public files are currently difficult to access, requiring curious residents to drive down to the station during business hours. In large media markets, a trip to view the public file could mean traveling over 100 miles. Finding the right information in the station among towers of dusty paper files can be confusing — and that’s assuming the information you’re looking for is there at all. Public files lack critical documentation viewers need to understand how their broadcasters are serving them.

Today the FCC announced that it will move toward digitizing public files and improving program reporting requirements for broadcasters. Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright has been advocating for the modernization of public file regulations, which haven’t been updated since the 1980s:

“We’re well into the digital age yet broadcaster public reports are still buried in paper files stacked in basements, instead of online where the public can more easily access them. And broadcasters continue to rely on an outdated system of reporting that falls short of providing the public with useful information on the local TV stations licensed to serve them.”

The FCC’s proposed changes have the potential to make this information truly transparent and accessible. However, it remains to be seen whether the Commission will require broadcasters to report useful information. Will stations be required to disclose whether their news is produced by a competitor through a covert consolidation agreement? And will they be required to reveal how much reporting a given station produces— and how much of that reporting is coverage of local issues? What can we do with this information?

We can hold our stations accountable. We can engage in a dialogue with our local broadcasters when programming does not meet local needs. We can inform ourselves about who is paying for the political advertisements we will see during this election year. In short, the right information would empower local communities to make informed decisions and create positive local change.

In the coming month, the FCC will hear from broadcasters who want to limit their reporting requirements.

It’s critical that the agency also hear from viewers who want to know how their local stations are serving their communities. At Free Press, we’ll work to make sure you know exactly what’s going on at your local TV stations. You can take this short survey today and tell us what you’d like to know about your local news. Photo via (cc) Laughing Squid

Food Security In Commonwealth: GM Not The Answer:

Gene Ethics [27/10/11]

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starts in Perth, Australia.

"Millions of people living in the 54 Commonwealth member states face imminent and severe threats to food security and sovereignty. Despite this, many Commonwealth member states have rejected or restricted genetically manipulated (GM) food aid," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps and the GM-Free Australia Alliance.

Last week, twenty Asian, African and Latin American development NGOs released a report finding that GM has failed to increase crop yields, has increased food insecurity and led to greater reliance on agro-chemicals. Oxfam recently declared that their global GROW campaign for food security found no support for GM organisms as a solution to global hunger because they: "do not deliver against the guiding principles of participation, transparency, choice, sustainability and fairness."

The debate about GM food aid is back in the spotlight after the Kenyan Government sacked the head of its National Biosafety Authority for advancing imports of GM food following protests in the streets of Nairobi.

The majority of the Commonwealth remains GM-free as GM crops were grown on just 7.6% of global arable land in 2010, with 45% of that acreage grown in the USA alone. The top three GM-growing countries, Brazil, Argentina and the USA account for almost 80% of all GM crops worldwide. Cropping systems in 165 countries and 60 dependent territories remain completely GM-free.

In 2002, Zambia rejected all GM food aid and became a leading opponent of GM foods. Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola and Sudan also placed restrictions on GM food aid to protect public health, environment and markets.

A US State Department official showed its official contempt with the comment: "Beggars can't be choosers" while Ethiopia's Tewolde Egziabher, director of the Environmental Protection Agency, asked "Why shouldn't we be wary of this technology and its possible long-term health impacts, if the EU [European Union] is. If it is not good for them, why should it be good for us?"

Janet Grogan, of Just Food WA and the GM-Free Australia Alliance, says "GM crops do nothing to solve the problem of hunger. The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth must address the need for public investment in food systems that are sustainable - economically, ecologically and socially."

References:

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 18 October 2011

http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=93991

BBC, 1 July 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13991466

ISAAA: http://www.isaaa.org

ActionAid: http://www.actionaid.org.uk/583/press_release.html

Oxfam: http://www.oxfam.org.au/grow/2011/08/17/can-gmo-contribute-to-growing-a-better-future/

 

It's another world here

The streets are gleaming

I was even dreaming

That they're paved with gold ...

 

'The Theatre', Pet Shop Boys [1993]



Occupy Movement in Australia Grows As New Voices Emerge In Support: Occupy Melbourne [28/10/11]

New voices are emerging in support of Occupy Melbourne as preparations continue to resume a peaceful occupation of public space in Treasury Gardens this Saturday, 29 October.

The Age business writer Chris Zappone writes:

“If nothing else, the interest around an Australian movement, whether on the streets or online, shows a gathering segment of society is not content to sleepwalk while others have the important discussions about power.”

In an open letter Yarra City Councillors Stephen Jolly and Anthony Main say:

“While the Occupy movement was initiated to highlight corporate greed and the excesses of capitalism, in many cities the question of the right to protest itself has become a feature. This is definitely the case in Melbourne where the Melbourne City Council has made it clear that they want to decide when, where and how long people can protest. We see this as an attack on democratic rights and therefore totally unacceptable.”

Len Cooper, Secretary of the Communication Workers Union said:

“One of the reasons given for this vicious assault upon democratic rights was the arrival of the English Queen. What a feudal travesty, where, in the 21st Century the visit of a monarch sees our streets cleared of young people who are seeking answers to questions which remain undebated by our parliaments.”

Meanwhile a Victorian branch meeting of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union on Wednesday saw a motion passed to condemn the actions of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and Victoria Police, and offer logistical support to Occupy Melbourne.

As Occupy Brisbane holds strong in its 12th day of peaceful occupation, many more Australian Occupy groups are now in various stages of planning and ongoing activity, in cities including Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Canberra, Hobart, Gold Coast, Townsville, Central WA and Cairns.

The people of Melbourne are invited to join Occupy Melbourne this Saturday from noon on the steps of the State Library from where we will walk to Treasury Gardens and resume our occupation.

Why They Boooed

Keep Talking Greece [28/10/11]:

Every year, on October 28th the Greeks celebrate with parades the anniversary of heroic “Oxi”-Day, the day when the then prime minister of Greece said “NO” to Italy’s ultimatum asking the surrender of Greece to the forces of the Axis. That was on October 28th, 1940. Parades are usually performed by school students on October 27th and by the Armed Forces on October 28th in Thessaloniki. Greek politicians, deputies, ministers and local officials stand on a special podest and watch the co However this year, parades will most likely look different due to the strict austerity measures, in the second year of loan agreements between Greece and its lenders. The following brilliant text is not mine. It was posted on newspaper Real news and was written by media critic Ntepy Golema:

Enjoy it!

This year, during the National Day Parade, the speaker will have to alternate his announcment text as follows and for obvious reasons:

At the top of the parade, here march the honoured ‘labour reservists’ of the public sector. The resistance corps against the German occupation, tought fighters who gave up 40% of their monthly salary. Applaud!

Infantries consisting of impoverished pensioners march forward, holding photocopies of the new austerity measures. They cheer the political leadership and throw the photocopies up in the air full of national pride.

Here comes, the pride of the country, the emergency property tax. Thousands of people, the crowds in delirium and collapse, applaud in frenzy.

And yes! Here they come, ladies and gentlemen! The new payroll, pensioners under 55, proud mothers with disabled children, all those freed from their pensions sprinkle with rose petals the Troika-Squad attending the parade.

In front of the stunned spectators, here arrive the supplementary pensions. Crying out loud the audience deified the heroic supplementary pension that defeated the German invasion and held up the national sentiment of the Greeks. Sad, sad, this is the last parade of the supplementary pensions.

And now! Look up in the skies! The fearless F-16s, the horror and the terror of every prospective enemy of the homeland, tearing the clouds. They drop papers with the latest austerity measures of the recently announced austerity measures. The F-16 show that they are pioneers and fully capable to see into the real dangers and take risks.

Deby Golema – Real News Sept 25, 2011

San Diego Riot Police vs Peaceful Protesters

A couple of minutes before media were arrested [28/10/11]

Ocean Beach Rag [28/10/11]:

San Diego Police Take Over Occupy San Diego

In the early hours of October 28, San Diego Police swept through both encampments of Occupy San Diego, making at least 44 arrests and confiscating all personal belongings and all supplies and food that has been donated.

Around 1:45 am officers started to sweep through Children’s Park without warning and made at least 8 arrests there. Simultaneously, over hundred police and sheriffs deputies swept through Civic Center Plaza, ordering everyone out. A confrontation then occurred at B Street and 3rd Avenue as the remaining occupiers faced off with lines of blue and brown shirts.

Police and sheriffs all had batons and other riot gear. At least two men who were arrested were punched and beaten by police during their arrests. Several of those arrested were US military veterans. One man arrested was a legal observer. Details of his arrest were not available at this time.

All the donated food and other medical supplies were confiscated by police at both sites. The fate of the nurses’ station at the Plaza is unknown but it is assumed that their supplies were also confiscated.

I called Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long at approximately 2 am and he told me that they were sweeping both sites as people had been ordered to clear the areas earlier. Actually, the occupiers at Children’s Park had been told by Long that as long as they did not erect tents, the encampment at the Park was okay.

A couple dozen occupiers at the Plaza sat down in the road on 3rd Avenue. Many of them were arrested when small groups of cops rushed them.

Even though people yelled at the police, there was no violence on the part of the demonstrators, who were in their 21st day of occupation.

Demonstrators were clearly upset and angry. Several called out to the police that they were not being “American” and that American rights were being violated. Remaining protesters were in disarray and a number moved through downtown San Diego in the dark. Others remained on the sidewalk at the Plaza. Barricades arrived to be placed up at the Plaza.

Police on the scene said that the Plaza was to be “power washed” and that demonstrators could return to the site but without any belongings.

Organizers who were still milling around outside the Plaza shared the word to return to the Plaza at 8:00 am to protest the early morning arrests made without warnings.

At about 4:45 am group of about 30 demonstrators were having an impromptu meeting at Broadway and Harbor to discuss their next move.

Coincidentally, there were plans for the San Diego Labor Council and the national nurses’ union to have a “sleepover” at the Plaza Friday night.

Judge Sets Arrested Occupy Nashville Protestors Free

WKRN-TV [28/10/11]:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Nashville judge has ordered the more than 20 Occupy Nashville protestors arrested early Friday morning free on the grounds they did not have the time to obtain the proper permits now necessary to occupy Legislative Plaza.

State troopers arrived at the State Capitol in downtown Nashville just after 3 a.m., telling protestors they had 10 minutes to leave their posts.

Several of the demonstrators moved to the bottom of Capitol Hill, where they remained, while more than 20 protestors were arrested saying they had a right to stay on what they called "The People's Plaza."

More than 3,000 people watched live via one of the protestor's Internet live streams as the group was kicked off the plaza.

A few hours later, before 6 a.m., Metro's night court commissioner, Thomas Nelson, ruled the state was wrong in arresting the protestors.

"I am not criticizing the highway patrol," Nelson told a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer who brought in the arrested protestors. "But, you have no lawful basis to arrest or charge these people. For three weeks they've sat up there and protested, under no admonition whatsoever that they are violating state policy with regard to camping out on Legislative Plaza or that they are committing a crime. When the state issued its memorandum today imposing a curfew and changing the rules, right in the middle of a protest, they can do that, but they have to give them adequate to comply with those rules."

Governor Bill Haslam's administration announced Thursday it is imposing a nighttime curfew on the state Capitol complex in response to what it calls deteriorating safety conditions surrounding anti-Wall Street protests.

The Capitol grounds, the War Memorial Courtyard and the Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville will now be closed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Permits are required between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and special use permits, issued on a case by case basis, are mandatory from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

State troopers stood vigilant at the stair to Legislative Plaza following the arrests of the protestors but left at 6 a.m., when the plaza reopened to the public.

Commissioner Nelson said the protestors would be freed immediately and will not face charges.

Nashville's News 2 has a crew on the scene and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Greens Support Occupy Brisbane's Right To Protest

Image: Kassandra Bowers [16/10/11]

Finally! One of Queensland's political parties has the courtesy to state their position in response to our queries [28/10/11]:

The right to peaceful protest is an important part of our democracy irrespective of what the issues are and who is doing the protesting. We'll stand up for your right to do it and to be free from unwarranted heavy-handedness by the authorities.

There seem to be a disparate variety of issues represented in Post Office Square, so I can't express support for all of them (mostly because I don't know what they will be from day to day).

But we share your concerns about social inequality, corporate influence over Government, and the view that banking should primarily be offered as an essential service for the community (rather than a vehicle for the enrichment of shareholders). The Greens have steadfastly opposed tax cuts for wealthy people, advocated a higher tax rate for people earning over $1 million, and attempted to legislate a requirement that banks offer fee-free basic banking services to the community, to give a few examples.

All the best with your protest.

Regards,

Adam Stone
Qld Greens candidate for Mt Coot-tha

Littering Is One Thing ...

But dumping a musical instrument in the wetlands - with the obvious intention of using it for a bonfire - is disturbing, and an act of double vandalism. [Coombabah 28/10/11]

Greenpeace Supports Occupy Wall Street Peaceful Protests [19/10/11]


Greenpeace’s solar demonstration vehicle, The Rolling Sunlight, powers the media center at Occupy Wall Street with solar cells

Abolitionist Theodore Parker said the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. In certain moments we have the power to bend that arc more quickly if we act together.

The world is alive with activism — the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and Madison, Wisconsin — in reaction to the over-reach of corporations, corrupt politicians and an economic system that enriches the few while leaving our environment and our retirement accounts depleted.

In a time of economic hardship, the Arab Spring caught fire when a crooked police officer demanded a bribe from a street vendor. People rose up against corruption and for a more democratic society.

In the U.S. wages have declined since 1973 due in large part to corporate globalization and the rise of productivity. College grads can’t find jobs. A deep sense of cynicism about the ability to make change has swept our nation, in part due to the shameful over-reach of the Supreme Court that opened the floodgates to corporate money in politics.

A generation of Americans worked hard and played by the rules, only to find the rules of the game had been rigged by a small group of corporate leaders like the Kochs.

Detractors of the Occupy movement complain that there’s no unified demand. What I hear are people – first Americans and now across the globe – saying to multinational corporations: “You’re paying out bonuses while jobs are an endangered species. You’ve taken the American Dream – for the first time in generations might leave our kids a worse life and a worse world to live in. You own the courts and have corrupted our Congress, so we’re here at your doorstep.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a response to the economic and democratic crises. You can’t have a democracy without a middle class, and the corporate-right has used its might to eliminate unions and ship jobs overseas, contributing to the four-decade decline in wages.

You can’t have a democracy if the Supreme Court views corporations as people and allows corporations to spend unlimited money to elect or defeat politicians, threatening to overpower citizen groups and initiatives.

The warning cry of the peaceful Occupy Wall Street protests is for the future of democracy. Greenpeace in the U.S. has always recognized we cannot have a healthy planet without citizens who are willing to collectively raise our voices and participate in a functional political process. When decisions are made only for the good of the few, human lives and ecological health are put in peril.

