Thursday, January 29, 2009

Watching the INTRADE World Crisis Index

INTRADE are following the global financial crisis. Although this is not meant to be a free ad, 'Intrade, is The Prediction Market where you can buy and sell "shares" in financial, political, weather and other important subjects'.

Their latest email from John Delany on 28 January claims:

The Intrade World Crisis Index will tell us whether the Davos World Economic Forum Matters!

A higher post meeting index means our markets predict a more disastrous 2009 than before. A lower post-meeting index means our markets predict global leaders have reduced the probability that 2009 will be the disaster we previously thought.

We hope the global leaders convince our traders that 2009 will not be as bad as previously thought. We hope to see the index react to the keynote addresses.

You can also bet on the Academy Awards. Slumdog Millionaire is currently at 77.5 for Best Picture. You'll have to visit their website for an explanation of the betting system.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Australia Day brings on a stoush

A cross post with Global Voices:

It isn’t a quiz answer from the film Slumdog Millionaire but January 26 is one of India’s national days celebrating independence from colonial Britain. It is also Australia Day. The difference is that our day is the anniversary of European occupation in 1788, known by many as invasion day.

An online debate about the appropriateness of this date was already simmering before indigenous leader Mick Dobson was named Australian of the Year on 25 January 2009. The old left position was captured by John at En Passant:

Australia Day perpetuates our founding myths and enslaves our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. In the spirit of true reconciliation let’s abolish this celebration of genocide. Let’s instead celebrate the 65000 years of indigenous history and their stewardship of this land. And pay the rent.
Australia Day -a celebration of genocide
Harry Clarke, on his self-titled blog, aired his strong opposition to a change:
Australia day is viewed by certain backward aboriginal groups as Invasion Day – they want the date changed – (that would improve things?) presumably to a ‘year zero’ – but how do you date the Dreamtime? Well I have no idea but who should care about such myths anyway? Attempting to change the date would be a move by the Rudd Government I would favour - they would then be thrown out of office. Go on Kevin try to change that date! Aboriginal Australians would not have been better off living under Indonesian or Chinese control and enjoy better living conditions and prospects as a consequence of the advent of white settlement. Aboriginals need to make a go of it. Many are.
Australia Day
Jack the Insider, who blogs anonymously for News Corporation, sought a middle position, arguing for two national days:
26th January is not a day of celebration for indigenous Australians, many of whom prefer to refer to that space on the calendar as Invasion Day. The reality is that the men and women of the First Fleet, under Governor Phillip’s orders, sought empathy and understanding with the natives they encountered there: the Eora people. The degradation and brutality would occur later.
Australia Day - why not have two?
There are very few indigenous Australian bloggers who comment on politics regularly. One site is Whenua Fenua Enua Vanua, ‘revolutionary anti-colonilaism & anti-capitalism in the Pacific’. Ana posted a YouTube song Invader Captain Cook by Angus Rabbit:

Her post includes a reprise of an earlier article ‘Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and smallpox’ by John Tracey. It alleges a policy of deliberate infection of aborigines in the early years of white settlement. There is no shortage of alleged “wild conspiracy stories”, to use John's words, about colonial Australia's treatment of indigenous people.

Mick Dobson’s call for a national conversation about Australia day and its timing has brought the kind of swift blogger reaction that usually accompanies all indigenous controversies.

A less than subtle response came from a blog that states clearly on its banner: “If you can read this page, thank a Teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a Soldier” :
I don’t care that Pat is black but I do care that he puts the colour of his skin before his nationality.

We’re all Australians mate, and the vast majority of us are very happy with the date of Australia Day. Amongst other things it marks the day your race started coming out of the stone age and if you don’t see that as a positive then go back to the Simpson Desert and revert to eating goannas - in another million years or so you might even invent the bow and arrow and become more proficient at hunting.

If you blanche at that thought, then get back to the job at hand of lifting the quality of life of your people. It must include getting rid of the poor bugger me mentality and joining mainstream Australia. Agitate to get your people out of the outstations and into the towns and cities where the schools, medical centres and jobs can be found.
Australia Day
At Public Polity, Sam Clifford argues for a date that will celebrate both reconciliation and a new Australian republic:
... it needs to be the date of the adoption of a new constitution which has been updated to reflect the Australia in which we live, the Australia which has been before us and the Australia we can be together. We need a treaty with the indigenous nations (all of them negotiated individually) and a recognition that it is the people of Australia who are sovereign over themselves.
Should we move Australia Day?
This would certainly be in line with India where January 26 officially celebrates their becoming a Republic.

