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Archive for December 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassinated: another US foreign policy triumph.

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My blood runs cold at the news that Benazir Bhutto has just been murdered in Pakistan. The first (only?) female leader of an Islamic nation, Prime Minister for the first time at just age 35. Bhutto, Chernobyl, the Challenger disaster, and Ethiopian famine are cornerstones of childhood memory, looking out and becoming curious about the world. Like the death of Indira Ghandi, Bhutto will now loom larger than life. But unlike Indira Ghandi, there is a feeling nearing certainty that Bhutto’s best years were still ahead of her.

Just today, I had read this astonishing piece by Ahmad Faruqui – a journalist in Pakistan. Writing that President Pervez Musharraf should be declared Comedian of the Year, his piece was banned by the Daily Times, supposedly one of Pakistan’s freer papers. So he leaked it. Can you even leak your own work?

Maybe he felt the police would pick up him up because he was openly expressing his opinions on TV, which was contrary to his own diktats.

But wait. Maybe the suffering was moral. As he went to bed every night, he lay awake thinking of the people that he had put in jail that were lying awake in rotten surroundings. To relieve his suffering, all he had to do was release them.

But did he? Of course not! He had declared an emergency precisely to make them suffer. How dare they rise against him on the streets, agitate against military rule and file petitions in the Supreme Court. He was going to fix them once and for all.

New York Times has the story here, with a more insightful look at her struggle here. Reuters has a three-page report seemingly gathered from the scene here. There are two conflicting reports – in one, she was shot in the neck and chest by a killer who then detonated a device next to her vehicle thereby causing close to 20 more deaths. In the other version, she was killed by the blast without any shots first being fired into her body.

The UK’s Guardian has a brief timeline of some of the significant moments in her life cut short here. Reuters has a similarly useful timeline of significant political developments in Pakistan here.

Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post has already responded – not to proclaim the tragedy of her passing but to point out the strategic imperatives of the moment:

The first issue is Pakistan’s nuclear potential; although this is the most pressing issue, it is probably the least worrying as the military is in control of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. The second issue is the strength of the radical Islamists, and finally the question of elections and democratisation in Pakistan.

Ironic that nuclear-armed fundamentalists and extremists are worried by nuclear states and radical fundamentalists, proclaiming as much before the final blasts of shrapnel have even hit the ground. Fuck you, murderous thieving right-wing Israeli hypocrites.

Conversely, India- a country all too familiar with the brutal slaying of compassionate leaders – has already voiced empathy and support. Writing at Times Online, Zahad Hussain reports that

moments before Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today, she poignantly spoke of how her father was executed, and of the deaths of other members of her family. Now she too has become a victim.

No doubt those final words shall be reprinted shortly, surely magnifying the significant timing of Bhutto’s death, and surely adding to a near-incendiary situation in Pakistan. The BBC has posted a highly fitting, though very British, look at her life in pictures.

Once again, globally, all bets are off.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 28, 2007 at 2:33 am

Merry Christ mess.

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So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

Another year o-ver, a noo one jus’ begu-u-un.

Nice work Band Aid. Let’s just ignore the crucified elephant in the room. Baby Jesus. Christians are about to perform a global Mexican Wave of celebration in the name of unlikely child birth – and that’s cool. But spare a thought for the Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Godless Cocksucking Republicans, and French President Monsieur Blahlahblah Sarkozy, aka Godless Shiteating French Piss Monkey. It’s at this time of year that they/we/I realize that I/we/they just don’t have a creation myth that stands up to the one dictated from Vatican City.

So powerful is this creation myth that even though Pope Benedict Whateverth is clearly the evil emperor from Star Wars, he is still believed by over a billion people to be the left hand of God on Earth. Obviously, God’s right hand has no idea what his/her left hand is doing. That’s understandable. If you’re meant to simultaneously exist at all points of the known and unknown universe, your hands are likely quite far apart. Distance between good movies featuring Ben Affleck far apart. And then some.

Any organisation that is against birth control and in favour of human domination of the planet as some kind of divine right, all things given, really should be getting scratched CDs and used undies from Santa this Xmas is all I’m saying. And what’s with “Xmas”? Total commercialisation somehow hasn’t taken the Christ sufficiently out of the concept, so somebody decided to take the Christ out of the whole word?

Personally, I agree with many people who think that Jesus was an amazing tuned in cat whose words and actions have been censored, twisted, and exploited in an agenda-driven manner that is in no small part responsible for the suffering and death of hundreds of millions of people throughout the ages.

Funny how some people who can believe in virgin birth and life after death have such a problem accepting the basics of photosynthesis; the deaths and suffering of the Inquisition and the Crusades will likely pale into insignificance beside the upheaval and misery directly attributable to global warming within the next century. Where’s the church on this? Down the back, competing with governments and corporations to be the last to speak or, more importantly, act decisively.

