Tuesday, December 29, 2009

US Climate Bill Stalled In Senate

A post-Copenhagen post from Sarah Laskow at The Media Consortium's The Mulch:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen should have cleared a path for the U.S. Congress move forward again on climate change legislation, but Senate Democrats already are saying the bill might not come in 2010. After fights over the stimulus and health care, legislators are less willing to stomach compromises on climate change. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is looking smarter for having passed the House’s version of the climate change bill when she had the chance.
Weekly Mulch: Climate Change Bill Stalls in Senate
It's going to take more than politics-as-normal to move legislators into action. Hard to arouse any New Year optimism about the future of global warming. Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Truth is Beauty: Bright Star

Another suggestion for holiday cinema. Even if you're not on vacation. Jane Campion's love story of Fanny Brawne and John Keats.

Bright Star: A Joy Forever

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Kimberley: Nowhere Else But Here

A video tribute ot the Kimberley/Pilbara region of Western Australia, introduced by Ernie Dingo. Features Broome band the Pigrim Brothers and their classic song 'Nowhere Else But Here'.

Great place, Category 5 cyclones and all.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Google Gifts to Not-for-profits

Google is donating $US 20 million to a range of not-for-profit organisations. They include Global Voices, for which I am an occasional author. Another recipient is AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) which

is an Indigenous Corporation and a not-for-profit charity ... that uses a unique style of structured education mentoring to link university students in a one-on-one relationship with high school Indigenous students. AIME's objectives are to increase Year 10, Year 12 and university admission rates for all Indigenous Australian students who participate in the program.
It's an organisation I hadn't heard of before. Maybe this will help AIME to gain a higher profile.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Twitter Eruption over Australia's Internet Filter

A Global Voices post from Antoun Issa about Internet Filtering in Australia:

Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy declared his determination last week to push through mandatory internet censorship of a government-defined blacklist of websites, sparking an online frenzy in blogs and on Twitter.

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in AustraliaNews of the proposed internet censorship propelled the issue to a “trending topic” on Twitter for several hours, under the hashtag #nocleanfeed.

Australia pushes internet censorship; Twitter erupts
Disclosure: I am a GV author and this blog is quoted in Antoun's article.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Ross Garnaut:Copenhagen expectations overblown

If you missed the interview with Ross Garnaut on ABC News Breakfast today, please try this link:

Garnaut always seems so plausible. He's a glass-half-full kind of bloke.
No transcript available at this stage.

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No Way Through to Bethlehem Maternity

Not that easy to get into and around Palestine these days. Thanks to Global Voices author Jillian York for alerting us to this video.

No Way Through won the Ctrl.Alt.Shift film Competition

How many more checkpoints to Bethlehem maternity? Try the inn.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Citizen Journalism at COP15

Craille Maguire Gillies of MediaShift has an excellent piece about citizen journalism at COP15:

COP15 helped inspire unique alliances between NGOs, citizen journalist groups like the UpTake, and established publications such as the Nation, Grist and Mother Jones. Now these journalists are working with the groups they once reported on. These partnerships are as intertwined and intricate as a circuit board on the UN-issued Sony Ericsson phones so many of the press and delegates were loaned for the 10 days in Denmark. The UpTake, for instance, is part of the U.S.-based the Media Consortium, a coalition that includes Salon, Mother Jones and the Nation.
Activist-Journalists Bring Citizen, Pro Media Together at COP15
This is a key addition to the ongoing discussion about the evolution of the new media.

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Oxfam's Reaction to COP15 No Deal: Historic Cop Out

Photos courtesy Oxfam international's photostream


18 December 2009


The ‘climate deal’ announced in Copenhagen today is a triumph of spin over substance said Oxfam International. The agreement – which was announced by the US, India, China and South Africa - has not been endorsed by the EU and many other countries.

The deal provides no confidence that catastrophic climate change will be averted or that poor countries will be given the money they need to adapt as temperatures rise. Leaders have also put off agreeing a legally binding deal until the end of 2010.

Oxfam said this is not a done deal - any agreement must be endorsed by all countries - and demanded that it be a floor not a ceiling on action.

Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International said:

“This agreement barely papers over the huge differences between countries which have plagued these talks for two years.

“The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It recognizes the need to keep warming below 2 degrees but does not commit to do so. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash.

“Millions of people around the world do not want to see their hopes for a fair, binding and ambitious deal die in Copenhagen. Leaders need to get back round the table in early 2010 and take the hard decisions they copped out of in Copenhagen.”


$100bn a year in climate cash for poor countries

This is an aspirational goal not a commitment – poor countries will have no confidence that they will receive the money they need to reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

$100bn is only half the money needed. The shortfall could mean that health workers in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa will not get the $1.5bn they need each year to prevent climate induced deaths from malaria and diarrhoea.

There are no assurances that the $100bn will be additional to existing aid commitments. This means aid for education and health care could be diverted to pay for flood defenses.

The $100bn will not all be public money. Unless climate cash comes from public sources, there are no guarantees that it will reach the right people, in the right places, at the right time.

SPIN: Global temperature rises will be kept below 2 degrees centigrade


The absence of any emissions reductions targets means there is no guarantee that warming will be kept below 2 degrees centigrade. Climate science is clear on the need for rich countries to cut emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Specific targets are essential.

Shorbanu Khatun, a climate migrant at the summit with Oxfam said: “I came all the way from a displaced persons camp on the flooded coast of Bangladesh to see justice done for the 45,000 people made homeless by cyclone Aila. How do I tell them their misery has fallen on deaf ears?”
More from Oxfam

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Three Views on Copenhagen Deal

Is the glass half full or is it just empty rhetoric? Three initial reactions to the Copenhagen deal:

The world's nations have come together and concluded a historic--if incomplete--agreement to begin tackling global warming. Tonight's announcement is but a first step and much work remains to be done in the days and months ahead in order to seal a final international climate deal that is fair, binding, and ambitious. It is imperative that negotiations resume as soon as possible.

...A chilly two weeks in Copenhagen has given humanity its best chance of preventing the ravages of a warming world. Today's deal is neither perfect nor complete, but we must not this chance slip away.
Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
So much for the optimism:
We all know what we must do to solve global warming, but even the architects of this deal acknowledge that it does not take those necessary steps. Merely acknowledging the weaknesses of the deal, as President Obama has done, does not excuse its failings. If this is the best we can do, it is not nearly good enough. We stand at the precipice of climatic tipping points beyond which a climate crash will be out of our control. We cannot make truly meaningful and historic steps with the United States pledging to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by only 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The science demands far more.

