Archive | August, 2016

Uta’s Diary, August 2016

30 Aug

John Lord from THE AIM NETWORK says in his recent blog:

If you want a good read on growing inequality read this:

https://ourworldindata.org/incomes-across-the-distribution/#australia-rising-inequality-but-everyone-is-better-off

I had a look at these data. They reveal a lot about income distribution. Truly interesting!

 

Peter and I spent a few days in Canberra. We returned on Sunday, the 28th.

Last Saturday we drove up to the Telstra Tower.

Last Saturday we drove up to the Telstra Tower.

 

We had arrived early when there was still quite a bit of morning fog.

We had arrived early when there was still quite a bit of morning fog.

Opening time was 9 am. The lift took us to the top.

Opening time was 9 am. The lift took us to the top from where we took several pictures.

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We had some breakfast in the Cafe of the Telstra Tower.

We had some breakfast in the Cafe of the Telstra Tower.

 This is Peter writing a Telstra postcard to Caroline and Matthew.


This is Peter writing a Telstra postcard to Caroline and Matthew.

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 The Telstra Letter-Box


The Telstra Letter-Box

The Telstra Postcard is about to be inserted into the Letter-Box!

The Telstra Postcard is about to be inserted into the Letter-Box!

Here it goes!

Here it goes!

Here Peter is near the Entrance to the Telstra Tower.

Here Peter is near the Entrance to the Telstra Tower.

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At about 10,30 we left the Tower and explored a little bit its surrounding and the views towards the city of Canberra. The fog had lifted. There was even some sunshine. The air was fresh and crisp. Temperature had risen to about 8 C.

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 This is where our rented car was parked.


This is where our rented car was parked.

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When we had been arriving earlier in the morning we were just about the only visitors. But now more and more people kept arriving.

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Apparently there is a bit of public transport going up here:

Peter looks at a bus timetable.

Peter looks at a bus timetable.

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Then we drove on to the National Museum.

Along Lake Burleigh Griffin

Along Lake Burleigh Griffin

The National Museum's Loop gets closer.

The National Museum’s Loop gets closer.

The Loop

The Loop

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Entering The NationalMuseum

Entering The NationalMuseum

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 An old map of Australia


An old map of Australia

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This one is about Mystery.

 There were a lot more of these verses.


There were a lot more of these verses.

I took more pictures of other verses. I might show them some other time. All these verses made a lot of sense to me. This is why I took pictures of them to remember them. There was for instance more about hope, loneliness and thrill as well as devotion and passion.

Most of the cafe's outside area was under construction.

Most of the cafe’s outside area was under construction.

We just had a look outside, but were sitting inside the cafe for our lunch.

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We shared some fruit salad and then shared some lovely fried eggs on barbecued toast.

We shared some fruit salad and then shared some lovely fried eggs on barbecued toast. I very much liked this lunch.

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Peter had some knee problems and at one stage was limping a bit. One museum staff member noticed it and promptly offered Peter the free use of one of the museum’s scooters. Very bravely, Peter rejected this offer. He just was not inclined yet to use one of these motorised scooters, hoping his knee would soon get better. And luckily, by massaging some relevant pressure points, it soon did get better, and Peter was able to walk around again more freely.

This one is near the entrance.

This one is near the entrance.

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This is also close to the entrance.

This is also close to the entrance.

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Saturday evening The Museum of Australian Democracy presented
THE HANSARD MONOLOGUES: Age of Entitlement

We had tickets for this very interesting show. The Museum of Australian Democracy is int the Old Parliament Building.

You might like to have a look at this website:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard

The Old Parliament Building at nighttime

The Old Parliament Building at nighttime

Big Loss

22 Aug

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Here in front is our Camphor Laurel tree before it was cut down.

The Camphor Laurel tree before it was cut down.

The Camphor Laurel tree had to be cut down. (Its stump can be seen in the first picture.)  After the tree lopping team arrived, they first cut down our umbrella tree, then they started working on our palm tree and last of all was then the camphor laurel tree taken care off.

In a few days they’ll come back to cut out the three stumps.

We feel we suffered a big loss for we loved those trees. We enjoyed them over many years. But unfortunately they had to go. They did grow much too big for our small backyard, and they were too close to the fence and to our house.  There just was not enough room for them. They’re also classified as ‘noxious’. Their roots spread everywhere. From the spikes in the palm tree one could get poison into one’s skin causing nasty skin infections.

Man cutting the palm tree's trunk.

