Thursday, August 27, 2015

The politics of climate change: towards the Paris climate conference 2015

The Politics of Climate Change - towards the Paris Climate Change Conference 2015

Did you miss Tuesday night's CityTalk? Watch the video now.

Connie Hedegaard, former European Commissioner for Climate Action, reignited a national conversation between Australia’s political leaders on key climate change targets, and Australia’s role in addressing them.

Panel speakers included:

Connie Hedegaard former EU Commissioner for Climate Action
Mark Butler MP Shadow Minister for the Environment
Senator Larissa Waters Co-Deputy Leader, Australian Greens
Dr John Hewson AM former Leader of the Liberal Party Australia

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nauru rapes: ‘There is a war on women’

Martin McKenzie-Murray The Saturday Paper August 22, 2015
One woman lies catatonic in hospital after being raped and beaten. Another was raped and immolated. This is the world awaiting refugees released from detention on Nauru.

Supplied. Nazanin, an asylum seeker who was raped and beaten on Nauru.
They say God never gives you anything you can’t handle, but Dabal is not so sure. When I call him, he’s just returning from the Nauruan hospital where his 23-year-old sister lies catatonic, entering her second week being sustained only by nutrients pumped intravenously into her. Her kidneys are shutting down; her body has shrunk.
In May, Nazanin left the Nauru refugee camp one morning on a day pass, happy to be visiting some friends who had been settled on the island – she and her family had been in detention for 26 months. ‘She used a bus, and I called a friend and he said she was there,’ Dabal tells me. ‘My sister was happy to leave this camp for a day.’
She never returned. At 6 o’clock that evening, Dabal and his mother reported her absence to security guards. Something wasn’t right. In response, the guards floated theories of missed buses or an innocent loss of time, benign explanations for what the family felt was a sinister disappearance. By 7pm, several hours past Nazanin’s curfew, the camp authorities began to wonder, too. ‘They realise it was bigger than the things they thought,’ Dabal says.
Dabal joined two security guards as they drove to Nazanin’s friends’ house. The friends confirmed she had been there, but that she had left some time earlier to return to the camp before curfew. At this point, no one knew where she was. Dabal felt sick. This wasn’t like his sister……………
To this day, no convictions have been recorded for assaults on refugees.
Police found Nazanin naked, bruised and disoriented, about 9pm that night. She was alive, but badly beaten and numb with trauma. She couldn’t speak much……..
Much of the reporting of Nauru focuses on the camps, or regional processing centres. But there is another reality lived outside it, once refugees are settled. For many months now, hostility towards refugees has grown among Nauruans……….
Refugee women say the local men know where the vulnerable ones live, and speak about the ‘50 dollar man’ – a man who serially molests women in their homes, then drops a $50 note on them afterwards. ‘There is a war on women there,’ a source tells me……….
In Australia, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and the minister’s office, did not respond to detailed questions about the sexual assaults reported in this piece and conditions on Nauru for settled refugees…………..

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Gratuitous Mass Murder

Stephen Lendman CounterPunch August 7, 2015
The atomic age began on August 6, 1945 in real time – after its July 16 pre-dawn open-air birth in successful Alamogordo, NM testing.
At the time, perhaps prophetically General Thomas Farrell said ‘(w)e were reaching into the unknown, and we did not know what might come of it.’………..
At least 200,000 died, many others scarred for life, future generations to this day harmed by radiologically caused birth defects and other serious health problems.
Big Lies still claim bombing both cities hastened war’s end and saved many lives. Truman informed the public deceitfully saying bombing Hiroshima ‘destroyed its usefulness to the enemy.’
………Nuclear bombing both cities were two of numerous American genocides – beginning with a conquering the new world from sea to shining sea, ravaging and destroying one country after another ever since, endless wars of aggression continuing today.
Japan was defeated ready to surrender when Truman authorized testing America’s new toy in real time – twice, not once. Not to win a war already won. To show Soviet Russia America’s new might, what its leadership already knew, what might follow against its cities if Washington decided to attack its wartime ally.
US leaders always considered human lives expendable. Many thousands of Japanese victims were considered a small price to pay.
Terror bombing is an international high crime………
On February 24, 1945, Japan wanted surrender, asking only to retain its emperor. Roosevelt wanted war continued. So did Truman after his April 1945 death.
The late Howard Zinn said ‘(t)he bombing of Hiroshima remains sacred to the American Establishment and to a very large part of the population in this country.’
It’s been falsely portrayed as an expeditious way to end war and save lives – a myth believed to this day by most Americans, ignoring appalling gratuitous mass murder by any standard…………..
Read more

