Thursday, December 30, 2004

Secondhand

My sister and I are on holidays together.
She works for the Federal Government.
Her specialty is trauma counseling.
She was contacted via a recall list yesterday.
She is on standby.

The fact that this government is prepared to send her (and many like her) to assist the people affected by this human catastrophe impresses me. It shows compassion and understanding.

In these circumstances I don't think there can be a position of doing enough.
I don't think doing everything humanly possible can ever be enough. However, if needed, she says she will go.

Some events are just so humanly unfathomable that surviving them becomes a process of assuring safety and then just being with a person to help them get through to the next minute and the one after that and the one after that...


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

HoWARd not the go-to-guy that survivors had hoped for.

Yesterday Australian tsunami victims criticised the Federal Government, saying it failed to send additional flights or support to help hundreds of nationals stranded on the Thai island of Phuket.

"There was nothing from Australia. We were just left standing there."
"I just got the feeling if it wasn't something to do with terrorism and if (Prime Minister) John Howard couldn't get political mileage out of it, then why bother."


Update:
A Virgin Blue flight, donated by the company, flew out of Canberra last night with extra consular staff.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The lucky country

"The store had advertised that it would distribute "survival kits" to the first 500 shoppers who raided its post-Christmas stocktake sale. The kits were to contain a cut-price voucher such as a $50 fridge or a $5 DVD player, as well as complimentary sweets, bottled water and coffee. But obtaining a survival kit proved dangerous in itself yesterday, when an unexpectedly large crowd of 2000 swelled the store's twin entrances just before 7am"

"Early-bird shopper John Kokkinos, 46, who had been camped at the store's back entrance on the corner of George and Market Streets with his daughter and nephew since 4.30am, told of a "crush" followed by "panic"."
"However, the NSW Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Margy Osmond, said that Boxing Day sales crowds were generally "fairly buoyant but quite well controlled"."
still some 60,000 people have died as a result of the Tsunami and the number keeps rising...

Update: Relief agencies struggled to rush aid to more than 3 million people in Africa and Asia who lack food and medicine as the number of fatalities from the weekend's earthquake and tsunamis passed 80,000, with more than half the dead in Indonesia.

Photo: Agence France Presse
A NASA image released Tuesday shows the sequence of Sunday's tsunami, which caused the deadly tidal wave.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Anonymous donors project art

Earlier we learned that a work of art titled "Bush Monkeys" by Christopher Savido had been removed from public display because it did not favourably depict the President.

Now the art will be seen by potentially 400,000 people everyday.

"Animal Magazine, a quarterly arts publication which had organised the month-long show, said anonymous donors had paid for the picture to be posted on a giant digital billboard over the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, used by thousands of commuters traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey.

The original picture will be auctioned on eBay, with part of the proceeds donated to parents of US soldiers who wish to supply their sons and daughters with body armour in Iraq."


Image found at Photoshop Jesus

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Plastic; the raw material of Christmas

Everywhere I go there are all manner of visual displays from strangers wishing me a merry or happy or blessed Christmas. My area goes all out for the festive season.

I wonder if they know that the bulk of the Christmas decorations consumed by the west are made in factories staffed by predominantly Buddhist workers in China.

"Mr Cheng's turnover this year has doubled to $US6 million, but he says rising prices for plastic, the raw material of Christmas, along with increasing salaries, are cutting into profits.

I should start thinking about developing products for other Western festivals, like the Valentine's Day or Halloween."
Portly, grinning Lion Club Santas sit precariously atop buildings creating anxious images of "shopper squished by Santa" headlines.

Then there's the shopping-centre parking-rage.
Nobody cares about 'goodwill to mankind' there.
It's BMW eats Audi, the later model with the deepest tan always seems to win.

This year at work I respectfully declined the secret Santa ritual, suggesting a donation to a worthy cause instead.
Santa found me nonetheless.
Funny, I'm not generally known for being nice.



Monday, December 20, 2004

Amanda v. Andrew

Our Amanda is concerned that kids and teenagers could be learning from a Member of Parliament that a hungerstrike is an acceptable form of protest.