Former Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett has a similar perspective:
But it is not only Indigenous Australians who feel that 26th January is not the best day to celebrate our unity as a nation, as Ron Barassi’s views make clear. Many of the millions of Australians who are not of British heritage are also likely to find another day more meaningful. Plenty of other people who, like me, have some British ancestry, also feel the same.

Nor are those concerns limited to what 26th January symbolises when it comes to the dispossession, killing and discrimination endured by Indigenous Australians which flowed from the date in 1788.
The debate on changing Australia Day
Ron Barassi is an Australian Rules football legend, as player and coach, who has Swiss Italian ancestry.

Post Script: 13,000 people from 120 countries became Australian citizens at ceremonies around the nation on 26 January 2009.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

'Australia': somewhere over the rainbow

Australia - Official Movie Trailer

It seemed fitting to see Baz Luhrmann’s movie Australia on the Australia Day long weekend. The opening credits tell us that it's about the stolen generations, an aboriginal story set against a backdrop of cattle empires, love and war. It has been promoted as an old style blockbuster and its sheer length and star cast put it in that territory.

It is more adventure and romance than historical epic. A Western in northern Australia. The Man from Snowy River meets Wagon Train with a touch of Gone with the Wind and High Noon. Nicole Kidman (any relation to the real-life cattle baron?) as Lady Sarah Ashley has the icy, priggish edge of Grace Kelly. The bombing of Darwin owes a lot to the burning of Atlanta. Hugh Jackman as Drover combines Henry Fonda's outsider with John Wayne's brawler.

Perhaps it should have been a musical as it relies for much of its thematic development on The Wizard of Oz. Baz isn’t afraid of this pun or many others. We even have Somewhere Over The Rainbow evoking the rainbow serpent of the aboriginal dreaming. The tune is used more often than Waltzing Matilda during the story. Nullah (Brandon Walters) is the film’s own Dorothy. He follows his quest, firstly droving a stock route and finally embarking on a journey to his grandfather’s country for initiation ceremonies. He even watches Judy Garland at an outdoor cinema in Darwin.

If you're looking for a geography lesson, forget it. The country is all over the place. 'Far Away Downs' isn't 'Victoria River Downs'. It is strangely located near the 'Never Never', an unlikely desert in Top End Oz. Nevertheless, the landscapes are extraordinary, featuring the best of the Kimberley and other northern locations. The spectacular views of ancient escarpments and national icons, such as the Mitchell falls and the Bungle Bungle, are themselves worth the ticket price.

If this is an historical romance, forget the history lesson. Darwin is a visual treat with all the splendour of Moulin Rouge. It displays Baz's knack for bold, stylised, over-designed sets.

The bombing of Darwin in February 1942 has little to do with reality. The Hotel Darwin, which survived the bombing only to be demolished in 1999, is nowhere to be seen. There is no reference to the mass desertion by troops and little mention of looting. The Japanese troops on Mission Island are pure fiction.

The indigenous history is politically correct and has only a small number of annoying anomalies and inaccuracies. David Gulpilil as King George represents aboriginal culture before European occupation. He dominates the film as always, though the narration is left to young Brandon. Gulpilil's witch doctor mirrors the Wizard of Oz. The young mixed-race boy Nullah foreshadows the future for many Arnhem Land people, living in two cultures, clinging to their dreaming and identity in a world dominated by white bosses.

Luhrmann or one of his writing team is obviously a fan of Xavier Herbert. Much of the plot and theme draws on his novels. Lady Sarah's horse is Capricornia and the grog is Poor Fella Rum. Poor Fellow My Country is one of the longest novels in the English language so an analysis of similarities would be tiresome. Herbert has a credit.

The cast includes a Who’s-Who of Australian actors. Hugh Jackman is thoroughly PC, a 21st Century Gary Cooper, taking both an aborigine and a woman into the local hotel’s public bar. He breaks traditions that would last till the late 1960s in both cases. Hugh is no Clark Gable and his romance with Nicole lacks the fire or the depth of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara’s passionate clash.