The story of Eden is in so many ways a parable for our daily lives, but for this: we have eaten the apple of knowledge and rather than being evicted from the garden we have stayed behind to fill it with oil-poison, toxic-filth, genetic modification, ebola and napalm.

Of course some think that the snake, the serpent, a creature which feeds on the sun and moves on the earth, is a symbol of nature. And that nature, therefore, must be treated as evil. Which might explain a lot –  not just of what has happened, but what is happening and what is to come.

Oh yeah. Merry Christmas.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 25, 2007 at 12:01 am

MELTDOWN: Yankee Subprime, Tassie Pulp = Merry Xmas!

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This piece has just arrived from a Tasmanian hee-roe by the name of Bob McMahon. He’s one of the many heavy lifters active in the fight against Gunns proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, and although he can flippantly fire of the term ‘civil war’ when his blood’s up, i think it’s only because he means it. Check out more of his work at A Better Australia.

“As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  Thus spoke King Solomon (Proverbs 25.25). His wisdom resounds down the ages and brings good cheer to the Tamar Valley in this Christmas week of 2007.

Where is this ‘far country’ and what is the ‘good news’?

The far country is America. The beginning of the good news, the incipiently good news you might say, occurred a few months ago. That was the start of a ‘credit squeeze’ in America due to the subprime mortgage crisis. Loan defaults in the housing market, in particular the 3.5 million ‘homeowners’ who were sold loans they had no chance of repaying over the long term, or even the short term, sparked the squeeze.

No problem for us in Australia, the local economists assured us, because we did not go in for subprime type lending, that is, reckless lending to mortgagees (or companies?) with insufficient assets or cash flow to make loan repayments. We have been altogether more circumspect in Australia. We were immune from that sort of thing we were told. No mention of companies like Centro with assets and exposure in the USA.

Several days ago the pundits had changed their tune following the Centro avalanche, because the problem wasn’t confined to the domestic housing market, nor was it peculiar to the USA. Britain got clobbered. Now it’s Australia’s turn.

Companies, like Centro, which are highly leveraged – short term borrowing, bridging finance at high rates that have to be re-negotiated, borrowings at a high proportion of assets and earning potential etc. – are in for a rough ride. There are a lot of shareholders and investors in superannuation funds exposed to speculative property trusts which surfed in on the big wave of credit expansion, who are feeling rather sick right now. So much for our immunity.

Now the really good news flashed up red on the screen when the squeeze turned into a meltdown which the US Federal Reserve was unable to control with interest rate cuts and wads of money shovelled into the banks to soften the impact, on them, of their own junk loans. Once the credit squeeze ceased to be a mere liquidity problem and started to look like a money market collapse, prescient Tasmanians dared to quietly rejoice and put off their Christmas shopping for a day or two to watch the screens instead: Bloomberg, Squawk Box, Sky, ASX etc.

Some of you might be puzzled as to how this meltdown could possibly be good news for Tasmania?  It is good news because risk capital suddenly got much more expensive, or even impossible to get, not just in Australia but worldwide. Risk capital got a whole lot riskier if you were in the market, like the ANZ, to supply a couple of billion to finance a dodgy business in Tasmania spruiked by a hurdy-gurdy of Scandinavians who had taken advantage, if the truth be known but the Scandinavians would be the last to say so in public, of a board of dimwits.

Yes, that’s right. At a time when pulp mills all over the developed world are closing down because they can’t possibly compete with the developing world (the ‘global south’) or are being bailed out of insolvency with mountains of taxpayers’ money, the Finns were able to flog off a stupendously smelly, long dead fish disguised as a rainbow trout flashing silver in a mountain stream, to Dad and Dave and the bastard from the bush. Taken advantage of, you might say. Pretend international players taken for a ride by real international players.

Serve them right you might say. Let them borrow their two billion, let them borrow twice as much as the company is valued on the stock market, let them be leveraged so highly the earth is dislodged from its orbit around the sun, let them build the pulp mill, because, by 2010 the world will be a meaner place with rat devouring rat and nobody will want the world’s most expensive and environmentally ghastly pulp and the company will be doomed.

I know many readers might think that is justice on about the right scale given the level of contempt shown by the pulp mill proponents (and complicit governments) for the concerns of the people. I would disagree but not out of any love for the company. Let it be napalmed from a great height one part of me says.

But another part of me says let it survive and be marinated in the odium of the people until such time as it changes its ways and the current board of directors is gone to where boards of directors on the dark side go, but let us not have the pulp mill, not any cost, not even at the cost of Gunns sliding off the continental shelf into the abyss.

The risk is well and truly back in risk capital where it rightfully belongs. Many will be scorched as the subprime, slick credit and delusional accounting schemes work through the world economy, transforming world money markets into gut-shot dogs in the process. There will be an untold number of victims, deserved and undeserved and there will be a few winners as well.

The people of Tasmania are beginning to look like winners. Merry Christmas.