“The people of the United States voted for President Obama based on his promise of change and hope. But the only change today’s agreement brings is a greater risk of dangerous climate change. And the only hope that flows from Copenhagen stems not from the president’s hollow pronouncements but from the birth of a diverse global movement demanding real solutions and climate justice — demands made with a collective voice growing loud enough that in short order politicians will no longer be able to ignore it.
Center for Biological Diversity Statement on "Deal" at Copenhagen
And a call to mobilise:
Climate negotiations in Copenhagen have yielded a sham agreement with no real requirements for any countries. This is not a strong deal or a just one -- it isn't even a real one. It's just repackaging old positions and pretending they're new. The actions it suggests for the rich countries that caused the climate crisis are extraordinarily inadequate. This is a disastrous outcome for people around the world who face increasingly dire impacts from a destabilizing climate.

...Fortunately, while the cost of solving the climate crisis rises each day we fail to act, the crisis remains one that can largely be averted. It is up to the citizens of the world -- especially citizens of the United States, which has so impeded progress -- to mobilize and ensure that true solutions carry the day. I firmly believe that together, we can still achieve a politics in which climate justice prevails.
Friends of the Earth U.S. Reaction: Sham Deal Requires Nothing, Accomplishes Nothing
The United Nations finished the week basically where it started.

Shame, World, Shame!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Australia Wins Fossil of Day 10 at COP15

Australia has won yet another Fossil of the Day for Day 10 at Copenhagen COP15:

1st Place

 has been awarded a First Place Fossil of the Day Award for putting pressure on Pacific Island nations–and Tuvalu in particular–to agree to 2 degrees and 450 parts per million of CO2. You know, when we see one of the world’s most vulnerable nations take the kind of bold actions that we saw Tuvalu take last week, our hearts are warmed and we are filled with inspiration. And maybe that’s why we were so discouraged and angry to learn that Australia, one of Tuvalu’s bigger, richer neighbors has been acting like a big bully and asking Tuvalu to give up on its strong commitment to a legally binding agreement that keeps the world to 1.5 degrees of warming and 350 ppm. Have no fear, dear audience, Tuvalu stood firm in the face of this outrageous display of aggression…And it’s no small feat for a tiny country of 26sq kms and 6000 inhabitants to stand up to financial blackmail from big bad Australia. Our message to you, Australia? Time to act like a leader, not a bully.
Day 10: Australia Takes 1st Place for Bullying Tuvalu and Other Small Island States
My tip for Fossil of the Year is Canada.

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Business Wants The Real Deal

From WWF:

Powering economies into the low carbon future:
Business leaders claim that a strong deal in Copenhagen will be good for the economy, a weak deal will be bad.

What will world leaders produce at the end of the week? A political deal? A legally binding deal? No deal at all?

There are rumours floating in and around the Bella Center that big business would prefer caution and the status quo instead of a treaty that is bold and sets comprehensive reduction targets.

That perception is incorrect. More than 1,000 businesses from all continents, most of them global players, are advocating for a strong legally binding deal that reduces carbon pollution and accelerates clean energy innovation on a global scale.
Business – The Real Deal
If you're a Facebook friend of Barack Obama or Kevin Rudd let them know we demand a real deal now.

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Tony Abbott: Taking Australia Backwards

An unpaid political advertisement attacking Tony Abbott. From the Australian Labor Party:

Taking Australia Backwards from Australian Labor on Vimeo.

Climate Change & Work Choices are seen as his Achilles heels.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tony Abbott Not Colossal Fossil of the Year

CAN (Climate Action Network) and Avaaz.org present Fossil of the Day awards during COP conferences.

The Colossal Fossil of the Year will be presented on Friday 18 December at 1pm Copenhagen time.

Despite his recent contributions to the global warming debate, Australia's new Opposition leader Tony Abbott is not in the running this time around. Australia might run a place anyway.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Friends of the Earth & Avaaz Excluded from COP15

Friends of the Earth & Avaaz have been excluded from COP15.

Nick Berning from FOE US posted this from inside the Bella Center earlier:

We've been sitting here for two hours now, about 50 Friends of the Earth representatives, all with accreditation and secondary badges, who have been refused admission to the conference. We are sitting in the registration area, between the registration/credentials desks and the photo desks.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer came out and spoke to us awhile ago and said he wanted to resolve the situation. A few of our representatives have gone to talk to UN officials while we sit here, but our lack of access remains unresolved.

Initially there were a lot of reporters, but the UN has now cordoned us off and closed access to media.

The UN still has yet to give us a coherent reason for our having been denied access. We have been given different explanations by different officials: (1) we are a security threat or (2) there was no more room inside. It's hard to see how the "no room" explanation makes sense, as they continued to allow other NGO observers to enter even as we were denied access. And as for the security threat, we're a bunch of policy wonks and youth activists who have been participating in the negotiations every day for two weeks.

We've had both a member of the Norweigan and a member of the Canadian parliament come speak to us to lend us their support while we've been sitting here

One of the key roles Friends of the Earth has played at the conference has been to advocate for climate justice and the interests of the poor countries that have done the least to cause the climate crisis but will feel some of its strongest impacts. Negotiators from those countries are tremendously under-resourced here. For example, I've worked with negotiators who have no media officers (I do media work) to help them communicate their position. They are totally outgunned by the massive delegations of the rich countries, and now thanks to the UN's decision to exclude us, they will have even less support inside the Bella Center to fight for a fair agreement. It's really shameful.

Also --

Re the entry way more generally: appears that access to the conference has been almost completely shut down. We have a very clear view of the front doors and the security area, and people come through only very sporadically.'
Meanwhile direct action is taking place as part of Reclaim Power Now and Burn the Badge protests:
A crowd of youth, activists, indigenous peoples, and perhaps some delegates, burst in chants of “Climate Justice Now!” and “Reclaim Power!” in the middle of the Bella Center where the Copenhagen Climate Talks are being held. Instantly surrounded by cameras and media, the group began a march out of the center towards the gates of the building where as many as 10,000 people are planning to meet them in what organizers are calling the Reclaim Power action.

Reclaim Power Action Begins inside Copenhagen Climate Talks

Things are hotting up in Denmark as world leaders start to assemble in Copenhagen. Time for some leadership. The conflict is the easy part.

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Australia's Brand Spanking Clean Feed Internet Filter

A brand spanking new Internet filter is on the way. Senator Stephen Conroy's Clean Feed is another step closer. This follows the release of the ISP Filtering Live Pilot Report. Government decisions were announced the same day. Why bother to release the report at all?