We stand – as individuals and an organization – with Occupiers of all walks of life who peacefully stand up for a just, democratic, green and peaceful future.

 

ALL INVITED - OCCUPY GOLD COAST

Meet Up - Picnic/BBQ Sunday, October 30 · 1:00pm - 5:00pm

Location Mick Schamberg Park, Miami
cnr. Kelly Avenue and the Esplanade
Miami, Australia

You are invited to an informal MEET-UP/BBQ/PICNIC so we can get to know each other better. This will also provide an opportunity for us to brainstorm, and discuss both short term and long term goals, and who can help with what.

If you cannot come along until later in the afternoon, no problem; some of us will be there until 5pm. Paul is also coming along. If you are coming for lunch, please bring some food along. It shall also be kid friendly so bring them along if you my like. My own kids will love that. I look forward to meeting you all.

P.S. I highly recommend everyone watches this video on Consensus, because pardon the pun, this is what democracy looks like!!

This is how people can effectively work together to make decisions and solve problems.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dtD8RnGaRQ

 

@AndyWarholla

The Council Takes Down Tents While Protestors March. We'll Co-operate, It Just Feels A Bit Underhanded @OccupyPerth

Council rangers taking down #OccupyPerth and other marquees set up in Forrest Place @blakeus [28/10/11]


Letter To Kevin Rudd MP, Minister For Foreign Affairs

Press Release West Papua
The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
26 October 2011

Increasing tension in West Papua

In light of the dangerously deteriorating situation in West Papua AWPA has again written to the Foreign minister (letter below) urging him to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government to call for the halt to any (or proposed) military operations in West Papua as a way of avoiding further escalation of the situation and avoiding further bloodshed.

We point out that during military operations in West Papua the security forces have great difficulty in distinguishing between civilians and what they term separatists.

We also urge the Government to hold an inquiry into how our aid and training to the Indonesian military impacts on the lives of the West Papuan people and in the short term to immediately halt any aid or training to any military unit found to have committed human rights abuses. ...

ZeroGen Collapse Shows It’s Time For Clean Energy:

ACF Media Release [28/10/11]

The collapse of the $4 billion ZeroGen coal emissions storage project in Queensland shows the commercial world is starting the transition away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy economy, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

“Despite receiving government subsidies of almost $160 million, the ZeroGen project has now collapsed twice in five years and we still have no commercial scale proof that carbon capture and storage actually works,” said ACF’s economic adviser Simon O’Connor.

“At the same time, investment in renewable energy globally is booming.

“Last year $243 billion was invested in renewable energy projects internationally and analysts expect a further $5.7 trillion to be invested over the next 25 years.

“While one industry is stumbling and falling, the other is on fire.

“It is a stark contrast that shows the timing is right to establish the independent and commercially-oriented $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) in Australia so we can unlock our own clean energy boom.

“Globally, governments are realising the economic benefits of moving to clean energy and are setting up organisations just like the CEFC in the UK, the US, China, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

“Australia cannot afford to be left behind.”

For more detail on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and how it should be established see ACF’s report, Helping Australia Compete in the Renewable Energy Race.


Marathon Anti Uranium Walk Will Culminate At CHOGM In Perth, Western Australia


Anti Nuclear [23/10/11]:

Together with activists from around the world, a group of native Aboriginal custodians is marching 1,200 kilometers across Western Australia to protest plans for a new mine by Toro Energy in Wiluna.

Concerns about uranium mining have heated up in Australia recently, following government approval of the Olympic Dam mine, which would be the world’s largest open pit uranium mine.

“(It’s) is a very sad day for South Australia and Australia. Many people around the world will also be appalled at this decision by the Labour Party,” said Footprints for Peace organizer Marcus Atkinson.

“In December 2003, Footprints for Peace, having walked from Olympic Dam uranium mine to Hiroshima in Japan, learnt from Traditional Custodians about the destruction of sacred sites and the enormous amounts of water being taken from the Great Artesian Basin,” Atkinson said.

“In Japan we stayed in Fukushima and heard from locals about the dark future they envisioned for their community. This community’s nightmare has come true in a much more terrifying way than anyone could have imagined. An environmental ministers job should be to protect the environment, but as Tony Burke has demonstrated today it is more about big business and little to do with the environment and our children’s future,” he added.

The latest march, billed as the “Walk away from Uranium Mining”, is to inform the community of the dangers of this industry. The walk began August 20 in Wiluna in Western Australia, the proposed uranium mine site of Toro Energy and will finish in Perth on October 27, coinciding with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting meeting.

The walk’s participants are traditional Aboriginal custodians, people from all around Australia as well as people from the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, New Zealand and Chile. Many of the walkers have first hand experience of this industry from mining to nuclear power, weapons and waste dumping and represent hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world who want a nuclear free future.

“In the same week the Labour party will pass legislation to limit the amount of carbon pollution, Tony Bourke, the federal environment minister has given the green light to BHP Billiton to build the world’s largest open cut uranium mine,” said Walk Away From Uranium Mining organiser William Taylor said.

“To me, this is a contradiction in the extreme, as Olympic Dam will produce millions of tons of pollution over its lifetime and produce vast quantities of the world’s most dangerous substance, all at a time when the world is turning away from nuclear power and towards renewable energy,” Taylor said.

“Tony Bourke should reconsider his decision and rescind the approval of this mine,” he concluded.

http://summitcountyvoice.com/2011/10/11/environment-uranium-mine-plan-spurs-outrage-in-australia/

Hey G20, Here Comes #Robinhood

At the height of the global uprisings in 1968, protesters confidently heralded "The Beginning of a New Epoch." To this bravado, Zbigniew Brzezinski, then the national security advisor to the president of the United States, retorted that the protests were nothing but "the death rattle of the historical irrelevants." And indeed the first global revolution the world had ever seen suddenly fizzled out. To this day no one quite knows why.

For the moment, #OCCUPY has the magic and the ear of the world, and anything seems possible. We could see a soft regime change in America and a resurgence of the political left worldwide.

As winter approaches, many occupiers will dig in for the long haul. Others will decamp until spring and channel their energy into myriad projects. Many of the big ideas for rejuvenating and reenchanting the world that have been swirling around the left for the last 20 years will pick up steam. From revoking corporate personhood to de-commercializing the cultural commons, to separating money from politics, to the birth of a True Cost Party of America … we are entering a sustained period of boots-on-the-ground transformation.

And every now and again we will have a worldwide blast reminiscent of the global march against the Iraq war eight years ago. The next of these blasts could happen as early as this Saturday when #ROBINHOOD strikes the G20. Imagine a few million people rising up and sending a message to the G20 leaders meeting November 3/4 in France: "This austerity vs. stimulus debate you've foisted on us doesn't mean a damn thing… It's obvious you have no idea how to get us out of this economic mess you put us in. So now we are telling you what we want: a radical transformation of casino capitalism… we want you to slow down fast money with a 1% #ROBINHOOD tax on all financial transactions and currency trades."

#ROBINHOOD marches have already been announced in over a dozen cities. Bring it up at your general assembly … then create some edgy Robin Hood graphics for the world to digest and let's march out there millions strong this Saturday … Let's leverage the G20!

This could be the first great upheaval of the financial regime … and the first delicious fruit of our movement.
for the wild,

Culture Jammers HQ

There are #ROBINHOOD actions currently planned in San Antonio, Las Vegas, Montreal, Durango, Calgary, Washington DC, Santa Fe, Denver, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sydney, Amarillo, Edmonton, Salt Lake City, Berlin and more…

A Tiny Tax On Banks That Will Have A Massive Impact On The Poor: Oxfam Australia


Oxfam Australia has joined the campaign to introduce a Robin Hood Tax – a tiny tax on financial institutions that would raise hundreds of billions every year to fight poverty.

How the Robin Hood Tax works

The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax (0.05%) on banks, hedge funds and other finance institutions. Levied on foreign exchange transactions, derivatives and share deals, it could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually. The tax is on very specific financial transactions, not on the everyday consumer. If enacted it would mean enough money to help provide vital investment in public services like healthcare and schools, as well as aid the fight against global poverty and climate change.

It's proposed that 50% of the money raised by the tax would go toward domestic health and education services in the country levying the tax, and to pay for the cost of the bail-outs associated with the global financial crisis.

The other 50% would be split equally between:

Assisting poor countries tackle poverty by achieving the Millennium Development Goals
Helping poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change

The tax is expected to raise around $400 billion dollars a year (up to $18 billion dollars in Australia). By 2020 developing countries will need around $100 billion to assist them to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Much of this finance could come from the Robin Hood Tax.

Financial institutions through their greed and risk-taking created the global financial crisis, so its time they started to make a contribution to a better world. Read our Robin Hood Tax frequently asked questions.

You can help

We have an historic opportunity, at the G20 meeting in June, to get international agreement to introduce a Robin Hood Tax.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in an interim report released in Apri 2010, described it as a “practical” idea and also publicly credited the campaign for alerting it to the tremendous support for an international banking tax. However, many leaders including our Prime Minister have yet to publicly recognise the opportunity this tax provides us to easily and fairly reduce global poverty. Write to our government and ask for their support.

This is a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which – with your support – can become a reality. Hundreds of leading economic thinkers, from Joseph Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs to Warren Buffett and George Soros, support this tax. Let's make sure our government does too.

Nobody Likes A Habitual Liar

When A Newspaper Does It, It's Actually Dangerous

If there really is a threat to children on the Gold Coast, the police (and/or Minister for Education) will tell you, not the liars in the hate media.

 

This is a picture of a big, white van

Man In White Van 'An Urban Myth', John Stewart, Lateline, ABC [16/5/09]:

Criminologists believe children are far more likely to be harmed by domestic violence than by strangers. In recent years, many media reports about men in vans attempting to snatch children off the streets has played on a parent's greatest fear.

But criminologists say most of the reports are false, and the story about the man in the white van has become an urban myth.

They believe children are far more likely to be harmed by domestic violence than by strangers.

Last month, a report about two men in a van attempting to abduct a nine-year-old girl on the New South Wales central coast sent the media into a frenzy. Two days later, police informed the media that the attempted abduction report was false, that the young girl had made it up.

There was little media interest in the clarification.

The Daily Telegraph reported on page nine that the story was false.

"There's nothing more frightening to a parent that some complete stranger could snatch their child and inflict harm or murder the child," said Dr Don Weatherburn, the director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

"The media know that and they exploit that."

During last September's school holidays, New South Wales police received 30 reports about attempted child abductions in one week. No child had disappeared, but that did not stop images of white vans appearing on front pages and on the television.

"Last Friday here in Auburn, a 12-year-old girl was being followed around by a man in a white van," said one television report.

"Two weeks ago in Tempe a girl was being followed by two men in white van, a bit different to the other two white vans."

Sydney mother-of-four Natalie Morris lives in a street where one of the attempted child abductions was reported to have taken place. Police were unable to establish a case, but six months after the story about the attempted abduction Ms Morris says parents and children in her street are still living in fear.

"There's a pit in your stomach thinking I can't let me kids walk next door without me being there," she said.

"They've lost their freedom and they've lost trying to explore and be little children."

Dr Weatherburn says the media knows the vast majority of reports about men in white vans trying to snatch children are false.

"They've got no interest in telling people subsequently that it was a false report or that there was no evidence that an abduction took place," he said.

"They're certainly not interested in correcting anything they got wrong at the time, so people are left with this after taste, feeling that abduction is extremely prevalent."

Ms Morris wants the media to change the way it reports child abduction stories, especially during the school holidays.

"I'd like to see the truth," she said.

"If it was untrue, print something just as big, just as bold, and say that due to further investigations it wasn't true."

Police say they take all claims of attempted child abduction seriously, but reports about men in white vans often peak during the school holidays. The false reports also waste valuable police resources.

"It seems to be a common theme, whether each and every one is made up I can't confirm because I don't know what took place at the scene," said Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec.

"But I can say that there are several matters that are totally false that have involved white vans."

Forensic psychologist Dr Christopher Lennings says the urban myth about the man in the van probably began when the America's FBI created of a profile for a highly organised killer.

"And a typical profile was a person who had duct tape and a knife and scissors and all that sort of stuff and they could drive people around in a van with no windows and that sort of thing," he said.

The FBI profile of the man in a van was then picked up by Hollywood movies, like The Silence Of The Lambs. Criminologists say that children are far more likely to be harmed by domestic violence than by strangers.

"The stranger danger is grossly over emphasised in the media," Dr Weatherburn said.

"It's not interesting for the media to know that the majority of harm inflicted on kids is by parents or relations.

"The idea of the stranger walking in and abducting a child or murdering a child is given way too much emphasis, when the prosaic reality is that it's the people the child knows who represent the biggest threat."

Serious Traffic Crash, Marsden:

Queensland Police Media Release [28/10/11]

Police are investigating a serious crash at Marsden last night that has left a pedestrian in hospital.

Initial investigations indicate that around 7.15pm a man was crossing Blue Gum Drive when he was struck by a vehicle.

The pedestrian, a 60-year-old Marsden man, was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the car, a 26-year-old Marsden man, was not injured.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

If The Queensland Government Were Really Serious About Equality, They Would Decriminalise Abortion

Mount Isa girls encouraged to go for jobs in the resources sector: Minister for Community Services, Housing and Women Media Release [27/10/11]:

Mount Isa teenage girls will be encouraged to consider future careers in the booming resources sector at a 4Girls2 jobs forum held today.

Member for Mount Isa Betty Kiernan said the forums were designed to encourage high school girls in years eight to 12 to think about careers in non-traditional industries, especially mining and energy.

“The Government is looking over the horizon towards a bright future by creating new career paths for young women in high paying jobs,” Mrs Kiernan said.

“Clever programs such as this are helping tackle the skills shortage and are making a real difference in local communities.

“The forum will allow girls to try hands on activities led by women from non-traditional industries, including engineers, environmental scientists, geologists and miners.”

More than 60 female students from the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) schools are expected to attend the Mount Isa forum.

QMEA is a partnership between the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and the Department of Education and Training (DET).

Minister for Women Karen Struthers said the Queensland Government provided $34,200 in funding to support QMEA deliver 4Girls2 forums in ten locations across Queensland.

The Mount Isa forum is one of three forums held this year with the other two held in Brisbane on 17 November and Gladstone on 24 November.

Ms Struthers said the Queensland Government was committed to providing opportunities for women to embrace a wide range of careers paths.

“Our Women in Hard Hats and Girls in Hard Hats initiatives are exposing girls and women to the many opportunities available to them in the resources sector and encouraging them to consider further study and training in these fields.

“It’s time to make women’s participation in non-traditional careers and industries a reality and no longer a novelty.”