 

Bob McMahon

http://www.abetteraustralia.com

 It may also be of interest to Bob and other readers that one of the latest developments in the subprime shockwave is a legal matter which could potentially tear banks wide open. In a way, loans are like property. Smaller banks sell loan agreements and contracts on to bigger banks or investment groups. The debt of the homeowner continues, but is now to the new ‘owner’. But for a recently emerged technicality. A loan that is already in default cannot legally be transferred. Legal eagles are scrambling to navigate around this issue, but it may well be – in the extreme realms of possibility – that loans in default which have been on-sold may have in effect been annulled. Watch this space.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 20, 2007 at 11:46 pm

The Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men: a movie to die in

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On the way to a preview of the new Coen Brothers’ film, No Country for Old Men, I actually heard from somebody that it is being widely praised as their best film to date. My reaction was mixed.

1. Holy crap, could any movie actually be that good?

2. What a f#$king stupid term of reference.

To announce that the Coen Brothers have made their best film is like saying that you only need to see one Wes Anderson film, or that if you’ve seen Boogie Nights, you should skip Magnolia. If you’ve heard It Takes a Nation of Millions… you’ll only get confused by Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet. Salma Hayek is only really worth seeing in Frida. Bill Hicks only did one truly awesome night of stand-up. Bjork’s best album is…. Do you get me?

To say that No Country for Old Men is possibly the best movie that the Coens have made is to suggest, insinuate – that Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There were somehow practice for a main event and can now somehow be discarded from The Library of Awesomeness. Speaking of The Library of Awesomeness, look under ‘B’ for Barton Fink because that can go too, and don’t forget O Brother, Where Art Thou?, although that may be under ‘O’ – as in ‘obviously The Coen Brothers Best Film is a f%$king stupid subject for the making of comparisons’.

If you’re concerned about the plot, look in Wikipedia because I’m not going to reach into your future and diminish its juiciness. Suffice to say that “written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen” is a far better guarantee of timeless quality than “Quentin Tarantino presents”. If you don’t believe me, watch Hostel again.

One of the Coen trademarks evident in No Country for Old Men is the navigation of that space where circumstantial coincidences create the possibility for retribution and brutal violence – so much so that there is an almost ethereality to the whole thing.

Improbability becomes inevitability, while certainty becomes jarring disorientation. It seems to me that the Coens consistently work with stories that far too many directors would twist into bombastic explodaganzas, string-heavy tragedies, or preachy morality plays. It is their deliciously dark and understated humour which tempers the choices they make, and the choices they make provide beautifully effective vehicles for their dark humour.

Perhaps one of the most distinct ways in which the Coens inject themselves into the films that they make is to protect the stories from which they arise. Thrir films project subtle meanings and the asymmetries of realistic life – two essential ingredients which almost all mainstream Western filmmakers filtrate as if removing blemishes – even, perhaps especially, into confounding scenarios that would otherwise teeter on the brink of implausibility.

Perfect casting, great dialogue, compelling stories, deeply flawed characters, lethal conflict, fantastic soundscapes – these are certainly welcome elements in any film; the Coens not only bring all of these elements to this movie, but unite them in a seamless whole which delights, disturbs, shocks, bewilders and, importantly, asks more questions than it answers.

There is no room for tokenistic emotional response. The character portrayed Javier Bardem – absolutely magnetic as the justice-dispensing/chance-enforcing assassin from his first moment on screen – could be drawn from some horrible fairytale told by mafiosi to scare their children. But he is no caricature. Wise, sinister, cold, other-worldly, insane, brutal, relentless, but not typical. It’s impossible to imagine No Country being what it is without Bardem. He plays the nemesis to Josh Brolin’s skilfully crafted protagonist. While Brolin may in fact be his own worst enemy, as indeed may we all, this would be one of those questions best left to film critics (clamouring to simultaneously exude spoilers, text-bytes, and sociology dissertations). Tommy Lee Jones is an absolute pleasure – however uncomfortable – and the inclusion of Woody Harrelson is just showing off although, again, it’s perfect casting.

Either way you look at it, the result is timeless storytelling rather than stilted performance. You know the kind. Like when you’re just waiting for Tom Cruise to turn away from Jack Nicholson and shriek “how awesome was I just then? Wasn’t I awesome? Wow. I am such an awesome actor.” That doesn’t happen. Even in the dusty, harsh, dirty reality of a feverish hermit’s cabin, the Coens and their cast pull you far away from your seat, transported to that special place where the danger and relief are real, even though the money and guns (probably) aren’t.

No Country for Old Men is literally breathtaking storytelling at its best. To miss it would be a shame; to dismiss it, a sin. In 2007, the Coen Brothers, this film, and its exceptionally stunning conclusion are among the few remaining good reasons to not nuke America.

add to kwoff

Coming to Australia soon, possibly as early as Boxing Day.