Jack Thompson’s performance as a good-hearted drunk is mercifully short. David Wenham makes an excellent villain with all the requisite longstanding resentments. Bryan Brown is typecast as the tough, ruthless cattle king with a latent conscience.

Of the other indigenous actors, Ursula Yovich as Nullah's mother Daisy and David Ngoombujarra as Magarri give the strongest performances. Their characters' heroic self-sacrifices are high and low points of the storytelling.

Australia is a story about aboriginal dispossession and forced assimilation. However, this is not a political history. Its “truths” are simple and much disputed by commentators who attack the “black armband” view of history. Usually without any sense of irony!

We enjoyed the film for what it really offers: a sentimental journey. This is Jedda with a happy ending that is never in doubt.

cinematakes1 More film reviews at Cinema Takes

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Slumdog: a local Mumbai perspective

For a local Indian perspective on the latest cinema hit and Oscar nominee, visit: Video: Slumdog Millionaire and the Indian Slums

Global Voices introduces Ruchika Muchhala, who writes in the Channel 19 blog and her recent post about Slumdog Millionaire.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: lightweight lifestyle

When passing through Lisbon in 1980 I watched a Woody Allen double feature: Manhattan and Annie Hall. They were English language with Portuguese sub-titles. It was a packed crowd of mainly locals. My frequent loud laughs led the chorus, with the locals following about a second later as they read the jokes. Sometimes Woody's unique humour was lost in translation leaving just a few of us chortling away.

I had a similar experience in Boston later that year during Flying High (Airplane in the USA). A large Saturday night audience didn't respond to some of the jokes poking fun at American culture. I must have been the only Aussie in the theatre. My laughter certainly stood out in the Massachusetts crowd.

The same couldn't have happened with Allen's latest film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It was a very disappointing film for old Woody fans. Lightweight lifestyle. Nevertheless, the three people with me enjoyed it as did a number of the audience judging by some of the belly laughs.

Javier Bardem as the rakish painter, Juan Antonio Gonzalo, just wasn't degenerate enough. His roles since his academy award winning performance in No Country for Old Men have been very soft. Brunette Rebecca Hall was the best of the cast as Vicky, the girl next door with the requisite freckles. Blonde Scarlett Johansson was typecast as the adventurous Cristina. You don't have to guess which one had the playboy figure.

The narration by Christopher Evan Welch seemed completely unnecessary, adding nothing to our understanding of the plot or the issues raised. Perhaps that had a lot to do with the movie's total lack of depth in exploring contemporary society. As social satire it was neither funny, scathing nor challenging.

The music was catchy but used too predictably, very fitting to a romantic comedy.

Loved the exterior scenes of Barcelona and Oviedo. The sharp photography made for a visual pleasure. In contrast Whit Stillman's 1994 Barcelona had that and much more. It is a much better film, being both comic and incisive. Typical is this exchange:

Fred: Maybe you can clarify something for me. Since I've been, you know, waiting for the fleet to show up, I've read a lot, and...
Ted: Really?
Fred: And one of the things that keeps popping up is this about "subtext." Plays, novels, songs - they all have a "subtext," which I take to mean a hidden message or import of some kind. So subtext we know. But what do you call the message or meaning that's right there on the surface, completely open and obvious? They never talk about that. What do you call what's above the subtext?
Woody Allen was once the sub-text king. Now we have to settle for the open and obvious. His films have always been better when he starred in them. You could hear his voice repeatedly from the main characters.

IMBd’s quotes memorable quotes might explain the dialogue’s shortcomings:
Juan Antonio: Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic.
[repeated line]
Juan Antonio: Speak English!
Cristina: I'll go to your room, but you'll have to seduce me.
Juan Antonio: We are meant for each other and not meant for each other. It's a contradiction.
Maria Elena: You're still searching for me in every woman.
Juan Antonio: That is not true, Maria Elena. I was in Oviedo some weeks ago with a woman who was the antithesis of you. An American, and something beautiful happened with her. So you're mistaken.
Maria Elena: You'll always seek to duplicate what we had. You know it.
Even the sex scenes with the ménage à trois were boring, made-for-television stuff. Penelope Cruz as Maria Elena, the ex-wife with Latin hot-temper, was unconvincing but she had little to work with.