For more information about 4Girls2, visit www.women.qld.gov.au/hardhats or phone Women’s Infolink on 1800 177 577.

Protection Of Nature Refuges Must Be Put Beyond Doubt:

Greens Media Release [27/10/11]

Waratah Coal's proposal to turn Bimblebox Nature Refuge into a coal mine has prompted the Queensland Greens to renew calls for an urgent amendment to the Nature Conservation Act to ensure nature refuges are protected from mining.

'It is a serious breach of faith for the Government to enter into an arrangement with land owners whereby they mutually agree to protect high conservation value land in perpetuity, only for the Government to then entertain the prospect of mining on that same land' said Greens lead candidate and candidate for Mt Coot-tha, Adam Stone.

'The Scheme is supposed to only permit “compatible and sustainable land uses”. It's quite a stretch to claim that an open-cut coal mine meets that description.'

'Not even exploration permits should be granted over such land.'

'Nature refuges potentially offer a neat and collaborative way to expand Queensland's conservation estate – conservation-minded land holders have the peace of mind of knowing their land is protected, and we all have the opportunity to protect the biodiversity of our State without the expense of purchasing all high conservation value land.'

'But it is hard to see how this arrangement can continue if land holders realise that the protection offered by the State is no protection at all.'

'This is another unfortunate example of the seriously unbalanced and deficient regulation of mining in this State' Mr Stone concluded.

 

Cold wind ripping down the alley at dawn

And the morning paper flies

Dead man lying by the side of the road

With the daylight in his eyes


Don't let it bring you down

It's only castles burning

Find someone who's turning

And you will come around


'Don't Let It Bring You Down', Neil Young [1970]

 

America On The Brink

Official Veterans For Peace Statement Regarding Occupy Incident in Oakland [26/10/11]:

Veteran For Peace member, Scott Olsen, a Marine Corps veteran twice deployed to Iraq, is in hospital now in stable but serious condition with a fractured skull, struck by a police projectile fired into a crowd in downtown Oakland, California in the early morning hours of today. Other people were injured in the assault and many were arrested after Oakland police in riot gear were ordered to evict people encamped in the ongoing "Occupy Oakland" movement. Olsen is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

VFP members are involved with dozens of these local "occupy movement" encampments and we support them fully. In Boston, for example, our members, wearing VFP shirts and carrying VFP flags, stood between a line of police and the encampment, urging police to "join the 99%" and not evict the protesters. In that case, several of our members were banged and bruised when the police decided instead to carry out their eviction orders.

In Oakland, last night, a similar thing happened, according to VFP Chapter 69 member and Navy veteran, Joshua Sheperd, who said he went to downtown Oakland "to see if, as a VFP member, I could help still the anger...to be between the police and the protesters...it seemed unconscionable to me that the police use the cover of darkness like that to do what they were doing." Fortunately, he was not injured in the police assault that left Olsen with a fractured skull

As with virtually every example of the occupy movement across the country, those encamped were conducting themselves peacefully beforehand, protesting current economic, social and environmental conditions in the U.S. brought about by decades of corporate control, a criminal financial industry and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are driving the U.S. global empire into bankruptcy. These "occupy movement" participants are telling us something we need very desperately to hear. They should be listened to, not arrested and brutalized.

Police in the majority of cities are acting with restraint and humanity towards the encampments, but Veterans For Peace will not be deterred by police who choose to use brutal tactics. In fact, as happens with repression everywhere, more people join the cause. We do believe that the rank and file police officers are part of the 99%, the overwhelming majority of Americans who are suffering at the hands of an intolerable system. Layoffs and cutbacks in city after city prove that we must join together to demand justice for all.

We send our very best to Scott Olsen and his family and wish him a speedy recovery to health.

We shall not be moved.


 

... When there are no more lies, they can tell

No more useless information and the compass spins

The compass spins between Heaven and Hell ...

 

'Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot', Sting [1996]



The Murdoch Press and their friends @ the ABC are shameless wreckers.

They don't care about you or your children.

They trade in fear and lies that are beyond the comprehension of good and decent people.

Search the internet, you will find a high correlation between sensationalist reporting of "the choking game" and an increase in deaths.

Go with your intuition ...

Always Remember, If It's Published By News Ltd., It Probably Isn't True:

Clarification - media report 'Chemical Warfare.' GCCC Media Release [27/10/11]:

"Gold Coast City Council has been considering all options to reduce carbon emissions and the cost to ratepayers of conventional mowing.

However, while grass retardants are used in the United States and are already in use across the city in the management of sports turf, Council officers have sought further detailed information.

No committee report recommending the wider application of grass retardants will be forthcoming unless the practice can be shown to be environmentally-safe and effective."

More Reasons To #Occupy

Queensland Parliament Hansard [27/10/11]:

Gladstone Electorate, Health Services

Mrs CUNNINGHAM [Ind - Gladstone]: My question without notice is to the Minister for Health. This government continues to recognise the value of the Gladstone region for industrial development but has failed to ensure appropriate health and affordable housing infrastructure. Will the minister show concern for the community and hospital staff by investing in additional services at Gladstone rather than accepting this current decline and cancellation of service provision?

Mr SPEAKER: The minister has one minute.

Mr WILSON: I accept and recognise the question from the honourable member. I do not accept the premise of her proposition that we are accepting the decline of services at the Gladstone Hospital.

We want to make sure that the health service planning that does take place for Gladstone caters for not only the present service provision that the Gladstone community is entitled to have but also the growth over the next five to 10 years. There is important work being done now, as the honourable member knows, to identify the best service planning for the future, and that will take place. However, Gladstone Hospital does not exist in isolation. It exists as part of a network of hospitals, including the Rockhampton Hospital and others. We are working as a network. The objective is to provide the best-quality health service in that region. The challenge is identifying what further services might be able to be appropriately applied to Gladstone and we will continue to work on that task. (Time expired)

...

Kyampisi Childcare Ministries

Mr FOLEY (Maryborough—Ind) (3.15 pm): I rise to bring to the attention of the House today a very sad situation in Uganda where there has been in relatively recent years an outbreak of the hideous practice of child sacrifice. I want to acknowledge Pastor Peter Michael who is in the visitors’ gallery today. He has established the Kyampisi Childcare Ministries and runs an orphanage in Uganda which is all about rescuing these children. In the middle of night people steal children. This even happens during the day while parents are otherwise occupied. The witchdoctors procure the children and kill them and use their body parts in horrific circumstances. They use them in witchcraft practices. People are taking the lives of children and burying parts of these children’s bodies in the foundations of buildings in the vain hope that it will bring good luck.

It is not every herbalist and traditional practitioner who is a witchdoctor. This is a money-driven, horrific crime. There are children in the orphanage whom Pastor Peter has been able to rescue who have been horrifically scarred and maimed by this practice.

There is an e-petition on this issue currently before this parliament. I would urge all members to sign it. I table a document outlining child sacrifice in Uganda so that members can read about this further.

Tabled paper: Report by Jubilee Campaign and Kyampisi Childcare Ministries titled ‘Child Sacrifice in Uganda’.

It is a worldwide problem. The BBC has recently done an undercover investigation into this horrible phenomenon. It has done a fantastic documentary which sets out the problems and the solutions.

(Time expired)

Rural Fire Service

Mrs PRATT (Nanango—Ind) (5.11 pm): I rise to talk about the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland and the work that they do in the state. Today I received a document from them entitled ‘Document of Importance’. It states that recently they have held some 30 public meetings—from the New South Wales border to Cooktown, from Mount Isa to Miles and in many places in between. It goes on to state that support for volunteers at those meetings seeking change was quite overwhelming, with the majority of meeting attendees choosing the third of three options, which calls for a return to a separate rural fire service in Queensland and a rural fires act and, of course, the appropriate funding and management. The reason this organisation is raising this matter at this particular time is to allow all political parties the opportunity to draft policies that provide the appropriate financial and managerial support necessary to enable rural fire volunteers to carry out the role of managing and providing assistance at emergencies throughout 93 per cent of Queensland.

Attached to this document were a number of graphs which I found very interesting. The first page contains a chart that compares what rural fire services in other states receive with what the Queensland Rural Fire Service receives. I am pretty sure that all members will receive a copy of this document. I think they will be quite surprised at the amount of funding other services receive. Queensland does not offer fully funded or fully maintained fire appliances or a lot of other things; the other states do. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia do receive total recurrent funding; however, the Queensland Rural Fire Service does not. It gets none at all, according to this document. The document goes on to outline a whole lot of issues. It was said at the meetings that support for option 3, which was for the re-establishment of a separate rural fire service, was 91.84 per cent. That is quite a substantial level of support which would, I reflect, show that the people in the Rural Fire Service are not content with the way things are going. As they also state in this document, the Rural Fire Service receives eight per cent of the budget and they cover 93 per cent of Queensland, whereas 92 per cent of the budget goes to the urban fire service, which covers a very small area. The figures are quite astonishing. I think honourable members should study them. (Time expired)

Just Protesting For The Sake Of Protesting?

You are mean ... and we might cut you in half

Oakland Spends Millions in Attack on Occupy Protesters, Closes 5 Schools Next Day [26/10/11]:

On Tuesday evening at 5pm Occupy Oakland gathered at the foot of the Oakland Library on 14th Avenue before setting off on a march past the jail and onward to Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The peaceful gathering swelled as it marched through downtown, growing upwards of 1,000 people strong. Along their route were police from 17 jurisdictions in California, decked out in riot gear and weaponry.

Just before 8pm the police began throwing concussion grenades and tear gas directly into the crowd, injuring several nonviolent protesters. Weapons were aimed and fired at people as they attempted to help the injured and bring them to safety.

The crowd reconvened a block away and continued to peacefully occupy the streets outside the plaza. For several hours this scenario was repeated as citizens tried to gain entrance to the plaza while the police held their line using “non-lethal” rifles, tear gas, and barricades.

The city has spent several million dollars in this campaign to shut down free speech in Oakland.

Meanwhile today the Oakland Unified School District will vote on closing down 5 schools: Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe. They will meet at 5pm at Oakland Technical High, where they will be met with protestors from Occupy Oakland and other groups demanding a more sane and just allocation of the city’s resources.

Occupy Oakland will reconvene every day at 6pm at 14th & Broadway until the camp is reestablished.

Join us!

Bureau of Meteorology Staff To Take Industrial Action On Thursday 27 Oct: CPSU Media Release [26/10/11]

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members in the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) will stop work for one hour this Thursday in all Bureau sites (except small observer locations) over stalled pay negotiations.

Staff are concerned that the current pay offer is below the rate of inflation and will leave them behind most other Australian Public Service (APS) employees. They are also protesting proposed cuts to their working conditions.

CPSU representative, Monica Long said, "With CPI running at 3.6%, management's offer will leave us worse off after three years. Accepting a pay rise that does not keep up with inflation devalues our work and that's something we're not prepared to accept.

"Bureau staff provide essential services to Australians yet our pay doesn't recognise our dedication, professionalism and skills," said Ms Long.

Alistair Waters, CPSU Deputy National President said "We know that members of the public, emergency services and industry appreciate the important work that Bureau staff do but it seems management is unwilling to show staff the same appreciation".

As well as providing short and long range weather forecasting, Bureau staff:

• work with emergency services through severe weather emergencies such as fire, floods and cyclones
• provide services to the aviation, maritime and agriculture industries
• collect and analyse climate data; and
• provide a huge amount of information in real time on the Bureau website, one of the most accessed Australian websites.

Ms Long said, "We're really committed to our work. We know that there are so many people and organisations that rely on the services we provide and we take that responsibility seriously." Management's offer, which was rejected by 83% of staff in a recent ballot, included cuts to sick and carer's leave, cuts to flexible working provisions.

"Today's stoppage is all about sending a message to management that we are serious about getting a fair outcome. We would prefer to negotiate a settlement but unless there is better offer put forward, we will have no choice but to consider taking further industrial action," said Mr Waters.

Protest rally

Union members will be rallying outside the Bureau's head office at 700 Collins St Melbourne at 11am on Thursday 27 October 2011.

 

MUA Crew Occupy Shell Tanker 'Aruluen Spirit' In Sydney Harbour

 


Landowners Blockade Coal Seam Gas Project:

Lock The Gate Alliance [27/10/11]

Landowners from communities across the Liverpool Plains have been forced to take direct action against the mining giant Santos to stop it pushing ahead with ‘pilot production' of coal seam gas before the potential risks to the region's iconic water systems are known.

This morning local residents began parking vehicles and heavy farm machinery to blockade the George's Island Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL 1) site, near Spring Ridge, after Santos repeatedly refused to wait for the outcome of the Namoi Catchment Water Study before escalating its operations.

The independent water study - established by the NSW Government and jointly funded by the Federal Government and mining companies, including Santos - is due to be completed next year. It is expected to provide the most comprehensive picture yet of the region's complex network of aquifers to better understand the risks posed by large-scale mining.

CCAG spokesman Tim Duddy said the decision by Santos to ignore the study and press ahead left the community with little choice.

"This is unquestionably one of the most valuable agricultural areas in Australia fed by an extraordinary network of aquifer systems and our community is not going to stand by and watch it destroyed overnight," Mr Duddy said.

"If mining companies and governments aren't prepared to act, our communities will," he said.

"Santos claims to be concerned about protecting this environment but their actions speak otherwise. They are refusing to wait a matter of months for the outcome of a water study which could be the difference between saving one of the nation's most productive agricultural areas or destroying it forever.

Mr Duddy said CCAG had written to the State and Federal governments seeking their urgent intervention but were yet to receive a response. He said CCAG had called on them to require Santos to postpone its CSG production until the Namoi Water Study is complete and its outcomes properly understood.

"The landowners and residents who've come together for this blockade are deeply concerned for the future of the Liverpool Plains and no longer prepared to see mining allowed to proceed at any cost," Mr Duddy said.

"We certainly aren't opposed to mining so long as it can be shown it poses no significant risk to the environment but no-one, including Santos, can make such a claim in this case," he said.

Occupy Vienna - The Musician's Version Of Occupy Wall Street


Thomas J. West [15/10/11]:

There are a lot of very clever pieces of humor circulating social media right now about the Occupy Wall Street protests. The image on this blog post was one I collected from Facebook this morning. It lampoons the #OWS slogan by stating a similarity in classical music composing.

Our culture has accepted the paradigm that music composition requires special talent that one is born with. With the birth of the recorded music industry, Western culture went from a society of people who created and performed their own music to a society where specialized music composers created the content for a mass audience of music consumers.

If ever I were going to take up a cause, it would be "Occupy Creativity" or something similar. Obviously we can't say that current commercial music composers are hogging all the resources, though composers, writers, and other intellectual property creators have to be "chosen" by a publisher, and that can be a "who knows who" game. No, my cause would be to turn America back into a land where the common person learns enough about their chosen art form to create, perform, and/or display their own for their own personal enrichment and for the consumption of people who enjoy their work.