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December 18, 2007 at 12:44 am

The Washington Post is a piece of $h!t, but these are pretty funny…

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  If you too are a fan of English as a language that evolves, rather than waiting for dictionaries and frustrated language teachers and newspaper editors to determine what is or is not a word which can legitimately be used to convey meaning, you’ll dig these too. Seriously, I wouldn’t give The Washington Post to a puppy to crap on. Actually… that’s probably the one situation where The Washington Post is the paper of choice. Point being, these are pretty good. 8. might just be my favourite, although 13 and 15 are definitely contenders. Anyway…

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational asked readers to take any
word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing
one letter, and supply a new definition.

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

12. Karmageddon: It’s when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes, and it’s a serious bummer.
13. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you
14. Glibido: All talk and no action.

15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 17, 2007 at 10:48 pm

America The Stupid: prejudge this outcome.

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WHAT THE F#$K??!!!!! The United States effort to again derail climate change negotiations utterly defies any possibility of undamaged brain tissue.

Here are the two mantras for the little piggy cumsacks of the US delegation at the UN’s Bali conference.

– Including any detail regarding emission reduction targets for the wealthiest emitters of greenhouse gases is unacceptable, because it would be “to prejudge the outcome“.

– “All options are on the table

Now you may remember “all options are on the table” from such diplomatic triumphs as the overturning of the Geneva Convention, the invasion of Iraq, the hastened descent of the US into a complete police state, the 2008 aerial bombardment of Iran, climate change denial, and going down on Laura Bush. Obviously, the policy needs rewriting.

US delegations should instead declare that “all options are on crack“. That would at least be plausible.

But as for this new line of razor-edged anal beads, that committing to the minimum level of response necessary to marginally reduce the acceleration of global warming would be “to prejudge the outcome” of negotiations…. How goddamned brain damaged are you Nazi-bait bucket-c&%ted fist-whores in the Bush Administration that come up with this shit?

“Prejudge the outcome”? Is this the antithesis of “preemptive defence”? Which is itself analogous to “let’s rape and pillage that country before they get a chance to look at us funny”.

Preemptive defence – a nonsensical doctrine dreamed up by balding middle-aged neofascists who sniffed their mother’s panty-drawer hard enough to produce a lavender-infused psychotic aneurysm – is the military equivalent of stabbing cancer patients to death with a stick to reduce their risk of dying from a stroke.

Now the same genii who came up with this piece of diplomatic HIV have sent their new big gun to the review of Kyoto. Wouldn’t setting binding targets of at least 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 be a step toward producing, rather than ‘prejudging’ the outcome?

It doesn’t even make fucking sense. Look at it: “we don’t want to prejudge the outcome”? From the same fucking stupid assholes who brought the English language “embolden”, “enhanced interrogation techniques”, “they hate our freedom” and “flip-flopper”.

“Oh America, you look so hot in the red glow of this simmering planet tonight. The way the blood drips thickly from your clenched, trembling fist just gets me so… oohhhhh. And the sweat steaming off your chest, just caught in shards of moonlight, as you pause briefly to breathe… panting heavily from the exertion of kicking in the doors, faces, and genitals of a Columbian mountain village… Spit runs down your stubbly man-chin and your eye squint hard against the barrage of piss the world rains down upon you, but you raise your face up and bask in the spray as if it’s the winner’s-podium champagne. Oh God, America, I tremble with excitement as you loudly shit your pants, scoop a handful of the brown stain into your twisted mouth and proclaim it to be milk chocolate. Oh America, I just want to pull out one of your ribs and beat your stupid, fat, fucking skull with it until you promise to liberate me! Liberate me America! Feed me a big, nutritious bowl of your piss-champagne shit-chocolate acid-junk AIDS-blood Liberty!!”

“Sorry baby, not tonight.”

“Why America? Oh why? Why? Why not here? Why not now? Why not yet?”

“Because, baby, that would be to prejudge the outcome”. 

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 14, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Puppy doused in petrol, left to die on 6-lane Freeway. Home needed.

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MEDIA RELEASE
12 December 2007

GIVE WAGS A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Wags is a brave five month old scruffy terrier pup who was left to die on a six lane highway doused in petrol. Having seizures and unable to stand, heavens knows how he is still alive. A good samaritan took him to a nearby vet clinic (Elizabeth Drive Animal Hospital) where he was treated, but still remains without a home.

waggs5394.jpgWags was put on a drip and anti-seizure medication and his burnt skin was treated with topical ointments. Despite all that he has endured, he is a happy, bright boy who continues to wag his tail! The vet clinic contacted Doggie Rescue where Wags is now eagerly waiting for a home with a happy and caring environment.

Founder Monika Biernacki said DoggieRescue is currently over-run with puppies who have been dumped in council pounds in the lead up to Christmas.