Man cutting the palm tree’s trunk.

Our backyard looks pretty bare at the moment. But we're going to plant soon something new and hopefully a bit more suitable for this small area.

Our backyard looks pretty bare at the moment. But we’re soon going to plant  something new and hopefully something a bit more suitable for this small area.

 

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Tuesday, 23rd of August

Peter took yesterday some pictures of our backyard and just sent them to me. Here they are:

 

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How the entire nation of Nauru almost moved to Queensland

15 Aug

How the entire nation of Nauru almost moved to Queensland

August 15, 2016 6.16am AEST

Nauru’s parliament would have been rebuilt in Queensland, but with less power. CdaMVvWgS/Wikimedia Commons

Nauru is best known to most Australians as the remote Pacific island where asylum seekers who arrive by boat are sent. What is less well known is that in the 1960s, the Australian government planned to relocate the entire population of Nauru to an island off the Queensland coast.

The irony of this is striking, especially in light of continuing revelations that highlight the non-suitability of Nauru as a host country for refugees. It also provides a cautionary tale for those considering wholesale population relocation as a “solution” for Pacific island communities threatened by the impacts of climate change.

Extensive phosphate mining on Nauru by Australia, Britain and New Zealand during the 20th century devastated much of the country. The landscape was so damaged that scientists considered it would be uninhabitable by the mid-1990s. With the exorbitant cost of rehabilitating the island, relocation was considered the only option.

In 1962, Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies acknowledged that the three nations had a “clear obligation … to provide a satisfactory future for the Nauruans”, given the large commercial and agricultural benefits they had derived from Nauru’s phosphate. This meant “either finding an island for the Nauruans or receiving them into one of the three countries, or all of the three countries”.

That same year, Australia appointed a Director of Nauruan Resettlement to comb the South Pacific looking for “spare islands offering a fair prospect”. Possible relocation sites in and around Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Australia’s Northern Territory were explored, but were ultimately deemed inappropriate. There weren’t enough job opportunities and there were tensions with the locals.

Fraser Island in Queensland was also considered, but the Australian government decided it didn’t offer sufficiently strong economic prospects to support the population. The Nauruans thought this was a convenient excuse (and archival materials show that the timber industry was fiercely opposed).

The Curtis solution

In 1963, Curtis Island near Gladstone was offered as an alternative. Land there was privately held, but the Australian government planned to acquire it and grant the Nauruans the freehold title. Pastoral, agricultural, fishing and commercial activities were to be established, and all the costs of resettlement, including housing and infrastructure, were to be met by the partner governments at an estimated cost of 10 million pounds – around A$274 million in today’s terms.

But the Nauruans refused to go. They did not want to be assimilated into White Australia and lose their distinctive identity as a people. Many also saw resettlement as a quick-fix solution by the governments that had devastated their homeland, and a cheap option compared with full rehabilitation of the island.

Australia also refused to relinquish sovereignty over Curtis Island. While the Nauruans could become Australian citizens, and would have the right to “manage their own local administration” through a council “with wide powers of local government”, the island would officially remain part of Australia.

Frustrated by what it perceived as a genuine and generous attempt to meet the wishes of the Nauruan people, the Menzies government insisted it wouldn’t change its mind.

So the Nauruans stayed put.

Nauru’s phosphate industry has left the landscape scarred and useless for agriculture. CdaMVvWgS/Wikimedia Commons

The issue briefly resurfaced in 2003 when Australia’s foreign minister Alexander Downer once again suggested wholesale relocation as a possible strategy, given that Nauru was “bankrupt and widely regarded as having no viable future”. Nauru’s president dismissed the proposal, reiterating that relocating the population to Australia would undermine the country’s identity and culture.

Planned relocations in the Pacific

Today, “planned relocation” is touted as a possible solution for low-lying Pacific island countries, such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, which are threatened by sea-level rise and other long-term climate impacts.

But past experiences in the Pacific, such as the relocation of the Banabans in 1945 from present-day Kiribati to Fiji, show the potentially deep, intergenerational psychological consequences of planned relocation. This is why most Pacific islanders see it as an option of last resort. Unless relocation plans result from a respectful, considered and consultative process, in which different options and views are seriously considered, they will always be highly fraught.

Nauru today is at the highest level of vulnerability on the Environmental Vulnerability Index. The past destruction wrought by phosphate mining has rendered the island incapable of supporting any local agriculture or industry, with 90% of the land covered by limestone pinnacles.