I'm nearly to the half-way point of my career as a music educator (that's a scary thought) and the second half will be devoted to teaching my students to do it all - not just learn the 3rd clarinet part to the Holst Suite in Eb, and so on.

Tunes For Change & The Cat Empire Release 'Asylum' - An Exclusive Album Featuring Recordings From The Cat Empire & Their Collective Of Musicians: Media Release

The Cat Empire has teamed up with Tunes For Change to release “ASYLYM”, a collection of rare and unreleased tracks that will be available for a limited time only, exclusively through www.tunesforchange.org.

With the support of Tunes For Change, The Cat Empire hope to raise $50,000 for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). 100% of album proceeds will go to the ASRC.

Harry Angus from The Cat Empire says, “We came up with the idea to raise money for the ASRC in partnership with Tunes for Change, by making some of our rare and hard to find music available in exchange for a donation to the ASRC of $5 or more.”

The album “ASYLUM” features an elite collection of some rarely shared and other neverbefore released recordings by The Cat Empire, as well as music created by the band members other bands and musical projects including Jackson Jackson, Felix Riebl and Harry James Angus.

The album can be purchased for a donation of five dollars or more exclusively through www.tunesforchange.org and for three months only.

This is a joint human-rights initiative by both The Cat Empire and Tunes For Change.

A NOTE FROM THE CAT EMPIRE

The Cat Empire are proud supporters of the incredible work of the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre (ASRC).

We believe it is critical to foster the unique rich cultural fabric of our country which has helped shape our music over 10 years. We strongly believe that all people have a right to sanctuary, respect and safety in Australia.

Since 2001, the ASRC has become the largest provider of aid, advocacy and health services for Asylum seekers in Australia. They provide direct aid and support to asylum seekers living in our community and detention, as they seek refugee status in Australia.

We are dedicated to sharing our own good fortune with the individuals and families who have overcome huge adversity by the time they courageously walk up the steps at the ASRC to ask for help.

www.asrc.org.au

We came up with the idea to raise money for the ASRC in partnership with Tunes for Change, by making some of our rare and hard to find music available in exchange for a donation to the ASRC of $5 or more. The album -ASYLUM– includes some rarely shared and other never-before-released recordings by The Cat Empire, as well as music created by the band members other bands and musical projects.

The album features a version of The Chariot which we recorded in Cuba back in 2005, the version of Call Me Home that we held onto, the "Feline Intro" which was recorded for our debut album but has never seen the light of day, and the hauntingly amazing song ZERO,

written by Anbessa, an Ethiopian singer who has been supported by The ASRC in making his home in Australia. We were lucky enough to collaborate with Anbessa in 2010 to record this track, which he wrote about leaving his home country and family, and the struggles of starting over somewhere new on his own.

We have also included tracks from the original trio that was the starting ground of The Cat Empire, JACKSON JACKSON, Felix's album – Into The Rain, Harrys Album – Little Stories, The Genie – Here come the Scissors, and Ross Irwin (from the Empire Horns) album – The Hunting Road. You may or may not know how much music we create both within and outside of our main band - The Cat Empire. This is a way of letting you into some of the other parts of our musical worlds. You can find out more info online, and buy the complete albums for these projects on I-tunes internationally (or in Australian record stores).

For information on all of the bands/projects which appear on this album, visit:

www.thecatempire.com

JACKSON JACKSON

www.jacksonjacksonmusic.com

THE GENIE

http://www.listentothegenie.com

FELIX RIEBL

www.felixriebl.com

ROSCOE JAMES IRWIN

www.facebook.com/roscoejamesirwin

HARRY JAMES ANGUS

www.harryjamesangus.com.au

We want to encourage our fans to give generously to the ASRC in exchange for access to this music which we have been saving in the vaults for a time where it could be really worthwhile to release it. The ASRC deserves our support. This is a way you can help others in a very meaningful way, while adding to your own unique music collection.

We are aiming to raise $50,000 with the help of our fans. The album will be available for 3 months. 100% of money raised from the sale of this album will go to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.

Asylum Applications In Industrialized Countries Rise In First Six Months In 2011: UNHCR [18/10/11]

Asylum levels and trends in industrialized countries, first half 2011

Industrialized countries saw a 17 per cent increase in asylum applications in the first half of this year, with most claimants coming from countries with long-standing displacement situations.

UNHCR's "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, First Half 2011" report, released today, also shows that 198,300 asylum applications were lodged in the period between January 1 and June 30, compared to 169,300 in the same period in 2010.

As application rates normally peak during the second half of the year, UNHCR projects that 2011 may see 420,000 applications by year's end – the highest total in eight years.

So far this year there have been major forced displacement crises in West, North and East Africa. The report finds related increases in asylum claims among Tunisians, Ivorians and Libyans (4,600, 3,300 and 2,000 claims respectively), but overall the impact of these events on application rates in industrialized countries has been limited.

Taking the 44 countries surveyed in the report as a whole, the main countries of origin of asylum-seekers remained largely unchanged from previous surveys: Afghanistan (15,300 claims), China (11,700 claims), Serbia [and Kosovo: Security Council Resolution 1244] (10,300 claims), Iraq (10,100 claims) and Iran (7,600 claims).

"2011 has been a year of displacement crises unlike any other I have seen in my time as High Commissioner," said UNHCR chief António Guterres.

"Their impact on asylum claims in industrialized countries seems to have been lower so far than might have been expected, as most of those who fled went to neighbouring countries. Nonetheless we are grateful that the industrialized states have continued to respect the right of people to have their claims to asylum heard."

By continent, Europe registered the highest number of claims with 73 per cent of all asylum applications in industrialized countries. Only Australasia saw a significant decline in applicants: 5,100 claims compared with 6,300 a year earlier.

By country, the United States had more claims (36,400) than any other industrialized nation, followed by France with (26,100), Germany (20,100), Sweden (12,600) and the United Kingdom (12,200). The Nordic region was the only part of Europe to see a fall in asylum applications. Meanwhile, in north-east Asia applications more than doubled – 1,300 claims were lodged in Japan and South Korea compared to 600 in the first half of 2010.

The "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries, First Half 2011" report complements UNHCR's annual Global Trends Report, issued in June each year, and which this year found that 80 per cent of refugees are being hosted in developing countries.

Australia Should Help Poor Nations Respond To Climate Change:

ACF Media Release [27/10/11]

A study by leading researchers from the Australian National University has identified a range of new sources of private and public climate finance that Australia can use to help the world’s poorest countries, including our near neighbours, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, protect their forests and manage the impacts of climate change.

According to the ANU study, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, World Vision Australia and the Climate Institute, Australia should aim to contribute its fair share – estimated at around $2.4 billion a year – to a global climate finance target of $100 billion by 2020 set during last year’s UN climate summit in Cancun.

World Vision Australia’s Senior Economist, David Lansley, said while there are many practical ways for poor countries to deal with climate change, most of these nations lack the necessary technical and financial capacity.

“The world’s poor and vulnerable are frequently most prone to the effects of climate change, but have the least capacity to invest in practical solutions on a scale necessary to defend against extreme weather and rising seas,” Dr Lansley said.

The report says Australia’s private/public contribution could be raised through:

• a levy on international transport fuels
• reducing fossil fuel subsidies
• a rising share of carbon price revenue
• leveraging private sector finance through the expansion of transparent and robust international carbon markets

“It is common sense and in the national interest for Australia to help the world’s poorest nations, in particular our neighbours in the Asia Pacific region, to build cleaner, low pollution economies and greater resilience to climate change,” the Climate Institute’s Erwin Jackson said.

“This will help avoid the accelerating costs of disaster relief and reduce the risk of regional instability. Done well, it can also create export markets for smart Australian companies.”

With Australia’s carbon price scheme likely to pass the Senate early next month, it is vital the Government turn its attention to the issue of international climate financing at the upcoming Durban climate summit which kicks off in late November.

“At Cancun the world agreed to establish a new Green Climate Fund, but without countries championing new sources of finance, it’s a bank account with nothing in it,” said ACF’s Tony Mohr.

“In Durban we’ll be looking for the Australian Government to show leadership by committing to new sources of international climate finance.”

People's House Bill: Referendum For An Upper House Bill

Queensland Parliament Hansard [26/10/11]:

... Mr MCLINDON (Beaudesert - KAP) ... The Mayor of the Gold Coast City Council, Ron Clarke, sent me a letter in which he raised concern about the needs of the 300,000 electors in the Gold Coast City Council area which would far outweigh some of the small communities which I have addressed tonight. I table that letter by Ron Clarke from the Gold Coast City Council, because I think it is prudent that his voice be heard on this matter as well.

Tabled paper: Letter, dated 2 August 2010, from Ron Clarke, Mayor of Gold Coast City Council to Aidan McLindon MP, member
for Beaudesert relating to the proposed re-introduction into the State Parliament of the upper house.

No political system in the world is going to be perfect, but we all need to bear in mind that we always need to pursue best governance in terms of transparency and accountability. It is something that is often spoken of but very little of it is done. What I am presenting tonight is something that was completely different from the upper house that was abolished in 1922. The upper house was very obstructionist back then. Members were appointed; here they would be democratically elected by the mayors. The Constitution Act Amendment Act 1934 doubly entrenched that legislation which then said that they needed a referendum. It would be my desire to have that referendum at the same time as a local government election across the state to save money.

Albert Einstein said that great ideas will always be met with violent opposition by mediocre minds. If people have problems with this concept, I invite them to put their amendments forward, to put their contribution forward, to put their model forward. For 89 years in this great state of Queensland we have had an opposition until about three or four days ago that was strongly advocating for an upper house in this state. We cannot sit back and have a winner takes all approach of three-year dictatorial cycles, regardless of who is in government. It is very convenient, opposition. We have had three major changes of government since 1922—57 years of Labor Party government, 29 years of conservative government and now almost 20 years of a Labor Party government, minus a year or two of a Borbidge minority government.

This proposition is innovative. It is bold, new, brave and different. It is thinking outside the square and this is what we need. As I said, it is not perfect. It may not be the answer but I have put it on the table. Once again, we saw the opposition three or four days ago run for cover and drop it like a hot potato. That is not acceptable at all. That was one of the things that attracted me to the Liberal Party in 1996. They seem to be taking these platforms out one at a time and that is why the boat is sinking. One platform after another seems to be going and they wonder why the ship is sinking.

Mr Lucas: They don’t take their platform anymore once they hop on the train.

Mr McLINDON: That is right. What we are seeing now is a valueless party. I do not think anybody in Queensland could name even one thing that the LNP stands for. It is a tragedy because there are a lot of good people in that party but they have been dictated to.

Mr Hopper interjected.

Mr McLINDON: There are a few good ones. I will take that interjection by the member forCondamine. The member for Condamine is not a bad bloke. In fact, there are a lot of good blokes. At the end of the day, this is the boxing ring. This is where we put on our gloves and fight out the policy. There are decent people on both sides of this parliament, believe it or not. As I have said, you have to make sure in this game that you put your convictions forward. I am not going to say that I stand for something and then not follow it through, as we have seen in the last 48 hours with the opposition. It is eeny, meeny miny mo. If I had a choice of changing parties or changing my beliefs I would change parties any day. That is exactly what I have done. I can tell you now—

Mr Rickuss: Four times.

Mr McLINDON: As Menzies and Winston Churchill did, too. I am not ashamed of that, because I have not compromised what I believe in because I am a man of my convictions. I will see them through even when we divide and there are 88 people on the other side of the chamber. That does not bother me, because I know that I can go to bed being true to myself and knowing that I have put forward something I have believed in for 16 years. I will not go with the tide. I know that I will not be able to please everybody. When you try to please everybody, as we have seen with the opposition, you end up pleasing nobody and standing for nothing. If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. There is a lot of hope on the horizon despite the comments from the member for Callide only four or five days ago when they completely negated and threw one of their key platforms for the last nine decades out of the window. I am not sure whether he got in trouble from Campbell Newman. As long as their mobile phones are kept on, they can keep each other in line.

This is an innovative concept, though not perfect and it needs brushing up. However, the majority of the mayors that I have met including Paul Pisasale, the mayor for Ipswich, with whom I had a great meeting, are very keen to strength the relationship between local and state government. In many cases there is a question of whether we govern inefficiently or whether we are overgoverned. I would say it is a bit of both, but I would say that we govern inefficiently more so than anything. We need to put some good thought into this. It is meant to provoke the mind. It is food for thought. There are a lot of empty minds on the opposition side that are fairly hungry. I ask them to put their model forward and make sure they represent the membership of that party. There are a lot of good people in that party. I know that a lot of members are walking away from the party, but make sure you live up to the expectations of the ones who are still there as you did at the state conference in 2009 that overwhelmingly supported the reinstatement of an upper house.

Things have changed since 1922 and it is debatable whether that has been for the better or for the worse. What I can say is that people know there is something fundamentally flawed in the way we do politics here in Queensland. This will continue until we start getting our head around the fact that we cannot have a winner-takes-all approach, we cannot have a government of the day being able to call the shots and have Caesar judging Caesar. What we need now is a proper and transparent process where they are accountable to those communities of the same voter base that put those mayors there. As I have said, the Katter Australian Party is a party of principles. It is a party with conviction. It is a party of ideas. The great part about the Katter Australia Party is that it encapsulates everything that the Queensland Party stood for. I have plugged into bigger firepower now. Because we are a party of principle, because we have convictions, because we have policy in concrete, we will not falter for the people. We will substitute the void that was supposed to be the opposition in this state. I am proud of these bills, and I recommend both these bills to the House even though I will be the pebble in the pond.

Division: Question put—That the People’s House Bill be now read a second time.
Resolved in the negative under standing order 108.
Question put—That the Referendum for an Upper House Bill be now read a second time.
Resolved in the negative.

Government Must Reveal What It Knows Of The Campaign Against WikiLeaks: Greens Media Release [25/10/11]

Australian Greens spokesperson for communications, Senator Scott Ludlam, has called on the Government to reveal its hand on the campaign against whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks.

Senator Ludlam has formally asked the Government what assurances it has secured that, if extradited, WikiLeaks' Australian chief Julian Assange will face the charges of which he is accused in Sweden and will not be subject to the temporary surrender mechanism that could see him extradited to the United States.

"What does our Government knows about any attempts by the US Government to extradite Mr Assange - an Australian citizen, or about any moves to charge him under the US Espionage Act?

"Does the Government define Mr Assange's work in his capacity as Editor in Chief of Wikileaks as ‘having implications for Australia's foreign relations', thereby triggering the application of the Intelligence Services Act 2001?