“In all the years of rescue work, I have never seen so many puppies dumped at one time and we still have two weeks to go until Christmas. DoggieRescue will have its doors open throughout Christmas and is looking for volunteers to help man their Doggiewood shelter.”

DoggieRescue is a no-kill charity dedicated to saving dogs on death row from the council pounds. It currently has more than 20 puppies, all under 5 months of age, waiting for homes. DoggieRescue is in urgent need of puppy dry food, puppy milk, tick prevention products and toys. The Doggiewood shelter is located at Ingleside in the northern beaches.

For photos and details of all puppies, visit www.DoggieRescue.com or call DoggieRescue on (02) 9486 3133 / international 61-2-9486 3133

———————————————–

This is a media release I received from Monika’s Doggie Rescue. The work they do is quite amazing, especially given that they get by in a more or less self-funded/ donation-dependent manner. At the moment they are looking after at least sixty dogs from ages of about 7 weeks to 10 or more years. It’s quite a thing to see, especially as they’re such lovely animals and would all now be dead without Doggie Rescue’s intervention. Whether you’re an international or local reader, if there’s anything you can do to help, however big or small, it would make a difference and it would definitely be appreciated.

Please check out their website and donate just a little time, food, or payola if you can. 🙂

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December 13, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Senator Christine Milne’s view of the Bali Climate Change Conference

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Bali Choices – a review of the Bali Climate Change negotiations by Senator Christine Milne, as of Tuesday December 11th

There was genuine excitement and warm good will in Bali last week when the new Australian Government announced its decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol immediately and rejoin the global effort to tackle climate change.

But good will turned to suspicion when Prime Minister Rudd unceremoniously stomped on the Australia delegation for daring to align Australia with the goal of cutting rich country emissions by 25-40% by 2020, the minimum that the climate science requires. The delegation told the conference that Australia accepts that target range, and the rest of the world understood that to mean that Australia was agreeing to negotiate using those figures as a starting point. Rudd’s public rebuke, saying his Government would not commit to any 2020 targets until the Garnaut Review is completed, was worrying.

Prime Minister Rudd’s welcome in Bali will be conditional on his immediate clarification of Australia position on 2020 targets. He cannot hide behind the Garnaut report here.

Australia‘s positioning in the next 2 years’ negotiations will depend on convincing the world now that Australia is genuine. Mr Rudd has to decide whether his election represents a genuine change or whether we are continuing the spoiler role of the last decade.

Perceptions here have not been helped by the fact that the Australian delegation remains overloaded with vested interests from the coal, aluminium and logging industries, the CFMEU, and public servant negotiators still steeped in the attitude of the former PM. It is an ominous sign that the Ambassador for the Environment, Jan Adams, believes that the 25-40% target will never be agreed to here in Bali, when the fact that it is in the Chair’s Draft of the Bali Mandate indicates there is significant support for it.

But the biggest problem is Australia’s hypocrisy on logging and deforestation.

There is a big push from around the world to find a way to include the protection of forests in the post 2012 climate treaty. This ‘reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation’ (REDD) work would have a clear benefit for the countries of the Amazon, African and Pacific forests. But it would also have a significant impact on Australia, since ‘degradation’ makes it clear that logging substantially reduces the amount of carbon stored in a forest.

The definition of degradation is critical and there will be intense efforts to water down any resolution. The National Association of Forest Industries have already flown in reinforcements, attempting to undermine any agreement on REDD which would destroy their propaganda that the ‘management’ of native forests in Australia is carbon positive.

With exquisite timing, on the day that bulldozers went into the Styx Valley in Tasmania to clear-fell ancient forests holding 1400 tonnes of carbon per hectare, Peter Garrett stood in front of a banner here saying “Save Wildlife. Reduce Carbon Emissions” and talked about biodiversity benefits of saving forests. He was talking about the Indonesian orang-utan, not the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle.

It is tragically clear that there is still no political will to act on the clear and urgent climate science. Whilst every country is happy to talk the talk, the negotiations in Bali reflect the 19th century view that national sovereignty overrides global responsibility and selfish short-termism rules the day.

I welcome the Chair’s Draft including a 25-40% reduction by 2020 from rich countries and an explicit statement of urgency that global emissions must peak and begin to be reduced in 10-15 years. But the lack of political will is evident in the fact that these figures are in the preamble, and not the text of the draft decision.

Given the uncertainty about whether Bali will produce a roadmap with significant, science-based targets, Kevin Rudd’s role here is critical. He can either lead with the EU or he can stall with Canada, Japan and the USA. Rudd’s actions here will have long-lasting implications which the world will look back on as it reflects on progress in 2012.

