Tuesday, August 15, 2017

September 3: Australia's Independence Day

There is much debate right now about Australia Day, January 26. Like loyal subjects we celebrate the day we became a British colony and raised the Union Jack. I guess as we are still under the Crown, it is disloyal to celebrate – or even talk about – Australia’s official Independence Day, September 3.
Loyalist, I guess, back in the day felt that declaring Australia’s independence was a slap in the face to the then King of England.
But for the record, the United Kingdom granted many of its colonies the permission to be independent nations with the Statute of Westminster, December, 1931.
Australia finally took up this offer during World War II on October 9, 1942 with the Westminster Adoption Act. However, it’s effect was official backdated to the beginning of the war, September 3, 1939.
If we really want a national day that all Australian’s can celebrate, it should be Independence Day, September 3.

Siamo Dio, We Are God.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Flow

Being one with the flow takes constant thought and effort
A river is hard to read.
Just when you think you are floating effortlessly along it takes a turn,
Mid-stream moments ago is now marooned in a dank pool
Amid the polystyrene and the plastic bottles.
A river is so much more than water.

Dedication to traditional technique is a trap
“Stay with the fast water.
“Anticipate, left, left, one right, left, left, left, now two”
Devotion to rosary rhythm leads you blind
Past the wrens and willy wagtails under the willows.
A river is so much more than water.

Routine can run into rapids round any corner
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Daddy look at me.”
“I’ve found someone else.”
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to let you go.”
“You’d better be sitting down for this.”
Ronald Dworkin died as the meteor exploded over Siberia,
The brunette dressed as a man stole ten minutes
For coco and a cupcake,
Bloody Sunday widows won fifty grand for their dead,
And the summer breeze lifted a skirt in Acland Street.
It’s the flow,
That mystical moment when moving becomes dancing,
The rocks part as you sail through with the white water.
A river is so much more than water.

Suddenly stillness.
The banks retreat towards the horizon,
The water vanishes into tranquil reflections.
Sky, stars, moments, those words, that day.
Moving like the Hajj, we all drift past the shore into the vast blue.
A river is so much more than water.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The World’s Great Big New Year’s Resolution

Steady on with all the cheering over the Paris Agreement adoption. Let’s just keep this in perspective. It is essentially an early New Year’s resolution. The good news is all the politicians of the world seem to be aligned.
In order to achieve that alignment they have issued lots of politically promises. We all know how solid political promises are. These promises don’t even have a deadline. They will be delivered “As soon as Possible”.
My New Year’s resolution is to go on a diet, become a vegan and lose half my weight “As soon as possible”. Which can also mean “When Hell Freezes over”.
The Australian ABC’s reporting of this historic event – like sadly much of the news media – is factually wrong, and if it was true to its Charter it would immediately issue a correction.
In its summary of the deal it states that:

 The Historic Climate Deal
  • Deal to limit global warming to "well below" 2C, aiming for 1.5C (wrong. This is only a wish. The current international pledges go nowhere near this goal)
  • Greenhouse gas emissions need to peak "as soon as possible", followed by rapid reduction (“as soon as possible” means “whenever”)
  • Deal will eliminate use of coal, oil and gas for energy (This is just wrong. The agreement makes no mention of “coal”, “oil”, “gas” or “fossil fuels”)
  • Fossil fuels to be replaced by solar, wind power (Again there is no mention of “solar” or “wind” power)
  • Developed countries to provide $US100b a year from 2020 to help developing nations (this is a political promise. “Show me the money”)

The Paris Agreement is a great achievement, but it is the first step in a long journey. It is certainly not what the ABC and many “Green” organisations and news media are hailing it as.