It has a very high unemployment rate, scarce labour opportunities, and virtually no private sector – hence why the millions of dollars on offer to operate Australia’s offshore processing centres was so attractive. These factors also illustrate why the permanent resettlement of refugees on Nauru is unrealistic and unsustainable.

Nauru’s future seems sadly rooted in an unhealthy relationship of co-dependency with Australia, as its territory is once again exploited, at the expense of the vulnerable. And as the story of Curtis Island shows, there are no simple solutions, whether well-intentioned or not.


This is an overview of a longer article published in Australian Geographer.

There are several refugee and asylum-seeker agencies that exist to help people in mainland detention or who have just left the island centres

15 Aug

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/13/nauru-files-how-you-can-help-people-held-in-detention-by-australia

There are several refugee and asylum-seeker agencies that exist to help people in mainland detention or who have just left the island centres:

The following is an extract of an article by Helen Davidson that was published in The Guardian on  13 August 2016.

 

Helen Davidson is a reporter for Guardian Australia, based in Darwin. Helen worked as an online journalist for SBS World News Australia and was a news and interactive journalist for news.com.au, where she liveblogged major news events

 

There are more than 400 people on Nauru, and more than 800 on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The files have revealed a shocking level of trauma and abuse – both alleged and witnessed – occurring inside the Nauru facility, and other allegations continue to emerge from Manus.

Since the Salvation Army and Save the Children left, there are no longer any charities or benevolent organisations working offshore, but there are human rights and legal organisations working from Australia, as well as several refugee and asylum-seeker agencies that exist to help people in mainland detention or who have just left detention.

Here are the main organisations where you can offer your support:

How to contact the Nauru files reporters securely and confidentially
Here are two options for people who want to contact Guardian Australia using more secure forms of electronic communication to avoid most common forms of online tracking
Read more
• The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre provides services to more than 1,200 asylum seekers in the community, including shelter, food, medical care and legal assistance. The organisation takes one-off or monthly donations, volunteers or people who wish to get involved in its activism.

• The Refugee Council of Australia is a peak body for about 200 organisations and more than 1,000 individual members. It conducts advocacy and support, policy development and research, and community education. It invites donations as well as activism, volunteers and involvement in the Australia Says Welcome campaign.
• Rise is a community organisation aimed at supporting refugees and asylum seekers within Australia, and campaigning for policy change. It is run and governed by refugees, asylum seekers and former detainees, and helps people in the early stages of settlement, including the areas of housing, welfare and employment. Refugees and asylum seekers have access to a drop-in centre, a food bank and a resource library.

• The Human Rights Law Centre is a not-for-profit legal organisation that supports and defends the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. It conducts research and has run and been involved in legal cases and advocacy campaigns to improve the conditions inside detention and the treatment of people who seek asylum in Australia.

• The Refugee Advice and Caseworker Service is a legal centre providing free and specialised legal assistance to asylum seekers and to refugees seeking to reunite with their families. The RACS has helped 2,500 people but estimate there are at least 9,000 who need assistance in New South Wales alone. Its government funding was slashed in 2014. You can offer financial assistance.
Dear Australia: a Guardian video series
Read more
• Perth’s Humanitarian Group provides a similar service, offering migration assistance, legal advice and education. It takes donations, volunteers, and membership support.

• In Queensland the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service is another independent, not-for-profit community legal centre for refugees and asylum seekers. Its small staff assist as many people as they can who appear before the Department of Immigration, Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal.

• The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney, established in 1999, campaigns for the rights of asylum seekers and runs grassroots action and activism. It holds regular meetings in Sydney.

• The Refugee Advice and Caseworker Service is a legal centre providing free and specialised legal assistance to asylum seekers and to refugees seeking to reunite with their families. The RACS has helped 2,500 people but estimate there are at least 9,000 who need assistance in NSW alone. Its government funding was slashed in 2014. You can offer financial assistance.

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• Perth’s Humanitarian Group provides a similar service, offering migration assistance, legal advice and education. It takes donations, volunteers, and membership support.

• In Queensland the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service is another independent, not-for-profit community legal centre for refugees and asylum seekers. Its small staff assist as many people as they can who appear before the Department of Immigration, migration review tribunal, refugee review tribunal.

• The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney, established in 1999, campaigns for the rights of asylum seekers and runs grassroots action and activism. It holds regular meetings in Sydney.