Three points Amanda
  1. Kids and teenagers don’t know or care who Andrew Bartlett is (sorry Andrew).
  2. In recent years the 40-hour famine which was directed at kids and teenagers is steadily loosing popularity (sorry Tim).
  3. Childhood obesity figures in this country tells us that if kids and teenagers want to protest they are going to use other methods (sorry kids).
Amanda!
Have the honest discussion about the conditions faced by asylum seekers at the Baxter Detention Centre.

Agree to make the changes recommended by so many.

Do that and I am sure that Andrew (and many others) will be big and fat again real soon.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Let's send Phil out...he hasn't had a big lie since October 2001.

I notice that the coalition has sent forth Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to give an air of believability to the terror warnings for Indonesia.

They can't expect us to believe HoWARd.

They can't expect has to believe Downer.

Now we are supposed to believe Ruddock?

"A number of people have jumped overboard and have had to be rescued. More disturbingly, a number of children have been thrown overboard.

I regard these as some of the most disturbing practices that I have come across during my time in public life, clearly planned and premeditated."
- Philip Ruddock, then Australian Immigration Minister, October 7, 2001.

Leaving home has always frightened the conservative and unadventurous.

Travel anywhere you desire.
The flowers in Ubud are beautiful this time of year...

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Look for me in the Lunesta queue

A new sleeping pill is being approved for sale that can be used for longer than 7-10 days.
Yay.
I can sleep my way through the next 1026 days of the Coalition government.

Our drongo in London

Firstly,

Sorry

England.

Yes it's true.
Richard "The public is as stupid as I am" Alston will be High Commissioner to London.

Simon Wright at Whirlpool rounds up our drongo's achievements whilst Communications Minister:
  1. Initially dismissing broadband as a gaming platform
  2. Calling a country-wide broadband rollout a "costly waste of time"
  3. Decreeing that consumers should be kept in the dark about their phone line
  4. Linking the takeup of broadband to pornography
  5. Allowing his department to spend $4,000,000 on a small and poorly developed website
Richard Alston is perhaps best known for his 43 points of complaints against the ABC's AM program in it's coverage of the War in Iraq.

Talking to the ABC AM show, Alexander Downer runs out of resume material for our drongo and naturally drifts into attack...
"He [Alston] certainly has a great deal...I mean obviously cabinet ministers all deal with diplomacy in significant ways in the age of globalisation. Secondly, Richard Alston from recollection was the president of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid some years ago. He has extraordinary experience.

But you know, the criticisms coming from the Labor Party say it's all about Mr Latham. He made it clear that he hated Liberals and was going to bring his children up to hate Liberals, so therefore anybody who is a Liberal is, according to Mr Latham's team, disqualified from serving this country.

I mean this is just a preposterous attack."
Alston in his time as communications Minister was renowned for his inability to grasp simple concepts, such as the "on" button. I am hopeful that technology will continue to befuddle our dick and we won't hear anything from him.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Abbott alone

Finally, the fact that an abortion is a health issue, has been realised and underlined by the medical profession who are best qualified to make that statement.

According to Dr. Katharine Betts, author of the new study, Attitudes to Abortion in Australia 1972-2003.
"Australians overwhelmingly support abortion rights, with new research showing that 81% believe a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion. Only 9% disagreed."
I am so proud of my fellow Australians and doubly so to see that we are not quite the US yet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Would you like Holy Toast with your first amendment Mr. President?

The United States of America.
The home of the Bill of Rights for some and not others.

The face of the President made up of marshland, reeds and chimpanzees on display with other works of art is deemed offensive possibly resulting in arrest and seizure of property.


Artwork by Christopher Savido

The face of the Virgin Mary appears on ten year old toast and it's bid, sell, profit. Absolutely no threat of being arrested for selling creative toast.


Toast by Diane Duyser

We are in a Coalition of the Willing with this country.
We are in a Free Trade Agreement with this country.
We are becoming more and more subsumed by the culture of this country.

I hope that I never have to feed my family by selling my creative art.
and
I hope that an image of Jesus appears say on the broad bean leaf lying in the mulch of my organic vegetable patch on Christmas day...


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Alexander Downer is a nobody

I'm with the US on this statement.