If you want the reality, read the New York Times

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ISIL recruits our right-wing politicians and shock jocks

Terrorism is extreme public relations. This is not some new phenomenon that has suddenly arisen in the Middle East and is threatening the free world. It is simply warfare 101 – propaganda.
The objective is to manipulate public opinion in order to achieve your goals. The weapon of choice is the oldest and most powerful known to mankind – fear.
Success for the current ISIL terrorists will depend on their ability to recruit politicians, commentators and, most importantly, members of the media into helping them spread fear and division in our communities.
Terrorists use fear in the same way politicians use it to win votes, media use it to sell papers or attract viewers and advertisers use it to sell everything from insurance to soap.
So what exactly are the terrorists after?
A key objective of wartime propaganda has always been to win over our vulnerable youth – young boys and, albeit to a lesser extent, young girls. Those going through that malleable, impressionable, often rebellious stage of life – from teens to mid-20s.
The young ones that World War I poet Wilfred Owen referred to as “children ardent for some desperate glory”.
Most of our soldiers are recruited in their salad days. We’ve all heard the stories of boys lying about their age in order to qualify to be sent to their slaughter.
It’s that idealistic, “invincible” age when our kids are most at risk of dying in a speeding crash, suicide, or being lured into some cult or cause, like Philby, Burgess and Maclean.
It’s also a beautiful age when they are searching and passionate like the early years of Dylan, Jagger, Joplin, and Cobain.
ISIL is after our youth, and they need outspoken, opinionated journalists, broadcasters and politicians to help round them up and push them towards the cause. They need people who promote division, fear and rage in the community.
The debates about the burqa are just perfect. Any comments or actions that marginalise muslims is just what ISIL needs right now.  
Their objective is to use fear to tap into those rich veins of xenophobia flowing through our sprawling white-bread suburbs in the same way our politicians do.
Those who can, terrorise communities by delivering “ordinance” – napalm, cluster bombs and even nuclear bombs – from 30,000 feet. Those who can’t have to be more innovative, like the IRA and the Jewish Underground fighting British rule after World War II, the Resistance fighting Nazi’s during World War II, or the Palestinians today.
One big mistake that many of our politicians seem to make is assuming that foreigners who don’t speak English must be stupid. They need us Westerners to tell them what to do – to train them.
As Kurt Vonnegut said: “Do you think Arabs are dumb? They gave us our numbers. Try doing long division with Roman numerals.”
ISIL has proved that today you don’t need expensive ordinance and mass killing machines. A knife, a well-chosen victim, Youtube, a few naïve politicians and media personalities can be assembled into a very effective terrorist weapon system.
The result is to spread fear and energise xenophobes into assaulting muslims, and attacking mosques in our communities. 
“Our concern is young men, very juvenile in their outlook and often very insecure,” as Professor Greg Barton, director of the global terrorism research centre at Monash University, said in the Australian Financial Review. “If they have an experience where their mother, their sister or family member was treated badly, that only contributed to their anger and sense of alienation.”
But it doesn’t even have to happen to their family directly. When they witness attacks in the media they can well imagine it happening to them and their families.
Almost all the messages and information coming out of Iraq and Sudan at the moment, from all sides of the conflict, reek of propaganda.
We are getting all sorts of stories about how “evil” this “death cult” is and the atrocities they are inflicting on the hapless people of Iraq. Some of this may well be true, but I feel most of it is about as true as the stories of Iraqi soldiers going into hospitals in Kuwait and murdering babies in humidicribs in the lead up to the first Gulf war.
I find it hard to believe that ISIL could have such spectacular success on the ground war without considerable support from the communities they were invading/liberating. Remember they haven’t come down from outer space – they are Iraqis and Syrians.
This looks very much like the war so many warned would be the result of the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
It’s just a run-of-the-mill turf war in the Middle East that we have for some reason decided to join in.
Thanks to the excellent work of our security services and police, ISIL would find it impossible to get its soldiers into our country. So it’s up to their propaganda corps –the terrorists – to infiltrate our communities and turn just a handful of our young people into terrorists. Just like the British boys who blew themselves up on the London Underground in 2005 with devastating results.
So far – with the help of our tabloids, politicians and the usual racists – they are doing a bang-up job.
We need to be aware. This is war. Words are powerful weapons and very dangerous in the wrong hands.
Sacrificing our liberties is a mistake. We need to stand up for our principles. To create an environment where everyone feels free to express their true feelings – where our angry youth can vent their vile rage without fear of prosecution or persecution.