Many cinema goers will enjoy Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It is quality light entertainment but heavily forgettable.

cinematakes1 More film reviews at Cinema Takes

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The best of Voices without Votes

Voices without Votes is winding up with a roundup of some of the best posts from around the world during the last year:

Less than one year ago, Voices without Votes was created to offer a voice of those who couldn't vote in the U.S. presidential election to those who could. Our exciting journey has reached its final destination with Barack Obama's inauguration today. However, before we say “goodbye,” our authors have chosen their top posts (in a time-line order) of the most memorable, prolific or simply silly moments from the election.
The link: The best of VwV and the presidential campaign

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Bush's mate Howard back in Washington

A cross post with Voices without Votes:

The upcoming inauguration has taken an Aussie turn. Barack Obama's displacement from Blair House was caused by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard who is to receive the US Medal of Freedom from his mate George W. Bush.

U.S. bloggers were outraged apparently. Australian bloggers were just as vocal.

For more.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Global Voices: the latest from Gaza

Global Voices is bringing the latest from the blogosphere about the situation in Gaza.

Today from Jillian York:

At approximately 6:00 p.m. (GMT+2), Al Jazeera English reported that a UN school was hit when two tank shells exploded outside of the school. The school, located in Jabaliya, had been set up days ago as a shelter for Gaza residents who had lost or evacuated their homes. According to Al Jazeera English, more than 40 people were killed. On Al Jazeera English's television station (accessible globally via, it was reported that the IDF had been given GPS coordinates to all UN schools.

The Philistine reported quickly on the incident:
Medical officials say the death toll from an Israeli airstrike outside a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip has risen to 30.

The attack occurred about 10 yards (meters) outside the school in northern Gaza. It was the second deadly Israeli attack to strike a UN school in the past few hours.

Hospital director Bassam Abu Warda confirmed the 30 deaths from the second airstrike.

In both cases, the schools had been used as shelters for people displaced by Israel’s offensive.

A top U.N. humanitarian official has condemned the violence and demanded an investigation.

Israel isn’t commenting.
Palestine: UN School Hit By Israeli Shells; More than 40 Killed
For ongoing reports click Palestine.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: It is written

The first two thirds of this film are enthralling. The lives of three Muslim Mumbai orphans are both stirring and disturbing. Slumdog Millionaire follows the brothers Jamal and Salim, and their friend Latika, a girl of their age, as they struggle to survive amongst absolute poverty and cruel exploitation.

The violent interrogation of the adult Jamal reveals the key episodes of their story. Echoes of recent torture in Iraq and other places confront us. He tells the police how a tea boy has been able to answer all the questions on the television quiz showWho Wants To be A Millionaire. His seemingly indestructible will is explained as his life experiences unfold. They are survivors of the worst abuses of the slums and the darkest aspects of modern Indian life. Ironically Jamal’s own philosophy reflects the Indian national motto: Truth Alone Triumphs.

The early pace is very racy as befits street kids on the run. Director Danny Boyle mixes pathos and comedy as he creates screen characters who capture the audience completely.

Three actors play each of the key roles, as young children, teenagers and adults. As you might expect the child actors steal the film. Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as the youngest Jamal stands out. Dev Patel as the adult Jamal is a bit too normal and too naïve. Freida Pinto as the adult Latika is simply too beautiful. Madhur Mittal as the adult Salim is too slick.

The male antagonists are impressive if stereotyped. The thin police inspector (Irrfan Khan) and his rotund sergeant (Saurabh Shukla) are physical but fair. Mumbai’s Fagan, Maman (Ankur Vikal),is suitably heartless. The game show host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) mixes charm and sarcasm with ease. Javed (Mahesh Manjrekar) is repulsive as the pathological godfather.

The cimematography creates a slum world that is beautiful and touching in its reality and a top-end-of-town that repels with its shine.

Ultimately this is a romance . Perhaps even a fantasy as the hero follows his quest to free the imprisoned maiden. It’s also a gangster film and it is this element that spoils the latter part to some extent. Add game show and elements of reality television and we have a thoroughly modern fairy tale.

The concluding third of the film is disappointing as it moves towards its predictable Hollywood/Bollywood ending. If the first part strives for the social realism of Boyle’s classic Trainspotting, the climax could be Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Rockn Rolla. Perhaps even In Bruges. Nevertheless, you can’t help but be sucked in as the suspense builds. As one patron quipped as he left the theatre, “That’s the most enjoyable film I’ve seen in years!” I was smiling but felt just a little cheated.

