Archive | September, 2014

Baby Alexander

30 Sep

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Lucas gets acquainted with his little Brother.

Lucas gets acquainted with his little Brother.

Battling Terrorism?

29 Sep

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-25/green-our-disconcerting-certainty-in-battling-terrorism/5767916

 

Our disconcerting certainty in battling terrorism

Posted Thu at 10:05amThu 25 Sep 2014, 10:05am

We ought to wonder how a Government that weeks ago seemed incapable of attracting and holding our trust is now cast as the solid paternal guardian against nameless dread, writes Jonathan Green.

The following is an extract from Jonathan Green’s article:

“In our Senate this morning debate resumes on legislation that seeks to reset those scales in the firm concrete of law, law that may see journalists imprisoned for reporting state secrets in the public interest, may see your devices tracked, your data horded. The debate will be coloured by events, will be driven by the tensions of a moment and the frustrations of a state security apparatus that confronts that most elusive of threats: the acts of maddened individuals.

As Senator Brandis told his colleagues yesterday: “Freedom is not a given. Freedom must be secured particularly at a time when those who seek to destroy those freedoms are active, are blatant and are among us.”

As the joke goes: if they hate us for our freedoms, perhaps removing that freedom will make us safer.

Our politicians will continue to speak with tremendous certainty and assurance, but the rest of us ought to wonder.

We ought to wonder how a Government that weeks ago seemed incapable of attracting and holding our trust is now cast as the solid paternal guardian against nameless dread, how our fears have ennobled it.

We ought to wonder how an Opposition can be so desperate to share those spoils of our anxiety that while it talks down every Coalition gesture in economics, education, health and all the rest, it can find only unbounded praise for everything the Government does in national security. Somehow it manages to get that so defiantly right.

We ought to wonder, with whatever calm we can muster, just how much we are prepared to give to secure ourselves against the unknown.

And perhaps we ought not be so certain.”

Jonathan Green hosts Sunday Extra on Radio National and is the former editor of The Drum. View his full profile here.

What sort of Tax Laws do we have?

29 Sep

This morning an article by the Sydney Morning Herald caught my eye:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/big-business-shirks-fair-share-of-tax-load-20140928-3gtm2.html

 

A lot of big companies avoid paying tax and it is all legal!

I wonder whether our government can do anything about this. If for instance a company is registered in a tax haven country how on earth can they then be taxed in their own country? Really, does anyone know, what can be done about this? Do any governments care to change all this? Is there a way to change it?

Sunday, the 28th of September

28 Sep

Yesterday, on the 27th of September 2014, Baby Alexander Robert, a brother for two year old Lucas, was born in Wollongong Hospital. Ryan and Ebony made it to the hospital barely an hour before little Alex was born. Twelve hours later they were already on their way back home, where the first family visits soon arrived.

Today, on Sunday, Caroline came from Sydney to see the new baby. Peter and I picked her up from Dapto Station. Caroline arrived on a rail bus. There were no trains today because of track work. Towards 3 o’clock in the afternoon Peter, Caroline and I could see  the new baby for the first time. He is such a sweetie! The baby had been born soon after midnight on Saturday. So this afternoon he would have been going towards forty hours, that means he is still less than two days old! It was great that Ebony was allowed to go home already.

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Grandmother Monika, Great-Grandparents Uta and Peter with Baby Alex

Grandmother Monika, Great-Grandparents Uta and Peter with Baby Alex

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Lucas has a look at the cheese-cake.

Lucas has a look at the cheese-cake.

Soon there were cups of coffee and cheese-cake for everyone.

Soon there were cups of coffee and cheese-cake for everyone.

In the morning I had been going to church. I noticed some beautiful yellow roses and took some pictures of them after Mass.