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has announced:

1. Introduction of mandatory ISP-level filtering of Refused Classification (RC) –rated content.
2. A grants program to encourage the introduction of optional filtering by Internet Service Providers, to block additional content as requested by households.
3. An expansion of the cyber-safety outreach program run by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Cyber-Safety Online Helpline – to improve education and awareness of online safety.

Media Release 15 Dec 2009Measures to improve safety of the internet for families
There are many questions that need to be addressed:

The Blacklist

How many sites will be blocked? The report suggests that 10s or 100s of thousands are possible. 1000 were tested. In what ways is the current blacklist ineffective? the blacklist will be passed to ISPs in an encrypted form to avoid the list falling into the wrong hands. After the recent East Anglia climategate hacking, it won’t be long before that hope is dashed.

Passing on the Cost

ISP will be required to bear the costs. This could well be a disincentive to competition as small providers may be discouraged.

Non-sexual Content

As well as sexual sites Refused Classification RC (sic) list will include websites that contain "detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act".

There goes boxing and several other Olympic sports. How will the list deal with different crimes in different States? If euthanasia is legalised in one State, would sites explaining how to use the laws be banned? Would sites arguing for a change in the law face censorship? Would links to “undesirable” constitute the grounds for black listing?

What about literature, which is full of detailed examples of crime, violence and drug use? Trainspotting? Fight Club? Crime and Punishment? Film and Television sites also pose a risk.


"The Government will also establish a grants program to encourage and assist ISPs to offer additional filtering services on a commercial basis for those families that wish to have a wider range of material filtered..."

However, "All six ISPs achieved 100 percent accuracy in blocking the ACMA blacklist. This was a requirement of the pilot. In blocking additional categories of content all six ISPs achieved 78 percent to 84 percent accuracy..." Only 22 percent got through. That’s encouraging.

The FAQ includes No.17. “Why does the Government consider demand exists for additional ISP-level filtering services?” The answer doesn’t mention demand just choice. The general public didn't use the free service and it has been discontinued. Why would they pay for an inaccurate service, especially one that may include over-blocking? But that's a sideshow, as filters for parents are already available on the market. You can already spy on your kids from work if you so desire. Big Father knows best!

Scope of Censorship/Protection

The RC system is not a filtering mechanism that will protect children from accidental or deliberate access to pornography, just the "illegal" stuff. Nor will it catch out child pornographers and paedophiles. Apparently, "Telstra found its filtering solution was not effective in the case of non-web based protocols such as instant messaging, peer-to-peer or chat rooms." ACMA will only list a very limited number of specific internet addresses (URLs).


According to the report, "A technically competent user could, if they wished, circumvent the filtering technology." Technical competence is widespread, including amongst the young. So why spend money on something that is easily circumvented.

Political Equations: In the Wink of an Eye

Kevin Rudd’s Labor government is unlikely to win many votes from this initiative. It’s uncertain if it will lose many in a climate change dominated election. What it faces is a major loss of goodwill from those who object to the filter's authoritarian potential. Imagine Tony Abbott or Kevin Andrews in charge of deciding what's appropriate. Don't mentioned RU486?

The good news is that the internet speeds should not be affected very much. It will be done in the wink of an eye, or as Telstra reported, a delay “equivalent to one seventieth of the blink of an eye”.

Kevin on Facebook: “The Rudd Government's approach to cyber-safety has been informed by the trial of internet filtering and extensive industry feedback about the most appropriate way to improve safety for families online.” What about community consultation? It’s the sort of action you would announce the week of COP15 in Copenhagen and ten days before Christmas. Most of those affected won’t read past the headline.

If the government’s aim is to protect children from inappropriate content, then this scheme won’t achieve that. If it wants to stop illegal material on the web, then it should be confined to criminal material of a sexual nature as proposed in the ALP’s policy in 2007. If it’s trying to increase its popularity amongst “families”, then it’s wasting time and money.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Boycott: Lysistrata Comes to Copenhagen

Following in the footsteps of Lysistrata, global warming has its own sex strike:

The Boycott tells the story of the First Lady of the United States launching a nationwide sex strike to fight global warming and save the world. Come for a raucous tour of Oval Office affairs, psychedelic absinthe trips, enchanted frogs, movie star cameos, and land in a heap of unabashed hope.
The Boycott Kathryn Blume
This is a sample - Part 4

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Climate Change: Show Us the Money

A Global Warming finance post from Dernogalizer

Developed countries need to show they’re serious about climate change, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies while providing financing to developing countries is a win-win that could propel the negotiations in the right direction.
How about some serious financing

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Climate Plea: Don't Give Tazzy a Brazilian

From the Melbourne Walk Against Warming: Don't Give Tazzy a Brazilian Thanks to Amanda for the photos.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Walk Against Warming Sydney Style

Thanks to Joni for this video from the Sydney Walk Against Warming. His original post is at Blogocrats and on YouTube.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Yale Scientists on Climate Science

From Yale University re Climategate and science:

Our broad understanding of Earth’s climate system is based on observations, experiments and models by atmospheric chemists, meteorologists, glaciologists, solar and planetary physicists, oceanographers, geologists, geochemists, biologists, paleontologists, paleoclimatologists, paleoecologists and climate dynamicists. Finding agreement among these diverse groups is often as fractious as peace negotiations between warring nations. And yet, when it comes to the major issues of climate change, agreement exists.
‘Climate-Gate’ and COP15: Yale Scientists Clarify Current Understanding of Climate Change

To read about some of that agreement, please click the link.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Copenhagen CAN International Video: Tuvalu Roars

From Climate Action Network International, a video about Day 4 COP15 Climate Change conference. It includes coverage of Tuvalu, the mouse that's roaring:

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Climategate Conspiracies on Both Sides

Although I got over conspiracy theories long ago, there are plenty on both sides of the global warming science debate. A couple of blog posts attempting to turn the East Anglia controversy back on its proponents:

There has been quite an assault on the climate science in the past few weeks. Far more so than ever before, which is saying something given the Climate Cover-Up that’s gone on for so long. First, e-mails were hacked from a British university, showing some cherry-picked conversations between climate scientists, which global warming deniers have stretched and chalked up to data misrepresentation, and a massive global scientific conspiracy to trick people into reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For more background information on the entire issue, check out EnviroKnow.
The Scientists Strike Back The Dernogalizer

From Richard Graves at Huffington Post:
The real scandal is not the email archive, or even how it was acquired, sorted, and uploaded to a Russian server, but rather the emerging evidence of a coordinated international campaign to target and harass climate scientists, break and enter into government climate labs, and misrepresent climate science through a sophisticated media infrastructure on the eve of the international climate talks.
Climate-Gate Is Watergate Redux

King hit, sideshow or simply a distraction? Make up your own mind. There are endless sceptics' posts in the blogosphere and MSM.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

COP15 Copenhagen Update 10 Dec

Some USA stuff from COP15 Copenhagen :

"If you are looking for a few hints about where to find top notch journalists, the following list of journalists comes via by The Society of Environmental Journalists": Welcoming the Environmental Journalist to the Endangered Species List

The US State Department Press Room for Copenhagen.