Senator Christine Milne

Australian Greens Climate Change Spokesperson

Vice President of IUCN, the World Conservation Union

The Eukanuba Diet – for dog lovers…

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I was buying a large bag of Eukanuba (Dog food) at Coles and  standing in line at the check out. A woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

On impulse, I told her that no, I was starting The Eukanuba Diet again, although I probably shouldn’t because I’d ended up in the hospital last time, but that I’d lost 22 kilos before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IV’s in both  arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pockets with Eukanuba nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry & that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story, particularly a guy who was behind her. Horrified, she asked if I’d ended up in the hospital in that condition because I had been poisoned.

I told her no; it was because I’d been sitting in the street licking my balls and a car hit me.
I thought one guy was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard as he staggered out the door.

Stupid cow…why else would I buy dog food??

i got this email from a friend and thought it was too hysterical not to share.


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December 10, 2007 at 12:57 am

An Ode to John Howard.

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Not quite. The only thing owed to John Howard is a good hard kick or seven square in the nuts, but this comment by David Fitzpatrick of Deakin University in response to this previous post is just, well… please do read it for yourself.

These last eleven years have deepened my understanding of Australia to its bedrock. Beyond this it is dream, the never-never, the attempt to forget-the endless cycle of pain and forgetting, the endless drought and flooding rain of hatred and hysteria, and that saddest of all Australian customs the belated making of amends that wither in its heat like its landscape. I have grown-up Johnny, thanks to you, and I will never be the same again. One day we will make a country if there remains an earth to make it in-one day if we can bear it-and your tutelage of all the miseries of all our beginnings, your object lessons of servitude, humiliation, hatred and guilt will spur us on.

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December 10, 2007 at 12:36 am

Posted in Australian politics

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Another unappealing Australian forestry decision

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A crucial, complex, and under-reported court battle for Australian forests and endangered species came to a head in late November, as three judges of the Federal Court overturned a decision which had previously seen Greens Senator Bob Brown triumph over the state government of Tasmania, Forestry Tasmania, and the federal government.

Brown has been in court for the last two years, fighting to establish an important understanding of Australian environmental law by arguing about the way it should apply to endangered species in Tasmania’s Wielangta Forest.

The major piece of environmental legislation in this country – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) – has, in practice, been excluded from all forests governed by Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) between the state and federal governments. In essence, this means that any forest being logged with state approval is exempt from the protections of this particular law.

Brown’s argument – previously upheld in December of 2006 – was that the EPBCA was only excluded because the RFA was meant to confer federal responsibilities for species protection to the state authorities, by virtue of the RFA. Where these responsibilities were not honoured in practice, Brown argued, the RFA was invalidated and endangered species provisions of the EPBCA must therefore be applied.

While the appeal judges seemed to agree that logging in Wielangta has a significant and unacceptable impact on endangered species, they overturned the key finding of last year’s decision, supporting instead the conclusion that areas of logging are exempt from protection other than that deemed necessary by departments of forestry under agreement with state and federal governments.

“It’s a case of the law intends to protect endangered wildlife but if Canberra and Hobart ignore logging which endangers their existence, they can,” Senator Brown said.

“I will ask both Prime Minister Rudd and Peter Garrett to put the Howard years of indifference behind and insist these habitats be protected as the law intends,” said Brown. “I have also asked my barristers to weigh up the obvious grounds for an appeal to the High Court – this nation’s natural heritage depends on us taking action.”

Bob Gordon, Managing Director of Forestry Tasmania took a different view of the decision’s significance.

“Propaganda put out by extreme elements in the anti-forestry movement claimed we were somehow acting outside the law,” said Gordon. “This has been an expensive, emotionally draining and time consuming exercise – but it has been worth it. There is now no doubt that our forest operations are legal.”

Of course, there is still doubt. Unlike Forestry Tasmania and the two governments they are joined by, Brown has not had the benefit of departmental budgets or tax moneys to fight his battle – a battle which is not yet over.

 


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December 9, 2007 at 8:31 pm

The Story of Stuff!!!!!

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You’ve got to give it to Counterpunch – when it’s good, it’s really, really good. This article by Robert Weissman just sent me headlong into a whole world of fresh juicy goodness.

Annie, who is a former colleague and good friend, casually mentions at the start of The Story of Stuff that she spent 10 years traveling the world to explore how stuff is made and discarded. This doesn’t begin to explain her first-hand experience. There aren’t many people who race from international airports to visit trash dumps. Annie does. In travels to three dozen countries, she has visited garbage dumps, infiltrated toxic factories, worked with ragpickers and received death threats for her investigative work. Her understanding of the externalized violence of the corporate consumer economy comes from direct observation and experience.

You may remember the wonderful piece of animated activism, The Meatrix. If you don’t, do check it out – highly worthy. Anyway, Free Range Studios – who produced The Meatrix – have now produced The Story of Stuff which basically maps out consumption culture from the mining of minerals to the incineration of consumables.

This bit of video is just a promo – for a download of the full piece, head to the SoS website, or drop by their blog and watch it grow.

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December 9, 2007 at 4:01 am

Voyeurs, Gunns and Money.