"The Australian Federal Police found that Mr Assange had not committed any crime under Australian law in his capacity as editor in chief of WikiLeaks - will they guarantee that if Mr Assange returns to Australia he will not be extradited to the United States? These are critical questions."

Senator Ludlam said any attempt to drag Julian Assange to the United States to face legal proceedings under a draconian, First World War-era Act would be part of a broader campaign to destroy WikiLeaks.

"The US Government has been embarrassed by a number of revelations made public by WikiLeaks - including evidence of American soldiers in Iraq deliberately targeting civilians and journalists - and is hell bent on revenge. Washington has successfully pressured companies including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union to block donations to WikiLeaks to strangle the site - despite the donations funding perfectly legal activity.

"WikiLeaks is pursuing litigation via regulatory bodies around the world - including in Australia - to end the blockade. The Australian Government must rule out any attempt to thwart this legal action."


http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/work/notice/snpf_059.pdf - (Questions re: Julian Assange begin on page 77)

Open Letter to the United States Government Regarding WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the Fundamental Tenets of Democracy and Open Societies

Revolution Truth:

To President Obama, US Senators and Congressmen and women, Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice, and all of those involved in the attempt to prosecute Julian Assange, founder of the nonprofit news organization WikiLeaks.org:

We are a diverse group of people from around the world who have come together for a common purpose: to defend WikiLeaks, to ask the United States to cease its attempts to manufacture a case against Julian Assange, and to defend democratic principles and our fundamental rights guaranteed therein. We are professionals, homemakers, activists, students, and others who believe that government derives its power from the consent of the governed, as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence, but that citizens can only give meaningful consent if they are fully informed about their government’s actions. Nothing more violates American principles, which inspire both those of us who are and are not American citizens, than the idea that "government knows best" and has the right to deceive its own people.

The Wikileaks documents have revealed that the U.S. government has been keeping enormously important information secret from the American people, such as the fact that the U.S. government knew of the mass murder of civilians in Iraq even though it claimed it did not; that the U.S. government failed its legal responsibility as an occupying power by handing civilians over to Iraqi police units knowing they would be tortured and killed, even though it claimed it did not; that U.S. officials believe the Afghan government is corrupt and unpopular, even as they falsely claim to be fighting for democracy in Afghanistan; and that U.S. officials are extremely worried about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear stockpile, a potential matter of life and death that they have kept from the people of the world.

When the N.Y. Times released the Wikileaks “Afghan Logs” on July 25, its headline read: "View Is Bleaker than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan." This revealed, according to America’s “newspaper of record,” that the U.S. Government was hiding the truth from its own people. Is it really right that the proud citizens of America should need Wikileaks to discover vital truths denied them by their own government?

U.S. officials claim they have a right to deceive the American people, and prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, on the grounds of “national security”. But this information is clearly known to America’s enemies. It is the American people who have been denied it, information critical to their ability to make an informed decision as to whether or not to support their government's war-making, including putting their sons and daughters at grave risk of death or crippling injuries.

The U.S. Government claim that Wikileaks has endangered national security has been invalidated by its own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, who has stated "is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest." The German Interior Minister has stated that "WikiLeaks is annoying, but not a threat”, and the BBC has reported that “Wikileaks: US allies unruffled by embassy cable leaks.”

The result of any U.S. government prosecution of Wikileaks and Julian Assange will be to restrict the truthful information American citizens receive about their government's foreign policy. But the U.S. cannot promote democracy abroad by limiting it at home.

We urge you to halt your undemocratic prosecution of Wikileaks; and to instead learn from it by providing the public with the honest and truthful information upon which democracy depends.

 

Secrets And Lies Make For A Poor Society

 

... Look now, look all around

There's no sign of life

Voices, another sound

Can you hear me now? ...

 

'Planet Earth', Duran Duran [1981]

 

Occupy Brisbane Mini Doco

Change Is Coming

Occupy Brisbane, the protest started in solidarity with other Occupy movements across Australia - those begun in conjunction with Occupy Wall Street and the global Occupy movement, geared at freedom from financial, economic and political slavery. This mini-documentary captures a few moments during the second week of the Occupy Brisbane protest, and serves to illuminate the spirit of hope, democracy, community and resolve apparent among those participating. [You Tube]

 

Image: Aurelius Jones

Who Needs Satire?

Queensland Parliament Hansard [26/10/11]:

Hon. AP FRASER (Mount Coot-tha—ALP) (Acting Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade) (2.05 pm): The enduring challenge in a modern economy is to ensure the balance between a pro growth and pro investment business environment against the need for appropriate regulation of important matters like our environment. The challenge for all of us is to deliver a regulatory regime that provides these controls but then gets out of the way and allows small, medium and indeed large enterprises to get on with the job of running their business, growing their business and creating more jobs. This Labor government has put in place initiatives such as the regulatory assessment system and the recent appointment of a new Business Commissioner that demonstrate this government’s commitment to making sure that the regulatory regime is fit for purpose. Today we will go further. Later today the government will introduce into the parliament the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.

This new legislation will pave the way for business to enjoy reduced regulatory compliance burdens. Our environmental standards will remain the same but the red tape—in fact, the green tape—will be cut. The bill will introduce innovative ways of delivering licensing requirements, changes that will result in savings for business and government in the broader economy estimated at $12½ million a year. The critical point here is that these savings are not being made at the expense of environmental protection; the savings are being achieved through administrative and process changes without affecting the rigorous standards of protection Queensland’s unique environment deserves.

This action is in response to the government taking heed of the concerns of stakeholders to develop a set of reforms to the Environmental Protection Act 1994. The reforms offer benefits to anyone who is required to hold a licence under the EPA—from the largest of mines to local motor vehicle workshops. Small businesses particularly will benefit from the use of standard conditions which will allow them to move rapidly from concept to start-up. In fact, these reforms will allow the average small business to save over $20,000 in initial start-up application costs. That is real money—a real saving that a small business can redirect to more staff, to growing their business or to improving their capital base.

For example, under our green-tape initiatives, a small business operator starting up a small mechanics workshop in Toowoomba on land already zoned for light industry will now be able to apply for a standardised application from the DERM website that will save them around $20,000. A medium sized waste business that operates several commercial landfills and wants to add recycling facilities will no longer have to lodge material change of use applications under the Sustainable Planning Act but will be able to directly amend the environmental authority their business already operates under. It is a common-sense reform.

Regulation is necessary—for workplace safety, for the environment and for a range of reasons— but where it can be streamlined it should be. Removing obstacles for businesses while maintaining appropriate environmental controls is good for local communities and good for the economy. DERM has worked with stakeholders including the Australian Industry Group, the Queensland Resources Council and the Cement Concrete and Aggregates Association every step of the way. The green-tape reduction bill is another piece of the picture that demonstrates that Queensland is an attractive place to do business in the future and is getting on with the job of strong microeconomic reform to strengthen the economy—just like we said we would.

...

Gladstone Region, Fish Health

Hon. CA WALLACE (Thuringowa—ALP) (Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure) (2.24 pm): Fisheries Queensland has provided me with regular updates on the situation in terms of fishing in the Gladstone area. I would like to share the latest information with the House.

Recently I received data which shows an extraordinary jump in the number of barramundi caught in the Gladstone area this year. The average catch for the region is just under 10 tonnes of barra per year, but in 2011 commercial fishing logbooks show that more than 197 tonnes of barra have been caught so far. The significant increase has occurred following this year’s major flooding events which caused the Awoonga Dam in Gladstone to overflow and, subsequently, 30,000 barramundi to spill over the dam wall. That means an additional 300 tonnes of barramundi were introduced into the Boyne River and Gladstone Harbour between January and March of this year. My Fisheries advisers tell me that, using catch as an indicator, it would be like Brisbane’s population increasing from around two million people to about 40 million in just a few months.

The crowded conditions these fish now find themselves in, as well as the fall from the dam and the relocation from freshwater to saltwater, would all be contributing to stress in the fish. Fisheries Queensland is also reporting that many of the fish caught had very little food in their stomach, which suggests that overcrowding is causing a shortage of food for these fish, also causing stress. As we know, there are two conditions affecting some locally caught fish in the area: a parasite and red-spot disease, both endemic in Queensland and both typically seen when fish are under stress.

Fisheries Queensland is conducting further fish sampling in the Gladstone area. It is important they do so to continue to monitor the health of fish. On Thursday and Friday nights of last week, officers carried out sampling in the Boyne River with the services of a local commercial fisherman. I am advised that on the first night three barramundi were caught, none of which had any visible ulcerated lesions. All three had red or cloudy eyes and a small amount of red skin discolouration in addition to the presence of the parasite. On the second night a further 25 barramundi were caught and 11 were retained for closer examination. Of the 11 fish, just one had lesions on the body. Of the other 10, all had visible signs of redness, some had cloudy or red eyes, and parasites were found on most of the fish. Fisheries Queensland advises that these results indicate that the number of fish with lesions appears to have reduced significantly, which is a very good sign. It is established that the parasite is causing the eye problems in fish, and testing is being carried out to determine if the red skin discolouration is occurring due to irritation on the skin from the parasitic fluke. The samples collected last week have been sent to Biosecurity Queensland for further analysis and sampling will continue over coming weeks.

While more is still to be learned about the relationship between the parasite and the redness on the skin of fish, we do know that fish are more susceptible to such conditions when they are stressed. This is a very important issue and that is why Fisheries Queensland is committed to being open and transparent with the good people of Gladstone and the wider community. Further fish-sampling data and test results from Biosecurity Queensland will continue to be made publicly available as they are released at www.qld.gov.au/gladstoneharbour.

If Everything Was Working Fine, And Nothing Needed To Be Changed - There Wouldn't Be #Occupy

Make Nuclear Weapons The Target

The OccupyUSA Blog for Wednesday (Oct. 26), With Frequent Updates

Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)

The Nation [Greg Mitchell]:

I’ve been live-blogging OWS since October 1. For yesterday’s blog, click on my name at top. All times ET. E-mail: epic1934@aol.com. Twitter @gregmitch. My new books vs. the death penalty and exposing atomic cover-up..

1:45 KTVU with active site and live coverage and video of Oakland. They confirm use of rubber bullets and flash cans. Yet another tear gas attack a few minutes ago. Also story there on seven arrested at Occupy San Jose.

Atlanta newspaper report on arrests there a few minutes ago -- including a state senator. Now they are searching tents for more. "Some of the people waiting to be arrested waved small American flags. About 40 to 50 people remained inside the park after midnight, including Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), former Atlanta city councilman Derrick Boazman and Joe Beasley, the southern regional director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Several hundred others were in the street, chanting and carrying signs. Fort was arrested around 1 a.m."

1:00 Picture of soldier and sailor in Oakland holding copy of Constitution. ... Arrests underway in Atlanta, a few dozen likely.

12:50 NYT stringer @mwollan among those tear gassed and slow to recover... Witness: "Oakland North reporter Megan Molteni shot in foot with pellet gun." .. ...

@Eyeslam

Oakland, California [25/10/11]

Think Progress [25/10/11]:

Late last night, Oakland police, under orders from the city, began surrounding the Occupy Oakland encampment in preparation to oust the protesters from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Approximately an hour ago, hundreds of Oakland police officers raided the camp. Dressed in riot gear, the police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, and gas canisters to forcibly evict and/or arrest the demonstrators who remained in the plaza. The Occupy Oakland Twitter account live-tweeted the raid ...

Federal Government Attempts To Spin Its Way Past Gladstone Harbour Debacle : Lock The Gate Alliance [26/10/11]

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has put his name to possibly the most blatant piece of hypocrisy in the country by writing an introduction to an lift-out into Gladstone's local newspaper.

The lift-out is entitled "Reef Guardians" and Mr Burke talks about all the wonderful things the federal government is doing on the Great Barrier Reef overlooking the fact that it was his approval of the massive construction in Gladstone harbour, especially the dredging to allow LNG tankers into the port, that is undoubtedly one of the prime causes of the current threats to the environment.

Mr Burke also approved the dumping of toxic spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

Lock the Gate Alliance presdient Drew Hutton said Mr Burke will not be allowed to spin his way out of his responsibility for what is happening to this precious area.

"Tony Burke's legacy to the Great Barrier Reef will be dead dugongs, turtles and dolphins as well as diseased fish,' Mr Hutton said.

"The forthcoming UNESCO investigation of the management program of the Reef must examine how the dredging and construction activities that he allowed to occur in Gladstone harbour align with our international obligations including the World Heritage Convention, the Japan-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement, China-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Convention on Conservation of Nature in the South Pacific (APIA Convention), and Conservation Aspects of the South Pacific Regional Environment Program."

Basin Authority To Double Groundwater Extraction For Benefit Of Coal And Gas Mining: Friends Of The Earth (Melbourne) [26/10/11]

National environment group Friends of the Earth has questioned the independence of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority after it was revealed it is planning to allow a massive increase in groundwater extraction in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Friends of the Earth today revealed that at a recent private briefing the Authority admitted it has changed its methodology for estimating the amount of groundwater that can be sustainably extracted, adopting a more high risk approach.

Using the new methodology the Authority is now proposing a radical increase in groundwater extraction, more than doubling the current cap from 1787 gigalitres (GL) to 4213 GL basin-wide.

“If allowed, much of this increase in groundwater extraction would be taken up by a water-hungry mining industry,” said Friends of the Earth Murray-Darling campaigner Jonathan La Nauze.

“This is very salty water we are talking about, it is not water for irrigation, and it is certainly not water we want to see entering our rivers.”

"The independence and integrity of the Authority needs to be seriously questioned. This is a sneaky, underhanded attempt to double the volume of water being extracted from our aquifers, and there is no scientific basis for it."

"We want to know exactly who is behind this increase - whether it is the states or coal and gas companies. The Authority needs to provide an urgent explanation."

"This proposal completely undermines the intent of the Basin Plan which is supposed to be about reducing pressure on water resources, not increasing it."

"It is a very expensive case of giving with one hand and taking with the other. Are we going to spend $8.9 billion dollars recovering water for rivers and then hand out licences to extract it all over again?"

"This would allow a vastly expanded mining industry to bring trillions of litres of salty water to the surface, reaping untold damage to biodiversity, rivers and prime agricultural land."

The revised groundwater extraction limits form part of the MDBA’s soon to be released Draft Basin Plan.

A copy of the documentation handed out by the Authority at the briefing can be downloaded here [PDF].

Tamil Refugee Suicides At Villawood: Another Victim Of Mandatory Detention: Refugee Action Coalition [26/10/11]

A Tamil refugee in the Villawood detention centre has committed suicide in the early hours of Wednesday, 26 October.

“Shooty”, as he was known to his friends, was taken to hospital after taking poison but died shortly afterwards.

He had been in detention for just over two years and had recently been moved to the family compound at Villawood.

He had been accepted as a refugee about seven months ago, but was waiting for an ASIO security assessment.