The answer comes from blogger Iain S Thomas: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Time to make the faux fur fly

The growing movement to get churches and universities to divest their share portfolios of fossil fuels would have to go down as one of the most pathetic, naïve campaigns in history.
As a journalist who has worked in the fossil fuel industry for many years I can tell you selling their shares is not the way to hurt the industry.  Many of the major fossil fuels companies are buying back their own fracking shares for Christ sake!
So here’s a bit of inside information for Bill McKibben, 350.org, and all those municipal councils, churches and universities who have joined or are joining the fossil-fuel divestment movement – stop splashing around in the kiddies’ pool.
If you really want to hurt the fossil fuel industry I have two words – faux fur (“fake fur” for those too young to remember Brigitte Bardot).
If you really want to hurt the “big polluters” don’t boycott their shares, boycott their products.
And what better way to start than by mobilising Hollywood and the fashion industry. Faux fur is pure fossil-fuels, it’s made from petrochemicals and coal.
Get Hollywood to go back to Mink. How hard can that be? They may not openly admit it, but you know the women would love it! Have you ever felt a Mink coat?
And for the men, bring back hunting! Oh yes, if you’ve ever tried it, you will know deep down how much you’d love to go back.
Think of the environmental benefits here in Australia if we could turn all our feral animals – rabbits, foxes, camels, pigs, deer -- into furs. The bilbies would be dancing in the forests.  
Believe me if you can get celebrities and the fashion industry to go fossil-fuel free that will do far more damage to share prices than a few unis and churches selling their interests.
Promoting divestment of fossil fuels while continuing to be a loyal fossil-fuel customer is only cutting off your nose to spite your face.
If your objective is fossil-fuel free, you need to get out of the kiddies’ pool, put your togs on and swim some laps.
Fashion is just the beginning. Once we get rid of faux fur, spandex, nylon, polyester etc, you could then take it to the next phase.
 Google “How to turn my car into a chicken coop”.
I guarantee if you can get that movement going the oil companies would start divesting their own shares.
Then it’s time to focus on going 100 percent renewable energy for our electricity.
Again, as an insider, I can reveal that this is a lot easier than they are telling you.
They are distracting you wind and solar – again, kiddies’ pool.
Apart from being hopelessly inadequate – wind and solar are both dependent on fossil fuels for their raw materials – silicon, lubes and greases. So forget about them.
Real renewable energy comes from hydro and biomass – we need more dams and more wood.
For relatively little cost we can convert Hazelwood into a wood burner.  This has proved to be a very effective tactic for meeting renewable energy targets in Europe.
Even Australia exports wood pellets to Europe to help meet renewable energy quotas and in some cases burning wood is cheaper than coal.
Well we could really ramp up this energy by burning wood for baseload power in our coal plants. Think of the jobs created by resurrecting our timber industry. Then watch what happens to the price of coal shares.
If you are serious about going “fossil-fuel free”, don’t get churches to divest of their shares, get the congregations around the world to divest of fossil-fuel products.
For Lent, Catholics could rid themselves of their synthetic clothes, plastics, smart phones, computers, TVs etc.
Go back to hunting for Lent! Then watch who divests of fossil fuels.
Dive into the deep end, really go fossil fuel free.

If you don’t, you’re obviously a “climate sceptic” who doesn’t care about our planet.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Barista


I am making the coffee.
I, am making the coffee.
I am real. I am here.
I am here, now, making the coffee.
For you. Just for you.
I am here, now, making the coffee
Just for you.
You, me, the coffee, now, here.
This. All this.
You are reading about me here, now,
Making the coffee for you.
Just for you. It is for you.
Here, now, I am for you.
You, me, the coffee – this is real.
This is real.
This is it. It is something.
You, me, the coffee, here, now – this is it.
We are it.
We are it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our return to the dark side


The so-called “Pacific Solution” to Australia’s refugee issue is a fraud and a national disgrace.
 The politicians on both sides may have deluded themselves into thinking that they really care about the refugees, but its crap.
Their objective has nothing to do with refugees – it’s all about getting re-elected. It’s all about opinion polls.
The whole issue hangs on two flawed assumptions:

  1.  We are being inundated with boat people.
  2.  The rest of the world wants to come and live in Australia.
Compared to refugees around the world, the boats coming to Australia are an issue only to the politicians and the journalists who feed on them. The numbers are just not significant that is la verita.
That the masses in Australia should be ignorant and parochial enough to think that “this is the best little bloody place on earth” and therefore we must protect it from being overrun by the hordes is only natural. For the politicians to join in this delusion and feed it is unforgivable.
Very few people in this world ever want to leave their home – that is la verita.  Australia is a great place, but so is Disneyland. They are great places to visit on holiday.  But if you ask people from anywhere on earth where they want to be, where they want to raise their children, you will soon realise “there’s no place like home”.
That’s where they were brought up, that’s where their parents were brought up and that’s where their grandparents were brought up.
So don’t worry Aussie’s, they are not all planning to come over here to steal your telly.
We have some of the most poverty stricken people on earth living just off our shores – almost within swimming distance – but they are not piling on to boats to get to “a better life” in Australia. They want to stay home.
Boat people do not come from our near neighbours, they come from war zones.
So, with respect, Mrs Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, here’s an idea – if you really want to stop “boat people” coming here, then why don’t you stop bombing their fuckin’ homes!
If you really want to stop refugees, focus your efforts and your resources on ending the wars, and achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Now really, why the hell do I have to write this stuff? What has happened to our journalists?
I’m really busy right now. I left newspapers 15 years ago. I am just recovering from the flu and I was looking forward to having a nice easy day on the couch playing my son’s Xbox.
Then this morning, as our politicians are debating their “Pacific Solution” legislation in Canberra, I hear Richard Towle, UNHCR Regional Representative for Australia, New Zealand, PNG and the Pacific, reveal to Fran Kelly that he hasn’t yet been consulted.
Talk about ruin my day! I couldn’t fuckin’ believe it! What the fuck is going on!
Now the legislation has just passed the House of Representatives – well hoo-fuckin-ray!
And protesters have come out in the streets to object – well God bless them, but they haven’t got a chance. They don’t understand the political forces, the levels of delusion they are fighting against.
With no leadership in Canberra, most journalists out to lunch or out of a job, and both major parties now singing to the choir of xenophobia. the poor refugees haven’t got a fuckin’ chance.
Let’s be clear here, former Defence Force Chief Angus Houston may be an expert at creating refugees but he is not an expert at dealing with them -- Richard Towle is.
As Richard told Fran this morning he had “some concerns” with the Gillard Government’s “Pacific Solution”. Which is diplomatic speak for “it stinks”.
His idea of a regional solution would involve raising the standards of treatment in the region, not lowing Australia’s standards. That’s why he wasn’t consulted.
The fact is torturing refugees is not the way to solve the problem. Nor is it the way to thwart the people smugglers. The way you do that is make it safe for people to stay home.
And as for Tony Abbott singing the praises of the Howard solutions – and calling on the Prime Minister to apologise for criticising them – I would like him to explain to me why those responsible for implementing the Howard policies should not be charged under The Crimes Act with child abuse.
As Richard mentioned in passing this morning we are still trying to deal with the mental illnesses caused by the Howard policies.
I still shudder when I remember a child being returned to Wimmera Detention Centre against the medical advice (and protests) from the government phychiatrist, back in those dark days. Torturing refugees maybe a vote winner in this country, particularly in some marginal electorates, but it is also a crime against humanity.
I’m not a lawyer, and I’m frankly too busy to look it up right now, but I would like Tony to explain to me why members of the government can be exempt from child-abuse laws – particularly given that the Immigration Minister is the legal guardian of unaccompanied minors.
If this had happened in Bosnia in the ‘90s, we would be pursuing them to the ends of the earth. So why aren’t we charging all those who knowingly inflicted harm on refugees, and all those public servants who sadly “were only following orders”.
That’s enough, it’s time to start treating refugees like refugees. Don’t make me have to tell you again.