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As I said here a few days ago, there will be some bits of interest going up here shortly for filing under forests, environmental law, and Tasmania. Although I’m essentially an opinionated prick who reads a bit, I try not to let a good rant get in the way of most facts – and the fact is that the overturning of the Wielangta decision, which had previously seen Bob Brown’s interpretation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act upheld by the Federal Court, means the battle for forests and ancient land-based ecosystems in Australia is on a much more demanding uphill slog than it was a week ago. More on that later.

Speaking of things Green – it may be that media aren’t interested until there’s a bunch of hard facts on the ground (yeah, right), but the Senate counting is not yet complete and will likely not be finished for another week. Counting in at least two states is still so close that it may be decided by the final handful of votes yet to be tallied. This is significant, because it means the difference between the crossbench power bloc in the Senate being composed of 7 Greens, or 6 Greens and a centre left independent, or 5 Greens and a centre left independent and a whatever from Family First, aka Neoconservative Demonspawn. So fingers still crossed. The less right wing influence on legislation for at least the next few years, the better.

And now to the point of this post. Gunns are now negotiating in Tasmania to secure an area for accomodation for up to 800 construction workers and a worker’s town to be built near the proposed location of the pulp mill. But they haven’t yet bought the actual site for the pulp mill itself. Here’s hoping that it all comes undone. Either way, a friend just sent me the link for this new website: The Gunns Investor Information Service.

It has a bunch of interesting and relevant information such as:

3) Gunns business is highly exposed to subsidy reductions:-

  • For each hectare of plantation established by Gunns, they receive over $3,000 of taxpayer money via MIS. To increase their plantation estate, Gunns needs more land. The mill seems to need a minimum of 400,000 ha of plantation, an increase of 200,000 ha from current levels. That growth would represent further federal subsidies of $640 million. If that scheme is stopped (and there are many farming and community groups fighting it), then plantation estate increases would be curtailed. That would cap inputs and lower income significantly.
  • Road and bridge repairs are conducted at ratepayer expense. The weight of modern log trucks creates disproportionate damage and total cost relief for this item has been estimated at about $20 million per year across Tasmania. Councils are already crying poor, how long before this subsidy comes under serious question?
  • Plantation trees consume a lot of water (reported as averaging 2 Ml/ha/yr more than agriculture) for which plantation operators do not pay. Tasmania is in drought status right now, rainfall has been diminishing for 10 years and reservoirs are at record lows. Pressure from farmers and communities down catchment could easily change government policy on water charges for trees. The 400 Gl currently calculated for Gunns plantation, at $100 Ml, represents $40 million dollars of foregone State revenue per year.
  • Additional subsidies in the forms of cash payments and cost relief have also been made available to Gunns (e.g. forest agreements etc) to the value of over $300 million in the last 3 years.

So go check it out, and feel free to let any of your elected representatives know if, for example, you have never actually voted for Gunns and are therefore curious why they seem to be running a state of Australia.

Oh, the picture up the top? It’s part of a new outdoor installation in Bethlehem by Banksy, near the wall dividing Israel from Palestine. Bird of Peace in a bulletproof vest on a gunshot-riddled wall facing an Israeli guard tower? Magic. It’s nothing to do with any of this and that’s perhaps why it’s there. Go to Santa’s Ghetto and check out the art show and fundraiser which this cutting work is part of.

 

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December 8, 2007 at 1:38 am

Hot group sexy thought for the day.

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December 7, 2007 at 1:15 am

Posted in art, hilarious

Bob Brown & endangered species broadsided by overturned Federal Court finding

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This is a particularly important matter in the development of national environmental law in Australia. Having only just got word of this decision handed down 4 days ago (my bad…. grr), here is the press release on Bob Brown’s site.

Forest absurdity – appeal to Rudd, Garrett certain, High Court likely

30th Nov 07

Greens leader Bob Brown has called on the Rudd government and Environment Minister Peter Garrett to read and take action to rectify the absurdity of today’s Federal Appeal Court’s decision on Tasmania’s Wielangta forest and to nullify the Regional Forest Agreement.
While the appeal bench ruled 3-0 that section 38 of the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act exempts logging from environmental law, it left intact Justice Marshall’s finding that logging had a significant and unacceptable impact on the endangered species.

“It’s a case of the law intends to protect endangered wildlife but if Canberra and Hobart ignore logging which endangers their existence, they can,” Senator Brown said.

“I will ask both Prime Minister Rudd and Peter Garrett to put the Howard years of indifference behind and insist these habitats be protected as the law intends. I have also asked my barristers to weigh up the obvious grounds for an appeal to the High Court – this nation’s natural heritage depends on us taking action,” Senator Brown said.

With all the changing of the government and Kyoto-ing and promises of apologies to the Stolen Generations, this decision slipped straight through and I should think it was also neglected by most major newspapers – which is a huge mistake. The overturning of Justice Marshall’s interpretation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in the first Wielangta Case is a significant setback for checks and balances needed to prevent monopolistic forestry departments running amok in the most irreparable manner possible.

