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

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 23, 2009

350: The only way forward is down

Tomorrow, 24 October 2009, is:


For more visit:

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

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.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spreading indigenous knowledge

John Liebhardt has kicked off a Global Voices special topic on The Future of ICT for Development:

At first glance, the relationship between indigenous knowledge and the Internet seems fraught. Indigenous knowledge provides a distinct set of beliefs, practices and representations avidly tied to place; the internet lauds itself for erasing boundaries and borders.

On one hand, the traditions encapsulated in indigenous knowledge are culturally unique, using local understanding to solve local problems. This makes it an important component in the fields of ecology, education, agriculture and health security. On the other hand, the internet is lauded for spreading information to help people, but it is also a bazaar, tilted towards large corporations and the economies of scale:, Google, Microsoft, PayPal. Indigenous knowledge has certain spiritual and ceremonial components; the internet is largely agnostic, and makes a good deal of money peddling pornography.
ICTs and the spread of indigenous knowledge
GV author Aparna Ray is also seeking input:
As part of our special coverage *The future of ICT for development*, I am
working on a post, the theme of which is "role of ICT in protecting native/local knowledge". If any of you have any interesting conversation threads/ links from the blogosphere in your radar, please do send them my way or even if you feel that there is something I definitely need to cover in such an article, please let me know. All inputs are most welcome :-)
You can send any thoughts to Aparna through her link at GV or leave them on comments here.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 2, 2009

Climate Change: Have your say for Copenhagen

Every time I grow weary with ALP equivocation on climate change, I tune in to what the National Party are saying about global warming and Australia's proposed Emissions Trading Scheme. Terms like bush-populism, scare mongering, truth challenged, lowest common denominator, dumbed down, heads in the disappearing top soil and other emotive responses come to mind.

Since I've been trying to give up negative attacks and sarcasm, I thought I'd offer another Climate Change website for the blogosphere from Think About It:

TH!NK2 Climate Change is a 3 month blogging competition with a focus on UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) in December 2009. Some 90 bloggers from 43 countries, including all 27 EU Member states, India, China, Brazil and the USA, the world's biggest players in climate policy, will come together on the European Journalism Centre's platform, to exchange ideas and debate the issues of climate change.

Participants are encouraged to report about stories in their own back yards; to bring out the local side of a global issue. The aim is to create a portal into the lives of the TH!NKers, to show how each one experiences the effects of Climate Change policies every day.
You don't have to be European to join the community. Just register at TH!NK ABOUT IT

Sphere: Related Content
Back to Top