Hopenhagen? No, thanks: Naomi Klein on COP15

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ABC's Climate Timeline

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Journey through Climate History is fun and a way to introduce an investigation of the science.

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2000–2009 Our Warmest Decade?

The Global Warming debate continues. So does the data:

The year 2009 is likely to rank in the top 10 warmest on record since the beginning of instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January–October) is currently estimated at 0.44°C ± 0.11°C (0.79°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961–1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F. The current nominal ranking of 2009, which does not account for uncertainties in the annual averages, places it as the fifth-warmest year. The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989). More complete data for the remainder of the year 2009 will be analysed at the beginning of 2010 to update the current assessment.
2000–2009, THE WARMEST DECADE World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 8 Dec 2009
Time for real action on Climate Change.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climate Science Q&A for Copenhagen

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has a Climate Science Q&A for Copenhagen website. It's for journalists covering COP15. They can email seeking assistance with questions of climate science.

Don't die wondering!

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Global Warming Artic Melt Video

From EngageMedia who are posting daily video updates from COP15 Copenhagen:

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Building the Climate Change Ark

The Avaarz.org Action Factory DC has begun building its ARK.

If you build it, they will come. When we set out to build a huge ark on the national mall to illustrate what we’ll need if we don’t get a climate deal, we expected to make a splash. What we weren’t prepared for was the response from concerned folks from all different corners of DC who want something to do to help. The Ark Takes Shape

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Australia's 2010 Climate Change Election

A cross post from Global Voices: Australia Faces 2010 Climate Change Election:

The fortnight before Copenhagen has seen a topsy-turvy political bun-fight in Australian climate politics. The Rudd Labor government’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Bill was amended after negotiations with the conservative Liberal National Coalition, only to be defeated by them in the Senate. The Liberal Party dumped their leader Malcolm Turnbull and rejected their own deal. New Opposition leader Tony Abbott has hung his leadership on a climate sceptic strategy.


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Tony Abbott's Climate Plan B: The Ark

Thanks to The Avaaz.org Action Factory for Climate Plan B: The Ark

Tony Abbott, climate change sceptic and new leader of the parliamentary Opposition in Australia, is looking for a new policy. We can go two by two into his brave new world.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Spinning the Higgins and Bradfield By-election Numbers

Lots of talk about an Abbott triumph. How does it measure up against the stats? Some data comparing Saturday with the 2007 election results:

2009 Turnout 74.24%, Fletcher 36,628 votes
2007 Turnout 94.03% Nelson 49,817 votes

Fletcher's vote was down 4.47 %.

2009 Turnout 71.70%, O'Dwyer 32,779 votes
2007 93.77% 2007, Costello 43,761 votes

O'Dwyer's vote was up 0.34%

The 2009 By-election figures do not include postal votes.

It appears that 10,000 less people voted for each Liberal candidate this time.

Replacing Malcolm Turnbull and walking away from the climate change consensus may have shored up the true blue Liberal heartland, just. Could be the Palin effect at work.

An interesting comparison is the 2008 by-elections:

Gippsland turnout 89.68%,
Mayo 80.12% and
Lyne 87.41%.

This is the stuff of which myths are made. Anyway, a win is a win is a ...

Now it's on to Copenhagen.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Obama Shifts Date for Copenhagen Climate Conference Visit

Barack Obama has shifted his visit to COP15 in Copenhagen to the second week in anticipation of some kind of result.

This is the official United Nations statement:


The President strongly believes that all nations have a responsibility to combat the threat of climate change. He has already taken unprecedented action to do so at home, including an historic investment in clean energy solutions that will reduce our dependence on oil and create jobs. Abroad, he has engaged leaders bilaterally and multilaterally on the issue of climate change, and agreed to participate in the climate conference in Copenhagen.

After months of diplomatic activity, there is progress being made towards a meaningful Copenhagen accord in which all countries pledge to take action against the global threat of climate change. Following bilateral meetings with the President and since the United States announced an emissions reduction target that reflects the progress being made in Congress towards comprehensive energy legislation, China and India have for the first time set targets to reduce their carbon intensity. There has also been progress in advancing the Danish proposal for an immediate, operational accord that covers all of the issues under negotiation, including the endorsement of key elements of this approach by the 53 countries represented at the Commonwealth Summit last weekend.

This week, the President discussed the status of the negotiations with Prime Minister Rudd, Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkozy, and Prime Minister Brown and concluded that there appears to be an emerging consensus that a core element of the Copenhagen accord should be to mobilize $10 billion a year by 2012 to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable and least developed countries that could be destabilized by the impacts of climate change. The United States will pay its fair share of that amount and other countries will make substantial commitments as well. In Copenhagen, we also need to address the need for financing in the longerterm to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

Providing this assistance is not only a humanitarian imperative - it's an investment in our common security, as no climate change accord can succeed if it does not help all countries reduce their emissions.

Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the President believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th rather than on December 9th. There are still outstanding issues that must be negotiated for an agreement to be reached, but this decision reflects the President's commitment to doing all that he can to pursue a outcome. The United States will have representation in Copenhagen throughout the negotiating process by State Department negotiators and Cabinet officials who will highlight the great strides we have made this year towards a clean energy economy.
One small step...

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International Volunteers Day 5 December 2009

5 December is International Volunteer Day 2009.

For the intrepid at heart, check out Indigenous Community Volunteers:

Indigenous Community Volunteers is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation that links Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with skilled volunteers. ICV works in partnership with communities to provide access to the skills and knowledge that communities request. ICV also recruits volunteers to complete community development projects with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Glossary of Climate Change Acronyms spells it out

The Glossary of Climate Change Acronyms (GOCCA) has lots of explanations about climate change terms as well as acronyms.