There had been a number of approaches to the Department of Immigration for him to be released into community detention, but they have been unsuccessful.

He had made an application for permission to attend a Hindu festival today and received a letter rejecting his request yesterday afternoon.

This is the sixth suicide in detention and the fourth at Villawood since September 2009.

Tragically, he had witnessed the three other successful suicides in Villawood. The Coroner’s report expected to be released soon, is also expected to have damning criticisms of Serco and the Department of Immigration.

“How many more lives will it take before the government acts to end mandatory detention? How absolutely tragic, but how telling, that an accepted refugee could feel despair enough to take their own life in a detention centre? ” asked Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“There are over 1500 people, accepted as refugees, being held in detention waiting for ASIO security assessments. These refugees should be released immediately.”

The Refugee Action Coalition is holding a protest at the Sydney offices of the Immigration Department, 26 Lee Street, City at 12.30 today (Wednesday 26 October).

One of the speakers is Dr Michael Dudley chair of Suicide Prevention Australia.

As One Of Your Constituents, You Have Ignored Every Contact I Have Ever Made With Your Office

Even the federal member, Stuart Robert MP, sometimes responds to my queries and concerns.

The Broadwater electorate has serious issues with regard to housing stress, the provision of services, diminishing amenity and a hateful, divisive, Murdoch controlled media.

The Bligh Government's neoliberal policies are damaging this community (and state) - and you expect Gold Coasters to support this ridiculous and wasteful endeavour?

Queensland Parliament Hansard [25/10/11]:

Ms CROFT (Broadwater—ALP) (11.36 am): The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Bid company was officially formed in July 2010 following this government’s decision to bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Such a momentous decision was at the instigation of the Premier, who had contacted the Australian Commonwealth Games Association president, Sam Coffa, resulting in a feasibility study on the Gold Coast city’s chances of winning the hosting rights for the 2018 games. Mr Mark Stockwell was appointed chairman of the bid company, with Sam Coffa as the deputy chair. The first major task for the bid company was the preparation of a 50,000-word 250-page bid book, which was lodged on 11 May 2011. Prior to this lodgement, the bid company also completed numerous outbound lobbying trips, touching base with the 71 voting delegates to seek their support.

On 11 May 2011, the Premier travelled with the president of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, Sam Coffa, the chairman of the bid company, Mark Stockwell, and the Gold Coast mayor, Ron Clarke, to lodge the candidature file with the Commonwealth Games Federation in Kuala Lumpur. The bid company worked extensively with the relevant agencies of government, the Gold Coast City Council and other stakeholders to develop and formulate the candidature file. I congratulate Mark Stockwell and his team and all the stakeholders involved on this fine effort.

It was my great privilege to be involved with the bid team on many of their programs and visitations but in particular to be involved with the Adopt a Commonwealth Country program. This program saw 75 schools on the Gold Coast linking with Commonwealth countries, studying their cultures and ultimately meeting with their visiting delegates. The program has been acknowledged by visiting delegates as an outstanding initiative, and our Gold Coast city schools now have links with schools in their adopted countries. I would like to thank and congratulate the schoolteachers, students
and parents for their outstanding effort.

Following the lodgement of the bid book, the Gold Coast team met with representatives of the Commonwealth Games Federation Evaluation Commission during their visit to the Gold Coast in June this year. The evaluation commission’s visit was to assess the Gold Coast’s credentials to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The commission’s results were published in September and the Gold Coast received a glowing report. A games on the Gold Coast was seen as low risk, with no impediments to a great games being identified.

The next step was to showcase the Gold Coast to visiting delegations from six regions of the Commonwealth—Africa in June, Oceania in July, Europe in August, the Caribbean and Americas in September, and we have just hosted the Asian delegates, who enjoyed some V8 Supercars action during their stay. Again, the results of the visits were very positive. We had a wonderful opportunity to showcase many of the Gold Coast’s outstanding theme parks and wonderful places that they could go and enjoy.

The final presentation to Commonwealth Games Association delegates will be at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on 11 November. The games would be a life-changing event for the Gold Coast and everyone who participates, whether they 3314 Matters of Public Interest 25 Oct 2011 are athletes, officials, volunteers or spectators, can be guaranteed a great games. The games would create a legacy for the Gold Coast by delivering world-class sporting facilities, transport upgrades and enhance the Gold Coast as a tourist destination.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the bid team for its outstanding effort and publicly recognise those who have worked tirelessly to position the Gold Coast city for what we hope is going to be a positive outcome in weeks to come. The bid company was led by CEO Mark Peters with the following staff: Stuart Craig, Ian Whitehead, George Farrington, Tamara Morris, Melissa Price, Olivia Phillips, Brett McDougall, Megan Crockford, Fiona Galletly, Jodie McDonald, Ashleigh Turner and Stacey McLennan. I pay tribute to each and every one of them. They have worked beyond the call of duty and have been wonderful ambassadors for the Gold Coast, Queensland and indeed Australia. A free final announcement event will be held for the community at the Broadwater Parklands at Southport, with a live feed of the announcement aired on big screens at 8 am on Saturday, 12 November. I hope that lots of Gold Coasters will come down and join us in what we hope will be a great result for the Gold Coast. I am sure honourable members will join me in supporting the bid and seeking the best result for the Gold Coast, Queensland and indeed Australia.

Serious Traffic Crash, Tewantin: Queensland Police Media [25/10/11]

Three men have been injured, one seriously when they were hit by a car in Tewantin early this morning.

Preliminary investigations indicate a car has struck three pedestrians on Poinciana Avenue around 4.15am. One man has suffered serious life threatening injuries and has been transported to the Noosa Hospital. Two other men were transported to the Nambour hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The forensic crash unit is investigating. There is no further information available at this time.

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Rudd Sugar Coating Doesn’t Hide The Toxic Truth Behind Mining In Africa: Greens Media Release [24/10/11]

The Foreign Minister should think twice before cheerleading for mining operations in Africa, the Australian Greens warned today.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said Kevin Rudd's recent glowing praise of mining prospects in Africa was misguided, particularly with regards to Paladin Energy.

"In 2006 Paladin executive director John Borshoff outlined the rationale underpinning the push by Australian uranium outfits in Africa by saying ‘the Australians and Canadians have become over-sophisticated in their environmental and social concerns over uranium mining, the future is in Africa'.

"In other words, standards for protecting the environment, mine workers and human health are too tough for Paladin in our own country, so they've headed elsewhere.

"Australian investment in African countries should be encouraging the spread of high workplace and environmental standards and safe, well-paid local employment. Instead we have seen mining companies flock to Africa in the hope they can cut corners on health, safety, wages and the environment. The Foreign Minister needs to think more about what kind of globalisation he believes in."

#Occupy Is A State Of Mind

All Welcome!

Over 2,000 Gather For #Occupy Melbourne This Evening [25/10/11]

State Library @Asher_Wolf

More Gas-Fired Power A Missed Opportunity:

Queensland Greens Media [25/10/11]

The Queensland Greens expressed disappointment at the missed opportunity represented by today's announcement of two new gas-fired power stations in Ipswich and Gladstone.

'With global investment in clean energy valued at $US211 billion last year, Queensland is missing out on an enormous opportunity to get involved in this boom industry by steadfastly building our reliance on fossil fuels' said Greens lead candidate and candidate for Mt Coot-tha, Adam Stone.

'The Premier is touting the greenhouse benefits of gas-fired generation versus coal-fired generation, which ignores the range of zero-emission technologies that could meet Queensland's electricity needs.'

'If these new power stations are to be fuelled by coal seam gas, as seems likely, the overall life-cycle emissions of the coal seam gas industry (emissions caused by extraction, compression, transport, and fugitive emissions of methane) also need to be considered, as do the potential impacts on the Great Artesian Basin and our precious food-producing land.'

'It's such a shame to see renewable energy's share of Queensland's electricity generation about to slip from its present paltry seven per cent when we have such a wealth of renewable resources and such powerful incentives to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.'

'However, this outcome is not a surprise,' Mr Stone concluded.

'If we want to see strong investment in renewable technologies in Queensland, we need a regulatory framework in place that will support it. We do not have that at present.'

Cyclone Shelters

Queensland Parliament Hansard [25/10/11]

Mr LANGBROEK: My question without notice is to the honourable the Premier. With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting higher-than-average cyclones this season, why are key areas of Queensland still waiting to see the cyclone shelters first promised in 2006, and now being subsidised by Abu Dhabi, and why is she allowing the Treasurer to be distracted with a private member’s bill when he should be managing the state’s budget to deliver those vital shelters to Queensland?

Ms BLIGH: There were a number of points made in the question asked by the member that I am very happy to address. Firstly, so committed is our government to implementing more cyclone shelters in Queensland that when question time is over today the Treasurer will be preparing to head off to Proserpine, where he will be joining the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates to turn the first sod on the first cyclone shelter. I thank the member for Surfers Paradise for issuing a media alert on what is a very important policy of this government, to ensure we learn from the terrible disasters of last year and put in place things that will make us safer across Queensland.

I have to say that I am disturbed by the tenor of the honourable member’s question which we also saw with the original announcement from the government of the UAE. I would say that this denigration of a generous act of friendship by one of our significant trading partners is dog whistling at its worse. The people of that country were genuinely moved by what they saw on their televisions. We know that it is a wealthy country. They chose to share some of their prosperity with people in Queensland. They were very genuine—

Opposition members interjected.

Ms BLIGH: What is it that the member for Surfers Paradise and his colleagues in the LNP are suggesting? That the government of Queensland should have rejected the gift? That we should have said, ‘No, thank you’? What sort of people are those opposite?

I am proud that our government is the first Queensland government ever to deliver cyclone-proof shelters in Far North Queensland. We have done exactly what we said we would do. That is, when public infrastructure is constructed and where it is appropriate to construct it to cyclone-proof levels we will do that. That is exactly what we have done. The very generous gift of the people of the United Arab Emirates has given us the chance to accelerate that program. As a Queenslander, I am deeply grateful. I hope that we never need to use those facilities to shelter people from dangerous cyclones.

Mr Cripps: How many of those BER projects were cyclone rated?

Ms BLIGH: How disgraceful of the member for Hinchinbrook!

Mr Cripps: How many of those BER projects were cyclone rated?

Ms BLIGH: Every one of them survived the cyclone and will be used again.

Chief Commissioner Clarifies Position On CSG:

Climate Commission [25/10/11]

‘The Australian (25 October) portrayed me as a ‘backer’ of the coal seam gas industry.

This is not only wrong, but a serious misrepresentation of my speech to the New South Wales Minerals Council from which the headline was drawn.

What I in fact said at the the meeting of environmental workers in the minerals industry is that serious conflicts exist between the coal seam gas industry and landowners, and that the industry faces enormous challenges as a result.

Tim Flannery
Chief Climate Commissioner

I will release a more detailed statement later today.

Would you like to hear Trent Dalton interview victims of News Corp's phone hacking on ABC Radio's "Conversations " program?
Oh, Abbbsssoluuuuutely
Yes
Fuckin' oath
  
pollcode.com free polls 


Mining Company's Hymn

By

Jack Davis

The Government is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
They let me search in the Aboriginal reserves
which leads me to many riches
for taxation sake.
Though I wallow in the valley of wealth I will fear no weevil
because my money is safe in the bank
vaults of the land,
and my Government will always comfort me.
They will always protect me,
from the Aborigines there and claims there.
So I can then take wealth whenever I have a need to
and my bank account will grow ever more.
Oh! Surely wealth and materialism will shorten the
days of my life, but I will dwell safely protected
by Government for ever.


... Economists Are Not Experts On The Economy, I Even Include Myself In That ... Steve Keen, Associate Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney

Steve Keen's Debt Watch [23/10/11]:

This is a slightly longer video of the Saturday rally of Occupy Sydney–its last public event before it was shut down. It includes the Welcome to Country [Graham Merrett from Stop The Intervention], the 3 MCs, and a statement of Occupy Sydney’s objectives, as well as my talk–which begins 10 minutes in to this video.

[The footage includes a speech by a spokesman from the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers' Union]

 

Billy Baldwin Supports #Occupy Wall Street

 

NAFTA Is Starving Mexico

Laura Carlsen, CIP Americas - The Americas Program [20/10/11]:

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) became the law of the land, millions of Mexicans have joined the ranks of the hungry. Malnutrition is highest among the country’s farm families, who used to produce enough food to feed the nation.

As the blood-spattered violence of the drug war takes over the headlines, many Mexican men, women, and children confront the slow and silent violence of starvation. The latest reports show that the number of people living in “food poverty” (the inability to purchase the basic food basket) rose from 18 million in 2008 to 20 million by late 2010.

About one-fifth of Mexican children currently suffer from malnutrition. An innovative measurement applied by the National Institute for Nutrition registers a daily count of 728,909 malnourished children under five for October 18, 2011. Government statistics report that 25 percent of the population does not have access to basic food.

Since the 2008 food crisis, there has been a three percent rise in the population without adequate access to food. The number of children with malnutrition is 400,000 kids above the goal for this year. Newborns show the highest indices of malnutrition, indicating that the tragedy begins with maternal health.

The dramatic change in Mexican eating habits since NAFTA is not only reflected in the millions who go to bed hungry. On the other side of the scale, Mexico has in just a decade and a half become second only to the United States worldwide in morbid obesity. Child obesity, overweight, and diabetes now constitute major health problems, alongside the more traditional problem of hunger.

It’s not that the rich are getting too fat and the poor too thin, although inequality plays a role in the erosion of healthy diets for all. Fatness no longer represents abundance. It is the poor who drink cheap Coca Cola when they do not have access to potable water or who give their kids a bag of potato chips when local fresh food is no longer available. The International Journal of Obesity finds that worldwide the spread of what they call “the Western diet” (“high in saturated fats, sugar, and refined foods but low in fiber) has meant that “the burden of obesity is shifting towards the poor.” The NAFTA generation reflects the paradigm so eloquently described by food researcher and activist Raj Patel of “stuffed and starved”.

With another food crisis looming due to rising international prices, Mexico could face food riots as well as the spread of starvation and its consequences over the coming year.

Unless the riots turn violent or spark more widespread social upheaval as they did in Arab countries, it’s not likely that the news media will pay any attention.

NAFTA’s Food (In)security Model

Something has gone terribly wrong. The nation that was slated for prosperity when it signed NAFTA has become an international example of severe structural problems in the food chain, from how it produces its food to what and how much (or how little) it consumes.

Mexican malnutrition has its roots in the way NAFTA and other neoliberal programs forced the nation to move away from producing its own basic foods to a “food security” model. “Food security” posits that a country is secure as long as it has sufficient income to import its food. It separates farm employment from food security and ignores unequal access to food within a country.