• The Darwin asylum seeker support and advocacy network worked with asylum seekers in detention at the nearby Wickham Point immigration centre, until it was recently closed. It also provides support and advocacy on behalf of asylum seekers and other detainees.

• Also in Darwin, the Melaleuca refugee centre is a community organisation that assists refugees who wish to settle in the Northern Territory and provides support services and referrals for people who have suffered trauma and torture.

• Australian Refugee Volunteers works with children and families in Sydney, running programs and taking them on regular outings to help them settle in Australia, socialise with other children, and improve physical and mental health.

The Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project provides support and advocacy for asylum seekers in onshore detention in Melbourne. Members have assisted with making the detention environment more comfortable, and have provided baby items for new mothers. They also assist people with settling into a place when they leave the facility. The BASP takes financial donations as well as items such as food, cleaning products, and phone cards for detainees. They are also happy to hear from anyone who may be able to provide employment for a new refugee or asylum seeker, or who wants to volunteer to teach English.

US/NATO Nuclear Air Base

9 Aug

http://www.news.com.au/world/reports-turkish-troops-have-sealed-off-incirlik-usnato-nuclear-air-base/news-story/4d7bb16e4e86842218b5b0d7d70f582b

Who knows about all this?

Vice-Presidential Running Mate

4 Aug

http://www.jill2016.com/jill_stein_selects_ajamu_baraka_as_vp

Jill Stein Selects Human Rights Activist Ajamu Baraka as Vice-Presidential Running Mate

p_Ajamu_Baraka.jpgGreen Party presumptive Presidential nominee Jill Stein has offered her vice-presidential bid to international human rights scholar and activist Ajamu Baraka.

 “I am honored and excited to announce that my running mate in the 2016 presidential election will be Ajamu Baraka, activist, writer, intellectual and organizer with a powerful voice, vision, and lifelong commitment to building true political revolution,” Stein announced.

“Ajamu Baraka is a powerful, eloquent spokesperson for the transformative, radical agenda whose time has come – an agenda of economic, social, racial, gender, climate, indigenous and immigrant justice. Ajamu’s life’s work has embodied the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Stein continued. “In this hour of unprecedented crisis, we are honored to lift up a unified movement for justice in the only national political party that is not held hostage by corporate money, lobbyists and super-PACs. We look forward to bringing this agenda for justice to the American people in the exciting race ahead.”

Ajamu Baraka is an internationally recognized human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (until 2011) and Coordinator of the U.S. based “Black Left Unity Network’s” Committee on International Affairs, Baraka has served on the boards of various national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (USA) and the National Center for Human Rights Education. He has served on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Africa Action; Latin American Caribbean Community Center; Diaspora Afrique; and the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.

Baraka is a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet and an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. An editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report, Baraka has appeared on and been covered in a wide-range of print, broadcast, and digital media outlets such as CNN, BBC, the Tavis Smiley Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Telemundo.

There had been earlier speculation that Stein would offer the spot to ex-Sanders surrogate and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who had been unfairly spurned at last week’s Democratic National Convention for her principled criticism of the DNC and Hillary Clinton. Stein confirmed that talks had taken place between her and Turner, but that the conditions were not right for a combined run.

“In the process of vetting and selecting a VP, I was honored to talk with several inspired activists,” Stein said. “Among them, I especially appreciate Senator Turner’s willingness to have discussed the VP position. The fit just wasn’t right, as Senator Turner is still committed to try to save the soul of the Democratic Party. While we may not agree on whether that is possible, I respect her passion to fight for the people and wish her the best in her effort.”

Stein said she also discussed the position with author Chris Hedges, single payer healthcare activist and US Senate candidate Dr. Margaret Flowers (Green – Maryland), economic justice advocate and TPP opponent Kevin Zeese of PopularResistance.org, and Green Party activist and former Black Panther Party leader, Aaron Dixon.

Stein added that: “Our campaign is fully committed to the fight for a political revolution in a party with a demonstrated, unwavering commitment to that political revolution. We welcome the 60% of  Americans who want a principled alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. We are also happy to continue serving as a “plan B” safety net for discouraged reformers as they tire of the disempowering, uphill battle inside the Democratic Party that was so painfully on display at the Democratic National Convention.”

Dr. Jill Stein is expected to be formally nominated as the Presidential candidate of the Green Party at their national convention in Houston on Saturday, August 6th.

Jill Stein for President

3 Aug

http://www.jill2016.com/keeptherevolutiongoing

Keep the Revolution Going: Jill Stein for President

The Jill Stein for President campaign is building a movement for an America that works for us all. Sign your name below to let Jill know you’re with her.