Tony Abbott, the new leader of the conservative opposition in Australia, may not read much about global warming himself. This is chance for him to get up to speed.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Story of Cap & Trade Divides Greens

Two points of view on solutions to Global Warming. Firstly from the Story of Stuff Project

Secondly, a critical response to the video by climate change campaigner David Roberts:

The greenosphere is all abuzz about a new video from Annie Leonard, creator of semi-famous anti-consumerism video/book The Story of Stuff. It’s being billed as a definitive debunking of cap-and-trade, but it’s more like a perfect representation of all the confusion and misplaced focus that plagues the green left right now.

Annie Leonard misses the mark in her new video, “The Story of Cap-and-Trade”

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Abbott v Turnbull: Ignorance Trumps Arrogance

The title should say it all but my words of wisdom will have to wait to tomorrow:

Ignorance Trumps Arrogance! Shame, Liberals shame!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sandbag Copenhagen Target Converter

Climate Change - Copenhagen update:

Sandbag has a new tool for converting data to compare the "effort across countries using different baseline years".

It also has a Power Sector Simulation Game:

"Welcome to our simulation of the global climate change negotiations. Using this game multiple users can try their hand at agreeing a deal. The aim is to get global emissions to peak and decline within a decade."

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Climate News Murdoch Style

Melbourne's and Murdoch's Herald Sun daily was full of climate change politics this morning. Totally in denial as usual, the complete global warming atheists, to borrow Liberal parliamentarian Eric Abetz's religious metaphor for his doubts. He's an "agnostic".

There was some balance of course. The one paragraph story about the Chinese announcement of emissions targets was on page 51.

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Help Send Pacific Youths to Copenhagen

Help to send a Pacific youth delegation to Copenhagen.

Donations to GetUp! here.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Liberal Party Sinks into Low Farce

If/when Tony Abbott wins the Liberal leadership, we'll be facing the real enemy at last after 2 years of phoney war. My very first 10 second YouTube video seems a touch relevant.

Except that for the tongue in cheek 'Next Liberal Prime Minister of Australia' is unlikely to apply to any of these pretenders. Unless Turnbull does a Lazarus after the shellacking that the climate dunces are about to bring their Party.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Liberal Party High Farce Over Climate Change

I'd like to disassociate myself, from Andrew Robb's actions yesterday over the Emissions Trading Scheme, as a constituent and voter in his electorate of Goldstein.

Someone else can apologise for the Victorian Coalition Senators. We are paying for the essentially conservative nature of the Senate. It and the Liberal party, nay Coalition, are looking more like Paul Keating's "unrepresentative swill" each day.

When Labor hits the crisis or cyclical bump that puts us back into opposition, Malcolm Turnbull is the kind of Coalition leader that we would want. Imagine Australia under Kevin Andrews or Tony Abbott.

Now it's on to Copenhagen, Senate willing.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Story of Cap and Trade coming soon

Sounds familiar! From the Story of Stuff mob. Coming 1 December. Hope it's suitably subversive.

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2007 Remembered: Howard's Swift End

24 November is the 2nd anniversary of the election of Kevin Rudd's Labor governemnt in Australia. 'The Poll the Counts' videos from election day were taken around Canberra polling booths and at the National Tallyroom. My favourite is Tallyroom Spectators:

The others can be found at YouTube or Teacher Tube.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Channel 7 Sleaze as Journalism

I didn't watch last night's revelations about the private life of South Australian Premier Mike Rann. I could say who cares but we should care about this kind of reporting. Perhaps it's time that others started publishing the sex lives of journalists. Then we might hear some real debate about privacy and ethics.

Paid, published and damned!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brumby the Born Again Leader

We haven't voted in a Victorian State election since 1996 when John Brumby unsuccessfully lead the ALP opposition against Jeff Kennett. Life under Jeff was probably one of the minor factors in our decision to head to the top end. Swings and landslides have brought a new political landscape.

Apart from the perennial branch stacking debate, yesterday's Labor State Conference seems to have had little heat. The real political discussion would have taken place at the lunchtime Fringe Program:

Has the ALP moved too far from its union roots?
Who is more out of touch – politicians or journalists?
Next steps in climate change policy
Couldn't get there but feedback from those who did would be appreciated.

Unlike many unelected State Premiers such as Alan Carpenter and Nathan Rees, Brumby inherited a united party. According to the last opinion poll he has built on this. It appears that he may do an Anna Bligh and get a comfortable majority of his own at next year's poll.

Source: Brumby soaring high: poll The Age 22 Nov 2009

But as South Australian premier Mike Rann can attest, take nothing for granted.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tony Abbott doesn't read much about Climate Change

I’m still gobsmacked by Tony Abbott’s revelations on Lateline last night. He hasn’t read the IPCC report but relies on briefings. But not from scientists because he doesn’t really talk to them. He needs to get some new staff with some scientific understanding. He hasn’t even finished Plimer’s book that he likes to quote from. I wonder if he even read the summary chapter of Garnaut.

The video is up on the program website but the transcript is still coming.

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Oz Bloggers Quiet on Oceanic Viking

A cross post from Global Voices:

Australia: Asylum Seekers test tough but humane approach

As indicated at the end of the article, very few Oz boggers wrote opinion pieces about the Oceanic Viking. There were one or two others that are not included here, such as Andrew Bartlett's Good and bad ways to reduce boat arrivals.

We obviously need to lift our game.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Warmer Hospitality: Canadian Climate Success Story

The Canadian Tourism Federation has declared a rare victory from global warming:

Global warming is great news for cool Canada! Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise, and that means warmer weather for a perfect family holiday is right around the corner. It’s the perfect time to plan your next vacation in the new, warmer Canada!
Their nature ambassadors have a message:

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Organize to be heard: Climate Change

The video is called "Organize to be heard" from CONSEQUENCE09

It seems that our Senate isn't the only one with a climate problem.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climate Change Angry Mermaid Award

Vote for the "company or lobby group ... doing the most to sabotage effective action on climate change."

There is a short list of 8 to
from which to choose.

Angry Mermaid Award

If given a chance my nominee would be Tru Energy for this effort:

Tru Energy, the operator of the coal-fired power station at Yallourn in Victoria, has said construction of a more environmentally sound gas-fired plant is unlikely without billions of dollars in additional compensation from the Federal Government's emissions trading scheme.

Tru Energy demands more ETS compensation (ABC News 9 Nov 09)

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Join Green Facebook for Copenhagen

The idea is that facebook goes green for COP15 at Copenhagen.

Join here!