Sunday, August 9, 2015

If black lives really matter in Australia, it's time we owned up to our history

Jeff Sparrow The Guardian August 7, 2015
Australia’s frontier had cruelty to rival the US south.
‘White Australians might think nothing of being called an ‘ape’. But Goodes’ response to the taunt arises from a history that shares far more with the US south than we’d like to think.’
In the US, the Black Lives Matter campaign is forcing a long-overdue reckoning with that country’s history, with (in the wake of the Charleston massacre, in particular), activists launching a new conversation about the Civil War iconography that litters much of the South……….
…….in his new book Australian Confederates, journalist Terry Smyth draws out some fascinating connections between Australia and the American South.
Smyth focuses, in particular, on the 42 Australians who, in 1865, secretly enlisted to fight for the slave-owning states when the Confederate ship Shenandoah docked in Port Phillip Bay. In passing, however, he acknowledges the broader significance of the Civil War, which opened sudden opportunities for another nations to export agricultural crops.
As historian Kay Saunders has said, the Northern blockade of Confederate cotton and sugar meant that ‘Queensland was regarded potentially as a second Louisiana’.
Aspiring local planters tried to seize the moment, inducing British mill workers to immigrate and establish a local cotton industry. But they quickly discovered that men from England’s industrial towns would not accept the conditions prevailing on plantations in the Australian rural north………
But a grassroots campaign to identify and commemorate particular histories would take on a different dynamic. It would necessitate an engagement with the community, for a start: a serious public debate about historical injustice. It would also link the past with the present, inevitably posing questions that go beyond the treatment of Adam Goodes into the shocking statistics about, for instance, indigenous unemployment and incarceration.
Australian history and American history are not the same. But it’s very hard to read, say, Amy McQuire’s account of the death last year of Julieka Dhu in police custody without asking the questions currently being posed in the US: do black lives matter or not?
Read more
In case you missed this very good article: I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it by Stan Grant

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How to fix homelessness: give the homeless a home?

Michael Short
The Age August 3, 2015
Should we give homeless people, well, a home? Is this simple idea perhaps the best solution to homelessness?
…….Giving homes to the homeless might sound radical. It might initially inflame those who believe in small government, in limiting the role of the state. But, in fact, it would appear to be the most effective and economical way of solving chronic homelessness, particularly in a wealthy nation like Australia, where more than 100,000 people are without a home on any given night - and many, like this person outside St Paul's Cathedral in central Melbourne, are forced to sleep outdoors………
In other words, giving the homeless a safe, secure home is a real solution that should appeal to fiscal conservatives as much as to those who are socially progressive. Surely all of us should be concerned about the plight of the most vulnerable and needy in our communities. As this is Homelessness Prevention Week, it's not a bad time to talk about it………
It's an idea captured by Michael Leunig in this illustration.
Here in Australia, a recent study by Melbourne-based Sacred Heart Mission provides hope that the Housing First model might spread. After a four-year pilot program where long-term homeless people were given stable, safe accommodation and then back-up services and counselling, the Journey to Social Inclusion report found:
• As many as three-in-four participants were still in stable housing a year after the program ended, compared with fewer than 60 per cent of the control group that received existing services under the old model.
• There was a fall of 80 per cent in the need of the participant group for emergency health services during the four years, while the needs of the control group increased by a fifth.
• The savings to taxpayers were more than $17,000 a year per participant.
Read more and view many photos