The idea of food security based on market access comes directly from the main argument behind NAFTA of “comparative advantage.” Simply stated, economic efficiency dictates that each country should devote its productive capacity to what it does best and trade liberalization will guarantee access across borders.

Under the theory of comparative advantage, most of Mexico was deemed unfit to produce its staple food crop, corn, since its yields were way below the average for its northern neighbor and trade partner. Therefore, Mexico should turn to corn imports and devote its land to crops where it supposedly had a comparative advantage, such as counter-seasonal and tropical fruits and vegetables.

Sounds simple. Just pick up three million inefficient corn producers (and their families) and move them into manufacturing or assembly where their cheap labor constitutes a comparative advantage. The cultural and human consequences of declaring entire peasant and indigenous communities obsolete were not a concern in this equation.

Seventeen years after NAFTA, some two million farmers have been forced off their land by low prices and the dismantling of government supports. They did not find jobs in industry. Instead most of them became part of a mass exodus as the number of Mexican migrants to the United States rose to half a million a year. In the first few years of NAFTA, corn imports tripled and the producer price fell by half.

Conversion to other crops turned out to take years in most cases. Prices were volatile and harvests unreliable. It was not feasible at all on many small, often rocky plots where corn guarantees a subsistence diet for farm families. Niche markets failed to grow to much more than 2 percent of total agricultural production.

The areas that adapted successfully to industrial agriculture and agroexport crops are characterized by flagrant violation of the labor rights of migrant farm workers, widespread pollution and water waste, and extreme concentration of land and resources.

For the hungry, this means that prices set on the international market determine who eats and who starves. Mexican consumers now pay more for tortillas and food in general. Price hikes on the international market push basic food out of reach for the millions of poor in the country.

Food Dependency

In post-NAFTA Mexico, 42 percent of the food consumed comes in from abroad. Before NAFTA, the country spent $1.8 billion dollars on food imports. It now spends a whopping $24 billion. Rural researcher Ernesto Ladrón de Guevara notes that in some basic foods, the dependency on imports is dramatic: 80 percent in rice, 95 percent in soybeans, 33 percent in beans, and 56 percent in wheat. The country is the world’s number-one importer in the world of powdered milk. NAFTA decimated Mexico’s once-thriving dairy sector, and the market takeover by transnational powdered milk is linked to the crisis in infant malnutrition.

Mexico imports 33 percent of its consumption, a figure that belies the reliance on imports because the sheer volume of consumption is so large. Ladrón de Guevara states that it has gone from importing around 250,000 tons before NAFTA to 13 million tons. Transnational traders often favor imports over national production because of the attractive credit arrangements offered by the United States, making it “a double business—importing corn and money.”

The U.S. department of agriculture estimates that if current trends continue Mexico will acquire 80 percent of its food from other countries (mostly the United States). The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization calls a country food dependent when the cost of its imports exceeds 25 percent of total exports. Peasant farmer organizations have criticized the definition as ludicrous in an oil-producing country that nonetheless has seen serious erosion in its capacity to feed its people and guarantee access to basic foods for all.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

The corporate takeover of Mexico’s food system has led to the food and health catastrophe. Transnational food corporations not only import freely into Mexican food markets, they are now the producers, exporters, and importers all in one, operating inside the country.

Since NAFTA, corporations have gobbled up human and natural resources on an almost unbelievable scale. Livestock production has moved from small farms for local markets to Tyson, Smithfield, and Pilgrims Pride. The massive use and contamination of water and land has led to health and environmental disasters across the country. Millions of jobs have been lost to concentration and industrialized farming methods.

Take the case of Corn Products International (CPI). The transnational filed a NAFTA claim against the Mexican government in 2003, claiming a loss to its business due to a tax levied on high fructose corn syrup in beverages. Mexico’s reason for imposing the tax was to save a sugarcane industry that provided jobs for thousands of citizens and played a crucial economic role in many regions. The government was also frustrated by its failure under NAFTA to access the highly protected U.S. sugar market.

A 2008 NAFTA tribunal ruled that Mexico had to pay $58.4 million to CPI. The government paid up on January 25, 2011. CPI posted $3.7 billion dollars in net sales the year of the decision. The fine paid by the Mexican government could have provided a year’s worth of the basic food basket to more than 50,000 poor families.

CPI’s wholly owned subsidiary Arancia Corn Products is among the most powerful food transnationals operating in the country, along with Maseca/Archers Daniel Midland and Cargill. Large agribusiness companies allegedly played a key role in the 2007 tortilla crisis by hoarding harvest as the international price went up, artificially drying up the national market and selling at nearly double the price they paid for the harvest. That crisis brought tens of thousands of poor Mexicans out into the streets to protest a 50 percent rise in the price of tortillas.

NAFTA and other FTAs give corporations the power to define what we eat, what we buy at the store, who will have a job and who won’t, and whether a village sustained by local food production will survive or witness the end of generations of livelihoods.

Feed the Hungry, Fix the System

Mexican organizations have begun to come together after years of divisions to respond to the food crisis and fix the badly broken system. They recently succeeded in reforming the Mexican constitution to include the right to food. Now the battle is on to adapt the rural budget to make that right a reality.

Small farmer organizations have joined with family farm organizations in the United States and Canada to call for the renegotiation of NAFTA to remove basic foods and agricultural production from the agreement. They recognize, though, that the Obama administration’s about-face in its stated commitments to fair trade reforms have left little political space for change.

Instead, peasant organizations in all three countries are looking to grassroots efforts and movements to fix the food system before the crisis worsens. As Mexican organizations struggle for programs to address threats to food and agriculture, U.S. organizations are seeing an opportunity to join their demands to the Occupy Wall Street movement across the country. One of the grievances listed in the OWS Declaration of the New York City General Assembly reads: “They (large corporations) have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.” Food activists are now bringing issues of corporate concentration in food, commodity speculation and price hikes, and free trade to the general protests.

Corporate control of the food system locked in by NAFTA not only starves people in Mexico. It locks in a profoundly unhealthy food system for the entire region. No one expects the situation to get better by itself. As the crisis deepens, citizen movements are again heating up and seeking each other out across borders to protect their health, their livelihoods and their rights. In the future, what we eat, how we eat, and if we eat will depend on their efforts.

Laura Carlsen is Director of the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy www.cipamericas.org. based in Mexico City. She has written extensively on food and agriculture, and NAFTA. This article first appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus www.fpif.org

Make Nuclear Weapons The Target

A forum on the humanitarian impact and international legal issues surrounding the use of nuclear weapons.

Wednesday October 26, 2011

Time: 5.45pm arrival for refreshments, 6.15 start

Venue: Banco court, Level 2 Supreme Court, 304 George St, Brisbane

Cost: Free

RSVP: 19 October to Katrina Elliot 07 3367 7290 or kelliot@redcross.org.au

Guest Speakers: Tilman Ruff, Associate Professor Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne and Australian Red Cross International Medical Advisor; and Dr Jonathan Crowe, Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law.

The evening will also include the Queensland launch of the latest issue of the Mallesons and Australian Red Cross international humanitarian law magazine - Nuclear Weapons: a unique threat to humanity.

Due To Overwhelming Public Demand, Sydney Opera House And Sydney Peace Foundation Present A Second Public Event Featuring Noam Chomsky: Sydney Opera House Media Release [4/10/11]

Opera Theatre, Thursday 3 November, 10.30am – Noon

“For inspiring the convictions of millions about common humanity and for unfailing moral courage. For critical analysis of democracy and power, for challenging secrecy, censorship and violence and for creating hope through scholarship and activism to promote the attainment of universal human rights.” Citation for Noam Chomsky by Sydney Peace Prize Foundation

The Sydney Opera House has today announced that renowned linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky will appear at a second Sydney event to honour his Sydney Peace Prize; after his Sydney Peace Foundation talk at Sydney Town Hall sold out.

Professor Chomsky is a distinguished academic who has been described as the father of modern linguistics. His long academic career at MIT has seen him his influence spread from linguistics to psychology, philosophy and contemporary politics.

He is also well known for his sustained critique of US foreign policy and his writing about media and society in books like Manufacturing Consent. From his opposition to the Vietnam War to his criticism of the US-led invasion of Iraq, he has been a prominent and controversial dissenter who has not been afraid to bring his views into the public domain and engage in vigorous debate.

Chaired by Mary Kostakidis, this special event will feature Professor Chomsky answering written audience questions on any ‘Problems of Knowledge and Freedom’ including linguistics, global politics, human rights, responses to climate change, the nature of democracy and any other issues the audience raise.

Stuart Rees, Sydney Peace Foundation Director says, ''Chomsky is one of the West's most influential intellectuals in the cause of peace, the most significant challenger of unjust power.''

Occupy The Tundra ...

Has grown 2000 percent, and now has a dog!

PRESS CONFERENCE: WikiLeaks Call to Press

At 12.45pm Monday 24 October 2011, WikiLeaks will be holding a press conference at Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, London, W2 1QJ.

At the press conference Julian Assange and Kristinn Hrafnsson of WikiLeaks will speak two separate matters:

1) In relation to WikiLeaks Vs. U.S. banks
2) A separate important announcement

If you would like to attend this event please email wikileaks.pressconference@mail.be to register.

The Frontline Club will not be handling requests to attend. Registration will be confirmed on a first come, first served basis. The maximum that will be allowed to register per organisation will be two people and a camera.

Please be aware that places are limited and registration is required. If you are unable to attend, but wish to send someone else from your organisation please contact us accordingly. There will only be one live camera feed permissible at this event.

If you are willing to be the pool for this feed please make this clear in your registration email. The first organization to offer this will be accepted, no other live feeds will be allowed.

The event will be live streamed at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/frontline-club

UN Expert Urges Governments To Ensure Free Flow Of Information On Internet: Media Release [21/10/11]

An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged Governments to ensure that the Internet is made widely available, accessible and affordable to all, and to guarantee the free flow of information online.

“Governments are using increasingly sophisticated technologies and tactics which are often hidden from the public to censor online content and to monitor and identify individuals who disseminate critical or sensitive information,” says Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.

In his annual report to the General Assembly, which he will present later today, Mr. La Rue states that these actions by governments frequently lead to arbitrary arrests and detention....the Internet has often played a key role in such movements by enabling people to connect and exchange information instantly and by creating a sense of solidarity.

“In recent months, we have seen a growing movement of people around the world who are advocating for change – for justice, equality, accountability of the powerful and better respect for human rights,” he noted, “and the Internet has often played a key role in such movements by enabling people to connect and exchange information instantly and by creating a sense of solidarity.”

Mr. La Rue noted that the potential of the Internet as a catalyst for change has also generated fear among those who prefer to maintain the status quo. However, in his view, such fear of change cannot justify monitoring, censoring, or blocking access to the Internet.

In his report, the Special Rapporteur outlines four types of “exceptional” expression which States are required to prohibit and criminalize under international law. These are child pornography; incitement to commit genocide; incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence; and incitement to terrorism. He recommends that States refrain from criminalizing all other forms of expression, and also outlines the safeguards which must be in place to prevent censorship of content under the guise of seemingly legitimate goals.

Noting that three-quarters of the world still lack access to the Internet, Mr. La Rue also stresses the need for States to renew their efforts to make this medium widely available, accessible and affordable to all. States must also ensure that everyone, including persons with disabilities, can fully participate in the information society, he added. For example, while 81 per cent of the total United States population has access to the Internet, the figure is only 4 per cent among people with disabilities.

Mr. La Rue, a national of Guatemala, has served as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2008. He reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

Rally To Stop Big Business Controlling Australia's National Food Plan

WHEN: Thursday, October 27th 7:00am - 9:00am

WHERE: CQ Functions, 113 Queen St, Melbourne, between Bourke and Little Collins Sts

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig talks to the Rural Press Club of Victoria on Australia's first National Food Plan.

Australia needs a food plan that supports people's health and the ability of farmers to make a living. Instead this is a plan to support Big Food and the processed food industry.

MADGE and Gene Ethics will rally outside the event from 7-9am. Meet the farmers and primary producers who work to keep our seed, food and agricultural land in local hands, growing food for us all.

Lock The Gate Alliance: Protest Rally, Sydney Friday 28th October

Dear members and supporters,

There will be protest rally to Save the Pilliga from massive CSG development this coming Friday outside the Shangri la Hotel, 176 Cumberland Hotel, Sydney.

This is an easy walk from either Circular Quay or Wynyard station.

Meet at 9am for a 10-11 am rally.

The Pilliga is an environmental treasure with no gates to lock. This largest remaining temperate woodland in NSW is essential habitat for a number of rare and endangered plants and animals - and they need YOU!

Education In Australia: Day of Action Announced

Parents, teachers and principals are being encouraged to take part in a National Day of Action in support of greater funding for public schools.

The Day of Action will be held on Tuesday, November 15.

It was announced by the president of the Australian Council of State School Organisations, Peter Garrigan, in Sydney today.

The action is a joint initiative with the Australian Education Union, the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Australian Government Primary Principals Association.

Mr Garrigan said that as part of the National Day of Action parents, teachers and principals across Australia would be asked to send an email to the head of the federal funding review which is due to finish in December.

“The federal funding review, which is the most comprehensive in over 30 years, is in its final stages.” Mr Garrigan said.

“While much has been done to highlight the need for change and the value of additional funding for public schools, it is important that we take one final step together.

“On this day we are encouraging the public education community to send a message to the head of the review, Mr David Gonski about the benefits of greater investment in public schools.”

Messages will be able to be sent via the forourfuture.org.au website. Copies will be forwarded to the Schools Minister Peter Garrett and local MPs.

AEU Federal President, Angelo Gavrielatos said the National Day of Action was a great chance to demonstrate the high levels of support for greater federal funding for public schools.

“This is the last chance to have our say about what we want for our children and our schools,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“We know the best place to invest for our future is in public schools. We need to replace the current inequitable system that delivers one third of funding to the public schools which teach two thirds of students with one that ensures public schools have the resources to continue to deliver high quality education to students across Australia.”

The funding review is due to finish in December when the expert panel which is conducting it will hand its recommendations to the Federal Government.

Already the panel has flagged it will recommend the abolition of the current federal funding model, introduced by the Howard Government.

“There is no doubt that the many representations and submissions to the review, as well as the research and evidence presented to the panel, have made a case for a fundamental change in the way we fund schooling at all levels of government,” the panel stated in its recent paper which accompanied the release of four research reports.

Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates

By Sam Dillon, New York Times [21/5/11]:

INDIANAPOLIS — A handful of outspoken teachers helped persuade state lawmakers this spring to eliminate seniority-based layoff policies. They testified before the legislature, wrote briefing papers and published an op-ed article in The Indianapolis Star.

They described themselves simply as local teachers who favored school reform — one sympathetic state representative, Mary Ann Sullivan, said, “They seemed like genuine, real people versus the teachers’ union lobbyists.” They were, but they were also recruits in a national organization, Teach Plus, financed significantly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations.