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Big Week for Samson and Delilah

Good news for one of the best Australian films of 2009. Samson & Delilah will available on DVD next week and ABC1 will telecast it on Sunday 22 November at 8.30pm.

This comes on top of director Warwick Thornton's selection as the Northern Territory's Australian of the Year.

Don't miss the film. Every Australian should see it!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Australia’s Climate Countdown to Copenhagen

With just over three weeks till key climate talks in Copenhagen, there is little optimism that a binding agreement will be reached.

In Australia, Kevin Rudd’s Labor government has positioned itself uncomfortably in the middle of the national debate. Many of its supporters feel let down by what they see as weak 5 – 25 percent carbon emission cut targets and an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that rewards big polluters. Yet Big Business, especially the energy sector, is arguing for more concessions.

Meanwhile a small but vocal and influential media minority continue to question global warming and the role of greenhouse gases. For some commentators, it’s all part of a conspiracy to advance global government.

Party Politics

The politics are messy to say the least. Negotiations are taking place with the Liberal Party opposition over amendments to the ETS legislation, which was originally defeated in the Senate in August. Their coalition partners, the National Party, are implacably opposed to the bill.

Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull is struggling to unite his own Liberal parliamentarians, a difficult task considering the party claims a significant number of climate sceptics and deniers in their ranks. His proposed amendments to the ETS bill are supposed to be about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but he really wants to see some kind of ETS for two main reasons.

Firstly he accepts the science and has a personal commitment to fighting global warming. Secondly he fears a rout at a climate change election. Some of his own leadership team such as Senator Nick Minchin are considering having a bet each way: support the amendments and vote against the amended bill. The Nationals intend doing both.

The unknown element in the government’s compromise strategy to pass the legislation is much how further they are prepared to water down their scheme. In doing so they risk completely alienating many of their voters.

The Greens have been excluded from real talks because of their unwavering commitment to 40 percent emissions cuts. Even if a deal could be hammered out with them it is unlikely to get the support of the two independents in the Senate.

PM Kevin Rudd is using the negotiations to keep several balls in the air:


A three-year electoral cycle means continuous campaigning. Cynics argue that his tactics are more concerned with short-term political advantage than long-term planning.

The Hostile Senate

The Kyoto Protocol finishes in 2012. Its replacement is supposed to hammered out at COP15. To have a real voice there, Rudd wants to establish some concrete climate change credentials through legislation but the hostile Senate stands in the way where the Greens and two independents hold the balance of power.

One solution is a double dissolution election if the ETS bill is rejected a second time. The bill could then be passed by a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Current opinion polls suggest that Labor would win well however, the election might be closer than predicted. There is the potential for the climate spoilers to use the basest tactics such as appeals to fear, ignorance and the tried and true hip-pocket nerve. In addition early elections have misfired in recent history. An even more hostile Senate could well result, even if the government is re-elected.

The Planet

Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party are committed to climate action. To have any impact on the future of the planet the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme needs to have both popular support and some guts, such as targets of 25 – 40 percent or 350 ppm.

The Economy

Jobs and economic growth are key Rudd priorities. Moreover, his own party is committed to protecting the coal industry and its unionised workforce. Clean coal research has received generous support.

The Environmental Lobbies

Australian Environmental groups have been divided in their response to the government’s target range increase to 25 percent in the event of a global agreement. The Australian Conservation Foundation’s latest Progress Report, Climate Change – the road to Copenhagen, is generally positive over the move. However Greenpeace Australia has a very different view stating in its own report Rudd’s weak targets undermine progress at UN that: “Unless countries like Australia put stronger targets on the table, it is difficult to see how we are going to get anything other than empty rhetoric from Copenhagen.”

The International Political Climate

The international scene is even more troubled. Barack Obama’s attempt to get cap and trade legislation is just one of a list of challenges along with health reform, the economy, Afghanistan and Iraq. The recent Barcelona talks and G20 meeting were inconclusive and the vexed question of how to finance developing countries is still unresolved.

Kevin Rudd has been asked to be one of the friends of the chairman, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen at Copenhagen. Like many Australian PMs before him, he likes to think that he is punching above his weight on the world stage. He is expected to use the current APEC meeting in Singapore to lobby for an agreement in Copenhagen. A recent parliamentary report into the effects of climate change on coastal Australia and a government report Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast underline what is at stake.

* Climate Change is a soup of acronyms:

COP Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)

CPRS Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

ETS Emissions Trading Scheme

IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

* For more background, these links may be useful:

Linkages: Introduction to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol

Seven steps to becoming an UNFCCC expert

The Road to Copenhagen Simon Talley

tck tck tck Global Campaign for Climate Action

(This post appeared first at theangle.org)

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hunger Strike Against Climate Change

As preliminary negotiations broke up at Barcelona with pessimism, focus has switched to some traditional passive resistance that's going on. According to the Climate Justice Fast:

Ordinary people from Tegucigalpa to Toronto are choosing to go hungry from today until at least the end of the Copenhagen climate summit – more than 40 days – as part of a global hunger strike to 'wake the world up to reality'.
Has to be some sort of irony that it apparently started on Oz:
Climate Justice Fast was started in Australia, and has grown to include people from all ages and walks of life in the US, the UK, India, France, Germany, Canada, South Africa, Belgium, Honduras, Bhutan, New Zealand, and the Philippines. It begins at the conclusion of the Barcelona talks and is set to continue throughout the Copenhagen summit.
There hasn't been much headline coverage in the mainstream media yet. The Herald Sun picked it up yesterday:
PAUL Connor says he's worried about the hunger strike he's just started, but he's much more scared about the prospect of world leaders refusing to seriously tackle climate change.

Mr Connor, 29, insists he'll only drink water from now until an agreement is struck at global climate talks in Copenhagen starting on December 7.
Man begins climate change hunger strike in Canberra Herald Sun 6 Nov 2009

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Threatened Voices: Defending Free Speech Online

Introducing Threatened Voices is a new project at Global Voices:

Today, Global Voices Advocacy is launching a new website called Threatened Voices to help track suppression of free speech online. It features a world map and an interactive timeline that help visualize the story of threats and arrests against bloggers worldwide, and it is a central platform to gather information from the most dedicated organisations and activists
Click the link for more details.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Farewell to Great Australian

There was a State funeral for one of Australia's most respected aboriginal elders in Arnhem Land yesterday. He was a world renowned artist, hands on environmentalist, and custodian of his traditional lands and culture. For cultural reasons he is currently known as Wamud Namok.