Slumdog Millionaire is a strong contender for best foreign film, especially at the populist end of the voting. I’m still torn between Lemon Tree and Waltz with Bashir.

cinematakes1 More film reviews at Cinema Takes

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Australia: Locals divided over Gaza

Cross-post at Global Voices:

Australian blogs are dominated by disagreements about the situation in Gaza. The stances taken by Australian politicians have also been attacked by several bloggers.

There were 425 comments on Larvatus Prodeo’s first thread that argued that:

Any form of peaceful resolution to the conflicts in Palestine and Israel has been blocked for a long time by a range of factors - including but not limited to internal Israeli politics and the decomposition of its party system, the legacy of past atrocities, an effective economic blockade of Palestine, the power balance in the Middle East and the hypocritical and empty promises of the Bush administration. If there is a “peace process”, its outlines were frozen in time long ago. Unfortunately, I think it’s probably too much to hope for that there’ll be any sort of progress under the Obama administration, particularly with Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Eyeless in Gaza
So they’ve continued the discourse on a new thread, Eyeless in Gaza II. A comment on the original thread from Paul Burns (421) is typical of many people’s frustration with both sides:
I don’t agree with Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians. (Israel can kill as many Hamas militants as it likes, and Hamas can kill as many Israeli soldiers as it likes - that’s what happens to soldiers, and let’s face it, on both sides, whatever else they are, they’re varieties of a defence/offence force.)
What gets to me is the indiscriminate bombing of women and children, of mosques, (you’re not supposed to bomb places of worship - I know people don’t take much notice of it in modern warfare, but among other things places of worship are places of sanctuary for civilians as well as places of prayer.)
Its all very cliched, but the end result of all this is going to be that neither side wins, and we’re going to have a lot of traumatized kids, in whom the mutual hate will just live on.
There’s little point for me in debating the rights and wrongs of this - both sides are wrong, the Israelis infinitely more so because of their use of disproportionate force, and, at the risk of sounding really boring, their use of collective punishment on the Gazans as a whole.
Somehow the whole damn thing just has to stop for good.
I know the above is very simplistic, and probably doesn’t take account of the infinite permutations of Israeli and Palestinian politics, but really, surely that is what has to happen.
The Orstrahyun presented a series of photos of child victims of the bombing. He questioned the Australian government’s support for Israel’s actions:
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was too busy over the weekend to explain how he feels about an Australian ally using indiscriminate terrorism to collectively punish the Palestinian people in Gaza, for the actions of their democratically elected government. Terror attacks that have killed more than 400 people, including at least 80 children, wounding thousands more in nine days.

Australia All But Silent On Ally Terror Attacks Killing 80 Children
Harry Clarke’s self-titled blog took a very different tack:
The response of the media and mealy-mouthed politicians has been predictable. On the one hand a section of the media, backed up by supporters of terrorism around the world, has been to attack the immorality of the Israeli attack often without mention of the past and continuing bombardment of Israel by missiles from Hamas. This is one-eyed hypocrisy given the avowed intent of Hamas to wipe-out Israel.

Mealy-mouthed politicians (including our own Julia Gillard and the toothless UN - this is particularly disgraceful) have participated widely in these forms of hypocrisy as well as by launching the standard response that both sides should stop the conflict, kiss and go home.

Israel launches ground attack into Gaza
This earned him the displeasure of Slim at The Dog’s Bollocks:
I’m always amazed at how polarised people’s opinions are when it comes to Israel - how generally reasoned and moderate commentators can be so single-mindedly supportive of Israel, despite the appalling anti-humanitarian conditions it imposes on the Palestinians and the numerous floutings of conditions imposed by the UN – as though Israel can do no wrong.

Why the taboo on criticising Israel?
At do not adjust your mind, Zac Spitzer also attacked local politicians as well as Barack Obama:
Obama needs to rebuke Israel (and it's use of the current Administration flawed spin), which is difficult and obviously given that Bush is almost out of the White House, unfortunate timing, but many, many lives are being lost.

Shame on Israel, I can really understand their situation, having rockets landing everyday in their towns is an outrage, unfortunately, they have overstepped the mark completely and now have lost most of their credibility with their actions in Gaza.