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It was a lovely, balmy sunny morning. In the afternoon the temperature reached 28 Degrees Celsius. We felt that this was a bit like a summer day already. I have not been to the swimming pool for a while. If we have some more weather like we had today, I might have the courage to go for a swim some time soon. So far we had either clouds and a bit of rain or very strong winds. But maybe the next few days are going to be very pleasant. I hope so! 🙂

Deep Secrets

26 Sep

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21615487-new-analysis-and-sophisticated-mapping-technology-have-narrowed-search

 

The search for MH370

Deep secrets

New analysis and sophisticated mapping technology have narrowed the search for the missing Malaysian airliner

 

From David Hardaker’s Opinion Page 24 Sep 2014

25 Sep

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-24/hardaker-its-not-enough-to-simply-be-tough-on-terror/5766390It’s not enough to simply be ‘tough on terror’

Updated yesterday at 4:00pmWed 24 Sep 2014, 4:00pm

A military and security response might win the battle against terrorism, but not the war. Western powers also need to address the pervasive sense of victimhood, whether it’s justified or not, giving rise to Islamic State, writes David Hardaker.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has a way with words. It’s his great strength but at the same time his great weakness. Slogans like “debt and deficit disaster” and “budget emergency” have the power to cut through the political white noise, but they undermine his credibility when they are revealed for the hyperbole they are.

What applies domestically is now being played out on the international stage with Mr Abbott’s description of the so-called Islamic State movement as a “death cult”. It’s a memorable slogan and the author himself seems impressed with it. But like its domestic cousins, it is ultimately worthless.

There’s no doubt that the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” represents one of the most serious issues to confront Middle Eastern countries and Western policy makers. It is true that the movement is prepared to use extreme violence to achieve its aims and that there is little alternative – in the short term – to a tough military response to stop the movement killing anyone it defines as its enemy.

But as they used to say about the leader of Al Qaeda: you can kill Bin Laden, but not Bin Ladenism. Similarly, the current military action might “degrade” (to use the term du jour) the Islamic State. But what of the longer term future and the conditions which keep giving rise to fundamentalist movements which are prepared to call for and use violence against the West?

A security response alone is not enough. It might win the battle but not the war. If anything, it serves to ramp up fundamentalist action and enlist more recruits.

And what applies in Iraq and Syria also applies domestically: by all means strengthen anti-terrorism laws and deploy 800 police to detain 15 people or so. But what of the causes and motivations?

It is tempting for politicians (of all stripes) to rush to a security response, whether by military action internationally or a stiffened local policing initiative such as Operation Hammerhead. Indeed, proving the old adage that every cloud has a silver lining, the Islamic State “death cult” has become something of a popularity lifeline for a Prime Minister who has threatened to sink in his first term.

But there is a certain circularity about being “tough on terror” as your sole response: it almost guarantees there will be more terror to be tough on in the future, and more popularity to be gained by being tough on terror. And so on, ad infinitum.

The most dangerous aspect of the “Islamic State” movement (and Al Qaeda, for that matter) is the hard-core sense of victimhood that it represents in the Middle East region, especially among the young. It is beside the point whether this sense of victimhood is justified or not. The serious issue confronting Western powers – and indeed the Australian Government and Muslim community locally – is how to deal with it and defeat it.

About 50 per cent of Arab populations are under the age of 25. Many of them are poor and without opportunity. Many feel a sense of helplessness and alienation from their governments who they have seen as corrupt and self-interested – and, most importantly, as clients of the United States.

The Arab Spring appeared to offer a way out, to a future of (possibly religious) self-determination, if not democracy. Yet that promise has unravelled and in its place there has been an increasingly ferocious crackdown on movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood – again at the seeming behest of the United States or at least regional governments with close relations with the USA.

This sense of victimhood is reflected in the common view in the Middle East that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were orchestrated not by Al Qaeda but by the CIA (and Israel’s security agency, Mossad, depending on the version you get). When you challenge this view, some will tell you that only the United States has the ability to organise such an attack.

These are but some of the grievances, real and/or imagined. The issue is not whether they are justified or not – but how to turn a sense of victimhood into something else which does not involve violent action.

So we can talk about “death cults” and send troops to “degrade” the Islamic State movement. As a short-term fix, it may work. And it will certainly lead to a jump in the polls.