Murray McLaughlin's tribute for the 7.30 Report can be viewed on ABC online

Remote Australia has had its first state funeral - honouring an Aboriginal man they called the professor. In death, he's known as Wamud Namok, and he was made an officer of the order of Australia five years ago. He was a famous artist who won a prestigious Telstra art award in 1999 and whose works feature in major public collections around the country.

State funeral held for Wamud Namok

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Climate Change Impact on Austalia's Coast

My article on rising sea levels, extreme weather and Australia's coastline:

Climate Change Threat to Australian Coast

If you're not extremely concerned then you're not paying attention.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Indigenous Leader Leaves Environmental Legacy

Australia has lost one of its great elders. Whilst writing a post at Suite101 on the weekend about a climate change initiative, I discovered that one of Australia's most eminent indigenous leaders had passed on earlier this month.

A famous artist, he was instrumental in the establishment of the innovative West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project. For cultural reasons he is known as Wamud Namok.

The full article is: Burning Forests a Solution to Climate Change

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monitoring Climate Change

Global Voices has a post worth a look:

Leading up to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) in December 2009, here is a sample of online tools to monitor climate change. Using these tools, ordinary people can learn more about the effects, and help push decision makers to deal with solutions.

Online Tools to Monitor Climate Change
Thanks to Lester Bolicenni.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

350: The only way forward is down

Tomorrow, 24 October 2009, is:


For more visit: 350.org

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

John Safran's Whiff of Controversy

Anyone who comes from Carlisle Street, Balaclava and barracks for the St Kilda FC is part of my clan. John Safran continues to take us to new places.

Race Relations had more to do with Freud than Martin Luther King Jnr.

Anyhow, Hungry Beast was still the better satire last night at Auntie. However, they just need to edit some of their stories to a length that is straining our patience.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bad news night

I should have continued reading Nicholas Jose's novel The Custodians last night. Turning on ABC1 was a bad move.

First there was the Australian Story's Message from Mandawuy about Yothu Yindi's lead singer and indigenous icon Mandawuy Yunupingu. His struggle with kidney failure was difficult to watch at times. The sadness was mixed with hope as he performed once more at the Garma festival.

Next it was Four Corners turn with Afghanistan, on the Dollar Trail. If you have ever beeen unsure who the enemy is in Afganistan, then this program will only have confused you more.

This excellent piece of investigative journalism from Premieres Lignes Television made me wonder what the rest of the mainstream media have been doing lately. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is also too depressing.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Teen Sailor's Gamble with Death

A cross post from Technorati:

Mt. Beerwah

A one-in-three chance of being killed! So said the Weekend Today Show’s news report this morning. Jessica Watson, the adolescent sailor was about to leave Sydney Harbour on a solo round-the-world voyage on her yacht Ella’s Pink Lady. She hopes to finish next May before her seventeenth birthday.

There has been an imperfect storm of controversy about her plans. She’s too young, too inexperienced, it’s too hazardous, it’s a public stunt, the parents are irresponsible, the government should stop her.

To top it off, Jessica crashed into a large coal tanker on her way to Sydney five weeks ago and was dismasted. The whole affair has been a beast-day for sub-editors and bad punners, the worst being the accusation that she is “out of her depth”.

I was musing on this sensational story whilst walking to Mt. Beerwah in the Glass House Mountains National Park in South East Queensland. According to local indigenous people Mt. Beerwah is the mother of the local mountains. Traditionally, aboriginal people in Australia have given their children a lot of freedom and personal responsibility from a very early age. It is said to be one of the reasons for poor school attendance.

Jessica is going to miss school but is taking schoolwork just in case “I’m over bored.” Hope the pun was unintended. She’s bound to be taking the World Atlas with her.

Anyway back to the forest. The amazing statistic of 1 in 3 was a distraction from the enchanting peaks around me. Is it 1 in 3 lone yachties who sail round the world? Or 1 in 3 teenagers who have made the attempt? How many solo circumnavigators have died? How large was the sample size? Was modern technology factored into the calculations? Is the colour of the boat important? One way or the other Jessica will change the probabilities forever.

My solo reverie was blown out of the water by the sound of trail bikes thumping along the road. Two teens were enjoying a pleasant (for some) Sunday ride on the tracks around the park. This isn’t meant to be a baby-boomer grumpy-old-man post, so I’ll leave them to their engagement with the environment.

At the start of the National Park tracks there is a warning about the dangers of bushwalking. One black mark for my not having a companion but the mobile phone and GPS were both receiving. Unfortunately the more spectacular walks were closed because of rock falls. Weekend strolls can be a hazardous business.

Began wondering about the chances of being killed on a bushwalk. Even with EPIRBs it still occurs regularly in Oz. Much less than 1 in 3 no doubt. It’s probably even less perilous than trail bike riding. Or riding solo in Falcon Heene’s helium balloon. Hiding in a box in an attic couldn’t be the safest way to spend your youth either. I had circumnavigated the issue as accusations of irresponsible parents and publicity stunt came sailing over the horizon.

I was left to ponder what the statistical dangers would be for a sixteen year old who tried a round-the-world trip in a balloon, preferably inflated with all the hot air generated by the mass media.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Suffer the children

Cross post from Global Voices:

Asylum seekers and illegal migrants must be in the top five hottest issues around the developed world. After the arrival of the Tampa, a cargo ship that had picked up refugees at sea, Prime Minister John Howard used border security as one of his catch cries in the 2001 Australian election with telling results.

This week his successor Kevin Rudd became embroiled in another controversy:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he spoke to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the weekend before Indonesian authorities intercepted 260 Sri Lankans on a boat who were on their way to Australia.

Asylum seekers stopped after PM's call

Heavyweight blogger Mark Kenny is Political Editor of The Advertiser, a News Limited paper in Adelaide. He blogs at The Punch, an online venture that brings together both News Limited staff and dozens of independent writers from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. His response was scathing of the PM:

In just one interview in Adelaide this week, Kevin Rudd used the terms “tough” and “hard-line” over and over again and repeatedly declared the Government made “no apology” for its hairy chested approach to boat people.

His condemnation of both leaders is unequivocal:

Yet there is no more pressing moral question before the world than the human rights of the forcibly displaced - some 42 million of them at present. And like capital, the movement of people is a global reality also.

The Government should now have the courage of its convictions and stare down the fear campaign being waged against it. If ever there was a case for evidence-based policy, it is here and now. That would be real moral leadership - voters respect that too.