Kevin Rudd has been MIA on this as well, the Federal Opposition is going to have it's hand tied somewhat having Helen Coonan as the Shadow Foreign Affairs, given her seat lies in the heart of Melbourne's Jewish Community.

Israel and it's WMD Style spin on Gaza, Obama MIA
It’s interesting to note that the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Deputy PM Julia Gillard are seen as having different views on the conflict in Gaza.

So does the general populace. Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protests were held over the weekend. Joni from Blogocrats attended one and took his video camera along:

Gaza Protest
The rally went past the Egyptian Consulate where chants against Mubarak were heard. So everyone realises that it is not just the Israelis that need to act - the Egyptians also need to act.

Of course, there was the (somewhat) militant fringe to the protest, but overall it was a peaceful protest - where the chants stayed polite, if passionate. The organisers tried to keep the protest to being one of respect and to be in support of the people of Gaza. I estimated that there was a couple of thousand people in attendance.

Protest for Palestine (Sydney)

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Following Gaza from Afar

Cross-post at Global Voices:

Though Gaza is a long way from Australia, there have been many reactions to the catastrophe unfolding there. Many Australians have been using their blogs to post links that help to provide both information and analysis of what’s happening that is not always covered in the mainstream media.

Planet IRF has been posting AlJazeeraEnglish videos. He re-titled 'Sderot residents live on the edge 30 Dec 08' as Sympathy for victims…

They are presented without comment. The Al Jazera summary on YouTube is:

Israel insists that as long as Hamas rockets keep falling on the southern part of the country, it must continue striking Gaza.
And as Hoda Abdel Hamid reports, residents in Sderot - which lies near the Gaza border - say they support those attacks, even if it means taking civilian lives.

'US military aid underpins Gaza offensive - 31 Dec 08' is The constant flow of terror funds ...

The Al Jazera summary:
Israel receives billions of dollars in military aid from the US each year, much of it spent on American weaponry which US law says must only be used in self-defence.

But experts say there is little chance of cuts in aid to Israel despite its military operation in Gaza.

Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports.

Ana blogs at Whenua Fenua Enua Vanua, (Revolutionary Anti Colonialism & Anti Capitalism in the Pacific). As well as linking to Al Jazeera, she has included a lengthy piece from Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah. He took up the growing pessimism that anything can be done to improve the situation:
On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at Israel's renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring justice.

But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?

Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it."

The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine ( provides the framework for this. Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.
Free Palestine

Antony Loewenstein, well known blogger and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution. His mix of anti-zionism and jewish background have made him a controversial voice in Australia. He frequently posts items from a wide range of sources such as this one from Ynet News, the online Israeli news service:
Dozens of Israelis received text messages from Hamas Thursday morning, stammeringly warning them that the offensive in Gaza will only bring about massive rocket fire on Israel.

The message read: “Rockets on all cities, shelters not protect, Qassam rocket, Hamas.” A source in Hamas military wing confirmed the new tactic, adding that Hamas wants to warn the Israeli public against a future escalation in Gaza. Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) Spokesman Abu Abir said that the Palestinian organizations have a few surprises in store for the Israelis, and not just military-wise.

From rockets to texting
The latest post points to a new source of citizen journalism in Israel:
Israeli human rights group have launched a blog to document the abuses during the current violence in Gaza.

Bypassing the old timers
This group’s purpose:
In light of the fighting in Gaza and in Southern Israel, Israeli human rights groups are sending out ongoing updates about the impact on civilians. Our aim is to inform the Israeli public of events that are not being covered by the media. Each group is posting the information at its disposal, which is necessarily limited and cannot be taken as a comprehensive picture of the human rights violations currently taking place. Since the fieldworkers cannot access most locations at present, much of the information is being conveyed over the phone. The data has been verified to our best ability under the circumstances.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

World's biggest carbon ski-print

While we were enjoying the fireworks at Lorne on New Year's Eve, another dinner guest told us about her recent visit to Dubai. When I naively asked why people seem to be flocking there she showed me a photo very similar to the one above. Another suggestion was that some Saudis visit because it is much less socially restrictive than back home.

Wary of stereotypes I much preferred the Disneyland Aspen in the desert Ski Dubai Resort explanation. It just makes sense to build 5 Star hotels, shopping malls and ski slopes in this arid land.

Is this our carbon future?

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