"The Bush Administration wants Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer to replace Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

Washington believes the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief is too soft on Iran's suspected nuclear program, the paper said, and is seeking candidates to replace him. Its top choice is Mr Downer, but he so far has been unwilling to challenge Mr ElBaradei.
Our original strategy was to get Alex Downer to throw his hat in the ring, but we couldn't. Anyone in politics will tell you that you can't beat somebody with nobody, but we're going to try to disprove that."
Update
"[...] the real question is how deeply Downer and the Howard Government have been involved in the White House's attempt to oust ElBaradei with an intelligence operation using US, British and Australian spying assets."
Anyone else very fearful that Iran will be the next country that the US has in its sights?

I'm thinking there's no more mileage in WMD's, the intelligent world is clear about the lie that was, but nuclear weapons will grab the attention of the people.

Sometime in the not too distant future...
President Bush Addresses the Nation
The Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT:
"My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iran, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger."


Images from Shirin Neshat, Women of Allah

Friday, December 10, 2004

Today is the 56th International Human Rights day

A new report produced by the Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) and the Women's Rights Action Network Australia (WRANA) titled OUR Rights, OUR Voices was released today to coincide with International Human Rights day.
The report is part of a national project which documents the human rights experiences of women across Australia. It highlights a winding back of women's structures in government at a time when violence and discrimination against women continue to escalate.

NCOSS deputy director Michelle Burrell is quoted as saying:
"[...]the report revealed a strong connection between violence, homelessness and poverty among women.

The failure to adequately prevent and respond to violence that occurs in institutional and other service settings is of particular concern to women with disabilities, indigenous women and women in prisons or juvenile justice systems.

Governments needed to provide more long-term support for women who were victims of violence. Until that is achieved, Australia will not comply with its International human rights obligations."
When I was at Uni I joined the Campus Feminist group called FLAPS (Feminists Laughing At Patriarchal Society).

Back then we thought that helping the sisterhood was as easy as meeting every week, sharing our experiences of being gorgeous and single, hearing about, or actually dating men who behaved with aggression and making a list of the serial offenders, and taping it to the back door of the last cubicle in the Ladies toilet in the Uni bar.

Our list included Men who we observed were:
  1. Predatory
  2. indulged in unwanted lewdness
  3. or unwanted groping
  4. were misogynists
  5. or made sexist remarks
  6. lied about being single
  7. or lied about their sexual health
We thought of ourselves as direct action grrrls that could save the world.
How naive we were.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Howard's Renaissance Man

We have always known of Tony "hallelujah" Abbott.
Last month he added Tony "morals" Abbott.
This month he is Tony "psychobabble" Abbott.
What's next for the Minister of Health?
I'm hoping for Tony "retirement can be productive growing peanuts" Abbott.

In defending the indefensible Calamity Dee-Anne, Abbott offered us this:
"What we have seen today is an understandably frustrated and disappointed Opposition lashing out, lashing out at a minister who has done no wrong. What we are seeing today is a classic case of displacement therapy. That's what the Opposition is engaging in.

They are displacing the frustration and the self hatred they understandably feel against various of their own members, particularly the Leader of the Opposition, they are displacing that onto the Minister for Veterans Affairs, a good minister who has done no wrong."
Update:
We can now add Tony "neoteny" Abbott to his list of epithets.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

This fits, does it come in my colour?

In an interview on ABC AM today Sue Gordon was asked :
"How do you respond to comments, that the National Indigenous council (NIC) is not representative of Aboriginal Australia because its members aren't elected by the Aboriginal community, but they're appointed by the Howard Government?
Sue answered with:
"But we're not supposed to be representative. We are there as individual Aboriginal people to give individual advice to the Minister.

So, having asked me that question, why haven't you asked that question of the two Dodson brothers, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Ross and a few others who are now wish...and Michael Long, who are wishing now to be an alternative advisory body to the Prime Minister?

They're self-appointed, they're not elected, they're not representative. So, perhaps you should ask them the question. I don't want to say any more on that."
Let's not be derailed by the lack of homogeneity among indigenous people.
Please.

In the House of Representatives National Two Party Preferred result it was shown that 5,536,002 Australians eligible to vote in October 2004, voted for the Australian Labor Party.

5,536,002 Australians didn't get exactly what they wanted.
Government was still formed.

Every Australian is free to send a letter, e-mail, message stick to the Prime Minister (or any elected official) and voice their opinion.

If we accept this then why can't NIC accept the same from Professor Mick Dodson, Professor Marcia Langton, and me and you for that matter?