But when we hear the murderous words of the “Islamic State” and its call to kill the “unbelievers” wherever they are and by whatever means possible, we need to pay attention to more than just the rhetoric. And in Australia the last thing we want is for those words to resonate with a young Muslim.

What we desperately need to hear now is a new plan, couched in new language. This applies not only internationally but also locally.

Yes, it’s a tall order with such a complex set of problems besetting the Middle East, but it will demand a new form of leadership, new alliances and new “de-victimising” actions.

David Hardaker is a television producer and a Walkley award winning journalist. He is a former ABC Middle East correspondent and has lived and worked in Egypt. View his full profile here.

Topics: terrorism, islam, world-politics, unrest-conflict-and-war

First posted yesterday at 3:52pmWed 24 Sep 2014, 3:52pm

Wednesday, 24th of September 2014

24 Sep

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This picture is from yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Marion, one of my neighbours, came along to ask for our gardener’s phone number. Peter gave her the number. I showed Marion in the computer the photos that we had taken on Monday morning at the lake.

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Here is another photo that I tried to shoot with my camera from the computer screen. It shows part of that beautiful playground near the lake.

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Marion asked me whether I still felt to be in a celebratory mood. “Very much so,” was my reply. Tuesday morning was a lovely morning: Wonderful sunshine, the air felt balmy. When Marion arrived we had already finished our morning tea outside in front of the house.

A little bit of Sunday's ice-ream cake was still left. Peter and I  enjoyed this before we had our cup of tea.

A little bit of  ice-ream cake had still been left from Sunday. Peter and I enjoyed this before we had our cup of morning tea.

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Sitting outside in the sun I decided I would wear this hat.

 I wore this hat sitting outside in the sun.

I had tried the hat on in the bathroom to see what it looked like.

I had tried the hat on in the bathroom to see what it looked like.

Before I got dressed I had taken another picture in the bathroom. My aim was to take a picture of the flowers when I noticed I could also be seen in the mirror!

Before I got dressed I had taken another picture in the bathroom. My aim was to take a picture of the flowers when I noticed I could also be seen in the mirror!

So I stepped back - but surprise, surprise: the mirror did still catch me!

Later I took a picture stepping back a bit – but surprise, surprise: the mirror did still catch me!

Looking through my birthday cards again I felt like I wanted to take a picture of them.

Looking through my birthday cards again and again I felt I wanted to take a picture of them.

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These are the names of the ladies who gave me these beautiful flowers. Joan came a bit later after work. Her name is missing on the card. Anyhow these are the flowers I received from the ladies on Monday. Aren’t they beautiful?

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So Tuesday morning I went around enjoying all the flowers. I kept shifting them to different places and took  pictures of them from different angles. I just love taking pictures of beautiful things!

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Here you can see Peter in the kitchen busily fixing the curtain rod.

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Breakfast Time

Breakfast Time

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Sparkling Apple Juice for Lunch

Sparkling Apple Juice for Lunch

Salad for Lunch

Salad for Lunch

This in Lunch

This in Lunch

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Here is this week’s TIME magazine. On page 14 it says:

ON A HUMID MID-SEPTEMBER NIGHT,
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY
ARRIVED AT THE ROYAL PALACE ON SAUDI
ARABIA’S RED SEA COAST TO BEG
THE FAVOR OF A KING

The writer of this article says that Abdula bin Abdulazis is perhaps the most powerful man in the Middle East.

It is said in this article that the U.S. has built a fragile web of alliances to fight ISIS.
The question is being asked: WILL THIS SHAKY GROUP OF PARTNERS HOLD?

I, Uta, ask myself, how can we as ordinary citizens possibly grasp all the complications? It’s of no use working myself up, right? But I still want to know as much as possible where we are at at present.

Back to my flowers. Here is another glance at them:

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Under the above picture it says: Diplomatic dance Kerry leaves a photo op with leaders of the Gulf Cooperaton Council in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Sept. 11

Under the above picture it says: Diplomatic dance
Kerry leaves a photo op with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Sept.11