My name is Kevin Rudd, and I’m just like John Howard

Mark Henderson, at The Australian Conservative blog, has the opposite view:

Kevin Rudd unwinds the Howard Government’s tough but highly successful measures against boat people and almost two thousand illegal immigrants find their way onto Australian territory.

… What a joke.

The “most hardline measures” involves nothing more than a phone call to the Indonesian president.

Rudd is not prepared to make the really hard decisions the Howard Government took, decisions that made it deeply unpopular with large sections of the media and the elite commentariat, but decisions that actually stopped the flow of illegal immigrants and stopped the tragic loss of life at sea.

Tough on illegals? Who’s he trying to kid?

Guy Beres’ presents his self-titled blog as: ‘Reflections on social democracy, economics, the media, and spin in an age of incorrigible cynicism’. In a lengthy and impassioned analysis of the issue he argues:

The Opposition seems desperately keen to contrast its own historical rhetoric on asylum seeker issues with the slightly softer, more humane approach being taken by the Rudd Government. Forgetting for a moment the rather ugly and sometimes disturbing human rights issues raised by the previous government’s mandatory and indefinite scheme of detention, the Opposition wants to remind us that they were “tough” on boatpeople when in government, and that Labor is “not so tough”. In concert with this mode of attack, every rickety boat that happens to depart Colombo or elsewhere on its way to Australia apparently represents a failure of Rudd Government policy in comparison with the Howard Government’s illustrious record.

The boatpeople furphy re-emerges

Incidentally a ‘furphy’ is an Australian term for a red herring or false report.

Meanwhile we haven’t heard the last of these Sri Lankan asylum seekers as they are on a hunger strike:

THE 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers staging a hunger strike last night remained defiant, insisting they would not leave their boat or even consume liquids, despite the blazing heat.

A young girl who made a plea for asylum on their behalf has been the subject of a personal attack:

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan high commissioner, Senaka Walgampaya, cast doubt on the account of a nine-year-old girl on the boat, Brindha, who made an emotional appeal for the Tamils to be helped. ”She is crying and weeping and said, ‘We were in the jungles for one month',” he said. ”But she is quite well nourished and she spoke very good English. She is not from Sri Lanka.”

Boat people shun fluids in stand-off

There are seemingly no innocents in this ongoing struggle. It is not an issue that will disappear soon as a visit the news website of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will attest. A click on the refugees tag brings up dozens of recent stories involving Australia.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change: Dust to dust

Source: Chris Button (Sydney Morning Herald 23 September 2009)

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

I’m staying in Queensland’s amazing Glass House Mountains this week. It is mid Spring. On Tuesday night we had spectacular lightning, a hailstorm and an electricity blackout. Yesterday bushfires were fanned by intense winds.

When we travelled through parts of Queensland in August, temperatures were up to 10° Celsius above the average for the end of winter. Wildfires raged as bushfire season came early to many parts of Australia.

More recently Sydney and then South East Queensland disappeared in clouds of dust as winds blew large quantities of the degraded inland’s topsoil out to sea.

Extreme temperatures and parched forests combined to bring tragedy to Victorians on Black Saturday last February.

Unseasonable weather? Definitely!
Climate change? Global warming from greenhouse gases? Who knows.

When do extended, seemingly endless droughts like the one in South Eastern Australia become permanent climate patterns? Drought, storms and floods are the Aussie climate currency.

But will she be right, mate?

Could the climate change sceptics be right in their disputes with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? Is this it all just a storm in a cliché?

Will the worst scenarios play out this century with the loss of national icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Park? Is extreme weather the unavoidable lasting legacy of the carbon economy if we don’t act decisively right now?

Both sides accuse the other of scare tactics? CC advocates present apocalyptic visions of rising sea levels, melting polar ice, escalating natural disasters.

Those who would do nothing make a virtue of their minority position within scientific opinion. Poor Science, cyclical changes, statistical glitches and blips are to blame, not human action. The globe is in fact cooling. The polar caps are expanding not shrinking. Carbon reduction through emissions trading schemes will ruin already fragile economies without achieving anything.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like an environmental argument at all. Rather, it has all the hallmarks of an ideological dogfight. Do scientists see different data if they peer into their scopes with left rather than right eye?

Ultimately we have to choose. To act or not to act. My money is on strong action to reduce greenhouse gases. The risk of inaction is too great if the sceptics are wrong. Doing nothing may be the most dangerous form of action. Omission is not always neutral.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle is the pessimism and cynicism that is growing as we feel increasingly helpless and impotent. Copenhagen is a chance to move forward. Once the hard decisions are made, we may be able to stop some of the worst damage. We may also create a political climate change that restores our sense of direction.

It’s time to open doors to innovative solutions that will forge a more livable world for both developed and developing nations.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Seniors Sex Saving

Our local Bayside Leader newspaper enjoys a good story about seniors and sex. In August 2008 they gave us Stairway to heaven: Brothel move to help elderly clients rejected

The latest is Age Sex Discount:

Saucy senior citizens can receive a generous discount at brothels this week.

As thousands celebrate Seniors Week, those who present their seniors discount card at some brothels and escort services can mark the occasion in an entirely different way.
Bayside Leader 6 October 2009

I couldn't find the story online but according to the hard copy "markdowns" of 50% were apparently on offer.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rethink Interview with Daniel Ellsberg

Jonathan Kim has interviewed Daniel Ellsberg about the upcoming documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

His post at the Huffington Post is worth a visit. There are several video clips from the interview such as Why Ellsberg calls the current Afghan war "Vietnamistan"

A primary source from a key player.

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Turnbull Discovers Reaganomics

When you are a besieged Opposition leader, launch a new policy. However, it didn't work for Simon Crean and it won't take the torch off Malcolm Turnbull this week.

Putting Reaganomics into practice was something that Ronald never quite managed himself. It sounds like the squirming trio at Turnbull's press conference today are going to try. Some not-so-original ideas were:

  • Stop waste and duplication in government spending
  • Reduce government spending as a percentage of GDP
  • Increase growth through spending on infrastructure, small business and innovation
  • Independent scrutiny of public finances
Presumably Joe Hockey and Helen Coonan will have to come up with some concrete proposals as there were none on the horizon this morning, just cheesy grins all round.

The new spending will, of course, replace the stimulus infrastructure package and other government programs for innovation and small business. Need to check the thesaurus for synonyms for 'stimulus'.

Malcolm's media release reads not only like a lift from Reagan's election manifesto but could be a cut and paste from Kevin Rudd's 2007 campaign launch.

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