The most balanced view comes from the Australian Democrats' Aden Ridgeway, the only Aborigine in Federal Parliament (only until June 2005).
"People should not feel threatened by different views. It is healthy to have debate, what is unhealthy is if nothing comes of it."

Sunday, December 05, 2004

More tinsel, and find me a Virgin.

Prime Minister Howard, not usually a fan of flambuoyance, wants more Christmas decorations on display and a return of the virgin in the Sydney CBD.

In response to Clover Moore's explanation of Sydney CBD's December street display
"[...]the approach is consistent with a multicultural, multi-faith Australia."
John Howard uttered this:
"Christmas is not only a religious festival, but it's also part of the history and the culture of this country. And the very idea that you win acceptance by denying your own identity is pathetic. It's always been at the heart of what I regard as the harmful aspects of multicultural zeal.

And can I say that I was very disappointed some years ago when a lot of the department stores began...abandoned nativity scenes."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Eight years later...

As I was watching Lateline on the ABC tonight I saw Pat Dodson who joined Michael Long (and Pat's brother Mick) in a meeting with the Prime Minister.

It reminded me of a meeting between two of the four men in May of 1996.

Having lived in the Top End for some time, I often had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Pat (and to a lesser degree Mick) through the NT Trades & Labor Council.

Most memorable was the emotional foreword Pat gave at The Inaugural Lingiari Lecture, delivered by Sir William Deane, (who was at the time) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia at the invitation of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in Darwin, on 22 August 1996 titled Some Signposts From Daguragu.

We had never before (or since) seen the Auditorium at the Northern Territory University (recently renamed Charles Darwin University) so overflowing with lovers of Lecture!

In a speech given at the National Press Club in Canberra on 28 November 1997, a few weeks before he was to finish his term as Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation after six years at the helm, Pat Dodson had this to say about the Howard Government:
"In recent times we have seen that commitment from the parliament on reconciliation weaken and dim. It was a multi-party commitment to which the Government is no longer committed. The Government is no longer demonstrating the leadership required.
The Government chooses not to act on the pragmatic and practical recommendations of the Council's social justice package, despite a major consultation process with the Australian community;

It chooses not to apologise to the Stolen Generations despite the example of State and Territory parliaments, major church groups, and many thousands of individual Australians.

And now it has chosen not to act on the heart-felt cries for justice and fair dealing in its response to the Wik decision."


Tonight, eight years later, Pat is still an imposing figure.
Still generous.
Still wise.
Still optimistic.



Shame we can't say the same for John HoWARd.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Keelty, frank and fearless...again

I predict that Mick Keelty must be ready to retire. Otherwise he would not have made such a bold and frank statement, again.

Last March after Mick's little outburst of truth, Alexander Downer and John HoWARd went halves and bought him Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words.
Mick is using it,
  1. to prop open the back door
  2. has read it and is claiming back language with meaning
I'm going with option b.
I can just see Mick quoting Don's sentiment saying:

"Weasel words are the words of the powerful, the treacherous and the unfaithful, spies, assassins and thieves. Bureaucrats and ideologues love them. Tyrants cannot do without them. The Newspeak of Orwell's 1984 is an invention, but also a satire on real states such as the Soviet Union where death from starvation and abuse in slave camps was recorded by officials as "failure of the heart muscle". Were any five words ever more melancholy than this?

Politicians readily convince themselves that weaseling is no less essential in their affairs. When certain remarks by Richard Nixon turned out to have been untrue, his minders described them as inoperative. John Howard and his ministers chose words that persuaded the public to believe that the refugees on a sinking boat had thrown their children into the sea, and that the Government was right, therefore, to stop them landing in Australia. These people seeking asylum in Australia were not the sort of people Australians wanted in this country.

It is possible that only weasel words could put Howard and his ministers beyond the reach of their better feelings and give them up to bastardry. More direct and pungent language might have made the lie unbearable. This is not to assume that there were better angels in their nature to be found, but to remind us that this language anaesthetises both the users and the used. It poisons politics: the politicians, the media, the public service and the voters.

At a recent Senate hearing into that incident, a senior public servant was asked if the Prime Minister or his staff had indicated to her the importance and significance of her evidence: had they, in other words, leaned on her? She replied, I do not recall that being particularly the case."
I really hate the way the Prime Minister is often portrayed as a kindly, benign senior citizen...he's not.

He behaves just like a schoolyard bully.