More on this in the next few days – definitely.

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December 5, 2007 at 2:45 am

GDP – a Growing Destructive Problem

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 Here’s an excerpt from a piece by George Monbiot which I just read at Celsias. Celsias, by the way, is one of the best global warming-focussed websites I know of and I’d welcome suggestions for any that you think are as useful. It’s certainly an excellent resource for following Bali-related developments as efforts mount to create Kyoto+.

Point being – remember that riddle from when you were little about how a frog is in the middle of a pond. On the first jump, the frog gets halfway to the edge, and on each successive jump the frog goes half as far as the jump before. How many jumps until the frog reaches the edge of the pond?

Well guess who’s the frog now?

Underlying the immediate problem is a much greater one. In a lecture to the Royal Academy of Engineering in May, Professor Rod Smith of Imperial College explained that a growth rate of 3% means economic activity doubles in 23 years(24). At 10% it takes just 7 years. This we knew. But Smith takes it further. With a series of equations he shows that “each successive doubling period consumes as much resource as all the previous doubling periods combined.” In other words, if our economy grows at 3% between now and 2030, we will consume in that period economic resources equivalent to all those we have consumed since humans first stood on two legs. Then, between 2030 and 2053, we must double our total consumption again. Reading that paper I realised for the first time what we are up against.

 – read the article in full

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December 5, 2007 at 2:35 am

Australia ratifies Kyoto – now the real fun begins!

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Not much time to write this up at the moment, but WOW!!! Shortly after being sworn in, along with his new government, as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd took the bold step of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Making this his first official act as Prime Minister, having already indicated last week that Aboriginal Australians – particularly the Stolen Generations – can expect an apology in this federal term, Rudd is really shaking expectations in the most pleasing manner imaginable.

Michelle Grattan – one analyst and writer worth far more than her bodyweight in water (unlike many other mainstream journos named elsewhere in these screens) – writes in today’s Age that

Its Kyoto pledge was one of the policies that helped Labor to victory. Rudd’s instant move is saying Labor will keep faith with its voters. It also emphasises the new PM wants to hit the ground at full tilt on this issue but on others as well.

While I would expect that many of the new government’s supporters didn’t swallow the “me-too” and “Howard lite” bollocks spouted by media for months before the election, I doubt that such decisive and progressive commitments were expected before the year was out.

Symmetrically, these are two big commitments – one domestic with international implications and the other international with big domestic implications – which neatly and responsibly tends to two festering wounds that have only been repeatedly salted and gouged over the last 12 years. Read the rest of this entry »

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December 4, 2007 at 1:09 am

Prius drivers will kill the planet, but at least they look concerned.

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So check this out – I’ve just gone for a long run. I’m walking it off. It’s the middle of the night and the street is empty. Then I see this Prius nearby, with its distinctive toy-car-for-grownups shape, and its lights come on as it readies to pull away from the kerb.

Focusing on this car, there’s some kind of endorphin-hit coming on from the run because I almost feel like clapping the dude driving it. Yeah, I know – twee. So the car has turned around, and it’s heading up the street. It slows slightly and there’s the sound of a door opening, then there’s a hollow plasticky rattling sound, the driver’s door closes again, and he speeds off into the night…

… having  first thrown his empty bottle of springwater out of the car onto the road. The road, of course, leads to the drain, which leads to the ocean, which leads to an island of plastic refuse and garbage with a surface area greater than that of Australia.

So what’s the thought process?

“Hmmm, I spent $36 000 so that I would produce half as much carbon dioxide as other drivers. Fuck it, I’m going to live a little.” *dump*

or maybe

“Oh no – a plastic bottle! I am an elven upper-middle class planet-saver, and I must get this petrochemical-based filth away from me right away!!” *chuck* 

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December 2, 2007 at 2:24 am

So you’ve just caught crabs for the first time….

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Escape claws

A TFF reader swears this is true. His son’s friend had just hauled up a mud crab from one of the canals at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast last week, when he was approached by a Fisheries inspector.”You’re copped, mate,” the inspector said. “That is a female crab and it is a protected species. There is a hefty fine for catching one of those.”

“But I haven’t caught it, I have simply retrieved it.”

“What do you mean, you’ve retrieved it ?”

“Well, this crab is my pet and every now and again I bring it down to the canal for a swim.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, I let it go, it swims around for a bit and then comes back to me and I take it home. Look, I’ll show you.” And with that, the guy picks up the crab, places it into the water and issues an instruction to take a short swim and hurry back. The officer watches, bewildered.

“When will it come back ?” he asks.

“When will what come back?” the guy responds.

had to pinch this from Peter FitzSimons’ page because it’s too good to not share.

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December 1, 2007 at 4:02 am