We the undersigned urge your support – including your voice and your vote – for Jill Stein for President on the Green Party line as an essential, urgent step to continue building a true American revolution.

A movement for democracy and justice is sweeping the planet – from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring to the Black Lives Matter movement. People are rising up to halt the neoliberal assault, calling for an America and a world that works for all of us. While our movement is winning important victories – notably for living wages and against fossil fuel infrastructure – the economic elite have only tightened their grip. People are realizing that if we want to fix the rigged economy, the rigged racial injustice system, the rigged energy system and more, we must also fix the rigged political system.

The toxic 2016 Presidential election is yet another manifestation of the desperate need for deep change. Many have flocked to the banner of socialism and equality raised by the Sanders campaign, while conservative voters have rejected the illusions peddled by Republican elites. Meanwhile the two corporate parties have anointed the two most disliked politicians in the country to be their standard bearers this November.

Jill Stein’s Power to the People agenda reflects many of the domestic policies of the Sanders campaign – income equality, climate justice, free public higher education, Medicare for All, immigrant rights, racial justice and an end to mass incarceration. In other areas, Stein goes much further than Sanders, calling for the cancellation of student debt, full public financing of elections, and the creation of public banks. Her rapid transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 makes wars for oil obsolete, enabling a 50% cut in the dangerously bloated military budget which has made us less safe, not more safe. Stein offers a foreign policy based on international law and human rights, not economic and military domination that has proven so catastrophic.

While support for the Sanders campaign surpasses that of all other campaigns, the elites of the Democratic Party have stacked party rules to sabotage his campaign, like principled and powerful grassroots candidates before him. The Democratic Party is proving once again that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party.

Each time a challenger such as Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich and Sanders inspired hope among progressives for change, Democratic Party leaders sabotaged the effort. All the while, the Democratic Party has continued to march to the right, becoming more corporatist, imperialist and militarist in spite of its inspired progressive electoral campaigns. The party’s trajectory has been to fake left, but go right.

As the Democrats shut down Sanders’ campaign, some “progressives” are advocating retreat from electoral politics, suggesting people double down on social movements. Of course we must continue to fight for these movements in every way possible. But if we do not also fight for political power, the battles of our social movements will count for little, as they will be outflanked by predatory elites making our laws, writing our budgets, and appointing government administrators. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” We must bring that demand into the halls of power.

Other loyal Democrats are calling for a focus on Congressional races. But even when the Democratic Party held both houses of Congress and the White House from 2008-2010, the Democratic majority delivered for its corporate sponsors, not everyday people, with Wall Street bailouts, wars for oil, an “all of the above” energy policy that was “drill baby drill” on steroids, and tax favors for the wealthy.

As the Democratic Party continues its assault, growing numbers are looking to the Stein campaign as the vehicle to continue the revolt. The Green Party is currently on the ballot for more than half of voters, and with Stein’s current petition drives, they expect to have ballot lines in all or nearly all states.

The potential for the Stein campaign to become a major force in the 2016 election should not be discounted. Forty-three million people locked in student debt have no way out except through Stein’s plan to cancel student debt and bail out the students like Obama bailed out Wall Street. Young voters overwhelmingly supported Sanders in the primary. Tens of millions of others have made clear that they are not interested in Clinton’s corporate, pro-war agenda.

The groundswell for Donald Trump was created by the economic misery of NAFTA and Wall Street deregulation – policies promoted by both Clintons. Neoliberal Clintonism caused the rise of Trump. Another Clinton presidency will only make things worse. Besides, the lesser evil merely paves the way to the greater evil, because people stay home rather than vote for a lesser-evil politician who’s throwing them under the bus. That’s why blue legislatures, governors, and Congress keep flipping red.

The clock is ticking – on the next Wall Street collapse, the climate meltdown, the expanding wars, the slide towards fascism, nuclear confrontation and more. This is the time to stand up with the courage of our convictions, while we still can. Forget the lesser evil. Fight for the greater good – like our lives depend on it, because they do. The corporate parties will not fix this for us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

The Stein campaign provides the next time-critical step to build peaceful political revolution. Please join us in supporting, volunteering, donating and petitioning to get Jill on the ballot. Tell your friends and neighbors about this historic opportunity to build an America and a world that works for all of us. Together we can put people, planet and peace over profit. #ItsInOurHands

Join us by signing below!

 

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