“We’ve learned that school-level investments aren’t enough to drive systemic changes,” said Allan C. Golston, the president of the foundation’s United States program. “The importance of advocacy has gotten clearer and clearer.”

The foundation spent $373 million on education in 2009, the latest year for which its tax returns are available, and devoted $78 million to advocacy — quadruple the amount spent on advocacy in 2005. Over the next five or six years, Mr. Golston said, the foundation expects to pour $3.5 billion more into education, up to 15 percent of it on advocacy.

Given the scale and scope of the largess, some worry that the foundation’s assertive philanthropy is squelching independent thought, while others express concerns about transparency. Few policy makers, reporters or members of the public who encounter advocates like Teach Plus or pundits like Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute realize they are underwritten by the foundation.

“It’s Orwellian in the sense that through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who said he received no financing from the foundation.

Mr. Hess, a frequent blogger on education whose institute received $500,000 from the Gates foundation in 2009 “to influence the national education debates,” acknowledged that he and others sometimes felt constrained. “As researchers, we have a reasonable self-preservation instinct,” he said. “There can be an exquisite carefulness about how we’re going to say anything that could reflect badly on a foundation.”

“Everybody’s implicated,” he added.

Indeed, the foundation’s 2009 tax filing runs to 263 pages and includes about 360 education grants. There are the more traditional and publicly celebrated programmatic initiatives, like financing charter school operators and early-college high schools. Then there are the less well-known advocacy grants to civil rights groups like the Education Equality Project and Education Trust that try to influence policy, to research institutes that study the policies’ effectiveness, and to Education Week and public radio and television stations that cover education policies.

The foundation paid a New York philanthropic advisory firm $3.5 million “to mount and support public education and advocacy campaigns.” It also paid a string of universities to support pieces of the Gates agenda. Harvard, for instance, got $3.5 million to place “strategic data fellows” who could act as “entrepreneurial change agents” in school districts in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The foundation has given to the two national teachers’ unions — as well to groups whose mission seems to be to criticize them.

“It’s easier to name which groups Gates doesn’t support than to list all of those they do, because it’s just so overwhelming,” noted Ken Libby, a graduate student who has pored over the foundation’s tax filings as part of his academic work.

An early example of the increased emphasis on advocacy came in 2008, when Mr. Gates teamed with Eli Broad for a campaign aimed at focusing the presidential candidates on issues like teacher quality and education standards. The Gates Foundation spent $16 million on the effort.

Mr. Gates later acknowledged that it achieved little, but in the years since, the foundation has helped leverage sweeping changes. Its latest annual report, for instance, highlights its role — often overlooked — in the development and promotion of the common core academic standards that some 45 states have adopted in recent months.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which developed the standards, and Achieve Inc., a nonprofit organization coordinating the writing of tests aligned with the standards, have each received millions of dollars.

The Alliance for Excellent Education, another nonprofit organization, was paid $551,000 in 2009 “to grow support for the common core standards initiative,” according to the tax filings. The Fordham Institute got $959,000 to “review common core materials and develop supportive materials.” Scores of newspapers quoted Fordham’s president, Chester E. Finn Jr., praising the standards after their March 2010 release; most, including The New York Times, did not note the Gates connection.

“What Gates got for their money was an honest review,” said Mr. Finn, a longtime advocate of national standards. “All I could say to Gates before the common core came out was that we were hoping the new standards would be good.”

The Center on Education Policy, which calls itself “a national independent advocate,” was awarded $1 million over two years to track which states adopted the standards. Its president, Jack Jennings, said he had nonetheless publicly criticized the Gates stand on other issues, including charter schools and teacher evaluations. “I feel free to speak out when I think something is wrongheaded,” he said.

In 2009, a Gates-financed group, the New Teacher Project, issued an influential report detailing how existing evaluation systems tended to give high ratings to nearly all teachers. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cited it repeatedly and wrote rules into the federal Race to the Top grant competition encouraging states to overhaul those systems. Then a string of Gates-backed nonprofit groups worked to promote legislation across the country: at least 20 states, including New York, are now designing new evaluation systems.

While the foundation has given money to both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, totaling about $6.3 million over the last three years, some of its newer initiatives appear aimed at challenging the dominance that unions have exercised during policy debates. Last year, Mr. Gates spent $2 million on a “social action” campaign focused on the film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” which demonized Randi Weingarten, the president of the federation.

In 2010, the foundation gave $500,000, to the Foundation for Educational Excellence, founded by Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida.

In 2009, the foundation spent $3.5 million creating an advocacy group to buttress its $290 million investment in programs to increase teacher effectiveness in four areas of the country: Tampa, Pittsburgh, Memphis and Los Angeles.

A document describing plans for the group, posted on a Washington Post blog in March, said it would mobilize local advocates, “establish strong ties to local journalists” and should “go toe to toe” with union officials in explaining contracts and state laws to the public.

But to avoid being labeled a “tool of the foundation,” the document said the group should “maintain a low public profile.”

Ms. Weingarten complained to the foundation that the document appeared to be antiunion, and Mr. Golston said the foundation had shifted the group’s mission to support union-management engagement.

“Unlike some foundations that would rather just scapegoat teachers and their unions, Gates understands that teaching is a profession, that you have to invest in and support teachers,” Ms. Weingarten said. “That doesn’t mean we agree with everything they do.”

Two other Gates-financed groups, Educators for Excellence and Teach Plus, have helped amplify the voices of newer teachers as an alternative to the official views of the unions. Last summer, members of several such groups had a meeting at the foundation’s offices in Washington.

Two Bronx teachers, Sydney Morris and Evan Stone, founded Educators for Excellence in March 2010, to argue against seniority-based layoffs. But it was a $160,000 donation from Mr. Gates months later, Ms. Morris said, that allowed them to sign up 2,500 teachers.

Teach Plus was founded in 2007 in Boston by Celine Coggins, a former teacher with a Ph.D. from Stanford, to give young educators incentives to make the classroom a career.

With relatively small grants from other foundations, Ms. Coggins began working with teachers in Chicago and Indianapolis in 2008. The next year, she received Gates foundation awards totaling $4 million, for expenditure over three years, which allowed her to expand to Los Angeles and Memphis, build a Web site and move into new offices at the Boston headquarters.

In Chicago, union activists have accused Teach Plus of being an “Astroturf” grass-roots organization. In Indiana, some lawmakers accused the group of being “part of a conspiracy by Gates and hedge fund managers” to undermine the unions’ influence, according to Ms. Sullivan, a Democrat who voted to end seniority-based layoffs, as Teach Plus wanted. “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 9, 2011

An article on May 22 about the Gates Foundation’s financing of education advocacy groups misstated the location of the Florida school districts receiving part of a $290 million investment by the foundation in programs to increase teacher effectiveness. They are only in Tampa; not in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

A version of this article appeared in print on May 22, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates.

Queen Victoria: Crown Owns Nothing, Aborigines Are Sovereign

Michael Anderson, Indymedia [18/10/11]:

Queen Elizabeth II has carriage of all responsibility for all past decisions made by all former members of the crown.

We request she now participate in the liberation of Aboriginal Nations and Peoples in Australia.

Elders of the previous Aboriginal political movement have always informed us young ones that Queen Victoria had granted ownership to land and recognised our Law/Lore men and Law/Lore women as our leaders.

This has been very difficult to unravel, because the Old Ones could not put their finger on how Queen Victoria had recognised and granted land ownership to Aboriginal people/Peoples.

Looked in the wrong places

The error that we made was looking for individual land titles and land grants through individual family groups. It has now taken us all this time to locate what the Old Ones were referring to.

The Queen Victoria land grants, referred to by our Elders, were much more definitive and broader than we could have ever anticipated.

On 16 March 1875 the British House of Lords confirmed and enhanced the 1872 Pacific Islanders Protection Act by creating Section 7, relating to all the Aboriginal Peoples of the Pacific, including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. (We must remember the Northern Territory was part of South Australia at this time.)

In this Act the British House of Lords, with the Royal Assent of Queen Victoria, officially recognised the sovereignty of Aboriginal nations and Peoples. In doing this, the British parliament included in the legislation the recognition of the authority of our chiefs (Law/Lore men and Law/Lore women) by legislating that their powers and authorities could not be diminished in any way whatsoever.

In the final part of the 1875 Pacific Islanders Protection legislation, it was a requirement of the parliaments of each of the colonies identified that these Orders in Council were to be tabled in each House of Parliament.
We now know that this was never adhered to by the colonial parliaments in Australia.

We now query Mabo No.2

We now query the integrity of the Australian High Court decision in Mabo (No.2), because the High Court failed to expand on the true recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty.

This confirms that even within the legal system our Peoples cannot expect true justice as the courts are protecting their system at all costs, in order to maintain the status quo.

We now call upon our Peoples to unite in our move for absolute liberation from the tyranny of the continuing colonial rule of the Crown.

The time has come in our history to unravel the white man’s confusion, for he has never known how to deal with, or what to do with, Aboriginal Peoples since he invaded.

Uncle Toms and Aunty Marys

We can now also understand why the government has always been so enthusiastic in locating the ignorant Uncle Toms and Aunty Marys, whose only interest was self-gratification and delusions of grandeur at becoming the whiteman’s pet. Their time has ended and there is no way out for the government.

Aboriginal sovereignty is no longer a dream. Sovereignty is not only a fact but a matter of law as written in the Pacific Islanders Act of 1875:

7. Saving the Rights of tribes – Nothing herein or in any such Order on Council contained shall extend or be construed to extend to invest Her majesty with any claim or title whatsoever to dominion or sovereignty over any such islands or places as aforesaid, or to derogate from the rights of the tribes or people inhabiting such islands or places, or of chiefs or rulers thereof, to such sovereignty or dominion, and at copy of every such Order in Council shall be laid before each House of Parliament within thirty days after the issue thereof, unless Parliament shall not then be in session, in which case a copy shall be laid before each House of Parliament within thirty days after the commencement of the next ensuing session

We now call upon the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, to show true leadership in her capacity as ‘Queen of Australia’, to bring an end to the colonial governance of Aboriginal Peoples, and to decolonise Australia.

Yesterday a group of soccer fans raised this banner on the middle of a soccer game in Athens http://www.salata.tv/images/articles/politikoi-lamogia.jpg The banner read: "Corrupt politicians, ensconced parliament, you will drown under the anger of the uprising".After the soccer game, the police started searching vehicles leaving the soccer stadium to find the http://banner.Riot police also came & once they had identified the vehicle carrying the banner they started beating ppl randomly. The police finally arrested the passengers of the vehicle carrying the banner without giving a reason for arrest. The hashtag #to_pano means "the banner" in Greek. via @IrateGreek

A Striking New Way To Wear Your LBD!

Window Undressing, Southport [23/10/11]

International Federation Of Social Workers:

Global "Occupy" Cities Statement

IFSW and its member organizations around the world are committed to social and economic justice and the unimpeded access to services for all. Our fifteen policy statements addresses basic concepts from a social work perspective, taking into consideration that each professional social worker possesses different insights, based on in-depth knowledge and experience, which enables them to contribute to the ongoing dialogue which impacts some of the broadest issues confronting contemporary society.

In that vein IFSW supports the current global Occupy protests. These protests are exposing the omnipresent income and social inequalities which have gripped nations in recent years. The world's “new economy” is a tale of skewed wealth and income. The new economy generates extraordinary riches for the few, but creates declining wages, rising debt, and the risk of deep and persistent poverty for many.

IFSW supports social, economic, and political actions to end poverty and the vast inequalities in wealth and income, to which protestors at global “Occupy” events are so effectively drawing attention.

Social workers know that joblessness and economic insecurity contribute to the incidence of mental illness, family violence, suicide, substance abuse, crime, and diminished capacity for healthy family and community functioning. It is this knowledge and experience that gives the social work profession a special responsibility to advocate for income, employment, and social support policies that promote the economic justice and social well-being of all members of society and why IFSW has always been at the forefront of progressive social campaigns.

Occupancy movements from Boston to Wall Street, London, Rome and New Zealand represent what can be a “historical moment” for social work and a unique teaching opportunity. In Boston there are at least 25 students and alumni from my institution Simmons School of Social Work who are participating in the “Occupy Boston” movement. They are assisting legal advisors, establishing a “free school”, outreaching in many of urban communities, offering emotional support and counseling, and providing technological assistance.

Despite the fact that Occupy Boston calls itself a “leaderless movement” many of our social work students are embracing the leadership model and are actively involved in leadership positions at the camp. At the medic tent, the overwhelming majority of mental health workers have been social workers providing emotional support and health counseling to the homeless population and facilitating empowerment in this oppressed community.

Students have provided trainings and workshops on conflict resolution, de-escalation tactics, and queer awareness. One of our students, despite a full class load and internship, spent the entire evening at the camp and witnessed over one hundred people including members of Veterans for Peace, being arrested. As a colleague of mine wrote “It has been extremely gratifying to witness the individual and collective actions of social workers and that she has not felt prouder to be a social worker.”

I suspect that many of us are struggling to find some hope in this current historical moment; one in which millions of our fellow citizens have little to no access to health care, are unsuccessfully looking for work, experiencing the loss of their homes, and are living in an ever growing cycle of poverty.

IFSW urges its membership to raise awareness about these global social actions and to take part in the Occupy peaceful protests, as social workers see fit.

In Solidarity,

Gary Bailey, President, IFSW

Greens Condemn Predawn Riot Police Raid On Occupy Sydney:

Media Release [23/10/11]

The Greens NSW have condemned heavy handed police action and called for restraint and respect for non-violent protest following riot police making a pre-dawn raid arresting participants and breaking up the peaceful Occupy Sydney protest this morning.

Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge said:

“This was a peaceful protest against corporate greed and growing inequality and there was simply no call for the riot police to move in and crush it.

“With reports of approximately 50 protesters being arrested and a number being injured, this pre-dawn raid was ill-conceived and unnecessary.

“Conservative State governments in both Melbourne and Sydney have now sent in riot police to shut down the occupation protests and a disturbing pattern is emerging of police being used to crush peaceful political dissent.

“There was no reason given by police for this action other other than the City of Sydney by-laws prohibit camping in Martin Place. Occupy Sydney wasn’t camping, this was a peaceful political protest against corporate greed.

“Police might have thought a week long protest in the city looked untidy, but the greed and inequality that Occupy Sydney was speaking against is the real crime that demands action.

“This is a world wide movement with most nations, including the United States, respecting peaceful protest, placing Australia amongst a small group of nations that is stifling free expression.

“We should all congratulate Occupy Sydney, and its thousands of supporters, for their courage in speaking out against corporate greed and the concentration of wealth across the globe,” Mr Shoebridge said.

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